Archive for October, 2011

8 inches of wet sloppy snow

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Trees are coming down with cracks like rifle shots all over the place. It sounds like a war zone. There are branches down on the trucks, although they look like the heavy weight hit the ground first. There are branches down in the driveway, but I think I could get out in an emergency. The road in front of the house has a tree down. I just started hearing chain saws. We still have lights and internet, but the lights flicker every few minutes.

I was out checking the bees and almost got conked by a huge branch. The old chicken shed is leaning to the north with a huge branch on it. If you go out you can hear bang, bang followed by rumbles of falling trees. Next summer, there will be lots of sunlight coming in through the trees where the branches are missing.

I am afraid to go back again and check the bees. I was almost killed last time. So far, there are lots of near misses with big branches a foot or so away from the hives, but they’ve been lucky.

Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGee

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Excellent Alan Lomax documentary film featuring Pete Seeger. About halfway through Woody Guthrie Jams with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee. Very cool stuff and worth watching. I miss folk music and I hope it comes back soon.

Gene sequencing X Prize to focus on centenarians

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

If you have read Heinlein’s Methuselah’s Children, you know that one way to improve life expectancy is to concentrate on genetics. Some people live longer because they inherited genes for long life. Some people die young because of their genes. Heinlein’s book is about a society in the future that uses human husbandry to breed long lived humans.

The article in the link below is about a company offering a prize to the first group to sequence the genes of 100 people over the age of 100. It is quite possible that this may be enough data to identify some set of genes that enables people to live longer. If such genes exist, there may be enough people in the sample to statistically determine what sequences in their genome contribute to very long life.

If it is possible to identify a set of longevity genes, then it might be possible, through gene therapy, to apply these genes to humans. It might also be possible to simulate the effect of these genes through other therapies that trigger or suppress the genes that can affect longer life.

Heinlein is consistently about 50 to 75  years ahead of his time. Methuselah’s Children was written in 1941. Like clockwork, one by one, Heinlein’s speculations are becoming history.

Gene sequencing X Prize to focus on centenarians | Reuters.

Finny Moon

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

I wrote a story based on the kind of conversations that we have playing poker. These poker players are all fishermen waiting for a fourth player to return with his catch. He brings back something strange from the depths of the sea.

It’s not so straightforward horror, with a humorous twist. I submitted it to Innsmouth Free Press today because it has an HP Lovecraft connection.

I’ve found it easier to write since I finished that damned robot story. That story blocked me for almost a year. It also helps to have a reader who likes all your stories, even the bad ones. I don’t react well to criticism.

This reminds me of a story. Chet Atkins, the great guitar player, hired a new bass player for some studio work. During a break, Chet went over to the bass player and whispered to him, “Did anyone ever tell you, that you’re a great bass player?” The bass player answered, “No.” Chet whispered back, “Ever wonder why?”

Clarkstown broke deal to keep land open space

Monday, October 17th, 2011

In Central Nyack there is a stream that flows down from the hills above the village. The stream originates on park property and then flows through the land we always called Blake’s and then down to Buttermilk Falls. Growing up, this was MY territory. I traced that stream all the way back to a swampy spring. I built a damn on it so we could go swimming in the summer. I tramped all around those woods for the first 15 years of my life.

Ben Blake is a friend of the family and I’ve know him for a long time. He plays Blues guitar and I’ve even jammed with him. Ben’s family owned the property with the stream.

It is old woods with huge trees and lots of wildlife. His mother and sold the land to the town with the provision that it would be public space forever. I totally agreed with this.

Clarkstown has decided that the property should not be public space and they are building a damn on the little stream where I used to catch frogs. This means clear cutting much of the old forest. This is obviously not in line with the donation agreement that Ben’s mother made to the town. Mrs. Blake has passed away and only Ben is left to protest. The State of NY has passed a bill saying that the Blake agreement means nothing.

I am saddened that this beautiful land will be lost forever. Central Nyack doesn’t flood and the stream has never left its banks as far as I know. I don’t know why this is necessary.

Blauvelt man: Clarkstown broke deal to keep land open space .

Too Many Damn Cats

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

I moved the Cat blog. It used to be at BlogsEyeView, but I am thinking about a project that will need a good domain name. The cat blog was languishing. I can make a fresh start here and not think about the cats that I miss.

Too Many Damn Cats.

Cape Cod

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

I cleaned out the camera and found some pictures of Cape Cod from June. This was a beautiful beach that we found by accident. I recorded it in my GPS so that we could find it again.

Picking Apples

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

We drove up to Red Hook, NY and picked some amazing apples. With all the rain the apples are the size of grapefruit.

On the way back, the thruway was backed up so we took a detour and wound up at a covered bridge. This is the one you can see from the thruway going north. I always wanted to find it, but I don’t know where I was (somewhere above Newburgh).

Here are some pictures:

Too Many Damn Cats

Friday, October 14th, 2011

I moved the old cat blog to this site. I wanted to clean things up and free up the domain I was using for the blog. Also, the blog was on and you can no longer publish to a private website using blogger. I am killing my account.

If  I ever feel like posting about cats I will do it to

All the old stuff and the pictures should show up here. All that is left to do is crate the template. I have a commercial template now that I don’t like.

