Pixel Scroll 5/5/18 By The Time You See This Pixel, You Will Have Been Scrolling In The Present Tense For As Long As You Can Recall

(1) CAMERON Q&A VIDEO. Wired headline: “James Cameron Answers Sci-Fi Questions From Twitter”.

A 7:46 video of director James Cameron using “the power of Twitter to answer some common questions about the science fiction genre.”

(2) JUNOT DIAZ. The Guardian reports “Junot Díaz withdraws from Sydney Writers’ festival following sexual harassment allegations”.

The Pulitzer prize-winning author was accused of sexual misconduct by author Zinzi Clemmons after revealing last month he had been raped as a child.

…The acclaimed Dominican American novelist Junot Díaz has been feted for his powerful literary expression of the pain of sexual violence. In 2008 he was awarded the Pulitzer prize for his book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the story of a young boy growing up amid abuse in New Jersey, and last month he was widely applauded for writing a confessional essay about being raped when he was eight years old.

But this weekend Díaz has cancelled his scheduled appearances at the Sydney Writers’ festival following a public accusation of sexually inappropriate behaviour….

(3) DINO TAKEOFF. Robot Dinosuar Fiction! has launched —

ROBOT DINOSAURS! Over the summer, we will be publishing a flash fiction about robot dinosaurs each Friday (May 4th through August 31st 2018)….

First up – “Five Functions of Your Bionosaur” by Rachel K. Jones.

Your parents first activate your bionosaur when they bring you home from the hospital. The bionosaur was a baby shower gift from your mom’s favorite aunt. They were nervous about its size, the stainless steel maw, the retractable razorclaws inside its stubby little arms, but the aunt had insisted. She’d programmed it herself, covered its titanium-alloy skeleton in top-grade synthskin featherscales, and pre-loaded it with educational apps.

When your bionosaur’s eyes first flare to life, it scans tiny, squalling you and reaches out a stubby claw to rock you. When it starts humming a jazzy rendition of the Batman theme, you quiet down and sleep….

(4) DELINQUENT DAYS OF YORE. While Jane Sullivan in the Sydney Morning-Herald was sifting trash from the past in “Turning Pages: The literary joys of juvenile delinquents”, out popped a familiar name.

I’ve been having huge fun reading about JD fiction and looking at the outrageously titillating covers in Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats, an anthology edited by two Australians, Iain McIntyre and Andrew Nette. What was once reviled as rubbishy reading is now collected, curated and revered as retro chic.

…Many of these books would make even Quentin Tarantino cringe, I suspect: they sound truly awful. But here and there I came across someone churning out quick books for cash who went on to make a more respectable name for himself. One was the science-fiction writer Harlan Ellison, who went undercover and joined a street gang as research for more than 100 stories and his 1958 debut novel.

He describes how he was later working as a reviewer and picked up a book from a box a publisher sent him. “It’s got this horrible, garish juvenile delinquent coming at you with a switchblade knife and it says Rumble. I thought ‘What is this piece of shit?’ and then I looked at the author and it was me.”

(5) TODAY’S TOY AD. Syfy Wire wants to tell you about “Stuff We Love: ThinkGeek’s plush Facehugger and Chestburster won’t ever want to let you go”.

If you’re experiencing symptoms like tightness and pain in your chest and possible heartburn, that may be because you absolutely need the Chestburster plush to explode into your life. 48 inches of alien protoplasm is going to love you so much that it will literally not be able to contain itself once it’s fully developed from feeding off your innards.

I guess they’re pretty used to this sort of thing around the ThinkGeek’s headquarters

(6) CASE OF THE COUNTERFEIT SJW CREDENTIALS. Beware! “This AI Will Turn Your Dog Into a Cat”Motherboard tells how.

If there’s one thing the internet needs it’s more cat pictures, so researchers from Nvidia and Cornell University developed an algorithm that will turn pictures of dogs into pictures of cats.

This neural network—a type of computing architecture loosely modeled on the human brain—was developed by a few of the same researchers behind the algorithm that can turn winter into summer in any video and employs similar principles.

