Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rules & Bylaws Committee

3:45 PM: I've been watching the Democratic Party's Rules and Bylaws Committee all day, today. I'm a bit of a civics geek (like my hero, Rachel Maddow) and it's been exciting to watch the process unfold.

Personally, I'm an Obama partisan (though I would vote for Hillary if it were between her and McCain) so it's been tough to watch obvious Clinton partisans like Harold Ickes keep shoving their oar in when the Obama people are talking.

I'm still watching it, but they're still on lunch break. I hope they can put this to bed, today.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Oral is Normal

I saw this article on Digg, today, and it essentially says that today's teens, when they fool around, aren't just having plain ol' vanilla vaginal sex, they're also having oral sex, as well.

To that I say, "Good."

To me that's a sign that teenagers are much more knowledgeable about sex than we who grew up in prior generations. They know more and if they're doing more diverse activities, they're probably enjoying it more, too. All to the good.

There's no point in arguing about whether or not they SHOULD have sex - the fact is they do or they will no matter how we adults feel about it. So our jobs (as their parents, relatives, or friends) is to make sure they're educated and able to assess and reduce the risk involved with being sexually active - and it certainly doesn't hurt that their knowledge makes them enjoy and appreciate their sexuality more than we did.

When I was a teenager having sex with other teenagers, it was, on the whole, pretty bad sex. I had pretty bad sex with my first couple of lovers when I was in college, too, but this time there was a big difference. This time my lovers weren't blushing virgins who didn't know any better. They were equipped with the knowledge of what to expect and what they liked. And sadly I still knew very little. So I studied. Partly through the Sinclair Institute's fantastic Better Sex Video Series, and partly hands-on, but I studied and learned. Eventually I not only had the knowledge of what I liked and what my lovers would likely enjoy, but how to mitigate the risks of being sexually active. All these things that were never taught or talked about when I was a teenager though I was in dire need of it.

At least it looks like today's teens aren't as bad off as I was (despite those abominable "abstinence-only" sex ed policies). "Good," I say. Maybe this generation will be less messed up than those that preceded it.

read more | digg story

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Crier

I've always been an emotional guy. I remember the first time I cried at a movie was when I saw Disney's "The Fox and the Hound" when I was about 7 years old. I don't recall much about the movie, but I do remember I cried buckets because they couldn't be friends, anymore. Books, TV, Movies - hell, even sappy commercials. Any touching story had the potential to make me weepy. My wife was the same way. I remember more than once we'd be watching TV together and something emotional would happen, and we'd look at each other at the same time with tears in our eyes. Sometimes we'd laugh because we were such saps, sometimes we'd just snuggle closer and continue watching. (Side note: That's one of the things I miss most - she and I were so in sync on so many levels.)

So I've always been a weepy guy. Then my wife died and I went into a long, two-and-a-half year grieving period where I cried a lot. Sad tears, angry tears, tears of resignation - her death turned me inside-out, emotionally. Grief ends, though, and in time I came back to my senses and my personality started to re-emerge. Except now I'm even weepier. My eyes well up with tears at the drop of a hat, now. Commercials about graduation or mother's day, small emotional moments in movies and TV shows, even relatively un-empathetic characters have my full empathy, now. It feels ten times stronger than it used to be.

I don't usually mind it, though. I think empathy is one of the more valuable characteristics a person can have and the reason I react so strongly is because I feel so strongly. Powerful emotions have their attraction, even negative ones. It's not that I only cry at sad things, either. Pride, anger, joy - if it's strong enough, it'll bring tears to my eyes. So the fact that I get weepy doesn't bother me, but sometimes I wonder exactly how much and how often? It seems like a lot, but is it really? So I've started a Cry Diary. A blog where I keep track of my tears and what caused them. It might give me an idea if I have a very poetic soul or I'm just a huge pussy.

www.macresistance.com/crydiary

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Resistance

It’s interesting how things can change in a few short years. Back in May of 2000, I registered this domain (as well as macresistance.org and macresistance.net - ha ha ha) along with a whole slew of other domains, over time, that I thought would come in useful. At one point, I had more than a dozen domains registered for various projects I had planned. Now I’ve let them all go except this one.

