Sunday, June 28, 2009

My home-grown tomato

This is my first home-grown tomato in a few years.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mandatory Retirement Ages

Look at this guy -- Christopher Sholes. He's the inventor of the modern typewriter. (Strictly speaking, somebody else developed the first typewriter machine; Christopher Sholes just developed it into something commercially viable.)

Why is society still making this guy keep working? Shouldn't he be lounging on a monthly pension check?

Surely by this age he has medical conditions -- prescription drugs, weekly doctor's visits, physical therapy for his Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome. Shouldn't he be recovering from physical therapy? Or at least, he should be waiting in long lines at a government office to appeal the decision not to pay for his treatment?

The cruel culture of his era forced him to keep working well into his old age. Such was the depravity of American culture in the black-and-white era.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Left Coast Logic's "SmartTime+": Automatic scheduling based on tasks and events, if only it worked.

The company Left Coast Logic has a neat application, SmartTime+. It fills a niche I've sensed for years: I have all these tasks, and some of them have due dates. I know some of them are quick (like 15 minutes) and some are long (like 4 days of work). I also have some events scheduled, like meetings and a break for lunch.

And I almost forgot: sometimes emergencies happen and I can't work according to the schedule. So re-arrange things when I'm unable to meet the schedule.

Now something please tell me what I'm supposed to be doing every hour.

SmartTime+ tries to do this. It lets you enter this information, and it will create a schedule. It will even synchronize the calendar with Google Calendars. It's very clever, and has a lot of potential.


Unfortunately, the scheduler just doesn't work. The scheduler is the weakest part in SmartTime+ 3.0. In particular, in some cases, it's unable to produce a schedule that satisfies the deadlines, even though it's possible to create such a schedule. It's a frustrating bug that renders the automatic scheduling useless.

Hopefully, SmartTime+ is only the first active scheduling system. If Left Coast Logic doesn't get going, I'll hope to write something myself that works with Google Calendar and Google Tasks to accomplish the same job, minus the iPod/iPhone.

Left Coast Logic: PLEASE work on the scheduler. Don't waste your time elsewhere.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Beach Avoidance Syndrome

I typically avoid the beach. A lot of my extended family seems to like it.

So here I am, today, at the beach in Corolla, North Carolina, on the outer banks. I find a shady spot beneath the boardwalk. The breeze is fairly cool, and the waves are pleasantly noisy.

So why don't I like it? Here are some that come to mind today.

-- Radiation Burns. I had several bad cases of sunburn in my past. One case was just stupidity: I wore a tee shirt instead of actual SPF-n sunscreen lotion. I suffered for a couple of weeks, and my shoulders have been tender ever since. In another case I was wearing their sunscreen, but it didn't work. For me, the beach is a harbinger of excruciating pain.

-- Stinging animals. I've swum at the beach at Gulf Shores, Alabama. Once,the water seemed to sting eveey bit of skin that touched it. Others nearby were attacked by venomous spineless, brainless creatures of the underworld, i.e. Jellyfish. I learned then that the ocean is Their Place, not mine.

-- Sand. While sand is a lot less serious than skin-destroying radiation and nerve-attacking venom, sand is a little annoying. But much WORSE than the sand is the other people around me who are angry about the sand. Beachsand has also taken the life of one piece of one nice digital camera and ruined two glasses lenses. (Beware clip-on sunglasses near the beach.)

-- Forced Labor. Going to the beach is always a lot of work. Even people who like the beach carry lots of stuff to survive the experience: chairs, water, sunscreen lotion, towels, cameras, food, extra clothes, buckets, shovels, rakes, and floatation devices are common baggage. All of this has to be carried to the beach, then carried from the beach. Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to go the beach; it's always assumed that everybody does want to go. There's some mystique about the beach wherein everybody believes everybody wants to spend time there regularly.

-- Beach people.

-- Bad tasting water.

-- People older than teenagers are expected to swim or surf in a disciplined manner, or not at all.

There are some nice things about the beach, though.

-- My family branches tend to gravitate there. So if you want to spend time near them, it can accommodate. The lodging nearby serves this purpose better than the sandy shore itself, though.

-- Waves sound nice.

-- Swimming in the waves can be fun.


I think lots of people agree with me. Many of the features and advantages of the beach are available *near* the beach as well, in beach-facing buldings.

I just wish family could congregate in mountainous areas instead, and leave the beach to its stinging creatures. But as long as they want to spend time here, I have to find some way to participate. This spot on the edge of the dune, under the footpath, is my way right now.