Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Drastic Measures

How my new car revealed how long America has been going backwards.

Back in the day, when I was a wee-tyke, my teachers, my family, my whole world was buzzing about how we had to learn the Metric system. It was newer, it was faster, it was better. And it was coming. 


Then, the fabled lethargy of the American psyche took over our nation of Monday Night Football fans, who said in one collective, belt-loosening sigh; "Nah."

Fast forward to 2013. 

My beloved car of more than five years was totaled in an accident and I was faced with having to get a new vehicle while saying goodbye to the previous. The prospect for getting a very good deal on a used but reliable SUV came up. Perfect vehicle for my family, safe, good gas mileage, great features—except for one.

The readings on the car's instruments, screen and dials were all metric system.

You see, the vehicle was originally from Canada. Turns out that changing the vehicle's readings over to the English measuring system was both an expense and cost in labor. When the dealer proposed to give me a price break if I just accepted it as is, I opted to keep it Metric. Mind you, I know frighteningly little about the Metric system but if it's good enough for more than seven billion of us on Earth, I can learn it to. 

The "English Measurement System" the United States currently observes (and presently the ONLY country that does so), is archaic and sadly out of date. The metric system is faster, easier to grasp, and... wait for it... is what the rest of the planet already uses. I think you've got to be a certain kind of lazy to NOT adopt something that everyone else uses simply because you can't be bothered. That level of boneheadedness is rare indeed. 

There is a list as long as my arm concerning what is great about our country, but when it comes to keeping in step with the rest of the human race... at least in regards to measurement... our country comes off as a special breed of lazy, ignorant, self-absorbed a-holes.

While driving, at least my kids will be learning the basics of the metric system. You know, in case they want to travel or, gosh forbid, make a friend with someone in the world other then the ignoramus down the street. That Doe-doe probably still uses the English measurement system.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

So, you're "Gay"

13 year-old son (parading through living room with only underwear on): "Check me out – too sexy!"

17 year-old daughter (fully clothed): "Gross! That's sooo disgusting! Go put on some clothes!" 

13 year old: (laughs)

15 year old: "Dude, that's so gay–!"

This is where I begin to unravel. 

Me: "He's NOT 'Gay' he's naked." (In my attempt to explain that being naked has nothing to do with being Gay)

17 year-old daughter: "Stop being a retard! Go put some clothes on––!!"

Again, I am trying to keep my cool with the blatant misuse of derogatory labels. 
Me: "He's NOT a retard, he's naked! Please STOP using that language!" 

Three of my four teens-including the near naked one–look at me as if I filled my pants. I hadn't. 

Me: "Look guys, terms like 'Gay' are descriptions of lifestyle and completely inappropriate for use as an insult."

[Insert pin-drop silence audio here]

Me (again): "Also, the term 'retard' is derogatory and hurtful. You need to be more respectful. Why don't you find better ways to call each other bad things. Or better yet, don't do it at all–!" 

[Nervous snickers…]

Me: "You guys may think you're funny… but I'm not laughing." 

Name calling and bullying are no laughing matter to me. The practice of name calling is insensitive, mean and sprouts from ignorance and pettiness. Obviously there is nothing wrong with being gay and mental retardation is certainly nothing to laugh at. Let alone using the term to belittle or create insults from. 

What is most disturbing is the lack of thought or comprehension affiliated with all this hurtful slang. There isn't enough life experience between any of them to see that what they are saying is wrong in all kinds of ways. 

A strong round of lectures, extra chores and a disapproving air will be a part of my household for sometime over this. We will continue to discuss this topic as a family. It's an important topic and my children need to be FAR more open-minded than this. 

Being Gay isn't a detraction, it's a part of who you are, not some bass-akwards smart-mouthed slang. Something to be celebrated not denigrated over. Figure it out you little snits. Clearly, I have some work to do.

Not a proud parent moment for me at all.  

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Why your phone is going to kill someone

Three days before the writing of this post my car was in a collision with a distracted driver. That's the term the police use to describe someone texting while driving. He ran a red light and plowed into the side of my carall because he was looking at a little screen full of text and not at his windshield. 

Our cultural demand for preoccupation continues as we look to find ways to fill every crevice of our day with some form of social or media-driven connectivity. If I turn off the fancy $5 words and say it a different way; we're all distracted. 

And we're all in mortal danger. 

How many times have we missed stop lights, stop signs, turn signals or had to break suddenly because someone in front of us isn't paying attention? Too many to count. It's because that driver is on the phone, distracted. I commute back and forth to work 50-miles a day round-trip. Not one day goes by where I don't see someone–on the freeway and on surface streets–texting while their car is on cruise control. These text/commuters aren't just teenagers either. They're often driving nice cars; BMWs, Mercedes, Porches, Acuras. 

Is the car in front of you going 50 mph in a 65mph zone? This usually means some suit is conducting a business call or some soccer mom is swapping cookie recipes on their cell and is completely oblivious to the rush-hour traffic all around them. Or it's the air-headed teen, too enthralled her own chatter about nothingness that she doesn't even notice she's drifting into your lane. 

