I Can Read Sheet Music

I taught myself to read sheet music this afternoon, specifically for the violin. The music teacher has an axe to grind about #2’s skill and practice. I never learned to play an instrument or read music. So I can’t correct it if I have no idea how to instruct it. As of today I have a rudimentary understanding of string music and it’s so COOL!! Why didn’t I do this before?!?

Meanwhile, the boy… Apparently 1.5 years of violin lessons in one district amounts to little more than training to make wet fart noises with your hands in another district. I walked him through just the notes, then the measures, then the annotations unique to strings (and bows), everything I had learned in the last 2 hours. Realizing there is plenty of work cut out for us, I ask him to break out his violin and demonstrate while Jaimi and I scramble to make a late dinner for the family.

There’s that special moment when you look at your spouse and you both know you’re on exactly the same page, that whatever the challenge is, it is yours together, and it will not defeat anyone in the household. You acknowledge with your eyes that this is about to suck. We had that moment while I was peeling shrimp and Jaimi was rinsing broccoli as we listened to the introduction to the slaughter of the St Lawrence Overture. It was time to come to my son’s defense, demand he put the device down, and for me to notify the instructor that the boy isn’t the right student for her, she’s not the right tutor for him and we all just need to move along quickly. No sense in wasting anyone’s time when there are serious education issues afoot.

It was really nice sitting on the sofa tonight, at 10:30, after the emails to educators where written, calls to the boy’s mom to get sign off on my plan, after the late-napping 2 year old was put back down to bed again, after dishes were done, after the boys had turned off their headlamps for their books, and Jaimi and I sat down – finally – agreeing not to recap the day. We just shut up. In 30 seconds we were both snoring.

Happy Monday.

Google or Apple Maps?

A friend asked his network, “Google or Apple maps? Discuss.”

I could rant for days here. On one hand, we have GPS. Its government controlled, slow, somewhat inaccurate but usually works. On the other hand we have a cluster of USPS data, cars & cameras collecting imagery, and wildly abused user-contributed information all of which are dumped into the collective hive-mind of free map software. Like a map, scrawled in Sharpie, on the wall of a bathroom stall.

Google maps is brilliant for traffic info. Not just real time, but predictively, too! That’s because every Android and logged-in gmail account has been sharing real-time informatics (whether you like it or not). It’s brilliant. You can even see traffic patterns based on day of week, time of day, even holidays. Provided that you know exactly where you need to go.

Apple/iOS maps… I think I had 3 birthdays the last time I tried to load that up. It was so slow I used my car’s navigation system instead. Gawd knows that’s an act of pure desperation.

In all fairness, I can’t attest to which system is more accurate for physical addresses. The final responsibility rests upon the shoulders of the US Postal service. Unfortunately, that tax-payer funded agency is now little more than an indentured servant to Amazon. Ultimately, we need the USPS for authority in this department…as if they should be surveying geological and location data, not just stamps and commercial mailers, and providing accurate information on locations and addresses within our country.

We could call it the United States Geological Survey agency, or USGS.govfor short.

Oh, damn, that domain name is already registered.

Auto-focus

There are companies investing hundreds of millions of dollars into cramming more and more tech into goggles and glasses: gps, video recording, augmented overlays, social media feeds. That’s all fine and dandy. But they’re missing one critical feature that would revolutionize the tech space:

Auto-focus. My camera can do it. My phone can do it. Why can’t my glasses?

(Drops mic)

Embarrassing Bodies (Netflix)

Embarrassing Bodies (Netflix) – This one is “Not Rated” which means all bets are off as far as censorship rules go. With that said, 3 physicians visit 4 cities in England and give free exams to people who are suffering from potentially serious medical issues that the patients are just too embarrassed to see their general practitioner about.

We all have a body and that’s all we’ve been issued. Everyone has a flaw in there somewhere, and it deserves a physician’s review to prevent things from worsening, if not at least for your own piece of mind. This show takes a light approach to a difficult subject for every person, not one of us is excluded. Not. One.

If you’re offended by being naked or seeing other naked humans in a clinical setting, then you are absolutely the first person that needs to watch the first episode, start to finish. Next, get to a licensed medical doctor, force your way through embarrassment, and ask if you should continue to worry about whatever your concern is. You have one. It’s okay to ask.

