Month: October 2016

Movies: Letters from Iwo Jima

So a post on Digg about the top war movies had me interested in one to watch. The movie was mad back in 2006. Yeah about ten years behind the times on this one.

But the movie in essence showed the Japanese side of the conflict over the island of Iwo Jima.

I mean we’re all familiar with this iconic photo of a group of U.S. Marines raising the United States flag on Iwo Jima:


But this time as I said, the movie portrayed the  OTHER side – namely Japanese Imperial Army soldiers and sailors. It’s at about the time in 1945 where we’ve pretty much smashed the Imperial Navy and their air capabilities. So it’s at the very end of the line.

Anyhow elements of the movie begins with the arrival on Iwo Jima of one of the Generals who trained in the United States named  Kuribayashi.

General Kuribayashi’s  first act is to stop a Japanese Lieutenant from ordering his men to dig ditches on the beach. It is here we meet one of the main characters in the story – a Japanese Imperial Army soldier named Saigo, a Baker by trade who has some issues with the Japanese tradition of honor.

Now I’ll say this – the movie gives just a shallow view into the horrors of World War II but it is utterly horrific. In one part a Japanese medic is ordered to treat an injured American soldier named Sam. The leader of the group can speak some English and he learns the injured man’s name, where he was from. But in the morning Sam has passed away but the leader finds a letter and can read it – he reads it to his troops. It’s a letter from Sam’s mother – detailing the goings on back home in Oklahoma. One of the Japanese troops says to his squad mate “That’s a letter like one I’d get from my mother.” and how he was taught that American’s were savages. This dialog really got to me:

Baron Nishi: [reading the letter from the mother of Sam, the dead marine] And always do what’s right because it’s right.

Lieutenant Okubo: Shall I finish him off?
Baron Nishi: No. Treat him.
Lieutenant Okubo: But, sir…
Baron Nishi: Okubo, you would expect the same, wouldn’t you? Endo, treat him.
Medic Endo: We are low on morphine as it is.
Shimizu: Sir, the Americans would not treat a wounded Japanese soldier.
Baron Nishi: Son, have you ever met one? Treat him.
[Shimizu is lost for words]

Baron Nishi: This is a picture of me and my horse champion.
Sam: [Sam smiles and chuckles] No kidding. Oklahoma, it’s where I’m from.
Baron Nishi: Takeichi.
Sam: Sam.
[Both men shake hands]

This part is important BTW and we’ll return to it.

Later in the film when the battle begins we see a machine gunner in a Japanese pill box have his arm blown off. And let me tell you that was pretty grotesque with spurting blood and all.

And you have this wacko Lieutenant urging Saigo to go up and take the machine gunners place. Nope, that’s not happening.

And one thing that stunned me, it was all CGI but the U.S. naval ships pounding the crap out of Iwo  Jima was impressive. Now I know what the huge guns on ships are used for, to soften a target.

A bit later we find out Shimizu isn’t a Japanese spy sent to root out anti-Imperial thought, but an elite soldier who crossed his commander.

And at the very end, Saigo and another troop surrender to the American Marines. At first you feel good when the leader of the group offers Saigo and his friend water, and treats them humanely. But then the Marine group needs to move on and they leave two of their mates behind to guard the Japanese troops.

It’s at that point that one Marine says to another “We’re sitting ducks out here” and the other says “I know how to take care of this and shoots Saigo’s friend and then Saigo realizes quite late I might add that he’s about to die. He backs away and raises his hands but the Marine shoots him anyhow.

Two things I took out of this movie – we were bigger bastards than the Japanese ever imagined possible.

And two – we are the savages the Japanese back then were taught about. Of course I’m sure if you ask the people o Manchuria they’d say the same of the Japanese.


RIPTA: It stands for Never On Time

So I went into work super early this morning, 06:30 hours. Which meant I was out at 2:3oPM. Managed to catch the 3:25PM commuter to Providence which got into Providence at about 4:25PM.

Then a brief walk through Waterplace park and I was at the berth for the 27/28 bus lines. Now RIPTA calls this a high frequency bus line. Only problem is, they cannot keep a schedule to save their lives. I missed the 4:30PM but the display told me next buses were at 4:40, 4:50, 5:00PM but the issue was no bus ever showed up at those times.

The displays at all the bus stops in Kennedy Plaza they blatantly lie about time to the next bus. I know they’re slinging the info over RF – I gotta sniff it with my spectrum analyzer and see what they’re using. I’ve heard they can use broadcast band sub-carrier – so I’d like to put a message on them that says “Next 27/28 bus (Never) You’re Better off Walking”

But seriously – I may gripe about the MBTA on occasion, but nowhere near the level I gripe about the Rhode Island Public Transit authority. I actually called it one the worst transit systems in the United States. Called them and said that to them. I also plan to share this post with them. I’ll properly tag it so they can scroll through all the times RIPTA has disappointed me.

Now the buses themselves are festooned with technology that tracks the position of the bus for automated announcements of certain intersections on the route. And I have to wonder if they’re not slinging that info back to HQ and then using that for the time displays but I doubt that. Because if that were the case the displays at the bus berths wouldn’t tell such blatant lies.

But I’m at the point where this is all expected behavior on the part of RIPTA. A perpetually underfunded agency because they stupidly tied their revenue to the gasoline tax, and I can tell you where that’s going to go as cars become more efficient and more electric. But that’s  discussion for later on taxing you on the miles driven that I really don’t want to delve into at the moment.

But RIPTA needs to get on the ball. I can easily walk home if I choose. But sometimes it’s nice to just get the bus home as I live on what I am assured is  the 2nd busiest route on RIPTA’s roster.


