Some Thoughts About Apple

As I have made abundantly clear in this blog I have been having ongoing issues with Apple’s Magic Mouse maintaining connection with my MacBook. Lately my entire system has been simply randomly locking up (even if the mouse isn’t even connected), forcing a hard reboot.

This kind of behavior is new to my experience with Apple. In fact, the lack of having to constantly reboot was one of the perks I enjoyed after the continual rebooting I had to do with Windows; lately all that is changing.

But my problems are nothing compared to what Ben is going through. Between his phone, his watch, and his Mac I’m expecting one of them to be violently thrown against a wall any day now. And multiple trips to the Genius Bar have solved nothing. Their standard response to any of these problems? Wipe and reinstall. Wipe and reinstall. That’s a Microsoft response, Apple; not something we expect from you.

I used to enjoy going to the Apple Store. Now I dread it.

As I wrote earlier, I’ve all but given up any hope of getting my bluetooth issues resolved. But this raises the issue of that legendary Apple quality that prompted so many of us to join the church to begin with. How many iterations of an OS do we have to go through before any of these issues are addressed—if at all—much less resolved?

I’m not about to abandon Apple; returning to Microsoft would be a nightmare in my opinion, but it looks to me like Apple is going through a rough patch. It’s not as profound as in the 90s, but there’s trouble afoot. Whether the folks in Cupertino are aware of it and simply choosing to ignore it is a question that’s up for grabs, but based on the steadily declining quality of the software side of the house over the last several years, it’s obvious that too many lines of business are taking their toll on quality control. I hate to haul out this old trope, but if Steve Jobs were alive today, none of this shit would be happening.

At this point, I’d even be willing to forego the now expected yearly updates and pay for OS upgrades again—as long as these ongoing, lingering problems were finally cleared up.

Memory

While it’s been proven that our memories are categorically unreliable and subject to change, I still find it amazing at what seems to come washing up when you’re lying wide awake in bed at 4 am.

Take this morning for instance. For no particular reason whatsoever, a memory of sleeping in my great aunt’s attic came flooding back to me.

Like we’d done every other summer since I was a baby, my mom, my sister and I went back east to spend a couple months with my grandparents in upstate Massachusetts. In 1968, we deviated from the usual pattern of flying into JFK where we’d meet the grandparents and they’d drive us to the house. That year, we flew to Green Bay to meet the grandparents there and spend a few days with my great aunt; my great aunt who never married. (In some families it runs, it other it gallops; just sayin’.)

The bits of that trip that stand out to me are odd to say the least. I’d recently developed a childhood interest in human anatomy, thinking one day that I’d grow up to be a doctor. I had books, I had plastic models (having received The Visible Head as a birthday gift about a month before our trip), but of all the anatomical models that I had or wanted, the one that always seemed to elude me was The Visible Woman. (The Visible Man was the one that started me on this particular path about a year earlier.) Guess what I found in Green Bay?

After having built the model, I showed my mom (who I remember being in bed, laid up and recovering from something flu-like) and she wondered if she could see “where she had her surgery.” Surgery? “Down there,” she said.

Now this is where memory selectivity obviously comes into play. I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever of my mom having gone into the hospital for a hysterectomy—unless it happened concurrently with me coming down with a major flu three years earlier; something that sidelined me for what seemed like weeks and explains why I remember my Dad’s mom being around for an extended period.

Anyway, back to the attic. I can recall the smell vividly—and the fact it was only marginally a bedroom; rough-hewn wood floors, exposed wood joists (and surprisingly for Wisconsin—even with it being an old house—no roof insulation whatsoever). There was a lot of stuff stored in there along with the two twin beds and I loved the energy of the place, but there was one there item that totally creeped me out—to the point I had to have my mom remove it so I could sleep: my recently-deceased great grandmother’s cane that had been propped up against the dressing table on the other side of the room.

My great aunt was also a collector of glass. The window sill of the south-facing dining room was covered with various transparent, sparkling items of every color you could imagine. When the sun hit, the effect was magical. I remember being especially enamored of two aquamarine birds, and asked her if I might have them. She said yes, and I immediately took them upstairs. I don’t know what ever happened to them; they might’ve made it the rest of the journey to Massachusetts and back to Arizona with us, but I think it far more likely that my Mom made me give them back before we left, claiming there was no room to pack them for the remainder of the journey.

