# Sunday, January 3, 2021

1/3
Today I am grateful to charitable organizations that find uses for my excess stuff.

1/2
Today I am grateful
-to watch football yesterday with my sons
-to have my son Nick visit here for the week

1/1
Today I am grateful for the possibilities that a new year brings.

12/31
Today I am grateful to catch up with Ondrej and Hattan this week.

12/30
Today I am grateful
-to wake up to a blanket of snow over the city
-to watch Premier League Soccer with my sons yesterday.

12/29
Today I am grateful that my son is visiting me this week.

12/28
Today I am grateful for a second pair of eyeglasses - ideal for reading my computer screen.

12/27
Today I am grateful for a second pair of eyeglasses - ideal for reading my computer screen.

12/26
Today I am grateful for a virtual Christmas celebration with my family yesterday.

12/25
Today I am grateful that God loved us enough to send us his only son.

12/24
Today I am grateful:
-to return to the dentist for the first time in over a year
-for an unseasonably warm day yesterday and hours spent outside

12/23
Today I am grateful to hang out virtually last night with Lee, Matthew, and Serene.

12/22
Today I am grateful to exchange emails with old friends this week.

12/21
Today I am grateful for "Fargo"

12/19
Today I am grateful for my safe deposit box, which is now holding my Will and Power of Attorney.

12/18
Today I am grateful to hang out virtually with Mike this morning.

12/17
Today I am grateful to have my towel rack and toilet handle repaired.

12/16
Today I am grateful:
-for a portrait from David
-to my son who drove over to fix my TV last night
-to start my vacation

12/15
Today I am grateful for Doctor Who

12/14
Today I am grateful for my son's first day working at Microsoft.

12/13
Today I am grateful to drive around Lincolnwood last night with friends looking at holiday light displays.

12/12
Today I am grateful for spellcheckers

12/11
Today I am grateful for surprisingly mild weather yesterday.

12/10
Today I am grateful to fix the switch that toggles water flow between shower and bath, so it no longer sends half the water to each.

12/9
Today I am grateful to my friend Jerry, who shares the knowledge whenever he learns a new word.

12/8
Today I am grateful that my brother is back with his family after months in the US and weeks quarantining in Australia.

12/7
Today I am grateful for a walk around my neighborhood with my son before he drove home yesterday.

Sunday, January 3, 2021 4:09:28 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, January 2, 2021

Liane Moriarty's 2014 novel Big Little Lies is about secrets in a small town. The story focuses on three friends in Pirriwee - a beach town north of Sydney, Australia.

Single mother Jane arrives in Pirriwee with her 5-year-old son Ziggy. At Ziggy's kindergarten, he is accused of choking one of his female classmates. Rumors about Ziggy continue throughout the school year and some of the Kindergarten parents pressure the school to remove the boy. The Parents take sides in this battle. Two mothers - Madeline and Celeste - befriend Jane and ally themselves with her.

At the novel's beginning, the reader learns that a murder will be committed. This murder is referenced throughout the story, but we must wait until the end to learn who is involved and why.

Moriarty slowly and masterfully peels away layers of her characters to reveal their flaws and the secrets they are hiding.

Madeline is jealous of the affection her daughter Abigail shows to her ex-husband and his new wife Bonnie. Abigail initiates a fundraising campaign that shocks her parents and stepparents.

Celeste is a beautiful woman with two beautiful twins. Her rich, handsome husband Perry is charming and generous; but he flies into a range every few months and beats his wife. Even her closest friends don't suspect the tragedy of her marriage.

And Jane is hiding a dark secret about Ziggy's father.

On one level, the book is a humorous tale of catty, desperate housewives in a suburban community. But Moriarty takes it far beyond that. It is a story of strong women trying to survive against real problems. It is filled with victim blaming, including self-blame by the victims themselves. It shines a light on spousal abuse, bullying, sexual assault, and gossip.

I enjoyed it to the end.

