Saturday, March 25, 2006

My hero....
Originally uploaded by blackbear88.
Bow Before His Might!

hhw tipped me off last week to a special on the History Channel called "How William Shatner Changed the World." I can't believe I almost missed this; there was a frantic scramble in the living room while I tried to remember how my VCR works (curse you, DVD technology! And curse me, for not being able to afford TiVo. Just wait, TiVo...someday, you will be mine.)

What you have to understand is that, while I have an appreciation for the later incarnations of Star Trek in varying degrees, my childhood was intertwined with the original series in such as way as to be completely symbiotic. That handsome fellow you see on the right was one of my earliest toys; I got him when I was 4, along with the rest of the Mego crew and the boxy vinyl Enterprise with the spinny transporter. I loved Star Trek. I fully expected the future to be like Star Trek. The more I thought about this last week (as I watched ol' Bill cuttin' up on screen--the man's hilarious, no question) the more it came to me that Star Trek shaped not just my love of science fiction, but my ideas on politics, religion, society, and technology. Shocking, really, to realize that it's not just me, or even just me and the even bigger trek-heads I saw when I was into the con scene--Star Trek burned itself into the imagination of the people who masterminded the technology boom and the arrival of the information age. I always just thought it was a nerdy coincidence that flip phones look like communicators... (And yet, as you know, that's why I bought one.) I feel somehow... vindicated, I guess, that the importance of Star Trek TOS in my own early development is mirrored to some extent in the mainstream world. Maybe I'm more mainstream than I thought.

I'm certainly more mainstream than the woman I hired to work at the store a few years back, who wanted to wear her Starfleet uniform to work and whose answering machine message included theme music, and the phrase "This is Captain Smith of the U.S.S. Freedom! Ensign Smith and I are on an away mission right now...." I never asked how her husband had gotten demoted to Ensign. I had visions of him at home swabbing the holodeck while she faced the dangers of the retail galaxy on Planet Mall....

hhw also included a link to Wil Wheaton's blog entry about Grand Slam, which included some kind words regarding fans of the U.S.S. Freedom type; it was really quite nice. I've never read his blog before, though I knew he had one. I wasn't so much a fan of ST:TNG while he was on it. This wasn't really because of the "Wesley saves the universe!" stereotype that fans laugh about--though there was one episode where Wesley created an intelligent life form as part of a science fair project or somethin', and that did make me wince all of its own merit. I think, in retrospect, it was more that there was someone very close to my own age on Star Trek.(He's two years younger than me, almost to the day.) The problem was not that there was a kid on the show, but that that kid wasn't ME. I'm not talking about being an actor--god knows that's never been in the cards (as you'll see when MD Hearts becomes downloadable! very soon!) But the character was a proxy for all us kids who wanted to be part of the Enterprise crew... and he wasn't like me at all. So, perhaps unfairly, my visceral reaction to Wesley was always, "Hmpf. Jerk." And, as an extension, I didn't feel a fannish need to seek out Wil Wheaton's weblog. I doubt I'll read it regularly even now--but knowing that he, too, fantasizes about hearing the words "I love you" from Morena Baccarin makes me think that while Wesley and I were galaxies apart, Mr. Wheaton and I at least have something good in common! :]

Sweet cracker sandwich, it's snowing like friggin Christmas outside. What the hell is going on with March?

Monday, March 20, 2006

rio negro
Originally uploaded by me.

Figured out how to use my slide scanner! however, thanks to the miracle of my slow-ass connection, I don't expect to have the bulk of my photos up until sometime in 2018. I'll keep you all posted on progress so you don't have to keep checking my flickr account. Unless you want to, of course.

I went to Brazil in October of 2000, and spent a week on a sort of houseboat thing on the Rio Negro, which is one of the two main feeder rivers for the Amazon. It and the Solimoes river come together at a city called Manaus; the black water of the Rio Negro meets the more ordinary colored water of the Solimoes in a sort of swirl of black and white (which we were led to believe would be more photogenic than it actually was.) Eventually I'll come across the slide of that and put it up. I'm discovering that my father apparently disassembled my carefully planned slide show, which I gave to much audience acclaim for friends in late 2000, and put in every freakin' slide either of us took, in no particular order on the carousel. So this Rio Negro slide was the first one I pulled. One property of the black tannic water there is that when it's still, it's highly reflective. As you can see, it's rather a stunning effect--much better than the meeting of the waters. I'm taking all the more pleasure in remembering Brazil this evening, as there is a winter storm warning for all of Central Indiana right now.... We're supposed to get 6-10" of snow by tomorrow afternoon. Spring can show up any freakin' time, here....

