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Month: November 2016

More Spooky Tales for Fall and Cold Winter Nights

More Spooky Tales for Fall and Cold Winter Nights

While looking around for more great old-time ghost stories, I came across another great website collection of stories here. To avoid the risk of them disappearing, I copy them here (again) for your enjoyment.
Wailing Well – M.R. James
http://gaslight.mtroyal.ab.ca/jamesX31.htm

The Shadow in the Corner – M.E. Braddon
http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/shadcorn.htm

The Furnished Room – O. Henry
http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/FurRoo.shtml 

In the Tube – E.F. Benson
https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/benson/ef/in-the-tube/

The Open Window – Saki
http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/OpeWin.shtml

What Was It? – Fitz-James O’Brien
http://www.bartleby.com/195/13.html

The Lost Ghost – Mary E. Wilkins
http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/LostGhos.shtml

The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar – Edgar Allen Poe
http://poestories.com/read/facts

The Burned House – Vincent O’Sullivan
http://www.unz.org/Pub/Century-1916oct-00843

Christmas Meeting – Rosemary Timperley
http://recursosdidacticos.es/textos/texto.php?id=414

The Little Ghost – Hugh Walpole
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0604071h.html#s10 

The Story of a Disappearance and an Appearance – M.R. James
http://www.thin-ghost.org/items/show/156

The Middle Toe of the Right Foot – Ambrose Bierce
http://www.online-literature.com/bierce/2010/

W.S. – L.P Hartley
https://frankzumbach.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/l-p-hartley-w-s/

The Upper Berth – Marion Crawford
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0604221h.html

At The Gate – Myla Jo Closser
http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/Gate846.shtml

A Ghost – Guy de Maupassant
http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/Ghos835.shtml

The Red Room – H.G. Wells
http://archive.org/stream/theredroom23218gut/23218.txt

The Ash Tree – M.R. James
http://www.thin-ghost.org/items/show/133

Smee – A.M. Burrage
https://anilbalan.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/smee-by-am-burrage-_-scary-for-kids.pdf

Hand in Glove – Elizabeth Bowen
http://www.angelfire.com/mt/benson/glove.html

The Cigarette Case – Oliver Onions
http://shortstories.ucgreat.com/read/018/238.htm

The Ebony Frame – E. Nesbit
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0602551.txt

The Mezzotint – M.R. James
http://www.thin-ghost.org/items/show/145


Collections these stories come from for further reading:

Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural (1947)
M.R James: Collected Ghost Stories (1992)
The Collected Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe (1992)
Gothic Short Stories (ed. David Blair) (2002)
The Virago Book of Ghost Stories (2006)
Ambrose Bierce: The Spook House (2008)
The Oxford Book of Ghost Stories (2008)
The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales (2009)
Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories (2012)
Tales from the Dead of Night: Thirteen Classic Ghost Stories (2013)

The Gathering of 100 Tales

The Gathering of 100 Tales

Ghost stories exist in just about every culture of the world. You can learn a lot about a culture by the ghost stories they tell. But these stories are not only created in modern times, but also go back as far as the oral traditions of each culture. Just as with Greek odyssey’s and ancient poems like Gilgamesh, ancient ghost stories provide amazing windows to the past and the strange.

Besides a recent adventure through Victorian era ghost stories, I also recently learned of an old ghost story telling tradition in Japanese culture. Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (百物語怪談会, lit., A Gathering of One Hundred Supernatural Tales) was a popular Buddhist-inspired ghost telling parlor game during the Edo period in Japan.  The exact origins are unknown, but it was believed to be first played amongst the samurai class as a test of courage. In Ogita Ansei‘s 1660 nursery tale “Otogi Monogatari” a version of the game was described in which the narrative tells of several young samurai telling tales in the Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai fashion. In the tale, as one samurai finished the one-hundredth tale, he began to extinguish the candle when suddenly he sees a giant gnarled hand descend upon him from above. While some of the samurai cowered in fear, a swipe of his sword revealed the hand to be merely the shadow of a spider.

