Saturday, July 21, 2018

Mysterious Bananas and Airport Security

As airports go, Orlando International actually seems like it was designed by a human being. While I'm not a world traveler by any means, I have seen enough airports to know that many have an uncomfortable resemblance to a cattle slaughterhouse. We're talking dark and impersonal passageways that tickle the claustrophobic portions of my brain and give the impression that something sinister could happen at any second. The idea around their design being the efficient movement and grouping of semiconscious travelers instead of providing an open and friendly place to ease the stress of long distance journeys.

The highlight of Orlando Airport's human-friendly design has to be the massive atrium which is shared by the Hyatt Regency Hotel and numerous restaurants. Dominated by the massive skylight making up the ceiling, the atrium has more than enough natural sunlight during the day to seem warm and open. The addition of small palm trees around a park-like fountain in the center of the waiting area makes visiting the airport a pleasure in many ways.

Travelers are advised never to leave their luggage or belongings unattended while inside the airport. Furthermore, never accept items from strangers and report anyone who asks that you carry a package for them. Finally, please notify any airport staff or TSA personnel if you see unattended luggage or suspicious packages or behaviors. Thank you for your cooperation.” The totally warm and friendly but strangely authoritarian voice said over the airport intercom as my family and I entered the atrium. My first thought was that if this message was not computer generated but came from a real flesh and blood human being that this man had to be related to the late Fred Rogers of the PBS show Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. My second thought was while the voice had the same saintly and patient tenor of the beloved Fred Rogers, I did feel there was the ever so slight hint of an Orwellian presence making sure everyone understood their cooperation was not asked for, but demanded.

My wife, daughter, and I had driven down to Orlando the day before for one of our many Disney vacations. The purpose of our visit to Orlando International was to pick up my wife's young niece, Sandra, who had flew down from her home in Alexandria, Virginia to join us for the next five days. Sandra's mom, my wife's sister or course, is a true cultured world traveler and being honest here thought it was beneath her to rub elbows with all the lowbrow plebeians. Having Sandra join us allowed her to have a Disney experience saving my sister-in-law from having to deal with general chaos associated with the unwashed masses. Truthfully, unbeknownst to the unwashed masses, my wife and I were doing them a huge favor by taking young Sandra to Disney and not her mom.

What surprised me once we reached the atrium level were the theme park gift shops located there. Naturally, both Disney and Universal had huge shops that were extravagantly stocked with not just the expected cheap trinkets and t-shirts but high end items. On the Disney end for example we're talking large, framed limited edition prints that ran several hundred dollars. Strolling through the Universal Orlando gift shop, I found equally expensive items like detailed model cars and various Harry Potter stuff. What was also interesting was that Disney and the Universal gift shops had people dressed up in character costumes allowing travelers to have their pictures taken with the likes of Goofy or Albus Dumbledore.

Even the relatively nearby Kennedy Space Center was getting into the act with a gift shop selling such high priced items as models of the Saturn V rocket and the space shuttle along with limited edition portraits of various astronauts. There character for picture taking was a stationary but detailed, life-sized model of a NASA astronaut in a spacesuit placed in front of the entrance. A few minutes later after leaving the Kennedy Space Center gift shop I found another for Sea World and Ron Jon's Surf Shop.

Travelers are advised never to leave their luggage or belongings unattended while inside the airport. Furthermore, never accept items from strangers and report anyone who asks that you carry a package for them. Finally, please notify any airport staff or TSA personnel if you see unattended luggage or suspicious packages or behaviors. Thank you for your cooperation.”

After spending around two hours in the Orlando airport, I noticed that the Fred Rogers-like male voice asking giving instructions on luggage, suspicious behavior and unattended items rotated with an equally pleasant but authoritarian female voice. The female voice seemed a combination of Oprah and Sally Field with a dash Harry Potter villain, Dolores Umbridge just to get your attention.

I tried to picture just such a woman as the young twenty-something Transportation Security Agency dude was feeling up groin for explosives or drugs, or whether he felt like going full KGB/Nazi and ordering a rectal exam. Truth be told his supervisor, a stereotypical middle-aged, mismanagement type told me the second I stepped up to the security line that I had drawn the short straw and was going to get the full pat down. I'm sure the absolute last thing the twenty-something TSA agent wanted to do that day was get a personal with stranger but jobs that don't totally suck are damn rare. So he had to suck it up and try to meet his training standards, especially with his boss standing just a few feet away.

