Monthly Archives: March 2016

Tan

Here’s a little something I discovered about my day job.

After after three days in New York City–one of which was rainy–I realized as I was shaving that I was more tanned than when I arrived, and I use sunscreen on my face routinely because of too many cases of melanoma in the family.

When I think of islands for tanning I think:
Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take ya
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go, Jamaica.

I can’t see the Beach Boys changing the song. They’d have to change everything to get “the Island Manhattan” to rhyme.

The Play’s the Thing

We went to The Perfect Crime, which has the Guinness record for the longest running play, with Catherine Russell as the leading lady since the play began in 1987 (she is reported to have missed four performances throughout that entire time).

The plot has so many twists and turns that they give you an answer key after the play so you can clearly understand who killed whom, how, when, etc.

Wouldn’t it be helpful if someone gave each of us an answer key from time to time? Here’s why you changed jobs; this is what your spouse is thinking; or even what your teenagers really mean.

On second thought, maybe it’s best to keep those things as unknowns.crime

Trying Something Different

 

linuxWe’re on a little trip, with a few changes from the norm. First, we’re using the train for transportation, which we’ve done several times, and after that, either walking or the Metro. Since it’s already a variation on my usual theme, I am not using my regular notebook computer, but instead a vintage 2008 hand-me-up netbook computer. Netbooks are generally about half the size (or less) of a standard laptop/notebook computer and have smaller memory and disk capability. While the modest hardware is designed to support a user who relies on the Internet instead of the computer itself, by using Linux as the operating system (OS) you can pack a lot of capability into a very small package.

Linux, in case you don’t know is an open-source operating system—meaning that developers can modify it to meet their needs, within certain parameters. More significantly, that also means that it is free. LINUX is a rewrite of UNIX, a very powerful—but very expensive commercial operating system. UNIX was written by computer nerds for computer nerds; LINUX, perhaps more so, since its development is shared among many developers. Many of the systems that you may connect with via the Internet probably operate using Linux, yet your Windows based computer is able to interact seamlessly.

This version of LINUX—Ubuntu—has a graphical user interface similar to Windows with similar functions; LibreOffice offers includes a word processor, spreadsheet, etc., all of which are also free. To utilize its most powerful features, however, you use the command line method—kind of like the old Microsoft DOS.

The reason I took this computer is to encourage me to learn more about the more powerful features of Linux by working with the command line. Linux seems to be popping up more often, especially among geek toys and systems. The Raspberry Pi microcomputer runs on Linux (although Microsoft made a Windows 10 version for it once it became so popular). However, Linux tends to be more robust, use less memory, and run faster in most cases.

In any case, so far, so good. Sunday’s blog was written on this machine, and so is today’s. We’ve been too busy having fun for me to devote myself to learning command line LINUX, but I’ve learned some. Having fun and learning all in the same day? Outstanding!

Easter

It’s Easter morning, the holiest day among Christians, commemorating Jesus resurrection from the dead. It’s unbelievable, but it’s a matter of faith, although it is, in fact, a fact.

Some people believe that Christians merely co-opted pagan spring fertility rituals; if so, it was coincidental, serendipity, or Divine intervention. Jesus’ death took place around the Jewish feast of Passover, which like Ramadan, is predictable from year to year, although Passover always takes place in the spring.

Jesus was different. People wanted, and He had the power to be a great political and military leader, but he chose a very different path. Often, rather than solving a problem by Himself, he insisted (and still insists) that His followers take the lead. When the crowd followed and his disciples urged Him to send them away so they could get something to eat, he told them to feed them. Since all they had was a small amount of bread and a few fish, He helped by making that small amount be more than enough, but only after they started the process.

Father Bryan told a story last year that I love, even if it is allegorical fiction.

When Jesus returned to heaven, all of the angels welcomed him back with great enthusiasm, asking Him many questions about his experiences on earth. Finally one angel stepped up to ask THE question, “After all your work, what’s your plan for keeping it going?”

“I’ve left a small group of men and women who love me to continue my work,” Jesus replied. The angel was so shocked that he blurted out his reaction.

“That’s not much of plan. What’s your backup plan?”

“No backup plan,” Jesus replied. “Just a small group of people who love me.”

 

 

 

 

Dear Mexico

El Señor Enrique Pena Nieto
Presidente, Los Estados Unidos de Mexico

Sir:

I’ve been reading the news accounts of the presidential campaign in the other United States, just north of your country. It is being claimed that you will be paying for a wall along the border. I have several suggestions:

  1. Although statements are being made that American workers will actually build the wall, I would recommend that you use Mexican labor. Although there will be lower labor costs, of even greater importance is the work ethic among Mexican artisans.
  2. May I suggest that it may be cost effective to consider simultaneous building of the wall and widening and improving the tunnels that already cross the border. You would certainly not want to be building the wall over a portion of land that is not stable enough to support it. In such a case you would need to repair both the tunnel and the wall. It’s better to build the tunnels into the plan from the very start.
  3. Since the Mexican side of the wall will be facing south, I would not blame you for ensuring that the southern exposure is more attractive. However, it would be an ideal location for solar cells to convert the sunlight into electricity so you may wish to eschew aesthetics in favor of an angle best for mounting solar cells for maximum efficiency. Given the size of the wall, you may be able to provide a significant amount of power for your country without the need for fossil fuels.

