Life


La Morte di Caesare by Vincenzo Camucci (1798)

The Ides of March was made famous by Shakespeare in the play Julius Caesar (Act I, Scene 2), where a soothsayer warns Caesar “Beware the Ides of March”. Julius Caesar, was of course, assassinated in 44 BC on the 15th of March, a date known as the Ides of March. It’s really not so bad and ominous as days go if one understands more about the Roman calendar. The Romans didn’t count calendar days like we do. They used a reverse-count to reference days, always before and never after. Three days had names. The beginning of the month was called the Kalends, the middle called Ides, and they also had Nones, meaning 8th day before (or 9th day before and including) the Ides. The Nones occur on the 5th except by this rhyme: “March, July, October, May. The Nones are on the seventh day“. From this, it’s clear that for Nones on the 5th, Ides are on the 13th (short months), while for Nones on the 7th, Ides are on the 15th (long months). The Roman method of counting days was inclusive, so the Kalends, Nones and Ides would be counted as one of the days. For example March 3 (5 Nones) counts 3,4,5,6,7 (or 5 days) for the total. Romans would say like the following, apparently logical in Latin for them:

March 1: Kalends of March
March 2: 6 Nones of March (Ante Diem VI Nones)
March 3: 5 Nones of March
March 4: 4 Nones of March
March 5: 3 Nones of March (Ante Diem III Nones)
March 6: 2 Nones of March or Pridie Nones of March
(Pridie is Latin for “day before”)
March 7: Nones of March
March 8: 8 Ides of March (Ante Diem VIII Ides)
March 9: 7 Ides of March
March 10: 6 Ides of March
March 11: 5 Ides of March
March 12: 4 Ides of March
March 13: 3 Ides of March (Ante Diem III Ides)
March 14: 2 Ides of March or Pridie Ides (day before the Ides)
March 15: Ides of March
March 16: 17 Kalends of April (Ante Diem XVII Kalends)
March 17: 16 Kalends of April
etc…
March 30: 3 Kalends of April (Ante Diem III Kalends)
March 31: 2 Kalends of April or Pridie Kalends of April
(day before the Kalends)
April 1: Kalends of April

So, after Kalends one counts days before Nones, after Nones one counts days before Ides and after Ides one counts days before next Kalends. It’s a bit different for long and short months, but here’s a rhyme to help out:

On March the 7th, May, July,
October too, the Nones you spy;
Except in these, those Nones appear
On the 5th day of all the year.
If to the NONE you add an 8
Of every IDE you’ll find the date.

Fortunate for Shakespeare that the day Caesar was killed had such a nice ring to it that he could pen the famous line “Beware the Ides of March”, for if Caesar had been killed on the next day it would not have sounded as ominous to say “Beware the 17 Kalends of April”. Nevertheless, aside from it being the day of the death of Caesar there is nothing particularly foreboding for most of us about the Ides of March itself, and each month has an Ides as the Romans referred to them.

Keep on Trekkin

As I did at the end of 2013 & 2014, so I do again here at the end of 2015 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year (travel blogs I finished or made additions to) include:

feature-Erice2014-lgFeature-Indian_Wedding

Feature - Washington DC-1

Feature-China_2014

Feature-Spocklogics_TravBuddy_Meetups

 

That’s the summary for 2015. Some are carry overs from 2014, but I finished the blogs in 2015, after my last post on travels (see: Travels of Spocklogic II) in December 2014 or earlier if I made additions. As I alluded to in recent entries, I will take a break from this Cogito Ergo blog for a while in 2016. I’ve had 20 years of internet exposure and been blogging for 10 years (see: 20 Years of Internet and Mapping the Internet). I hope to return again with a fresh perspective down the line. There’s plenty to explore in the Cogito Ergo blog archives until then (see the link to: Browse Blog Posts). Best wishes for the New Year 2016! See you in the future…

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Carpenters-song-bmw

My father died on October 25, 2015 at 1:25 a.m. – Age 76 years and 23 days as the calendar counts. My thoughts go back to the death of my mother in 2007, which I wrote about in Exploring Death and Dying. These things still apply, but I don’t know what to say having lost both my mother and father now. He faced his health issues over the last decade or more with courage, but also acceptance of what faced him. In the end he faced death with the same attitude he faced life, as he thought best. Death came quickly for him, advancing in just short time, and he was awake and aware until shortly before he died in the company of his wife for some 35+ years. She told me a story of his brave last hours knowing he was dying, but not suffering. That’s my father, and I would have expected nothing less than going out the way he wanted to. Even going so far as telling the doctors to go away, stop checking, and let him die in peace. That’s my father! The headline image of this blog is a poem I wrote for my father in 2002 about his craftsmanship as a carpenter, and it echoes his passing now too.

