Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Game of Thrones

I started reading Game of Thrones, the first in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series. I picked it up after having taken my time strolling through The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which was about the life and after-life history of woman whose cancerous cervical cells - "HeLa" - were scraped from her body without her knowledge when she was undergoing radioactive treatment and subsequently became the first to survive in cell culture. Going from a pleasantly-paced nonfiction about a poor black woman's out-of-control tumors to a full-on medieval labyrinth of fantasy where if I blink the main character has probably already died definitely feels like a weird literary swerve.

But Game of Thrones is amazing. Truly, it captures the elements everything a fantasy should - dragons! magic! noble royal families! sexy sexy men! - but what makes it stand out is Martin's fantastic storytelling. I can't remember being this engrossed in a book since high school. In a lot of ways it reminds me of when I first became obsessed with Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, and it brings back all those feelings of excitement and intrigue that remind me that I haven't gone so far into the real world or gotten so caught up with working that I can't enjoy a good ole fantasy story anymore - something that I'd been afraid of when I graduated about a year ago. 

Another fun thing about reading Game of Thrones is talking to others who've read it. Last night at a cross-team dinner, a ThoughtWorker mentioned the series and I may or may not have almost leapt out of my seat out of excitement (my mouth was filled with fajita). It's just one of those books that inevitably lends itself to conversation, especially now that there's a critically-acclaimed HBO series about it as well. I'm only about 300 pages into the first novel - that's another thing I love, how long they are - so I have to earmuff myself a lot but nonetheless, it's a fun softcore cult to be a part of, similar to the Reddit or Arrested Development community.

If you've been hearing a lot about this series, I strongly recommend you pick it up, for your own sake. And a little for mine too, so we can obsess about it together until the end of time. Winter is coming!

Sunday, June 26, 2011


if you asked me to describe my life or how i'm doing in one word, that's what it always is.

i just got to my hotel room in plano and face-planted onto my bed, muffling my anxieties along with my sweaty, dirty, makeup-run mug. i promised myself i wouldn't get up for anything other than the food delivery order i'd made en route to the hotel...but then quickly realized i was falling asleep, so i forced myself up and crawled to my computer and decided to write a blog entry (upon remembering getting berated this weekend by friends who complained of the lack of updates)

on the plane ride i thought of what i'd done this weekend and counted the hours that i spent NOT in the company of somebody i knew. the grand total amounted to four. FOUR measly hours spent alone out of approximately 78 - no wonder i'm going insane. here was my itinerary, as frantically and furiously typed out in a word document, friday morning at 6:00 am at gate E5 in the united terminal of dallas fort-worth airport:

- tour an apartment for a remote family friend
- go to the TW office
- dr's appointment at NMPG
- buy a mattress at sleep city
- gorge on sandwiches at DMK
- unpack unpack unpack
- roll around on my mattress until unconsciousness

- brunch at sam & george's
- teeth cleaning at dental salon
- TW company picnic at jackson park
- comcast cable appointment
- grocery shopping
- dinner at the apartment
- drinks at the neighborhood saloon

- cleaning old apartment
- white sox game
- fly to plano
- arrive at hotel
- pass out forever

i managed to do everything except pass out forever. stupid eggplant basil - come faster so i can fall into a food coma and dream about a world devoid of airplanes, apartments, and waiting for the cta.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hello, Evo!

Got my precioussssss last night. Have not been able to stop playing with it ever since.

Initial thoughts: 

My phone is too cool for me. I've never felt incompetent compared to a phone until I got this one. It feels like (and I know I know - it's just the honeymoon era, this infatuation will die down) the phone is a magic genie, except it offers unlimited wishes and less facial hair.

"Import my Google contacts please?"
"I'd be happy to. Give me two seconds."

"Can you sync with Blogger so I have a mobile template?"
"Is the Pope Catholic? Done."

"...can you shampoo my hair?"
"Girl, I will shampoo, condition, and style with a blowout."

