Things a nice 11″ MacBook Air can do that an iPad can’t (at present)

1) Physical keyboard text entry without carrying a Bluetoof

2) ESPN3

3) Apple Remote Desktop

4) FaceTime

Of these, the only one I expect to change significantly in the next week is 4). On the other hand, when my work laptop will do all of them, it hardly bears looking at a new computing device. But then, I’m the person who researched cars for THREE YEARS against the day my Saturn would finally give up the ghost – and when it happened, I had the Rabbit all picked out and ready to go, and no complaints for it. Preparedness matters, people.

A Fugitive Looks At Thirty-Nine

Twenty-one years ago, I woke up after what I thought was the worst night of my life. I had found out at dinner the night before that I hadn’t gotten the full-tuition package from Vanderbilt. I had promptly locked myself in my room with the lights out listening to Edie Brickell sing “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” on a loop and not come out until morning, where a surprise was waiting for me when I got to school.

See, I was turning 18, which means that I was legally entitled to look in my file, at the “permanent record” and see what was said about me from the very beginnings of my educational career. Including what I’d actually scored on that test all those years ago that had branded me with the scarlet G for the rest of my academic career. I got to school, the receptionist presented me with the file, and I opened it to read a letter at the top that was a review of my academic standing as of the end of the 1985-86 school year as I got ready to go to high school. It rated me as being a rounding-error away from dropping below the minimum threshold and suggested that I needed remedial work if I were to qualify for my high school. It went on at length, continued on the back page, where I flipped it over to see “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!” At which point the small crowd that had developed without my notice exploded with laughter and presented me with a T-shirt – plain black marker on undershirt, the traditional style of my alma mater – with the actual number in huge numerals on the back.

Looking back, I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I do now, or should have – but that was largely due to the mutual reinforcing traumas of Valentine’s Day and the sudden end of my college search. I knew I wasn’t going to Vanderbilt now – I had full ride offers and more from both Alabama and the school I ended up attending, and I called the latter that afternoon to accept. Obviously, had I known what was to come, I would have insisted on taking the offer from Vanderbilt and eating the loans, and doing everything in my power to make Vanderbilt possible, because that decision is one that ultimately ended up taking most of the 1990s to recover from. So it goes.

I say that to say this: tonight, there is someone out there who was born into the world at the moment I was looking at that piece of paper. And tonight that person is going out and getting well and truly legally plastered with his or her friends. Because it’s been just that long.

Half a life ago would put me in late 1991, a time when I was starting to undergo some serious transformation. My sports interest spiked for the first time, I smoked for the first time, I discovered that professional football existed before the Super Bowl era, I discovered that my college existed before the 1970s, and I picked up the trombone for the first time in over five years and joined the bands – largely to give myself an ironclad excuse to be at every game, girlfriend or not.

Now? I don’t know. I don’t feel 39. I don’t feel like this is going to be some kind of big odometer rollover. And I know for a fact that I probably won’t feel any different from mid-February 2012 to mid-April 2012, barring a Vanderbilt national title in basketball, because when you get right down to it, our lives aren’t measured out in easily-demarcated years. They’re measured in random eras – places lived, loves lost, championship seasons, cars driven, a million overlapping criteria that let us look back and try to gauge the distance we’ve come.

There’s not really anything I want for my birthday this year. Nothing I can buy with money, anyway. I have had everything I wanted in my life, even if I don’t have all of it anymore, or want all of it anymore, and even if I would like some more of what I already had (there’s probably a new Timbuk2 messenger coming sooner rather than later, and will probably get a bunch of custom work done to boot). For today and tonight, though, I’m content with another cup of coffee, dinner with friends, and turning in early to snuggle with my sweetie. Tomorrow will take care of itself. You play the days like you play the games: one at a time.

Note re: comments

So since the last time I went to muck out (January 19), the spam filter has trapped exactly 29 spam comments out of 3816. That’s bad arithmetic. So I’m probably going to turn off comments again until I can sort out some other mechanism for handling the detritus of the Internet.

Thank you. Now back to spazzing out.

thinking out loud

I don’t currently own a laptop of any kind. All my mobility computing is in my iPhone and in my work laptop. For some reason I found myself thinking back over the various portable machines I’ve had (including during that stretch where I was entitled to any Apple laptop I wanted for work/home use…and other times when work just sort of provided). In roughly reverse chronological order…

Dell netbook (Mini 1012)

2nd-gen black MacBook

1st-gen black MacBook

pre-production original MacBook Pro 15″

12″ Powerbook G4

12″ iBook G4

15″ Titanium PowerBook G4

original gray iBook G3 SE

original bronze PowerBook G3

14″ 233Mhz “Main Street” PowerBook G3 (first laptop, bought in 1999)

The common theme here seems to be “consumer-grade low-cost and small”. Note that the move to a larger system has always been occasioned by a more powerful processor, and has always been succeeded by a smaller device with the same processor. (Aside from the netbook experiment, which was a special circumstance solely occasioned by the availability of Dell credit and birthday money.) On paper, at least, anything less than a 2.66 Ghz Core 2 Duo or 4 GB of RAM is a non-starter at this point.

I bring this up because this time next week we’ll know what’s doing with the iPad 2. Which I have to think will include some sort of iOS update, whether to a notional iOS 5 or just a bump in 4. The combination of iPhone and Kindle has pretty much done for my previous bouts of iPad glee, but I’m still tempted – maybe because of the constant allure of Alan Kay’s notional Dynabook in the back of my head, maybe because I think I might actually do more blogging and writing and try to make something of it besides sharing the misery of Vanderbilt sports.

