Sometimes there’s stuff that needs doing.  Sometimes I’m the guy to do it.  This is one of those times.

Monday evening, the city of Cincinnati released confirmed coronavirus cases by zip code.  Cool – I like seeing maps of things.  Data is beautiful.

But no.  They provided a list – a necessary component, but not the necessary result.

So in a half-hour, I whipped this up.  Not fancy, no landmarks, but it’s the data mapped.  Enjoy.

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I’m the “Steve” referenced here.

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In 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 it says “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, “This is My body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

Do this in remembrance of Me. It’s a commandment from Jesus. We even have it on the front of our communion table. But what does it mean?

Somewhere, across history, there is probably somebody who said “Jesus – long hair, beard, good with kids. I remember him”. But I don’t think that’s what Jesus meant.

Then there are the people who know about Jesus. They go a bit deeper – facts about Jesus. And there’s a little deeper level – being able to say what the facts mean.

Then there’s even deeper – asking “What Would Jesus Do”. And then applying it. I do have to caution you – there is also an element of timing. If you’re coming out of a bank with a lot of money, asking “What Would Jesus Do?” is great. On the other hand, if you have just robbed that bank, and now your car won’t start, you probably waited too long to ask “What Would Jesus Do?”.

Seriously, though, there’s a difference between asking that question and doing the answers to that question. The Christian life – being in Christ, having Christ in you – takes involvement, it takes commitment, it takes sacrifice.

And that’s what we’re celebrating now – the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross to save us from a life of sin and an eternity in Hell. As we take the wafer and the juice, let’s do it in remembrance of Him.  Let’s pray.

Father God, even our best attempts to be like Jesus fall sadly short of His perfection and sinlessness. Thank you for accepting His blood as atonement for our sins. In His name, amen.

With the coronavirus shutdowns going around, different localities are responding differently.  Open, closed, permissive, forced.  It’s confusing to know what to do.

I think the only thing to do is quarantine the whole planet.  I’m serious.  Nobody on or off until this is over.  No exceptions.

Mark 5:25-34  Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians.  She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse.  When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment.  For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”  Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction.  And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?”  But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”.  And He looked around to see her who had done this thing.  But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.  And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.  Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”

The woman who was healed, she did it by touching Jesus’s clothes.  Many were touching Him.  She came with intent, with faith, and was healed.

Now this was a miracle.  The power that Jesus had – and still has – is what healed the woman.  It wasn’t human means; it was supernatural.

I heard someone say that when a farmer prays for rain, God expects him to say “Amen” with a hoe in his hands.  And that’s what this woman did.

Her faith healed her, but it was her faith in action.  She had just as much faith a second before touching Jesus’ clothes, but there is something about the person of Jesus, something about touching Him.

Jesus died, was crucified, so that we could be healed without touching Him physically. And that’s what we’re celebrating now, with the wafer and the juice representing His body and His blood.  Let’s pray.

Lord God, You don’t look at us on the outside – You see into our hearts to see our intentions, our faith.  We are judged not by appearances, not by human effort.  Thank You for the gift of Jesus, Whose sacrifice allows us to become holy, and to enter into Your presence.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

I only needed half a tank – but wow!

At least for now.

My PC died last summer, and I got a whomping big workstation that was going to be my Linux base, with tons of virtual machines hung off it.

I did make one virtual machine, and it ran nicely.  But I ended up fighting with Fedora more than I got work done – well, that’s the filtered memory.

Tonight, when I tried to start it up, I saw this:

Cannot open access to console, the root account is locked

I tried some things, and poked around, and got frustrated, and now I’m typing this on Windows.  Bye, Linux.  I’ll make some virtual machines to play with Linux, but my life is too short spending it wondering if the latest updates will crash things (and I still don’t know what caused this crash).

At work, I tried running Linux on my laptop for months before giving in and going the Microsoft way.  History apparently repeated itself.

Welcome back, Steve.

I went to the dollar store the other day, and totally wasted a dollar on a book.  The Day After Oblivion looked appealing, but then I opened the cover.  Fifty pages in and I stopped reading.  I don’t mind less-than-perfect writing, but I ran into something that bothered me in almost every chapter.

Chapter 3 ends with a windmill repairman taking pictures and “Little does he know the photographs will be the last he takes of ordinary life”.  At the end of Chapter 6, about the same guy: “Gage enjoys the view, having no idea how quickly it will all change”.  Got it the first time – things are changing.

In Chapter 1, the President’s assistant is introduced.  “Chief of Staff Isabella Alvarez consults her iPad”.  In Chapter 4, a long list of meeting attendees includes “the president’s chief of staff, Isabella Alvarez”.  Got it – she’s the chief of staff (or the Chief of Staff, depending on the editor du jour).

In Chapter 2, after the NSA has been cyber-infiltrated, the director of the NSA says “Colonel, I want the best computer operators we have in my office, forthwith”.  No, he doesn’t.  Computer operators make things work.  Cybersecurity personnel investigate breakins (and help them not happen).

Editing bothered me.  In Chapter 3: “Gage pulls up to the closest turbine and kills the engine”.  Of the windmill – really?  By remote control?  No, it’s the car/truck that he turns off.

Technology – well, even basic math – was treated with disdain.  Chapter 3, talking about the big windmills.  “The tower stands 260 feet tall and the blades extend another 126 feet beyond the hub, making the overall height 389 feet”.  No, it doesn’t.  The fact doesn’t matter – it feels like filler, or attempting a minor bit of technology showoff – but it’s wrong.  I blame both the author and the editor.  This is not some self-published bunch of electrons, it’s a real dead-tree book.

