Farewell, Rush.

17 He who speaks truth declares righteousness,
But a false witness, deceit.
18 There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise promotes health.
19 The truthful lip shall be established forever,
But a lying tongue is but for a moment.

Proverbs 12:17-19

I started to get interested in politics when I was a teenager. I’d already covered the first Gulf War for a project in school when I was 10 or 11. I remember the yellow ribbons around the trees, and the outpouring of support for the troops from my family and pretty much every adult I knew at the time. My upbringing by two hard working and loving parents in addition to the days events contributed to a frame of thought that didn’t quite mesh with my peers.

I got my first job when I was 13. It was a summer job out in Brewster, NY. At the office where my father worked in IT, I was doing data entry, fixing fax machines, generally being an office gopher. Every day we’d sit in his old Chrysler and drive the 90 minutes there and back, and part of the drive included listening to the Rush Limbaugh show. It was something that brought us together – a shared mind and many shared hours discussing politics.

Honestly, I cut my teeth on Conservative talk radio in the early 90’s. Bob Grant, Rush Limbaugh, Paul Harvey, maybe a few others stuck out but I can’t recall their names. They didn’t shape my thinking, but what they did accomplish was a reinforcement of how I was raised, the values my parents instilled in me – and an idea of what the truth was and how that truth tended to come off as almost… backwards to those around me.

I’ve listened to Rush for nearly 30 years now. Throughout the years he helped to keep my political path straight, well before I handed over my life to Christ. There’s a reason that so many folks who listened to his show over the years – whether they agree with his opinions or not – will keep him in their thoughts. He was a man who fully embraced his God given talent of communication, and he did it well!

Spending time with my Dad and talking politics was one of our things. That I basically grew up listening to Limbaugh with my Dad is why his fight against and eventual succumbing to cancer had such a strong effect on me as a person. Through all his public and personal battles, his fans stuck with him and greatly appreciated the perspective he offered. He’ll be missed by millions of listeners, and I can only imagine the conversations he is having right now.

God bless you and your family Rush, you will be missed.

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I Made a Thing – RetroPie

Behold, my Rapsberry Pi 4 running RetroPie.

Raspberry Pi 4B with 8GB of RAM running PieOS (Linux) and RetroPie for emulation.

Raspberry Pi has been around for nearly 10 years now. It’s a tiny computer the size of a business card. This one is quad core, 8GB of RAM, USB 3.0, HDMI, and 64GB of storage from a Samsung MicroSD card. Folks use these for any number of things from supporting a remote desktop, to home automation, software development, or in my case – emulation.

It’s no secret I’m a fan of classic gaming. My retro gaming setup is currently a collection of multiple consoles – Atari 2600, NES, SNES, and the Sega Genesis – hooked up to an old fashioned CRT television. What this will allow me to do is retire those consoles from regular use, wear and tear. I’ll break them out for special occasions, but this little box will takeover.

Not kidding, this thing is tiny.

While there are plenty of pre-built options out there, I wanted to do this one myself from scratch. My long-term plan now is to build an actual arcade style cabinet with the aforementioned CRT and this device as the beating heart of it. Thankfully I’ve got access to pretty much every woodworking tool I’d need to get that job done.

In total – I spent roughly $150 to build this with parts purchased from Microcenter in Paterson, NJ…

After a brief setup and copying the ROMs over, I was in business. I did run into a few issues along the way, as the video card doesn’t support more than 60hz refresh rate and my monitor defaulted to much higher than that. A little hackery and all was well. Also, some other roms/emulators I’m working with don’t play well with the ARM CPU. Still sorting that.

It’s not perfect – can be more Plug & Pray than Plug & Play, but it’s a new toy, runs Linux, and I’m now considering implementing these elsewhere for home automation and the like after seeing just how easy they are to setup.

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Jeremiah 6:16

Thus says the Lord : “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it. ’

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Never Defend Yourself.

