Enlightened Self Disinterest

I read Gruber’s piece today on how retailers are blocking Apple Pay in the hopes of launching their own mobile wallet. The motive appears to be to capture more customer data and reduce credit card transaction fees. Which made me want to share something I noticed using Apple Pay.

I used Apple Pay for the first time at the Apple Store last night. There was a little nervousness from me and my salesperson, but the transaction worked seamlessly. Until it came time for the receipt. He asked me if I wanted an email receipt and I said yes. Then he asked for my e-mail.

If you’re a regular Apple Store customer, you’ve probably come across the scary and convenient feature where they know your email once you swipe your credit card. Since your card number is linked to your iTunes account, they usually have an email and ask you to confirm it. With Apple Pay, the system randomly generates a short term credit card number for each transaction. So I need to tell them my email address now. Apple has built a system that restricts their own retail stores from tracking customers.

Having to dictate your email address is annoying. It’s also a very powerful example of why Apple Pay is a positive change to payment systems. You can now shop anonymously if you wish and more importantly, your actual credit card number is not stored in a vulnerable system. I look forward to trying it out at more retailers going forward.

Instant Karma

Watching Ohio State lose in the conference championship was thrilling, but Sparty’s win couldn’t carry me home.

Last winter I won a trip to a College Gameday matchup of my choosing and I got to redeem it at the Big Ten Conference championship game. It’s kind of weird to attend your conference championship game when your team is not playing in it, but I thought it would be fun to be among by fellow Big Ten fans. I also really wanted to see Ohio State lose. I knew it was a long shot, but I thought we had a chance at seeing something special. And we did.

Ohio State came out too excited at the start of the game and quickly racked up pass interference penalties and personal fouls. That kept a couple early Michigan State drives alive and gave them confidence. Ohio State came back in the second half, but Michigan State’s defense shut them down again in the 4th quarter. Once Michigan State’s offense got another drive together, you could see desperation starting to show on the Ohio State sideline. Their fans (who were all around me) were also becoming un-hinged. When the clock expired, I enjoyed the rare thrill of Schadenfreude in-person. I felt like the forces of the universe were working in my favor.

The next morning I sat eating my breakfast in the hotel, with a beaming smile across my face as every Ohio State fan slumped by. Then I read the story on ESPN.com, which described Urban Meyer’s sad post-game pizza, which kind of touched me.

What kind of monster am I? Here’s a guy who works so hard that he’s giving himself stress-related heart problems and I am celebrating his failure. It reminded me of how hard losses are on my dad (who also dips into cold pizza after games) and made me question why I would wish that on anyone. I started to worry maybe the forces of the universe were not done with me yet.

Snow started falling as we headed back to the airport and we also heard there was a huge snowstorm in Philly. We found out my brother’s flight was delayed a couple of hours because of the backups in Philly. I left him to catch my connecting flight to Chicago, feeling a little guilty. Then when I landed he texted me his flight was cancelled. I felt really bad that our trip would force him to take a day off of work. I couldn’t get off scot-free though, my flight back to Hartford was delayed in Chicago, then cancelled. I would have to spend a day in Chicago before I could get back.

All in all things could have been much worse. My brother caught an earlier flight back to Philly and I spent a day working with my colleagues at ESPN Chicago. It was a great experience and I really am still happy that Ohio State lost. But I think next time I’ll try not to gloat so much, or else karma may catch up with me in another way.

Two Changes I Made in 2012

I made and kept New Year’s resolutions for the first time in 2012. Actually they weren’t resolutions so much as things I wanted to do more of. Early in the year I realized a lot of my old interests and hobbies were fading and being replaced with work. One night I was updating an online profile and decided I wanted to add something to my life. So I wrote that I wanted to focus on traveling more and running more this year. Just writing them down helped keep these goals in my mind and as opportunities came up to work on them. Continue reading

Chasing Joe Pa

At Penn State, you’re required to take at least two courses in physical education. I believe it’s a requirement bourne out of the fact that nearly every coach and assistant is a faculty member who teaches class. I took a jogging class with a former basketball assistant, Mike Morse, who is a Penn State legend in his own right. Our final exam in that class would be the same as our first assignment. In fact, we repeated the same test several times in that semester.

Run to Joe Pa and back.

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Phillies start the season off right

20110401-111110.jpgI am not sure which is worse: a snowy Opening Day or an Opening Day without the Phillies playing. I guess things could have been worse, at least I am not a Brewers fan. Still the wintry mix we received in New England today dampened my start-of-baseball excitement. The thrill of the offseason also wore off and I worried this team would be overburdened with high expectations. Somehow I cannot shake the instinctive pessimism that used to be a trademark of Phillies fans.

So circumstances arose that prevented me from watching any of today’s opener and I can’t say I was disappointed. That is until I came back to my desk and everyone in the office started telling me about the dramatic finish. I decided to give Opening Day a do over. I tried to ignore the post game coverage while I finished my work day. Then I went home, bought a season pass to MLB.tv and watched the replay on my Roku.

