Monthly Archives: April 2016

Data-ish Stuff

Data (datt’ a) used to be the plural of datum [ˈdādəm, ˈdadəm] NOUN

  1. a piece of information..
    • an assumption or premise from which inferences may be drawn. See sense datum.
  2. a fixed starting point of a scale or operation.

ORIGIN

mid 18th cent.: from Latin, literally ‘something given,’ neuter past participle of dare ‘give.’*

Somewhere along the line, data became both singular AND plural, although the singular often was used as an adjective, such as “a data point.” Recently I’ve begun to see data used as the singular and datas as the plural. That’s the problem with a living language—it keeps changing.

On the other hand, Data (day’ ta), the android on Star Trek, the Next Generation, will apparently always remain Data.

Or is that just too many datums for you?

* Powered by Oxford Dictionaries · © Oxford University Press

Poetry

Oddly, the first piece that I wrote that got published was a poem, back in about fourth grade; it was published in a teachers’ magazine.

Except as required for grades, I don’t think I’ve written a poem since. I just can’t write that way-unless you want to count the last thousand or so blogs as free verse.

Although I must admit the classic poet with the turtleneck and beret looks cool. Unfortunately, my neck is too fat, and I shudder to think of the reaction I’d get regarding the beret.

So, blogging it will be.

Love

“Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name?” The Doors

“Love is all you need.” The Beatles

“Love is patient, love is kind.” St. Paul

Love, an emotion for all occasions. “The pecan pie? Love it. Can I get the recipe?” “What about this painting?” “Oh, I just love it!” “Oh, I love what you’ve done with the place!”

Why is love such a common word? Because love is, in my humble opinion, the root around which people live and grow. In some ways; each of us then must discover love and grow based on it.

Teenagers grow to realize that all that crap they tolerated from their parents was not crap, but really their parents’ deepest love, trying to impart knowledge and wisdom gained through hard knocks to guide their children.

Couples marry seeking and believing in love. Some learn over time what married love is—others don’t.

How do I personally define love? At the last supper, as Jesus told how He was about to be betrayed by one of those closest to Him, He told the apostles, “Love one another, as I have loved you.”

No one among us today could make that statement and have people believe it to the core of their souls, the way he did. Whether I failed yesterday or not, today I’m going to try to live that command.

Amidst all the evil, strife, hatred, and chaos we face each day, isn’t that a goal worth seeking?

Earth Day

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First Earth Day-Courtesy National Geographic

Earth Day, a most noble cause. As first proposed in 1969, it would have been celebrated for the first time on 21 March 21 1970—the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. Instead, in the United States we started celebrating it with a teach-in* on 22 April 1970.

It was a different world, then:

Young men were being drafted, sent to war, and returned, only to be spat upon by their fellow Americans.

  • The previous July the first men had landed on the moon.
  • The previous August had marked Three Days of Peace and Music—Woodstock.
  • We had let out a collective sigh of relief when Apollo 13 safely returned less than a week earlier after suffering an oxygen tank explosion.
  • It would be two weeks before the Ohio National Guard would be ordered to fire on protestors at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine.

We were going to save the world, because we believed we were somehow different than every other generation that had come before.

Today? We no longer travel to the moon. We couldn’t build a Saturn booster if we needed to—we lost the plans. Instead, we buy rocket engines from the Russians. We did clean up the air, but along with an increase in CO2, the removal of smog contributed to global warming. Many of our lakes are cleaner—partly because of our efforts and partly because invasive species like zebra mussels happened to be filter feeders; they cleaned the water but forced out other species.

Did we fail? Yes. Did we succeed? Yes. We’ve done about as well as most generations and better than many. More importantly, did we try? Yes—and we’re still trying. That’s what really counts. Don’t stop.

 

* Back then everything was an “-in.” We had sit-ins, love-ins, and my favorite, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.

 

 

Characters with Character

 

I need a reality stretcher-a device that makes closets and parking spots larger as well as making time for everything we all try to pack into each day.

On the other hand, if it worked the opposite, and reduced reality, that might work as well.

I haven’t been blogging as often because I am trying to write a longer story and I can write this, or I can write that. All the eating, sleeping, and day-job time is already tweaked as much as possible.

