Line of the day, from my lovely bride, after figuring out how to put her new iPhone on her work Wi-Fi network:

“Yeah, shit, I guess it doesn’t matter how much this will cost, I’m pretty sure I want it.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the very reason you should ignore the turbulence and go long on AAPL. =)

Hanging Out Tuesday’s Wash

* Hang your Battlestar Galactica, your Mad Men, your WireTop Gear is the best thing on TV right now. And to all those people at NBC plotting the American version starring Adam Carolla – just stop it. I mean it. Stop trying to imitate British TV and go sit in the corner and reflect on what a corner you painted yourself into with reality shite.

* You too, ABC – if you know what’s smart you’ll just punt Life on Mars and maybe run some college football in that slot.

* The wife broke down and bought a 3G iPhone today. One of us! ONE OF US! ONE OF US!!!

* I’m sitting on half a dozen posts and 4500 words worth of pretty incendiary political commentary, but I haven’t reached the point of rage where it actually merits posting. Maybe later, depending on the caliber of stupidity I get socked with as things go on. Suffice it to say, democracy is generally its own punishment.

* Also sitting on over 500 words on the topic of Brett Favre, also highly incendiary. Considering posting that, just because of my career as a frustrated sports editor. However, I think there needs to be something said by some sports commentator who hasn’t got an outrageous man-crush on the Ol’ Mississippi Gunslinger and who can see a slight problem with bringing somebody back for their eighteenth season of pro football.

* Battery issues seem to be catching. I had to condition the laptop battery, which is already over 200 charge cycles. Thing is, I don’t want to have to replace the sonofabitch until after September and the inevitable new MacBook release (check the history, kids) and even then, I’d really like not to have to buy a computer when that money could much more usefully go on a $illy television just in time for college football. Although to be honest, any HD upgrade probably won’t happen until Christmas, when the next round of price drops hits big, DirecTV has their satellites all in place for 200 channels of high-def, and there’s plenty of college basketball on. When you have seven games on your season tickets, buying a TV for Saturday afternoons is sort of pointless.

* Although I have to say, re-watching the Season 4 premiere of Battlestar, I would awfully like to have HD before the final 10 episodes start. =)

* My Friend Vince Sez he cannot believe this is real.


New pub protocol

Tally marks on the arm side of the wristwatch are what you owe for. Tally marks on the hand side are what other people bought you, so you can be sure how much you’ve thrown down your gullet of a Sunday afternoon.

I bought myself three pints yesterday. Only thing is, the bartender replaced the third with a glass (!) of Bushmills, since I had just bought a round for the entire pub (a reasonably simple affair when there ain’t but a half dozen people in the place and most of them drinking Miller Lite). However, I wound up with another pint, two more Bushmills and some sort of pomegranate tequila (sic…amazingly, not sick) all bought by somebody else. In the grand scheme of things, I think it may have been the cheapest day out drinking ever that wasn’t spent at Ugly’s. I mean, 7 drinks for $40 ain’t bad…and from 3 to 7 in the afternoon no less.

I highly endorse Ireland’s 32, up on Geary in the Richmond, because I don’t think a stranger ever walks through the door. Don’t let all the Sinn Fein/hunger strike/Easter Rising decor fool you; these are friendly folks and no fooling.

The most amazing part of the day, of course, was the fog. Leave Googleburg where it’s sunny and 80 degrees, and forty-five minutes later, you’re standing on a corner that’s gray and overcast with a chill wet wind whipping at you like January. Incredible. I love it and am prepared to move to the city straightaway, real estate and job permitting (which I doubt, sadly).

Only Fools and Horses

So here’s the thing…for ten years plus, my career has revolved around the Macintosh. Goes back to the days in grad school when I spent all evening with my old Power Mac 6100 – evenings that could have been more profitably spent, you know, studying – trying to squeeze an extra 20K of free RAM out of the system heap by doing without this extension or that CDEV or by installing some crazy utility (RAMDoubler, anybody?) or just by rebooting and rebuilding the desktop one more time.

