Again….

And yet again another mass shooting at a school. This will of course, once again, ignite the gun control debate. Since I am an Army retiree I am a bit conflicted on the whole gun control issue.

When I first enlisted back in 1976, I took the oath and swore to “Defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.” I believed in that oath in 1976, and I still believe in it today.

So does that mean that I have to support private gun ownership? To me the second amendment reads;

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Source: Wikipedia

I read that, first as a “Well regulated militia”. If I remember my history correctly when the constitution was written, the “upstart” United States may have had a standing Army, but nothing that could be called up quickly for any local problems, i.e. a sudden raid or offensive by the British Army. Hence the creation of a local militia. In today’s world, we call that militia the National Guard (I know this because my son is in the Guard). We no longer have the need for the local authorities (a mayor of a town, the local council etc..) to call up able-bodied men (and maybe women) to arms themselves and defend their homesteads.

However, the second part of that amendment “…the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” leaves some wiggle room. I have no problem with private, RESPONSIBLE gun ownership. My son has a weapon, as does my brother-in-law, and several friends and neighbors. I, personally do not. In my years as a paramedic in the Army, I have seen all too well the carnage that all kinds of weapons can inflict on the human body. I want no part of that. I am very much a pacifist. If that means, I’m the first to die in some “invasion” or whatever, so be it.

So where does that leave me? Or better yet, what is the definition of “responsible gun ownership”? For me, that means, self-defense for you and your loved ones. Also, for hunting and sustaining lives with the meat from those kills. That leaves out “trophy” hunting. I was so very pleased to read about the poacher that was mauled to death by the lion he was hunting in South Africa. I never find joy in the taking of any human life, but in this case, I feel justice was served.

Does that mean you can use “any weapon”? I don’t believe so. I see absolutely no need for any semi-automatic weapons in the hands of any civilian. Why would you need an AR-15 (or an M-16 – same weapon – for the military folks) to hunt? Knowing the damage that this weapon causes to the human body (and goats, as I had to do a “goat lab” when in training – after knocking a goat out, they shot it with an M-16 in a non-life threatening way, for us to treat the wound). There would be very little meat left to eat if you shot the average deer with an AR-15.

Do you need it for home defense? Not likely. Remember, the Governor would have called up the National Guard before this would be necessary.

And all this returns us to the beginning of this post. More school children have been killed because Congress (and maybe the Office of the President) refuse to do anything other than send “prayers and thoughts”. And as far as I’m concerned “prayers and thoughts” are nothing but bullshit. Pure and empty wishes. Instead, the NRA, which I believe should be labeled a terrorist organization, just gives more money to the congressmen (and women) they have in their pockets, and nothing gets done.

We need legislation, and we need it now. It’s time we vote out everyone who refuses to act on any gun control reform, both Republicans and Democrats. 2018 is the year to get them out of there. Start at the top. I say Impeach him now! But, I don’t think we have anything we can impeach him on (yet). But let’s get the ball rolling even stronger. Maybe we should vote EVERYBODY out and start all over again.

But we need better gun control legislation. I’m not advocating taking guns from people. But maybe, I am. Assault style rifles, semi-automatic weapons, “bump stocks” and other military-style weapons should be removed from the general public. There is no damn need for them in a home. You want to fire one? Go to a firing range. Maybe we could allow them to have them on hand for people to experience shooting them. I know there are ranges that have special licenses for fully automatic weapons. So this would allow people to have the same experiences.

But I doubt any of this will come about until a congressman’s child is killed in a random shooting. Sad to say, but I seriously think that’s what it’s going to take. But even then, if it’s a white person doing the shooting, they will claim its “mental illness” if it’s a “refugee” (especially someone from the middle east), then it’s “terrorism”. It’s never the fact that almost anyone can get a weapon, no matter what their background check says.

I have bipolar type 2 disorder. This should disqualify me from being able to buy a weapon. I could easily turn it on myself, or others with no warning simply if my meds aren’t doing their job that day. But I know, I could walk into a pawn shop or even a gun shop or two in this area and with my military ID, walk out with a handgun. I may not even have to wait the required 3 days.

