Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011: Confessions of a non-fanboy

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

There are those who practically live in the Apple world. They treat the Worldwide Developer Conference as if it were a religious event. They never fail to get waitlisted for the latest and greatest iPhone, cancellation fees and lack of discount be damned. And they never fail to trumpet the gospel of the One True Computer Brand to those who will listen (or to those who are within earshot).

I’ve never been one of them.

As a kid, I cut my technological teeth on BASIC on a VIC-20, and later graduated to a PC XT in 5th grade. I grew up in the DOS/Windows world and remain firmly there for my own computer purchasing decisions, at least for the time being. I do have an iPhone, which I do love.

So, given my relative lack of immersion in the Apple world, I didn’t react like this to the news of Steve Jobs’ passing:

I’m actually sick to my stomach right now, you guys know I’m a true fanboy, i can’t believe it hurts this much! F**k, I’m in shock. #Steve

(wave to @docrock – hope you’re doing OK, dude.)

My initial reaction was more like this:

Well, I shouldn’t be surprised – but still, his departure from this world so soon after departing from Apple touches us all. RIP Steve Jobs.

After all, it was just last month six weeks ago when Jobs abruptly resigned from his post as CEO, claiming that he was no longer able to fulfill his duties. Of course, it was no secret that he was not at all well. Yet, I never thought that the end would come so soon. (I felt compelled then to remind people that Jobs resigned and did not die, and that mourning his loss then was like burying him alive. OK, you can bury him now.)

And as much as I’ve historically resisted the siren call of Apple products and endured the abuse inflicted on me by my Mac nut friends, I do have to admit that, for better or for worse, Steve Jobs’ legacy has touched me and the lives of many around me.

Who would have known that a pointing device and pictures, introduced to the world at large with the Apple Lisa and perfected by the Macintosh, would become the standard way of human interaction with computers the world over? Who would have known that a small device no larger than the size of a deck of cards would forever change the way that music is delivered? And who would have thought that a mobile phone could be used for things other than phone calls and text messages? Who else but Steve Jobs?

A lot of people my age have fond memories of Apple IIs as their first computers, either at home or at school. I remember computer classes where I learned BASIC and LOGO. In fact, Apple’s traditional niche has been in the education field (while PCs have been mainstays in the business world), and for those of us who were fortunate to have computers and computer labs at school, chances are good that those computers were Apples (either Apple IIs and their relatives, or Macs). True, the digital divide in schools and in homes has not been completely bridged (as one of my Twitter followers forcefully pointed out), but I think Steve Jobs deserves at least some of the credit in attempting to build that bridge.

One thing that I do credit Steve Jobs for. The fact that he opened up the iPod and iTunes to people on the other side, and making those platform agnostic, was a stroke of marketing genius. Apple introduced a lot of people to their products without making them switch over to the Mac universe. I had an iPod photo, then an iPod touch, then the iPhone 4, all without leaving the Windows world. But the end result is this: Filled with favorable experiences with Apple mobile products, they may then be more willing to plunk down the cash to get, say, a MacBook Pro. Like I said, well done.

In any event, President Obama probably said it best:

…there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.

So thank Steve Jobs for your Apple II when you were a kid; thank him for that Mac you wrote your college thesis on; and thank him for the iPhone on which you found out that he left this world. So long, Steve. Maybe one day I will spring for a MacBook. Give me time to think it over.

Friday5 for July 15, 2011: Long journeys

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

From Friday5, July 15, 2011. It’s late, I know, but I couldn’t resist.

1. What is the longest distance you’ve traveled (in one trip) by foot?

26 miles, 385 yards – the length of a marathon. I’ve made that trip eleven times, always on the second Sunday in December. Although my time in making that trip has varied widely and trended up in recent years (from close to four hours to almost six).

2. What is the longest trip you’ve taken by car?

I believe it was in February 1994 (or possibly 1993). I was in college then, and my RA asked me on a Friday night to help share in the driving from Portland, OR to Palo Alto, CA so that her mom could attend a funeral. I was reluctant at first, as I had never driven on the mainland up until then, but agreed. We picked up one of her friends in Eugene, then we shared the driving through the night and the next day. We spent Saturday night and Sunday in San Francisco, then drove back, making it back to Portland early Monday morning. It was about 661 miles going and coming back.

