Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fun Cat Fact #2

  Did you know that if you leave a netbook unattended, a passing cat will pull the keys off the keyboard?  Do you also know that finding replacement keys for an off brand netbook can take actual searching?  

  It's really my fault.  I've always had a weakness for off brand technology.  Part of it is simple penny pinching, part of it is the whole "I can make that horse a champion" attitude.  As a result, I've got a couple of cat-proof boxes filled with Armour All protected computer peripherals.  

  Style is also important.  I still like the 70's futuristic.

  President Chris:  "Make the Air Force use the curveless pointy planes with the big delta wings again!  Make them all matte white with smoked glass windows and bright tail art!"

  Secretary of Defense:  "Do you want a Van Damme knot on your head?"

  I sell this stuff off too.  I had a 99 cent PDA which I had bought because I was floating to the surface of my company and thought I needed something cool to store phone numbers.  Something cool like what Al Gore would use.  Took a day to switch back to the lighter, tougher, and more readable pencil and scrap paper.  I sold it later; apparently it was the controller to a medical device  "...and can you send it overnight?  The patient really needs it."  I can only imagine the markup.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Still Beating My Dead Six Legged Horse

  Not really.  While thinking about Avatar, I remembered that there was a character named Avatar in Ralph Bakshi's vehicle Wizards.  The plot is pretty basic: A long time into the future an evil wizard discovers films of Adolf Hitler, which he uses to inspire his troops to go forth and conquer.  The good elves, led by Avatar (who happens to be the bad wizard's brother) try to stop him.  It's frequently animated in glorious rotoscope, an ancient technique that starts out with live footage which gets traced over and colored.  I like the look, but some consider it cheating, probably because it has become associated with tight budgets.

  The film itself is a mixed bag.  It's one of those productions where the sum isn't as good as the parts. Often the more rounded, well... cartoonish characters are out of place in front of the sharp and angular Ian Miller backgrounds.  There can be a sudden shock when well done animation runs out of cash and turns into a rough hack job.  It's like Jake is about to fly off the cliff with his lizard thingy when James Cameron calls  "Halt! OK, did the intern make that blue pipe cleaner figure?  Great, put it on a paper airplane and throw it out the window.  No blue screen, just film it on the way down.  That's a wrap!"  It's that sudden, and it's that crude.

  It's got some good points too.  This is the earliest example of the Working Class Minions of Evil trope I've come across so far.

  If you don't want to watch the whole movie, this clever editor has made a music video which compresses the whole movie into five minutes.

  Lastly, here is the dramatic finish.  I sometimes wonder why Lawdog doesn't have this scene on a MP4 player surrounded by candles.

  By the way,  if you know your AD&D, you'll have noted that Blackwolf is a lich.  Since they didn't destroy the phylactery, he can come back for the sequel providing that Bakshi can finally get the funding.

  "A lich?  Are you serious?" Asked Dr. Cato, giving a smile of disbelief.  "You are a a man of science, a man of learning.  How could this be?"

  "I know it sounds incredible,'' Responded Professor Ibrahim from the holophone, "But like the Prophet said, if you remove all improbables,  whatever is left must be true."

  "But why?  Why would this thing come back to life after slumbering for so many centuries?" 

  "We think it's because you removed the objects from its tomb.  Replace them, and it should become quiet again."  Ibrahim held up his hand.  "I know what you are thinking, why not just ask for them back?  Why go on a killing spree?  You have to remember that this thing comes from an evil place in the distant past.  Amerikkka, during the age of Jahiliyah.  Things were very different then.  We don't know all the details, because the seemed to be ashamed of their evil and put all of their 'learning' on materials which were designed to disintegrate.  High acid paper, plastic which would crumble, and so on, but enough remains for us to determine that Chrishotep is a cereal killer.

  "Yes, we all know the great mental risks you take to reassemble this hideous past", said Cato as he rolled his eyes at Sabrina and made an obscene gesture.

 "What was that?"  Demanded Ibrahim.

  "Nothing"  Replied Cato, I just thought I heard something outside.  "Go on."

  "Well," Said Ibrahim, trying to regain his train of thought, the Old Amerikkkans still believed sacrifices were necessary to maintain the fertility of the soil.  Cereal killers roamed the land kind of like freelance priests."

  "How horrible!" Injected Sabrina.  "Weren't people shocked?"