We’re all born with a desire to defend ourselves. And if you insist upon defending yourself, God will let you do it. But if you turn the defense of yourself over to God, He will defend you. –A.W. Tozer

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I am blessed

Looking back at the video I shared last night, and the massive pile of CDs my dad already converted and I need to go through, all I can say is that I am blessed.

Nothing but God is eternal. One day the people you love will join Him in eternity. One day you will leave the ones you love behind as you pass on from this life to join Him.

Cherish every moment with the ones you love while you are both here on the Earth. When you look back to those whom have passed before, do not waste time on grief.

Do not let the grief rob you of the joy of knowing that the ones you love have finally obtained a peace that we shall never truly understand.

Focus on the good they brought to your life, do not waste your days on pain that will not follow you through that narrow gate at the end. Find joy in their passing and their peace.

I know as I pour through these collected memories, I may not take my own advice. I’m sure at moments, I will absolutely grieve. Most of the time though, I will seek the joy in every captured moment.

I will thank God, for He has blessed me with the family I have, the father I had, and this life I live.

In Jesus name, amen.

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“That’s My Boy”

When I was 6 years old, my dad worked for a very big company based out of Peapack, NJ. Right now I think the massive old campus is owned by Pfizer. Anyhow, every year they had a “family day” where the company hosted events, games, rides, you name it – for all the employees and their families.

In 1985 they offered to take a quick video of your kid (me) in case they were kidnapped. Photos were useful, but videos captured voices, mannerisms, etc… Anyhow, my mom dug up the tape today and the VCR to PC tool my dad used. Maybe it’s just me but seeing my 6 year old self being a complete and utter goofball had me cracking up. Hearing my father laugh as I goofed off was audible joy.

I had to crank the volume at some points to hear what my folks were saying, my mom said “one day your kids are going to see this” to which I respond “are you crazy?” But then I hear my dad say while laughing “that’s my boy!”

I love you Dad.

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Matthew 5:16

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

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Psalms 116:1‭-‬2

I love the Lord , because He has heard My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.

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What have you left behind?

It’s astonishing the sheer mountain of stuff that my Dad has left behind. I’m a packrat, like him. I tend to keep things which I really do not need as there’s a little voice in my head that says “wait, you might need that later.” No, I really don’t need it later, but hey, you never know!

Lately I’ve been getting alerts from Google regarding the amount of storage I had been using in my account. The Cloud bit wasn’t as surprising as the amount of email I kept. Keep in mind that over the past 26 years I have worked in technology, I have been very strict with email.

As time carries on and technology improves, we don’t really stop to think about how much “stuff” we have accumulated. I recall when Microsoft Outlook (an email application) would outright crash if the user kept over 2GB of email.

To put this in perspective, 2GB for the sake of argument equals 2,000,000,000 bytes. If you consider the average size of an email to be around 75KB (75,000 bytes), not counting attached files, that’s roughly 26,000 emails. How much junk mail do you have around you right now?

I cannot tell you how many times I was called into an office because the user exceeded 2GB of mail, 26,000 emails, and Outlook just plain died. The fix was simple, delete old emails, delete what was not needed, get it below 2GB and magically everything would work again.

Nowadays with services like Gmail, it’s common to see folks easily sail past that number. How many folks in their private life actually take the time to do some cleanup? Heck, I deleted the entirety of my Facebook and Instagram presence to clean it up and took 2 month break as well.

Back to my Gmail. I’ve got about 19GB of storage, that includes my cloud storage and my email. My Gmail was over 5GB, paired with my other “crap” they were happily suggesting I drop a few dollars to upgrade. Here’s an idea, how about I cleanup?

I literally had emails dating back 13 years. Stuff I haven’t looked at since I was in my 20s. Since I’m a nerd, I made sure to back it up, and then I proceeded to purge over 28,000 emails. Everything from 2018 back is now gone and I’ve gone from over 5GB to under 1GB. Not bad.

Maybe some day I’ll delete the backup too. Who knows, I might need it!

So stop and think for a second, what’ve you left behind?

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Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Food.

