The Refugee Crisis

I am very conflicted about this issue.
On the one hand, I feel Europeans seeded this mess a long time ago and they should accept the refugees. On the other hand, I believe that people have the leaders they allow to rule. Just about half the population of Syria left the country. If that same half had marched on the capital, yes, it would have been bloody, but the regime would not be standing.
In a very simplistic way to be sure, most of the unrest in the world today is either directly or indirectly the result of early Europeans to the ‘new world’. So, it is now Europe’s turn to deal with the mess they seeded many years ago. Looking at it through that lens, Europeans migrated from Europe in large numbers to the new world for exactly the same reason as the refugees of today. Religious and political unrest in Europe drove people to look for peace else where. The Puritans didn’t come to America because life was great in England. Neither did the Irish or the Italians, Germans, and on and on. Yet, they came when their home land was a mess looking for a better life.
Europeans didn’t only flee to the new world for sanctuary, they also saw the new world as a gold mine. Carving up the land amongst themselves regardless of tribal or ethnic boundaries. This led to a whole host of problems that are still with us today. The refugees of today are from places where Europeans had there hands and made a mark. Today, those refugees are looking for the same thing the Europeans were looking for when they left Europe;  freedom, peace of mind, and safety.
That is why is really striking to me, to hear Europeans or American talk disparagingly about people wanting to come to their country today. No one asked the Native American Indians or the Amerindians if they could enter. Yet they did, and did so bearing arms. Nothing like what is going on today.
I feel for people living in difficult situations and who just want a better life for their love ones. But I also feel that people have a responsibility to make their home a better place to live. Assad doesn’t lead Syria alone. There are many who support him. That country has the leader they have because that is the leader who allow to govern.
Some might say, well he is violent and he crushes the opposition. That is true, but for all those who are fleeing the country, about half the population by now. That is more than enough to have crushed Assad and his supported. Instead of fleeing, they should stay, fight, and die to make their home a better place. Fleeing only makes it possible for Assad to say in power because there are less people to oppose him. So while they leave for a better life for themselves, they leave their countrymen to suffer.
Every Syrian that leaves and seek asylum elsewhere, is abandoning their country and handing success to the regime. That is why I believe that if people don’t like what is going on in their country, they should fight to change it. Be willing to fall on your metaphorical sword in the battle to have the leadership you want. And that would mean a civil war in many instances and fighting with your brother. But people just can’t run away from every bad situation to where the going is good and leave issues unresolved.


Looking Up

I really don’t have anything great happened between yesterday and today. But yet, I feel great. May be it is because I laughed so much today.

My colleague was telling me about his life, and I am not going to repeat. But as he talk I was just laughing. It wasn’t anything particularly funny or terrible either. It was just about life and things that could happened to any of us.

Oh well. Here is to keep smiling.

In a Rut

I feel like I am stuck in a rut. I won’t get into details to possibly bore my other self who will read this one day. But right now, things could be very stressful and you didn’t know how to laugh.

Trying to get a house in NC. Dealing with the builder haven’t been the hard part. Getting the loan has been trying, to put it mildly. With my income, credit history, and never had a late payment on my rent, etc. I am almost the perfect person for credit. Taking into account that moving from Cali to NC would reduce just about everything we have to pay for. So again, we will have even more cash available.

Why is the loan process not being managed by humans? Well, it doesn’t feel like it is humans who are making the decisions. We are having so many issues to get a loan. I feel like I am stuck, in a rut so to speak.

Awk Script Dead End

Almost a week to the day, I had to admit to myself that my Awk script won’t take me where I wanted. I had worked on it on an over the week, may be a total of forty hours. I spend just over four hours today before I realized what should have been obvious a few days or hours into the project.

I had a question to answer, and the answer seems to lie in one or more log files. These log file can run into the hundred of thousands of line or even one million. So how to have my question answered without having to looking with my Vim editor and a number of repeated regular expressions?

Enter the idea of a script. A script that would look for a few tell tail patterns. At the end of which, I can say these things happened so this must be the conclusion. Or these things didn’t happen, so something else. It was suppose to be that simple.

I started with a shell script. Found that that with the number of lines I had to read, I would essentially need some way to loop over the files and etc line. Why do that when Sed and Awk already does that. Fortunately, Awk is a lot more flexible than Sed. I guess I could have written it in Perl too. I wanted something powerful, but didn’t want to go down the road of Python or Groovy.

Perl, I dismissed because I had written a lot of Perl code years ago and didn’t want to go back there. It was fun then, but I haven’t had use for Perl since and didn’t want to revisit using it.

I also wanted something I can give to another person to user without much headache. So while most systems have Python, I am not as deft in Python, so it would have taken a bit more time. Oh, I didn’t have much time either. So Awk was going to be it, after I didn’t get more than fifteen minutes into writing in Bash.

It turned out that Awk wasn’t the problem. It was just processing a lot of text and what you might expect to find, may not be there. Since your script is not as flexible as a full fledge language might give you. You really are just looking for a bunch of patterns and reacting. So when something isn’t there that you expect. Well…it all goes South very quickly.

Some of my early testing showed a particular setting of lines. I deduced that if I found those, then I can draw a conclusion or not. When I tested on a later data set. Many of the patterns I had coded for, weren’t even there. Plus my design hinged on finding a start pattern as a marker between distinct events. That was nowhere to be found in some actual logs. Even though, they were there in the test logs I used.

