If Hell Existed

If hell existed it might look a little like South Point Hotel in Las Vegas.20130715-093627.jpg

It’s only 9:30 am. Already hordes of people are waisting health, money and time on rigged games of chance, unhealthy food and drink and cigaret smoke.

Outside, it’s 94 degrees and a guy with a jackhammer is drowning out all other sounds.

What have I done to land here? Simply attend a skeptics convention. Maybe a god does reserve a special place for non-believers. Or maybe the shuttle will arrive soon and I can leave.

Update: Screw it. I took a cab. $30. But it was my ticket out of hell and into the limbo of airline travel. Plus I got an interesting story about life as a cabby in Las Vegas. Well worth the price.

Moves Moves Me

I am six months from being 62 years old! How did this happen?moves

Trying to stay somewhat fit and looking forward to when ingestable or under skin monitoring implants I downloaded a free iOS tracking app called Moves.

It simply tracks your movement using geolocation it knows if your walking, running, I think biking. It counts your steps, calculates your speed and distance. Basically a souped up pedometer (have at it NSA).

But this simple tool of the quantified self works! It motivates me to run further, take more steps.

It move me. Fit bit next?

What gets you moving?







We Offer “Warm Showers”

For fun we joined a sharing site for cyclists called Warm Showers. Similar to Couch Surfing. We’ve already had a couple guys from Austin stop by on their way down the coast to San Francisco, a trip I did myself about 25 years ago. They were great to talk to and we shared a meal.

Charles and Josh, Warm Showers guests

Charles and Josh – from Austin


Looks like next week we may have a couple ladies from Washington.

And the great thing about the site? Made with Drupal!

Wireless Headphones – At Last!

Over the years I must have spent well over $150 on earbuds for my IPhone. They were always breaking. I admit I was hard on them: Dropping my phone which would pull the wires; getting the wires caught on door knobs or branches; wadding them up to stick in my pocket. Eventually one or both of the buds crapped out and I’d have to make a trip to K-Mart or Target to buy another cheap pair.

I’ve also spent countless minutes untangling them as got ready to run or exercise at the gym or work in the yard. What a waste of time!

I’ve thought about getting wireless headphones that run off bluetooth and had read a couple reviews of expensive ones ($80$120) and not being sure how they would work I hesitated. But a couple days ago I made an impulse buy at Costco for this Motorola set as it was only $50 and I must say I am really happy I did. I may look a bit more like a dork but really what do I care? Probably no more dorky that the earbud wires dangling from my head.

The sound is quite good (I listen to podcasts mostly, but even music isn’t bad). I thought I might have a problem of breakup if I put the IPhone in my pocket but the stream has been very consistent. Once the headset was charged and synced to my phone the first time it reconnected right away every time I turned it back on. It’s very light weight and comfortable and didn’t even bother me when I lay down on a bench to do some dumbbell work. So, unless I manage to break these which unless I run over them with my truck seems unlikely, I think I have found a gizmo that will really improve my life and end up saving money over time.

The affiliate link is if you don’t have a Costco nearby or maybe your Costco isn’t carrying this one. You’re welcome.


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Confessions of an Apple Fan Boy

Update: Apple’s Tim Cook Visits Foxconn IPhone Plant in China

Update 2: Apple Supplier in China Pledges Big Labor Changes

I have the new iPad. I confess. I have the original iPad. I have an iPhone, a MacBook Pro and we have several other  Mac desktops and laptops of various vintage and utility in our family. Ever since the New York Times series on Apple and its relationship with manufacturers in China came out I have been conflicted about my slavish adoration of all things Apple. Of course, I knew most of the devices I use were built in China and I knew the conditions were often harsh and sometimes deadly. Then I heard Mike Daisy’s dramatic story as presented on This American Life as I waited for the new iPad to be released and my guilt began to mount.

I also knew that the factories in China are not having a hard time finding workers because as bad as some of the conditions and pay are, they are much better than the abject poverty most of them face in rural China. I am aware that Apple is not alone among tech companiesMy iPad taking advantage of China’s low cost labor and efficient supply chains. Indeed, if I look around my house or probably your house, there are hundreds of items in common use that are “Made in China”.

So what am I supposed to do with this information? Should I refrain from using Apple products? What about all the other items built by “exploited” workers? What should my moral stance be? What should any of us do in the face of exported manufacturing jobs that will never come back to the U.S.?

I listened to This American Life’s retraction show on a drive up from Santa Rosa where, among other things, I visited an Apple store and had a very good experience. But the retraction show was more about the journalistic integrity of the Mike Daisy story and NPR than it was about the core issue. At the end, the question still hung in the air. How are we to feel about the conditions of Chinese factory workers? What are we to do to make it better? BTW, the retraction show is an incredible listen. In some ways, more moving, powerful and thought provoking than the original broadcast.

To add to the mess Apple, the richest company in the world, decided to spend some of it’s amassed wealth by giving dividends to investors and buying back stock, further driving up it’s share value. At first, I thought this was outrageous in the face of all the bad publicity around the China story.

But then I thought, maybe Apple is laying the groundwork for doing something much more radical than creating a new product that changes an entire market. Maybe Apple is paying off its investors while it plans a bigger gamble. Maybe Apple is going to lead the way in transforming the global manufacturing market by forcing its contractors to improve conditions and pay for all their workers. Not in just a small way, but in a big way.

What might happen if Apple did this? It would force other manufacturing contractors to raise their conditions and pay in order to compete. It would help create a bigger market for the very tech toys we in the U.S. gobble up as more people would be able to afford them. It would create a higher base for manufacturing jobs around the world that would then make our own worker pool seem more competitive (though there are other more complicated issues than labor cost involved in helping bring those kinds of jobs back to our shores) and it would further burnish Apple’s image as a company that “Thinks Different”.

So, this is what I can do. I can keep buying the gadgets I love. And I can write this blog as a tiny effort to encourage Apple to become an even more visionary company that helps transform global economics. After all, what else does it need to prove? Maybe this will be Steve Jobs’ true legacy.

I’m sure my logic is flawed and my reasoning is really rationalization. If you think so, let me know in the comments.

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