Monday, May 25, 2009

"May You Live in Interesting Times" (old curse I read about long ago, and can no longer attribute.)

Well, it's been an interesting weekend.
Our planned trip to New Mexico to be with YT's dad for the Holiday ended along I-10 about a half hour from Tucson, with transmission fluid all over the underside of our Cherokee. Turned out to be a blown fluid line. Not bad enough to call a major disaster, but it stopped us cold in Benson, where we enjoyed a motel stay, breakfast at Denny's and a limping trip home.

So last night was movie night. Went to a drive-in (a pretty unusual find these days...see YT's blog on the subject.)

YT is gradually becoming a Ben Stiller fan. She openly admitted to enjoying the "Night at the Museum" sequel. It was funnier than the first one, I thought, and a good evening's entertainment. The X-Men Wolverine movie playing with it was also good. I think YT liked it a little better then I did, (can't imagine what the attraction could be). A bit light in the script, if that sort of thing is important to you. The actors were all fine...but deserved more to work with.

The evening was a pleasant experience. For some odd reason we bumped into Sage and Chica in line, and ended up parking next to them. We spent a while talking about the old days of drive-ins with Sage and his brothers, and the playgrounds they used to have down under the screen, and all that greasy drive-in food that was really bad for you, but tasted so good. We ate lots of it because we didn't know any better back then, in the Olden Days.

Yeah, some times you end up having good times, for reasons you never planned on or suspected.
Blog at ya later,

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Trek is Back

I really wasn't sure going into the theater that I would like the new "Star Trek". After all, I was there for the original, short-lived series that started it all, and through the syndicated rebirth and finally the big screen series that launched all those other iterations of the Roddenberry universe. If it was true to the original, how much more was there to add to that story line without being repetitious? If it went its own way, on the other hand, where would all those details us trekkers have come to expect end up? A little nod or homage here and there wouldn't really do.

Happily, J.J. Abrams zeroed in on the soul of Star Trek, its characters, and then cast an extraordinary group of actors who kept them intact, and placed them into a fresh and promising place, where anything is possible in future stories.

I don't want to be a spoiler for the five people who haven't seen it yet, so I'll try to be vague on plot points...but we knew our old Friends in their new incarnations without having to be introduced by name. And, as a totally new story line emerged, we kept bumping into bits and pieces of the old universe we've come to know over the years, usually when it was least expected.

The result: a new franchise, which I believe will attract us old-school trekkers and a new generation (pardon the pun) of fans to carry it well beyond the original five-year mission (which is now an ongoing mission).

And there are lots of permutations out there waiting to be re-visited, thanks to a really clever plot device that literally reboots everything:

If you haven't seen it, I recommend you do...don't wait for the DVD. You'll want to be immersed in this one. Find the biggest screen you can, and enjoy.

Blog at ya later

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Memes, Tags and Other Stuff

I got "tagged" with a "meme" today. I'm not sure of the significance of that, but I have made inquiries. It seems the language I learned as a young English-speaking American has been surpassed, along with the technology I used to make a living.

I suppose it's only natural for language to evolve along with the societies that use it... and I have seen a lot of changes over time. Some words have completely different meanings now, others didn't exist a few years ago, and some that I still use are completely unknown to the English-speaking public at large.

Take "Tag" for example. When I was a kid, we played "tag" in the back yard. You tapped (or sometimes whacked, punched, or stomped depending on who you were playing with) the other player, then ran around trying to avoid being "tagged", and consequently becoming the dreaded "It". Great game.

In the cyberworld, “tag” means it’s your turn to write something on your blog, I guess. At least that’s what Yarntangler tells me…kind of like tag-team wrestling.

Then there’s “meme”. I tried pronouncing it “mehm”, leaving the final “e” silent, as I’d learned many years ago in grammar (do they use that word any more?) school. But I was told it is now "Mee-Mee", as in "Me! Me! Meeee!" (What the smart kids or the brown-noses used to say in class when they wanted to be called on). I’m also informed it means I am to copy the form, but not necessarily content of the tagger when I do my blog.

