Bloomingdale, Illinois, USA
Thoughts du jour:
de omnibus dubitandum est
- everything is to be doubted
- René Descartes
teneo quod donavi
- my motto
The cure for boredom is curiosity.
There is no cure for curiosity.
- Dorothy Parker
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are
always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
- Bertrand Russell
I'm a skeptic not because I do not want to believe, but because
I want to know. How can we tell the difference between what
we would like to be true and what is actually the case?
The answer is science.
- Michael Shermer, The Believing Brain
I can't wait until every one in the world is rational, just until
enough are rational to make a difference.
- Isaac Asimov, Bill Moyers World of Ideas interview
I don't 'believe' in anything. I know certain things
... from experience. But I have no beliefs.
Belief gets in the way of learning.
- Lazarus Long
- (Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love)
Wenn man, was man glauben soll,
Nicht mehr glauben kann,
Ist die Zeit eines Glaubens voll,
Und geht ein neuer an.
- If one can no longer believe what one should,
- the time of one belief is done and a newer one begins.
- Friedrich Rückert
Die Gedanken sind frei!
- (My) thoughts are free!
- German folk poem/song
Is "'A simile is like a metaphor' is a simile" a metaphor?
I calculated the odds of this succeeding, versus
the odds I was doing something incredibly stupid
... and I went ahead anyway.
- Crow T Robot, MST3K (the movie)
Of that there is no manner of doubt--
No probable, possible shadow of doubt--
No possible doubt whatever.
- Don Alhambra del Bolero, Grand Inquisitioner
- (William S. Gilbert, The Gondoliers)
I've been professionally involved with computers since the mid 70's. Currently I'm retired. That doesn't equate to becoming a couch potato; a few of the activities that occupy my mind and body are the subject of this website.
For a while, these website updates were a bit long in coming. I had to absorb the changes in my life that resulted from the death on October 24, 2013 of my darling wife, Ann. Ann had several medical conditions in her last years that might have sidelined many a person younger than she; but Ann remained an active participant in all the many activities that interested her. Ann was, like me a voracious reader and a lifelong learner. She regularly enrolled in a variety of classes at College of DuPage, our local highly rated junior college. Given that she already held an MSW degree from the University of Chicago, she hardly needed the classes for academic credit. Ann was an accomplished musician as a singer and on several instruments. Yet in the last year she began studying mountain dulcimer. See below for more details.
The end came after Ann had a bad fall at home in late May 2013. Ann never fully recovered from the effects of that, spending most of the intervening time in hospital and in attempts at rehabilitation. My children and I worked together to hold a memorial gathering for her, held Saturday, December 14, 2013—the day after what would have been her 77th birthday. Despite rather inclement Chicago weather, the event was attended by numerous friends, family, and associates, telling and showing their love and respect for a remarkable woman.
Rest in peace, my dearest. I still have a family with two remarkable children: daughters Karen and Reena. Both live relatively near me in the greater Chicago area.
We adopted Karen as a toddler, and she is my eldest child. Karen develops computer applications and web-based training. I'd love to say more about this wonderful woman, but Karen is understandably reticent to have too much told of her. She has been a victim of identity theft. O tempora o mores—sadly as true today as in Cicero's time.
Reena was born in Kolkata (Calcutta) India, and was just two months old—and 3 kg—when she came home to us. Reena teaches science at Spring Wood Middle School , a position for which she was hired before she graduated. She is married to her long–time friend Mike. Reena and Mike have a son.
Reena has served as a coach for our local Park District swim team; as an age–group swimmer she set several team swimming records and still has a record posted on the team's bulletin board.
Reena also studied Indian classical dance, and performed with a professional dance ensemble. This included performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Center and at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park with a distinguished musical ensemble from India. A four–year varsity gymnast in high school, Reena naturally coached her school's pep squad until budget cuts eliminated sports from their curriculum. Her major athletic occupation these days is as a triathlete.
