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Hopes and Dreams e-novel Hopes and Dreams e-book
September 21, 2016

Hopes and Dreams: Stuck on AutoDrive (2nd ed.) is now available as an e-book on Amazon!

Get into the mind of the inventor of the self-driving car AutoDrive, as he learns about guiding the future, living happily ever after, and getting into trouble without really trying.

Watch this page for free one-day promotions.

And here's a link to the
hardcover Hopes and Dreams.

Music Association: Barry Goudreau - Dreams

Last Week Tonight
September 18, 2016

Other than Candice, the most deserving of an Emmy Award is for John Oliver and the crew at Last Week Tonight. It's the most influencially entertaining TV show. And tonight they won the variety show and writing for a variety show awards. Congratulations.

(If you haven't seen Last Week Tonight on HBO, they put some of their best on YouTube.)


Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Music Association: Valley Lodge - Go

Candice Patton best actor award 2016
Acting Up
September 17, 2016

Television is called a medium because it doesn't get very good or bad. That's something I used to hear before the advent of un-reality television. I try not to watch TV... any of it... the cooking shows, the eating shows... Too often TV and Netflix are filled with programs that couldn't get to medium with a ladder. And tomorrow night, the awards will be given for the best of all of that, the Emmys -- M as in medium.

And for once, I have opinions, because I've seen some good TV over the past year.

One of the best TV shows has an actor who takes scripts, good and bad, and gives life (humanity, soul) to the dialogue.

Playing Iris West on the Flash, Candice Patton has her work cut out for her but makes it all seem so natural and effortless. What she does is what acting should be.

So the winner of the first ever Hopes and Dreams award for best acting in a television series is Candice Patton.

Music Association: Goo Goo Dolls - Iris  

Looking Down On Poverty
September 6, 2016

Charity organizations of industrialized nations make the mistake of throwing money or food or shoes at developing nations, in ways that undermine the economies and businesses in those countries. That is part of the story of the 2014 documentary Poverty Inc., by Michael Matheson Miller. Far too often, the charity organizations do not investigate the potential impact of their actions prior to sending food or money or shoes... instead of talking, asking questions, they assume they know what's best for all the world, from their skyscraper offices. If you haven't seen Poverty Inc., I highly recommend it -- 4 stars (Poverty Inc., Wikipedia, Amazon digital, Amazon dvd).

From the framework of Poverty Inc., I read a story last month about some people who think they can spot poverty using satellite images.

Some assistant professors at Stanford University wrote a program that identifies patterns in satellite images of Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Malawi because it is cheaper and less dangerous than actually going to those countries.

Satellites can show many things, from early Viking settlements to a tall man pacing in Pakistan to the recent history of an olive grove in Aleppo. But pattern recognition computer programs are no match for local communication.

Are central African nations looking for Californian researchers “to predict poverty?”

Is that really what they are doing? When weather and war cannot be predicted to any definitive degree, how can satellites looking down and taking pictures predict poverty?

Put tools, like mid-sized loans or satellite images, in the hands of locals.

The experts are in Africa not California.

Music Association: Skunk Anansie - Charity

Paisley Park Museum opens October 6th
Vault Contains 37,000 Hours Of Billy Joel Covers

September 3, 2016

There was an Onion story from last May that (let's say) reported, “Disappointing Prince Vaults Found To Contain 37,000 Hours Of Billy Joel Covers.”  They noted “Prince had produced at least 9,000 hours of 'Uptown Girl' covers alone.” My face still hurts from laughing.

What is real is the Paisley Park museum opens October 6th. Tickets are about $38. And the Prince family will have a Prince tribute concert one week later on October 13th at Vikings Stadium.

Music Association: Billy Joel - Uptown Girl
Twin Cities Calendar association: October 2016

August 19, 2016

Interest Rates APY* on Savings < $5,000 (as of 8-14-2016)

2.02%   Ultima Bank (no withdrawal until 18)
1.10%   Salem Five Direct
1.05%   Synchrony Bank
1.00%   Ally Bank
1.00%   Barclays
0.95%   Discover Bank
0.01%   Wells Fargo ($25 min.)
0.01%   TCF ($100 min.)
0.01%   US Bank ($300 min.)

