Monthly Archives: December 2004

Programming Note

It’s doubtful I will be doing a post tomorrow (New Year’s Eve). Not only because I’m too lazy, but also because a big storm is coming and the forecast is for winds of 60 mph (about 97 km/h, 52 knots, or 27 metres/sec). What with our electrical grid going down with seemingly the softest whisper of wind, it is likely we will be without power for awhile. Already there have been scattered reports of power outages and this is just the beginning of a long, windy weekend. Sigh.

So, from the Seto Shack here in the Pacific Ocean, we wish you and yours a Happy New Year!



The End is Near

As the year comes to a close, it is sometimes instructive to reflect back on where we’ve been, where we are, and where we may be going.

The New Yorker magazine has a book review of Pulitzer Prize winning author Jared Diamond’s “Collapse”.

The old saying that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it seems to be the basis for this book. Diamond analyzes how cultures fail. That is, looking back at the Vikings in Greenland, Easter Islanders, the Anasazi of the American Southwest, the Mayans, and the modern-day Rwandans, Diamond finds some similarities. Namely: soil, trees, and water.

According to the review, Diamond seems to be saying societies fail when they mismanage these specific environmental factors.

Diamond indicates the Norse settlers in Greenland practised a Northern European brand of dealing with the environment. While this may have worked in Europe (and there is a debate about that), it was, according to the review, a disaster to the ecology of Greenland that eventually led to death by starvation.

Likewise, Easter Island is now completely devoid of trees where forrests once stood. Each of those trees was felled by a human. Without trees, the land died and when the land died, so did the inhabitants (Someting similar may have occured on the Hawaiian island of Ni’ihau. Archeological finds have discoverd what once was a thriving culture. Now, the island is essentially devoid of trees and ground cover leaving a wind swept, barren landscape used only, up until a few years ago, for target bombing by the military).

The review is rather lengthly but if you have the time, it may be helpful in understanding some of the lessons from the past.

Speaking of lessons from the past, the U.K. Guardian Unlimited has an article looing back at empires from Constantine to Bush.

In this time of Christmas, the article goes back to when the Church first celebrated Christmas. How the date of December 25th was chosen and how the Church focuses on Christ’s birth and death but shies away from many of his teachings. Teachings that upset people and if followed, would mean having to change behaviors that people don’t want to change.

Both articles, whether right or wrong, should lead you to thinking about who we are and what roles we play in life because if we don’t, there may not be a role to play.


Be a Ward

And now, the 2004 Office Attachments Awards.


Tsunami: Death from the Sea

The reports of death in Asia are truly horrifying. But some early reports of the damage caused by the tsunami indicated that there was no warning. I think this will turn out to be untrue.

First, if you are near bodies of water and feel an earthquake, immediately move to higher ground. The earthquake that created the waves was of such magnitude that everyone would have felt it and the waves created would take several minutes to arrive.

Second, if you are near a body of water and the water rapidly drains from the shore, run immediately to higher ground as the waves will be arriving in a matter of seconds to a few minutes. Note that a tsunami is typically a series of waves and the first may not be the largest. Further, there may be gaps of several minutes or even hours between the waves.

Unfortunately, this part of Asia is not covered by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) located in Ewa Beach, O’ahu, Hawaii.

The PTWC, using a series of water-level gauges placed around the Pacific Basin can track and predict the path of a Pacific-wide tsunami minutes after it is generated. Even though there were no such sensors in the part of Asia hit by the recent tsunami, the PTWC sent warnings, based on the magnitude of the earthquake, to Asian countries telling them of the possibility of immediate tsunami damage. Apparently, the warnings were not heeded.

For more information, see this site here.

More Mozilla: Making Firefox Faster

Firefox allows you to tune its performance in many ways. As time goes on, more and more peformance tuning tips are coming out. One of those is found here.

The tip enables multiple simultaneous HTML requests. This can reduce the time needed to display a webpage. Note, the change is intended for broadband users only. YMMV. Use at your own risk.


