Monday, October 25, 2010


For the past few days, I’ve been discussing politics on Facebook: specifically, the 2012 Presidential election. One of the friends I’m talking to, right now, is a rabid Ron Paul fan (as are, in my experience, most of his supporters) and sounds like she’d be very difficult to convince to vote for anyone else. Another is a right-leaning independent and quite anti-Obama, but still feels that our incumbent president will be very difficult to beat, in 2012. (This I agree with.) Since my own thoughts on the subject are long and varied, I figured I post some of them here.

First of all, I am a Conservative. Despite this, I have no ties to the Republican Party and probably never will. I vote for the candidate, not the party; and when a Democrat, Independent, or whatever comes along that I actually agree with, I’m happy to vote for that person.

Secondly, I am a Latter-day Saint. This certainly affects the way I see things, but in no way dictates the way that I vote. When another Latter-day Saint (with whom I had much in common) ran for the Congressional seat in my district, I reviewed his positions on the issues, sent him an email asking for clarification on one or two points (to which he actually responded), and then proceeded to vote for the other candidate. I vote my conscience, not an organization.

So having pointed out my background, I’d like to deal with the rest of the country. These are my perceptions.

First of all, it’s hard to know where we’ll be in two years, so the best I can do is talk about today. And frankly, if the Presidential election were held today, it’s difficult to predict which way it would go, especially since we don’t know who Obama’s opponent would be.

What I do see as a perennial problem is that both the Republicans and, to a lesser extent, the Democrats tend to pick candidates that do nothing but preach to the faithful¹. This usually leaves us with one very conservative candidate and one very liberal candidate, with most voters stuck trying to decide between the two. Since the media generally votes liberal, it’s always going to be an uphill battle for anyone that can be painted as “out of touch,” which is how a lot of people view conservatism.

On the other hand, Obama’s approval rating has been hovering in the 45% range for a while, with almost as many strongly disapproving². In other words, the Republicans really do have a chance, here. The problem is that they have to buck convention and actually nominate someone good, someone who can actually reach across the divide and woo left-leaning independents. He (or she) doesn’t actually have to be a moderate (although that probably wouldn’t hurt), but he’s got to have that same je ne sais quois that propelled Obama into the White House, in the first place.

What does this mean? Well, let’s be frank: it translates to “young and alluring.” The Republican campaign has to be Internet-savvy, and the candidate has to be both human and charismatic. They need to forget about the 15-20% of voters who will vote Republican, no matter what. They also need to write off the 20-25% of voters who will vote Democratic, no matter what. What the Republicans need to do is focus on the other 55-65%—those who actually care who they’re voting for, not what—and convince those voters that their candidate is intelligent, able, and ultimately the best person for the job.

On the other hand, we need to consider Congress. The media is abuzz with the fact that the Republicans should score a fairly significant upset in Congress, next month. If this occurs, the Republicans—currently the persecuted, underdog minority—will be thrust back into the spotlight and once again become accountable for their actions. If the Republican Party wants to score a big win in 2012, it is imperative that they not win too many seats, in the 2010 election. As long as the Democrats still control Congress, they continue to be the “problem party,” and Obama will have a lot of ’splainin’ to do in 2012.

Obama’s undeniable magnetism and Teflon®-esque ability to avoid controversy are going to make the 2012 election an uphill battle for the Republicans. By laying the groundwork now, it is possible, but it’s going to take a lot of effort. History shows that the Democrats tapped Obama for President long before he even became a U.S. Senator. If the Republicans are smart, they’ve also got a “long game” up their collective sleeve and are already preparing for the touchdown play.

1. John McCain was a notable exception to this rule, as the rampant—and, in my opinion, unwarranted—Bush bashing of the mid-2000s led to a very different dynamic in the 2008 Primaries.
2. Note that this 45% approval rating represents the combined total of both those who “strongly approve” of Obama’s performance and those who merely “approve.” 43% of Americans “strongly disapprove” of his performance, over half again those that “strongly approve.” See Rasmussen, Gallup, etc..

Friday, October 8, 2010


Before you begin reading this post, allow me to give you fair warning: what I’m about to say is anything but politically correct.