Thing is, I’ve devoted a lot of time to this. I’ve lived and worked through the OS X transition, the Intel transition, the iPod and iPhone era, and I’ve seen things change to the point where the same money that bought 16 MB of RAM when I started now buy you a slick 13″ widescreen laptop with RAM and hard drive measured in gigabytes, complete with wireless networking and DVD burning. At one point, I had all the same technical training and qualifications required to be a Mac Genius in the Apple Store (albeit without any of the customer-service training, which honestly was fine by me. I stalled for over a year on taking my “Civil Treatment” course at my first job and left without ever having it, my logic being that I would take a course in Civil Treatment as soon as I started getting some, but I digress). Even now, I’ve passed the first qualifying test for 10.5 certification, and passed it handily without taking the associated course.

The nut of the matter is this: I am a Mac tech, and if I say so myself, I’m a pretty damn good one.

The problem is, I’ve about maxed out what I can do in terms of desktop and workstation support. I see the job listings for Macintosh tech support, and I see what they pay, and it’s not a pretty sight if you’re looking in terms of future earnings…especially when a fresh crop of MIS grads gets popped out every May, all as thrilled as I was ten years ago to be making THAT KIND OF MONEY OMG NO MORE RAMEN NOODLES!!

Clearly, if I’m going to move forward, I have to do something else. Problem is, the next step up is “system administrator,” and there just doesn’t seem to be that much out there in terms of Macintosh system administration. There’s also Mac sales, but let’s be honest, I’ve got no future in sales. Anybody who knows me will tell you that. And the really galling thing is that when I took the job I have now, it came with worse benefits than I got from a non-profit eleven years ago. I don’t think there’s a job out there that’s going to let me start with the kind of leave you earn after ten years’ service.

Thing is, I spent much of last week reading myself to sleep with a book called The Nudist on the Late Shift. I first read it in 1999, when it captured a snapshot from across the Silicon Valley ecosystem at the height of the boom. I clearly remember reading it and thinking “do I have what it takes to go be part of that?” Unfortunately, the boom is over, and while there’s some crazy stuff out there in the Web 2.0 era, they’re not raining six-figure salaries and bonus options on janitors and waitresses to come work at anymore. It really seems like the days of plentiful money, ample leave, and generous helpings of adventure and excitement and really wild things have gone by the boards, and with them the opportunity for easy mobility. I think that sending out a resume looking for my fourth job in five years – or worse yet, eighteen months from now, my fifth job in seven years – is asking for trouble, not to mention a long slide back to 1 in the grand game of Career Chutes and Ladders.

So what I’m trying to figure out is this: what else is out there? If I’m not really crazy about sales, or management, and my entire career has been spent on one platform with limited experience on any other (and that spent integrating it with the first one, mostly), what else is there that will still give me the opportunity to see more than a 1% raise ever again, take more than three sick days a year, give me the scratch to buy my nephews the GI Joe with the Kung Fu Grip and still wake up at 7 AM Monday morning without immediately screaming in agony?

If I could figure that out…well shit, I wouldn’t be wasting my time blogging at you folks, I’d be doing it and lighting up the cigars at 5 PM daily.


So Apple blew the roof out again. Over a billion dollars profit in fiscal Q3, another record, and that with the iPhone basically gone from the channel down the stretch as the ramp up to the 3G began. And with that announcement…the stock drops 10% in after-hours trading.

Well, the usual talk is “the guidance was below analysts’ predictions.” Thing is, this has been the case for eight of the last nine quarters. Eight of nine. And in all but one case, the guidance was more than 9% under the analyst prediction. And every time, three months later, the results have beaten the guidance and the analysts.

Normally this is where I make my sardonic comment about stock traders having the attention span of a goldfish, and rue the fact that I could have sold all my shares Thursday and bought them back today and increased my holdings 15%, knowing the stock will be back up to scratch in four to six weeks. But instead, I’m bothered by something else…

How can people be wrong, all the time, about everything, and still be taken seriously?

Seriously, when a blogger is wrong, big !-ing deal. Hell, when a blogger is right, big !-ing deal, and I say that as someone whose track record is pretty damn good if I say so myself. But how can people be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars on television, in magazines, in newspapers, on financial channels and “news” channels, get it wrong over and over and fracking over, and still be regarded as worthy of being heard?

