krpalmer: (Default)
Along with the countdown to the solar eclipse, I've managed to pick up on another occurrence in space by hearing we've reached the fortieth anniversary of the launch of the Voyager probes. This was further distinguished by the probe launched Voyager 2 having been launched on August 20, 1977, only to be passed on the way to Jupiter by Voyager 1, which didn't leave Earth until September.

The Voyagers were "the more detailed follow-up" at Jupiter with Pioneer 10 and 11 having made it past that gas giant's dangerous radiation belts years before the launch we're now marking, and Pioneer 11 took a slow route to Saturn to take a few not especially compelling pictures still in advance of its successors. However, the Voyagers had their own important and impressive part in turning "dots in the sky" into a succession of worlds. I suppose I did experience "these first and once-ever revelations" at Jupiter and Saturn after the fact through National Geographic cover stories (although Voyager 1 had opened up enough of a lead to Saturn the second article only included its pictures, leaving the drama of Voyager 2's camera-aiming gear jamming to books I managed to find later). It wasn't until Voyager 2 got to Uranus (even that had seemed a carefully underplayed "maybe it'll last that long" possibility in the early coverage I've seen) that I was following along in the newspaper. That encounter was unfortunately followed by the fatal last launch of space shuttle Challenger, although getting to Neptune three years later made for a better ending. I have heard Voyager 1 could have been sent to Pluto had it not been sent close by Titan (an important enough target Voyager 2 could have traded Uranus and Neptune for it); in one of the books I've found, though, some program scientists were asked if they "regretted" having taken close-up pictures of a satellite shrouded in peach-coloured clouds only to explain there was more to detect close up than just surface pictures. Whether some pictures of Pluto would have made it harder to dismiss in the next decade as "not big enough to really count, and obviously not interesting," I don't know, but I suppose they wouldn't have been as good as the pictures from the brief encounter of New Horizons.

Beyond that actual ending, of course, the Voyagers have kept sending back information, enduring not just years but decades after their first estimates of longevity to reach uncertain stellar terrain. Beyond that, there's contemplation of the time capsule records attached to them, although I can also consider that in a mere four decades they've gone from "a durable record not quite like one you'd play at home" to "at least they'd long outlast a CD, and they might be easier for even extraterrestrials of unknown mentality to decipher" to "and now vinyl's not just a statement, but an accessible one again."
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
Every month, I go back to my old copies of the computer magazines 80 Micro (preserved and passed along through my family) and Macworld (which I managed to buy in online auctions for the formative years in advance of us getting a Macintosh of our own) and leaf through the issues from exactly three decades back. Moving through the summer of 1987, I've taken note of Macworld's enthusiastic promotion of the new capabilities of the Macintosh II and Macintosh SE, but 80 Micro's somehow uneasy mixture of technical programming tips for only some of the mutually incompatible computers still in the Radio Shack catalogs seems easier to just skim. Even so, in August that magazine did return to where things had started for it with a cover story marking the official announcement of the TRS-80 Model I on August 3, 1977.
Ten plus thirty )
krpalmer: (Default)
 photo ca_100-b_zpss6ia1bwu.gif

It was a bit odd to really start picking up on the "Canada 150" logo "out in the wild" by seeing it on packages in the supermarket, and that might only have got me thinking back to the centennial itself and its assorted construction projects having happened well before I was born. I know free passes to the national parks are available, but I have to confess to feeling "camped out" ever since graduating from Scouts in high school (even with having travelled up north in an RV last year). However, once I'd begun remembering of an anniversary celebration that had happened while I was alive, I could start to see some new perspectives.

 photo canada125_zpsr2inrbfk.jpg

It had also felt a bit odd at the time to mark a "hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary" with its own logo, but there had been that worried feeling in 1992 that the country as it stood would crack apart in the next few years (and things did get pretty close those few years later), sometimes followed up by the feeling it would be a subsequent inevitability the flag left over those of us speaking English would be replaced not that many years later. For all that back then I did manage to get into an anniversary project called the "Young Space Ambassadors," which sent high school students to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal to see science museums and aerospace companies, I can think at least some feelings have changed and there might even yet be a reason or two to prefer now over then.