  "On the contrary, Sabrina.  These people were heroes.  There were movies about them.  Books about them.  They were the most studies and admired persons of that era.  The key is the coins.  Chuck E was a famous cereal killer.  Many believed he couldn't be destroyed.  Those coins could have been a reward, or permission to kill.  We just don't know.  It's too bad they were destroyed."

  "I really don't believe you" Said Cato.  "But for the sake of argument what do we do now?  We are stuck here with this thing roaming around."

  "I'll come and get you when the storm lifts, so find a safe area and sit tight.  I've saved the best for last though.   Get this: We have determined that the crypt isn't just a burial chamber.  It's a time machine!"




Friday, August 27, 2010

One Ton Tomato . . . I Want a One Ton Tomato . . . One Ton Tomaaaaay-to . . .

  I always thought normalized relations with Cuba would be on the way when President Obama assumed office.  On the contrary, things appear to be about where they have always been.  It shouldn't be much of a shock;  Cuba has always needed the U.S. embargo to blame for when things go wrong as well as foster a sense of isolation in the populace.  When there is even a hint of a thaw, you can count on Cuba doing something to make it difficult for the U.S. to normalize relations.  I daresay the election must have created something of a panic down Havana way.  Not to worry though, there has been a odd quietness from the relations crowd lately.  

  Personally I think the embargo needs to end, the sooner the better.   Question is how.  I think it is time to turn Guantanamo Bay into a free trade zone.  I was thinking Hong Kong at first, but since the American turf is between Liechtenstein and San Marino in size, it will just have to be a capitalist Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy.

  I know some will argue that it is too valuable as a military base, but if something is too valuable, it shouldn't be.  American bases really don't belong where they are not wanted, and if we really had change in mind for Cuba, there is no better way than giving them what they say they want-and on their own soil too.   

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Works for Thee but not for Me

  Every now and then, someone has a habit or mode of behavior that I find admirable.  I then think that I should emulate such behavior if I find it so great.  From one of my bosses, Ron, I learned not to make jokes about situations even if your intent was to set a person at ease.  I had just started work and needed a day off to go to the doctor.  Told Ron, he said no problem.  Got home and realized that I had told him the wrong day.  Went back, Ron said no problem.  Got to the door, noticed I had told him the correct day the first time, then had to go marching back to the office to ask him to change the schedule again.  I expected  a big show of groaning and sighing, but he didn't.  He just said, "Your health is more important, and the schedule is easy to fix.  Don't worry about it."  Saved me a lot of embarrassment, and I follow his example.

  From Mike, I learned to always say hello.  We didn't see each other very often, but if we passed he would come over, introduce himself, ask how everyone was doing, say enjoy your movie, and go about his business.  I thought his brief no-nonsense greeting was wise, so for the past year I've been going up to people I think I know and saying hello.

  You know, it might not be such a good idea.  I work a long way from the old haunts, and I've noticed a lot of people move away because they don't want to be known.  Fresh start and all that. Or they don't recognize you and are uncomfortable thinking they are on the spot.  Perhaps they just want to shop and nothing else.  Anyway, sometimes people just don't want to say hello.  

  I think the big culprit is high school.  It turns out a lot of people were miserable, and I wasn't the only one who thought if you weren't a direct friend you were a bitter enemy.  Well into adulthood a surprising number still hold on to these feelings.  Strongly.  Chris' Corollary to Mike's Friendship Law:  Look for (Friendly) Recognition First.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


   The first Olympics I watched all the way through was the 1984 Los Angeles Games.  It was eagerly awaited for the expected high medal count for the Americans, and a match up between Mary Decker and not really British Zola Budd in the Women's 3000 Meters.   As we all know, everything went according to plan;  Mary Decker got to play the Ugly American, Zola Budd got booed for something other than being South African, and I got to look at Mary Lou Retton's perky smile on the box of Wheaties I had to buy because someone drew in fangs.

  Budd's big problem is that she wanted to run, not get involved in a political situation she had no control over.  Anti-Apartheid activists were equally adamant she stand and denounce as a precondition.  She refused, and I think it was the right thing to do.  Don't get me wrong; if you have an event dedicated to sportsmanship and the equality of man on the game field, it's a bad show if one team shows up dedicated to exactly the opposite.  So the team, yes.  The individual, no.  I should make that clear, because...

