Tuesday, November 29, 2016

California votes to Regulate Cow, um, Emissions.

The link is here.  I mainly wonder what the position of the Libertarians is on this.  Should human flatulence be regulated by law?  And how about cows?  Presumably the legalizing of marijuana has freed up regulators so that they can make sure cows behave.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mission Peak in the Rain

Saturday was a rainy mud stomp up Mission Peak.  This photo was from the 1900 foot elevation level looking at the 2500 foot summit.  The wind was blowing hard so that the rain was stinging my face, which left me doubtful about reaching the top.  The winds get stronger as you get higher and sometime it is impossible to stand on the summit.  Much of the rest of the climb was on the down-wind side of the peak, so I continued on while a cloud blew in and made it all foggy.  Reaching the top, the wind died down, but there wasn't much of a view while standing in the fog with the rain.  Beautiful.  There was one minor fall on the way down going through the mud, but I was expecting it so no problem.

It cleared a bit on the way down, so here is a view of the hangars at Moffett Field and NASA Ames Research Center which are across the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay from where I live.  The levies are part of a system of salt evaporator ponds that have been constructed around the bay. The rain picked up again towards the end, which help get the mud off of me and made for a perfect ending.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

How to park a boat?

This is the other side of the little strip of land that protects Bodega Bay from the waves.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Remembering The Birds

It happened in Bodega Bay back in 1962, so we had to drop in and see the place.  It was 1963 when the documentary was released to the public by Alfred Hitchcock.  The challenge for those of us who have lived a long time in the San Francisco Bay Area is to find new areas of exploration.  The solution this time was to show my wife the movie and then follow the countless others on a pilgrimage to Bodega Bay.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Point Reyes National Seashore

Trying to find a quiet place to hang out for Thanksgiving.  Usually I head up to Tahoe, but the snow has started and the hotels are short on rooms, thus, my wife and I have headed north up the coast instead.  Point Reyes National Seashore has a lot of little places to explore, but we usually just rush through and hit the highlights.  This time I want to spend some more time to hike different kinds of trails.  Today we did the climb up Mount Wittenberg, although somehow the name, Mount Wittenberg, seems redundant.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Something in the Water

It is good to be back in my lake.  One of my swim partners announced that her next goal is swimming the 22.5 miles of Loch Ness, which is a challenge since the max water temperature is about 54 degrees.  I don't mind 54 degrees for an hour or so, but 10 hours is a different matter.  Wondering how Nessie will react to a swimmer.  Meanwhile, the winter die back of plant life is going in the nearby lake which causes the remains to float to the surface for a time.  I have an allergic skin reaction when this rubs against me, so I have been using sunblock to minimize this, even though there is no sun.  This time I switched to Desitin, which is just a thicker version of Zinc-Oxide than the sunblock has.  The other side of the equation is that the temperature in the water will drop to winter levels in about a month and a half, so I must swim regularly to acclimate.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Election Ramblings

Schadenfreude.  'nuff said.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Food Poisoning

This feels like some sort of Ursula moment.  The poisoning probably happened near the end of my Singapore stay and kicked in just before and during my 14.5 hour flight home.  Writing this two days later, I have been dizzy, dealing with diarrhea, and alternating between chills and sweating.  It is good to be home.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Polar Bears and Habitats

The boarding passes for the return trip have been set, and I am looking forward to getting back into the Northern California lake as the winter temperature sets in.  The second memorial is now done.  Less than 24-hours and we will say good-bye to Singapore and a beloved brother.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

The Forbidden Fruit

Some people think it was an apple.  Those who have been to Singapore, however, know the truth:

The forbidden fruit is actually a durian.  As can be seen from the photo, the punishment for bringing such a fruit onto the public transport is incalculable.  The other important observation is that among those who have eaten the fruit, some know that it is good, while others know that it is evil.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

A multi-cultural funeral

It certainly wasn't in my mind a week ago that I would be in Indonesia participating in a funeral.  The challenge here was that the deceased is a Christian Chinese, and a Christian ceremony was requested.  This was indicated by a prominent cross next to his picture.  As the husband of the oldest sibling, custom required me to do a short bit of talking, which I would have preferred not to do.  In hind sight it was definitely necessary and right.  The ceremony was led by an Indonesian Christian pastor in Indonesian.  The relatives of the deceased mostly didn't understand Indonesian, but there was a large number of Muslim Indonesians present to listen as the crowd was treated to a short sermon and a few Christian songs with familiar tunes.  The pastor didn't seem to know any other languages and I only know a smattering of Malay/Indonesian words, so we weren't able to communicate.

Some Japanese guests were in attendance which gave me a brief chance to dust off a long unused language.  Black was the usual color, although for some it was black T-shirts and shorts.  Things aren't so formal here, but that is fine with me due to the warm, humid tropical air.  A feature of the ceremony was a professional photography crew along with a video camera.  Groups were arranged around the casket for picture taking in a manner similar to a wedding.  This is much different from the procession of guests past the casket in the US.  With this ceremony done, we proceeded with police escort from one side of Surabaya to the outskirts on the opposite side to a crematorium.  Our Indonesian guests came separately by a different route all on motor scooters.  Another picture taking ceremony was the result, before committing the casket to the flames.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Checking your Urn'ings

Singapore's relentless drive for efficiency has resulted in a standardization of urn sizes for remains that is a bit smaller than what was provided in Indonesia.  Normally this wouldn't matter, but Singapore also has a government high-rise cemetery for storing urns with their memorial plaques in a clever vertical structure.  This is all part of a complex with industrially efficient crematoriums.  I am wondering a bit about the carbon efficiency of all this, but no doubt this will be taken care of the next time I have to return here.

