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Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Time Event
Set the controls for the heart of the sun

My mother thought, reasonably, that a cell phone picture of my new car and me beside it would be a grand picture to send to friends. She took a pretty respectable picture of me by the car, and we attempted to send the picture to bunny_hugger. This would prove more complicated than we thought. While I had her phone number, and had a picture, the rest would prove challenging. The first was that my mother suggested that I send a text message along with the picture so that it would be a trifle less inexplicable, and that seemed a good idea to me.

I've never composed a text message on a hand phone before. The closest I got was when my mother was rushed to hospital back in April, and we started to text-message my sister asking why she was in Manhattan, when she interrupted the message by calling and saying why she was in Manhattan. Getting past a second word would be a new record in text messaging for me. But my mother handed me her phone with surprisingly tiny buttons and encouraged me to write a message. I understand the mechanism whereby you press `4' twice to get the letter `H', as example, and I was able to find space and most importantly delete-last-character, but I was defeated in my attempts to get punctuation marks in this. I understand there are people who text message without punctuation marks; I am not among them. But I asked my mother and she could find no punctuation marks unless you switched the hand phone's orientation from vertical to horizontal, and you can't switch that mid-message.

With a sense of personal shame I made do with multiple spaces where I would want a period and two spaces, and send the message and the picture to bunny_hugger. This set off the little scrolling spinning wheel of waiting as the picture uploaded and in mere moments ... the phone reported that it didn't go through. Something was wrong. I tried re-sending and again it reported that something was invalid somewhere along the line.

My mother re-checked that we had bunny_hugger's phone number entered correctly, and we tried again with the phone in the other orientation so I could use the full keyboard and punctuation marks and I re-entered the message, this time properly punctuated. And that again ... failed. Whatever was going on, it was keeping the picture from being sent to her. As my father suggested, we could try the simpler alternative, and just called her.

We got to talking, and talking, and my parents got tired of waiting for me to finish and eat, so they left in the Something to do some shopping, and told me to just bring the phone home and plug it in when I was ready. Good plan. Before you could imagine we were talking about things such as the P G Wodehouse book-on-disc that I'd borrowed from the library to be among my first reading/listening, Jeeves: Joy In The Morning, and my frustration that I couldn't tell from its plot description whether I'd read/heard it before or not. (The back cover blurb describes it, ``The rural beauty of Steeple Bumpleigh holds no attractions for Bertie, containing (as it does) the appalling Aunt Agatha. But there is man's work to do and, with Jeeves at his side, how can Bertie fail?'' That really doesn't pin things down. Except, in point of fact, Aunt Agatha is not at Steeple Bumpleigh as the proceedings get under way, so it manages to be a uselessly vague description that's still wrong.) In the end, I never figured out the phone's problem and sending of those pictures would be put off indefinitely. I hadn't heard/listened to the book before.

Trivia: The first recorded instance of a flood in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was in 1808, and that flood destroyed a small dam across the Stony Creek. Source: The Johnstown Flood, David McCullough.

Currently Reading: All On Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery, Henry Mayer. (Boy, one guy gives monomaniacal quasi-religious fanaticism a good name ... and I'm surprised pleasantly to learn he wasn't the sort of abolitionist who figured once the slaves were free they could all go away somewhere that white Americans could stop thinking about; he wanted full equality and nothing less. And he wanted women to have the vote too. Wow. It's a bit jolting to find anyone from that far back whose views on civil rights are still ahead of California's.)

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