I used to have two dogs, Sasha and Kaya. Both dogs are half poodle. Sasha's other half is shih tzu; Kaya's is american eskimo dog.
This site reflects my various activities. Many of those are somewhat technical. Unavoidably, I have to use words (including acronyms) and phrases that may be unfamiliar to some of my readers. I try to explain as much as possible in place; where there is a link to someone other web resource that I know provides further useful information, I provide a link to it. The links to these sites are flagged with the "" symbol.
I also have a supplementary web page that has a glossary, which provides brief explanations or definitions of many of the terms used here and on related sites.
Though I am retired, my family keeps me busy; I also have several other activities going on concurrently:
- Amateur ["Ham"] Radio, call sign NE9ET, in which I concentrate on public service and emergency communications activities, and serve as a Volunteer Examiner (VE) for Amateur Radio licensing. The activities as a ham include:
- I do most of my radio contacts from my car, on the HF, VHF and UHF bands. While mobile, I usually also send out Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) packets that show where my car—and probably myself—were at the time they were sent. That data often goes to the Internet via special gateways. You may be able to see a map showing where my car's most recently reported APRS position (for SSID NE9ET-9) was, at findu.com
- Member of the DuPage County IL ARES® group. [Warning: as of my last test, the html code on this ARES web site is seriously dysfunctional; as a result in particular, IE will not display it. Try Firefox or some other, better browser.] This group supports public service events in my county, and has regular radio nets and meetings for training. This ARES® group coordinates activities, including a weekly radio net, with the county's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (OHSEM).
- Member of the Lake County IL RACES / ARES® group. Again, public service, plus ARRL sponsored VE testing in Libertyville IL are part of my involvement. Lake County is two counties north of me.
- Member of the Kishwaukee Amateur Radio Club in DeKalb County IL (two counties to the west of me). They are another active public service club. They also have a 2-meter voice repeater (WA9CJN) that is usable through much of north-central Illinois, and run an APRS digipeater as well. I help them with their Hamfest (held at the Sandwich IL fairgrounds, in May). I'd also do W5YI VEC sponsored VE testing with them, but their sessions are nearly always at the same time as one of my other commitments.
- Member of the DeKalb County ARES® and RACES groups.
- Member of the Wheaton Community Radio Amateurs (WCRA). Wheaton is the County Seat of DuPage County IL, where my home is, and is about a 10 minute drive from home. I do some public service events with WCRA, but primarily assist with ARRL VE testing in Lombard IL, also in DuPage County near my home, and with their Hamfest in January.
- Member of Cook County IL ARES®. That's the county to the immediate east of me; Chicago is the big city there.
- Member of the North Shore Radio Club, (NSRC) which provides repeater system NS9RC for the Chicago area, as well as organizing communications support for public service events such as the Chicago Marathon.
- I support the Valley Amateur Repeater Association (VARA) repeater in Kane County, to the immediate west of me.
- I'm a member of FISTS, a club devoted to encouraging amateur radio operators to use Morse code for at least some of their radio communication, even though knowledge of Morse code is no longer a requirement for any ham license.
- In order to be better equipped to participate in emergency management activities, I have taken several of the courses offered by FEMA regarding the Incident Command System (ICS) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS), specifically course numbers 100, 200, 700, 800 & 802.
- I've had advanced Weather Spotter training updated yearly, and participate in SKYWARN. activities in my area. For those in the Chicago area, there are several relevant SKYWARN organizations and web sites, including:
- Chicagoland Skywarn. This organization covers Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry & Will Counties in IL; Kenosha County WI; and Lake & Porter Counties IN. The site has much good data on current weather conditions in the area and on active radio nets.
- DuPage County nets, sponsored by DARC, the DuPage Amateur Radio Club. Particularly of interest to me, since this is my home county. DARC runs several radio nets, which I attempt to check into as time permits.
- Lake County SKYWARN, relevant to me, because of my involvement with that county's RACES/ARES® group. I also get text paging on my phone from that group warning of threatening weather conditions in the area.
