Monthly Archives: February 2017

Kelly channeling Grandpa Milo’s cooking

Presentation is everything. Kelly, channeling Grandpa Milo's cookingGrandpa Milo was an amazing cook. He always said presentation of food is often more important that even taste. He said that to everyone who ever cooked with him. Every time Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah came to visit us, Kelly and Christian cooked with him so they heard that mantra a lot. Christian is a good cook, but does not have a lot of time to spend on food. It is so bad, he usually keeps a case of Soylent in his refrigerator for when he just runs out of time, but needs some energy. That is a story for another time.

Kelly, on the other hand, takes the time to cook and has gotten very, very good. She takes Grandpa Milo’s maxim to heart, so her stuff often looks quite amazing. She has been doing this now for years. There are some areas where she needs to broaden out her repertoire, but by and large, she has the fundamentals nailed and, with the all important presentation aspect she is a savant.

Evolution: Show us the numbers

Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed by Douglas AxeDouglas Axe is a highly trained molecular biologist (Cal Tech PhD, post-doc and research positions at Cambridge). He wrote a great article at The Stream about how facts get in the way of the (macro) evolutionary model as it is now taught in the vast majority of our academic institutions around the world. This has been known for decades and Axe calls out the evolutionary story tellers.

Here’s the steel-hard fact they most want to avoid:

The evolutionary explanation of life cannot stand up to NASA-style engineering scrutiny.

If you doubt this, please join me in testing it. Hand pick your Darwin sympathizers from the most esteemed places. It doesn’t matter who they are, because all the pomp and prestige of the academic world is powerless to change hard facts. All claims of Darwin having discovered the only scientifically valid explanation of life get torn to tiny bits when you put them in the grinder.

The response to this challenge is sure to be either silence or protest. There won’t be a nerdy evolutionary biologist who marches up to the chalk board and does the math that saves the theory. The math has been done; the theory undone. Nor will there be a lab test that shows natural selection to be a worker of wonders. We’ve been there. Too many tests to count, and the blind watchmaker never showed up.

It has gotten so bad and the fact that the emperor has no clothes is so obvious, Tom Wolfe, author of The Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities has written about it in his most recent book, The Kingdom of Speech. I wrote about that earlier (here). Wolfe seems to specialize in calling attention to false and/or base and repugnant ideas and people who are held in high regard by the so-called elites in our society. He does this masterfully one more time with the pompous Noam Chomsky and his take on linguistics as well as the false Darwinian zeitgeist of our day.

Douglas Axe has written a popular level book titled Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life is Design on the subject, too. In addition, he takes on the idea that “regular people” just are not smart enough to understand why (macro) evolution did not happen. Axe’s article in The Stream, his book and Wolfe’s books are all great reads.

Lorena in the sun city

Christian's jury duty badgeChristian's new Pixel cellphone in its car holderLorena arrived in Tempe now and Christian is taking her to lunch. She is sending me all kinds of meaninglessful pictures a couple of examples of which I present right here. The badge at the left was the cause of lots and lots of grief for the whole family. We are truly glad that this was not the occasion for Christian’s first stint of jury duty. I hope he gets to do it someday, but today is not the day. The picture on the right is Christian’s new Pixel cellphone from Google that he put in his handy car holder Mom got for him in December. She got one for me, too, and I see that it is handy enough, I really need to install it and start using it.

Lorena to PHX, Christian to jury duty

Lorena to visit Christian in Tempe, AZ February 2017I dropped Lorena off at the airport at 5 AM this morning to go spend a week with Christian in Phoenix. They have a great time when they get together. It seems like every time Christian turns around there is another road block that seems insurmountable. This morning, he goes in to serve jury duty. And it is not just jury duty, it is grand jury duty. That means if he gets picked he will be stuck there for four months. He is scheduled to move to Boston in a couple of months in his first pass working for MIT. I hope they let him out of it because if they do not, it means he will almost certainly have to stay in his program for an additional year due to classes they only give once per year, missed research opportunities and the need to drop all his classes for this semester which is half way complete. I surely hope he does not get saddled with this burden.

Update: Woo-hoo! Christian dodged the jury duty bullet. He told the judge he was in classes that were only given once every two years (true) and he had an internship in Boston at MIT Lincoln Labs that started half way through the four month jury duty term (true) and the judge said, “Goodbye.”

Working on sickle cell disease

sickle cell disease vision softwareThis weekend, I put the final touches on the prototype/demo version of the sickle cell disease software I am developing for Case Western Reserve University and HemexHealth. It will be demonstrated to potential partners in this week. I am not sure how much longer I will be needed for this project other than some tweaks to make it work better and easier to use, but it has been one of the most gratifying projects on which I have ever worked. It has huge potential to do good. I hope I get the opportunity to do more projects like this again in my lifetime.

Snowdrops in Centralia

Snowdrops by house in CentraliaOur new friends, Bob and Gena E. (we have so many common, old, old friends and things in common they actually feel like old friends) ran up to the house we are still trying to buy in Centralia and took a picture of these snowdrop flowers. Lorena loved them and is dying to get some more things planted around the place and start cleaning up the yard. There is just too much stuff to do both inside and out on the place it is going be a few years to get it how Lorena wants it but we are both, very much looking forward to the task. Now we just have to make it all the way to closing.

Stable kids

Kelly, February 2017
Chrsitian, February 2017I have been reflecting on it quite a bit lately and it seems kind of weird that both of our kids have been on their own and paying their own way for over two and a half years now. For our part, we have been in upheaval since they left North Carolina for graduate school in late June of 2014. We have moved three times (once to Oregon, once to Texas and once in Texas) and we are about to move again. I am currently on my third employer with a couple of contract jobs on the side. It seems they are the ones who are stable right now. I thought that was what parents were supposed to do, but it has pretty much been the nature of my kind of skill set to have to switch around a bunch.

We are about to move a fourth time in May if all the stars align and hope that stability thing starts to set in. I have a job and contract opportunities that could very well, God willing, take me to retirement without having to move again. At the same time, it is very, very nice to have kids who are sticking to long term, worth goals, working hard and staying on track when that is something that is hard to do in one’s early twenties, especially in this day and age. We are pretty much death on that pride thing–probably because we (read I) struggle with it, but I do feel very fortunate to have kids such as these.

The revolution will not be televised

There is a grating song/beat poem that came out in 1970’s that was some sort of a theme for a certain element during my college years. You can see it here (if you must). It is called The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. The thing that is going on in our country is put into context in a truly ironic way by Lloyd Marcus in an article titled The Trump Revolution Will Not Be Televised. He has enough years to have written this article based on personal knowledge. I am not sure that those who were not there and paying attention in the seventies will be able to understand and appreciate how much joy an article like this brings to those of us who were conservative, but were doomed to come of age in the hippie generation. Here is an excerpt, but you should read the whole thing:

Trump’s election ushered in a new tone for America. Feeling emboldened, people are pushing back against the tyranny of political correctness by just saying, “no”. But you will not hear this widely reported in the leftist-controlled mainstream media. Panicked, the Left is desperately and frantically working to keep us believing that their extreme ideas are mainstream majority opinions.

This is why for the next four years, half a dozen protesters showing up to oppose Trump or his policies will be treated like a major news event by the media. Relentlessly, the Left will sell us their lie that Americans hate Trump and what he is doing. Therefore, the Trump revolution will not be televised.

Back in the game for the house in Washington we want

My buddy, Mark P. met me in Centralia for the day on Monday to take a good look at the house we want to buy. We spent four hours in the house and came away feeling pretty good about it. Mark did a remodel for us in Albany back in about 2005 for which we still have a bunch of pictures here on the blog. You can see them here, but I have also included an image of one side of the kitchen below. He did a tremendous job. If we can finally get the house purchased, we hope to have Mark do a three or four phase remodel based on what we can afford and when we can afford it. I love to look at remodels as they progress. Here is Aunt Julia’s remodel web page. I will try to put up a page if we ever get there.

Remodel in Albany

Another whirlwind trip to Washington

Lorena at McDonaldsLorena took me to McDonald’s early this morning then dropped me off at the airport. If all goes well, I will have a look at our (hopefully) new house along with my real estate agent and my builder (thank you Mark P. for driving up from Oregon). Then I will get on a plane at midnight and arrive back in Dallas just in time to go to work on Tuesday morning when we are going to make the first major new installation of some machine vision/machine learning/video analytics software.

In the mean time, the working I am doing on finding low cost new methods to diagnose sickle cell disease in developing countries is getting to a critical juncture. I need to put some finishing touches on the work I am doing on that project so they can start real tests. I will have to work on that on the airplane ride to Seattle and in the hotel room so I can deliver it to the team that needs it at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Thankfully, that is something that can be done by email and dropbox.

A great video on one of the great sadnesses of our times

I saw the video below that a friend posted this video on Facebook last night about challenges for millennials in the workplace. I think it says some important things that has caused me to think I need to work on some of my own behaviors.  He talks about addiction to social media–on cell phones in particular and the dopamine high that is triggered. He talks about what a great disservice it was to tell children they were great when they were not great. He talks about the idea of delayed gratification that seems to be completely missing in an entire generation of young people. He talks about the increase in suicide and accidental drug overdose in that generation that is most probably a result of this. I think he is exactly right on all that. The video is truly a worth 15 minutes of your time.