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A Lesson in Poor Customer Service

I love DVDs and Blu-rays, so I check the advertisements every week to see which movies are coming out. I look forward to seeing catalog titles released on Blu-ray for the first time, so it thrilled me to see that Best Buy would be exclusively releasing Almost Famous Blu-ray this week. I didn’t think having to buy the movie at Best Buy would be a problem, but it became a big hassle.

On Sunday I went to the West Hartford store and found two labels on the shelves for Almost Famous, but no Blu-rays. Someone put out the labels without every stocking the movie. I searched through the movie aisles for a while before a salesperson helped me. She confirmed in their system that they had copies in the store, then she wandered around the same aisles looking for it. In a store as big as Best Buy, it seems like their inventory system should know where in the store a copy is. After searching with a manager, the salesperson told me they could not find it. That disappointed me, but I told myself the shipment probably got delayed with the bad weather we had that weekend.

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2010 in Tweets

Finding the right format for a year in review post is tough, so I decided to assemble my favorite tweets from 2010.

  • just donated to http://foodforthepoor.org to help the people in haiti. if you have the means please support the charities working there #
  • Steve Jobs announced the iPad, which would translate into more work for me in 2010
    it’s an ipad www.blogcdn.com/www.engadget.com/m… #
  • I helped rip up a friend’s kitchen floor:
    http://twitpic.com/11q9iu
    – playing this old house at pacinos new place #
  • After a month of preparing, I finally got an iPad to play with… I returned it a week later:
    http://twitpic.com/1cwkdq
    – i swear i bought it for work! #
  • it’s official, espn.com is ready for ipad http://stevr.com/2c ! #
  • I got to spend some time in New York City:
    the biggest thing i’ve learned from user testing this week is that new yorkers are impervious to traditional marketing. #
  • Roy Halladay Perfect Game!!! #
  • Helped dig up a friend’s backyard in preparation for a new patio:
    helge’s future patio http://twitpic.com/1u9jak #
  • @_nuno we used the dingo a lot but we weren’t great at handling it http://twitpic.com/1uc58p #
  • survived jury duty, didn’t get picked for any trials. very tried despite doing nothing but sit in a room all day. #
  • Saw the movie of 2010:
    get out of my way children, i’ve been waiting 15 years for toy story 3 #
  • Big sports day, the US gets a regulation time goal in World Cup:
    walt disney pictures presents… miracle ii… coming to theaters july 2011 #
  • Then the longest Wimbledon tennis match:
    oh god, looks like there is an infinite loop bug mahut-isner match. someone needs to restart the matrix #
  • Yes, I bought an iPhone and kept it:
    scoped out the bristol at&t store, only 4 geeks in line at 1030pm. might swing by tomorrow morning #
  • like most days, today i had to deal with a lot of unexpected things work. this was one of them :) http://youtu.be/S0_qztvd35U #
  • This is what I got to watch during lunch http://twitpic.com/23kdjt #
  • We all waited for LeBron’s decision:
    The Decision will end with LeBron learning we’re all dead but our time together on the island was very real and special #
  • I read a lot more this year, especially when I got my Kindle in December:
    Nothing like the sense of accomplishment you get from finishing a book. I conquered The Adventures of Tom Sawyer today #
  • I took my brothers Brian and Mike to Walt Disney World:
    Finishing up day 1 at Disney World and I’ve traveled by car, plane, boat, bus, and monorail. #
  • Sometimes the stress of building a large-scale web site gets to me:
    today is one of those days i wish i worked for a site with only 100,000 pages that all used one page design :( #
  • Sometimes all that hard work pays off though too:
    RT @sbosky I’m loving the new page design on ESPN.com. Much easier to navigate. #
  • I took a 3 city baseball road trip with my friends from work:
    Camden yards row 3 http://twitpic.com/2glrs0 #
  • @khaughney yep. 9 guys, 3 games, 3 days, 1 RV. It has been an epic trip. #
  • The Daily Collegian said goodbye to a great news advisor:
    John Harvey is one of the best teachers I encountered at Penn State collegian.psu.edu/archive/2010/0… via @dailycollegian@khaughney #
  • Roy Halladay opens the playoffs with a no-hitter:
    so that’s one way to deal with all the expectations #halladay#highhopes #
  • Long story but basically my dad missed the first half of a football game, returned at half time and the team won the game in the 2nd half:
    I just want to throw this out there that my dad is the f-ing man #
  • We met a lot of new people at the jQuery conference, including John Resig:
    RT @scottconnor “Everyone wants to hang out with us. It’s the opposite of high school.” – @steveclancy #
  • I saw Amar’e Stoudemire walking in full uniform to a commercial shoot on my way out of work #
  • Joe Paterno got his 400th win the day Zenyatta got her first loss:
    Joe Pa > 21 Zenyattas #joepa400 #
  • Got up early due to fall backward, so I went to the NYC Marathon:
    using my extra hour to go see @mattrestivo and gang run in the nyc marathon #
  • I went to the Penn State-Indiana game in DC:
    We Are taking over the Metro http://twitpic.com/38k1iv #
  • My brother Mike had an impressive Thanksgiving Day game:
    at the half the haverford fords lead 20-0 over the upper darby royals. mike clancy has 2 TDs and an INT #
  • Philadelphia had a Merry Cliff-mas:
    cliff lee returning to the phillies. this so beats the ghostbusters firehouse santa got me when i was 6, way to go big guy! #
  • Kitten’s First Christmas http://instagr.am/p/t-Qh/ #

