August 27, 2012

It's about...

   Fiction has been a passion of mine for a long time. As I've mentioned many times I'm currently writing a novel of my own. It's currently being proofread by my sister, who consequently is doing a fantastic job. I was sitting around thinking about my life and career choices. I think sometimes when I try to think about these choices objectively I feel like I've made a lot of mistakes in this area. But when I stop and remember why I love fiction I remember why I made them and why given the opportunity I would make the exact same mistakes again.
   In the past ten years of my life I have worked in a number of jobs. I've had a lot of relationships outside and in addition to these jobs. In many, if not all, of these I have received an identical feedback. Everyone seems to think I should have a career in [fill in the blank with whatever they do]. When I worked with engineers I was told often that I should go back to school and become an engineer because they believed I would be good at it. I once had a counselor (well more than once) tell me I should become a counselor.
   I'm not writing all of this to brag. I'm just trying to create a setting. The fact is I'm not good at everything I have done or attempted but I excel at a great many things. This leads people to think I should become a person who does one of those things for money. Okay, maybe a little bragging. In my current and nearing complete job there are many people who have come to call me a modern renaissance man because I've become known as the person who can do anything that needs doing.
   The most tempting of these things is counselling. Particularly clinical social work. You get to help people with problems they are facing in this line of work. But there is a huge downside. You have to help people with problems they are facing. The burn out rate for this is about the same as accounting. I understand it's something like 7 years. Not a long career for something that would take me an additional 4 years of schooling minimum to get into.
   I'm not trying to say I don't want to help people. In fact the opposite is true. I love helping people. In fact I think this is central to my personality. For some reason I have this personality that others find approachable with their problems. I like to think over the years I've helped a lot of people with things. In some cases complete strangers.
   Let's talk about problems. Problems are important. We all have them. In fact today I was reading an interesting post on an old friend's blog about their personal financial problems. I found their post to be important. It's important because financial problems are an opportunity for character growth. It's also important because their my friend and I can relate to this problem.
   And the real importance of dealing with problems is in relating to those problems. In my younger years I was often met with unbelieving stares from adults that couldn't believe a teenager could relate or understand their adult problems due to lack of life experience. But I could. I can. I have always been able to relate to people and their problems very well.
   The way I see it there are three ways to relate to problems other people are having. First, you have experienced it yourself. Second, you haven't experienced it but have experienced enough hard things to understand how hard a thing must be. Third, you can feel the pain of the person experiencing a problem without having any prior experience. I'll explain that one later.
   As a teenager I think I had a lot of life experience that was unusual for people my age. I believe this was mostly due to the fact that my parents were much older than the parents of my peers. A lot of adults used to say I shouldn't know some of the things I knew about. Whatever.
   Moving forward in my life there is a singular experience that has been more valuable to me than any other when it comes to problems. I battled deep depression as a teenager. I know this is probably common today. But let me relate the story as it relates to where I am going.
   When I was 16 my parents moved from Vallejo, California to Orem, Utah. The adjustment was hard for me. I left all the friends I had in Vallejo. As a sidebar these friends are still my closest 16 years later. In Orem I had no friends. There were kids in my neighborhood and in my school. Most would not talk to me. The few who did were somewhat polite but not friends. In fact I can barely remember any of their names.
   So for the whole year between 16 and 17 I was depressed. It was caused mostly by a feeling of being an outcast. It didn't help that my sister left for college in Idaho almost the moment we got to Utah. My parents were overworked at the time and often spent weeks at a time in London doing work. I was a loner and the other kids in the neighborhood made it abundantly clear that they didn't want to change that.
   I turned to fiction at this time. Not that I didn't like to read already. I loved to read as far back as I can remember. I loved to read Indiana Jones novels and Star Wars novels from as young as 11. I just never engrossed myself in it as much as I did at that time in my life.
   I started listening to punk rock in earnest at this time. It wasn't as important to me as my books but I almost always had something running through my head.
   At this time in my life I really remember feeling terrible almost all the time. I felt like people just didn't want to be around me and I couldn't figure out why. I spent weeks at a time with minimal human interaction despite going to school and working fast food. It got to the point where I was honestly considering suicide at one point. Before you get alarmed this time passed. The point of this is how it passed.
   When I read books filled with rich characters and amazing plots I felt like my world of problems were less significant. I actually didn't even feel my problems as long as I was engrossed in others problems. I especially liked fantasy novels because the problems they faced were often things that seems insurmountable. They helped me feel like my problems were only temporary. And in truth they were. Before the school year ended I had a friend. He was sort of strange in his own right and outcast a bit by his former California home.
   So I learned that problems are often temporary. I learned that they can often be waded through with help from a good book. I learned that I wanted to belong. I also realized that I wanted to share this with other kids who needed to learn that they could also wade through troubled times with a few words penned by a caring author.
   To this day I think the very core of Punk Rock is a sense of belonging for those who don't belong. Nobody who ever met me would guess for a second that I was a punk. I've never looked the part, ever. But when I'm at the show I belong. Put me in that mosh pit and I belong. The kids there and the adults there know me because I'm them. I'm the outcast. The thing I have come to understand as I grow older is that we are all their screaming and spinning and taking an elbow in the chin. In the mosh pit we all know that we are the bruised and the broken. That's why when we get knocked down the guy that knocked us down reaches down to pick us up and give us a hug that speaks volumes about our collective sense of belonging with those that don't belong.
   Fiction is Punk Rock. It's where we belong when our problems seem insurmountable.
   So I think back on my choice to write stories. It was a choice born out of a belief that I had to share the escape. I can't play music but I can weave a tale on occasion. So I feel it's my responsibility to share that story. From time to time I think it's also my responsibility to listen to your problems. Because your problems and my problems are the same. That's the secret to being able to understand adult problems when I was a teenager. I realized those were my problems in the future. It wasn't hard to put myself in those shoes and think them through if as an outsider in some sense.
   So to finish the title, it's about belonging. It's about remembering we are all human and we all share these problems. It's about remembering that your problems were once my problems or may one day be my problems. Fiction is about us.

