Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'm Feeling a Little Cryptic

Moroni 10
November 18

So I just finished reading an interesting book called Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. It deals with World War II and a big chunk of the book deals with encrypting and decrypting messages. Above you see an encrypted message. The message is encrypted with an algorithm of my making (see below to get the decrypted message). Anyways, the book obviously got me thinking about encryption and the importance of secrecy.

It seems today that we let our secrets out more and more. With the proliferation of social networks, blogs, discussion forums, comments on articles, etc we have the opportunity to share our lives in ways our parents never did. Does it seem odd that the more we crave privacy, the more we share on the web? Everywhere you turn you see ads that claim to "protect your identity". However, if we didn't share so much on the web would we need said protection? I get it that buying things online exposes us to ID theft. However most (if not all) reputable sites take the appropriate protections to ensure safety.

Anyways, back to the book. It's an interesting piece of fiction with a view on the war that involves not so much the gory details of a battlefield as it does the battle of minds. The book moves along at a good pace. It has several twists and yet has several parts that are "foreseeable". There were times where I figured out what was going to happen and then there were times where I was surprised.

The only downside to the book was the ending. It felt rushed. Of course after 1100+ pages I guess the ending had to occur this way. I did enjoy the book and am tempted to get another Neal Stephenson novel.

Oh yeah, in case you were wondering here is the decrypted message:

If you can read this before getting to the bottom of the blog entry you have broken my code

Everything you need to break my encryption code is contained in the original message. If you are geeky (and brave enough) give it a try with this one:

Jacob 7
November 18

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

So I Turned 40

Hey glory, glory, hallelujah
Welcome to the future
- Brad Paisley

Yesterday was a milestone birthday for me. Yes I turned the big 4-0. There was screaming in the aisles, panic in the streets and even some crying. As I look back on the 40 years of my existence I realize that this world has come a long way. So here are the things that stick out in my memory of the last 40 years:


The world of entertainment has come a long way. Some ways have been good, other ways not so good. For instance, the first TV I remember was Black and White and didn't have a remote control. We then moved to a color TV. Then it wasn't good enough to just get over the air television. A little something called Satellite TV started (even though we didn't have it). The next move was cable TV. How many channels? How could we possibly watch them all? We've gone from Analog to Digital signals to High Definition and who knows what they will think of next. Video games went from huge machines in an arcade to little handheld devices. Computers went from mainframes to PCs. I could go on and on and on, what with the web and email, video conferencing, blogging, social media, etc.


Communications have evolved as well. Growing up we had what was called a party line. That's where two houses share the same physical connection but have different phone numbers. So you had to be careful when you picked up the phone so that you didn't hear the neighbors conversations. Of course the phones started as Rotary dials (how many of you have even seen a rotary dial phone?). Now they are moved to push button and are no longer required to be tethered to a wall outlet. But that wasn't good enough. Satellite phones and cellular phones became prominent and now we have Smart Phones that let us combine computer and communications.


Do I even have to mention any of this? Let's just think about it. The 70's. Enough said. The 80's. Enough said. The 90's? Not too bad. The 00's? Well if the 70's and 80's have made comebacks in this decade you can imagine what my children will say when they write their blog entry (if it's even called that) when they turn 40.

Science Fiction

Ok, I admit it, I'm a geek. No surprise there. If you look at the Science Fiction that has been written there have been some great things put out. Four TV sequels to Star Trek (1 at least that was popular). Stargate, Dune (in movie form), Sanctuary, Farscape, V, and we could go on and on. I've read a ton of books, some better than others. Overall I think that Science Fiction has come a long way.

Sesame Street

Yes Sesame Street and I are the same age. Of course if you ask anyone there are times when I'm just like some of the characters. I mean how can I not be goofy like Bert and Ernie? Or try to convince others that I have a big friend like Big Bird (Mr Snufalafogus for those who don't know) that no one else has seen? I've been hungry like Cookie Monster, as grouchy as Oscar, and as zany as Grover.


From an historical perspective there was a lot that has gone on. A man on the moon happened the year I was born. The Iran Hostage situation. The Gas shortage in the 70's. The Cold War coming to a close and the Berlin Wall being brought down. The fall of Apartheid in South Africa. The First Gulf War. 9/11 a day that changed our thinking. The first African American president of the United States was elected. Democracy has been given to peoples who never thought they would have it. For example, I was there when Chile held their first elections after Pinochet decided to step down.

The Big Question

No one has asked me but I think it has to be addressed. "Am I where I thought I would be at 40?". I don't think I can answer this one as I never put down on paper (electronic or otherwise) where I wanted to be when I turned 40. Let's just take a look at where I'm at. One: I have the most wonderful wife in the whole world (and I'm not just saying that because I got an iPod Touch for my birthday). Two: I have five wonderful (although sometimes challenging) children who love me as fiercely as I love them. Three: I live in a wonderful area (except in July and August when it feels like we live in Hades) with a beautiful home and great neighbors. Four: I have a stable job that provides for my family and allows me to keep life in balance. Five: I'm healthy (even if today I'm coughing and feverish). So overall I would have to say that I am exactly where I want to be and have no regrets.

Finally, if the next 40 years are like the previous 40 years I'm going to be one happy 80 year old man.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Game in US

The people who are trying to win the bid for the 2018 FIFA World Cup are holding a contest. They have asked for people to write in and share how the game is in each of us. I thought I would share my entry with everyone. Here it is:

I coach a team of 5 and 6 year olds in their second year of soccer. The game is just barely becoming part of them. They are learning the basics; dribbling, shooting and being part of the team. Most importantly they are learning to have fun while playing soccer. The World cup is a way for these children (who will be 14 -16 in 2018) to increase the game that is in them, the game I am putting in them through coaching.

The kids I coach are taught that the first rule of soccer is to have fun. If you’re not having fun while playing, the game can’t be in you. To see the kids smiling and enjoying the game shows me that it is in them. Soccer is also in me. I have played it since I was seven. I have always been enamored with the game. I’m one of the few who espoused soccer when there wasn’t a professional league here.

I had the opportunity to take my Father and my oldest son to the USA – Mexico match a couple of years ago in Phoenix. My son was 6 at that time. We were sitting in what most would call hostile territory. It didn’t matter. My son was into the game. He was chanting with the fans. The game was in him that night. Now as my second son begins his playing career of soccer, the beautiful game is growing in him. This is how the game grows in them. I have no idea where my son’s playing career will end up, but this much I know; the game is in him now and will be for life.

The World Cup in 1994 changed the view of soccer in the states. It can do it again in 2018.

You see I'm a little bit passionate about soccer. But I know that just like other sports, the only way the next generation can gain a love of the game is by helping them to learn it. That's the reason I'm coaching my 2nd son's team. They are playing U6 (5 and 6 year olds to those of you who don't know). It is at this age that kids begin to learn to love or not to love certain sports. So I have entered the contest. Do I think I will win it? Of course not. But hey at least they can read what I feel to be the most important part of getting the game in us.