Category Archives: Education

Spam I Am – A Tribute*

Imagine what Sam or the Cat in the Hat could do today!

Imagine what Sam or the Cat in the Hat could do today!

I do not like to get this spam;

I do not like it, Sam-I-am!

I don’t want money from a prince,

Nor my [BLANK] to grow an inch.

I do not want spam on my phone,

I want my email left alone.

I bought my computer to be for me,

But spam is all I seem to see.

I will not stand for all this spam,

I will take action Sam-I-am.

While others may say I’m a nut,

My Internet cable I have cut.


* With apologies and fondness to Theodor Suess Geisel – “Dr. Suess”

Does Watson Keep Getting Smarter?

Original illustration by Sidney Paget.  Dr. Watson (left) listens as Holmes explains what he has deduced from a pipe.

Original illustration by Sidney Paget. Dr. Watson (left) listens as Holmes explains what he has deduced from a pipe.

It seems like everybody is doing an update on Sherlock Holmes.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are doing an excellent British version. Then there’s Robert Downey, Jr. switching back and forth between Iron Man and Sherlock, and, of course Johnny Lee Miller on Elementary whose Watson is female and now working as a peer, so he’s added a second sidekick—also female. Then there are the thinly disguised versions, including House, MD (House instead of Holmes; Dr. Wilson instead of Dr. Watson; both House and Holmes were opiate users and only took cases that intrigued them.)

Modern versions all seem to be intent on reinventing Watson. Of course, if you base your impression on the old Basil Rathbone movies in which Nigel Bruce portrayed Watson as generally befuddled with intermittent periods of amazement, you’d agree that Watson needed some improvement. (No reflection on Bruce–I blame the writers and the director.) However, in the original stories, Watson was a physician who had been wounded in Afghanistan and returned home (my, how history repeats itself). He was an intelligent, educated man who was outshone by Holmes’ genius.

I admit that the stories needed to be updated. I read them about fifty years after they were written, and I had to look up (in a book, not on the Internet) what a hansom cab was, and was fascinated that the mail was delivered several times each day. Even the media—well in those days, the press—was interesting in the books. The paper published more than one edition each day, and in the event of “Breaking News!!!” an Extra edition was run.

Besides, Holmes opium use and habit of firing his pistol at the wall in his flat might have been outrageous in his day, but would have dire consequences today.

So, I agree with updating the stories, but I stand by John Watson, MD (although after he marries, his wife refers to him as “James.” Mysterious.) Wounded in the shoulder by a Jezail bullet followed by enteric fever (typhoid) he was packed onto a ship and sent home with a modest pension for nine months. (“Thank you for your service to King and Country. All right. Now off with you!”) I mentioned that he was intelligent and educated, but he also had courage, accompanying Holmes and even being asked to bring his service revolver at times.

He was also just a touch Avant-garde, given the tattoo on his wrist. No Abby Sciuto, but not generally a mark of gentry.

Watson may not have been the one to deduce the solution, but Arthur Conan Doyle created his character as the one who observed, understood and explained the events.

Ladies and gentlemen, I say ye, Dr. John H. Watson. Hear, Hear!

Things I Try Not to Think About

With the mess the world is in, there are probably some things you would prefer to never think about. My list keeps changing. Here are two I added today:

  1. The color brown. As the proud owner of a Y chromosome, I look at things in a manly way through a man’s eyes. As such, I know there are eight colors. How do I know this? In kindergarten, the box of Crayolas had eight colors. There was no peach, because peach is a fruit, not a color. I did have a problem reconciling the fact that there was violet, but no purple. I attribute that to purple being in the witness protection program.


    There was, however, brown. Brown is one of the eight (and only eight) chosen ones. It should be treated as sacrosanct.


    Today, I noticed that UPS has copyrighted brown. How can they do that? It’s a color! It’s an earth tone, so it certainly existed as a color before the first amino acids combined to form basic organic molecules.


    But then, brown might be entering the witness protection program, and this is a cover story.


  2. There is a new focus on gay rodeo riders.

    I once lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming and was very involved in Frontier Days, THE rodeo.

However, when somebody gets on two thousand pounds of angry bull.

When he’s hanging onto a rope with one hand as the bull jumps and twists.

When a winner is someone who can stay on the bull for eight (count them – eight) seconds.

I really don’t care one way or another about the rider’s sexual orientation (or for that matter, the bull’s)

Okay, I’m done not thinking about them.

