The Switch...

For those who are expecting a Seinfeld-ish story about how I switched from a girl I'm dating to her really cute roommate, I'm sorry to disappoint. But then again, if you've been reading long, you would know that my utter lack of game would preclude such a story anyway.

No, no. This switch is not nearly as exciting, but to me, exciting nonetheless.

After annoying the crap out of Kevin with questions, this weekend I got a Mac.

I've held off from posting on this topic because, frankly, I didn't know how much I would like it. I thought that my desire to get a Mac might be a blinded perception that I really didn't want one, but that my iPod had convinced me that life simply must be easier than dealing with a PC. Indeed, I half expected that I would return it within a few days.

But I haven't.

Instead, in the past two days, I've fallen in love.

I bought a Macbook Pro laptop last week, but didn't receive it until Saturday. At first, I thought it was going back. When I wouldn't let it restart after installing a load of upgrades (from the original version of the operating system), it freaked out a bit. Then, there was an issue with the keyboard that was apparently left over from that upgrade.

But after that, it was easier than...well, maybe that's an analogy I should avoid.

Sure, I had problems with getting my PC to "share" files over my home network. I also had some issues getting Open Office (yes, I refuse to dish more money over to Microsoft if I'm making the switch) to work with my old Wordperfect files. But it's hard to blame Apple for those issues. Their software worked seemlessly. My PC, however, was less cooperative.

What's been keeping me from the "switch?" Well, two things. First, until recently, I've been a gamer. Lately, I haven't really had time for it, but through high school and college, I loved computer games. In fact, the poor gaming selection has been the reason I've avoided Macs for as long as I have. But lately, I haven't really had time for games and, honestly, haven't had the same interest. Sure, every once in a while I like to get my fix, but I don't feel the need to have beaten the newest game the second it comes out, like I once did. So, a little time on the Xbox (yeah, I know it's Microsoft, but I love Splinter Cell), and I get my fix. And if I want to get made fun of online by 15 year-olds, I just log into my Xbox Live account. So, that's no longer an issue...well, now that the second issue is also resolved.

Second, like a kid clutching his security blanket, I simply couldn't deal with the prospect of not having Windows. Like I was in an eternal Catch-22, I hated dealing with the instability and "crap" that came with Windows, but the familiarity with it kept me there. I had too much software with Windows to entirely give up on it.

There was one other thing, that I would be remiss to mention: The right mouse button. Since Windows 95, I loved my right mouse button. I loved how, if I wanted to know everything and anything I could do at any point, that menu was just a right click away. I didn't need to memorize keyboard shortcuts. I just clicked. And the folks at the Apple store's answer was "just press the open apple button." Honestly, that wasn't a very satisfying answer for me. When you use your mouse, you don't want to have to touch the keyboard.

But I got tired and annoyed with waiting for my PC to shut down. Dealing with the programs that forced their way into my system tray. Cursing as I got an error message that I didn't know what it meant or how to fix it. And the answer that I got from my friends who were more knowledgeable about PCs than me (which, by the way, is pretty damn knowledgable), was unacceptable: "Just format your hard drive and reinstall everything."


Software is supposed to work for me. I'm not supposed to work for it.

So the "It just works" philosophy that I experienced with iTunes and my iPod resonated with me. And when games became less important and I learned about Bootcamp, the Apple software that lets a Mac run Windows as well (or possibly better) than a PC, would let me clutch my blankie, I started looking, seriously, at a Mac.

And now, two days in, I really do love it.

Wireless networking. Easy with Airport. Working with a PC. No problem (from the Apple side). Learning OS X. Less than 2 hours and I felt like an expert.

It really does "just work."

And how I've longed for a computer that does.

But here's the real kicker.

I didn't even have to give up my right mouse button.

Apparently, a "right click" is as easy and putting two fingers on the touchpad and clicking the mouse button. Who knew? Although I don't know why they didn't know that at the Apple store.

So, so far, I'm beaming.

I've even thought about putting one of those Apple stickers on my car.

Maybe I will if I continue to like it this much.

But let's not get crazy just yet.

But I will make this really big step...


Why I don't watch baseball...

With one exception, I've stopped watching baseball.

The exception being, when I'm bored, I like to watch Florida Marlins games. But really, that's because I was there for the birth of the team and will probably be there when they leave Florida for a place that will help fund a retractable roof stadium. But that's a different issue.

But, other than that, I don't watch baseball.

The reason is, I just don't see a need anymore.

Like so many other people, I was attracted back to the sport after the strike by the home run contest between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Then, I wanted to know if Barry Bonds would shatter that record by hitting 73 home runs in a season.

I admit it. It was exciting.

Until I realized that it was all bullshit.

When the Sultan of Swat, Babe Ruth, hit 60, he wasn't visiting Balco. When Roger Maris, every man's slugger, hit 61, he wasn't on the cream and the clear. When Hammerin' Hank Aaron slugged 755 home runs over 22 glorious seasons, he wasn't injecting himself with Human Growth Hormone.

But that's what baseball is now.

It's not about seeing how the players of today match up with the achievements of the past. It's not about history meeting present. It's not about love of the game.

