The Curious 28th of June

Kage Baker professed an unconcern and lack of interest in how computers worked. In actuality, she understood more than she thought, but not as much as she felt she needed – so she took the stand that she understood none of it, and would expend no energy or trust on the damned things.

Like many semi-Luddites of that stripe, what she really had was an unreasoning faith in the ability of her electronics to work miracles. They functioned by magic, for Kage; she used applications like spells, following the recipes by rote and being utterly astounded and betrayed when they didn’t work. In this particular school of sorcery, this pattern of magical thinking, I was the Chief Sorceress – when the djinn turned on Kage and the press-this-button-and-the-whole-document-will-repaginate button  just didn’t: then it was my job to sacrifice a bullock, rewire the office or do whatever else was needed to get the thing working again.

And since Kage usually retreated to her chair for solace with a Coke and parrot, and thus  didn’t see what I did – I guess I might as well have lit incense and chanted a bit in Latin. It would have made just as much sense to Kage, and also made her feel more like something substantial had been done. She liked the trimmings of a task to match its importance, or at least its complexity.

I think a lot of confused computer owners would be happier with their IT techs if the techs killed the odd pigeon, or invoked the 4 quarters of the world when re-booting …

Anyway: it was all magic to Kage, or so she insisted. I don’t think she was nearly as ignorant as she adamantly maintained, but refusing to deal with that information freed her up from a lot of pointless worry. When the system went down, she could hand it off to me. It made me happier to do so, too, because there were a couple of times when she managed to wreak astonishing havoc on the household machines in my absence. Her personal record was all 3 vacuum cleaners, the desktop, the kitchen radio and the garbage disposal: in one weekend.

Today, my desktop system is acting up. It might be the wireless modem; it might be the network program; it might be some invisible glitch caused by the latest massive Windows update. It might be the little black cat playing with the connections behind the CPU. But the system is intermittently shutting down and informing me that it cannot detect any networks. I’ve tracked down and fixed half a dozen little errors, cables and bent UCB connections, while writing a few desperate sentences between each collapse.

It’s a shame too, because I had all sorts of weirdnesses to share with you, Dear Reader. Today is National Tapioca Day, for instance. An inflatable shark has been discovered in the Phillipines. Also, it is the 100th anniversary of the Nakhla Meteorite, which was a nice chunk of Mars that impacted Egypt just outside Alexandria and reportedly incinerated a dog.

The Nakhla being established as a Martian bolide interested Kage, of course; she was also intrigued to learn that it’s one of those igneous meteorites that also revealed traces of amino acid when examined chemically much later. However, since it did reportedly hit a dog – “… leaving it like ashes in a moment …” as the Smithsonian report put it, the likelihood that the rock was contaminated by local, um, essences, is rather high …

Still, it’s the only record of a meteorite hitting a dog. So that’s pretty interesting.

And there was more. But it will have to wait for another day, while I scurry off the Internet before I am (again!) thrown bodily off. The magic isn’t working today. I think I need to locate a bullock.

So go have some tapioca, kids. Share it with un-impacted dog. Celebrate June 28th!