Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Great American Pastime

Yesterday, Jason and I headed to Milwaukee along with some of his lab members to watch the Brewers take on the Padres. At first arrival, I was excited to take in the good weather with the roof open. Then I found out Greg Maddux was pitching for the Padres. But then, the best of all, we had a streaker in the bottom of the first inning! He jumped out of our section, ran behind first base, touched second and headed towards third,bounced off a ground crew member at third and made his way to home plate,where he slid in feet first and was tackled and arrested.Thanks to our great seats we got a bird's eye view of everything, even the sausage races. For more pictures click here

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I can't be sure, but you may have heard of a little new invention called the iPhone. It might have made a headline or two a little while back. I don't have one myself, but I think it is just about the coolest phone I've ever seen. Sure, other phones have had some of the features of the iPhone for a while now, but Apple just gets it. Things are just intuitive and streamlined with all Apple products. Let me correct that....the design of Apple products isn't really intuitive because that suggests you still have to do some work. Have an iPod you want to update? Plug it into your computer and then let it do the rest.

The iPod has been the predominant mp3 player on the market since it was first released. Every now and then a new "threat" emerges and eventually fizzles out. Remember the Rhapsody player by Real Networks? I don't think they make it anymore. Microsoft's Zune? I still haven't seen one of those. And have you ever thought about what the mirror-image of Zune would be? The iPod has been so successful because of its ease of use. Not only the iPod itself, but also because of the iTunes software that not only makes it easy to buy music and movies, but also to organize these files and upload them onto your iPod. My excitement for the iPhone is largely because I expect it to revolutionize the cell phone industry and actually provide features people will use.

With all of my excitement for the iPhone, you may be asking why I don't have one. Well, the answer to this question is really in three parts. First, I generally don't pay for cell phones. Maybe I'll pay a bit for one like I have with the Razr I currently use, but I just can't bring myself to spend any substantial amount of money for a cell phone that I will inevitably drop on the ground numerous times. Secondly, I think that the storage capacity of the iPhone is too small. They've recently eliminated the 4GB model, but the only option now is the 8GB model. For all that they advertise (music, photos, movies, etc), I just don't see the iPhone being able to handle all that. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the iPhone is only available with a 2 year commitment to AT&T. I'm currently under contract with AT&T and I'm practically counting the days until I can switch.

The people that just HAD to have an iPhone when it was first released truly amaze me. These must be some of the weirdest (and ugliest) people I've seen. The obvious is that I'm amazed whenever people wait in lines for hours, if not days, for a new technological device. But beyond this, they're also completely contradictory. When it was first released, the headlines were full of quotes like "I'd pay any price" and "Worth every penney". Now that Apple has reduced the price, as what typically happens with technology, people complain and demand a refund.

My other rant in this posting is for the people that can't seem to understand that Apple only makes the phone. They have nothing to do with the wireless service. This is best evidenced by stories such as this one. In short, this guy went on vacation with his family and the roaming charges racked up a $4800 bill. They weren't even using their phones, but a feature of the phone is that it will continuously check for new emails and when you're outside the country, you'll incur roaming charges. I feel bad for them. I really do. But I can't possibly see how their lawsuit against Apple will get them a single cent. The story states that this guy "filed a lawsuit seeking class-action status in New York State Supreme Court last week, alleging that Apple did not properly disclose the international roaming charges." At the same time, the article (and common sense) would tell you that he "received a 54-page monthly bill of nearly $4,800 from AT&T Wireless." The guy feels like he was cheated. I can understand that. He feels like he wasn't informed of the consequences of simply taking the phone outside the country. I can understand that. He gets an enormous bill from AT&T and then goes and sues Apple? I just don't understand that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Road Trip

I was driving back from Iowa to Wisconsin this past sunday and it made me think about how I've developed a bit of an enjoyment for driving on the open road. This hasn't been a joy of mine for my entire life. I imagine that it took a relocation to the midwest to begin fostering an appreciation for these drives. Growing up in NY, its really pretty hard to enjoy long drives because of all of the traffic. For example, it's pretty easy to be in the car for a couple of hours and yet still be within NYC limits. And its not because NYC is all that large.

While driving along the highway in Iowa (or pretty much any midwestern state), it's pretty easy to let the mind wander. It's not too hard to figure out why. Long stretches of straight, open road, flat land filled with corn and soy beans for as far as the eye can see. I often think that one could just set the cruise control and not even think about driving, assuming your alignment is okay. Random things along the side of the road, or simply the view on the horizon make me think. It got me to start taking pictures along the way with my camera phone while cruising at 70 mph (hence the poor quality of the pictures). I don't recommend this for those driving through the city but when you're on highway 20 in northern Iowa, well its just a bit safer.

