Dad’s Letter to Prayer Partners

My father recently wrote this letter to his church prayer partners, and shared it with my sister, brothers and me. I now share it with you.

Dear Partner,

You waken from a vivid dream, a nightmare. It's already fading, and you try to will it back; it seems important. Good luck. By the time you're sitting up, eyes open, it's gone. That's the usual pattern for me, at least, but back when I was an unwitting kamikaze pilot more than a half century ago, a technicolor doozie woke me one night, and when I choose to conjure it, it returns easily to wide-awake me, hardly faded. And given the strange logic of dreams, its actions and objects need no exotic interpretation. Its “meaning” couldn't be clearer.

Dad's naval portrait, Oct. 7, 1954 - smallWe'd been rehearsing its particulars for many months, my squadron mates and I, war babies swept toward Korea and turning into Cold War Menaces; not quite men yet, not yet aces. And we were too busy training, too young, having too much fun, to give much thought to where that training was leading. Our slow, powerful Skyraiders had been designed for “close air support,” murdering enemy troops firing at our guys, and blasting to pieces their tanks and mortars. For us, those uses had become our “secondary mission.” Our Skyraiders' primary mission now was euphemistically dubbed Special Weapons Delivery. The weapons were special because, if successfully delivered, each could knock down a city and incinerate its inhabitants if they were lucky, or sicken them with lethal radiation if they were not. A ton of pure evil which could be hung between our retractable landing gear.

I loved our maps, the color coded spaces between elevation lines, the thin or plumper lines depicting roads or highways, the little barbed ones, railroad tracks, the wavy threads or fat blue strings marking streams or rivers; the dams, bridges, tiny Monopoly set buildings, the church steeples. Cartographic gems, those maps, but our lives hung on their accuracy, and we ruthlessly penciled our radar-evading low level routes on them through the valleys and passes of southern California: distance, time, azimuth from landmark to landmark, no mistakes allowed. A box canyon claimed my friend Kieth. The hours negotiating those routes were exhilarating, exacting, exhausting.

Skyraider - Image courtesy Airwolfhound, Flickr.comThen on to our other rehearsal stage, a two hour flight to a lonely desert expanse a bit west of Death Valley, where we practiced executing The Idiot Loop. We'd fly several miles east, turn back, shove our throttles full forward, drop to fifty feet above the desert, and when we crossed a mock intersection/smoke stack/bridge, we'd push our little red buttons. At x number of seconds after the button push, a timer would ring, and if all went well, we'd pull up, holding a steady 4-G pressure. When our noses were pointing nearly straight up, our dummy bombs would release, and we'd continue our loops until inverted, then roll level, dive back to fifty feet, and get the hell out of there. Or so we were told, and so at the time we believed.* Sounds crazy, doesn't it?

A day west of Pearl Harbor, we received the first of many briefings: our top secret targets, which changed as our carrier roamed the Pacific.** The maps seemed less detailed than our California beauties, but we each chose our coastal entry point and plotted our route most diligently. Many weeks and several targets later, I had the dream. I was screaming up a broad valley, my engine roaring, and approaching something like a railroad switch yard, with a city of not very tall buildings beyond. I clicked my red button on cue, hauled back on my stick at the ding of the ringer, felt the lurch of the bomb's release, and . . . became overwhelmed with horror and remorse. Suddenly (it's my dream) I was running through the strange city shouting to the people in my path, all silent, strangely dressed, and looking puzzled, “Get out! Get out!”

O Partner, remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions. I, my squadron mates, and countless sons of Adam before us had found ourselves on the black, black reverse of Francis's Prayer: Lord make me an instrument of your peace, Where there is hatred, let me sow love. . . . What a hellish nightmare in which to find oneself. Our puny Mark 7's, capable of obliterating mere Hiroshimas, are dwarfed now by the thousands of hydrogen bombs secreted atop today's ballistic missiles, wired to (who knows?) a red, white, or blue button in silos and subs thousands of miles from ground zero. Pray for peace. Work for peace, you dreamer, my Partner dear.