Android Apps - Paid Edition

   Perhaps by now you have had some fun playing with your free Android apps. Let's talk about what money can buy you now.
   Before we get started talking about apps we should get out of the way that once you start buying stuff in the Play Store you will set have to set up account info. Basically the process is simple. You put a credit card on file. This card can then be associated with your Google or Gmail account (they are the same thing in case you didn't know). Once you have a credit card on file you are now utilizing the Google Wallet system. This comes in handy if you buy stuff from websites that allow you to checkout using Google Wallet. It's nice in that you don't have to have the website store your credit card info as Google let's them charge it without them keeping the card info.
   I'll start with Google Play Music. Yeah, technically it's free. In fact it might be one of my favorite free apps. Here is how this one will work. First, since you have an Android phone already (I assume), you kind of already have this. If you ever try to buy any music in the Play Store you have this. But I want to make sure you utilize it correctly. You see Play Music is more than just an app for your phone. It's a music system. Start by going to on your computer or laptop and clicking on "My Music". Once there you may have to set it up. This should be a few clicks at most. Once complete look for the "Upload Music" button on the right side of the screen. Follow the instructions to download and install the Google Music Manager. It'll be worth it.
   The Google Music Manager is a very small program that uploads your music library to the cloud. What this means is that you will be able to access your music from anywhere there is an Internet connection. This is really good. It takes some time to upload a music library. It took me about 5 days actually. Times will vary depending on the size of your library. The good news is that you don't have to worry about losing your tunes again. They will be stored forever for free.
   Now, back to the app. The reason this app is on my paid app list at the top is that buying music from the Play Store is a really great experience. A lot of the music I have purchased on sale at $4 or $6 for an album. Now the selection isn't perfect, for instance they still have basically no AC/DC, but it is growing. The part I love is that once you buy something it is instantly added to your library. If you want to download it later, no problem. The app makes offline a one click option from an album menu and for a computer the website allows you to download your entire library if you want in 1 click(ish).
   A couple of games I recommend are the Cut The Rope series. I think there are a couple of games now. They are relatively low cost. I think I paid 99 cents for each of them. They are great little puzzle games you can play to kill a few minutes while waiting in the laundromat or for a movie to start.
   Another game I found to be a real time waster is Plants vs Zombies. This game is great. Hours of playtime. What I found to be really interesting about it is that this game cost me $1.99. A long time ago I was interested in buying the PC version but was always turned off by the $19.99 price tag. It amazes me that the phone version costs a tenth of that and is the same game.
   One last game to talk about. A friend recommended Where's My Water to me a while back. It's great. I think it's $1.99. I would say it's about as entertaining as Cut the Rope. Just be careful because this one is a battery drainer. Also it doesn't run great on older phones though it does run through the use of downgrading water effects.
   A couple of honorable mentions. Though free I recommend the Amazon and Papa John's Pizza apps. Nothing like ordering a pizza from your car on the drive home from work. Amazon will come in handy when you want to do some price comparisons while you are out.
   That's about it. I also own a Sudoku app that I paid money for. I used the free version for over a year. I paid money for it because I figured they people who made it did so good that they deserved my dollar. Otherwise I don't own very many paid apps. If you have any you would recommend leave it in the comments. I'm always looking for apps that cost money that are worth the price. I'm always looking for recommendations.