Another memory of that trip was one particular bath—and it stands out only because of the smell. It was my first exposure to Dial soap. To this day, the smell of Dial invokes the memory of that bath in that bathroom that was just down the hall from my great aunt’s kitchen. Funny thing, memory and how it is so intimately tied to our sense of smell.

I remember nothing of our departure from Green Bay, and only bits and pieces of the drive to Massachusetts. I know we crossed the Mackinac Bridge and drove through Michigan into Canada. We came back into the US at Niagara Falls, and of course stopped there to take photos. I remember it rained a lot, and I did a lot of napping.

 

Mackinac Bridge

Niagara Falls

I know we must’ve overnighted at least once on the drive (at a Howard Johnson’s no doubt), but I have no real recollection, nor do I remember anything of our arrival at the grandparents’ homestead. I do know that once we got there it was a busy summer—only because I have pictures to jog those memories.

 

Grandparents’ House

It was my first time fishing (there was a small pond on the property), and the summer included a trip to Old Sturbridge Village, the completion of my first 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, and more than one fancy lunch with friends of my grandmother on what seemed at the time like a palatial estate (bitch had an olympic size swimming pool in her back yard)…

 

Fishing

Old Sturbridge Village

Luncheon

1000 Pieces

And one more memory of that summer that will probably fall under the “TMI” category…

Driving back from our weekly grocery shopping in the neighboring town, I was riding in the back seat of the car by myself, listening the radio playing reports of what was going on in Woodstock (yes, it was that summer) and my mom and grandmother were discussing how wrong the Vietnam War was and how Mom and Dad had agreed that they’d personally pack me up and ship me off to Canada if I came of age and the war was still going on. I was thumbing through some magazine they’d picked up on the trip and ran across a picture of a young, shirtless, and very hirsute Burt Reynolds. I had no idea who Burt Reynolds was, but I knew I liked what I saw and before I knew it I had my hand down my shorts and a short time later ended up some some very soggy underwear…all flying under the radar of the people in the front seat.

Or so my memory would have me believe.

Why It’s The Duty Of Every Sanders Supporter To Vote For Hillary

I’m a Bernie supporter, but I have to agree 100% with what John writes below:

From AMERICAblog:

There’s a common misconception that elections are job interviews; and that candidates need to “earn” our vote, as if we’re doing them a favor by putting them in office. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Elections are selfish. They’re not about the candidates, they’re about us. They’re about choosing someone who will have inordinate influence over our lives and our livelihoods for the next four years.

To the degree that the job metaphor is apt, picking a president is more like picking a nanny for your kids. Except in this case, it’s down to two candidates, and one is going to get hired. Your only options are to pick one, pick the other, or don’t pick either and let someone else make the choice for you.

To take the analogy a bit further, let’s call the first nanny Hillary. As hard as you try, Hillary just doesn’t move you. You see, there was another nanny named Bernie, and you adored Bernie. But Sadly, Bernie didn’t make the cut. So now you’re left choosing between Hillary, who doesn’t excite you, and another nanny named Donald, who is categorically crazy and hates your kids.

Your only choice is to hire Hillary, hire Donald, or let some stranger choose which of the two is going to have ultimate say over the most important thing in your life.

I’ve seen people talk about how Hillary Clinton is “bad” on fracking, and Wall Street, and money in politics, so they’re just not going to vote for her in November unless she does something “big” to win them over. But how is Donald Trump on all of those issues? Far worse than Hillary, in fact. And how is Donald Trump on the civil rights of gays, women, blacks, Latinos, and Muslims? How is Donald Trump on climate change, immigration, criminal justice, gun violence, privacy, health care, and caring about the middle and working classes? And how is Donald Trump on a woman’s right to choose? Awful, awful, awful.

