in Glock, Gun Laws, Guns, Issues, Politics, World Events

I’m a gun owner. I own several handguns, rifles, and a shotgun. I believe we, as Americans, have a right to own firearms.

To a certain point.

What I don’t believe in is clips that have a high capacity for rounds. Automatic weapons. The ability to order thousands and thousands of rounds of ammunition at a time. The complete lack of being able to trace who is buying those thousands of rounds at a time. The ability to buy multiple semi-automatic weapons per month.

I believe in waiting periods to buy weapons, thorough background checks, and stronger laws to prevent people with mental illnesses to obtain firearms.

The asshat that shot up the movie theater over the weekend had a clip that held 100 rounds. 100 bullets. There’s no reason anyone outside of an actual warzone needs that. Hell, US soldiers don’t carry standard-issue clips that hold that many bullets.

High capacity clips fall way beyond self-defense. The only reason to have something like that is if you plan on killing people. A lot of people. If you need 100 rounds in a clip to “hunt game”, you must be the worst shot in the world.

Let’s talk about the weapons that the shooter used. According to reports, he legally obtained two .40mm Glock handguns, a 12 gauge shotgun, and an AR-15 Semi-Automatic rifle. The 100 round clip, the tactical vest, pants, helmet, etc. That was all legally obtained. He bought it in a state that has fairly lax rules and regulations about purchasing weapons. Here’s a link to Colorado’s laws, if you’re interested, and here’s a link to Maryland’s gun laws as well to give you an interesting contrast on the laws in my home state.

So, to all of my “friends” who keep posting idiotic things on their Facebook walls about how “guns don’t kill people” and “protect our guns from the democrats”, up yours. You’re militant idiots who have no place in civilized society. You’re delusional. Sure, there are more gun crimes in the US carried out by people with illegally obtained firearms, but it seems like most, if not all, of the mass shootings in the last 15 years have been carried out by legal gun owners.

And, by the way, if you think that the events of this weekends shooting could’ve been prevented if people had been armed, there’s no way to know. Just because you’re carrying a weapon doesn’t mean that you have the ability to react clearly to a situation like that. If you’re trained for it – and I mean REALLY trained for it – maybe you could hold your own. But do YOU really think you wouldn’t panic? Do you think you’d have been able to stop a guy wearing full tactical gear who was better armed than you? I doubt it.

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Here’s to the crazy ones

in Apple, iPhone, Thoughts & Wonderings

While driving to and from work over the last two weeks I’ve been listening to the unabridged audiobook of the Steve Jobs biography (by Walter Isaacson) and it’s reinvigorated my spirit a bit. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’ve seen some interesting behaviors – both good and bad – that I share with Steve Jobs. It’s helped to point out some of the less appealing behaviors I sometimes engage in, but also served to reinforce my belief that the best user experiences are derived from end-to-end design.

A great example of this belief can be found in the design and functionality of the iPhone. The iPhone isn’t great just because the hardware looks good and the software works well. It’s a compilation of a multitude of factors – everything from the materials used, the shape of the hardware, the arrangement of sensors and buttons, the way the homescreen is rendered with iconographic buttons that aren’t too big for small fingers or too small for big fingers. It’s the whole package that makes the device so sexy, usable, and amazing.

As I work every day at Monster to try and make our software products better, more intuitive, and better looking, I find myself looking back to the first thing I remember about Apple as an adult – the “Think Different” campaign. Until I’d heard the text of it again tonight, I had forgotten how inspirational the words were to me, and still are:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

I intend to print this out tomorrow and keep it in my field of vision at my desk at work. It’s something I need to read and remember and keep in mind every day. It is a mantra to those who care about making great things, and I intend to make great things.

Here’s to the crazy ones.

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Day 5 – Wednesdays are the worst-nes-days

in Prague, Czech Republic, Travel

Just two full days left and I go home. It might sound trite to start a post like that, but I’m in a trite mood. I’m tired of my digestive system being unable to cope with food that isn’t 95% preservatives. I’m tired not sleeping in my own bed (as the one that I’ve got here in Prague has a spring that pokes me in the side no matter how I shift). I’m also just generally tired of being tired.

So, now that I’ve got all of the cheery stuff out of the way, it’s a Wednesday and I’m feeling particularly snarky (obviously). Started eating real food again today, which about an hour later turned into more digestive issues. Nothing on par with puking, but almost as bad. Never the less, I’m getting a lot of work accomplished (in between trips to the bathroom) and we’re about ready to do the code freeze for version 3.1. That means tonight the code is released to QA, who will promptly shit all over it and my friends in Development will have to re-write half of what they’ve done because… well… that’s just how the SDLC works around here.

