The Road Best Traveled

Some people hate poetry. “Pretentious,” they say. Well, I say anything can be pretentious, and poetry like any work of creation, can be good or bad, effective or not, applicable or not. Impactful or not.

I’m up against Choices. What started as a tactical “let’s see” has on its own volition inflated to include most of the space around me and inside my head and has become a choice of strategic importance to my life going one way or t’other.

For reasons I can’t yet fathom, a quote by Maya Angelou hit me like a ton of bricks, yet it didn’t knock me off balance, it gave me grounding. It didn’t settle a thing, but I was more settled. It didn’t provoke, but I felt as if the words demanded something of me. It didn’t comfort me, but it pointed me in some direction. All in the midst of these Choices.

Maya Angelou and her wisdom:

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer,
it sings because it has a song.

Only those far from my personal realm will find pretense, not only in the quote, but perhaps in me as well. Oh well.

Life is song, all rhythm to keep it going, all words to keep it interacting, all music to carry it to places neither rhythm nor words can reach.

Angelou knows why the caged bird sings. Choice is my cage right now; Decision is the key which will unlock it.

O MS G!

Nod to Gruber on this one. Not sure whether to thank him or…or…or…just go ahead and tell rixstep that Gruber doesn’t like the font on their homepage or something. Funny how you can’t threaten bodily harm, but no one can press charges for sicking (good word) rixies on someone. Death by someone’s hand or death by a thousand annoying kindergarten insults written by ham-fisting a jumbo Crayola: I pick the former.

Anyway, watch at your own peril. Because not only will you see and hear field sales sloganeering going on, but late night infomercials for penis-enlargement, acne medication and fat loss pills have better production values and even better pitches.

Watch at your own peril. Yes, peril!!!!

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For my own efforts, I couldn’t make it through the entire thing, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if they got the UI guys to produce it. It’s not like they’re sequestered in their offices sweating the details on the Vista UE.

Oh, and one more thing: in the verse that addresses the ‘wait and see’ IT professionals’ attitude towards Vista deployment, the song’s answer to that attitude is “SP1!”. Pardon me for sweating the details myself on their behalf, but if those IT professionals have already waited until SP1, how does that combat ‘wait and see’ since, like I said, they’ve already waited. Already seen. And the adoption rates post-SP1 aren’t anything to write home about.

Meanwhile, IBM—yes, IBM—is giving their employees the option of having a Mac for their main computer. Early results of the trial? 86% of them wanted to keep the Mac they were given for the testing period.

I’m not sayin’…I’m just sayin’.

As for the video, are you embarrassed for them? You should be. Are you ready to shoot the messenger? You should be.

They should have called the video “Two Girls and One Cup of Vista”.

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P.S. Bruce’s butt is much hotter.

P.P.S. He’s flagging right, red. Some of you will know what that means. I do, but ew. But it’s apropros imagery for Vista. Double ew.

Psystar & Short-Sighted Linux Nerds

There’s this back-alley outfit in Miami who started selling a $399 “OpenMac” computer they claim will run Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5). Noooo, a computer hardware company NOT named Apple is going to have no problems naming a computer “OpenMac”. Idiots.

So now it’s called the “Open Computer”, which, if you believe the people for whom this computer is for, is redundant; these are the people that hate the fact and solid justification of being able to run Mac OS X only on Apple hardware. Boo hoo.

So then this company is specious in comparing it price/performance wise to a Mac mini. The mini is specific to two different audiences: those that want to dip their toe into the Mac world and those that want a small, silent, capable Mac, where size, loudness and narrow capability are the key factors. Like the Mac mini I have running as media server and media source in my home theater setup.

This thing is a clunky box: much bigger than the mini and most likely much louder than the mini. So for the latter audience (which would include me) this box might as well be a Dell desktop box.

So let’s say that those Apple-hardware-restrictions haters want the “freedom” of “openness” and “choice” of running Mac OS X on commodity hardware (which none of Apple’s is, for reasons of enhanced usability, not just to be different for no reason) end up with Mac OS X on their desktop.

Hurray! They’ve finally gotten the OS and UI they’ve hated on so long! Huh? Now we’ve eliminated the first group, too.