If you choose not to support Hillary in the fall, because of some misguided notion of what she “owes” you, then you choose to cede the election to a man who will destroy every cause that Bernie Sanders, and you, once claimed to care about. And while you may be in a position in life that it won’t affect you directly if Trump bans Muslims, repeals Obamacare, and does everything he can to hurt gays, blacks, Latinos and women, is that really why you felt the Bern this election—because you put your own disappointment over the needs of the many?

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A Skeptical Look at the Possibility of Life on Other Planets

From Skeptic Ink:

There were several interesting articles and images that all gave me the inspiration for this post. So, let’s talk about the idea of life in our universe beyond our solar system.

The first question to think about is how many other planets are there. The answer is lots. No, “lots” doesn’t even begin to cover it. I got this image from NASA (click the image to the source… it’s big).

Hubble Deep Field Image, NASA.

Phil Plait, over at Bad Astronomy did a calculation to determine just how many galaxies Hubble could see. Note that isn’t all the galaxies in the universe, just the ones the Hubble Space Telescope could potentially see.

First he calculated how many galaxies were in a small piece of the above image. It’s about 50. That piece was 1/100 of the actual image. So, the image above contains about 5,000 galaxies.

Then he found out that the image is 10 square arcminutes. The entire sky is about 150 million square arcminutes, which means that there are about 15,000,000 pieces of sky the same size as the above image. At roughly 5,000 galaxies per, we get a total of 75,000,000,000 galaxies. That’s 75 billion visible galaxies with the Hubble.

The Milky Way has about 100 billion stars (though some estimates approach 400 billion).  If we assume that an average galaxy has 100 billion stars, which is fairly safe, then we get 100 billion * 75 billion stars in the universe.

That is 7,500,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 7.7×1021 stars.

How many could potentially support life? Well, a lot depends on A) how you define life and B) what conditions we consider for that life.

Right now, we know of only one planet that unambiguously has life. There is significant potential for life elsewhere in our solar system. Though it would likely be limited to the bacteria level or extraterrestrial equivalent. Still, if we find life on Europa, Titan, Enceladus, or even Mars, then the options for life on extrasolar planets just got even better.

But let’s talk about that life on other planets. How would life appear?

Well, that’s an entire topic of research called Origins of Life (OOL). The results are very impressive so far. There are multiple ways to get the basic organic compounds needed for life, without life needing to be present. One of the main sticking points has been ribose sugars, the main component in the backbone of DNA and RNA. Some new research suggests that is much less of a sticking point than previously thought.

Cornelia Meinert (Meinert 2016) and her team discovered that a relatively simple reaction, catalyzed by ultraviolet light, forms ribose and a variety of other sugars… in space.

Ice is common in space, we regularly track large balls of space ice and even landed on one of them. So, that’s water. Another needed component is ammonia, which seems to be common in space as well. Finally, we need a source of carbon and that comes from methanol (methyl alcohol). Which is, you guessed it, common in deep space. These are all inorganic sources of these materials, no life required.

The idea behind the paper is that a planetary nebula, that is a pre-solar system, has all these materials much more scattered than in a solar system with planets. There’s a lot of supporting evidence for this in our own solar system.

In our solar system, excluding the sun, Jupiter has 3 times the mass of every other planet combined. It has methane, ammonia (including ammonia ice), even benzene rings (link to Voyager probe results). So, in a pre-planetary nebula, all of these compounds would be present.

Much like the famous Miller-Urey experiment, the researchers took these compounds, exposed them to near space temperatures (78 Kelvin, which is -319 F), hit them with UV light, then warmed them up. The result was 56 unique compounds (not including the isomers of those compounds), most of which, we would think required life to manufacture.

The question then becomes, how did the material formed in space get to Earth. That’s where theLate-Heavy Bombardment comes in. The hypothesis is that between 4.1 and 3.8 billion years ago, the inner planets underwent a very heavy period of asteroid and comet impacts. The suggested impacts are stunning. By extrapolating lunar impacts to Earth, the estimate is over 20,000 impacts large enough to form a 20 kilometer diameter crater. As an example, Meteor Crater in Arizona is just over 1 kilometer in diameter.

Larger impacts would also have happened, including multiple impacts resulting in 5,000 kilometer craters.

This is in addition to other research about the common origin of RNA, lipids, and proteins.

