NSA Surveillance: Is your personal privacy a bigger issue than human rights?

NSA Surveillance: Is your personal privacy a bigger issue than human rights?.

Found this on freshly pressed.  Very thought provoking.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Goings on for July


Sometimes I wonder if I am getting anything useful done.  Then I look at all that I have completed and say “D@#N I got a lot done”

I started off the month with the fourth of July celebration here in St George Utah.  It was a fun time.  My very good friends, the Clements family, and I went up to the top of the mesa that used to be the airport for St George and watched the fireworks display.  Although the place was PACKED, we were able to get great seats because we had access to the actual runway of the old airport.  See the city donated a lot of land to the school that I work for that also includes the old terminal building.  I happen to have a master key to the school and that also opens the terminal building.  Don’t worry I asked permission (this time) to use if for our little party.  it was fun.  Next year I am thinking of organizing a actual BBQ and party for the School.  I think that would be fun.
My continuing studies for my A+ certification are going well.  I go in fits.  I really wanted to be done by the end of this month but that doesn’t look like it is going to happen.  Which is Okay, but I have increased the pace of what I am learning.  I am confident that I will be done by the end of August.  I also started my Java Class on the 17th.  We get two lessons a week, I am on lesson 4.  I just installed my Java Development Kit (JDK) yesterday.  I am pumped about that actually.  I have always wanted to learn how to “program” on a computer. When I was younger (1980) I had the opportunity to learn how to program in basic and C,  I decided not to because I believed the crap that PC’s would never catch on.  How dumb was that.  So here I am 30+ years later learning how.  It is fun to fulfill some early life dreams.  Here I am working in the educational field, I wanted to be a teacher in high school, I am learning how to be a computer technician, something I wanted to do in the early 80′s, and learning how to program.  How Cool is that.

New Desk

At work I have been occupying an office that, although is nice, is not as big as the desk that I originally had.  Two weeks ago, my boss (or one of them), came to me and said that we were going to move a desk that was in one building to another and I was going to move to the foyer of the building that we hold class in.  The upside to this is I get a really huge desk that I got to design myself.  We build the walls of my desk last week and they dry walled it yesterday.  I am waiting for it to be mudded and textured, I will then paint it and we will install the granite.  I will have to take pictures so I can post them here.  I am also hoping that I can move the IT office down to the other building so I can have that portion of my job closer also.  It means convincing them that there is a better office space for one of the executives than the space I want for my IT office.  I think I have one scooped out but I have some heavy negotiation to do to get that space…  We will see how good a negotiator I am.   I am pretty sure that I can get them to see that my solution is the best one.

Blogger extraordinaire

If you have not checked out Renxkyoko’s space at http://megaworthit.wordpress.com/.  I have it in my blog roll but I want to point it out here. She has written some very thoughtful articles lately.  I am hoping that she continues to speak her mind about subjects of today. Recently she wrote a piece on Obesity.  For me it was a great article because I have struggled with my weight for years now.  When I was young I had a very high metabolism, when I had my gall bladder out it seemed that it was harder for me to keep my weight under control.  I then got a desk job and sitting on my butt all day did not help me.  I still ate like I was working out in the field.  Calories in were way more than calories out and I got fat.  Not morbidly obese but fat enough to feel bad about me and how I looked.  I would try to lose some weight but it just seemed that I would put it right back on.  About a year and a half ago now I went Gluten free.  I went from a high of 284 to 247 now.  I still have a ways to go, but now I understand it is not about losing the weight it is about becoming healthy.  The weight is just a symptom of a larger problem.  If you address the lifestyle you are living the weight will come off.  I have chosen the slow method.  The problem before was that I would make drastic changes and then feel bad when I “failed”.  Now I make small changes and incorporate them into my life before I make another change.  Right now I am focusing on portion control.
Renxkyoko spoke about self control.  That is a huge part of it.  HUGE…  Understanding that you are in control of what you put in your mouth is so enlightening.  Is it still a struggle? Of course it is.  Am I winning because I have a better understanding of my control, you betcha.
The whole purpose of this portion of the blog is to let the world know that there are young people out there that have a great perception of the world. Who have something important to say.  We should listen.  Renxkyoko reads my blog sometimes and I hope she reads it this time.  Keep up the great work you are doing.  The world needs more young people like you.