So, after all is said and done, I’m still at a loss. The carnage will continue. Nothing will happen in Congress, the NRA will get more powerful, and more people will die.  If Sandy Hook didn’t change anything, if Las Vegas didn’t change anything, and if Stoneman Douglas doesn’t change anything, I doubt the other 18 school shootings this year will change anything either.

For those that read this and say “If you don’t like it leave”, sorry no. I choose reform. You can leave if you’d like.

Comments are welcome, just know any “hate speech” type of comments will be deleted. I have no problem if you disagree with me, but let’s keep it clean and honest. I know there are more than one view on this subject, and this is mine. Feel free to express your view.

Peace,
B

Empty Post

No need to like this post, it’s simply a test post. Seems that every time I post something, I will get at least one “like” within seconds with no views recorded. No way someone could have read my entire post that quick. So I’m checking for who has a script running. I figure it’s a ploy to get views on their (probably virus-laden) site.

So here goes nothing… And I’ll throw in a video to make it interesting.

Peace,
B

A Review Of The Google Pixel 2XL And The Google Mini

My old LG5 was having major issues. It wouldn’t charge most of the time requiring me to keep it plugged in both at home and on my desk at work, texting would suddenly just not respond. The keyboard.. well I won’t go into all the problems I had with that.

So I ordered myself a Pixel 2XL directly from Google. I decided to by-pass by cell carrier, Verizon, for two reasons. First, by buying directly from Google I get the monthly security updates AND any OS updates long before big red will send them out. Second, no app bloat. The phone didn’t come loaded with all the usual Verizon apps that I never use anyway. Seriously, has anyone ever used the NFL Mobile app? So this is a much cleaner phone, and therefore runs much smoother.

I also opted for the 128GB model so I could download my Spotify playlists and not burn up data when I don’t have a Wi-Fi connection and want to play my music.

I have had this phone now for about two months, I do not have any case for it yet, nor does it have any screen protection. I really, really hope to have both of those issues remedied this weekend.

But here’s what I’ve learned in the first two months.

  • This screen is extremely sensitive. Since I don’t have a case, I keep it in my pocket most of the time. I’ll take it out and there will be 3 or 4 apps open, the texting app will have picked a random contact and is sending pure gibberish. I’m hoping a case (one that I can clip to my belt) and the “gorilla glass” type of screen protector will help alleviate these problems.
  • The “Google Assistant” isn’t all it’s hyped to be. I understand that this app is still “under development”,  but it still needs lots of work. I primarily use it while driving to be “hands-free”.  Many times (after I use the “catchphrase” either ‘OK Google’ or ‘Hey Google’) nothing happens. Usually, the second time I call it, it answers. All you get is a musical tone to let you know it’s ready. The most common use, for me, is to text someone (usually Wifey®). So it’s “OK Google” (wait for music), “Send a text” (it will then ask “Who do you want to text?”), “Text <contact>” (You can simplify this by saying “Send a text to <contact>”, but that doesn’t always work. Last time I tried to do it that way, it started reading me the news and weather. I couldn’t figure how to stop that, so I had to wait for it to finish. If the contact has more than one phone number, you will be asked to pick which number to send it to.  This is good for folks that may have more than one cell phone, like myself (one business and one personal), but usually, it’s overkill. Let’s face it you can’t send a text message to a fax machine or a landline (who has a landline anymore anyway?). But more than that, when I’m in the middle of dictating a text and a new text come in, the assistant basically stops and the message will be displayed on top of everything, and it erases whatever I had already dictated. Very frustrating. And forget about asking it read incoming text messages. Most times it doesn’t respond at all, or when you can get it read a message and it asks you if you want to “Reply, Ignore, or go to the Next Message”. No matter how quick I say my answer (usually it’s Reply) or how long I wait, all it does it repeat my choices. I finally just have to wait it out and start all over again with the “Send A Text Message”.
  • I do like the GUI. Instead of the usual swiping right or left for screens (although it does have a Google News feed if you swipe to the left, and a user-configurable screen to the right), all apps are available by swiping up. And even more importantly, for me anyway, they are automagically arranged alphabetically. One thing I have hated from the days of my OG Droid was having to manually configure apps so I could find them. I love this feature.
  • This phone has an excellent camera. And not only that, pictures are automagically backed up to Google Photos (if you have an account). I also mine set to back up to my Amazon Prime Photos and even my Verizon Cloud. We’ve lost lots of photos before, don’t want that happening again.
  • I like the fingerprint option for unlocking (you can also set a 6 digit numeric pin). This also allows me to securely log into most of my banking and credit card apps. Saves me a lot of head scratching trying to remember what my damn passwords are.