  ...I think the solution to the "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy is for those behind it to refuse to take any money from a country which refuses to allow religious freedom.  Denounce it, if you will.  The press should be asking where the money is coming from, then wondering if it's ethical to take it, and doing so until there is a clear answer.   (Kind of like how they should be peppering Mexican officials about Mexican immigration law...)   The elephant here is not religion, it's Saudi culture and their ability to steer the conversation their way.  Too bad there are few reporters as pig-headed as Zola Budd.

  P.S.- If you do think it's about religion and Americans being hateful and bigoted, let Zionists build a Jewish cultural center a stone's toss from the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, then lecture about tolerance and building bridges.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chris Raves: It Was Better Than "Wing Commander!"

  While thinking about Avatar, my mind wandered to other similar Earth military in space (say it Pigs in Space style) themed shows.  Foremost was :

Fox Network Presents to be Canceled Soon:

Space: Above and Beyond

Starring: Crusty Commander- Miss Bad Ass- Rebel Without a Clue- All American Minority- The Driven One

Featuring: Admiral No Nonsense- Slutty Villainess With 80's Hair- That Guy Who Got Famous Playing Himself 

Special Guest Star: Red Shirt

Based on that movie we didn't watch.  Based on that book cover the director found blowing down the street.

  It was derivative to the extreme, yet somehow it managed to work.  I thought all the actors did very well considering what they had to deal with, and I wish some had gone on to bigger stardom.  Good special effects for TV, ship design was wanting.  (Why is the X-Wing still the standard?)  There was even a willingness to throw in some ethical problems and character development. 

  I like more lasers and robots with my space wars, so Space: Above and Beyond is a matter of personal taste; however, I must say this scene is one of the best in sci-fi TV:


Monday, August 16, 2010

I Keep Having This Dream Where I Forget to Turn in My "Avatar" Essay

  Saw Avatar twice in the theatre and thought  it was passable.  What I liked the best was the amount of detail put into everything.   (Except the script.)  So often I see a movie that has very good creature effects, but then it is all ruined when you see a tree on the alien planet which looks just like the one in your back yard.  I suspect so much has been put into this movie the tiny little buzzing insects were given tiny little detailed insect bodies, and some time in the future you will be able to focus in on one of them with your DethRay DVD and see them going about their tiny little insect business.

  That's what makes it bad.  I don't have  BluRay or LCD, so without the magic of theatre seating the standard def DVD doesn't leave you anything to wonder at, except the script, and that is for all the wrong reasons.  Methinks this is the first movie designed for the hi-definition crowd, and it should be considered that way, much like Tron was a showcase for computer graphics.

  If you like the Larry of Araby theme in movies, this will do the trick, but if you want something just like it you can watch on that TV with the rabbit ears, you can get the same experience with Ferngully.   Or Battle for Terra.  Or Pocahontas.   

Sunday, August 15, 2010

His Excellency The Chairman of BudgetMart has Authorized Me To Place into Your Account...

  Scammers have always been a problem, but they have become so bad upper management has resorted to sending messages out several times daily reminding employees not to give away money.  The most worrisome has been the caller claiming to represent the very highest levels threatening to fire an employee if they don't give the winner of the lawsuit their court awarded damages.  It works very well.  We've been lucky; ours walked in with a letter written on notebook paper telling us to refund a long list of items.  We're just looking at her like "Aren't you even going to try?"

  Half of the issue is trust.  I was coming home from work once when I stopped by a drug store.  I was wearing standard retail type clothing, and the drug store was doing a reset.  I was trying to shop, and people were walking up to me asking me what to do.  So I told them.  "Ok,  you've got your plan-o-gram-o here and you want the top to be facing the front of the store..."   I looked like one of them, so it's reasonable to assume I was one of them.  They wouldn't have been able to function if everyone there had to ask everyone else for ID, then verify that the ID is valid, then verify that the verifier is who they say they are, and so on.  Eventually you have to stop and trust that someone is who they say (or dress) they are. 

  The other issue is intimidation.  In retail, the employee is the thief, and they let you know.  Our Loss Prevention Officer isn't a bully, but he does like to use the tricks.   "Getting a divorce?  Wow, I bet that's expensive."  Asks people what store they are from, then smiles and says he has heard some things about that store.  I suppose you have to do it, but it also creates employees who are afraid all the time and err on the side of being helpful.




