Time Travel

I read about time travel. I am intrigued by the paradoxes of time travel. I just LOoove time travel…. except when Daylight Saving Time rolls around. Remember, tonight’s the night. At 2:00 AM, we need to turn all our clocks back one hour, to 1:00 AM. Then we get an extra hour of sleep. (Sure we do. We just party an hour longer.) We’ll probably spend that extra hour trying, and failing, and cursing, to turn all the clocks and watches in the house, back. Thank the mystical gods of silicon, that computers, tablets and the like, are smarter than we are, and do this automatically.

For those who are as chronologically challenged as I am, I have obtained a graphic to aid you with this task.

Daylight time

I hope this helps. I’ll see you tomorrow…. or was that yesterday??! 😳

Memorably Invisible

Ghost

My belief, which I have occasionally stated, is that I am a loner with few friends, because I don’t reach out to make them. My view of the arc of my working life, especially the final 20 years, spent at the auto-parts plant, is a tapestry of – keep my head down, my mouth shut, do the job, don’t make waves, be quiet, small, and unnoticed.  I may have to revisit and re-evaluate that.

Three times, in as many months, I’ve been with the wife in a store, and someone with less seniority, who got laid off before me, someone who hasn’t seen me in over ten years, has recognized and remembered me, and approached, just to pass the time. The last time, a man saw me, and not-quite-jogged across half a Wal-Mart to engage in small talk – no “Remember when you taught me the easy way to do that hard job?” or, “Remember that asshole supervisor?” just….conversation.  I had to insist on continuing our errands after 10 minutes.

When we got home, the wife said, “You know, those people really like and respect you. They’re happy to be in your presence, and proud that you take the time just to talk to them.  It’s as if you emit a soft, warm glow of benediction.”  Who knew you could get friends just by not being an asshole??  Apparently I had ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ even before I had a blog.

Neither she nor I is a Trump, or a Kardashian, but I guess we’re not timid wallflowers either. Our new Osteopath is forever shaking his head and chuckling at our strange humor, our oblique viewpoints, and our widely based social and political opinions.  Plus, I take him strange shit to look at – a sword, a legal two-headed coin, an American 2-dollar bill.  He says he has no other couple anything like us, especially at our age.

The staff at the nearby Staples store is happy, friendly and helpful to us, willing to kid around, as they professionally solve our problems. Of course, as a service industry, they have to be like that with everyone, but with a PC, a laptop, a 7 in. tablet, a 5 in. tablet, two Kobos, a Kindle and a cell phone, they are exposed to us more than I really want.  (As I typed this, the wife’s cordless mouse died.)

We have joked with the female assistant manager for more than ten years. As a good retailer, she knows her customers.  The wife’s last laptop fried its graphics card.  We had to go in and choose another laptop.  We left it with them for formatting and setup – Windows 10 was released that day – and came back later to pick it up.

The wait, both times, at the Electronics Desk, was 10 to 15 minutes. The wife’s arthritis makes just standing quite painful.  Our gal quickly slipped back to the office chairs section, grabbed the expensive new OBUSFORME support model, wheeled it up and slid it under the wife.  Then she realized that the wife wasn’t using the ironwood cane she normally has, and wanted to know why it had been replaced by a forearm crutch.

The wife told her that it takes more weight off her feet; it reminds her not to overextend her right knee, and permits less stumbling. The manageress swooped her arm up, and said, “At the end of the year, can you throw it in the air, and shout ‘Happy Christmas, and God bless us every one’!”?  If the wife hadn’t been sitting down, she’d have been on the floor with me.  The gal says, we’re the only couple she knows who would get that joke – in July – think it was funny, and not be offended by it.

The day we went back, she was on break, so I got the good chair for the wife. When she came out, the wife yelled, “Hey, Sandy!” and pretended to throw the crutch.  We all howled, except the young tech, who didn’t get the joke.  Suddenly she rushed over, solicitously.  Since she hadn’t got the office chair, she was afraid the wife was in a wheelchair.  “Are you all right?  Did you fall?”

