Friday, December 13, 2013

World Stats, Real-Time

So I ran across *this* the other day (click the columns on the left for further mindblowing statistics, or just wait for the app to automatically scroll through them)....

World Clock by


Mark's Musings is published on a semi-periodical basis that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at Facebook link is over there to the right. This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. Answer: Silver salmon, also known as Coho salmon. (See previous entry's fine print for the question.)

Saturday, September 07, 2013

The Garden Saved By Two Dead Ducks

Dad and I spent our final day of the cruise on a shore excursion to the famous (though we had never heard of them) Butchart Gardens on Victoria Island in British Columbia.

Victoria is a lovely city bordered by mountains on three sides with extremely mild temperatures. We were told it seldom gets warmer than 90 degrees and hardly ever goes below 32. Snow usually melts within 12 hours. Our guide joked that it's an island of "flower beds, newlyweds, and nearly deads." He told us that one newspaper quipped, "Victoria Island is where the elderly go to spend time with their grandparents."

Robert Butchart and his wife, Jennie, began manufacturing cement in the late 1800s and became the largest provider of the material on the West Coast. They moved to Victoria in the early 1900s because Robert had discovered a limestone quarry - an essential element in cement manufacturing in those days - and they built their home on the property. The story, passed down to his grandchildren we were told, goes that Robert enjoyed collecting birds. He had a favorite pair of Woodland Ducks that he had purchased and transported all the way from Germany.

One year, while traveling in Europe, the family received word that both of their Woodland Ducks had died after an eagle attack. Since they were already mostly there, Robert insisted on going to Germany to purchase new ducks.

Jennie would hear nothing of it, insisting that if they went, they would miss their steamship home. Robert put his foot down and insisted and off the family trekked to Germany. After making his purchase and arranging for the ducks to be sent back to British Columbia, the family rushed back to England only to find that they had missed their boat by two days. So they had to make alternate travel arrangements.

What boat did they miss? The Titanic.

And that's how two dead ducks saved the Butchart Gardens. What happened is the quarry turned out to be not all that large and Robert opened a new one a few years later, leaving Jennie stuck with the problem of a huge, empty quarry in her backyard. One day a friend remarked to her that she would *never* be able to do anything with that eyesore and Jennie Butchart took that as a challenge. She had farmers truck in tons and tons of fill dirt and began planting flowers, of which she was something of a collector and aficionado. She hung by her toes to plant ivy along the sides of the quarry walls.

For the first few years, the family would allow whomever wanted to stop by the gardens and admire them, and the family even served them tea.

In 1921 Jennie finished her floral remodeling of the quarry, calling it her "Sunken Garden." In 1926 they took out their tennis courts and used the space for an Italian garden, and three years later the couple transformed their vegetable garden into a rose garden. Ownership of the grounds has remained in the Butchart family ever since.

I've put many photos of what are possibly the most colorful and diverse gardens I have EVER seen on my Facebook page. Now, mind you, I'm not a flower guy. I know pretty much nothing about them. If you ask me what my wife's favorite flower is, I'm likely to say, "Pillsbury." But these gardens were just lovely to gaze upon. A balm to the soul, even.

We're told that during the tourist season, the family now employs 600 people. 100 of them are gardeners and 55 of those are *master* gardeners. The head gardener and his assistant live right on the grounds. They change the displays five times every year - once each season and a second time between Winter and Spring.

= = = = =

Pop and I fly home tomorrow and I may add a few more photos I took with my cell phone but have no way to get them onto a computer while I'm in digital roam. So check back at Facebook in a day or two.

It's been a great trip. I've eaten at least three kinds of chowder, had so much salmon I feel like swimming upstream, had a taste of kelp marmalade, and ridden on two boats, countless buses, and one tram. I've hiked halfway up the side of a mountain, pushed my father in a wheelchair around 55 acres of gardens, and walked at least three miles around the ship. I've seen so much beauty in the wilderness that my eyes may never hurt again, and I've heard so many foreign languages I feel like we've visited the Tower of Babel.

And none of it would have been possible without the kindness, generosity, and genuine love for family shown by my father.

Thanks, Dad.


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. Pop quiz: What kind of salmon does the ring finger signify? Told you I'd be testing!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

My Way, Your Way, Skagway

Today the Alaska weather we expected all along returned. On the dock in Skagway, at sea level, there was a heavy overcast of clouds and a steady surge of 35-mph winds, though the temperature was mild. Skagway, originally called Skagua by the Tlingit, means "wind and whitecaps" and the town was working hard to live up to its name today.

This was one of a small handful of places people came to in the mid-1800s for the Gold Rush. The town has a population of only about 850, but there were over 100,000 here when many used it as a base to launch their trek into the Yukon in search of gold. (For further reading, see my blog entry from 2008 on Liarsville.)

Sarah Palin lived here until she was six years old. Her father taught at the only school in town. Milk is more expensive than gasoline. Many of the people who came for the gold couldn't read but wanted to go to church on Sunday, so each church was painted a different color so folks would know where to go. A few years ago, we were told, the Methodist church painted their building a different color and the town council came along and forced them to paint it back to the original color as it was a historical site. The Tlingit people still own most of the land and rule with a stern, strict hand.

There were two heavily-traveled paths up into the Yukon: The Chilkoot Trail, which was steep and difficult and you had to make approximately 20 trips to get all your supplies to the top. The other was the Whitepass Trail, which was advertised to be easier and more pack animal-friendly, but the fact is it wasn't. A local man was quoted as saying that no matter which trail you took, you wished you'd taken the other. The Whitepass Trail, in fact, killed over 30,000 beasts of burden and became known as "Dead Horse Trail." When the railroad came to Skagway, it appropriated over 80% of the Whitepass Trail for its tracks.

When you reached Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police would weigh your goods and foodstuffs. If you didn't have at least one ton (2,000 pounds), you weren't allowed to go on. So many prospectors were dying of the elements and starvation that they had to impose this rule to do what they could to insure a person's survival.

