29
Jun 20

And here’s how we start another week

Here’s a shot from a weekend bike ride. This was just after a turnaround spot, just after I got passed and dropped for the rest of the ride. I was well and truly put away for the rest of the day. I saw her here, caught one more glimpse and then rode alone for 40 more minutes.

Some days she’s too fast, and some days I’m too slow. And I wasn’t even moving terribly slowly during this ride, which could only mean that she was moving quite fast indeed. Fortunately, I don’t mind riding alone.

She wasn’t on this road, which invites you to slow down and enjoy the narrow lane because it is a continual, slow incline for just under two miles. But it pays you off with a nice reverse S-turn, just after this photo, that I was in no way capable of enjoying.

So I spent the rest of the little climb thinking “The last time I was here, I could really race up this road.” So I guess I’ll need to try this again some day soon and try to give it a little more effort.

You know who gives the perfect amount of effort, every time? Phoebe. She’s got this whole thing figured out.

She also likes to take naps in blankets. She gets in them herself, usually completely hidden, but on this given evening she poked her head out to make a Phoebe wrap. Look at those little freckles on her cute nose.

Poseidon, in his natural water habitat.

You know how you can dissuade cats from doing things with a water bottle? If I shot Poseidon he just looks up at you. “What?” But he’s discriminating about it. He’ll wait until water is coming out of the sink at the proper rate before he sticks his head down there to have a sip. He also likes the shower.

And basically everywhere you don’t want him to be. This is a jump-on-the-kitchen-counter-and-over-to-the-fridge-and-in move. He can do faster than I can write it, much faster than you can read it.

He’ll turn around and find some plastic to chew before you can figure out how he got there. And, like all cats, he’s quite talented at increasing his mass by 40 percent and making each joint uniquely inflexible on demand.

Like he’s been in quarantine or something.

It should be an interesting week ahead. I have a fun podcast on tap tomorrow. And we have a three-day weekend ahead. Maybe, instead of sitting in the home-office I’ll spend Friday lingering around the library downstairs. Fortunately I have a few days to figure out what my holiday plans might be. There are no fireworks, but the signs say a nearby neighborhood parade is still in the works. For now.


26
Jun 20

750 quick words on Trek

I’ve lately been idly listening to Star Trek while doing other things. Today we met the Klingons for the first time again, which means we’re on episode 26, a third of the way through the run of the original series … and it’s just about ready to get good, I guess. They had a narrow window through which to reach out and impact the world, when you think about it.

The third season is almost universally panned, the first 10 or 12 episodes of the series have a few interesting moments, but once you remember that this is the series that bred continuity into the zeitgeist, it was woefully inconsistent. And that’s even after allowing for the production values of the day and the new genre they were helping to pioneer. It’s all over the place.

This is how you met the universe’s running baddies on a Thursday in mid-March of 1967:

And the next week, this episode plays itself out. Kirk and Spock beam down to head off the enemy threat. The locals aren’t bothered at all and perceive no threat. (It’s an allegory, you see.) The threat appears, and John Colicos is warm and real and full and does a lot with a little, to be honest. Now the good guys are trying to blend in with the locals to subvert the threat. This goes poorly, and Spock told you so, what with his cool calculations and his odds.

There’s a fanfic out there somewhere that reveals he was just making up numbers, and, when confronted by this charge, he runs away crying. There has to be. After all, one of the dramatic devices they routinely revisit is Spock telling everyone who will listen just how bad the odds are. And, of course, they emerge from the problem relatively unscathed, minus a few red shirts. No one ever calls him on this. Ever.

So Kirk and Spock, having failed to talk the backward and humble-looking Organians into coming under their protection, try to take matters into their own hands, but then then Organians stop all of this by making both the Federation members and the Klingons hot. Ow!

Because, I guess, having people mimic a warm stove eye was as inexpensive a special effect as the show runners could pull off.

Someone out there has compiled some of the original shots next to the 2009 remastering, which is what I’m watching on Netflix. This is a fine and fun bit of side-by-side video.

Note how George Takei is playing Sulu when they first come under attack. Note how Colicos is almost licking his lips, “A shame, Capitan. It would have been glorious.” It’s a moment at the end of the episode that’s so beautifully, rhythmically paced that it sets the whole mood for the ever-changing archenemy-cum-tense-ally. It’s a shame it took 30 years to get him back into the franchise.