The longest road trip I’ve done solo was from Portland to Seattle to Vancouver to Portland in 2010 – 314 miles going and coming back.

3. What is the longest trip you’ve taken by plane?

From Honolulu to Osaka, about 3500 miles.

4. What is the longest trip you’ve taken on some kind of water craft?

Longest I can remember was on a recent passenger ferry trip from Seattle to Victoria, about 100 miles each way.

5. What is the longest trip you’ve taken aboard a bus or train?

Zero miles. I’ve never taken either between cities. Probably about 15 miles if you count public transportation.

Friday 5 for July 29: Public Options

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

OK, I know. It’s almost time for a new Friday5, but I figured I’ve been neglecting this blog for way too long. Plus, July 29 was my 39th birthday. Hopefully, I can do this once in a while in the months leading up to the big four-oh.

1. When did you last use a public restroom?

Not sure. But when I’m on a long run, say from Kapiolani Park out to East Honolulu, and nature calls, I’m not particular about where I do my business. True, the public park restrooms along the way leave much to be desired at times, and sometimes lack privacy (broken doors and such), but if you gotta go, you gotta go. Preferably in a place with running water.

2. When did you last ride public transportation?

Probably on Sunday, July 17 in Portland, when I took the MAX Green Line from my motel in Clackamas to downtown Portland. Frankly, MAX is one of the reasons I fell in love with the city. From a single line when I was in school in the early 90s, it’s blossomed into four distinct lines and more are on the way. I only wish Honolulu got with the program earlier.

3. How far away from your home is the nearest public housing?

I had to try to look it up on the Web, and unfortunately, the Hawaii Housing Authority site wasn’t too helpful. I’d guess that they’re all on the Honolulu side of the Koolaus.

4. Which of your public utilities is the least reliable?

I would probably have to say electricity, seeing that it’s subject to different failures from lighting and so on. Fortunately, we haven’t had any major water breaks lately, nor any interruption in phone, Internet, or cable.

5. What did you last view on public television or listen to on public radio?

Probably All Things Considered on HPR on the way home, followed by Evening Concert. I like classical music and it’s the only place on the dial one can get it here.

Friday 5 for April 29: In Memoriam

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Like Mitchell at Friday5.org, I too knew Ryan Suenaga. I won’t rehash my tribute here, but I do want to add that in Gene Park’s excellent Storify story done as part of his obituary for Ryan, my contribution is the picture of Mount Olomana located just after the jump (credited under my nom d’Internet, pineapplejuice). It’s in his honor that I take this week’s questions on:

1. If you were suddenly unable to make any excuses, what could you realistically do today to address whatever in your life is keeping you from being healthy and happy?

I think I’ve reached a time in my life where I’m probably the happiest that I’ve been in a while. That is to say, nothing’s thrown me completely off balance. Physically, I’ve gone from being significantly underweight, to ideal, to being slight overweight, at least as far as BMI is concerned. But I have run eleven marathons and counting. There’s room for improvement in both departments, of course.

I’ve found that my magic formula for staying happy is remembering that whatever happens to me, God has a higher plan. To the extent I try to force things and stray from that sweet spot, that’s when I feel tension, unhappiness, feelings of deprivation, etc. I’ve gone through a lot…abandoned a career path that I thought I was meant for, lost family members and friends along the way. But I know that there’s a plan at work here, and just pray each day for the strength to keep the faith and do what I was meant to do.

2. What are your feelings about professional wrestling?

I watch it every so often but not as much as before. These days, at least in the WWE, it’s become less about athleticism (your off-the-top-rope maneuvers and finishing), and more like a bad soap opera.

3. What is the brightest, most colorful article of clothing you actually wear once in a while?

My normal clothing is pretty subdued—I tend toward earth tones, reds, browns, tans, and beiges. Occasionally blues and blacks when the occasion calls for it. My most colorful clothes in my wardrobe, though, are my finisher shirts for the Honolulu Marathon. Sometimes they’re tasteful, understated maroons, yellows, blues, and such. But the shirt I have for the 2009 marathon is a microfiber shirt that is—I swear I am not making this up—fluorescent chartreuse. And yes, I do wear it to work from time to time.

