Reflections on Goodness in Genesis Chapter 1

Imagine, if you will, that you are an inquisitive youngster. Your family lives in relatively close proximity to the ocean and you are in love with the rhythm and power of the waves. Each day, or as often as you can pull yourself away from chores, carrying water, feeding the livestock or picking on your little sister, you wander down to the shore, sit at the edge of the sand and just watch. Observe. Study.

You marvel at the way the sand disappears beneath the surf, the way the blue of the ocean flows out further than the eye can see, the way the blue of the sea seems to end and then appear to then take a sharp turn up and up and up and overhead and behind, disappearing behind your village. You observe the jagged rocky places jutting out of the water, off shore, further than you are allowed to swim, surrounded by water.

Some evenings you are allowed to stay down by the sea while the great light of the day disappears beneath the edge of the sea and soon a tableaux of smaller lights bedecks the expanse above as the color of the sky changes to black. Across that array of smaller lights one larger one rides on its own speed across the heavens, along with a number of others travelling the same road, at their own speed sometimes backwards sometimes forwards as you watch them night after night.

It is not hard to imagine that the first chapter of Genesis was born of this kind of observation. Before humans understood orbits and the elliptic, the revolutions of our own planet, gravity, ionospheric refraction, stars and the like. It appeared that the waters of the sea extended out to the edge of a firmament and was then held back by this firmament creating a bubble below and above in which we lived. The stars the sun and the moon performed their dance against this backdrop every day, and we lived and worked on this little island home under that firmament.

What then is the role of faith as we read this story about the creation of the heavens and the earth, and of the creatures with which it is populated. Is it in the mental calisthenics required to stand against all scientific inquiry and observation and hold that this is an accurate description of the creation of the space in which we live?

I read this story and see it not as a repudiation of scientific inquiry but as an example, creating a hypothesis that explains the observed universe. Here we have an inquisitive soul seeking to understand his observations and describe a paradigm that fits what he observes. Later inquiry, exploration and technology would cause him to adjust his hypothesis but given the tools with which he had to work, it was a pretty good paradigm.

I would further suggest that using our mental and spiritual energy to present this story as an accurate description of our living space, to literally believe it, is expending our energy in the wrong place. Faith calls the believer to task in this story, but it is not in stubbornly accepting the mechanics, the how of this creation. Rather, faith is challenged, in every age, not by the how but the what and why. The call to faith resides in the word Good, “and God saw that it was good.”

I believe this is the particularly challenging question of faith for today. How do we treat a creation that God called good? How do we care for that with which we have been entrusted.

I was also reminded during this past week, while I sat in a in a jet travelling home from Europe, of how fragile this home of ours is. I can comfortably stroll 5 miles in a couple hours. If I were to “stroll” that distance straight up the air temperature would drop between 90 and 100 degrees and if that didn’t kill me, the lower air pressure, about one third of what I normally live in, would. And this, at the distance of a casual stroll.

Our habitable zone, what seems vast and robust, is rather thin and fragile on a global scale, less than the skin of an apple. Absolutely amazing that it supports such wonder and diversity. The challenge of faith asks us how we care for this. Do we litter plastic, spew carbon, pollute precious waters without concern. Or do we seek to live sustainably, to allow for the questions about our impact on the planet to be asked and then to find sustainable ways to respond. How should I practice my responsibility to care for that which God has called good, by stubbornly believing the scientific accuracy of at story with pre-historic roots, or by acting responsibly toward that creation today?

Submitted this morning to the Wisconsin State Journal Editorial Page

Kudos to the non-partisan League of Women Voters this week for providing their “Candidates’ Answers” insert in the Isthmus. It is available if you pick up the Isthmus this week or on their web site ( It is an indispensable resource for reviewing the requirements for voting and for learning about positions each candidate holds on a series of issues important to their roles. However, the walk of shame is in order for the overwhelming number of Republican candidates who chose not to respond. How is a voter supposed to get reasoned information about a candidates’ views? Television commercials?

I think not.

How do I remove the Category Title at the top of a category menu page

In Content Management systems I like to create my pages dynamically out of posts that are categorized.

In WordPress, I create a category and then I create a menu related to that category.

This way I can have dynamic content and add and remove articles whenever I want without wrestling with the whole page to get new content on that page.

The problem I keep having to remind myself, when I update a theme is how do I get rid of the Category: Category Name page title. Every time I click around and stumble and search for help on the internet to figure it out.  I want to have the tile of each post that I have created but not of the page itself, particularly not “Category: Category Name!”

Now this is no guarantee for the theme you are using, however it works for me. With the theme active, from the Dashboard menu click on Appearance –> Theme Options. On the row of tabs on that page click on the tab named General. About half way down the page you will see an option “Display Post Category” click on the toggle and set it to off. Voila! Those annoying page titles are gone. Remember to scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Options or you will end up scratching your head. Again.

Storage in the Cloud – OneDrive

One of the services of Office365 I use the most is OneDrive (it is also available through Through it I have all my documents and pictures and data files available on the computer on my desk as well as anywhere else I happen to be, as long as I can use a computer, the library, campus, my laptop, or my Mom’s

OneDrive creates a folder on your computer that contains an up-to-date copy of all the files on your OneDrive in the cloud and vice versa. Once I have moved all my documents to that folder on my computer it syncs those files up to the cloud and keeps them synced up as I use and change them.