Breast cancer is a pop culture disease.

The reason I say this is not because I want to minimize breast cancer; I don’t. I’m definitely in favor of curing breast cancer. It’s a horrible disease, affecting about four million people at any given time—and about 20% of those four million will die from it. That’s 800,000 breast cancer patients who will not win their battles, and that’s 800,000 too many.

Now, that having been said, let’s consider diabetes for a moment. Diabetes affects about 200 million people at any given time, and that number continues to climb. Unlike breast cancer, which has decreased as better treatments are found, diabetes is expected to grow another 50% in the next dozen years or so. By the early 2020s, roughly 300 million people will have diabetes. And unlike breast cancer, diabetes is almost impossible to cure. So, almost 100% of those 200-300 million people will die from it.

If we use today’s numbers, there are 50 times as many diabetes patients as breast cancer patients. Given recovery rates, that means 250 times as many diabetes deaths as breast cancer deaths. Now… guess which one gets more federal funding. If you guessed diabetes, you obviously don’t know how our government works.

I don’t have diabetes, but I love several people that do. While I also love several cancer survivors—including breast cancer survivors—they are just that: survivors. Unless something changes, my diabetic friends and family will never become “survivors”; their bodies will continue to rebel against them, eating away at themselves until they die. Cancer treatments are horrible—I’ve watched people suffer through them—but cancer treatments can end. Cancer can go into remission. After a while, it might even be considered “gone.” But diabetes treatments never end; they just get less and less effective.

So, as we recognize October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with its pink everything all over the nation, let’s also remember that November is Diabetes Awareness Month. When you look around throughout the month of November, I’m sure you’ll see beautiful gray ribbons adorning everything from… well, no, I guess you won’t see them. Diabetes Awareness isn’t cool enough to be a marketing tie-in; it’s not even cool enough to warrant a real color. What’s up with that?

Breast cancer sucks. Diabetes sucks and gets ignored. :'-(

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The President Packer Postulate

I know not everybody that follows this blog is following my religion-themed blog, but I figured this one was important enough to cross-post. Enjoy!

The President Packer Postulate

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Grief and Loss

We just got back from an adoption conference in Franklin, Tennessee. The last class we attended—and were asked to present in—dealt with grief and loss. I suppose that, given our history, the presenter figured that we’re experts.

Throughout the course of trying to build our family, we’ve experienced many kinds of grief and loss:

• We’ve suffered through severe infertility, such that we’ve only managed to get pregnant four times in almost 13 years of trying.

• We’ve suffered through two early miscarriages, wherein that pregnancy ended almost before it began.

• We’ve suffered through a later miscarriage, when our son Daniel was perfectly formed but born much too early and we got to hold our lifeless child in our hands before burying him in a tiny casket.

• Several times, we’ve suffered when an adoption opportunity fell through because, despite desperately wanting to adopt that child, the answer to our prayers was a resounding “no.”

• Several times, we’ve suffered when an adoption opportunity fell through because we didn’t match what the birthmother was looking for.

• Many times, we’ve suffered when an adoption opportunity fell through because the birthmother disappeared, and we never heard from her again.

• At least twice, we’ve suffered when an ostensible birthmother scammed us, playing with our emotions for “her” own sick amusement.

• Twice, we’ve suffered through a birthmother picking us, then backing out when she decided to parent the child herself.

In short, we’ve suffered through just about every conceivable scenario on the trying-to-become-parents front. However, as we were discussing this on the way home from this weekend’s conference, Anna pointed out that there’s one situation we actually haven’t been through: being genuinely considered by a birthmother, getting to know and love her, and having her pick someone else.

Guess what email was in my inbox, when I got home.

For those of you who haven’t been following our adoption page on Facebook, we’ve been working with a birthmother named, ironically enough, Kelli. She had gotten her list down to two couples, one of them being us. We had been getting along great, chatting and/or talking on the phone pretty much every day. On Thursday, she and I talked for hours about music, discovering that we actually have a lot in common. During that conversation, she mentioned how much she likes us; and at the end, she mentioned how much better she was feeling. (She’d been having a rough day, to that point.) Then, while we were at the conference, she made her final decision—and it wasn’t us.