Why am I writing this particular story? If I write a technical piece, it’s to share an idea, but stories are different. It’s kind of like the characters are in limbo until I can wrap a story around them. They make it quite clear that their very existence is dependent upon authors doing their part.  They threaten to just hang around in our brains until someone sits down and writes the story. Unwritten characters can be persistent—and obnoxious, if they feel it suits their purposes. So far I only see one of the characters for this story clearly—but that doesn’t mean that he will be the same in the final revision. There are others who are “visible,” but just barely. However, the first character is obviously the one who is responsible for the plot.

Perhaps I’ll interview him for a blog in the near future.

Steve Jobs’s* Revenge

Steve Jobs, the marketing genius (twenty-first century term for “huckster”) is gone. Steve Wozniak, who actually built the hardware that became the Apple I and the Apple II lives on in an apparently normalesque life—or at least as normal as someone with that net worth can. I’ve always wanted to meet Steve Wozniak. A coworker of mine who lives in California but works at various hospitals throughout North America, apparently knows him rather well. Since this friend is one I have trusted, I believe that Woz is an okay guy.

However—and this is no reflection on Woz—why is it so difficult to get iTunes to function reliably? Most of the times it just plain won’t work for me. When it does, it duplicates many of my songs, so I have to go through the duplicate function and delete them.

Imagine if in the sixties the vinyl records came with such errors? How about the seventies with cassette tapes that didn’t contain one—and only one—copy of each song that was on the label. Okay, I admit, in the sixties and seventies there were many people who were chemically disoriented and wouldn’t have noticed. However, the record companies never even tried to pass off such foolishness. Straight, sober, stoned, or drunk, everyone expected that the songs on the media would match those on the label. We listened to music on large, powerful stereo systems that filled the room with high fidelity, stereo sound, all of which was shared with everyone else in the room. Now, each person has their personal cocoon of music via their earbuds.

Unfortunately, the new system doesn’t work.  MP3 audio loses a majority of the sound that is in a recording in order to save space. Apple is pretty much the exclusive vendor of music systems; Zune? Rio? Everyone else? Ancient history.

So now we have a frustrating system that keeps us away from our music (or the 10% or so that remains after reducing it to MP3). What happened?

  1. Apple, being so powerful, messes with us just because it can.
  2. Apple employees are imposing penance on the masses because they have been made to feel personally responsible for Steve Jobs’s death.
  3. The top programmers at Apple have been let go in favor of cheaper foreign programmers who are too busy building in backdoors and malware to do a proper job.

The list could go on and on. All I know is that recently I have attempted—unsuccessfully—to get iTunes working on three different computers with no luck. I don’t mean that it has minor problems, I mean my iPods and the program do not speak; they will not even cuss one another out. They merely engage in the silent treatment.

Did Steve Jobs have his folks build in a subroutine so that, upon his demise, everyone with an Apple product would be punished? iPhones would become obsolete so often that no one could ever claim to have the latest model. That iPad you just bought? Sorry, that model is just so yesterday. iPods? Anyone tied to such an old product, has every right to suffer!

But that’s just a theory.

* If “Jobs” were plural, then the possessive would be “Jobs’,” but since it is a singular noun, the possessive is formed by adding an apostrophe s.

Non-Buyers’ Regret

Buyers’ regret is a well understood phenomenon in business. A customer purchases a product, then immediately begins checking to see if it were available cheaper, or if a better product exists. The final outcome? “I shouldn’t have bought it!”

Non-buyers’ regret is when you have the opportunity to buy something, decide not to, then regret it after. Today, I had the chance to buy something I really didn’t need, probably couldn’t afford, and maybe wouldn’t use very often. The price was higher than I was willing to go.

I regret every aspect of my decision! Why? My decision was logical, well thought out, based on a proper cost-benefit analysis, and appropriate. That’s obviously why I hate it so much.

And, you might ask, what does that make me?

Human.

Stalked!

I think I’m being stalked. I keep getting weird telephone calls; it happens all the time, but increases during the time when politicians are campaigning.

My telephone displays the name of the person calling, which is very handy. For example, when my kids’ school calls, I know it’s best not to answer because there may be information I need to keep. By letting the message be recorded, I can replay the message, write down names and numbers correctly, and rewind if it’s too fast or unclear.

The dude (or dudette) that’s stalking me goes by a single name. I don’t know if it’s the first name or the last name, but every call comes up as “Unavailable.”

I’ve tried answering once or twice, but there’s no one on the line when I pick up the