The Kayaks

It’s been a long few months. At home, my uncle suffered organ failure and passed away a few weeks later. At work, I’ve been dealing with an ex-employee who is going through a tough time right now causing much stress to people I work with. In the news, the reports of fighting seem to have gotten worse. I try to muster energy for my writing, and for my campaign, and it just isn’t there. My birthday passed, with a celebration at work, but nothing to speak of at home. One of the things I was looking forward to, receiving lenses for Google Cardboard still hasn’t happened. I’m told they are in the mail and I have all the other pieces, but still no lenses.

Saturday, I went through the motions. I ate my morning oatmeal, mowed some of the lawn, and went to the dump. I tried to rest a little. I felt a sense of futility and ennui rising. I’ve been reading some of Chinamanda Adichie’s short stories which I find enjoyable, but also adds to the sense of futility and ennui. My eyes have been twitching, and my stomach has been uneasy.

Around lunch time, Kim came in with the local weekly newspaper. On the back was an advertisement for kayaks on sale at a local clearance store. The price seemed really good, and we checked out the details. The more we looked, the better the deal seemed and we ended up driving over to the store and buying two eight and a half foot kayaks.

These are inexpensive recreational kayaks. They are lightweight and came with all the necessary gear. We managed to get an additional, unexpected discount at the store. I put the roof rack together in the parking lot, loaded the kayaks, and off we went.

At home, I grabbed Fiona and we went to a local pond. Lake Wintergreen, in Hamden is about a mile long, and we paddled the length of the pond and back. It was a pleasant evening, and a necessary treatment for ennui.

Sunday, Kim and I went to church and afterwards, we headed off to visit Lake Wintergreen again. Now, my muscles are sore. The twitch in my eye, which had subsided is back, but now I attribute it to fatigue instead of stress.

When looking at all the suffering in the world, at times it can be challenging “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”, but a kayak can certainly help.

Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet

Today, I submitted a comment on the FCC website concerning proceeding 14-28, Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet.

I wrote

To the extent that the FCC is accepting comments on Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet via the Internet itself, it would seem that the Internet is a core part of our democratic process that should be protected against discrimination or allowing one group of persons perferred access above and beyond another group of persons. As such, it seems obvious that the Internet must be considered a common carrier and any efforts to give one group of persons perferred access such as faster delivery of packets, is determinental to our democracy.

For more information about submitting comments, see How To Tell The FCC Exactly What You Think About The Proposed Net Neutrality Rule.

The FCC has extended the filing deadline since the amount of comments they were receiving crashed their website.

Conveying Wisdom

Recently, I received a candidate questionnaire from the Connecticut Realtors Political Action Committee. Their first question is:

Connecticut presently permits eighteen distressed communities to add an additional local option conveyance tax on home sellers. This tax should be repealed as it is regressive tax that unnecessarily increases the costs of selling a home in Connecticut. Would you support repeal of this regressive local option conveyance tax?

A regressive tax is one where the rate decreases as the amount subject to taxation increases, yet as I understand the local option conveyance tax, it is a flat rate no matter what the selling price is. I wonder if they really meant to say that it is a tax that hits poorer people harder since their homes are often a larger percentage of their wealth.

It raises some interesting questions. Does this tax hit poorer people harder? What sort of effect does this tax have on communities in terms of house sales, house prices, economic opportunity or the health of the community? Would changing or eliminating this tax make health and opportunities more equitable? How would it affect house opportunities for different people or how would it affect smart growth plans. If such a tax were removed, what would be used to replace the money necessary for our already cash strapped communities?

I’ve read through their Public Policy Statement which doesn’t seem to address these issues. I will follow up with them to see what they have to say on these topics.

On Facebook, today, a friend, Miles, posted a link to the Thai Life Insurance Company commercial, “Unsung Hero”. Please, take a moment to watch this commercial and think about commercials in the United States.

With the link, Miles posted,

America today seems to be all about money. I don't think that was always the only thing we valued, and I hope we find our way back from that delusion.

