Techie Titans …

Source: In Memoriam: 9 Tech Titans Who Died in 2012 | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com.

Clean RoomHe was just one of several tech titans who died over the past year. None had the name recognition of a Steve Jobs — who passed in 2011 — but they may have moved our world in bigger ways. Among those that passed in 2013 are the IBMer who invented the bar code and the Zenith engineer who devised the first wireless TV remote — not to mention one of the physicist who helped built the atom bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Click on the images above to remember them all.

I know I have a few techie friends out there who read my blog so I thought I would pass along this article about nine innovators who died in 2012. Its worth the read if only for old time sake.  It is amazing that most of them were about 90 years old. Maybe being a techie is healthy 🙂

Giving Up the Mouse…..

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Dexter, our cat has been chasing a mouse around the house for the last few winter days. When he does he gets Beulah our sixty pound basset hound all excited and involved in the chase. It is funny to see Beulah with her tail wagging a mile a minute sitting next to Dexter staring at the bottom of the refrigerator where a mouse is currently hiding.  When I started this post that picture came to mind but that is really not the topic at hand. Instead it is about giving up my computer mouse.

I started out my computer life with a Radio Shack TRS-80 computer in the 1980s. It had no mouse or graphical user interface (GUI for all you techies). Everything had to be typed in on a keyboard and I spent hundreds of hours on doing just that.  I was hooked from the very beginning.

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You Either Write or Live

 

Cristian MihaiSome time ago I came across a blog from a Romanian blogger named Cristian Mihai that got my attention. On many of his posts he seems much too mature for his twenty-two years.  But then other times he seems to fit right in to that bracket.  He is an ambitious young man who has totally conquered English as his second language. He is also a self-published author.

Below is one of the posts that seems almost profound to me. He is talking about what it means to be a writer:

Source: You either write or live « Cristian Mihai. You have to take a step back, see things for what they are, and then write about them. You have to become an observer, you have to put your life on hold. You have to spend a lot of time inside your head, a lot of time all by yourself, in your living room, scribbling down one word after another.

Simply put, writing is a solitary job. And the inexorable truth is that solitude transforms you. When you sit down at your desk, you’re on your own. There’s only one question that matters: are you willing to pay the price? Are you willing to become a shadow? I’m just now realizing how much I want to live. You know, to see the world, to do stuff. How much I need to fall in love. I spent a lot of time just writing. Because, to be honest, there wasn’t anything else for me to do. It’s sad, I know, but it’s the truth. If writing were as simple as putting pen to paper, we’d have lots of brilliant writers. But it’s not as easy as it seems. It’s not just about perseverance and hard work, about dedication and ambition. It’s not about some x-factor, impossible to define. Some God-given gift.

All of us bloggers are writers to one degree or another. I can see myself in his words. Being a blogger is to put yourself forward for others to see.  I do try to take a step back to see things for what they are but since we are all the products of our experiences that sometimes proves difficult.  I admit that I spend a lot of time “inside my head”. When I do the first write of a post I often times later scramble back to my keypad several times to tweak a word or two that I have been thinking about.

I know blogging is not up to the rigor of writing a novel or biography but there still is a price to pay. I too love to write and spend quite a bit of time on my ever growing blog lists especially in the winter months when there is little else to do.  Cristian now resides on my blogroll to the right. It is interesting to see the different thought process between me a senior citizen in the U.S. and a young man from Romania.  I follow him daily. Sometimes it is only a cursory look and other times, like the post above, I spend time to almost absorb each word.

You Are Punished By Your Anger, Not For Your Anger…

 

You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger. Let a person overcome anger by love. Hate is never ended by hatred but by love. — Buddha —

BuddhaThese words could just as easily come from the mouth of Jesus as from Buddha. But in reality Buddha lived on this earth several hundred years before Jesus. It amazes me how similar the reported lives of Jesus and Buddha are. Here are some of those similarities as found at Wikipedia and other sources:

 Buddha is actually a title which means “the awakened one”, his name was actually Gautama Buddha. Traditional biographies of Gautama generally include numerous miracles, omens, and supernatural events. Buddha was never historically regarded by Buddhist traditions as being merely human Most of Buddhism accounts of this life, discourses, and monastic rule are believed to have been summarized after his death and memorized by his followers Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition, and first committed to writhing about 400 years later.