And, too, note how not every update is a good one. Specifically, when the humble Organians return to their natural form. In the original it is a brilliant white light. In the reworked version they take on the lighting effects of a bad rave.

It was good for it’s time, this episode, I’m sure. It’s hailed as a classic, and it holds an 8.6 rating on IMDb. But today its interest is purely historic. This one sequence goes a long way toward guiding the rest of the entire franchise:

It also sets up the biggest plot hole in the entire Trek universe. If the energy beings abhor conflict and can stop it this quickly, the Federation should have drawn any number of enemies to this planet, playing this out over and over, creating new allies across the quadrant. Or the galaxy. Or whatever they called it that week. (They were really loose with the language in the early days. It’s amazing that fans found it in their hearts to forgive the show for that.)

Also, this episode figures into one of the big musical hits of the late 1980s.

And a segue like that lets us wrap this up with our favorite game, The Passage of Time. That episode originally aired in 1967. That song was a hit in 1988. We’re (much) farther removed from that song than they were from that episode.

Within the franchise, the time between us and the debut of Deep Space Nine is greater than the time between the Deep Space Nine’s beginning and the episode above. Deep Space Nine debuted in 1993.

Remember, this was an allegory then, but what is it today?


25
Jun 20

Such was the excitement around here

The AT&T man came today, fulfilling his role in the AT&T electronic dissatisfaction ecosystem. We have had internet connectivity issues dating back to, ohh, 2010 in our previous house. So the fellow comes out, his shoes in protective booties so as to not track mud, and asks us if we’d like him to wear a mask. Asks us. Can I come into your home and should I adorn the facial covering?

I’d like that, yes, and thank you.

Such was the excitement around here.

So we all don masks, because what’s the point of just the one of us doing it? And we should be fair and considerate to our fellow man, the kindly AT&T man who’s just here to check off a line on his call sheet. He runs a test, I guess. I was standing at least eight feet away.

We’d just received a new router two weeks before. It was the first one in four years and, apparently wildly outdated. The customer service rep on the phone couldn’t even send a signal to our decidedly old school gear. So they shipped a new one. The Yankee installed it. Many updates were updated and, we learned today, that took far too long. So the guy today did his test and sold us another device and left.

We wiped everything down. Did he touch this? What about that? He was definitely around this. And also the cats, because the cats haven’t seen a different person in forever and of course they were curious and good luck sponging cats down with Lysol wipes and if I get sick because of the cats it’ll be the perfect bow on the story of these cats.

Such was the excitement around here.

Later we found something he touched that we overlooked, and I’m just going to let it sit for two or three days. If the good natured man who kindly asked if we’d prefer he wore a mask on his Nth call of the day gets me sick it’ll be from the cats, not the random cable I overlooked in my new germ mania.

The other device he sold us is a repeater. I wiped it down three times before sitting it on a small table in a hallway closer to the home offices. This piece of plastic picks up the wifi signal and broadcasts it again. Perhaps it will somehow keep video chats from freezing, which would improve our professional capacity by at least 33 percent. It has no chance of keeping the signal from falling away, which was the original point of the service call and, I can guarantee, has not been resolved.

This is not my first trip around the technology block.

Today was notable, then, as the first person who’s been in our house since February. You know what you learn from an experience like that? The basic social graces and social cues, they’re still in your mind and functional, but you have absolutely no idea what six feet is. I can’t tell you anything about the test today because I was so intent on thinking, “Well if my arm is about three feet then there should be two arms lengths between us, and if my foot is a little longer than a foot then that should be about five shoe lengths or so, and since I know from my time studying forestry in school that I cover 66-and-a-half feet in a little more than 13 normal strides, then today I should keep this guy a good step-and-change away … and that’s what I’m thinking about while he’s running his diagnostics, or pouring sugar into the new router or doing who knows what.

Such was the excitement around here.


24
Jun 20

Pictures of small fossilized creatures

Here are more marine animals turned to stone by time. I picked these up off the shore of a lake and now that they’ve been documented here for no reason I will return them whence they came. It’s important that these things go back to the wild. They’re destined to roam free, stepped on and kicked and maybe picked up and marveled at by children of all ages.