Friday, August 13, 2010

A Tale of Two Hires

    Lost our new hire Saturday. [This was before the cats decided to save me from the Matrix.] I was thinking “Don't have to know, don't want to know,” but his uncle had me cornered and wanted to tell me the whole story. I thought he was a good kid, but he acted a little odd, like he didn't quite know how to behave. It's because his parents were in jail for a long time and he had been in the system as a result. Finally moved in with family and discovered he was a stranger, so he elected to go back in. One year from graduation and he is so institutionalized he can't function on the outside. He's also so big no one will be able to correct him.
    His replacement is the total opposite: Middle aged woman who was recently laid off from a state job. Now, I don't mean to belittle her, because her job was a tough one, but it's just not the same as the retail world. We had her working Monday, Wednesday, Friday, with Monday as her first day. Someone calls in sick, won't be at work Tuesday. Call the new hire. Refuses to work on Tuesday. It's her day off. Doesn't like to work weekends, asks for time off to go watch her husband race. Me and the boss agree that her definition of hard times and ours may not match. It's not that she's a bad or lazy person, she just comes from a different set of rules. They never knew each other, but our two hires share that bond of being strangers in a very harsh world, and eager to return from whence they came. Oddly enough, the second may be a bigger threat, because she represents the first lapping waves of a dissatisfied public worker tsunami that's going to get very Greek in places.  

    Sabrina stepped cautiously out of the tomb and looked around for her companions. None were to be found, so she resigned herself to making the journey to the atrium, their pre-agreed meeting place, alone. She started out slowly at first, as she had to climb the ladders which descended down into the pit where they had found the crypt, but her pace quickened as she reached the the levels of tunnels and galleries above. Now she moved quickly but silently, pausing only to look down the smaller passageways for the thing which had killed so many of her friends. She felt better as she reached the topmost level, but still clutched her short sword tightly as she made her way towards the atrium, her passage lighted by the weak sun coming in the windows far above. 

    She was going to wait until the doorway was in sight before she called out, but Cato must have heard her coming up the hall because he was waiting for her.  
    “Sabrina's back,” he said to Mark, who was still sitting at the table in the middle of the room. “We had to leave,” he said, “It was getting too dangerous.”  
    “Why?” Asked Sabrina.  
    “There is something else down there,” said Mark, “It's big, and it's quiet, with razor sharp fangs and claws.”
    “Well, you didn't fortify much,” said Sabrina.  
    “No need,” said Cato. “If we all stay together in a well lit room, we should be alright. If something attacks us here, we can always run out quickly and meet someplace else. Barriers would only get in our way.”  
    “Well, for what they're worth, I got the coins,” Said Sabrina. She opened her hand and let the Chuck E. Cheese tokens slip onto the table.  
    “That's it!” exclaimed Cato as he gave Sabrina a hug with one arm, “The fifth and last treasure!”
    “There were six,” said Sabrina as she focused her gaze on Mark and raised her sword.
    “Just a moment,” said Mark. “You're not going to stab me with that thing, are you? Everyone in this room knows you couldn't push a sword through a person.”
    “Perhaps not,” said Sabrina, “But I might easily use this!” she said, as she pulled the laser pistol from underneath her cloak. “Tell them!” she shouted, “Tell them about the Six Treasures of Chrishotep!”

Dear Capitalist Running Dog: Please Send Money

  Whilst the cats had me disconnected from the universe, I had to watch some satellite.  As they say, there is not much on, but I have to say I do enjoy watching Link TV from time to time.  They  have an agenda as one might imagine, but by and large they keep their picks interesting and their hosts seem to be pleasant, in a Napa Valley sort of way.  Not too sure about Amy Goodman though; she has the smoldering gaze of the true believer, but she does allow her guests ample time to respond to questions without the constant interruptions and shouting which has come to signify cable news, and she deserves full credit for that.  Even though I disagree often, it's still a relaxing way to find out what others are thinking.

  Right now they are having a pledge drive.  They get a large part of their funding from foundations, which of course get their money from capitalism.  The irony is so thick and creamy I want to drip it on a piece of toast. Will I be sending my pledge?  Nope.  My view is "You know, if taxes were lowered, people would have more money to spend as they see fit, which would mean more money for you.  And your foundations."

   Jonathan, Sabrina is up in the stands with me.  Don't know why I would bring here here; the other day she burst into tears for no reason and I couldn't understand anything she was saying.  Doesn't matter, we'll find out soon enough.  Enough distractions.  Listen to me: You've been here before.  The gladiator was too tough, so I arranged to have a lion instead.  Look!  I bribed myself so I got my Chuck E. Cheese tokens back!  Anyway, I told you last time that the animals here were in bad shape from crowding, disease, starvation, whatever.  I'm sorry, but I was way off.  You're going to face Ajax of "Ten Slaves in Ten Seconds" fame.  He's a bit of a prima donna.  He has his own chamber and he likes to have his mane curled before a show.  He uh,  mauled you a bit last time, so you must do as I say.  You have to run like hell and veer off to the left, got it?  No running in circles!  Okay, let's get it right this time.  

