# Sunday, August 11, 2019

DeathComesForTheArchbishopDeath Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather follows the life of Bishop Jean Marie Latour, appointed to lead the new diocese of New Mexico, when the region is annexed by the United States, following the Mexican-American War.

Latour travels to New Mexico from his home in Ohio with his friend and colleague Joseph Vaillant. They encounter many challenges: the rough environment; the lack of roads; a clash of cultures; widespread poverty; murderers who prey on travelers; rogue priests; and those who refuse to recognize the transition of authority to the new archbishop.

In addition to the story of Latour, we hear other tales of the place and time where this novel takes place. One memorable story was of a drunken, ill-tempered priest, who killed a young Indian servant when the boy spilled some food on him. The priest was captured and killed by the locals a few days later.

The story is loosely best on the lives of Jean-Baptiste Lamy and Joseph Projectus Machebeuf, who served as Catholic Bishops in the southwest US during the mid-19th century.

Cather is at her best when describing the New Mexico sky and landscape. She tells a straightforward story without much fanfare and she does a good job of contrasting the personalities of the two missionaries: the stoic Latour and the outgoing Vaillant. Each man loves God and believes in their mission but tackles it in his own way.

Like most biographies, Death Comes for the Archbishop covers the main character’s life to the end. So, while the title comes from the last chapter, it is a bit misleading. The book is far more about the Archbishop's life than about his death. As Latour himself put it: "I shall not die of a cold, my son. I shall die of having lived."

Sunday, August 11, 2019 8:18:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, August 10, 2019

TropicOfCancerI don't really know how to take Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller.

The novel is written in the first person and the narrator has the same name as the author. So, am I to believe that Mr. Miller was a sex addict and all his friends were sex addicts and misogynists?

The story follows Miller and his friends - mostly bohemian American expatriates - as they navigate the squalid neighborhoods of Paris searching for sexual partners, artistic fulfillment, and survival. Miller tries to embrace the pleasures of life, sleeping with a variety of prostitutes and other women; but it is a challenge. He doesn't know where his next meal is coming from; but he is still focused on finding his next lay. His wife recently left for New York and he wonders why she has not communicated with him in the months since her departure. He expects her return, but it seems unlikely she will.

Still, it's difficult to feel sorry for Miller and his friends, as their descriptions are littered with misogyny. Virtually, every woman in the novel is referred to as a "c*nt" and most exist only as sexual outlets for Miller and his friends. In one scene, Miller steals his money back from a prostitute when she leaves the room after they have sex.

Many will dismiss this novel because of its strong sexual content. The writing is salacious and often shocking. Many men spend their youths focused on sex; and a few, like Miller, extend this obsession into middle age and this is his and their story.

Although very sexual, I cannot call this writing erotic. At no point did I find myself aroused by the exploits of Miller and his friends.

The novel has an important place in the history of literature. Its explicit sexuality pushed a lot of boundaries when it was first published in 1934. And it was banned as pornographic in the United States for 3 decades, until a 1961 obscenity trial that escalated to the Supreme Court. It is also significant culturally. One can hear Miller's strong influence on the beat writers of the 1950s and 1960s - from his stream-of-consciousness prose to his rejection of society's norms to his casual and frank discussion of alcohol and drug abuse. 

And this book is important for the prose that Miller brings to his writing. Here is how he describes his adopted city:

"Paris is like a whore. From a distance she seems ravishing, you can’t wait until you have her in your arms. And five minutes later you feel empty, disgusted with yourself. You feel tricked."

Tropic of Cancer is worth reading for its influence on literature and for its celebration of the joys of living.

Saturday, August 10, 2019 9:42:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, August 8, 2019

GCast 60:

Text Recognition Cognitive Service with Binary Images

The Text Recognition Service supports sending a binary image and reading any text in that image. This video shows you how.

Thursday, August 8, 2019 1:24:10 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Santana-41Santana and the Doobie Brothers were two of my favourite bands as I was growing up in suburban Detroit. Sadly, I never had the chance to see either of them in concert. Until this week.