Today Pop and I climbed onto a tour bus and took a 40-minute trek up the Klondike Highway, through Canadian customs, and into the Yukon. We started at sea level and ascended to 3,292 feet. Interestingly, the weather at the summit was almost the opposite of dockside. The sun was out and the wind was slight, but it was quite cold! (See the photo of the day up top.)

We had come to walk across the suspension bridge over the Tutshi (pronounced "too-shy") River Canyon. The River is considered Class III whitewater ("Difficult") with some Class V Rapids ("potentially fatal"). The government completed the bridge in 2006 and it was purchased by a private owner in 2011; the same man opened a restaurant on the property.

After crossing the gorge and kicking around a bit, we were treated to a bowl of Bison chili (the owner also owns a bison ranch) and a gigantic homemade dinner roll that, frankly, was the best tasting piece of sourdough and carbohydrates I have ever put in my mouth. The chili was too spicy for Pop, and the hosts graciously supplied him with a bowl of chicken noodle soup to go. Sadly, cruise officials made us throw it away and would not allow it to be brought onboard. We knew there were regulations about taking food *off* the ship, but this caught us completely unaware.

When Dad and I were here two years ago, Mom had just recently passed away and Dad, wanting to signify a new chapter of his life, traded in his wedding band for a new ring of gold, onyx, and mother-of-pearl in a triangular design. He wanted to get a "companion ring" to wear on his other hand with a similar design to commemmorate this trip, which he believes will be his last. Well, though small, Skagway has a ton of shops in town and every other one sells jewelry and diamonds. (Pop jokes that "people in Alaska are still mining for gold, but now they're looking for it in the pockets of the tourists.")

He found his ring. It's a silver and onxy beauty with a triangular design. One triangle on each ring points left, and another points right. He says they remind him of Philippians 3:13 - "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead." The verse reminds him of his life after Mom's passing. You can see the rings on my Facebook page.

We had lunch at the Sweet Tooth Cafe in town while waiting for his ring to be sized. This is my third trip here, and I've eaten there each time. It's a great place and everything on the menu is homemade. I highly recommend it. It's become a bit of a Skagway tradition with me. But there was one funny thing that just goes to show what taking three meals a day on a cruise ship will do to you. At the end of the meal, Pop got up and walked away, right out of the cafe. I was inadvertently stuck to pay the bill. (To be fair, he was incredibly embarrassed about the whole thing.)

He's in getting his last acupuncture treatment while I write up this draft, and I sure am praying they work as well as they did on our last cruise together. He deserves it.

We are both a bit flagged after a week of shore activities and are looking forward to our day at sea tomorrow. I'll probably give the blog a rest for a day and come back late Friday night (early Saturday morning for most of you) with a report on our activities at Victoria Island, British Columbia.

We are having a great time and making some fantastic memories together!


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. There's gold in them thar hills!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Juneau What I Mean

 We pulled into Juneau, Alaska just after sunrise this morning. Juneau is Alaska's capital city and has about 30,000 people living here. It is located on the mainland - unlike so many other cities - and is large enough to have an actual highway running through it. Ketchikan, on the other hand, is on an island and has one road that goes 38 miles in either direction and then dead ends.

Today's expedition was a ride up the Mount Roberts Tramway to a nice plateau with a Nature Center and some hiking trails up and down a good part of Mount Roberts. They also showed a lovely 18-minute documentary about the Tlingit people, who populated this part of Alaska (long before the white man) after migrating north from British Columbia.

The photo up there is a selfie of me on the trail with Mount Juneau in the background.

Joe Juneau and Richard Harris were the two explorers who were first led to the gold in the area by a friendly Tlingit chief. For a brief time, the city was known as Harrisburg, and then Rockwell, and then in 1881 the miners met and voted to name the town after Juneau.

The AJ Mines (Alaska, Juneau) were built into the side of Mount Roberts and we were told today that before they closed in 1944 they pulled $88 million worth of gold out of the hills, or about $5 billion in today's economy. For every ounce of gold discovered, 200 pounds of rock and earth were moved. The mine doors have since been sealed over but there are still 300 miles of tunnels inside the mountain.

The tram we took (see picture) was opened in 1996 and ascends from sea level to 1,800 feet

in six minutes. It is the steepest tram run in all of North America. At the top is a snack shop, an extensively stocked gift shop, a small movie theater, a restaurant, and a Nature Center with additional gifts and maps of the trails. Pop walked about a quarter of a mile but found the ascent too steep for his 81-year old using-a-cane-gait. So he rested and shopped while I did the half mile ascent and loop on my own.

After lunch and his second acupuncture session, we stood on our balcony while the ship entered the Tracy Arm of the Inside Passage and slowly progressed to the Sawyer Glacier at the end of the Arm. Let me tell you, the Inside Passage is so jaw-droppingly beautiful it's nearly worth taking the cruise just for that.

I have been putting up photos on my Facebook page. Click the link in red here or the "badge" over to the right. The photos just don't do justice to the majesty and awesome beauty of this land.

Everyone should come to Alaska. Just looking at the views are good for the soul.


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. I tell people "God was having a good day when He made Alaska.".

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Play Misty Fjords Me

We arrived today in Ketchikan, "Alaska's First City." Now it's the fifth largest, but still the "Salmon Capital of the World."

And the salmon are running, inexorably fighting their collective way upstream to spawn and die. You can see them jumping up out of the rivers and streams here all day long. Every part of the salmon is used, even the heads. (They are crushed and pressed down into Omega-3 oils, what the natives call "liquid gold.")

There are five different kinds of salmon and they each go by two different names. We were taught an easy way to remember them (see photo).

