Coming Out of the Bathroom

I’ve decided it’s time to “come out of the bathroom.” To reveal a part of my life that previously has only been known to my family and close friends/associates.

Since the age of 12, I have suffered from severe Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease is a chronic disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive tract.* In severe cases such as mine, it can result in malnutrition and require numerous surgeries and hospitalizations.

Why is it such a big deal for me to admit this publicly? …

Sputnik: It was 50 years ago today.

On October 4, 1957, humans looked skyward and for the first time saw a manmade object orbiting over their heads. A dot of light passing west to east across the night sky, history’s first artificial satellite: Sputnik.*

At the time, much of the world’s reaction seemed political in nature. For Russians, Sputnik evoked a strong streak of pride for what their nation had accomplished. Throughout the United States and Western Europe, the reaction was more one of shock and amazement at how a seemingly third-world agricultural nation had become the first to reach beyond Earth. Yet the true significance of the event was lost for most. …

Lights out!

Recently the Osco Pharmacy is our neighborhood changed hands as part of CVS Pharmacy’s purchase of about 700 Osco and Sav-on drug stores. I personally saw the change as a positive one, given that I always felt like I was rushing to get to Osco before they closed at 8:00 pm.

Several weeks after the changeover, I need to pick something up at the drug store and drove there at about 8:40 pm. To my surprise the CVS signs were all unlit and the parking lot was dark, despite the fact that CVS supposedly had extended hours at this location through 10:00 pm on weeknights. I could see light through the glass doors of the store, so I guessed that maybe they were experiencing a power outage and went inside. (If I had been in a more pessimistic frame of mind that evening, I might instead have thought a robbery was underway.) …

An Argument for Digital Movie Delivery?

My wife and I currently are vacationing on Mackinac Island. Last evening, we decided to check out “Movies at the Mission,” a weekly event where the Mission Pointe Resort runs a first-run film in the resort’s quaint, classic theater. (For those of you familiar with either the history of Mackinac Island, or the 1980 film Somewhere in Time, the theater where “Movies at the Mission” are shown is the same location used to film the theater scenes in Somewhere in Time.)

For last evening’s screening, the theater was mostly full and the audience consisted primarily of teenagers and a few parents with their younger children. The movie was Transformers and although neither my wife nor I was a Transformers fan the first time around, we decided that seeing the movie would be a nice diversion from the Island’s usual limited nighttime entertainment options. The evening turned out to be far more entertaining than we anticipated. With the start of the first movie trailer, we realized this wasn’t like a visit to the local cineplex — the trailer was spilt horizontally by a black line, with the bottom half of the frame appearing in the top half of the screen and the top half of the frame appearing below that. In effect, everyone’s head appeared below their feet. …

Sentient iPods?

Recently it seems like my iPod — when playing in Shuffle mode — displays an increasing ability to organize songs thematically. For example, while driving home during a thunderstorm, the iPod “randomly” plays a string of songs about rain (Love Reign O’er Me — both The Who and Pearl Jam versions, Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’olé, etc.).

Some iPod users have claimed, almost since the first generation iPods rolled off the assembly line, that the iPod Shuffle mode was less than 100% random. The New York Times had an article about the perceived lack of randomness back in 2004. And iPod discussion boards have chattered about the phenomena since at least 2002. I used to laugh at those users and their theories about iPods loaded with learning algorithms, but lately I’m not so sure. …