4. What’s something you do, not because you want to or because someone’s compelling you, but because it’s the right thing to do?

Actually, this is not something that I do, but something that I choose not to do. Yes, I know alcohol is American culture’s widely accepted social lubricant. But my father’s side of the family has an unfortunate history with it—problems with drinking to excess, leading to liver problems. Soon after I lost my father at age 16 to complications from his treatment for a liver condition, I made the decision that whatever happened to my grandfather, my uncle, and my dad, would not happen to me. I am probably one of the only people in America who went to a mainstream college and avoided alcohol entirely, and not for religious reasons.

And twenty years later, I’m still true to my promise. This has put me in awkward positions at times—my good friend’s bachelor party, for instance. I have been in confrontations where I’ve had to resist—strongly—efforts to get me to drink. And it has limited, somewhat, my options for social interaction. I don’t feel entirely comfortable in a place when others are indulging (and maybe overindulging) in alcohol. It’s like being a vegetarian in a steak house. But if I have to, I find ways to cope.

(Edit: Clarifying that last paragraph—restaurants are OK. Bars and nightclubs, though, make me feel like a fish out of water.)

(Speaking of vegetarianism, I have great respect for vegetarians and wouldn’t even think of pressuring them to try my filet mignon. Most others I know are of like mind. Sometimes I wonder why teetotalers don’t get the same level of respect. But that’s another entry.)

Still, I know that my decision to be a teetotaler will mean that I may live longer and avoid the problems that come with drinking to excess. That’s a good outcome in itself.

5. What’s a food you’ll keep eating until it either runs out or someone stops bringing it to the table?

Put a King Arthur’s Supreme pizza from Round Table Pizza on the table, and I’ll keep eating it until it’s gone or I’m stuffed. It’s that good.

Everything is breaking: A farewell to a friend

Monday, April 25th, 2011

The last couple of weeks, in general, have been a bummer.  The motherboard of my desktop computer of two and a half years died a horrible death, forcing me to get a new computer and go through the necessary rigmarole of reloading programs and data.  Then I find my mom’s last mammogram found abnormalities.  The biopsy found a tumor—fortunately, most likely benign—but one that my mom will probably have removed pretty soon.  The Blazers’ 23-point comeback over Dallas on Saturday, though, had been a bright spot of sorts.

Still, nothing could have prepared me for what happened on Sunday—a Japan-earthquake sized jolt.

I logged on to Twitter last night and found the mood on Twitter to be much gloomier than usual.  What caught my eye was Ryan Ozawa’s tweet, “Godspeed, my friend,” which I found weird.  Reading his tweet stream, I found an entry on a 10-year-old dying rice cooker and thought to myself: A rice cooker is indispensable in Hawaii, but to be that attached to one’s rice cooker to bid it farewell? That didn’t make sense.

But then in addition to that, there were a few tweets of what appeared to be outright grief over someone unknown. In any case, I thought the vibe weird, so I tweeted:

Seems everything is breaking. Just replaced my desktop; mom will be going in for surgery soon. Reading my tweet stream, seems I’m not alone.

In the next few minutes, it became clear that something was going on behind the scenes.  Mentions were made of seeing something on the news.  A look at the Star-Advertiser site found a story of a hiker killed in a fall off of Mount Olomana.

Then it dawned on me that my friend Ryan, whom I had just seen last week Sunday at the Geek Meet, was planning a hike there.  Ominous signs on Twitter emerged – tweets asking about his welfare and that of another Twitter user in the same group.  When I found the other Twitter user, atop his feed was an “I’m OK” tweetBut nothing atop Ryan’sHis last tweet was that morning.

Then, like a ton of bricks, it hit me:

Oh. God. No.

Final confirmation came on Facebook, where Ryan’s profile page had been transformed into a makeshift shrine of sorts.  The jigsaw puzzle became clear, and even though the authorities and media had not released the victim’s name until this morning, it became clear that night who the victim, in fact, was.