 photo canada150_zpsx8617m5v.png
krpalmer: (Default)
While on vacation, I was at least aware of the fortieth anniversary of Star Wars, but where I'd managed to say something at the fifteen-year mark since Attack of the Clones I didn't have the same drive to make a post about the movie that had got the saga rolling, much less find somewhere offering wireless online access that particular day. It's easy enough to be concerned this has something to do with "I get you cling to your disappointment because of how much you value the old movies, but why do those statements of value just seem to amount to 'they're cool?'"

The fragment of good news at the tail of today's radio reports, though, did get me thinking about a somewhat similar topic. I remember seeing newspaper articles about it having been "twenty years ago today" that "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was officially released, and now it's been fifty. Since seeing those articles I have managed to listen to the album, and I can listen to it with definite interest and pleasure even if I try not to dwell on extreme judgments. At the same time, though, I do wonder just how many attention was being paid to the popular songs of 1917 fifty years ago. Aware just how many of the things I pass the time with are rooted in one way or another in my grade school to high school years, I'm conscious I could be dismissed with comments about pots and kettles or something similar (or at least told "you aren't looking hard enough"), but it is something I keep pondering.
krpalmer: (europa)
"Prequel Appreciation Day" has been moved up this year with the fifteenth anniversary of Attack of the Clones rolling around, but while I'm still away on vacation this does happen to be one of the days I can access wireless ashore, and while I didn't bring the movie with me memories are ready to hand.

I'd wound up feeling stuck between a sense I hadn't been triggered to hostility by The Phantom Menace the way what had seemed so many others had made such a deal of and the nervous fear watching that movie, the previous trilogy, or indeed just about any other movie would at last grind my face in how "obvious" the hostile reaction was, but the trailers for the next new Star Wars movie (one of which my brother had made a big deal of accessing by going online with the Phantom Menace DVD loaded in his computer's disc drive) had somehow managed to begin invigorating me again. After forming tentative theories and going back and forth on whether the "clones" in their white and black armour might even be on the side of the Republic, the opening crawl did jolted me by mentioning Amidala as "former" queen (the first hint other people could also be positive about the extension to the saga were "fanfics" that had speculated ahead with a great sense of Amidala being Queen, even if I hadn't looked beyond them yet to the group of positive people I would discover in the nick of time), but from there things managed to build, and the opening night audience had seemed to enjoy the movie in the end. I did overhear a "George Lucas has redeemed himself" comment from someone that did, after everything, provoke a sort of "I'm not that hostile to what came before" reaction from me, but I can still wonder if, in different circumstances, I might have wound up convinced "the real story started with 'Episode II.'"

I have to mention that as speculation because of the way certain people rallied to find something to be offended at even as I kept realising that while "shipping" doesn't do a lot for me I can get gooey and sentimental about the indisputable romances that don't match sheer imagination for others. By "the nick of time" I've already mentioned, I was stuck the same miserable distance from the then-latest Star Wars movie as from the others. In happening on the positive people who became "prequel appreciators," things managed to work out, although I can wonder yet if a "middle movie" caught between something with the freedom to look "different yet familiar" and the payoff for everything set up can feel somehow "overstuffed" and be a bit easier to just sort of take as part of the whole. At the same time, though, some recent comments noticed about Attack of the Clones being the most like the Flash Gordon serials at one root of everything do have a pleasant resemblance to thoughts I've had before about the movie being free in its variety to "be a Star Wars movie pure and simple."
krpalmer: (smeat)
In eking this journal along through the ten-year mark (although I've just taken a step of a certain weight in switching off crossposting to the Livejournal it started as when new terms of service there, pushed at us instead of just sort of snuck by, raised a gut-level uneasiness), I have thought it'll get harder to make up "anniversary" posts. However, where there might not seem to be much of a difference between, say, "thirty years since" and "forty years since," there is one between "ninety years since" and "the centennial"...