  Holy Crap!  That's an elephant!  Jonathan, run in circles!  Wave your arms!  Wave your arms!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Just Another Cat Blog

  I don't want to write about pets all the time, but it's hard to do when the little buggers have been practicing their artery or spinal cord severing tactics on the...  uh..  cat cable from the wireless antenna.  In multiple places, including up on the roof.  Took a couple of days to find it.   Repairmen say people are willing to wait forever to have their TV fixed but freak out the moment the Internet goes.  It's certainly true in my case.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tell Them the Great Frog is Dead!

  A couple of blocks away is an empty field.  It used to have houses, but they are long gone, leaving only the streets around it and bisecting it.  Smack in the middle of this field is a ditch.  It's deep and shaded enough to hold water a good way into the summer, year round if it rains enough, but the block itself is dry enough to be almost grass free.  Somehow a frog, probably one of a thousand, was able to cross this amphibian wasteland and stumble into this pool, where he carved out a tiny home for himself.  We called him King Frog because he was the biggest thing there and sat on a piece of concrete which overlooked his kingdom.  The dogs knew he was there, but were so noisy in their approach that he always had plenty of time to hide.  The cats are a much different story.  For them, a walk isn't so much exercise as it is patrol.  Usually they only come with us a certain distance then stop and wait with drooped tails for our return.  This time they came with us all they way, but they stayed close and their tails had a certain fluffiness to them.  Apparently someone went back last night, for this morning the much colder body of King Frog was on the front porch.

  I had no idea that cats would take anything.  I've seen more bats in the past year than I have in my whole life.  (Bat viewing places excluded.)  I thought the Inquisition had burned all the horny toads because they had horns and could squirt blood from their eyes.  Nope, still all over the place.  I understand cats can be a valuable research tool, based on what they bring home, but I had no idea one cat was worth a whole class of grad students.

  Anyway, King Frog is dead.  Speaking of clammy pale skin, I hope King Frog met his lion with more dignity than Jonathan met his.

  Hey, if I were to walk up facing you and say "run to the left,"  do you think would I be talking about my left or your left?  Listen,  I've got to tell you something... we've done this a few times before and it didn't work out so well.  Were going to try a different tack; I've bribed one of the guards with a handful of Chuck E. Cheese tokens so...  just a sec.  I can see myself in the stands and I'm waving to the left.  Great.  You are going to face a lion.  Wait, we've had this conversation before,  I'm the only one who can operate the time machine so I have to live.  You can do this!  I'm still not any good, this thing just wobbles through the sky but it would help if you wouldn't drop everything and run in a circle flapping your arms.  Try to go in a straight line  or veer a little left. Remember there's no ASPCA here so the lion is going to have been in a cramped cage for months and is probably sick, and so are most of these people.  You can intimidate him so tighten your sandals and get out there.  We're up! 

  Sorry.  Ran into him for the first time in four years yesterday and just had to do it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Leave Me Alone! You've Already Fed!

 Got my new/used lawnmower to where it needed to be.  Loaded up with sunblock, Twizzlers, big mug of tea, and a full gas can.  Since I would be passing by Their House when sputtering was expected, I flipped up the lid and refueled on the go.  Arrived without incident, except when I engaged the blade, the belt slipped off and she refused to go.  Lucky for me, I knew what to do, because I had seen it done before. 

  I had been mowing with my push mower when I turned around and saw my neighbor laying on his side next to his (riding) mower.  He was elderly, so I figured that he had a stroke or heart attack.  Got to the fence, and had one foot on top of it about to go over, when I realized that it was something more exotic.  He had been stung to death by by bees.  I hadn't noticed because of my earplugs and the noise of my mower, but I knew now.  The swarm had moved past him and was upon me.  They had me dead to rights, because I was out in the open, and there was absolutely no place to run.  The only real decision was what position I wanted to be found in, but hey, it's bees, so there wasn't going to be any dignity here.  I held perfectly still as the swarm moved past, then my neighbor got up, started his mower, and drove off.  Turns out they were ordinary honeybees and my neighbor was popping the belt back on.  He had no idea they had passed right over him, and I decided not to say a thing.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Why Do We Always Land In The Coliseum?