Farewell My Father, and if there is an afterlife, may you build in new and interesting ethereal ways… I have some photos of me and my Dad over the years to offer and a video slide show of a particular Baseball reunion with my father and his two sons in 2007. Baseball has played a role in our lives over the years as long lamenting Red Sox fans, but in the recent decade or so have been victorious 3 times over. I’m glad my Dad got to see that in his lifetime and hope in the end he was somewhat proud of his sons, and his daughter too. We are all proud of him in our own way and maybe it can be said that if a man does the best he can, he has achieved all that he can be. That’s something to celebrate and to remember…

APR 63

A Family (big brother, father, mother and me) – 1963

Father&son-1965

Father & Son – 1965

Father&son-1967

Father & Son – 1967

Father&son-1969

Father & Son – 1969

Father&son-1980

Father & Son (with little sister on the right) – 1980

Father&son-1989

Father & Son – 1989

Father&son-2002

Father & Son 2002

Father&son-2007

Father & Son – 2007

Father&son-2010

Father & Son – 2010

Father&son-2014

Father & Son (With my daughter Jennifer in between) – 2014

 

Father and Son Reunion at Fenway Park in Boston – A slideshow my brother and I put together a day or two after the event in 2007.

My father and I would sometimes discuss poetry, and the last one we talked about was “Good Hours” by Robert Frost and it’s a good one to end on, or continue on…

Good Hours

I had for my winter evening walk—
No one at all with whom to talk,
But I had the cottages in a row
Up to their shining eyes in snow.

And I thought I had the folk within:
I had the sound of a violin;
I had a glimpse through curtain laces
Of youthful forms and youthful faces.

I had such company outward bound.
I went till there were no cottages found.
I turned and repented, but coming back
I saw no window but that was black.

Over the snow my creaking feet
Disturbed the slumbering village street
Like profanation, by your leave,
At ten o’clock of a winter eve.

~ Robert Frost

Map-cyberspace?

Cyberspace?

If you had to imagine what the Internet looked like, what would come to mind? This seemingly innocent question has given rise to some interesting and occasionally bizarre representations. There are the physical aspects, the infrastructure that makes it possible, the hardware that runs it, the software that interfaces with people and then there are the people themselves. There is a whole other conceptual side to it, which strays into realms of the human mind, and even the name cyberspace congers up visions of some universe within our own, but that is ill defined in physical space. The prefix cyber cyber comes from the Greek word kybernet,  meaning to steer or guide (a helmsman), from which cybernetic  is derived. One can appreciate the irony there and does the internet do the steering or the people using it? Well, this is a big topic and the many questions raised are outside the scope of this blog. When it comes to visualizing the internet I tend to like maps of the world that reflect human behavior or trends in activity. I showed some in a previous blog from June, 2014: The Internet – Yesterday to Today. The maps shown here show the who and how people are connected:

Map-of-internet-users-per-100-people-2012

Map-world-online-by pervcent-2013

Map-world-online-growing-access-2013

Map-of-internet-freedom-2014

Map-of TeleGeography-2015

In viewing some of these maps, I began to wonder what my own WordPress map of visitors compared to some of these. Turns out it actually looks fairly similar for the most part and is most easily compared with the map of Internet users per 100 people and Map of Internet Freedom. Below I show my map of visitors to Cogito Ergo during the period 2012 to 2015, and the associated list of countries with number of visits below that. All total, this blog has had more that ~11,000 views; ~6,000 visitors. On a monthly basis there are an average of 276 views; 163 visitors; 1.78 views per visitor. Currently there are 117 posts, 40 categories and 230 tags. I just record these stats for posterity and reference, and not sure they are of much interest to anyone. The map and countries below only reflect 2012-2015 since I activated the mapping feature, not the total numbers since I started this WordPress blog in 2011 and migrated all my previous years blogs here from another platform. I have actually been writing this blog for just about 10 years now. It may be time to give it a rest for a while and pondering a hiatus in 2016.

