Politics as usual?

I’ve spent altogether too much time over the past week or two reading political blogs that speculate on what might be coming soon out of Patrick Fitzgerald‘s office. Some of the speculation may be no more than wishful thinking, so I season it liberally with salt.

But it does strike me that there has been far too much complicity in these matters on the part of the established Washington talking heads. Many of them (Tim Russert, Andrea Mitchell, e.g.) have been personally involved way more than is healthy, and yet you don’t hear them discuss their own roles on their “shows.” What are they hiding?

Anyway, there also seems to be plenty of slime to go around in the higher echelons of our government. Echoes of Watergate. I’m disgusted. If you’re not, too, then you haven’t been paying attention.

iPod nano

Forgive me if I seem to be turning into an iPod geek.

But I can’t help marveling at Apple’s engineering and marketing. The latest hook is the iPod nano, introduced last week. My local Apple store received their initial shipment Friday afternoon. And I decremented their inventory Friday evening.

Mine’s the 2GB white version. I understand that the stores are selling out of 4GB black more quickly. This proves something, but I don’t know what.

The nano was good for a couple days of “show and tell” at the office, and the novelty probably hasn’t worn off yet, as some co-workers will go to buy their own.

Anyway, I think listening to music has been revolutionized once again. Judge for yourself.

Omelette In a Bag

Someone passed along this great technique, which I now share with you:

Get some quart-size freezer bags, with the press-to-seal tops. Boil a pot of water large enough to hold one bag per person in your group. Have everyone label a bag. Break 2 eggs (or 3, I supppose) into each bag, seal, and shake to break up the yolk. Open and toss in favorite ingredients—diced ham, bits of tomato, shredded cheese, mushrooms, whatever. Seal (try to keep most of the excess air out), shake again, then put all of them into the pot. Boil for 13 minutes. Remove from water, open, gently shake omelette onto waiting plate.

It comes out in one piece, believe it or not. It’s moist, never dry. All omelettes are ready at the same time (great for large groups). Cleanup is a cinch.

The Envelope, Please…

You know how, at the Oscars™, so much drama centers around opening that envelope? Or how a large part of the experience at a fancy restaurant is in how the food is laid out on the plate?

Apple takes a similar approach—make that delight—in their packaging, as any iPod customer could tell you. Now comes the box that the free t-shirt came in. While everyone else is now packaging t-shirts in that wrinkle-inducing shrink-wrap, Apple is different.

This 3.5 x 3.5 x 6.5-inch box is sealed at just one point on one end, and it looks as if it could open on any of the sides. But it doesn’t. Break the tape, and unfold the box, origami-style, to get to the contents. Remove the rolled-up t-shirt, thankfully free of wrinkles or chemical odor. Now what you’re left with looks like a take-out food container from your favorite Chinese restaurant. Completely unfolded, it’s a one-piece circle, with a discreetly-singular Apple logo printed on what was the inside bottom.

It’s such a work of art, I’m reluctant to throw it away.

Ebert Didn’t Get It

I don’t often disagree with Roger Ebert’s film reviews, but it appears that he just didn’t get War of the Worlds. Ebert was looking for practicality and motivation on the part of the aliens, and was quite disappointed that the movie’s protagonists never learned much about them.

If the analogy hidden not far below the surface (no pun intended) means anything, it is precisely that it’s not always possible to know the motives of the attackers. In this sense, the creatures are somewhat like the one in Alien.

Anyway, “War” is pretty good. Leave it up to Spielberg to blend in the special effects so deftly, rather than making them the star of the show. I think he’s one of the few modern directors who can be trusted to render such a thought-provoking remake.

Black Day For Apple

Last Saturday, June 25, marked the premiere of one of Apple’s newest computer stores, in Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Eight hundred or more people turned out, beginning well before 8am, for the scheduled 10am opening.

As one of the smaller facilities in the chain, the store could accommodate no more than about 100 people or so at a time. Fortunately, I was in the first wave allowed inside, even though I hadn’t arrived to join the growing line until about 8:30.

Neither Apple nor the mall provided any Disney-style entertainment to keep the well-behaved crowd moving or thinking or doing something while we waited, unless you count the attempts by Apple employees to rouse a cheer from the group.

It was not my first visit to an Apple store, but it was my first opening. While I wish I could’ve seen more merchandise up-close this time, it seemed a better idea to return when there would be a little more elbow room. So I bought my small iPod accessory, grabbed my free t-shirt, and left.

And that brings me to the reason for this post’s title: the shirt made a noticeable statement at work today (we’re not an Apple office, iykwim), with it’s simple white Apple logo next to a half-inch-high “Woodland.” It’s very subdued, very tasteful, very fashionable—and very black.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate from Baker Beach Posted by Hello

I said earlier that I’d be happy with just a couple good pictures out of every batch. There were more than that from San Francisco, but this and the one I posted last week are my favorites.

White Meat

From the French-speaking Pirates of the Carribbean comes the word barbecue, the roots of which translate roughly as “from beard to tail.” It’s a reference to the pork feasts that were common in the region, and connotes the share of the pig that’s fit for consumption.

And this is just what our neighborhood did yesterday—consumed a pig, that is. The occasion was the Third Annual Andover Pig Roast, an event begun by a then-newcomer to the block, in an attempt to bring everyone together. It must be working, since I now know more of and about my neighbors than I ever did in the previous 14 years of living here.

If you’re a vegetarian, the whole thing probably sounds pretty barbaric, and you might very well be right. I could take or leave the part about the pig. It could be pizza and beer, or banana-cream pies, or whatever. As long as there’s still a reason to have a big party, I’m there.