Apr 122015

I’ll probably not ever be a strong prospect for a smart watch. The reason is that I love watches.

Huh? That may seem counterintuitive at a glance. But dig: I don’t want to wear a smart watch the way one is intended to be worn. A smart watch’s maker generally wants you to suck it into your life and make it integral to your routine, which I find undesirable, because I like wearing different watches day to day. See?

My general routine is that I wear the same watch Monday through Thursday during the day. Then, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I mix it up (though lately I’ve been wearing the watch on Sunday that I intend to wear during the day the following week).

orientmakoMy evening watch, if I’m going out, is usually whatever I wore during the day, though sometimes I may change it depending on attire. (For example, if I wear a polo shirt with embroidery on the left breast, I like the color of my watch dial to match the color of the logo.)

If I’m staying home, I have a kick-around I’m usually pretty faithful to for several weeks at a time. Right now I’m wearing an Orient Mako diver in the evenings. I put it on when I get to my house as reliably as Mr. Rogers put on a cardigan when he got to his.

I do have several gadgety watches. I have a couple of Citizen pilot’s watches, and several nerdy Casios. But those aren’t watches that want to be your buddy every second of your life. They’re for specific purposes.

Smart watches want to be your buddy every second of your life. And right now, the 800-pound smart watch in the room is the Apple Watch.

I’ve touched on Apple’s hostile business model before. There was the pentalobe screw fiasco.

There’s what they do with accessories. There’s a bit of razor-and-blades model for a lot of technological ecosystems, but Apple is particularly offensive. After you get your (often subsidized) phone or other device, there are a few more ancillaries you want or need. Manufacturing costs tend to be low for these things. Maybe a cable costs $5 to make and transport to point-of-sale. Most companies put that out there at $19.95 or $24.95. Apple puts it out there at $49, and also tries its darnedest to make it impossible to knock off.

It’s a company that manages to look arrogant in an inherently arrogant space. Nice stuff, mostly, but there’s a very real rob-you-and-make-you-like-it aspect to its customer relations.

In my view, this aspect has reached new lows with the Apple Watch. Now never mind that the thing starts at $349. That’s galling enough, but to get one that will look good in the boardroom, they can get into you much more severely than that.

applesteelI happened upon a link to one of the steel bracelets available for the Apple Watch. It is $449.

Only the bracelet is $449. Watch not included.

I’ve purchased a lot of stainless steel watch bracelets in my life, of varying prices and quality levels. The nicest steel bracelets have solid links (as opposed to folded), excellent fit and finish, high-quality clasp, and so forth. They look, well, a lot like that Apple Watch bracelet.

Except they’re $75-100 on the top end, and $30-50 for mid-range stuff. That makes $449 a criminal price for that Apple bracelet.

Now, part of me says more power to Apple. I’m a big believer in capitalism, and something is worth what someone will pay. But I just wanted to get it here to be Googleable that that Apple bracelet may well be priced at ten times what it costs to manufacture and deliver for sale.

The golden opportunity here is for someone to develop and market high-quality adapters for the Apple Watch that would enable it to accept mass-market bracelets and straps. These adapters would attach to the Apple Watch’s non-standard lugs, and open up many more choices at much lower prices. You know, even that ought to get Apple excited on some level. After all, then they could arrogantly refuse to service any Apple Watch that came in with anything but an Apple strap or bracelet on it.

Apple continues to do a great job of making me stay away from their products.

 Posted by at 8:39 pm
Mar 302015

“The most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.” – Heather Has Two Mommies, by Lesléa Newman

“Why is this controversial?” – Nathan, after reading Heather Has Two Mommies

Heather Has Two Mommies was first published in 1989, after a lesbian couple who had just adopted a daughter lamented to its author Lesléa Newman that there was no children’s book to help explain their family to her. It was recently republished in a new edition, with full color artwork and a few streamlining tweaks.

When it was new, Heather Has Two Mommies became one of the most frequently challenged books in the United States. It’s getting some attention now, though it doesn’t seem it’s being so widely condemned this time.

I took a look.

The conversation-starter is a common sort of children’s book. It’s a catalyst for talking about a topic that is complex and/or potentially awkward with a young person. I remember my mother reading one with us that warned against going with strangers. It was complete with a drawing depicting the bad guy with a child tied up while he spanked another one.

Heather Has Two Mommies isn’t about anything nearly so grave, of course. However, its topic is something that might confuse a young one, particularly if his/her parents are the only same-sex couple s/he knows. The book includes an introduction to Heather’s mommies, as well as a look at the kinds of things they all like to do together. It concludes with Heather’s first day of school, at which all of the children draw their families.


The narrative is well-paced and as expected for a book intended for a kindergartener or first-grader to read with his/her parents. The new artwork is pleasant, a few clicks north of rudimentary and quite colorful.

I’m pleased to see a much more muted negative response to this book more than 25 years later, while remaining a bit disappointed at what still exists. To my readers who remain opposed, to some degree, to the idea of same-sex parents, I offer two practical questions of child welfare:

  • Don’t you prefer the odds of a child who is wanted and loved by a gay couple to one who is, say, kicking around the foster care system? Or maybe even one with a struggling single parent, depending on circumstances?
  • Gay couple parenthood is a thing, whether you think it should be a thing or not. It’s happening. That being the case, don’t you prefer the odds of a child whose parents are not continually deflecting hostility on some level or another?

As with gay marriage, we have with gay couple parenthood a situation in which the principals are agitating to commit. That’s good news, not bad news.

Heather Has Two Mommies seems an effective introduction for families who’d like help starting the conversation.


 Posted by at 10:04 pm

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