Setup

According to early texts, the tradition method went like this:

  • The game was to be carried out on the night of a new moon when the night is darkest without even moonlight. All light sources should be covered or extinguished.
  • The location should be the home of someone in the group in a selection of 3 neighboring rooms. The best configuration is if the rooms are arranged in an ‘L’ shape where one cannot see the room at the top of the L from the room at the bottom right of the L.
  • The participants gather in one of the end rooms with a few lanterns. The room next to that is to be pitch black.
  • The most secluded room has 100 lit candles or andon (traditional Japanese paper lanterns) and a writing desk with a mirror on top.
  • All dangerous items should be removed from the rooms (decorative swords/etc).
  • Each person is to wear a blue robe.

Play

  • The participants take turns telling 1 ghostly or supernatural story at a time. They should be of ghostly encounters, folkloric tales passed on by villagers who encountered various spirits, and the like. These tales became known as kaidan.
  • After each story is told, the teller gets up with a lantern wrapped with blue paper.
  • They walk alone through the dark room to the room lit with 100 candles/andon.
  • They extinguish one candle, look into the mirror on the table, then return to the story telling room.
  • Play proceeds like this with the most secluded room becoming darker and darker until the final story.
  • In some versions, only 99 stories are told and play stops until the sun rises to tell the final story.
  • In other versions you tell the final story. When you enter the lit room and extinguish the final candle while looking into the mirror – some spirit or image may be evoked.

While this might have started as a test of bravery for aristocratic warrior classes, it quickly spread to the working classes. As it gained widespread popularity in the 1600’s, people began scouring the countryside for mysterious tales and collected them into books. The stories also started merging ghostly vengeance with elements of Buddist karma. The collections and popularity of the game grew and is still deeply in the culture today.

Today

For those that have caught Japanese horror movies and popular Japanese anime/manga/literature, the influence of Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai and the themes those stories created during that era is very clear. Some shows even have mock recreations or clear spinoffs of the very game.

While many of the stories might seem strange to us today, they are also very interesting and often some very similar characteristics as western ghost stories. I recommend picking up one of the many collections of kaidan/ghost stories from Japan and give them a read.

Here are 10 famous Japanese ghost stories to start your journey. See how many themes you recognize.

Leaving space

Leaving space

“Always leave a little room in your life for when what you’re waiting for arrives – or you’ll miss it.”

When we are overly busy and constantly running, it squeezes everything else out except the needs of the immediate. When this becomes chronic, we wake up years later to realize the deeper things that give us meaning have passed us by. The test to see if you have any extra room in your life is if there is time to be curious and try/learn new things or build relationships with new people.

Retiring Overseas on a Budget: How to Live Well on $25,000 a Year

Retiring Overseas on a Budget: How to Live Well on $25,000 a Year

Who hasn’t thought of chucking it all and moving overseas to some cheap little beach villa or living in some exotic country? When I saw this at the library, I figured I’d pick it up:

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International Living Guide to Retiring Overseas on a Budget: How to Live Well on $25,000 a Year

First off, this book was written by people who lived what they’re writing about – which makes it highly credible. It is an easy and fast read written like a good buddy chatting about his life over coffee. It is clearly geared for people who are thinking about retiring abroad for the first time as opposed to an in-depth or technical guide. Its main strengths are that it gives you a great broad overview sufficient for you to begin your deeper dives elsewhere, and for the realities/questions to ask yourself to see if retiring abroad is really right for you. Its biggest weaknesses are that it lacks depth in legal/technical/financial matters and definitely paints an overly rosy/optimistic picture on most of its topics.