Well folks that is all for this time.  As I get less busy (yeah, like that is going to happen) I will be back to add more to this journey…

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InsturctureCon13 Pictures

This gallery contains 17 photos.

These are some of the pictures I took at the conference last month.  I am just posting them now as I have had some catching up to do.  Hope you enjoy htem.

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Here I Am

I don’t think I have posted this before but one of the many hats that I wear at work is Administrator of the Canvas Learning Management System.  It is produced by a company called Instructure. Every year since 2011 they have had a convention at Park City, Utah.  I went last year and I got to go again this year.  I am currently sitting on break between information sessions, waiting for the next one to begin. The name of my next session is “Mistakes only Experienced Instructional Designers make”  It is a session that is supposed to remove the fear of making mistakes and just get out there and design.  The sessions I attended today were fantastic.  I am really looking forward to the rest of the convention.  The funny thing is that most of us here are in some way or another what would normally called a geek.  We all embrace our geekiness, revel in our unique outlook on life and this is one of the only times that we get to be together.
We network and have fun.  Tonight is a carnival.  I wish I could participate in the pie eating contest but I am gluten free and that would ruin my health for about 3 days if I did it.  Oh well.  I will be posting pictures soon.

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Windows 8

Windows 8

I have gotten a new computer here at home.  It is a nice system and I am using Windows 8 now.  I have downloaded the WordPress app which I am currently using to write this post.  I will admit that at first I was like “I hate Windows 8, it is so different” I then looked at it seriously and then I was “well if you have a touch screen it wouldn’t be too bad” Now I am “It will take some getting used to but I can see the advantages to it” 
I am intrigued by the apps, and the ease of use for navigation if you take the time to understand it.  That is the one thing that they have not done a good job on is making people understand the newest features.  I am also looking forward to the integration with my live account.  I have just touched the surface of what I can do with that.  I am sure my SkyDrive is fully accessible, I am going to be exploring that later.  This particular app is Okay.  I would like more of the Kitchen sink when it comes to formatting my blog, but that is just me being picky.                             



This is an old picture of me I found on line to test the image insert capability of this app.  Seems to work well. 
That picture bears some explanation though.  When I first moved to St George Utah I worked for Home Depot.  I was the person that did the Kids Clinic.  A job that I miss to this day and it has been over 10 years since I did it.  One of the other duties that went along with that was giving Store tours to Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops.  This is me giving a tour to a Cub Scout troop and explaining why we had so many different types of plants. 

I miss the close X in the right corner.  I am not sure how to close down apps.  I have my music app running and I don’t know how to shut it off.  I can put it in the background but I cant close it.  I wonder if I am using resources when I am running apps.  I will have to look into that.  HMMMM???? 

Have a wonderful day all.  I will keep you posted on how this goes.  I wonder if this will help me post more????

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Memories Part 6

Our first night

By the time we had found our apartment we were tired of living in the hotel.  We had met some very interesting people and they treated us almost like family, but we wanted out own space.  Somewhere to “walk around naked” if we wanted to.  I put that in quotes because that was one of my fathers favorite sayings when he wanted us kids to leave him and mom alone.  We would pester him as to why we couldn’t stay and he would bellow at us  “Well maybe we want to walk around naked, did you ever think of that”.  Where was I, oh yes, when it came time to take possession of the apartment Gina and Jakamo were there to see us off.  By that time we were good friends and they had volunteered to get us settled in.  We had packed the night before and were ready to go.  Jakamo had brought his car in, very small, to take the heavy suitcases.  Gina, Lynn, and myself walked the 6 blocks from the Hotel to our new apartment.  On the way Gina gave us a lesson in the part of the city that we would be living in.  She told us that for all our shopping we would need to go to piccolo alley, when I asked why it was named that she told me that I would have to see it to believe it.  We got to the apartment and began the laborious task of taking the suit cases up the 3 flights of stairs.  Of course Lynn and Gina didn’t carry anything, that was still in the 80′s when chivalry was not dead.  Gina and Jakamo were impressed that we had gotten such a nice apartment for a 2 year lease.  Most of the landlords would only do a 3 or 6 month lease and jack the rent during the summer months when tourist season was.  Our landlord was a saint compared to others.  Gina gave Lynn directions on how to get to the market and Jakamo gave us the traditional Italian blessing.
Bread (hands us a loaf) so that you will never be hungry
Salt (hands us a bit of salt wrapped in cloth) so that life here will have flavor
Wine (hands us a bottle) so that you will always be happy.
I was touched.  We kept in contact with them the entire time we were there.  They were our beach buddies.