Thing is, look at the typical newspaper columnist, in the business section or the sports section or the editorial page. In almost every single case, there’s somebody else doing the same thing online, for free, for love of the topic – and who usually has as good if not better qualifications to speak on the topic. The very best writing on college football in the entire country is coming from a guy whose day job is working with international refugee agencies, and it’s not because he’s getting sacks of money and country ham flung at him while he shouts “GIMMEH GIMMEH,” it’s because he cares about college football and is directly answerable to the throngs of commenters who will let him know right quick if he sucks. There’s none of the insulation provided by a big-time publication or a million-dollar salary or a like-minded clique. If you’re full of shit, you’ll know it because nobody will be listening anymore. You can keep wittering away, but to paraphrase the great Butt-Head: “If a tree fell on a band, and they sucked, would anybody care?”

Why on Earth are we still expected to take seriously the thoughts and opinions of people whose batting average wouldn’t get them a shot in short-season A-ball, just because they have a newspaper/TV show/radio slot/back page of the magazine?


So the big audit is finally over. There’s a mandatory “outbrief” at 1 PM, which sounds like something vaguely dirty involving underwear that you’d see during Pride Week. However, I daresay that there will be no fit young blokes at this thing, but rather a slew of paste-eating special snowflakes* that send email of complaint using phrases like “self-appointed experts from the military-industrial corporate-lock-down security complex” with no apparent irony. Those of you who marched with the Rifles of the EUS when history was made will recognize this crowd in a second: Pre-Press.

(A Ghra Mo Chroi, I long to see the boys of the old brigade. Slainte, lads.)

Fortunately, since that particular show is closing, I am back to the firehouse role: sit around, wash the truck, pet the dog, and wait for something to blow up or burn down. I could really use a couple of days of complete downtime at work, not to mention a lunch hour longer than 35 minutes. See, the way I see it, if I’m an exempt employee, and I’m already there 8 to 5, a full hour for lunch and just to be away from the phone and the computer is the bare minimum required by a civilized society.

I have also smoked 3 whole cigars this week. However, it has been so long since I hit the cigars on a regular basis that I have permanently reverted back to the robusto size, which was my go-to ten years ago, rather than the “phone pole with a leaf around it” size of cigar that I was famous for back in the Old Dominion.

Just my luck, by the way, that when I cut my hair down to a 1 setting (as close to shaved without breaking out the Mach 3 as you can get), the weather suddenly turns cool and breezy and my God, it’s 62 degrees out there, are you kidding me? So much for trying to keep cool. Now I just have to avoid sunburn.

(I knocked down some more Black and Red last night, a.k.a. the Diamondback, a.k.a. the Darth Maul. That black-cherry cider is STRONG, but blending with Guinness cuts down the excessive sweetness without compromising the flavor. And they even sell kegs right down the road. I’m just saying.)

Right…time to order lunch.

* Blue Tarp Girl gets a nickel. Who Dat?

This is absurd.

The bit that really sticks out here? “Tobacco shops”.



I’m sick of all this pussyfooting around. If you want to ban smoking, grow some balls and ban it. Completely. Otherwise, F off and quit pissing me off with the whole “death by a thousand cuts:” routine. If you don’t have the courage of your convictions, maybe you ought not be legislating.

And (insert enraged blasphemy here), quit trying to tell me that all this whining about burning particulate matter in the respiratory system doesn’t count for marijuana because it’s a wonderful magical organic plant that is nothing but good for you. Tiny burnt bits in the lungs is pretty much one and the same as far as I can tell, whether it’s a fine Bahia Gold Maduro, a stack of newspapers, or some of Dumpster Muffin’s beloved Oaxaca ditch-weed. (PJ O’Rourke gets a nickel.) I trust that the crackdown on cigar shops will quickly be followed with action against all these medicinal marijuana “clinics” that aren’t providing THC intravenously.

Actually, come to think of it, I would favor allowing medicinal marijuana in unlimited quantities…on the condition that it only be provided as a suppository.

