This new guy really is a Bad Robot

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Space. The Final Frontier.

First it was Star Trek. Now it’s Star Wars. I don’t like where this is going.

You know who I’m talking about, right?  J.J. Abrams?  The wunderkind of movies these days?  In my little world, he’s trashed the Enterprise, and now he’s killed Han Solo.  Is nothing sacred?

OK, I suppose *he* didn’t kill Han.  The story is Harrison Ford wanted the character to die back in the carbonite block, but was talked out of it (read $$$).   But still.  Bad Robot.

First, the Enterprise.  I really like the bridge of the new version starship.  Especially the ’embedded-in-the-window’ viewscreen.  That was a cool idea.  The engine room, and whatever those huge tank things were, is just… not.  Unless the Enterprise is really a TARDIS, there’s just no way all that inside fits the outside.  Huge gaping spaces for our heros to dangle from is just nuts.  That thing-a-ma-jig that Kirk kicks back into alignment? Bad scripting there, plain and simple.  Really poor starship design.  The same engineers that came up with the viewscreen-window couldn’t come up with a better doo-dad for Kirk to fix at the last second? Really?  And those lens flares. Really annoying. Bad Robot.

I just saw Star Wars – The Force Awakens.  Not much force awakening going on there.  A lot of spaceship-blowing-up and what-not, but the force is not strong in this one.  More vast spaces to dangle the hero from, but mostly a re-hash.  We’ve pretty much seen this movie, before we’ve even seen it.  Bad Robot.

Nit-picking.  Did nobody do an after-action assessment when they lost the Death Star?  Nobody noticed the glaring design flaw in the super-weapon?  They basically built the same thing again, only bigger?  And using a star as a power source?  In such a way that you suck up the star itself to power the weapon?  Seems like a lot of money and resources to put into a weapon with a limited shelf-life! The Dark Side seems to have a rather large blind spot. Probably as big as the ego of the latest evil leader.  Bad Empire/First Order.

And haven’t we already seen this plot device?  The weapon is charging/coming into range!  We have only minutes before the rebel base is zapped!  Everyone’s about to die!  But wait! Our heroes blow up the Death Star/Star Killer in the nick of time, saving everyone!  I suppose if he’s going to re-hash old Star Trek movies, J.J. doesn’t worry about doing it in Star Wars, too.  Bad Robot.

I wonder if Mark Hamill is going to be able to pull off his own Obi-Wan in the next movie? Can we believe Luke going full-Yoda on us?  Time will tell.  JJ Abrams won’t be directing it, so maybe we’ll get something more George Lucas-like.  But it’s Disney, now, so maybe not. Especially after George’s crack about them.

This movie didn’t seem to really advance the story much.  I suppose it’s more a hat-tip to the previous films, and to set up the two to follow.  Seems a bit weak to be a top-grossing movie, but it does show the desire of the public to revisit this galaxy.  Disney and company seem determined to give them what they want.  The merchandising for this episode has just been insane.  Even a YouTube light saber gizmo on the control thingy?  Really?  Bad Robot.

The 3D version was pretty neat.  I enjoyed it, and most of the time didn’t realize I was watching a 3D movie.  When you don’t notice the effect, they’re doing it right.  Good Robot.

I went to the last showing on a Sunday night, and had the auditorium to myself.  Just me and the movie.  That’s both cool, and a little creepy at the same time.  Watching the opening crawl and then the closing credits in 3D was strangely mesmerizing.

Overall, I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.  Excellent effects, especially in 3D, likable new characters, and the possibility of decent follow-on stories.  Dinged for re-hashed story and plot, no clear emotional buildup on Ben’s part to Han’s death (Ben did not seem conflicted, nor did the murder seem like his climax to completing his journey to the Dark Side), and it’s poor use of R2-D2 and C3PO.

The old man in the iPhone

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jim_01122016_r

There’s something wrong with my iPhone.  I try to take ‘selfies’, but this old man keeps showing up.  I wonder if there’s an app for that?  Or maybe I should call 9-1-1.  Whatever the case, I think it’s just rude.  Come to think of it, my bathroom mirror has the same problem.  I wonder if it’s an iMirror?

 

Our part of the valley used to be an Oak forest

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South of Woodlake, California. Road 212, south of Avenue 328, looking southeast.

Local Stories: PFLAG to host speakers for National Coming Out Day. I’ll be one.

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national-coming-out-day

October 11 is/was National Coming Out Day.  2015 marks the 27th annual observance, commemorating the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, held in 1987.  On this day, those still in the closet, whether they are LGBTQ or allies, are urged to step out and tell their stories.  In recognition of NCOD, PFLAG Tulare-Kings Counties will host two Visalia residents as they discuss their “coming out”.

Since the first NCOD was celebrated in 1988, there has been a sea-change in the way society in general, and the law specifically, views the LGBTQ community.  From the riots in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York City that sparked the modern LGBTQ movement, to the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that made marriage equality the law of the land, few would have thought such progress possible.

In 1977, Harvey Milk of San Francisco won election to the City Council as California’s first openly gay person to run for office.  During his campaign, and his short time in office (he and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated in their offices on November 27, 1978), Milk often urged closeted members of the gay community to “come out”.  He maintained it was the only way for the LGBTQ community to truly advance.  As more people came out over the years, Harvey’s words have proven prophetic.  Harvey Milk is recognized in California with a “Special Day of Significance”, each May 22nd.

