Sweet Sixteen for Quinn

Quinn at 16Big day around the Callahan house today as Quinn turned sixteen years old. Maybe not the milestone that 13 or perhaps 18 would be, but still a big deal. Unfortunately the festivities were muted due to a great percentage of family members suffering from a cold (or whatever illness it might be). I’m the only one that hasn’t progressed through it. Because he was under the weather, his choice for our traditional family birthday meal was Chinese take-out at home. I suppose he liked it a lot when Emma requested it for her meal. It was delicious and probably will be again tomorrow.

Probably his favorite gift this year (with the exception of money) was his earbuds. It seems that these are a notch higher quality than what he is used to using. He also got a video game to play with his friend Jonathan. We also didn’t have school today in honor of his birthday, so I would say it was a pretty big day.

For all practical purposes, Quinn is grown. Sure, he’s not out on his own. Sure, he’s still in school. However when you consider that most of the big items in life are now decided by him. Very few understand that 16 and I don’t think he is fully aware of it. When I speak with him about topics now, I know that he’s an honest young man and I can trust that he is giving me an honest answer. Even though he likes to procrastinate, when asked to do something, he does it. He is a good guy and that does count for something. He has even come a long way in being more patient with his little sister (who really adores him). I love Quinn and I hope that he continues to make good choices (and perhaps make his bed more consistently). Perhaps at some point he’ll find a renewed interest in the piano. I can at least wish for that.

Keep working hard son. Keep doing what you know is the right thing. Keep your faith. While you are doing that, keep on smiling because everyone around you (including me) really loves it.

Breaking the News Cycle

I wish I knew how many conversations that I have had that were broken apart by discussions of current events. I’m not talking about local events, but either national or international events. It seems that people get very passionate about the topics and headlines that they watch on cable news networks. It’s the sort of thing that fills up the news feed on Facebook (and perhaps Google+ if that’s your thing). I know that it contributes to my avoidance of FB for sure.

All of the talk and rehashing and nothing ever gets settled or fixed. The cable news networks love that. They are selling advertising and the stories that make people the most angry (or frustrated) are the ones that will keep bringing you back. This isn’t just a left or right situation either. Old Murdock finally got wise to the idea and carved out the niche on the right. It’s the opposite story from the other networks, but the game is the same. Keeping them coming back so that can sell advertising.

I broke the news cycle a few years back, but I haven’t yet been able to disconnect from others that do watch it. Had a telemarketer gasp in horror ( or perhaps humor) as I told them that I didn’t watch TV and didn’t have an interest in Contour or any other media product they were selling. Please don’t take my internet though. Seriously, don’t even try. Now that I’m off the news addiction, I see what an impact it has on those around me. In reality, I don’t see a way to really affect that situation either. They’ll either learn or continue the habit. Either way, there aren’t any solutions in the news cycle. You only get more problems.

You want to fix a problem? Vote consistently and bring a few with you. Go volunteer within a service organization (there are churches that have some great programs to reach those with needs). Oh, there will still be problems, but you’ll feel so much better about the ones that you actually affected. Just fix a few of those problems and it’ll at least make you feel better (unlike the news cycle).

August By The Numbers

I know I stopped the monthly reports a couple months back, but this month was a full one for me. It highlights the consistency that I was able to maintain by throwing in running as well as cycling. On days where we have afternoon showers, I’m able to at least go out and run a few miles. I definitely have more respect for a 4 mile run even though it may only take 40 or so minutes (and 400-500 calories). The totals for the month were 401 cycling miles and 53 running miles. Rates were all over the place as conditions changed.

With the construction in the neighborhood, I did have a ride cut short by a flat. It seems that hitting a pothole hard enough can cause a flat tire and we are talking about a slow leak. Just another hazard when riding at night as I could not see it due to oncoming traffic in the other lane. Thankfully Connie came to my rescue with a ride home. I also learned a little about proper chain maintenance (more about that another time).

