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For Bob, whose Readjustment Blues never quite left

May 31, 2009

Readjustment Blues

By Bill Danoff
Popularized by John Denver

Just out of the infantry this morning, I had to pay my dues across the sea.
No one back in boot camp ever warned me what the readjustment blues would do to me.
"Welcome to Havana", said the pilot. “We must have made a wrong turn on the way.
Let’s buy some cigars and keep it quiet, if they don’t know we’re here we’ll get away."

Just as I had realized he was joking, I saw we were in Washington D.C.
‘Cause there was all the patriotic buildings, just like I had seen them on TV.
It must have been a holiday, ’cause there was this parade.
People carried signs, I couldn’t read, that they had made.

‘Till I got closer and my heart fell to my socks,
There was a battle raging and the air was filled with teargas and rocks.

There was the flag I’d fought against so often, the one I fought for hanging upside down.
The wind was blowing hard, the dirt was flying, it made the city sky look dark and brown.
I saw a girl, she could have been my sister, except her hair was long and in her face.
She explained this was a demonstration against the war and for the human race.

Now, I’ve seen a lot of strange things in my travels. Cannibals, yes, and aliens galore.
But I never thought I’d see so many people saying, “we don’t want your war!”
The troops all had on uniforms just like the one I’d worn,
But they were all domestic and my duty chose war.

They carried guns just like the ones across the sea,
Except this time, I was the citizen, and they were pointing their guns at me.

Yes, I was just a citizen, and I was walking down the street,
And it was just that night, the readjustment blues got through to me.


We’ll miss you very much Bob.
Sukhumvit Road will always be one-way in our minds.



Life in the Slow Lane

June 15, 2007

Apple, Inc. just held their annual World Wide Developer’s Conference. Their annual meeting to get 3rd party developers up to speed on new products and technologies and to get them psyched up about working with Apple.

A quick summary of this years event is, at best, a yawn – a new presentation of the latest point release of OS X, a browser for Windows and saying that iPhone won’t block AJAX based web pages. Yep. Yawn.

A longer summary is that Apple told their developers to, as Robert Scoble put it, "pound sand". (Although Scoble seems to believe there’s some magic and that Apple knows what they’re doing and they have a mysterious secret plan based on some odd trust that Steve Jobs is smarter and more benevolent than history would show)

I don’t think that secret, magic plan is there. I think Apple is doing their best to gracefully get out of the computer business (possibly by spinning off Macintosh to a joint venture with SUN)

What Apple offered their developers was:

  • An OS with a tiny user base (less people use Macintosh than believe the moon landing was faked on a sound stage).
  • An OS producer with lousy developer tools and even lousier developer outreach and evangelism.
  • An OS producer who touts that the solution to their lack of apps is that they have really good ways to run Windows apps. (Jobs actually listed the ability to run Windows apps using Bootcamp, Parallels and VMWare as one of the top ten features of the new version of OS X in his keynote opening the show)

Sound familiar?

Think IBM OS/2 where Big Blue did the same thing with their “Better Windows than Windows” marketing. For those of you not old enough to remember it, when nobody was developing OS/2 applications, IBM pushed OS/2 as a better platform for running Windows apps than Windows 95. And it was pretty good at it. Good enough that nobody bothered writing native OS/2 apps. OS/2 customers were, at best, a marginal part of the customer base and since the Windows Apps everyone was already writing ran acceptably on both platforms there was no real benefit to explicitly writing for OS/2.

The results were, of course, totally predictable. Nobody developed any new applications for OS/2, OS/2 died a slow and painful death and almost took IBM with it and thus ended the OS Wars of the early ’90s.

So, lets look at the message Apple gave their developers at their annual developer love fest…

“Isn’t it funny how few copies of Vista have been sold” followed by the announcement (for those who can do basic arithmetic) that OS X has, in all versions combined, a smaller installed base than Vista had after one month.

Hey, we’ve got a great story about running Windows apps on our new version of Mac OS X for those of you who want to give up on writing OS X apps and want to write only for Windows.

So, now that you realize it’s silly to invest in OS X, perhaps you’d like to develop for our one actually successful product, the iPod? Nope. That’s not going to happen.

Alright, before you decide to throw us into San Francisco Bay, we’ve decided that the new mass market product that we’re going to hype a lot is not going to be totally closed like we threatened. And hey, despite all those stories, we’re here to remind you it runs real OS X just like you already use and develop for on Macintosh. So, take all those OS X dev skills you’ve learned, take all that Carbon and Cocoa and any other C words you’ve learned, take all that C and C++ and Objective C skills and…

Toss them out into the Bay.