Sunday, March 12, 2006

No Diving....Dumbass.
Originally uploaded by me.
No Diving...Dumbass.

This has been on my Flikr account since the Dells trip; Erin took it. I love it.

So I'm thinking about scanning in all my slides from my trips to Africa and Brazil. I'm a fan of slides over prints, when it comes to real film--the color can't be beat, and something about the formality of sitting down and watching a slide show is very appealing to me, it gives each picture a weight and meaning that flipping through a pile of 4 x 6" prints just doesn't have. Which, of course, is why almost no one has seen my Africa and Brazil photos. So what do you think? If I posted them, would you want to look at them?

I've been kinda ill this week, so no real entertaining post awaits. Possibly related to being ill, I've had a couple of very vivid dreams in the last week. I don't have those often, so it kinda creeps me out a bit when I do. One was a return to high school dream--I have those a lot, but as I said, they're not often so painfully real-seeming. I woke up from that one with a bang, and it was like "Where the HELL am I?" The second involved a person who was at one time a close friend; our friendship died, for a number of reasons, over a decade ago, and I've not seen her since. This bothers me; while I don't imagine we'd ever really be good friends again, I continue to occasionally wonder how her life is and what she's doing. I don't let go well. And about once a year or so I'll have a vivid dream in which we meet and catch up. If I were superstitious I'd wonder if the dreams were presaging something dire about her ("Oh no! Timmy's in the well again?") but I figure it's more just loose wiring in the ol' noggin.

The third dream involved a coffee place that gave away a free turtle with every espresso drink; I got one so I could release the turtle, but when I took him down to the canal on his leash he dove in before I could make sure there were no turtle predators around, and he dragged me into the canal after him and I ended up getting pulled up and down the canal by this turtle because I couldn't get his leash off. I hate when that happens.

***I've added three more friends to the Other Divers Tales list--finally, Carl and Karen K. are on there. And finally, Erin has a blog for me to add! So check 'em out, yo.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Please, God, Don't Let It Be Genetic...

This week I pulled a lynchpin of my life, in the form of my old computer desk. I bought the desk 7 years ago, in a different house, for a computer I haven't used since I bought my laptop in 2003. It's been sitting fallow in my "office" since then, piled with random paper and computer equipment I couldn't use if I wanted to because of all the clutter. When the DAV called last week to ask if I had anything for them, I said "Yes!" and resolved to donate the desk.

You have to understand how hard it is for me to get rid of anything. My friends laugh and tease me about it, but it causes me actual physical pain to think of something useful (like, say, a desk, or an old yet functional computer) ending up in a landfill. My stomach gets all twisted, and I start sweating, and my lip trembles, and in the end it's just much easier to keep the damn stuff. Until, of course, the house gets full. So I resolved that the desk would go, hopefully to a good home, and I got Rat Girl to help me move it outside; I still stressed and sweated a bit, but I knew it was the right thing to do. Once the desk was gone, I could get into the room and move around more easily, and before long I'd cleared out bags of trash (which isn't useful, so I have no problem pitching it) and arranged the entire room and its closet to make it attractive and livable. In the process of pulling everything out of the closet, I found a small lockbox I'd rescued from my Great-Aunt's house after she died--one of those small metal boxes with an insurance company logo on it, into which you're supposed to put valuable documents in case the house burns down. Naturally, the key had never surfaced during the post-mortem excavation of her home, and I'd taken the box thinking I'd pick the lock someday and see what was in it. I could hear some paper rattling around; but I'd tossed the box in the closet and forgotten about it for several years. Then, this week, here it was--and this week was not a good one for a number of reasons. So I thought, time to open it. Time to see if the box contained Aunt Aileen's lost shares of AT&T or a secret will or war bonds from 1941. That would have been a fairy tale ending to a crummy week. So I got a couple of small pointy metal objects and proceeded to pry the box open at the edge, far enough so that the paper could slide out..... and THIS is what I found.

Of all the possible things she could put into the lockbox, the one thing that's going to survive the fire is a 1954 letter from the Cincinnnati Gas Company informing my aunt that she will be able to install gas heat in her home. I suppose if the gas had blown the house up, this would have been valuable evidence for the prosecution. It's really kind of hilarious, this is just like my Aunt Aileen to have kept something like that for 50 years. Hilarious, and yet eerily familiar to me.... I have limits to my packrattiness, though. I think. I hope.