Saturday, January 2, 2021 9:33:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, December 28, 2020

Episode 641

Ed Charbeneau on Blazor Testing

Microsoft Blazor presents some challenges for those creating automated tests. Ed Charbeneau describes ways to address these challenges and some tools to help you create unit tests and functional tests.

Links:
http://blogs.telerik.com
https://youtu.be/WdB723tIWg0
https://twitter.com/edcharbeneau
https://twitch.tv/codeitlive
https://www.twitch.tv/edcharbeneau

Monday, December 28, 2020 9:43:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, December 27, 2020

Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune remains a classic more than a half century after its release.

Dune The Graphic Novel Book 1 shows how hard it is to adapt this great novel visually. David Lynch failed miserably with his 1984 movie and the Syfy Channel had slight success with 2000 mini-series.

Herbert's son Brian Herbert teams with author Kevin J. Anderson to write the text for this adaptation and they do a good job. The pair have made their reputation with a series of respectable novels set in the Dune universe. They are assisted by artist Raul Allen and letterer Patricia Martin.

The graphic novel is good; The storytelling is faithful to the original; the art is attractive; the lettering is good (although I had an issue with some unnecessary low-contrast text on backgrounds), so overall I liked this graphic novel. The main issue comes with the lack of subtlety. While the elder Herbert infused his story with multiple layer and secreted hidden meanings within each line of dialogue, this story is much more straightforward. As such, it lacks the subtlety that made the original so great.

This graphic novel is good to read after finishing the Dune book. The novel can be intimidating, and it is easy to miss things the first time around. This comic helps to clarify them. But do yourself a favour and do not start with the graphic novel. You will miss the excitement of discovering the story layers as they are slowly unfolded within Frank Herbert's original prose.

Sunday, December 27, 2020 7:58:02 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, December 21, 2020

Episode 640

David Neal on Hand Drawn Illustrations for Powerful Storytelling

David Neal is a technical presenter who often gives inspirational talks. A few years ago, he began adding his own artwork to his slides. He talks about his approach and how it has affected the stories he tells.

Links:
https://twitter.com/reverentgeek
https://www.instagram.com/reverentgeek/
https://reverentgeek.com/
david@reverentgeek.com

Monday, December 21, 2020 9:06:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Founding Fathers of the United States hold a special place in my country's history. Centuries after they lived, people still speak with reverence of men like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. Yet one man of this era stands above even these giants. George Washington cemented his place in history by leading the American army that defeated the British in the Revolution War; then, serving as the first President of the United States.

Ron Chernow's biography Washington: A Life details the General/President's rise and how handled the power he was given.

Washington was born into an upper-middle class family; but rose to become one of the landed gentry by a series of fortuitous events: his widowed mother married a wealthy farmer and George inherited the large estate at Mount Vernon by outliving all other possible heirs; then, George married wealthy widow Martha Custis.

When the American Revolution began, Washington led a poorly-equipped, ill-trained army to victory over one of the great powers in the world. He did so despite infighting among his officers and the young country's lawmakers.

After the war, Washington was the most popular man in America and the logical choice to serve as its first leader. He won the Presidency unanimously and served two terms despite his desire to return to his Virginia estate and manage the farms there.

In his first term, George Washington attempted to unite the factions of the young country - surrounding himself with people of varying opinions. His cabinet and advisors included Northerners and southerners; slaveholders and abolitionists; those who favored a centralized government and those suspicious of concentrated power. Fierce debates arose as to whether the US should align itself more closely with England or France - two countries at war with one another. By his second term, Washington had tired of the infighting among his advisors and those that criticized him publicly. Quarrels between Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, and Madison left him weary and disillusioned, so he retained a more homogeneous cabinet for his final four years in office.

As with Chernow's earlier biography of Alexander Hamilton, "Washington: A Life" goes beyond the historical facts and gives the reader a taste for Washington's character and personality. Washington was arrogant, stoic, and aloof; he was not given to long speeches, but he was eloquent in his writing; he rejected the idea of a British-style monarchy for America and was hurt that some thought he had ambitions of becoming king; he desperately wanted to leave public life and return to managing Mount Vernon (during the War, he corresponded frequently with the managers of his estate); he was unwavering in his honesty and integrity; he was highly conscious of his public image; he enjoyed the luxuries that came with wealth; he had a difficult relationship with his overly-demanding mother.

