Gratitude

Last Saturday, February 25th, in Torah study, we did Leviticus 19:5:  

5 And when ye offer a sacrifice of peace-offerings unto the LORD, ye shall - offer it that ye may be accepted. 6 It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow; and if aught remain until the third day, it shall be burnt with fire. 7 And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it is a vile thing; it shall not be accepted. 8 But every one that eateth it shall bear his iniquity, because he hath profaned the holy thing of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from his people.

In November 2017 (National Gratitude month), Jodi Price Dixon, our Weight Watchers group leader, had us log what we are grateful for.  So I did.

November 5th
Today, I am grateful for my family.  My parents will get special mention the day after tomorrow.
*) My son Daniel Silverman
*) His wife, Andrea Silverman
*) Their son Isaac, who is due February (He was born February 4th, 2018)
*) My son John Racus
*) His ex-wife, Sarah Jane McPherson
*) Their daughter Janie Racus
*) Their son Randall Racus
*) My son Chris Racus
*) His fiance, Nikki Farrar
*) Their son, Dillon Racus
*) Their son, Devin Racus
*) My father, Donald Silverman
*) My Mother, Goldie Silverman
*) My brother, John Silverman
*) His wife, Marisa
*) Their son Byron
*) Their daughter Nina
*) My sister, Judy Silverman
*) My grandfather, Abe Gendler, may he live in peace
*) My grandmother, Freida Gendler, may she live in peace
*) My grandmother, Bess Silverman, may she live in peace
November 6th
Judith's family
*) Helen Racus.  Helen is at the top of this list for many reasons.  First and foremost: I like her.  Second: The Torah tells us over and over and over again to show deference to widows, orphans, and strangers.  The rabbis teach that even the widow of a king must be treated with the utmost of compassion.  Helen is both a widow and an orphan, and even more sorrowful, she has laid 2 sons in the grave.
*) Judith's brother, Bill Lynch
*) Bill's wife, Cindy Osborn
*) Their children: Chara, Joanna, and Michael
*) Judith's sister, Marilyn Hicks
*) Her husband, Gary Hicks
*) Their daughters: Caroline, Jenny, and Betsy
*) Gary's sister Nancy Hicks
*) Her daughter Amy Erken.  Amy has a twin sister Emily, but I have not met her very often.  Amy, by way of contrast, lived with Judith and me for several months.  She is an impressive young woman.
*) Julie and Steve Winchel.  Julie is Judith's cousin.
*) Katherine Winchel.  Katherine is Julie's daughter An extraordinary young woman.
November 7th
no entry
November 8th
Today, I am grateful for my parents.  I am fantastically fortunate to have such parents.  When I was young, I thought they knew everything.  When Sarah was born, I thought they knew everything.  Let's not mention the time between when I was young and when Sarah was born.  My parents were (and are) incredibly smart people.  Educated, curious, erudite, healthy.  I know some people who were born to drug addicts.  My parents were not that.  I know some people who were born to stupid, uneducated parents, and those people grew up to be stupid and uneducated.  Worse, some of them got elected.  My parents gave me a moral center.  I haven't always lived up to that moral center, but I always knew where that moral center was.  My parents gave me a fine education, at the Evergreen School, Overlake, and Harvey Mudd College.  They gave me free advice (my father says that the advice he gave was worth every penny I paid for it) whenever I needed it and sometimes when I thought I didn't.  So Don Silverman, Goldie Silverman: thank you.  If your computer needs fixing, then it is a very small service for me to do so.

