This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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June 2006
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Why I Like My Job

Whiteboard full of equations. Love it.

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld

I am actually very very tempted to spend the next few hours reading all 185 pages of the full opinion (pdf), but I am at work and that would be bad. Suffice it to say that I am happy and feel like for once the court is making the clearly correct decision. I am disappointed somewhat (although not surprised) that most of the “conservative” justices dissented. (Or in the case of the Cheif Justice were recused because they had been involved in the lower court opinion that was being appealed.) After all, the notion of strict limits on governmental (and executive) authority have long been a fundamental “Conservative” idea. Not to mention a strict reading of the constitution. No more it seems.

But, 5-3 will do, and things move in the right direction for the moment.

(Although there are dozens of other executive excesses that desperately need to get shot down… if the congress won’t do it like they should, perhaps SCOTUS will get to at least some of them over the next couple of years. Maybe.)

New Gig for Mom

I’ve been meaning to post something about this for awhile. But never got around to it. But now is a good time as the old job has ended and the new is about to begin. My mother has ended her 9 or so year time as a pastor in Westfield, Massachusetts and is starting a new position as Acting Association Minister for the Southwest Ohio Northern Kentucky Association of the Ohio Conference of the United Church of Christ. (Wow, that’s a mouthful. Here is their website.)

The official announcement was in their April 18th Newsletter (pdf):

At its most recent meeting, SONKA’s Association Covenant Team (ACT) voted unanimously to call Rev. Ruth Brandon to be our Acting Association Minister.

Ruth currently lives in Massachusetts, where she has been pastoring a church since 1997. Prior experiences include two interim pastorates, Professor of Ethics at Ricatla United Seminary and pastor of Cidade Congregational Church in Mozambique, Africa, and Associate Conf erence Minister of the Central Atlantic Conference. Ruth will be assuming her ministry with SONKA July 1, 2006.

She bought a house in Ohio a few weeks ago, and she and Sara (her dog) arrived in Ohio a little over 24 hours ago. The moving truck arrives later today. So she’s getting settled.

Congratulations to my mother on her new spot!

The Sleepy Muskrat on My Head

I killed it.

Maude Mae Rayburn

imageMy father’s mother’s mother. Most of what I know about her is what one of her nephews, Charles Rayburn, wrote quite a few years later. I quote it completely here:

Many uncles, aunts, neighbors and teachers influenced who we were and who we are. Aunt Maude, one of Dad’s two sisters deserves special recognition.

She and her husband, Uncle Bill Wootton, met in college. Uncle Bill has an amazing “rags to riches” career, finally owning the Lockyears Business College in Evansville, Indiana. His resources gave aid to all of her nieces and nephews.

She made our Christmas each year. Each year we received a box of candy, toys and clothes. This was very important. Without this our Christmases would have been bleak. Aunt Maude made Christmas joyful and exciting.

Each summer Aunt Maude and her two daughters came to visit Grandpa and Grandma Rayburn for a summer vacation. It was great to visit with and listen to these city cousins. Aunt Maude brought fireworks for celebrating July 4th. She usually brought marshmellows for roasting and oranges as a special treat.

Aunt Maude opened our minds to life outside the hills. She excited us with the vast opportunities which lay ahead.

She purchases the old farm from Mom just before I went away to school. This would allow Mom to continue to live there and have funds to send William and me to school. She had no need for the pitiful farm and no desire to own it. It had no value to her butit provided Mom a method of maintaining her pride without seeking welfare.

Aunt Maude taught us altruistic giving by her remarkable examples. This was deeply engraved in our spirits.

As usual, more by clicking the picture.

William Maynard Wootton

imageMy father’s mother’s father. Unlike the last couple of ancestors I have posted about, I actually know a decent bit about him both from memories of my Grandmother and from a published obituary.

He was born in Kentucky in 1891. His first job was driving mules in a coal mine. He later worked for a clothing store, then went to college and met his future wife Maude there. He then started up the management chain at various business colleges ending up being a principal owner and manager of Lockyears Business College in Evansville, Indiana. On retirement he was a good friend of Dale Carnegie and was significantly involved in developing and extending some of the courses and methods used by the Dale Carnegie Training courses. He was also involved in a wide variety of volunteer activities. Died in Arizona in 1962.

Basically born poor, died well off, had some adventures in between. Not too bad.

