Infinite time

What books do you want to read?

The book, like dozens of others that sit on my shelves and stare at me was bought on the heels of a podcast suggesting that everyone read it. I have not read the book yet. The book sits there and mocks me.

When will you pick me up John? Why did you buy me if you didnt intend to read me? Crack my spine, bend my pages dive in.

I want to I really do the reviews for the book are high for the book. Some say that reading the book will enrich you as a person. Others call it a treat and a book for lovers of language. One reviewer calls the book mind altering and I truly want to read the book. I really do but this book was purchased and placed on my book shelf five years ago and hasn’t moved yet.

Right now I am on page 279 of the 326 page book titled “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals” by Hal herzog.I enjoy reading books while getting in my elliptical workout at the gym. I am enjoying my stroll through the Hal Herzog book. I have always been intrigued by the way humans and animals interact and now I can read about studies conducted regarding that interaction. I should finish this book before the end of January then I will grab another book from the shelf and start reading. Will I grab the book that has been sitting on my shelf for five years though? I don’t know. “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals” by Hal herzog, was an ideal size book to read while doing an elliptical workout. The book that looks at me and mocks me is 1100 pages long so not the ideal size to read while on the elliptical but it could be done. The book also deals with some pretty heavy issues like addiction, and depression but it is satire and dark comedy which I enjoy.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In case you haven’t guessed, the book that I want to read and right now, it is book, not books. Is “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace. I know I am like three decades late to the trend of reading this book but I really want to read it now especially. I believe that if you see me next month at my local gym I will be the one awkwardly flipping through the 1100 page novel on the elliptical.

The book is 27 years old and is still getting rave reviews. The book has also gotten some awful reviews and I think part of wanting to read the book now is just to make my own informed opinion. Honestly five years ago I was put off reading the book because of the sheer size of the tome but now.. I think I am ready to climb the mountain one page at a time.

I will let you know, probably sometime later this year, what I think of the book. I am really looking forward to reading this one.

Why did we teach that

There is new software available it is called chatGPT and it is making some noise in the academic world. Some students are successfully using ChatGPT to write their essays. Teachers are upset and calling this cheating (which it is). There have been bans and some IT departments for school have worked to disable the use of ChatGPT on the schools WIFI (this works until the students go home).

Cheating is nothing new and the fight against cheating will continue to take place at schools all over the world. A university student at Princeton spent his spring break writing an application that spots essays written by ChatGPT as well as any other AI technology. This is a cat and mouse game the cheaters find a new way to cheat and the teachers catch on and stop one way then two new ways open up. The major difference about this new cheating, using the AI to write an essay, and the older cheating paying the nerd to do it is that AI is that the new AI is almost indistinguishable from human writing. ChatGPT has gotten that good yes.

Thinking about cheating and essay writing got me questioning AI technology and essay writing altogether. I began to wonder why teachers use essay writing at all? What is the purpose for having a student write an essay?

Photo by Lenin Estrada on Pexels.com

When a student writes the essay they engage in critical thinking, they conduct research. Critical thinking is crucial in our daily lives and research is unavoidable. The better you are at both of these techniques the easier life will be for you. The debate rages on concerning whether or not essay writing is the best delivery method for teaching these techniques to students.

The reasons for teaching essay writing Critical thinking and research are important no doubt but is essay writing as important as it was once thought to be? Maybe teachers should write essays defending essay writing assignments. I love to ask what if? So if not an essay what should be used to teach critical thinking and research? Can the new delivery system be cheated as well? No doubt yes and cheaters will get better at cheating so I guess the real question is whta do teachers and professors prefer as a delivery system?

I am not good at writing and a slow reader however I love to do both, I imagine if I where a professor I would continue to assign essays and use the applications to check for cheating and plagiarism. Maybe as pennace for cheating I would assign a new task to the cheater. The cheater needs to write an essay explaining how the AI technology works and how they were caught. The paper will require research of the technology and critical thinking for answering the question.

Writing teaches critical thinking and is a way of engaging in what feels like intimate communication. For now most of the communication is with humans but maybe in the future our AI will engage us just a intimately as the humans do. If we cannot tell it is AI has the AI passed the Turing test?

Leisure Time

List five things you do for fun.