BTW: the best parenting advice they gave me was that if your kid calls you at 2 AM and wants a ride home, then swear and curse and complain while you are driving to where you are going to pick up the kid, and bring be quiet while you drive them home.
November 9th
Today, I am going to be grateful for some the great religious teachers who have touched my life

*) Rabbi Norman Hirsh.  Rabbi Hirsh was MY rabbi for as long as I could remember.  We still correspond by US mail.
*) Fred Townsend.  Fred was my Sunday School teacher when I was 15 and at the height of my adolescent rebelliousness.  He taught me how to deal with missionaries which was perfect for an argumentative teenager.
*) Bill Lynch, who I mentioned yesterday, taught me a better way to deal with missionaries, because when I met him, he was one.  Bill is also one of my greatest religious teachers.
*) Cantor Victor Frankl, may he rest in peace.  He taught a class in the Holocaust when I was in the Seattle High School of Jewish Studies.
*) Rabbi Jonathan Singer.  Formerly the senior rabbi at Temple Beth Am
*) Rabbi Beth Singer.  Formerly the associate rabbi at Temple Beth Am
*) Rabbi Ruth Zlotnick.  Currently, the senior rabbi at Temple Beth Am
*) Rabbi Jason Levine.  Currently, the associate rabbi at Temple Beth Am.  One day, while in Torah study, a question came up while we were in Exodus.  The answer to the question was in Deuteronomy.  Rabbi Levine was able to find the answer in only a couple of minutes, searching through a book roughly 1500 pages long.  A staggering feat of scholarship.
*) Professor Bea Wallins.  Despite what she says, she is a biblical scholar of highest rank, and should be addressed as "Professor".
*) My Torah study class at Temple Beth Am.  We have been going over the Torah, verse by verse and in some cases word by word, almost every Saturday morning since at least October 2009 and perhaps earlier.
*) Jim Black, may he rest in peace.  A gifted public speaker.
November 10th
Today I am going to cover one thing that I am grateful for, but when you get to be my age, it's a big deal:

Blessed are You, Adoni our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who formed humans with wisdom and created many openings and cavities within them. It is obvious and known before Your throne of glory that if any one of them [the openings and cavities] were closed or if one of any one them were opened, it would be impossible to exist for even an hour [i.e., a short while]. Blessed are You, Adoni who heals all flesh and does wondrous things.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר יָצַר אֶת הָאָדָם בְּחָכְמָה, וּבָרָא בוֹ נְקָבִים נְקָבִים, חֲלוּלִים חֲלוּלִים. גָּלוּי וְיָדוּעַ לִפְנֵי כִסֵּא כְבוֹדֶךָ, שֶׁאִם יִסָּתֵם אֶחָד מֵהֶם, אוֹ אִם יִפָּתֵח אֶחָד מֵהֶם, אִי אֶפְשַׁר לְהִתְקַיֵּם אַפִלּוּ שָׁעָה אֶחָת. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה, רוֹפֵא כָל בָּשָׂר וּמַפְלִיא לַעֲשׂוֹת:

This is a good blessing to recite when one farts.

There are somewhere between 10^72 to 10^82 atoms in the universe.  About 10^30 of those atoms are mine.  God is HUGE.
November 11th (Saturday)
Today, I am grateful for Torah study.
November 12th
Today, I am going to be grateful for some things I have accomplished that I am grateful for

*) Bar Mitzvah
*) Putting out a fire in a classroom at Overlake
*) Getting elected student body president at Overlake
*) Accepted at Harvey Mudd College
*) Learning how to program in FORTRAN, which was my bread and butter from 1977 to 1995.
*) Getting my first job at Boeing
*) Graduating from Harvey Mudd College
*) Saving some guy's life using CPR.
*) Getting a patent 5,296,853, for a laser ice detector that has no moving parts.  It doesn't work.
November 13th
Today, I am grateful for Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC).  I measure the milestones of my life by the computers I used.  In chronological order:

*) Digicomp 1 (3 bits, clock speed 1 Hz)
*) Wang 2200 Calculator ( 16 KBytes RAM, BASIC in ROM)
*) DECsystem-10 (At Harvey Mudd College)
*) DEC PDP-11/70, PDP-11/34 (Boeing Microprocessor Development Support Center, MDSC)
*) DEC VAX-11/780 (At Harvey Mudd College)
*) HP MX-21 (Air Launched Cruise Missile at Boeing)
*) DEC VAX-11/780 (Numerous assignments at Boeing)
*) DEC VAX-11/730 (The first VAX that was "mine" Minuteman Software Development Lab (MSDL) at Boeing)
*) DEC VAX-11/785 (MSDL at Boeing)
*) DEC VAX-8800 (A VAXcluster for Ballistic Systems Division at Boeing)
*) A VAXcluster of MicroVAXes (Flight Test Engineering instrumentation lab at Boeing)
*) DEC Alpha running OSF/1 (Mathsoft)

Since I left Mathsoft in December 1999, I have not used a DEC computer.  DEC was bought out by Compaq, and Compaq was bought out by HP.  OpenVMS, the operating system for VAX and Alpha, is still maintained by HP, although I don't know why.  The VAX was, I think, the ultimate Complicated Instruction Set Computer (CISC).  The Intel Pentium is complicated, but it is complicated because it is based on the 8080 microprocessor.  However, modern transistor technology is such that it really doesn't matter.  Only assembly language programmers see how rotten the Pentium really is, nobody else notices.
November 14
Today, I am going to be grateful for the women I have loved and lost, in chronological order.  Every romantic relationship I've had with a woman, I have messed up in one way or another, and my relationship with Judith is no exception.

*) Erica Mong
*) Elisa Cohen
*) Shelley Skinner
*) Abby Grossman, wife of my friend Glen Dayton (Glen, Abby, and I went to dinner together in January 2016.  They seem very happy together.  I'm glad.)(I have since met the two of them for dinner twice)
*) Alisa Klein (I joined her for lunch in January 2016)(Yes, Elisa and Alisa are eponymous - that coincidence has always fascinated me, but I assure you that it was merely a remarkable coincidence)
*) Joy Harwood

I hope that if these women find me, they will not be angry and will accept my apology.   I have discovered that I am really not much of a people person.    I've been married for 35 years (To my astonishment: Judith is a remarkable woman), so these relationships happened long ago.  But still, they happened.  I hope whatever happened to these women, they are happy.  I cared about them.
November 15th
Today, I am grateful that Judith didn't murder me in my sleep.  Or while I was awake, for that matter.
November 16th
Today, I am grateful for secular teachers who stand out in my memory.  In some cases, I don't remember the dates.

