Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Take a trip with me

Picture this if you would.

You're a little kid again - or maybe you're just acting like one. It's a new day. You jump out of bed and get dressed to go outside. You're all clean and bright and shiny and it's a beautiful day out there.

You leave your house. If you leave your windows and doors unlocked somebody might break in, but we'll ignore that for the moment.

You wander down your own street. You've walked this road a thousand times, so it's safe. I mean, there's Mrs. Jeffrie's dog, but you don't go in her yard, so you're okay.

Wait! Here's a strange street. You've never been here before. Ooooh, it looks like fun, though it doesn't seem quite so sunny, but that's okay. You're brave. Off you go wandering down this street.

Some strange, sticky thing just stuck to the bottom of your clean shoes. Something smelly, like old cheese, just clung to your pants. The dirt in this road seems to float around you, like the dirt around Pigpen (thank you Charles Schulz). Some of it coats your clothes. Some dirt even gets in your mouth.
Maybe you even stop and play in that dirt pile over there. You know it's not a good thing to do, but it's too enticing.

Someone offers you a treat. Maybe he even tells you it's a vitamin and it's good for you. Maybe it is. Probably it isn't.

Now you feel sick. You're not moving as fast as you used to. You're not thinking as clearly as normal. Everywhere you go you spread dirt, and maybe, just maybe, a little disease too.

That's your computer every time you take it into the internet. It will always get a little dirty. It is always in danger.

Please, please keep it clean. Avoid web sites that might carry a virus, a Trojan or a worm. Run cleaning programs to remove all the dirt you collect in your normal travels - even if you don't see it, it's there.

If your computer does get infected, then you have to clean it up so it can go out into that dirty internet again. There's ways to do that. Coming soon.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dad

My favorite photo of Dad
My Dad would have been 79 today.

When he was six years old, on Monday, December 8, 1941, Dad sold newspapers on the street corner where he lived, in North Canton, OH, telling of the infamy of the Japanese and our entry into WWII.

When he was a teenager, living in Detroit, he joined the Sea Scouts. He always smiled when he mentioned that.

During that same time, Dad was on a little league team. He loved baseball until the day he died. He played softball on a lot of leagues while he served in the Navy for twenty years.

When he graduated from St. Joseph High School he was voted "Most Likely to Become a Coach." He did coach my little league baseball team when we lived in Washington State. We were the Mud Daubers. I was a horrible player, but it was the best time of my life. Even getting hit by a fast ball is a good memory for me - now.

Dad joined the Navy in 1954 and became a Medical Corpsman. He loved the sea.

Dad met Mom in 1956 in Virginia. Mom was in the Navy, too. They married in 1957.

I was born in 1957. I'm still surprised at how young Mom and Dad look in the photos where I am a baby.

My brother Barry came along in 1962 while we lived in Florida. I actually remember that. Dad was all smiles and I fell asleep in front of the snowy test pattern of the black and white television.

In 1964 my brother David was born. We were in Saginaw, Michigan at the time, staying with Grandma Jen and Grandpa Mac. Dad was reassigned to Rhode Island and was getting everything ready for us to arrive. Grandma and Grandpa Comfort and our Aunt Candy (only seven years older than I) drove us to Rhode Island in a station wagon with those odd wooden panels on the sides. I don't remember much of the trip, but I do remember finally arriving. I probably slept most of the way; I'm sure nobody else did.

In 1965 my youngest brother Tim was born. Dad was supposed to go to the Antarctic on the USS Essex with his shipmates, but was assigned to shore duty until his youngest son was born. I always felt a little cheated by that, since Dad promised to bring me a penguin from Antarctica. A little brother just wasn't as cool as a penguin.

Dad went to Vietnam in 1968-1969, embedded as a Navy Corpsman with the First Medical Battalion, First Marine Division, Danang. There was actually a tiny picture on the VetFriends site. I have no idea which person is Dad.

He retired in 1972 as a Chief Petty Officer. He was very happy and proud to become a Chief. The family moved to Rockford, Michigan, a place I still consider home, even after being away from it for thirty-four years, more than half my life.

Dad had other adventures.

Dad died on February 8, 2013. He's still missed. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

One Christian Point

I have a lot of discussions about religion with a lot of different people, some Christian (as I am) and some not.

Both Catholic and Protestant Christian Bibles teach that Jesus Christ is the only path to God the Father. Though I believe that, I will never pressure someone to believe as I believe - belief is an intensely personal choice. The Bible also says that if you truly seek you will find, and I stand on that one.

In recent posts I raise questions that seem to dismay people:

Can Salvation, once accepted, be lost? (I don't know, and all arguments, for either side, seem circular to me.)

Why would a benevolent God allow such suffering? (I don't know. I think this world is under the control of Satan, though, and that the non-suffering is God's grace to us.)

