Microblog Reflections Technology

Google’s AI Will Call Places For You

This video from Google I/O today is mind-blowing. In it, Google shows off an in-development feature where Google Assistant will call some places to interact with someone on your behalf.

“Google, please make me an appointment for a haircut on Tuesday.” Ideally, I would expect Google to interact with an API that ties into the salon’s scheduling platform but so many places do not have that. In that case, Google could call and naturally interact with someone to place the appointment.

Watching this in action—I’m just amazed.

Daddy's Corner Featured Reflections

For The Love of The Game

Tonight, we watched Angels in the Outfield, the 1994 movie about a horrible baseball team finding help from a foster kid who prayed for the team to have angels join them on the field.

I forgot until watching it tonight that baseball bed sheets that the kids have halfway through the movie were the exact same ones that I had on my bed when the movie came out. As a nine-year-old, that is pretty exciting stuff.

That memory brought back so many memories about my love of baseball as a kid. I never played or even owned a ball, but I was hooked. I can only remember going to the movies once with my dad to see Rookie of the Year when I was eight. I used to go to the flea market on Saturday morning to buy and trade baseball cards with my sister. I had a strong love for the Texas Rangers, especially Nolan Ryan. I had a Mickey Mantle rookie card. I had baseball bed sheets for crying out loud!

Then August 1994 happened. The Strike.

I forgot how much that impacted my childhood. Even though the Rangers weren’t actually good that year—though I didn’t realize that as a kid—they were still leading the AL West. We were looking good to realistically make the playoffs for the first time!

The strike killed the rest of the season and cancelled the World Series for the only time since 1904. The politics of the strike led to replacement players being called up for the 1995 season, which led to more problems. In the end, the strike lasted over 230 days and also shortened the 1995 season.

It killed the game for me. I kept the baseball cards on a shelf for long time before getting rid of them somehow (if I was thinking, I would have given them to my sister since she did virtually everything to help me build the collection, but I don’t remember where they ended up). I kept the Mantle card for longer, but I don’t know where it ended up now (which I’m pretty bothered by to be honest).

Except for a couple of field trips to watch the television broadcast of Rangers games and a game with a friend who still had the fever, I don’t know that I watched a baseball game for a solid 10 years after the strike.

Having kids who are getting into baseball reminded me of a lot of a good memories before 1994. I never played, but seeing them play and coaching their teams, I fell head over heels in love again.

I remember a bit that I was a Rangers fan and I’m not supposed to like the Astros. Seeing the stunts that Minor League teams pull excites me again. I’m still wary of MLB, but I’m getting there.

I hope I’m able to keep my kiddos excited for the game itself so no matter what a couple hundred of players and owners decide to do in the future, they won’t walk away as long as I have.

Featured Reflections

Honoring Papaw

My grandfather died in late December at 98 years old. He was of a generation where people lived some amazing lives. He would follow his older brother to school every day to the point the school finally just let him stay. Nearly an Olympic level swimmer who served during World War II. He retired from civil service before I was born, and then the cemetery happened.

After retiring, he became the caretaker of Sacred Heart Cemetery in Wichita Falls. Over the 31 years that followed, he worked every weekday—unless it was raining—mowing and maintaining the ground and going through the work to unify and computerize the cemetery’s records.

Apparently, before his work, one of the three Catholic churches in town kept the records for some part of the cemetery. It was increasingly harder to answer some basic questions about who was buried there, which plots were purchased or not, and so on. His first computer, a 286 running DOS, became the new beginning of a computer database to have a single reference point for cemetery information.

As a kid, before cell phones, we always knew that if you wanted to see Papaw, you’d head to the cemetery between 8 and 12 Noon, Monday through Friday. I remember setting out flags with him often for one of the American holidays—Memorial Day or Veterans Day or helping him setup the altar for the annual All Soul’s Day Mass. I have birthday cards from him that he designed with his “Designed by Bob Spring” with some headstones around it on the back.

For me, while he had done many other things in his life, I learned about work ethic and dedication through his work in the cemetery.

He was very stoic and a man of few words normally, but he talked to me at length about the new workshop they were building for him at the cemetery (complete with air conditioning!). Dare I say, he was giddy about it.

After he passed away, I visited David Bindel, the pastoral associate of Sacred Heart Parish, to catch up—I knew him from when I was active in the parish in high school—and to talk about the impact Pawpaw had on both of us and those who interacted with him in his role overseeing cemetery operations over the decades. I pitched to him the idea that it would be nice to have something to note his work.

I’m proud to announce that the workshop he was so proud of is now dedicated as “The Bob Spring Workshop at Sacred Heart Cemetery“.

Robert “Bob” Spring served as caretaker of this cemetery from 1976 to 2007. In addition to maintaining the grounds, his work included unifying and modernizing the cemetery records. He is buried in the southeast corner next to his wife, Mary Rita. 1919-2017

I can’t wait to visit Wichita Falls again to see the plaque in person.

Microblog Reflections

Peace in 2018

Today is January 1st, which in the Catholic tradition in the Solemnity for Mary, Mother of God and, since the 1960s, World Day of Peace.

Global peace is a hard nut to crack and something I feel powerless to directly impact. But, for 2018, I pray that we all can create for ourselves a little sliver of peace in our day-to-day life with the hope that it will inspire others to do the same and, in the end, makes the world a little better.

Being at peace doesn't mean inaction or acceptance of the world as it is, either. It is a calmness that centers us toward our Creator, hearing the whispers of the Holy Spirit guiding us to know what we can or can not do, strengthen us to do those things we can do but are afraid to, and settles us when we worry about the things we can not do.

I look forward to 2018 as a year of hope and of hopeful action.

Daddy's Corner Featured Reflections

20 Years

I’ve struggled with what to write to mark 20 years since my dad died. It’s probably the most common regular topic I’ve written about over the years. Earlier this month, a very close friend lost his mother. A few days ago, I talked heart-to-heart with another friend who lost his father earlier in the year. As the posts over the year demonstrate, it’s a weird journey–grief. No matter the age, losing a parent can be very hard. If you’re in that situation yourself, you’re not alone and it’s okay to grieve however you’re doing it, as long as you’re not hurting yourself or others around you.

One thing I’ve been wanting to do for years is put his casket flag in a nice case with his military decorations. It has literally taken me 20 years, but I finally put it together this evening.



Current Events Reflections

Two Explosions Kill at Egyptian Coptic Churches on Palm Sunday

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, but they came weeks before Pope Francis is to visit the country.

Source: Two Explosions Kill at Least 31 at Egyptian Coptic Churches on Palm Sunday

As we pile into the car to head to Palm Sunday Mass ourselves, the absolute senselessness of violence, and even more so against families, is unfathomable. Between the horrible attacks in Syria and now this, peace feels so far away. Let’s hope, pray, and work to find it however we can.