Be cautious about who you friend on LinkedIn

So I get a LinkedIn notification today. Apparently the developer that we in I.T. were instrumental in getting terminated from our group got himself a new job.

Even mentioned the company he’s working for which is sort of a no-no but wait it’s LinkedIn. Had me pondering whether I should send an anonymous missive to the corporate leaders of the company telling them that one of his co-developers once said of the subject “PyGeek my ass!” in a 02:00AM message to be on our Slack app. He said it in reference to PyGeek’s coding ability in Python, as in he’s no geek about Python when he doesn’t correct framework issues.

But I’ll be nice – after all the developer we helped to terminate – he’s family, a friend of Dorothy, light in the loafers, etc. Yeah, gay, like me and a few others in the org. But his attitude to quote Andre 3000 was potty. And he was Vegan too. I generally loathe vegans.



So the art of a root canal has changed

So I had the first one well over a decade ago. That was the left upper rear molar. This time the left lower rear molar.

This time around they did some testing first, including x-rays. The X-ray is interesting – it’s all digital now. No more films. They just have you hold the sensor in your mouth and it’s a brief burst of energy and it shows up on the computer screen.

Now for the procedure itself  had a very pleasant female endodontist and her assistant. Full masks and everything. The former root canal had an endodontist that had the worst case of halitosis ever.

And they did the typical dental dam, but also had goggles so flying bits wouldn’t get in my eyes.

And I also noted they had a microscope. In fact I was talking to the Doctor and her assistant – I too use one at work to effect circuit board repairs on computers. Similar magnification and manufacturer of the scope too, AmScope.

So those are just a few of the changes I noted this time around. Fascinating.

A new Title for me

Call me the Karma Nudger. I have put some thought into this and this post is derived from a Facebook post someone made about Karma.

It said “Don’t waste your time on revenge. Those who hurt you will eventually face their own Karma.”

To which I replied  “Dunno sometimes you can nudge karmic justice. Proven that where I work, one VP and one development leader”


The many headed Hydra

That is I’m talking about sites that allow you to get a youtube video link, paste it in and the site strips the audio out and converts it to mp3 format.

I know came under the heavy hand of U.S. Copyright law. And that’s ok – there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of sites that do the same thing.

The genie is out of the bottle. And law enforcement and our justice system don’t have the resources necessary to combat this threat to the entrenched industry here in the U.S.

They could have sold the tracks for 10 cents, 25 cents – but no thanks to Apple it’s a buck or more per track. And so people will do what people will do. You’ve got to fill up the music library.

Food: Lobster Ravioli with home made sauce

So we bought two packages of Trader Joe’s Lobster Ravioli but no sauce to go with it. What to do?

And then I remember I had half a red onion, and half a beef steak tomato. Plus some minced garlic, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, some tomato paste and some Lobster bullion paste. Sauteed the onion and then garlic and added chopped up beef steak tomato. Let the whole thing meld and then into the brew went the Lobster paste, tomato paste, and water along with a tiny bit of salt and pepper. Let that simmer for a bit while the ravioli cooked. My only regret is I didn’t have any fresh herbage. But hey in a pinch you do without.

Then spooned over the freshly cooked Ravioli and grated some Parmigiana Regiano and Asiago cheese on top. Totally tasty stuff. Moderate saltiness, and the red pepper flakes gave it a nice kick. And the thing was, it was one shake of the red pepper flakes.


Street lights over time

So growing up I remember these street lights:


Then into the 1970’s and they got replaced with High and Low Pressure sodium lights that cast an orange glow over everything.


And finally, here in the 21st century there’s a little bit of a change taking place. now we’re seeing LED based street lights – with their bright white light illuminating our highways and biways.

Well this photo tells the whole story. Look at the difference between LED and HPS.


And here’s what the LED light look like. These are slightly different from the ones National Grid has going bonkers installing in my neighborhood. So too has the MBTA – all their trackway lighting in Boston  is now LED based.


In fact that above – it’s $100. So better light, energy efficient and less expensive. Why wouldn’t the incumbent electric power utility choose this?

Food: French toast

So for years I’ve tried just about every type of bread for French Toast. And my skill and technique have markedly improved.

But last night we were at BJ’s Wholesale club and I noted they had Challah. We bought a two pack of it and now I know why. Apparently in Jewish circles, one is used when the Shabat begins on Friday, and then the other loaf on Saturday. We just shifted it a day – since in my Catholic rearing Sunday is the Sabbath. Sure I’ve shucked off the religious gobbledygook but the old traditions die hard.

Plus the fact that Sunday is the day we’re pretty much unfettered to cook what we please. So this morning I cut up 3/4’s a loaf of Challah into slices. Then I made the batter. One nice technique – separate the yolks from the white. Into the yolks some milk,  turbinado sugar, vanilla, pinch of salt and blend together. Then whip the whites into soft peaks – the trusty stick blender with whisk attachment is marvelous for that.

Combine the two folding the white into the yolks – then dust with a little cinnamon and mix it up.

Slices get soaked in that marvelous mixture for a few minutes per side then onto a rack to set while you cook bacon, or cut up the avocado, tomato and onion.

Then set the heat on the griddle to about 275F. About 2 or so minutes per side and then onto a warmed plate.

Had that French Toast with a nice little tomato, avocado and red onion salad, with some salt, pepper and then a cherry balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Also had a few slices of bacon each.

Sunday breakfast, or more properly brunch is fantastic. Now to think about dinner later on. Either Filet Mignon or that wonderful Trader Joe’s Spatchcocked Chicken with lemon and basil. Choices, choices, choices.