Which do you believe: Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib or Post-Trib Rapture? (I don't know. I tend to lean toward No Rapture, but that is an upcoming book, so I'll leave it at that.)

What is the nature of God? (Most people would say God is Love, but that's not it. God is Holy.)

Is the Bible true? (Yes, absolutely, and if you pick and choose from the Bible what you want to be true, you're writing your own book, and Jesus took a dim view of that [jots and tittles sort of thing]. But some of the Bible is allegorical and some not, and I don't always know which is which.)

The theme in all my discussions is "I don't know."

HOWEVER, there is one point I cannot compromise as a Christian, and it really isn't about religion. It's about a relationship, and it is the key and cornerstone of Christianity. We can disagree on all else and I don't mind.

That one point is Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

All other things I will discuss and debate. Not this point.

There is no other focus for a Christian. Fighting about everything else is simply a way to obfuscate the simple truth that Jesus Christ died for our sins, that every time I do something evil in this world I cause Jesus more pain as he suffered and died on the cross.

I used to avoid doing wrong because I didn't want to be punished.

Now I don't want to do wrong because He took the punishment.

Jesus the Christ suffered for my sins willingly. He did it for me. He did it for everyone, whether you believe or not.

I believe it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Some confusing words

Gutenberg press woodcut
from Wikipedia
A friend of mine was sweet enough to proofread part of my upcoming book, tentatively titled Zombie Apocalypse, Vampire Raiders of Las Vegas. Don't worry, I'm sure that won't be the final title (almost sure).

She had some issues with words I used and I had to do some investigation. I thought I'd share.

BLOND is an adjective describing something, man or woman. BLONDE is a noun meaning a female with fair hair (and not a male with fair hair). "The blonde picked a blond puppy from the litter."

FURTHER is a conceptual distance. FARTHER is a physical one. That usually works, but when in doubt you're safe using further. "As he went farther into the jungle his mind retreated further from reality."

My eldest son asked me a question about where I wrote the word averse - that maybe it should have been adverse. ADVERSE is something harmful and AVERSE is a strong feeling of dislike. "I am averse to adverse effects of drugs."

Affect is a verb and Effect is a noun. That doesn't help? If the word denotes influence or action, use AFFECT. If it is a result, use EFFECT. "The rain affected Tom's mood, but had no effect on Lucy."

You COMPLIMENT someone when you say something nice to them, so it is an admiring remark. When things COMPLEMENT each other, they go well together.

Please, oh please get this one right. If you can replace the word with "it is" then the correct form is IT'S. If the meaning of your word is possessive, use ITS. I don't even have a clever sentence for this one (though I was going to use "If it's possessive, use 'its'.")

Along the same lines, YOUR is possessive. YOU'RE is a contraction for YOU ARE. If YOU'RE sure it's possessive, use YOUR. (See how I tossed the IT'S in there, too? You can COMPLIMENT me in the comments.)

There are a lot of confusing English words. These simply touch the surface. For hundreds more, try The Grammar Monster's section for confusing words. I also like Grammar Girl (she's pretty famous and has a lot more than simply confusing words).

A few years ago I did a post on why English was hard, and these should have been among those confusing words. And they should not be confused with the other confusing word category - contronyms! I'll leave that for another post.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Opinel by Charlie

I have followed Charlie Sorrel and his articles for years. Before Cult of Mac, Charlie wrote for Wired. He's witty, insightful, and slightly irreverent. He has one of the keenest minds for reviewing things that I've ever followed - and that not only includes the software he reviews, but the hardware.

A few months ago Charlie reviewed knives.

He doesn't usually do that. Reviews written by Charlie almost always have something to do with computers or cycling. This one didn't. This was just about some of the best knives ever made - Opinel knives.

Now, to be frank (hi Frank!), I am a nut for knives. I have to keep myself from buying one almost every time I go to a store. I don't know what it is, but knives attract me. I even have a book on making knives and fully intend to do so in the next few years after I retire. So an article on knives? By Charlie? Oh, yeah.

I can't describe the knives better than Charlie can. Here's his article from May.

This one is beautiful
I pondered and dithered. I reined myself in and didn't buy the complete set of Opinel knives, blade sizes from No2 to the large No12.

I did buy the No6 and the boxed No8. I considered the Brazilian Rosewood handled No6 knife, but they were sold out. If they come back I might get one.

I received my two knives in the mail two days after I ordered them. So far I have only used the No6, but it is a beautiful knife, and extremely sharp, slicing through tomatoes liked they are warm butter (yeah, that's a cliche, but it's the only thing I can think of).

The little ring that locks the blade (closed or open) is very tight. I have a hard time moving it right now, but that will change with use.

So far I think these are my favorite knives, with the exception of my Swiss Army knife, which goes everywhere with me.

If you like knives, I'd recommend you take a look at the Opinel knives.

I think Charlie is right - they might be the best knives made in the world.