The point is, we find these compounds all over the universe. And the universe is truly immense. It is the height of arrogance to assume that life only exists on Earth and that humans are the only intelligent species in the universe.

Now, a discussion about whether we would ever find that other life is a totally different prospect. But even with one planet per galaxy with life, that’s 75 billion planets with life in our universe.

My First Camera

It originally belonged to my mom. She gave it to me—or should I say she allowed me to start using it when I was 13 years old. It used large format 620 film, something that was becoming harder and harder to find even back then, but which had the potential for producing some amazing photos—even if you were limited to a maximum of 8 shots per roll. But I didn’t know or care anything about that. I was just beginning to get into astronomy at the time, and what fascinated me the most about this camera was the fact that you could leave the shutter open indefinitely, allowing you to create photos of star trails. Of course, it involved a lot of trial and error and I never really did succeed in getting the effect I wanted from those pictures, but it planted the seed that was to grow into a lifelong love of photography.

I still have the camera, even though it hasn’t been used for at least thirty years. It was supplanted by a Pentax 35mm in the 1980s and that was replaced when I went digital about ten years ago. I’d imagine I could get some nice coin for it now, but I can’t seem to part with it—not just because it belonged to my mom, but also because it has so many good memories attached.

Doing My Own Small Part

Experience has taught me that working with out-of-state recruiters is a complete waste of my time and resources. They don’t know the area, they don’t know the commute, and—for a increasingly large number of them—they don’t know how to speak English. I don’t have a problem working with people for whom English is not their primary language, but when you’re in a public-facing profession and people can’t understand a single thing you’re saying, perhaps you need to rethink your career choice.

Normally I just respond to their emails with a polite, “I do not work with out-of-state recruiters. Please do not contact me again,” and that’s the end of it. A few don’t take the hint and respond with “WHY NOT?” and at that point my civility goes out the door with a response of “What part of DO NOT CONTACT do you not understand?” The domains of mail coming from repeat offenders are finally routed at the server immediately into the trash and I never even see them.

I never answer calls from unrecognized numbers on my phone, forcing them to go to voice mail. So after these recruiters have left their rambling, unintelligible messages, the phone numbers get added to my blocked “Out of State Recruiters” contacts entry. BOOM.

Anyway…

For some reason today, I’ve been emailed by a dozen or so recruiters all based in North Carolina—all for the same job opening and half coming from the same damned company. (This is another ongoing irritation in working with recruiters; none of them in the same office ever seem to speak to each other.) This has afforded me the opportunity to respond in a more specific, non-generic fashion and be political at the same time; they don’t need to know that I wouldn’t work with them in any case, but I wrote back and told them that I would not do business with any company based in North Carolina because of HB2, and I suggested they pass that onto their employer.

OH. MY. GOD.

I could’ve written this myself.

Dear Apple,

It’s me, your biggest fan, Ben. Technically we have’t met, although I’ve been to your Genius Bar a few dozen times. I also stood outside the Moscone Center eating a burrito during WWDC once, so maybe you saw me then.

Anyway, in case you’re wondering who really I am, I’m that guy who won’t shut up about you, who preaches about you to his friends non-stop, so much so that they swear I work for you (but I don’t). Who meticulously sells off each old Apple device so as to subsidize each new one, losing money every time. I’m the guy who has owned every iPhone, every iPad, every Macbook. Who bought a freaking car just to experiment with CarPlay (and what a bad decision that was). If my complex lifestyle doesn’t fit the minimal design of one of your stock apps, I try rearranging my lifestyle, convinced that there is wisdom in Apple’s simplicity. I’m that rare specimen—or perhaps not so rare anymore—who believes in the marriage of art and science, who has faith in the magic of technology. Oh, and I’ve spent a quarter of a million dollars on Apple products since 2005.

In other words, Apple, I’m not just a fanboy. I am the fanboy. Which is why it kills me to admit that, as of this moment, you are seriously starting to piss me off. I’ll explain why, but before I do, hear me out.

