Scripting News for 5/27/2007

Nothing Accomplished! 

Relatively speaking I have very little to be angry about about the war in Iraq. Except for the information that comes to me in the news, and that’s very abstract, hard to feel unless I really try, the war has no direct impact on my life. I don’t know anyone who is serving in Iraq. I don’t know anyone with relatives in Iraq. My taxes haven’t gone up to pay for the war. There is no rationing, no shortages. I don’t drive much so the increased price of gas isn’t having much impact.

But the war does make me angry.

To call it a war is an insult to all other wars.

World War II really was a war against an Axis of Evil. It was unavoidable. A war for our existence. A fight for freedom.

Watching 60 Minutes tonight, on Memorial Day, it’s hard to imagine how we go on living our lives as other Americans give up so much, for something so utterly pointless. As the program ended, it became clear that our soldiers are having the same discussions about the war that we’re having here. They know about the lack of support for the war in America. They process it in different ways. Listening to the soldiers, I can tell they were lied to as we were lied to, and of course because they have so much at stake, it must be so hard to consider that the lies were actually lies.

This week, for the first time, the President is floating the idea that a massive pullout is coming soon.

Oh what an effect that must have on our soldiers in Iraq. The futility in risking so much knowing that the outcome, instead of Mission Accomplished will be Nothing Accomplished. Other than the unnecessary sacrifice of a nation, ours, and its army.

Robert Byrd: “Today I weep for my country.”


I had a long shopping list for my getaway tomorrow. I went to a half-dozen stores, the experience ranged from ridiculous to sublime.

Ridiculous? I wanted to buy a new jacket. Something roomy and warm, because it might get chilly in Copenhagen at night. I wanted pockets, and I want it to look good, but not so flashy (i.e. memorable) that I can’t get away with wearing it every night on this trip. It’s the only jacket I’m bringing. (I want to travel light this time, a small suitcase on wheels and a knapsack.)

I walked into The Gap on Bay Street, and started looking through the racks, and was approached by a salesperson who didn’t speak English. She pulled me over to the Clearance rack and pulled out a small jacket (I wear XXL) and handed it to me and walked away. I put it back on the rack, but there wasn’t enough room for it, so I really had to work. She came back, mumbled something in Chinese English (whatever language that is) and pulled the jacket off the rack again and tried to hand it to me. I wouldn’t take it, and I turned to go back to the rack I was looking at. She came over and started talking to me again in jibberish. I turned around and walked out, confident that I wasn’t missing anything.

I looked in the window at Banana Republic across the street and saw two clerks talking to each other, and no customers. After the Gap experience, I didn’t dare walk into their zone.

All this happened after I walked into the Apple Store on the same street. It was the sublime experience. I zipped from station to station, looking at merchandise, drooling over things I don’t need, seriously considering buying an iMac because I saw a man walking out with one with such joy on his face. I want some of that. I had two ideas, to buy a third battery so I could use the computer all the way to Europe even though there was no power at the seat on the KLM 747. I bought one for $69. And for $39 I bought their World Travel Adapter Kit. A sales kid, respectful and competent (and he spoke fluent English, the language of our country) got me exactly what I asked for, so quickly I didn’t have time to consider another impulse purchase. But while I was waiting, another competent English speaking sales guy asked if I was being helped. All this while the store was packed with customers. I noted that there were people with dogs in the store, they seemed to fit right in. I asked, when the sales guy came back, if dogs were really allowed in the store and he said yes. Apple really gets retail, they understand their product and their customer, and the experience is just fantastic. And every time I visit they get at least $100 from me. Sometimes much more.

I continued down Bay St, still looking for the jacket. I stopped in a much bigger Banana Republic on the corner, asked where the men’s dept was, they said it was in the other store. I turned around walked across the street to Old Navy, where a person at the front door tried to hand me a brochure for something. I said I didn’t want it, but I did want a jacket. She pointed toward the back of the store where they had a few ugly hoodies, nothing like what I wanted, so I continued down the street to Barnes & Noble to get a book about Italy, which I found in short order. No sales people got in the way, I also picked up a copy of Al Gore’s new book, went upstairs, made the purchase with my membership card, got my parking ticket validated, and got out quickly with what I came for and one optional purchase, got in the car, no jacket (which was the primary goal for the stop at Bay St).

Went grocery shopping, a predictable, quick and pleasant experience, went to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions, the service there is excellent, but not quite sublime. Smart young people behind the counter, they treat everyone well, out the door quickly after paying a huge amount of money (drugs are so expensive) and went across the street to have a burger with a friend, who recommended going to REI for the jacket. After the burger we got in the car, they had exactly what I was looking for, I bought a jacket for $50, then looked around a bit and bought a much nicer one that will also work for $179. My friend bought one of the $50 jackets (an impulse buy) and a REI baseball cap (also on impulse).

All in all, I spent well over $1000. The stores that had their act together got all the money. The stores that didn’t even come close to meeting my needs (about half of them) got nothing.

Links only a nerd could love 

Les Orchard says each API is a snowflake that every developer has to build custom interfaces for. Someday all these guys will realize they need to get together and come up with some standards for serializing data to simplify the work for themselves and developers. A lot of compromise and working together will be needed to make this happen. And when they have finished, many years from now, they will be where we were with XML-RPC in 1998. 😦

Brent Simmons writes a tutorial that I can use. It’s really nice to see Brent caring about Frontier! After sorting out the mess on Friday, I have a new sense of what’s possible with Frontier. Not saying that has anything to do with Brent’s piece, but there may be some kind of wave of karma flowing around Frontier that wasn’t flowing before. Or it could just be my imagination.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by a z on May 28, 2007 at 9:54 am

    Interesting that in the case fo the Apple Store you were thrilled to have promt service with attentive staff. Yet, in the case of the bookstore you didn’t want “anybody to get in the way”.

    If you have something specific to look for, I find calling ahead efficient. I’m sure you were experiencing the more browsing aspect of shopping. How a phone call is handled can be a good indicator of the service at the actual store.


  2. Posted by Will Cate on May 28, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    Enjoyed reading about your shopping excursion.

    For years here in Nashville the only Apple-centric store was an outfit called MacAuthority. I used to visit them any time I felt like being thoroughly ignored. I bought my PowerBook G4 there three years ago (still works perfectly, BTW). $2,500. I swear they acted as though they couldn’t care less. The clerk, as I recall, was talking on his cell all the while he was ringing up the transaction.

    Of course now Apple Store is here, and they’re fantastic, just like all Apple Stores. Absolutely right – I am incapable of going there without spending money on something. Just bought my wife a new black MacBook – loaded.

    The other store is still in business (a rising tide floats all boats, don’cha know), but they never got my business again.


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