In 1998 Matthew Perry and Chris Farley starred in a film titled “Almost Heroes”. Matthew Perry plays Leslie Edwards an officer in the US Army who wants to beat Lewis and Clark to the Pacific coast. Leslie elicits the help of Bartholomew Hunt, a bumbling trapper, played by Chris Farley. The movie is a comedy and was blast to watch. There is a scene in the movie where Leslie Edwards asks the team, while sitting around a campfire what they do fin their leisure time. The team answers the leader and their answers are foolish and hilarious. The first thing I thought of when I read List five things you do for fun, was that scene from “Almost Heroes”, lets see what are five things I do for fun?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  • I enjoy visiting new places with my wife “You two are always going somewhere new. That’s why we love seeing your facebook feed.” That was the comment made by my wife’s aunt at a family function. When my wife and I were dating we would go to a movie theater and buy tickets for the movie that was showing at the time we arrived. I love spending time with my wife and I love doing new and different things with her. There was recently an article published that gave the secret to slowing down our perception of time. The secret was to do new things. Who better to slow down time with than my best friend?
  • I enjoy walking my dog My dog is my second best friend and when I grab his harness and leash I can see and sense the excitement he has. I have had to use the words down boy while holding his leash more times than I can count. His joy becomes my joy and I fell the endorphins. While walking he gets to smell our neighbourhood and lall the other wildlife and I can chat with the dog listen to tunes and just relax after a day of work. Walking is also a great way to improve and maintain good health.
  • I enjoy reading Good or bad books, newspaper or magazines, Comic books or blog posts. I love reading every medium. Reading is an almost intimate act between the writer and the reader. The writer has spent time effort and thought in their writing and now I get to get a glimpse into this person or team of people’s psyche. How cool is that? It is very cool and if the story or story and art (comic book) is compelling than, I am in heaven. Reading is also very good for brain health.
  • I enjoy the theater with my wife or by myself Live theater is pretty awesome. It can be Broadway in Manhattan or the community theater at my local theater. I love seeing people perform something that they practices together> With theater you get to hear the writers voice and see the actors emotions. The movie theater is alos a favorite of mine. The movies are sanitized version of live theter though and I kind of enjoy the chaos and unpredictibality of the live shows a little more than the movies, don’t get me wrong though I will watch a movie in aecond of course.
  • Learn and do new things A project is a lot of fun. Creating something new can be thrilling. I love to learn and build new things. By things I mean every and anything. One year I built a boat out of lumber in the garage. I have written software applications for my website, computer and phone. I wrote a book. the art of creation gives you a sense of accomplishment and lets you learn new things about the world you live in and how you navigate it. Creation is fun and exciting and it also improves your health.

So there are five things I do for fun. I try to find fun in all life but if I get the chance to seek out and engage in fun in my own way on my own terms this is what I would do.

My 2nd best friend

If you could make your pet understand one thing, what would it be?

Storm is my second best friend. My first best friend is my wife Shanna and I fear that i do not spend enough time with either of them.

Dogs are odd in that it is hard for me to relate to another species. Humans I can relate to because I am a human and basically all humans want and need the same. The humans needs are physiological (food and clothing), safety (job security), love and belonging needs (friendship), esteem, and self-actualization.Does Maslow’s hierarchy of needs apply to dogs? If it did that would be great! I could make sure that Storm gets everything he needs and reaches self-actualization. My dog would be the best dog he could be. Going down the rabbit hole of Maslow’s hierarchy for dogs and cats was kind of fun (really it was, go ahead google it and see what you get). The animal experts are divided on this but the common ground that all seem to reach is that, animals do have needs and one big need is social. As a matter of fact in Switzerland there is new legislation concerning dogs and their socialization. Dog owners are obligated under federal law to provide their pets with social needs.

Storm loves to walk and he loves to smell, He loves to smell everything! Fire hydrant that he walked past and smelled yesterday he will smell today for about 45 seconds.

Having a pet is a lot like having a child. It can be difficult to take care of a child and as parents we dedicate our lives to taking care of the children and sometimes we fall short. No living creature should go hungry but many do. No living creature should feel unsafe but many do. No living creature should feel out of place or unwanted and unneeded but many do. I know it is selfish but if I could make my pet understand one thing it would be that, I love him and I am trying my best to make sure he reaches the top of Maslow’s pyramid.

Sounds good but

If you could un-invent something, what would it be?

My first thought was hate, then I thought about that cool Eric Church song. The song is called kill a word.

A video featuring the song Kill a word

The song Kill a Word is great sounds good and has a pretty simplistic message. The lyrics read

If I could kill a word and watch it die
I’d poison never, shoot goodbye
Beat regret when I felt I had the nerve
I’d pound fear to a pile of sand
Choke lonely out with my bare hands
I’d hang hate so that it can’t be heard
If I could only kill a word
Yeah, I’d take brokenness out back
And break heartbreak, stand there and laugh
Right in its face while shootin’ it the bird
I’d put upset down in its place
I’d squeeze the life out of disgrace
Lay over under six cold feet of dirt
If I could only kill a word
Give me sticks, give stones
Bend my body, break my bones
Use staff and rod to turn me black and blue
‘Cause you can’t unhear, you can’t unsay
But if were up to me to change
I’d turn lies and hate to love and truth
If I could only kill a word