Both bands were on stage Sunday night at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park.

DoobieBrothers-62The Doobie Brothers opened the show with an energetic performance - their trademark funky mix of rock, blues, country, and soul.

Michael McDonald is not part of the current Doobie lineup (a stand-in sang "Takin' It to the Streets"), but the last 1970s core of Tom Johnson, Patrick Simmons, and John McFee were there and this was the version of the band I first fell in love with. This was the first time I've ever seen a warmup act come out for an encore, but the audience loved it when they returned to play "Listen to the Music" and "Black Water" (my personal favourite).

DoobieBrothers-37After a brief intermission, the sun set, the lights dimmed, and Santana opened their set with "Soul Sacrifice", their percussion-heavy instrumental from their 1969 debut album.

The centerpiece of this band is and has always been Carlos Santana, from whom the band takes its name. But Carlos has always surrounded himself with excellent musicians and they proved their prowess tonight. Instrumentals alternated with vocal songs; hits alternated with deep cuts; ballads alternated with songs of high-energy and the band was great throughout. It was particularly special when Carlos took over with a guitar solo. At 72, he remains one of the world's great guitarists. He can showcase his technical prowess and bring emotion to his music.

Santana-76 Santana has been able to stay relevant through five decades by reinventing themselves - not only artistically, but also commercially.

He played to the audience between songs, mentioning the influence of Chicago Blues legend Otis Rush on the arrangement of "Black Magic Woman".

Santana-26 After an encore that included the 1999 mega-hit "Smooth", the band finally left the stage - over 4 hours after the show began.

This was my first visit to the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, my first time seeing the Doobie Brothers, and my first time seeing Santana. It was a night to remember.

More Santana photos

More Doobie Brothers photos

Wednesday, August 7, 2019 7:14:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, August 5, 2019

Episode 574

Mercedes Bernard on Dev Together

Mercedes Bernard started Dev Together to connect new software developers with mentors that would help them learn valuable skills. Over a year later, it is popular and spreading to other cities.

Monday, August 5, 2019 4:24:39 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, August 4, 2019


Today I am grateful to attend my building's annual summer party yesterday.


Today I am grateful for the gym on the 70th floor of the Aon Center.


Today I am grateful for so many excellent taco places in Chicago.


Today I am grateful for my bicycle.


Today I am grateful to find $30 in an old jacket yesterday.


Today I am grateful to accidentally stumble across a Rev. Sekou concert last night at Millennium Park.


Today I am grateful for:

-Seeing Peter Frampton in concert last night with my son

-My first visit to Maxwell Street Market


Today I am grate for:

-an afternoon at the Field Museum with my son

-dinner with my sister-in-law, my nephews, and my sons last night.


Today I am grateful for 5 years living in Chicago.


Today I am grateful to see a show at Second City last night.


Today I am grateful for my first visit to the Tampa Museum of Art.


Today I am grateful for dinner last night in Tampa with Kevin and Judy.


Today I am grateful to speak at the Chicago Cloud Conference yesterday.


Today I am grateful for a weekend in Detroit.


Today I am grateful for:

-3rd row seats to see Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra last night with old friends;

-The hospitality of Ken


Today I am grateful for:

-breakfast with Josh yesterday

-a chance to see my sister Debbie for the first time since she moved to Hawaii.


Today I am grateful to deliver a presentation on Azure Functions at Indy Software Artisans in Indianapolis last night - my first user group presentation of 2019!


Today I am grateful for dinner and drinks last night with Nick and Tim.


Today I am grateful my espresso machine is cleaned out and now producing a much tastier beverage much more quickly.


Today I am grateful to celebrate Emilija's birthday with her friends and family at a Costa Rican restaurant yesterday.


Today I am grateful for a day in Whitefish Bay, WI.


Today I am grateful to visit the Taste of Chicago last night.


Today I am grateful for a visit the National Hellenic Museum yesterday.


Today I am grateful for the 50 years we had with Denise before she left us 10 years ago today.