  • Thumb - rhymes with chum. (Chum Salmon) And your chum is your friend. And a man's best friend is his dog (Dog salmon).
  • Index finger - you can use your index finger to "sock your eye out" (Sockeye salmon). Doing that would leave your eye red (Red salmon).
  • Middle finger - your middle finger is the longest. It's the "king" of fingers (King salmon). It could also be called the "chief" of your fingers. The word for chief in the native tongue is Chinook (Chinook salmon).
  • Ring finger - you wear a ring on this finger, and it's often made of silver (Silver salmon). The Lone Ranger's horse was named Silver. So think, "Coho Silver, Awaaaaaay!" (Coho salmon)
  • Little finger - also called your pinky (Pink salmon). This type of salmon is also called Humpy salmon. There's just no mnemonic for that one, sorry.

So today we went out into the Misty Fjords National Wilderness Monument. That's Dad and I on the boat up top. Check out my blog's Facebook link (at far right) for more pictures. We left early in the morning and were afraid for quite awhile that they would be the "Foggy Fjords." (See other photo)

President Theodore Roosevelt declared this part of Alaska a national wilderness in 1940. By doing so, no humans are allowed to live there. Man is only a visitor here. Explorer George Vancouver first charted these waters, looking for a passage to the Northwest in the mid-1800s. His maps were so accurate we were told they were used until GPS services made them obsolete a century later.

It was unnaturally bright, sunny and warm day in Ketchikan. The city gets between 200-300 days of rain every year. The two previous trips I've made here were always overcast, misty/rainy and quite gloomy. Today we were told the natives prefer their gray, "watercolor sky" to this sunny stuff. Two weeks of no rain here officially qualifies as a drought and the streams dry right up and it's very, very bad for the salmon. And what's bad for the salmon is bad for Ketchikan.

Back onboard, Pop got his first acupuncture treatment, which has become a bit of a cruise treat for him (and quite efficacious, as well). While I was waiting for him, I sat in the card/game room and read and thought a bit and just observed. A cruise ship is a whole lot like a mini-United Nations without the politics. I watched a Chinese couple play Chinese Checkers, an Indian family play Monopoly, and a Korean pair play cards. The crew is equally diverse. I make it a point to read everyone's badge, which lists their home country. I've seen South Africa, India, Thailand, Philippines, Canada, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, and just about every place in between.

Forget America ... if you want to experience a *true* melting pot, take a cruise.


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. There will be a pop quiz on those salmon names at the end of the week.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

More Travels with Dad

Courtesy of Dad's travel bug, I find myself once again on a cruise ship with my now 81-year old father, making our second - I may as well call it a pilgrimage - to the fair Alaskan cities of Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, with a run up the Tracy Arm of the Inside Passage and a final stop at Victoria Island in British Columbia.

I love it.

We've only been onboard for two days and already I've eaten enough fish that I have the urge to go look for Nemo.

We left Seattle, Washington this past Saturday afternoon. We have spent today on the Pacific Ocean. This time around Pop sprang for a stateroom with a balcony and let me tell you, I will never cruise again without one. It's heavenly and we've already spotted two whales (for free!).

The only downside is the bed situation. The room is fairly crowded with two beds, a sofa, a coffee table, a small desk, and a nightstand. And about 12 inches of room between the end of the beds and the wall, and between the two beds, themselves. Let me give you an idea of how close together we are sleeping: I could reach over and wipe Pop's nose. And vice-versa.

Now my father is a generous, kind, loving and compassionate man with a terrific sense of humor, so believe me when I say that this one quirk of his does nothing to detract from who he is as a person ... but he is a snorer.

No, let me rephrase that. He is a world class manufacturing plant of snore. If snoring were an Olympic event, my father would be awarded the Gold Medal every time. Some of his snores would register on the Richter Scale. He is to snoring what Bill Gates is to Microsoft. If he's sleeping, he's snoring. If he's not snoring, in fact, I worry that he's not sleeping well.

And it's all about 12 inches from my ears. Yeah.

Fortunately, I have my own defense: I snore, too. Or so I've been told. (My wife's all, like, "Hah! How do *you* like it???" No sympathy from that quarter.) The only reason I know so much about Pop's nighttime malady is he goes to bed before I do while I stay up and do this Internet thing and not waste his valuable time waiting for me to do it while he's awake.

So we are once again on the road, reliant only upon the grace of God, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and each other. More as the days go by. Stay tuned.


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. On cruise ships, you don't greet each other with the standard "how are you?" You begin with, "So where are  y'all from?"

Friday, July 05, 2013

Mark at the Movies: The Lone Ranger

Plot: Notorious outlaw Butch Cavendish is being transported to Colby, Texas, for execution. His gang breaks him out of the train after District Attorney John Reid stops the Indian, Tonto, from killing Cavendish for his own reasons. Reid then joins up with his brother, Dan, is deputized as a Texas Ranger, and the posse sets off after Cavendish, only to be ambushed. Miraculously, John Reid survives with the help of Tonto, and the two once again set out after Cavendish, only to learn that the evil they chase goes higher than they can imagine, and John Reid is the lone ranger left to fight that battle. Along the way we also learn Tonto's back story and why he is also after Cavendish. And it's all done in flashback, through a conversation a young lad has with the aged Tonto at a carnival in San Francisco.

Players: This is really Johnny Depp's movie, and he gets top billing here as Tonto. Armie Hammer (and yes, that is his real name) portrays John Reid/Lone Ranger with a fairly complex blend of innocence, goofiness, and righteous wrath. William Fichtner is the main bad guy and known cannibal, Butch Cavendish. Oscar-nominated Tom Wilkinson is Latham Cole, the mayor and chief mover/shaker in the town of Colby. English actress Ruth Wilson plays Dan's wife Rebecca and, we learn, was a one-time flame of John's in their younger years. Helena Bonham Carter is Red Harrington, the local cathouse proprietor with a surprise in her artificial leg. James Badge Dale is the ernest lawman Dan Reid and young Bryant Prince makes his big screen debut as Danny, Rebecca and Dan's son.

Pilot: Gore Verbinski directed this action-comedy movie and he is no stranger to directing Johnny Depp, having helmed all three Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, as well as the animated film, Rango. Here, you get the sense that he was going for the "Pirates" blend of action, whimsy, and danger. He succeeded, but on a somewhat smaller scale.

