2016-11-19 Sat


I have been watching the weather forecasts strips in The Toronto Star this past week. The weekend is to be wet, with snow. That usually means miserable weather – wet snow, heavy drizzle, and the awkward temperatures (-2ºF) when you need a jacket, sort of, but if you wear your warm jacket you’ll sweat and if you leave it un-zipped you’ll look stupid.

Off to the Eaton Chelsea hotel for The Globe and mail, The National Post, and a large coffee, then to Ryerson University for a Toronto Star, and home by nine of the clock.

So, why am I looking forward to this dismal stuck-at-home weekend?

(1) Catalog my collection of picture frames by size. Be prepared to order glass for frames without glass, or be prepared to toss them out!

(2) Empty out my front closet. Toss out stuff I haven’t used in the past year. Install a string of low-power (twelve-watt) Christmas lights so that the closet is not a junk-pit of darkness.

(3) Empty out my bedroom closet. Toss out stuff I haven’t used in the past year.

(4) Re-assign the little cupboard above the refrigerator. This cupboard is awkward to reach, and so should be used for long-term storage of things that are seldom used. It could be a good place to store stuff that is in limbo and can be tossed after a year.

(5) Work out where to store my various sets of preserving jars. I need a few empty jars for day-to-day leftovers, and another set for long-term preserving. Pears are cheap right now ...

(6) ... so I should trek over to NoFrills with my bundle-buggy and but a cart of pears and bottle them this weekend. Fruit for dessert over the next twelve months.

(7) I bought two bags of apples last weekend. This weekend should be Apple Crumble weekend. I’d like to try making great trays of it and then freeze individual slices in wax paper as a travelling snack.

(8) Make a batch of chocolate-chip cookies for Sunday’s Writer’s Co-operative meeting. I will freeze the large chips and push them into the middle of the cookie dough immediately before baking.

(9) Empty out my front closet. Toss out stuff I haven’t used in the past year. Install a string of low-power (twelve-watt) Christmas lights so that the closet is not a junk-pit of darkness.

(10) Plant Stands. After sorting through my plants last weekend I have hit on a scheme to improve the display. It involves collecting a dozen or more of the eleven-litre plastic tubs, with lids, and using them to make a corner display. Imagine three tubs stacked one on top of the other in the corner, ringed by a two-tiered-tub set, that ringed by a one-tiered-tub set. Then I re-arrange the plants at appropriate levels to make a three-dimensional cascade of plants.

If I am very clever I can use the tubs as drainage reservoirs and do away with my vast collection of chipped plates.

(11) Paste my “P” clippings to a sheet. What are “P” clippings? This year is 2016, so the sixteenth letter of the alphabet being “P”, I Plan to lay in a stack of Provisions that start with the letter “P” as part of the Christmas-season feasting.

And then, after my morning tea-break ...

Clear Thinking

Christopher Greaves Home_IMG_20161107_075957259.jpg

We should never underestimate the duplicity of politicians.

Here we have a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (let me remind you of the meaning of the second word in the term “Defense Intelligence Agency”) claiming that it is IMPOSSIBLE to review 650,000 emails in eight days.

Let me inform you that I write computer programs.

Included in this are computer programs that manipulate text documents. Such as emails.

Christopher Greaves FasterAndFaster.png

Above is a snapshot from a posting I made back in 2001. (Go look for “Faster and FASTER searches (Word_Excel 2000) _ Windows Secrets Lounge.htm”)









Files per second








Seconds required




House required




And above is a little table I fabricated in Excel. The first two columns of data show the values based on my separate tests for English and French language documents. The third column is an amalgamation of the first two columns.

Back in 2001 I could process about two hundred files PER SECOND.

Had I been given 650,000 documents to examine back in 2001, I could have done so in about one hour.

Now computers back in 2001 were not as fast as those we have today, so a rough suggestion is that today, even if I had to enhance the search, it ought still take me less than a day to examine 650,000 emails.

What do I mean by “enhance”? Well, the code I wrote was looking across a network drive system for files that contained specific strings. I might imagine that today I might have to examine each document for more strings – which would take more processing time – but the increased speed over the past fifteen years could easily accommodate the extra work.

And I am not yet bringing in my system view that says that once I have located a document which contains enough words to make me suspicious, I can shunt that document off to another computer which will perform a more detailed analysis.

My applications are, of course, Rules Based, which means that once the initial results start pouring in, human examiners can provide feedback to tweak the rules to affect the programs behaviours.

Why didn’t they make me Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency?