Asshole

Last night, through some slight of hand, my four-week old iPhone 5s was stolen right in front of my eyes.

My friend and I were sitting down for a late dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings in Clifton. We had just come from the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo. We were sitting at a four-top table. After giving our order with our server we placed our menus off to my right. A few minutes later I placed my phone on top of the menus.

After eating a steak wrap and wings, I was pretty messy. I decided to go to the bathroom to wash up. As I headed off, I recall purposely leaving my phone on the table. I didn’t want to pick it up and give any impression that I was walking off to use my phone in private.

When I returned, my phone was right where I left it.

Several minutes later, from my six, a very polite asshole walked up to my right and asked if he could take our menus. I looked up, he smiled, and I said, “Yes, absolutely!” Before walking away with our menus, he lingered for a bit and explained, “I didn’t want to just walk up and take your menus without asking.” I laughed and mentioned that I understood and he walked away.

A short time later, I looked around for my phone. It only took a few seconds for me to realize what had happened.

My friend immediately called my phone. It instantly went to voicemail.

A brief walk through the dining area revealed that the perpetrator had already left the premises.

I was duped.

You see, unnoticed by me at the time, the asshole already wielded a menu upon approaching me. He quickly placed that menu on top of my phone and other menus to conceal what he was really after. He was overly polite which quickly negated any suspicion that he might be up to something sketchy.

In an effort to locate the whereabouts of my phone I installed the Find My iPhone app on my friend’s phone. It only showed that my phone was turned off and the last known location was at the very location where I lost it.

A very helpful manager noticed my issue and offered to help out. Thanks to the security footage, she was able to confirm all the activities mentioned above. She offered to call the police. I hesitated, but finally agreed. We waited over an hour before finally leaving. The police arrived nearly 2 hours after being called.

The manager mentioned that they had similar reports of customers’ phones being stolen on the premises. I wonder if they’d consider posting a sign to warn their customers of the trend.

It sucks to have anything taken from you. But, after a bit of reflection, I think what really pisses me off the most is that what the asshole took from me was worthless to him. The iPhone 5s, when locked and in “Lost Mode” cannot be accessed by anyone. It cannot be unlocked. It cannot be jail broken. It cannot be used with another SIM card. It’s useless.

If by stealing from me that asshole could feed himself, his family or do something positive, I would feel slightly less shitty. But the fact that $750 worth of technology was taken, immediately rendered useless, and likely just thrown away, is painful.

2013 Epic Road Trip or: Cincinnati to Cincinnati by way of Dallas, Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Yosemite, Seattle, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Minneapolis and Chicago.

“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time.”

T. S. Elliot

I’m doing it. I decided a few months ago that this is the year I’m finally taking an extended road trip around the western half of the United States to hike mountains, sleep under stars and gain a wealth of knowledge about myself and my limits. Inspired over the years by blog articles, videos on YouTube and Vimeo, a Ken Burns documentary, and stories from family and friends, it’s all finally coming together.

Why?

For several years I have wanted to and have been talking about taking a road trip to explore the west. I think for a lot of people, to be able to drop everything, pack up and travel is a dream. I have a somewhat unique situation that allows me to do this and I feel the need to take better advantage of it. I’ve gotten a taste of ‘westward ho’ from trips to San Francisco, Austin, and Boulder but not yet enough to satisfy. I have a strong desire to step outside of my somewhat normal and urban lifestyle to go explore the world for a bit. I am also determined to ensure, the best I can, that when I am on my inevitable death bed, the regrets of things left undone in this life are limited.

How?

Simply put, I’m going to pack up my Xterra and drive. To discover solitude and to satisfy the spirit of independence, I’m planning on car sleeping in between destinations as much as possible. I’ll also stay with friends and family when I can. This will help keep the trip’s trip’s total costs down. I have had to purchase quite a bit of gear for the trip. I plan on writing more about it in future articles.

Goals:

  • To have a jolly good time.
  • To see as much of the west as possible, while never feeling rushed.
  • To enjoy the company of infrequently seen friends and family
  • To meet some interesting people along the way
  • To thoroughly document this trip

In a recent and exciting development, my mom is planning on flying out to San Francisco to meet me for the portion of the trip that includes Yosemite National Park, driving up the west coast (will likely include portions of CA State Highway 1, U.S. 101 and Interstate 5), Seattle (including Whidbey Island where her brother lives), and possibly Vancouver, BC (if I can get my passport in time).

Some trip details:

Departure:

Cincinnati – May 22nd or 23rd 2013

Primary Destinations:

  • Dallas (visiting several friends for Memorial Day Weekend)
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Los Angeles, CA (visit my cousin)
  • San Francisco CA (pick up my mom)
  • Yosemite National Park (+ my mom)
  • Seattle WA (visit my friend along with visiting my Aunt and Uncle (my mom’s brother) on Whidbey Island)
  • Vancouver BC (if I can get a passport in time)
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Grand Teton National Park
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Chicago, IL

Estimated Return:

Cincinnati – June 23, 2013

Trip Duration:

32+ days

Estimate Trip Miles:

7300 mi.

Number of states:

18

Travel Vehicle:

2008 Nissan Xterra SE 4×4 (about 20 mpg)

Estimated Fuel Cost:

$1,800

As stated above, I plan on documenting this trip fairly well. If you’d like to follow along, you can check back or subscribe here.