I came to you in my darkest hour. A freshman in college in 2005, my clunky IBM laptop had just been stolen, and I needed a new computer. Rather than buy the same computer again–minus all my photos, software, and journal entries, which were gone forever–I decided to convert this crappy ordeal into a fun learning experience, so I bought a Macbook Pro instead. It was my very first Apple computer, and the first Macbook Pro model you made.

But that Macbook–that sweet, cherubic Macbook–changed everything forever. All of a sudden, there were no error messages, no popups, no annoying warnings or scary alerts. I literally had no idea what to do with all the free time I saved as a result of not fixing things. Occasionally, I’d be using my Apple computer and just burst into spontaneous laughter out of sheer joy at not having to troubleshoot yet another ungodly error. Your customer service was “uh-mazing” said my Mac friends, but I had no way of knowing because I never had a single problem with anything.

At first it was weird: what did all these buttons do, and where were all the other buttons? Also, what the hell was a Finder? But pretty soon, something changed: I fell madly, head-over-heels in love with this machine.

In fact, it was more than that: it was like discovering that I had been in an abusive relationship with Microsoft and PCs for the better part of two decades, and you, Apple, were my salvation. You see, the thing I had always loved about PCs was that whenever something went wrong (which was generally about once every 30 seconds) I knew how to fix it. I was the troubleshooting king. I prided myself on knowing what every error message meant and how to get around it. With enough Googling, the right workaround, and some perspiration, I could solve any PC problem.

In other words, it just worked.

Flash forward to 2015. A decade later, things are still looking promising for Apple. Despite the loss of Steve Jobs, you guys are the most valuable company on earth. Hell, you’re worth twice as much as the next-richest company, Exxon Mobil. iPhones are literally more valuable than oil shooting out of the ground.

But Apple, despite your incredible success, I have noticed an unsettling increase in bullshit that I have to deal with as a user of your products. What first began as a trickle has become a veritable flood. Just yesterday, I counted twenty-two errors across four devices, some of which (according to your support forums) have been known problems for three years.

Twenty-two. That’s way more than zero, which is how many problems I had with my Apple devices as recently as a few years ago.

A lot of this has to do with cloud services. When I bought my first Macbook Pro in 2005, people still did many things offline. We stored music on our hard drives, had Netflix send us movies in the mail (Jesus Christ), and occasionally even bought software at the store. I still remember driving to Best Buy to purchase Microsoft Office like a nincompoop, which for many today is a non-issue. In that environment, Apple was king. You made dynamite software

But the days of software are waning. Now, the average tech user is probably connected to the Internet 24/7. As a result, cloud services have become far more important than traditional software.

And Apple, let’s be real: you are terrible at the cloud. Even to say that is such a ridiculous understatement that it would be like saying “zombies are mammals.” I mean, yes, they are, but that doesn’t cover the half of it. It seems as if every time I try to use any cloud-related service of yours, whether it’s Siri or the new Photos app or just plain Pages, something goes wrong. Siri has a stroke, Photos hasn’t uploaded the photo I took 10 minutes ago, and Pages can’t save my document to iCloud. Imagine that: not being able to save a fucking document. What is this, the Paleolithic Era?

The saddest part of this is that unlike me, many people have taken forever to switch to Apple, which means they are only just now switching from the error-filled PC world to the error-filled Apple world, and they won’t even notice the difference. They’re prone to abuse by their evil tech overlords. But I know better, and so do others. There was a time when Apple products were unlike anything else on the planet. They were simple, elegant, and they just worked.

Now, they just don’t. Hence the existence of this website, which serves as a testament to all the awful crap Apple users have to deal with nowadays.

For instance! Apple Music is an utter travesty, full of cumbersome UI, cloud syncing issues (surprise), bugs that will eat half your music library, and the list goes on. iTunes on the Mac is a loose and baggy monster full of random crap that no one needs, making it impossible to do the simplest thing such as–gasp–play a song. iMessage is barebones to the extreme and unintuitive to use, with 90% of people I know having no clue how to set it up across multiple devices and email addresses (it’s not hard, but it’s not obvious either). Apple’s Mail app is atrocious on both the iPhone and the Mac, with limited functionality and constant account verification problems. The new Photos app syncs poorly or not at all, and it’s utterly dumb compared to Google’s Photos app, which does magical things like allow you to search for objects and people automatically. Siri is Siri. Apple Maps is cow dung. CarPlay, which I have in my car, is a buggy piece of trash that infuriates me on a daily basis.