(7) VOLZ OBIT. German actor Wolfgang Völz died yesterday. He was in a lot of genre films and TV shows over the years. Cora Buhlert pays tribute to him in “Remembering Wolfgang Völz (1930 – 2018)”. This is just part of his resume —

Wolfgang Völz was a German TV legend. If you watched TV in Germany at some point in the past sixty years, you have seen Wolfgang Völz and you have definitely heard his voice, because Völz was also a prolific voice actor, lending his distinctive voice to Walter Matthau, Peter Ustinov, Peter Falk, Mel Brooks, Majestix, the Gallic chieftain from the Asterix and Obelix films, as well as dozens of puppet and cartoon characters. It’s certainly fitting that Wolfgang Völz’s last credited role was the voice of God in the 2012 movie Der Gründer (The Founder).

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY

  • Born May 5 – Catherynne M. Valente

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • JJ finds an explanation of “The Nine Rs” at Incidental Comics.
  • Chip Hitchcock laughed at the doctor’s diagnosis in Bizarro.

(10) GENDER GAP IN BOOK PRICING. The Guardian ran an article about a sociological study which showed this result: “Books by women priced 45% lower, study finds”,

A study of more than 2m books has revealed that titles by female authors are on average sold at just over half the price of those written by men.

The research, by sociologist Dana Beth Weinberg and mathematician Adam Kapelner of Queens College-CUNY, looked titles published in North America between 2002 and 2012. The authors analysed the gender of each author by matching names to lists of male and female names, and cross-referenced with information about price, genre and publication.

Books by women released by mainstream publishers, they found, were priced on average 45% lower than books by men….

Reddit followed up with a discussion about the gender pay disparity in publishing. Michael J. Sullivan popped in with some interesting facts; such as the smallest pay disparity is among self-published works.

(11) DON’T BE COCKY WITHOUT A LAWYER. Chuck Tingle sorted this crisis in no time and moved on to bigger challenges –

(12) MAY THE FOURTH LEFTOVERS. More from Dr. Janelle Shane: “Darth Net: Star Wars characters invented by neural network”.

…There were enough Darths in the list that at the very lowest-creativity settings, everyone was a Sith lord. Here are some of my favorites:

Darth Teen
Darth Tannin
Darth Ben
Darth Toes
Darth Teena
Darth Darth
Dorth Darth Darth
Mon Darth
Man Darth
Darth Sans
Darth Band
Darth Mall
Darth Tall
Grand Moff Darth Salt

I would like to see the costumes for some of these….

RedWombat got in on the act:

(13) REDWOMBAT SALES REPORT. And Ursula Vernon says her book sales are keeping the house warm —

(14) STAR WARS FANS GET THEIR BASEBALL FIX. From the MLBshop.com, available for every team.

(15) THE SCARIEST. Victoria Nelson’s picks for the “10 Scariest Horror Stories” were listed in Publishers Weekly. Number one is —

1. “The Trains” by Robert Aickman

Virtually unknown in the U.S. outside a small coterie of dedicated fans, the British writer Robert Aickman (he died in 1981) is a virtuoso of the sophisticated “strange story,” as he dubbed his tales. The scares in an Aickman story come not from gore or violence but from the way he perversely bends reality right before your startled eyes. Not just once but again and again—and still again, all in the same story. In this little masterpiece of Gothic indirection, two young women stranded on a walking trip in the north of England seek shelter in a remote Victorian mansion adjacent to a train track. There is a handsome host, a menacing servant, a mad aunt who died mysteriously, even a murder, but all this is beside the point. The real scares come from the trains that scream loudly past every few minutes on this “main, important line” in the middle of nowhere and their unseen engineers, who always wave at girls. Curiously, the trains pass by less often on the third floor than on the ground level. As a child, it should be noted, Aickman liked to invent imaginary kingdoms complete with meticulously constructed railroad schedules.

Number 10 is C. L. Moore’s “Shambleau.”

(16) SURVEY SAYS. Martin Armstrong at Statistia tells you all about “Yesterday’s World: the old tech that kids don’t know”.

For most people born before the 90’s, a “3 1/2 inch floppy” was once a crucial part of their technological lives; securing and transporting important files and data. Of course nowadays, the 1.44 MB storage space is far from adequate and no new computers come equipped with an appropriate drive for the disks. Little surprise then that the majority of children today have no idea what one is (despite the fact that ubiquitous software such as Word and Excel still use a floppy disk symbol for their ‘save’ buttons).