Christmas 2004


Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

animated twinkling star
Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

animated star 2
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Kalikimaka and Aloha!

A Starry Night: Iokepa and Malia

This is a story about two families. Malia had a large,
high energy family. It included her husband and six animated
but well-behaved children. As is the case with most Hawaii
families, both parents worked. In fact, to make ends meet,
both Malia and her husband each worked two jobs. His was two
full-time jobs and hers was one full-time and one half-time
serving food at a restaurant.

As you can probably guess, the family was not rich. At
least, not in the common sense of the word. Yet, what the
family had was worth more than all the money some of their
rich neighbors had. What Malia’s family had was love. Love
for each other and love for their neighbors (even the rich
ones), friends, and God.

Each year, as it came close to Christmas, Malia’s husband
would start planning the house decorations for their humble
abode. Where he found the time to do this no one ever could
say but it seemed he would out do himself each year. Year
after year he would add more lights and figures. He would
sing to himself as he strung the lights around the windows,
up the side of the house, over the roof and to the tree
limbs. With so many lights, you could see his house from
miles away due to the glow in the sky. Guided by that light
in the dark sky, thousands would come to marvel at the

But one bright summer morning, as Malia’s husband was
driving the kids to summer school, a speeding drunk driver
slammed his car into their van, slicing the van into pieces
and killing everyone except the drunk driver himself.

When the police reached Malia at work to tell her of the
sad news, she could not believe that her entire family had
been taken from her. It was a very dark time for her. Malia
fell into a deep depression. A depression so deep she began
to question God and how He could have allowed this. Her
depression lasted for over a year. Then another year. And yet
another as she struggled to find meaning in what had

Towards the end of the third year, when the cool winter
breezes began to flow down from the mountains a change came
over her. While her heart was still filled with darkness a
small flame of hope began to sputter. Day by day, it grew
bringing light to her life and with it a plan began to form
in her heart.

Malia decided she would continue on where he husband had
left off. She would once again decorate the house as a
memorial to his spirit and the life she once had.

She began by pulling out the lights that had laid
collecting dust for lo these many years. While doing so,
Malia was surprised to find something that her husband had
been working on before he had died. She carefully checked to
make sure everything was still in working order and then
began to install what her husband had been working on. It
took her almost a week to get everything set just right, but
by December 24th, she was done. All there was yet to do was
to throw the switch that would once again light the way to
her house.

During this time, our other family, neighbors across the
street headed by a man named Iokepa, was having their own
problems. It seems Iokepa liked to drink. Sometimes too much.
And when he got drunk, he would become full of rage. A rage
he took out on his wife and two children. It got to a point
in which his wife, fearing for her and her children’s lives,
took the children and fled to the mainland.

Iokepa too became depressed. But rather than feeling the
healing hands of time, he spiraled ever downward. The days
became just a blur until early one evening, he decided he
would end what passed for his poor existence.

He dragged himself to the bedroom closet where he kept his
gun and ammunition. By then, it had gotten dark and what with
the electrify long since turned off for non-payment, he
carried the gun and ammunition to the living room facing the
street. He collapsed onto the worn out couch and with what
little light there was from the street light a block away, he
began to slowly, methodically, load the pistol that would
finally take his misery away from him.

Just as Iokepa raised the gun to his head, he was startled
by a bright light that suddenly appeared across the street. A
light that made him close his eyes and put the gun down so he
could shield his bloodshot eyes. A light that came from
thousands of little bulbs strung by Malia and brought to life
by a throw of a switch.

Iokepa staggered to the window and as tears streamed down
his face, Iokepa gazed at the beautiful scene. It was of a
manger, filled with straw and a baby wrapped against the cold
in a blanket. And around the manger were His earthly parents
and visitors from far away. But what drew his gaze the most
was the huge star, glittering in the dark night. A star
created by Malia’s husband years ago and now showing the way
to life.

It’s Christmas Eve and from the Seto household we wish you
Peace, Love, and Light.

Have a Merry Christmas, Everyone – Aloha!