Origin: A Novel

Posted November 9, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Books, Reviews

Tags: ,

51oICD9UWKLOrigin: A Novel” is the latest book by Dan Brown that I just finished reading. Once again it features Professor Robert Langdon as the main character.

This time Langdon is in Spain meeting with a scientist named Edmond Kirsch who is about to announce to the world some amazing discovery that will put an end to organized religion.

So the story starts with Kirsch having a big announcement ceremony where he promptly gets shot and dies. Langdon of course comes to the rescue to chase the killers and find out what Kirsch’s big announcement was going to be.

An AI (Artificial Intelligence) persona is introduced with the name “Winston”. Of course, Winston and Langdon team up to find out all the answers.

The NY Times seemed to love the book. They wrote an absolutely gushing blurb (see the Kindle page on Amazon). They probably didn’t have to pay $14.99 for it.

I guess I was expecting more from Dan Brown. I’ve read all of his previous books. I was totally underwhelmed. Save your $14.99 for the Kindle edition. If you really must read it, wait until the price drops next summer or fall.

The next book that I will be reading is “Leonardo Da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson.

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Mary

Posted October 21, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Family, Mary

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Sometimes it’s hard to notice the changes when you are together day by day. When you see someone after being apart for a month or two, you notice the changes in a person.

Mary seems to be just a little bit weaker and a little bit slower day by day. Her memory is getting incrementally getting worse. We can tell her something, and five minutes later having the same conversation.

A couple of weeks ago, we had to be out of our condo for the entire day from 8 am to 5 pm for X-rays to be done on the building structure. Told Mary and told her again. Finally we showed her the piece of paper with the notice on it. She began to get it.

All in all, she did pretty good. We went out to a local diner and had breakfast and then to her hair appointment. We then spent the afternoon at our son’s place playing with the grandkids. Mary always likes to see the little ones.

Today, we all went to a park in Torrence to celebrate Jonathan and Sarah’s birthdays (Sept and Oct). We got a handicap parking spot so there wasn’t much of a walk. Mary loves to see all the little ones running around and riding their bikes. We brought a couple of camp chairs for our comfort. So she got some sunshine and fresh air. It was a good day.

IPhone 8 plus

Posted October 21, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Family, iPhone

Tags: ,

It’s been a while since I last posted. I’ve been neglectful. Time to get going again. 

I upgraded my phone from an iPhone 6 Plus to an iPhone 8 Plus about three weeks ago. I had the 6 plus for about three years, so time to upgrade. I didn’t feel like waiting another month to get the iPhone X. The new phone has 256Gb which means more tunes than I will ever load on to it. Here are the features that I particularly like:

  • Wireless Charging – Apple isn’t selling  a wireless charger yet, but you can get one from Amazon for about $16. Just take the phone out of your pocket and drop it onto the charger. Neat. I’m sure that Apple will come up with one for more money.  Also, it works fine with the phone installed in its case.
  • Camera – Much improved camera. It has two lenses. You can change from wide to tele with the touch of your finger. It also has some interesting controls. It has a “Portrait” mode that allows changing the lighting ambiance. Here is a picture of Paula that I took today shown with the different portrait choices. It can do a black and white portrait. In this case it brightens the face and blurs the background. Kind of cool. 
  • Another feature added was “Do Not Disturb” mode. This actually is a feature of iOS 11. So if you have iOS 6 or 7 all you have to do is upgrade. The phone detects that you are moving and it sends a stock reply to an incoming text message. Message says something like “I’m driving, I will get back to you later”. You can disable it but this is a good thing. Helps prevent distracted driving. You can also customize the message.
  • IPhone 8 and 8 plus is same form factor as the 6 and 6 plus or 7 and 7 plus. That means that you don’t need to buy a new case. I just popped my 6 plus out of the case and put the 8 plus in.  I mean you can buy a new one if you want, but why throw money around.
  • The back of the 8 is made of glass. This is done partially to allow the wireless charging. But it looks cool nevertheless. Too bad one doesn’t see it because of the case. Too much money to run the risk of running around naked (the phone that is, not me.)
  • One of things that I don’t like about it is that Apple removed the headphone jack. (That actually happened in the iPhone 7.) Apple wants you to buy their Bluetooth ear buds. Too pricey and too easy to lose. The headphones that come with it have a lightning plug. You can either listen to head phones or charge but not both at the same time. The phone comes with an adapter so that you can use your old headphones.
  • Of course, the innards are all better and faster (not necessarily cheaper). More memory of course.

What a Friend We Have…

Posted September 4, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Music

Tags: , ,

This week’s hymn for our senior Bible study meeting this week will be “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” written by Joseph M Scriven as a poem in 1855. He wrote it as part of a letter to his mother who was ill at home in Ireland. It was later put to music by Charles Crozat Converse in 1866.

