Archive for the ‘Noted in passing’ Category

May 22, 2011
Filed Under (Noted in passing) by transom


A tweet today with the picture of a friend’s daughter prompted to me to finally write this post. The daughter at the grand old age of 20 months was running her (father’s) iPad with the dexterity of a college senior. It was quite cute and left me bemused.

I had been meaning to write about my “first” gadget. I have an iPod Touch for which I was looking for a software equivalent of the HP 12c Business calculator. I love the HP12c. I bought one when I was a sophomore in college. It was so expensive that I took out a bank loan (with my father as a co-signer) for the grand sum of $400. It was so new that I had to get permission from my professors to use it to calculate present value (rather than using the big book with tables you’d look up the values.)

To this day, the HP12c is a favorite. I have an app on my computer that is a perfect emulation and now my iPad Touch shows me the same interface for interest calculations.

I wonder if my friend’s daughter will remember her first gadget? Probably not.



March 12, 2011
Filed Under (Life in the PNW, Noted in passing) by transom

In 1996, I adopted two kittens from the Humane Society in Lancaster, PA. At the recommendation of my sister, I had the attendant help me select two males from the litter of 8. I named them Bob & Ray after the radio team of Bob Goulding & Ray Elliott, who I only knew from the Letterman show (and not their lifetime Radio performances). A trip to the vet a few days later, assured me that I was the proud new father of healthy male kittens.

In a miracle of science, when it came time to have them neutered, the vet told me that he would be unable to neuter Bob. Bob needed to be spayed. Apparently it is hard to “sex” a kitten before – Bob was actually a female. So faced with the naming débâcle, I quickly punted and decided that Bob was short for “Roberta” and we’d keep the name. Not that it mattered, it wasn’t like she came when you called.

Bob on Her Garden Throne

This week after 15 years together, I had to make the decision to euthanize Bob. The decision itself wasn’t hard. She had suddenly stopped eating two days before and the vet confirmed that the ravages of hyperthyrodism (which had taken Ray three years earlier) and a failing kidney left no room for a good outcome. She had been clearly exhausted and only wanted to be curled up next to me.

Her death hasn’t been quite as hard on me as when I lost Ray. Ray’s death was unexpected and came in such a way that guilt and grief compounded the pain. With Bob, I was able to be present and be with her all the way and there to comfort and hold her in the Vet’s office. Instead, the tears come when I look under the bed to find toys and balls of paper that she secreted away while playing or find yet another jar of cat treats stuck in a corner.

Bob wasn’t as attention-focused that her brother was. She barely had a need for me. But from the moment I brought her home until last Monday night, every night her place at bedtime was curled up leaning against my right hip. That is until the sun came through the window and she realized it was time for breakfast. Then she took on the role of a reverse alarm clock – poking me in the face like a un-snooze alarm until I realized it was time to feed her.

I don’t have the words or the space to express how much these two small souls have meant in my life. They have been confidants, caretakers, the cause of amusement and frustration, and founts of joy and love regardless of what else was going on in my life.

I’ll never be able to replace them but one day, I’ll adopt two more kittens and start the adventure again.

 



March 25, 2009
Filed Under (Noted in passing) by transom

It was kind of bitter-sweet but in the long run, like prunes, it is going to be good for me.



March 03, 2009
Filed Under (Noted in passing) by transom

It is no surprise that the talented author, Bob Greene, has crafted an appropriate and eloquent eulogy for Paul Harvey – “He was famed for his voice, but the writing itself was so beautiful — his respect for words, his understanding of the potency of economy, his instinct for removing the superfluous. The world heard him speak, but the world never saw him write, and I think he honored both aspects of his skill equally.” You can read the full article on CNN

As it happens Bob Greene and I are about the same age (he is slightly more famous), we both grew up in the Midwest and Paul Harvey was part of the pastiche of our youth. Paul Harvey was so uncool but he was a pleasure to listen to. As a high-school debater, I was in awe of how few words it took for him to express a complete thought. His cadence was exquisite, leading you to the punch-line with a precision that you could only hope to allude to in your own arguments.

Paul never wore his patriotism on his sleeve as so many seem to do today. It wasn’t used to make a point but you had no doubt about his pride in the country and the many cultures and ideals that give its strength (and, on occasion, its failures.) Unlike the bombastic demagoguery that passes for radio today, Paul Harvey was a unique American voice that built upon that which is uniquely, the American experience.



January 24, 2009
Filed Under (Noted in passing) by transom

Dave Winer reminds us that 25 years ago today this commercial introduced the world to the Apple Macintosh.

I distinctly remember, a few weeks later, walking through Marshall Fields & Company (now Macy’s Chicago – yech!) to look at one. The bright white 9″ screen, the few applications (Paint was amazing) and the overall design – unlike anything we had seen before.

It was a few years later in 1996 that I got my first Macintosh. My new employer already had one Mac Fan Boy working there and offered me the choice between a Mac Plus (the “new” Macintosh) and an IBM PC. I went Mac and have never looked back. While I have not made it a point to own every model since (thank goodness, some of them were awful), I have kept up with the times and couldn’t be happier.

I figure that I have probably saved months of time over the last 23 years by not having to fiddle with operating system, chase down viruses, solve incompatiblities, and otherwise suffering through the trials and tribulations of most Wintel PC owners. Now I’ll confess that I have had a PC or two over the years for testing and just to get along in the world (i.e. work with clients whose software product was PC-based.)

But my belongs to Mac – Happy Aniversary Macintosh. Here’s to another 25 years of togetherness.

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August 23, 2008
Filed Under (Noted in passing) by transom

One of the touted features of Amazon is its recommendation engine. I have to admit to loving Amazon (some months too much!) even when I pay sales tax on every purchase. But I find the recommendation strangely useless.

If you purchase often, you end up spending more time weeding the engine than shopping from it. For example, I tried some coffee beans from Amazon (they were on-sale and I was out – so why not). Now my recommendation engine lists bag after bag of coffee beans – just because I ordered a bag of coffee beans.

It would seem smarter for Amazon to ask me if I liked the coffee and would like to re-order (something that is surprisingly difficult to do on Amazon – you can subscribe, but re-ordering is hard.)

And while we are talking grocery shopping on Amazon – why can’t I get a listing by cost per unit of measure. For commodities – it would make it easy to spot a bargain. Try comparing coffee prices on Amazon – there have to be over 40 different quantity combinations and no easy way to compare the price per oz.

I love Amazon. I just don’t love how hard it is to love Amazon.