Saturday, October 31, 2015

Eastward into Big Easy or (Never Pass Up an Opportunity to Get Gas or Use the Restroom) or (How to look like you did the nasty when you didn't) Part 1

The story really starts just a little north in Vicksburg Mississippi. At a well known road side destination for octagenarians driving vehicles way too long for them to drive, flaunting their inflated retirement accounts in mobile houses. One could park 3 cars in the same space these establishments dedicate to the RVs. Anyway...

We stopped to eat lunch in preparation for our final descent to the bottom of America and our vacation in New Orleans.

Having lived in New Orleans for a couple of years in the late 90s we were familiar with the city's layout and reasonably confident of our ability to find our way around. But we made a mistake. We approached from the west having driven down I55 to the west end of Lake Ponchartrain and entered the city on I10 through the swamps. We had always approached from the East in the past.

Just about an hour from New Orleans, the lunch I had eaten; please excuse the graphic details; was trying to climb its way out of my butt. Patt could hear the rumbling in my belly and she surely could see the odd way I shifted from cheek to cheek every other mile or so.

Did I mention that we were almost out of gas?

Did I mention that there are no gas stations in the swamp, except of course, as Patt reminded me, the 3 or 4 I had passed back there some ways?

We took the correct exit off of the interstate that should have taken us East to Canal Street then a right on St. Charles and oila! the Lafayette Hotel, just a 15 minute walk to the Cafe Du Monde.

Did I mention that we were out of gas?
Did I mention that it we drove directly into the Halloween Parade?
Did I mention that there are at least 3 Canal Streets in New Orleans?
Did I mention that East, West, South, and North get all jumbled up when one is navigating the bowl of spaghetti that is the downtown New Orleans road system?
Did I mention that many of the streets no longer have road signs to let you know which road one is on or which road one is turning onto?

Grumble, Rumble, shift a cheek, let out a sigh. Something bad was going to happen -- and soon!

(to be continued)

Saturday, October 17, 2015


Image result for know it all

The Age of Data is upon us and it has pummeled us near to death. Was a time when what I didn’t know didn’t worry me. Now I am expected to know too much and my brain is full. I now have to make a conscious decision about what I am going to delete from my brain to make room for the latest thing I must remember. This decision is not made arbitrarily. Not at all! I have a risk based algorithm I use to determine what will happen if I forget the last thing I was supposed to remember after I delete it from my memory bank for the newest thing I can’t fail to remember. What I did not realize until well after developing this algorithm, is that the algorithm itself, this mathematical formula I needed to clear the memory banks, was, indeed, something else I needed to remember. Anyone with me here?

So, I did what the rest of the world seems to be doing: exporting all the things I have to remember to an external databank, so I have room in my brain for things I used to enjoy: like 19th century French literature, Patrick O’Brian and John Le Carre novels, and memorizing poetry. The benefit to this, and the only benefit I can find, is that it takes up space somewhere else, though I find I am getting stupider as the days go on.

Internet thou art my memory, thou art my knowledge, thou art my sage, thou art my oracle!

There is a secret to maintaining one’s humanity when relying on the internet to store one’s memory and answer one’s questions. If one can do that; maintain one’s essential humanity whilst enjoying the ability to present the illusion of omnipotent wisdom, one can become truly wise.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there are essentially three types of people using the internet: only one of which should one want to become.

The internet is replete with people who have nothing better to do than to tell the world how much they know about everything. This is the first kind of person and without them the internet would be empty.

The second kind of person is the kind that is too lazy to read books (books require work and are full of all sorts of extra things like…words?) or to experience things themselves (like looking at pictures and headlines for a political rally rather than really attending the rally). Without these people, the internet would be full but not used by anyone but the know-it-alls telling no one how much of everything they know.

Regardless of the search engine one elects to use, the main one, or the dozens of others, type in any question into the magic window and one will get an answer. Seriously, try it. Here are real questions searched on the internet (courtesy of

If I eat myself will I become twice as big or disappear altogether?

I ate 52 pizza rolls am I going to die?

Why do black people call say Monica to each other?

What is the phobia of chainsaws called? Answer: Common Sense.

Each of the questions by the second kind of person was, of course, answered by the first kind of person.

Here’s the third kind of person, and the kind I endeavor to be. I want to leverage the first two kind of people, without giving preference to either one, without them knowing about it, and as often as possible. If I am going to have to live with this internet thing, I am going to get as much out of it as I can.
I had to take a service call at a local health care facility where they were having problems with a battery back up to a large instrument they were using. "It keeps beeping" they say.
I looked for the user's manual, really I did. See I tried to read.
I searched through menu after menu of the back up system until I final stumbled upon the error code log. See I "experienced" in real life, the real thing that was there in front of me.
Then, not knowing what the error code meant, because the makers of the battery back up couldn't do something like give me real words to read, they had to put in a special code. I searched the internet.
Here's what I typed: "What does error code 199 on an Eaton 9130 powersupply mean?"
Of course, someone who had nothing better to do, wanted to show the world how much he know about everything, posted the answer to this very question. The question, by the way, had been asked before, because the search engine, popped the question up onto my screen before I finished typing.

Be the third person not the other two. Somewhere, someone has asked the internet a question and somewhere there is someone who thinks they have the answer. By taking advantage of this symbiotic relationship between the know-it-all and the lazy…you have your answer.

Now go search the internet for the definition of “symbiotic”.