In this book, we see a complex man, who held together a nation during arguably its most vulnerable time. Few people had the universal respect to pull off this miracle.

Washington had a strong sense of duty that drove him to server in public office, despite his cash flow problems, which could have been better addressed by staying home and managing his estate. Ultimately, he was the unifying force that the young republic needed. His actions strengthened the central government and the country and defined the office of presidency.

But Washington had his faults.

As a general, he was not a great strategist - he lost more battles than he won - but held together a ragtag, underfunded army for years until the British forces committed a blunder he could exploit.

The most controversial aspect of Washington's life is his status as a slave owner. : or note that he appeared to treat his slaves better than his peers (Washington forbade beatings and refused to separate families).

Arguably the most conflicted aspect Washington was his dealings with slavery and Chernow covers this topic considerably. Washington and his wife owned hundreds of slaves and made almost no public effort to promote abolition. Yet he spoke privately of his desire to end slavery and thought the practice would eventually die out on its own. He showed less cruelty to his slaves than most other Virginia farmers, establishing rules against physical beatings and separating families; but he sometimes broke these rules when he felt it was necessary. One can take into account that nearly every wealthy Virginia landowner owned slaves and one can note that he freed his slaves in his will. But he remained publicly silent on the political hot topic, despite being in a position of great influence. Washington's position on slavery evolved throughout his lifetime, but he seems to have never fully grasped the inhumanity and cruelty inherent in one human being owning another

These are the kinds of things that Chernow presents to the reader to show the humanity and complexity of or first President. He praises Washington's achievements, while stripping away his legendary status, showing him as a great, but flawed human, not a demi-god or saint

If you are looking for a comprehensive biography of one of the most influential men in American history - a book that covers his entire life, this one is for you.

Saturday, December 19, 2020 5:08:28 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, December 14, 2020

Episode 639

Kyle Bunting and Joel Hulen on Data Engineering in Azure

Kyle Bunting and Joel Hulen of Solliance describe Data Engineering and some of tools, such as Azure Synapse Analytics, that allow you to perform Data Engineering at scale in the cloud.

Links:

https://www.solliance.net/

Monday, December 14, 2020 10:15:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, December 13, 2020

The galactic Emperor had a hidden agenda when he ordered House Atreides to move to the Arrakis, replacing House Harkonnen as the planet's ruling family. Arrakis is a desolate wasteland covered almost entirely in desert, earning it the nickname "Dune"; but Arrakis is the only source of the spice melange - the most valuable substance in the universe.

Duke Leto Atreides's teenage son Paul is beginning to manifest mystical powers that will aid him in the coming battles and betrayals and in his fight for survival on a hostile planet.

Frank Herbert's classic novel Dune is the most complex science fiction novel I have read. In addition to an adventure story and a coming-of-age novel, the book includes insights into politics, sociology, ecology, economics, religion, philosophy, and language. Nearly every dialogue is layered with multiple meanings and nearly every action is a potential betrayal.

Herbert does an amazing job building the world of Arrakis and its people.

Among the creations of the book are:

-Sand Worms - giant tubular creatures that live beneath the surface of the desert sand, as sea dragons might swim in the ocean, breaching the surface from time to time to wreak havoc on protection of the spice.

  • The Bene Gesserit - a cultlike group with impressive mental powers, who strive to produce a superhuman via their secret breeding program.
  • The Fremen - a mysterious nomadic race that live in the deserts of Dune and have a special relationship with the sand worms.
  • Mentats - humans with the ability to think like computers

Although Dune is set centuries in the future, technology has not advanced at the rate one would expect. Advancements have been stunted by humanity's distrust of artificial intelligence and a war fought centuries earlier. Things like interplanetary travel have been made possible by the powers of the Bene Gesserit and the Mentats and the mind-expanding abilities of melange.