*APY = annual percentage yield (compounding)
30 year fixed mortgage Interest APR* (as of 8-14-2016)

3.496% Johnson Bank $536/mo on $120,000 w/ 20% down & $678 fees
3.518% Heritage Bank $531/mo on $120,000 w/ 20% down & $2,120 fees
3.688% Citizens Bank $547/mo on $120,000 w/ 20% down & $928 fees

Credit Card Ongoing Interest APR* (as of 8-14-2016)

 7.25%   Simmons Bank Visa Platinum (no annual fee)
 8.25%   Barclay Ring Mastercard (no annual fee)
10.24 - 21.24% US Bank Visa Platinum
11.24 - 23.24% Discover Card (no annual fee)
11.99%   Citi Simplicity Visa (no annual fee)

*APR = annual percentage rate

Music Associations: The Flying Lizards - Money, The Beatles - Money, Pink Floyd - Money,
                                 & The Miracles - You Better Shop Around

Hopes and Dreams

Understanding Kittens
July 10, 2016

This tummy isn't going to rub itself.

I have one of those kittens equipped with the adorableness attention-getting switch. Don't think the kitten doesn't know what it is doing. It knows exactly what it is doing.

The kitten lays there being cute until a hand approached and then SNAP! All four sets of claws and a full mouthload of bitey-teeth sprang bear-trap-like on the fleshy hand.

Except I have quick reflexes and a low tolerance for such deceit. So I would pull my hand away and reprimand the little furball. Eventually we came to an understanding of how we could play without involving weapons of flesh destruction.

Music Association: Johnny Mathis - Misty  “Look at me. I'm as helpless as a kitten in a tree...”

Hopes and Dreams

Tail Light Police
July 7, 2016

Last night St. Anthony Police pulled over a car due to a tail light issue on Larpenteur Avenue in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.

The driver was Philando Castile. I think I knew him from the school where he worked. He told the police he had a license to carry a firearm.

The St. Anthony police website says they don't have specialists like larger police departments, so they have to cover multiple areas of expertise. But the tail light police asked Mr. Castile for his ID and told him to keep his hands visible. When Mr. Castile reached for his ID, the tail light police shot him four times. When backup arrived they ordered Castile's girlfriend to the ground and cuffed her. She was shockingly calm and polite compared to the tail light police officer who killed Mr. Castile. The police backup should have cuffed the tail light police.

Music Association: Joe Lasher Jr. - A Little Tail Light
Psychology Association: “Seeing Black: Race, Crime, and Visual Processing (2004)
Civil Liberties Associations: (See It, Report It):  NYCLU app, ACLU app, ACLU rights & responsibilities info
                                              Things to do to reduce police racism and violence

When demonstrations become violent, it disrespects my son and his memory. Philando was a man of peace and dignity. Please, I ask you to at all times remain peaceful in your expressions of concern regarding his death at the hands of the police. I promise that we will not rest until justice prevails.” - Philando Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile

Dis-United Kingdom
July 1, 2016

Fear and hate led to Brexit. That's something never included in Yoda's philosophies.

When the British voted to leave the European Union (52% of 33.6 million votes), they voted without respect to simple truths of what leaving Europe would mean, based on disingenuous statements made by politicians trying to sway voters.

If the core rationale was the control of immigration policies, the United Kingdom already had that. If economic freedom was at the core, the price of economic freedom will be trade tariffs, which would eliminate the claims of free money.

Leaving the EU is more complicated than the Brexit vote made it out to be. Ask for a do over.

Music Association: Chicago - If You Leave Me Now
Philosophy Association: Life is short, and people screw up. Ask for forgiveness and a do over.

Hopes and Dreams

Forestry Phyromaniacs
May 21, 2016

The U.S. Forestry Service started a controlled burn Thursday (5-19) that burned out of control in the Superior National Forest near Foss Lake. It's still burning. It was supposed to have only burned 78 acres. So far, it has burned over 1,000 acres, northward into the BWCA.