I guess, unlike many people, we don’t have flocks of folks we just have to be connected to.  We don’t have BFFs.  They say a friend will help you move.  A good friend will help you move – a body.  I should keep that in mind.   It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.  Mister Rogers won’t be in the neighborhood for five to ten years.  Would you be my friend?  😉

Book Review #8

I recently picked up a library book for the son.  When I saw it, I asked the librarian to check that it had not, in fact, been reserved by someone else.  It just wasn’t his style.  It was about words, and language, and communication.  It looked like something I would read.  In fact, I had 25 pages read by the time he received it.

word exchange

The Author – Alena Graedon

The Book – The Word Exchange

The Review

The story is set in the perhaps too-near future, when the printed word is down to its last gasp. Smartphones, PDAs and tablets have all morphed together, into an emotion-reading, electronic device called a Meme.  They can call you a cab as you ride down in the elevator, or order you a lunch at the first tummy rumble.

Unfortunately, dependence on them has caused loss of focus and memory, especially of language.  It was amusingly sadly ironic that, the day I began reading the book, the Scott Adams’, Dilbert© cartoon shown below was printed.

Dilbert

The book-jacket is printed with lines and rows of seemingly random letters, like the data streams in the Matrix movies.  Close examination though, shows the occasional word, like local, bash, or asking.  Starting near the end of the top line, several lines, with no spacing, of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky are printed. “Brillig and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe all mimsy were the boroves and the momeraths outgrabe.”

The story revolves around a daughter trying to find her boss/father, the editor of the last Dictionary to be printed in North America.  This author writes as I might – if I had an iota of inspiration and creativity.  The plot is none too deep, or believable, but she sprinkles bright and shiny words everywhere, like bits of crystal.

Within the first chapter, she has used proclivity, risible, perspicacity, sinuous, evanescing and nimbus.  One dark word among the others was verbicide – the destruction of language.  When people begin experiencing aphasia – loss of words – some passages resemble the Jabberwocky, above.   Later, she forms the neologism, Creatorium, for a place where new words and usages are produced.  She breaks the book into 26 A to Z chapters.

A for Alice, to whom Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty says, “A word means exactly what I want it to mean, no more, no less.”

B for Bartleby, a scrivener, or public secretary.

C for Communication.

D, I would have thought would be for “Dictionary”, but she made it Diachronic, a term referring to etymology, what words used to mean, why they mean what they do now, and what they are changing into, for the future.

The book comes in three segments, titled Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis.  It resembles a “found footage” movie like The Blair Witch Project.  It is footnoted, almost like a technical article.  The bottoms of pages are littered with thoughts, feelings, and explanations to the reader, almost like Shakespearean stage asides.

The heroine’s name is Ana, except it isn’t.  It’s really Anana, which is a palindrome, reading the same backward and forward.  Her father told her that the word means gentle, kind or mild in Swahili, face, in Sanskrit, lovely, in Inuit, and harmonize, in Gweno.  If you add an S to it, to make more than one of her, she becomes ananas, her father’s favorite French fruit, pineapple.

Menace is provided by The Word Exchange, the titular corporation which is buying out and eating up all print and on-line dictionaries.  Their Memes cause people to lose more and more of their language skills, but offer to “remind” you, for two cents a word; cheap now, but what will they charge when they have a monopoly?

A situation was described in the book.  I had heard of it, but halfway through the book, I got to experience it.  Coming soon, to a telephone near you, the heuristic call.  What sounds like a real, live person, is actually a computer, with a voice synthesizer, preprogrammed responses to almost limitless conversational branches, and the ability to understand key words and voice intonation.

A TV anchor’s voice, full of false bonhomie, says, “Hi!  My name is Bob.  How are you today?”  Being polite Canadians, we reply, “Fine thank you.”  Bob says, “That’s great!  I’d like to sell you a cell phone plan.”  Or maybe you say, morosely, “I’m terrible!  My Grandmother just died.”  Bob says, “Oh, that’s too bad.  I’m really sorry, but you’ll want to notify family and friends.  I’d like to sell you a new cell phone plan.”  No matter where the conversation goes, it always ends at the cell phone package….unless?

The guy in the book says, if you recognize the call, you can have fun with it.  “How are you?”  “Left-handed.”  And listen for the half-second as the computer resets itself.  “Can I sell you a cell phone package?”  “Carsick yaks, blueberries, nude skydiving, virtual monkey wrenches!”  If you supply enough non-sequitur comments, you can fugue the computer, hanging it up until a tech clears and restarts it.  Hell, I think I’ll start trying that with real live people.

Like the Synchronic Corporation’s motto in the book says, The Future is Now.  It’s time for us to put down all our electronic crutches, throw open the window and yell, “I’m mad as Hell, and….what was the rest of that?  Ah, don’t bother.  I’ll look it up.  Won’t cost much.    😕

Upscale Insults

More high-class ways to put down friends, family, and fellow workers, who really need it.  Are there ever too many??

