Alexa Echo Plus and Apple’s i8X – Uncle Larry Loves them Both


Just in case you forget my 72nd birthday on the 14th I bought myself two new technology wonders and am happy with them both. Here are my initial thoughts:

Alexa Echo Plus by Amazon – Where has Alexa been all my life? I have never had an entertainment and information device all three of us like as well as Alexa. Though it is a female name when you say it she listens – responds immediately and the range of responses is unbelievable. In short if there is a song or any piece of information anywhere on the internet Alexa will retrieve it for you – and pronto. As amazing as the availability of music and information is – almost equally impressive is the quality of the speaker. The range of the sound for a speaker no taller than 6” and as big around as a soda can is amazing.

Alexa Echo Plus comes with a light bulb that generates different 3 different rings of light on the top depending on her status. How great would it be to find a woman with a multi colored crown that tells you if she’s off – on and ready to receive instruction and or is actively doing something for you:) Then when you are done just say her name and OFF and she is! Amazing!

One last word on Alexa Echo Plus. If you buy one don’t bother to read the instructions. Assuming you have Wifi available at the location where you place Alexa just download the Alexa App on your iPhone and it guides you right through what to do. I made the mistake of trying to set it up using my Mac and that does not work. Download the App on your iPhone and Alexa will be playing music and answering your questions in minutes. Speaking of questions I think Alexa must be the younger sister of Siri. If you are bored just sit around and ask her questions and she is never stumped for an answer. This is bound to become one of America’s favorite drinking games.

Apple iPhone 8X – I just walked into the Verizon Corporate store on PGA and 30 minutes later walked out with Siri in a bigger home. The comments that follow are based on the differences I have seen already between my iPhone 6 and the 8X.

1. The size of the screen significantly increases my ability to read it and use the key board.
2. Siri has really matured since the i6 came out. If you sync it with your contacts there isn’t anything I’ve found yet that she can’t do – and with my tremor that is a real plus. I may be kidding myself but the Siri on the i8 hears me better and gets results quicker.
3. Speaking of hearing you won’t believe the speaker! I automatically put it on max volume and then on my first received call it sounded like they were on speaker phone – when they weren’t. When you put it on speaker phone it is really loud on max volume. I’ve had to turn it down just a touch. Something Marty has been trying to get me to do for years. When listening to music w/o the ear plugs the sound fills up a room. I’d estimate it’s almost twice as loud as my i6.
4. The screen picture quality is much improved – brighter and sharper. Speaking of brighter it has an option that you can choose to activate that automatically dims or raises it’s brightness based on the ambient lighting around you.
5. The battery life could take a Tesla around the block. It’s 3:45 PM as I write this and I’ve used the i8 as much today as before and I still have 91% battery power!
6. All those ios updates I’ve made to my i6 had left it working hard to keep up and the i8 is so much faster.
7. I have only taken one picture so far and it is so much brighter, clearer and sharper than my i6. Verizon encouraged me to go to YouTube and watch the video on all the things the new camera can do – especially in the world of portraits and motion. I’ll get to that later and let you know.
8. Storage – it’s not an issue. I have 650 songs and a bunch of apps and I was always bumping into the 16GB limit on my i6. The base/free storage is 64GB and for a “few dollars more” you can get 250GB. Not even President Trump has that many friends:)
9. Finally, the size and weight has not been an issue. It fits into the front pocket of my pants or shorts just fine.

Well that’s it. If your birthday is this month – or you aren’t sure those who love you the most are going to get you Alexa or Apple’s i8 get out there and treat yourself to these new electronic marvels. After all aren’t you worth it?

Uncle Larry

What is a True and Acceptable Religion?


I frequently hear a question something like this: “If Christianity is real and is a peaceful and forgiving religion then shouldn’t we show mercy to Muslim People and RESPECT their Religion?”

There may be many answers to this question that are deeper than my mind and spirit can know. That said I look to Jesus – The Messiah – The Son of God – The Promised One in the Line of David to define what true religion is.

Amazingly it did not require much research or insights. Marty and I were doing our devotionals today and we read the words of Jesus from a Jew that became known to the Christian world as St. Matthew. In Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 22: Verses 34 to 40 we read:
“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Please read these Words of Jesus again!

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hand on these two commandments.”

Should we show mercy and open our nation and our land to untold numbers of Muslims?

I ask you to consider only one question! In the past 16 years or 16 centuries have the followers of Islam lived their lives according to this law: “To love your neighbor as yourself?”

Selah!

A Declaration Paid For In Blood


On July 2, 1776 the US Congress voted for Independence from England. It wasn’t, however, until two days later that Washington read aloud the Declaration of Independence that we celebrate this week.

As great as that document was and is the real sacrifice came in the blood and lives of the men who signed it and those who fought and died to make it happen.

I read that five percent – 1 in 20 – of every white, free males living in America died in the War of Independence. Twice that number were wounded so statistically 1 out of every 6.4 American families either lost their Husband/Father or he came home wounded and maimed. This number does not include slaves and other persons of color – which would only raise the total dead and wounded.