Today's activities were certainly appropriate for Halloween.  It was one of taking urn measurements, discussing plaque layouts, and picking a proper location in the Christian side of the facility.  The plaques that I saw all had Christian verses on them, so I was asked to help pick out one for the plaque.  I recommended Isaiah 41:10 as offered by Max, but they instead chose Philippians 4:7 -

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Since this will be inscribed in Chinese, I will give this version:


In case anyone else is thinking this might be a good place for a loved one, I will include this list for you (in Singapore dollars):

More details on this are here.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Mourning

Today I had to gaze upon the dead body of a dear brother-in-law who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack.  I was joined by his mother, his wife, his sisters and brother, and his son, along with a number of other relatives.  We tend to be fairly private in our affairs, so I won't say too much.  Now, I mostly have the memories of being with him off and on over the nearly 40 years that I have known him.  Among our family pictures hanging on our wall are some of him as a young boy.  Later he was very successful in his studies and this led to a long running career as a businessman.  With many older parents and other relatives, he was the last person I expected to get The Call about.  But so it happens as God gives life and places special people in our lives for a time, but then takes them away according to His eternal plan.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Call

It was inevitable, but we don't like to think about it.  Either we get The Call about someone else or they get The Call about us.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Yoga Pants Controversy

In case anyone hasn't heard about this, you can get the details here.  My first observation is that what are termed "Yoga Pants" were formally known as "tights", and don't have anything to do with Yoga.  I can't really be sure why call their tights Yoga Pants, but perhaps it makes them feel more sophisticated.

Other than this I must express my sympathy for those women who must choose between wearing Yoga Pants and wearing a Burka.  It is a terrible thing to be forced to choose between these extremes because modesty and decency are now public outrages.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Resistance is Futile

It makes a catchy campaign theme/slogan.  However, I am not sure after Brexit and the Columbian peace treaty with FARC that this is really the sensible way to proceed.  But then there is Venezuela.

Seasons are changing

The lake temperature is slowly cooling with some leaves now along the edges.  Most of the trees along the banks don't show too many signs of changing their color yet, but their leaves should all be in the water after another month.  A lingering cough is the only problem with swimming.  Part of me dreads the cold that is coming, but another part is confident that I will be able to handle it.

Now I am trying to decide if I will sign up for the Alcatraz New Year swim again.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

"God will give us the president that we deserve."

That was my answer to an inquiry at a party about whether it should be Trump or Hillary.  Clearly we have been bad as a nation and some punishment is needed.  Or maybe I should say that the punishment needs to be raised to another level.

A related item is a memory of growing up on the edge of Appalachia.  We had a derogatory term for poor whites who were especially believed to be morally loose: "White Trash".  A difference of today is that revelations or accusations of such behavior from the nominees no longer result in any surprise.  What was formerly an exception is now mainstream, having been fully embraced by academia and modernist theologians, with Hollywood a little behind.   The damaging thing to the prospects of a potential candidate is a revelation of a clean past.  Clearly that would point to some sort of extra-terrestrial disguised as a human.  This would be much more scary.  The final irony isg that those who are loudest about condemning Trump from the left for his behavior are the same ones who are desperately mainstreaming Trump's behavior into America's culture, government and legal system.

"Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
Why would you have the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, and not light,
as if a man fled from a lion, 
and a bear met him,
or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
and a serpent bit him.
Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light,
and gloom with no brightness in it?" - Amos 5:18-20

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Happiness: Brits :( vs Americans :)

This post is inspired by an article by a Brit who was suffering from culture shock here in Silicon Valley.  (Note: I am actually in Tucson, Arizona, but most of the time I hang out in Silicon Valley.)

I am in general agreement with the author on a few points, including the general theme:  That the pursuit of happiness is a self-defeating goal.  Happiness shouldn't be an end in itself.  But then again, I am not quite convinced that the Brits' laser-like focus on cynicism really makes them happier either.
My real belief is that happiness should be a side effect of a sensible pursuit of other more plausible goals.  Or maybe it is just something you experience when you finally doze off to sleep knowing that you have a few hours before the storms of life become apparent to you again.

The real Christian pursuit, however, is of suffering:  "Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me'" (Matthew 16:24).  Or perhaps "present your bodies as a living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1), which means volunteering for some Indiana Jones style treatment by the barbarians, but of a life-time duration. And Jesus enticed the apostle Paul to convert with this promise: "For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." (Acts 9:16)   The joy is something we are supposed to look forward to in another life.  Or maybe it is something that the pain just brings out.  For the time being, pain is cool and happiness isn't.

Those who are worried about whether they are happy or not clearly have too much idle time.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Monday, September 26, 2016

Debate Result

My wife and I had a nice evening doing grocery shopping and ignored the debate.  My conclusion is that the winners are the ones who had something better to do and the losers are the ones who watched the debate.