I guess it’s to be expected that we’re really hurting, right now—Anna, even more than I—but I don’t feel even the least bit of anger towards Kelli. We’ve said all along that we trusted her to make the right decision, and now we have to trust that she has. I just hope and pray that our baby comes PDQ, cuz we’re already a good nine years overdue on our third living child. :-(

Please keep us in your prayers—and just as importantly, if not more so, please do something to help us! Adoption is all about contacts: the more people you contact, the quicker it will happen. Please let people know who we are. Our Greatest Wish is still to grow our family, and after all this “grief and loss” we’ve been through, we’re long since ready to actually do so.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


So we got a letter in the mail, saying we have to update our bishop’s reference letter, criminal background checks (including checks for our four- and three-year-old children), and financial documentation (including tax returns). We also have to have a caseworker come to our house—again—to make sure it’s still safe for a child. This is necessary because it’s about to be a year since we were originally approved for this adoption. Oh, and this packet came 44¢ postage due. :-P

The bishop balked at filling out the paperwork because our agency neglected to include an envelope for him to send it back. By the time they finally sent one, he was gone on business for a week, followed by a two-week vacation with his family. I don’t begrudge him either of these, but it’s just one more thing, y’know?

Regardless, we now have to go through our house, making sure everything is spic and span. I mean, it’s not like we live like animals or anything, but there’s a different standard when you’re showing your entire house to a complete stranger, especially one who gets to decide whether or not you’re allowed to have a child. We have to make sure everything is safe and/or childproofed to their standards. We have to show that everything is clean. We have to install at least one carbon monoxide detector per floor. (That’s a new one, since we adopted Leah.)

In short, let’s just say that if biological parents were held to the same standards as adoptive parents, I’m guessing people wouldn’t have to wait two, three, even fifteen years to adopt a child. (Our friends, for example, recently gave up after eleven years of waiting. I sincerely hope we’re never in that position.) There would be plenty of children to go around, and most of the kids who spend the better part of their childhood in the foster care system would likely never get there, in the first place.

Anyway, I hope this doesn’t come off as a rant. It just kind of takes me aback that after all we’ve already had to go through to get to this point, we now have to do it again. It’s not a problem; it’s just one more thing, y’know? And by this time next week, it will all be a memory, anyway. :-)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


First of all, if you want to read a very brief summary of my Church’s history with family history software (from my point of view), check it out in the Book of Jeffrey. In short, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, I’m encouraged to use a family history application on my own computer, be that the Church’s own Personal Ancestral File (which is free to cheap, but has now spent several years languishing) or some other, third party product. Well, let’s face it: all things being equal, free is always better than not free.

Based on that concept, I’ve spent the last several years, limping along with PAF 2.3.1. With the advent of Mac OS X v.10.5 Leopard, the Classic environment was completely abandoned, which made things even worse: I had to transfer the application to another computer running an older OS that does support Classic, then access it via Screen Sharing. So here are the steps I have now:

  • My main computer, a Power Macintosh G5 named Anila, requests a screen sharing session with my iTunes server, a Power Macintosh G3 named Negri.
  • Negri launches the Classic environment.
  • Negri asks to share FilesRAID, a mirrored RAID stored in Anila. 
  • Negri opens PAF 2.3.1 in Mac OS X v.10.4’s Classic environment.
  • PAF 2.3.1 opens a database from FilesRAID.

In short, Negri’s not tremendously fast to begin with, and with all this networking going back and forth, it’s a slooooow process. For this reason, most of my work, as of late, has actually been done on New FamilySearch (see the Book of Jeffrey post, above) rather than use the slow and annoying system I have here.

And it’s time for that to stop.

For the last few months, I’ve been going back and forth between a few different family history applications. The four that I in any way considered are as follows:

  • iFamily for Leopard
  • MacFamilyTree 6
  • Personal Ancestral File 5
  • Reunion 9
So what have I decided? Well, with all the other typing, I guess you’ll just have to wait till tomorrow! :-P

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Running Shorts Diaries

Those of you who follow me on Facebook may have been privy to a recent status update wherein I lamented my wife’s insistence that, after five months of running perfectly fine in jeans (when it’s cold) or denim shorts (when it’s not), I suddenly need to switch to running shorts. In response to those who asked why I have a problem with it, I submit this entry.