While there are great similarities there are also great differences: Unlike Christians, the ancient Indians were generally unconcerned with chronologies, being more focused on philosophy.f Unlike Jesus, Buddha was supposedly born to a royal Hindi family. Buddhist texts reflect what Gautama may have taught; they were not concerned with the dates of the events in his life. Unlike Jesus, Buddha lived for about 45 years after his great awakening Buddha never considered himself a god, nor do most of his followers. He was human but not merely human.

Even though Buddha is not considered a god he is as endeared by the Hindi religion as Jesus is to the Christian one.  I think that all of us should learn what we can from the various spiritual leaders.

Buddha’s words above inspire me. The anger itself is what punishes you and the way to overcome that anger is by love. This relates very closely to the words of Jesus.  I will have to learn more about Buddhism. It sounds like it could be a meaningful addition to most anyone’s life. I know there is a lot of pent up anger and hate in this world. We need to learn how to get rid of it.  A little more about that this afternoon…..

Following Their Principles…..

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RooseveltIt seems we hear a lot about how the Republicans say they can’t vote for this or for that because they must “follow their principles”.  The trouble with all this is that they don’t want any government so blowing up the system IS following their principles.

Their hero told them that “government is the problem”. But what is a country without government?  That condition is called “everyone for themselves”. Is that what we want for our country? I think not; at least for 99% of us.

Is there really anything except shutting down government that can pass through a GOP controlled house of representatives now days? Are they really so head strong on eliminating their own jobs? That would be a first for any government employee wouldn’t it?

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Christmas Birds

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Christmas Blizzard Birds

This is one of my favorite shots from the recent blizzard. When snow covers the ground the cardinals and a few bluejays are frequent visitors to our old apple tree in the back.  They await their turn at the winter bird feeder.

Home for the holidays: Fewer US troops are absent this year…

 

Source: Home for the holidays: Fewer US troops are absent this year – CSMonitor.com.

Military drawdownWhen President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama issued a special holiday greeting over the weekend to US troops fighting overseas, they were addressing the smallest deployment of combat troops in at least five years….

Then, as Mrs. Obama emphasized in the video greeting, there are the 2.4 million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and their families, who will continue to require services beyond holiday acknowledgments from the president.

 Even though I don’t have any friends or relatives in harm’s way now, this is the best Christmas present I could have wished for. Now if we can just go back to pre-Iraq military deployment levels that would be even more joyous. The most joyous would be to also get back to those military spending levels. We spend about twice as much on our war machine as we did then. This is one of the major causes for our current deficit problems.


We seem to needlessly put our kids in these types of tragic situations more and more as the years go by. They are our most precious resource; we should treat them much better. 

And as the First Lady mentions we need to do whatever it takes to get treatment for the ones  returning so that they are not traumatized for the rest of their lives because of their war-time experiences.  Although I did not personally serve in a combat situation I  knew several Vietnam vets of my generation who were permanently damaged by their time in Vietnam.  They sadly still live in those times of almost fifty years ago. It even defines who they are even now! It is tragic to see all the lives wasted. We need to do whatever we can to prevent that from happening with this generation.

Grover Predicts….. And So Do I….

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Source: Norquist: Tea party resurgence if no “fiscal cliff” deal – Political Eye – CBS News.

Grover Norquist is predicting that President Obama will be the political target of tea partiers if a deal on averting the “fiscal cliff” fails to materialize.

No this quote from the article is not a joke.  But it sure should be. As if the tea partiers will suddenly love the president if he averts the fiscal curb. We will see pigs fly before that group has more than four letter words for our president. Grover seems to want to predict the future and so do I.

