My First Brainf*ck

A Nation With Few Catholics Gives Pope a Welcome Fit for an Emperor

In a lush valley in the vast Mongolian countryside, hulking wrestlers, equestrians doing bareback tricks, throat singers and archers performed for top Vatican cardinals who snacked on dried yogurt delicacies under the shade of a ceremonial blue tent.

It was treatment worthy of an emperor for the prelates accompanying Pope Francis, who was back in Mongolia’s capital resting during his four-day trip to the country, the first ever by a Roman Catholic pontiff. But in a largely Buddhist and atheist country with barely 1,400 Catholics, some of the Mongolians at the Naadam festival in the central province of Töv on Friday were not quite clear why the Catholic clerics were there, or what Catholics even were.

“What are Catholics again?” Anojin Enkh, 26, a caterer with the Grand Khaan Irish Pub, said as she stocked a lamb and dumpling buffet for Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s second-in-command, and other top cardinals, bishops, priests, nuns and Vaticanisti in the papal press corps. “I don’t know any Catholic people.”

Francis has made visiting places where his flock is often forgotten a hallmark of his papacy. But even by that measure, Mongolia is especially off the radar, its Catholic population especially minuscule.

The country’s entire Catholic population could fit into a cathedral. It has a handful of churches and only two native Mongolian priests. On Friday, when Francis arrived, horses and goats vastly outnumbered the people standing on the road to see his motorcade pass.

On Saturday, a couple of hundred pilgrims, most of whom had come from other countries, barely registered in the immense Sükhbaatar Square in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, where Francis bowed before a huge statue of Ghengis Khan and reviewed a parade of cavalry soldiers dressed in ancient Mongolian armor.

There was a time – not too long ago – that a ‘my first computer’ required the use of machine code and an understanding of binary. While an introduction to computers is now just how to put a Raspberry Pi image on an SD card, a few people are keeping the dream of memorizing opcodes alive. One such person is [Johan von Konow], creator of My First Brainfuck, an ultra small, low-cost programmable computer.

My First Brainfuck is an Arduino shield designed to have all the features of a normal computer, but without all those messy mnemonics that make assembly programming so easy. This computer is programmed in Brainfuck, a purposely obtuse programming language that, while being incredibly esoteric and difficult to program in, can be very, very rewarding.

[Johan] has a short tutorial showing how his computer works and how the Brainfuck language operates. There are only eight commands in Brainfuck, perfect for such a minimal user interface, but with enough patience, nearly anything can be written in this difficult language.

Right now there are a few examples showing how to play a scale on the on-board buzzer, displaying a Larson scanner on the LEDs, and a few more programs will be published in the future.


My First Credit Cards Were Disappointing. Why I Wish I Opened This Travel Card Sooner

I opened my first credit card — a store card at Lazarus (now Macy’s) — when I was just 18 years old. I started with a $300 credit limit, so I mostly used the card to get discounts while financing clothing and other purchases. Because I always paid my credit card bill early or on time, this card did help me build credit so I could qualify for a traditional credit card.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t savvy about my credit card choices after that. I used a card that didn’t earn rewards throughout my early 20s, and my first rewards credit card was another store card that earned grocery certificates at Kroger.

I shudder to think about how much I spent on my Kroger credit card (now called the Kroger Rewards World Elite Mastercard®) during the years I used it, mostly because I could only redeem my points for more food and toiletries at Kroger stores. Plus, I only earned 1% cash back and near zero benefits.

Finally, in my late 20s, I realized I wasn’t maximizing credit card rewards, and I turned to travel credit cards to help earn points and miles on flights. Travel cards have allowed me to travel to more than 50 countries with my husband and children, including Italy, France, Spain, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.

While I have had a ton of travel credit cards over the years and currently have six that I use regularly, my top card for the last six years has been the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. And I wish I would have opened it sooner. Here’s why.Highlights of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Intro Offer

60,000 points Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

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