On to the Google Mini.  I received my mini free.  Google sent it to me as a “gift” for buying the Pixel from them. I can understand why they gave it away, it’s pretty much useless to me.

One of the big things that Google touts for any of its home systems (the mini or Google Home) is the ability to control a “smart home”. Well, my house is more along the lines of a “Flintstone House”. We have absolutely nothing that can be voice controlled. And in all honesty, as an IT professional, I’m not sure I want a house like that. Hacking an IoT (Internet of Things) is pretty easy.

  • So, the main use of this mini is to play my Spotify playlist. Good thing I didn’t pay for it. This is something I can do (and much better) with either my phone or tablet. here’s the problem; As usual, you wake it up with the “Ok Google” or “Hey Google”. No problem there. To play my “combo” playlist (a test list I made on Spotify), you tell it “Play combo playlist”, it responds “playing Spotify playlist combo”. It will always start with the first song that was added to the playlist.  This playlist has just over 1500 songs, from about 30 artists. I would guess an average of 30 songs per artist. So it starts at the top of the list, in the order that the songs/artists were added. According to the instructions on Google to make the mini shuffle the songs, you will next tell the mini (after the required “OK Google”), “Shuffle the playlist”. It will respond, “OK, will shuffle the playlist after this track has finished”. Fair enough. You can next tell it (again after the required “OK Google”) “Skip this song”. This is supposed to make the mini pick a random song from there on out. But it doesn’t appear to work that way.
    • Let me explain it like this. Let’s say I had 5 artists, and each artist has 5 tracks on the playlist. We will call the artists, A, B, C, D, and E. The tracks we’ll call 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Simple enough. So when you start the playlist, it will always start on artist A, track 1. When you get it to skip command it will always go to artist B (which is the next artist added when the list was created) and track 1. Then it goes back to artist A and track 2, followed by artist B, track 2. And so on until it finishes artist A track 5, then it will go to artist C track 1 and so on.
    • So with a playlist of over 1500 songs, I’ve never gotten through the first 3 or 4 artists before I get frustrated and turn it off.
  • And that’s where the mini sits.  On my nightstand, with the mic turned off. Every now and then I hit it and it tells me the mic is turned off and how to turn it back off. I just look at it with contempt and tell it “Shut the hell up!”

Anyone else having issues with a Google Mini?  Leave me some suggestions as to what I’m doing wrong, please!

Peace,
B

Hasten Down The Wind

So the other day I was either talking to Wifey® or texting with my brother about the song “Hasten Down the Wind”. It was written by Warren Zevon (one of my favorite singer/songwriter/musicians of all time. May he rest in peace) but Linda Ronstadt (without a doubt, one my of my “future wives” in my teenage years – I had posters of her on my bedroom walls) had a much bigger hit with the song.

Mr. Zevon included the song on his 1976 album “Warren Zevon”. Not the most original of names, but it’s not like he’s the only artist to name an album after himself. And just in case you’re unclear on this, there is no “White Album” by The Beatles. Its title is “The Beatles” no matter what that stupid cruise ship employee said. We should have won that contest. Ms. Ronstadt covered this song on her 7th solo album, “Hasten Down The Wind”, released also in 1976.

I did not hear of Mr. Zevon’s original until later, as he didn’t come into my stream of conscientiousness until his “Excitable Boy” album in 1978. It was with the help of Jackson Browne (another of my singer/songwriter/musician heroes) as the producer of the self-titled album the Mr. Zevon found a major record contract.