July 2, 2012

Android Apps - Free Edition

   I got to thinking the other day about things I might write about. I realized that I've had an Android phone for more than 2 years and have yet to talk about those things that make smart phones great. So I am going to spend a bit of time reviewing and recommending a handful of apps that I find to be worth writing about, the free ones at least.
   Whenever a conversation comes up with a friend thinking of getting a smart phone I mention that the number 1 app that I use and that I know others use is Google Maps. If you ever use a map program on your computer you know that it's a great way to get to new places and get around while you are in new places. Having this on your phone is awesome. I can't count the number of times when my wife and I have used it to find places to eat while we were already out somewhere. We love to read reviews of places nearby that we can see but are sometimes skeptical of. There have been times where Maps has helped my wife get home from trips around Los Angeles. And there have been many days where the traffic report in Maps has helped us avoid hours in gridlock. It's a no brainer really and it comes with almost any Android device. If you bought an Android phone and it wasn't already there you might consider returning it for something else.
   Recently I read a good review for an app called Vlingo. Basically it is a voice search feature similar to Siri. Now Android comes stock with a voice search capability and has long before Siri ever showed up on an Apple device. Vlingo tries to expand on what is already there. One excellent feature is the safe driving mode. When turned on it will read your incoming text messages to you. It's not bad when going on long trips. Vlingo does a few things that Google's voice search doesn't. For instance it will open apps. I think this is the main shortcoming of the previous versions of Google's version. However, in coming months a new version of Voice Search is being packaged with the newest version of Android that will probably make Vlingo irrelevant. I'm not certain this feature will be ported to older versions of Android. So my recommendation is to go ahead and give Vlingo a try.
   Another free app I recently downloaded that I can't get enough of is called Silent Time. This app is something that runs in the background once you set it up to provide you with, wait for it, silent time. I got used to CyanogenMod recently. CM has a similar feature built right in where you can set certain times of the day or night to not take phone calls. Silent time is a bit more powerful. It gives you options similar to alarm clocks. You can set up a lot of timers if you have a lot of needs. In my case I set up 3. I have 2 timers set up to make my phone shut up all night long during the weekdays and longer on weekends. I have a few friends in Africa that occasionally forget to parse the time difference when they call me. It's not fun having your phone ring in the middle of the night on a work day. Also since I use my phone as my alarm clock I find that I almost never turn it off at night. The last setting I have for church. Since I take my phone to church and always set it to vibrate I thought it would be convenient if the phone did the button pushing for me. The neat thing here is that it lets you distinguish between full silent and vibrate modes.
   Some of my friends like to tell me they could never read a book on a phone. I currently have 4 apps designed mainly for reading. I have Nook, Kindle, Play Books and LDS Scriptures. At first I was skeptical of reading on such a small screen. I have been pleasantly surprised at how comfortable reading on a phone can be. I am currently reading The Reality Dysfunction on my Nook reader. There are a lot of eBook readers available now. Almost all of them have apps that can be used on a phone or a tablet. Why settle for 1 reader when I can have 4. I should add that they are not all equal. I personally prefer the Nook reader experience. The pages turn and it is easy to read type. I know other people prefer the Kindle app for other reasons. I have used them all and usually just read on whichever one sales me the book for the best price. If the prices are the same I default to the Nook. The apps are free though the books are not.
   One last one I want to recommend trying is HeyTell. This is an app that reproduces the push to talk functionality of older phones like Nextel used to have. I remember my uncle had everyone on his construction crew carry those things around back in the day. Heytell doesn't use phone minutes. It sends short voice messages over the internet between users. It doesn't use your contacts like a phone either. You set up friend lists. Right now only a few people I know use it so I only message a few people. But for those few people it has replaced texting. It's simple and easy and the voice quality is excellent. The audio does come out of the speaker portion of your phone so if you have a bad speaker phone it will sound as good as your speaker can handle.
   I have a lot more. I will follow this up later with some games and some things I actually spent money on.