In Chapter 4, one of the cybersecurity experts talking to the president is calling out submarines.  “When the submarines surface, there’s a Windows XP chip on the engine that broadcasts the maintenance schedule back to base”.  That hurts my head, between the OS-specific chip, being attached to the “engine” instead of the nuclear reactor, and the idea that they would broadcast private info.  Just no.

In Chapter 5, the cybersleuth decides she’s going to “Look for clues.  Maybe a partial IP address”.  And guess what?  She finds “Maybe a partial IP address.  Three numbers”.  So she “copies the partial address and pastes it into a browser on the NSA’s network. She taps her foot, waiting for a response.  The odds are long, with only three numbers and over six billion number combinations.  She groans when the screen fills with nearly a million hits”.  Umm.  IPv4 addresses consist of four dotted numbers, from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255.  Some of those are reserved, dropping over a half-billion from the approximately 4.3 billion that 256 to the 4th power produces.  But that doesn’t matter – if she has three of the four, there are only 256 numbers possible.

And don’t get me started on a million results on a page.  Reminds me of the million pixel page – I’d groan, too, if Google didn’t filter down the number of responses.  Oh – am I assuming too much when I think Google?  Well, tell us.  Tell us what site she was visiting.  Tell us if the browser returns results (assuming yes, given “hits”) or tries to go to an invalid IP address.  Luckily, we are told in Chapter 8: “I did find a partial IP address.  Ran it through our database and received about ten thousand hits.  I narrowed the search to include likely bad actors and ended up with about a hundred hits”.  OK, so she was doing a database query, and ignored the 99 percent who were good guys, neutrals, or unlikely bad guys.  It’s OK, though, because “They’re almost certainly spoofing the attack”.  And they would only spoof it from other bad guys – got it.

In Chapter 10, a captain in NORAD makes a decision after North Korea detonates a nuclear device over Kansas (don’t worry – I’m not giving away all the secrets).  “Communications, work the phones.  Send an urgent message up the chain of command to alert them of a possible EMP event”.  As opposed to a non-urgent message, or —

Chapter 13.  The sub with the Windows XP chip gets new orders.  “Captain, we are in receipt of a valid emergency action measure that directs the launch of target package one.  Request permission to authenticate?”. And a bit later: “The message is encoded with a cypher to insure –” Nope – it’s ensure.  “to insure that the order originated from the President.  Quigley calls out the code while Garcia authenticates.  Once the message is decoded, Garcia exhales a breath and says “Captain, the message is authentic” “.  So they read the message before it is decoded.  And they can do cryptography in their heads.  Plus, it’s easy enough that a human can verify it, and assumes the reader and listener do not make errors.  And, ya know, there’s a difference between authentication and encryption.  Authentication could be as simple as a code word – rutabaga – to let you know that it isn’t some random stranger asking you for something.  Encryption jumbles the letters to make it non-readable.  Not the same.

My head really hurts.  I stopped reading after that chapter.  My time is worth more than that.

So I started reading a free book – St. Dale, from Sharyn McCrumb (thanks, Mom and Dad!).  In five pages she had me hooked with her writing style, good characters, believable situations, and an all-round better vibe.  She had me at “It was not the end of the world, but you could see it from there”.  Looking forward to it.  And if somebody wants a partially-read copy of The Day After Oblivion, let me know before I donate it to the library’s free book sale.

Niccolo Paganini was a violin virtuoso who died in 1840.  He was good – apparently very good, playing violins, a viola, and cellos, all from Stradivarius.

He was also vain.  His biographical entry notes

Paganini himself occasionally broke strings during his performances on purpose so he could further display his virtuosity.  He did this by carefully filing notches into them to weaken them, so that they would break when in use.

I admit to a touch of vanity myself, but that isn’t the reason for this post.  I am hoping for bad things to happen – a rainy day would be nice right about now.  I spent an hour or two on Saturday both enjoying the rare 60-degree weather in that week between Christmas and New Year, and winterizing my car’s front and rear windows.  I clean them and protect them according to the Blue Rain method.  They need it more than once per year, but I tend to wait until they really need it.

I also replaced a fuse that was blown, restoring functionality to the power outlet in the center console.  A good day for catching up.

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You might have noticed that we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus. The evergreen trees, the lights, the eternal circle of the wreaths, the stars, the gifts. The nativities with the beautiful baby in a manger. All tied to Jesus, His birth, His attributes.

And yet, just like babies tend to do, Jesus didn’t stay a baby forever. He grew up. He went through childhood and into His teenage years, growing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. I think He irritated His parents – but for once in human history, the teenager was on the right side. He continued to grow, and in adulthood He began His ministry. A few years later, He experienced the truth “It is appointed once for men to die”.

And yet, because the baby Jesus was both fully man and fully God, His death was different than our deaths will be. Because He was sinless, perfect and pure, His death is the only one that could atone for every sin, in His death on the cross. Jesus spent His life giving to others, as an example for us. And now we give gifts at Christmas, because God the Father gave Jesus as a gift to us. Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, we would be lost if not for the light of Jesus. Possibly physically lost, as we think about all the contributions that Christians have made across the centuries. Definitely spiritually lost, without a savior. And because You loved us while we were yet sinners, You sent Jesus. Thank You for that, and help us to remember as we eat the wafer and drink the juice. In Jesus’ name, amen.