I've been contemplating for a while the hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, but in taking note of what seems the general attempts these days to give it significance in the Canadian historical consciousness, I've got to wondering if Canada stands out by efforts to look back to the First World War singling out a "success." Just among the other Dominions brought into the war with Great Britain, my general understanding of Australia and New Zealand is that they focus on the futile struggles to break open a back door of the war at Gallipoli, and even Newfoundland, which wouldn't join the Canadian confederation until after the Second World War, looks back to the heavy losses of its small force at the Battle of the Somme.

There are risks in narrowing history to single moments in time. Capturing the ridge at Vimy was one operation in one more larger, inconclusive battle as crisis started really setting in for the Allies in 1917, and for all the mythologizing afterwards (although to say efforts to play up the battle only picked up in recent decades as its last survivors died do remind me I've seen a book from a Canadian centennial series that picked the battle as its "headline of that decade"), the war didn't help national unity so far as the conscription crisis pried apart English and French Canada. At the same time, I might have a weakness for "counter-counterarguments," and while making the Second World War "the good guys versus the bad guys" can neglect how much of it hinged on Germany turning to attack the Soviet Union and how much that reshaped the world afterwards, to the best of my understanding the First World War wasn't quite a matter of "the side scratching its head over why its flower of youth being fed into a grinder wasn't working somehow lasted long enough to declare victory"; to that extent at least Vimy could be seen as a step towards learning to get through the Western Front. I suppose, though, I've also thought that perhaps we've come to remember Vimy from the First World War because one specific moment that keeps coming to mind from the Second World War was the unsuccessful Dieppe raid.
krpalmer: (Default)
It's one small sign of how long I've managed to keep posting things to this journal, and a small illustration of how history keys together too, that I've managed to get from the fortieth anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the Moon to the fortieth anniversary of Viking 1 landing on Mars. The two are linked on the calendar even if by accident; Viking 1 had been meant to land on the American Bicentennial, but its intended landing site had wound up looking too rough to the improved cameras of its orbiter. When it did make it to the surface, though, it pretty much set expectations; I was surprised and somehow invigorated when Mars Pathfinder had seen more prominent hills on the horizon two decades later, and surprised again whenever another rover doesn't find the sand at its landing site as littered with rocks as the Vikings did. At the same time, though, I did spend at least a bit of today remembering the Soviet probes that had reached the surface before the Vikings, even if the longest-lived of them only sent back a few seconds' worth of an indecipherable picture before it gave out in the dust storm it had managed to touch down in.
krpalmer: (anime)
Back in March, I did manage to take note of the thirtieth anniversary of Robotech premiering on television, but I was already thinking ahead from that to a more personal anniversary. The channel I'd seen Robotech on, I'm now quite confident from checking microfilmed newspaper TV guides at the library, didn't start showing it until the fall of 1985, and as I could only see that channel on visits to my grandparents I saw my first episodes just before Canadian Thanksgiving. With that weekend having rolled around again, I did more than just "remember," and watched the episodes a drawn-up schedule matches those old impressions of having seen back then.
The unlikely starting point )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
I was setting up to set down a pretty long and involved post when a simple anniversary I'd managed to miss for most of the day caught my attention at last. Today just happens to be the sixty-fifth anniversary of the first Peanuts comic strip appearing in newspapers. That might be simple enough to think about, but I did also happen to think it's been over fifteen years since the last comic strip appeared; lasting that long as a complete entity in a medium that in its simplest form might be supposed to be found afresh each day and then just sort of put aside until tomorrow seems sort of impressive.