As a recent survey by YouGov has shown, 67 percent of the 6 to 18 year olds in the UK don’t know what a floppy disk is. Other essentially obsolete tech such as overhead projectors (once present in almost every classroom), and pagers were recognised even less….

(17) DID WE MENTION? Patton Oswalt’s Parks and Recreation appearance in 2015 is a Star Wars-fueled filibuster.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Martin Morse Wooster recommends “Seder-Masochism Trailer April 2018,” where animator Nina Paley previews her latest project, a look at the Book of Exodus.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, Dann, Cat Eldridge, Brian Z., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kyra.]

79 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/5/18 By The Time You See This Pixel, You Will Have Been Scrolling In The Present Tense For As Long As You Can Recall

  1. Day one: the overhead projector.
    Not the whiteboard, instead of the blackboard? (The 80s were when I first saw whiteboards.) Overhead projectors weren’t new then; one of my professors used one with a transparency roll, as he was in a wheelchair and couldn’t use the board. (Another professor used grease pencils on the whiteboard, because no solvent and fairly easy to clean off.)

  2. @John —

    Besides, when I’m on a bike ride, I’d rather use my (1 inch by 1 inch) clip-on MP3 player and cycle (no pun intended) through music on that rather than using my much larger phone.

    I recently bought a waterproof clip-on player for when I swim laps. It’s pretty nifty-keeno, but I can’t really listen to books on it because it seems that none of the small players will do the backing-up-10-seconds thing — they’ll only back up to the beginning of the whole file, which may be several minutes or hours back, depending. So if I miss something while listening, I’m pretty much SOL.

    So instead I just listen to podcasts on it. It’s still pretty nice, even if not perfect!

    @Ctein —

    Backed up offsite, of course, I presume?

    Oh HELL yes, if by “offsite” you mean actual external hard drives. I don’t believe in no steenkin’ cloud. At least two copies of every file I own — on independent drives — four copies of everything on my internal hard drive, backed up daily. Yes, I’m a little obsessive that way. Keeps my blood pressure down. 😉

    In fact, I just recently bought two five-terabyte drives to do all this backing up on, because my previous two-terabyte drives were getting long in the tooth and starting to get a little squirrelly. It’s amazing how cheaply you can buy on-brand large (yes, I know, large is relative!) drives these days, if you just do a bit of careful shopping.

  3. Re smartphones: I just upgraded my phone from a Galaxy S3 to a Galaxy J3 Emerge (which I believe is a re-branded S5). The cutting-edge stuff is too pricey and often physically larger than I want; if I need a tablet, I’ll use my tablet, TYVM. It’s possible that my music library night fit on it, but the iPod is more versatile, since I don’t absolutely HAVE to have access to my music every minute of every day.

    @ Cora: When I had a really bad wreck out in the boonies during my college days, by sheer coincidence one of the first few cars that stopped belonged to a guy with a car phone, who called for the ambulance. Had it not been for that, the delay in getting to a phone might have killed me — my spleen had ruptured, and there weren’t any houses nearby. Nowadays I have to explain why that was such a big deal; cellphones are so ubiquitous that people don’t remember how rare car phones were in 1973.

  4. @Me —

    In fact, I just recently bought two five-terabyte drives

    Woops, sorry, I had a minute of brain fade there. My new drives are EIGHT terabytes each, not five!

  5. @Contrarius

    I’m needing to the exact same thing, NAS usage is now beyond what I can easily split over the two old 2TB drives. A couple of 8TBs sound ideal. Then I can justify growing the NAS again.

    Still have a 160gb iPod classic that I got second hand just after they were discontinued. Used mainly in the car as it’s one of the few audio players that you can operate by feel to bump tracks forward/back. Otherwise the phone is my main player, I just don’t try to carry my entire music library around with me at all times. Just what will fit in a 64gb card. Phone is a bit old so not sure how big a card it will take.

  6. @IanP —

    I’m needing to the exact same thing, NAS usage is now beyond what I can easily split over the two old 2TB drives. A couple of 8TBs sound ideal. Then I can justify growing the NAS again.

