All posts by lcharters@gmail.com

I started life as a child.

True religion

Some of the most important questions ever posed by humanity involve religion, spirituality, faith and belief. Most people, in every culture, profess to some spirituality, though things get more complicated when it comes to religion. Religion is related to spirituality, and faith, and belief, but you can be spiritual, and have faith, and belief without belonging to a religion.

So what, exactly, is a religious requirement? Apparently there are four of them, at least according to a mail order ministerial ordination company. From the questions, it is clear the company is of the (sort of) Christian variety. Here are the four requirements for being ordained a minister:

  1. Swear a belief in one true God.
  2. Accept Jesus Christ as the savior.
  3. Confess you sin, and ask for forgiveness. (And if you haven’t confessed yet, the form, below, encourages you to do so as part of the application process.)
  4. Pay $139.00. Note that you can “add $25 for optional wallet ID card.”

The form is reproduced below, only with the address and other identifying information blotted out. Some have spent their life working for ordination. Others pay $139. Or optionally $164.

Application for ordination. Yes, this might be crass, vulgar, and more profane than sacred, but they do accept cash or credit.
Application for ordination. Yes, this might be crass, vulgar, and more profane than sacred, but they do accept cash or credit.

Bananas and seppuku

Transcribed from a series of text messages:

❦ ❦ ❦

Kathleen packed tea and a banana in my briefcase this morning. I’m at work, eating the banana, drinking tea, waiting for a security scan of a website to finish, wondering how I will coordinate fixing what I find, when there is a thump at the window.

View looking down (approximated).
View looking down (approximated).

I have two windows, and I’m 190 feet above the street. Thumps are odd, so I turn around and —

There is a large, ruffled, and agitated turkey vulture struggling to perch on the ledge outside the window. It is a granite ledge, six inches wide. It isn’t designed for perching, except maybe the occasional pigeon or sparrow, and a turkey vulture doesn’t really fit.

Turkey vulture, one of the more attractive of nature's beasts. Photo from Wikipedia.
Turkey vulture, one of the more attractive of nature’s beasts. Photo from Wikipedia.

I start to get up from my desk for a closer look and — the turkey vulture falls backward off the ledge. Not without a lot of fuss and feathers, but still a fall.

Then I notice a peregrine falcon, lazily spiraling through the neighborhood, make a very sharp turn and — dive.

Peregrine falcon, a graceful flyer, an urban raptor, and way smaller than a turkey vulture.
Peregrine falcon, a graceful flyer, an urban raptor, and way smaller than a turkey vulture.

Because of the angle, I can’t see what happened next, but it had to have been spectacular. While a peregrine is far too small to attack a turkey vulture in a fair fight, a turkey vulture is no match in aerial combat, especially when it is desperately and awkwardly preoccupied with avoiding a fall.

My banana, having suffered from  too much excitement, broke in half and fell to the floor.

Yes, this excessively long message is to tell you my banana committed seppuku.

Windows malware as a romance

Security updates for Windows are starting to sound more like  romance novels.

This week’s offerings:

MS17-010: Security Update for Microsoft Windows SMB Server:(4013389)

Eternal Blue

Eternal Champion

Eternal Romance

Eternal Synergy

Wanna Cry

Eternal Rocks

I’m speculating this series is about two immortal system administrators who are sad (blue), become champions of the downtrodden network users in the second volume, and find one another and have a budding romance in the third. In the fourth novel, after a constant tease in the first three, the two engage in some intimacy, then experience great regrets in the next novel, and find their romance on the rocks in the last.

It could be more interesting than the “Twilight” series. While the Twilight series took place in Forks, Washington, the Eternal Blue series takes place in Redmond, Washington, which has fewer trees but far more computers and smart phones.

License agreement as literature

George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm (August, 1945) has 29,966 words.

Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 (October, 1953) has 46,118 words.

Apple’s  “Apple Developer Program License Agreement” (June, 2017) has 42,993 words.

In terms of plot, setting, and character, the license agreement is no match for either of the former two works. But all three could be classed as dystopian.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. iPhone 7 Plus

A quick comparison of the iPhone 6 Plus and the iPhone 7 Plus following a casual stroll around a lake after Thanksgiving dinner.

The original iPhone had a 960 x 720 pixel camera, which means the iPhone 6 Plus camera, at 3264 x 2448 pixels, and iPhone 7 Plus camera, at 4032 x 3024 pixels, are essentially either 11.6 or 17.6 original iPhone cameras at once. As carrying around 17.6 cameras seemed inconvenient, we (me) took a couple of photos with my iPhone 6 Plus, then snatched someone else’s iPhone 7 Plus to take more photos.

The iPhone 6 Plus photo:

Thanksgiving evening photo at Jackson Pond, Columbia, MD. Taken with an iPhone 6 Plus.
Thanksgiving evening photo at Jackson Pond, Columbia, MD. Taken with an iPhone 6 Plus. Full size image.

The iPhone 7 Plus photo:

Thanksgiving evening photo at Jackson Pond, Columbia, MD. Taken with an iPhone 7 Plus.
Thanksgiving evening photo at Jackson Pond, Columbia, MD. Taken with an iPhone 7 Plus. Full size image.

These are not exactly the same photo because I moved around, didn’t think of using the iPhone 7 for several minutes, etc. But then it also occurred to me to stand in the same place as the second photo and use the second lens on the iPhone 7 Plus to take a 2X view:

Thanksgiving evening photo at Jackson Pond, Columbia, MD. Taken with an iPhone 7 Plus, using the 2X lens.
Thanksgiving evening photo at Jackson Pond, Columbia, MD. Taken with an iPhone 7 Plus, using the 2X lens. Full size image.

As it got darker, it became much harder to see, much less take photographs. But the iPhone 7 Plus seemed up to the challenge:

A few minutes later, a different Thanksgiving evening photo at Jackson Pond, Columbia, MD. Taken with an iPhone 7 Plus.
A few minutes later, a different Thanksgiving evening photo at Jackson Pond, Columbia, MD. Taken with an iPhone 7 Plus. Full size image.

I also took a photo of some ducks, but it was quite dark, and the photo was poor. And yet — I discovered later, looking at the photo on a large computer monitor, that the “ducks” were clearly Canadian geese. This wasn’t clear to the eye, but the iPhone 7 Plus had no problem showing the distinctive plumage.

The iPhone 7 Plus may be an incremental improvement of the iPhone 6 Plus, but the increments are collectively quite impressive. Oh, it also makes phone calls, and is a great GPS.