Performance: Imagine Captain Jack Sparrow as a Comanche Indian, and you'll have a good start at understanding how this film plays out. "Tonto" in Spanish means "fool," and the writers went with that for this reboot, rather than the stalwart, forthright, loyal Tonto played by Jay Silverheels in the television series. The fact that it was told in flashback style was unique, and Verbinski did some clever things with that convention. But when you try to blend such a big mix of summer blockbuster action, humor, pathos, danger, and still try to make it a buddy movie, that's one too many tightropes to walk and sometimes the film falls too deeply into one or the other of those nets. Depp's dimwitted "I'm really a genius" act has grown old for me, but the other actors acquitted themselves just fine; especially Hammer. And by the end of the movie, I was a big fan of the horse.

Point: This is a pretty straight-forward good versus evil movie. It's really a reboot/re-origin story of how the idealistic John Reid turns into the realistic, if you will, Lone Ranger. There is much talk of the "Spirit World" here, and traditional Hollywood Christian stereotypes abound, much to my chagrin. The Christians in the film are portrayed as hypocritical prejudiced bigots and the one genuinely theological prayer is issued from the lips of a villain.

Particulars: The body count is really quite high in this film, but most all of it is bloodless, though the sound effects and reactions of those shot by bullets or arrows are enhanced and awfully realistic. There is one particularly gruesome scene, where Cavendish stabs into a dying man and eats his heart, though it is shown off-camera or in silhouette. In another scene scorpions are seen crawling on the faces of two men trapped in sand. There is a scene in the local house of prostitution where cleavage abounds freely, but not off-puttingly so. I did not find the language particularly objectionable, either.

Raymond's Rating: I give The Lone Ranger two out of four stars. It passed my entertainment test, in that not once did I feel the urge to check my watch, so there is that. But the movie ran two-and-a-half hours, which is closer to three with previews and projection equipment shorts and safety/legal/cell phone reminders and by the time the lights came up, I was definitely ready to leave. The film has no defining climactic moment, you don't really get to see justice delivered to the vilest of the villains, and while the whole thing was nice enough, it left me wanting ... something ... something more. I wish I could say what.


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. Hi-yo, Silver! Away!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Mark at the Movies: Monsters University

Plot: Meet Mike Wazowski and James P. "Sully" Sullivan before they became fast friends. See them in a college setting, learning how to scare small human children and thus create the power that their world uses for energy in this Disney/Pixar prequel. Anyone who has spent time on a college campus will recognize the stereotypes here, represented by fraternities and sororities - the jocks, the hipster girls, the goth outcasts, and of course, the losers and nerds. Mike and Sully manage to get themselves expelled from the Scare Program early in the film, but a daring bet with the school's Headmaster will get them back into the program if their team wins the "Scare Games." A loss, however, will result in their expulsion from the school all together. Those Scare Games become the central piece of the film, and are the chief vehicle for our characters to grow and come to know one another, quirks, faults, and all.

Players: Billy Crystal and John Goodman return to voice Big Eye Mike and Big Furry Sully. Steve Buscemi is also back as the voice of Randy, the disappearing chameleon-like monster. Helen Mirren does a bang-up job as the stern voice of Dean Hardscrabble, the school's headmaster. Comic actors Sean Hayes and Dave Foley serve as two-headed Terri/Terry Perry. The respected Alfred Molina plays a small role as Professor Knight, and Nathan Fillion takes a turn as BMOC (Big Monster On Campus) as Johnny Worthington. Other well-known actors have bit parts: Bonnie Hunt, John Krasinski, Joel Murray, Julia Sweeney, Bill Hader and of course, it wouldn't be a Pixar movie if John Ratzenberger didn't stick his characteristic voice in.

Pilot: Dan Scanlan directed, conceived the story, and contributed to the screenplay. He's written for other Pixar movies (most notably Cars) and has directed some of their shorts, as well as a small budget "mockumentary" film called Tracy done four years ago. This was his first big budget directing job.

Performance: In many ways, the story reminded me of the 1984 comedy, Revenge of the Nerds. Mike and Sully find themselves pledged to Oozma Kappa (their slogan: "We're OK!"), a collection of social outcasts and misfits, and - as good stories often do - we get to see their evolution into the characters we enjoyed in the first Monsters movie. And not just the leads, but the rest of their fraternity brethren, as well. But the road is hardly smooth, and the writers and actors have done a very credible job here in providing obstacles and ways to overcome them. There's a very nice bit at the end of the film bridging the gap between the college years and the "BFF" duo we see in the original Monsters, Inc. And do stay through the credits, as there is a brief scene at the end, though it's likely to just leave you a little sad.

Point: Friendship. Living up to your parents expectations. Telling the truth. Letting your natural talents lead you to happiness. Overcoming your natural weaknesses with the help of friends. These are all themes touched on or explored in depth within the context of the story.

Particulars: Rated G, there is nothing objectionable here. Small children may find Dean Hardscrabble's character somewhat frightening, and certainly intimidating. But here even the bad guys are lovable.

Raymond's Rating: I'm going with two-and-a-half stars (out of four) on this prequel. While there were a tremendous amount of creative touches throughout and it was definitely an enjoyable experience, the story just didn't feel terribly original for me and unlike the first film, there were only a couple of spots where I laughed right out loud. Let's put it this way: it's a great film at matinee pricing.


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. The Scare Games. Let's call them a Monster Dash.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This Stuff is Amazing.

Wow. Not to shill for Rust-oleum or Home Depot (where this product appears to be sold exclusively), but this video was truly, truly impressive.

Science marches on. 

I wonder if you could spray it all over yourself and keep from drowning?


Now I'm just being silly.


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. Wow. Just wow.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Mark at the Movies: Man of Steel

Superman has a long and storied run on both television and in movies. Created in 1933 by Jerry Siegel and Joel Shuster while they were both in high school, his story was sold to DC Comics in 1938 and the rest, as they say, is history.

