March 20, 2015

I've Been Thinking

I've been thinking a lot about us.
This has been a long time coming.
I'm afraid this just isn't going to work out.
Your cold. So very cold.
You're very demanding.
When you blow into town everything stops. It's like a state of emergency.
To keep the peace, there's things that must be done. You've literally kept me busy for 3 months straight.
You've cost me money. You've cost my friends money. You have no regard for safety.
I've cancelled plans for you. You've made me cancel those plans when you decided to show your anger.
For these and other reasons I'm breaking up with you Winter.
All the best. Maybe we'll run into each other in the future.

March 01, 2015

Happy Victo Spring 2015!

Aah, March 1. That date when we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. While we're not completely out of the woods yet, the end is near everyone. The end is near. This year Winter wasn't confined simply to the Northeast and it's neighbors; no, this Winter reached as far south as Georgia and Tennessee, dumping multiple inches among multiple storms during its reign. Picking up speed as it went east, it then managed to continuously clobber Boston and New York with no mercy. Even today, the slap in the face is that there's another storm coming tonight, on our most revered of holidays as we celebrate Winters end. The nerve! One to three inches isn't much compared to what we've all been through but let's just hope it's one of the last storms we have to endure. Or let's just make a pact right now: we'll put up with this one and THEN WE'RE DONE. Fair? 

To everyone who's endured, and that's been a fair amount of the country at this point, I say good job. You've earned a 9 month break. Let the sun shine, the temperatures warm, and all that snow turn into water and fill our swimming pools. Instead of snow shoveling let's get out the bikes and ride all day. 
It's time for Spring to finally make it's appearance. 

Happy Victo Spring everybody!

February 25, 2015

Winter and the Three Week Mark

By now most of you are familiar with the concept of Victo Spring. Amazing to me is that as the word spreads about this people not only like it but embrace it for themselves. Last year we even saw television weather people using a variation of it they called "meteorological spring". Basically a smoke screen for the fact that February is over and now we're in March which is the herald of Spring, which is exactly how Victo Spring was born. There is an annual Victo Spring celebration dinner which I never would have imagined anyone attending years ago. Now people look forward to it and even remind me. "Where's this year's dinner?" is a common opener.

Now something new has come to light and it's not from me but rather a family member. It's called the Three Week Mark. Simply put: it's the line you draw on the calendar that within three weeks of that date Winter and all it's associated storms will cease. No more after that date. Nada. Some practitioners add caveats such as "no major storms, maybe some dustings" or "nothing over 4 inches". But most people familiar with this game keep it lean and simple: no snow 3 weeks after the chosen date.

Try it and keep a record of how correct you are over the years.  Oh, and by the way, only 4 days left until Victo Spring! What a hard cold Winter it has been.

January 06, 2015

Why these two days are the hardest all year

The first few days back to work after the Holidays are the worst all year. Why? It’s all about the Holidays themselves.

It may seem cliche, but I believe it's true: the holidays are special. There's something different in the air. People are friendlier, there's a feeling of goodwill, and there's lots of festivities.
You see it everywhere. The decorations help, and seem ubiquitous: in the workplace, on the city streets, in most homes. You look around and can't help but know that this time of year stands apart from all the rest.

The amount of event invitations skyrockets. Friends have house parties, companies have office parties, and there's always impromptu events that just seem to happen such as shopping meet-ups and coffee with friends we haven't seen in months. People reach out, connect and seek out the company of old friends. Our social commitments ratchet up like no other time in the year.

There's something in the air. It's the Holiday season.

It doesn't matter if you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or something else. If you're walking around during the month of December you instantly know it's there. It's a tangible presence. It's in the decorations, in the clothes, in the familiar red kettle volunteers, and even in the air. You could time travel from a different month and year and instantly know that you landed in December.

In addition to being something you see it's something you feel. It gets inside of you; fills you with end of year reflection, a quiet meditative state combined with bursts of revelry and a desire to reconnect with loved ones. All of which occurs if you're lucky enough and make it happen. It's truly a magical time.