Now, Apple, I want to make something clear: I’m very good with computers. Despite all these stupid glitches and questionable product decisions, I make it work. I’m getting better and better at troubleshooting Apple problems and bending finicky products to my will.

But here’s the thing: I shouldn’t have to. That’s the world I left to join you, Apple. That’s the crap I abandoned ten years ago when I decided never to buy another PC. Is that really where we’re at now? Did we really trade Cheech for Chong?

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The Island of Misfit Toys

Or, as I like to call it, “Tech of Yesteryear: Stuff I’ve Owned.”

My first calculator, a Texas Instruments SR-10. Four functions plus square root, square and inverse!—$89 in 1974. I needed it for Chem/Physics.

My first 10-speed bike, a Schwinn Continental—$105 in 1972

My first (and only) typewriter, an Olympia Report Electric SKE—price and date forgotten (1974?). Sold in a fit of perceived poverty in 1990.

My first hi-fi turntable, a Philips GA-212—$200 in 1973. I had to have this particular one because it was touch control! Little did I know that when the bulbs under the touch controls burnt out, the controls stopped working altogether, necessitating a costly trip to a repair shop. It wasn’t like you could just go online and order replacements.

My first awesome, truly high-tech hi-fi turntable, a Technics SL-1300Mk2—$500 in 1978.  I took out a personal loan for this one. Of course it died within months of being paid for and then sat in a repair facility for months because the particular integrated circuit that had failed was on indefinite backorder. (Such is the life of an early adopter.) I finally retrieved it from the shop and shipped it back to Panasonic for repair. It was returned, and UPS left it with the neighbors’ unattended children, where they proceeded to destroy it. UPS and Panasonic wrote it off as “destroyed in shipment” and sent me refurbished unit. But it was never the same, so I sold it in 1980.

I replaced it in 2000 or thereabouts with a near-mint unit that came in the original packaging. The arm lift mechanism on this model was a notoriously bad design that self-destructed after about 5 years of use, so I had it professionally repaired by a friend back east (now, sadly deceased) and it’s worked beautifully ever since.

My first digital watch, a Novus—price unknown (but it wasn’t cheap) in 1976. It was a high school graduation present from my parents. Like all digital watches of the time, you had to hold down the button to make it illuminate and show you the time. It died sometime in the early 80s.

My first hi-fi amplifier, a Sony TA-5650—$550 in 1976.  I bought it for myself with money I received for my high school graduation.  Another piece of cutting edge tech that wasn’t quite ready for prime time, the 5650 had the very annoying habit of self-destructing every six months or so, necessitating a visit to the repair shop to have some diodes replaced  (to the tune of $75 a trip—quite a bit of money for the time). After the second or third time it happened, I decided to replace it, but nothing came close to the sweet, sweet sound the V-FETs produced, so I kept getting it fixed.

The last time it died, sometime in 1986, I replaced it with a rock-solid Yamaha amp and kissed it goodbye, leaving it in the laundry room of the apartment complex I was living in at the time. I did that because I just couldn’t bear to toss it in the dumpster.

My first computer, a Commodore VIC-20—$200 in 1981. It hooked up to a television, and since Dennis (my first partner) and I couldn’t afford to buy the external cassette drive to save the programs we spent hours meticulously typing in BASIC, it was an ongoing lesson in frustration. But it did light a spark that eventually culminated in my current career.

My first hi-fi cassette deck, a Sony TCK-555—$370 in 1984. I waited a long, long time to finally get a good cassette deck for my system. Little did I know that in only two short years they would start marching toward the graveyard of history.  It was a good—not great—deck, but it served me for several years before being replaced.

