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Showing posts from September, 2013

Insecure

The other day I overheard a classic example of the humblebrag:

"Oh, I just graduated." "Cool. Where'd you go?" (pause) "...Harvard." "Oh, wow. Is it hard to get in?" "No, I'm actually surprised I got in. I applied to an Ivy League on a dare, and I chose Harvard because it had the easiest application process."
Now, before you injure yourself rolling your eyes, consider this: I, also, applied to Harvard because my thesis advisor recommended it, and I didn't expect to get in, and certainly not with a full scholarship and stipend.
See what I did there? I just humblebragged LIKE A BOSS. 
Now, the humblebrag is a skill (/annoying habit) honed by the insecure. Humblebraggers are keenly aware of their perceived position relative to all others present, and want to demonstrate said position without seeming like a jerk. I've only recently awakened to my own tendency to humblebrag, so if you have been in my company while I oblivio…

iOS 7 Review

The iOS7 requires 3.1GB of free space on the phone and takes about 20-30 minutes to download and set up. Once I finished reluctantly deleting photos of my kitty, I beheld the wonders of Apple's shiny new software product:

From left to right: the home screen with redesigned app icons, the swipe-down notification center, and, finally, the crème de la crème of this glorious upgrade: the swipe-up single-push controls. I nearly peed myself with excitement at this latter discovery. This handy new shortcut eliminates the tedious, multi-tap process of going to Settings, then hitting Airplane Mode, or WiFi, or Bluetooth, or Display. Yes, instead of two taps (Settings, then "On" for most of these apps), Apple has changed the way I interact with my device -- now I do one swipe, then one tap! And it's prettier to look at!

Seriously, this OS is sexy. It's fast, functional, and pleasing to the eye. The swipe-up feature lets me easily get to the flashlight (to pinpont my cat&…

Movie Review: Rush (2013)

Rush is an excellent story about two men driven (wink wink) to become world champion in their chosen sport: going 170 mph in "little coffins on wheels." The movie chronicles the real-life competition between posh Brit James Hunt, played by part-time Norse god Chris Hemsworth, and brusque Austrian Niki Lauda, played by the Spanish/German Daniel Brühl. Both men do an excellent job and are ably assisted by all the accoutrements of film: cinematography, script, and sound editing. The dialog is particularly biting, with "a-hole" being a favorite adjective of many characters.

The story is intriguing because there's no actual villain, unless you count Hunts' near-suicidal urge to win. Instead, Rush depicts two men with vastly different philosophies in life, which influences their decisions on the race track. Hunt is carefree and reckless, whereas Lauda is precise and disciplined. Hunt is a talented and courageous driver, while Lauda knows how to engineer the car t…

Book Review: Devil in the White City (2003)

Devil in the White City is a nonfiction work that juxtaposes the massive undertaking of building the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with the quiet murders of "Dr. H.H. Holmes," supposedly the nation's first urban serial killer. Author Erik Larson apparently wanted to contrast Daniel Burnham, the architect behind the fair, with Holmes, real name Herman Mudgett, an opportunistic killer. But the fair has so many moving parts and personalities that it sometimes overwhelms the narrative pillar that Burnham is supposed to be. However, a little time and distance from the novel reveals that the two men represented opposing themes: honor and lawlessness, dignity and hedonism, "good" society and the underground, and so on. The novel begins with Burnham traveling by sea, hobbled by a painful foot and reminiscing. Then Larson plunges readers right into the thick of it: the humiliation suffered by Americans by the Eiffel Tower unveiled during the 1889 World's Fair in Par…

CVS ExtraCare Rewards Must Die

CVS is a national pharmacy that has a big presence in Boston. It has decent staff, self-checkout kiosks, and a good selection of everyday products ranging from shampoo to cookies.
Alas, it also has a “rewards” program that I suspect is secretly a means to drive customers insane so that we go to the pharmacy and buy concoctions that numb us to the pain and fury.
Now, I define a reward as something nice that I receive because I have been good. Petco, for example, will take five dollars off any purchase after I’ve spent a certain amount at their store. I get the coupon by email, print it out, and present it to the register after I’ve loaded up on kitty snacks. For added convenience, I can just show the cashier the coupon on my phone, and s/he will manually enter the barcode number into the machine. (I meant my convenience, obviously, not the cashier’s.)
By contrast, the ExtraCare program at CVS seems to have been designed by a cohort of the criminally insane. It barely makes sense, and…

Game Review: Chrono Cross (PS Vita)

Okay. Okay. I have to say this. I must say it – despite my deep and abiding affection for Chrono Trigger:
Chrono Cross sucks.
The 1999 sequel to the 1995 RPG classic is a mess. It fails at two key elements of any game: story and characters. Let me try to put this into a simple list for you, dear reader:
Plot of Typical 90's RPG:
Bad guy appears Hero must embark on quest Hero meets new friends Hero goes on numerous fetch quests Hero fights bad guy (may or may not be true villain) Hero fights true villain (may or may not be unexpected traitor) World is saved
You see how easy that was? Now, it’s going to get a tad bit more complex:
Plot of Chrono Trigger: A boy and his friends are pulled back—and forward—in time because of an extraterrestrial, time distortion-causing parasite called Lavos, which crashed into the planet millions of years ago and wiped out the dominant humanoid reptile species as well as an ancient magitech kingdom that managed to produce at least four survivors who …

Show Me the Money

A quick observation from when I was in the job market in late 2011 versus early 2013 – employers seem to be trending toward stating the salary range up front, either in the online description or during the first interview. I knew the dollar amounts for every single position I applied for during my most recent quest for a steady paycheck, which is a nice change of pace from the guessing game of two years ago.

Granted, this approach won’t weed out the truly desperate; when I was first told I was laid off, I recklessly applied for jobs that paid 27% less than my earnings at the time. But I became more selective as I got more into the search, or, more likely, I lucked out with finding better-paying gigs thanks to more targeted keyword searches. Plus I had a local staffing agency sniffing stuff out for me, too! One must cover all the bases.

So: transparency is good! Of course, here in the US it’s still mostly taboo to discuss your wages, in complete and utter contrast to the bald-faced de…