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Cogito Ergo WordPress map of views (2012-2015)

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Cogito Ergo list of countries by views (2012-2015)

This idea of Mapping the Internet is likely to expand in the future. It’s not just about the technical details or the purview of science to tell. Science is good at telling us how thing work, but not why they work or what they are good for. For example, we can figure out how the universe works, but not really why it works that way or why it exists. The future will have to go beyond the science and statistics of things and delve deeper into the relationship of man and machine. Mankind has been mapping the physical space on earth and outer space for millennia. The physical space of the human body and inner space of the human mind the brain has been explored for centuries and we are just beginning to map it. This thing called the Internet or cyberspace is as vast and complex I think than even we realize – like the universe itself or the human brain. In this case, however, the creator will be examining his creation. The ultimate Mapping of the Internet may reveal the creator in a new light, hopefully not Man the God, but Man the inquisitive explorer. Ultimately man is a temporary tenant of Planet Earth. Reaching into inner space or cyberspace to see ourselves may someday inspire us to reach for the stars. I like that line from the 2014 film Interstellar:

Man was born on Earth, but he wasn’t meant to die here.

I give some links for Internet Map exploration:

Global Internet Maps

The Internet Map
Geonet
Internet Census 2012
The Opte Project
Ways to Map the Internet
.

20-yrs-internet

I read somewhere once that in the Middle Ages some people believed we are all created from preformed tiny human beings, called homunculus (Latin for “little man”), which grow into ourselves, but the inner homunculus always maintains control. Who is really pulling the strings, eh? I mention this because it is near about 20 years on the internet for me now and it feels a bit like a homunculus, even though I was born long before it became widely available to the public. I can’t really imagine what it’s like to be born into the world with the internet already existing. Sometimes it feels like it has always been there, so ingrained has it become, but I know when I think back in ‘the before time’ I have memories of a world without it. I don’t want to focus on the ‘before time’ in this blog, but say something about 20 years of Internet. Just for fun, I can start by sampling what the internet looked like 20 years ago. Should I be capitalizing it as Internet?

Web-sites-1995

Looks pretty cheesy by standards of today, but back then it was the ‘bees knees’, to use a very old fashioned phrase. In those days most of these companies were using available technology, but the internet was mostly slow and clunky. I bought a 28.8k baud modem in 1995 and squealed my way into cyberspace. At first I only found things like BBS (Bulletin Board System), Usenet or News Groups. These were mostly discussion based arenas for sharing information, though some media could be exchanged as well, but it could be time consuming depending on the size. I did this on the cheap finding numbers to dial up and get online, then once accessing information I found ways to set up TCP/IP and access web pages with a thing called Netscape using various other dial-ups. These free dial-ups came and went with the wind, but I suppose the seeds of a homunculus were planted inside me during those days. You had to be sort of clever and tech inclined to make this shit work back then. The October 1995 issue of FHM (featuring Cindy Crawford on the cover) had an article entitled: “How to log on to the internet – the pleasures and pitfalls of going online”, by Tony Horkins.

dissecting-fhms-seminal-october-1995-feature-how-to-log-on-the-internet-101-body-image-1433515762

Eventually I think I got Compuserve and then AOL (America Online) after that. The rest is history and the homunculus that has grown inside me now seems to have a mind of its own – well, it’s my mind, but still… At least I think it’s still my mind. This brings me to the infamous Clifford Stoll Newsweek article from 1995 entitled “The Internet? Bah!“. Clifford Stoll is much maligned today for getting it wrong, but on reading it in 2015 I think maybe he got it right – for the most part anyway. I feel his vibe now in attitude and it brings us together, but at the same time isolates us from one another. There’s a great passage at the end of the article:

While the Internet beckons brightly, seductively flashing an icon of knowledge-as-power, this nonplace lures us to surrender our time on earth.

At the time Clifford Stoll wrote those words, he had the 20 years experience with the internet already, not as advanced as it is today, but enough to recognize something fundamental in the human experience. My own experience 20 years on after using the internet allows me to recognize that while it has its uses it is just a tool, another in the history of mankind. We should not lose sight of that and while mastery of tools set us apart from the beasts of the wilderness, those tools do not define us. We are all something more than the sum of our parts or the tools we use. There is a danger in being servant to the internet as opposed to allowing the internet to serve you. As Mr. Spock said in the 1968 Star Trek episode “The Ultimate Computer”:

Computers make excellent and efficient servants; but I have no wish to serve under them.

Such reflections are well considered and philosophically sound. Take a step back and think about it, whether it be 20, 10, 5 or 1 year of internet experience…

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“Bond of Union” by M.C. Escher

Tong and I were married on May 24, 2015 on the steps of the Yorktown-Poquoson courthouse in a small ceremony where the marriage officiant performed the nuptials and did some additional readings too. One that was particularly meaningful goes as follows: Love is the reason we are here. In marriage we not only say, “I love you today” but also, “I promise to love you for all of our tomorrows.” Brian and Tong, in the days ahead of you, there will be stormy times and good times, times of conflict and times of joy. I ask you to remember this advice: Never go to bed angry; let your love be stronger than your anger. Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend than to break. Believe the best of your beloved rather than the worst. Confide in your partner and ask for help when you need it. Remember that true friendship is the basis for any lasting relationship. Give your spouse the same courtesies and kindnesses you bestow on your friends. Say “I love you” every day.”

