Monday, May 31, 2010

An Anthem for Memorial Day

The video in this post features Josh Groban performing an operatic version of one of my favorite tunes: "Anthem." The song comes from the 1980s musical, CHESS, by Tim Rice, Björn Ulvaeus, and Benny Andersson. Although the show is very much about the board game of chess, it is even more about the politics of relationships ... and nations.
In the storyline, "Anthem" is performed by a Russian chess player -- a champion -- on the occasion of his defection from the U.S.S.R., but there is nothing in it to make it specific of any particular nation. I, therefore, find it very inspirational and appropriate for Memorial Day. For it is the love of our nation that our veterans served in the armed forces. It is for the love of this land that so many soldiers laid down their lives.
Check out the lyrics:
No man, no madness
Though their sad power may prevail
Can possess, conquer, my country's heart
They rise to fail
She is eternal
Long before nations' lines were drawn
When no flags flew, when no armies stood
My land was born
And you ask me why I love her
Through wars, death and despair
She is the constant
We who don't care
And you wonder will I leave her -- but how?
I cross over borders but I'm still there now
How can I leave her?
Where would I start?
Let man's petty nations tear themselves apart
My land's only borders lie around my heart

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pick My New Phone! (Is There an App for That?)

Three months ago, I put it off. And I was prepared to put it off for another month. But the time has come to make a decision.
I'm due for an upgrade and I need a new smartphone.
Now, I am a Mac user, so one would think this is a decision easily made and acted upon. I should get an iPhone, right? Well, let me tell you, I would certainly like to have an iPhone. There are, however, a few issues. First, I am on Verizon. Why is that an issue? Uh, because I am unwilling to switch to AT&T. Sorry, folks, I'm actually happy with the service on Verizon. AT&T is by far the lesser network in my area and I kind of like a phone to, well, you know, make phone calls.
Second, it seems rather unlikely that Apple will strike a deal with Verizon. I was following the rumors, waiting and hoping for the iPhone to be available on my network. But I'm convinced it won't happen ... for quite a while.
Third, and possibly the biggest issue, I have been using Palm products for several years now. My current device is a Centro (I have been through the Palm V, Palm m500, Treo 650, Treo 700p). All my primary contacts -- and a host of other data in the form of memos, scheduling, etc. -- is in Palm's proprietary format. C'mon! Don't judge me! These Palm devices sync very well with the Mac platform, OK?
Here is my Centro!
Now, you may well ask, "Why do you need a new smartphone?" Great question! And the answer is ... I don't really need a new smartphone. But I am up for contract renewal, which means a discount on a new device, and I do want one. Or, rather, I want a phone that is better on the web than my Centro (that Blazer browser is so 2005).
So my question all of you (er, well, anyone reading my blog; so that's all two of you) is this:
What device should I get?
I'm serious. I need some help in choosing my new smartphone. And it will ideally have the following features:
  • Sync well with Mac OS X
  • Decent web browser
  • Good audio quality
  • Support for Twitter (preferably via Tweetdeck) and Facebook
  • Full keyboard (virtual or practical, I'm not picky just yet)
  • Video playback
  • iTunes integration
  • Ability to import my Palm data
I'm not really all that interested in BlackBerry devices, so I guess the choice is between Android and Palm. Or, maybe Palm is not really part of the discussion. The Palm Pre and Palm Pixi look good, but the new Web OS doesn't seem to support my old Palm data very well and syncing with Mac is an issue. Not that Android is much better in the Mac sync department. Bottom line: I'll have some serious adjustment no matter which direction I go. I just want to ensure I make the best choice given my criteria.
So, have at it! Make a pitch for which device I should get and why. I appreciate any and all help in this matter.
Which droid is the droid I'm looking for, Ben Kenobi?
Oh, look. Palm made phones for Weebles!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy Towel Day 2010!

It seems somehow fitting that my next post after writing Forty-Two is for Towel Day. May 25 is Towel Day, an annual celebration of the life and work of Douglas Adams, the man behind H2G2 (among other stories). You can get great background on the day and the man at or Then surf over to to read a lovely compilation of tributes. I should also point out that ThinkGeek is having a fun photo contest with cool geeky prizes -- just tweet a photo of yourself, with the #towelday tag, to @thinkgeek. By the by, today is also Geek Pride Day (in honor of the first Star Wars film, which was released on this day in 1977. The Daily Caller sums up the basic rights and responsibilities of geekdom. It's not the only place you'll find the writeup, but I happen to like their title for it. So, my hoopy froods, don't panic and always keep your towel handy. Who knows, maybe the Force will be with you as well.