First of all, I don’t need them. Admittedly, I buy lots of stuff that I don’t really need, so this is tenuous at best. The difference, however, is that running shorts are something that I not only don’t need, but I don’t even want. It just seems silly to waste the money. At least they were only six bucks and change.

Second, they’re inconvenient. Most running shorts are intensely difficult to tie tightly enough, so they’re constantly falling down. Now, my Facebook friends may be asking, “Wasn’t that your complaint about the shorts you already had?” Well, yes and no. I did have to cut my Tuesday run short, for that very reason, but it wasn’t really because my pants were too loose (although they were); my pants have been loose for months. The problem was that the particular belt I was wearing was too loose. Thankfully, Anna managed to find a pair that actually ties tightly, which alleviates that problem.

The matter of inconvenience goes beyond my ability to cinch, though. Let’s be perfectly frank: I’m a Latter-day Saint, and as many people know, endowed Latter-day Saints wear a special garment under their clothing. The primary reason for this is a perpetual reminder the covenants we’ve made with our Father in Heaven, but a less significant reason is to help us maintain basic standards of modesty. For this reason, the bottom half of the garment—though available in many sizes, styles, and materials, per personal preference—resembles boxers a lot more than briefs. As such, it’s a rare pair of running shorts that actually covers the garment such that I’m not constantly worried about them hanging out of the bottom.

Now, I know what many other Latter-day Saints will say: why not just take off the garment while I run? Many saints do this, and that’s certainly their decision to make. In fact, I remember a 1995 episode of 60 Minutes where they did a piece on the Church of Jesus Christ, and then–San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young mentioned (in response to a question) that he doesn’t wear the garment while playing or training. And that, I reemphasize, is fine; it’s just not for me. While I certainly reserve the right to change my mind, that will only happen if and when I receive personal revelation to that effect. Until then, it remains a concern.

The third issue I have with running shorts is that they’re uncomfortable. Again, this is a result of some choices that I, personally, have made: when I run in the morning, I always always always lock and bolt the door behind me. I will not leave my oft-sleeping wife and children in an unlocked home while I’m out running around, and thus I need my keys. On the other hand, I want to keep myself safe, too, so I always bring my wallet. It contains both my identification and my insurance card, so if by some chance I have a medical emergency (which isn’t that farfetched; I’ve already wound up in the examining room once), I’ll have what I need to be taken care of.

When I’m wearing jeans (whether short or long), my wallet and keys feel as per usual. They sit in my pockets, and while my knuckles do bump them on rare occasions, there’s just something about the pockets of jeans that make the contents fairly imperceptible. In running shorts, on the other hand, they bump and scrape my legs with every step. It’s not excruciating by any means, and perhaps I’d even get used to it after a while. For the time being, though, I had a good thing going and, for reasons mostly unknown, now I don’t.

Now… I recognize there’s another side of the coin. While all of the men that responded suggested, in one way or another, that I go with whatever is most comfortable, all of the women apparently feel that what’s comfortable is considerably less important than what’s fashionable. I suppose it’s only natural that a gender that goes through such complex beautification rituals would feel that way—not that I’m complaining; those complex beautification rituals have some very nice results, including in the case of my own beloved wife. :-) But let’s be perfectly honest: if I want to not “look funny” (to quote one of my friends who commented), the first step to that is going to be not running at all.

Picture this: a 240-pound man is jogging down the street at an amazing four miles per hour, dripping sweat like he’s been working in the fields all day. On his head he wears a pair of headphones that was lovingly crafted by Taiwanese artisans to look like a large pair of earmuffs. If he’s lucky, he’s wearing a workout shirt; if not, he’s wearing either a T-shirt that says “The Otter” in glitter-glue, or something to do with guinea pigs. About the coolest thing about this guy is the five-year-old iPod shuffle he wears on a lanyard around his neck, and even that—though wonderfully functional—is so outdated as to be ridiculous. Bottom line: I doubt the dork factor is going to be significantly affected by eschewing a pair of denim shorts for a pair of running shorts (possibly with garments peeking out of the bottom).

