Welcome to Minnesota sports

I’m a fan, and season ticket holder of Minnesota United FC, our new MLS team. I love watching soccer, and having a local team has been a great amount of fun for myself and my family. We even got my brother-in-law and his fiance to join in the fun.

However, like most Minnesota sports teams we’re struggling. Minnesota has rarely been known as a powerhouse in the sporting world, despite a couple of World Series wins. We’re rarely the worst team in the league, but we always seem to be somewhere in the middle of the pack. We might hit the playoffs every now and then, but otherwise we’re always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

Minnesota United is unfortunately breaking this streak, but not in a good way. They’re quickly showing their lack of capability and firmly holding on to the bottom of the conference. This past Saturday was no exception, with a 0-3 loss to NY Red Bulls. Some questionable officiating really means it should have been a 1-2 loss, but soccer doesn’t have instant replay (yet).

Overall, we seemed tired and defeated through much of the match. Half of our starters were injured, meaning that we were playing with second string players, and we looked it. Our offense managed a few bright spots, and our defense had some nice stops, but overall we need to make some major changes.

I’m not sure what the rest of the season holds for us, but I’m worried it won’t be that good. Hopefully the off-season will give us a chance to get some more talent and gel better as a unit. We’ve got a brand new stadium under construction right now, and so we had better start getting our act in gear so that we can sell it out every game.

Revisiting Blade Runner

Recently, the new trailer for Blade Runner 2049 dropped. My oldest son and I decided to spend our Friday night reacquainting ourselves with the original. He had never seen it, and I hadn’t seen it since I was very young. In fact, the edition that I saw was probably very different from the Final Cut edition that we rented.

It had been so long since I had seen Blade Runner that I frankly couldn’t remember most of it. I actually started to think that I had perhaps only seen it piecemeal, as the entire movie seemed quite foreign to me. However, because Blade Runner is such a classic of the sci-fi genre, I knew what was happening throughout.

Revisiting Blade Runner with the Final Cut edition meant that I was getting the director’s vision through and through. What Ridley Scott wanted to show us was the movie that we saw. I also have to mention that the remastering of this edition was amazing. We rented the HD version and the special effects (dated as they were) looked crisp and beautiful. In fact this entire movie is beautiful eye candy.

Anyone who’s seen Blade Runner knows that the beauty of the movie is in the story, the themes that it presents, and the visual effects. The acting is overall very mediocre, with dialogue that is wooden and often cryptic. Frankly, the best acting scene is the dressing room when Deckard confronts Zhora. That entire scene feels like a moment when the actors were given permission to actually create a character and play them out on screen.

The point of Blade Runner though isn’t the acting, it’s the story of a world in which there are created lifeforms that we consider second class citizens. It’s a world where society has fallen into disarray and large corporations are in control of everyday life. Through the hunt for the replicants we learn about how all life wants to continue to exist, and that it will do whatever it can to survive. When Deckard is killing the replicants you feel sorry for them, because at the end of it all, they just want to survive.

There has been much written about the question of if Deckard is a replicant, and I’m hoping the new movie provides more clarity than what Ridley Scott has said. Obviously we will have to find out the reason that, if Deckard is a replicant, how has he managed to live so long. I’m hopeful that the new movie doesn’t just become a shoot-em-up flick, but delves more into the questions of life and servitude. Thankfully, we don’t need to wait too long to find out.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve experienced Blade Runner, now’s the time to re-watch it and get ready for the next installment. October will be here before you know it.

 

Lightroom on the web

The other day, my friend Wes and I were chatting about working with taking pictures while traveling, and I happened to log back into my Lightroom Mobile account. I was surprised to find that a LOT had changed since the last time I logged in.

First and foremost, you can now upload RAW photos directly to your online library, and then manipulate those photos with almost the complete LR toolset from the desktop. I tossed up some test shots and played with the settings. Then I logged into my desktop client and discovered that all the settings sync in both directions. This is a huge game changer for traveling, as it means I don’t need to have a machine capable of running the local client, and can instead just upload my photos via the web interface. Although I have both a MacBook and Chromebook, this means that I don’t HAVE to bring my Mac with me, but can instead use the inexpensive Chromebook when traveling if I want.

There are a few deficiencies that you do need to be aware of. First, the web client has very limited library management tools. You’re uploading to your mobile collections, and you can move photos between them, but that’s about it. All of the smart collection options only exist on the full desktop client.