  My interest in Star Trek tends to wax and wane; I loved it as a kid, but by the time of the later movies and TV shows, the franchise was getting a little stale.  As a result, I put off seeing the reboot in the theater and waited for DVD.  I wasn't bad, just good in a "We didn't totally flub up the  'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' movie" sort of way.  In short, better than most remakes.   I didn't even mind the lame time travel plot.  Want to know why?  Because if you are a true Trek fan, than you have to hold Star Trek: The Animated Series as canon, and in the episode "Yesteryear" we find out that Mr. Spock went back in time in order to save himself therefore establishing a paradox and putting all Star Trek in a alternate timeline... HA!

  Somewhere we have the Star Trek roleplaying game from FASA.  One of the hangups is that everything could be solved by application of transporter, phaser, time travel.  Alien on board?  Lock on transporter, beam into deep space.  If it proved difficult, you could always do that "Separate the saucer section, blow it up" thing.  Last time we played, it was for four seconds.  "Yeah, I appear on the bridge from the future and tell myself how to win."  If you tried to argue that time travel wasn't that easy, it was "What about the Guardian at the City on the Edge of Forever thingy?  Screw the Feds; we'll just stun everyone with the phasers and hop through."  Just proves that a good show doesn't always make a good game.

  I occasionally use time travel myself.  I was working at a grocery store when a co-worker came by and asked if that was my brother I had just been talking to.  I usually reply with a classy "Huh?" but for some reason I replied "No that's actually me from the future.  I've come back to destroy the time machine."

  "What time machine?"  He demanded.

  "The one in the walk in freezer, of course.  I'm not going to keep something dangerous like that around the house, you know."

  He laughed, and then I hit him.

  When he asked if I was crazy,  I told him, "Look, the last time a guy in a leather diaper was bearing down on you with a giant salad fork, you told me to hit you if you ever laughed at the idea of time travel."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Das Brazil

  Hired a new kid yesterday.  As a part of the routine, he and the manager go to the office to finish paperwork, make phone calls to HQ and enter him into the computer.  As part of the routine, it doesn't want to stick, so the manager calls me on the phone to see if I have any ideas.  The problem is that it has started to cloud up, and if there is anything between us and outer space, it's not going to work.  As I make my way to the back it starts to rain, then hail.  The building is an old one, and it used to have high roof in the stockroom, but the various owners have added as they have seen fit, but never removed anything.  As a result, there is a tangle of pipes, ductwork, wires, rails, xenomorphs and so forth all piled on top of one another and holding each other up.  Hail hits ventilation pipes and rattles its way down making a characteristic sound.  I walk around the corner and hear ping...  ping...   ping ping pingpingpingping  open the office door and everyone is standing looking roofward.  For a second, I thought they were wearing khaki with lit cigarettes and headphones.  It doesn't help that the office is this dark claustrophobic enclosure with piles of paper on every available space.  It looked like Das Boot as visualized by Terry Gilliam.

  Anyway, we get the kid sorted out, and go forth to put stock on shelves.  As has been done a hundred times before, the kid shows off his strength by leaning over and picking up three cases at once.  I do the usual watch out for your back, he says no problem, I mumble about boxes not being designed for the human machine to lift, but don't push it.  He'll find out soon enough.

  Kids think they're immortal, grown ups know they are not.  One thing I've noticed is that the elderly love technology.  Go to a nursing home and ask "Who wants to be a cyborg?"  Dozens of hands will go up.  "Me Me Me, Pick Me!"  They'll say.  It's because they know what it was like before, and they appreciate every bit of technology which made their lives better. 

  I used to wonder why civilizations fell.  Why would Europe slip into the Dark Ages?  Why would the barbarians give up all that progress?  No, I don't think it was the entity known as "The Church" burning all the knowledge.  I think it was that the barbarians were younger, and like my new employee, didn't think they would ever need it.  Think of all the young regions and countries today.  Notice that they don't produce much in the way of ideas?

  Compare to Japan.  Everyone thinks Japan is on some sort of death spiral because of aging.  I disagree.  I think they are going to be on the forefront of the New World because they have to be; they need robots to do the work and technology to keep themselves going.  It's what bothers me most about immigration; why invent a better way of doing it when you can always throw another immigrant at the problem?