Yes, I felt violated and more than a little angry but the TSA foot soldiers have a true damned if you do and damned if you don't predicament. Their job is already near impossible when you consider they must keep the flow of human traffic moving as fast as possible so flight schedules can be kept. But on the other hand, they have to be thorough with their inspections because if just one bad guy get onto a plane that at a minimum might mean the death of hundreds. From what I understand rank and file TSA agents are underpaid and overworked since senior management since the idea of paying decent wages and hiring enough people are as alien concepts to them as in the private sector. Then again such crappy jobs tend to attract lowlife douchebags who get off on the power.

What was really bothering me though was the bused expression on my wife's face as she and my daughter waited on the other side of the line. So much that what got me through the government authorized groping was the idea of screaming out some Arabic-sounding gibberish to freak out the clearly nervous TSA agent who by that time was standing behind me and feeling up my man boobs. At that moment, I was sure such an outburst would have caused the TSA agent/kid feeling me up to crap in his pants. It would also probably caused his boss to order the deployment of the nearest available SWAT team with me being whisked away to some nameless prison thus giving me a vacation I would truly never forget. 

Once my ordeal was over my wife, daughter, and I boarded the nifty shuttle tram that looked like a Disney monorail knock-off which took us to the proper terminal building. We arrived at the gate little Sandra would arrive about an hour early. The extra time we allocated to picking my my wife's niece was a precaution to the vagaries to airline schedules. We knew early an early arrival beyond a few minutes was an impossibility, but we needed to know if her flights ran into trouble so we could coordinate a proper response should something happen.

Luckily for everyone involved Sandra's final flight was scheduled to arrive in Orlando on time. But that still left a significant wait for the three of us. My wife quickly fell into one of the several magazines she carried. Barely a minute of two later after sitting down and pulling a magazine out of her bag, a bomb could have gone off and she would be oblivious to the aftermath. I on the other hand didn't bring anything to read leaving me at the mercy of people watching.

Travelers are advised never to leave their luggage or belongings unattended while inside the airport. Furthermore, never accept items from strangers and report anyone who asks that you carry a package for them. Finally, please notify any airport staff or TSA personnel if you see unattended luggage or suspicious packages or behaviors. Thank you for your cooperation.”

After hearing the male-female voice combo warning about the dangers of leaving your luggage, strange people, and unattended packages twenty to thirty times, it sort of started to merge with my unconscious. You have to wonder what effect such repeated warnings have on those who work at the airport. Is there a tendency to begin to look upon everyone as potential terrorists? Or does the incessant but unfounded warnings breed a contempt for institutionalized and government approved paranoia?

Whatever the case, I was sitting at the gate little Sandra was scheduled to arrive in about fifteen minutes eating a giant pretzel when I noticed the a white, middle-aged woman two or three seats to my left. The woman was an immediate curiosity for me since the first thing I noticed was her agitation. The easiest way to describe it was that she seemed like a long-tailed cat locked up in a room full of old people sitting in rocking chairs. I got the strong feeling that if something was suddenly shattered that lady would jump so high airport staff would be pulling her out of the ceiling tiles.

Wearing a conservative flowery dress that, to me, looked on the expensive side along with numerous rings this lady she fit in perfectly with the other upper middle-class types floating around the airport. In the seats to her right and left the lady had a books, a generic computer tablet, and other items I couldn't identify. My assumption was that she was about to go on a trip but wasn't cool with the ideal of flying. This being the case, I turned my attention elsewhere for a minute of two watching a mom and dad chase after their toddler twin girls who had both decided their parents were a serious drag.

When I looked back in the direction of the middle-aged lady, I caught sight of her leaving the gate area with her bag. Curiously enough while she had clearly put her belongs back into her bag, she had left a lone banana in her seat. The banana was in near perfect condition so I couldn't figure why she had purposelessly left it behind.

Finally, please notify any airport staff or TSA personnel if you see unattended luggage or suspicious packages or behaviors. Thank you for your cooperation.”

Call it a testament of the times but for a couple of minutes I actually thought about alerting the TSA to the suspicious banana that now lay innocently a couple of seats over from me. I couldn't help but wonder was it possible to weaponize a piece of tropical fruit? I tried not to think about the dipshit a few years back who had packed his underwear with explosives. His attempt to detonate the explosives resulting in massive third-degree burns to his groin. Did that banana constitute a similar threat to the well being of hundreds of innocent people in the terminal, most whom were there to visit the various Orlando area theme parks.