It’s not like this one is entirely topical anymore, either. When I first conceptualized the site I was going to put here, it was still the dark days of a “beleaguered” Apple and I was wanting to evangelize my platform of choice. I saw external forces trying to erase my beloved mac from the tech scene, and I wanted to fight back to keep it alive.

Office EvolvedIt was a fantastic time, too, in the mac-user community, itself. OS X had been released, but not yet widely adopted, and there were still significant debate as to it’s potential for success. I, of course, loved it from day one. I actually had been considering jumping from Mac OS 9 to PowerPC Linux in the late 90s as Copland failed to materialize. I wanted power and speed and I didn’t want to move to x86 to get it (I was a PowerPC nerd). I tried BeOS, but there was no software for it. Honestly, PPC Linux wasn’t much better, but it did have a much larger and more active developer community. Apple bought NeXT, though, and started talking up OS X and made me fall in love with Apple all over again. They even brought a new personality (to me) onto the scene. Steve Jobs, who’d left Apple well before 1994 when I discovered the platform and bought my first mac.

The rest is PC industry history. Now Apple is thriving, OS X just keeps getting better, and the mac community just keeps growing and growing. Not much need for another mac-centric website. Nor did I really have the time to build much of one, anyway. I was busy working and making a family, and then, sadly, working to heal my family after tragedy struck in ‘02.

Now this domain just hosts my personal homepage and my blog. Nothing much about resisting, anymore, except in the memories of all the years I stuck with Apple despite the common wisdom. I’m going to keep it, though. It’s a reminder of those exciting days, and a validation of my convictions in the platform of my choice.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

End of Term

This has been an amazing year for me as a parent. My son is wrapping up second grade, and I've always seen this age as a pivotal one because of what happened to me at that point in my own life. I discovered books. I read "I Robot" by Issac Asimov when I was in second grade and I was hooked. I started reading the Caves of Steel trilogy after that, then the Robots of Dawn books, and from there it was naturally on to Empire. Unfortunately, my paternal Grandfather had passed away just before, but fortunately he left his personal library of thousands of 50's through 80's Sci-Fi paperbacks to my parents. This gave me an endless supply of reading material that lasted me well into high-school when I started building my own library.

So you see why it's a pivotal year. My mind had finally developed enough that I could start to really soak up and retain information. Which brings me to my son's second grade year and his own little informational epiphany.

Flight 3
He's been a Star Trek fan for a couple of years now. I have the DVR set up to record pretty much every series - the Original Series, Next Generaion, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise - he loves them all. Space opera is the perfect vehicle for a little boy's imagination. There are ships and ray guns and aliens and infinite adventure. He especially loves the ships. I've bought him the technical manuals and encyclopedias from amazon.com and he spends hours drawing pictures of bridges, warp coils, nacelles and hulls.

More recently, I've shown him how to do searches on Google and Wikipedia to find more Star Trek stuff, and here's where I seem to have opened the flood gates.

We were all getting ready for school, one morning, and as I'm running around getting his sister and myself ready to leave, my son starts yelling that there were three Titanics! I knew he'd seen the movie a couple of years ago and I figured he was adding his own imaginary spin to what he remembered of the story. I told him that pretending was fine, but that there was a real Titanic, and we couldn't change history. He still insisted that there were three Titanics and he even provided the names of the other two: the "Olympic," and the "Brit-titanic" (his pronounciation). I was still rushing around the house getting ready, and, frustrated at the distraction, told him, "Man, you can't just go rewriting history on a whim. There was only one Titanic." He was more insistent than ever, though, and started pulling me to the front-room computer. There, on the screen, was a wikipedia page about the Olympic Class ocean liners from the turn of the 20th century - the Titanic, the Britannic, and the Olympic. I was floored. He then started to tell me about the fates of the three ships that he'd read on their various wikipedia entries.

I was so thrilled at the step he'd taken. He'd been looking for "Olympic Class" on Wikipedia trying to find the Star Trek vehicles of that name, but got the early 20th century ocean liners, instead. Then, after finding this new information, he read it and retained it. Here was the same developmental leap I'd taken at the same age - acquiring and retaining data. There's a huge difference, though. I had a limited amount of data that I could acquire, but he, via the internet, has nearly unlimited information at his disposal.

I'm eager to see where he goes next.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

NASA Family gathering.