Just before his post was one from Zephyr Teachout. Zephyr is running for Governor in New York State. I met her through Howard Dean’s Presidential campaign over a decade ago, which is also how I met Miles. They live on opposite sides of the country, but share a lot in common.

Zephyr posted

Over 1,000 ALL-VOLUNTEER Teachout-Wu petitions came in this weekend from Long-Island!

These are teachers and parents who are determined not to allow Governor Cuomo to keep taking money from schoolchildren to give away in tax breaks for banks. Your committed fight for our children and future is inspiring. Thank you.

They volunteers are the unsung heroes that the Thai Life commercial talks about. They are those who have stepped away from the delusion that money is the only thing of value.

Another friend, Ed, posted a picture of an Italian Renaissance painting at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, talking about visiting the Met as being a wonderful way to spend the day and after that, my friend Elia posted a cartoon with a signpost. One direction pointed to Truth, Justice and Wisdom. The other pointed to 99 cent burgers. The crowds were all headed towards the burgers.

Perhaps the crowds will vote for my opponent in the election this fall. Perhaps the crowds in New York State will vote for Zephyr’s opponents in the fall, but I will stand for Truth, Justice, and Wisdom, for Unsung Heroes and appreciating the arts, even if all I do is to get a few more people to sit back and wonder what their lives are really all about after all.

Hobby Lobby and the Church at Laodicea

Last Sunday at Church, the priest spoke about the challenges mainline Christians have today. In our modern secular society, we don’t talk about religion, except for talking about the extremists, whether they be Muslim extremists or Christian fundamentalists. God call to us to love everyone created in God’s image too often gets lost. A friend had shared that last Sunday was #SocialMediaSunday and so I was sharing posts about the service online.

I thought of my friends who are people of faith online, some Christian, some Muslim, who often share their belief online, not as an effort to proselytize, but as living examples of being in a loving relationship with God, Allah, and the people around them. People who share prayer requests as well as moments of sadness and moments of joy.

At coffee hour, I talked with a friend about the Church in Laodicea. I’ve always been struck by Revelation 3:15-16.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Has the mainline Christian Church in the United States become too much like the Laodicean church? Neither cold nor hot, afraid to offend members of secular society, or become too much like the extremists?

I thought about this when I heard about the Hobby Lobby decision. It has been a major topic amongst many of my friends online. One of the first articles I read was about how the decision was bad for religious people in the United States. It increases the power corporations, which do not have souls, over the people of the land in the name of religious freedom. It casts religion in a more negative light for many. In such an environment, it becomes more difficult, and more incumbent for mainline Christians to stand up and proclaim the Gospel of God’s loving kindness to all God’s people. I believe that showing God’s love is the deeds that Laodicean church lacked, and the real lukewarm church of modern day are those, like the people at Hobby Lobby who use their religion as an excuse not to show God’s love to all people.

This came home to me recently when I read a comment on Facebook. Middletown, CT Mayor Dan Drew shared a link to an editorial in the Middletown Press, "Increased patrols in Middletown show proactive approach". One person commented "Why'll your at it keep those freaking crazy Muslims out of Middletown."

Mayor Drew responded, " I feel badly for you, Mr. Salonia, because you're guided by fear and xenophobia. Judge people by how they treat others - not by their religion. There are billions of peaceful Muslim people throughout the world. Instead of fearing the "other," let's remember our common humanity and the fact that we all have so much more in common than not. I hope and pray that you find it in your heart to love rather than hate. We are all brothers and sisters."

I do not know Mayor Drew’s religious beliefs, but I find his words more in line with my understanding of God’s call to us than the actions of the folks at Hobby Lobby.

Virtual Reality Viewers

The recent announcement of the Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer has caught my interest, as well as the interest of a bunch of other people. So, I’ve been doing a little reading up to try and figure out exactly what the best way for me to approach this would be.

