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Tue, Sep. 13th, 2016, 08:08 pm
Red Cross Alternative

Until recently I donated money to the Red Cross on a monthly basis: some for local use, some for use at their discretion.

I've discovered, however, that while I can sign up to donate on their web site, once the donation is put into place, I cannot alter it. So, for example, when I had to change my credit card information, I could not even figure out from looking at the website if an old donation system would be activated. Certainly I could not delete it.

I asked them to provide tech support; they answered weeks later; I asked them to delete all donations; I never heard from them again.

I don't like this approach to fundraising, where you can add online but only delete if and when they get around to it. I find it unfriendly and, frankly, unethical.

This puts me into a quandary, however: is there an equivalent organization that I can donate to? Suggestions welcome. (Not Doctors Without Borders; I don't trust that organization.)

Mon, Sep. 12th, 2016, 09:51 am
Pain in the Neck, Continued

Well, as of this morning (Monday), I continue to fail to develop the really juicy symptoms I'd need to convince myself (or my spouse the doctor) that I have viral meningitis. No headaches - just a twinge of one on Thursday if I put my head on the floor to do exercises in a particular position). No problems exercising. No fever.

As such I declare the (continuing) neck soreness to be an oddball annoyance likely due to some sort of other issue such as a mild virus, or perhaps a very mild case of viral meningitis.

I went to "boot camp" this morning at the gym and did the pushups, track, jumping, kettle bells, etc. with no issues.

So I hereby declare victory but will avoid visiting my father in the nursing home for at least a week...

Thanks again to everyone who sent their best wishes. Oh, and my daughter is fine as well.

Thu, Sep. 8th, 2016, 04:43 pm
Emergency Travel, Pain in the Neck

First of all, everyone is okay. Well, except for me, I think.

On Sunday night my daughter, who was visiting Baltimore from her home in NJ, called. Her husband was in the hospital for observation - viral meningitis. My grandson had been ill for a day. Now she was coming down with a sore neck and headache. She had no friends to call on locally -- no support group.

My wife and I packed our bags and took a flight departing about 3 hours later. We arrived in Baltimore at 12:30 AM local, slept at a hotel, and met up with my daughter in the morning. My spouse took off with my daughter and grandson; I waited around for my son-in-law, hoping he'd be let out that day, but planning on an extended hotel stay if need be.

He was released - in fact, so soon after the departure back to NJ that the rest of the family turned around and headed back to Silver Spring, MD to pick us up. We all drove back to NJ.

My spouse and I stayed at my daughters as my son-in-law got better and my daughter got somewhat worse. Last night, Wednesday night, I left as my daughter was better, my son-in-law quite chipper, my grandson's nursery school had started, and my spouse was there.

On the way home from Midway airport last night... I noticed my neck was sore. That's continued all day today. As such I've stayed in -- didn't go to my weekly physical therapy, won't go to bartitsu this evening, and decided to not stress my neck by usual bike ride since I have a drop-handlebar bike that requires a neck position that's not optimal when your neck hurts.

My body temperature is its usual raging 97.4 F (36.2 C), so I don't have a fever. I'm actually hoping I've got some other, more benign virus.

So, emergency travel with a side order of pain in the neck. On the upside, grandson time, which is always fun.

Fri, Jul. 22nd, 2016, 08:56 am
Thursday Night Injury Report

I've been wondering if I should make this a weekly feature...

Last night while sparring — Bartitsu, in case you didn't get the memo — I managed to:
a) go down to the floor, not the mat, while throwing someone. This is not a big deal if you land correctly;
b) land incorrectly;
c) managed to drop the other person on my leg

But no damage done.

Wed, Oct. 21st, 2015, 02:32 pm
Bad driving, 2015-10-21

Today as I was crossing the street, I was nearly run down. A DeLorean appeared out of nowhere, doing maybe 90 MPH, and I was barely able to get out of the way.

The driver was a tall man, white, with wild white hair and some sort of goggles. I couldn't make out the passenger's face.

Wed, Sep. 16th, 2015, 10:45 pm
Mysticism and MD5

During New Year services yesterday, I noted in my usual despair the mysticism inherent in certain parts of the services.

In particular, gematria, a Jewish version of numerology. I'm not a fan, to say the least; the last time I spoke on the subject in synagogue, I pointed out that the Hebrew for "State of Israel" had the same numerical value as "tomato sauce" and expanded on the topic from there. (It was a pre-Purim lecture, which is how I got away with it, but it did capture my attitude.)

Then on Tuesday at services I experienced an epiphany. Instead of comparing the straightforward computation of numerical value of the letters, we should compute an md5 one-way hash of the word, phrase, or section of text under discussion. Then we compare the hashes: if they match, it's a certain indication of divine intervention. After all, people fiddle with the gemetria to make it come out "right," that is, consistent with their desired message; clearly, we need a stricter way to compare in order to guarantee origin from On High.

Of course there's no guarantee that md5 is the One True Hash. We might need SHA-x instead.

I understand from a now-sleepless friend that he's currently on track to turn out an md5 version of the Old Testament, both word by word and sentence by sentence. Next comes exploitation of this glorious new investigative tool.

Mon, Sep. 7th, 2015, 07:59 am
Terminator Dialog

Years ago (2007?) the TV show The Sarah Conner Chronicles took the Terminator franchise to TV, and I admit that I enjoyed it for the most part.

I've just come across one of my favorite bits of dialog. I'd remembered the first two lines, but not the next two. The characters are discussing an initiative by Skynet to boot itself (using time-traveling agents) by influencing the city of LA to develop and install certain software.

John Connor: "I guess when they say 'you can't fight City Hall' they really mean it."
Derrick Reese: "Whoever said that didn't have as much plastique as we do."
Sarah Connor (calmly): "You can't blow up City Hall."
Derrick Reese: "It's really not that hard."

Thu, Aug. 13th, 2015, 05:18 am
Transporter Beams

1) When it comes to transporter beams I am not signing up for the beta release; I'll wait until release 1.3 minimum, and stay home on the major point releases (2.0, 3.0, etc.).

2) I just had a vision of what the stack of bug reports would look like for transporter beams; if you've heard my riff on self-driving car bug reports, no need to hear it again. And I also had a vision of just how many mice tech support kills on any given day as they replicate errors and verify fixes...

Sun, Jul. 26th, 2015, 02:38 pm
Credit Cards

I'm about to get what is probably my 4th credit card in the past 18 months.

Someone used a copy of my card in the US state of Delaware this morning. The credit card company declined the transaction but called us. They will send a replacement card eventually.

Chip and PIN has not yet really come to the US, aside from perhaps some stores somewhere of which I have never visited. That would cut down substantially on fraud.

Sun, Jul. 5th, 2015, 09:25 pm
Office Desk Drawer

I suspect my two office desk drawers have a more eclectic assortment of items than most.

Included, in a brief survey:


  • Litmus paper in test tubes

  • 1/4" audio adapters

  • Chop with my name in Chinese, as well as traditional red ink

  • Solid ink for use with Japanese brush pens

  • Sealing wax, and seal

  • Lockpicks

  • Number 14 welders glass plate for viewing eclipses



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