Hanging Out Tuesday’s Wash

• I’m not kidding about the Washington Post. When the Washington Times – run by Moonies and one step above the New Frontiersman (Watchmen reference, folks! Try to keep up) – is producing equal or better journalistic product, it’s time to fold up shop. The paper was circling the drain once before, in the mid-60s, and was kept afloat almost single-handedly by the brilliant sportswriting of the great Shirley Povich (pray for us). And while there’s all kinds of things you could call the Post columnists in 2008, don’t call them Shirley.

• Speaking of Old Media, let me just say this: the “satire” excuse is the last refuge of somebody whose joke sucked. Every time I criticize Starship Troopers, somebody always comes out of the woodwork to complain that it’s a satire and it’s supposed to be like that. Let me put on my English-minor hat and give you a hint here: “satire” is not a synonym for “shit on a shingle.” If people aren’t laughing at your satire, while it may make you feel smart to say that they just don’t get it, you should at least consider the possibility that in fact your work just blows.

• Shortest joke in the world, stolen without attribution: “Pretentious? Moi?”

• Seriously, I’ve been taking the New Yorker for almost nineteen years now. Nineteen years. Insert incredulous expletive here. Occasionally you do find some good stuff in there, but for the last few years you’re grasping to get three good articles in a month. I think it’s less a reflection on the magazine than on the fact that long-form magazine literature in general is taking a beating when so much content is freely available online, even if you don’t have the most staid and hidebound publication in the country. (Can you believe that the whole uproar about Tina Brown taking over the New Yorker was sixteen years ago? Does anyone even remember who Tina Brown was?)

• It’s amazing to me that I can get to more attractive destinations, faster and more reliably, by taking a heavy-rail commuter train than the VTA light rail. Even on the weekend, I can Caltrain to San Francisco and walk to O’Neills almost as fast as I can take the light rail and walk to O’Flaherty’s. In twenty minutes with Caltrain, I can be downtown in Sunnyvale, Palo Alto or Menlo Park. Twenty minutes on the light rail gets you to something called “Old Ironsides.” Double it and you’re still not close to San Pedro Square. Here we see the catch with public transit: to be effective, it has to go somewhere you want to be. They didn’t run the Orange Line on the Washington Metro out to Clarendon and Ballston; those communities grew huge and significant because the Metro was there, and it took two decades for them to get that way. Ironically, the route the VTA light rail ought to take is the exact route the Caltrain takes: roughly parallel to El Camino Real the length of the Peninsula. Instead, the light rail sets out from downtown Mountain View (a very viable destination, admittedly) and then takes two dozen stops and almost an hour to get downtown. On the way, it manages to miss every single mall, movie theater, downtown high street or other commercial destination that somebody might actually want to get to.

• Now that’s comedy. I just got a message in Friendster, which never happens – how they got lapped by MySpace and then Facebook is astounding to me, frankly, but there it is, and in fairness Orkut (from Google) has been a bigger bust than Dolly Parton’s got – and it’s some sort of spam that purports to be from my sister-in-law. However I sort of doubt that she has a “profiel” on “”. Just a hunch.

* I do love my car. Zipping around on a cool summer night in a VW with the windows down and moonroof open is exactly what I was hoping for in 2004, and the Rabbit beats the ’04 New Beetle all hollow under the hood. Nevertheless, if I’d known in 2006 what I know now, I would definitely have bought the Vespa for less than a quarter the money and almost quadruple the mileage. It would be long since paid off, I’d be clocking ridonkulous cheap commutes relative to what I was before, I could still get almost anywhere I want that doesn’t require a freeway, and I could basically be one long Eddie Izzard joke.

• Very interested to see if The Dark Knight is better than Iron Man. Can’t fathom that the first Batman was more than half my life ago.

• Is it just me, or does the Stig always give the impression of always being just one more smart remark away from seizing Jeremy Clarkson by the throat and throttling him until his perm un-curls? Seriously, nobody has ever more perfectly conveyed such a perfect blend of frustration, contempt, and supreme talent wasted in an ignominious cause. I think the Stig must have been in tech support once. Actually, that’s ideal – the guy you send to somebody’s office to work on a machine should be clad in a firesuit and full helmet, no identifying marks, never speaks, just fixes and leaves. That way, you can still go to lunch in public without being accosted for help. Why we didn’t think of this in 1998, I have no idea.

• This post has been brought to you by Larsen’s Biscuits.