“What a Friend” continues to be an extremely popular hymn. Indeed, I have played it at our Bible study meeting at least  half a dozen times over the past few years. It has been translated into many different languages, including French, Spanish, Japanese, and many more.

So the money quote for “What a Friend” can be found at John 15:13-15.

John 15:13-15 ESV

[13] Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. [14] You are my friends if you do what I command you. [15] No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

Here are the lyrics,

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
And what a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer

Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer

Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer

 

There have been many recordings done by recording artists across a wide range of musical styles. Here are a few samples:

Rhythm and Blues/Gospel – Aretha Franklin

Gospel/Choir – Mississippi Mass Choir

Country – Alan Jackson

Country – Alabama

Welsh Morriston Choir

 

The Good Samaritan

Posted September 3, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Rants

Tags: ,

Here is the story of the “Good Samaritan”. So do you think Joel Osteen fits this description?

Luke 10:29-37 ESV[29] But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” [30] Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. [31] Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. [32] So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. [33] But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. [34] He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. [35] And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ [36] Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” [37] He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”


I think not. This is where Jesus asks you to help. 

And finally, here is a video by Sarah Wood on Osteen

And You Call Yourself a Christian

Posted August 28, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Rants

Tags: , ,

So I was reading the news today about hurricane Harvey in Texas. (How can you not read about the hurricane). So in addition to all of the misery that people were experiencing, I came across an article about a Christian megachurch run by one Joel Osteen in the Houston area.  So Osteen rakes in millions of dollars, but all he can offer is prayers for the people of Houston. Here’s a piece on Huffington Post about Osteen not opening his church building to those in need.

2017-08-28

Nothing bugs me more than someone who professes to be a Christian but refuses to reach out to his neighbors who are in need. I am sure Osteen is quite dry and comfortable in his $10.5 million mansion.

Here’s an article in the New York Post, with pictures that shows that his church is not flooded.

So what would Jesus do? I haven’t found an appropriate Bible verse, but a quotation that comes to mind is:

God comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable

It doesn’t seem like God is doing a very good job of doing that in Texas these days.

By the way, if you would like to donate to help the recovery in Houston, click here to go to the Red Cross site.

Mary

Posted August 25, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Mary

Tags: ,

Time for an update on Mary. Sometimes, it feels to me that she is going to live forever.

There hasn’t been a lot of change since that last time that I reported here. Perhaps, she is a little bit weaker and a little bit slower. But those things are hard to measure. That being said, here are a couple of stories that I need to get off my chest.

One of the things that is painfully clear is that Mary is not the person that she was say five or ten years ago. Her personality has been changed by the dementia. She has no consideration for anyone else but herself.  Here are a couple of stories from the last couple of days.

Friday is the day that she usually gets her hair done. Oftentimes, people bring tasty goodies to share. So Mary comes home with a couple of pieces of blueberry cake. Are you going to eat those pieces? I ask. No, probably not. She pushes it aside and picks up the OES newsletter that Paula had just put down on the left hand side of her seat at the table to read. I ask Mary, did you not see that Paula was going to read that? I get the stupid look.

We are constantly trying to get Mary to finish the serving of meat that we serve on her plate. Last night, I tried to have her serve herself. The meal was pot roast with potatoes and carrots. My idea was to have her to control the portion size. Not going to work. She asks Paula to serve her some. So again, she doesn’t finish the meat but takes seconds on the vegetables.

I tell her that I had an uncle who was in the US Navy in WW2. He told me when I was young lad that the Navy always told him to “Take all you want and eat all you take”. That’s what I want Mary to do.

And she has room for dessert (watermelon). No matter how much (or how little) I put on her plate she won’t finish the meat. She always has room for watermelon.

Sometimes her complaint is that the meat is too tough to chew. Not the case last night, the pot roast was soft and pliant. She is worse than a three year old who won’t eat his peas. Sometimes, I think she does it just to annoy me.

And another thing, we continue try to figure out is why she won’t go to church on Sunday or Bible study on Wednesdays. She usually says that she is too dizzy. But she is never too dizzy to go get her hair done on Friday. She NEVER misses a hair appointment. NEVER!!

I don’t know whether even she knows why or understands. She just doesn’t want to go. My suspicion is that she has given up on God or that God has given up on her. We’ll never know. She also doesn’t ask that Pastor Jacques come to visit her.

So when I get frustrated with her, I either grab a cigar and go out on the patio or into the office to login to my computer.

At any rate, it’s time to start cooking. Our son and his family are coming over for dinner this evening. Paula says she will be doing a peach cobbler. I suggest to her that means we need some whipped cream. No, she says, vanilla ice cream. We got both.