Brian&Tong-wed

Two Become One – May 24, 2015

On a very personal note, I couldn’t help wonder where this woman had been most of my life – she is one of the kindest, even tempered, and patient woman I have ever known. She remained consistently present and part of my life through our courtship from a distance (she in China and me in the USA) and is never critical of me, though she does influence in her own way some avenues in which I can improve that I see as positive and very much welcomed. I think she sees in me the man aspire to be, but gently persuades in a direction and demeanor I appreciate. I consider myself fortunate to have a partner like Tong to go through life with now. On top of all that she’s mighty attractive too and I love her dearly. Whatever the twists and turns of life ahead we will have each other and our union is a fortunate one for both of us in togetherness. I am reminded of a stanza from the Jim Croce song “Time in a Bottle” that goes:

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty, except for the memory of how
They were answered by you

I’ve covered the details and process to got us to this day in some previous blogs:
Looking Forward III (Jan 2014)
Life Notes 2015 (Feb 2015)
Dragons and Tigers and Sheep – oh my! (Apr 2015)

After our marriage, we have since applied to adjust Tong’s status to ‘permanent resident’. There are a lot of forms and supporting documents to go along with such an application and it came in at close to 50 pages of stuff. Frankly, I find this sort of ridiculous, but governments and bureaucracies excel at this sort of morass. I have some opinions and thoughts on this topic which have been brewing for some time, being a federal employee myself, but I will save it for another time. This blog is for a time of celebration and happiness to share…

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Dragon in the sky – Poquoson, Virginia

Tong was finally able to obtain her visa, which I mentioned in my blog entry Life Notes 2015 and she arrived in the USA on March 10, 2015, so she has been here about 5 weeks now and we are enjoying the time together. According to the Chinese Zodiak, this is the Year of the Goat (or sheep). Tong was also born in Year of the Goat (with fire element), while I was born in Year of the Tiger (with water element). Interestingly, my first visit to China was in 2010 (a Year of the Tiger), while Tong’s first visit to the USA is 2015 (a Year of the Goat). Here is some information pertaining to Tiger’s and Goat’s and their associated element, which depends on the year born.

chinese-zodiac-2011-tiger

Tiger: In social relationships, Ttigers are always in the dominant role. Due to mistrust and over confidence, Tigers do not like to communicate with others, so they are not good at coordinating in social circles. They are inclined to use commanding means to deal with interpersonal relationships. Even though they are acquainted with a lot of people, they do not further the relationships to deep friendship. Understanding, patience, and tact are needed when dealing with Tigers. In love relationships, Tigers cannot give sweet love to their partners because they lack a sense of romance. Partners need to be equally active to keep up with the Tiger’s sense of adventure.

Water Tiger Element: The calming influence of the Water Element gives the Water Tiger a unique burst of empathy and social perceptiveness that other members of the Tiger sign do not share. While those born under the Tiger sign usually have a close-minded disposition, the Water Tiger exchanges understanding for close-mindedness. Similarly, the Water Tiger has a very strong concern for the well-being of others. Out of all the Tiger signs, the Water Tiger shows the greatest concern for family members and friends, which in turn may make them the most well received.

chinese-zodiac-2011-goat

Goat: Generally speaking, Goats are private. Therefore it may take time and effort to get to know those who are born in a year of the Goat. Goats seldom share their personal lives. This is the reason why most Goats have few intimate friends. Once they become friends, their friendship is peaceful and fulfilling. They work hard for those they love.

Fire Sheep Element: With the influence of the Fire Element, the Fire Sheep becomes the most social and energetic of the Sheep types. The passionate Fire Sheep is known for self-reliance and independence. While other members of the Sheep sign have moderate goals, the Fire Sheep is driven to success. In the face of any obstacle, the Fire Sheep is known to display undying determination. The Fire Sheep is also more impulsive than other members of its sign and is not afraid to explore new, unusual interests. The Fire Sheep also has streaks of creativity, especially appreciating performance. As is the case with all members of the Sheep sign, the Fire Sheep has strong social qualities and is a sought after companion.

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At home in Poquoson

Astrology aside, we have the opportunity to live life in sharing and caring ways now. May it be just the beginning of a great adventure for the both of us! As the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi (369 – 286 BC) wrote, “Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness“.

 

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