There are times I've felt down or troubled and pulled forth particular moments of the strip as, indeed, a sort of "security blanket," but also times I've turned back to a collection or two while feeling good. If other people can keep finding the strip to do the same sort of thing, I hope it'll last for a while longer.
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
Seeing it's been a specific number of years since a specific day in history and putting a few thoughts together about it has been one way for me to make up some content for this journal. This summer, though, when I wound up thinking it's now been twenty years since I "got on the Internet" I realised I don't have the exact day that happened recorded. The memories came back anyway. While it might have happened a decade after the period of "home computer history" I've dwelt on of late (when modems retrieved mere text little faster than someone could read it and you either dialled into a local BBS or a pricier and larger, yet still circumscribed, commercial service), it is something I hadn't missed big parts of at the time.
A process of discovery )
krpalmer: (europa)
I suppose there won't be as quite many people reminding themselves it's "Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Day" today as were saying "May the Fourth be with you" two weeks ago, but then again, for me at least, today doesn't feel quite as arch about the whole thing. (Of course, there are those who follow up "May the Fourth" by mentioning "Revenge of the Fifth"...) I've tried to mark this day before, but at times haven't been able to say too much about it. For this particular day, though, knowing it's been ten years since Revenge of the Sith opened to general audiences has driven me to further efforts.
Things were different for me with that movie. )
krpalmer: (anime)
I just happened to see today that Robotech started airing in syndication exactly thirty years ago. Although that had been something I'd been more or less aware of, it didn't start airing in every market on the same date; I happened to see my first episodes of it on WUTV-29 from Buffalo on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, and by going to the library and checking microfilmed newspaper TV guides I'm now more or less certain it didn't start airing the series until the fall season. (I haven't yet looked far enough into that microfilm to confirm reports that CHCH-11 from Hamilton also aired the show back then; I wasn't as inclined to tune to that channel when I was visiting my grandparents and didn't see the show on it then. Perhaps I don't want to acknowledge a missed chance, even if I keep telling myself I'm not wondering if I might have wound up more interested in "that anime stuff" if only I'd seen a few more episodes of Robotech years ago...) As I'm always wondering about topics to post about, though, a few thoughts did happen to fall together right now.
The thoughts )
krpalmer: (mst3k)
A while ago, I commemorated the tenth anniversary of a notable MSTing and then took the opportunity not that much later to mark the same anniversary for the first "solo MSTing" I'd written. I did write a few more MSTings after "Undocumented Features," but marking each of their tenth anniversaries did seem a bit grandiose. Now, though, it's been ten years since the last MSTing I completed going by the date stamp on my personal file of it, which does feel a bit more significant in its own if somewhat dowmbeat way. In accepting the opportunity, though, I did get to thinking I could say something brief about each of my solo MSTings preceding it anyway.
'When military schedules meet the MTV generation, something's got to give.' )
'The miracle acrylic bubble locks his hysterical sobs away.' )
'He's not even going to dignify that with a putdown, I see.' )
'Something of a war poodle cut, then.' )
'Abstract is this season's post-minimalist.' )
krpalmer: (Default)
I was thinking it was getting to be time to make another post to this journal but wondering just what it could be about when I happened to see a notice that it's now been a round fifty years since the Ranger 7 space probe hit the Moon. While the actual date of impact was yesterday, it still evoked some thoughts in me.