So, in the interest of not getting stuck in the past, here’s my Meme blog after being tagged by Yarntangler to come up with a list of eight somethings:

Eight Words I Don't Quite Completely Understand Anymore:


This is now a noun. Your program doesn't work? Maybe you got a bad install. When I was growing up, it was installation. Your installation was bad and whoever installed (verb) the program should have to do it again, or fix it at no extra charge. I've always thought installation was a perfectly good word. Install is shorter, though, and I guess the other advantage is that if something goes wrong, it's pretty hard to find anybody to pin it on. It's just a bad install.


This is a new term, more than a little reminiscent of "Newspeak", the language of Orwell's "1984". It's a little scary because it replaces "remove" or "delete", words with negative connotation. Uninstall means to remove the program completely, without having to actually say it. It reminds me of "ungood" the new "bad" in Orwell's book. (Hey. He wasn't too far from the mark with that date, either, was he?)


All of my references in the above paragraphs to problems, malfunctions, etc. have now been replaced by this co-opted term that formerly referred to matters of some general importance. Today, if your hard drive crashes and you lose everything in your computer, you have a hardware issue. If you have a ton of pictures in your computer, but see only a little window with a numbered "error" when you try to look at them, you have a software issue. Issues are resolved, at great expense, by guys with short-sleeved shirts speaking advanced forms of Newspeak while fully aware that you have no idea what they're saying. They do revert to Oldspeak when quoting the final charge.


There are a few variations of this one in play at the moment. You get a Service Pack every so often from Microsoft so your computer will keep working most of the time, and not let nasty Hacks (see below) get into your program through the Back Door (see below).
There is Customer Service available online, which means you get to allow somebody who works for Microsoft to Hack (see below) into your program through a Back Door (see below) that you open for him or her (pardon the oldspeak). This allows your Customer Service person to fix whatever went wrong with the Service Pack you just installed.
Finally, there is Process Service. This has nothing to do with computer processing or service of any kind. It retains its traditional meaning, and takes place when you try to use any of Microsoft's programs in ways they don't like.


Newspeak substitute for "He" or "She", applies to all variations. This one is the laziest translation into politically-sensitive gender reference I've seen so far. Instead of acknowledging that there are any differences between male and female persons, we'll just refer to everybody in the plural, whether there's more than one or not. It reduces the awkward "he or she" to one word. Thus we have our erudite News anchors telling us: "If anyone wants to apply for a free Government handout, they can fill out the forms and mail them in." etc.


I remember this word quite distinctly. It referred to writers. Not very good writers. In fact, it specifically meant bad writers who hammered out stuff every day to make a living. I was a hack for a long time. I wrote news. I wrote for radio. I wrote grammatically correct stories meant to be understood, but not necessarily remembered. And it worked: I don't remember a single story I ever wrote. In the olden days, before my time it also referred to a taxi, but I wouldn't expect anybody to remember that.
Today, it's become a verb and carries a badge of honor in certain nefarious circles. It means the act of getting into somebody else's computer. Without that person's consent or knowledge. One who can Hack is called a Hacker (rhymes with slacker, which has a similar connotation in a different context). Hackers write viruses, which are diseases for computer programs, and produce similar results to their biological counterparts.

7...Back Door:

I remember many an afternoon leaving home by the back door, running around in the neighborhood, getting dirty, then finally going back in for supper, again through the back door. It was the door we used instead of the front door, which was for company. It got a lot of use. Easy to understand. "Doo Doo Doo Lookin' out my back door".
Today, it means a hole in your computer program through which nasty things like viruses, worms and "who knows whatall" (as Aunt Bea would say) get in. Microsoft puts several thousand back doors into each new spiffy operating system it develops, then spends the next several years boarding them up as well as it can with "Service Packs" (see above). It gives the gang in Redland something to do between lattes.


This term has changed meaning rather rapidly. Not long ago, it meant declaring yourself totally broke, and getting sent to the bottom of the economic barrel in exchange for protection from creditors. It meant you started from scratch, had no credit, and could look forward to many many years of financial struggle. It carried shame with it.
Today, it means those who are irresponsible managers of a giant corporation's funds can file for it, get government money to bail them out, and receive a handsome bonus for being clever enough to think of it. No shame; it's just business.

Yep. Times have changed.
Blog at ya later,