- Northern Cook County SKYWARN (WX9NC), A joint effort between members of the North Shore Radio Club, NORA, (W9AP), and Palatine ARES®. This group runs a radio net, active on the members' linked repeaters, during severe weather watches or warnings in the area. I am only a few miles south and west of the region covered by this group; the group itself was newly formed as of April 2010.
- Because several of the groups to which I belong assist with public events, I find myself helping with communications and logistics for many such events each year. This includes charity events such as for the March of Dimes, MS Walk and Tour de Cure (diabetes); sporting events such as bicycle runs, triathlons, relay races, Special Olympics, and the Chicago Marathon; parades such as July 4th and the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival; and the like.
A typical common factor for events such as these is that they cover a substantial geographic area: routes kilometers to hundreds of kilometers long, across county and even state lines. Organizers of the events need to track activity well beyond their view. In addition to assisting worthy causes, these events also provide opportunities for hams to exercise the equipment and procedures that would be used to maintain communications in an emergency.
- One final note, regarding my ham call sign, NE9ET. It is what is called a "vanity" call sign, one that I specifically chose for myself within the rules of what is possible for a US amateur radio call sign. It costs a bit extra to get one, but this one has some "interesting" characteristics:
- It's "kinda neat." I actually could have chosen NE9AT, but that would have adversely affected the remaining points.
- I spend a lot of time on nets, both radio and the Inter*. One could think of the call sign as a really drawn out "net." As in NE9ET==NEEEEEEEEEET.
- I've been known to be spacey, and am definitely interested in astronomy. (Get it? ET? Don't all laugh at once.)
- It's quite short to send in Morse code; if it weren't for that pesky "9" which I use to show I'm in the IL/WI/IN area, it would be very short.
- And speaking of Morse code, it's a Morse code palindrome. Figure that out, you fellow geeks.
- American Red Cross volunteer, associated primarily with the DeKalb County IL Community Center . This, for many years my Red Cross "home," has in a recent (late 2014) reorganization become a community center associated with the Chicago & Northern Illinois Region (ARCC&NI), of which there is more below. Among other Red Cross activities:
- Disaster Action Team (DAT) member. DAT people are the first, and usually only ones to respond to the most common disasters that the Red Cross handles, such as home fires. Because I live some distance from DeKalb county (typically an hour drive), I'm usually only called from there for incidents that require additional people.
- DSHR member nationally. My primary DSHR function is Disaster Services Technology (DST). These are the people who provide computer, network and communications support to other Red Cross workers. In this particular capacity, we do not deal directly with Red Cross clients, those directly and adversely affected by a disaster.
- DeKalb County Center Communication Team Lead. This is mostly because I'm the only DST trained Red Cross volunteer in the chapter.
- Local liaison to the DeKalb County ARES® and RACES organizations.
- Assist with DeKalb County shelter site surveys. In fact, I have training over the years in many of the specialized functions required by the Red Cross. I've had the opportunity to use some of these, including running a shelter and doing Disaster Assessment (older, narrower alias: Damage Assessment). My other, to date unused courses include Liaison, Welfare Information, In-kind Contributions, Human Resources, WMD, and Mass Casualty Disasters. I'm delighted not to have had involvement in the last two, and hope never to do so. But one must prepare.
- Red Cross representative on the DeKalb County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) .
- DST and Disaster Assessment team member for the Red Cross Chicago and Northern Illinois Region.
- Miscellaneous Stuff. In my spare time from the above, I've also been known to engage in other activities, to wit:
- As noted above, I'm a voracious reader. Most of what I read is non-fiction, concentrating on the physical and biological sciences; plus linguistics, and engineering items, particularly electronics related to Amateur Radio. My reading addiction has not been helped by the welcome gift from my daughter Karen of a Kindle. I now own several of them.