  • Tea BagI predict that there will only be a few stale moldy tea bags lying around in the gutters when the next presidential election comes up.  The tea party continues to shot themselves in the foot with all their screw-ball candidates and  after the mid-term elections they will be toast. How’s that for a prediction? A pipe dream you say? But what is wrong with pipe dreams.
  • I predict that Grover will be selling used cars in Las Vegas come 2016. His last gasp will be trying to convince one of the new group of Republicans that he can add value to their campaigns. I predict there will be no takers among the crowed field of 2016 wanna-be’s but maybe I am giving them more intelligence than they deserve?
  • I predict that after the 2014 elections the house will have a Democratic majority and the Senate majority will be filibuster proof.  This will give President Obama a second change to move common sense legislation through congress.
  • I predict that Hillary will start campaigning for 2016 before the end of 2013. She needs something to keep her busy now that she is out of the spotlight.
  • I predict that someday we will come to our senses and accept, like the rest of the world, that a single-payer system as the only way out of our ever escalating healthcare costs. There will be some who will not go into medicine because they can no longer get the big big bucks for their time.  Let them become lawyers like the rest of that greedy bunch. 🙂
  • I predict that 2013 will be the beginning of our nation settling down and moving away from our rigid partisanships. Something dramatic is going to happen to finally bring us to the point.
  • I  predict that the NRA, or at least their current leadership, will finally be replaced as the representatives of gun owners in the country. They have stubbornly refused even the most lax regulation of this deadly industry and that is insane at best.

The Right Tool….

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I am a tool guy. I have had many of them throughout my life. My barn is stuffed with specialized tools I purchased when I had a cabinet making business. I am also a firm believer in the old phrase

The Right Tool for the Job

That is you don’t use pliers when the job really calls for a socket wrench.  In that regard when I looked out on our 150 foot driveway covered with over fourteen inches of wet snow I knew I didn’t have the right tools for this job. My Craftsman garden tractor is the top of the line and biggest garden tractor they make.  I mount a fifty-six inch mower deck to it in the Spring and it does a great job on my two and a half acres of grass.
Stuck in SnowIn the fall I put on the fifty-four inch heavy-duty snow plow blade and tire weights and chains. I even add a concrete filled building block to the back for additional weight.  All this makes it the right tool for snows up to six inches deep but it is not the right tool for this one!

So, I did what a man really doesn’t like to do and that is to call for help! I am now patiently waiting for the guy with the big four-wheel drive truck to come. I hate to admit defeat before I even start the job but sometimes that is the best and safest thing to do.

Sometimes a guy has to do what a guy has to do…..

PS.. We are officially plowed out now but even the guy with the “right” tool got stuck at the end of our driveway. At least for a little while.

Being A Contrarian….

Being that we are coming upon the end of another year I am in a self-reflections mode. I admit that much of what I post about is the result of reading a post or article about something and thinking that there is more to the story than is written. Sometimes it deserves an alternate view. Sometimes it needs expanding to attain its full meaning. And sometimes it’s just wrong, at least in my view. 🙂  I write to fill these gaps.  While I don’t like others putting me in boxes, particularly those that don’t really fit, I do sometimes try to label myself.  I am a contrarian at heart; always have been. Probably always will be.  It is nice to have a venue as an outlet and at least a few folks to read what I say.

contrarianLet’s look at the definitions of contrarian to see where I might fit:

contrarian

  • a person who takes an opposing view, especially one who rejects the majority opinion, as in economic matters.
  • a contrary or obstinate person( as modifier ): a contrarian investor ; contrarian instincts

I think they both fit me but maybe the second one goes more to the root. But that brings another definition to view:

obstinate  

  • persist stubbornly • he obstinates himself against all rational arguments
  • tenaciously unwilling or marked by tenacious unwillingness to yield —  syn: stubborn, unregenerate
  • resistant to guidance or discipline • an obstinate child with a violent temper  — syn: contrary, perverse, wayward

Yep, maybe the second one is more me. I am an obstinate person in that I am resistant to guidance and I sure am tenacious. Those two words pretty much describe me. But then again much of what I write is opposed to the majority view. I just seem to have a minority personality. When everyone is saying “yes” I look for a reason to say “why?”.

