I LOVE my Macintosh

[Update 10/16/11: I’m returning to my old theme, but have inserted images of the Retro Mac theme at the bottom of this post so folks can see what it looked like when it was displayed in Stuart Brown’s Retro Mac theme.]

Yes, I stole this theme idea from boingboing.net (who got it from Stuart Brown at Modern Life) . . .

I never followed Steve Jobs and his great ideas very closely, but I have owned a Macintosh Computer since 1985. I don’t have an iPhone or an iPad, but I do enjoy my iPod (though I refuse to buy my music via iTunes)   I won’t store anything in somebody else’s iCloud . . . though I understand why that might be handy for others.   (And I wonder why most people today seem totally unconcerned about the loss of privacy which is bringing us MUCH closer to 1984 and Brave New World than the IBM parodied in that famous 1984 commercial ever dreamed of imposing.)

And yes, the first Mac had NO hard drive.   It operated via those little 3-1/2 inch “hard floppies”.  At the time I was writing a dissertation on music perception.   My grad school research had used:  (1) a Radio Shack TRS-80 (with a cassette tape drive!), (2) a Commodore 64, and (3) an IBM mainframe (8″ floppies).   I had programmed in BASIC and FORTRAN and C (and a few other languages I’m forgetting right now).   But I wrote about it on my Macintosh.   And eventually I even made music on that little box that I could carry around.   And I saw plenty of those little “bombs” that appeared when I screwed up the programming (scroll all the way down to the footer to see the little bomb, which was still friendlier than the DOS “blue screen of death”). Yes, I added a hard drive, eventually traded it in for a Power Computing Mac Clone and then a G4 and finally my Mac Mini.   I was never the “target audience” for the Mac . . . I wasn’t afraid of computers or programming them or figuring out how they work.   I didn’t really want “a computer for the rest of us” . . . but I did appreciate an interface that allowed me to SEE what was on my computer in a more intuitive way than I got with DOS and command lines.

Yes, Steve Jobs knew what we needed and wanted before we did . . . he didn’t believe in letting the consumers drive innovation (he knew if he asked we would all just stick with the same old, same old) . . . but he didn’t just change things to change things (are you listening Mark Zuckerberg?).   No, I’m not likely to run out and buy an iPad or iPhone just to honor Steve Jobs (I can’t afford them) and I wish that his notion of “democratizing technology” had found a way to do it at “a price for the rest of us”.  But I do appreciate his work and am sorry that his life ended so soon.

Today many people are quoting from Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address; many include this important quotation:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

but the part of the speech that caught my eye/ear was this [emphases mine]:

“Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

You can find a full transcript of Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford speech here.

So today I am trying to listen to my gut/intuition . . . which right now is saying it’s time for lunch . . . and hoping the dots will eventually connect.



Retro Mac Theme Screenshot

The Mac Bomb

Rights and Responsibilities

I’ve spent much of the past 24 hours contemplating the Constitution, and the RESPONSIBILITIES that go along with all the Rights it grants us.

During the run-up to the recent election, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Sharron Angle, Michele Bachman and others, advocated a violent overthrow of the government if they did not get their way at the polls.  Yesterday, a duly-elected Democratic Representative from Arizona, Gabrielle Giffords, was gunned down in public by a disturbed young man who has publicly railed against the government using language not dissimilar to that spouted by Palin, Beck, Angle, and Bachmann.  Perhaps his actions were not directly caused by their hate-filled speech, but it is difficult not to believe that with so much hatred in the air perhaps some of it filtered into this one particular disturbed mind.

Many years ago the first-year students where I was teaching were required to read the U.S. Constitution over the summer before they came to college.  Once they arrived on campus, our task was to engage them in discussions of the Rights and Responsibilities presented in the Constitution.  I remember how difficult it was to get them to recognize that ANY of the Rights might also entail Responsibility of any kind.  Lots of talk about their FREEDOMs, but much mental blockage on the topic of Responsibility.

I fear our current new class of lawmakers may suffer from the same Freshman-itis.  I was hoping that their recent reading of the Constitution on the floor of the House might have opened their ears and minds to the monumental responsibility involved in being a citizen.  Alas, they managed to take the Freshman approach even to reading the Constitution (by choosing an abridged and modified version rather than actually reading the whole thing—which really is not very long anyway.  Read it for yourself at http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html).

