The Death of an iPhone

My iPhone 3GS, having given a flawless level of service for three users over the past fours years, is dead. At the very least, I’m trying to restore it from the latest iTunes backup I made for it (last night) and even the restore bar is a hollow, angry white outline on a black background.

So. Dead. Kaput. Deceased. An ex-iPhone.

The good news is that I have a free upgrade available on my AT&T family plan so I should be able to upgrade for a mere $100. I’ll deal with that tomorrow.

In the meantime I can think of no finer tribute to an essential piece of equipment than the Dead Parrot bit from Monty Python’s Flying Circus. (Just replace the word parrot with iPhone and you’ll be fine.)

Monday Hugs!

A busy Monday: I have to take the car in to get the battery changed shortly, then get to Manhattan for a publisher’s meeting were the fate of the Blockade series will be determined for the foreseeable future. (I’ll let you know what happened inasmuch as I can.)  Then I head into MCNY to work from 2pm to 10pm and close up shop.

There is, however, always time for a hug. Here’s yours . . .


Happy Monday!


Scene from #Snowpocalypse 4.0

Between the crappy camera quality of my phone and the screen on the window of the upstairs office, you can see a small white lump in the Chase parking lot across the street. My car is under there somewhere.

Car? What car?

Car? What car?

Luckily, MCNY has an official snow day today so there’s nowhere pressing to go.

In the meantime, there is hot coffee to drink and a Google chapter to write.


This is Halloween, This is Halloween

Update: the RFID gates seem to be working again. (Huzzah!) Now we just need to upgrade/update/replace the software that the circulation control system we implement for use with the gates on the circulation PCs. Hopefully we’ll take care of that in one fell swoop tomorrow morning.

In the meantime . . . in an awesome display of stunningly choreographed music and technology, I present to you: the Singing Halloween House.  Yes, it’s a Facebook page but it’s public.




RIP Richard Matheson, Story Teller

Richard Matheson, best known as a science fiction writer, died Monday night. He was 87.

I say ‘best known as a sci-fi writer’ because that’s how the obituaries are identifying him. Reuters did so, The Atlantic Wire says that he “defined sci-fi”. Others, like, remember him as the author of I Am Legend.

I don’t want to take any of that away from him. It’s just that I never thought of Matheson as strictly a science fiction writer. I thought he had a greater range than that. He told fantastic, memorable stories that spoke to legions of fans.

My first encounter with Matheson’s work was a copy of his Shock! anthology that my parents bought me when I was ten. I had encountered his work earlier than that–multiple episodes of the Twilight Zone (including favorites like “Mute“, “Death Ship“, “Steel“, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet“, “Night Call“, “Spur of the Moment“) and a particularly wacky episode of Star Trek TOS (“The Enemy Within“)–but it wasn’t until much later that I started paying attention to him specifically. Shock! has a bunch of sciencey-type stories between the covers: “Dance of the Dead”, about battlefield zombies harnessed by unscrupulous nightclubs for entertainment; “Lemmings”, a very strange short-short about a country-wide suicide episode, and “The Creeping Terror” about a madness-inducing fungus that spreads across North America, are three that stay with me.

Other works from that collection have nothing to do with empirical reality but are just plain fun to read: “The Ledge”, about a wager gone horribly wrong; “The Legion of Plotters”, about a touch of persecution, and “Death Ship”, about three astronauts forever trying to get home and failing miserably, are three without any science at all but which are compelling fiction nonetheless.

Then there are stories like “The Splendid Source” (which was recently turned into a Family Guy episode) which are just a good, weird flavor of awesome.

Anyway, I got older, and I read everything from Matheson I could find. Luckily, his work was in constant circulation and I come from a long line of old school sci-fi geeks, enabling me to find original prints of stories like “Born of Man and Woman” which appeared in the Year’s Best Science Fiction of 1950. Considering that gems like “The Weapon Shop” by A.E. van Vogt and “It’s a Good Life” by Jerome Bixby were in the same volume, Matheson had excellent company. “Steel” of course gave rise to the Twilight Zone episode of the same name and while I haven’t seen Real Steel yet, I want to eventually. I mean, come on, who doesn’t really want to see Wolverine teach a ten foot robot how to box like a pro?