So anyway, here are the two songs for you. First up is Ms. Rondstadt’s cover, since that’s the one I heard first. Then will be Mr. Zevon’s original. And I have to say, I prefer Mr. Zevon’s over my lady Ms. Ronstadt. Yeah, weird I know.  But I think Linda’s cover is too smooth. She does have a very sweet voice, but I just don’t hear the raw emotion I hear in Warren’s original.

It’s nice to know that Linda has Don Henley (of The Eagles fame) singing backup, while Warren has Phil Everly (of The Everly Brothers on backup vocals and David Lindley on slide guitar).

Listen to them both and give me your impressions;

Linda’s;

And Warren’s;

Peace,
B

What’s On Your Bookshelves?

Yesterday, in response to a Tweet by Goodreads (@goodreads) that asked: “How many books do you bring on vacation?” (which was a retweet of @TamoraPierce), I admitted that I prefer an e-reader (Kindle specifically for Wifey® and I both).  I mentioned several reasons;

  • No rushing back to a library to return the books on time.
  • E-books (and whichever device you use) take up much less physical room than a traditional “dead tree” books.
  • You can download new books anywhere you can get a Wi-Fi signal at a minimum (or a cellular signal if your tablet has that capability).

When we took our trip to North Carolina over the Thanksgiving week, both Wifey® and I had at least five unread books on our tablets (we both have Samsungs), available for us in case of bad weather, or if we just decided not venture out that day.  I think the only day we didn’t do too much was Thanksgiving day.  I know I only read, maybe, a total of 3 hours over that week. But that was my choice.

Then, later yesterday my friend Kiersten (you can find her blog at Once Upon A Spine, (which I think it a really cool title) asked me “What do you put on your bookshelves?” Why Celtic pottery and a family altar of course! Well, at least the tops of our little bookcases are filled that way.  We do have a collection of books in both of the cabinets, one is mostly cookbooks and the other old sci-fi. I have no idea why we’re holding on to these, but there they are.

 

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Some of our Celtic pottery. The cookbooks are stored below.

All the pottery has been purchased from And Sarah Laughed. We find them every year at the Central Florida Highland Games. This year we didn’t buy anything simply because we’re running out of room. Plus we are trying to downsize. After spending twenty years in the military and averaging 22 months between moves, we learned to live with a lot less “stuff”. We’ve been in this house twenty years now. And we have lots of “stuff”.  Too much “stuff”.

 

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A bad picture of the family altar with our parent’s pictures above. Sorry, I cut off my mom’s picture.

We also have about 5 different versions of the Bible under the TV in our bedroom. We don’t use them anymore, but they’re still there.

So that’s what we have on our bookshelves.  What do you have on yours?

Peace,
B

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Falcon 9 Heavy

As a little boy, I wanted to be an astronaut, not uncommon for young boys. As since I grew up in Florida, we visited Cape Kennedy (it has now reverted back to its original name of Cape Canaveral, and the Kennedy Space Center has been built for tourists) several times. Looking at the rockets that came back, everything from the original Mercury capsules and the giant Saturn 5 rockets that took us to the moon (or did they? – think I’ve been watching too many X-Files), and especially the Shuttles kept the wonder alive for me. But I have to admit, over the last years, as NASA has constantly had their budget cut and less and less space programs are originating here in the USA, my interest has waned.

But today we have another “big boy” launch. The Falcon 9 Heavy. This excites me. I worked at Cape Canaveral for a short time (it was cut short by 9/11 when my sub-contract was terminated as many others were).  And if I’m not mistaken, this was the launch pad I worked on.

But one thing I find almost humorous is that Elon Musk (@ElonMusk) has put one of his Telsa Roadsters, with a “spaceman” in the driver seat (no one is in the suit, in case you were concerned). The mission, as I understand it, is not only a real test of the Falcon 9 Heavy engines but to travel to Mars.

falcon_roadster

Tesla Roadster with its Spaceman driver

Not only is this cool as hell, it reminds me of one my all-time favorite movies, “Heavy Metal“.  This animated movie, released in 1981 (not good for little children – see the link), starts off with a spaceman leaving orbit in a 1959 Corvette and reentering earth.

hmvette

Heavy Metal

This intro always intrigued me. It was obvious that no one could survive such a reentry, but what the hell, it’s a cartoon, and we well know that physics do not apply in the world of cartoons.  I was down with it. Now, this Telsa Roadster will sadly, not be landing on Mars just left orbiting for eternity. Still a cool accomplishment.