Good points/advice:

  • Probably the best part of the book is the chapter on if life abroad will mesh with you or not. He tells you to really dig deep and be brutally honest with yourself. I wish he’d gone into this more, but it was a great eye opener. I believe he correctly asserts that the more brutally honest you are with yourself, the better your decision will be. He breaks his points down into about 10 questions and refers you back to them again and again. They boil down to these points:
    • Are you ok with change and living as your new country lives? This isn’t a retirement community, it is a lifestyle change to live more as a traveler. Do you love at least a little adventure every day doing even common things like getting around, buying toothpaste, etc – or do you want to ‘nest’ in US comforts?
    • You cannot afford to ‘take it with you’ nor will you likely want to. Living abroad on these budgets means you will live and eat as that country lives. Cosmetics, medication, deodorant, snack foods, tv shows, furniture, etc – all will be different. In many cases, you simply can’t live as you did. Electronics here might make no sense in a country with no internet fast enough to stream Netflix – or will not work at all on 220/50hz. That heirloom cloth pattern chair will do nothing but mold on a humid tropical beach. That fancy washing machine will not work with local hookups or water quality/electric . You will also need to eat local foods to live cheaply. Are you ok with that, or need your steak dinners each night?
    • Be honest about the weather you like. Are you really a beach person or would mountains suit you better? Are you ready for sand all the time and 100% humidity every day for 6-8 months? Are you ok with rainy seasons? Have you traveled to your country of choice during the ‘worst’ season?
    • Are you ready to live, recreate, eat, and pattern your life after how your target country lives? How attached are you to watching US football or sports? How do you spend free time and are you able to get supplies for hobbies there? Are you ok with neighborhood roosters crowing at 6am every day (with no noise ordinances)? Are you ok with the slower, possibly more corrupt pace of business and government services? Poverty, food safety, and animal treatment in your new country may shock you. Will you be ok with building new local friends/connections on relationship and spending time rather than business/utility?
    • Are you really ready to leave natural support nets with your grandkids, family, friends, communities, and lifestyle here in favor of skyping/visits? Flying home is one of the biggest costs you’ll have – are you cool with only 1-3 visits a year? Are you ok leaving business associates and other professional contacts behind?
    • If you have a spouse, are you evaluating these questions with them and both onboard 100%
  • The book is very easy and quick to read. Covers a lot of ground and give a great broad overview.
  • Sample real-world budgets of his own living expenses along with discussions about what that buys you (at least in the author’s country).
  • Great common-sense advice like:
    • Take at least one long trip, and hopefully several/yearly trips, to your destination before moving. Preferably at least once during the ‘worst’ season (hottest/rainiest/etc).
    • Don’t decide to buy a home there while drinking a margarita by the beach. Contact a local lawyer and ask yourself the deep soul-searching questions he had above.
    • What we would have done differently from those that went there.
    • Getting a reputable local lawyer for real estate purchases and protecting surviving spouses by writing contracts properly.
    • Don’t expect to make any extra income by working there. The pay will not be sufficient to make up gaps.
    • You may not need to become fluent, but if US tax laws confuse you, imagine doing legal documents and taxes in a foreign language. You’re going to need to hire a few lawyers at the beginning for sure.
    • Be prepared/able to return if this doesn’t work for you. Some people find it very difficult and give up. Others do great for years, but ultimately decide to return for family.
    • The US is based on Common Law, while most of the rest of the Americas are Civil Law. This makes getting a good lawyer for things like buying a home essential.
  • He has information about individual countries in the book. The best communities in that country for ex-pats on a budget and interesting social/financial/cultural notes. It’s a great place to get started to dig deeper.
  • Basic overview of how medical insurance works in other countries – especially private/public coverage and important key questions/differences to ask to make sure you’re getting the coverage you need.
  • Basic information and common issues with buying a house abroad and the fact you will absolutely want a local lawyer for this type of transaction.
  • Some basic differences between Common Law and Civil Law:
    • You must codify transferral of your home/property to surviving spouses after your death or they might have to go fight for their own home.
    • You must do very thorough ownership history checks or you could end up in a legal fight with a great grandchild that never signed a release on property that you purchased.

