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Articles: 2008 June

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Page 1

Daisy, Daisy...
Saturday, 2008 June 28 - 9:49 am
The other day on NPR, neurological research Jill Bolte Taylor was discussing her experience of having a stroke. It occurred in the left hemisphere of her brain, affecting her ability to speak, read, and put events together in order. Because her logic was impaired, she had a hard time even recognizing that she was having a stroke, or figuring out what to do about it. She was barely able to call for help, having to match the "squiggles" on the phone against the printed phone number of a neighbor.

After the stroke, she was left without her memories and her sense of self for years. She had to relearn how to read and speak, and reestablish relationships with friends and family. But she did recover, for the most part, and has since written a book about her experience called My Stroke of Insight.

The reason I mention this story is because it touches on one of my greatest fears: losing my mind to the point where I lose my sense of self, whether it be due to old age, a stroke, Alzheimer's, or some sort of brain trauma. If I lost my identity, it'd almost be like dying. And aside from being mauled by a thresher, being buried alive, or being digested slowly in the belly of a Sarlacc, I can't really think of too many worse ways to go.

And here's the thing: I can already tell that I'm not as smart as I used to be, at least in some respects. It's like I'm the HAL9000 and I've lost a couple of computing modules. I can feel it. Compared to when I was in college, I'm not as able to absorb information and grasp concepts as quickly now. It takes more mental effort; I have to make analogies to things I already know, draw pictures and diagrams, and write things down. I know it's a natural process; I mean, that's just the way the brain works. Over the years, it's less capable of taking in raw data, but tries to make up for it by organizing information more efficiently... like, by making analogies.

But when confronted with a completely new idea, or when needing to memorize large amounts of information, I just can't do it as well as I used to. So I have to wonder: is this the start of the eventual decline? Thirty years from now, will I even realize (or care) that my mind is going? Maybe I'll look back on this blog entry and say, "What a load of hooey... and hey, look at that shiny thing!"

There are a number of times in my life when I wished I'd had a "Save as..." command on myself, preserving the ideas and feelings and abilities of my life at the time. This is one of those times. I have a happy marriage and great friends, and I want to preserve a snapshot of that. If I do have a stroke or something and I lose my identity, please don't let me forget all that I have.

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Posted by Ken in: life

The Middleman Premieres!
Tuesday, 2008 June 17 - 9:36 am
Did you catch it? Javi's new show "The Middleman" premiered last night on ABC Family. It's also available on iTunes... it was free for a while, but now it's the standard $1.99.

It's interesting because if you know Javi, you can almost hear him talking in the dialog. The show is very Javi-esque, which is a great thing for a number of reasons: it's witty and full of pop culture references, and it pays great respect to its comic book roots.

I did like Natalie Morales as the appropriately cynical Wendy Watson. And Matt Keeslar does a fine job playing the straight-laced Middleman. But I think it'll take them a few episodes to find their legs in the characters. As someone who's seen a lot of Javi's work, I can tell you that it takes a certain mindset to understand the psychology of Javi's characters, and to express that correctly as an actor. Every now and then they'll be given a line with a complex socio-political-philosophical statement in it, and they'll have to work to wrap their minds and their tongues around the dialogue. But I'm sure they'll be get it.

The best part of the episode was catching this poster in the background:

javi middleman

Rock on, Javi.
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Posted by Ken in: television

Woo New iPhone Woo
Monday, 2008 June 9 - 2:57 pm
The short version:

- 3G wireless
- Improved battery
- Improved audio
- $199 for 8GB, $299 for 16GB
- Available July 11

I think I'm most surprised by the depth of the price cut. That's half the price of the previous generation 8GB model ($399), and one-third the price of the original 8GB model ($599). Apple must be working some serious magic with volume component discounts to get the price down that quickly.

Immediate question: how long will the iPhone remain AT&T-only?

I'll have more WWDC commentary shortly, covering the new MobileMe service (which replaces dot.mac) and the new iPhone applications.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

We Win! (Barack Obama Edition)
Wednesday, 2008 June 4 - 10:40 pm
So Barack Obama has essentially clinched the Democratic nomination for the 2008 presidential election. Combining the pledged delegates from the primaries (which FINALLY ended yesterday), and the superdelegate endorsements, Obama now has the majority of the delegates, and is finally really free to focus on the general election.

Big questions still loom.

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Posted by Ken in: politics

We Win! (Detroit Red Wings edition)
Wednesday, 2008 June 4 - 10:12 pm

So Monday night, I suffered as the Detroit Red Wings gave away the game-tying goal to Pittsburgh with 34 seconds left in the game, and proceeded to lose in triple-overtime.

Tonight, Detroit was within inches of giving it away again, but managed to stave off the Penguins, 3-2, winning the series in six games. The eventual winning goal came because Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury sat on the puck after it trickled between his legs, and his butt squirted the puck into his goal. On the other end, as the clock expired, the puck went all the way across the goal mouth after getting by Chris Osgood, but didn't go in.

I'm amazed at the level of talent on this Detroit team. It finally all came together: offense, defense, goaltending. Henrik Zetterberg was amazing. I guess this makes up for the disappointing finish of the Detroit Pistons (who, by the way, fired Flip Saunders after three years of underachieving).

Congratulations to the Detroit Red Wings.
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Posted by Ken in: sports

Reversal of Fortunes
Monday, 2008 June 2 - 11:01 am
I normally try to avoid work-related posts here, but this one seems important. Reversing several years of downsizing, our company is now hiring software engineers. We have a number of open positions. I won't go into specifics here, but if you're local to the Raleigh area and you're looking for a job, let me know and I'll email you the details.
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Posted by Ken in: life

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