Showing 1 - 10 of 430 posts found matching keyword: walter

When an old man dies, a library is burned with him.

—African proverb (according to Parade magazine)

I occasionally worry about what will happen to this blog when I'm no longer alive or otherwise capable of maintaining it. No one owns anything in the virtual realm, and all sites (and all the knowledge they contain) evaporate like mist as soon as they are no longer profitable enough to maintain the energy cost of their digital existence. Since I have selfishly chosen not to have any children of my own that I can emotionally manipulate into keeping alive in perpetuity, I probably need to accept the fact that once I'm gone, any evidence that I wasted so much time at a computer keyboard will be gone, too.

Which makes me wonder, what will the world really miss? Is the minutia evidence of my life really worth preserving? To answer that question, I climbed a mountain and asked a wizened sage... no, just kidding. I wrote a script that sorted and counted all 550,000 words I've recorded in the past 21 years to see if they gave me any indication of the site's value. (Note that my quick-and-dirty script returned many character strings you won't find in a dictionary, like movie titles, odd proper names, web addresses, and "g-g-ghost.")

The most common word at the

No great insight there. The is the most common word in the English language, which is no big surprise considering that it is the only definite article in the whole darn language. According to Wikipedia, it accounts for "seven percent of all printed English-language words." For comparison, it currently accounts for only about 5% of Heck, all first person singular pronouns (I, me, mine, my) combined make up only 3% of! I guess I don't talk about myself enough.

After stripping out the top 50 most common English words (according to the same Wikipedia source), I get the following list:

  1. my (3,110 occurrences)
  2. it's (2,045)
  3. about (1,847)
  4. like (1,840)
  5. me (1,769)

Ok, fine. Maybe I do talk about myself enough. Yeah, nobody in the future is going to need all of that.

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About a week ago, I took the boys for our usual walkies. It was unusually blustery, and I stopped to check the weather radar on my phone. At exactly that moment, a golf carts drove by.

Despite the fact that we live just across the highway from our local country club, golf carts used to be rare in my neighborhood. Back when I started walking the girls, there were only two carts on my street. The gas-powered one belonged to the people who teach horseback riding and use the cart to ride along the street and collect the horse droppings, like a motorized version of the street sweeper at the end of Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. I only saw the batter-powered one occasionally when the kids got bored and took it for joyrides, doing donuts in their yard.

(Side note: I personally don't think golf carts are more fun than watching Rocky and Bullwinkle, but I doubt those kids have ever seen it. Back in the day, there really wasn't that much to watch or that many channels to watch them on, so everyone knew everything on television, making pop culture references the coin of the realm. You made friends in school by quoting reruns of shows that had been first runs for our parents' generation: Leave it to Beaver or Gilligan's Island or Monty Python's Flying Circus. I have no idea what tweens watch these days after school, but if I threatened a kid today with a loaded banana, they'd think I was brain damaged.)

There are lots of golf carts in the 'hood now. The boys love 'em. They go crazy when they see one. I don't know why. So long as I've had the boys, they've never been within five feet of a golf cart. A golf cart has never brought them a treat. But I guess they do drive by slower than cars, making them easier to chase, and the ones in my neighborhood often have other dogs on board, making the chase worthwhile.

Anyway, as I was saying, the golf cart drove by while I was half paying attention, and Henry and Louis went berserk, and their leashes damn near pulled off the fingernail on my left index finger. Not totally. It just bent it back halfway. It hurt a lot the first few days, but it's gotten better. Or at least I thought it was getting better. I showed it to Mom earlier today, and she nearly swooned. So maybe not all better. I'm just taking it one day at a time. (Boy, that Schneider was a card.)

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I've been so tired all day. I can barely keep my eyes open, but I've had to run a bunch of errands and I had a meeting, and every time I've tried to take a nap in between, Henry has demanded something new: outside, walkies, dinner. Why are we supposed to let sleeping dogs lie if they won't return the favor?

I'm just not getting enough sleep. On Monday, Mom woke me early to pick up Audrey, who I was dog sitting. On Tuesday, I had to get up early to take Louis to the vet to have the lump on his back inspected. Today, Dad woke me up early when he called in a panic because the installer of his new washing machine could not attach it to the hot water line as plumbed.

I swear, it's getting to where a fellow just can't sleep until 2PM anymore.