So now we have a roadster blasting off into space, or as Elon said: “it blows up in a million little pieces”.  It could go either way, this is the first launch of this rocket model. And no matter how much testing they put it through, it’s still a bit of a crapshoot.

If you want to watch the launch from the comfort of where ever you’re reading this, the launch window is 1:30 – 4:00 PM EST. You can watch the live webcast at the SpaceX website (along with a host of other sites). The feed usually goes live about an hour prior to the launch window opening.

I’ll be watching, hope you can too!

Peace,
B

 

PC Security… Again

<rant>

So once again here I am at the hands of Stupid End Users.  I have to keep reminding myself that these fools pay the bills.

I want to make one thing perfectly clear. INSTALL ALL THE SECURITY UPDATES FOR WHICHEVER OS YOU HAVE (Windows, Apple or Linux). Nothing and I mean NOTHING is more critical to the smooth operation of your computer (and even your smartphone – this applies to Android and Apple phones as well) than keeping these up-to-date.

Case in point. I am working on a laptop for one of my co-worker’s son. He claims the screen went blank “while doing school work”. Neither dad nor I buy it. Right now, his screen doesn’t work, the mouse and keyboard are not functioning properly (even with USB versions). I could not do anything (since the screen was black) without plugging in an external monitor and resetting the BIOS (the Basic In and Out System – what controls almost everything on the motherboard) to recognize the second monitor.

I still cannot get any of the usual tools I would use to scan the system for viruses (virui?), check the hard drive for errors, or even check the display properties. All of those options are missing from the system.  Normally I would do a “System restore”. This is a very nice feature that Microsoft added some time ago (in Windows ME – probably the only good thing to come out of that version of Windows). Since this machine belongs to a college student, there is a real good chance he was doing something “he shouldn’t have been doing”.

No matter how good your anti-virus/malware is if you visit “questionable” sites (and I’m not talking strictly porn – many download, or ‘warez’ sites are riddled with viruses) you run an elevated risk of getting an infection. There is an increasing problem of sponsored ads on respectable websites that are pushing viruses without you doing anything. We refer to these as “drive-byes”.

Normally you can access System Restore through the Control Panel and “Advanced Features”. Naturally, that’s missing on this machine as well. The other way to get to System Restore is by booting into “Safe Mode” and running it from a command prompt (the old DOS black & white screen where you have to type everything. Oh how I miss those days.) But for whatever goddamn reason Micro$oft took the “F8” feature out of the boot cycle in Windows 10. In previous versions, you could hit “F8” while the system was booting to be presented with a menu of boot options or just use “F5” to go straight into Safe Mode. Micro$oft, you made a stupid, stupid, stupid decision to remove that.

So now, 3 hours of working on this machine and I tell it to reboot, hoping (beyond hope) that at least the mouse and keyboard will work. What happens? My options are “Apply Updates and Restart or Shutdown”. So now I’ll have to wait for it to apply who knows how many updates before I can go back to troubleshooting. (edit: so far 90 minutes on the “Getting Windows Ready” screen).

There is a very good chance that if these updates had been applied when first available (the last update from Micro$oft was 2 weeks ago), what has crept into this machine may have been prevented. Even though this machine has a reliable Anti-virus installed (I cannot tell if it’s up-to-date though), without these security patches something can get through.

Wifey’s® office will not install any updates for fear it will “break” a program or something. Now, yes, it’s true. M$ updates have been known to cause havoc. But when that happens it’s (usually) easily reversible. A simple “roll back” (sometimes you need to go to safe mode) is all it takes. And M$ is pretty good about fixing those bad patches, either by sending a remote uninstall or an updated patch within 72 hours.

Second example.