*) Mrs. Baker.  Ravenna elementary school.  1964-1965.  Kindergarten.  Sharing.  Put away your toys (didn't stick).  Take a nap after lunch.  Play fair.  Take your turn.  Raise your hand and wait to be called on before speaking.  In the event of a nuclear attack, duck and cover.
*) Leonard Good.  Evergreen school for gifted children.  1969-1970. My science teacher in 6th grade.
*) Denver Ulery.  Overlake, 1970-1976. My math teacher in 7th grade.  Science teacher in 8th grade.  Physics teacher in 9, 11th, and 12th grade.  Carpentry.  How to wire a 3 phase motor.    May he rest in peace.
*) Dean Palmer.  Overlake, 1970-1976.  Headmaster.  History, Economics, Mathematics.  Soccer coach.  May he rest in peace.
*) Carol Anne Castell.  Overlake, 1974-1976.  Chemistry in 11th and 12th grades.
*) Jack Newton.  Overlake, 1970, 1973.  Biology, sex.
*) Bill Armstrong.  Overlake, 1971-1976  Home room, English (including sentence diagramming, critical for Natural Language Processing - who knew?) typing.
*) Myra Geotz. Overlake. English, poetry, Drama.
*) Jill Anthony Overlake, 1975.  Decisions and Outcomes.
*) David Cotlove.  Overlake. 1974-1975.  Mathematics.  Beta Computing, 1975.  Introduction to computing programming using BASIC
*) Trevor Culley. Overlake, 1974, 1975.  Mathematics.  Algebra.  Functions.  Trigonometry.  Soccer coach. Another way of pronouncing the letter "Zed"
*) Prof. Alvin White. Harvey Mudd College. 1976,1977.  Calculus, linear algebra.
*) Dr. Gene Clough.  Harvey Mudd College.  1979, 1970.  Solid State Physics
*) Prof. David Beeman.  Harvey Mudd College.  1978-1980.  Physics: statistical mechanics.  Numerical methods in physics.
*) Randy Saunders, HMC 1979. Harvey Mudd College.  FORTRAN.
*) Fred Struck.  Boeing, 1980-1981.  ATLAS, the Abbreviated Test Language for Any System.
*) Larry Flesher.  Boeing. 1982-1990.  The finest manager I ever worked for, and the standard that I measure managers against.  Larry, if you get this message, I'd like to take you to lunch.
*) Glen Dayton, HMC 1981.  Boeing.  Ethernet.  DECnet.
*) Bill Jones.  Boeing.  Radar.  Another person I would like to take to lunch.
*) Prof. David Peterson.  United States Department of Agriculture, National Forest Service.  Ecology and how ecology (a science) is different from environmentalism (a political movement).
*) Dr. Susan Olsen.  United States Department of Agriculture, National Forest Service.  Atmospheric Science.  Adiabatic expansion.
*) Prof. Jonathan Jacky.  University of Washington, Professional and Continuing Education.  Python.
*) Dr. Don McKenzie, United States Department of Agriculture, National Forest Service.  Data science, machine learning (although we didn't know that at the time).
*) Mark Tapper, Real Networks.  2005-2007.  Load balancers.  SQL.  perl.  May he rest in peace.
*) David Holmes.  F5 Networks.  How to write software using SSL in "C"
*) Daniel Brogan.  F5 Networks.  IPv6.
*) Mark Rider.  F5 Networks.  How to do customer support.  Never say "I can't do that".  Say "I can't do that, but what I can do is this".
*) Rachel Levine.  Temple Beth Am.  The most consistently liberal liberal I've ever met.  I'm not sure if she is a religious teacher or a secular teacher, but I don't think she will mind being listed here.
*) Dr. Zachary Voulgaris.  Prosoft.  2016-2017.  Data science.

I do not do anything.  I never did anything.  Rather, I was incredibly fortunate, incredibly fortunate, to have good teachers who helped me along the way.
November 17th
Today, I am going to cover some events that affected me profoundly

*) Bar Mitzvah.  If I can study the laws of Leprosy (Leviticus 13), I can do anything.
*) Marrying Judith.  They say that the shortest sentence in the English language is "I am".  The longest sentence in the English language is "I do".
*) Birth of Sarah.  If you will recall what I wrote the other day, Judith actually did most of the work.  She seems to have found her niche running Schilling Cider house in Fremont (https://www.schillingcider.com/)
*) Birth of Daniel.    If you will recall what I wrote the other day, again Judith actually did most of the work.  He seems to have found his niche at Expediters International.
*) Sarah's Bat Mitzvah
*) Births of Randall, Janie, Dillon, and Devin.  Dillon especially, when I met him, he so small!  Now, ask him about Pluto, but only if you have some time: once he starts talking about Pluto, he can talk about it for 45 minutes.  Further, Devin, as a 9 year old, of all my grandchildren, I think he cares about me the most.  Of all of them, he is the most likely to criticize me, and what really hurts is that usually, he is right.
*) Conception of Isaac.  Actually, I wasn't aware of it at the time, it was only several months later.
November 18th?
Today, I am grateful for the laws of physics.  Think about it for a moment.  If the strong force was not what it is, then the nuclei of atoms would either crush into nothingness or else explode.  Electromagnetic forces would not be the same, and I don't know what the consequences of that would be.  Suppose water did not have Van Der Vaals forces - the boiling point of water and the freezing would be much, much colder than they are.  Also, ice would not float on water, nor would the specific heat of water be so large.  That, in turn, would cause very rapid changes in temperature.  That, in turn, would make life impossible.  If you run an electrical current through a magnetic field, it produces a force at right angles to the plane formed by the current and magnetic field.  And what is a magnetic field, anyway?