May 7, 2012


   A couple of months ago my dad was in town for a quick visit. As it so happened this coincided with my supply of ibuprofen running out. So we made a quick trip to the pharmacy.
   For years I've been buying my pain killers from Costco. They have at least 3 versions of ibuprofen that I am aware of. Kirkland Signature branded, Advil and Motrin IB. For a long time we were buying the house brand because it is less expensive and you get loads of it. In fact the last time we bought this hulk of a bottle we had to throw away a significant portion of it because it expired.
   After that incident my wife and I decided that we should try the Advil branded version. Mostly because it was large while not being overly large. We were fairly confident at the very least that we wouldn't be paying for so much that it would end up in the trash.
   The first thing that we noticed with the Advil brand is that it effected our headaches faster. It also lasted longer. It cost more for sure but we were able to finish our first bottle before it expired. So we had a positive experience all around despite the added cost.
   It ran out about the time my dad was in town. In a rush we needed some more and so we went to the pharmacy. I reached out for the Advil and my dad stopped me. He pointed out that the pharmacy brand was less expensive and you got a heckuvalot more. At this point I was not yet totally convinced of the efficacy of Advil. I figured it could have been in my head. So I conceded. I bought this outrageously large bottle of generic ibuprofen.
   Over the following weeks my wife was taking a lot of pain killers. Basically she hurt her tailbone pretty bad giving birth to our son. She was very sore for a long time. She first brought to my attention that she was taking more drugs. She said that she was concerned that she was getting used to ibuprofen because she found that she was taking more of it much more often. Essentially she was taking 4 pills every 2-3 hours instead of her previous 2 pills every 4-6. She was getting really concerned.
   I occasionally get headaches. Mostly they are related to occasionally drinking caffeine. So I took some one night. It was right around bed time. I was starting to feel a pretty massive headache coming on. I took 4 pills and waited it out. Nothing happened. When I say nothing I mean that 2 hours later the headache was hitting me full power and I had to take 4 more pills when I went to bed. I woke up with a headache. It was around that time my wife told me to throw that stuff away and go get some Advil.
   Ever since I've been thinking about why those and other generic drugs don't seem to work as well as name brand products. I think it has to do with reputation. Think of it like the Tylenol company. They are a company named after a single product. If the quality of that product became bad they would lose a lot of reputation and a lot of money along side it. Because of this I am willing to bet these manufacturers go to great lengths to ensure their product is of the highest quality standards.
   Conversely generic manufacturers have no reputation to uphold. The label that will ultimately end up on the outside of the bottle doesn't have their name on it. It has the name of the store they are making the product for. So there really isn't any reason to go to any great length to ensure quality of product. Cutting corners increases revenue.
   I don't want to throw a blanket over all drugs and say the generics are never as good. I would say that for the most part they are not as good though. I don't use a lot of drugs but those that I do I prefer the name brand.
   This past weekend I had a cold. I found in our drug cabinet 2 Sudofed generics. They were both said to be 12 hour pills. Neither of them lasted more than 6 and their level of effectiveness was definitely in question. Late in the evening I asked the wife to get me some real Sudofed. She bought a pack of the 24 hours stuff. I took it 13 hours ago and am still feeling fine.
   The lesson here is somewhat anecdotal I'll admit. However I'll be sticking to the name brand stuff for drugs.