It was kind of depressing though that in about the last third of the video he espouses the idea that the corporations need to take responsibility for fixing this. That is a completely different subject, but he is objectively wrong on that. The corporations might need to address the issues associated with this large problem because it prevents them from finding good, long term employees that facilitate them meeting achieving their purpose–to make money. Corporations should not be tasked with social engineering. They should, like government, achieve their purposes without meddling in peoples’ in areas where they are so patently unqualified. They really, really have competing interests with respect to what is good for individuals and that is not necessarily a bad thing. The individuals themselves, their families and, most importantly, God and their spiritual communities are the only ones who have the truly worthwhile answers to these kinds of challenges. Disinterested third parties whether they are government school teachers, coaches, bureaucrats, academics and even bad parents are the ones who trained them in this wrong thinking in the first place.

Link to video on Millenials in the workplace

Three weeks of Fitbit use

Fitbit result 1 of 2Fitbit result 2 of 2I have been wearing the Fitbit Kelly and Christian got for me for a present a couple of years back and my miles/steps are pretty good during the week. I kind of fall off the wagon a little on the weekends because of volunteer programming and church, but I am going to try to remedy that starting tomorrow. I have not been so great on the diet end of things–that self denial thing is not nearly as fun as getting outside and getting some fresh air. Still, I am down about ten pounds from my high and going the right direction. My buddy Lyle W. and I are competing a little with the steps thing over the Internet, so that is a good thing too.

Presents for Mom

Lorena's new birthday skirt from KellyWe got a package in the mail the other day. It was a new skirt from Kelly for Lorena’s birthday. She wore it on Sunday to church. It is beautiful and we were thankful for both a beautiful skirt and a thoughtful daughter. Lorena has been running like crazy, but now has our apartment under control. We can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel now and hope to be settled into a long term home within the next few months. We have had a wrench thrown into our plans at this stage, several times, so we are not holding our breath. Still we have hope.

No sooner had I put this up than these flowers arrived from Kelly and Christian as an “apartment” warming gift for Lorena. Wow. Maybe I am doing something wrong. Why aren’t they for me?
House warming flowers from Kelly and Christian

Sunset Science Park Federal Credit Union

Sunset Science Park Federal Credit Union logoThere might be a better Credit Union in the world, but I seriously believe the one to which our little family belongs is at the top of the heap. We have been members for just about twenty years now and they unfailingly do virtually everything they can possibly do to help us out. The first time that happened was on a business trip to Czech Republic when unexpected travel/business expenses came up and I need to increase the line of credit on my Mastercard. No problem. One phone call, a happy conversation and we were done. They have helped with college, kids accounts and now our new house (wherever that might be), making unique and special accommodations to make the whole thing possible. It is a joy to be part of their family. Now, I understand the credit union is open, not only to those who work at businesses closes by, but anyone in a fairly extended area around Portland.

A weekend with the Raspberry Pi

11.4 of 60

This weekend, I am finally getting to the place where I will be able to work on some of my side projects. I have decided to put a system together to do the things I normally have to do for small, cheap control projects. I did a drawing for one of the people I am helping so he can show people how we plan to make things easy to use in addition to making them work well at a cheap price. The idea is to put a framework together that runs on a Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi runs as a secure server that can be accessed via a secure web browser either locally or over the internet to control hardware and execute machine vision tasks. I have done a lot of work on this already, but now I have a first “real” application that will provide the incentive to turn it all into a commercial quality, reusable framework. This could be used for the medical device apps I am working on as well as some side projects I use as to learn new stuff. Should be fun.

Raspberry Pi control system

Henry VI, Part II, act IV, Scene II, Line 73

Shyster's at work11.1 of 60

We are have had all kinds of challenges with our house negotiations in Washington state. It turns out the current owner of the house is a trial lawyer. If you REALLY want to know how the negotiations are going, look up the reference in the title to this post*. We still have hope that we will make it through, but boy howdy, we will have earned our stripes if we negotiate this successfully. If we can get past one or two more hurdles I will keep my appointment to do the final inspection in Centralia in the middle of the month. I have the ticket and the day off from work, so I really want to this to work out. So does Lorena.

*Please note we do not mean this literally. We are more in accord with what Luke 11:46 than with Shakespeare on the topic of lawyers.

The house hunt inches forward

10.6 of 60

I went backwards about a pound and a half on my exercise/diet program, but other than that, life is pretty good. I am beating my buddy Lyle W. like a drum on the number of steps on our Fitbit’s, but that is mostly because he has been sick. I still counting it while I can because I am sure it won’t last. The house is still in Washington state is still up in the air, but we have our fingers crossed. I have a ticket out there in a week and a half to meet my other buddy, Mark P. to do the final inspection if we get our latest offer accepted. It is all good. I also have two work-from-home jobs (one requires domestic travel, the other requires domestic and international travel) from which I need to choose within the next couple of months. Now, though, we are on hold to see whether or not we have a house.