His first televised appeareance, according to the Internet Movie Database, was in the 1952 show Adventures of Superman where he was portrayed by George Reeves. He turned up for the first time in a cinematic production in 1978, portrayed by Christopher Reeve (no relation) who filled the role for a total of four movies through 1987, each one successively worse than its predecessor. They were so bad that the Man of Steel disappeared from Hollywood for half a decade, finally coming full circle as a fairly successful television show in 1993 under the title Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman with Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain in the lead roles. The show enjoyed a four-year run. It's success sparked an animated cartoon that began in 1996 and also ran for four seasons. 

And then mild-mannered Clark Kent (Superman's alter ego) went underground for another five years when the movie franchise underwent what has come to be known as a "reboot" with the film, Superman Returns in 2006, starring Brandon Routh. It built on the storylines in the first set of movies and perhaps for that reason, lost money and Superman would not return again.

Until this year, when the story was given a re-reboot, this one under the title, Man of Steel. If nothing else, filmmaking technology and computer-generated imagery (CGI) have been much updated so that this movie could be more "super" than any of its ancestors.

Plot: As anyone who hasn't lived under a rock or off the grid over the past 70 years should know by now, Krypton is a dying planet of beings much farther along the scientific path than we humans. Too late to save their world, in this version not only is Kal-El (Superman's Kryptonian name) packed up and shipped off to Earth, but he also carries with him on the trip the entire genetic future of Krypton in a "codex," which is a fancy (and archaic) way of saying database. And truth to tell, it's not an *entirely* accurate use of the term, but I shan't nit-pick. The Kryptonian military general - Zod - who was attempting to stage a planetary coup and in some fashion save Krypton, is exiled to the Phantom Zone for his crimes and yet vows to track down Kal-El and retrieve the codex, saving his people's future. Superman's early years are then depicted and show us his serving around the world in an itinerant laborer sort of fashion, coming to the rescue whenever tragedy occurs, and this forces him to move on to the next gig. We see bits of his childhood in well done flashback scenes. Enter Lois Lane, Daily Planet reporter, who embeds herself with a military excavation at the south pole where some kind of space vessel has been discovered, frozen in the ice for almost 20,000 years. She spies Superman (in yet another itinerant disguise) attempting to quietly slip away and explore the vessel himself, and follows. That decision entwines her fate and future with his as she becomes bound and determined to discover his secrets. On the ship, Superman finally learns his true identity and flies it away to the other pole, but doing so activates a distress beacon that alerts Zod - who escaped from the Phantom Zone when Krypton exploded - to his whereabouts. An epic confrontation that would be an insurance agent's nightmare follows as Earth, Superman, and all of mankind's fate hangs in the balance. (Whew! Long plot - but the movie is nearly two-and-a-half hours long.)

Players: Henry Cavill portrays this version of Superman (you may know him best from The Tudors television series), the always watchable Amy Adams is the indomitable and intrepid Lois Lane, Michael Shannon grinds through his role as Zod with lust and vigor, and a long list of other "A" actors round out the cast in smaller roles. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane play Superman's foster parents, Laurence Fishburne serves as Perry White, Lois' editor, Russell Crowe does double duty as Jor-El, Superman's father and the AI "consciousness" of his father later, and both Christopher Meloni (from the Law and Order TV series) and Richard Schiff (most well known for his work as Toby on The West Wing) are given small but pivotal roles. German actress Antje Traue is given a full introduction to American audiences as the right-hand of General Zod, Faora-UI and is both menacing and lovely.

Pilot: The movie is directed by Zack Snyder who also helmed 300, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch. He has already been announced as coming back to direct Man of Steel 2, and considering that Christopher Nolan (of the Batman trilogy of films) shares a co-writing credit on the story, I think we're probably due for another trilogy here.

Performance: This movie falls straight into the category of rollicking yarn. There are just enough lulls with character exposition and backstory to make the action scenes pop. My one note of distraction while watching was that there was, perhaps, too much action. When you're talking about a character called "Superman" - and there's a clever bit with Lois about the symbol on his chest - there's a tendency to make everything bigger. And then what do you do for a climax? Make it even bigger still. And longer. The film finally reaches a point where it's just too much and you begin to be numbed by it all. But that was a minor flaw. There are several quick bits during the climactic battle scene that Snyder fits in: a worksite with a sign displaying "106 days without an accident" is hit and the 1 and 6 fall off. In another shot, a tanker with "LexCorp" emblazoned on the side is destroyed, a millisecond homage to nemesis Lex Luthor. The movie ends with Superman set up in his Clark Kent identity, newly-hired at the Daily Planet newspaper. The final two lines of dialogue are a near-perfect ending for the film, leaving things fine as a stand-alone movie, but also ripe for the sequel.

Point: Several times throughout the movie we are asked what mankind would do if we found out there was an alien living among us, and he was a far superior being. Would we panic? Would we accept him as one of our own? Would we look to him as hero and savior or would we shun and fear him for his differences? The film shows that struggle and the conclusion is drawn by one character for us all when he says, "this man is not our enemy." I could spend some time drawing parallels between Superman and Christ, as well as critical differences, but that's for another post. There is one scene where Superman asks a local priest for advice. In the end, the priest offers, "Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith first. The trust comes later." I was glad the writers nailed that one.

Particulars: I found nothing truly objectionable here. There are hints of cleavage, a lingering kiss, a quick scene of sexual harassment, several violent yet mostly bloodless deaths, and a few uses of "ass" and "dick" in conjunction with other words to create insults.

Raymond's Rating: I'll give this film a solid three stars. The action goes on too long, and Superman's ultimate solution to the menace is a choice I'm not sure he ever would have made in the comic mythology, but as summer blockbusters go, this one is right up there.


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. Up, up, and away!

Quick Laugh

And it's educational, too. Watch this video for a 49-second primer on how to fold a short sleeve shirt in less than two seconds:

Now watch this video to see how it's actually done:


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. "Tell me, does your shirt fly?" "No, I fling it."