Lost Finale Theories: Die Early and Often

From left to right: Faraday, Boone, Miles, Mic...Spoiler Alert: If you have not seen the Lost finale and ever intend to, you probably don’t want to read this.

I was not sure how I felt about the Lost finale immediately after it aired. I was not sure how I felt about it this morning. Yet after hearing a lot of negative reaction and differing interpretations from friends and online theorists, I decided I like it a lot more now. At first I thought they gave us a simple answer to a complex question, but I now I think they gave us a complicated answer to a very simple statement: eventually everybody dies.

Let’s start with “eventually”. A lot of people now believe that the last scene confirms that the passengers of Oceanic 815 slammed into an island in the Pacific Ocean on September 22, 2004. That’s just not true though. Christian Shepherd tells Jack “your time on the was the most important time in your life.” While you could interpret the afterlife as part of Jack’s life (since Christian also points out that even after death they are very real), I don’t think that is what he meant. Jack Shepherd died in 2007 after restoring order to the island, collapsing in the bamboo he regained consciousness in 3 years earlier.

We’re left to believe that the “flash-sideways” world we’ve seen throughout season 6 is not part of the real world and instead part of the afterlife. Being the afterlife, its devoid of time or space so characters who live many years after Jack appear. In some ways it make sense – in the moments between life and death, the characters live out their deepest desires. Jack and Juliet become parents, Saiyd and Sawyer become heroes, and Locke and Ben get to know their fathers. In one sense they can’t move on because they need to realize these dreams and although they can’t move on because subconsciously they are searching for their friends on the island. Once they realized their friends are safe and among them again, their souls can move on together.

Something about this seems off to me. The fact that Christian Shepherd spelled it out so clearly, makes me suspicious. Nothing on Lost is ever clear, so why would this be any clearer? I can’t say for sure what the answer is though. I have a couple of thoughts. One thing that seems really interesting to me is that going from outside the church to inside the church, Kate is obviously dressed differently. In fact it seems like a number of them are dressed different. I guess once you realize you’re dead and in the afterlife, you can dress yourself however you want. It just seems like an odd detail to throw in there.

It got me thinking, what if it took Jack a long time to accept his death. Something about the last scenes gave me that idea, that they didn’t walk into a church and walk out dead. My thought is maybe reincarnation is a part of this story. Maybe the flash sideways was a life for these souls and only after they have reconnected have they achieved enough karma to move on and break the cycle of death and rebirth. As Jacob says, it only ends once and it seems in this life these souls have achieved enough grace to move into the next realm. So all these people did live together for a time in Los Angeles, became aware of their existence on the island, lived together for a while and finally reunite in death. In this scenario Jack doesn’t follow Kate into the church immediately, he might not accept death for many years later. It doesn’t change the final ending, but it does leave an opening for a lot more interpretation than half a season of life after death.

I think its great that everyone is interpreting things differently. My one friend is an atheist who thinks it was all a cheap plug for religion, where I have faith and think there’s more to the ending than they all go to Heaven. I think I want to go back and rewatch the series looking for clues about the show’s true ending. Someone posted this clip from an earlier season that just made my head spin. I guess I’m happy that I know that ultimately the characters I grew so fond of found peace in their life and death. Looking back it wouldn’t be Lost if it did not end with a few mysteries.

Kick-Ass

Kick Ass & Hit GirlNo matter how jaded you are towards movie violence, I think you’ll be a little shocked to see 11-year-old Hit-Girl commit acts of cold-blooded murder throughout Kick-Ass. The general controversy around the movie that this violent child is a new low for films and potentially a danger for kids. Honestly, I think my biggest concern is for adults. Hit-Girl kills without mercy or remorse. She seems almost untouched by her militant upbringing. My concern is adults will view children differently, no longer believing that children are impressionable. At the end of the film a man chokes and throws Hit Girl across the room. The moment is horrifying, but given the context it plays like something out of WWE. Kick-Ass is a mediocre movie with some clever moments and I wouldn’t discourage someone from seeing it. However, I hope that cartoon-like child violence does not become a movie trend.