# Saturday, July 18, 2020

08-TheSoldiersArtIt is 1941 and London is suffering regular bombing raids by the Germans.

Anthony Powell's The Soldier's Art (volume 8 of A Dance to the Music of Time) follows narrator Nick Jenkins's life in the army and the lives of those around him.

The war takes its toll, as bombs kill several of Nick's family, friends, and acquaintances and others die in battle or suicide.

Nick encounters his old friend Charles Stringham, who appears to have recovered from his alcoholism and found some stability - if not happiness - as a cog in the army.

Nick continues to bump into many of his old acquaintances, often at the same time and place - coincidences that are common in this series.

This book shines a light on the petty politics of military and its officers. The omnipresent Kenneth Widmerpool features prominently and he seems to be more and more dominated by his ambition.

I find myself more and more engaged in these characters as the series progresses. I grieve at their deaths of some and I hope for their recoveries of others.

Saturday, July 18, 2020 9:47:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, July 13, 2020

Episode 617

Kayla Cinnamon on Windows Terminal

Windows Terminal, which just released version 1.0 provides a single interface for almost any command-line system. PM Kayla Cinnamon discusses the existing features and what is coming in this tool.


Monday, July 13, 2020 9:58:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, July 12, 2020

07-TheValleyOfBonesThe Valley of Bones begins the second half of Anthony Powell's epic 12-volume cycle "A Dance to the Music of Time".

It is 1940 and Narrator Nick Jenkins is now in the army and England is now at war with Germany. Nick travels with his outfit to Wales and Ireland but returns to London for a weekend leave to attend a cocktail party with his pregnant wife.

For most of this series, Nick has interacted almost exclusively with his own class - the British middle/upper class and the London arts community. But in Valley, he meets many people outside his social stratum. This gives us a peek into a different part of society in England. The enlisted soldiers are drawn from working men, while the officers were bank managers and other professionals.

Powell includes satire of the military, from the incompetent general to the drunken aid.

This is a good opening to the 3-volume World War II cycle.

Sunday, July 12, 2020 9:52:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, July 11, 2020

06-TheKindlyOnesAnthony Powell's The Kindly Ones begins and ends with a prelude to world war.

The opening chapter takes us back to narrator Nick Jenkins's childhood - at the outbreak of World War I. We see a love quadrangle among the family servants that results in a nervous breakdown for one of them; a visit from Nick's Uncle Giles; news of the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand, plunging Europe into war; and a local cult leader.

In the closing chapters, England is preparing for an entry into World War II and Nick must make arrangements for his uncle's funeral. Several characters from Jenkins's past turn up at the small town where he is arranging the funeral - remarkable coincidence, but seemingly necessary to advance the story.

In between, a group of friends attend a dinner party at the home of Sir Magnus Donner. The party turns slightly decadent as the guests pose for photographs as the seven deadly sins - a game that nearly results in another nervous breakdown.

At the halfway point of his 12-volume A Dance to the Music of Time series, Powell concludes the "Summer" cycle (or "Second Movement", depending if you accept the painting or the music metaphor for this work) and leads us into the war. One gets a sense of foreboding as the storylines take darker turns.

I liked the preludes to world war that bookends the novel, and the evolution of the characters over time.

I look forward to the second half of this cycle.

Saturday, July 11, 2020 9:51:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, July 6, 2020

Episode 616

Yina Arenas on Microsoft Graph

Microsoft Graph is a tool that allows you to query and analyze data about a user - including messages, calendar items, SharePoint lists, shared documents, devices, and many mores. Program Manager Yina Arenas describes how developers can use Graph to generate insights and enhance their applications. She also lists some of the new and recently-announced features of Graph.




Monday, July 6, 2020 8:20:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, July 5, 2020

Today I am grateful to watch fireworks from my balcony last night.

Today I am grateful to be a citizen of the United States of America.

Today I am grateful for easy Amazon returns.

Today I am grateful for new bike pedals.

Today I am grateful to ride the northern part of the Chicago Lakefront Trail for the first time since the lockdown.

Today I am grateful for meals from 2 different African countries yesterday.

Today I am grateful for my new iPhone.

Today I am grateful for my first visit to Jackson Park.

Today I am grateful for my first car wash in almost a year.

Today I am grateful for a long bike ride yesterday.

Today I am grateful to have Nick and Adriana here this week.

Today I am grateful for dinner with family in a beer garden last night.

Today I am grateful to those who have had a positive influence on my character.

Today I am grateful to spend Father's Day with family and friends.

Today I am grateful to be a father.

Today I am grateful for a chance to visit many places in south Chicago honoring the contributions of African Americans to this city and country.

Today I am grateful for a day off to relax and reflect.