But it’s all about choice now, right? Mac OS X is superior for many reasons, one of which is look-and-feel consistency across all applications—except for Adobe and their stupid AMP application. “But why can’t I skin the windows to look like I want them to? Why can’t I have mouse-focus on the windows and auto-raise and…and…and…everything I can choose to do on my linux commodity, loud-as-the-devil’s-own-noise, ugly as sin, boring as fuck, built-it-myself-while-wearing-a-tin-foil-hat-just-because-that’s-how-I-roll in Mac OS X? I can do all that on Linux, so why shouldn’t I be able to do that on Mac OS X?

So whoever the market is for the OpenMac OpenComputer will end up with an ugly beige box runnning Linux anyway, because Mac OS X is too restricted by Apple’s insistence.

So explain to me again? Hate Apple hardware’s restrictions, hate Mac OS X’s restrictions people who just plain hate anything Apple makes because they’re not “open” going out and buying a beige box with non-Apple-standard configurations, ending up with the problems of finding drivers for the stuff they themselves add to the Open Computer—remember, these people don’t ever settle for off-the-shelf configurations—ending up stuck with an OS that doesn’t let them configure the software to look like some teen angst nightmare that makes them feel in control of their computing world.

The only way the presence of this stillbirth (by all reckoning) of a machine makes any sense is as an attempt to hate on Apple’s valuation and to attempt to lend an honest credence to their irrational attempts to humiliate humble Apple.

There’s how to build a successful business, eh?

So if it’s not intended to successfully sell machines, why does it exist? More to the point, who’s funding it? That’s where you’ll find the real answers.

Microsoft, cold-blooded reptilian that’s dying from the changing climate, goes after the small mammal that, while tiny and cute and stuffed [graphical] toy-like, has managed to thrive with aplomb.

We’ve seen this before.

Oh, and did I mention that Psystar warns that it’s not 100% compatible with Apple’s Software Update system? By their own admission and in their own words, there are “non-safe” and “not non-safe” updates for the OpenComputer running Leopard. In my book, that directly violates their claim that it runs Leopard “off the shelf”, because a significant feature of Leopard-off-the-shelf is that updates (security and improvement updates) work as advertised.

Let’s see how far they get; then we’ll have some real numbers of the stupidity of consumers and how some things are cliché for a good reason.

Adobe’s Desktop Move

Adobe has released a developer toolkit called AIR. This is how Adobe describes it:

Adobe AIR enables developers to create [Rich Internet Applications] on the desktop using the skills and Web technologies — such as HTML, Ajax, PDF, Adobe Flash and Adobe Flex — they already employ.

What that all means is that, well, you know all those spiffier web apps like, say, Google Maps or MyYahoo! that behave more like a typical application than a web page? Well, Adobe AIR basically brings all the web-side crap and packs it into a library that lets you develop a web-type application, but it runs without need of a web browser or even a connection to the internet. Good idea, right? Well, their first shot at using it for a “real” application is the new Adobe Media Player (or AMP. clev’). And here’s what it looks like:

<br/>235334-adobemedia_300.png <br/> <br/> <br/>

Looks great, like a Mac application, doesn’t it? Oh, wait, it looks like a Windows app. Oh, wait, it doesn’t look like one of those, either.

Multiple steps backwards in usability, but hey, at least it gives the web app developers a shot at joining the rest of us on the desktop. Gooooo, you.

Wait, wasn’t Java supposed to do that?

I guarantee you that cross-platform technology is good for no one but developers, to the detriment of users. And that’s not how it’s supposed to play: developers are supposed to do the hard work to allow users to make easy work of their….work!

Biggest example is….Adobe! They have this enormous cross-platform back-end library for Photoshop and most other CS applications, but because they wanted to cut costs. Result: CS4 (upcoming version) apps like Photoshop that would benefit from 64-bit technology (more efficient and faster with large dataset manipulation like 20GB files) won’t be getting it for the Mac because their back-end has to also work with Windows.

So Adobe promises CS5 will be 64-bit, which means they’ll have to dismantle the cross-platform back-end and build separate applications for Mac and for Windows.