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mark at the Movies: After Earth

Plot:  The basic premise starts with the fact that we "ruined" the earth and humanity left the planet en masse 1,000 years ago and settled on a new world: Nova Prime. There we discovered that we were not alone; a new fearsome predator dubbed an "Ursa" was discovered. The beast is a huge, spidery thing with no eyes. It tracks its prey by smelling the pheromones given off by its terrified victim(s). Cypher Raige (Will Smith) has learned how to control his fear and thus become invisible to the creatures, a process that was called "ghosting." His prowess in helping humanity quell this menace has risen him to the rank of General in the Rangers and garnered him unprecedented respect and loyalty among the troops. But his dedication to this military effort has left him with a family that is distant and his relationship with his son, who is in training to become a Ranger as well, is growing cold. Recognizing this fact - with the help of his still-loving wife - he takes his son with him on one final training mission before his planned retirement. Their ship crash lands on ancient earth and breaks into two pieces. The only two survivors are the General and his son, Kitai Rage (Jaden Smith). Their distress beacon is damaged, but their hope is a working one will be found in the tail section, over 60 miles away from their current position. The General, however, sustained two badly broken legs in the crash and their only hope for survival lies in the ability of his son to travel to the tail section, then find and fire the distress beacon. His father cannot provide any physical aid, but as he strives to survive his injuries he can stay in contact with his son visually and digitally as he makes his way through the dangerous terrain. To add another layer of menace to an already perilous journey, the ship had carried an Ursa on it as part of the training mission, and not only did it survive the crash, it escaped into the wild.

Players: Look at the image above; note that Jaden Smith is the first face you see. That's because he is the actual star of the film, taking the lion's share of the screen time. Will Smith has a commanding presence in the movie as General Cypher Raige, but the story is of his son Kitai coming into his own. 90% of the movie features just these two players. Sophie Okonedo portrays the understanding-yet-firm wife and mother, Faia (pronounced Fie-ee-ah). Zoe Isabella Kravitz portrays Kitai's sister, Senshi, and carries a pivotal piece of the story with her role. All the other actors in the film have mere cameo roles to move the story along.

Performance: Jaden Smith has two previous "well-known" roles. The first was in The Pursuit of
Happyness and he again played his father's son. At that age, he was simply cute and precocious and not a lot of acting chops were expected from him. His next starring turn was in the remake of The Karate Kid and Jackie Chan was along to bear the weight of the dramatics. Smith was fine, but it was a role where not a great deal of range was expected. Here, the story relies almost solely on Jaden's maturing acting ability, and while he shines in spots, I was underwhelmed with his overall performance. The other performance to be taken into account here is that of M. Night Shyamalan (pronounced Shuh-yeah-mah-lahn), a director who has endured a meteoric rise (after The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable and Signs) and then a gigantic collapse after a string of critical and financial failures (The Village, Lady in the Water, The Happening, and especially The Last Airbender). Here he is directing one of the few films that he didn't write, though he does share co-writing credit. The story is Will Smith's, but the dialogue was mostly written by Gary Whitta. The film does not carry any of Shyamalan's twisty endings that change the nature of everything you've just seen but instead is told in a fairly straightforward manner. This is a welcome change and the film benefits from it.

Point: There are several layers and undertones at work here. The obvious message was the ecological one. We "ruined" the earth. The next message strongly present was the philosophical one, engendered by the film's catchphrase: "Danger is real. Fear is a choice." Early in the movie Will Smith explains this concept in some detail, including some very worthwhile words about the worthlessness of fear and it being all about what hasn't happened yet. All we can do is live in the moment. Finally, the film is centrally a coming-of-age story and repairing the relationship between father and son. I have read that some saw Will Smith's Scientology beliefs coming out, but I saw nothing of that. Perhaps I am too uneducated. As a believer in Christ and a follower of The Way, the message of choosing to set fear aside (because we know who holds the future) was strongly appealing to me.

Particulars: There is no swearing in this film, and no violence so graphic as to be off-putting. There are moments of gruesomeness, and a few surprises that illicit shivers of sympathetic tension, but they are balanced by the occasional tender moment. You do see a few bloodied crash victims, and several bodies are impaled by the Ursa, but there is no gore.

Raymond's Rating: I give this film two-and-a-half stars, and would mildly recommend it as a movie worth watching. Kitai is given a line at the end that is the flick's one comic moment, and it is a good one.


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. This film's working title was "1,000 Years A.E."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

It Caught My Eye

There's a brand new flavor in Lollipop Land and it rhymes with "dressed silk" ... I'll give you a minute.

Need more time? Go ahead, I'll wait.

Yes, if the picture didn't give you enough of a clue, there is now a breast milk lollipop on the market. Adds a whole new level of meaning to "sucker."

And you thought I was kidding.


On a completely different note, and I'm not sure why this caught my eye, but it did: Thrivent Financial, the insurance arm of the Lutheran Church, is opening up its doors to sell insurance to all denominations now, after a 111-year policy of insuring only Lutherans. Another economic victim of waning church attendance in America.

But they are going to open their doors slowly. Thrivent President Brad Hewitt said it is more like "a 50-year, (than) a five-year plan."

They are starting with just friends and family members of their current Lutheran subscribers.

"Everybody find your Lutheran buddy! If you don't have one, get one!" (Oblique Toy Story reference.)


And this just in - uh, two weeks ago - Japan has stopped buying U.S. wheat. Why? Because they fear that wheat genetically doctored by agriculture giant Monsanto may creep into the commercial supply.


These are people who still have rampant radiation running loose in parts of their country. If they're not going to buy our wheat, what does that say about how bad this Monsanto thing is getting?



Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. So what catches your eye?

Friday, May 31, 2013

Mark at the Movies: Now You See Me

Back in the day during my film critique studies (in college), we were taught that the title of a movie is usually - though not always - indicative of a film's main theme, or is used to underscore the message of the movie. Here, with this picture, your mind immediately leaps to the rest of this phrase: " you don't." In fact, that is one of the key lines in an early scene.

What the title is trying to tell us, I believe, is that the movie's heart lies in misdirection --> what you don't see. And, indeed, that turns out to be the case.