As we had absolutely no food in the house, we decided that it would be nice to go and do some shopping.  We headed down the hill to the place that Gina had described as Piccolo Alley.  We would know that we were there because it was the last left before the main road.  As we approached I thought that perhaps we had missed it because the only thing before the road was the alley that I could almost touch with both arms spread out wide.  I exaggerate but it sure looked that way at first.
Lynn and I start going from side to side, just looking at things.  We saw an older lady selling potatoes and thought that it would be nice to have some for dinner.  I went to her “booth” nothing more than her standing there with potatoes, a scale and her daughter.  She started saying something in Italian that I didn’t understand and waving her arms at me.  The daughter explained that her mother thought that I was shopping the wrong way.  You went up one side of that Alley and then back the other side.  She wished that the dumb Americans would learn how to do that.  I found out later that her speech was much more colorful but the daughter had cleaned it up for us.  so she sold us some potatoes and I continued down that side of the market looking at things but not going to the “other side”.  I thought: what the heck, when in Rome, so I thought we would try it.  Actually was a better way to shop, over the centuries the people had set up shop where you would buy things in a certain order.  It was elegant actually.  Anyway, we picked up some fruit and some cheese along with some bread and on the way back on the other side of the alley we saw a canned goods store that also had some wine.  We thought that would make a great dinner topper.  We went in and found some wine and at the time I loved honey on my bread.  But I couldn’t find it.  So I ask the shop keeper if he spoke english, which he didn’t, and then I proceeded to try and describe honey to someone who has no idea what I am saying.  I tried words like Honey, Bee, I degenerated into flapping my hands and making a buzzing sound while using one of my hands for a stinger out my nose.  You try it some time.  By this time My wife is rolling on the floor in laughter, the shop keeper is sure I am an escaped lunatic and I am drawing a small crowd to boot.  All for a container of Honey.  Finally I hit upon the word SUGAR…. and the light came on in the shop keepers eyes… Ahhhh he said Sucoros.  Walks me over to the shelf where there is a can with the picture of a bee on it.  How I had not seen that I will never know.  I wonder, to this day, if the shop keeper knew exactly what I wanted and just wanted to see me make a fool of myself.
Shopping became a daily experience for us.  We had a small refridgerator and not that much cupboard space to store things. Besides fresh was the best.

The Bread Man

I forgot to tell you about the bread man.  When we walked into the bread shop there were several men behind the counter and lots of people in the shop.  The funny thing was not a lot of people were saying anything.  The main guy behind the counter would greet someone and then would pick up a loaf of bread, say something to one of the other younger men and toss him the loaf of bread.  The younger man would put it in an oven and then take it out, give it back to the older man, who would inspect it, bag it and get it to the person whom he had spoken to.  Now understand that this is going on for about 10 people at a time.  The person who got the bread would take to to the door where the cashier was.  It was almost like a dance.  Everyone knew what was going on but me.  I waited in line and when I got to the front I asked in english for a round loaf of bread.  He just kind of looked at me, an older gentleman next to me asked me how brown I wanted it and if I wanted the crust thick and crispy or thing and chewy.  I said I wanted it medium brown and thick and crispy.  The person told the bread man something and then a few minutes later I had the perfect loaf of bread.  I kept going to that bread man and every day all I had to do was walk in the shop and by the time I got to the front my loaf of bread would be ready to go.  It was always perfectly warm and crispy.  I never really spoke to the baker, or to anyone else really.  I would mumble greetings to the cashier when I paid but that is about it.  Oh but the bread…  I can only say that I have never really had bread like it since.  The insides were airy and tender, perfect for picking up sauce, the crust was shatteringly crisp and a little thicker than normal, perfect for scooping up something.  I bought a loaf of bread every day when I was in port.  That evening and the next morning I would eat it all up. When we would go shopping we would get one more.

Next time – Getting stuck on the roof?