Each October, PFLAG Tulare-Kings Counties recognizes Coming Out Day with programs related to the subject.  This year, two Visalia residents will speak, telling their “coming out” stories.  Gail McCarthy, author of a five book murder mystery series, the Alexandria Whitney mysteries, and Jim Reeves (that’s me!), 9-1-1 dispatcher, blogger, and LGBTQ activist, will be discussing the coming out process and how it’s impacted our lives.  We’ll talk about the societies we lived in as we approached our own “coming out”, the atmosphere that colored our perceptions, and how being “out” has affected our lives since.

The public is, as always, invited to attend PFLAG meetings.  Admission is always free, and refreshments are served.  This month’s will be Sunday, October 18, from 3 pm till 5 pm.  We meet at the Congregation B’nai David, in their Educational and Cultural Center, 1039 S. Chinowth, Visalia.  (Just follow the rainbow flags)

Friday night at 9-1-1

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9 1/2 hours on channel two Friday night. A full Moon. In August. At one point, 25 units on my channel. All it takes is one to decide to do a traffic stop, then suddenly ALL of them want to do traffic stops! Fights. Parties. Loud music. More fights. No barking dogs, oddly. Reckless drivers. Drunk drivers. A couple of wrecks. Several ambulance runs, one a 15 day old difficulty breathing, one 84 year old difficulty breathing. Shots heard. Child exchanges. Child exchanges that didn’t happen, and the other parent is pissed. Welfare checks because somebody on Facebook was fishing for attention and “seemed” suicidal. Abandoned cars. People pulled over on the side of the road and being “suspicious”…. as they talked on their cell phones for 20 minutes. Drunks staggering down the shoulder of the road. More loud music calls. Crappy radios… “it’s the heat” “it’s the cold” “it’s the fog” “it’s the rain” < reasons for crappy radio transmissions. Units chomping at the bits to join the CHP’s pursuit before it runs out of the county. It ran out of the county. Bar brawl, ambulance needed. Second ambulance needed. Laceration and “asthma” (panic) attack. Juvenile calling in and harassing the dispatchers. Vulgar. Threatening. Dozens of times. Not bright, we know who he is. Cookies in dispatch. Didn’t last long. Air unit doing patrol checks. Three at a time. Put him on one, take him off. Update city unit that keyed up immediately after. Put air unit on second patrol check, take him off. Respond to deputy doing a traffic stop. Put air unit on last check, take him off. Answer the 9-1-1 line, because everybody else in the room is already on a phone. Lucky, just a quick transfer to CHP, off the phone quick. More loud music. How come we never do anything about it?? I’ve called a bunch of times! No, I don’t want contact, just make them stop! Direct the young lady who has decided at 6:30 pm on a Friday that she’d like information on becoming a police officer to call back Monday during business hours to talk to somebody about it. Another party! I have to get up at 4am! Racing vehicles… give it to CHP. Send a deputy to assist CHP, because the car they stopped has a fight between a man and woman in progress. Burglar alarms sounding, owners will only respond if it’s an actual burglary. I just got home, and I was robbed! The tweeker is not sure what’s missing, but they’re sure something was taken. It’s Friday night, the teenager has been missing since Wednesday morning, but we better go ahead and report it now.
etc.
etc.
etc.
Man, I love my job!

Is it *really* OK? Or just when it’s your religion?

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allah_be_praised

“Freedom of religion” doesn’t mean freedom from every religion but yours.

I’ve been here before, but I don’t know where I am

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photo 1The garage is finally getting cleared out (thanks, Travis!), and I found this book while looking through some boxes.  I looked at it, wondering when I bought it, as it rang absolutely no bells.

“Maybe,” I thought, “someone beamed it into my garage at some point in the past, and I’m just now finding it. Or maybe I time-traveled back to leave it in this box because…  something important is about to happen, and this book is the crux of a historical turning point, and I will use it to save the world! Or maybe it’s a glitch in the Matrix, and I should really worry about stern looking men in black suits, wearing earbugs and black sunglasses!”

Well, no, not really.  But I really don’t recall when or where I purchased this book. It’s copyrighted 1991, so at some point after that date, at the earliest 1994, because my bookmark is from where I work, and I must have picked it up at B. Dalton or Waldenbooks.

I sat down last night, and started reading.  I figured I’d remember the story, or at least find it familiar, as I’m pretty good about recognizing something I’ve already read.

Not happening this time.

It’s a collection of shorter stories, all set in the same “universe”, with the main character present in all the stories.  It’s about a man from 1954 recruited to be a “time cop”, and keep history from being tampered with once time travel is invented in the distant future.  The “time cops” recruit from up and down the timeline for suitable operatives, and the various stories in the book jump from a vacation base camp in the Pleistocene era, to millennia into the future.

photo 2 The top marker is how far I’ve gotten since I picked the book up yesterday, and the bottom one is where I must have left off when I put the book in the box.

What I’m finding odd is that I don’t recall any of the stories I’ve read so far.  Nothing is ringing a bell, and it’s like a new book for me. I usually remember things I’ve read, and it’s a bit strange to be completely blank with this one.  I’m hoping I’ll remember it as I read more, but so far, nothing.

I’ve often compared my memory to an old hard drive.  I’ve got everything up there, it just takes time to spin up and locate the data.  I’m hoping that’s what’s happened here, and it’s just taking a long time to find the correct file.  I’m hoping nothing got overwritten in the intervening years!

Time to jump back into the future/present/past, and see where I end up.  I hope nobody screws up the timeline!

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