*****

Have you taken your ugly pills this morning?

Someone must have really hit you hard with an ugly stick.

You must have been a beautiful baby – what happened?

Body by Nautilus – Brain by Fisher-Price

I’m sorry I made you cry – but your face is cleaner now.

I’d love to take you home – but I forgot the leash.

You ought to be on the stage.  There’s one leaving in 15 minutes.

I live near the cliff.  Drop over some time.

Stop smiling; don’t you have work to do?

Get lost!  We have no “found” department.

As an outsider, what do you think of the human race?

Why, I don’t think you’re two-faced at all.  If you had two, you wouldn’t always wear the ugly one.

You’re making a fool of yourself, and I’ve never seen finer craftsmanship.

I love your new hairdo.  I never realized steel wool could look so becoming.

Fly away with me….we’ll use your broomstick.

Your heart’s in the right place.  It’s your head that worries me!

Darling, you’re my whole world – fat and round.

Some are born beautiful; some are born smart, I’m sorry you’re a two-time loser.

You have a truly timeless beauty – your face would stop a clock.

You sure are outstanding in your field, and that’s where you should be, out, standing in your field.

Let’s tie the knot – around your neck.

Have you ever considered acting—like a human being?

You’re one in a million – and the other 999,999 are sure happy.

I don’t know what makes you tick.  I think it’s a time-bomb.

Darling, you came to me out of nowhere…Go back!

Is that really your head, or is your neck blowing bubblegum?

I hate human beings.  You, I like.

Aren’t you Tina Turner’s sister, Stomach Turner?

Or perhaps you’re related to Bob Hope, No Hope?

Lorna Doone’s granddaughter – Nothin’ Doone?

What a cute skirt.  What did you make with the rest of the tablecloth?

I love you.  But then, I have horrible taste.

I’d like to take you home to dear old Dad….who hasn’t had a good laugh in years.

Is it true your brother’s an only child?

You’ve got a photographic mind – Too bad it never developed.

Shut your mouth—You’ll lose your candy.

You have that certain nothing.

As long as you have a minute to spare, tell me all you know.

If there’s nothing to be said, I’m sure you’ll say it.

I’d like to help you out.  Which way did you come in?

It’s good to see you’re back, especially after seeing your face.

Go gargle with peanut butter.

When I want your opinion, I’ll rattle your cage.

Gee, you look good….have you been sick?

Why don’t you stop in for dinner sometime, if you don’t mind imposing?

Why don’t you go sit on a tack, and offer lap-dances?

Why don’t you go over to police headquarters and volunteer as a missing person?

*****

And now for something a little more cerebral

THE SEX LIFE OF AN ELECTRON

One night, when his charge was high, Micro Farad decided to try and find a cute little coil to discharge into.  He picked up Milli Amp, and took her for a ride on his megacycle.  They rode across the Wheatstone Bridge, and parked in a magnetic field, near a flowing current.

Micro Farad soon became attracted to Milli Amp’s characteristics curves, and finally had her resistance at a minimum.  With his field fully charged, he laid her on the ground potential, raised her frequency, lowered her capacitance, and pulled out his high-voltage probe.  He inserted it into her socket, connecting them in parallel, and began to short circuit her shunt.

Fully excited, Milli Amp cried, MHO, MHO, give me MHO!  With his tube operating at a maximum peak, and her coil vibrating from the current flows, she quickly reached her maximum.

The excess current flow had got him hot, and Micro Farad was rapidly discharging, and drained of every electron.

They fluxed all night, trying various connections and sockets, until his bar magnet lost all of its field strength.

Afterwards, Milli Amp tried self-induction, and damaged her solenoid.  With his battery fully discharged, Micro Farad was unable to excite his generator, so they ended up by reversing polarities and started to blow each other’s fuses.

Triviana Two

The further spewings of a mind incapable of holding a cogent thought longer than….what was I saying?  Oh, yeah.

Do you store your kitchen knives in a wooden knife-block?  Are there grooves in the bottom of each slot?  You aren’t doing the edge, or the block, any good.  I was watching a British detective show, and the young Copper wanted to impress a date, by cooking up a home-made meal.  He reached over and removed a knife from the block – upside-down!  And the little light went on!  There’s no rule that says they have to go in edge down.  The knife-nut took a Gibbs’ head-smack out of petty-cash, and moved on.