March 22, 2012

HDR Photography: High Dynamic Ruin

   So, as you may know from my new blog, I am beginning photography as a hobby. As a beginner I do a lot of reading about my hobby and a lot of viewing other photographer's work. One major theme has become quite apparent to me lately, everyone thinks HDR photography is amazing. I'm going to explain why it is somewhat fascinating and yet terribly ruinous at the same time.
   HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. The basic technique is that of taking 3 or more pictures in a row, from a tripod so as not to change any particulars, using different exposure settings. The idea is that you can then later smash them all together in Photoshop to create a picture where every single element is exposed perfectly. Here is an example. Open this picture in a new window and we'll discuss it a bit as we go along.
   Before I discuss the particulars of this I just want to explain a few limitations of this technology. First nothing can be moving. This means that if you see a person in the photo then it is probably not using HDR. This goes for animals as well. Second the photographer cannot move either. If anything moves the final product will contain ghosts.
   Now let's get back to that photograph. Take a good long look at it. Do you see now how nearly every object and space is filled with light? There are wisps of shadow here and there but for the most part these are wiped clean and clear for everyone to see. Even where the shadow lies the object underneath is still easily visible.
   You have looked and seen everything this picture has to offer. If you need more examples just search the internet for HDR photos. They are everywhere these days. Sadly a lot of people who call themselves professional photographers are now using this technique everywhere. I think it is suppose to testify to their customers that they own the expensive equipment deemed necessary to take these kind of shots. You will probably see on your next camera purchase that there is a built in HDR function. It will soon be a major selling point for any camera.
   Let me tell you why I hate it. Mainly it creates a false portrait. It creates something unreal. What you see in this photo is hyper realistic. It's cartoonish. The colors are false and the textures are false. It's an absurd representation of the actual cathedral.
   This is about where people I talk to start to disagree with me. Let me explain in a different way. When is the last time you looked at a Rembrandt? I included a link so you will look at it before reading further. This is a masterfully painted scene. It's dynamic. It's moving. It's still yet in motion. Why is this painting so amazing? Really think about it and I'll get back to why I think it is in a moment.
   I just want to interject for a second and say that photography isn't painting but does rely on the same principles. The main principle of both is lighting.
   Now when a child paints a scene or colors one in crayon without knowing the first principle of art they do something interesting. A child will almost always paint or draw a picture with no shadows. Everything is seen. Every object is in full clarity. Even kids I grew up with that were very good at drawing things that were easily identifiable drew things that didn't have shadow.
   So why is this an issue? It's because of how our minds perceive the world around us. Did you know that humans only see in 2 dimensions? I bet you thought it would be 3. Nope. We only see in 2. Our brains have these little tricks that are employed to interpret things in 3 dimensions. Some of those tricks include interpretation of perspective, focus and contrast. I know this is more links than normal for my articles.
   Up until now I have been trying to lean this conversation towards contrast. Go back to the Rembrandt painting for a moment. Do you notice where the light is coming from? Do you see how the shadow over the right half of the boat increases the idea of peril?
   Let's look at one more painting. This time one from J.M.W. Turner. In this painting you can see the light source very clearly. What I find incredible about this painting is that the light draws your gaze onto a single ship. That source of light frames the subject. It tells our eye what to look at. Keep looking at this for a moment.
   I want to point out another interesting thing. There are ships in this painting in the background that are out of focus. You know they are ships because they are reasonably in focus to show their sails but there is no detail. This tells your mind, without you even knowing, that this is 3 dimensional. Check back on the cathedral. Everything is in focus. If you look at it again it will start to feel flat. It's missing at least 2 of the main elements that the brain uses to interpret dimensions. It still retains perspective thankfully. Without perspective this photograph would probably cause headaches.
   Okay, so I hope by now you can understand why I hate HDR photography. My challenge to my couple of readers is to look at photos you really like and paintings you really like and see if they aren't full of contrast and focal planes. We may have to live with high tech children's photos but we don't have to like them.
   Once again, if you want to look at my photos check out the link to my other blog on the right hand side. See if I have any idea how to follow my own criticism.