I’ve noticed that Prague tends to be overcast all of the time. I think that explains the architecture. Structurally, everything is beautiful and complex, but the colors are just dull. Strange dichotomy.

The women are still beautiful, and I have to continually refrain from smiling every time I see a woman who very obviously is from a (former) Soviet Bloc state who has hair of an obviously fake color, a short skirt, dark hose, and hooker boots. In the US that would be quite an isolated event. Here in Prague, pretty much every other woman looks like that. The novelty has not, and shall not, wear off.

Tonight is the big team outing – all of Dev (plus me) is heading out “somewhere” for drinks after work. I just hope I have the intestinal fortitude to handle it.

Okay, back to trying to stay awake and not completely get sick again.

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Day 4 – Boy I’m Missing Papa Johns Right Now

in Prague, Czech Republic, Travel

It’s an overcast Tuesday here in Prague. The Pigeons are gigantic and look like they may have eaten small children. There’s a shopping center built into an old building with amazing early 1900’s style Art Deco construction inside. It’s like looking at a movie depicting New York in the 1920’s. Positively stunning.

My appetite has returned, although my stomach still isn’t feeling great. I still have a feeling of fullness that makes no sense given that I’ve had nothing to eat in 36 hours and only 16oz of water total. Never the less, I’m having a few rice cakes now and plan to take it easy for the rest of the day. I managed to find a shop that carries Tums, though the box doesn’t visually look like any kind of antacid I’ve ever seen.

A lot of work has been completed today. A lot of the Section 508 tickets I was sent here to deal with have been resolved (closed, actually; functionality has changed a lot in the 4 years since most tickets were put in the system…), and I gave a successful presentation on what is Section 508 and how we need to integrate it into our work.

It’s about 12:30pm back at home, and 5:30pm here. I could use a nap. I look forward to getting back to my hotel tonight and watching a few episodes of The West Wing (Season 6) and finishing up the last half of Memoirs of a Geisha. After that, bed. No dinner – stomach’s just not ready yet.

Tomorrow, hopefully, some protein. Protein of the porcine variety, I hope.


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Day 3 – I’m sick

in Prague, Czech Republic, Travel, Uncategorized

Euro (Business) Trip – Day 1

Today… I am sick. I went to bed around 10pm local last night and woke up around midnight with stomach pains and… other gross issues I won’t talk about. After I woke up for work this morning at 7:30am I was feeling extremely dizzy, nauseous, and having cold sweats. Called my co-worker, Hugh, and let him know what was going on. He was kind enough to bring over some sports drinks for me (for when I felt like I could digest anything) and spent the day until 3pm in bed sleeping.

So, I’ve made it to work now, and I’m feeling a bit better but definitely extremely dehydrated and my stomach is not well. I’m not going to eat today, and might need to just stick to US branded packaged food for the rest of the trip. I think I know what caused the stomach issues (some cheese with lunch yesterday that might not have been pasteurized) but I’d rather just avoid them all together and stick to simple foods that my silly American stomach can deal with.

Also need to find antacids… badly…

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Prague – Day 2 (So Far)

in Prague, Czech Republic, Travel

I had breakfast and lunch with Hugh, a friend and coworker who is based at the Monster office here in Prague. After that I wandered around the city via Tram and by foot. Saw the Mala Strana (Little City), Charles Bridge, and (thanks to Tram #9) 45 minutes of what we’d call the suburbs.

I also discovered, thanks to Hugh, that the National Theater is a block from my hotel, and that our office is in Wencelas Square (the center of town) which is two or three blocks away.

The center of Prague is beautiful and the outskirts are very reminiscent of pictures I’ve seen of large apartments and shops in Russia from the communist era.

I’m getting a lot of exercise and sweating my balls off. I’m definitely not in great shape for a walking city, but I’m muddling through it. I’ve probably lost a few pounds already thanks to the massively unattractive amount of sweat I’m putting out. Also my pants are hanging loosely so I need to find a knife or something to cut a new notch in my belt.

It’s only 4:15 pm so the day isn’t over yet, though I’m pretty tuckered out. Might have to visit a local McDonalds for dinner. Hey, why not? I’ve always wanted to try a Royale with Cheese*.

(* bonus points for anyone who gets the reference. ;))

Hopefully I’ll post some pictures tomorrow. Till then, ahoj!

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Euro (Business) Trip – Day 1

in Prague, Czech Republic, Travel

Two weeks ago my boss approached me on a Tuesday afternoon and said, “Hey, are you ready to go to Prague to work with our development team over there?” I responded that I was totally ready, and then he said that I need to book ASAP. So, two weeks later here I am sitting at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, France waiting on a five hour layover for my flight to Prague.