*Don't ask me why we so believed. Years later, I and my old comrades had all done the simple math. If our screaming Pratt and Whitneys generated two hundred and forty knots of relative wind across our wings (which mine never did), and a real bomb's six hundred knot shock wave caught us in the rear, as it would, our clobbered Skyraiders would stagger and drop those fifty feet and go boom.

**They were so secret that, however we pronounced the Chinese, we could reveal them to no one. A few weeks ago during our annual Christmas phone call, my friend John revealed that one of his was so far inland that the Navy's cockeyed plan was for him to radio his position (dead reckoning over the Pacific, mind you) to our carrier when he ran out of fuel, parachute into the sea and wait for the helicopter.

Skyraider image courtesy of Airwolfhound at

Getting Help in Windows 8.1 using Remote Assistance

Windows has a built-in tool so you can let someone you trust see your computer screen or (with your permission) take control of your mouse and keyboard. Here are instructions on how to use this feature.

There are two steps involved:

  • Enabling Remote Assistance
  • Sharing your computer through Remote Assistance

Enabling Remote Assistance

If you’ve never used Remote Assistance before you need to enable it. You only need to do this once.

  1. Click the Windows start icon (in the lower left corner)
  2. Type “remote assistance”. On the right side of your screen you will see search results for what you just typed… click the icon for “Allow Remote Assistance invitations to be sent from this computer
    Note: if you are on Windows 8.0, the search results will display some category roll-ups with numbers next to them. You will need to expand one of these to find the icon described above.
  3. A dialog box will appear. Check the box “Allow Remote Assistance connections to this computer” then click OK.

Sharing your computer through Remote Assistance

Once you have Remote Assistance enabled, you have to invite someone (friend/family) to connect to your computer.

  1. Click the Windows start icon (in the lower left corner) then type “invite someone
  2. On the right side of your screen you will see search results for what you just typed… click the icon for “Invite someone to connect to your PC and help you
  3. A dialog box will appear. Click the text “Invite someone you trust to help you
  4. On the next screen of the dialog click the text “Use Easy Connect
  5. The Easy Connect password will appear. Read this password to the person helping you.

How to manually uninstall a Windows 8 app using PowerShell

Here’s the situation:

  • You have Windows 8.1. Possibly you reinstalled Windows recently.
  • One of the apps on your start screen is now blank and just says “app” when your mouse is over it.
  • The app no longer has an uninstall option.
  • The app no longer appears in the ‘all apps’ part of the 8.1 start screen (clicking the down arrow icon in the lower left corner).
  • The Windows Store app landing page for your problem app says the app is installed. Also, the store app does not provide an option to uninstall or reinstall the app.
  • You *can* run the app… but only by searching “everything” on the start screen.

Does that sound kind of frustrating? It was for me. An Internet search revealed numerous articles on how to uninstall Windows 8 apps, all predicated on the start screen icon appearing and behaving in the expected fashion. Yet more digging revealed information about how to uninstall all apps using PowerShell. Not quite what I wanted since I have numerous apps installed. Plus a link to this PowerShell script:

A neat script which lists all the installed apps and lets you uninstall what you want. This didn’t work for me either; when I selected the problem app I got an exception from the script. I didn’t particularly want to spend time trying to diagnose and fix this script, since this seems to be a one-off problem for me. Just something very quick and dirty to uninstall the app so that I can reinstall it again, thank you very much.

Getting started with PowerShell

If you’ve never used PowerShell before, read this section, otherwise move on to the steps below.

PowerShell is the modern Windows replacement for the command prompt. Essentially it is a scripting platform built on the .NET framework. While the command prompt is still available in Windows 8, PowerShell gives so much more power and flexibility, the scenarios where I would prefer to use the older technology are few and far between.

There is a lot to PowerShell we could get into (and I am by no means an expert on it), but we’ll keep things basic here. To get PowerShell running, go to the Start screen and type “powershell”.