lyrics from Kill a Word

It is tempting to uninevent or kill something especially something like hate. I consider what impact hate has had on the world and me personally. I have felt hate as a recipient and as a vengeful person. Both sides of hate cause damage. The hater and the hated come out of hate damaged. To uninvent hate would be on the surface a great idea. What caused the hate in the first palace though? The hate we give is different for many, some are taught to hate others hate as a form of vengeance, others hate is triggered by fear. Because hate is so complex maybe this would be to hard of a thing to uninvent. In the United States we use pennies some people hate them because it takes many pennies to make up enough value on the market. I love pennies because I collect them. Every once in a while when my penny banks fill I will roll the pennies and look at each one and appreciate the art that goes into designing and minting the coin. So I don’t want to uninvent pennies.

I have not answered the prompt yet because it is a tough question everything seems to build on everything else and if you take one thing out of the “equation” everything else can and is affected. Remove hate and what will be triggered? Remove pennies and a past time of mine (I know it is super lame) is gone. It is highly abstract but I think I would like to uninvent or remove or kill ignorance.

I was in line at Seaworld in Ohio when I was a child. Me my sisters and parents were waiting for tickets and above the ticket booth there was a tiled image of Shamu. The image looked like it was underwater and for an 11 year old kid it was mesmerizing. I was and still am curious and outspoken. My curiosity compelled 11 year old me to figure out how the image of the killer whale looked as if it was underwater and the outspoken nature made be blurt out the answer to my mother when I realized it. “The whale is made out of tiles that shimmer in the sun!” My mom let me know that, now the whale will not be as magical as I thought because I took out the magic but I have never felt this way. I love a good illusion and ever since the age of 8 I have wanted to know how an illusion is pulled off. Knowing how and why something works for me, is actually more amazing than the illusion itself.

Photo by Dianne Maddox on Pexels.com

Knowledge is power and ignorance is the enemy of knowledge. Ignorance comes from other things kind of like hate but, I can think of no situation where ignorance is better than knowledge. This is because, I truly feel that knowledge when applied can solve any problem.

So yeah if I could uninvent kill or remove anything from the world it would be ignorance.

Get it all in

A few weeks ago while shopping with my wife in a department store we walked past a full length mirror on display. My wife mentioned that, after we finish remolding our bedroom she would like a full length mirror in that bedroom. That mirror immediately made me remember a full length mirror at a work site and the words someone had taped to it. The mirror had the words, check yourself out this is how everyone else sees you.

I have heard many people apologize for the way they have treated others. Most of the apologizes begin with intentions and something along the lines of this is not what I intended.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux

I think very few people wish to hurt or offend others. That being said offensive often happens and when it does and is so egregious that it is made known to the offending party something better than an apology may need to happen like an open honest discussion.

With an open and honest discussion about how and why someone was offended we may be able to prevent further offensive.

The United States of America fought a civil war. The southern part of the country wanted to keep slavery legal and the northern part did not. The war ended the north won and slavery was made illegal. The slavery in the United states was human chattal slavery and all the slaves were Africans or African Americans. Even after slavery the racism that created the slavery system still persisted and even persists now in the United States.

The southern part of the United states flew a battle flag during the civil war. The battle flag of the south was called the stars and bars. The flag offended many black americans because it was flown by the army that fought to keep their race enslaved and later on that same flag was flown by groups that participated in systematic racism. One side fought to keep this flag as a state flag even though it was used by racist organizations commiting racists acts. The desire to keep the flag shows that an open and honest dialogue about the United States history with racism still had not taken place. This all took place in 2004.

Photo by Shane Aldendorff on Pexels.com

Fast forward to 2012 when an unarmed black juvenile was shot to death for “being in the wrong neighbourhood”, by an overzealous neighbourhood watch member. The neighbourhood watch member was found not guilty ad got away with murdering a black child. Trayvon Martin was 17 years old when he was murdered. A hashtag on social media sparked a movement and by 2014 the Black Lives Matter Foundation was born. The movement was not received well by some and is still not received well by many here is another example of a lack in open and honest dialogue about the United States and racism.

Now in 2023 there is a banner in the state of New Hampshire that reads “Keep New England White“. Here is yet again more proof that the open and honest dialogue about the United States history and current racism has not taken place. I do not think the United States can move any further with regards to creating a better society without having this honest and open dialogue about the racism.

Without this open dialogue we as a nation are looking in a mirror that only shows us our best qualities and not the whole picture. It is time to come together and see the entire image and make some changes.

What to do

I had and still have a list of New Years resolutions that i am still trying to achieve. I am however currently about a half a month behind schedule. I am having some trouble with starting this year.