Shortcomings:

  • Big sections read like just common sense since it doesn’t give enough specifics on many topics. This, however, might be what some romantic types need.
  • Focuses primarily on Central and South America, even though none of those (except Mexico) are in the top 10 countries of expats. However, some of the top 10 are likely not livable on $25k/year.
  • Feel he paints too rosy a picture of living aboard when it comes to personal safety and health care.
    • He makes many valid points about several countries on his list having tentatively ‘better’ healthcare – but that was as defined in an old study he quotes by the UN and his metrics of office wait times. Without specifics of their metrics used, I’m tempted to believe a country might get great marks for maternity care and treating common ailments but may not for what the average 65 year old (til death) will deal with. His budget numbers/livability also assumes you are a ‘relatively healthy 65 year old person’.
    • Missing all together is an honest discussion about inevitable end-of-life care you will receive there (terminal cancer, organ failure, etc). There is no discussion about handling or treatment of those permanently disabled by stroke, dementia, etc.
    • He asserts more security that I believe is safe. While traveling abroad is usually safe, there are real concerns. A good example is how he talks about how great his own Ecuador is, yet never talks once about the real security threats that a personal friend who was in the Peace Corps encountered. During an uprising, they were evacuated from their mountain towns to the capital, protected under armed guards in a compound, then flown home as things deteriorated. Brazil has serious safety issues in their big cities with paid executions in broad daylight. He doesn’t mention the growing dangers of kidnapping, car jacking, etc in Mexico. At best, he mentions that ‘he has stories’ and that one lady was fleeced in a real estate purchase, but doesn’t give sufficient details for my tastes.
  • Not enough really detailed financial advice. I can’t fault the book on this since you could write a whole book on that, but this book simply doesn’t give you enough information on how to handle taxes/etc.
  • The book simply is not sufficient to actually plan a move abroad. It gives a great starting point, but you will need to do a lot more.
The Science Behind Gut Feelings/Intuition

The Science Behind Gut Feelings/Intuition

Should you trust your intuition? Is there any scientific data on it? Turns out there is! As a Myers-Briggs INTJ (intuiting) person, I lean towards my intuition often.

This great little video shows that we have both fast (systematic) and slow (intuitive) thinking paths, often our bodies know things before our minds do,  and when NOT to trust your intuition.

Summary:

  • Intuition actually exists and is part of the ‘fast-thinking’ parts of our brain.
  • Our subconscious often knows things before our minds do, and it can be measured with skin response.
  • Following our intuition is usually associated with being happier with decisions later.
  • Our intuition isn’t good at empathy

The value of ESP was not properly saved across a function call…

The value of ESP was not properly saved across a function call…

Windows can trigger this error, but sometimes it’s not easy to figure out what’s going on.

I recently got this error when trying to use the OpenGL ES ANGLE library on Windows 10. When compiling against the ANGLE library, the error came when trying to call into the ANGLE and used eglGetProcAddress().

eglGetProcAddress() returns function pointers for important GL extensions, so I couldn’t just ignore it or work around it.

In looking around, the obvious first step is to make sure you’re defining the function pointers correctly, but that turns out not to be my problem.

In looking at this article, I realized I probably had a mismatch of compiler and linker settings. The Visual Studio projects (VS2008) that came with ANGLE required a certain set of compiler and linker flags that were not standard. I had migrated the Visual Studio projects to VS2015, so that also added an element of uncertainty. I simply opened both project settings up next to each other and compared the settings for the ANGLE library build and the final project and found a few mismatches. I change a number of them to be the same, and things worked great.

Summary:
Check the linking AND compiling flags for not only your project, but the project files that generate the libraries you’re linking against. Differences in compiler settings can cause this error.

Google Analytics plugin upgrade error brings down entire wordpress website

Google Analytics plugin upgrade error brings down entire wordpress website

Perhaps you just upgraded your Google Analytics plugin on WordPress, and then anytime anyone tries to load your site, they’re greeted with one of the following errors:
Fatal error: Can’t use function return value in write context in /home2/gkmoney/public_html/wp-content/plugins/googleanalytics/class/Ga_Admin.php on line 106
or
Parse error: syntax error, unexpected T_PAAMAYIM_NEKUDOTAYIM in wp-content/plugins/googleanalytics/class/Ga_Admin.php on line 480
What’s great is that you can no longer even get to your WordPress Admin page to disable the plugin. Meanwhile, your site is completely down.