As this is my first international trip of any sort, I figured it would be a great excuse to start blogging again, so here we are.

I should preface this with the fact that I’m afraid of flying. Well, not really afraid of flying per se, but instead afraid of all of the horrible ways to die on an airplane. It’s one of my oldest, deepest-seeded fears so the fact that I was even able to get up the courage and intestinal fortitude to go on several long flights overseas says something. I’m not sure what it says, but it definitely says something.

I flew out of Dulles International (IAD) late afternoon on Friday on an Air France flight. A particularly exciting thing about this flight was that I got to fly in an Airbus A380-300 – one of the newest (and coolest) commercial jets out there. It’s just a massive airplane with two decks and four gigantic engines.

I was lucky enough to be booked in their new “Premium Economy” section, which ended up being a Godsend because, as I am a “large” person, the thought of flying in economy and making all of those sitting in the same row as me uncomfortable for 7 hours was not a happy one. The thing that’s great about this new section is that the seats are self-contained shells which means there was no concern about “ass overflow”. Also didn’t hurt that no one but me was sitting my row of 3 seats.

The flight wasn’t bad. There was a little turbulence a few times in the flight but overall it was pretty good. I was (and still am) feeling a little weirded out by not speaking the native tongue on the flight. Pretty much everyone spoke French, and when I tried to strike up a conversation with a friendly-looking middle-aged gentleman we discovered that I don’t parles vouz Francias, and he didn’t speaka-the-English.

Upon arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport, I had to run around what was probably about a mile and a half of confusing hallways and walkways and Jetsons-style moving sidewalks to get to my terminal for the connecting flight to Prague (which I am waiting for as I write this). Given the fact that I’m very overweight and out of shape, I was a sweaty mess when I finally made it here to my gate. I’ll probably need to rebook my flight back home since I feel like a midday layover for only 1h 50m is probably not enough to get from one side of the airport to the other.

So, now I wait. I’m tired but can’t sleep because there’s nowhere to plug in my CPAP machine, and frankly I’m just not comfortable wearing it in front of other people. It’s bad enough being stared at over here because I’m a typical “big, stupid American” but add the mask? Oy vey.

More to come soon, I promise. For now, I’m going to try and find some free wifi to check the news and facebook.


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As one chapter ends, another begins

in Friends, The Fourth Wall, Work-related

In early October 2003, I remember sitting in the middle of a long table across from a group of people who would, unbeknownst to them, shape my life in so many ways for the next almost eight years. This was my job interview to work at SAMHSA as an SAIC contractor.

I remember the interview vividly, and remember the faces and names of everyone who was there. Some are still here with SAIC at SAMHSA, some have left, and one or two have even retired. One of them, Alla, was very pregnant at the time and left six months later – only to come back again at a full-time capacity.

For eight years I have worked side by side with the amazing federal employees and other contractors at the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration as a contractor on the Web & Application team. In those eight years, I’ve learned a lot about both my chosen profession (web/application UX/IA/design), about friendship, about hard work, about teamwork, and about life in general.

This Friday will be my last day here, and it’s a bittersweet thing to me. I’ve made amazing friends, I’ve had a great time. There have been bad patches mixed in here and there, but they are outweighed by the great things that I’ve seen and experienced.

To anyone who says that federal employees don’t do anything or are wasteful, I implore you to look at SAMHSA as an example of the polar opposite. The people I’ve worked with here – hundreds, literally – are the most motivated, caring individuals. They truly believe in the organizations’ mission to bring substance abuse & mental health issues to the forefront, and to bring relief to those who have and are suffering from addictions and afflictions. It makes me feel good every day that the work I do here helps to reach millions of people in need.

That’s why it’s so bittersweet. Good people. Good work. Good times. Good memories.

So, on July 1st, I begin working for as their new Sr. User Experience Designer. It’s going to be quite an undertaking that will put all of my current skills to use and will teach me new ones, but it’s going to play to my biggest passion: creating wonderful things, and making good things even better.

I don’t know what exactly the future holds, but I’m looking forward to experiencing it and working with new people and new challenges while holding the memories of SAMHSA & SAIC close to my heart.

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links for 2011-05-05

in Delicious Bookmark

Angry Birds is evil

in Games, iPad, Software

Seriously, Angry Birds is an evil game. I played it for two hours tonight until 3am. I should’ve been asleep at by at the most 1:30am.

Damn you, Angry Birds.

But, uh… I love you.

Damn you!

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