Photo by Heart Rules on Pexels.com

Man on Fire a movie starring Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning was an amazing movie. Denzel was a bodyguard for Dakotas character and bonded with the young girl. The movie is a sweet action movie that is totally worth watching. Denzels character was the bodyguard and driver for the young girl and because he was the driver he had to pick up Dakota from her swim meet. Dakotas character was the strongest and fastest swimmer but she could not win her meet. She could not win a meet because she left the starting block late. Denzel worked with Dakota on “freeing herself” from the block and timing with the pistol. Working together enabled her to dominate at the next meet.

Problems getting started is no reason to quit. Everyone will probably experience problem getting started at one time or another and the answer is to acknowledge the issues and address them not to quit. January is half over but 2023 has just begun. Do not give up on your resolutions just because of a rocky start. I certainly do not plan on giving up on one single resolution.

It wasn’t designed for that

As a software engineer I have been in meetings and watched users of software that I had written or modified use the software in a different way than it was intended to be used. This is common with any tool. Tools that are designed for one use then used for another can become a huge safety hazard, and can damage the tool. The job that is completed using the wrong tool may also be lower quality. So, even though it is done it is not best practice to use a tool for a task that was not intended for that tool.

Researchers say that 5 minute walks every half hour can counteract the health determinants associated with a sedentary lifestyle. The human body is meant to be physically active not sedent. An inactive lifestyle causing many health issues, physical health as well as mental health. Take time today and everyday to get up and get moving.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”

Jim Rohn

It is tempting to try to separate mind, soul and body. It is this abstraction that some of us use to justify a sedentary lifestyle. We claim that we do not have time to focus on the body because we are working on our mind or soul but the body mind and soul are all connected and working on one while abandoning the other is foolish. Today get outside walk just take five minutes every half hour.

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

John Muir

Science continues to research the human body and continues to discover that, the human body needs to be active and outdoor. Outdoor activity makes us happier and healthier and is needed so take a breath and a walk today.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Time to re

I finished a chair over the weekend. I cut and screwed together all the wood for the chair and (insert humble brag here), it looked pretty good. I used some smaller wood screws but assumed that the c HD air would be fine. I stood the chair up and then of course I sat in the chair. The chair was barstool height.

As I sat I felt better about my choice for smaller screws, then from about 4 feet I fell right on my but. I wasn’t seriously injured but I did feel some pain. My pride is hurt and my but is bruised. It is time for me to recuperate, redesign and rebuild.

I will have a cahir that I have built it will just take a little longer than I expected it to take.

Life will break the trick is not to let it break you. We all face setbacks but we cannot allow them to define us.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Set backs cannot demolish you without your permission

Hiral Nagda

There is a growing thought that, success without failure is impossible… I know mind-boggling right? So what is when I win without loosing? Well that is just luck.

Success is something which happens a consequence of our actions. Luck is something that happens based purely on chance. So failure is and will always be part of the process that brings us success. There is no shame in failure only n giving up.

There’s no shame in failing. The only shame is not giving things your best shot.

Robin Williams

I swear it’s not too late

From the steps of the Lincoln memorial Martin Luther King Jr. made his “I have a Dream Speech”.

I have a dream, that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ 

Martin Luther King Jr.

Two years later on March 25th 1965 in Montgomery Alabama Martin Luther King Jr. looked out at the crowd from the steps of the capital building and gave his “Our God is Marching on speech”.

And, behind the dim unknown,

Standeth God within the shadow,

Keeping watch above his own.

How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. lived in violent times and died violently. If Martin Luther King Jr. were not assassinated and he were still alive today he would be 93 years old, however chances are high that he would not be alive today. The Life expectancy for African American males in the United States is 68 years old (white males in the United States have a life expectancy of 77 years). It seems that violence is still with us and it can feel like it will be with us always but, I can imagine and hope for a time when violence is not a dominant human trait. Why can I do this? I can do this because of data and science.

Photo by Diva Plavalaguna on Pexels.com

We are living in one of the most peaceful times in the history of the earth. Recorded human history of the earth. I know that it doesn’t feel peaceful, and I agree that it is still far to violent on the earth, Russia just invaded the Ukraine and the continent of Africa feels like it is always in a state of violent political upheaval, however the numbers show that violence is decreasing

Violence has been in decline over long stretches of time, and we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species’ existence.

Steven Pinker

There is a theory among evolutionary biologist and it is called Self Domestication. To make a long theory short and put it in laymen’s terms, self domestication among humans purposes that large societies and communities domesticate the species through capital punishment or exile of the violent members of the species. As humans evolve to become less violent we notice physical changes, smaller teeth, less dense bones, more reproductive cells and smaller hearts. So the science is growing and still learning but right now it looks like humanity is becoming domesticated and far less violent.

I can believe and hope for a more peaceful future because of science and date. I will always hope for and work towards a more peaceful future because I cannot imagine living any other way. I refuse to give up on the idea that humanity can do better.