- My day job for many years involved computers; my education was in mathematics. Both were and are intensely interesting to me. It's nice to spend ones time doing what one particularly likes. As computers become ever more capable of intensive computation, I have spent a fair amount of time extending some of the applications I developed earlier, particularly for operations research in systems modeling and optimization.
- I get notification of significant earthquakes, local, regional, national and worldwide, through the Earthquake Notification Service (ENS), run by the US Geological Survey (USGS). The notification comes by way of text messages to my phone. For example, I knew of major earthquakes—in Haiti, China and Chile (2010), Japan and New Zealand (2011)—within minutes of those incidents. The threshold I use for relevance gets progressively smaller as the region gets closer to my home.
- I enjoy photography. When young, my brother and I built a darkroom in my parent's basement, complete with a light-trap entrance that allowed us to get in and out without opening doors. Lately it's all been digital; image manipulation is done by computer. Got to keep up with the times. I've used my camera to document amateur radio and Red Cross activities in addition to family pictures.
- Although I'm largely retired from active public musical performance, I still spend some time with my favorite instruments, oboe and english horn. Plus a bit of the early instruments, recorder and krumhorn in particular, that are a leftover from my OTRC days (see above). For more about the oboe, see my notes about the instrument.
- As much as possible, I attend live music performances, though most of my music listening is via CD, and especially from our wonderful local radio station WFMT, 98.7 MHz FM, of which I am a supporting member. Apart from their full range of fine-arts programming, WFMT's Midnight Special program has been a staple of my Saturday evenings since I was a teen. Yes, that long. FYI, WFMT's programs are also available as streaming audio on the Internet; see their web site.
- I'm also a fan of our local NPR radio station, WBEZ, 91.5 MHz FM, also available in streaming audio. I often listen to their news and interview programs, plus a few specials, such as:
- Science Friday, the Friday noonish edition of NPR's Talk of the Nation, usually with host Ira Flatow. Segments of the program are also available in podcast format.
- A Prairie Home Companion with host the incomparable Garrison Keillor. Music, and skits with live sound effects, but I also eagerly await the weekly news from Keillor's mythical hometown of Lake Wobegon MN. Also in podcast form if (too often when) I miss the live broadcast.
- On the road in DeKalb County and west, beyond the reach of the above stations, or where other stations capture their signals on my car radio, I listen to WNIJ, 89.5 MHz FM, one of several sister WNI* NPR stations in NW and North Central IL, in place of WBEZ; and WNIU, 90.5 MHz FM, out of Northern Illinois University and also NPR, in place of WFMT.
- On the Internet, I regularly partake of several blogs, cartoons and podcasts. A sampling of some of my special favorites in these categories would include:
- the Bad Astronomy blog, with Phil Plait, the "Bad Astronomer." Much about astronomy of course, but zero tolerance for pseudo-scientific nonsense—which unfortunately abounds.
- xkcd. One of the wittiest (and most simply drawn) cartoons on the Internet. An all-time favorite is this: the Flake Equation —'nuf said.
- Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, a weekly hour or so podcast covering news of what's real—and not so much—in the sciences and medicine. PG language at worst; like the above, liable to offend only the seriously credulous and superstitious.
- Not exactly an activity in which I invest much direct personal effort, but my computers when I'm not otherwise beating on them are busy processing information for BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) projects. During the last seven years I have accumulated over 161 million credits, equivalent to over 136 exaFLOPs. This puts me in the 99.9 percentile of all BOINC volunteers. I'm adding credits at the rate of about 200 000 per day, at the 99.97 percentile.
Most of my efforts in BOINC to date (over 156 million credits worth) have been devoted to the Einstein@Home project. That project processes data related to potential sources of gravitational effects, for example the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) project, and looking for astronomical items such as binary and gamma ray pulsars. All these provide tests of general relativity (hence the project title). My Einstein@Home work is done as part of the Amateur Radio Operators team. The team link will show you my current standing in that team.
