A stranger on a park bench in Union Square just asked me, “Is it fixed?”

I’d like to give him an answer to ease his mind, but it depends what he means. If he’s asking about something that’s broken, then the correct answer is “yes.” On the other hand, if he’s asking about fate, or an election, then the comforting answer is “no.”

I’ll just ignore him, obviously.



I’ve been using a few Apple products lately, and I’m annoyed by the same basic problem in both the iPod Touch and the Apple Cinema Display monitor: Oversimplification of buttons for the purpose of clean design.

I get it, Apple. You think it’s cool to only have one button on the iPod Touch. Here’s the problem with that: It takes a bunch of extra clicks, not to mention a whole lot of counter-intuitiveness, to accomplish tasks that are simple and straightforward on an Android device. Not having a menu button is just like not having a right-click feature on a mouse; it makes tasks more complicated instead of simpler.

Yesterday I started using an Apple Cinema Display monitor in the office, and I’d never used one before. It’s a very sleek-looking monitor, and it has touch-sensitive brightness and power buttons on the right edge of the screen. However, I have a tendency to reach out and physically tilt the monitor up or down while I’m working. Sure enough, every time I do, I’m inadvertently adjusting the brightness or shutting off the monitor.

Good design doesn’t just mean that something is pleasing to the eye; it means that it’s actually well thought-out. There are plenty of things Apple does well, but they need a lot of help with buttons.



Am I the only one who hates automatic drop-down navigation menus? You know, the kind where as soon as your mouse moves across the top bar of the web site, a bunch of links appear below it? I hate them because nine times out of ten, I’m not interested in navigating anywhere, I’m just moving my mouse from the browser’s address bar down to something on the page. But as soon as my cursor moves past the navigation bar, a bunch of crap shows up and blocks my view of the actual content of the page, which is what I actually want to look at. I actually prefer if I have to click on a menu to make it drop down. I’m not such an invalid that I can’t click my mouse button.

Today’s pet peeve was brought to you by paypal.com, verizonwireless.com, and a whole host of others.



I got sick of my Droid Eris draining its battery and lagging all the time, so I upgraded early (via Craig’s List) to a Droid Incredible. It’s likely to have similar problems eventually since it’s also made by HTC, but it starts out with a faster processor, a newer version of Android, and a lot more storage space, so it should take longer to become obnoxious. My favorite feature of my “new” phone is that the camera has a flash; that should help make it a little more useful as a camera.

I thought about getting a non-HTC Android phone instead, but I honestly can’t get away from HTC’s enhancements for Android. Their mail client alone is worth dealing with their crummy phone book. And they really have made great strides from Android 2.1 to 2.2, an upgrade which the Eris would never receive.

This will at least tide me over until August, when I’m up for a real upgrade, and there should be a slew of 4G/LTE phones available.



For the last few days, I’ve been letting Ilse drink out of a bowl in the kitchen, filled with water from the refrigerator door. This isn’t where she normally gets water, which is what makes this story impressive.

This morning, I picked up the bowl and put it in the dishwasher, with the intention of replacing it with a clean bowl. I got distracted rinsing other dishes, though, so I forgot to replace it.

Fast-forward to this afternoon. I heard Ilse go in and out of the doggy door in the kitchen several times. (This is how she gets my attention.) When I went downstairs to see what was going on, she was sitting on the kitchen floor, staring up at the cabinet in which we keep the bowls. She looked at me, then looked at the cabinet. Looked at me, looked at the cabinet.

I pulled out a bowl from the cabinet, filled it with fresh water from the fridge, and set it back down while she wagged her tail with delight.



I’m drinking a Spicy Hot V8, and man, that stuff is HOT! It’s tasty, and it’s great that I’m getting vegetable servings from it, but I definitely need to follow it up with something non-spicy and non-hot, such as ice cream. Oh! I have a great idea: They should make Ice Cream V8.



I’d been thinking about getting a bicycle for a while, both for exercise and for something to do when I’m bored. Finally on Black Friday there was a sale on this Schwinn beach cruiser, and I couldn’t resist:

Schwinn Windwood 26 Inch Men's Bicycle

I didn’t need anything fancy and expensive since it’s just going to be a casual once-in-a-while hobby. But of course, I wanted it to look cool.

It was quite an ordeal just to pick it up from the store, and I didn’t even try riding it before I bought it. Thankfully when I finally adjusted it, inflated the tires, and rode it, the size was great, and I was happy with the ride.

Okay now, I wonder which Coffee Bean is within bike-riding distance from my house…



ilse on thanksgiving

Ilse would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. She would also like to get out of this sweater as soon as possible. It took a lot of coaxing just to get her to lift her head up. If you’re wondering why her head isn’t in focus, it’s because I only had one chance to take the photograph.



A wise teacher taught me never to begin the concluding paragraph of an essay with the phrase, “in conclusion.” Being ornery, of course, I always began concluding paragraphs in her class with “in conclusion” and then crossed it out.

I think that was an exercise in philosophy. It’s similar to the question of the tree falling in the forest. If I write something and cross it out, she can’t dock points for it, yet it offends her sensibility just the same. If you write something and cross it out, did you write it? Or did you not write it?

For the record, she was one of my favorite teachers. I wouldn’t have been as difficult with a teacher I disliked. I think that’s only natural.

In conclusion, I have no conclusion.



Ilse dislikes Halloween more than I do. I’m just uninterested. She, on the other hand, is forced to wear uncomfortable clothing.

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