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Adding to my list started on March 8, once again I have damaged my scalp, this time while cleaning limbs that had fallen into my father's yard on Memorial Day during the most recent tornado-generating weather to rumble through my town. Tornadoes have always been the most common natural disaster around these parts, but now they are stating to be annual occurrences. Isn't living in the future great? Also starting to become common occurrences: scalp injuries. The future's so bright, I gotta start wearing a hard hat.

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Ethics quiz time!

Setup: I have been playing a video game online with a friend who, to protect his anonymity, we will call Ken. Ken loves the game; I do not. Ken's enthusiasm and proficiency have resulted in much greater experience gain for his character than mine, which has the practical effect of making the game easier (and more fun) for him as it simultaneously, through natural progression of the game levels, becomes more difficult and frustrating for me.

Situation: Without telling me his plan, Ken took the time to play the game solo to perform the monotonous task of gathering resources that can be used to give additional experience to a character. Ken would later say he intended to give the resources to me so that my character would be more powerful and I might enjoy the game more. Instead, he applied those resources to his own character, and as a result, what was previously an 8 level difference between our characters has become an 80 level difference, greatly exacerbating the original problem.

Question: Despite the outcome, does Ken deserve my appreciation for his "good intention" of helping me to level up in a game I do not enjoy playing, even if the practical outcome of his act was ensuring that I will never play that game with him again?



My Answer: No. My personal philosophy is that intentions do not matter. Therefore, I do not believe Ken deserves any reward (or thanks) for the work he may have put in trying to make the game better. However, I also think it is inappropriate (and rude) to punish someone for a legitimate mistake on their part that resulted in no actual harm.

So no hard feelings, Ken, or whatever your name is.

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Google has added an "AI Overview" to the top of its search results, and I don't like it. It's not that I don't like having a quick response for queries likes "define calumnies" or "weather radar newnan ga," it's that I don't trust the AI's fact checking abilities yet. And I especially don't like any response that starts "According to a Facebook post,...".

In my high school history classes, when I wasn't being told that I would fail Georgia's statewide standardized tests if I didn't say that the South fought the Civil War over "States Rights," I was taught to consult primary sources for accurate answers. (In hindsight, I'm sure this was the teacher's way of telling me the whole "States Rights" thing was bullshit, but we didn't have easy access to actual historical transcripts of the South Carolina Declaration of Secession in the days before the Internet.)

I've played around with Chat GPT enough to know that it is less reliable than a Wikipedia page. So when I already have to Google at least 6 different variations of "lg washer inlet valve" to find the correct replacement part number, I'm not inclined to believe whatever word salad response the AI scrapes from untrustworthy websites in response to even my casual queries asking for things like "children's television hosts atlanta 1950s 60s" or "who wrote transformers tv episodes."

I know that I'm in the minority here. I don't like explainer YouTube or TikTok videos, either. I happen to enjoy research. I grew up with libraries and printed periodicals, and I can read pretty quickly. Just give me a list of links, Google, and let me do the hard work of finding the right answers. I'd much rather have open questions than wrong answers.

If I have to get my mother to fact check all of Google's responses, I might as well start my own website called Ask My Mom. I don't want to have to do that if I can avoid it. Mom's smart, but there are definitely some queries I'd just never ask her, if you know what I mean. (I'm looking at you, "dua lipa acm awards dress.")

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I remembered that second (of three) thing I was going to post yesterday! I was going to say that I finally took a COVID test.

Not because I thought I might have COVID, mind you. I took it because our last government-provided COVID tests were expiring, and we were going to throw them away. As a shut in who aggressively shuns human contact, I had never had cause to take one yet, and I figured I didn't want to miss the opportunity to see what all the hubbub had been about.

For the record, yeah, that stick up my nose tickled... until it drew blood, so I might have been a little too enthusiastic. But it was all good news:

1526 days and counting (knock on wood)

My memory may not be doing so great, but still no COVID. Yet.

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Three things:

Thing One: Coca-Cola's summer promotion involves decorating their cans and bottles with pictures of Marvel Comics super heroes. I bought a 24 pack expecting an assortment of heroes, but no, all 24 cans were the same picture of Electra. Very disappointing. I've now drunk more cans of Coca-Cola with Electra's picture on them than I have bought comic books with Electra pictured in them. Meanwhile, my aunt bought me a 20-oz bottle of Coke Classic because she saw a picture on it of some guy in tights on it and thought I would like it even though she had no idea who it was or which characters I liked. It was Wolverine. To be fair to my aunt, even though I haven't bought a single Wolverine comic in decades, I have definitely bought more Wolverine comics in my lifetime than I have bought Elektra comics.

