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Car is in the shop today, so I’m using public transit

Car is in the shop today, so I’m using public transit

— Most days I drive myself to work in my own vehicle. As much as I’d like to take public transit and let someone else do the driving, it’s not practical in my situation. As much as I complain about my commute, it’s only about an hour and 20 minutes round trip. If I were to take public transit, it would be an hour and 45 minutes each way. That’d be two hours and 10 minutes more time spent commuting every single day.

Foreign sources, redux

— A couple years ago, I wrote a lengthy blog post challenging my family, friends, and followers to seek out reputable foreign news sources in languages other than English. After yesterday’s circus in Washington, I think it’s more important than ever to repeat my challenge, especially since I haven’t seen any English-language coverage of the spectacle that’s even close to impartial. If you’d like a starting point, try this article in French from Le Figaro, a Parisian daily: <http: 01003-20180927artfig00325-le-juge-kavanaugh-confronte-a-son-accusatrice.
Today I learned the word tempura is not Japanese

Today I learned the word tempura is not Japanese

— Today I learned the word tempura is not of Japanese origin. It turns out it’s a loan word from Latin, and it’s connected to a centuries-old Catholic tradition called Ember Days. This morning, I was up and out of the house early enough to get to Mass before work. I went to the traditionalist Catholic church Kathryn and I have been attending for the past couple months. At first I was a bit surprised to see the priest approach the altar in violet vestments.
Today is the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, patron saint of ham radio

Today is the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, patron saint of ham radio

— I don’t often blatantly repost old blog material. However, last week I had a conversation with some colleagues about my visit to Auschwitz in 2006, and it made me think about the following post I published three years ago today: I’ve been reminded that today, August 14, is the feast day of St. Maximilian Kolbe. St. Maximilian Kolbe is probably best known for having given up his life to take the place of a fellow prisoner at Auschwitz, where he was martyred on this day in 1941.

Time flies

— This morning I did a web search to try to find the word for “at sign” in Spanish. For what it’s worth, the answer appears to be arroba, which seems fairly close to the word arobase used in French. It’s a quiet Friday at the office, so after quickly getting the answer to my question, I started clicking around on links that led me to tangents upon other tangents. First I learned the at sign is sometimes used as a substitute for the circle-A symbol used by some anarchist groups.
Blessed to be called as godparents for another baptism

Blessed to be called as godparents for another baptism

— Kathryn and I were called to be godparents once again, this time for the baptism of a seven-week-old son of friends who live about ten miles north of Tucson. Kathryn is already godmother to the newly baptized’s older brother. Being called to godparenthood has been a great blessing for both of us. We don’t have any children of our own, and so it has given us the opportunity to share the joy of our Catholic faith with a new generation in a meaningful way.
Trump Derangement Syndrome is real and undeniable

Trump Derangement Syndrome is real and undeniable

— Earlier this morning, a friend sent me a link to an article that’s simultaneously the funniest, dumbest, and most thought-provoking thing I’ve read this week. Then again, it’s only Wednesday. Apparently, a Finnish group called Melting Ice is trying to raise money for Project Trumpmore, which would “prove” — their word, not mine — the existence of “climate change.” The project would accomplish its goal by carving a Mount Rushmore-sized sculpture of President Trump’s bust into an iceberg, and then watching it melt.
Last photos of the border wall at Calexico near Gran Plaza Outlets

Last photos of the border wall at Calexico near Gran Plaza Outlets

— During last month’s aborted trip to Mexicali for Chinese food, Kathryn, Dan, and I made a stop at the Gran Plaza Outlets in Calexico, California, for a bathroom break and, for Kathryn, a quick, successful bit of shopping. While we were there, we also took a number of photographs of the nearby border wall between the United States and Mexico. Today, while scanning headlines from the past several days, I learned that this very same stretch of border wall behind the outlet mall will be the first to be replaced during the Trump administration.
Hockey and Popeyes, recent news items out of Montpellier

Hockey and Popeyes, recent news items out of Montpellier

— Montpellier, France, is still one of my favorite places in the world, so I try to keep up with the local media there. I thought I’d share a couple recent news items that caught my attention today. First, our second favorite hockey team, the Montpellier Vipers, finished the regular season with an 8-0 home win against Chambéry. They are seeded third in their pool and will face Rouen in a best-of-three Division 2 eighth-finals series beginning this coming Saturday.
A demanding Labor Day weekend in Ahwatukee

A demanding Labor Day weekend in Ahwatukee

— Kathryn and I tend to be somewhat contrarian in our getaway planning. We’re often home when everyone else is away and away when everyone else is home. This Labor Day weekend is no exception. While millions of families have taken to the road to enjoy the last long weekend of summer, Kathryn has a petsitting gig in Ahwatukee, a village at the southern end of Phoenix. Although we haven’t technically left Phoenix, we’re a thirty-mile drive from home.