Last night I took a good friend out to dinner for their birthday; it has become a tradition to go out, grab a bite to eat and catch up. We have a good time. This year is different though. While every fiber of my being tells me to stay home, stay quiet, sulk and grieve… The spirit in me says to go out and LIVE. So I ordered a veal chop in a red wine reduction, and it was exquisite.

I know plenty of people do not like veal, or they refuse to eat it due to how the veal calves are raised. That is not an argument for today. Most restaurants when they offer veal on a menu, it is pounded flat to oblivion, breaded, fried, and drowned in sauce. In the end, it could be mutton, it could be Steak-umm. I want to taste the meat, and they’ve killed it twice.

I prefer a good veal chop, because the seasoning is minimal and regardless of the sauce used, the meat is the star of the show. Last night I had one of those moments which makes me love food, amplified by the memories it brought out. I cut a piece, dabbed it in the red wine reduction, put it in my mouth, and closed my eyes.

A flood of memory came back to me in a flash. It wasn’t just one. It was pictures, stories, smells, flavors, emotions, a royal cavalcade of history in a single moment. Growing up, I was blessed beyond words to have two loving parents who were both fantastic cooks. Something my dad made occasionally was a German dish called Saurbraten.

Saurbraten is a traditional German recipe whose name translates to “Sour Roasted Meat.” God I love German naming conventions. Anyhow. It had a fair amount of red wine in the recipe, and tasting the sauce with that veal last night took me back in an instant to every time I experienced the utter joy of having my father’s Saurbraten for dinner.

The tastes, the smells of that simmering on the stove, the memories of my entire family sitting together around the table. I didn’t know how good I had it back then. My dad used to recount a story every time he made Saurbraten. He would repeat a lot of stories. The older he got, the more I loved hearing them again, it didn’t matter how many times I heard it before.

There used to be a restaurant down the street from our home, I think it is a dentist office right now. Back in the day, I believe it was called Warwick Gardens Restaurant. I’m not even sure I was alive when the story takes place. Mom and dad went there for dinner one night, and seeing Saurbraten on the menu at a restaurant with a German owner/chef, he ordered it.

His was better. He knew his was better. So as my dad was a fantastic cook, allergic to sugar-coating anything, and loved talking to people, he spoke with the owner about the meal and promised to make his own Saurbraten for them. Into the kitchen my father went, prepping the recipe as he had so many times before for our small family of four.

Days of marinating. Hours of simmering. Roast and gravy complete, he brought it down to the restaurant. The owner took a piece of roast, dabbed it in the gravy, put it in his mouth, and closed his eyes… you can fill in the rest.

That my friends, is why I love food.

God provided me with parents who loved food and cooking, they shared that love with me, and it greatly helped develop my God given gift for cooking food and creating meals.

10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:10-11

Certain meals I’ve enjoyed, like what I had last night, and a few I’ve made myself, I close my eyes and let out an audible “Mmmmmmm.” My dad did that a lot when I was growing up, that is how we knew he loved the meal. It is the sound of not only an appetite being satisfied, but the sound of food bringing comfort to our very soul.

So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 8:3

When I was saved, if not for a time before as I was seeking out a new congregation to join, I noticed something from certain folks. Whether the pastor was reading the bible, or during a small group someone was in the word… You’d hear them before you saw them.

“Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.”

Eyes closed. The sound of a soul being satisfied by the word of God. I won’t lie, in those early days I found it exceptionally weird. It made sense to me with food. Food was tangible. Food was a treat for all 5 senses. It looked good, it smelled good, tasted good, the sound of a a pot simmering or a steak searing, the feel of the texture as I ate it.

Food fills our stomach, provides nutrients to our bodies to keep us strong and healthy. When it tastes good it can soothe our soul in oh so many ways. Food does not guide us or make our paths straight. Food does not lift us up when we are suffering. Food does not sustain our spirit or protect us from the temptations of this life we live.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ 

Matthew 4:1-4

Scripture, the Word of God, it does all of that and more. Through it, God guides us. He straightens our paths. He lifts us up when we are suffering. He sustains our spirit. He feeds our soul. He brings us salvation through the sacrifice of His only begotten son, Jesus, on the cross.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Amen.

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