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UCAT Conference

My Professional Conference

Today we went to the UCAT professional conference.  UCAT is the Utah Colleges of Applied technology, it is a series of 8 campuses strategically located around the state who provide technical training to the citizens of Utah.  I am pleased to say this conference was very successful.  The general program was the same this year.  We started with a get together where the President of the overall colleges spoke about the state of the system.  We acknowledged the accomplishments of each campus, including my own, and generally felt good about ourselves.  They announced next year’s conference host, Tooele Applied Technology College, and thanked the current host, Davis Applied Technology College.  After the get together we went to the breakout session that we had signed up for.  My break out session for the morning was “Data warehouse and dashboard”.  We discussed the various ways to mine data from our student information system and financial system and display that in a way that would be meaningful.  I learned quite a bit in the hour that we spent.  Lunch followed, it was kebabs, rice, salads, and a dessert selection, quite tasty.  After lunch it was off to the afternoon breakout session.  Mine was “Using Canvas to work smarter not harder”.  I did not enjoy that one as much. I am the Canvas administrator at my college and I went to this session so that I could know what was being put out.  The presenter focused on her institutions use of Canvas, which is different from mine.    I will have to find out who went  to that session and have a meeting with them to explain what we can and can’t do.  After the second breakout session, we had our department meetings.  This is what I had been waiting for all day.  Being a techie and Canvas administrator I don’t get a lot of opportunity to mingle with my counter parts at the other campus’s,  This is the only time that I will actually see some of them all year.  We only get an hour together so it is rather important to all of us.  We talked shop most  of the hour as there are several things that needed to be addressed.  We did take a few minutes to catch up on the doings of each campus, a fun activity.
I am sitting on the bus ride home writing this update.  I know that I have been doing the memory thing lately and I will make another installment this weekend.

Techie Things

Speaking of techie things, I am getting a windows 8 machine to test out with Office 2013 on it.  I am excited about that.  As usual, the wheels of any government bureaucracy turn slowly.  We will not be changing over to Windows 8 at least for another year maybe 2.  By that time who knows what will be out.  I have loaded the operating system on an I5 dual core machine with 10 GB if RAM that has a Nvidia GPU with 2 GB of onboard RAM that supports dual monitors.  I get to set it up and put it through its paces, learning what I can and being ready to pass on my knowledge.

World Stuff

I am sure that many of you have been following the Prism thing.  I know there are many people very irritated that the “government” is collecting information from the internet and phone companies.  This practice started under President Bush and at the time I was concerned that there was the possibility of abuse from said collection.  I was told by many of my friends that I should just calm down because the government needed this information to catch the bad guys.  Besides, they said, if I was not doing anything wrong I did not have to worry about them collecting information about me.  They said this same thing to me when I thought that drug testing was a violation of my rights.  They told me that if I didn’t use drugs that I should not worry about taking a drug test, that they were protecting me from others that were using drugs and causing accidents at work.
Now I am not saying that I want them to collect information about us, but I am going to say that this time they are doing the right thing.  There are some particularly bad people out there and they have no shame or guilt over blowing us the hell up.  The FBI has foiled many plots over the last few years because they had the information they needed to find these kooks.  I will agree with the people that say if you are not doing anything wrong you should not have to worry, this one time.  I would rather take the chance that my email or phone records will be looked, rather than take the chance that a car bomb will go off while I walk by.  I know that there are many people who are outraged about this.  I would ask them this question, why weren’t you outraged in 2006 when this program was exposed by the Washington Post?  Why are you upset now?  Is it because Obama is in office and you see this as a way to “get” him? Is it because you just woke up and decided to pay attention to the world?  I am just curious.

Plugging it

If you haven’t gotten a chance to help me get the word out about my sisters book.  Here is a copy of the link….  I hope that this gets read by a lot of people.  She sure could use the publicity.

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Shameless Plug for My Sister

Many times in our lives we have the opportunity to help our siblings.  My sister, Elaine Ramon, is taking a new career path.  She is delving into the world of writing.  She has completed her first 2 books.  There is no better way than through social media to get the word out.  She is doing self publishing through Amazon.

The first is a science fiction book that I adored.  It is titled “She was Called the Ugly Princess”  the link to Amazon is here.  http://goo.gl/D3yy2  It is only $2.99 and is a great buy.

The other book is called “Langwidere”  It is an OZ book.  Until she wrote this book I had no idea that there were books that took the Oz genre to new heights.  Here is the link http://goo.gl/qaPWS again the price is a reasonable $2.99.