All this having been said, I’m still considering wearing the running shorts for two reasons: wear and tear, and laundry. I’d prefer to keep my regular shorts in good shape (including cleanness), so I can wear them when I’m not running. Perhaps I can buy a pair of short-people garments, so I don’t have to worry about the bottoms sticking out. I could even empty out my pockets by adding a fanny pack to my ensemble, since my running shorts will apparently make me look so cool that they’ll coolify the fanny pack in the process. Lady Gaga and Paris Hilton will be wearing fanny packs everywhere in no time, and I can tell everyone that it’s all due to my super chachi piruli running shorts.

So yeah. There you go.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Free MacBook Pro!!!

Six years ago, Anna and I got a very nice birthday present from my grandmother: a brand new iBook (then Apple’s consumer-grade laptop). We named her Candace, and she was a great little machine. Although she did have a few minor problems, Apple was very good to take care of us whenever something went wrong. From the time the hard drive died to the letters wearing off of a few oft-used keys, they always replaced everything quickly and free of charge. Their customer service was, in a word, impeccable.

Then, just over three years ago, with only a week left on our extended warranty, I brought our little Candi in for a checkup. I told the Genius on staff to look her over, see if there was anything wrong with her, and if so, fix it. (If by chance there were something wrong, I was not going to have to pay for repairs, if I could help it.) He took her into the shop, and a few days later I got a call: some part I’d never heard of, that did who knows what, was indeed broken. Unfortunately, it was also backordered, so it would be a few days.

A week later, Apple’s web site was still showing a backorder on the part. Just as I was starting to get genuinely annoyed, there was a call from the Apple Store: the Genius said that the part was, for some reason he couldn’t even imagine, backordered for six more weeks. Rather than put me through all that, could he interest me in a brand new MacBook, instead?

Suffice to say, he had a deal.

Unfortunately—and in contrast to the relatively good experience we had with Candi (and the absolutely perfect track record of Anila, our seven-year-old Power Mac G5)—Candi’s replacement, P.D.Q., has had a really rough life. I guess I should have seen the writing on the wall when we discovered that he had a mis-sized Ethernet port, direct from the factory. That little factor got him a whole new logic board. His lot in life became more obvious, though, when his MagSafe adapter broke and failed to detach, sending him crashing to the floor. That got him a new adapter, endoskeleton, top and bottom clamshell, and hand rest.

A few weeks after this, we woke up to find his display mysteriously cracked. The crack quickly spread, and within two days was a sine wave from top left corner to bottom right. Needless to say, he got a new display for that one. Then his plastic exoskeleton started peeling, leaving gaping holes around the edges. He got another new clamshell for that, and then yet another clamshell and hand rest, when it happened again.

After almost three years of this, I repeated my trip to the Apple Store for P.D.Q.’s final checkup before his AppleCare ran out. Unfortunately, this time I did have some complaints. His sleep functionality was messed up, intermittently sleeping when he should be awake and waking when he should be asleep. Furthermore, his battery occasionally wouldn’t take a charge (despite being amazingly healthy, according to the guys at Apple). I informed them of his track record (and my opinion regarding having not received a new machine, in light of his continued issues). They brought him into the shop and, after keeping him for twice as long as promised, returned him apparently fixed.

Only he wasn’t.

With six hours left on the warranty, I called Apple again and complained. The tech I spoke to, Chris, was great. He even gave me some troubleshooting ideas that I hadn’t known. He then told me that, since my AppleCare was about to expire, I shouldn’t bother calling the main line again; if his suggestions didn’t fix the problem, I should call him directly. So 24 hours later, that’s just what I did, leaving a message on his voice mail.