I purposely stayed away from his longer works for years. I liked his short stories so much, I didn’t want to ruin the appreciation I had for them. But I was in the habit of seeing the films that had been made of his longer work before reading the books. (That was how we rolled in the 70s, yo.) Films like The Omega Man and The Incredible Shrinking Man were enjoyable in their own campy ways. They weren’t great works of art but they were fun. The Legend of Hell House was a fair adaptation of the frankly terrifying book of the same name–except the movie managed to be even creepier in the way that only 1970s ghost movies can be. As for the film Robin Williams made of What Dreams May Come . . . well, after having finally read the book, let’s just say the film didn’t quite measure up. I read I Am Legend for the first time around the time the Will Smith film came out (never saw it, not planning to) and thought it one of the bleakest books I’ve ever read.

I admit I haven’t read The Incredible Shrinking Man yet, either, although it sits on my shelf. That book is a big deal, or became a big deal once I found out that Scott Carey was a stand in for Matheson’s father who lost his job and his confidence some time in middle age. That hits a little close to home.

Then there are books like The Path. I read that one years ago, right after reading What Dreams may Come . . . which, Matheson swore in the acknowledgements, was written purely from research except for the characters. I’m still not sure if it’s meant to be fiction or not.

If you’re a good enough story teller, then the science doesn’t really matter. Richard Matheson was. He will be missed.


Bush Presidential Library Opens

The George W. Bush presidential Library opened last week. The reviews were both mixed and predictable:

The Nation lamented the “collective amnesia” of the exhibit, while USA Today compared the physical space to other similar venues, and also took a look inside.

The New York Times pointed out up front that “[i]f every memoirist is the star of his own story, every president is the hero of his own library,” before going on to say that oh yeah, Bill Clinton did the same thing and Obama probably will, too.

The Washington Post didn’t produce an article per se (not that I found) but did liven the coverage up with a lovely 26-color slide show.

The Houston Chronicle stopped at publishing a total puff piece but still managed to maintain a subtext of “Good Old Boy Elected President, Loves America, Repels Muslim Hordes.”

The Huffington Post even did a piece on Bush’s public outpouring of emotion at the ceremony, but then took the opportunity to say that not everyone shared that view (“Protesters Gather Outside George W. Bush Presidential Library Ceremony.”)

Ultimately I think Jon Stewart and Tim Naftali tapped closest to the vein here with the former’s “Disasterpiece Theater” coverage and the latter’s column, “Presidential Libraries are Educational Centers, Not Shrines.”

It goes without saying that the office of President is a managed position. There are crowds of people telling him the details of what’s going on in every corner of the country and globe, and recommending courses of action to him. Bush was no different, but he may have been the most micro-managed president in American history; I’ll leave that to history to judge (and so far, Uncle Dick Cheney looks like the Acting Guy in Charge, at least regarding foreign policy in the Middle east from 2001-2008.) Additionally, the Bush family has lived for generations surrounded by a great deal of private money which generally gets what it wants. Regardless of the veto power the National Archives has over the content of the Bush Library–over the loud objections of the Bush Foundation–congress has made these very public venues more vulnerable to private money. That’s a reason to be wary of who co-funds them and why.

In any case, read Tim Naftali’s column and know that the Dear Leader syndrome of recent American Presidential politics rolls merrily on.


TGIF, But . . .

Due to (work-related) circumstances beyond my control, I have decided to cancel Friday. That means cancelled  for me, not for anyone else.  So by all means, go about your normal pre-weekend business.

In the meantime–and so that your clicking here is not a total loss–here’s a photo of Jack Benny:


Have a Podsafe Christmas!

Status: Still Alive

The End of the World

A friend recently reminded me of this bit from the 1979 film The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball, wherein Peter Cook, John Cleese, and Rowan Atkinson discuss the end of all things due to A Mighty Wind:

In keeping with the day’s beginning at dawn I’ve set this post to appear at 6.13 am on the 21st. If you can read it, the world has probably not ended. Just saying.

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