It's about cheating.

Sure, we've all seen Exhibit A: Watching Barry Bonds blow up like a Goodyear blimp with muscle from his 20's to his 40's. But take a look at Exhibit B: Kenny Rogers.

Kenny Rogers was the starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers in last night's Game 2 of the World Series. After players complained of the "abnormal" flight of the balls he was pitching, Kenny was discovered to have a "substance"---a likely illegal substance---on his hand, he wasn't disqualified. He was asked by an umpire to "do [the umpire] a favor" and "wash it off." Later, Rogers said it was "dirt."

So instead of being thrown out on his keaster, he went right back to pitching.

ESPN then began searching old game film from the playoffs. Apparently, Mr. Rogers's neighborhood is close to an oil rig, because that same substance appeared in not one, not two, but at least FOUR different game films.

So, in the face of this probable cause, in the face of yet another embarassing scandel, in the face of another player who is shaming the game loved by our parents and grandparents, what did Major League Baseball do?


That's right. Nothing.

They put on their blinders and let yet another player cheat.

They told all the kids who were watching this game, "It's ok to cheat. It's even ok to get caught. Just lie about it and everyone will cover it if it's important enough."

I've come to expect it from Congress and corporate America, but now is it so bad that the American game can just be a home of rampant cheaters?

Well, now that I think about it, maybe that's where Congress and corporate America learned the tricks of the trade.

Either way, that's why I don't watch baseball.


I hate Auburn

I had what I hoped would be an interesting post to write. Something moderately witty that I hoped you would have enjoyed.

But now I don't feel like writing it very much.

In fact, only two words come to mind:

Fuck Auburn.

I'll be back when I can think of something else.


...I Am A Jew.

I was at Yom Kippur services last week, asking for forgiveness for skipping the second day of Rosh Hashanah services. Since I'm not allowed to eat all day, I usually stick around for the whole service. Near the end of the service is a part of the service called martyrology.

Martyrology is the part of the service where Jews remember the people who were killed for no reason other than being a Jew. While much of the service at the conservative synagogue that I attend is in Hebrew (half the time I have to look at the translation, but it just feels more religious for some reason), the martyrology service is not. In fact, much of it is stories and poetry.

For example, one story is one that many Jewish kids learn in hebrew school, that post-school school I suffered through on Tuesdays and Thursdays that screwed me out of being able to play any sports. That story is about Hannah and her seven sons. To give you the gist of the story, Hannah and six of her sons are killed, one at a time, when they each refuse to bow down to a king, because only G-d can be bowed to in the Jewish faith (and even then, Jews only bow to the ground once a year, on Yom Kippur). After killing Hannah and her six sons, the king, presumably in a sense of mercy, tells the youngest son that he will drop something on the floor and the youngest son can simply pick it up, making it look that he has bowed before the king and sparing his life. Yet, the youngest son refuses. Rather, he decides that it is more important that people not get the impression that he will bow before anyone other than G-d, even at the expense of his life.

Hearing it for the first time, the story is a powerful one, but after hearing it all your life, you become a bit desensitized to it. Particularly because it seems so far off, with a story that is so inapplicable to living in a democratic country, where there aren't all-powerful kings and instantaneous death sentences.

But the martyrology service doesn't just tell old stories, it tells of one of the most significant recent events in the Jewish cultural zeitgeist: the Holocaust. There's a recitation of the death camps and a remembrance of those lost.

But this year, something stuck out at me. It was a poem written by an anonymous author and found engraved in the wall of a ghetto. It said:
I believe in the sun, even when it's not shining.
I believe in love, even when I don't feel it.
I believe in God, even when He's silent.

What was so different for me about this poem was that it wasn't an event I couldn't relate to. It was the Holocaust. It wasn't even a generation ago. And there are people who are still alive who suffered unimaginable horrors in it.

So, as I imagine it does with many Jews, its an event that resonates with me. But I can't help but think of the Holocaust as something in the past, even though it was the recent past. So, I didn't really consider what it was to be a martyr after I heard the shofar blow ending Yom Kippur.

Until today.

Today is Daniel Pearl's birthday.

Daniel Pearl was a journalist and he was Jewish.

In 2002, when Daniel Pearl went to the Pakistan to report on the war for the Wall Street Journal, he was kidnapped and likely tortured. Before his captors murdered him by beheading him while he was still alive, they videotaped him saying the following: "My name is Daniel Pearl. I'm a Jewish-American. My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am a Jew."

And that's what's so strange. Daniel Pearl wasn't even a religious Jew. In fact, if you had asked him, Daniel Pearl would probably have rated being Jewish pretty low on the list of things that identify him.

Yet, he was viciously murdered for no reason other than his religious culture by ignorant savages who blamed him, and me, for all the world's ills.

Like all real martyrs, he was a reluctant one.

No, that's too much. Actually, he didn't even want to be one.

But, now, he is.

And the fact that he is a martyr, rather than a journalist, father and husband are the things that test belief.

Yet, it would be so much better not to have to believe in the face of such deafening silence.