The local water scarcity, the global spice monopoly, and the struggle for control between powerful factions serve as a metaphor for similar constrained resources and conflicts on the Earth of today and the effect on global politics. The vast sand oceans and the Fremen people are not far removed from the 20th and 21st century Middle East.

Through it all is Paul - son of a Duke and gifted with great powers that lead others to perceive him as a Messiah. How he uses those powers defines him and defines the power structure of the galaxy.

This was my third reading of this novel, which I first discovered in my late 20s. After all these years, it still holds my interest.

Sunday, December 13, 2020 7:40:54 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, December 7, 2020

Episode 638

Emily Cooper on the ISTI STEM Challenge

The Illinois Science & Technology Institute (ISTI) organizes a STEM Challenge that allows high school students to work on real-world problems with industry mentors.

Emily Cooper talks about this program, its goals, and the organization.

Monday, December 7, 2020 9:58:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, December 6, 2020

12/6
Today I am grateful for a warm home on cold days.

12/5
Today I am grateful to my building's maintenance staff which fixed a bunch of things in my condo yesterday.

12/4
Today I am grateful for a visit from my son Nick.

12/3
Today I am grateful for online shopping

12/2
Today I am grateful for my son's new job.

12/1
Today I am grateful for new tires on my car.

11/30
Today I am grateful to get my bicycle's gears repaired.

11/29
Today I am grateful for a Spartan trifecta yesterday: Michigan State victories in football, basketball, and ice hockey!

11/28
Today I am grateful to those who express appreciation.

11/27
Today I am grateful to celebrate virtual Thanksgiving with family yesterday.

11/26
Today I am grateful to receive phone calls from people I care about.

11/25
Today I am grateful to successfully complete work on a project on which we have been working for months.

11/24
Today I am grateful to awaken to a gently falling snow.

11/23
Today I am grateful for movies and TV on-demand.

11/22
Today I am grateful for unseasonably warm late November Chicago weather.

11/21
Today I am grateful for dinner at The Publican with Tim last night.

11/20
Today I am grateful for my new (to me) Herman Miller Aeron chair.

11/19
Today I am grateful for a negative COVID-19 test.

11/18
Today I am grateful for a hot bath.

11/17
Today I am grateful that American Express quickly replaced my lost card.

11/16
Today I am grateful for my new AirPods.

11/15
Today I am grateful for
-a chance to explore the Natchez Trace yesterday
-an 8-day vacation with visits to Springfield, St. Louis, Memphis, and Nashville.


11/14
Today I am grateful to sit around a bonfire last night with Gaines and Mary.

11/13
Today I am grateful for:
-3 great days in Memphis
-live music last night at Printer's Alley in Nashville
-a bike ride yesterday around Richmond Creek

11/12
Today I am grateful for:
-my first visit to Mississippi
-a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis yesterday

11/11
Today I am grateful for a bike ride along the Shelby Farms Greenline Trail in Memphis yesterday.

11/10
Today I am grateful for
-My first-ever visit to Arkansas
-Seeing live music last night on Beale Street
-Meeting Glenn Campbell's son and telling him how much I enjoyed his father's music.

11/9
Today I am grateful for:
-Brunch yesterday with Jeffrey and his family yesterday
-The hospitality and generosity of Kevin and Darlene this weekend.

11/8
Today I am grateful for the millions of Americans who voted against dishonesty, hate, and racism.

11/7
Today I am grateful for my new bike helmet.

11/6
Today I am grateful that John has returned with his puns to save us all.

11/5
Today I am grateful to attend non-work meetings yesterday with my co-workers as part of our annual OneWeek event.

11/4
Today I am grateful to learn a lot about web security yesterday.

11/3
Today I am grateful for the opportunity to vote.

11/2
Today I am grateful for my new bicycle phone mount.

Sunday, December 6, 2020 11:01:20 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)