Friday, July 29, 2011

Many roads to every city leads.

In the great book of common false assumptions, #2,959,848 reads: "The people do the things that I do, are fundamentally similar to me."

It's an easy mistake to make, since the things you do ARE often directly related to your personality, background, motivations, etc. But it's the aggregate of those things that brings you to a particular profession or hobby. And as it turns out, the same result can be equated from many different combinations.

It's like if you were a hawk, and thought: "I can fly. I know what flying is, anything that flies has got to be pretty much like me." And then you encountered a humming bird, and after that an airplane. And suddenly it dawned on you that flight is a much broader thing than you assumed.

Friday, July 22, 2011


A lot of people have been wondering if Windows 8 is going to be awesome, and let me be clear: It isn't.

And the reason it isn't has nothing to do with tiles or tablets or anything of that sort. It's simply a matter of history. Here, let me show you:

The Windows Odds-and-Evens Rule:

Windows 95- Amazing. A dramatic shift from 3.1 that shaped every OS they've launched since.

Windows 98 - And then they broke it. Essentially it's like 95, just with more blue screens! A complete waste of everyone's time. It was mostly an excuse to shove Internet Explorer down more people's throats.

Windows 2000 - Rock solid. Did everything the old versions did, but cleaner, faster, and without crashing as much.

Windows ME - I get a little sick to my stomach every time I think about it. I actually had to do support on a few of these, and we used to dread getting a Windows ME call. It was so bad, it didn't even last a year.

Windows XP - A complete breath of fresh air. People loved it so much it's still the most popular version a full decade later.

Windows Vista - As ugly as the devil's face. The main feature seemed to be a digital overprotective parent who always wanted to make extra sure you really needed to do anything, ever. Windows Vista once dinged as I was trying to leave the house, turned out it was asking if I really thought I should go out without a jacket.

Windows 7 - Installing Windows 7 is like giving your computer a shower. It looks great, it runs great, it has truly useful new features, and it's better about auto-installing hardware than any past version.

Windows 8 - Destined to be garbage. Face it. Microsoft has to get one really wrong before they get one right, that's just how they roll. Cling tight to your 7 install disk. Ignore anything you hear. I'll see you when 9 comes out in 2014.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


If you want an education in multiculturalism, you don't need to go to another country.

And you don't need to read books by foreign authors, or sample foods from around the world. All you need to do is go to your local tag office, or any other government building that nearly everyone has to visit once in a while.*

See, paperwork has this wonderful way of not discriminating. If you're going to have a car, there are certain forms you have to fill out, end of story. And that wide cast net made of red tape drags together daily assortments of local walks of life, then makes them stand in line.

Did you think that everyone was pretty much like you? They aren't. Like, not even close. Half that guy's head is shaved. That woman appears to be wearing monk robes. Yes, that old man is carrying a garden hose, and you probably shouldn't spend too much time thinking about why.

Also, that lady in the corner? She's looking at you that way because she's thinking about how weird you are.

*Or Walmart after about 3AM.

Friday, July 8, 2011

By the numbers

On one-two, nothing and everything happens.

It's like drawing back the string on a bow: the most gentle part of the whole process, really, but it defines everything that comes after. The lead rock-steps back, letting his arm extend just slightly to avoid pulling her forward at all. She's following, after all, and responding is like breathing. She reads every movement, pulling back when he pulls, pushing back when he pushes, matching him point by point. She even translates the slight right-left bob of his hand into full swivels, like a tiny stone rippling an entire pond. Neither of them has moved yet. It's pure anticipation.

On three, it all snaps. The coiled spring between their arms pulls, and she fires straight forward. He moves just slightly out of her way, catching her back with his other hand, letting her momentum spin him around. They are using one another to ride a wave of kinetic energy.

-and-four: the arms they started with are relaxed now, their job done for the moment. Knees bent, upper bodies pulled back, individually they are completely off balance, but together they're stable. The arms they started with are completely relaxed now, and the energy they imparted is now rebuilding elsewhere. She's sending her weight against the right hand on her back, and it's stretching his right arm like a rubber band.

On five, it snaps. He's stepped behind himself, preparing to be out of her way. She explodes past, and six does nothing more than absorb the blast.

Seven-and-eight, some will tell you, is where it all resets. But if she knows what she's doing, she hasn't let all that energy out just yet, and rides the last little bit until the very last second before they begin again.

It's a storm. Not elegant or pretty, not polished to a shine. It's not civilized. A hurricane made just to generate the peaceful place in its eye.

And one . . .


Friday, July 1, 2011


It's amazing how much BS we put up with when it comes to . . . just about anything. With any given product, service, or aspect of life, there's a certain amount of "stupid crap overhead" that's simply assumed as part of the equation. 

Your computer will sometimes get viruses, which will need to be removed. Sometimes the software on it will lock up, and you'll need to reboot it. Someday it may not come on at all. These are not uncommon events, they're known quantities. 

And it's not just that new-fangled compugizmo-jabber-jabber either. Several times in your life, you'll go out to your car, turn the key, and nothing will happen. Even though you just drove it the night before, suddenly it will act as nothing more than an elaborate statue, or highly inconvenient furniture.

We accept these things. We get mad about them, sure, but ultimately we're not surprised. The reality is that when things don't work, that's actually the natural state. The bizarre part is that any of it ever worked in the first place, that a long history of human beings raking through the physical world* has yielded crap that lights up and moves on it's own.

*Now back to Minecraft, where we've built a virtual system for starting back over at the beginning.