Thursday, December 31, 2020

Supreme Court pandemic perspective

Chief Justice Roberts began his 2020 Judiciary year-end report with some historical perspective.
Two hundred and thirty years ago, our first Chief Justice, John Jay, convened the Supreme Court of the United States for its inaugural sitting. With no cases yet filed, Jay and his colleagues turned promptly to circuit riding. That duty, assigned by Congress, required them to travel around the young country and preside over trials in the lower federal courts. Jay took the Eastern Circuit, covering his home state of New York, assisted by his colleague William Cushing. (Justices John Rutledge and James Iredell, who skipped the first session of the Supreme Court, were assigned to the Southern Circuit, which required 1,800 miles of travel—providing yet another lesson in what happens when you miss a meeting.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

177 days

Mark your calendars for June 25, 2021.

In 177 days, the government is required to disclose its declassified information about UFOs.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Apple Books' giant leap forward

iOS/iPadOS offers a very useful feature of being able to read content on the screen. It gets even more useful when its reading a book app and the “pages” turn themselves so it can keep reading without user assistance.

I've done this a lot with Amazon's Kindle app. I've also listened to some old books on Google's Play Books app (a somewhat appropriately named app for that use, if unintentional because it was only following the Play theme and not a native universal feature in that app). Apple Books could also use Apple's screen reading feature, but it also read all headers and footers on the page, too.

Old book app rankings: Amazon, Google, Apple

Apple is now well out in front as far as I'm concerned, and Google has fallen way behind.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Kindle-ready

What does God desire?

The question assumes a couple things first: (1) God exists. (2) God has desires.

Once those facts are established, people who know the Bible may think of Micah 6:8, a line from Scripture that closely resembles the question:

After asking, “Will the LORD be pleased” with sacrifice, the writer explains “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”

When that's not happening, what does God desire then?

Friday, December 25, 2020

The culmination of a great question

Where are you from?

It's a question I'm often asked when people who speak Spanish as a first language ask me when they find out I speak Spanish.

Senior, ¿De Donde eres?

In reading near the end of John, I realized that Pilate and the Pharisees had something in common. They were driven to ask Jesus questions related to where he was from, his origin.

What happened before Christmas and what led up to Christmas answer that question. A birth is usually thought of as a beginning, but in this case, it's the very end of a long question of origination. Once on the scene, the from question has reached its conclusion.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas at trial

Jesus spoke about his birth at his trial:
Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”

Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:37)

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Survival and Heroes

I listened to a couple books on survival today.

On the one hand, the extreme measures start to sound the same after a while.

On the other hand, a story of survival from an accident reads very different than a story of a failed mission.

After an accident, survival is about rising to the unexpected occasion and triumphing over the odds.

In the story of a failed mission, there had been lots of preparation, and yes there was an accidental loss of those preparations, but there the risk was known. The original mission was a competition for glory, of reaching the south pole first.

In neither case does the survivor think of himself as a hero, but someone lays down his life to put it at great risk to bring rescue to others, that's heroic, even if it felt like nothing more than the necessity of the moment.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

48 years ago today

If the pattern holds, a group of survivors gathered today to commemorate their rescue from the Andes mountains 48 years ago today after 72 days surviving after a plane crash.

I recently read a couple books about this. It has a way of putting difficulty in perspective.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Peanuts and chocolate

A long time ago, in a state far far away, I discovered the wonders that are peanuts and chocolate together.

One of my favorite little Hershey bars are Mr. Goodbar. Pure chocolate and peanut goodness.

Then I discovered the wonders that is buying unsalted peanuts and plain Hershey milk chocolate bars and eating them together. It's like Mr. Goodbar in all his nutty goodness multiplied several times over.

Today, I almost made this purchase again until I realized that pound-for-pound, Peanut M&Ms are a much better buy than the Hershey milk chocolate bars. They're also less work.

Friday, December 18, 2020

To delete or not to delete

If one is going to abandon the use of an internet service that includes the posting of public content, how should one leave it?

There are two schools of thought on this:

Jakob Nielsen thinks content should live forever. That is, don't delete accounts as that would delete all old content.

Then there's the delete your old accounts approach. This would delete all old public content, but that's a necessary price in this age when privacy is at a premium. Content can live forever on Archive.org instead.

What do you think?

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Three types of Christmas seasons

First, there's the reason for the season, culminating in the Gospel on Easter.

Second, there's the commercialism that stands opposite the nativity reason.

Third, there's the month of December that builds up to higher and higher expectations.

As Pastor Steve King used to say, the difference between reality and expectation (if negative) is called disappointment. It really makes for a lot of pressure that's not fun. There's no win over it all either.

In contrast, the new year is a season of anticipation. It's unknown what the new year holds, but it's a season for planning, new intentions, and clearing the decks for a fresh new adventure.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

900 Days

It's another milestone day!

I'm 90% of the way toward my goal of 1,000 days of writing.

I was thinking about this writing project this week, and I may have misinterpreted my writing collection idea that got me started on this in the first place.

I had collected a lot of thoughts and ideas for writing topics, but when I went back to them after I had exhausted my first round of primary writing ideas, a lot of them weren't really worth picking up on well after the fact.