In addition to the wounded, maimed and dead directly related to the war there was approximately the same total number of men, women and children that died during that period due to disease.

If you think things are tough today – imagine how the populace must have felt during the Revolutionary War Period with approximately one third – 1 out of every three households either lost a family member due to death and or lived with their physical wounds and disabilities.

Those were some indescribably tough times and each and every American living today owes that generation of Original Americans a debt of gratitude we can never repay.

How Was Your Day Today?


Does your car have one of those “FOBs?” Can I ask you what the heck is a “FOB” anyway? Is that like “LOL” – which I am still confused about. Does it mean “laugh out loud” or “lots of love?”

I often get replies from my insane e mails or texts with “LOL” and I flinch and think to myself did I say something inappropriate to that person to let them believe I love them? Is it something like the issue we now face of which bathroom to use? My choice is primarily based on how fast I have to go based on my continuing case of Amoebic Dysentery that I got in RVN!

Personally I blame the whole darn thing on Al Gore! When he “invented the internet” he should have come out with a glossary of terms!

OK, back to my real life drama! My friends at Christ Fellowship asked us to visit a 99 year old gentleman who is under home “Hospice” care. We jump in Marty’s car – which has the magical FOB – and we visit him and God really uses the time and he verbalizes the principles of Romans 10: 9 & 10.

We Praise God and get in Marty’s car and my iPhone beeps to let me know Christ Fellowship is asking me if we can visit another gentleman in Hospice at Gardens Hospital.

Of course I text back yes and I press the “button” to start the car. NOTHING HAPPENS. I put my foot on the break pedal firmly and press the button again and nothing happens. I repeat this process three more times and nothing happens. I now scream at the car and curse it for not starting. Is there any chance for me maturing or subduing my anger issues?

Then on the fifth attempt to start the car I NOTICE that when I have my foot on the break I am pressing ON THE RADIO ON AND OFF BUTTON! I press on the START button and of course it starts.

I ask you – who is smarter or mature? The Car or Me?

Larry

PS I dropped Marty off at home and when I got to Hospice at Gardens Hospital the wonderful, loving, kind and Saintly women who perform an act of service and grace there greeted me kindly but said I missed him by an hour and his Family had all gone home. I figure it was either God’s Will or I blame it on the Car – it can’t be my fault!

The Chronological Christmas Story


Have you ever wanted to have an easy to read Chronological Order of the Christmas Story? One that you could read for yourself and something you could share with your family and friends at Christmas without having to jump back and forth from Luke to Matthew and then back to Luke again and so on. Here is Uncle Larry’s attempt to give you this tool, all taken from the NIV Translation of God’s Word given to us by St. Luke and St. Matthew.

The Birth Of Jesus Foretold
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. Luke 1: 26-38

Mary Visits Elizabeth
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1: 39-45

The Magnificat: Mary’s Song of Praise
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” Luke 1: 46-55

Mary Returns to Nazareth
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. Luke 1:56

Joseph – Mary’s Faithful Fiancée
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. Matthew 1: 19-25

The Birth of Jesus
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. Luke 2: 1-7

The Shepherds and an Angel and The Host of Angels
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2: 8-20

Wise Men from the East
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. Matthew 2: 1-12

The Escape to Egypt
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Matthew 2: 13-16

The Return to Nazareth
After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene. Matthew 2: 19-23

So ends this Chronological Review of the The Christmas Story – otherwise known as the introduction of the Messiah – the One who was fully God and fully man.

Speaking of the time from Eternity past St. John writes his brief overview of the coming of the God-man:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1: 1-5; 14

Anger – Like Kudzu in Georgia it’s everywhere!


Anger, it’s like Kudzu in Georgia – it grows everywhere and getting rid of it requires digging out the roots and burning them – or throwing them in your neighbors yard if you are angry with him about something.
For me I think of anger sort of like temptation. It’s always around and it just jumps up on me like flies on honey. I don’t have to seek it out, it always seems to know where I am.

Saint Paul told us in I Corinthians 10:13 that “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

Is this where temptation and anger differ? Is God going to provide me a way out of temptation if I am willing to take it – but this latent, deep seated anger that I’ve been carrying around for fifty years or so – is there Biblical support that God wants to help me with that?

Our friends at GotQuestions.org put out a good piece this week on anger – from a Biblical perspective – addressing: 1. Is anger BAD and 2. How we can deal with it. I read the piece and I know I need to work on some of these principles. OK, you got me, I need to work on all of them!

If you are interested in what they are just open this site. It takes about five minutes to read and a lifetime to apply.

https://gotquestions.org/QOTW.htm

I made my first Political Contribution today for Brian Mast – Combat Wounded Vet who is running for Congress


I made my first political contribution today for Brian Mast – also a Combat Wounded Veteran who is running for Congress here where we live in District 18. You are probably too young to appreciate this but sometimes I forget things. My phone rang today and it was Brian, saying he got my number from his wife Brianna and asked if he could talk for a minute about his run for Congress.