A Reply

Hans, a Dutch ham radio operator has a great blog: Ham Radio Blog PD0AC. Today there was a post from a ham bemoaning the loss of the good old days, and how we have lowered the standards, etc., etc., etc. I tried to post this as a comment, but all the formatting caused Hans site to burp. So here you go.

To those of you who are not hams or English majors, I’ll try to do something more interesting tomorrow.


Now days any retard can memorize 40 questions and pass the technician exam. Then they buy a $40.00 handy talky and are all suddenly audio and RF experts.

Listening to the local repeaters is like going to kinder garden everyday. What a boring bunch of no nothings it has become. It’s so dummed down that my dog has a technician license. It’s a wasteland of people with zero expertise and no personality. Frankly I am glad I left it behind.

And I hold an Extra Class (20 wpm) ticket and First class commercial license.

Because you are promoting the importance of intelligence and education, I’ve edited your comments with regard to grammar, spelling, punctuation, and content. Errors are highlighted in yellow; corrections and comments are in red.

Now days any retard (Merriam Webster’s definition of this word when used as a noun includes the comment often offensive can memorize 40  forty
(the accepted convention is that all numbers less than one hundred one are expressed as words, not numerals. The technician test is thirty-five questions, which are drawn from a pool of 426; the statistical probability of memorizing forty and passing the exam is negligible.)  questions and pass the technician exam. (It would be more practical to memorize the correct answers rather than the questions.) Then they  (the plural pronoun they is inconsistent with the singular noun retard to which it refers)  buy a $40.00
(forty dollar)  handy talky  (conventionally spelled handie-talkie)
and are all  (
The plural pronoun all is inconsistent its noun antecedent, which in this case is, once again, retard.) suddenly audio and RF experts.

Listening to the local repeaters is like going to kinder garden  kindergarten  everyday  every day. What a boring bunch of no nothings
know-nothings  it has become. (Does it refer to people, conversations, a repeater, or the experience? It is not used to refer to people. These same comments apply to the following use of it’s as well.)  It’s so dummed
dumbed  down that my dog has a technician license (A federal offense in violation of Title 47 CFR §97.9(a) Operator license grant, which states that “The person named in the operator license grant…) It’s a wasteland of people with zero expertise and no personality  lacking personalities. Frankly I am glad I left it  (there is no noun antecedent to which it refers.)

And I hold an Amateur  Extra Class (20 wpm) ticket  license
and First class  Class  commercial license. (I’m not sure what you mean by a “First class commercial license.” In 1984, the Federal Communications Commission discontinued the First Class Radiotelephone Operator Licenses and replaced it with a special lifetime General Radiotelephone Operator License.
Are you referring to one of these or did the FCC issue you some type of special license?)

When I passed my check ride as a pilot, the examiner handed me my paperwork with the traditional statement, “Congratulations, you now have a license to learn.” So it is with amateur radio. New hams get their licenses and through experience and experimentation learn why things work the way they do; why they had to learn what they had to in order to pass the exam. As they add experience they figure out new things that you and I never knew were possible.

* Thank you; so are we.

Greetings and Salutations

(Close of a letter to the President of Pennsylvania)  Your Excellency's Most obedient and most humble servant - Thomas Jefferson

(Close of a letter to the President of Pennsylvania)
Your Excellency’s
Most obedient
and most humble servant -
Thomas Jefferson

Good day,

It’s interesting, and perhaps a little embarrassing, to compare communications styles over the ages.

Paul the Apostle begin his letter to the Church in Thessalonica with, “Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, to the Church in Thessalonica which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to you and peace. We always thank God for you all, mentioning you in our prayers continually.”

It was common in Colonial times to begin a letter with a variation of, “I hope this letter finds you and your family well,” and even George Washington closed his letters with “Your obedient servant, G. Washington.” It was such a common complementary close that it was often abbreviated as “Your obdt. svt.,”

When I was learning to write, we began each letter with, “Dear” even if we had never even met the person, and usually closed the letter with “Sincerely.”

Today, few write letters; as a matter of fact writing anything of length or consequence, being content to text, tweet or snap a selfie.

Wishing you a fine Sunday with family or friends, I remain yours truly,


CDC and Ebola

Spanish flu treatment center

Spanish flu treatment center

My congressman ran a poll asking his constituents if they were confident in the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) ability to combat Ebola. He’s probably sorry he asked, because this is how I responded. Obviously these are my own opinions (aren’t they always?), although I did try to check basic facts (number of dead in World War I, etc.)

I spent 30 years in the healthcare industry, starting off in a technical clinical discipline, and later, after completing my graduate degree I moved into management and was a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Administrators. My current position includes support for emergency management.

