Saturday, January 30, 2010

A lot for a 22-hour day...

This morning, I woke up in the Mountain Time Zone. I have since flown back to Eastern. This means my day is only 22 hours long today. But I feel like I have more than a days worth to cover here... but I assure you, all these observations come from today:

  • I never want to hear the phrase "Hey, I forgot something in my hotel room. Can we go back?" This was uttered by some numbskull on the shuttle bus from my hotel to Denver International Airport. Actually, the shuttle served four places on the hotel farm where I was staying. And the driver, who was apparently a nice guy, took him back and we waited five minutes for numbskull to go get whatever he forgot. Fortunately, I had plenty of tie to make my flight. But, seriously... why didn't the driver poll the other passengers? I wanted to turn to this guy and say "Yes, it sucks you forgot something... but get off and get the next shuttle because you're not the only one on this bus with a flight to catch buddy."
  • My dear lord the Denver airport is far away from anything that is actually called Denver. How far? Well, I was told my hotel was 25 minutes outside of downtown and this morning, I saw a sign that said - as we traveled even farther from downtown Denver - "Denver Airport - 9 miles." Just put the airport in Kansas why don't you?
  • I landed in Charlotte into a winter wonderland. Apparently, despite days and days of hype, NCDOT failed to do anything like prepare for snowfall. I got on I-485, the Charlotte beltway, to come home. I may have done just as well driving through the forest. It was clear nothing had been plowed all day. Shameful.
  • Even so, I guess the snow was a good reason for a bunch of local yahoos to "git out the truck!" today. Folks... four-wheel drive is great. I know I enjoyed having it crossing the La Plata Mountains outside Durango on Thursday. You know what though? Four-wheel drive won't save your ass when you're going 55-60 MPH on a solid sheet of ice that NCDOT hasn't decided is worth plowing. I wish I owned a towing company bc I would be rich today dragging these fools out of the median.
That is all.

For now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

iPad Fail

The first time I saw an iPod, I was smitten. I remember being on the NYC subway. What was that? White earbuds? Some odd interface? I took a closer look. I remember it clearly:

"Oh my God it's a digital music player."

It was one of the few tech items I felt like I couldn't wait t have... and on my entry-level PR salary, it was far out of reach. In fact, my first mp3 player was a Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen... but the point was, Apple was onto something. They were first to market and everyone has been playing catch-up since (except me... I finally went iPod in 2007).

Now, I don't have an iPhone but I get it... Being able to have an intuitive phone/data device that allows you to use the Internet the way the Internet wants to be used makes sense. I wish my Blackberry had the iPhone browser for sure.

But this iPad...

I cannot be the only person who thinks this is the most underwhelming "revolutionary" device (to borrow Steve Jobs' word) I've seen in some time.

Was the world clamoring for a larger version of the iPhone that doesn't have the phone part (yet still requires a user to purchase a monthly data plan)?

I know, I know... "but it plays movies!" Yeah... so does my laptop. Which I have to carry around when I travel. And my laptop has a bigger screen. My laptop is also free, a perk of working for my company.

"But it's a great e-reader! It's going to slaughter the Kindle!"

Umm... sure? I have yet to find a case study where a first-to-market product is suddenly overtaken by a new competitor - especially a more expensive one.

The Sony PlayStation2 came out and handily slaughtered Microsoft's XBOX for years in terms of market share... even though XBOX was widely regarded as the superior machine. It wasn't until major technological overhauls came with the next-gen consoles... and Microsoft beat Sony to market with the XBOX 360. That was enough to shift Microsoft significant market share.

But the iPad offers no real jump in e-reader technology. Amazon has been gaining a solid foothold in market share. How many people who bought a Kindle - and the e-books to go along - are going to suddenly throw aside their purchase for... a more expensive product that doesn't offer any upgrade that provides a better user experience?

I don't think too many. And your average Kindle book is priced under $10... and costs nothing to download data-wise. And Amazon (not publishers) set the prices, which is not how the iPad will work.

I know I cannot lift weights while using the iPad (unlike my iPod). I know that typing a five-page document on the iPad will be a torturous process as compared to my laptop. I see no need to pay for another data plan.

So no, I will not be purchasing a new device from Apple that is overloaded on flashy but low on utilitarianism. And I'm certainly not going to pay twice the rate of a Kindle to have the same reading experience just so I can have the hot new gadget.

I will, however, still do just about anything to get a Kindle in my hands.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hike to Parker Mesa Overlook

I try to avoid hyperbole. So let's just say that my hike today in Topanga State Park (from the Trippet Ranch parking area to Parker Mesa Overlook) is possibly one of the most beautiful hikes you can do in the lower 48.

And it's really easy.

Following a fire road, the trail traces a high ridegline that, for the most part leaves you exposed to a view at almost any moment. It's chaparral country and the colors are outstanding.

But it's... just so much more.

I've hiked Topanga once before and, like today, there is the take-your-breath-away moment when you come over a rise or around a bend and see the Pacific from high above. But I don't know of any hike I can find where I can see all of the following on the same hike, often at the same time:

  • The ocean
  • Snow-capped mountains
  • Palm trees
  • A city skyline
You might get two of those a lot of places. Three is possible in a handful of areas. All four... maybe right here in Southern California and maybe the Marin Headlands near San Francisco.

But if we add a fifth qualifier - that the entire hike must take place within the city limits - I'm guessing this is the only one.

Yes, friends, I didn't leave LA for the hike. It's still technically in the city. And that, too me, is what's truly amazing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Adventures in Homeownership, Vol. Whatever: REALLY?!

So, I am in the process of selling my home. In fact, it's under contract. Today, we learned that our buyer would like to forego having the house inspected. They, apparently, feel that our sheet of disclosures and recent fixes are good enough for them.

Truthfully, I was anticipating not having many repairs at all. We know the house and really... it's in good shape.

So, there was this brief bit of rejoicing around 6 p.m. tonight, knowing that we would save a few bucks on any small repairs the buyer requested.

At about 11 p.m., the joy subsided.

As I was walking into our laundry room, I noticed a small bit of water on the floor. An investigation yielded that one of the hoses from our hot water heater comes to a triple joint... and at the bottom of that joint, a thin, but steady stream of water slowly misting the side of my water heater. And the floor.


By the way... I have a home warranty. I called them. The customer service rep was very helpful. Except for being able to fix us up with a 24-hour repair technician. Then, I hit the phone book. Lots of people listing 24-service. Why, pray tell, did I have to call eight of them? And why would of the ones I actually spoke to, have two of them tell me they couldn't come until tomorrow morning?

I now sit here awaiting the arrival of a 24-hour plumbing who will arrive about midnight. I sense I will be spending about what I budgeted for repairs to the house. Balls balls.

Why the rush? At 3 p.m. tomorrow, my home is being appraised. And let me tell you... I need this house to appraise. Fortunately, it appears this leak was caught early and we've averted a true, damaging crisis.

But still... how long until I am a renter?