While he was talking I had a flashback to one of our favorite servers for years at Palm Beach Grill – his wife – Brianna Mast. Brianna asked Marty and I several times back then to pray for “my husband” when he was shipped to the Middle East and in 2011 she implored us to pray for him as he had both his legs blown off by an IED. Of course we did and then we heard her reports of his long but remarkable healing and then the battle to adjust to his new artificial below the knee legs.

I saw the ads recently they are running on local TV and it dawned on me finally – that is Brianna from The Grill’s husband. Today I got an e mail from some good friends who are seasonal and they asked me if I knew him and told me about Brian being a strong Christian and Family Man – two boys 4 and 6 and a one year old girl – and that Marty and I and our friends at CF should get behind him.

Then just an hour or so ago Brian calls.

I have not met Brian personally but will do that soon when we get together for a local meet and greet. If you are interested in coming let me know. Brian is running against four other Republicans in the Primary later this month. Based on his record of serving our Nation – His remarkable recovery and re-entry into civilian life as a Christian leader of his family – and from what I can read on his website – Mastforcongress.com – he merits my support and I hope yours as well if you live here in District 18.

If you check his website don’t miss the “Meet the Masts” section. It brought tears to my eyes as I remember Marty and I meeting and getting married right before I shipped out to Vietnam. Our proposals were equally “un-romantic” and we had to make do on my $68 a month and her $80 a week. Who knew I married Marty for her money?

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Uncle Larry

Who is Winning? Trump or “Cruzio?”


There’s nothing the Media likes more than a controversy so we all sit by our TVs and Internet waiting for the next key insight into when Donald will be crowned King of the Blue Team! The Media’s motives aside who is winning today – Sunday 3/6? The latest Delegate vote I saw this morning has it this way:

Trump 385
Cruz 298
Rubio 126
“Cruzio” 424
Kasich 36

My absentee ballot on my desk here tells me Florida and Ohio are coming up on 3/15 and they are winner take all States with Florida having 99 and Ohio 66. If Rubio wins Florida and Kasich takes his home State Ohio – excluding the other states we have:

Trump 385
Cruz 298
Rubio 225
“Cruzio” 523
Kasich 102

It seems to me the Blue Team race is far from over and who knows if Trump will stumble and or the others will play let’s make a deal. As the wise and ancient TV Kung Fu Fighter David Carradine once said “Patience Little Grasshopper.”

Let me be clear about one thing. I will never, ever vote for a Democrat again. I did that once eight years ago and look what happened! That said, I just can’t bring myself to trust Trump. He just doesn’t strike me as the “Solid Rock” the wise man or woman builds their house on. As a “Christian” of the remaining candidates Cruz appeals to me the most so I should be voting for Cruz later in the day when we fill out our ballots. However, since this is just the playoffs do I vote for Rubio to help Cruzio and then hope to get the chance to vote for Cruz against The Wicked Witch from New York? No matter if it’s Trump – Cruzio or the Grasshopper I will be voting for the Blue Team candidate.

Fannie and Freddie give Birth to a New Mortgage Bond – a Derivative


As the wise and now eternal philosopher Yogi Berra once said “It’s de javu all over again.”

If you are knowledgable about Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) – have seen the popular movie “The Big Short” – have read my review of same at Unclelarry1.com which placed the blame on a wider base – and or have lost money as an investor in AAA “Derivatives” you may want to hold your breath as you open the link below in todays Wall Street Journal – which in essence says Fannie and Freddie are going to start issuing their own “derivatives” based on – wait for it – wait for it – and I quote “all but their safest mortgages.”

I may not be the shiniest nickel in the bag but if I tell you the bond I want to sell you is backed by “all but their safest mortgages” can this be translated as “this derivative is guaranteed by the crap that is left over once we sell our safe mortgages to someone else” SUCKER!

To confirm this opinion by Yogi and Larry they go on to say they are “laying off the cost of defaults on private investors.” Can this be translated as “we are going to take a bunch of crap and package it and get the ratings agencies Moody’s and S&P to rate this as Double A (Aa)” and sell it to you because it says Fannie or Freddie on it and you just believe it is guaranteed by our Government even though they say they aren’t – SUCKER!

Now I know that you are far too wise and mature and have learned from the mortgage debacle of the first part of the 21st century that when you buy crap you often get crapped on. Yet somehow a smooth talking Bond Salesman or even worse yet a Retail Broker from your Investment Firm that would not know a derivative from a football tells you he can get you “a Fannie or a Freddie at 50 basis points more than the market you say bring it on because I need YIELD!

This is my first and final warning to you as a potential investor in something that is based on “all but their safest mortgages.”

Your former friendly Bond Salesman!

Larry

PS When is someone going to offer me a slot on Fox Business News so I can rant and rave against the evils of the Commercial and Investment and Government Agency Banking World that are looking to take advantage of your kind and naive nature and leave you penniless on the side on the Jericho Road waiting for the Good Samaritan to save your greedy – – – ?

http://www.wsj.com/articles/fannie-and-freddie-give-birth-to-new-mortgage-bond-1451385003?mod=djem10point