# Monday, April 29, 2019

Episode 561

Adam Hecktman on Civic Tech

Adam Hecktman describes Civic Tech and what Microsoft is doing to help the city and people of Chicago.

Monday, April 29, 2019 9:04:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, April 28, 2019

It was the early 20th century and ragtime black pianist Coaltrain Walker was returning from New Rochelle to New York City after visiting his fiancée Sarah and their infant son, when he was accosted by a group of white firemen, led by Chief Will Conklin. The firemen demanded he pay a "toll" for driving on their road. While Walker went to fetch a policeman, the firemen vandalized his new car. The policeman took the side of the racist vandals. Soon after, Walker's fiancé died when after being struck by a policeman and receiving inadequate medical attention.

Coaltrain Walker quickly took action. He firebombed the station where he was harassed, he demanded the surrender of Conklin, he demanded the repair of his car, and he demanded an apology. Ripple effects were felt - not only by the society who learned of his violence - but by the white family that had assisted him and his family.

"Ragtime" by E.L. Doctorow looks at race relations in this country

Coaltrain's isn't the only story in this novel, but it is the most important. And the other stories and characters weave together imaginatively. For example, Tateh, a character introduced early in the novel (he is an impoverished artist, who is assisted by the former lover of Mother's Little Brother) reappears later as a fake Baron who makes animated movies.

"Ragtime" attacks race relations in America head on. Often, even those whites who are helpful to blacks still see them as inferior. Walker's experience is insulting enough that we feel sympathy for him, even as he resorts to vigilantism.

There is a network of people affected by this story. We never know the names of some of the most important ones - for example, the family that takes in the fiancée and baby are identified by names like "Father" and "Mother" and "Mother's Younger Brother"; and some are well-known historical figures, such as J.P. Morgan, Harry Houdini, and Robert Peary.

But Doctorow takes us on a journey through many lives and the effects they have on one another.

Sunday, April 28, 2019 5:12:43 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, April 27, 2019

UnderTheVolcanoUnder the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry takes place almost entirely on a single day - The Day of the Dead in Mexico. It is the day that Geoffrey Firmin's estranged wife Yvonne returns after a year apart, in an attempt to save their marriage. But it is too late. His current relationship with alcohol has replaced his previous relationship with his wife.

It is the last day of Geoffrey Firmin's life.

Geoffrey misses and loves his wife, but he destroys his chance, spending the entire day in a drunken haze, sliding into self-destruction. He is clearly a high-functioning alcoholic and he tests this by drinking more and more as the day goes on.

The novel gives us a look into the mind of Geoffrey, his wife, his brother Hugh, and his old friend Jacque. We get a peek into their actions and memories, and (in the case of Geoffrey) hallucinations. It gives us a look at the problems of substance abuse and the denial inherent in those who suffer it.

Beer, whiskey, tequila, and mescal lead the protagonist on a downward spiral. We know where it ends; but, like a highway accident, we cannot look away.

The title refers to the two volcanoes that loom above the central Mexican City of Quauhnahuac, where the action takes place; but, also to all the unspoken conflict below the guilt and anger felt by the main characters.

Those who know me well will know what memories Geoffrey's behavior triggered in me. In Geoffrey, I saw a version of myself in a period of my life when I embraced the pain inflicted by another, rather than attempting to heal my wounds. Fortunately, I emerged from my self-destructive behavior and recovered (mostly).

Geoffrey did not.

Saturday, April 27, 2019 8:03:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, April 25, 2019

GCast 45:

Angular pt 4: Displaying a List

Learn how to use Angular to bind to a list of items and iterate through that list.

Thursday, April 25, 2019 9:02:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, April 22, 2019

Episode 560

Frank Gill on Azure SQL Database Managed Instances

DBA Frank Gill discusses Azure SQL Database Managed Instances - a cloud-based managed database service. He describes what they are, how they differ from Azure SQL Databases, and when it is appropriate to consider them.



Monday, April 22, 2019 9:49:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, April 21, 2019

AreYouThereGodI have vivid memories of my childhood. I can remember the names of my teachers and of many of my classmates and what the classroom looked like and how it felt when I moved from Maryland to Michigan and had to adjust to a new school. I remember the peer pressure and the angst of feeling like I didn't fit in. I remember noticing girls and not knowing why or what the big deal was or who I would or should be attracted to.

Reading Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret brought back a lot of those memories and feelings.

11-year-old Margaret Simon moves to a new town and a new school just before sixth grade. She struggles with a lot of things, but one of her main struggles is with her religious identity. Her parents - one raised a Christian and the other raised Jewish - abandoned their religions when their parents objected to their mixed marriage. As a result, Margaret grew up without religion. She feels that she lacks a sense of belonging to a community. As she puts it, she doesn't know whether to join the Y or the Jewish Community Center.

Margaret does have a very personal relationship with God, and she talks with Him frequently, always beginning the conversation with the book's title. She finds comfort in this relationship, but sometimes grows frustrated at God, who does not answer her directly.