No physician will judge you for being concerned about being ill, or for actually being ill for that matter. But no one can help you after you’ve lost because you didn’t seek treatment.

Asteroid Selfies

Japan can send a spacecraft 200 MILLION miles from Earth almost 4 years ago so that it can land on an asteroid, take some selfies, email them to us, pick up some pebbles as souvenirs, then pack up its kit and COME BACK TO EARTH (e.t.a. 2020). Just kidding, it’s not really ’email’ per se, but at 200 million miles, does the carrier protocol really matter?

Meanwhile my bluetooth devices a few feet away from each other aren’t friends and couldn’t be bothered. The Chromestick? Apparently it has a grudge against the Apple Airport based on each other’s stock prices. My phone that is 2 years newer than Hayabusa2 and can’t take a picture that can be trusted to self-adjust its white balance, let alone reliably send it as an attachment to my Gmail account. A $90,000 electric car can’t even manage a range of 400 miles.

Yet, Japan’s Hayabusa2….

Here I was thinking those of you that will spend over $1000 for the new iPhone XS were out of your minds… but you’re right: I need to start my own government so I can create my own space agency to buy some tech that just friggin’ works, where I want it, when I want it… even if that is 2, 20 or even 200 MILLION miles away. Or right here at my desk, every single time I need it…without a system update notice that includes a reboot.

Reverence

Tonight’s post is sponsored by the letter R and the word “reverence.”

I teach my kids that we harm no animals unless we are feeding ourselves or (less likely) defending ourselves. But we eat the muscles and soft tissue of animals. That’s a daily part of our diet.

I don’t hide from my kids that we participate in the wholesale, clinical slaughter of cows, pigs, fish, chicken and occasionally sheep. This is how we have our proteins available for purchase, neatly packed with blood absorbing inserts, wrapped in tidy leak-proof plastic. I have no shame in informing them that someone else does the dirty work of killing the animal, and then another person slices it up into the parts that we purchase by the pound.

I would slaughter, gut and feather a chicken in front of my kids if only to show them this is where chicken strips come from. Or a turkey for Thanksgiving. Not for shock value, but to guide them that a clucking, thinking animal lost their life for your dinner.

I was perhaps 5 or 6 when my father first taught me to catch a rainbow trout from a fresh water stream and then demonstrated how to knock it out (or kill it) against a stone, then to insert a pocket knife into the anus, slicing up the belly to the gills. Cross slice from below the gills down and remove the intestines, then toss the intestines to the other side of the stream for the wild life to eat.

That’s food. That’s how an animal lands on your plate. Someone is doing that ugly work for you every single day, nearly every single meal.

As much as I appreciate television hosts who are willing to tread into darker waters of humanity, they lose me when they back up, horrified, watching goats, sheep and cows slaughtered in front of the camera in 2nd or 3rd world countries. Seriously? You ate a cheese burger before you departed LAX. You had lamb chops outside of O’Hare. Now you’re horrified?

Self righteous hypocrites.

“Human Up”. You’re an omnivore. Stop pretending that this is some terrible 3rd world ghetto shit that you can’t even handle watching while a local thanks the animal then bleeds, guts and breaks down with a rusty knife, all the while praising their kill for its loss and their benefit, with actual reverence for the sacrifice the animal had no choice in making. Reverence makes these people more respectable than us because they looked into the eyes of their dinner and said thank you before they slit its throat. Meanwhile we got pissy at the register for having to pay an extra $0.10 for a plastic bag to keep the pre-packaged sirloin separate from our fruits and vegetables.

We continue to lose touch with the reality and humanness of what we are. That’s not a good thing.

Fruity with a Hint of Cesium

Interesting and slightly terrifying impact of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown of 2011: California red wine prior to 2011 had no noticeable trace (outside of background “noise”) of Cesium-137 radioactivity. After 2011? Cesium-137 appears by a factor of two (meaning double the background noise).

How did it get here? The ocean, the wind. From Japan to Seattle, then down along the west coast of North America where it was absorbed by agriculture and – potentially – every living organism in its path.

What does it mean? We’ll find out eventually once it’s too late.

There were significant problems with the meltdown that could have been prevented if we had functional, radiation shielded robots or R/C systems to mitigate the exposure as reactive systems. We weren’t ready for it. It happened and we’ll pay a price far beyond the initial “573 non-exposure” deaths. Researchers have just started to report findings that are tied to date and agriculture.

I still believe in nuclear energy. Outside of renewables like wind and solar, nuclear is necessary. But it comes with the overhead and preparation for the inherit risks. The Fukushima melt down could have been prevented, even when the tsunami could not have been, and the resulting disaster could have been better mitigated. We failed.

That sucks. It’s going to take its toll eventually. We’re at the initial steps of measuring how. We have to learn from this and invest in better management, over-site and response.

When to Call Out a Liar

Brutal honesty is difficult. It’s something I’m not very good at because conflict REALLY makes me uncomfortable. But a couple years ago I had to stand in front of a grown adult, a person I had entrusted the professional care and safety of at least one of my children to, and called her a liar…to her face, in the presence of other adults who were also her clients.

I never take such an accusation lightly. I’ve had to fire staff for the same. It always makes me nauseous. But this was deeply personal. I offered her the opportunity to prove me wrong. I knew she couldn’t, or I never would have made the accusation to begin with. I already knew the truth. It had to be said because this could no longer continue without me being complacent to the misdeed.

All of this directs me, baffled, as to why those in the industry of independent reporting of facts – actual journalists, not “media personalities” – aren’t willing to stand up and say, “Mr. President, what you just said is factually untrue, those are not the words or the meaning you implied less than 24 hours ago or over the last few months of your own tweets. Sir, you are a liar. You are lying to your employer, the American people. How should your employer respond to your flagrant deceit? How do you respond to your staff who you find are guilty of lying to you? We have sworn affidavits of many of them, but the American people would like to know just how stupid you think we collectively are? How much of your deceit and bafoonery do you expect your employer to tolerate?”

Citronium is NOT Ibex

In 2014, I had a client named Todd. Todd was a friendly but socially awkward guy and we had done a fair share of business together in the past. He came to me with a new project that sounded interesting and we accepted the work. It was a civil issues project, focusing on local city ordinances and elections, allowing citizens to “upvote” issues that were important to them, all done via a mobile app. Todd would sell the reports back to the city, then the county, then the state. The project was partisan neutral and the reports would be available to anyone interested in purchasing a copy.

My company’s role would be to harvest massive amounts of data from various city and county websites and provide a back end to the mobile interface to collect user data and their upvotes for any given topic. We would also generate the reports. It was a lot of work because city websites are generally awful, without standards, lacking quality or any consistency whatsoever. At least back in 2014.

Another company would be creating the mobile app. They were known as Citronium. I interacted with their owner and a couple of their lead developers and engineers throughout the project. We were all making progress and were looking towards the impending launch date. Things were going well.

Not long before the launch date, Todd ran out of money and stiffed my company for more than a few thousand dollars. He did the same to Cintronium. The project halted and we all eventually went our separate ways.

The owner of Citronium contacted me a few months later and we chatted about collaborative projects as well as our options for what we could do with the existing codebase of the Meocracy project we essentially “owned” (my contract is crystal clear in this department) and we bounced a few ideas around.

Citronium asked if Ibex Data would represent them contractually here in the U.S. because they were losing sales by not having a domestic presence. You see, Citronium was based just outside of Moscow. Keep in mind this was still 2014.

I respectfully declined the invitation. Ibex has always been about hiring U.S.-based developers, engineers and designers. We have never hired offshore. This has always been a key tenet of my company so I couldn’t make an exception.

That was the last I heard from Citronium, at least until this weekend. I discovered while doing some “research” that Citronium had been using the address and one of the mobile phone numbers associated with my company as their own. While I’ve never received any mail or calls for them, their search engine presence along with my company’s information was nothing short of an alarming discovery. This was mostly SEO tactics, but if Russia-located Citronium appeared in search results above Ibex Data for our contact details, my company’s reputation was very likely damaged. It may have cost us any number of contracts over the years. It might also explain a few of the mysterious “thanks, but no thanks” declines I’ve received recently because my name is personally tied to both address and mobile details.

Now I have the miserable task of dealing with Google to try to disconnect their names from MY company and the reputation I’ve spent 10+ years solidifying.

The irony of the project and its participants in 2014 – in light of current political discussion – is not lost on me. I’m really glad I stuck to my guns and our core standards. But, damnit, I’ve got more important things to do today.