Yes, if you want to write for our only new product likely to sell in significant numbers…
We expect you to have NO advantage from being Apple Registered Developers.
We expect you to have NO advantage for spending lots of money to come here.
We expect you to have NO advantage for being loyal to Apple through good times and bad.
We hope you’ve been spending your time learning JavaScript and AJAX rather than wasting it learning OS X.
We have decided that you can write some web pages and we won’t block the scripting.

Yes, you, along with every person out there who learned AJAX and JavaScript, is now starting on an equal footing to develop mediocre half-apps. Oh, and remember that your Web Apps will have to compete against the real apps that we, and a select group of partners that we actually like, have developed with the real SDK and tools that we used to write the bundled apps.

Have a nice conference…

Scoble’s "go pound sand" is a very nice way of saying what they told their Developer Partners.

Olbermann’s “Condi goes too far”

February 27, 2007

Now, in no way do I think that Doctor Condoleezza Rice, former oil executive with a tanker named after her, former National Security Advisor, current Secretary of State of the United States is either stupid or ignorant. Clearly, the only other option is that she, and the rest of this Administration, think that their followers are either ignorant, stupid or both.

If I were a Republican, I’d be embarassed by her performance. As an American, I just feel sad that anyone could believe anything this administration says.


Condi goes too far

Feb. 26: "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann comments on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s comparison of Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler.

Olbermann talks about The president who cried wolf

January 12, 2007


Keith Olbermann’s special comment on George Bush’s escalation speech focused on the total lack of credibilty that Bush has brought to this nation and the presidency. He closed it with the following list (full video embedded at the bottom of this blog):

I read this list last night, before the president’s speech, and it bears repeating because its shape and texture are perceptible only in such a context.

Before Mr. Bush was elected,
he said nation-building was wrong for America.
Now he says it is vital.

He said he would never put U.S. troops under foreign control.
Last night he promised to embed them in Iraqi units.

He told us about
Mobile labs.
Secret sources.
Aluminum tubes.

He has told us the war is necessary:
Because Saddam was a material threat.
Because of 9/11.
Because of Osama Bin Laden.
Terrorism in general.
To liberate Iraq.
To spread freedom.
To spread Democracy.
To prevent terrorism by gas price increases.
Because this was a guy who tried to kill his dad.

Because — 439 words in to the speech last night — he trotted out 9/11 again.

In advocating and prosecuting this war he passed on a chance
to get Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.
To get Muqtada Al-Sadr.
To get Bin Laden.

He sent in fewer troops than the generals told him to.
He ordered the Iraqi army disbanded
and the Iraqi government "de-Baathified."

He short-changed Iraqi training.
He neglected to plan for widespread looting.
He did not anticipate sectarian violence.
He sent in troops without life-saving equipment.
He gave jobs to foreign contractors, and not Iraqis.
He staffed U.S. positions there, based on partisanship, not professionalism.

He and his government told us:
America had prevailed,
mission accomplished,
the resistance was in its last throes.

He has insisted more troops were not necessary.
He has now insisted more troops are necessary.

He has insisted it’s up to the generals,
and then removed some of the generals who said more troops would not be necessary.

He has trumpeted the turning points:
The fall of Baghdad,
the death of Uday and Qusay,
the capture of Saddam.
A provisional government,
a charter,
a constitution,
the trial of Saddam.
purple fingers,
another government,
the death of Saddam.

He has assured us:
We would be greeted as liberators — with flowers;
As they stood up, we would stand down.
We would stay the course;
we were never about "stay the course."

We would never have to go door-to-door in Baghdad.
And, last night, that to gain Iraqis’ trust, we would go door-to-door in Baghdad.

He told us the enemy was
foreign fighters,
and now Iran and Syria.

He told us the war
would pay for itself.
It would cost $1.7 billion.
$100 billion.
$400 billion.
Half a trillion.
Last night’s speech alone cost another $6 billion.

And after all of that, now it is his credibility versus that of
the Iraq Study Group,
past presidents,
voters last November
and the majority of the American people.

Oh, and one more to add, tonight:
Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

Mr. Bush, this is madness.

You have lost the military.
You have lost the Congress to the Democrats.
You have lost most of the Iraqis.
You have lost many of the Republicans.
You have lost our allies.

You are losing the credibility, not just of your presidency, but more importantly of the office itself.

And most imperatively, you are guaranteeing that more American troops will be losing their lives, and more families their loved ones. You are guaranteeing it!

This becomes your legacy, sir: How many of those you addressed last night as your "fellow citizens" you just sent to their deaths.

And for what, Mr. Bush?