And now we get a media player that has a huge (like .NET) download in order to play videos. A video player whose usability is familiar to neither Mac folks nor Windows folks.

This is nothing but a ploy to lock developers into inferior technologies that they control: didn’t I mention it’s all based on Flash?

Microsoft did this same thing with ActiveX, COM, DCOM and a whole bunch of other crap that the web’s taken forever to supplant.

Thanks, big corporations!

And before you start on Apple, Objective-C is available to everyone via gcc, the most popular, most famous compiler in the world. Everyone uses it. Except Microsoft.

I’m biased, of course, but there’s art in a truly usable application. And least common denominator isn’t a healthy way to start to build one.

Liars Everywhere. And Land Mines.

Lions are growing.

And here’s some Facebook-generated esoterica:

  • Which Greek God am I? Zeus:
  • You are Zeus, the king of the gods. Zeus is a mighty and powerful ruler, who likes to be in charge. He doesn’t let anyone mess with him, or he brings out his thunderbolt.
  • What is the color of my aura? Purple:
  • Your aura is purple. You’re eccentric with your style and do not like to conform. You seek great things and significance in life and are a natural born leader.
  • A Theoretical: Is He Your Soulmate? (more on this later)

Earlier in the day, TiVo offered up an episode of SNL to satisfy Sam’s “FEY, TINA” Wish List. All well and good, but a land mine was planted right in front of the sofa: SNL’s musical guest? Keane. Keane performing “Somewhere Only We Know”. I do not know how it affected Sam; I could not bring myself to do anything but busy myself with nonsense (enter Facebook) until the song played itself out. Still, without realizing the exact point at which I’d begun to sing the song, the land mine made itself known and knocked me out of my minimalist mental context: silent running.

Another land mine, though this one was impotent, a dud which failed its purpose: one of the banished ‘pups’ dared attempt to contact me after repeated demands of no-contact. On my birthday. No surprise. Subject? “It’s too late to apologize” Content? A tragic attempt at grand apologia, only to expose its true purpose: “…Not trying or expecting to make amends or anything, I just would hate to die knowing that I never said I was sorry…”. If you don’t recall my opinion on genuine apology, go read it again. I’m Zeus, remember? I can ordain. An apology isn’t an apology when it’s self-serving. I have a purple aura, remember? I am eccentric, nonconformist. Pursuit of great things by a natural born leader leaves no time for trivialities.

It is a hallmark of each and every ‘pup’ to ignore boundaries and pee on the carpets. Attempts both simplistically obvious and inanely bumbling to turn that Someplace Only We Knew into chew toys and puppy chow for their own base self-absorption I would never permit. Still, I have just now come to realize that only Pavlovian tactics and rolled up newspapers rapping on noses would have been simple enough and would have saved me quite a lot of time.

To this end, and to end this, I’ll ignore boundaries; I’ll impolitely soil the carpetings; I’ll grab my blog, roll it up and make a final attempt at instruction. Here, in all its self-serving glory, is the entire epistle:

From: Justin Green
Subject: “it’s too late to apologize”

But you deserve an apology. I’m sorry I was such a dick to you, and for all of the ways and times I was. Not trying or expecting to make amends or anything, I just would hate to die knowing that I never said I was sorry.

I hope you’re doing well. I broke up with Nathan, I’m back in therapy, and I’m trying to be a better person.

You helped me realize I wasn’t being a very good one. I’m sorry that I hurt you in the process.

Take care of yourself…

Are you uncomfortable reading someone else’s “private” email? You should be because that’s the right reaction. Am I uncomfortable posting a private email? Of course, but I’ll live because it ended it. And Justin has dispatched with a boilerplate ‘sorry’ before his life is over, so he can check that one off his Earl list.

All of this brings me back, by way of seismic contrast, to that Theoretical: the Soul Mate question from a nonsense Facebook “application”. I am single now. Not blessedly so, not by choice, but by necessity, by fiat, by simple fact. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that in life sometimes one just has to feel bad for a while, that in life sometimes conflict is not only healthy, but necessary, that absolution is not earned but merely offered. But often fear and timorousness occlude these simple notions. Some people just don’t have the mettle. The rest don’t have my respect.