Late this morning, Apple showed up on my caller ID. It was Chris, and he was calling to apologize for everything we’ve been through with P.D.Q.. Not only did he offer me a replacement machine (despite being two days out of warranty), but in consequence of the changes to the MacBook line since 2007, he offered me a new MacBook Pro! (I know it’s well above what I deserve, but he wanted to make sure the replacement had everything I need. The current MacBooks don’t have Firewire, so he gave me a free upgrade to the Pro, to maintain that connectivity.) He also offered to let me pay to upgrade any other options I might be interested in, but as the only option I really wanted (a matte screen) is only available on the larger models, I forewent both that upgrade and the ones in between. The $750 would get us a much nicer computer, but $750 is a big jump from free. ;-)

Anyway, after an afternoon call from the processing department and my signing a couple of emailed CYA-esque legal documents, our new MacBook Pro is on its way. Like its predecessors, it comes with a one-year factory warranty with an option to upgrade to three years, which option I can take anytime between now and its first birthday. Needless to say, I will be taking advantage of that option. I do hope I don’t need another freebee in 2013, but with my luck, I’d be a fool not to risk it. ^_^

Monday, May 17, 2010

TV Habits

Every once in a while, I get an email from Harris Poll Online. I used to take their surveys all the time; now, not so much. But for some reason, I decided to take today’s survey, regarding television viewing. Perhaps it’s because I care about the kind of entertainment that is available to me. Perhaps it’s more for my kids. Whatever the case, I decided to participate, and the brevity of the poll made it likely that I will do so again.

What I really want to talk about, though, is what happened at the end: they offered me the opportunity to see “selected results” of the poll. What amazed me most were the results to Percent Indicating Types of Television Shows Watched.

Now, personally, I hate reality shows. But the way things are hyped, I would have thought that they’d the #1 type of show watched. Thus, I was quite surprised when they came in seventh place, with a mere 27.9% of respondents. I also don’t get into sports, but I figured that might take the top spot. Again, I was surprised. Can you guess what the #1 type of show watched was? Go on. Guess.


Sitcoms? Seriously? I would have thought the age of the sitcom ended about twenty years ago, when Family Ties was off the air and The Cosby Show was on its last legs. I mean, sure, they do still exist, but the only one I actually watch is The Big Bang Theory, and it’s gotten so raunchy that I’m even thinking of bailing on that!

Here’s another surprise: the #2 spot was news! I didn’t think anybody still watched TV news programs! I certainly can’t remember the last time I did, and it’s not because I’m completely apathetic; I just get all my news from the web, and I would have thought that most other people would, too.

Another shocker: the #4 spot was sci-fi. Now, don’t get me wrong; I love sci-fi, although I must admit I don’t get into the stuff that seems to garner the big ratings. I’ve never seen an entire episode of Star Wars or any of the Star Trek series; I’ve never watched Babylon 5 or V or any of the Stargate franchise. But I love Lost; I love Doctor Who; I even love Quantum Leap and any of a number of other sci-fi shows and movies. I just didn’t think that many other people did! Interesting stuff.

Anyway, here’s the complete results, as of this morning at about 8:45:

Sitcoms 58.20%
News 57.10%
Professional Sports 52.60%
Science Fiction 48.90%
Sports Shows 32.90%
Other 28.60%
Reality Shows 27.90%
Cartoons 27.20%
Home Shows 25.10%
Travel 24.90%
Game Shows 20.20%
Talk Shows 15.80%
Business/Finance 11.80%
Music Videos 9.80%
Soap Operas 3.90%
I don’t watch TV 2.30%

So how about you? Does this surprise you as much as it does me?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

iPad vs. Netbook

C|Net’s Dan Ackerman recently reviewed Apple’s new iPad, comparing it to any one of the plethora of Microsoft Windows–based netbooks out there. Of course, as happens with any Apple product, the responses are both polarized and numerous. Here’s my take on the subject:

Personally, I’d never buy a netbook. They’re too small, too slow, too—well, too just about everything I wouldn’t want in a computer. I just can’t see myself having any use for one.

IMHO, the problem with a netbook is that it tries to replace a laptop, while the beauty of the iPad is that it doesn’t. I think the funniest complaint I’ve heard is the one along the lines of “It’s just a big iPod touch.” Well, yes, that’s exactly what it is. That’s exactly what Apple was going for, and after playing with an iPad at my local Best Buy, I can say they achieved that intent quite effectively.