And, also, to take up a good day’s worth of space here on this humble little website. And maybe on social media. There’s always a need for content over there.

Check out these articulations. I believe these, at least some of these anyway, are comatulida, which is an order of crinoids.

Those layers, I just learned, are called synostosis.

Even on the broken ones, I like the ridges. These things have so much character.

If you squinted just right, and I put some greenery and fake foliage on the paper I might be able to trick you into thinking these were castle towers or something. Maybe you’d think I got them from a train set.

Donut or Cheerio?

OK, that’s a Cheerio. This is definitely a donut.

So there’s three types of the common crinoid fossils things in my experience — and the third one is relatively new to me. There’s the one that’s got dirt or mud or fossilized sediment inside. The more desirable version are the ones that are still hollow, like our friends above which resemble tasty treats. Through that axial canal runs, which ran through all the stem segments of the living organism, you would find the nerves and the digestive system that sent nutrients along the body.

Most of these look like they might be cyclocyclicus or pentagonacyclicus, according to this 1968 study I’ve suddenly found myself reading. And the new type, to me, are the ones with the specific shapes through the columnal feature. Like these.

Let’s take a closer look. This one is a floricyclus.

I just found something called The Fossil Forum and two things are clear. The little samples I find are relatively modest and, second, I can’t be sucked in my something called The Fossile Forum.

That 1968 paper — Classification and nomenclature of fossil crinoids based on studies of dissociated parts of their columns by Raymond C. Moore and Russell M. Jeffords — has almost 30 pages full of photos. I don’t see this one there, and it’s not even especially rare.

I’ve seen it’s kind in similarly vague and casual photographs like this one before, so it’s nothing new.

Please remember, dear expert reader who finds this at some point in the future, this is obviously and quite clearly not my field. I’d love to be corrected, however, on any of these errors, big or small.


23
Jun 20

We’re going (eventually) to the circus in this post

Hey hey, it’s Tuesday. (Right? Tuesday? Still a day? Still named after the Old Germanic and English god of war? Yeah? Yeah.) Tuesday! How’s your Tuesday!

I kid, of course. The days of the week are still easy to maintain. I’m solid on the month. No idea of the date, and, sometimes, I’m having brief mental lapses about the weather. Lunch seems to come later and later.

Tyr, the old god of war, wouldn’t care for that. He once ate an entire ox by himself. He was with Thor at the time. Thor ate two.

Struggling with the time of day for a PB&J, can go directly to the proper Nordic poem. That, apparently, is where I am today. Some literature professor somewhere should be very proud.

Tyr gets short shrift. Loki basically emasculated him. He lost an arm in a symbolic sacrifice and that’s one of his two most notable (and known to modern scholars) achievements. The other is his last battle, where he and the opponent both died. That’s a Tuesday.

I was looking through old newspapers for some family names, just to see what would turn up. There are a lot of simple farmers in my family, so the mentions, particularly among the branch I was searching last night, are a bit thin. But the advertisements around them are kind of interesting. Shall we?

We shall.

We’ll start in 1952. It’s page 11 of the local newspaper, one of the community sections. You’d call it the society pages, but that’s putting airs on too many people. Anyway, I was searching one of my great-grandfather’s names, and there’s a brief mention where his son has returned home for a visit from the service.

It was July, and Sherwin Williams wants you to know that wallpaper is very much in. (Was it ever out?) It’s glamour, glorious, glorious glamour, for those who care. And, to be honest, it’s that last part that led to this brief little collection. For those who care. The rest of you, stick with your wood paneling or your flat drywall or whatever clapboard, newspaper covered shanty you’re rocking at home. For those who care …

It looked like Dwight Eisenhower might earn the Republican presidential nomination. (He would.) There were some pictures from the remains of the Peary march to the North Pole. The month prior Air Force officers got there in a fraction of the time it took the navy man in 1909.

There’s an Asian grocery store at that street address now. That would have surely seemed improbably to readers of this ad, again, in 1952. We ate one block away from there last year over the holidays. It’s a small world in small towns.

This is the same paper, but in 1959. My great-grandfather, or a man who shares his name, gets mentioned he got hit by a bolt of lightning while out in his field. He was not seriously hurt. In 1959, you could have “the cable.”