But I’m definitely saving my birthday money for a bit.

Well that happened.

I hate everything. That was absolutely the worst performance this team has given all year – at least sixteen turnovers that I counted and a complete collapse down the stretch in the last ten minutes. I don’t see a sure thing the rest of the way, not even at LSU, and this team will get romped hard in the postseason. At least now we know what happens when Jeffery Taylor and John Jenkins don’t show up.

This team needs some frontcourt presence and fast. Somebody has to develop a killer instinct and take it to the rack, and I don’t know who that’s going to be at this point. I said this could be a really special team if they could ever get it all together at once. Instead, it looks more and more like we’ll never know.

77-60: We’re Getting The Band Back Together!

(cross-posted from Anchor of Gold)

Before this game, I pronounced that either we’d see double-digit minutes from Joe “Fluffy” Duffy or we’d be on the wrong end of an embarrassment for the ages. At halftime, it was hard not to get the impression that the team thought this one was going to be a milk run. Fortunately, the light came on in time, and a 14-0 burst helped the ‘Dores put Auburn away, 77-60. John Jenkins delivered another answer-the-bell performance after an almost scoreless first half with 22 points (including five 3s) and Jeffery Taylor added 20 points and 10 boards to go with Brad Tinsley’s 16.
The highlight of the game for me had to be the long-anticipated return of Andre Walker, though. After missing 17 of the last 18 games with a run of illness and injury that would make a nun kick a kitten through a stained-glass window, Andre’s modest 6 points in 11 minutes belied a court presence that we’ve long missed. If he comes all the way back Tuesday night, it could be a really good night in Memorial.
Let’s not mince words: Auburn is an awful, awful team, and this game should never have been close. If this is the biggest mental letdown the rest of the way, we’ll be in good shape, although this should serve as a wakeup call for the LSU game next week. But any win you can walk away from is a quality win…and now it’s all about the Big Orange, losers of 4 of their last 5 since Pearl returned, coming to town on Tuesday. Let’s not make that one any closer, how ’bout it?


I first discovered NBA JAM in early 1993, when my interest in professional basketball was at its peak. It was the rookie season for Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Christian Laettner, Horry and Sprewell from Alabama (both in the first two dozen picks!), and Oliver Miler, the Razorback who joined a team with Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle, and…Charles Barkley, in his first year with the Suns. Who promptly became my team of record, after a sporadic flirtation with the Pistons and Trailblazers. And there was the machine, in the arcade at Brookwood Village, with its computer voice bellowing out one bombastic cliche after another. Naturally, I had to seize on it, after years of video-game football.

And I never played anything but the Suns, obviously. Between Barkley and Majerle, I had a well-rounded operation and could sink threes or break backboards with equal aplomb. Sure, it was a quarter per quarter, but hell, it was worth a dollar a throw to watch that ball catch fire and trail smoke on a 40-foot shot. Naturally, I grabbed it as soon as it was out for the Sega Genesis and worked it into the rotation with Bill Walsh College Football (even though the Sega version swapped Barkley for KJ). And I got plenty of action out of that, until my NBA interest started to wane with my grad school career….which was ironic, given that I finally moved to a place that had a team.

I never got back into the NBA again until the Warriors made their unlikely run in the “We Believe” year, and I tried to get stuck in – but once Baron Davis left, and the team sank back into the swamp, my attention drifted again. Every year, I kept saying “maybe this is the year I get back into it” but couldn’t decide between the Warriors or Kings (or even Wizards) and never really found a hook. And honestly, I was more inclined to think I should just wait and see where the Vanderbilt guys end up…and then, by some random happenstance, the wife got third-row seats at the Warriors earlier this winter, and we went, and they won, and they got on a bit of a streak…

And then, NBA JAM for the iPhone happened.

And as it happens, Stephen Curry and David Lee, at least in Rookie mode, are good for (checks phone) 19 consecutive wins (including 16-0 in campaign mode). Curry can shoot the lights out, Lee helps take care of stuff inside, and it’s worked out pretty well so far. And I’m not just saying that because I think Curry is the easiest way of playing John Jenkins until he actually gets drafted.

This may be the thing that gets me back into the league. Names of players, knowing who the stars are, taking an interest, keeping up with things…who knows, maybe if I have another sport to spread my interest around I won’t wind up as a mental case. Hell, it might be nice to find out what it’s like to casually follow a team for shits and giggles instead of trying to get my soul saved.

And besides, I think the wife will tolerate blue and gold. ;]

I don’t know what’s worse…

…Alabama fans being tarred as psychotic rednecks, or Auburn fans getting justification for their persecuted-martyr complex.

Either way, it proves that I was right to bump my Crimson Tide affiliation to fourth among supported teams and to go all-in on Vanderbilt. Commodore Nation may be many things, but fortunately “world’s largest open-air special needs kindergarten” is not among them. Which is not something you can say about the football powers in the Heart of Dixie.

Time to top up the passport

According to a recent survey, only 28% of likely Republican primary voters think Barack Obama was born in the United States.

Let me put this another way: almost three-quarters of the people who will pick the next GOP question the citizenship of the President of the United States.

We’ve now got a whole political party in the hands of people with the intellectual capacity of commenters. Seriously, I’m sorry, GOP-leaning friends, but you’ve got fucking retards steering the ship.