I hope these suggestions have been valuable. If, when you’re done with the wall, you have some materials left over, I could use a little help on repairing the fence around my yard. As a “commission” for theses suggestions, perhaps a couple of your folks could stop by and give me a hand. Please let me know in advance so I can chill the beer and fire up the grill–you can’t fix a fence without making it into a party.

Thank you, and all the best.

A Slightly Redacted Amicus Brief Concerning Computer Privacy

[Redacted]

Federal Judge [Redacted]

[Redacted] District Court

 

As you and your colleagues are pondering whether or not to require certain companies, such as Apple to unlock telephones or accounts, I’d ask you to consider the following key issues:

  1. The future of the internet is dependent upon free and open discussion, which at times must be encrypted so that only those involved in the conversation have access.
  2. You wouldn’t want your browsing history through Google, Bing, etc. to be published. Such queries as “Kinky judges,” “How to finesse an appointment to a higher court,” or “Sex and the single prosecutor” might prove embarrassing.
  3. Likewise, your Amazon account shows some very interesting purchases, which while legal, would be most embarrassing if made public (e.g. ladies’ underwear much too large for your wife; dead on sized for you).
  4. Google’s GPS tracking system can place you at various “gentlemen’s clubs,” complete with time and date. This also allows the credit card receipts to “Bob’s Diner” to be undeniably proven to be payment for lap dances at “Hot Ladies, Inc.”
  5. Finally, it is most interesting that you installed TOR (used to access the dark web) on your personal computer, along with Pretty Good Privacy encryption software.

It is not appropriate for the government to track detailed information about citizens. That is the sole realm of private businesses. You must make whatever legal decisions you believe to be appropriate, of course, but consider these issues to be similar to “friend of the court” briefs.

Finally, please do not waste time trying to have these computer files located by the cyber security experts. The files are safely residing on computers in North Korea, Iran, and Russia. Even Ed Snowden couldn’t get them.

Your Cyber Friends,

[Redacted]

Backwards News

CNN is running a story “CNN Exclusive: ‘Trump is a bully,’ says man who rushed stage.” The story continues with an extensive interview of the protestor.

Love or hate Trump, why are they giving the perpetrator of in inappropriate action the spotlight? Could there be a little bias? What if other events had been handled similarly?

Lincoln Destroyed the South!” claims John Wilkes Booth, ambushed and gunned down by federal troops. (Sorry, no interview—Booth is dead).

Pilots Suffer during Operation in Tropical Paradise!” In an exclusive interview, Captain Mitsuo Fuchida explains the suffering he and his pilots endured during Operation Z. “As we torpedoed or bombed the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, the noise of the explosions was terrifying! It made my ears ring, and I couldn’t hear a thing for hours. Even as the American ships were sinking, they persisted in shooting at us. It was terrible. Getting shot hurts!”

Secret Service Nearly Kills Heartsick Man.” John Hinckley, Jr. was violently grabbed, thrown to the grown and nearly killed by US Secret Service agents today merely because he shot President Ronald Reagan. Reagan was taken to surgery and is expected to make a full recovery, but Mr. Hinckley’s future is nowhere near as bright. In our exclusive interview, Mr. Hinckley pleads, “Jodie Foster! I need you!”

 

 

Come and Go

Come and go; heads and tails, yin and yang. It all describes the phases of life.

Ecclesiastes (the preacher) tried to explain it:

“Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! What profit have we from all the toil which we toil at under the sun? One generation departs and another generation comes, but the world forever stays.”

We enter the world, trying to comprehend who those people we spend time with are. “They feed me and comfort me when I cry, but who are they?” Eventually, we come to love them as parents—at least until we’re teenagers.

As life goes on, we gradually change from questioning to accepting. We go from “Who are these people?” to “These are my people. I feed them and comfort them,” even as the newest one, with a slightly misshapen head and a piece of umbilical cord still attached joins the family.

Our children grow, learn, experience, and eventually head out on their own. Eventually, we begin to lose our connection to this life. We’ve cared for our people. We’ve done our best. We’ve done our job.

In my parents’ case the transition was obvious. Mom fell and died suddenly; from that point on, Dad was ready to join her. My father was a strong man. He left high school early to enlist in the Navy. With his own hands and his high school education he designed and built a boat on the front porch (with exactly one-inch clearance one each side to remove it); he built a cottage—initially quite modest, but it eventually had several bedrooms, a very nice kitchen, indoor plumbing, and (in my humble opinion) was pretty darn cool. The last time I saw it, it had been expanded to a two story permanent home (Nice solid foundation, Dad!).

Dad also added several rooms and a covered concrete patio (and we’re talking 1950s and ’60s) to our home.

He was a police lieutenant.

He was a man’s man.

But he wept after my mom’s death because he and his soulmate were apart.

Nevertheless, he waited, because he knew that not all of his kids were ready to let him go.

As we let go of this world, there are signs. With my father, it was obvious. Because real milk had been unavailable to his family during the depression and the war, he found great pleasure in a cold glass of milk, He drank milk with every meal. As they grew older, my mother had to put her foot down to get him to switch from whole milk to a lower fat version, and eventually to skim—although he was kicking and screaming (silently) all the way.

When I was with my dad a month before he died, he told me that milk no longer tasted right. That told me exactly where we were. I knew he was getting ready to move on.

Soon he moved on. He moved on with me at his side. I suspect that Mom was waiting for him with a cold glass of milk that tasted perfect. It wouldn’t be heaven if it didn’t.

Thus it was, thus it is, and thus it shall be for all of us. But like the rising and setting of the sun, it’s as it should be.

Vanity of vanities . . .