A Little Fox Fantasy


Both Helaine and I play poker a little. We thought it would be fun to take the plunge again at the World Series of Poker. Some people never learn.

We’ll be playing in one of the smaller events. Seniors only. I’ve gotten a fake ID for Helaine.

Helaine prefers to fly, but she’s acquiesced and we will motor our way through the desert. The Goog sez at our departure time “3 h 40 min – 4 h 30 min.” Door-to-door 261 miles. No fill-up. Easy-peasy.

Hold on. Driving music.

OK. Better.

Last year 4,000 50+ year old’s played. It starts Friday and continues Saturday and Sunday. Of course along the way players get tapped out. Tables consolidate until there is one left.

Three full days of poker is grueling. It’s a strategic game. Lots to consider. More than likely we’ll have to read about it after-the-fact.

Only the final 10% get paid. The earliest out get less than double their buy-in back. The Seniors big winner last year won over $600,000. Oh, you also get a bracelet. It’s the poker equivalent of a wrestling belt.

Don’t hold your breath.

Stef will be wrangling Doppler.

Hold it. One more song.

Pact With The Devil

tech-details._CB318422491_If you’re wondering what’s hot in tech it’s voice controlled AI (artificial intelligence). The latest incarnations from Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon are beginning to understand sentences spoken casually.

Amazon’s standalone Echo (4.4 stars) has a seven microphone array. Through complex math Echo isolates sound from any specific spot in a room. Normal voice, noisy room: Echo should hear you.

Whatever Google calls their voice thing, Microsoft Cortana and Apple Siri still only live on phones, tablets and computers. All of these share one thing. In order to respond they must always listen.

Think about that. They must always listen.

I’m already using “OK Google” a little. It’s an easy way to set an alarm if I’m taking a nap or need to be somewhere. It’s how I set my GPS. I’ve sent a few texts by voice. I’m not sure it’s faster than my swiping.

I just went to Google so you could hear this:

That was recorded Saturday evening.

Think they know a lot now? Google saves voice commands. I’m not sure how long, but forever is certainly possible.

They know what you said. They’re still saving the voice. Will they find a use for it later?

This brings up an interesting and creepy point. If anyone, Google and other huge collectors of raw data are probably better equipped than the FBI to find a domestic terrorist.

We tell our secrets to Google. They see when you go to WebMD. They know if you’re happy or sad, rich or poor, young or old. They know when you’re speeding.

We trust Google and the others to be protective stewards of our entire life. Can they be trusted? Will they always be trustworthy?

I kvetch, but I too will make this pact with the Devil. It’s tough not to.

The Modern Farmer


As a kid I often woke up early Saturday morning to watch The Modern Farmer. Farming on Channel 4 New York. Weird.

Living on the 5th floor with a northern exposure we had no direct sun. Trudi reminds me my mom grew spider plants. That was the extent of our flora, a spider plant.

In Connecticut I gardened on-and-off. We had a professional who wrangled our lawn and bushes (thank you Frank).

Now in California I’ve graduated to the big leagues… well in our small space. I think it’s cool there are grapefruit and sickly looking oranges growing in large pots under my care. Nearly all the plants are healthy.

Now my repertoire expands. I am told (after watching a few videos) pineapples are super easy to grow. We’ll see.

Helaine cut the pineapple for fruit salad and left me the leaves. I peeled a few layers down exposing stringy roots. I’ll give it a few days in water for the roots to get going, then plant it in a pot.

The first pineapple should be here before the 4th of July, right?

This climate is very conducive to growing. Many of the new housing developments displaced strawberry fields and other small fruit and vegetable farms. Avocados grew where I’m sitting.

I’ll try and make up for all that on the patio.

More Scary New Tech From Facebook


Maybe my attention is on tech too much? A lot of what I see scares me. Take Facebook’s new breakthrough, “DeepText.”

DeepText is

a deep learning-based text understanding engine that can understand with near-human accuracy the textual content of several thousands posts per second, spanning more than 20 languages.

This is another giant leap forward in artificial intelligence. Understanding full sentences with nuanced meanings unlocks many doors.

We all make trade-offs being online. For the most part it’s a good deal. But the more data these companies get the creepier it is.

Recently Google was sued in Europe for an anti-trust violations. The more interesting part was all the government’s correspondence and research was done offline so Google wouldn’t see it! Even they were scared of Google’s reach and ability to effortlessly parse data.

There’s still too much “Wild West” in data mining humans. They know so much. We have no recourse. We need a way to protect us. No one’s doing that now.

Tough Day

Tough day. I went to bed feeling something was wrong but couldn’t figure out what. Mystery solved this morning. Details will be withheld out of respect for the squeamish.

Things have gotten better, but not good. I am functional but wouldn’t want to drive any bumpy roads.

I worked today. It’s really tough to call in sick when you’re already home! Thankfully, the forecast is tranquil this week in Nebraska.

I will muddle through and hopefully feel better over the next few days. Being sick is no fun.

The Plains And Severe Weather

Forecasting for Nebraska is different than the East Coast or Palm Springs. Things I studied in school but seldom worried about before are significant factors here. Each individual thunderstorm cell is weather. That they happen frequently this time of year is climate. The atmosphere begins each day primed for storms. All that’s necessary is a […]

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A Little Poker For The Foxes

The child, visiting from Hollywood, agreed to dog sit tonight. H and I headed to Hawaiian Gardens, home of a nearby poker casino. We had a nice time and I’ll tell you all about it, but I’m not going to mention dollar amounts. We’re not playing the rent money. Just a fun date night. Now […]

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University Of YouTube

I grew up PI, pre-Internet. The access to information at my fingertips is intoxicating. I’m like a seventeen year old with a really good fake ID. I have learned more skills from YouTube than any school! Nearly all my computer skills have been acquired and polished by online tutorials. Today was a good day to […]

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I Learned A Little History Tonight

I knew Edward R. Murrow stood up to McCarthy and that during the 50’s McCarthy went on a communist witch hunt. That’s about it. Oh and the pivotal point was the Army / McCarthy hearings.

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Got An Old Laptop?

I’m on the patio. My favorite spot. This blog post is being composed on my ‘patio laptop,’ an older HP model that came with Windows Vista installed. Stef used this in college. It’s large by today’s standards — thick. Throws off lots of heat too. A few months ago I bought the cheapest small SSD […]

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