All I have heard for the past year is “FREEDOM FREEDOM” and proposals that “Second Amendment Remedies” might be an appropriate solution to any situation in which you don’t get your own way.  It is time for someone to stand up and say STOP!  If you spew hatred with your First Amendment Right, then you better be prepared to take responsibility for the consequences.  Stop hiding behind the skirt of “Free Speech” and take responsibility as a citizen for being part of something larger than yourself.  A government by the people and for the people cannot be based on an “all about me” approach.  So far I’ve heard lots of folks de-crying the act of violence, but none of the Republicans who originally incited it have issued an apology.

I’m not holding my breath waiting . . .

Update: I wrote the above before seeing Keith Olbermann’s excellent commentary on this same subject on MSNBC:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Post-Lent Review

Apologies for the falloff in my Lenten posts.   (Not sure what happened, though some health issues intervened to disrupt my Lenten plans.  Much to my relief, the issues were not as serious as I first feared, but still required doctor visits and tests to rule out the worst.)

Giving up Facebook for Lent did provide me with time to pursue other projects (as described in my March 5 post, these included Music, Cooking, Sewing, and Reading, with a bit of Spring Training on the radio thrown in).  Unfortunately, by the end of  Lent these disciplines had left me “wandering in the wilderness”, rather than “journeying to Jerusalem”.  Still pondering why that is and will try to post more if I find any insightful answers.


I did manage to finish all 430 pages of Lactantius’ Divine Institutes for my Lenten Reading Group.  By the end I was pretty sure that if what he was arguing for was what Christians should believe than I probably wasn’t one. In fact, his main point, that “religio” (the worship of God) and “sapientia” (wisdom) cannot exist separately from each other, became my main sticking point.  The difficulty was in part his description of what “worship of God” looks like (heavily stressing obedience to God as a way to gain immortality) and in part my disgust over current practices passing for “religio“.  Seems to me most Christian Churches are so far removed from God as not to be worshiping God at all.  And don’t even get me started on the mess in the Catholic church and why a strict hierarchical church structure is a recipe for abuse of many kinds!

In addition to Lactantius, I finished four other books: Alexander’s Bridge and O, Pioneers! by Willa Cather, Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell, and The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.  Also started a few others, including some Mexican and Ethiopian cookbooks which I won’t be reading cover-to-cover.  Most of these can be found in my LibraryThing catalog


I checked out (from the library) a bunch of CDs and books on Jazz Violin and have been trying to immerse myself in the sound and history of the violin as a jazz instrument.  Still not very good at implementing the concept on my own instrument, but “playing around” at it nonetheless.

Also checked out some Chopin piano music (to supplement the books I already had) and really enjoyed the month-long celebrations of Chopin’s 200th birthday.


Totally dropped the ball on this one.  No progress on any of my sewing projects since my post on Feb 24th.


Did pretty good at simplifying my cooking and eating during Lent, though I’m not sure I saved much money.  Lots of Black & White Burritos, Brown Rice w/ Veggies, Pasta . . . Tried to use up stuff in my pantry.  Managed to avoid baking goodies (though as soon as Lent was over I baked two loaves of bread, a lemon cake, and cornbread).  Lost a few pounds and have already gained a few back.  I’ll try to find time and energy to calculate any monetary savings and post more on that later.


I’m suffering a bit of baseball withdrawal (yes, I know the season just started) due to no longer having cable TV.  The Twins are usually on over-the-air TV on Sunday afternoons, and I’ve been able to listen to several Cubs and Twins games over the radio, but my annual Opening Day ritual involving 14-hours of non-stop baseball was missing this year.  So I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself, though I know I’m better off not having the cable (so I can afford to eat 🙂 . . . And with any luck I’ll get a few more summer projects done this year than in the past few years.


Both my yoga practice and my walking suffered a decline during Lent, which might explain why I feel so out-of-sorts.  Will try to get back to those very soon.

Not a very uplifting post-Lent post, but such it is . . .

Lent & Spring Training

Lent has continued to be more exhausting than my usual “Lenten Retreat.” Week 2 included more music, less cooking, some minor sewing, ongoing reading, and (most important) the start of the 2010 Baseball Spring Training Season!


I hadn’t been to Jazz Ensemble practice in almost a month (due to snow, vacation days, etc.). This week my violin and I finally got there. And now we have to come up with a 14-bar SOLO for “Play that Funky Music.” This should be interesting 😉

Over the weekend I attended a performance by the Mary Louise Knutson Trio, with special guest violinist Randy Sabien. Picked up one of his CDs to help me with my jazz violin studies.

This week was also the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Chopin. MPR carried some great concert segments celebrating the event. And of course I had to pull out my books of Chopin’s piano music (and even ordered some more from the library).

Quite the musical week!