It's also HUGE. (TWSS) I feel like I'm holding a tablet. My feelings toward the new size aren't strong one way or another - there are obviously pros and cons on both sides there - but I do miss how Palm lived up to its name with its rounded corners and spin-ability. This one just sits like a hunk of expensive, whiz-bangy slab.

Performance is phenomenal. It's a pleasure to browse apps, surf the internet, and gallivant between my seven (yes, SEVEN) home screens. I daresay it's even "cooler" of a feeling than the experience of browsing an iPhone, but that's probably because I'm already familiar with the iPhone's flashy animations and tricks and have become desensitized to them, whereas I react to everything here by hollering "OH MY GOD LOOK AT THE SHINY."

The battery life already sucks, which I knew coming in. I'm doing everything I can to minimize sync, GPS tracking, WiFi, and updates when they are not needed. Nevertheless I can anticipate this being a relatively large pain point. But you win some and you lose some...and in the case of the Evo overall, this phone by and large already feels like a resounding victory. 

A day or two ago, I ordered an HTC Evo 4g in black from Sprint. I have spent every minute since bouncing out of my seat, whether it be on an airplane or in my room, out of excitement for it to arrive. It should come in by the end of this week to my hotel in Plano. If not, Sprint will suffer the wrath of a year-and-a-half-Palm-Pre user.

I can't believe I've spent 18 months with the Pre. In that time I could've accomplished so much, like watch all of Dexter or birth two back-to-back babies. But no. Instead, I spent that time being tormented by my stupid phone.

It wasn't always so bad. I remember when I first got it (and blogged about it, even) back in August of 2009, the PP was relatively hot shit. It'd just hit the market, it was causing oohs and aahs because of the touchstone charger, and everyone and their mom was whispering about how it'd out-do the iPhone 3gs. It offered a lot of functionality that my old phone couldn't, like take decent pictures and fit nicely in my pocket. But slowly I began to realize what it couldn't do, and the annoyances started to eat at me and eventually drive me into a downward spiral of frustration.

For one, the app selection was pretty bad. I contented myself with things like Bubbles and chess for entertainment, but when it came to real apps I wanted, the plumbing just wasn't there. Many didn't exist in the first place, like an app for me to scrobble to or a RSA security token that would let me access my company's mail. Those that did exist rarely worked well - Facebook for WebOS, Accuweather, and Angry Birds are the only three that I use on a regular basis these days. The rest have been deleted.

For another, the user design/user experience is incredibly shoddy. I can't see the time unless I unlock my phone (minus five million points). I can't see the date unless I touch the time, which by the way, is TINY. I can't see the exact date and time of previous text messages if they are more than twelve days old. If I search for a contact, the option to text them is activated by touching the tiniest of speech bubbles - while the rest of the screen, aka valuable real estate, is stark and empty with incompetence. Don't get me started on battery life. There've been times when my battery is at 80% and two hours later, my phone kicks the bucket. I don't leave the house now without battery being 100%, because it seems like 100% actually means anywhere from 100% to 50% in terms of remaining battery.

Oh and then there's the device itself. To be fair, I have drunkenly dropped it on more than one occasion. But maybe that's because both cases I bought for it didn't fit properly. When I received the device, I noticed it'd shut down every time I snapped it closed too hard - some detective work on the internet made me realize the battery was often loose and needed some paper to be wedged in there to avoid the problem. A clever solution indeed, but one for a problem that shouldn't have existed in the first place, in my opinion.

I know the Evo isn't going to be perfect either (that beautiful 4.3 inch screen? Yeah, its diet consists of batteries. And it's HUNGRY) and am not setting my expectations to be such. But based on my experience with other people's smart phones, I am relatively confident that this new guy will actively make my life better now that designers and engineers have been in the smart phone space a bit longer. Whereas the Pre delivered more functionality as something to throw at people rather than its offerings of "smart" services, I'm hoping the Evo will be something I can rely on and trust in lieu of all this travel and whatnot. And if nothing else, at least it makes for a larger thing to throw at people.