And that is what should have been clear to me early on. That log files don’t always contain what you are looking or what you want. And even when something happened and you thing that everything will be logged so you can go back and tell a story. Sometimes, you just can’t. So now I will just have to go back to using Vim, tail, head, grep/ack, less, and friends. Because writing script to part logs is a non-trivial task, especially in limited scripting language.

A Taste of C

The C programming language was one of the first computer language I learnt. As a matter of fact, it was precisely the send language. My high school offered Pascal programming, and I was taking that. When my my physics teacher at the time, suggested my friend and I learn C. Our teacher was doing his master at the time and said that C is more useful and the future. I am glad I did.

C programming opened a lot of doors for me. Even though I was an electrical engineering student, I still programmed a lot in C. Then I graduated from collected and my first job was as a software engineer. C was a large part of most of the things I did in those early eight years.

I eventually added other languages too, C++, Assembly, Perl, shell scripting, Tcl/tk, Basic and others I don’t remember at different times. C was my constant companion. It has been years now since I wrote any C code. Going on to a solid 3 years without any need to write C. The desire was there, but no work or project.

Until today. A buddy called me and asked if I would explain how functions worked to his daughter. She was in college and taking C. Well, that is surprising, because I thought they stopped teaching C in colleges. Opting mostly for Java and Python. Well, I slipped into coding again like wearing your old favorite pants.

I loved every minute of it. I was having so much fun. That I think I started helping too much on the assign. I eventually got kicked off when my buddy told me that he only wanted me to work on one, and that go out anyway. 🙁 I was having so much fun.

Don’t Know

My company is growing quickly and looking for great talent to do so. I have been helping out with interviews. Two things stood out recently that I don’t like. The two things stems from one thing. Not knowing.

Don’t Know – Looking It Up

I have people who didn’t know how to answer questions on the phone interview, look it up or tried to at lease. I can hear them in the background furiously typing as they either silently stalled for words or use fillers as they search. If a person knew something, but forgot, it is very clear from their response. Versus someone who doesn’t know, but is trying to look it up. When they find what they are looking for, they try to regurgitate what they just, and it doesn’t make sense to them nor you. And they soon figure that out and just give up.

Don’t Know – Let Me Interrupt

The other kind of person is the most annoying to me. The first type try to trick you, but if they can’t figure out or find he answer, they will eventually come clean. The one tells you up front they don’t know. But soon as you start explaining. Suddenly they know, and must interrupt you. Of course, they still don’t know, but insist on interrupting. Then goes of an tangent. Instead of staying quiet to hear what you have to say and then ask questions or make suggestions as in any normal conversation. They don’t do that. They feel the need to jump ahead of your conclusion. Always interrupting to finish your sentences.

I just don’t get either of these people. If you don’t know, you don’t know. No one knows everything. I guess it irks me because I don’t know why it isn’t apparent that they are not fooling anyone.

Farming In The City – A Chicken Story

I was listening to this story about a family, living in the city, having to get rid of there chickens because the neighbor didn’t like it.  I realized that many people don’t want the added noise or possibly smell chickens, goats, or any farm animal near them.  I understand that.

Even though I understand it, I don’t agree.  We live in the city and sure it is not customary to have farm animals.  But we put up with noise from cars, trains, and others.  While we should seek to minimize those noise or all possible noise pollution.  I see raising or maintaining a small farm as something we should all tolerate, even if it is a slight disturbance to us.

Keeping our food close and local, helps the environment in many ways.  Chickens for example, would happily eat certain types of kitchen left overs.  That means less waste to the garbage dump while the family spend less for their grocery, even if it is the cost of eggs and occasionally for meat.

Either way, I think our distaste for the farm like, which we happily consume.  Puts more control of our foods in the hands of greedy corporations that raise thousands of animals in close proximity and thus causes all kind of food related health problems.  Problems, we then expect the governement to fix for us.

Let’s play a more active role in our food production.  Allow, even if you don’t encourage, your neightbors to have a chicken or two, or a goat, or a rooster if they so please.  Those animals will add some noise to your life, but is that really so bad?  I don’t think anyone has gotten sick from animal noises.

May be I am biased because I grew up with chickens, pigs, goats, cows, horses, etc. either on the property or close by.  So I am used to it.  But even if you haven’t, I am willing to bet, people have gotten used to a lot worst in city living.  Not only the noise of the city, but the anonymity of people around you, the hustling and bustling, and other sources of stress.   Who knows, may be some farm animal noise might reduce your stress or talk to that distant part of you when farm animals was crucial to our survival.

Flying The Not So Friendly Skies

Certain things go well together; apple-pie and ice-cream, rice and peas, and even Baseball and hotdogs.  But cramped airplane seats and insensitive passengers is not one of them.  Apparently a flight from Dulles International Airport had to return to the airport being escorted by two US Air Force F-16 fighter jets.

All because someone reclined their seat just after takeoff and the person behind them, hit them in the head.  Which, in turn, caused a fight to break out including yet another passenger and the flight attendant.   On top of the melee and having to the pilot turn the plane around.  The flight was delayed until the next day.

Depending on where I was going, I might have not stressed about being going back to the airport.  But being delayed another day might have really ticked me off.   I hope the two idiots who stated it weren’t allowed to fly the next day.