Those thoughts saved were less useful as writing ideas, and more useful as conversation topic ideas. I don't need a place to write. I need someone to talk to—one who talks back, as Joel Hunter puts it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Almost a national festival

The last few days have been very long with my move. Today continued with laundry, clothes organizing and more clothes purging. Yes, after the move. Less space for some things helps motivate action.

While doing that I listened to the rest of A Short History of the Book of Common Prayer. At one point a concern was mentioned that “even Christmas Day … has come to be accounted almost a national festival,” meaning its celebration and recognition was no longer a matter limited to church liturgy.

As that paragraph included earlier, “all this is changing.” Indeed.

The reason for Christmas never changes.

Never reply to spam

The spammers are getting more clever to get past the spam filters and all their AI.

Lately, they've been using an algorithm that scrapes this blog, finds some reference to a Wikipedia article, makes a dumb assumption about what the article was about (not realizing I just link to Wikipedia a lot), and then send me a form email about an article they wrote that's supposedly better because it's more thorough and quotes from “more than 20 different sources” to “ensure that our article is authoritative.”

And then they don't include a link to the article they're talking about.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Middle-Aged Moving

If you're going to move after your a couple decades into working, I recommend hiring movers.

Two main reasons:

1. You have accumulated more stuff than you think.

2. Moving is more physically painful than previous times.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Boxes

Tomorrow is moving day. That means today is the last pre-move packing day. I have a few days of overlap, if needed.

Books are the easiest thing to pack for a move first. When traveling it's usually electronics. The difference in this case is books may be used least of all, and electronics the most.

Storing books may be one of the most natural uses of a box due to their similarity in shape, especially when books are stacked.

In terms of furniture, I plan to size down to only a bed, bookcases, and a couple desks. I've had large sitting furniture, but both are old and not in great shape.

I'm looking forward to the move.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Weep for yourselves

Jesus (to the people in the crowd):

Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me. 

Weep instead for yourselves and weep for your children. 

Days are coming when people will say, “Blessed are the infertile; blessed are the wombs that never bore a child; blessed are the breasts that never nursed an infant.”

People will beg the mountains, “Surround us!” They'll plead with the hills, “Cover us!”

For if they treat Me like this when I'm like green unseasoned wood, what will they do to a nation that's ready to burn like seasoned firewood?

Luke 23:28-31

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Beauty and Efficiency

I've recently had occasion to use a Mac for a period of time.

I've long been a Windows person. I know the system well, know a lot of its shortcuts, especially using the keyboard, and have built up an extended keyboard shortcut system of my own. It's become quite efficient.

Whenever I get a new Windows computer, or reset an old one, one of the first changes I make is to turn off animations. They're a waste of time. Windows appearing and disappearing is enough animation for me. I certainly don't need the operating system user interface intentionally slowing me down.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Trading hours

I've been one to stay up late, as needed in the past. In school it was procrastination. In more recent years it's probably just overcommitment.

However, now, I think it's better to go to bed early and get up early. You know, like an 80-year-old. If the sun (in DC) can get a full 8 hours of rest even during its short nights in the summer, it may be a good schedule year-round.

For me, it's simply a matter of thinking quality differences at different hours of the day. I'd take one early morning hour over three evening hours any day of the week. They're equally productive. They're not equally efficient.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Google's dull knife

Two thoughts:

1. Cutting with a dull knife can be more dangerous than cutting with a sharp knife.

2. The right tools can be a joy to use.

Right now, Blogger from Google is a very dull knife. It's no longer a joy to use.

Friday, December 4, 2020

The Great Relocation

Maybe coronavirus is the new Dust Bowl—on a bigger scale.

Americans are on the move.

Much already looks different, yet other threads remain consistent. There's encouraging precedent for this, especially as we approach the Christmas season.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Holiday special sales aren't really ending this year

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be passed now, but it doesn't seem to take much to get retailers to extend their offers.

I was shopping with a friend tonight, and remembered an accessory I needed to go with some newer technology purchased earlier this year.

Then I got looking at computers for my arm.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Our nation needs prayer

Between work and moving, the writing commitment is mostly getting squeezed in than intentionally pursued lately, and probably for the next couple weeks or so.

I've had several thoughts today, but one big one that hit earlier was just the reality that roughly half of Americans are OK with abortion. And not just abortion, but millions of abortions. Hundreds of thousands in this country alone are committed every year. It happens with several variations, and none of them are OK.

Our nation needs prayer. I believe God is trying to get our attention. I don't think He has it yet, and His Word describes additional options He can pursue to get it.

We really need to pray for our nation. We need to change our minds about where we are and where we're going. We're not in an OK place. We weren't before the pandemic hit, and right now we're not on track to fundamentally change anything. Our use of images has increased, and that isn't helping.

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).

“We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Giving Thanks Tuesday

Piggybacking on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the non-profit world got into the holiday spending momentum a while back with with Giving Tuesday.

A few weeks ago I was motivated to direct some of my giving to an organization that I thought was making a difference in a timely way. They send a lot of email, and continue to do so.

The second time I gave more than the first time. I also wasn't sure they even got the first gift.

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