As usual, click on the picture for more.

Plainsboro

So, I just found out that two people on my team here in Seattle, besides myself, actually lived in Plainsboro NJ at the same time as I did. One of them in the apartment complex immediately adjacent to the one I lived in. That is just odd.

Book: Dragonflight

imageAuthor: Anne McCaffrey
Started: 18 Jun 2006
Finished: 21 Jun 2006
303p / 4d
76 p/d

Brandy recently read all of Anne McCaffrey’s dragon books after she ran out of books once and I pointed her at them. And so I was inspired to want to read them again for the first time in at least a decade. So, I decided to pick up the first of the bunch and read it again.

And of course, I basically couldn’t put it down. Well, of course I put it down. I went to work and stuff. I only read a couple chapters Sunday through Tuesday actually, but then early Wednesday, right around when I was supposed to be going to sleep for the night I picked up the book instead. And THEN I didn’t put it down until I was done several hours later. Leaving me quite tired during the day Wednesday after I dragged myself out of bed and to work. The 76 pages per day rate I averaged on this book is the fastest rate for anything I’ve read since I started posting books I read on this blog. Woo! Of course, in exchange, I didn’t do anything I was supposed to in the time between work and bed for a couple days (although this wasn’t the only reason) and I ended up only sleeping a couple hours one night, but hey, I wanted to read the book!

I was definitely reminded how much I like this series. And that is of course mainly because I want a dragon. I mean, who wouldn’t? I’d even settle for a fire lizard (although they were not in this book). A fire lizard would be quite fine.

I have read these much less often than I have read the Lord of the Rings, and it showed while I was reading it. There were certainly things that I remembered… but generally only a few pages before I got to them… I could not have told you the plot before I started reading it again. In fact, I would have claimed that this particular plot was actually the plot of one of the later books, not the first book, and would have been completely wrong. And even once reading it, I might remember general plot points, but not details. And that was nice. Not quite like reading something for the very first time, but still good. And like going back to an old friend. I am very tempted to just move right on to the next book in the series, but alas, there are other things ahead of it in line.

One more note… Brandy was reading many of the dragon books in the last few months of Princely’s life. A few times during those months she referred to him as “her dragon”. And that resonated while reading and added poignancy. I’ll never be able to read these books again without also thinking about Princely and shedding a tear or two. I miss him very much too.

Book: Machine Learning

imageAuthor: Tom M. Mitchell
Started: 25 Mar 2006
Finished: 18 Jun 2006
414p / 87d
5 p/d

This is a textbook I got for work to give me somewhat of a background in some of the technologies being used, and other related technologies that we might someday want to use. It is normally targeted at advanced undergrad CS majors or starting CS grad students. Now, I took a couple CS classes my freshman year of college, but really haven’t done much else of the sort since then. So this was a mode of thinking I hadn’t been much used to. And to be honest, even back then it was more about listening to and understanding a professor than trying to grok it by reading a book.

The first few chapters were pretty straightforward, but it did definitely get more challenging after that. And of course I wasn’t doing it the full out way trying to actually do all the exercises and such at the end of every chapter. However I was, for the most part, doing careful reading. That is, if I read a paragraph or two and then realized I didn’t fully understand what was being said, I’d go back and read it over and over again, thinking about it, until I thought I did understand. And sometimes that took a few passes. And even then, I think what I actually ABSORBED, in that I still remember after having finished the entire book, is just the general ideas for the most part, certainly not the details. If I was asked to actually do anything with any of the techniques described, I’d have to go back and read that chapter again with an even more fine tooth comb. And certainly, the further on you go in the book, the more true that is.

But it was still a good overview. Gives some good vocabulary I can use at work. And some background that helps me understand some of what the options and tradeoffs are. So it was good to have read it.

The next non-fiction will be a book for work as well. They are sneaking ahead in line of the personally chosen non-fiction. But for now, time for some light fiction…

Harriet Maria Smith

imageTime for my father’s father’s mother. Again I don’t know all that much about her, but there is a picture. I’m pretty sure that spot on her face is just a problem with the photograph, not something that was really there. :-)

She was born in South Carolina, died in Texas. Married William Ramseur Minter and had four kids including my Grandfather. And that is about all I know unfortunately. Hopefully I’ll be able to find some more info, possibly from relatives who actually knew her (she died in 1964). But that is all I have at the moment really.