Maybe I am a specialized contrarian and should really be labeled a blue-collar contrarian. I hate labels but maybe that one fits me?  I tend to almost always think of the little guy.  When I attend social dinner functions, which is a very rare occurrence now, I tend to pay more attention to what the waiters are doing and don’t seem to pay attention to those eating the meal. As I have said before I am just a blue-collar guy in my heart. I just can’t get comfortable in a high brow environment.

Being a contrarian sometimes gets me in trouble. Lord knows I have enough flamers who visit my blog to attack my opinions.  But I expect that being a contrarian. I embrace change where most others seem to resist it. In fact I often get bored when change doesn’t happen frequently enough. So I guess I am kind of weird in that respect.

Maybe I am a just a specialist.   Maybe I am a weird blue-collar, change loving contrarian.

Yep, that label seems to fit…

But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know…. 

White Out in Indiana….

Banner - Aside 2We have a white out here at the homestead so I will be hunkering down with a picture puzzle and a keyboard today but not at the same time, I don’t believe in multitasking. 🙂   We knew it was coming but don’t really believe it until we see it.  We are kind of like our Missouri neighbors in that regard.

I stayed late after the Christmas meal at the soup kitchen and shelter yesterday to make food for the guys there through the next few days so they should be ok. My tractor plow is harnessed up and ready to roll once the snow subsides. It looks like we will get about a foot.  We had less than four inches all of last winter.  I hope this isn’t a harbinger of things to come.

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Borrowing….

I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow. —  Woodrow Wilson

BrainstormI know Ben Franklin said to be neither a lender or a borrower but simply speaking he was just plain wrong about that when you put it in context to the Woodrow Wilson quote above.  When you borrow wisdom from others it is definitely not a bad thing.  That’s called pragmatism and in my mind that is definitely a good thing.  But this is an area that we Americans have a LOT to learn. We just can’t seem to learn from other’s wisdom or experiences. Particularly those beyond our shores.

The rest of the world has pretty much figured out how to contain their healthcare costs but we in the United States stubbornly refuse to learn from them. Instead we blame our bloated healthcare costs on Medicare and those seniors who are gobbling up our health dollars.

Another area where we find it impossible to use the brains of others to solve are problems is in the area of gun violence. We have certainly seen way too much of that in the recent past.  We let the NRA nitpick their way through this process instead of learning how other countries have tackled and mostly solved their problems with guns.  Australia is a prime example. They to even a greater degree than us are a nation of hunters but when they had their taste of mass killings in 1996 they tackled gun safety head on.  They instituted some of the most strict gun regulations in the world and as a result have had no mass killing since then. When will we ever learn to use all the brains we have and also all that we can borrow. We would be a much stronger, safer, and secure country if we could just learn this simple lesson.

The Silver Bullet…

Another similar topic that is stuck in my craw lately it the idea that all our problems must be solved by one single solution, commonly known as a silver bullet.  When was the last time that actually occurred? Problems with multiple facets are solved with multiple solutions. Plain and simple.  Those yahoos in Washington need to get that message.  We can’t solve the current money problems by putting it all on the back of our old people via Medicare issues. We can’t solve everything by an additional tax on the rich (although I wish we could 🙂 ). We especially can’t solve all our problems on the backs of the poor.

I’m just a simple guy but I can even see this. When will those “washingtonians” get it through their thick heads that  our problems require a bunch of small things and there is just no silver bullet out there that will do it all and especially without some personal pain.

Happy Holidays….

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Being a Christian I was taught to be very much offended when I ran across the words “Happy Holidays” as that somehow diminished the real meaning of the season. But after I came across a blog post recently I have changed my opinion on those words. I wish I had kept the explanation as I’m sure the original author explained it much better then I can but since I can no longer find it I will have to do the best I can in justifying his idea.