I know that I don’t have a ton of followers to this blog but if you could take a moment and repost this to your sites that would really help her to get going.

I really enjoyed both books.  They were full of great characters and wonderful adventure.  I am looking forward to her future work.  You can find her blog here http://goo.gl/ds2dS also on my blog roll…

Thank you for taking the time to read this shameless plug.

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Memories Part 5


Surprisingly when I got home to the hotel that evening, dreading the thought of telling Lynn that I would not be home as much as I thought I would be, the conversation went rather well.  I found out later that she had talked to another spouse that knew about the schedule.  I was very apologetic but I really didn’t need to be. She was actually happy about the schedule.  You need to understand that 2 week in / 2 week out was a better schedule than 6 months in and 6-8 months gone.  Short bouts of being apart were better than long extended bouts of being gone.  Plus with her being there in Italy she could follow the ship to what ever port that we were going to and stay there, not that she ever did but she could have.

The Apartment Hunt

Finding an apartment in Italy was not the same as finding an apartment in America.  First off the language barrier was significant.  Second of all they don’t do things the same way.  It is not like they advertise in the paper or put for rent signs out.  Most landlords work through certain agencies, that they have worked with for generations, and the agencies don’t talk to one another.  I am sure with the advent of the internet and advances in technology it has changed a lot, but at the time (1980) this is how it worked.  We also had the strike of having a pet with us. The lady at the navy agency that we were working with suggested that we sell or get rid of the dog.  I am so glad that Lynn was not there when she said that.  I am not so sure she, that agency person that is, would have survived the meeting.  Over the next month we went to see them at various times, she was right though about having a pet.  There were several places that would have taken us that didn’t because we had the dog.
The way that the Navy would reimburse us for the hotel was a pain in the rear.  Keeping the receipts for all of the money spent along with all of the meals that we had to eat out was a pain the butt, but after a fashion they did pay it all back.
During this time I went on my first outing (I am going to call them outings because it really wasn’t a deployment) and it wasn’t that far away.  The Admiral wanted to show up in Naples for a festival.  Looking back on it we did that a lot.  If the Admiral wanted to visit something for fun we would schedule the ship to be there.  It also helped the local economy.  Get 1500 sailors to come to your port during a festival and we spent money.
Anyway when I got back Lynn was very excited, just the day before the agency called and told her (through our friend at the front desk) that she had found the perfect apartment for us.  

The Apartment

When we went to see the agency person, the landlord was there with her.  They had pictures of the apartment with them.  From the way they were talking they wanted us to make a decision based on the photos.  I was not to comfortable with that.  You never know the trust worthiness of the person.  I insisted on looking at the place.  The landlord was actually a very nice person and volunteered to take us to the apartment.  He spoke a little english, so the agent decided to let us go.  When we got there I as actually very happy with the apartment.  We were on the top floor of a three story building, it had two bedrooms, the balcony was actually larger than the ones that we had seen so far.  The furniture (we had left ours back in the states) was nice.  All in all it was a keeper.  The marble tile floors and the wonderful view were the sealers.
While writing this I wanted to see if I could find any pictures of that time of my life.  Lynn took most of them when we got divorced but a few years ago I found some that were tucked away in my stuff.  This picture is on the main rooms balcony.  It is one of the only pictures I have of that time in my life
People long ago_0011

Yes this is me at the age of 20.  As you can see I am in the process of losing my hair.  I had a wicked widows peak at the time and it just got worse as time went on.
But this is one of the views that sold me on the apartment.  I loved the balcony and I loved the view of the hills.  The building you see across the street is a school.  I didn’t really like that but hey….

Once we saw the apartment, I took the lead and said we would take it.  The only downside I saw was that it was on the top floor and that we would have to carry things to the apartment.  Luckily the Navy would have to bring our stuff to us.  We had them pack us up and move the stuff over.  I didn’t want to take the furniture because I was under the impression that apartments were smaller than in the states and it wouldn’t fit.  Besides we really didn’t have that much anyway.
I found out later that there was one more downside.  On the other side of the apartment was a clock tower for town.  It rang every 15 minutes. After a while you learned to ignore it.  Getting used to it was a pain in the, well you know.
So we had an Apartment… The dog was happy to be out of the Hotel… We had great landlords…  All in all a wonderful beginning to our time in Italy.