I am also grateful that the Universe can be explained (except for gravity) in terms of equations.  Think about that for a moment.  There is no reason why the Universe should be predictable using mathematics.  Mathematics is rather abstract.  The square root of 2 is an irrational number, that is, there is no faction which, when squared, is 2.  The square roots of all of the integers either integers (such as 4) or irrational.  This is true regardless of whether the Universe exists or not, and there is nothing that God can do about it.  So why should this incredibly abstract theory actually be applicable to something real, something useful?   Physicists routinely use their systems of equations to do all kinds of things.  Electrical engineers design computers, secure in the knowledge that Ohm's law, V=IR, is going to work.  Auto mechanics use torque wrenches.  Air planes fly, and do so economically.  By way of contrast, my daughter's dog, Indy, can catch a ball in mid air, and does not use mathematics to do it.  So it is clear to me that the Universe can be understood without math - the dog is an existence case.

November 19th
Today, I am grateful for supernovae.  When God created the Big Bang, there was nothing but light (Gen. 1:3, http://www.breslov.com/ref/Genesis1.htm#3).  In a few tens of seconds, the universe cooled to where protons and electrons could form.  These protons and electrons became hydrogen.  Discontinuities developed.  These discontinuities grew and grew until they became stars.  The stars coalesced into galaxies.  As the star ran out of hydrogen, they exploded.  In that explosion, all of the heavier atoms: Carbon, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Sulfur, Iron, etc. formed.  Those heavier elements coalesced into what we call planets.  The carbon became polymers, the polymers eventually came to life.   The rest, as they say, is history.

When I observe the Universe, I seized with a tremendous sense of awe.  It is estimated that there are 10^78 to 10^82 atoms in the observable universe.  That is a staggering number.  I have about 8.6*10^10 neurons in my head, and I cannot comprehend such a number.  This is why, for all of the scientific bullshit that I have bullshitted for the past couple of weeks, I believe in God.

Katherine Winchell: I hope you get a job soon.  The world needs you, desperately.  The world just doesn't know it yet.

November 20th
Today, I am grateful for Tom Cipolla.   We had a falling out years ago, and as I write these words, I realize that it is time to bury the hatchet.
November 21st
No entry
November 22nd
No entry
November 23rd
Today, I don't know if I am grateful or not.  Today we celebrate stealing an entire continent from the indigenous people.  Not only did we steal their land, but we murdered thousands if not hundreds of thousands of them.  Many of those who did not die in war died of diseases they had never seen before.  Many of those who did not die in war nor died of disease succumbed to alcoholism and other addictions.   Finally, those who did not die in war, nor who died of disease, nor who fell prey to substance abuse were screwed by the American legal system.

When you read about the first Thanksgiving feast, you will read that the pilgrims invited the native Americans to a feast that they had never seen before.  In fact, it was the pilgrims that had never seen such a feast before.

November 24th
Today, I am thankful for the internet.  The guys (and they were all guys) who created it in the late 1970s and early 1980s were far, far ahead of their time.  Considering where the technology went, they didn't do all that badly.  True, it never occurred to them that somebody would make a computer the size of a match head. World's smallest web server  .  Today, I can send E-mails to my friend, Prof. Sarah Stroup, while she is on a dig in Israel, on the other side of the planet.  The only delay is due to the fact that she sleeps when I am awake, and vice versa.  But if I wanted to wake up early, and she was willing to stay up late, we could communicate virtually instantaneously.  My friend Riccardo Carlesso is in Europe somewhere, and we E-mail frequently.

Unfortunately, despite how wonderful the internet is, 17% of the traffic on the internet are pictures of cats, a picture of a          cat and 22% of the statistics quoted on the internet are made up.

