austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

You know I'm not that underhanded

My last name is spelled, most often, incorrectly. (I mean my real name, which I keep at reserve from here in the hopes of slowing down my future employers learning about it, and hold against me -- say -- my strong opinions about that episode of Enterprise where Captain Archer sets of a world war for no reason.) It's a short name, but it's an obscure Polish name, and even in the United States I have to spell it out phonetically two or three times for people to accept it. In Singapore, things are worse, possibly because the spelling is close to but not quite like a popular food, so it sounds wrong when it's right.

The reason I was spelling my name was for the registration clerk at Innovationation, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Infocom Development Agency. No, not that Infocom. The IDA is one of Singapore's efforts to improve its information technology industry. They wanted my name so that I could get a radio-frequency ID card with my name, to use in answering exhibit questions. Unfortunately, the attendants wouldn't let me type in my name. I tried saying it, then spelling it; this tripped up the attendant. I said it again, and began spelling phonetically, and we ended up with something with twice as many letters as my name has. I said that was fine, but she wanted to fix it, and after another try or two we got to something only one letter off. Then they asked my e-mail address; pretty much all my addresses include my last name. Now they're going to get a bounce for an invalid address when they try to send me an e-mail. If they were going to give any thought to it, they'd think I was giving them a phony address, when I just wanted to get past registration.

They were expecting huge crowds, for good reason, since gadgets are always fun, and some advertising promised the chance to play 1980s video games. (I couldn't find them; they may have been at a panel off the hall.) Channel 5 had through the day brief news clips from the exhibition. The registration desk and entrance hall were the largest rooms, with a maze of those little bank-style fabric barriers, and attendants at every juncture to direct people around. Hanging from the ceiling were twin cylindrical screens, projecting a dense grid of fast-changing movies; it was quite the assault on peripheral vision. And that's not even getting into the hall yet ...

Trivia: Bell's first coaxial cables were installed in New York City in 1936. Source: Telephone: The First Hundred Years, John Brooks.

Currently Reading: Ideas: A History from Fire to Freud. Peter Watson.

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