Au Naturale

Sunday, the day of rest. Relaxation is at it’s best in Central Texas when the rivers start flowing and the sun begins to warm the hibernating masses.

Last Sunday was the first time that I have floated the Comal in New Braunfels in over three years. I caught the last gleam of sun in 2000 and floated the Guadalupe at the very end of the season on a week pass from San Francisco. Some things rekindle the spirits more than even your memories. Sitting in a tube with good friends as you pass the world by and soak in the nature bequeathed to us, the worries seem to slip off into the river and leave you refreshed. The free barbecue at Riley’s didn’t hurt either.

Wondering what was going to happen today as the big hand ticked away, Marty comes through the door with an announcement. “Get your bathing suit on!” An afternoon at the Greenbelt with Erin and Beth. The natural heart of Austin, the Greenbelt accumulates hikers, bikers, joggers, and loafers. We loaded up the dog and our stuff and drove off to meet Brandt’s playmate, Enzo. Splashing around in the rock strewn river, the dogs circled and jumped and swam. Their human counterparts took in the nature and laughed at the dog’s indescretions.

I’m not relegating nature days to Sundays but the past two weekends have really rejuvenated my spirits and reminded me what to really love about Central Texas, the nature of the area and the nature of our friends.

Summer Television?

A bevy of both broadcast and cable networks, including FOX and NBC, are debuting new television programming over the summer. After the success of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, American Idol, and the OC, which all debuted in the summer, execs seem to be manuevering towards year-round schedules. Trap those young minds and reel them in, keeping the mush fresh for advertisers to implant their messages.

It used to be an easy transition, once those repeats started playing and daylight began to seemingly last till morning, the kids knew to go outside and be active. Enjoy the summer vacation from formal education and reexamine the out of doors. Learn a new sport, read a book, play with friends until moms begin to yell, anything but sit inside and be fed a simplified stream of consciousness.

The networks probably feel that this is an untapped market, and with the increasingly miniscule budget requests of reality programming, why not exploit the opportunity. I wish them the best of luck. I also wish the best of luck to both kids and adults alike in really prioritizing personal programming. Hoping that they make the decision to choose which programs to spend their limited time on and then escape to enjoy everything the world wants to offer them, without the filter inserted by the television between the viewers and life.

The Socialism of Trash

We leave our trash can in front of our house seven days a week. Our neighbors leave their trash cans in front of their houses all week as well. Every Monday, the entire street rolls their trash cans to the curb for a gigantic trash can to roll by and collect the smaller amounts of trash.

And what if our trash cans are full before Monday. If we can’t close the lid, we get charged an extra four bucks (I learned this the hard way). But I’ve never heard of anyone stealing another trash can for the extra storage. Maybe we will borrow a little space in an adjacent bin, but I have never come home alarmed to find that we no longer have a trash can sitting out front.

The city distributes these bins to everyone when you sign up for garbage service, which everyone does when they first move in. You pay for the trash pickup service, taxes pay for the hardware and theoretically, I guess, the city knows who has which trash cans. If you have a problem with your bin, they bring you a new one. All of your trash can needs are met. No one has a reason to steal, borrow, or confiscate a bin that is not theirs. There seems to be no profound thoughts to exchange or relocate trash cans, because they are all the same and everyone has one.

We leave our trash can in front of our house seven days a week and socialism seems to make sure that it will be there tomorrow morning.


After reading a Wall Street Journal editorial about the USA Patriot Act, I decided I should probably download a copy of it and read a little, just to see if I even understand what we’ve gotten ourselves into.

Halfway through the download, my computer crashed. My G4 does not crash, maybe every couple of months. I regularly have weeks of uptime and generally have open 10-20 applications, rebooting only when system updates require.

Nevertheless, trying to educate myself on the workings of my government and my computer goes bonkers. I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any means, but it makes one think.

You Sure About That, Bill?

About a month ago, Bill Gates made a pretty assertive statement about the future of technology hardware. “Ten years out, in terms of actual hardware costs you can almost think of hardware as being free — I’m not saying it will be absolutely free — but in terms of the power of the servers, the power of the network will not be a limiting factor.”

Negligable hardware costs. As I look at new PowerBooks I can tell you for certain, that is not the reality today. But I understand that for a simple internet communication terminal you can call up Dell and get a starter kit for $500 pretty easily. Point taken.

Fast forward to yesterday. Microsoft is expected to recommend that the “average” Longhorn PC feature a dual-core CPU running at 4 to 6GHz; a minimum of 2 gigs of RAM; up to a terabyte of storage; a 1 Gbit, built-in, Ethernet-wired port and an 802.11g wireless link; and a graphics processor that runs three times faster than those on the market today.

Processing power that’s multiples of what’s on the market today? I feel that we might look back on this and laugh at our underestimation of the potential for development. At one point 512K was ALL the RAM you would EVER need. Right. However, something has to drive this investment in the hardware sector. If 90% of the country’s computer users (rough estimate) are going to upgrade to Longhorn whenever it comes out, tech manufacturers are going to deliver the goods. But they will not be free.

Until we can operate our computers as simply as the toaster, it will not cost the same as a toaster. And that’s okay, because I really don’t want to burn my emails.

In Pursuit of Fewer Customers

Good article in Newsweek about the record industry and their refusal to come to their senses regarding online sales of music. Not only have the costs of CD’s not come down since their inception, despite technology costs diving downwards, but the labels now want to charge even more for those 1’s and 0’s that they are selling you.

And to make sure that everyone plays fair, they are still finding online file sharers and taking them to court. Suing your customers, or even potential customers is, at best, an expensive business plan. How about listening to what music fans really want and moving into online sales with a vengence. There are too many opportunities to empty the wallets of people to mandate propping up an aging sales model that is not satisfying anyone except the corporate execs.

Rules of economics state that with rising demand comes lower costs. The record industry is really trying to prove Alfred Marshall and John Maynard Keynes wrong.