Dennis Ritchie Died

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

You may not realize this, but more than Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, Dennis Ritchie created the modern computer environment. He invented the “C” language around 1970 and invented most of the original version of UNIX. Today, all operating systems are written in a dialect of “C” and UNIX is the operation system that is the inspiration for almost all modern computer systems. If you have an Apple computer you run a version of UNIX written in “C”. If you run a windows machine, Folders, permissions and most of the original ideas were stolen from UNIX, and Windows is largely written in “C” or a dialect of “C”.

Ritchie was a hacker who had an incredibly simple and obvious style of coding. He wrote the first “Hello World” program, which is the very first program that programmers are taught when the take up a language, any language. His solutions to problems were crystal clear. His concise way of expressing a concept is what made “C” language the language of choice for a generation. “C” is incredibly efficient, although it allows bad programmers to make incredible errors. A good programer can make “C” into poetry.

I learned to program by fooling around with code until something worked. I learned to program well by reading the thin volume, The C Programming Language, that Ritchie wrote with Brian Kernighan in 1978. It is still a treasured book that I will never sell.

The lessons that I learned from Dennis have been my livelihood for the last 20 years.  He was 70, and I am sorry that he has passed. He could have been coding for many more years.

The Children of the Sky, Vernor Vinge

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

I finished Children of the Sky on the bus this morning. I bought an advance reading copy on eBay so I was reading before it was officially released.

This is the sequel to a Fire Upon the Deep, one of my favorite books. The original book had two parts. One deals with a desperate attempt to flee a hugely evil computer program that is taking over the universe, and the other part deals with a marooned ship full of children on a planet populated with intelligent packs of dog-like creatures.

I am one of the few people who liked the conflict with the evil computer program known as The Blight. Children of the Sky deals with what happens to the children and the packs, so I was disappointed.

Vinge has created a very rich cast of characters and some very frightening conflicts. There is a part of the book where I think he is making his protagonists suffer just a little too much, but the resolution is very satisfying.

If you enjoyed the packs storyline in Fire Upon the Deep then you will like this book a lot. If, like me, you are interested in how the universe deals with the blight program, then you will have to wait for the next book. Vinge clearly signals that the third, and probably last, book is on the way. He takes two to three years to write a book, though.


Another Hacker

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Jonathan Mak Long is a 19-year-old living in Hong Kong. Other than an egomaniac who refers to himself in the third person, Jonathan is also a self-proclaimed designer, photographer, and philosopher.

iPhone stuff

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

I have an old iPhone that I don’t use. I also have an old iPad. I am watching the Apple announcements live blogging and I am finding stuff that I like.

This is the new IOS 5 stuff. I will have IOS 5 on the iphone and ipad as soon as there is a jailbreak for it (probably on the 14th).

Apple Cards allow you to send snail mail from your iphone. I like mail.

Location based reminders. Walk into the grocery store and the iphone tells you to buy bread because it knows where you are.

The iCloud will let you store documents as well as music. Perhaps like google or dropbox?

There is a location sharing app that lets you know where apple devices are. It can’t be turned off by kids so you can use it watch kids.

The live blog is coming from a site called and it keeps crashing with the high traffic. It is a microsoft ASPX application. No wonder it keeps crashing.

Hardware, finally.

The iPod Nano now has stuff to do geo tracking for walking and running. The nano can be worn as a watch and it has clock faces so it looks like a watch (including mickey mouse). Erica might like this – I guess it must come with a band now. The trouble is that you have to charge it regularly.

The Shuffle is really cheap. It is only a chip in a plastic box so I guess it would be. Anything they charge for it is mostly profit.

New iPhone has a dual core processor so it should be pretty decent as a computer. It should run apps twice as fast and flip between apps, possibly multitask.

This is not the iPhone 5, but the iPhone 4s. Wait 6 months for the iPhone 5. It has very long talk time – like 8 to 14 hours. Very fast download speeds – technically 4G. World Phone can be used everywhere, Asia, Europe, because it supports GSM and CDMA (AT&T and Verizon to us old timers). Super fast camera, better than most dedicated cameras.

Apple stock is down a few points because people wanted the iPhone 5. I think they could have put a 5 on this one, so I am not sure what the issue is. This is the newest iPhone and it’s better than the old one, and there won’t be another one for 6 months or a year.

They priced the older iPhone 4 at $99. The 4s is $199, $299 or $399. iPhone 3Gs free with 2 year contract. Everybody will have one. They run Sprint, AT&T and Verizon – also 70 countries and 100 carriers.

I think I’ll wait until they get the bugs worked out and the price is $5 a month.

Part Time

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

I was looking for a part time job that I could do from 6 to 9 every night plus weekends. I haven’t seen anything on TV that I can watch and I spend my time at night playing solitaire on my laptop. I though that a job fixing computers or teaching might make a few bucks during the holidays and get me out of the house.

I looked through and and I found only dreadful minimum wage salesperson jobs. Last year at this time there were lots of ads for computer repair guys including Apple experts and even geniuses. I googled Apple genius and found that those are full time jobs and you have to go for training for two weeks during the day. They pay only $17 an hour and that seems like starvation wages for that kind of work. I am not an Apple genius type anyway.

It looks like I will be staying home. I have a gig coming up teaching how to publish a novel on Kindle at the local library. I still have a few Wednesday nights of poker coming until Jim moves to Florida this winter. Other than that I will be playing solitaire and listening with half an ear to dreadful sitcoms and repetitive dramas.