The first thing I think about is how different these areas are than any place I've ever lived. Certainly rural Iowa is in stark contrast to my childhood on Long Island. But beyond that, its also a lot different than living in either Columbia or Madison. Things like the old windmills along the side of the road make me wonder if they are still in use, and then I wonder what its like to be living in such an area. I'm in no way judging those that live in these areas and if I was, I think I'd be in trouble with the in-laws. Its just a different lifestyle than I'm accustomed to.

I also pay attention to the towns that I pass by. Sure, most of them have rather forgettable names. But plenty stand out in my memory. There are always a bunch of towns that seem to embody the American spirit. Towns with names like "Independence". I wonder if the residents of Independence are truly more independent than those in neighboring towns. Do children move out at an earlier age? Perhaps there is a lower percentage of people getting married? Of course, for every town with a memorable name like Independence, there are also plenty of towns with downright weird names. What do you suppose the women would be like in the town of "Dike"?

With any length trip, there are always sites to be seen. Some slightly famous like the Frank Lloyd Wright house. And then there's the more impressive national landmarks like the Mississippi River. Growing up in NY, the Mississippi wasn't much more to me than a geography fact and perhaps a spelling bee word. Living in the midwest, it comes to signify the westward expansion of the US and the pioneer spirit of the early settlers. There are so many sights to see, and each area of the country is so different. Even in the drive from Iowa to Wisconsin, the land changes quite a bit from the flat farmland of Iowa to the hilly and often rugged terrain of southern Wisconsin. Sight such as these make me think that it would be fun to just get in the car and drive. Go out and explore America. If only I had the time.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Football and shopping.

At this point, the Iowa game isn't over but with a score of 35-0 I am calling it done. Especially since I don't get to see the game thanks to the Big Ten Network. Although I am happy with the win, I am looking toward next week for the Iowa vs. Iowa State game. I don't have tickets to the game but I will find a place to watch it.
Today was another interesting day for college football. Georgia lost (sorry Chris) and the one-time football powerhouse of Michigan with Coach Carr and the Big House... has become, as one ABC announcer called it, Coach Carwreck and the outhouse. Oregon played a great game but no one expected Michigan to be as pathetic as they are this year, especially Michigan. It became even more obvious how big the stadium is in Ann Arbor when all of the fans booed the Michigan team to the locker room at half time.

Although shopping has very little to do with football... I like football and almost hate shopping...there is a connection today. When my parents and sister and I were at Kohls this evening a little boy about 3 or 4 was running down the aisle. A man who I am assuming was his dad was chasing after him and when the boy finally stopped his dad said... 'Man, you are faster than any Michigan quarterback' I had to laugh.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Thank you Hannah

I don't know Hannah from Wisconsin but on Tuesday morning I received a text from her (I will keep her number confidential). It said:
Happy first day of school!
xoxo Hannah
I didn't think much of it. I know that Tuesday was the first day of school across all of Wisconsin and since I still have a Wisconsin cell phone number I figured Miss Hannah had mistakenly typed in her boyfriends cell number and texted me instead. I figured she would figure this out on her own.
I was wrong... at 3:30 in the afternoon, I received another text saying 'How did it go?'
By now I was a little irked. Her texts were costing me 10 cents a pop and although funny for a while I got this nightmare of some 16 year old girl, you know like the one who won the texting contest sending me 1000 messages in the next day or two.
So I contemplated calling her and letting her know that I am nearly 30 and no longer in school so I doubted I was the person she wanted to text... but I took the easy way out and texted her back. I simply said 'I don't know u.' Thinking this was done, I went home and made dinner, only to get another text at 8pm that simply said 'Awesome!'
I thought for a while about what awesome could possibly mean in this situation.

Awesome... Hannah just cost me $.40
Awesome... Hannah made a fool of herself self texting the wrong number all day.
Awesome... that guy she met last week at the bar gave her the wrong number (of course this would be a college student, not a high school one). Or possibly, she shouldn't have written his number on her hand, some of the number blurred this has happened to me before. One of my friends was going to help me move to an apartment in my college town. He was from a nearby town and his dad had a truck so he gave me his parents number. I called the next day and a man answered the phone. Sounded close enough to Eric's dad so I asked for Eric... there was a long pause and he said hold on a minute. Then a woman came on the phone (I assumed it was his mom), I again asked for Eric, she asked who I was.. I explained I was his friend from college and he was going to help me move today... she was silent for a minute and then said, 'Uh, Eric is 2.' That is possibly the longest wrong number conversation I have EVER had. Turns out, Eric wrote his parents' number on my hand. I think the number had an eight in it that I mistook for a zero. I eventually got in touch with the Eric I was looking for but I still freak out about calling people from time to time.