Which is precisely why it's so hard to give it up.

Many people take a few days off around the holiday season. For those that celebrate Christmas it's Christmas Day, perhaps the day after and Christmas Eve. However, lots of folks are even luckier: they save up most of their vacation all year just for this end of year hurrah. They take the entire time from Christmas Eve to New Years Day off, and some even squeeze in extra days, starting as far back as December 19.

And this is why the first two days are the hardest of the whole year. It's because we've had this time off. We've connected with loved ones, with friends. We've given and received gifts. We've laughed hard, partied on, eaten and drank well, and didn't worry about our normal day to day routine at all. It's as if it didn't exist. For those two weeks things were as they should be: focused on fun, spending time with family.

By the time we come back from this extended vacation we've been out for multiple days, maybe weeks. We're relaxed, we've had an abundance of fun and we think, "why isn't the rest of the year like this?". But alas, it does end. And when we do come back the real world comes crashing in hard. And it stands in such stark contrast to the Holiday celebrations that it can be jarring. We're expected to step back into our normal responsibilities with our deadlines and commitments. It can be tough, like peering into another person's mindset.

And that time is now. New Year's Day was Thursday, which generally signals the end of the Holiday season. This week the normal routine kicks back in. So to all suffering through this re-adjustment period know that others feel your pain. The allure of the Holidays is strong.

And for those that need some additional comfort, know that this is a new year with a new Christmas somewhere down the road. It's far down that road, but comforting to know it's there.

July 29, 2014

3 ½ weeks

It's only been 3 ½ weeks since July 4 and yet it almost couldn't feel further away. It feels like the summer sun's been beating down for ages now, like we've been mowing the lawn incessantly, like the summer parties have been playing havoc with our responsibilities for months already, forcing us to juggle what we want to do with what we need to do.

And yet, July 4 was only 25 days ago. A shade over 3 weeks. 

This is the slippery slope of the summer; when you think you've got all the time in the world and summer's just getting into full swing when you realize that the time is actually waning and the end is near. Make no mistake: there's still time left. Lots of it in fact. However, it's July 29, and in three more days it will be August. Then the countdown begins in earnest: you've burned through the end of May (Happy Memorial Day!), all of June (Father's Day! Summer's here!), and then July (Happy 4th!) without a care in the world. August usually arrives as a head-scratching, "What the..." type of event where we suddenly realize where we are in time and space and realize it's August, the unofficial last month of summer, or at least summer vacation.

It all happens in the blink of an eye. Weekdays spent working, commuting, planning, worrying, and going about your daily business. Weekends spent on the lawn, on the bicycle, at the park and at parties. It's a blissful duality you don't truly find any other time. So looking back it's been a pretty great 3 ½ weeks so far. How has yours been, and what will you do with the next 4 weeks?

June 24, 2014

Amazon Forum Gem

You never know what you're going to find in Amazon's forums. Usually I forget they exist instead merely reading up on an item's description and reviewer comments. But there are Amazon forums that exist outside of specific products and a chance browsing flyby today yielded a gold nugget. Check it out for yourself: KFC Asked My Wife to Leave.

June 20, 2014

Summer Solstice 2014

A nice article from USA Today about the summer solstice, which occurs tomorrow at 6:51am EDT. Say Hello to Summer!

March 01, 2014

Happy Victo Spring!

Let's face it. At no time in recent years has it been more true than now: we've had a LONG hard winter. There's been tons of snow and to call the temperatures frigid is an understatement. Across most of the US northeast normal temperatures have started in the single digits every morning and climbed only into the mid 20s. Even southern states which are normally unscathed have been affected, as snow has fallen many times in places like Atlanta Georgia, well over the Mason/Dixon line. It's as if old man winter wanted to take out his rage on everyone this year and not even the northern/southern boundaries could stop him.