Search for PowerShell

Once PowerShell is launched, you’ll see a window which bears an uncanny resemblance to the command prompt:

PowerShell prompt

Get information about installed modern apps

Now that we’re in PowerShell, type the following command, and press the Enter key:


PowerShell will display detailed information about all of the currently installed modern apps (apps that run on the start screen) on your computer. Scroll through this list and find the details of the app you want to remove.  The property we will need to know to perform an uninstall is called PackageFullName.  For instance here are the details of a Windows 8 app called “Pomodoro Sauce”, with the package name highlighted:

PowerShell pomodoro sauce package

I would not want to have to retype that name! This being Windows, we can copy the name by highlighting it, then clicking the right mouse button.

Now that we have the package name in the windows clipboard, type the following command at the PowerShell prompt:


If you right-click at the end of the line, the package name in our clipboard will be appended to the command we’re executing:

PowerShell remove pomodoro sauce

Now we're ready to execute the command; press the Enter key to start uninstalling the app. When the app is being uninstalled, a message will briefly appear in the PowerShell prompt:

PowerShell pomodoro sauce being removed

When the message disappears, the app will have been removed. That’s it. App uninstalled!

Hopefully Microsoft will realize they need to provide another way to uninstall modern apps than from the start screen.

Spring Things 2014

Here are the latest denizens around my house:

Portucula “Salmon Glow”

In past years the hanger gets decimated in the summer if I don’t water it every day. As a change this is a succulent, perhaps it will do better if left unattended for a few days. Perennial.

Portucula (salmon glow)

Portucula (salmon glow)

Orange Symphony

Planters in the back. (annuals)

Orange Symphony

Accompanied by dichondra:


Black and Blue Salvia

More perennials in the front planters. These are accompanied by sweet potato vines. This salvia has already taken a bit of a beating from the squirrels digging up the planters, hopefully it will rebound.

Sweet Potato Vine, Black & Blue Salvia

Dressing the Hydrangea

The hydrangea planted a few years ago is doing very well… so well that the grass around it is having a hard time. So I’m trying to surround it by something. Let’s see how these annuals make out.


Three galium odoratum along the front:

Galium Odoratum

Galium Odoratum

Two blue star creepers along the side:

Blue Star Creeper

Filling in the Front

Some of the annuals I planted last year didn’t survive. Here are the replacements.

Lily Asiatic “Early Joy”

This hasn’t started blooming yet.

Lily Asiatic "Early Joy"



Bachelor’s Button

Again no blooms in this picture, but an interesting flower.

Bachelors Button

Meadow Sage

Meadow Sage

Something Wild

These were growing wild in the back and on a neighbor’s yard. Any idea what this is called?

Unknown Wildflower

Walking Home from Work

Ok let’s face; I did not walk from Manhattan to Connecticut, I took the train and drove my car.  But normally I take the subway from 17th Union Square to Grand Central.  Tonight I walked instead.  I forgot how much I enjoy walking and taking pictures in Madison Square Park.

Entering the park:

New York City 001

An electrifying sculpture:

New York City 004

The Shake Shack:

New York City 010

A favorite building:

New York City 016

Grand Central Station:

New York City 022New York City 025

Stamford, a storm drain in an interesting light:

Drain at night

Links for 10/24/2012

Review of Microsoft’s Surface RT:

Filling in PDF Forms with ASP.NET and iTextSharp

Privacy Policy – Terms of Service Generator

Mashes, minifies, and validates your javascript, stylesheet, and dotless files. Chirpy can also auto-update T4MVC and other T4 templates.

WiX Toolset
The most powerful set of tools available to create your Windows installation experience.
WiX is short for “Windows Installer XML”. WiX Version 3.6 has one of the more interesting installers I have ever seen. The big button in the middle of the setup screen begins the installation process. The cog on the middle button is smoothly animated (rotating) during installation, and the button doubles as a progress indicator.  I think the WiX team is using the installer to show off what you can do with WiX.

Programming Links for 10/22/2012

TypeScript tutorial:

GitHub for Windows:

EPPlus: Create advanced Excel 2007/2010 spreadsheets on the server:

Creating Reports in Excel 2007 using EPPlus (Header, Footer, Comments, Image, Formatting, Shape and Formula):

EPPlus has some minor bugs but is very useful. If you need to work with Excel workbooks and don’t mind being restricted to working to only XLSX files then I highly recommend it.