The reason some people are so excited about the iPad is because it meets a need they have. What is that need? It varies from person to person. Some are just Apple zealots; some just like to have the latest status symbol. But not every iPad customer falls into one of these categories. I have a client, for example, that has tremendous use for the iPad, one that will impact his bottom line significantly. For him and his business, it’s a good investment. For others, maybe not. So what? You can’t be everything to everybody. I don’t have an iPad for the same reason I don’t have a cell phone: I just don’t need it, so why should I waste my money on it? If the time comes that it meets a need for me, I’ll get one. Until and unless that happens, I won’t. Simple as that.

I guess what I’m getting at is that the iPad can either be a great product or a lousy one, depending on what you need. Since it really does meet some people’s needs, I can totally understand why those people would be excited by it. What I don’t get is why so many people whose needs it doesn’t meet are so bent out of shape. If I’m hungry for chicken, I’m not going to bash the guy at the next table for ordering spaghetti; I’ll just order my chicken and presumably enjoy my meal.

So what are your thoughts on the iPad vs. netbook controversy? Will you be getting one or the other? Both? Neither? Do tell!

The Gospel According to Jeffrey

Since most people aren’t following me over there, The Gospel according to Jeffrey has a new post. :-)

Friday, April 2, 2010

An Exercise in Irrelevance

A few years ago, Greenpeace blasted a bunch of computer companies for making their products out of non–environmentally-friendly materials—which, if you think about it, isn’t that surprising, neither on the part of the manufacturers nor on the part of Greenpeace. They each have a job to do and they’re doing it.

One of the many companies that Greenpeace blasted—and one that bore much of the brunt of their wrath, due to some of the specific components and chemicals used—was Apple. As a result, Apple made some major changes in the way they did things. Their computers are now much more environmentally friendly, including being made from (I believe) 100% recyclable materials. Whatever the case, Greenpeace was not only appeased, they began singing Apple’s praises for its willingness and ability to make such drastic changes so quickly. And that, we all thought, was that.

Enter the iPad.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, Apple will be releasing—tomorrow, in fact!—a brand new type of internet device called the iPad. It’s kind of like a cross between an iPhone and a computer, the latter comparison being primarily due to its higher-resolution, 9.7″ display. And thanks to this new product, Greenpeace is once again bashing Apple—only this time, with a twist.

Why, pray tell, are they bashing the iPad? Is it because it contains harmful materials and/or chemicals? Well, no, Apple’s now a green company—in fact, the most green computer manufacturer, according to Greenpeace’s own criteria. The reason that the iPad is being singled out as a danger to the environment is because it includes a web browser, which can, in turn, be used to access Facebook.


According to news site Electronista, “Greenpeace… calls out Facebook as a direct contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The social networking site opened its own data center in Prineville, Oregon, a location that allegedly relies on coal-based power from the utility company PacifiCorp.” As such, the popularity of the iPad (which has already received over 250,000 pre-orders and is consequently backordered into next month, despite nobody having actually seen the thing up close) leads Greenpeace to label it a “quintessential cloud computing device” that will increase “the IT industry’s appetite for energy.”


So in short: Greenpeace has told Apple that if they want to be an environmentally friendly company, they have to stop selling Internet devices because the Internet—especially Facebook—is bad.

If you’d like to learn more about Greenpeace and how you can save the environment, please check out their Internet site. Better yet, become a fan of their Facebook page, which oddly enough doesn’t mention the whole “coal-based” thing.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Three Hours in Somewhere Other Than Heaven

A couple of weeks ago, my beloved wife, Anna, went to the library and checked out a book called 90 Minutes in Heaven. The book is the semi-autobiography of a Baptist minister named Don Piper, who apparently presides over a congregation with 10,000 active members. Really.

So anyway, Rev. Piper had a amazing experience in 1989: he died. We’re not just talking he died on the operating table, or his heart stopped, or whatever. This guy was killed in a car wreck; he lay there dead, under a tarp, for 90 minutes; and an acquaintance, who didn’t even know who was under the tarp, was prompted to pray for his restoration to life. And it worked. Very cool stuff.

