The Little Things

The mundane details of everyday life can dull and numb our ability to share. To share our excitement, our passions, our company.

On the way to the grocery store this morning I was confronted with a man confined in his motorized wheelchair creeping along opposite the direction I was heading. I wondered what would bring him out in the mid-day sun and my answer was just around the next corner. A woman, also handicapped in a motorized wheelchair, was waiting for the bus. Apparently this man had taken time, much time considering his rate of speed, out of his day to walk his girlfriend/wife to the bus stop.

Despite physical difficulties which most of us are thankfully free of, he chose to share that first step into the world with someone he probably shares much in common. A smile crept onto my face as they broke past the barriers of their mundane life.

Barton Creek

Last week saw the opening of the 80th Apple Retail Store at Barton Creek Mall in Austin, TX. This was the third store opening I have attended, and Apple is the only reatil store I know of that actually has people lined up hundreds deep with coffee in hand early on a Saturday morning for a grand opening. As always the crowd was excited and talkative. My Bay Street t-shirt prompted many conversations as I learned that I am just a hobbyist in attending these celebrated openings (anything more that 45 minutes away is defferred to sleeping in).

But why are these gatherings so popular. Apple has definitely instilled a cult following in their user base, but not through manipulation or exclusivitiy. Instead they have consistently focused on putting out a product that makes sense to the head and has the style and panache to win over the hearts. This isn’t to get all mushy because there is always a lot of room for improvement, but overall Apple gets the user experience in a way other companies have been overlooking for years.

Another example appeared today in a Wired interview with Ken Bereskin, Apple’s director of Mac OS X product marketing.

“According to Bereskin, Apple has issued 44 security updates since Mac OS X was introduced in March 2001, and 3 percent of those were classified critical — a vulnerability that can be exploited remotely. The Help Viewer and Disk vulnerabilities are examples. By comparison, Microsoft issued 78 security updates in the same period, and 65 percent were critical, Bereskin noted.”

Those numbers are amazing but lessened in degree by remembering that OSX is a newer platform than XP. That newer architecture that is based on BSD UNIX is definitely impacting these security updates. However, considering that Longhorn, the next major Windows update (and the first away from Win95) is YEARS away, I don’t see Microsoft changing this reality very soon. And that’s disappointing, as competition breeds innovation for new or improved products and the end result could be a coup for consumers.

For now, I will enjoy my Apple products for their design and function, happy that their is a retail outlet fifteen minutes from my house where I can drool on all the new toys (I mean tools) I still want.

Current Occupation

Don’t rule out working with your hands. It does not preclude using your head.

– Andy Rooney

My experience over the last couple of months with a new trade has definitely reinforced this notion. If you try hard enough, you can find a way to glide through just about any job without much critical thinking. Woodworking, if you want the final product to actually fit together, requires as much thought and decision making as anything I have done in the past. Well, maybe not Calculus, but I haven’t run across the need for differential equations in making a retail fixture or furniture. Yet.

Memorial Day Week

Week, that’s right, a whole week. Now I am not overly patriotic nor did I have much planned in advance. It just conveniently worked out that while most people were on hands and knees thanking the one above for a three day weekend, my superiors graced me with a five day weekend, er, week.

Prologue: Wednesday evening started pleasurably with cocktails and free appetizers at The Lounge, next to Spaghetti Warehouse in the Warehouse District of Austin. I got to meet a few new people, most of whom work at Texas Monthly. After having known a lot of the staff at San Francisco Magazine, it’s actually kind of funny how magazine employees from different companies have a lot of similar traits. Same pressures, same structure I suppose. Anyways, that slowly turned into an after party (after meaning “after the free apps were gone”) which turned into Thursday.

Day One: Somehow, a large group of friends also had this day off and plans were made to go to Wimberley and play some disc golf. For five dollars we had unlimited access to their 36 holes. With a snack in the middle that was pretty much the day, 5-6 hours of sun and fun. Well, I did have fun but unfortuanately on the last 2 holes I managed to lose two discs in the same water hazard. Psychologically beat down, I was. The course is highly recommended all the same, and after 6 appearances they actually give you a free disc. Only 11 more games and I’ll break even on equipment!

Day Two: Friday was the prerequisite chore day: lawn, laundry, vaccuuming, cleaning, etc.

Day Three: Um, back up a day. I get a call from my grandfather asking if I could help with the heavy lifting to clear his girlfriend’s porch for the pressure washing. “No problem, what time do you need me there?” Always, ALWAYS, get details before you commit to help. So Day Three began at 7AM with a lot of physical activity under fairly humid conditions. Must reward self. Centro-Matic at The Parish seemed like a fairly decent remuneration for my early start. This won’t be a review for that show, but the opening bands were better than expected and seeing Centro-Matic live for the first time was well worth the $10 cover.

Day Four: Recovery and dinner with my grandfather and sister at Matt’s El Rancho.

Day Five: I guess it was really more recovery, but the more active kind. I’ve written about the beauty of the Hill Country this time of year, and I wasn’t let down by Krause Springs. Jaunting out west of Austin in the early afternoon we managed to keep driving just a little further than most on the day actually labeled Memorial. Just enough people to not feel crowded but enough to still run into Taggart, a good friend who I have very rarely gotten to hang out with since moving to California. The waterfall feeding the creek is a fantastic environment that you can completely relax in, until you get hungry or it gets dark. Or until Marty turns to me and asks if I could run sound for Jared Francis that night at Lucy’s. Memorial Day Week over, time to get back to the “real world.”