Working on another laptop (this one city owned). The user claims the screen “scrolls on its own”. Looking at the machine when he brings it in (interrupting lunch as usual), I see it is doing just that.

Looking a bit deeper I see that there have been no updates applied to this machine since it was issued to the user almost one year ago. Now this machine could be considered “mission critical”. But instead of being out in the field, where it’s needed, and up-to-date, it’s sitting here on my desk slowing applying a years worth of updates. One update at a time. Because that’s how fucked up this machine is.

It not only needs updating to the latest version of Windows 10, it needs every security update since the beginning of time.

Also, keep any Anti-Virus and/or Anti-Malware product you use up-to-date (you do have an Anti-Virus/Malware program installed, Right?? RIGHT???), and scan your machine on a regular basis. There are many excellent free choices out there, pick one, any one. My favorite is Malwarebytes (I do not get any money from them, but I’ve been using their product for over 10 years without a single infection). They have both a free and a paid version, I HIGHLY recommend the paid version. Last I looked, if you download the free version you get a 2 week trial of the paid version, so it’s worth a look. The extra benefits of the paid version make it a good investment for your PC.

Malwarebytes has blocked very many of the “drive-by” ads I mentioned above. I will get either a little notice that says “access to <website name> blocked”, or just a blank spot on the webpage where the ad would have been.  You can also look into an “ad-blocker” for your web browser that can plug into either Chrome or Firefox (I’m not sure about Safari as I don’t have a Mac). IE and Edge users are out luck. Drop those and go with either Chrome or Firefox (I like and use both of those).

</rant>

I apologize for the rant, but it has been Monday all month here at work. My frustration level is quite high for many reasons, just not here at work. (Don’t ask me about yesterday’s useless dentist appointment)….

Peace,
B

The Joys Of Truck Ownership

One of the joys of owning a ten-year-old pickup truck is I’ve come to know every bump, grind, screech, and jangle it makes as I traverse my way thru life in it.  Plus the joy it gives my granddaughters when they get to ride it in. They just love being able to sit up high and look into the other cars.

This truck has served me well, it’s moved both of my boys, more than once. Helped friends move more times than I can count. Not to mention the almost constant trips to county landfill with yard trash that for whatever reason the contracted waste folks refuse to pick up. (Other than just getting 2 paid holidays a year I wish I had their job – they don’t do shit).

The truck has given me very little in the way of repair problems. Had to replace the water pump (not unusual, but not my fault), and the clutch, which was, probably, completely my fault. And an outside mirror, which was son-the-younger’s® fault. But we found the replacement parts on Amazon and could fix it ourselves.

So, since I don’t listen to the radio while driving (the DJs in the Orlando/Daytona area just plain suck), I get to listen and talk back to my truck all the time.  This morning on the way in I heard a completely new sound. What the hell could it be I wondered? It’d not a “clunk”, not a “grind” more of a rusty spring “squeak”.  Now I know I need new struts on the front end (those are what have replaced the old shock absorbers, at least in mid-sized trucks), but that’s not what it sounded like. These usually just go “thunk” right before maxing out your credit card.

Now I do have to mention I have a pretty good hearing impairment. After playing in bands in my school days, years of DJ work (both on-air and parties) and then 20 years of military service with lots of “booms”, my ears are fairly shot.

music

The story of my life. Think my brother can relate too.

After about 3 miles of this unknown noise, I’m starting to worry about it. And as usual, I get impatient driving and go around the line of folks who can’t seem to do the speed limit in the left lane (morons). As I pull up next to the truck that was directly in front of me (also an older model pick up, but not as old as mine), I hear this squeak loud as hell! It was that truck all along! I have no idea what his problem was, but when we pulled up to the red light and stopped, he was still squeaking. While stopped!!  Hope he doesn’t blow up or something anytime too soon.

So now I’m back to the regularly scheduled tunes that my familiar old truck plays me every day. Such a nice symphony 🙂

Peace,
B

P.S. A shout out to my son-the-younger® who helped me through a very rough patch yesterday. I felt myself spinning into a well of depression. Since I know he also has bad periods of depression, I asked him for help. And he came through. Together we replaced the ceiling fan in his bedroom (See Home Repair as Therapy to see how it helps me), and then he cooked Wifey® and I a most wonderful Shrimp & Sausage Jambalaya for dinner. I even have leftovers for lunch!