That’s the good part.

The second, and somewhat more striking aspect of the book, is what happened while Rev. Piper was dead: he claims he went to Heaven.

Now, never mind that God wasn’t there, Jesus wasn’t there, and the Holy Ghost wasn’t there. Never mind that there was a gigantic, pearlescent gate that neither he nor any of his friends and family could pass through, on the other side of which he knew there was someplace better than where he was. Never mind the fact that nobody goes to Heaven right when they die. Never mind that Rev. Piper’s every last detail sounds exactly like Hell, but he’s unfortunately too ignorant to have recognized it. (And no, that’s not me being mean; we’re all ignorant of a lot of things, and I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on the subject. But I digress….)

So getting back to the point, let’s ignore all that for a moment. This amazing, supernal experience that has ostensibly helped so many people takes up a whopping eight—yes, eight—pages of a 200-plus–page book. Of the remaining 200 or so pages, about half deal with his fatal wreck—which is obviously important—and his recovery (which was also interesting; some really cool medical stuff in there), while the remaining half deals with how his experience affected him and others (which is, to be honest, not so interesting).

Let’s be succinct: this book is boring.

If you’re going to bother reading it at all, I’d highly recommend you bail out after the first eight or nine chapters, because after that you’re mostly just reading the same thing over and over again. In fact, my personal favorite example of this is chapter 14, where he spends a few pages talking about how his death and recovery affected his three children, then turns the time over to each of them to describe the exact same things he just talked about—often word for word!!!

The bottom line is that this book fails on two levels: first, it describes a “Heaven” that could be only described as such by someone that doesn’t plan to get to Heaven per se; and second, it spends about 100 pages telling stories that could easily have been summed up in ten. Having just discovered that there’s another, shorter version (at left; it’s about 80 pages shorter, which should be perfect!), I can only assume that that would be a much better use of one’s time.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Winter Cleaning

Anna and I have a bit of a running gag between us: our “Spring cleaning” never seems to take place in Spring. It’s not that we have anything against cleaning in Spring, mind you; we just do a “deep clean” whenever we feel like it, and for some reason, it never seems to happen to be Spring, when that happens.

So as per usual, a little backstory: back when I was a lad in Gimmelshtump (or something like that), Anna and I were getting ready for our pre-adoption home visit and realized that our master bedroom was, to be frank, atrocious. We have a lot of stuff and are finally learning to part with some of it (most notably those things we haven’t seen nor thought about in years), even if it came to us via some sentimental method (e.g. a gift from some random family member we haven’t seen since 1982 who probably died in 1982½, but how would we know?). But back in Gimmelshtump, we decided we needed to get our room clean fast, so I headed over to Walmart (of course they have Walmart in Gimmelshtump!) and purchased some number of Sterilite® bins that we could just toss everything into. A lot of them found their way into other rooms (including two that are still full, in my office), but the main group consisted of four 55-gallon bins that we stacked up in the corner of our room, plus one 45-gallon bin alongside our drawing table. Each was filled to the brim with somewhat random stuff.

Anna with the Mess
So Saturday morning, with no other urgent projects on our plate, we decided to finally get started on the Great Purge. One by one, I brought the four bins downstairs. The first one, as it turned out, was actually quite well done: it was completely filled with wrapping paper, gift bags, etc., and thus needed no reorganization. The other three, however, were nothing short of ridiculous. The sheer amount of long-since unnecessary documents that made their way into the recycling bin or the shredder was amazing enough, but the number of other, random items tossed in there was truly a sight to behold. At right, you’ll see a shot from the thick of it. (Keep in mind that this is after we had recycled large quantities of items.)

Of course, you know I wouldn’t be posting here if there weren’t some wonderful kicker to this entire tale—something so truly Jeffanna, I couldn’t help but mention it. So here we go: in the middle of the very last bin, Anna found a manila envelope (seen above), tossed in randomly with everything else. And what, pray tell, was it labelled?

You can’t make this stuff up.