February 8, 2012


   So this might be a strange entry. I want to talk about teleporters and their impact on the world.
   Let me start by eliminating some of your preconceptions. First I am not talking about magical teleportation as in Nightcrawler from X-Men. I'm also not talking about beaming as seen in Star Trek or Stargate SG-1. Though what I want to talk about relates to the latter.
   So the other day as I was driving home from work I was thinking about how great it would be if I could teleport home and skip all the time wasted. Then I started to mind drift into Star Trek and thought about how someone's body is essentially torn apart and put back together. A similar thing takes place in Stargate at one point but it is achieved through the use of a small platform that can transport a person or persons to any other platform on the planet. For a short time my mind drifted into slidewalks and such before returning to an idea.
   My thought went kind of like this: Star Trek had it wrong in that you can't just rip a person apart and send them through the air or subspace and put them back together. It would hurt. Actually it would kill you and the person that arrived on the other side wouldn't be you. It would be a copy of you.
   So I started to think about how teleportation could really be done. I came to one conclusion, it can only be done using a quantum tunnel. The truth is I don't know if such a thing exists or could exist. However, I can describe to you exactly what it would do and what it would feel like using it. I can also tell you some of what it would do to you and your life.
   Let me describe this thing for you. It would be a platform of sorts. Think of it as something like a dock. It would probably be a round pad with concentric circles. The largest circle would be something like 6 feet across. Each circle would be somewhat smaller until the inner circle, which would be about the size of 1 person standing. The entire thing would have a door to enclose it, probably see through material like poly-carbonate.
   The way it works is you stand on the platform and dial in another machine kind of like a telephone. The door closes as it dials. When a connection is made to the platform on the other end it would detect which circles were in use and adjust accordingly. When the other machine was ready and the connection was set you would suddenly be there.
   That sounds pretty magical to me. But the way my brain thinks is a bit more detailed. The first thing I thought after this idea hit me was, "What would it feel like?" I was curious if someone using it would actually heave their lunch. I decided that the way it would feel is actually not unlike blinking and moving your head while your eyes are briefly closed. Occasionally it can make one dizzy but the brain mostly takes care of it. The reason it wouldn't be sickening is simply because the quantum tunnel is so short as to be indetectably small. You see, the quantum tunnel, if it exists or can be made, isn't really a tunnel. It works by placing you somewhere else. There is no travelling. You jump outside of space and time and suddenly are there.
   It's really hard to explain without explaining quantum entanglement. And to be completely honest I'm not really a physicist and I am probably not qualified to explain it. I just think this is possible.
   Okay, let's all just overlook the seemingly impossible parts and think about impact.
   What would this technology do to you? I think I know part of what it would do to you and do to us as a species.
   On a personal level you would probably spend a lot less time in a car. This means more family time. It means more personal time, if you want it. Which ultimately probably means more TV. It would mean a lot less radio time.
   On a larger scale it wouldn't really be like Star Trek. At least not like the movies we see. It would mean the end to some very large car manufacturers. People all over would buy less vehicles. How many vehicles do you own? I own 2. If I suddenly bought one of these I would probably sell one of my cars to help buy it. As more and more homes bought these and more and more businesses and stores did I would likely consider sell both of my cars. I kind of think the perfect place for this is in the garage.
   You know how the Internet has made the world smaller? I personally keep in touch with friends all over the country. One friend of mine and I often jokingly talk about sharing a meal at any given time even though I live in LA and he lives in San Francisco. This thing would make that joke a reality. I could live anywhere and see my friends every day if I wanted.
   That got me thinking about work. Living in the Los Angeles area I make better money than I would living in Iowa or Utah or Idaho or Nevada. But most of the extra money I earn is wasted on the much higher cost of living (not to mention the highest in the country car insurance and nearly highest gas prices). With this device I could live in Iowa and my commute would still be non existent. So what I realized after that is people would begin to pour out of the large cities. Not everyone of course but a lot of people would realize they can live anywhere within a timezone maybe two of their employer and be just fine.
   The next thing I realized is that international borders would be seriously threatened. The scariest part was the idea that a bomb could easily be transported from anywhere to anywhere. That made me a little crazy. I spent the next 10 or 20 minutes thinking about security measures this device would have to have. I'll skip that part here.
   This post is kind of an insight to how I think. I realize this product isn't real. I believe it could be but not being a physicist I couldn't really postulate a real description of why I think it could be real. But hey, wouldn't it be really cool?!