Next Time

Shopping – a whole new experience…  How do you explain Honey to a shopkeeper???

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Memories Part 4

Checking in

Checking in at a new post is very much like checking in at the amusement park.  There is so much to see and not enough time to see it all.  You end up trying to cram all of the things you have to see into such a short time that you miss half of everything.  I don’t know about the other branches of the military but the Navy is that way.
The very first thing you do is board the ship. I know that sounds like a no brainer but there is a certain procedure for doing that very mundane task.  You walk up the gang plank and salute the flag that is at the back end of the ship (fantail) and then you address the officer of the watch and say, “Petty officer Devine reporting for duty Sir”.  He will then look over the papers that you have in your hand, why I don’t know because he always says the exact same thing, he then orders you to the personnel department to begin your tour. The military is funny that way, they have these little rituals that they go through to do every thing.  Everyone knows the rituals yet we still do them.

Personnel Division

Paper pushers.  At the time I didn’t respect their job that much, mainly because I thought that they stayed up at night coming up with ways to make us wait longer.  (Deep in my heart I know that they did) Now however I know that they were just doing their jobs.  (yeah right)  In all branches of the service the motto is “hurry up and wait”.  I waited in line for about an hour and a half, which wouldn’t have been a long time normally but I was in my dress uniform carrying my sea-bag (duffle bag for all the other services) which even with the bare minimum of gear still weighs about 60 pounds.  Finally I got to the front and the bored clerk behind the counter actually perked up.  I was a newbie, I would occupy a lot of time for him and he wouldn’t have to go from task to task.  That didn’t mean he would be efficient or even fast, quite the contrary, he was going to take his time with me.  So we did all of the normal things, name, rank, division, rate, then we had to verify all of the information on my page 2, which is like an emergency contact list, sort of.  When he found out that I had brought my wife with me, yes there were some sailors that left the wife in the states I found out later, he handed me a stack of papers that detailed which hotel I was staying in, how much it was costing me (I got reimbursed for that expense), it gave me all of the rules that I needed to follow – which receipts I needed to keep – how much they would reimburse me for, what was considered a valid expense so on and so on.  As I write this down it doesn’t seem like it took all that long but I was in that window for at least 2 hours.  At the end he gave me a map of the ship and told me to report to my division. R-6 division was the Nuclear repair division. I think I forgot to tell you all that was my job in the Navy, I was a Nuclear trained Electrician. Now there is a scary thought for all of you to contemplate – The United States Navy let me play with a nuclear reactor. That however is another story.

R-6 Division

I finally found the R-6 division space, which sounded easy but wasn’t. It was secured with an electronic lock (you have to protect people from radioactive things) so I had to knock.  The Chief Petty Officer answered the door and I introduced myself.  We hit it off right away and I knew that we would have a good relationship. He proceeded to introduce me to all of the other people.  I wish I could remember everyone’s name but only a few stand out as actually memorable.
One thing that stands out in my mind is that there were women aboard this ship.  This was one of the ships that was being an experiment having women on board.  Remember this was the 1980′s, that was a radical idea.
I also found out that this ship was the flag-ship of Com-Sixth-Fleet, which meant there was an Admiral aboard.  That wouldn’t normally be an issue but it meant that he had diplomatic things to do and we would have a schedule of two weeks in port and two weeks at another port.  My wife was not going to like that.  One of the ways that I had sold this whole – Let’s move to Italy – thing was that I was going to be home 95% of the time.  Now I was actually going to be gone more than had I stayed on the other ship. I would have to spin this in a way that she would like, NOT going to happen.
I got my berth assignment, the place I would sleep when on duty and out to sea. I went down to put my things away, and I breathed a sigh of relief that I would be home for the next 13 days before I had to pull out for our first port of call.  I found out that I would pull duty, a day on the ship, once every 7 days, very nice. usually on a ship you were once every 4 days or shorter.  I got my TLD (thermo-luminescent dosimeter) the device that measures how much radiation your body absorbs.
I was basically done for the day, I looked around the facility and I toured the ship as best I could.  It was actually a big ship, almost three times as big as the one I was on before.  Now I had to go home and find a way to explain all this to Lynn, it was not going to be a good home coming.

That will be next time…

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