I absolutely loved this book! Margaret felt very real to me. It took me back to my 11-year-old self and all the conflict I felt at that time and how important everything seemed to me. When Margaret discovered one of her friends lying, I recall the pain and disillusionment of exactly that same experience. When she described the peer pressure, I could instantly relate, as pre-teen me was overwhelmed by such pressures.

Some of Margaret's issues are exclusive to girls (bras, boys and menstruation); but many are common to both boys and girls of that age. We all struggled to find an identity and our place in the world. Margaret shows us how.

Sunday, April 21, 2019 9:20:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, April 20, 2019

GuyInChicagoSpoiler alert: I've never seen "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives", the popular Food Network show in which restaurateur and food-lover Guy Fieri visits good restaurants around the world and shows off their tasty offerings.

But I'm aware of the show and my understanding is that Guy won't televise a visit unless he likes the restaurant. It's likely he won't even visit a restaurant unless someone on the staff has vetted its quality and recommended it.

I'm also aware that Guy has visited 30 restaurants in Chicago. I know this because many of these restaurants proclaim his visit with a large sign and a photo of Guy sporting his trademark grin and spiky hair. Last year, I found the complete list of Chicago restaurants visited for the show and I decided to try them all for myself.

It turns out that 4 of the visited restaurants (Galewood Cookshack, The Depot American Diner, Panozzo's Italian Market, and Chicago Brauhaus) have closed since Guy's visit and that one (Cemitas Puebla) has changed locations. Looking down the list, I saw that I had already visited 4 of them (Smoque, Tre Kronor, Big & Little's, and Saucy Porka)

This left me with 22 remaining restaurants that I had yet to taste.

Game on!

Earlier this week, I visited Tufano's Vernon Park Tap, completing my quest to enjoy a meal at every restaurant.

My conclusions:

There were no bad restaurants in the list. Guy and his staff do their homework, so each one was worth visiting. In some cases, it has been years since Guy's visit; yet the quality of each restaurant remains good.

Not all the restaurants are dives. There were some very nice bistros and tapas bars included and the prices at these places reflected their upscale image.

There were a few outstanding restaurants on the list. My favourites were:

  • 90 Miles Cuban Cafe. I sampled a variety of their Latin-American dishes and all were great.
  • bobNGrill. Creative fusion of hamburgers with Korean spices.
  • La Scarola. The best Italian restaurant I've ever experienced.
  • Smoque. Not quite up to Texas standards, but this place has the best BBQ in Chicago.

There was a lot of variety in the styles of food. I tasted Italian, Mexican, BBQ, Kosher, hamburgers, and a lot of fusion recipes.

Of course, this journey also gave me a chance to explore many different neighborhoods in Chicago. The restaurants tended to be located in the northeast quadrant of the city, which is where most tourists go; but this is a big area and they were scattered throughout.

Chicago has an excellent culinary culture and this show helped me to discover a bit more of it.

Now, I should probably watch the show.

Saturday, April 20, 2019 3:07:14 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, April 18, 2019

GCast 44:

Angular pt 3: The Hero Editor

Learn how to do 1-way and 2-way data binding in Angular

Thursday, April 18, 2019 9:48:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, April 15, 2019

Episode 559

Lwin Maung on IoT Hardware Options

Lwin Maung shows us various IoT devices and describes the differences between them and the uses for each.

Monday, April 15, 2019 9:46:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, April 14, 2019

IClaudiusTiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, better known as "Claudius" was a small child afflicted with a limp and a stammer. His family assumed he was mentally impaired, and he spent most of his time studying and writing history. So, he was largely ignored as other members of his family conspired to rule the Roman Empire.

In I, Claudius, Robert Graves gives a first-person narrative of Claudius's life and the early Roman Empire and those that shaped it.

The story begins with the assassination of Julius Caesar and the ascension of Augustus as the first Roman Emperor a few decades before Claudius's birth in 10BC. It concludes with the assassination of the Emperor Caligula, which led to Claudius being named Emperor.

In between are numerous assassinations, betrayals, and political maneuverings as many vie for power in the Empire.

Claudius is the perfect narrator because he is close to the power, without being part of the power. Through him, we encounter some startling evil people, such as:

Claudius's grandmother Livia. She is ruthless in her quest to see her line on the throne - destroying and murdering rivals, including some in her own family.

Caligula, whose extravagance quickly bankrupts Rome when he becomes Emperor, so he resorts to arresting and executing rich men to justify stealing their fortunes.

Tiberius, whose paranoia prevents him from effectively ruling his Empire.

In fact, we encounter very few good people in this "autobiography" (or "Game of Romes", as I like to call it). In addition to murder and assassination, many in power see nothing wrong with incest, adultery, and robbery.

Claudius survives because everyone underestimates him. No one considers him a threat or rival, thanks to his bookishness, submissiveness, and physical shortcomings.

I cannot attest to the historical accuracy of this novel, but I've read that Graves did extensive research before writing it. I can tell you that it is very entertaining. If you enjoy a story of political intrigue and conspiracies, you will likely enjoy I, Claudius.

Sunday, April 14, 2019 9:07:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)