November 25th
Modern transportation technology.  One hundred years ago, the idea that one could travel on the order of 80 miles to Eatonville, or even 22 miles to Everett, was barely thinkable.  One hundred and fifty years ago, it was unthinkable.  For thousands of years, the fastest any person could would be on horseback, and then only for a few kilometers.  It is now possible to drive across North America in a few days.  It is now possible to fly from Seattle to New York city in a few hours.  In fact, one can frequently fly from Seattle to Oakland, California in less time than it takes to drive from Seattle to Kirkland.
November 26th
Yesterday, I took an online test of my skills as a programmer and as a linux system administrator, and I botched it rather badly.  It is yet another nail in my coffin that maybe I don't belong in the IT business anymore.  But it pays so well.

So after utterly blowing that test, and realizing that perhaps my career has all been a lie, I did something very uncharacteristic of me: I went and got drunk.  I have not gotten drunk since the mid-1970s, when I was an undergraduate at Harvey Mudd College (HMC).  To make matters worse, I had skipped lunch and dinner, so I was drinking on an empty stomach.  To make matters worse, I am taking Metformin for hyperglycemia, and that interacts with alcohol.  Fortunately, between diet and exercise, my hemoglobin A1C is 5.6, below the level considered hazardous, which is 6.0.

After consuming 64 Oz (946 ml) of 3.5 ABV beer, I had consumed 33 ml of alcohol.  I weigh 160.4 lbs (72 Kg).  I went to the Cleveland Clinic, and figured out that my Blood Alcohol Concentration was 0.075 .  The threshold of intoxication for legal purposes in Washington State is 0.08, which given my personal experience, is too high.  To my astonishment, I was able to walk to Sarah's house.  Robert, who is a pretty big guy, wrestled me into a chair.  Indy was affectionate, as usual.  Sarah called Judith, who came to pick me.  I'm not sure how I got to the car, and I am pretty certain I made it up the stairs at my house and into my recliner.

I'm kind of stupid.  I have a whole support network of people who care about me, not because of what I do, but because of who I am.  I have trouble remembering that.

I think I have to find a new career, what doing, I don't know.

I am grateful for my family and friends who rallied around me in what was one of my darker hours.

November 28th
No entry
November 29th
Today, I am grateful for the giants of Open Source software: Richard Stallman (the guy who started the open source movement), Dennis Ritchie (the guy who invented the C programming language, which is what UNIX, Linux, MAC OS X, and Windows are written in),  Brian Kernighan and Ken Thompson (The guys who invented UNIX)(may Ken rest in peace), Vinton Cerf (the only nerd I know who wears three piece suits), Linus Torvalds (the guy who invented Linux), Eric Raymond (Author of the Cathedral and the Bazaar), Jon Postel (The god of the internet), Aaron Schwarz (may he rest in peace), Jimmy Wales (the guy who invented Wikipedia), Larry Wall (the guy who invented the perl programming language), Bill Joy (the guy who invented the vi editor), Sir Tim Berners-Lee (the guy who invented the World Wide Web and was knighted for it), Guido van Rossum (the guy who invented the python programming language), Ned Freed (HMC '82)(The guy who invented MIME, RFC 2045, RFC 2046, RFC 2049 and several other RFCs).
November 30th
I am grateful for Jodi, the group leader at the 8:30 Sunday morning Weight Watchers group, in Northgate, Seattle, WA.  November 5th, she challenged the group to write, each day, the things we are grateful for.  When I stop and think about it, a daunting assignment.  She suggested 3 things a day.  Some days, I did more, some days, I did less.  One day, I did somewhere between 10^72 and 10^82 things, so that changes the average slightly.  Jodi: it's been a terrific exercise.  Thank you.

I would encourage you, gentle reader, to make a list of things you are grateful for.  Feel free to be thankful for not only what happened, but what did not happen.  Since I wrote this essay in November 2017, I have discovered some things that did not happen.  For example, earlier this year, I met "Angela", a prostitute who lives in a tent under a bridge under I-5.  Her tent is very cozy, or so she says, but I prefer to live in a house with central heat, a soft bed, a kitchen stocked with food, and a fast internet connection.