Space probes these days do seem to last for a long time, taking pictures and other readings until I have to admit I sort of lose track of their regular updates, but the missions of the Ranger probes had a distinct time limit in being aimed right for the Moon to crash into it. I had heard about that quite early on in the first Moon landing narratives I found growing up, but knowing that the seventh Ranger was the first to be successful did leave me wondering about its six predecessors until I did some digging that culminated in buying a reprint of an official NASA history available online. That turned the whole thing into more of a tale of "overcoming adversity through persistence." The first two Rangers, I learned, had in fact only been intended as ultra-high altitude probes, but their second-stage boosters never got them out of parking orbits they weren't built for, and they ran out of attitude-control gas a lot faster than intended. The next three Rangers were supposed to take pictures and fire off special balsa-wood capsules with moonquake detectors in them just before hitting, but they all broke down on the way in different ways. (I did once find a National Geographic article in my grandmother's back issues hoping Ranger 5, at least, would work properly.) After that, the final Rangers just had video cameras, but the first of them had those cameras burn out during launch for a final humiliation before success at last, followed by two more successes. The tale, of course, wouldn't be as compelling without the happy ending.
krpalmer: (Default)
I knew that today is the anniversary of Apollo 11's landing on the moon, but perhaps hesitated to think about it too much, supposing it might be tricky to strike just the right tone. I did, though, take a look at its Wikipedia article linked off the main page, and there noticed a new tidbit of information. From what I'd read before, I'd supposed the awareness that this mission was to be significant had led straight off to seeking command and lunar module call signs more dignified (not to mention patriotic) than Gumdrop and Spider or Charlie Brown and Snoopy, but the article claimed an early document used "Snowcone" and "Haystack." I followed the link and downloaded a "Technical Information Summary" from the George Marshall Space Flight Center that, along with using those call signs, included some pleasingly hand-lettered drawings. The cover page had June 25, 1969 typed on it, so I do wonder now how close things came to being that little bit different.
krpalmer: (europa)
Fifteenth anniversaries seem the odd ones out, lost between tenth and twentieth and not as important as fifth or twenty-fifth. They may be around where things change from "this has lasted for a while now, hasn't it?" to "time's really started to pass." There's a particular fifteenth anniversary, though, that previous circumstances have made a bit more important just to me.
On May 19, 2004... )
krpalmer: (Default)
In noticing comments about the fiftieth anniversary of the computer language BASIC, I decided I could skip the day of the official commemorations and wait until the day recorded as the one the first programs in it were run (at four in the morning) to set down a thought or two of my own.
The thoughts )
krpalmer: (apple)
Five years ago, I marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the introduction of the first Macintosh by breaking the intervening time into five-year chunks and setting down my impression of "the state of the Mac" at each point. That, of course, makes right now seem like a good time for an update. (So far as "time covered" goes, though, I'm aware of how I marked the thirtieth anniversary of Star Wars, and 1977 also happened to be the year the Apple II was introduced along with the Commodore PET and Radio Shack TRS-80, preassembled computers with BASIC built in, but still some distance from where computing was at the beginning of 1984...)
Five year update, and maybe a few more impressions )
krpalmer: (Default)
Quite a while ago now, when I'd been posting to this journal for just a few months, I mentioned the start of the second new season of Doctor Who, and after that I didn't say much about the show. I suppose I could think of enough other things to post about in between saying something about every episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but thoughts that "sometimes it might be better to not have to pin everything down and present it; you might even enjoy something more when you're not so serious about it that way" might have come to mind once in a while too.
Timely recollections )
krpalmer: (Default)
After having made a small point of mentioning the thirty-fifth anniversary of the introduction of the Apple II, it does seem it would be remiss for me to not also mention we've made it to the thirty-fifth anniversary of the introduction of the TRS-80: after all, my family actually had one of those computers long years before I saw an Apple II at school.

It's been pointed out more than a few times in recent years how Radio Shack's silver and black plastic-cased computer (designed to match the black and white surplus RCA television adapted into its monitor) outsold every other computer in the late 1970s, be they cased in beige-to-tan plastic (designed from scratch) or sturdy metal. Just linking this to the all the Radio Shack stores doesn't seem enough to be a lesson for our times; instead, I've seen it linked to how the basic TRS-80 was less than half the price of the cheapest Apple II (although I've looked at enough old catalogues to have the impression adding the improved BASIC and more memory and the external box needed to hook up to the disk drives brought the prices closer to level). We never went quite that far ourselves, and given things I've heard over the years we may have escaped hassles by just adding on a third-party tape-cartridge drive. (It also damped out the "keybounce"...) The second part of the morality play seems to be commenting on how Radio Shack, in selling only software it could put its own logo on in its own stores, let that first sales advantage slip from its hands. Introducing incompatible systems one after another might not have helped, though, although I've been a little struck by how not that many years separated Tandy Corporation dropping the last "proprietary operating system" computers from its catalogues and it no longer making PCs with its own name on them. After that, there seemed nothing left but the memories.

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