Ryan Suenaga—social worker, diabetic turned endurance athlete, and all-American geek—was no more.

One thing I remember about Ryan was his fastidiousness about money.  He pinched his pennies until they bled, and made them work overtime.  His ultimate goal was to retire early, which, given his work as a social worker (not exactly a relaxing career), might have been just as well. But fortunately, while frugal about money, he was generous in other things that were ultimately more important.

I’m not exactly sure where I saw Ryan first, but I imagine it was probably at the first Geek Meet. Since then I had seen him at tweetups and at endurance athletic events.  Although he was a self-described hater of running, he nonetheless did a lot of it, completing two marathons.  After having completed my own race, I was glad to have been able to cheer him on and congratulate him on a job well done.  His true love, though, was cycling, and he was always in training for the next 100 mile or 100 kilometer race.  And how he got there was equally inspiring.  From a peak of 265 pounds, he reached 172.8 in the last week.  (He would weigh himself most mornings and tweet his weight.) If you saw him as I remember, you wouldn’t know that there was a lot more of him back in the day.  For most of the time I knew him he was around 180.  Yet, 180 wasn’t good enough—his ultimate goal was 165, a one-hundred pound loss.

True, he was a self-professed non-people person.  But he had filled every other moment of his life with fulfilling things and in so doing touched other people’s lives as well.  He was a curmudgeon with a big heart.

Like I said, everything is breaking, and it appears a lot of hearts are tonight. God’s comfort be with all of us during this difficult time.

My front door faces Mount Olomana and it greets me every morning.  This morning, as I left the house, I looked up at the three headed monster that ate my friend and spit him out, and said a silent prayer for his soul.

You climbed the high peak,
And, stepping out in great faith,
Fell into God’s arms.

Thank you, Ryan, for being a part of my life.

Ryan Suenaga
January 21, 1967 – April 24, 2011

For more tribute posts, read Ryan Ozawa’s blog post and see the list at the bottom. Too many to list here.

Portland, days 1 and 2

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

The grand adventure begins.

It started off fairly uneventfully. The flight over left on time and arrived on time, which is pretty much the norm. I was able to pick up my rental car without much trouble either, but boo to the girl at the counter who tried to upsell me; I got this rate (~ $370 for two weeks) by planning ahead, and you’ll have to offer me something comparable to get me to change (not $100-200 more). Getting to the hotel was quick, and I did have a room waiting for me even at close to midnight (thank goodness; I’ve heard too many horror stories about late arrivals getting their reservations given away).

Started Wednesday with continental breakfast at the hotel, followed by catching MAX downtown. Portland’s newest MAX line ends at Clackamas Town Center, just a 5 to 10 minute walk from where I’m staying. (That brings the total number of MAX lines to four. Yes, all of that while Honolulu has bickered all this time about building its first, and it probably won’t be built for sometime.)

When I got there, I got a bacon maple bar from Voodoo Doughnut (mmmm…), and made my way to the Park Blocks, snapping pictures along the way. I spent most of the half hour before the market opened taking pictures of the fruits and vegetables being put out for display.

After catching the MAX back to the hotel, I decided it’s time for some driving. So off in the car I went, to Seaside on the Oregon Coast. I’ve seen a lot of Seaside over the past few years, what with it being the finish line for the Hood to Coast Relay, but this is the first time that I’ve seen Seaside without the hubbub and ruckus that comes with Hood to Coast. Think of it as Coney Island West. Took a leisurely stroll down Broadway (the main street), snapped some photos, and made my way into a game center where I put down almost $20 playing Skee-Ball. (I think playing the iPod/iPhone app, in a weird way, gave me some practice for the real thing. Maybe.)

My plan was to have dinner at Cannon Beach (which I did, over at Mo’s Restaurant) and then catch the sunset, but I realized that at this latitude sunset happens at 9:00 p.m. So back to Portland I went. Besides, I do have a great photo of Haystack Rock from a previous trip.