Things looked quite bleak back in December as storms and cold weather started to occur with more frequency. We were at the beginning of this thing called Winter, unsure how it would play out this year: mild or harsh. The answer was uncharacteristically harsh. And looking at the calendar and realizing that we had months to go only made it seem worse. Enduring one or two storms was acceptable. But 3 more months of it? That was the real issue. The long game. This year Winter has dragged on, as the snow and temperatures kept falling, dragging our moods down with it.

But there is finally something to be hopeful about.  We're no longer at the beginning of this. We're near the end. We've endured December, enjoying the Holidays even as the storm season picked up. We've ushered in the new year and made it through January as temperatures plummeted. We've limped into February and finally made it through. Now the calendar has been flipped one more time and we're finally into March. Now things are different.

The concept of Victo Spring means there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That we've flipped the calendar to a whole new month and can look forward to a new season's imminent arrival: Spring. Victo Spring is the harbinger of that season; like a mountaintop herald playing his trumpet sending the message, "Spring is coming! Stay strong!". Victo Spring is the extra push we need to make it through the homestretch; to wait for the winter weather to finally break and for the warm weather to finally make it's appearance. The arrival of Victo Spring sends the message: It's Not Long Now.

And this year there is a new wrinkle: the mainstream media is embracing it. Apparently everyone else in the world is coming around to the idea of March 1 as the "unofficial" start of Spring. Most of them are calling it the "meteorological spring", to differentiate between the weather-related season of Spring and the astrological Spring, also known as the spring equinox which occurs March 20 or 21 depending on the year.

Here's a sampling of the articles which reference and support the March 1 theory:
But we all know where all this started, don't we? With me, and posted here first, years ago.
But in the end it's all good. March 1 has always seemed like the arrival of Spring and although it's been a long time since I originally started vocalizing that thought, and came up with the Victo Spring concept, the payoff is now as it finally gains acceptance by everyone. It's all over the place: March 1 IS the arrival of Spring.

With that in mind:  Happy Victo Spring! And may the weather where you are finally start the long warm-up process soon.

October 24, 2013

The iPhone 5C sets a dubious new record

The iPhone 5C may have shattered a record, but it's hardly one that's likely to make the folks at Cupertino happy. While most iPhones stay at full price until the next version is available, or gradually reduce in price over many months (originally years) the 5C has the distinction of being the fastest-reduced iPhone ever. Repeat: ever. As evidence: the iPhone 5C was introduced at $99 and immediately reduced to $79 by retailers. As if that wasn't head-scratching enough now WalMart is taking it one step further: reducing it to $45 for the Holiday rush. Other retailers such as Best Buy, Radio Shack and Target are all followiing suit with price programs and reductions of their own. Amidst all the talk about the iPhone 5C NOT being the low-cost iPhone we were expecting, I posit that maybe it is after all.

More reading:

August 21, 2013

Honey, is that a Dragon in the Water?

Lots of things wash ashore at beaches but I trust nothing ever like this. This could put some fire back into the old discussion over whether dragons really did (do?) exist.
Note: Yes,  there are Komodo dragons in the world. This may be a whole different beast entirely.

August 20, 2013

Viral Job Hunting in Grand Central Terminal

You never know what you're going to see in New York City and Grand Central Terminal is arguably one of its hubs where anything can happen. Today a young man positioned himself at one of the most used exits,  the Biltmore Room which exits to 43rd street, and handed our slips of paper to any takers While New Yorkers are used to seeing and receiving flyers for restaurants, sales and other things handed to them, this was a bit different. Each piece of paper had his resume on it and this was a kind of viral marketing tactic to find himself a job. While I didn't get a picture of him I did grab his resume and am posting it to help spread the word.  Disclaimer: I don't know him & I can't vouch for him, but it took inventiveness and guts to come up with this and do it. I figured that alone merits the post.