So here is my exercise report for August by the numbers:

Date Type Miles Duration Speed (mph) Pace Cal
8/1 Running 4.94 0:47:11 6.28 9:33 583
8/2 Cycling 20.22 1:03:40 19.05 3:08 1035
8/4 Cycling 20.34 1:03:10 19.32 3:06 1062
8/6 Running 4.1 0:36:29 6.73 8:54 475
8/7 Cycling 31.16 1:32:35 20.19 2:58 1736
8/9 Cycling 20.26 1:02:16 19.53 3:04 1074
8/10 Running 5.2 0:47:07 6.63 9:03 606
8/11 Cycling 20.29 1:01:42 19.73 3:02 1092
8/12 Cycling 20.31 1:00:56 20.00 3:00 1115
8/13 Cycling 20.28 1:02:14 19.55 3:04 1077
8/14 Running 8.21 1:15:20 6.54 9:10 959
8/15 Cycling 24.19 1:15:03 19.34 3:06 1264
8/16 Cycling 20.29 1:04:15 18.94 3:10 1030
8/18 Cycling 20.22 1:00:33 20.03 2:59 1113
8/19 Running 4.11 0:35:41 6.91 8:41 475
8/20 Cycling 8.53 0:24:56 20.53 2:55 487
8/21 Cycling 20.27 1:00:28 20.11 2:59 1122
8/22 Cycling 36.9 1:51:32 19.85 3:01 2003
8/23 Running 4.07 0:39:00 6.26 9:34 481
8/24 Cycling 20.31 1:00:33 20.12 2:58 1125
8/26 Cycling 40.41 2:02:59 19.71 3:02 2172
8/27 Cycling 20.78 1:01:58 20.12 2:58 1151
8/28 Cycling 16.57 0:50:19 19.76 3:02 894
8/28 Running 6.65 1:02:21 6.40 9:22 781
8/29 Running 3.48 0:30:53 6.75 8:52 404
8/30 Running 13.00 2:11:09 5.95 10:05 1559

That last row is a huge highlight for me. I was able to complete the distance of a half marathon. I didn’t start out the run with that intention, but I felt good along the way so I just kept going. My next best distance was about 8 miles on the 13th. I’m taking a recovery day and then it’ll be time to start on September!

Underhanded Software Updates

Adobe Flash UpdateSoftware updates are just a part of owning software in a connected world. Bugs get found and hopefully fixed and this leads to an update that is issued by the vendor. The cycle just continues to repeat itself until you replace the device and then the update cycle starts over on the new device. Okay, I get it. But one part of that cycle I could do without is the “Opt Out” bundling of other software with those updates. The reason companies do this is to make residual income on their sometime free software. Two vendors that are actively doing this now are Adobe and Oracle (bought out Sun Microsystems).

There are two parts of this really. The first question is whether software updates should be offering to install other software during updates. Apple does this when you install any of their software. Install iTunes and they offer to install Safari (and other stuff as well). Adobe Flash updates offer to install Google Chrome and/or the Google Toolbar for IE. Oracle’s Java Updater offers to install Google Chrome as well. This my be questionable, but it is generally accepted.

The big problem is whether the default is to install the other software or to just offer it and require the user to select it. When it is installed by default, this is called “Opt Out”. Most consumers do not read the fine print when they update their software. Can I get a show of hands for those that have read start to finish the most recent license agreement they agreed to? So people typically do the right thing and install updates without realizing that they are agreeing to change browsers to Chrome. The next thing they know, everything has been moved around in their web browser and they are confused. Oh well, they eventually get used to it. Also, Google pays Adobe a small fee (and perhaps a high five) on switching another user to their software.

My advice is to punish those that used such methods. I avoid vendors that push their software this way and the vendors that use their so-called free tools to push other software. If they are unethical with this then they are probably unethical when they use your personal information as well.

Like me, you may need to use some of this software though (or you may like said vendors). What you can do is be very careful when applying updates. Read the options that are available and be careful to un-check those boxes when they are presented. Vigilance is necessary to keep the “junk” (however you define that) off of your machine. Be careful out there.

Stop by for a few words on what is happening with the Callahan's.