My first new car, a 1984 Toyota Corolla SR-5—$11,000 in 1984. Damn, I loved this car. I sold Dorothy in 1989 after deciding that owning a car in San Francisco was more trouble that it was worth. It was also reaching the point that it was needing some expensive repairs and I had no way of paying for them, so I had to say goodbye. It’s the one vehicle that still shows up regularly in my dreams, never having been sold, but merely put into storage all these years…

My first CD player, a Yamaha D-400—$360 in 1985. As I recall I blew my whole tax refund on this. I had wanted to get a Technics SL-P2 but it had been discontinued and I didn’t like anything in the Technics lineup that replaced it. I should’ve done more shopping before jumping on this one, however.  It sounded fantastic, but it could only display the track number or the time, but not both. Seriously, Yamaha? I replaced it in 1990.

My first portable CD player, a Sony D100 Discman—$400 in 1987. This was Sony’s second-generation portable, and I loved this bit of tech. The only reason I eventually got rid of it was the headphone jack kept coming unsoldered from the main circuit board (one day after the warranty expired, typical of Sony products). It was an easy-enough fix to do myself, but I finally just got tired of dealing with it.

My first 35mm camera, the Pentax ME Super. I got this from my second partner in exchange for some money he owed me. I adored this camera. I won’t say my ratio of good photos to bad was excellent, but I remember it being decidedly better than all my subsequent years of digital. In my rush to go digital, I sold it to buy a new camera. WORST. DECISION. EVER.

My first digital camera, the Canon A10—$125 (steeply discounted) in 2003. It ate batteries which severely limited its usefulness, picture quality was so-so, and it was a pain in the ass to actually get the photos off of it. I was so relieved when I finally got the funds together to replace it.

This was the camera I replaced the A10 with, a Panasonic DMC-FZ7. This camera went everywhere with me (including a road trip to Yellowstone), and together we got some stunning shots.  After a couple years, however, I tired of the all purple fringing showing up around bright areas in the photos and after replacing it with a Sony, sold it on eBay.

Escape

Clear 40 minutes from your calendar, plug in your headphones, put your feet up, close your eyes, and let your mind wander…

About 10 minutes into this,  I’m 20 again, skimming over endless dunes in my landspeeder.

More Timely Than Ever

Reposted from 3 years ago:

This Isn’t Going Away, North Carolina

There you sit this morning North Carolina, all smug and self-satisfied in your hate, no doubt believing in your little heart-of-hearts that it was God’s will that you mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging assholes enshrined discrimination in your state law. But I’ve got news for you: you were on the wrong side of history when you outlawed interracial marriage, and you’re on the wrong side of history AGAIN.

The more I think about this, the more livid I become. I’m not sure why, because other states have passed similar laws. Maybe it’s because your state—whose motto should now be changed from “FIRST IN FLIGHT” to “FIRST IN HATE”—was a necessary tipping point to open eyes and get the masses’ blood boiling.

And despite your unwavering belief that you’re doing the Lord’s work (who NEVER said a word about homosexuality, by the way) I have a feeling, that this is going to come back and bite you in your shriveled, black, hate-filled hearts. More than 50% of Americans polled are now in favor of marriage equality. Major corporations, sensing the tide of public opinion, are increasingly coming on board and providing the same benefits to same-sex partners as they do to the rest of their married employees.

Your vote was a slap in the face to that, and I sincerely hope that every GLBT person and their supporters (including businesses) leave your state and let it free-fall back into the middle ages. Have you not seen what happened in Georgia with their stance against so-called “illegal” (i.e. brown-skinned) migrant workers? Crops are rotting in the fields. North Carolina deserves no less.

I spotted this in the comments section at Joe.My.God. this morning, and I couldn’t have said it better.

NORTH CAROLINA  
HATES  
FAGS

We get it…you hate us…you really, really hate us.

Which, of course, is what all these “protect marriage” amendments are about. You’re not protecting anything, you’re just preventing a small group of people that you hate from entering into your “exclusive” marriage club lest we sully it (GOD FORBID…we should swim in your pool…you’d have to drain it). Now, if y’all really had the courage of your convictions you’d make homosexuality itself in North Carolina a crime, punishable by death just like it says in the Bible (let’s run that up the flag pole and see how it flies…I bet it would pass or come damn close). But, of course, you don’t have that kind of courage because y’all are nothing but a bunch of bullies and cowards, as your state’s racist history would attest.