July 23, 2013

Superman/Batman Movie

Yes, this movie is happening and if they're wise they should definitely grab plot points from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.  An older, darker, grouchier Batman against a morally weakened, puppetized man of steel? That would be great, at least in concept. DC has a history of ruining their movies, and their Superman track record isn't great either, but I give this high hopes for succeeding. The comics are fan favorites and the movie should do well. Looking forward to hearing more about this.

July 22, 2013

The Night Gwen Stacy Died

For Spider-Man fans, a new twist: a novel which uses Peter Parker's life as a rough outline then alters it to place it in the real world and with slightly different characters. Peter's still there, but he's not a superhero. Thus, no costume, no webbing, no super-villains. Gwen Stacy's not in the book either except in the guise of Peter's new girlfriend who adopts and begins using the name. Oh, and Peter's a cab driver with a bit of precognition going on. Think of this as a real-world novel with a guy named Peter Parker who seems awfully familiar.  Worth a read.

July 19, 2013

Microsoft Surface - coming to a clearance sale near you?

CNET recently published a story about Microsoft Surface and it's problems gaining traction.  In my opinion they've gotten it all wrong. CNET mentions that the lighthearted dancing ads was inappropriately themed for a device aimed at the business crowd. While that is a viable opinion, my take is that's exactly why they did it. They wanted to show a device that could replace your laptop, could do real work, but was also fun. The whole enchilada. They took a chance. Instead of showing staid suitly-clad businessmen on their way to the boardroom they showed young hipsters dancing in the conference room. If you're trying to make a product look cool, this was a good attempt.

The story also declares that Steve Jobs wouldn't have done this, and that's why Apple is far ahead of the game and Microsoft is...Microsoft. Yet, while the iPad was marketed primarily as an entertainment and consumption device there's no denying it has slipped in through the back door of many companies and it can do real work. Later ads have shown it being used in the fields of music, architecture and medicine. But what ads are they best known for? The silhouetted dancers. So now I wonder why Microsoft tried that tactic?

July 16, 2013

Google Reader

Google reader was put to rest on July 1, Google seeing fit to sunset a product that was obviously loved by many. It seems like one by one some of our favorite longstanding products don't pass muster anymore and despite our objections that they're still perfectly usable get banished to some archive like a blog you've forgotten or your Myspace page.

It does seem as if Google underestimated how popular this product was. They have tons of data at their disposal and thus should know exactly how often it was being used, yet their initial reasoning that Reader use was declining doesn't seem to hold much water. If that were so then people would scarcely look up when they read the announcement. They'd be too consumed by the newer tools they were using, too busy to care about a tool they'd long forgotten, as Google suggested. Instead what they were presented with was something of a backlash, a cry for help, or many cries at once.

 It was almost as if hundreds of voices cried out at once -- Ben Kenobi

One by one the news stories were filed first by technology blogs then mainstream press alike. And they weren't just reporting the facts, they were lamenting them and the departure of a tool they used every day. Every. Day. Does that sound like a tool that's use is declining and dying?

Gigaom does a good job of chronicling some of the reasons Google pulled the plug and the most interesting/compelling reason is because it was too open. That's right: too open. With competition from Facebook and Twitter each building their own ecosystems which are essentially walled gardens Google felt the need to build their own which is how we got Google+. While Gigaom correctly points this out, they also state that the underlying technology responsible for this openness, RSS, isn't going anywhere and can still be used with a different reader. What they didn't point out was how much power Google has to affect this as well: they own Blogger as well as other web site creation and hosting tools like Google Sites. What if someday Google decides to not support RSS at all? Imagine every Blogger site's RSS feed broken for good. Or imagine the Chrome browser not supporting RSS and somehow not playing nice with sites like Feedly. It wouldn't be the first time a major player has dropped support for a technology, as evidenced by the broken Flash-enabled web pages on Apple devices.  Its unlikely Google would do this, but if they don't want their content being automatically pulled into Feedly or the new Digg reader then its a step they could take. All the while making it extremely easy to automatically pull that data and share it using Google+.