Today I am grateful to those who provide constructive feedback.

Today I am grateful for all the public art in my city.

Today I am grateful for so many beautiful churches in my city.

Today I am grateful for eBooks.

Today I am grateful to all those who donated over $1700 to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline last week.

Today I am grateful to Eric for inspiring me to publicly support mental health this past month.

Today I am grateful for my new bike lock.

Today I am grateful for my new shorts, so I no longer need to choose between long pants and gym shorts on a hot day.

Today I am grateful for mailmen (and women)

Today I am grateful that the Chicago Public Library re-opened yesterday.

Today I am grateful for a weekend in southwest Michigan.

Sunday, July 5, 2020 1:45:27 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, July 4, 2020

05-CasanovasChineseRestaurantThe fifth novel of Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time is the darkest so far in the series.

Powell bookends his story nicely with a visit to

The novel begins with a flash-forward to a woman singing near a bombed-out restaurant in war-torn London, which reminds narrator Nick Jenkins of a dinner years earlier with the now-deceased Mr. Deacon, musician Hugh Moreland, music critic Maclintick, and other English bohemians at the Italian-turned-Chinese restaurant named Casanova's Chinese Restaurant, which is also the title of this book. During the flashback, the group discusses marriage, seduction, suicide, and other topics that become relevant later in the novel. The conversation is recalled near the end when one of the group of friends kills himself, following the destruction of his marriage.

Earlier books in the series presented relationships and marriages that failed for various reasons, but CCR presents one particularly dysfunctional relationship in which the couple bicker constantly - often to the embarrassment of those around them. The situation is at first amusing but leas to a tragic end.

Characters from previous novels make appearances. The eccentric Erridge has disappeared to fight in the Spanish Civil War, only to return at the story's conclusion. And Nick's school friend Stringham shows up unannounced and drunk at his mother's party.

Again, the narrator's life takes a back seat to those around him. Nick's wife miscarries their child, but that event is glossed over and only seems a reason to run into Morland at the hospital and more attention is devoted to the     birth and death of Morland's child.

This book is darker than the first four with its suicide, infidelity, alcoholism, and divorce. But it is not without its humor.

Saturday, July 4, 2020 9:09:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Friday, July 3, 2020

StemChallengeLast month, I completed a school year working with students at Infinity Math, Science & Technology High School.

The students were participating in the Illinois Science & Technology Institute's STEM challenge and I was one of a group of volunteers helping to mentor them. This year's theme asked students to design projects using Artificial Intelligence. I was impressed by the projects - each of which was designed to help those less fortunate. The three projects delivered were:

Fast Food Sign Language - an application designed to assist deaf people communicating their order at a fast food restaurant

OS-Fruitable - an app designed to help blind people by identify a fruit and its level of spoilage, based on a phone photograph

Pal Protect - a virtual friend device that allows parents to track younger children and for children to call for assistance when needed, while also providing entertainment.

We were supposed to host the school presentations at the Chicago Microsoft office; then select one team to represent the school at the statewide showcase to be held at the Museum of Science and Industry. But the COVID-19 crisis threw a monkey wrench into those plans. So this event was entirely virtual.

It was a pleasure to see the ideas that students came up with to help their communities using AI. And it was a pleasure mentoring high school students for this event the second year in a row.

I am looking forward to next year!

Friday, July 3, 2020 5:14:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, June 29, 2020

Episode 615

Sven Aelterman on Data in Education

Sven Aelterman is a Cloud Solution Architect and a former IT manager amd professor at a university. He talks about the type of data used by educational institutions, some of the compliance requirements around educational data, and tools used for managing student information.

Monday, June 29, 2020 9:20:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, June 28, 2020

04-AtLadyMollysAnthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time marches into the summer of Nick Jenkins's life with volume 4 in the series - At Lady Molly's.

Nick becomes engaged but relays this information almost as an afterthought as he continues to focus attention on other characters.

The Tolland family figures heavily in this book, as numerous siblings, in-laws, and others pop in and out of the story. It is a large family with some eccentric characters - most especially the patriarch Erridge, who rejects society's expectations and decides to live among the proletariat in order to understand their struggles.

Widmerpool again figures heavily in this story as we learn of his engagement to a much older woman.

Weaved throughout is the story of Mona - a relatively minor character who establishes relationships with major characters, then leaves each for another. She seems to represent the impermanence of the current life of everyone in this intra-war England.

The outside world invades the bohemian and upper-class dinner parties more in  this book than in previous ones as the characters discuss the likelihood of war with Germany and Marxist Quiggin associates with Erridge.

The characters still intrigue me and, with a third of the story behind me, I am committed to continuing this series.

Sunday, June 28, 2020 9:16:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)