Part of me wanted to call the TSA, I had this vision of them mobilizing their assets and surrounding the banana with men wearing heavy body armor and carrying loaded assault weapons. Leading the pack would be the twenty-something kid who had earlier patted me down with an intimacy usually left to a girlfriend. But it was the arrival of little Sandra that caused me to throw caution to the wind and leave the lonely banana unmolested.

As my family and I left the airport and finally reached our car for the drive back to Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, I waited for the alert of a suspicious package to be announced. None ever came leaving me to wonder the ultimate fate of the strange lady and her abandoned fruit.

The banana in question.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Official Vacation Photos- The Last Batch

Well, like all great vacations mine ended far sooner than I was comfortable with. As of this posting, we're all back home with my daughter doing her fifteen year-old stuff and my wife returning to her incessant puttering around the house. All I can do is return to my mental special place and take refuge. The picture above was taken Tuesday morning with me sipping coffee and looking out at the marsh. 

Another Tuesday morning picture with me carrying on a conversation with a default Disney employee. Such employment does have its risks. While I was still sitting on the marsh earlier a beautiful hawk was being chased away by an irate bird of unknown species.

The main pool on the primary resort grounds. The other being at the beach house which I didn't take any picture of this trip . It was a hot but beautiful day with the pool water refreshing. 

The other side of Shelter Cove Marina next the restaurants and gift shops. The buildings of the Disney resort can be seen in the background. Not big on motorized yachts, but these babies are all quite lovely. For years many of the yachts and sailboats in Shelter Cove seemed to be permanently moored. But many the yachts and sailboats I came to expect to see there are gone. The recent hurricanes probably had something to do with that situation.   

Did a nature walk of the nearby Pickney Island and spotted numerous groups of hermit crabs living their crabby lives in the mud of the marsh. Being me, as the resort naturalist was giving her little lecture on their life cycle I couldn't help but associate the crabs with human existence. My point being that those little guys and gals crawling around in the mud have absolutely no inkling of the wider,and infinitely complex universe. It doesn't taken much for people like me to see how humans are in a quite similar circumstance. Sure, we've discovered much about the nature and workings of the universe but the vast majority of our species never seem content on just waving their arms around while living in the mud.  

One of the regular events at the resort is a campfire sing along where they cook up some smores afterward.  

Literally took this picture as we were driving out Friday afternoon on our way to Savannah. What you see here are "marina cats" that have taken up residence at the now closed Captain Gillan's restaurant. Not sure of the exact store concerning these relaxing felines. For the last several visits to Disney's Hilton Head Resort it was common to see a cat or two strolling around the grounds. I assumed they were pets of people who had their boats moored in the marina. From what I have heard now though, they appear to have made the closed restaurant their home. I guess that would make them strays but no one seems in a hurry to rescue or even evict them from the area. Not worried about Captain Gillan's reopening, that building has a long history of failed businesses and with so many other eateries in walking distance the cats should have a home for a good while.  

Added this picture because I like it so much. The lone kayaker seemed so peaceful and relaxed last Thursday evening.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

On The Beach

The clouds, all pure white and fluffy like cotton candy gave a much needed contrast to the baby blue color of the sky above Hilton Head, South Carolina. Truthfully, there was a bit of the surreal with the picture perfect nature of the sky. The fluffy clouds seemed too beautifully plump and organized. Someone a little too involved with technology wouldn't be wrong to think it all might be a computer simulation. At least that was what I thought reclining in my beach chair.

Where things went off kilter, giving a much needed boost to mundane reality was the lack of a real breeze and the blistering hot temperature. If reality was just a computer simulation, our god-like programmers could have coded in at least a refreshing breeze and enough surf to supply the sound of small waves crashing onto the shore. Waking from a fitful nap in my beach chair, I got up and repositioned it to get back under the shade of the umbrella that my wife and I rented that morning. Just for clarification, the beach chair was a rental as well. Its wood frame possessing a brown patina from what had to been the sweat of countless tourists who used it before me. The nylon mesh used for the backrest and seat obviously brand new or close to it.

My wife, who upon our arrival at the beach had taken the chair beside mine was nowhere to be seen. Being the early afternoon, it was easy to assume that she had returned to the beach house to get lunch at the small bar and grill located there. While not really hungry, given the crowded nature of the beach house, I realized it was prudent for me to pack things up and head in so I could order something myself without having to wait so long it became my dinner.