January 17, 2012


   So, I am sitting somewhere between hours and days away from having a child of my own. It's a strange feeling. We have been putting kids off for so long. Now that it's finally here I have had my head filled with interesting thoughts. No doubt many of my thoughts are reflections of what yours have been or will be. Either way I want to share some of mine.
   I've specifically been thinking a lot about who this kid is going to be. Working in science has taught me a lot about genetics and how this is supposed to work biologically. Basically this kid is going to have some of my biology and some of my wife's. Then there is the random genetic mutations that exist outside of anything that we have. This all combines to make a person. But who is he? We are all more than our DNA.
   I have my own hopes and expectations for my son. I often catch myself hoping that he will be a lot like me. I have to really watch that because I really don't want to project myself onto him. He won't have my experiences to mold him. He will have to live through his very own.
   Choices are really the interesting part to me. I made a lot of choices that I think were really good. I chose not to smoke. I chose not to do drugs. I hope that my child will make similar choices but I know that those choices and others like them are rather individual. They are not often based upon the choices a parent makes once a child reaches a certain age.
   What I am getting at is that I don't know this child. He is part of me and even though he hasn't been born yet I love him a lot. My love for him is so crazy and unexpected. It's just strange to think that this individual is my responsibility for the next 18 years and I really don't even know him.
   I also often think about the changing world my kid is being born into. When my great grandparents were born their life expectancy was about 45 years. When my grandparents were born that leaped to 78. It's strangely possibly that my children can expect a life longer than 150. Being born at the dawn of the age of medical technology our children will see a world that might seem completely crazy to us today. Medical science is within decades of curing some of the most difficult diseases we know of.
   As an explanation I have recently read articles on cures for cancer using modified HIV, cures for age, drugs that improve memory in Alzheimer's suffering mice and even read some interesting progress in Parkinson's and Diabetes. The world's largest health problem, Malaria, is currently being worked on by what is probably the largest private research fund in the history of the world (the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation).
   Knowledge and education is also quite different than what it was when I was born. With instant access to information about any topic at their fingertips our children have the ability to be better informed than any of us were. The possibilities in education are vast and changing as different people experiment with how the Internet can improve things from homework to classroom lectures.
   With all of these differences in the world the choices and developments in children will be different. I can't help but wonder how this will effect this small ball of humanity that is kicking around in my wife's belly. I don't really know who he is or who he can become any better than he does.