Archive for the ‘Anything Goes’ Category

First Weather Satellite Photo

First Weather Satellite Photo

Fifty years ago, in 1960, I recall the world’s first satellite weather photographs hitting the prime-time news. They revealed a grainy, black and white band of thin clouds shrouding the eastern coast of the United States. There was some detail thrown in there, a mountain ridge or maybe a shoreline?

But most of all, I remember the television interviews afterwards, the ones with incredulous scientists from all over the world discussing the images. Many of these people — like the viewers — were just beginning to grasp the implications of what the new technology they were witnessing could offer the world of the near future: advanced storm tracking, air traffic control, hurricane warnings, crop forecasting, military shenanigans, on and on and on.

Pretty heady stuff.

Long before the satellites came, I remember Grandpa Brandt stepping out the back porch screen door every morning, placing his hands on his hips and gazing along the horizon line and the tips of the trees, testing the Indiana weather. It was a routine he performed every morning. Sometimes he would wet a finger and hold it up to a breeze. Other times he’d lick his lips as if tasting something, or pick up a handful of dirt and crush it between his fingers, feeling the texture as it fell away. “Rain by noon. After that, it will be a hot one.” Done deal: the day’s weather forecast had been proclaimed.

This is NowThis morning, a friend called and suggested I flick on my computer and check the weather; that he had just had 5 inches of rain dumped in his driveway and it was heading my way. Within seconds I called up WunderMap, where I spent about 20 minutes cycling through the video loop options. Never once did I consider the technology I was using.

After a while, I stepped out on my patio, placed my hands on my hips and gazed along the horizon line and the tips of the trees. “Rain by noon. After that, it will be a hot one.”

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Tim says: as I was getting ready to publish today’s article, I noticed the advertisement in the lower right corner of the WonderMap screen capture. I wonder what Grampa would have to say about all those hot cuties in the right hand corner vying for my attention?

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Being a tad bit hard of hearing, I am noticing more and more television commercials are adding closed captioning to their spiels.  Just within the last two weeks, it seems the floodgates have opened. In other words, television advertisers are realizing hard of hearing folks spend money, too. Maybe it is a Boomer thing. I don’t know. But advertisers are jumping on board.

Closed captioning has been a godsend for me. Since I began using it about 5 years ago, I am discovering how much I’ve been missing: <crickets chirping>, <dog barking>, <faucet dripping>… you know, nuance stuff most people take for granted.

I am also discovering that I can go back to older movies I had watched long ago without closed captioning turned on, and watch them all over again as if they were new: all those important scenes where a major plot element is whispered during a thunderstorm on a railway platform with a parade and marching band and cymbals and police sirens blaring in the background; last gasped words trickling from a dying person’s lips; lovemaking grunts and groans emanating through the walls from the next hotel room over while a couple of spies chuckle during an important discussion <lovemaking grunts and groans> — all of these previously unheard comments suddenly becoming AUDIBLE through the magic of silent closed captioning.

How cool is THAT? TV advertiser’s may be slow, but they aren’t dumb.

Now, if only movie theaters would take TV’s lead and begin offering special “closed captioning” movie viewings just for groups of hard of hearing folks like me. I’d probably faint watching a large-screen just-released blockbuster movie. Who knows — we hard of hearing folks might even buy a couple of $8 hotdogs and a bag of $10 popcorn or two.

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How can we help (ourselves)?


I recently received an email from Lowe’s informing me they have changed their “Privacy Policy”. These are the same folks who — every time I purchase something and try to check out — matter-of-factually ask me for my telephone number. I always refuse. Why do they need my telephone number? I mean, chances are good (since I normally use a debit card for my purchases) they already have access to WAY more than just my telephone number.

The Lowe’s Privacy Policy Change email contained a link to their new Policy Page, no more or less frightening than other such policy pages, I’m sure. I spent some time reading through all the gobbledegook, finally taking a breather at their “Your Choices” section, wherein they pacified me a bit into believing I could remove myself from the insanity of online shopping data sharing, because everyone is in cahoots nowadays; Google, Amazon, Facebook — all of the biggies — wantonly swapping, sharing and receiving personal information and shopping habits as if it belonged to them, not you. How many times have I purchased something at Amazon and a day later the item I just bought is plastered on every browser page I visit? Depending on the item, that can be rather embarrassing if you have a visitor who asks to use your computer.

“Hey, Tim, how do you like that hemorrhoids cushion?”

I suspect the Lowe’s Privacy Policies are no different than most, but I gotta tell you, when I got to the part that said: “To be removed from all of Lowe’s official email, telephone and postal mail marketing, choose one of the following options: email customercare@lowes.com and type “REMOVE FROM ALL MARKETING” in the subject line…” I felt a shimmy of hope wiggle through me like a bolt from that first shot of tequila.

I opened my email program and began to reply. That’s when I read a couple more sentences and got down to the: “For any of these options, please include your name, address, phone number and email address in the request, and let us know how you provided us with the information.” part.

You have GOT to be kidding me. Let me get this right. They want MORE private information about me so they can remove my “old” private information  from their “Lowe’s official email, telephone and postal mail marketing”? How crazy is THAT!  Damn, they also want me to tell them HOW I provided them with “the information” they already have about me. Give me a break.

Little did we know — years back when we rushed like children toward the Google Candy Store and all the other personal information black- holes-from-Hell-blood-sucking-vampire-ish-mega-sites — the can of worms we were uncapping. Did I just say children and can of worms? Silly me. My bad. I really meant lemmings and Pandora’s Box.