CDC is very good at doing certain things, but their best work has involved basic research, which doesn’t mean “simple” but getting to the root issues behind a scientific question. Basic research is often the most result oriented because instead of jumping to a search for the solution, it instead focuses on learning about the problem without preconceived notions. The classic example was when Dr. Fleming noticed that something was affecting the other bacteria in his experiment. By studying this “something” he discovered penicillin.

It appears that in recent that the attention of the leadership of the CDC has been drawn away from basic scientific research and become more focused on political issues, which well may have impacted their effectiveness. For example, there are reliable reports that CDC has spent significant effort to shut down doctors who believe in treating chronic Lyme disease. Some physicians believe that the organisms that causes Lyme disease, and an associated disease, babesiosis can become dormant in a patient, but when triggered by trauma, or other events, the symptoms become active again. Although not scientifically proven, patients have reported improvement when treated with a regimen of certain antibiotics and anti-parasitic drugs.

The CDC has not proven these conditions do not exist, which is understandable given that it is impossible to prove a negative. However, they have taken this issue on as a crusade and allegedly gone so far as to classify this as a Homeland Security issue in order to justify the use of legal authorities and law enforcement techniques.

Unfortunately, they have not been quite as enthusiastic at adhering to basic, proven infection control techniques they haven’t exerted the same amount of effort to adhere to basic protocols resulting in the exposure of CDC personnel to anthrax and the loss of at least one container of viable small pox. Incidentally, small pox was the first chemical weapon when the blankets of small pox victims were given to Native Americans, thereby intentionally introducing the disease to the indigenous population of North America.

I’ll give the CDC the benefit of the doubt. I think they can handle this IF the politically appointed and wanna-be-police types get out of the way. Should we cut off contact with western Africa and deprive them of essential expertise, medicine and equipment? I think not. While it may be politically unpopular, until effective treatments or vaccines are perfected, quarantine may be the most logical step. The health professionals actively working with Ebola patients at the handful of designated hospitals are the best trained and equipped. However, mistakes are made, equipment fails, and while the doctors, nurses, therapists and technologists may follow the protocols correctly, is it possible for a housekeeper or a maintenance person to become infected? I think so.

It may be wise to quarantine people who have been exposed to Ebola. The Ebola hospital staffs may just have to live and work within the confines of the facility for the duration. It’s an inconvenience but our military men and women have been living with such inconveniences for the past eleven years, all the while being shot at, rocketed, mortared and the target of suicide bombers and IEDs.

If the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy – the Navy’s 1200 bed hospital ships are not being deployed elsewhere, they could provide medical care as well as quarantine. Those exposed and being monitored would not have to live in military austerity, but instead could be housed in nicer accommodations to make the experience less painful; a hotel leased by the government, or perhaps a cruise ship. Nice accommodations, but safely out of circulation until everyone is sure that the individual is not infected

If everyone exposed to Ebola were quarantined for 28 days, it just might prove to be significantly cheaper to pay for lost wages and accommodations for these people than to let the disease spread. If the CDC puts the science and safety first, they’ll succeed. If the politics and power struggles take precedence, stand by. Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. The “Spanish” flu of 1918 is estimated to have killed between 50 million and 100 million; by comparison, the total death toll of the Great War (World War I)— all military and civilians—is estimated at 43 million.

Bottom line—let the scientists do their job.

Windows 10

Not the real logo  - or is it?

Not the real logo
- or is it?

After the fiasco of Windows 8, Microsoft has decided to forego Windows 9 and jump right to Windows 10. There may be several reasons for this:

  1. By skipping a number they can bypass all the customers who would suggest that Windows 9 was just the repair for the Windows 8 disaster and should be free.
  2. They’re emulating the observation that until the reboot, fans had noted that, “Even number Star Trek movies don’t suck.”

Good luck with that.

Here’s my well-worth-the-price free advice.

There’s a time for a tool that has a wide range of capabilities. I love my Gerber that fits in a small holster on my belt and can be configured as pliers, wire cutter, screwdriver, bottle opener, knife, etc. If you reference “Swiss Army knife” people immediately visualize the hand red handled tool and the concept of versatility. Both are wonderful products, but if I were being wheeled into surgery and saw either of those on the tray, I’d run out of the room, even if already under those high power pre-op drugs.

Neither a man nor a tool can be all things to all people.

So, last night I rooted my tablet that I use for software defined radio to allow it to speak Linux as well as Android.

Maybe Redmond should review the following educational video (85 seconds).