I am single. I have no soul mate. I have myself, blessedly incomplete, a soul acting as vessel for universal energy and as drop cloth for bled-out, emotionally poisonous leachate.

But to throw the cosmic dice and create a new opportunity for understanding through unworthy means, I chose Allen as the man to test against as soul mate material. Facebook is a weird place (and yes, I do my part to make it that way).

But that final land mine, the one whose cold purpose delivered merciless violence, was Question 4 in the “Soul Mate” quiz:

Q4Answered.png

How do you see what you two want from life? Life. For him. On the same page, indeed. Wasn’t that easy? For the record, the quiz offered this:

You are perfect soul mates. You balance each other perfectly and are on the same life track. Your personalities are fitting puzzle pieces and he fills your needs and you fill his. You are meant to be.

That’s when the crying and wishing started and wouldn’t stop. Simple answers are the most brutal. Insipid questions don’t deserve truth, but truth’s brutality often obliges anyway.

It seems the fashion, the accepted behavior—more so than ever—that brutal truths are best handled by blanketing them with shallow lies and plausible deniability, by body doubles and clever CGI or other tricks of light. Livable worlds require the creature comfort of being able to suppress and forget and turn away from unpalatable truths.

I was never fashionable, and in the face of Brutal Truths like death the world seems populated ever more with liars. Fashionable, shallow coverups making bad copies of themselves: the world becomes choked with liars who can plausibly deny themselves and their own cowardice.

Eyes opened by Brutal Truths can never be fully closed to them again. And not for not trying, but the inexorable conclusion comes to this: the unclouded eye is best, and courage rises to purpose in times of need.

Liars Everywhere by Toad the Wet Sprocket

here in my mind is a wall i can’t climb

don’t listen now
there are liars everywhere

deep in my heart is a stone i must cut

don’t listen now
there are liars everywhere
liars are everywhere

I Ching At 44

ppc_4400.jpgSo yesterday I turned 44. I went hunting for various meanings of the number and came up with two: about twelve years ago, Apple renamed the (butt ugly, PC-looking, metal-beige, garbage-y) PowerMac 4400 for Australia because it seemed that 44 was an unlucky number, or had some other kind of negative cultural baggage attached to it. Think Chevy Nova selling in Spain: Chevy No Va (translation, roughly: “It does not go”).

The other employment of “44”—this one metaphysical—is Hexagram 44 of the I Ching:

Hexagram44.png

So, cultural el mundo malo or ominous-yet-spot-on instruction? Me, I’ll always go for the learning.

Some Teas, Brownies & Images

Yesterday as I sat down on Ronald’s sofa with a large (closed) drawing pad beside me, Ronald emerged from his last session, excused himself for a few moments and urged me into his office. I didn’t dare open the pad because I had other things to talk about first. It was a therapy session after all.

Ronald showed up with a small decorative bag in his hands; I didn’t notice until after he’d shut the door and sat down, but it’s all such a wonderful space to be in and that bright, sheeny gold and copper sac with a yarn pull ending with a beautiful tassle was just par for the course: it belonged.

Ronald handed me a foil-wrapped package first: “Birthday Brownies” he said, smiling. Usually I don’t very much like being stuck for words, but there in that place, and he, there in that place, I could do nothing but let the silence of inability echo itself out. Then he handed me that sac. I hesitated to open it because customs differ, but he quickly encouraged me to do so.

Let’s go back a week: I had emailed Ronald asking him where he got his teas from, the ones he has out and available in his waiting room. He emailed me back, but I never got around to going to get them (lazy bastard that I am).

I’d asked Ronald last time to schedule me sometime yesterday, April 3, because I wanted to spend some part of my birthday with him. No more and no less. His company, his sage advice, the organic silences he allows to ripen on the vine; and for that matter his simple kindnesses and general spirit, altogether: a safe haven for The Sea Child, if for just a litle while.

Litte-whiles are important, but the levels of their importance is solely up to you.

Be warned: stay too long an you’ll lose a limb; little-whiles make no promises.