Forget Intuition, Don’t Wash That Chicken

Are you afraid of flying? Do you know or have heard of someone who is afraid of flying? If you are not afraid of flying or never heard of anyone who is, then don’t be surprised that there are people afraid of flying. So what’s the deal here? Intuition.

Intuition, it is the thing that we feel gives us reasons for a question that we are comfortable with. For example, if you were to ask someone who is afraid of flying, “is it safer to fly or drive?”. They would probably say driving is safer. Yet, all the data suggests otherwise. Flying, is by far, safer than driving. Just looking at the number of accidents per people transported per million. Ok, that was a mouthful. Let’s say you told you that for every million persons transported by car, there was a chance of 2000 deaths. And for a million person transported by air, there was a chance of 100 deaths. Now I ask you, do you want to travel by air or road? Now you see just how safe it is to fly. But intuitively, that is not host most people feel.

Sometimes, we really can’t go by intuition. Case in point, don’t wash that chicken before you cook it. I will get back to this one in a bit.

Another is self-driving cars. When I tell people I can’t wait for self-driving cars to get here. They are alarmed. They might say, what if they kill someone? Well, people drive now and they kill others, a few hundreds easy across the United States every day. Yet, we don’t stop people from driving.

The truth is, self-driving cars would drastically reduce the number of vehicular accidents and would be more efficient both in time and energy used. Self-driving cars would merge and get off the highway without having to slow down. Merging in and out of traffic at high speeds is not something humans can’t do that very well, not most of us anyway. But all self-driving cars would be able to do this, time over time. What about if one got into an accident? Engineers would examine the data, and try to code around that if possible. But you can be assured that they will see if there is anything that can be done to prevent it. If they come up with some code change etc, all other cars would be eligible for that update. That is something doesn’t and can’t happen with humans. My wife was in a lil fender scrape the other day, someone else turned into her lane. No one else gets to learn from that. Had that been two self-driving cars, they would have been updated and all the others so that particular occurrence would be less likely.

Hopefully you will be a little suspicious of your intuition now. Especially on things like self-driving cars and flying. So why not wash that chicken?

As a practicing engineer, I would described myself as logical. I try to make most of my decisions on logic and not emotion. If I don’t have facts or data to back up my decisions, then I try to reason it out and then may be go with gut feelings. So when I learn some new scientific proof that counters my belief, I force myself to let go. I have been cooking for a long time, since my early teens. One of the things we have been doing in my family, is to wash meats. We would wash it with vinegar, lime juice, or lemon juice. The idea was to take away the “meaty” or “rank” smell if it was fish.

Yesterday on my local NPR’s station, Science Friday cover a few cooking myths. Including washing the chicken before cooking. I have the link to that episode if you want to listen at the end. The fact it, when you wash chicken, you are creating microscopic droplets with the harmful bacteria on the chicken. Some of those bacterias are drug resistant. Once in the air, the droplets lands on your clean dishes and other parts of your kitchen. What you have just accomplished was spreading the bacterias to places they probably won’t have gotten to without your obsessive washing.

So what if you don’t wash it? Well, you are going to cook it right? So why worry? So long as you cook it at the appropriate temperature, you would killed 100% of all the bacterias on the chicken. I haven’t had to cook since hearing this. It will be hard to resist not washing. But science said I don’t have to, so I will try not to.

The Science Friday episode on cooking myths is here. You can listen to the entire episode, but the part about washing is at location 16 minutes 16 secs in. If you happen to listen to the entire episode, the parts about beer can chicken and not eating pink burgers, applies to me too. We have the setup to hold up a chicken for beer can. We always believed that it was the beer that was making it nice and juicy. Problem, counter-intuitive thinking that the beer evaporates. But beer boils way higher than chicken cooks. So it will never, every boil. We were just wasting money putting a beer can in the grill. If you are a beer drinker, find something better to do with your beer than put it in the grill.

A Simple Solution

Sometimes, or may be always, it is best to just seek the simpler or even simplest solution.For some time now, I have been plagued by a problem. Plagued is quite appropriate, because this problem was very annoying. I won’t get into the details it is a programming things and will be a bit boring. But, essentially, I had a problem where every time I started a new web application project using JavaScript libraries. I had this fatal error.

The root cause will be boring, so I will put that last if you want to be tortured. But for my rather annoying problem, I tried to code around it. And since it would happen every time I created a new project. Well, I had to dig up the code and run it to fix the problem. This problem is months old for me, may be even a year.

Finally, today I found a very elegant solution. A setting I can put in a file, and I own’t have to deal with it every again for any project. All I had to do was add ‘safecrlf=false’. That was it. I had tried a bunch of other suggestions from time to time and none of them worked.