My great-grandfather never had cable. His daughter, my grandmother, got it … eventually. I remember going out to manually turn the antennae in the yard to get a signal from that station, which still exists today, though operating under different call letters. Cable, in 1959. I’m sure that wasn’t like what we think of today, if anyone thought of cable anymore.

Just above the OWL TV ad there’s an all-text advertisement. It says “Obey that impulse.” It’s urging you to make a long-distance phone call. Says “It’s twice as fast to call by number.” We’re, perhaps, a lot farther away from the 1950s than we realize.

Anyway, that’s July 1959, and there’s a column on the front page set aside for late news. One item is that Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey has declared he’s running for president. (Spoiler alert: Nope.) Also, there was a steel strike on, and all of the economy, bemoans the front page, was under threat. (There was a brief mention of a steel strike in 1952, which was no nearer ending. It was called disastrous.)

There’s also a nice little front page story about a study for a proposed scenic highway. They built it. Did a lovely job. It’s beautiful, and has held that reputation since it was opened. Senator Al Gore, of Tennessee (not him, his father) is mentioned in the story. At the bottom, there’s a mention of a going transportation concern. “Progress on the ultra-modern Interstate Highway System has been good in the rural areas but slow in the large urban areas. When finished there will be 878 mies of four-lane, limited access Interstate Highways in Alabama. A total of 199 miles is now under construction … ”

Some 25 or 30 years later they got there. It’s still marvelous in all of the places that aren’t desperate for expansion.

And from that 1959 television advertisement we drop back to 1944. Still searching on the same great-grandfather’s name. Now, he died, at age 70, before I turned three. I don’t have a recollection of him, I’m sorry to say, and in my mind I can only conjure up the images of him in his old man studio portraits. So it’s pretty wild, to me, to think about him in this way, but his name shows up in a Friday edition of an April 1944 paper as having his name called by the draft board. He’ll soon be 35, but first he has to report to the courthouse. I don’t think he was enlisted.

There were two draft boards working the area. And there’s a front page brief that says victory gardens were badly needed. Also, there’s a mention of a local man who was lost after bailing out of his bomber over Germany. It’d been three weeks, so who knows, and his brother, meanwhile, had been listed as a POW in the Pacific since the fall of Bataan. Their poor family, you think, having to lose them both.

I googled them both. Both men came home and lived long lives.

Anyway, there was a fine little ad floating around all of that, and that’s what we’re here for today. Here’s the fun part of it.

The text helpfully tells you that “just a little care will save your tire,” and, “every turn of the wheel means that much added wear.”

It’s a false memory, I’m sure, but I want to say I remember that. Maybe there was a sign, or an old ghost ad, but all of this is well before my time. There are two offices listed in that 1944 advertisement. One of them is downtown in a place where this sort of building makes no sense. The other is in a town I never go to, but looking at it on the maps, I think that might be the place.

One of the owners testified before Congress about a tax that was going to hurt his, and similarly rubber re-treading businesses. You can read the entire thing in the 1956 congressional record. It was a brief presentation for what was surely a long trip. He was, in 1995, inducted into the Tire Industry Association’s Hall of Fame as someone who “brought lasting fame to the tire, rubber and transportation industries.” I bet he bragged on that to his friends.

Let’s go way back, to 1904. I’ve found a brief mention of a great-great-grandfather getting married. He was 33. His wife, my great-great-grandmother, was 23. It’s a simple one sentence mention. The two names who were “united in marriage.”

This is the top half of one of the ads in that same issue.

I was going to go with the summer rashes advertisement, but there’s just something about “The Highest Class Circus in the World,” and the words around it. Not one so original. Not one so modern. Not one so different. Not one so popular.

There’s a little rhetorical problem with the original-different construction, but that popularity claim is accurate. Apparently The Great Wallace Shows was the second biggest show in the country.

If you saw this show up in the windows of the shops around you, wouldn’t you want to go?

Oh, the wonders that must have stirred in young minds when they saw prints like that. The parents would sigh. Only if we get all the chores done. There were always chores.

I wonder if my great-great-grandparents, the newlyweds, saw the circus when it came through their town.