U.S. Forestry says the uncontrolled burn was supposed to clear dead wood and encourage jack pines. They say the problem was the wind changed. Oops.
Smokey, you only had one job
According to the forestry journal Fire Management Today volume 60 issue 4:
“There are plenty of reasons to control-burn and many ways to do it. But we are often told that burning is necessary simply to prevent conflagrations and that it is easier, cheaper, and safer than fire supression. It is, inherently, none of these. Free-burning fire is as complex as the living world that sustains it. There are biotas that more or less expect fire, biotas that tolerate it, and biotas that suffer from it. More precisely, places accomodate the regimes under which fire appears. Applying and removing fire affects each of them differently.”

According to the forestry journal Fire Management Today volume 66 issue 1, the definition of controlled burns depends on:
1.  skill
2.  under exacting weather conditions
3.  in a definite place

Well, the Foss Lake fire left its definitive place... due to unexpected winds, which calls into question the skill of the U.S. Forestry officials.

Music Association: Pointer Sisters - Fire
Update 5-22: The fire is 70% uncontained. Working on the fire are 6 crews, 2 helicopters, 2 engines, 1 water tender, and 180 total personnel.
Update 5-24: The fire is 45% uncontained. Working on the fire are 6 crews, 2 helicopters, 4 engines, 1 water tender, and 217 total personnel.

Wildfire Costs by the Seattle Times

guests in the woods

Smokey by Michael Maslin for the New Yorker

Global Temperature Changes
May 14, 2016

Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist in the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading, posted a graphical representation of global temperature changes this week.

global temperature changes by Ed Hawkins

Music Association: Kool and the Gang - Too Hot

Christos of St. Paul
May 9, 2016

Later this month, the Christos of St. Paul will close.

Christos has filled the empty great hall of the Union Depot since 1996 with the wonderful tastes and smells of Greek food.

After withstanding years of economic-recovery-based construction projects, the Greek restaurant could not get a new lease.

No more spanakopita (spinach and cheese baked golden in phyllo dough). No more kalmata olives. No more shish-kebabs or mousaka (eggplant and potato casserole). No more tzatziki and veggies on pita. No more saganaki on fire -- Opa!

Good-bye Christos and thank you. You've been delicious for twenty years. You will be missed.

Music Association: Wombats - Greek Tragedy
-- Visit Christos in Minneapolis or Minnetonka instead! --

Hopes and Dreams

April 21, 2016

It rained this morning in Minneapolis. A legend died.

Prince died in his home in suburban Chanhassen. An artist, guitarist, singer and songwriter, Prince had an unrestrained style that at times mixed Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and Little Richard but was uniquely his own.

He wrote his own music, wrote music for others, and stood up for his beliefs. He was 57.

Music Association: Prince - Purple Rain
Twin Cities Calendar: April 21-22, 11pm-7am Prince memorial block party, First Avenue (free)
Twin Cities Calendar: April 30, 1pm-6pm  Prince block party, Sabathani Community Center, 310 E 38th St, Minneapolis (free) - wear purple

commercial review
Waste Not, Want Not
April 14, 2016

I subscribe to a philosophy of waste not, want not. It is an absence of wasting and wanting.

It helps me enjoy the now -- this moment -- with focus. I enjoy being. I am part of nature. Repair improves upon what is, internally and externally.

This philosophy does so much with so little. It is a trail to a positive attitude. It is a path away from climate change. {Climate change side note: Sir David Attenborough discusses the undiscussed, undercurrent multiplier of climate change.}

Waste not, want not is so much an ingrained part of me that I sometimes forget about the commercial world. I don't watch much television, and I usually mute the commercials. A recent Sprint commercial slipped by the mute-barrier by involving visuals and reading. I know!

Reading: normal for foreign film subtitles, weird for commercials. The ad said, “How it feels to get a new iPhone every year,” and then a woman dances. I don't get it.
Zero stars.

How it feels to get a new iPhone every year

Music Association: Beatles - Can't Buy Me Love
More Information: Union of Concerned Scientists - Climate Deception (pdf)

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Hopes and Dreams: Stuck on AutoDrive is a novel that's about inventing the self-driving car. It has:



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