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iMac, We Mac, No Mac

And so, it came to pass … 

As regular readers know, we recently bought a new, shiny iMac from our local Apple store. But what many don’t know is why. It wasn’t because we’re rich and thought, ‘hey, let’s own two iMacs!’

We bought the new one because Houston, our stalwart workhorse for the last 10 years (yes, we’ve had him since early 2009) was beginning to show his age, and to our ears, complaining of said age. He was getting forgetful too. Which made us both very nervous, I can tell you. The odd and slightly disturbing noises were the worst. 

His hard drive was sounding odd … wonky. Like his once valiant heart was given out from too many revs. His Brian slowly fragmenting so that collating saved data was becoming a strain. 

All this after doing our best to always run the right programs to keep his HD in good working order. But, alas, time took its toll.

Sometime, over night between Saturday and Sunday morning, Houston passed away, quietly, in his sleep.

Maybe it was that hour change that did in his HD, as the clock going back an hour was just one step too much for him. Who knows. 

We did everything in our power all Sunday morning to revive him. We went through every available troubleshooting article we could find to find a solution. Nothing worked. Houston’s HD, the heart of the machine he is, was, could not be revived let alone accessed. 

That magical sound of him waking every morning is now muted, and gone forever.

Salut Houston, you served us well.

A Need for Speed

Oh, look, a shiny new planet I’ll race you there!

Today’s #RRSciFiMonth topic is loosely centred on ‘speed’. Which, strangely enough, made me think of these three books:

  • THE SPEED OF DARK by Elizabeth Moon — This one has absolutely nothing to do with speed, dark, light, or otherwise, and is in the list because it mentions the word speed. Okay, so sue me. Why it is here, is because it’s a powerful story about what is “normal” and told in first person POV from an autistic man.
  • THE ROLLING STONES by Robert A. Heinlein — Okay, so this one isn’t so much about speed as it is about a family who wrangle their way off the Moon, and the Luna Colony, head to Mars and then, make it out as far as Saturn. And is (in part) the inspiration for the Star Trek episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.” Heinlein wrote about an animal he called a ‘flat cat’ the reproduced like a tribble, long before Star Trek got to grips with its very own tribbles.
  • THE SHIP WHO SANG by Anne McCaffrey — Long before it became the next ‘big’ thing to write about ships with A.I.s. McCaffrey wrote The Ship Who Sang, back in 1969, about Helva, a cyborg. And, like The Speed of Dark by Moon, this is one of those books you have to read (IMHO) because of the subject and topic it covers. To quote: “The parents of babies with severe physical disabilities — but fully developed and exceptionally talented brains — may allow them to become “shell people” rather than be euthanized.” Just imagine having to make that choice, kill your child, or let it travel to the stars!

Okay that’s three very different books, three very different authors, that cover two very serious and one not so serious subject. What do you think?

Laika, the amazing Rocket Dog

Today I am remembering a milestone. This weekend saw the anniversary of the first animal—Laika the mongrel dog from the early Russian space program—to orbit Earth on November 3, 1957. I was seven months old at the time and don’t remember a thing but that’s neither here nor there. What I do know is this dog rode a rocket into Earth orbit, 2,000 miles above Moscow, and the rest of us, while we (quite possibly) slept peacefully in our beds. Most of us, at the time, unaware of Laika’s plight to enter into history on a one-way suicide trip, aboard the Soviet’s Sputnik 2 capsule.

Laika first came to my attention a few years later when, as a spindly 6 year-old, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. And I promptly answered, apparently, a cosmonaut. No, not astronaut. Cosmonaut. Why, I was then asked. Because, I told my questioner—according to what my father told me years later—I was going to be Empress of Mars.

No, no don’t ask. At six years old, this all made perfect sense to me, at the time. You have to know that my sister had also been reading me A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. And going one better, decided to be an Empress when I got to Mars—yes, you read right, when I got to Mars. If John Carter could ‘apparate’ there, then so could I.

It was after making a statement to the fact I was told maybe I might need a rocket. And so, began to read and research (yes, even at that young age) all about space flight, and how I would get to Mars if a ‘teleportation’ machine was out of the question, and only available in fiction.

Do you know how devastated I was to know I couldn’t travel instantaneously to Mars? H. G. Wells also has a lot to answer for, but that’s a whole other story.

That aside, I began my love affair with science and science fiction from that very young age. I collected a lot of Soviet memorabilia, including stamps, at that time. All of which led me to Laika, the brave Soviet Rocket Dog, who, had they lived, would probably be about my age, today no, wait—

What’s that in dog years? Damn, I feel old!

Quote, Unquote: Dune•ology

All governments suffer a recurring problem: power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts, but that power is a magnet to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.

— Frank Herbert, Dune