Wednesday, April 27, 2011

James Durbin

If you're watching American Idol these days, you know this name. James Durbin is a "local boy;" born, raised, and educated here in my neck of the woods, 15 miles north in Santa Cruz, CA. I mean, we like breathe the same air when he's in the area. The Santa Cruz music community even nicknamed him "King of the county's karaoke scene" sometime back.

I admit, I don't watch American Idol. OK, once when another local, Lisa Leuschner made it on the show (and lost mainly because Simon thought she was fat) and then was the Grand Marshall in Watsonville's 4th of July parade in 2004. But that was nothing like this. There are huge public gatherings every Wednesday night starting at 8pm at various pizza joints, bars, and BBQ restaurants all over the county (it's aired live on the East Coast, but is tape-delayed for us "Left Coasters).

At 22 years old, Durbin has been called "brash and supremly talented" and has managed to unite the Deadhead & Reggae-loving old Hippies all over the county with his hard-rock and heavy metal style. Give me Rock & Roll over Reggae ANY day.

When he wins this thing (and he will) it'll put a whole new meaning on "local boy makes good." Now that's FAR OUT man.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter 2011

It's amazing how this holiday, the most important Christian holiday on the calendar, ain't what it used to be. Mr. itsme went to Home Depot and found them open for business. In fact, most everything around here is open.

Oh well, I'm going back to baking my ham, roasting my asparagus, and icing my lemon bundt cake. Hope ya'll are spending time doing whatever it is that makes you most happy on this Easter Sunday.

Take care.

Friday, April 22, 2011

This Mobile Tracking Brouhaha

So, is it really a surprise that iPhones and other iOS-based Apple devices can store unencrypted files that track their users’ location? Android phones do the same thing btw. But seriously, are you shocked by this? I’ll admit that while I’m not shocked, it is getting to be too much like “1984” for me.

We should be used to being tracked. There are video cameras pretty much everywhere, like department stores, public elevators, and even in the parking lot at my local Starbucks. Most people, especially the younger crowd who has never known life without a computer or a mobile phone say: “My life is boring. I have nothing to hide. Who cares if they track me?”

Even I’ll admit that tracking can be a godsend for those lost in the wilderness or involved in a car crash off road somewhere. However, it is two edged in that it has a nefarious side to it. I wouldn’t be too thrilled about the government getting access to my current whereabouts, or who I have visited and where I’ve been. And even though my life is boring and I have nothing to hide, I should have the option of turning off GPS tracking if I want to. In a free society, people should have the choice of being tracked or not being tracked (unlike like libraries who use RFID to track their library materials, but that’s another topic for another post).

Similarly, both Apple and Google regularly track and receive location data (remember that the next time you fire up Google Maps on your Droid) which here in the Silicon Valley is being used to create a massive database to tap for the purposes of future location-based services and is becoming a big business, THE big business, in fact.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this would have been such a big deal if Apple and Google had simply asked permission, as they make their apps do. It is easier to ask permission than to ask for forgiveness. And I don’t mind tracking that can in turn be useful to me, but it has to be agreed to. Secret tracking is like stalking, and it’s a bit unnerving no matter who’s doing it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Uncle Gilbert

Impending death is not an easy event to deal with.

Mr. itsme’s Uncle Gilbert was told by his Doctors to go home, put your affairs in order and enjoy whatever time is left. He’s stopped all treatments like chemo and has stopped taking all medications (relating to cancer) too. Uncle Gilbert is very aware that his declining health is leading him towards death. He faces this fact every second of his life now starting with the moment he found out his cancer was terminal, but his positive attitude and childlike gratitude is an inspiration to me.

Because there are 7 brothers and sisters, the family decided to have a luncheon at a local restaurant. With one or two exceptions, every family member was in attendance.

When we first got the invitation I felt a little uncomfortable by the whole thing. Would it be awkward? Would it be maudlin? What do you say when you arrive “You look good for an almost dead guy." And what do you say when it’s time to leave “Take care, see you soon?” And to the other relatives “See you at the funeral.”

I was surprised that the most important thing I came away with was to make Uncle Gilbert’s passing as peaceful and happy as possible. It is up to us, the family, to be his net of support. Too many times I’ve seen family members overwhelmed with their own grief and instead of providing a joyful atmosphere, they generate an atmosphere of gloom and depression. The luncheon and gathering to talk and reminisce about all the things the family loved and would always remember about Uncle Gilbert was an excellent activity, for him and for us. Lots of pictures were taken, old stories told, and yes, a few tears were shed. A few beers were cracked also.

Life is precious and fleeting, enjoy.