Occam’s razor

Ock·ham’s razor also Oc·cam’s razor  (ŏkəmz)

n. A rule in science and philosophy stating that entities should not be multiplied needlessly. This rule is interpreted to mean that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already known. [After William of Ockham.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition

I wrote a while back about how one of our cordless phone extensions wasn’t holding a charge. I spent a lot of time looking for replacement handsets for our occamsomewhat old cordless system. Then I realized, “You know, you could just replace the battery.” Which I did. And which worked.

Last week I was finishing my walk when the audio on my iPod started to give out. I thought, “Well, it is quite an old iPod. I may need to replace it.” Then I remembered that earlier in the week I had seen bare wire on the cord near the plug, which I had covered with electrical tape. I tried another set of earphones. The iPod was fine.

I need to introduce Occam’s razor into my thinking earlier in the process.

all’s well that ends well

(or The Great Toilet Seat Caper)

When we bought our house in 1997, Terry and I agreed that I would get the loft office and the master bath, and that she would get the walk-in closet and separate full bath. That has worked out marvelously.

One of the results of that is that she rarely uses my toilet, which is a WC off of the master bath. (When people ask us if we go camping our answer is that our idea of roughing it is sharing a bathroom. As in the San Jose Fairmont, for example, or in our stateroom on the Island Princess cruise ship in Alaska.) Terry did have occasion to use my WC some months back. She declared that I needed a new toilet seat. It seemed fine to me, but I wasn’t going to argue.

Terry bought and installed one. (How we roll is that she does hardware and I do software.) It never worked out. One bolt was always loose and could never be tightened properly. Last week it became especially loose and I asked Terry to take a look. She observed that both of the plastic hinges were broken completely.

wcShe went out and bought a new toilet seat and installed that. The seat was padded, which was nice, but the lid would not stay up. Being of the male persuasion, having a toilet seat that stays up is important. Last Wednesday I had come back from seeing my spiritual director up in Santa Clara, some thirty miles away. We have been meeting via iPad FaceTime since my company closed the campus where I had my cubicle, but last week pretty much everyone was either on vacation or off at the big annual show, so I took the opportunity to see her in person. When I got home my bladder was demanding attention and the toilet seat would not stay up. I was pretty aggravated.

I had pulled the receipt for the toilet seat out of the trash, but Terry did not want to return it. I snarled at her in a way that was way out of line, but Terry got it that the matter needed attention. She did a toilet seat inspection and test and agreed that it was not suitable for my bathroom, and said that she would use it in hers. I went out to find a replacement, which had to a) have a seat that would stay up (of course) and b) have metal hinges and fasteners, not plastic. I’m not a big fan of Home Depot, but there I found a no-slam seat with metal parts and a no-loosen guarantee. Perfect. I brought it home and Terry did the swap.

In doing all of this I noticed that the rug in my WC was rectangular, and not contoured for the toilet as in our other bathrooms.  Now this had been the case for many, many years, but I never thought much about it. I realized, after all this time, that there was no reason for my bare feet to be on the cold tiles before getting in the shower or in the middle of the night, when they could be on a warm rug. So I took my trusty Bed Bath & Beyond 20% off coupons and found a contoured rug and matching cover.

Now everything is fine, and we’re both pleased with the updated setup.

The cliché that comes from the Shakespeare play title has become a truism so that we often don’t even hear it any longer. But it is correct:

All’s well that ends well.

Justin and Francis

I was delighted to see that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis took the time to meet in Rome last Friday.

Francis has surprised me in very positive ways, as he has many. Justin gave me hope at the outset, though he disappointed me, as he did many, in his comments to the House of Lords on gay marriage. Still, Justin is on the correct side of many issues, from my admittedly biased perspective.

It was marvelous to see the pope speak of the relationship between the two churches. “The history of relations between the Church of England and the Catholic Church is long and complex, and not without pain. Recent decades, however, have been marked by a journey of rapprochement and fraternity, and for this we give heartfelt thanks to God.”

What I was especially delighted to see was the common bond between the two in their commitment to social justice. The Episcopal News Service story summarized it like this:

The two leaders agreed that the fruits of this dialogue and relationship have the potential to empower Christians around the world to demonstrate the love of Christ.

The archbishop and the pope agreed on the need to build an economic system which promotes “the common good” to help those suffering in poverty.

Welby said that Christians must reflect “the self-giving love of Christ” by offering love and hospitality to the poor, and “love above all those tossed aside” by present crises around the world.

The pope said those with the least in society “must not be abandoned to the laws of an economy that seems at times to treat people as mere consumers”.

They also agreed on the need for Christians to act as peacemakers around the world, which they acknowledged could only be done if Christians “live and work together in harmony,” the pope said.

It was a moment of hope and encouragement.

Pope Francis exchange gifts with Archbishop of Canterbury Welby during a private audience at the Vatican


Sacred Music Friday: Praise my soul the king of heaven

St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir

forever in blue jeans

I have a milestone birthday coming up in August. This reminds me that I vowed many years ago I would actively avoid the polyester leisure suit as I got older.

For me, the commitment is to be forever in blue jeans.


I’ve long been familiar with Coffee with Jesus, since a couple of my Episcopal Facebook friends tend to share it frequently. It’s only recently that I’ve clicked Like on the source for the comic strip, Radio Free Babylon. The reason I did so was because of this one, which hit a bit too close to home (which CWJ frequently does). I’ve written about the house two doors down, where the wife has created something of a boarding house to make the mortgage, since her husband (whom I have not seen in ages) is not providing income due to his substance abuse. The boarders are not exactly young professionals, or even college students. They are, my guess is, mostly involved in recovery programs of one kind or another, and I tend to turn up my nose and look the other way.

That’s not quite what Jesus would have done.


the one downside

I have been singing the praises of solar power for a while now. So far Terry and I have found just one downside.

When we had the solar panels installed we thought it might help with the insulation of the house, and help keep the house cooler in the evening after a hot day. It turns out that the exact opposite is true. The house retains heat in the evening and doesn’t cool down as fast.

This is obviously not a big deal, and one of the points of having solar is that you can turn up the air conditioning without having to pay the power company more money.

Overall, we still know that going solar was exactly the right thing to do, and we’re delighted to have done so.