I recall times when I was a kid when we'd gather as a family. Mostly it was at meals, and a fair amount around the television. I don't look back at TV with any fond memories, though. Even as a kid I found most TV to be a waste of time, and that's exactly what I used it for - to burn through my childhood because I was clueless as to how better spend it.

Tonight I gathered my own little family around the television. We didn't watch any sports or some milquetoast, censor-safe drama or comedy, though. We watched NASA TV live and saw the JPL team guide the Mars Phoenix through EDL (entry, descent, and landing). My 8 year-old son and I were excited and waited on the edge of our seats during the "Seven Minutes of Terror." It went flawlessly, though, and we cheered with the engineers at the JPL mission control when the telemetry showed touchdown.

There are times when I wonder if I'm doing everything right as a parent, but tonight there was no doubt. Getting him excited about science, engineering and math and instilling in him a love for knowledge and exploration that spurs the growth of all of humanity... I can think of no better things to help him as he develops.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Blue Brick

We had some heavy storms in the area night before last, and my Linksys WRT54G got bricked by the electrical activity. The power-strip behind the TV was full so I just went ahead and plugged it directly into the wall socket instead of digging out another surge suppressor from the closet (there's a ton of stuff in the TV cabinet: Mac Mini, Wii, Dish DVR, External USB hard drive for the DVR, DVD player, Ethernet HUB, and the TV). I spent a lot of time and even some money making that router a performer. I installed DD-WRT and even spent $20 on new 9db antennas for it. I spent many hours fine tuning it, but now it's all for nothing.

I bought it on a whim a couple of years ago because it was on clearance at wal-mart. $40 sounded reasonable to add a WDS node and expand the wifi coverage in my house. I even documented the hoops I had to jump through installing DD-WRT and to integrate it into an AirPort wifi set up.

http://forums.macosxhints.com/showthread.php?p=454148

So I'll miss the little blue brick. I've already ordered an 802.11g AirPort Express I found on clearance online, but it won't be the same. I'll have it plugged in and configured in a matter of minutes. It'll just work and I won't have the hours of distraction and exploration I had with my good 'ol WRT54G.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

LAN Bandwidth

I'm so excited! I'm replacing all my CAT5 with CAT5e and I've moved the 16-port 10/100 Ethernet hub that was the backbone of my home network to it's periphery, and replacing it as backbone with an 8-port 10/100/1000 switch.

Currently, my network is essentially in three parts: office, living room, and wifi. In the office I have my main workstation. Currently that's a PowerMac G5 hooked up via 100 megabit ethernet to the old hub, and the hub is plugged straight into the LAN port on my AirPort Extreme Base Station. In the living room, I have an old Dell running Xubuntu, a Mac Mini that's hooked to my HDTV à la AppleTV, and my Dish DVR which needs to be on the network to save me $5 a month on my bill. All three of these are connected via ethernet to my Linksys WRT54G which is the remote WDS node on my wifi network. On the wifi, we have my 17" PowerBook G4, my iPhone, and the Wii. Since my living room devices are bridged to my office via wifi, my transfer speeds between the G5, the Dell and the Mini are abysmal.

But all that is about to change. It's all still in process as I get components and as I wait for a chance to pull two 50ft CAT5e cables under the crawl-space of the house from the office to living room, but when it's all said and done, we'll have this gigabit switch hooked directly to my workstation, mini, and the old ethernet hub (now relocated to the TV cabinet). The Dell and the DVR will plug into the hub and end up with half-duplex 100baseTX onto the network. Not a bad speed boost for the Dell though it's primary purpose is my son's main computer for looking up Star Trek Wikis. As a bonus ,though, since I'm hardwiring the Dell, the DVR and the Mini to the network, my wifi won't have to carry their traffic, anymore.

Meanwhile, the Mini and the Workstation will now enjoy full-duplex flow controlled 1000BaseT between each other, and when I finally replace the G5 with a Mac Pro, the G5 will simply be moved into a corner of my office as a headless file/media server and will still enjoy full speed gigabit with the mini and the new workstation. Currently I have ripped some movies and TV shows from DVD and put them on the mini to watch on the HDTV and my iPhone. All those media files are going to be moved to the G5 and the mini will simply run them from the network. The mini only has 80GB of disk space, the G5 currently has 750GB, and will have more once I make it a server and do some HD swapping.

I'm extremely excited about upgrading the network. Now I just have to save up and get that mac pro...

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