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The Pro-Scrooge Christmas Story….

Source:  Conservatives urge GOP leaders to be bold, prepare to go over cliff – The Hill’s On The Money.

Scrooge“I think Obama is very mindful of his legacy and is horrified of going over the cliff,” said Andy Roth of the Club for Growth. “Going over the cliff might be a signal that needs to be sent to the president, that he needs to play ball.”

He argued that President Clinton was forced to become a less liberal president after Speaker Newt Gingrich shut down the government in 1995. “Clinton would not play ball with Newt until Newt shut the government down,” Roth said.

We all know the story “The Christmas Carol” about Scrooge who was a greedy money-mindful person who after being visited by the ghosts of Christmas past and Christmas to come turned around his life and started treating people, not his money, with love.

Well the story being given out by the “Scrooge-based foundations” of today want to give you the pro-Scrooge story about how he wins today. They say when Scrooge tried to shut down our government in Christmas past he caused Bob Marley to turn from his loving ways to be money-hungry like himself.  They are saying that in Christmas present when Scrooge causes Tiny Tim’s family to have to live on even less that will enhance the image of Scrooge as Bob Cratchit will get the blame.  They say this story will turn out great if only Scrooge sticks to his guns and makes sure his rich friends continue to be pampered.

canstockphoto8047905The real story the Christmas Carol was written by Charles Dickens in Britain around 1840. This was a time of great disparity between the rich and the poor. The book was credited for being partially responsible for social change in that country.

The Pro-Scrooge story above is from the Club For Growth which is a super-pac founded in 1999 to insure that the wealthy stay wealthy.  I am here to tell you “the Club..” is no Charles Dickens!!

I’m sure they can convince their donors, who this story is mainly directed to, that their fairy tale is in reality a true one but I don’t think we lovers of the original story will buy into their wishful thinking.  We just don’t want the Scrooges of today to be the winners in our version of the Christmas Carol.

Let’s all pray that Bob Marley can get his message through to the current day Scrooges this Christmas Eve so that all the Tiny Tim’s in the country will get the surgery (healthcare) they need. Let’s pray that Bob Cratchit gets the raise he needs from Scrooge in order to not have to work sixteen hours a day to earn enough to support his family.

Let’s pray that the Scrooges of this world don’t end up the winners in this current version of the Christmas Carol.

Merry Christmas everyone, especially to all you Scrooges out there. I hope you have some wonderful dreams in the coming days. 🙂

Turning back….

 

CS Lewis1“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” — C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis is my favorite non-theologian theologian. That is he like me was not trained in a seminary or such place. But his book Mere Christianity had a great impact on me and millions of other lay people. I think it is the number one theological book sold. He just seemed to understand things about Christianity that all those trained and practiced theologians couldn’t explain.

I have been remiss in putting his quotes on my lists for blogging here. But going forward I will not continue to make that mistake. As he says I don’t mind admitting that I was on the wrong road by not including him as one of my heroes. Admitting you are wrong about almost anything is a hard thing for any of us to do.  We always want to believe that we are right about everything we believe. But as C.S. says the sooner we turn back the more enlightened and progressive we are.

Not admitting to being on a wrong path seems to be one of the primary causes of the constant decline of current day Christianity. Each one of the over 39,000 versions of Christianity around today stubbornly insists that they are the only ones who have totally figured out. Most are just unwilling to admit that they just “might” be on the wrong road. It is probably too late for many Christian organizations to turn back but I have faith that the coming emergent movement age will force many organizations to realize that they need to turn and walk back to the roots of their religion.

Admitting a wrong path seem like an utter impossibility in our political realm nowadays. Each side is stubbornly entrenched into their own rhetoric to begin to “walk back to the right road”.  I just don’t know how we will ever resolve this condition. I guess someone has to blink. We all want progress but none of us are willing to turn back sooner than our advocates. And that is the sad reality in U.S. politics right now. It, like the constant Middle East crisis seems to have no solution with the current roads we are on…