I’ve decided one way to spend less money on food during Lent is to clear out my rather extensive pantry and freezer collections. So this week I roasted some chicken leg quarters (from the freezer) and had them with some beets (from the freezer) and sautéed kale and brown rice (from the pantry). Then ate the leftover baked rigatoni from a couple of weeks ago (from the freezer).  Next I’ll be whipping up a curry from a combination of fresh and frozen veggies in the frig. That should last a while!


Never got back to the big sewing projects started last week, but did manage to do some mending and patching this week.  I guess that is in the Lenten spirit of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”.


Made it through Book IV of Lactantius’ Divine Institutes (see previous post).  Still not wild about his style of argument.  Also not sure many of his arguments have the Biblical support he claims for them.  But the group is still interesting, so I will plod on.


Spring Training has begun.  Listened to part of yesterday’s Twins/Red Sox game.  Another game is on this afternoon.  Probably should take it slow.  Don’t want to wear myself out before the season even starts 🙂  I tried not to pay too much attention during the off season.  The Twins actually made some impressive acquisitions (Orlando Hudson, J.J.Hardy).  Maybe now that Daddy Pohlad is gone, the wallet will open enough to produce a winning team.  Not as sure about the Cubs . . . no cable means it will be harder for me to follow them (except when the radio reception from Chicago is good), but that might not be such a bad thing.


Temps were in the 40s most of this week, so I tried to go for a few short (10-15 minutes) walks.  I tend to get post-exertional malaise and/or excessive fatigue and/or post-exertional headache from even the briefest attempt at exercise (other than yoga), but I needed the fresh air.  Also added “take your daily vitamins” to my list of lenten disciplines (along with flossing and drinking more milk).

Shrove Tuesday & Ash Wednesday

Spent today, Ash Wednesday, recovering from overindulgence on Shrove Tuesday*. My traditional Shrove Tuesday* involves pancakes, not running drunk & naked through the streets of New Orleans, but it is still possible to overindulge, especially when you attend TWO pancake events in one day. At noon I had pancakes prepared by a British gentleman (which means they were the style of pancake slightly thicker than a crepe and served with sugar and lemon) shared with Episcopalians and Lutherans some of whom were beginning a Lenten Study of Lactantius (more on him later). In the evening was a more traditional U.S. Episcopal gathering involving traditional American pancakes (plain and pumpkin), sausage, & eggs followed by a raffle in support of Haiti Relief. Between the two events I consumed more eggs, butter/fat, and other things I don’t usually eat than I should have.

Thus, today, Ash Wednesday, was spent with tea & juices, later some yogurt, banana, and eventually a bowl of leftover minestrone soup and some leftover focaccia. I think my system has finally recovered.

This year my Lenten Disciplines are mostly about clearing away some distractions so I can be more mindful about how I spend my time. I suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so I need to be more careful about how I spend what little energy I have. I find that when I’m tired I often do mindless things that seem to take little energy, but in reality are draining. Many of these involve the Interweb: Facebook, email, reading news feeds, etc. Last year I gave up Facebook for Lent, though I checked in with folks on Sundays (‘cuz technically “Sunday’s don’t count” in the 40 days of Lent). This year I’m going to try to stay off of FB altogether. I hope to spend the time reading, resting, playing my violin, and working on some projects I’ve been neglecting.

Most years I also try to include some food-related discipline during Lent. I’ve been doing quite a lot of baking (cookies and cakes) the past few months, though I’m really not much of a dessert eater. So, I’m taking a break from baking cakes and cookies during Lent. I will still bake bread, because I hope to eat simpler during Lent (mostly soups and bread) so as to focus on other things. I had considered attempting the 2 Dollar Difference challenge during Lent (where you attempt to eat on $2 per day and donate the difference between that and what you would usually spend), but when I calculated my current food expenditures (approx. $5.50/day), I realized how much work it would be to try to keep track (and find lower cost alternatives) and decided that wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time. I still like the general idea, which you can read more about at 2 Dollar Difference , but my tendency toward obsessive compulsive record keeping would likely ruin any positive effects of the practice.

I promised I would say more about Lactantius, but he will have to wait, as I’m running out of energy.

For those of you observing Lent, may your Lenten Journey be a meaningful and insightful one.

according to my dictionary, the name comes from “shrive” which means to administer the sacrament of reconciliation; to free from guilt; or to confess one’s sins, esp. to a priest; and is related to the words prescribe and scribe (to write). Only instead of preparing for Lent by confessing our sins, modern Christians cleanse their pantries by using up all their eggs, sugar, and butter.

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