When I go to the library or anywhere else I sign on to my account through my browser (Chrome, Edge, IE, Safari, Firefox, Opera, etc) and I will see my folders and files and I can view and edit them even if I don’t have Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or OneNote installed on the computer I am using. Microsoft has created online versions of it’s flagship programs so you can view and edit anywhere you can access the internet.

Why do I want to do that?

First and foremost, I am tired of losing stuff. I have dropped a laptop before. I have had a hard drive go south on me. It doesn’t take long to get to the point where your files and photos are frankly more valuable than the computer they are stored on. What if I was to lose that report? How about those photos from my vacation? Lightning just struck, now my machine won’t boot. All these can be pretty devastating. Yes, I will have to buy a new computer (I probably needed one anyway). Yes, it is going to take some time to reinstall all my favorite programs and stuff. But, to get the important stuff back, the pictures, the projects I’ve been working on, the proposals, all that stuff, I just need to install OneDrive and log in. Like magic everything that I’ve been saving to my OneDrive will start reappearing on my new computer. Depending on how much stuff, in an hour, or by tomorrow morning, I can pick up where I left off.

And, if I have a subscription that includes desktop versions of Microsoft Office Apps, I can quickly download the newest version and install them on the new machine as well.

That’s good for now. I only want to give you bite size stuff to read. I’ll go into a little more detail in later posts. I plan to include more tips and features and competing products.

Hello world!

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Elon’s 8

In a recent interview Elon Musk listed the 8 books that were most influential for his life. I list them here as much for me as for anyone who happens on this post. This is my new reading list. Not that I will be building rockets to Mars but they  certainly will bolster my geek cred.

Imagine my surprise that I’ve already read a couple of them (actually since #8 is a trilogy I’ve read 4).

  1. Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down” by J.E. Gordon

  2. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” by Walter Isaacson

  3. Einstein: His Life and Universe” by Walter Isaacson

  4. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies” by Nick Bostrom

  5. Merchants of Doubt” by Erik M. Conway and Naomi Oreskes

  6. Lord of the Flies” by William Golding

  7. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” by Peter Thiel

  8. The “Foundation” trilogy by Isaac Asimov

    1. Foundation
    2. Foundation and Empire
    3. Second Foundation

More stuff for my Kindle!


Web Masters: does your robots.txt file check out?

I discovered a new tool today and in discovering it, I found that I needed to make some corrections to some of my sites.

The file robots.txt that sits quietly at the root of most web sites tells spiders what they can index and what they cannot. All responsible search engines respect what the robot.txt file tells it to search and what not to search. This file doesn’t, in any way, actually restrict your web site’s subdirectories from prying eyes but it does help the good guys to concentrate on the good stuff and not waste their time on the stuff you don’t want out there.

There is a particular syntax for robots.txt. It is not extensive but I was surprised that some of the software that I was installing didn’t respect what little syntax there is.

I discovered a web page that will check the syntax of your robots.txt file and let you know what needs to be corrected. Just go to and enter your web site name followed by robots.txt and you will receive a page that verifies the syntax of your robots.txt file and let’s you know what, if anything, needs to be corrected.

APRS on Yaesu FTM-400 not transmitting beacon

OK. I’ve been frustrated that for some reason my FTM-400 stopped transmitting the beacon. I would monkey with settings and test again and I would never show up  at APRS.FI. Dang. I had it working but for some reason it stopped.

Today I stumbled upon the solution. It was not necessarily the explicit settings but one that is usually missed in the instructions. At a later date I will give some more details of my APRS settings but for now I will just describe what I was doing wrong.

There are quite a number of web sites that describe the settings in pretty good detail. They walk you through the configurations in the APRS and the DATA menus and the frustration was that I followed them but had no luck. The one thing that was not described to me was the squelch.

Perhaps to some of you it is a no-brainer and now to me it is a Homer Simpson Doh! moment.

There is a setting under Data:

  • Press and hold the DISP/Setup button for one second to show the setup menu.
  • Select and touch the [DATA] button  and the menu list will be displayed
  • Number 4 is the [4 DATA SQUELCH] option.

There are two choices. RX BAND and TX/RX BAND. I set mine for TX/RX BAND.  I tried both but neither seemed to make a difference.

I neglected to check my squelch level on the band (Band B) I was using for APRS. If your radio detects activity on the band you are using it won’t interrupt that activity to send an APRS beacon. Band A and Band B squelch is set separately. I found that my squelch was turned all the way down on Band B so I was always hearing background noise on that Band. The Data Squelch Condition never detected an open frequency upon which to transmit. Once I turned up my squelch so that only a clear signal, would activate the Band, only then could my APRS find space to transmit.

  • From the main screen touch [SQL] from the bottom menu.
  • On the bottom of each Band the Squelch level will display in yellow.
  • Using the dial on the right of the Band you want to adjust, turn up the squelch until you no longer hear the background noise.

As soon as I corrected this my radio sent out a beacon and my position showed up on . Having fixed this now I can experiment with the other settings for APRS.