More than 3.2 million BOINC volunteers have participated worldwide, over half a million of those in the US. These volunteers have run nearly twice as many computers in support of around 50 projects in mathematics and the sciences that require intensive computing. The overall processing rate for those machines—today nearly five million of them—runs at around 10 petaFLOPS.
I would encourage anyone willing to contribute to these efforts to do so. Instructions on how to volunteer are on the BOINC web site referenced above.
About this site
This web site has been constructed to conform to W3C standards for web browser interoperability, and is checked each time it is updated to assure that it continues to be fully conforming. The first two icons on the left at the bottom of this page will invoke the W3C checkers for the xhtml code itself, and for the Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) data and format. You can use those links to check these elements for yourself, if you wish.
I also make a practice of loading the site in the latest versions of Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera and Internet Explorer (IE) after any substantive changes, to validate the site's appearance. The last of those browsers (IE) is less than adequate, however—particularly for the appendix page which makes use of several essential Unicode characters, which cause IE to hang up. Since Mircrosoft is apparently abandoning further development of IE, I would recommend any current users strongly consider migrating off of it. Firefox on Linux and Windows is the browser platform I primarily use for development. If you should have any problems using this site in your browser, please be so kind as to leave me a message via the mailto e-mail link below, or e-mail me directly at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. General constructive comments about the site content or format are also welcome. I only ask, with Horace: "Quicquid praecipies, esto brevis" (whatever you advise, keep it short).
In addition, I have carefully followed the guidelines for accessibility for persons with disabilities, as provided by W3C-WAI. See the link below. Again, if you have any issues with being able to access this web content, I would appreciate your comments and suggestions. One result of making the content widely accessible is that you will not see here any "cute" features like blinking or animated items. I do know how to create such, but refrain in the interest of my readers.
The internet is notorious for changing. I have provided a number of links to other persons' and organizations' web sites so you can follow up on items I mention that may be of further interest to you. The links to these sites are usually flagged with the "" symbol. The only exceptions to this external-site link flagging will be in tables, where an entire column of the table contains such links; in that case the introductory text for the table will state that those links are external. Since I have no control over the format and content of these external sites, they may or may not be as user friendly as this one attempts to be.
Web sites may also come and go or move to other URLs. So that I can regularly verify that all the links I reference are still valid, I have a link on this page that will check every link I've used. Look in the lower left corner of this page for the Linkcheck logo. You can even use this process yourself. If I've been lax in checking, you know now how to contact me.
Amateur Radio in particular is a somewhat technical field. Some use of technical terminology, particularly acronyms, in unavoidable. For those in the know, there is no problem. For the rest of you, I have flagged the more obscure items. These appear as distinctive color, brightness and type face in the text—specifically as orange, if you see color normally, and your browser renders it properly. If you mouse over any of these words or acronyms, you'll get a brief explanation of it. For an example look back a few paragraphs to the "WAI" reference. Unfortunately, I cannot provide a textbook to explain everything. Where I know of a web page with reliable and relevant detailed information, I have provided a link to it; and yes, that is not infrequently Wikipedia. For organizations, their own websites must generally be considered authoritative. I've also provided a start towards a general glossary of terms. If you have any suggestions on how to improve this aspect of the site, let me know.
This web site was originally based at att.net. When they decided to eliminate web site hosting for their e-mail customers, I obtained the current domain, named by my amateur radio call sign, from GoDaddy®. I have found the GoDaddy domain registration and web site hosting services easy to use and reasonably priced. Highly recommended.
Apart from a couple dozen small graphics, mostly PNG, and a few moderately sized PNG family pictures on their own page, this web site is all hand-coded xhtml and css. The text file data is entered using a plain text editor—no, not vi; I'm not a masochist—and sent to the hosting site via ftp, all under Linux™ (Ubuntu® 17.04) and bash.
Send me an e-mail message about this site.
You can also e-mail me directly at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. I'm also on Facebook as ne9et, and Twitter @gbgreene.