Plot: Four magicians with diverse talents, working mostly in little known locales for whatever they can shake out from a crowd, are recruited to become "The Four Horsemen" by a mysterious benefactor and the next thing you know (a year later), they're playing Vegas. Turns out their public appearances come in three "acts" and the first is robbing a bank right there, live on stage (and in France, no less), with the help of an innocent audience member. The second act involves ripping off an insurance company (with an interesting twist), and the final performance includes stealing a huge safe loaded with cash. As soon as the first heist is performed, however, the FBI is called in (and even Interpol due to the French connection) and the group has also attracted the attention of a magic "debunker" and all three spend the remainder of the film chasing the quartet and being led a merry chase, indeed. About a third of the way through the film we are introduced to "The Eye," a secret cult of "true" magicians dedicated to taking from the rich and giving to the poor which is, in fact, what The Four Horsemen do in their first two acts. The movie is all about what happens next, and will they get away with it all, and why were they doing it in the first place?

Players: Jesse Eisenberg headlines the mostly well-known cast as lead magician J. Daniel Atlas and grinds through his scenes with a capital Smug. Mark Ruffalo plays the beleaguered and often dumbfounded FBI agent Dylan Rhodes, saddled with this no-win case. Woody Harrelson is mentalist Merritt McKinney who proves to be a skilled observationalist and owns a piercing stare. Isla Fisher portrays escape artist (and former stage aide to Atlas) Henley Reeves. The last of the quartet is Jack Wilder, acted by Dave Franco (the brother of James Franco). French actress Mélanie Laurent is re-introduced to American audiences (after her turn in "Inglorious Basterds") as Interpol detective Alma Dray and represents belief to Rhodes' skepticism. The always watchable Morgan Freeman is around to explain how some things were done as debunk artist Thaddeus Bradley, and Michael Caine is pretty much wasted here as insurance mogul and financier Arthur Tressler.

Performance: With so much plot ground to cover, the story must by default leave these characters' back stories practically untold, so it's difficult to work up much enthusiasm for anyone in the movie, except Ruffalo, who has the most screen time and always seems to come across as a sympathetic nice guy. The script does leave us with some questions that more or less cheat us of an honest ending, and sour the nature of a major character, but I can't fault the actors for this.

Point: There is no point to this movie. Nothing deep. No hidden meanings. Just a slick, captivating thrill ride with mostly unexpected twists throughout. The most honest line of dialogue is when Morgan Freeman utters, "When a magician says here's the magic (pointing with one hand), you can be sure the trick is actually being done elsewhere." Eisenberg utters several times throughout the film, "The closer you look, the less you'll see."

Particulars: I found nothing terribly objectionable here. There are no scary scenes, no bloody violence. It is rated PG-13 but I didn't even hear the one F-bomb these films are allowed, which was a relief. There were a few instances where God's name was added to "damn" that didn't need to happen, and "sh--" abounded throughout, of course. Early in the movie a young lady whips off her dress to reveal a pretty figure in lingerie and some mild innuendo follows, but nothing comes of it.

Raymond's Rating: Two stars. While the movie was impressive in its execution, there were too many characters, too much plot, and not enough meat in the story to sustain any kind of emotional connection to the film. I wonder how things would have played out had the revelation at the end of the film been delivered earlier, and if more reason had been given for Morgan Freeman's character to go through what he did at the end. After all was said and done, I found myself watching just to see what was going to happen next. Perhaps that's all I should expect from a summer flick.


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. Abracadabra.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Mark at the Movies - Star Trek 2: Into Darkness

Plot: A little girl is ill. A self-sacrificing act of sabotage is the price demanded for saving her and that kicks off what turns out to be a one-man war on Starfleet that leads the Enterprise and her crew into peril and a possible intergalactic war with the Klingons. But the film's main perpetrator will allow no obstacle to stand in his way of revenge, and Starfleet High Command is ready to welcome a war and between those two, Captain James Tiberius Kirk and the other characters we have come to know and love so well find themselves caught in the middle. The question comes down to "how do you protect Starfleet - even from itself?" The answer eventually becomes clear, but the body count is high and we are taken on an emotional roller coaster through the whole journey.

Players: All of the cast from the first film returns. Chris Pine is the young Jim Kirk, Zachary Quinto seems even more comfortable in the role of Spock, Karl Urban continues to chew up every scene he's in as the irascible Leonard McCoy, Simon Pegg is the ebullient Scotty, Zoe Saldana is Uhura, and both helmsmen: John Cho as Sulu and Anton Yelchin as Chekov are given more to do this film. Bruce Greenwood returns as Christopher Pike, and along for the ride on this trip are the much-discussed Benedict Cumberbatch - playing John Harrison, the villain of the piece - as well as Peter Weller in an important role, and Alice Eve, who provides insights at critical moments and takes on the job of being the film's "eye candy" for a few frames. There is a cameo from a special guest star, as well, but I won't give away that identity so as not to spoil your fun.

Performance: As I mentioned, it's an emotional roller coaster. The canon of the Star Trek universe is so familiar to so many that no time need be spent on each character's back story for us to understand the unique interplay of give and take, joke and jest, and point/counterpoint they immediately dive into with each other. It *is* an alternate timeline, so characters are allowed to deviate from the Star Trek norm. I was particularly impressed with the range Quinto explored within the narrow confines of Spock's Vulcan cold logic. Weller is comfortable in the role of a man wielding power and used to getting his own way. Urban is a delight to watch. Somewhere DeForest Kelley (the original McCoy) is smiling. Simon Pegg can no longer claim to play the only comedic relief in the cast, but his work as Scotty continues to be enjoyable, as well. And what can I say about Benedict Cumberbatch without giving away too much? He is not who he seems to be, and he effectively works both sides of the good and evil equation. He manages to walk that most delicate line of acting roles: he makes you feel for him while he's committing atrocities. While Chris Pine gets most of the screen time as Kirk, and his performance is spot-on and commendable, at the end of the film it was these other actors who stood out in my mind.