    These are what I got:

    Seagate Backup Plus Hub 8 TB External Desktop Hard Drive

    Incredibly cheap for their capacity, and I love having the added USB ports. The only significant problem I’ve had with them so far is that the cables that come with them are too short, and the microUSB connectors on those cables are too loose — too easy to knock off the drive. I bought longer cables, and the new ones have more secure connectors, so all is now well. 🙂

  7. (16) They forgot answering machines, 8-tracks and reel-to-reel tapes.

  8. @Lurkertype: (16) I thought the kids today like the retro vinyl albums? I figure that’s why 74% of them knew what a record player was — if everybody were hip, it wouldn’t be hip anymore….

  9. @Contrarius

    Good pickup, been eyeing those myself. Amazingly you can get them cheaper than the bare drive they contain, I’d meant to get bare and use the USB3 drive dock to swap but there doesn’t seem to be much point.

  10. I’ve got an old generic MP3 player that’s small but still has a tiny screen you can look at. I can work it by feel and it runs off a AAA battery so I can replace that anywhere. It doesn’t have much space, but I don’t need that much music. My phone lets me tune into FM radio, so I can get tolerable tunes everywhere I go.

    Once I had to sit in the car for several hours. Luckily I had the tablet for reading and the phone for music (didn’t want to run down the car battery). Then it started raining and I decided to fully recline the seat and have a nice nap with the sound of steady rain on the roof. It was actually quite a pleasant afternoon.

  11. @Martin Wooster

    I was at the Nationals-Phillies game yesterday (May 4) and did notice two STAR WARS fans wearing their t-shirts, but they weren’t baseball-themed.

    There’s a joke floating around baseball SABRmetric communities about Star Wars; “Are they Star fWAR or Star bWAR?” “That’s why it is Star Wars!”

    In baseball, there is a statistic called WAR which means Wins Above Replacement, or roughly, what a players outcomes mean in terms of their total impact on the baseball team as opposed to a replacement level player who provides no impact. A player like Ruth or Trout have had 10 WAR seasons, which means the difference between them and a replacement level guy playing in their place is 10 more wins over the 162 game schedule. Fangraphs and Baseball Reference calculate them differently, which accounts for bWAR vs fWAR.

  12. Aww, thanks, Mike. The…good news? Sort of?…is that they are coming out next Tuesday to start work on the HVAC. The bad news was that both upstairs and downstairs units are pretty well fried and it’s five figures to replace them. On top of our well pump dying last week, this has been an exciting month on the home repair front, so I am REALLY grateful for how well Clocktaur has done!

  13. @Kyra & @Mike Glyer: LOL at the Pixel Scroll title! 🙂

    @Lee: I replaced one 160 GB iPod with another one, when the previous one died. Same reason as your 80 one – too much music for my phone. Well, music and some audiobooks. Each time I think “oh my phone holds so much now,” it turns out not to be enough. But I only replace my phone when it’s dead or can’t use something I consider important, so I’m only on my 3rd smartphone; I won’t buy a new one just to get more space.

    Granted, I don’t need to have all my music & some audiobooks with me at work and on trips, but I like to very, very much. 😉

    @Contrarius: “In some cases I have multiple versions of the same book, for instance when they have been recorded by more than one narrator.”

    I hear ya! I have a couple of versions of Herbert’s Dune (I believe one full cast and another single narrator; methinks there’s a third version, which I don’t own) and two versions of the original “Earthsea” trilogy by Le Guin. I don’t go looking for multiple versions, but for beloved books and good narrators, I’ll buy a new version.

    Ooh remember the cassettes that got twice as much stuff on them by using the right and left audio channels for different parts of the book? Good times. 😉

  14. (3) “Five Functions of Your Bionosaur” is a lovely piece. I may have got something in my eye toward the end.

    Minor nitpick: The author’s first name is spelled Rachael, not Rachel, by the way.

    (I will save my appertainment for tomorrow; today I took a pretty good hit to the head during derby practice and, though concussion tests come up negative, we’re playing it safe. So for tonight it’s watermelon Waterloo sodas and resting up.)

    (16) I came to say pretty much what Bonnie McDaniel said, only minus the answering machines. I don’t think my parents actually got one until I was out of the house, mid ’90s. They were late adapters. I remember the first family microwave and Dad’s first CD player too. And most of our friends had Commodores and Apple 2s five or more years before my parents acquired that Windows 3.1 machine.