Solution:

Use FTP or your hosting control panel and delete the directory:

<wordpress root>/wp-content/plugins/googleanalytics/

After that, WordPress should load normally for the published and admin pages

 

Followup:

Report your errors/look for other solutions here:
https://wordpress.org/support/plugin/googleanalytics

Here’s another thread with help on the problem:
https://wordpress.org/support/topic/causing-fatal-error-after-updating/

Hold My Beer

Hold My Beer

There needs to be a US TV show called “Hold My Beer and Watch This.” And all they do is awesome stuff like this.

Or maybe it should be called, “After the Olympics” in which people find creative ways to use former Olympic sites that usually go abandoned.

Genic.AI is 4 for 4 on presidential elections

Genic.AI is 4 for 4 on presidential elections

The polls have consistently shown Hillary Clinton with a lead over Donald Trump, and yet, Trump just shocked the media, the polls, and the world with his victory. But it wasn’t a shock to some. Especially Genic.AI – a company that specializes in AI’s to solve complex problems. MogIA predicted his win months ago.

Genic.AI wrote a machine learning AI called MogIA that predicted the primaries and the last 4 elections perfectly. MogIA used 20 million data points from online platforms like Google, YouTube, and Twitter to come up with its predictions. It correctly predicted the past three presidential elections as well as the Democratic and Republican primaries. Now it’s 4 for 4.

“While most algorithms suffer from programmers/developer’s biases, MoglA aims at learning from her environment, developing her own rules at the policy layer and develop expert systems without discarding any data,” Sanjiv Rai, the founder of Indian start-up Genic.ai who developed MogIA, told CNBC. In October, Rai declared that Trump’s social media engagement had overtaken that of Barack Obama’s in 2008 by 25%, foreshadowing a Republican victory on November 8th. The predictions are now true.

Consequences.

It is not just that AI’s are doing complex tasks, it’s that they increasingly doing complex evaluative tasks better than the best humans in the whole world. These AI’s can be written by a few (or just one) persons using off-the-shelf compute. This makes it available to almost anyone – at prices far below the price of an average yearly employee salary. – Me 2014

Some are calling this the Truman defeats Dewey moment for our elections. What happens when several, or even one, cheaply made machine AI’s can now predict the results of huge upset elections months in advance better than thousands of people working at polling companies and the most astute political campaign machines like Mrs Clinton’s? Do those old companies and employees have any value anymore?

What would an election look like if we threw out the usual political rulebooks and went fully into AI guided campaigns? How will the face of online companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google that trade in your postings, opinions, and data shape our elections? How do we protect against their manipulation – such as the case where former Facebook employees admitted to regularly and actively censor conservative news? Or worse, protect against manipulation by domestic/foreign agents that might be able to write counter-AI’s to manipulate postings.

I think we’re very much on the breakthrough moment of AI’s taking over these very kinds of decisions and jobs in our society. I also believe we need to start looking at how to protect ourselves from equally capable AI’s that will attempt to manipulate results (such as we see today with AI bots writing product reviews) and companies that will attempt to skew data.

NVidia GTX 1070’s – flickering and artifacts

NVidia GTX 1070’s – flickering and artifacts

If you own a GeForce GTX 1070, you might want to pay attention to this news item as you could be effected by this memory issue.

Some users have reported they noticed occasional flickering or graphical artifacts on multiple brands of the 1070. Right now most of the major vendors are working on (or already issuing) a BIOS firmware update for their graphics cards.

Investigation has shown the issues are graphics memory related. GeForce GTX 1070 cards fitted with Samsung memory do not appear to have any issues but some manufacturers have switched towards Micron chips and these appear to be the culprit. This is noticed most during overclocking the graphics memory subsystem. The problem is in the the speed of the voltage adjustment from the low power idle P-States for memory voltage under load. If you can keep the idle voltage above 0.800V before you apply the overclock, you never see the issue.

A number of manufacturers have been working on VBIOS updates, so be sure to check your vendor:

Full info:
http://www.guru3d.com/news-story/manufacturers-roll-out-firmware-updates-for-geforce-gtx-1070-due-to-memory-issue.html