Point: What do you do to save your friends? What decisions do those in power have to make in order to propel a civilization forward? When do you ignore the rules to save those you care about? In the end, Star Trek Into Darkness reminds us of some important truths: do what's right, no matter what. Be loyal to those you love to the point of death and beyond. And even if you mess with the timeline, you'll eventually end up in the same place.

Particulars: Parents should be warned there is liberal use of the word that colloquially describes fecal matter. Scotty gets drunk (but really, don't we expect that of Scotty?). A human head is crushed off screen. Humanoids with entirely black eyes and painted faces are seen, which may prove to be a frightening image to small children.

Raymond's Rating: I am a self-professed "Trekkie," so take that into account when I say this was a fantastic film. My only quibble is with one scene involving a Tribble that ultimately telegraphs a key plot point later, and winds up taking much of the suspense of one of the film's most critical scenes away. It was the only unnecessary scene (as that plot point was set up in the very beginning of the film). Aside from that minor defect, I give this movie a full four stars. In the end, it's a brilliant retelling of a familiar story and well worth plunking down your dollars to see.


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. Boldy go.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Mark at the Movies: Iron Man 3

PLOT: "The Mandarin," a madman patterned after Middle East terrorist leaders, is out to destroy America and seems to have a personal vendetta against the U.S. President. Meanwhile, millionaire industrialist (genius, philanthropist, etc.) Tony Stark is having trouble settling into a stable relationship with his long-time assistant, Pepper Potts (who now runs Stark Industries), beset by nightmares about his New York experience with The Avengers and prone to panic/anxiety attacks. When one of The Mandarin's attacks injure Tony's friend and one-time chauffeur Happy Hogan (played by Iron Man 1 director Jon Favreau), that's the last straw for Stark's stress levels and Tony calls out the Mandarin - giving out his home address, no less - and the battle is joined, but there are wheels turning within wheels here, and not everything will turn out or turn up the way it first appears.

Players: Nearly everyone from the Iron Man story returns - Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, even a cameo from Shaun Toub, who was in the very first Iron Man movie. Noticeably absent is Scarlett Johansson. This film also features Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, the aforementioned Mr. Favreau, and everyone's favorite computer assistant, Jarvis, voiced by Paul Bettany and given a somewhat larger role and personality here.

Performance: In an action movie, you don't look for great range or depth of character, and don't expect that here. Downey is still the quintessential Tony Stark, Cheadle provides solid foundational support as sidekick and yet stands on his own as both a character and an actor, and Paltrow is both sympathetic and strong as straight-arrow Pepper Potts, who knows Tony's strengths and weaknesses, and juggles them appropriately. The villains in the movie are, by and large, portrayed effectively enough that the audience feels happy when they receive their comeuppance.

Point: When the movie was all said and done, I came away with the feeling that the message was about the mistakes we make, how they come back to haunt us, and how we eventually learn from them. Tony dares to take steps he's never taken before, and seems to finally be at peace with both himself and the world. Taken as a whole, this trilogy journey about the creation of Iron Man to the resolution of Tony Stark, simply Man, has been a good one. While you are left wondering how it will be possible by the end of the movie, we are assured that Tony Stark will return. And yes, stay all the way through the end credits.

Particulars: Other websites are better at this than I, but personally I found nothing really objectionable about the film, in terms of language, violence, sexuality, or morality. The woman in the row behind us at the theater used worse language every time something unexpected happened on the screen.

Raymond's Rating: It's not four star material, but I would give it a solid three stars for entertainment. My acid test for movies is "did I or did I not feel the need to look at my watch?" With Iron Man 3, I didn't even think about the time until the end credits were rolling and my bladder was nagging at me. If this was 2013's first summer "blockbuster," it's going to be a good summer.


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Happy Birthday, Internet!

The World Wide Web turned 20 yesterday. One more year and it can go buy itself a congratulatory adult beverage.

It was opened up for public use on April 30, 1993. The news story on this - thanks to Kim Komando - is here. The concept of the WWW was conceived by British physicist Tim Berners-Lee (not Al Gore!) in 1989 but took four years for the restrictions to be lifted and public access granted.

And look how it has changed our lives. My, my, my. 20 years ago I was the father of a 6-year old boy, I was mourning the recent passing of my hair, and I was celebrating my tenth anniversary with the U.S. Postal Service. I was using Apple IIe computers at work, and had a first generation Apple IIc at home. (Eventually I switched to the PC platform for productivity and available software reasons. Sorry, Steve Jobs and Apple wonks everywhere.)

Now, I find that probably 80% of my communications are over e-mail, much of my social interaction is done on Facebook, and my Smartphone keeps me in touch with news and friends no matter where I am. All because of the Internet.

Yes, I still talk to people in real life. On the phone, at church, in restaurants, and I meet with friends on a face-to-face level frequently. No worries about becoming an online hermit here. But this anniversary puts me in mind of a mental exercise I like to go through every now and then.

We all have heard the things our parents have said to us:

  • "In my day, we had to get up, walk six feet, and change the channel by hand."
  • "When I was your age, when we got home, we had to get out of the car - no matter what the weather was doing - and lift the garage door by hand."
  • "When we first had a telephone, if someone called and no one was home, we didn't know about it!"

Stuff like that.

So the mental exercise is wondering about the things we'll be saying to our own grandkids. I imagine we'll eventually hear ourselves say...

  • "When I was your age, we could turn the computer off."
  • "Used to be you needed a key to get into a car and turn it on...."
  • "I remember when the computer sat on top of your desk, not the top of your glasses."

And what's even more fun is trying to imagine what our children will say to their children.

  • "When I was your age, we actually had to go visit the doctor in his office to find out what was wrong with us!"
  • "Google used to just be a big company, not a country."


Here's a grin, courtesy of Dilbert:


Heh. What do you imagine you - and your children - will be hearing yourself say in the future?


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. "I remember when people used to do this online diary kind of thing. We called it a 'blog'."