First, I installed the >Cardboard Demo on my phone. Even without a proper viewer it is fairly interesting. Next, I started looking at getting a viewer. My brother had shared a link to a kit from DodoCase for $25 which comes with everything you need. Unfortunately, they say to allow four to six weeks for delivery. The Google documentation includes a pattern you can print to make a viewer yourself. I was figuring I’d try that out at work next week. The biggest issue is finding the right lenses.

The documentation suggests the Durovis OpenDive Lens Kit. It costs about $20. This led me to look at Dive. Dive appears to be an already manufactured VR viewer for cellphones. It costs 57 Euros and ships from Germany. They say their estimated delivery time is 10 to 15 business days, perhaps longer if there are issues with customs.

Their Open Dive How To includes STL files for printing with a 3D printer. Perhaps I will try that at work. They also mention a Snakebyte iDroid:con Rechargeable Bluetooth Game Controller for Android and iOS Devices. They recommend this for VR games that need a controller. It costs $23 and I don’t see a need for it, yet.

Dive uses the Dive Launcher It is also worth playing with and has an interesting interface, even without a proper viewer. It seems similar to the Google Cardboard app and I wonder how much things will interoperate.

I continued to look for other sources for lenses and ended up in the Cardboard & VR Developers community on Google Plus.

I believe it was there that I found out about Surplus Shed which supplies surplus, used, and unused optical and electronic bargains for fun, hobby, education or profit. They mention on their front page that they have lenses for Google's new DIY Cardboard Virtual Reality Smartphone Viewer. Just $4.50 each! (Get 10 or more for just $3.50 each).

This looks like the best deal so far and I’m thinking I should get a ten pack of lenses. This would allow for making five pairs of VR glasses. I suspect that if I make a pair of VR glasses, there will be people asking how to get them.

Google Cardboard uses magnets for controlling the glasses. It is possible to get by without the magnets, which may be a good thing, because the ones that Google suggested are out of stock at both Home Depot and Amazon. They are 3/4 in. Neodymium Rare-Earth Magnet Discs. At Home Depot, a 3 pack is $5 and on Amazon a six pack is $12. Applied Magnets has magnets like these for 89 cents each. You also need 3/4 in. x 3/16 in. Ceramic Disc Magnets. HomeDepot has them available online at eight for two bucks and Amazon has them at eight for seven bucks. Applied Magnets has these magnets for 29 cents each. I should probably get five of both types of magnets from Applied Magnets.

To hold the Google Cardboard together, Google recommends two strips of adhesive backed Velcro, approximate 3/4 of an inch by 1 1/4 inch. If I make five glasses, I’d need five times as much Velcro. My guess is that we have some Velcro somewhere in our sewing supplies, either stuff that Fiona has accumulated or that came from my mother, but I don’t know if any of that is adhesive backed, or if we can find it.

Google also recommends 3 1/2 inch rubber bands. Again, that should be something we have around the house or should be able to find easily. Some of the other, non-cardboard projects also call for rubber bands like these, so it would be good to have them on hand, and probably extras in case some break.

The final, optional item that Google recommends, but isn’t required is sticker NFC tags. The one in Amazon the recommend is unavailable. It looks like the best option for these are these NFC tags. They come in five to a pack, so one pack is probably sufficient, but it would be nice to have two packs to do other NFC experiments or to use tags on different devices.

As I read more on this, I stumbled across vrase. It looks like they hope to ship a device similar to Google Cardboard or Open Dive soon. They did provide a link to the
Secondsight - Virtual Reality Headset, VR HMD that I could print at work and which I believe would use the same lenses. The person writing about also used a RII Mini Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard. That is another interesting device I should look at some time. However, there seems to be a bunch of different options, and I should explore them before deciding what to get, or how useful they really are. VRASE lists several different Bluetooth game controllers.

I also stumbled across REFUGIO3D. It is a kit which appears very similar to Google Cardboard, but only seems to be available in Germany. However, from reading through that website, I came across 3D Side By Side movies. Searching on Youtube for 3D SBS provided a lot of material.

So, lots of work to do on Virtual Reality viewers, and when I get some running, I can then think about developing code for them.

Syndicate content