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Yesterday, I was snipping rosemary from a very large rosemary bush growing in a pot on my deck. Rosemary is one of those plants whose leaves exude an oily essence. That’s the only way to describe it. This rosemary essence is incredibly potent and, for me  — like lusty Patchouli oil aroma from sweaty 60s-era girlfriends past — fires memory synapses only the way aromas can.

Which is how I found myself remembering being picked up by my friend, Rich one evening at the Norfolk airport. I had been returning from a trip to visit Mom in Florida, and I was ready to come home. About an hour later, it was Rich who noticed that we were the last folks standing in a now empty baggage area. “Uh, Tim?” he asked.  “Why are we the last people standing in an empty baggage area?”

I thought about my golf clubs. I thought about my hang bag, filled with my favorite tee-shirts and shorts and suntan lotion. I thought about *Tad Williams’ yet unread Mountain of Black Glass (Otherland, Volume 3) novel. I thought about my brand new prescription sunglasses sitting, perhaps, on my seat as I had hastily deplaned, and I thought about Stephen King’s The Langoliers, a novel about parallel universe-hopping airline travelers who find themselves stranded in an airport from Hell whose reality is in the process of fragmenting into nothingness, just like my hopes for ever seeing my luggage again.

“I don’t want to think about it,” I said.

After a while, I noticed a tiny glass room set off from the rest of the baggage claim area. Inside, leaning against a scuzzy wall and bathed in the sickly green glow from an overhead fluorescent light, sat my golf clubs and Samsonite hanging bag.

“Those your bags?” asked a security-looking-type guard, gruffly. A handgun hung loosely from his belt.

Uh, oh, I thought, suddenly remembering my sister, Pat having stuffed a HUGE bundle of fresh rosemary into the golf bag just before she drove me to the airport in Florida. Maybe they found some hitchhiking bugs being transported across state lines. Maybe — I was about to get busted!

“Yes, they’re mine!” I exclaimed. “Is there something wrong?”

“Nah, they came in on another flight,” said the guard. “You got your baggage claim tickets?”

I breathed a sigh of relief.

A few minutes later Rich and I were standing in the parking lot. A cool evening breeze blew in from the nearby Chesapeake Bay. “Hang on a second, Rich,” I said, unzipping the golf bag. I slipped on a Zebco Pro-fishing jacket. The inside of Rich’s truck smelled like rosemary all the way to a sushi bar.

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Tim Says: *Author Tad Williams and I have a somewhat twisted relationship, culminating in years of a rather rage-hardened distrust. Sounds like a Simply Tim to me!

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I was chatting with an UberStrike gamer earlier today, discussing how my generation became the “TV Generation”, and how today’s generation is one of “technology”.  Every time I turn on the Discovery Channel, or the Science Channel, or the Smithsonian Channel, I am reminded that, in a sense, we all are still living in the “TV” generation, that the Information Age is everywhere. But, I have to admit, when I peek at, purchase, play with all those things that technology is putting in our grasp, I am more than a little bit jealous about not being more of a part of it.

I suppose that’s what every generation has felt since civilization first began to crawl from the primordial muck: a feeling of being left out of a grander scheme of things we can never quite obtain, but one destined for — in the words of “The Moody Blues“, circa 1969, “our Children’s Children’s Children”.

Here is a video link my new UberStrike friend, Adam, passed along to me. He said, “Next generation will have…”

–submitted by “Adam”

Can you imagine?

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Tim says: if you’d like to submit one of your own You Tube “Video Curiosity” discoveries for consideration, use the “Contact” form at the top of the blog. Include the link and your first name only. Email addresses (if any) will not be published.

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I was in a Mom & Pop fast food joint the other day. When the cashier was making my change, he noticed an off-color penny sitting in the change drawer. He fished the penny out of the penny compartment and examined the coin. “Wow, this is OLD!” he exclaimed, showing it excitedly to a fellow worker. He put the penny back in the drawer. After a while, he handed me my bag of burgers and fries. I couldn’t stand it.

“Uh — just how old is that penny?” I asked.

“Nineteen eighty-five,” he said. “It’s older than I am!”

I sat down with my meal at a very tiny table, feeling a little less hungry and a whole lot older.

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I really hate the new kind of plastic packaging, the indestructible type that is heat-vacuum-shrunk around the purchased item; the type whose packaging design offers no means of opening it short of using a hacksaw. The plastic itself is so thick it is impossible to tear or pry apart. And I know that even if I am somehow able to slip a finger in-between the plastic joins, I run a very real risk of severing a digit or two on the wickedly sharp edges.  Every time I cautiously approach one of these packages, I wonder how many finger-related law suits have been filed.

Since kitchen shears are no help at all, I decided to purchase an inexpensive pair of tin snips. But when I found the pair of industrial-grade snips I wanted at my local Lowes Home Center — you guessed it — they were tightly cocooned in an impenetrable spent-plutonium plastic diaper.

“Would you please open this package for me?” I asked the checkout person after purchasing the snips. “My fingers aren’t what they used to be and I’d like to keep them that way.”

The cashier slipped her own pair of tin snips from under the counter. Snip, snip. A couple of dangerous daring finger maneuvers, and the metal snips separated from the packaging. She made it look so easy. “There you go sir. Works like a champ.”

They must. She still had all of her fingers.

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