    Dad liked to record oldies radio onto a reel-to-reel. We also had some family films they’d play back on a reel-to-reel projector: our vacation in Michigan where I saw snow for the first time; me at age 18 months or so reciting the alphabet and, for an encore, trying to eat a balloon.

    The first car I remember my Mom driving me around in had an 8-track player. I became convinced it was hilarious to pretend to believe Mom was the one making the KA-CHUNK noise every three songs. I’d say “Stop it, Mommy!” and fall about the back seat giggling. Every. Time. (I really wish I didn’t have such a great spy-recorder memory for things I did and said at age 6. It’s embarrassing.)

  15. Dear Contrarius,

    Oh, testify, brother! I don’t trust no steenkin’ cloud, either.

    But, when I wrote off-site, I meant REALLY off-site. You can pick up a My Passport 4 TB portable drive for just over $100. If you’ve got a friend you see on a semi-regular basis (even once a month or so), pick up two of these, put your entire book collection on them, and give one to the friend to keep for you the next time you see them. If you acquire any more stuff in the interim, put it on the drive you’re keeping, and the next time you see your friend swap drives. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    That way in case of an utter catastrophe, like a giant sinkhole opens up under your house, your data collection will be at worst one visit-cycle out of date.

    That’s what I’ve done with my photographic files. I see my Other Significant Other about once a week, and we swap hard drives.**

    I’m holding data for two of my friends under the same scheme.

    (**Okay, truth be told, it’s not the ONLY thing we do when we see each other.)

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    ======================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com 
    ======================================

  16. Re: Rachel v Rachael – the second spelling always looks odd to me to the extent that only a few years ago I insisted that somebody must have misspelled the name and that I most definitely had never seen it spelt that way and what is the world coming too etc etc only to have it pointed out that a very close relative spelled their name that way and obviously had done for a longgg time.

  17. Reel to reel tape was much easier to screw around with, in terms of overdubbing with one machine (by putting something over the erase head), or for playing things backwards (by giving the tape a half twist where it passed over the playback head).

    The former method was hit-or-miss, and worked only for things where being precise wasn’t an issue. I used two machines to overdub myself singing Chopsticks in 7th grade. Reversing my voice was fun for a while. I’d read a passage, reverse it, practice imitating it till I could record that and reverse it to see how it sounded. For a while, I could sight read passages backwards with a reasonable degree of clarity.

    (That’s odd. I think a small spider may have been hanging from my glasses for a moment. I couldn’t identify it before I brushed it away, and I didn’t see where it went. How unusual.)

  18. @Kendall —

    I hear ya! I have a couple of versions of Herbert’s Dune (I believe one full cast and another single narrator; methinks there’s a third version, which I don’t own) and two versions of the original “Earthsea” trilogy by Le Guin.

    Yeah, I think my record on most-versions-owned is Pride and Prejudice — nine different versions! ;-D

    @Ctein —

    Oh, testify, brother! I don’t trust no steenkin’ cloud, either.

    “Sister”. 🙂

    But, when I wrote off-site, I meant REALLY off-site.

    Yeah, that’s the one thing I don’t do. I think about it occasionally, but I’ve never gotten organized enough to actually do it. No doubt I should’ve bought THREE of those 8-terabyte drives, just so I could keep one of them somewhere else!

  19. @Contrarius: “Yeah, I think my record on most-versions-owned is Pride and Prejudice — nine different versions! ;-D”

    OMG! ::bows:: Clearly a book you’re a little “meh” about. 😛

  20. @Kendall —

    I freely admit to being a book hoarder. I have been saved by the advent of digital technology — no unnavigable towers of stacked books filling the house, no rented storage units filled with old books, no mold, no paper moths, no fire hazards. Just nice neat little electrons all running around doing their jobs. 🙂

    I have bazillions of audiobooks and bazillions of ebooks because I can, and it makes me happy to have all those words at my beck and call. And it’s a lot cheaper and easier to manage than a drug habit, or many other hobbies or addictions that I can think of. 😉

  21. Dear Contrarius,

    [Cleaning his glasses…] Ah, yes, now I see!

    You don’t have good reason to be as obsessive as I am. In my case I’m preserving 10 years (so far) worth of professional work against catastrophic loss.

    If you did decide to pursue this scheme, you really do want two of the small self-powered portable drives, instead of one more 8TB desktop unit. it’s a lot more convenient swapping portable drives and updating them, both for you and your friend, and convenience is a big part of making this a habit.