I know he won’t read this (he doesn’t use Facebook or Twitter so he won’t get any notification).  So for family and friends who read this, please pass this along, along with my most heartfelt thanks.

Love ya kid!

Some Resources

If you read my post yesterday, I’ve Been Tagged, (If you didn’t why not? Go read it now dammit!) One of the questions I was asked was “If you could befriend any author in real life, who would it be?”. I had several on my list, but number one with a bullet (sorry a throwback to my DJ days), is Dr. Bart D. Ehrman.

Dr. Ehrman is a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, the college I wanted to go to when I graduated High School way back when. My SAT score was even #1 for the school that year, so I feel that despite my mediocre grades (I’m sure my grades would have been much better if I had only shown up for more classes than band – yes I was, and still am a band geek), I would have been accepted. No financial assistance or anything, but I could have gone. But my mom said it was out of the question since it was a “party school”. How the hell did she know? Did she read the Playboy Party School articles? I know that’s how I learned which were the biggest party schools (it was always some little college in San Diego that took top honors, I forget the name). My reason for going there was at the time, the Dean of the medical school was a Dr. Issac Taylor. Probably better known as the father of musical genius James Taylor. I was just hoping that James would make a spontaneous appearance or two while I was there. I didn’t know he and his father were not exactly on speaking terms.  So I joined the military instead.  That’ll show ’em I thought. Screw college.

So that was a long paragraph with very little about Dr. Ehrman.  This is a link to his Amazon Author Page. I tend to buy Kindle books, simply because I don’t like killing trees. Although I admit, I do sometimes miss being able to just flip back to a section to quote something online. But you can highlight in the Kindle app, and that works for me.

Dr. Ehrman’s books are simply amazing. As a preeminent professor of the New Testament, despite not being a Christian, his views will quite often fall outside the “accepted norm”.  But, many times his writings have become the “accepted norm”.

He has a blog.  It’s not free, which at first disappointed me. I was like, “I’m already paying for your books, why do I need to pay to read your blog too?”.  But after reading a little deeper, I found that all proceeds from the blog go straight to several charities in and around where he lives. That made all the difference to me. I immediately signed up and paid my “dues”.

One of the benefits of this blog is his almost daily postings on various biblical topics.  They have covered topics such as “Paul’s View On Women”, “Were Cut & Paste Jobs Common In Antiquity” (which was actually a guest post). Along with “Is Paul Given Too Much Credit”, which is today’s post, asks some great questions about why the early church fathers don’t use Paul’s teachings. His series on “Was Jesus Given Special Treatment” (a series on whether or not Jesus was allowed to be taken down from the cross the day he was crucified or not). Is especially interesting (and I agree with Dr. Ehrman). It also has a quote that sums my belief in the person we call Jesus Christ;

He is important to us.  For Christians, he is their Savior.  For those of us who are not Christian – at least for me – he is the most important figure in the history of civilization.  I spend my life thinking about him, reading about him, researching about him, teaching about him, and writing about him.  I *do* give him special treatment.  Did PILATE give him special treatment?  I just can’t believe he did.

Another resource I’d like to pass along is called “The Great Courses“.  They have courses in just about anything you can think of, from cooking to religion to photography to languages. They are currently running an 80% off special through February 8th, so check them out soon. I bought the combo set of the “Old Testament” taught by Dr. Amy-Jill Levine and the “New Testament” taught by none other than Dr. Ehrman. You can get DVD’s, video downloads (my choice – don’t even own a DVD player anymore). Also available are complete transcripts (in paperback dead tree versions) of the videos so you can follow along while watching the videos or for later reference, but there is an extra cost for these. I plan on watching the first Old Testament video today during lunch.

I realize this isn’t living up to my “goal of having a humorous blog” as I said yesterday, but I wanted to pass this along before I forgot about it.

Go check these resources out and let me know what you think!

Peace,
B

I’ve Been Tagged!