Thirteen relatively short years for me in Arizona

— The date most commonly associated with Arizona is February 14, when Arizona became the 48th state in 1912. For me, though, August 3 is Arizona Day. It’s the date when, in 2004, I first arrived in Arizona for what was supposed to be a relatively short stay while I figured out what to do with the rest of my life. Thirteen years later, I’m still here, much happier, maybe a little wiser, and I’ve figured out that not all things in life need to be figured out.

Follow-up on my REI rant from last week

— To follow-up on my rant from last Friday about REI … First, I requested a check for my REI dividend shortly after I published the post. It turns out I could do that online, and the check should be mailed out in about four weeks. Then, on Saturday, Kathryn and I drove to Cabela’s in Glendale and bought everything that was on my REI list. In addition, Kathryn bought a lovely outdoor dress that was on clearance, so REI gave Cabela’s even more of our money.

Suggestions for naming Signal groups

— For roughly two years, I’ve been using Signal Private Messenger to exchange encrypted text messages with my family and some of my close friends. Earlier this week, my dad got a new phone and, at the same time, a new phone number. Adding his new number into several Signal groups revealed some shortcomings in the arbitrary names of the groups to which he belonged. Group names are shared When you create or change the name of a Signal group, remember, it doesn’t just apply on your device; it applies on every member device in the group.

Smith System driving course: Is it worth your time? Trust me, it is.

— If you ever get an opportunity to take a Smith System driving course, take it. When I started my current job almost four years ago, my employer required me to take a full-day Smith System driving class, even though my job seldom sees me more than a few feet from the computer, much less behind the wheel of a car. My vocal skepticism regarding the value of the course was noted by my supervisor, but he convinced me to keep an open mind.

TSA allows passengers through checkpoint without screening

— https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/tsa-jfk-passengers-bypass-security-checkpoint-article-1.2977418 I couldn’t resist sharing a link to this recent news about my favorite three-letter agency. I’m not sure which troubles me more, that the TSA couldn’t be bothered to perform its most basic function, or that such a large part of the traveling public doesn’t recognize the screening is little more than security theater.
Would encryption have changed the election?

Would encryption have changed the election?

— The 2016 U.S. Presidential election is over and settled, so the question I’m posing is basically a thought experiment at this point, but it’s worth pondering: Would the judicious use of modern encryption have changed the outcome of last month’s U.S. Presidential election? To be clear, I’m not talking about the e-mail server scandal that involved Hillary Clinton at the State Department. To borrow the language of the infamous Wells Report, it’s “more probable than not” that the former secretary of state violated the law — and she certainly violated any reasonable judgment — by using a private e-mail server located in her home to pass classified information.

Install Signal on your smartphone now!

— Are you using an iPhone or an Android-based smartphone? Have you installed Signal yet? If not, please stop what you’re doing and install it now! iPhone Android Why Signal? I owe a debt of gratitude to my good friend Dan for bringing Signal to my attention last year. Actually, he told me about its predecessors TextSecure and RedPhone for Android, which were just recently combined into a single product. Unfortunately, I initially confused the two with similar products with slightly different names and took no action.
Made in the USA

Made in the USA

— Several months ago, while traveling through the south of France, I wrote a brief post expressing my pleasant surprise — indeed, my patriotic pride — at seeing something — anything — made in the USA. A few weeks ago, I was surprised again to see another item made in the USA when I least expected it. This time it was a protective case for my mobile phone. Sure, I’d rather have a $6 made-in-China case wrapped around a $200 made-in-the-USA smartphone, but given the state of manufacturing in my motherland, I’ll settle for having it the other way around.