So the next president has to pull the survivors out of Iraq instead of you?

The president who cried wolf

Jan. 11: In a special comment, Keith Olbermann says Bush’s plan for Iraq is a failure because it is dependent on the president’s credibility.


December 31, 2006

A Happy New Year to all.


The Great Seattle Windstorm of 2006 – Aftermath

December 19, 2006

At 11:10 AM today our power came back on. It had been off for 3 ½ days (actually just under 83 hours). With temperatures outside dipping into the 20s, the temperature inside the house dropped to 46 degrees.

It turns out that the storm was the worst in recent years and apparently only topped by the Great Columbus Day Storm of 1962 which had winds on the coast of over 200 miles per hour. This one was relatively mild with wind on the coast only reaching about 110…

While we had much less damage to our house than in the Great Inaugural Day Storm of 1993, (note a naming theme here?) the damage to the local electrical infrastructure was greater. Roads all around Bridle Trails Park were either closed or had lane closures due to downed trees and telephone poles. With hundreds of power crews working the area including crews brought in from half a dozen states we still had half a million people without power yesterday. Overall, the estimate is that two million people lost power for a significant amount of time from this storm. Even Microsoft lost power for the first time any of us could remember.

At Microsoft, where emergency power was available in the labs and in marked power outlets in the hallways, people were camping out in the offices and cooking dinner in microwave ovens brought from the break rooms into the hallways.

But today at 11:10 AM things for us began to return to normal. Brandy arrived last night so she only had to have one night camping in a house where you could watch your breath. Overall, though, considering that this was a storm on the order of a Category 3 hurricane, everything came back together well. People helped each other. Radio stations set up phone banks for people with items to provide and items needed including things like housing, places to take a hot bath or firewood. Despite a multi-day blackout in a major city there was no looting and no crime. Stores opened by flashlight with just a cashbox and a pencil and paper for inventory and they sold what they could at normal prices. There was none of the price gouging you see so often in other disasters. The automated phone message on the power company’s emergency line had to insert a line thanking all the people who kept bringing the repair crews coffee and food while they worked. In my mom’s condo complex, people went door-to-door to check that everyone was OK. One woman put up signup sheets for people to put in lists of items they needed from the outside since she didn’t think it was right to go out and not pick up supplies for anyone else who needed something.

People all around the area saw the disaster as a chance to help and not as their chance to make a fast buck at their neighbor’s suffering.

In short, Seattle was Seattle.

The Great Seattle Windstorm of 2006

December 15, 2006

Well, we got another major windstorm last night. Nobody’s given it a catchy name yet but I’m sure they will. A few thoughts for anybody who is curious about how we did.

Our damage level was minor. Lots of downed branches and debris but the only damage was that a strip of rain gutter on the barn came down and we lost some low-voltage lights in the backyard that were about 30′ up one of the trees.

Power is out in the entire region. Puget Sound Energy – the local power company – is estimating that it could take several days to restore power and up to a week to get everybody back online. Even Microsoft is running on emergency power. Amazingly, though, most people seem to be at work. I, for example, am writing this on my laptop which is plugged in (as is my cell phone) to an outlet in the hallway that has emergency power. My mom is cooking a pot roast by candle light since her gas stove works as long as you light the burners with a candle rather than using the electric igniters.

They’re saying the damage to the city is as bad as or worse than the January 1993 "Inaugural Day Storm". For our house, though, that was a disaster with five big trees down.

We have had trees down in our neighborhood. The family across the street will come home from their vacation to find a tree across their roof. It’s about a 2-3′ trunk and broke when it hit but it looks like they didn’t actually lose the roof itself. One large tree and one medium tree came down a few houses from us where they’d been doing construction on a new house. No damage to the house but the construction crew was having to chainsaw the tree to get their work vehicles out of the driveway.

Right now, the power issue is the big one but with any luck we’ll have power back before Brandy flies in from Miami on Sunday. In the meantime, the dogs and I can huddle on the couch.

Bush: It’s unacceptable to think…

September 24, 2006


While Bush went on to tell us what he has decreed it is "unacceptable" for us to think, realistically, his entire administration has been over five years of precisely telling the American people precisely that it is unacceptable to think. Period. At all. From Global Warming to Stem Cells, from Middle East politics to Evolution, Bush’s answer has consistently been, don’t you DARE think. Sit down, shut up and do what I say.

We’re owed more than the apology that Olbermann asks but it is, at least, a start at restoring this country to it’s roots, goals and ideals.

Bush owes us an apology

Sept. 18: "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann offers a special comment on President Bush’s Rose Garden news conference on Friday.

Hello world!

March 9, 2006

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