Lesson, keep it simple. Writing about it now will be the last time I would have to think about how annoying it was.

The root cause for the problem is that developers who are working on windows, would submit files with CRLF ending. CRLF mean ‘carriage-return & line-feed’. Why is that a problem? Well, back in the days of typewriters. Once could do a ‘carriage-return’, which would do two things. Rotate the drum up enough to move to the next line. Here next line really means a new line, and of course slide it over so you can start typing at the beginning of the new line. You could also do a ‘line-feed’, which would just rotate the drum enough for a new line, but it wouldn’t return it to the beginning. This might not seems like something useful. But imagine that you wanted to just travel down the middle of  page after moving the the desired column. Then all you really wanted was ‘line-feed’. Of course you could turn the drum manually too. But never, all that, that is why there is both ‘carriage-return’ and ‘line-feed’.

Ok, so 99.99% of the people or companies who developed an operating system, used ‘carriage-return’ to mean ‘go to the beginning of a new line’. Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, use not ‘carriage-return’ or ‘line-feed’, but both.  Usually, interchanging documents between systems is not a problem.  A mild annoyance to some non-Windows developers as their text documents have a funny extra character, the ‘line-feed’, at the end of each line. For Windows users, lines won’t wrap as they should, since their system is expecting two characters. But over time, these things became less of a problem, as editors just easily code round the problem.

But code is still being development and submitted or save with either CR or CRLF. Now we are at my problem. JavaScript libraries are distributed in text format. JavaScript doesn’t have a compiled for, not yet anyway. And my version control software, had a setting that said, “don’t save file with CRLF on this system”. I was the idiot who set that. So when I try to version control several dozen libraries, many of which had a line or two edited on a Windows system. The whole versioning things would grind to a halt.

At first, being the programmer I am, I coded around the problem. Something like this, but in Bash:

while (failing to commit); run dos-to-unix util on failed filed; repeat

I would have to run the code from every project. The code did a lot more than the one liner I showed above. It had to, (a) tried to commit a file, (b) see if it failed, (c) extract the file name form the error message, (d) strip out the extra LF character, (e) try to commit again. Repeat until all the files can be checked in without complaints from Git. Phew.

HBaseCon 2015

Today and today only was HBaseCon 2015. This was my first HBaseCon event. Glad I could have attended. There were a number of very nice projects and learning opportunities.

One of the projects I am really excited about is Zen from Pintrest. Unfortunately, I am yet to find it on the net. So they must not have opened sourced it. They built a graph API on top of HBase. They laid out enough of the underlying tables to support the design. I think with a bit of work, one can implement the API. But that will be some work. This is actually a project I can start using soon.

Another project that looks really interesting too is Apache Phoenix. This is an Intel initiated project to do SQL like syntax on HBase. I didn’t get to play with it, but it looks pretty cool.

There was a presentation on tuning the GCG1 for HBase, but I don’t pay too much attention. I was busying updating my cases at work. Then I had to leave early to catch the train.

There were some other projects of interest. But like all conferences, there are sessions that requires you to have a few clones. Without clones, you just have to pick one.


Time To Avenge

I showed Ian the first Avenger movie from 2012, and he was so into it. Before showing him, I was hoping he would like it so we can go see the new one as a family. Victory, he was into it when we watched it on Friday night at home. I was so excited to go see “Avenger: Age of Altron” today.

Stacy, Ian, and I decided to go. Desiree as usual, opted to stay at home. I enjoyed the movie. But unfortunately, by mid-movie, Ian lost interest and got restless. Stacy offered to take him outside for a bit. I didn’t see them come back to our seats. But I figured they just decided to sit closer upfront instead of coming up to the back where I was.

It wasn’t until I got out of the theater and saw them in the hall. That I realized they didn’t come back in. The movie was fairly entertaining, so I don’t mind watching it again with Stacy when it hit video.

I Heard The Song Bird Singing

Recently, I have noticed a bird sining in the trees near my apartment. I haven’t successful yet in seeing what the culprit looks like, but the melody is very sweet. It is a seductive singing, that even my wife noticed it. The singer, loves to sign in the morning, about 6am and in the evening, about 6/7pm.

This bird, I don’t know what kind or what it looks like, have been singing for about two week or more. I don’t remember when I noticed it, but did notice it some time. May be it might have been even months.  Anyway, I decided a few days ago that I would take it. I heard the singing several time, but there was too much ambient noise.  Fortunately, this morning I had my chance.

I am very fascinated by this songbird. The bird brings back memories of my childhood and my experience with a songbird. Before I get into the story of the songbird of my childhood, let’s me offer you the opportunity to hear the songbird in the trees outside.

Isn’t that beautiful? Doesn’t that make you want to put it on loop and play it a few more times? Well, I hope it does. I love it.

I had a cage bird when I was in my mid to late teens. It was when I lived in Guyana, South America. If I had to do some calculations, it would be between the ages of fifteen to sixteen. I left Guyana just before my seventeen birth, about three weeks before.

The care of the bird, was left in the hands of a cousin. There was no expectation that I would return for the bird. Even if I had returned in a few years, changes it wouldn’t had lived that log anyway. I can’t say exactly, how the bird came to his demise. But that it did.

Now, the bird I had, was called a Mustache. That is the colloquial name. Like the bird I tapped in Foster City California, my bird and many birds usually sing in the mornings and the evenings. You would hear them signing during the day too, but not as much as morning and evening.

There uses to be bird sining competitions. More on that later.

Besides the singing, this bird was well known for molting. That is when it would shed it feathers and get new ones. If you got one when it was brown. Over time, it would mold repeatedly, and eventually be black and white. In between, it would had some degree of brown, black, and white. Fortunately, it was able to take my bird though the process of brown to black & while. Here are two YouTube videos of Mustache in brown and another in black & white. NOTE: The audio isn’t very good. There is a lot of background noises, a cricket match,  other birds singing, including a Kisk-a-dee, and other noises.

Mustache wasn’t the only bird that molted. At the time I had my bird, my best friend from even back then, had a Fire-Red. Fire-red would start out all brown too. Then they would molt to  brown back, and burned-brown, but not quite red, under feathers.

While a bird is molting, you would cover the cage, keeping it in darkness. Now I don’t know why that was the practice. May be they would be cold with basically no feathers. I don’t know if birds go hid in some dark or warm place while they molt in the while. But that was the practice. You would see boys and men with their bird cages, covered in a dark sleeve.

Here is a picture of a Fire-Red close up here.


As as young man, your first bird, if you were interested, would most likely be a Fire-Red or Mustache. Those were fairly plentiful and easy to catch. If you were an adult, the bird you had was a Towa Towa. Towa Towa were known to be great singers. This made them expensive and highly sought after. They were not necessarily rare, you just had to travel further to get them. And since just about anyone wanted one, as a young person, you won’t have one. It would most likely be stolen, or taken away by the older boys. So, you spend your life with the more popular songbirds.

You here that Towa Towa show off. 🙂 That is some good singing.

Even though Mustache and Fire-Red are good singers, and some more than others. They have nothing on the Towa Towa. If you wanted to win a bird singing competition, you would go with a Towa Towa, not a Fire-Red or Mustache. People have tried to and some have succeeded in smuggling Towa Towa into the United States of America.

Close of a Towa Tota:


Yup, I heard the song bird singing.

PS: What we call a Towa Towa in Guyana, is a Bull Finch or Boy Boy in Trinidad. Here is video of a Trinidadian Bull Finich. Same thing as the Towa Towa. The nice thing about the following video, is that there isn’t any distracting background noises.

Take Your Kid To Work

Across America, today was “Take Your Kid To Work Day”. I have been working for over twenty years as a professional. This was the first year I participated. Actually, I almost didn’t.

My son is four and half now. I thought that the email said from five years and up. So I never signed up. I wasn’t even planning to go into the office today. I had decided to work from home. But a P1 issue got open form my group, and I decided to be get into the office. Not that there was anything I won’t be able to do from home.

While at work, I saw kids younger than my son. And I even had a co-worker said that she signed up her two year old. Then I felt really bad. Knowing that this was the last opportunity my son would have to be at my office. Since we will be moving later in the year, I will be working remotely, so next year is almost a certainty that it would be near impossible to participate.

Fortunately, I found out that he can still attend, even though I didn’t register. It was just after eleven o’clock when I ping Stacy and asked her if she could bring him. I had meetings lined up from about noon to 3pm. Once she give the okay, I was very excited he would be able to come. I think it was great for him, he always wants to go to work with us.

He came, meet some new friends. No one he will be talking to years later. But still, he had a lot of fun. With some pictures to show, I will be able to relive part of the day for some time to come.

Progress, Slowly

There is this app I have been working on for some time, well. I am not sure if it the same app.

Let me put is this way. If you are building a house, but before you can finish. You tear it down, and start over. Possibly with different contractors and different materials especially. Otherwise, it would be really silly to be doing it the same house design, with the same material, if all you changed was the workers every time you started over.

Well, I am kind of in that boat. The look of the app hasn’t really evolved over the months since I conceived and started working on it. There are visual changes to be sure, but those are more like whether it was the mobile or the desktop version. Not so much between desktop versions.