If you’ve done something similar or have any advice, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Let’s Talk Taxes

Let’s talk about taxes for a minute.

Yesterday, President Barak Obama’s twitter account tweeted an infographic that compares Mitt Romney’s tax rate to that of middle-class Americans. Fair enough.

The infographic shows that Mitt Romney in 2011 paid a 14.1% tax rate while middle-class Americans who earn less than $60,000 pay a 15.5% tax rate. The intended take away here, I believe, is that it is unfair that Mitt Romney pays a lower tax rate than the middle-class.

Now, I’m not a huge supporter of Mitt. If he broke any laws to pay a lower tax rate then the spirit of this infographic is right on and he absolutely deserves to be punished as the law sees fit. If, however, he was able to pay a lower tax rate legally through our overly-complicated tax system then fuck it. He should be applauded not vilified. I don’t think any Americans are trying to pay more in taxes. OK, well maybe some are. Perhaps our government should accept voluntary donations. But I digress…

It’s not like Mitt Romney is stuffing the money he didn’t pay in taxes under his mattress. He’s spending that money. He’s investing that money in businesses. He’s using that money to spur economic growth. Taxes, on the other hand, do not spur economic growth. Government, while necessary in many ways, is an expense not a stimulus package. Today we need more economy and less government, not the other way around.

To provide a bit more perspective on this issue, I thought I would make my own infographic. I wanted to pick up where the President left off and take a look at just how much Mitt Romney really paid in taxes last year.

taxes

Mitt Romney paid nearly $2 million in taxes. Compare that to a middle-class American making $60,000 and paying $9,300 in taxes. It would take more than 200 of these middle-class Americans to give the government the $2 million in taxes Mitt paid. That’s not good or bad, it’s just the way it is.

Since the President is talking about the fairness of tax rates, maybe he believes that all Americans should pay the exact same percentage in taxes? While I don’t think that’s the best solution, I do think it would be a start in the right direction.

Let’s figure out how to get all Americans paying less in taxes so they can spur more economic growth.

Texting while Driving

Props to AT&T for making a compelling commercial to lure people away from texting while driving. I believe education and advertising will prove to be much more effective than introducing legislation specifically banning texting while driving.

As far as I know, it’s already illegal to drive carelessly/recklessly in all 50 states. Let’s do a better job enforcing that first.

Waiting for Apple

It’s the day before Apple’s WWDC begins and the rumors are a flyin’. Everything from Retina display MacBooks to a new iPhone 5 with a 4″ 16:9 display are being tossed around.

The one that has me really curious is the possibility of the current Apple TV (only 4 months old) getting a software update to allow for 3rd party apps. As I posted back in March, the current software is certainly reminiscent of the iPhone back in 2007 with it’s apparent room for more apps. But what types of apps would find themselves at home on a Apple TV?

As a cable cutter, I would love to see networks like HBO and ESPN to distribute their content directly to consumers through the Apple TV. But those are deals that Apple would have to secure and would be of little interest to discuss at the their developer conference. I can imagine the Apple TV becoming a gaming platform, similar to how the iPhone and iPod Touch have become some of the most popular mobile gaming devices. After all, the Apple TV does run a version of iOS.

But how would you play games on the Apple TV with just the current remote? It’s plausible that you could use an iPhone, iPod Touch or an iPad as a controller. But it’s interesting that the newest Apple TV has built in Bluetooth 4. Will Apple sell a Bluetooth controller? Who knows but I thought it would be fun to add to the rumor mill with a quick mockup of what an Apple TV Bluetooth 4 controller might look like.

Apple TV Bluetooth 4 Controller?

The future for the Apple TV

IMG_0926

When you scroll all the way down on the new Apple TV interface, I’m reminded of iOS as it was back in 2007 (called iPhone OS back then) with noticeable room for more apps. Is this a sign that Apple will open the device up to 3rd party developers? Will this device continue to evolve into a legit replacement for cable tv?

Perhaps I’m just reading way too much into this, but I did find it interesting when Tim cook said, “…and I encourage you to do so” after mentioning the ability to pre-order the new Apple TV the same day of the keynote. Perhaps these 3rd party apps will only work on the newer Apple TV.

*Update*
I also find it curious that Vimeo and Radio do not have the same reflection under the icon as the other apps do. The top row of apps do not have reflections either but I would guess that has to do with the background that they sit on.

My Ron Paul Endorsement

Maybe check out some videos of a true patriot before watching President Obama give State of the Union address tonight. I’ve compiled my favorite “Ron Paul” videos (some are old, some are more recent) below:

Edit 2013-10-12: The video links below were originally embedded in this post. The posts take a long time to load, so I narrowed my favorites above.

**http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wDYtDfZ_GM

**http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlgav80cpbg

**http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMJ-ut30FA8

**http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9B0QPcoTZg8

**http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1kJ7B3WHwM

**http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4unznqeiXU

**http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW4EdVh4TeY

**http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-YZueRAOR0

**http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFYqtDL50AM

**http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3BbIPbLSRw

**http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUTYL8HfCGo

**http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvzeowlqmBI

**http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFFb9m9SCio