Today I am grateful that I finally figure out how to record TV shows and movies off DirectTV.


Today I am grateful to the Chicago Bicycle Company for fixing my bike seat yesterday.


Today I am grateful to work with high school students through the Northwestern Academy yesterday.


Today I am grateful to attend my first Joliet Slammers game yesterday, which concluded with an extra-inning walk-off RBI for the home team.

Sunday, August 4, 2019 3:11:36 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, August 3, 2019

PortraitOfTheArtistA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is James Joyce's somewhat autobiographical novel. Joyce channels his own childhood and young adulthood through the character of Stephen Dedalus.

The book recounts young Stephen's school years, where he passes through a number of phases. He is at first intimidated by the older students, teachers, and priests at his school, struggling to fit in; later, he pursues the carnal pleasures of life; a sense of guilt turns him away from this life and he considers becoming a priest; after deciding against this, he begins to reject all society's values he grew up with and escapes to a life as an artist. These are major swings in a short time, but they are during his formative years, when Stephen is deciding who he will become. In the end, he turns away from the faith of his youth because so much of it was based on fear of damnation and a rejection of worldly pleasures, and he could not reconcile that with a love of beauty. In doing so, he rejects everything he knows to begin anew in a foreign place.

I don't know how much of Portrait applies to Joyce's own life, but he makes the novel personal, bringing us inside Stephen's mind as he struggles with his conflicts.

If you like books with a lot of action, skip this one. But if you like poetic writing and insights into the evolution of a philosophy, this book may be for you.

Saturday, August 3, 2019 9:57:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, August 1, 2019

GCast 59:

Cognitive Services Text Recognition service

Learn to extract text from an image using the new Text Recognition service.

Thursday, August 1, 2019 11:53:50 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Frampton (6)A father and son sharing a passion is a wonderful thing.

Sunday night in Chicago, Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin experience opened for Peter Frampton, where Jason played tribute to his father. Jason is the son of the late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham and he has assembled a group that sounds exactly like his father's band - down to the musical arrangements and a voice replica of Robert Plante.

Bonham's band would have been a great concert on its own, but the main attraction was Peter Frampton, the 69-year-old singer / guitarist, who recorded his first hit at the age of 18 with Humble Pie.

The thing I love about Peter Frampton is that he continued to evolve, without rejecting his past.

Frampton enjoyed his greatest commercial success in the 1970s, culminating with the recording and release of "Frampton Comes Alive" - Rolling Stone Magazine's 1976 album of the year.

Frampton (9)Sunday night in Chicago, Frampton drew extensively from his hits of that era - "Baby, I Love Your Way", "Do You Feel Like We Do", "Show Me the Way", ...), even opening with "Something's Happening", the song that opened his legendary live album; but he also exposed us to much of the new material on which he has been working the past 4 decades. He played from his cover of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" from his Grammy-winning 2006 album "Fingerprints" and several tracks from his recent "All Blues" album.

Between songs, he charmed us with stories of his career and the musicians with whom he has interacted.

His 3-song encore consisted of songs from "Humble Pie", the band he co-founded at the age of 18.

No artist has become more associated with the Talk Box than Peter Frampton and he used it in this show - but sparingly enough that it remained fresh and not just a gimmick to prop up his songs.

DGAndTimThis was Frampton's final tour. He is retiring due to a diagnosed with a degenerative muscle disorder that will ultimately impair his ability to play guitar. But there was no evidence of any health problems at this show. His energy was high, and his playing was flawless. He and his band were on stage for nearly 2 hours.

I was excited to finally see Peter Frampton in concert - decades after originally discovering his music. And more excited that I shared the experience with my 25-year-old son, who seemed by far the youngest attendee.

A father and son sharing a passion is a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019 2:36:44 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, July 29, 2019

Episode 573

Ruth Yakubu on Machine Learning tools in Azure

Cloud Developer Advocate Ruth Yakubu describes Machine Learning Services and other new ML tools available in Azure.

Monday, July 29, 2019 8:48:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)