A shutdown hurts more than just Feds

in Economy, Issues, Local, Politics, Work-related

I’m going to be concise today: Shutting down the government, which Tea Party “activists” are pushing hard for (and appear to be winning the case for), hurts more than just feds. It hurts contractors like myself, local businesses outside of the DC area (there’s regional federal offices for almost all of the major agencies), and will hurt an already wounded economy.

People like to poke fun at Feds, saying they’re lazy or overpaid, but that’s a lie. I’ve worked with Feds for over a decade now and I can tell you from my own experience that the people doing the actual work of the federal government – i.e. not people who are voted into power like Congressmen and Senators – do an amazing amount of work. The people at the agencies I’ve worked with spend more than eight hours a day trying to help people of our great country. They give more time and effort than you would imagine.

So, when you think, “Bah, a government shutdown is great – we’ll save money! Whatever!” don’t forget that the government is run by human beings who have their own bills to pay, mouth’s to feed, and lives to live. When they can’t work, we’re all diminished.

I’ll leave you with a quote from my own Senator, Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) on the floor of the Senate today making an impassioned plea to keep the government open:

“I know you’re working on that cure for cancer. I know you’re working on that cure for Alzheimer’s. Or Autism. Or Arthritis… but you know what? Washington says, ‘You’re non-essential.’”

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Delicious Charred Meat

in Food, Randomness

Bodum Frykat GrillOver the weekend I helped my friend Brian construct his awesome new grill, the fantastic Stok Quatrro Grill (which, by the way, shipped in a single day on regular UPS ground shipping from Home Depot!) as well as test out its capabilities with a steak and fresh veggies grilled up on it. It was delicious and a great way to get the spring season started. It was also a reminder that I, after living in my first house for two years this month, still have yet to purchase my very own first grill. Now, however, I have a dilemma: gas or charcoal.

The obvious first choice is gas. It burns hotter and cleaner and the cooking surface is usually bigger than that of your average charcoal grill. On the other hand, a charcoal grill is much simpler, and since I’m a big fan of the charcoal taste on a medium rare steak, I’m not sure. Plus, roasting marshmellows over a charcoal grill is a little more authentic (I’m a huge roasted marshmellow fan).

I’m definitely leaning more towards the charcoal grills, I think. I really like the new Bodum Fyrkat Cone Charcoal Grill, although I’m also quite partial to the old Weber kettle-style grills as well. I think, to celebrate the potential government shut down (and lack of paycheck for me…) I’ll pick up one this weekend and grill up some burgers.

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Ode to Bacon

in Bacon, Randomness

Bacon, a haiku by Scott Savage

Goes with everything

A delicious cooked pork treat

Bacon, I love you

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“Gay Cure” app pulled from iTunes App Store

in Apple, Gadgets, iOS Development, Issues, Phones, Religion

Over the last six months, I’ve gone from wading my feet in the shallow end of the iOS Development pool to diving in head-first and building an app for distribution in the iTunes App Store. Now that I’m familiar both with the technical side of things as well as the legal side of things, I wanted to make a comment about the latest App Store controversy: The removal of the “Gay Cure” app, developed by Exodus International, from the iTunes App Store.

The app itself is called “Exodus International”, named after the group that created it, and its purpose is to, essentially, make homosexuals into heterosexuals through the bible and their interpretations of their teachings – hence the “Gay Cure” moniker that it has been given, though they claim on their website that they aren’t seeking to “cure” anyone so much as they’re seeking to aggregate the resources on their website through the iPhone app – which essentially seek to cure people of homosexual tendencies. Heh.

I’m not going to rant or rave about the app itself, as I never got to see it before it was pulled from the app store, but from screen captures of the app and from the description of it in the app store and on the Exodus website, it was essentially a data aggregator. That is, it took the data from the Exodus International website and fed it through their iPhone app, likely using a web service of some sort to convert their RSS/XML feeds through to the iPhone. Pretty simple stuff, and very similar to what I’ve been working on. It’s the content of the app and the website that’s disturbing.

The body of their work can be summed up in a single sentence: their own Mission Statement from their website:

“Mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality.”

As a person who has many dear friends and even an Aunt in the LGBT community, I’ve heard one prevailing thing from them over the years when we talk about their sexuality: it was never a choice for them to be gay. To come out of the closet, yes, that was a choice – and a big one at that. Never, not once, however, have any of them ever said that they decided to be gay; they always felt that it was right for them.

That’s why, at the very core of my being, I’m offended by groups – religious, political, or otherwise – who feel that they can simply “change” a person’s sexuality through any means. People who are “changed” by these methods have come out later to say that they weren’t really changed, they were simply forced or guilted – be it by themselves or by other influences such as the church – to repress their feelings and “act” straight (some even going so far as to marry a person of the opposite sex and try to live out a “normal, straight” life).

That’s what makes this Exodus International “ministry” so despicable to me: they think they’re doing something good and holy and righteous, but in reality they’re simply trying to force their system of beliefs onto others – and that’s never the right thing to do.

For more information about the Exodus International App, and the controversy surrounding it, I’m going to link to both extremes of the spectrum – The Exodus International website’s “Debunking the Myths…” page about the app, and the TruthWinsOut.org press release about the petition to remove the app from the App Store (which, by the by, had over 150,000 signatures on it).

What are your thoughts about this? Leave some feedback and try to keep the discussions clean and ad hominem free.

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It’s been far too long

in Apple, Friends, iOS Development, iPhone, Local, Music, Politics, Software, Work-related, World of Warcraft

Did you know someone still reads this blog? Actually, a lot of someones appear to read it if Google Analytics isn’t lying to me. I have a loyal following of people who enjoy a site full of nothing. I’m sure several of my followers are just spiders and other parsing bots, but a good friend of mine confessed recently that she still reads my blog, and I promised her I’d start writing again, so here I am.

It’s been an interesting last couple of days, actually. Friday night I went to a fantastic live music show at Jammin Java in Vienna, VA. My friend Rich’s band, the Chris Collat Band, was competing in the finals of JJ’s “Battle of the Bands”. There were three other bands competing with them, and while CCB didn’t win (an NC band called “Delta Rae” won – who were pretty good as well) they had a fantastic sound and great energy. I’ll be posting some videos of them playing a little later today or tomorrow on my Youtube account.

Saturday evening was my now-regular World of Warcraft raid with some of my great old friends from <Order of the Raven> (Aggramar-US). This week we hit the Bastion of Twilight again and downed the first two bosses with relative ease. We got a couple of pulls in on the Twilight Council but got locked out because of a bug after four pulls or so. Next weekend we’ll get them down, I’m sure.

Yesterday, President’s Day, was a work from home day and I actually got a lot accomplished. I had an idea back in August or September of 2010 to create an iPhone app for the federal agency that I contract with, and after a few months of planning we got approved to purchase the necessary equipment to begin active development in late January. I’m enjoying the process of designing my first iPhone app (although I’ve helped my friend Brian with a lot of the UI work for his soon-to-be-announced app, which I’ll post about here when it’s live in the App Store), and I’ll post some screen captures in a few weeks to preview what’s coming.

At the moment, my only real concern is about the congressional budget which, if not passed by March 4th (or another continuing resolution is passed…) will leave me without a paycheck for days/weeks/months. I’m hoping that congress does the right thing and approves a budget or CR quickly, but given how politics have played out in recent months, well, let’s just say my expectations are pretty low.

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