This area must be a good one to live in.  There have been three articles about birthdays in the paper recently.  First, the oldest person in the Region is a lady who is now 106 years old.  A week later, we had a report of twin brothers who had celebrated their 100th.  Granted, they were born in India, and came here after W.W. II, but two of them??!  One hundred!!  Must be the water…. or the preservatives in the Twinkies.  Finally, there was an article about a pair of female twins who had reached 90 years of age.

When she listens to radio in the evening, while reading, the wife likes to put on a local station which carries a syndicated show by New-Ager, John Tesh.  She likes the choice of music on his show, but his inane yammering drives her crazy.  I heard him say, the other night, that someone had done a study of 3700 crosswalk push buttons.  I don’t know what disturbed me most, that someone had got paid to study crosswalk buttons, or how badly they screwed up the findings.

Tesh claimed that 47% weren’t connected to anything, because, when they were pushed, nothing happened.  In my Analog Curmudgeon post, I bitched about things going on in the background in computers, which I couldn’t see.  It’s the same with computer-controlled traffic lights.  Just because you push a button, it doesn’t mean that the light will immediately go green.

The Traffic Department doesn’t want the flow of traffic disrupted, nor drivers slamming on brakes to stop at suddenly-red lights.  Your request goes into the system and your walk-light will appear in sequence.

MSN had an article today, about lengthening the time on yellow lights.  If the dwell-time is too short, drivers are put in a dilemma-spot.  Do they take a chance on running a red light, or slam on the brakes, and possibly get rear-ended?  The local Traffic Department, like others everywhere, installed red-light cameras at several problem intersections, “To improve safety!”  An independent survey group recently revealed that crashes at these corners are up 31%, and personal injuries have increased by 51 %.

Despite having these data given to him, the Traffic Co-ordinator insists that it’s not about the cash infusion from the fines, “It’s about the safety.”  We pay the company which installed and maintains the cameras, an outrageous fee.  The Ontario government takes an unearned cut, and the Region banks what’s left.  Thanks, Mr. Co-ordinator, my wallet feels much safer, just like your job.

As an ego sop to a bunch of egotistic saps, the Regional Council seems hell-bent on putting an LRT street-railroad down the middle of the already too-small, over-burdened main street.  Despite huge public outrage, it seems destined to be a fait accompli.  The projected cost is 818$ million.  The Provincial and Federal Governments are each providing one-third of the funding, but that just means we’re getting our own money back.  The inevitable cost over-runs will push it above ONE BILLION.

Regional Council has paid a local think-tank $75,000, to come up with a name which will make us like it.  Citizen suggestions had already included White Elephant, SUB – seldom used boondoggle, WTF – Waterloo Transit fiasco, TNT – Taxpayers’ nightmare transit, MET – money-eating taxer, FUUS – forced upon us suckers, RBI – really bad investment, RMP – Regional money pit, and OUCH – over-priced, under-used cash hole.

Without consulting the public, probably because of the above, the fairy-dust sniffers brought it down to three names.  They felt it should be Trio, for the three main cities in the Region, even though Cambridge will not be hooked up for years, if ever; Arc, because of the pot-of-gold (Which it’s going to cost us.) at the end of the rainbow feeling, and the curve it forms on the map; or Ion, which is supposed to represent energy, and the local electronic/technology industry.

With the predictable public reaction, they are now back-pedalling, and offering to accept public input.  C’mon guys, you’re burning money!  Somebody do what they’re (over)paid to do, make a damned decision.  Why not officially name it what everybody’s going to call it anyway – LRT?

Three naked male teens were reported jumping on a trampoline in a residential backyard recently.  They were clothed when police arrived, but were cautioned.  This is Ontario, in mid-January; parts can freeze and break off.

In case you didn’t notice at Christmas-time, the Politically-Correct Police removed the reference to Santa smoking a pipe, from the, ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, poem.  They declared that nicotine addiction was “a pediatric disease, for which prevention must start early.”  This ranks with the Bowdlerization of Mark Twain’s, Huck Finn, and the recent furore over the movie Django Unchained.  It ain’t pretty, but it’s historical fact.  Not being exposed to it merely prevents us from making an informed decision when it inevitably arises.

I know my header says “Rants and Rambles”, but that’s enough for now.  I don’t want to tire you out with all that thinkin’ stuff.