My friend Kiersten over at Once Upon A Spine tagged me as part of the “Unique Blogger Award”. I have no idea what makes my blog unique, as it tends to meander its way around various subjects without ever really coming to any conclusions.

But anyway, first thanks for the tag Kiersten (and you folks should go read her blog. Some excellent books reviews that my Wifey® has found helpful.)

Here are the “rules”;

  • Share the link of the blogger that has shown you love by nominating you.
  • Answer the questions.
  • In the spirit of sharing, nominate 8 – 13 people for the same award (not sure I know that many bloggers).
  • Ask them 3 questions.

Onto the questions I was asked!

First – If you were to choose a different topic/theme for your blog, what would it be?

Since this blog has no theme or topic (hence the name Random Ramblins’), this is a bit tough for me to answer. When I first thought of coming back into blogging I knew I was not going to go back to the old technology blog I had years ago. Things have changed so much, I couldn’t keep up with it. My next thought was something about faith and my struggles with mainstream Christianity and why I’ve left it. But that was boring. And lots of people can explain it better than I. Then I thought food, who doesn’t love food? I love to cook and eat, but then health issues got in the way and I’ve had to change everything there, so that went out the window. How about mental health? I do have Bipolar Disorder type 2, some anxiety and social issues, but compared to what I’m reading on other blogs, mine is rather mild, or maybe my meds are just working better I don’t know. But again, better things are being said already.

But what I’d really like to do is humor. Back in the day (as in pre bipolar meds) I had a knack for telling the right joke at the right time. I could cheer someone up (even when I was struggling) with just a little humor. I had a flair for what my Soon-To-Be-Wifey® called “Gonzo Journalism” (a term stolen from the late, great Hunter S. Thompson, one of my favorite authors of all time). But since I’ve been on the meds, it seems my creativity level, my Gonzo if you will, has left me.  Maybe the meds are doing too much, or not enough, I don’t know.  But humor is what I’m shooting for.

Second – If you could befriend any author in real life, who would you choose? Why?

Another difficult question mainly because I feel I could do better with a really good copy editor than with an author. Come on, you’ve tried to read some of my stuff and just had to shake your head because it made no sense what so ever. Between the typos and the left out words…

But to answer the question, finally, I would choose Dr. Bart D. Erhman. From his Facebook page (easier to copy and paste – still looking for an editor you know) – Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is a leading authority on the Bible and the life of Jesus. He is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestselling Misquoting Jesus, God’s Problem, Jesus, Interrupted and Forged. I have read many of his books and I think his reasoning for leaving the Christian faith very closely echoes my reasons. Find him here. A close runner-up would be Dr. Pete Enns. I don’t have all his details, but he is an Old Testament professor. Find him here. One more to add to list is Dr. Amy-Jill Levine. A Jew who teaches New Testament. Such an oxymoron that I love it, plus she has a great sense of humor. Alas, she has absolutely no web presence.

Third – What’s the weirdest blog post you’ve ever written?

A long time ago (thinking about 2002) I wrote a post on my original website about my somewhat dysfunctional family. Nothing out the ordinary, just questions like “How did you get mashed potatoes on the back of your head son?”.  That site is long gone now, couldn’t find it on the “Wayback Machine” either. So for this blog, I’ll have to go with News You Can Use…No Not Really.

Questions for my nominees:

  • What is the one subject you wish you knew more about? A course you wish you had taken even just a seminar or such? And why.
  • Anybody alive or dead you’d love to have dinner with, and what would you talk about?
  • And since I ask this every time I get to sit on an employment interview committee; Star Fleet Academy or The Vulcan Science Academy and why? You’d be surprised how many supposed IT Geeks don’t understand the question.

Now I have to nominate folks… I don’t have many followers so I’ll only add these;

Sorry I don’t have more to add, but feel free to join in even if you’re not listed.

And free feel to send along any cheap copy editors, Wifey® says she won’t do it anymore. Well not really, she just can’t do it while she’s at work, and then I’d probably forget to post anything by the time I got home and she could edit it for me.

Peace,
B

P.S. Thanks again Kiersten!