Second, you cannot apply presets to imported photos. This is one feature I really hope they change someday. The ability to apply a standard set of corrections to every photo import is a big deal, as once you know your camera well enough it’s easy to quickly get great results with less effort.

Finally, you also cannot do any fancy exporting, photobooks, or anything like that. However, I don’t see that as a huge issue, as I only worry about exporting to other services when I’m doing big bulk uploads. I also haven’t ordered any prints or photos books in a long time.

Overall, I feel like the web client meets a ton of my needs while traveling, or generally away from my desktop. I applaud Adobe for putting such hard work into the web version, as it makes a great product even better.

I love foggy mornings

The other morning I got out for my run and the fog was amazing. It felt like you were running in a mysterious, unknown place. At one point I actually noticed that I couldn’t even see the hill that I knew was just ahead of me, and it caused me some confusion. My mind is so used to things looking a certain way, that when you can’t see something, it causes dissonance.

A few pics attached for enjoyment.

IMG_1259.jpgIMG_1258.jpg

Healthcare as a right

It seems like I keep coming back to the topic of healthcare recently, but when it’s all over the news, I can’t help but continue to make comments. Once again it appears that the Republican congress will not be able to pass anything to repeal the Affordable Care Act. As a liberal, I’m good with this, but it’s not because I want to just see Republican’s not get their way. It’s because I firmly believe we need to reframe this entire debate.

That reframing needs to start with an understanding that healthcare is NOT health insurance. Healthcare is about taking care of medical needs, where as health insurance is… insurance. When we think about the other types of insurance that we deal with it quickly becomes clear that health insurance doesn’t make a lot of sense when it comes to healthcare. If you have car insurance, or house insurance, you expect to use it only in emergencies. Using car insurance is something that we all try to avoid. That means that we pay for general maintenance and repairs of our cars out of pocket. We don’t have a car maintenance plan as a part of our car insurance, and nor do we have it for our houses. It’s expected that these types of insurance will only be used as a last resort, not a first one.

Health care is a different animal. We go to the doctor, not just when we’re in a major accident, but even when we’re trying to take care of ourselves and get check-ups. Because our health is so crucial to our well-being we’re more likely to use it even at the slightest sign of trouble. Unlike our car, which we may let run rough for quite a long time, we want our bodies to work well all the time. This is why the concept of insurance feels like a poor fit for how we care for our physical well-being. But, health insurance is what was decided to continue to be the backbone of the ACA, and that contributes to what I feel is the major crux of the issue.

Do we, as Americans, believe that healthcare is a right?

The question of is healthcare is a right is fundamental to the debate about how we pay for it. Every decision about healthcare flows from that question, “Is healthcare a right?” If, as a society, we feel that healthcare is NOT a right, then the idea of health insurance becomes much more palatable. We can deny people care due to their inability to afford it, because it’s something that we don’t feel everyone has a right to. Just like owning a car or a house is not a right, we could decide that healthcare is also not a right.

However, if we, as a citizenry of these United States, believe that everyone has the right to basic healthcare, the conversation changes. The idea of “insurance” doesn’t make sense for something that is a right as a citizen of this nation. If something is a right, it must be enshrined and guaranteed, so that everyone can have equal access to the same rights as others. Otherwise, it’s not truly a right, and it falls back to being a ‘nice-to-have’, if you can afford it.

I’m sure that you can see where I’m going with this, but (along with other medical cost cutting measures), the only way to truly guarantee healthcare to every citizen, is through some form of single payer system. We enshrine our rights as Americans as things that we can never have taken away from us. If healthcare is truly to become a ‘right’, we need to decide how to enable it for everyone.

This isn’t to say that it would be easy to create a single payer system in America. Every nation that has one has struggles and challenges that they need to overcome. Many of them are not perfect. However, I believe that the country that developed from some small scrappy colonies to the single superpower on the planet, can accomplish what other nations have struggled with. It will be hard, and it will be unique (as America is), but I absolutely think we can get there.

However, we’re never going to get there if we don’t first answer the question about the importance of healthcare to our society. If we truly value healthcare as a right, then we need to find a way to protect it, even for the least in our society. I believe that as a nation we can get there, but we first need to all be in agreement about what we’re fighting for. Maybe, just maybe, someday we can look back at the day when, as a nation, we came together and decided that everyone deserves a chance at a healthy life.