Thing Two: When I composed this post in my head while walking the dogs, I knew there were three things. However, I don't currently remember what thing two is. Give me a minute. I'll come back to this one.

Thing Three: I wore a kilt for the first time yesterday. I'd been saying for years that I was going to shop for one at the annual Georgia Renaissance Fair, but haven't, in part because it seems a little like cultural appropriation to me, even though Mom can trace her (and therefore mine) very WASPy ancestry well back to Scottish Clan Napier in the 18th century. I ended up buying one online, a modern cotton twill utility kilt instead of the traditional wool tartan because the whole point of wearing one was to stay cooler in the long Georgia summer. To my surprise, I liked it. I liked it a lot, especially while walking the dogs. I might buy another.

Thing Two Again: Hmm. I recently broke a part on our washing machine, but I don't think that was it. And my car was in the shop again, but that's not it either. Shit. What was I going to say here?

You know what? Never mind. It couldn't have been that important. So just two things, then.

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As I type this, the South Park episode in which Cartman inherits a million dollars and uses it to buy an amusement park (which causes Kyle to lose his faith in God) is on the 33-inch 16:9 ratio flatscreen LCD television beside my computer. According to Wikipedia, that episode, "Cartmanland," first aired on July 25, 2001. That's almost twenty-three years ago!

I distinctly remember watching the broadcast of the debut episode of South Park ("Cartman Gets an Anal Probe") on Comedy Central on basic cable via our communal 24-inch 4:3 ratio CRT TV in the apartment I shared with friends and former classmates Matt and Randy in unincorporated North Druid Hills. Matt had invited our old high school classmate, Tabitha, over for the evening, and she was absolutely appalled by the course humor, which, of course, only made it funnier. That was August 1997, and I was already in my second college.

To put those dates into perspective, I also distinctly remember watching the 20ish-inch wood-paneled TV in our family's basement as channel 46 (on the UHF dial) weatherman Denny Moore, wearing what we would now call Trekker cosplay, hosted a New Year's Eve 1980-something marathon of original Star Trek episodes. Although I'm not entirely sure of the year, I am sure that whatever year it was was definitely prior to The Next Generation being a thing.

The point of that being that in hindsight, there was less time between the date of that rerun marathon and the original broadcast dates of those Star Trek episodes than there has been between between now and 9/11.

Honestly, I'm starting to think that the real difference between the past and the present is that there were barely 3 seasons of Star Trek and South Park has a contract to keep making episodes into its 30th season. The Good Old Days were a very brief time indeed.

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Baby, don't hurt me

"Love is the most important thing on Earth. Especially to a man and a woman."

—Captain James T. Kirk, "Gamesters of Triskelion"

My Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary, Unabridged has eight different definitions for the noun form of love, chief among them "a strong affection or attachment or devotion to a person or persons." That pretty much matches the good captain's use of the word. (I'm sure Kirk also loves the fifth definition: "sexual passion or its gratification," which, you may note, does not require any "person or persons" on this earth or any other).

Maybe I'm devoid of strong passion, but my personal definition of love has always been a little more concrete. So far as I can tell, anything you love is something that you value more than yourself. For most people, that's not a lot of things, if any. (It's no wonder I'm still single after all these years.)

The word gets thrown around a lot (especially by starship captains on the make), but how often is it accurately employed? It's a common trope of art and literature that one lover would be willing to die for another, and I accept that most parents (usually) place their children's interests before their own. But how often do you meet anyone willing to lay down their lives for property? Or strangers? Or a whole society? Or chocolate? Maybe we don't encounter those people often because they don't have long lives.

Conversely, my definition of hate is disliking something enough that you're willing to destroy yourself to destroy it (also a common trope in literature, usually for villains and anti-heroes). I've used that word a lot in my life, but like my use of the word love, it has usually been an exaggeration when all I really want is a word stronger than dislike or disapprove. (Despise? Detest? Disdain?) Rationally I recognize that anything I might hate is rarely actually worth my being sacrificed for it.

Obviously, human beings are not governed by the Three Laws of Robotics, which place the priority of self-preservation dead last, meaning that by my definition, Asimovian robots have a greater capacity for love (and hate) than human beings. I don't know what Mr. Spock would have to say about that, but I'm reasonably certain that Kirk wouldn't hesitate to love a machine, assuming it had enough I/O interfaces.

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To be continued...


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