Today, I started my day at the flagship location of the Original Pancake House. And it really is a house. Maybe about 15 tables in the whole area. I was able to get a table right next to the fireplace. I ordered one of their signature dishes – apple pancakes. It came out quickly (I was surprised!), and it was monstrous. Maybe about 9 inches in diameter, with apples in the batter, with apple-cinnamon topping on top. I couldn’t finish it all. It occurred to me, though, while I was sitting there…I had gone to Lewis & Clark, which is not too far away, for four years, and I’ve visited Portland five times in the double-ohs. It surprised me that this was the first time I’d ever eaten here.

Made a stop at Pro Photo Northwest (picking up a TTL flash cable for back home), and then decided to spend the day out in the Gorge. First stop was Multnomah Falls. It’s the second highest waterfall in North America, 620 feet high. And you can hike all the way to the top, which I did. Wasn’t really prepared for the big climb – 1.25 miles but with that 600 foot elevation gain. Then coming back down again.

Had some lunch over in Cascade Locks and then headed back to the hotel to take a nap before heading out to dinner with my friend from high school.

The trip’s getting off to a great start and I’m looking forward to the rest of it!

Posted via email from Northwest Passage 2010

Tourist questions (or, don’t even think of asking these up north)

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

In my mailbox today landed a list of the dumbest questions asked by visitors to Banff National Park. Fortunately, I’m not going anywhere near there on my trip, staying in the Vancouver vicinity, but it’s a good reminder of what not to say to stay in the good graces of our Canadian friends.

A sample:

  • Did I miss the turnoff for Canada? (while standing in the middle of Banff!)
  • Where does Alberta end and Canada begin?
  • Is this the part of Canada that speaks French, or is that Saskatchewan?
  • If I go to B.C., do I have to go through Ontario?
  • How far is Banff from Canada?
  • What’s the best way to see Canada in a day?

And my favorite: “Don’t you Canadians know anything?”

 

Posted via email from Northwest Passage 2010

T minus 15 days: Here’s the plan

Monday, June 28th, 2010
Yep, it's almost that time once again for this reverse snowbird to seek shelter in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I probably go up there as often as most other Islanders go to Vegas. In fact, I was there last year, and though I did have fun, I can take only so much neon at one time. In any case, I'm really looking forward to this trip, and have been since February when I first bought the ticket (thanks to HawaiianMiles for picking up the tab for my return trip…half price tickets, FTW.)

Here's what I have on tap:

July 13 (day 0): I leave Honolulu in the afternoon, arriving at night in Portland.
Most other airlines run red-eyes to the West Coast. Hawaiian's flights leave Honolulu in the afternoon Hawaii time, getting there at night in Portland on Pacific time. Getting in late at night in Portland has never really been a problem for me in the four times or so I've taken Hawaiian. True, it may be 11 p.m. when I get there, but my body still thinks it's 8 p.m. – enough for me to be coherent enough to pick up my baggage and rental car, and settle into my hotel room (or host's home, as the case may be). Then by the time I'm settled in it's time for me to go to sleep, which I can do horizontally.

For some reason, I have trouble enough getting a sound sleep in a seated position – add the jet noise and the general discomfort caused by the seat and it becomes nearly impossible. So Hawaiian's flight schedule works well for me and usually I wake up the next morning with minimal jet lag.

July 14-16 (days 1 to 3): Portland, part 1. I don't really have a set schedule for most of my first segment. I have dinner scheduled on the 16th with a high school friend of mine who moved to Portland, got married, and started a family. I do plan to visit the campus of Lewis & Clark during that time. It always amazes me how much the campus has changed since I graduated 16 years ago. Besides that, I have a few places on my flexible agenda: visiting Voodoo Doughnut (never been, but have heard a lot about their bacon maple bar – want to try it out in person); Bagby Hot Springs, and whatever else comes to mind. Also to visit restaurant chains that have yet to make the jump across the pond – Olive Garden, Red Robin, Sonic, etc.

July 17 (day 4): Portland to Seattle (by way of Mount Rainier): The plan on the 17th is to check out of the hotel relatively early and hit the road heading north. First stop, weather permitting, will be Mount Rainier National Park for some photo ops and then from there into Seattle. After that, finding someplace to eat, then watching the sun go down on the Space Needle.