What I found myself doing, is starting over a lot. I would get to a certain point, and stall. Basically, the technology I would be using for my backend, would have some hole that slowed me down. For example, I started out using Java backend based on Spring Framework. I have used Spring a number of times and I love it. But as I worked on my app, I was getting tired of spending time on house keeping. Like if I had an entity, I had to do a lot of work to protect it. I couldn’t just add and entity, and move on to make forms and services to use it. I had to say, well, how do I secure it and expose it appropriately.

That began to get to me and I felt like I needed a web stack that would do most of that lifting. Something that would free me up to work on the core features of the app. Instead of all that side stuff the app required but wasn’t really part of the problem I wanted to solve. that other stuff, user management, security, etc., that wasn’t part of what I had conceived. That just got bolted on as requirements for a modern web app.

Anyway, after many restarts, I am not once again pretty happy with where I am on how it is going. I finally landed on a framework stack that has taken away all that those keeping grunt work. JHipster is my new buddy. It is really filling the gap where MeteorJS, Angular + BaasBox, or Angular + Spring, or Ionic + BaasBox, or Ionic + Spring couldn’t fill.

The funny thing is, JHipster is Angular + Spring and then some. It is just that it has so many other things, that I don’t need to worry about security. That is taken care of. I don’t have to worry about metrics, that is taken care of too.  And the list just goes on.

The only thing slowing me down now is having time to work on it. Because, with a full work day and other things too do, there just isn’t enough hours in a day to get every thing I want to do, done.

In a few weeks, I might revisit just how JHipster is helping or not helping my project.

Fun Times at “The Book of Mormon”

Stacy and I went to “The Book of Mormons” play last night. I thought it was very funny. It is a musical, so you will miss a few things as it is live and without subtitle. You really can’t get everything as people are laughing and you are trying to look at the performance while trying to decipher the music too.

Fair warning, this may be offensive to those who are religiously inclined and think it is sacred ground. Some people don’t like or can’t take any form of joke about their religion. Even thought his is about The Church of Jesus Christ of Lather-day Saints, it can easily be turned on any other religion. If you see this and laugh at something that is ridiculous about what the mormons believe. You can rest assure that the same is also true in your flavor of religion.

A friend of mind said that religion is not suppose to be logical. It is just faith. I have grown to not have faith in things that I don’t see logic in. That is either good, bad, or neither.


Kite Flying On Easter Monday

One of the things I loved when I used to live in Guyana, was Easter Monday. Easter Monday was the day just about everyone and their mother went out to fly kites. Either kites they had made or ones they bought.

While there was always an healthy market of kites for sales. As a young man, we made our own kites. For quite a few weeks before Easter Monday, the big event, we would have made sever kites. The first ones were simply, like a Caddie-Ol-Punch, working our way up to more and more sturdy kites. Until by about a few days before Easter Monday, you would start working on your final kite.

If you still had a kite after Easter Monday, then you flew it for a few days. If you master piece for Easter Monday didn’t survive, due to tearing apart or being lost. Then you would go back to building smaller and simpler kites for the next few days.

By the time the weekend rolled around, you had enough running up and down with kites that you didn’t worry about it after that until the next year.

Depending on the size of the kite, you had to get twine, to fly it. If you were making a really small kite, then you had to “stran” some twine. “Straning” was the processing of separating the larger twine into its individual strands.

A Caddie-Ol-Punch was a kite that simply kite. It required one page of a book, two fine sticks, twine to fly, and slightly heavier twine for the tail. The really trick with a caddie, was that it didn’t required paste, as would be the case with any other kite.

It is hard to describe a caddie. But essentially, you would fold the paper along one diagonal, then make equally spaced small cuts. Repeat the process on the other diagonal. The cuts are no more than about half to an inch apart. The fine stick, usually from a pointer broom, would be woven though the holes made by the cut. That is how you got your paper to be rigid to make a kite without paste. Tying off the loop for the nose and tail will bind the paper and stick.

Since leaving Guyana, I have been wanting to go back for Easter. Here is to hoping.

Coconut Bakes

Yesterday I made Coconut Bakes for breakfast. They came out great.  Bakes are a West Indian dish, which is either fried or oven baked or pat roasted flour dough. Well, that is putting it simply. Of course it is not just flour dough, but also baking power, sugar, and salt. Once you have some bakes, you can eat them with fried saltfish usually, but cheese works too.

For Coconut bakes, I used coconut of course. The coconut was grated, then some was put in the mix, along with some butter, and some of the coconut squeezed with water to get coconut milk. I figured using coconut milk to mix instead of water, would give a richer tastes. Yesterday was the first time I made Coconut Bakes. But I have been making bakes since I was about ten years old.

Cooking and baking is nothing new. If I like to each a Guyanese dish, I usually learn to make it. Besides, living away from my mom and sister who would happily make such dishes, could do that to a person. If they are willing, that is.