    You could shuttle one drive back and forth, but, again, convenience.

    Also, in terms of reliability, it means both drives are getting exercised periodically while not being heavily used, which means they’ll last effectively forever.

    And if you are REALLY obsessive, you can run an integrity check each time you swap. But that’s too much even for me.

    I am a book (and magazine) hoarder, too. Unfortunately for me, I’m not especially fond of electronic or audiobooks.

    Instead I added several rooms to the house.

    This was possibly not the most cost-effective solution.

    Or possibly it was — I would love to have all my magazines, which take up the bulk of the space, scanned and OCRed/indexed. Unfortunately, most of them are not offered in that form and the cost of having scanning done would have been considerably more than the cost of remodeling. Although I did eliminate 40 years of National Geographics that way.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    ======================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com 
    ======================================

  22. Nonono, I have it all figured out now.

    For me, the most convenient/thought-free thing would be to have three drives exactly the same — the main external drive (contains the primary backup for the internal drive plus my audiobooks, movies, ebooks, and misc files), plus two drives mirroring it instead of the one I already have. I keep one attached mirror drive updated at all times (as I already do), then simply swap it out for the second mirror drive whenever I go visit my folks (which I do about every week right now, especially since my dad is still in rehab and my mom no longer drives). All I have to do is drop the mirror drive in my computer bag, which I always take with me, and remember to pick up the other mirror drive while I’m there.

    You may have created a monster. 😉

  23. Dear Contrarius,

    That is a fine solution.

    Then, my work here is done. Up, up and away!

    pax / Ctein

  24. Kids and rotary phones: a YouTube reaction video.



    Several were able to recognize the device, from seeing old movies and such…but beyond that, they were mostly stumped.

  25. @Xtifr–

    Thanks! That’s great. Bonus feature: The kid who thought the rotary phone might have been cool twenty years ago. Kid time perception!

  26. Regarding backups, I’m reminded of when I was working on my masters thesis in the late 1980s – I could store the whole thing on a floppy disk (and did) and I didn’t have a computer of my own, so used the Macs in the university’s computer labs. My backup scheme was to have three disks – one kept in my dorm room, one that I was actively working on, and one that I backed up to after the day’s work was done. So on Monday I left disk A in my room, worked with disk B in the computer and backed up disk C to be identical to B at the end of the day. On Tuesday, disk B stayed home, disk C was the active disk and disk A became a duplicate of C at the end of the day, and so on.

    I’m also reminded of an XKCD https://xkcd.com/1579/

  27. @Contrarius: Oh, I am right there with ya on book hoarding, er, collecting, er, owning. 😉 Maybe or maybe not in your league, and more mixed media (print) than not. 🙂

    @Xtifr: Heh, great video. I love the kid who said he knew what it was because he studied history! OMG that’s history. Gak, I feel olllllld.

  28. @Lurkertype: “Once I had to sit in the car for several hours. Luckily I had the tablet for reading and the phone for music (didn’t want to run down the car battery). Then it started raining and I decided to fully recline the seat and have a nice nap with the sound of steady rain on the roof. It was actually quite a pleasant afternoon.”

    A few years ago, my neighborhood lost power for several days due to a tornado, and what I normally regard as a major plus to my apartment turned into a significant downside. Specifically, there’s exactly one window, through which one can experience the panoramic view of a brick alcove. Without even the few indicator lights in various rooms, the place was dim in the daytime (except in that one bedroom) and as dark as a tomb at night. Oh, and as a bonus, debris was blocking all of the roads and I was supposed to be two hours away that afternoon for work.

    I used my cellphone to let work know about the obstacles, and since a crew was working on clearing the roads, I grabbed my e-reader (which had no backlight and was thus useless inside) and took refuge in my car so I could be ready to head out ASAP. I wound up moving the car a few times as time passed, to take advantage of changing sunlight, but it was several hours before I could hit the road. I still missed the main event, but at least I got some quality reading time in.

    Fun coda: At the time, I had just ordered a new laptop. It has the distinction of having been delayed by not one, but two natural disasters. Its assembly was delayed by a tsunami-induced battery shortage, and it was in Nashville when the tornado passed through, putting a hold on its delivery.

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