Distracted driving is killing us. Literally. Text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver making it the deadliest distraction by far. The more you drive the more likely you can be distracted. But don't take my word for it, here are some stats to keep you engaged:
  • In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers*
  • 387,000 people were injured in 2011 by motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver*
  • For drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes, 21 percent (that’s 1-in-5!) of the distracted drivers were distracted by the use of cell phones* 
  • Engaging in visual/manual sub tasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increases the risk of getting into a crash by three times.*
  • At any given moment during daylight hours, over 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone in the US.*
We continue to hurt and kill each other in ever-increasing numbers because we're too busy sending and reading tweets and texts. Is it worth it? Is your update worth a human life? Or ruining your own for killing someone? I'm not perfect, I listen to pod casts and answer phone calls from my family and loved ones while driving, but always with a headset. While distracted driving is still a danger with a headset, at least both hands are on the wheel. 

To all those who persist in multitasking while driving I offer you this; you're playing with your life and the lives of all the others on the road. If you hurt or kill anyone I love or care about because you're too busy 'tweeting'–when I get to the pearly gates, I'm going to hunt you down and kick your ass. For all eternity. 

"Tweet" that.

* All stats pulled from: get informed and act like you know! 
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Friday, October 4, 2013

Top Ten iOS 7 Fails

As a lifelong Apple adopter (one could even say down to my core) I am he who hangs on every word from the voices from Cuppertino and I virally promote every new Apple software and hardware milestone. So you could imagine my personal levels of heightened shock and awe at the disappointing Apple adopter experience of the long-awaited—and long promoted—Apple iOS 7. 

For those non-Appellations or if you are one of the 143 people left in the developed world who know nothing about Apple products, iOS 7 is the operating system that runs Apple's legion of portable devices including iPads, iPods and iPhones

And I hate it

Why you ask? Well here are ten reasons I particularly loathe iOS 7 (cover your ears, kids): 

10. The User Interface – A nice light font, thin, airy look and clean design. Now where have I seen this before? Starts with "An" and ends with "Droid"? There's a name for this kind of emulation. Let's say it together; C-O-P-Y-C-A-T. 

9. Icons — The cool, graphically pleasing visual iconography of iOS 6 has gone from "Wow" to "WTF". The new icons aren't innovation, they're cheap clip art. Shame on you Apple. Shame. 

8. Peek-A--Boo see-through screens – No one needs to see through the screen they're looking at. It's annoying, it's unnecessary and it's a huge WTF to the developers. 

7. 3D Graphics Effects – When you rotate or move the screen on your device a visual 3D effect can be experienced and… wait, what? What is this, an mini IMAX movie? Why on EARTH would you spend THAT kind of development time and manpower behind… an effect. Again, WTF!? 

6. Non-Intuitive Functionality Changes – Did you know there more than a dozen Apps and countless YouTube videos created to SIMPLY to teach me how to do things I used to do without assistance? Closing Apps, previewing usage, Siri, and WiFi usage parameters. All new, and all for no good reason. Thanks Apple. 

5. WiFi connectivity – There are close to a dozen antennas in every model of the iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5C and 5S. Wanna know how I know? Because nothing network-enabled works without connection to a WiFi network. No App updates, no games or video, even some calls drop like a bad college elective. Wait, did you just say your phone has trouble making and holding calls? Wha–?

4. Introducing Siri – again – Look for upgrades to the previously Beta-only Siri software. Sure, now you can chose between a male or female voice. But it still 'eff's up' when I say things like "call home" or "nearest gas station". Now there are entirely new features for us to learn that Siri is incapable of performing. 

3. Can you say………..? – Have you noticed how long it takes to download info, access the web or even access Apps now? Some Apps I have to actually re-plug in my contact information to. Oh good, because I wasn't already frustrated enough with my iPhone's new shortcomings. Now I can remind all my Apps who I am again. Thanks Apple. 

2. Technicolor Terror – Why did Apple choose to take a perfectly clean, sophisticated color palette and make it more… gross? The child-like, basic color scheme is at best unappealing, though words like repulsive and painful also come to mind. 

1. Introducing, the not-so-smart Smart Phone – All this makes for a sordid user experience. Its a sad day when Apple, for the first time in it's history, forgoes its long-standing award-winning design, architecture and experience to follow somebody else's standard. Sorry Steve. It's all falling apart… fast. 

So why should you care? 

While there are an alarming number of reports of people getting motion sickness from the new screen animations (having a hard time with that one), clearly I am not the only one contemplating a reload of iOS6. 

Hopefully you don't really care what I think but you can view some of what I have shared as a wake-up call. Apple has lead the charge for innovation and uncompromising quality for so long, now without the company's visionary leader, there is no voice, no vision. 

Not staying true to Steve Job's vision of simplicity of design and innovative forward-thinking programming architecture just may well be the greatest fail of all. 

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