July 18 (day 5): Seattle: Hoping to get up early to get a chance to take a picture perfect shot of Seattle from Kerry Park, then planning on visiting Pike Place Market and other places, maybe the Ballard Locks, Woodland Park Zoo, or the Museum of Flight.

July 19 (day 6): Seattle to Vancouver: Making a stop at the Future of Flight Center in Everett and taking the Boeing factory tour, then from there to the Canadian border – a quick stop at the Peace Arch, one of the few places where you can straddle the physical U.S./Canada border – and then on to Vancouver.

July 20-21 (days 7 and 8): Vancouver: What? Vancouver isn't hosting the Summer Olympics? LOL. But there are a few things I plan to do while I'm there…Capilano Suspension Bridge, Grouse Mountain, jogging in Stanley Park, and Granville Island, with some poutine (Canadian-style cheese fries) on the side.

July 22 (day 9): Vancouver back to Portland: Hoping the lines at the border aren't too long, and that I can stretch my legs again in the Puget Sound area before heading back south.

July 23 to July 25 (days 10 to 12): Portland, part 2. This is probably when I'll be spending most of my major souvenir shopping time…zero sales tax, FTW. I also have an early morning photowalk date on July 24 at Oaks Amusement Park for Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photowalk.

July 26 (day 13): Back to reality. Leaving in the morning and arriving back in Honolulu in the early afternoon.

Posted via email from Northwest Passage 2010

A half-hour saves me $90.

Friday, March 5th, 2010
What a difference half an hour makes. Here's the story…

I was having some difficulty logging into the Hawaiian Airlines site to view my reservation (I wanted the ticket number so I could put into my tripit.com itinerary). So I called Hawaiian web support – they were kind and courteous. Turned out that the site was undergoing maintenance, but the rep was able to enable my account temporarily so I could see my reservation. It was then that I found out that there were some schedule changes to my original flights…same flight numbers but earlier departure and arrival times.

That meant that since my flight to Portland arrives 30 minutes earlier, I could pick up my rental car that much earlier. (I hit the ground in Portland around 11:00 p.m. PDT so the sooner I can get my rental car and get to the hotel, the better, and the sooner I can get on Pacific time. I hate red-eyes because I have difficulty sleeping on a plane.) So I went onto the Enterprise site, accessed my reservation, and bumped my pickup time up half an hour to 11:00 p.m. I wasn't expecting the originally quoted price to change, but it did. From around $400 for around two weeks to $310.

In a word – SCORE. A penny saved is a penny earned. And saving 9,000 pennies…all the better. :)

Posted via email from Northwest Passage 2010

Define the edges and everything falls into place.

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
This trip will be a little different from my other Northwest
expeditions. It’s the first time in a while, since 2001 to be exact,
that I’ve gone to the Northwest “just because.” The last four trips
I’ve been on were primarily to attend an event (my friend’s wedding in
2004, and Hood to Coast in 2006, 2007, and 2008), though I scheduled
time before or after the event to explore and unwind. In fact, this
trip may have been just that…centered around an event. For a while I
was seriously considering doing the Eugene Marathon. A friend of mine
had done it a couple of years back and had a good time. But financial
constraints (in particular, the state’s plan to delay state tax
refunds until July) put the kibosh on that plan.

So, I was targeting July or August (to plan around my 20th high school
class reunion). By then my tax refund moneys from both federal and
state would be in, and combined with some money I had put away for the
trip late last year, it would pay for the trip. But then came the hard
part – deciding on the dates, finding a pair of dates about two weeks
apart that would give me maximum time and minimum disruption to my
obligations at home.

It was on February 19 that the pieces of the puzzle started coming
together. I found a good roundtrip fare on Hawaiian for July 13 – 26
and took Bing Travel’s advice to book it. Plus, HawaiianMiles allowed
me to chop that fare in half – woo hoo! After that, everything else
fell into place in a matter of a few days; I have my car reserved and
reservations at hotels in Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver (at AAA
rates, of course).

Now comes the hard part – deciding what to do while I’m there.
Fortunately, I have five months to think about it.

Posted via email from Northwest Passage 2010