Taking a moment to survey my surroundings, the beach had long since become packed with fellow tourists all clamoring for their share of the sun and ocean. It was a huge gathering of all ages and apparent economic castes. Being South Carolina, the one thing glaringly obvious in its absence was any other ethnic group. Given the amount of pale white skin being exposed to the harsh ultraviolet rays of the sun, I figure a couple of hundred dermatologists will easily get their kids through college treating stupid Caucasians in the coming years.

Without wasting anymore time, I gathered up my backpack and sandals leaving the shade of the umbrella and the much cooler sand under it. For about half a second, I considered putting on my sandals but figured that being raised on the coast and having endured the hot beach sand since my childhood, I didn't need the protection.

The distance from my rented umbrella refuge to the steps leading up to the beach house and its protective shade had to be about forty feet. Just a few steps into my walk it was easy to figure out I had significantly overestimated my ability to withstand the current temperature of the sand beneath my feet. Honestly, I can't decided if whether I was just mistaken on having walked through similar hot sand, or that years away from prolonged and regular exposure had reduced my ability withstand the temperature. But the one certainty I can relate was that the bottoms of my feet were being cooked.

An old beach trick is that in such circumstances to get some relief a person digs their feet underneath the sand where the temperature is cooler. The technique worked up until the loose sand became hard packed and I again had to walk on the surface. This is where things start to get ridiculous but unfortunately true.

Before my nap underneath the beach umbrella a fellow group of tourists setup their own beach tent in front of my wife and me. During the course of the morning both my wife and I had some minor conversations with them that never went much beyond the exchange of names, our hometowns and professions, and how much we all love Hilton Head.

Just as I stepped on the hard pack sand with it beginning to cook my feet again, I noticed one of the ladies in that group leaving the beach house walkway coming towards me. She was a young thirty-something wearing a dark green bikini with the bottom portion of her swimwear being damn close to a thong. Legalistic niceties not withstanding, the line where a bikini bottom becomes a thong I have no idea but the difference can't be all that much. But when you combined this lady's body with her brown hair and graceful walk I defy most men not to act like nervous teenagers.

Let's get this out of the way before going any further. Yes, I noticed what she and the four other ladies in that group were wearing! I'm a heterosexual guy dammit, and one with enough sense not to do anything disastrously stupid that might wreck my marriage or bring about a lawsuit. All told, that puts me ahead of numerous politicians, celebrities, and rich television preachers. I have long since reached the age where I harbor no illusions about my looks or ability to attract other women. More importantly my wife is a lawyer, a damn good one, and if I did suffer from some delusion of being a “player” she would have my balls hanging from her car's rear view mirror before the ink dried on the divorce papers.

Still though, some small remnant of masculine self respect wasn't going to allow me to panic and fall all over myself to put on my sandals before my feet started smoking. So guess what I did?

Gathering all my mental and physical strength, I continued walking across the hot sand ignoring the blistering pain coming from my feet. Internally, I was counting the seconds until I passed this lady and could run up to the beach house walkway.

“My God,” this lady said to me as we passed, “isn't the sand burning your feet? I couldn't even leave the shade without putting on my flip flops.”

“Naw,” I replied nonchalantly deciding to go for broke and really pile on the bullshit. “I was raised on the coast and lived there most of my life. I've walked through hotter sand.”

We passed each other without saying another word. Being a crappy but typical male, I did suffer the heat a second or two more to turn around and admire the view- yes the lady, not the beach- one last time. That's when the pain really decided to kick in requiring that I run the last ten to twenty feet to where the beach house walkway started. Actually, I jumped the last foot or two trying to land on a part of the walkway that was shaded by the overhanging limbs of a tree.

Were my antics juvenile? Very much and while the middle-aged guy feels some shame the twenty-something version of me doesn't have a problem with it. Better still, no one saw my panicked dash then desperate jump to keep my feet from truly being burned. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Official Vacation Photos# 2

As usual, I was up before sunrise heading to the beach. Despite it being July, the temperature this morning was quite pleasant. Plus, there was a persistent breeze that made it seem even cooler. I later found out there was a tropical storm not far off the coast of the South Carolina heading north. That probably had a lot to do with moderating the temperature.    

Despite it being summer, the beach was surprisingly empty. Not that I minded that situation, the solitude was refreshing.

Returning to the room I pulled out the trusty mug and relaxed with several cups of coffee while looking out at the marsh.

After getting the family up and going we spent the day at the beach. Sorry, no pictures of all the scantly clad young ladies because I've reached the age where sneaking snap shots seems sort of gross. We did head to Santa Fe Cafe for lunch where I got the soup, salad, quesadilla special. Honest to God, I would drive down from Columbia on a normal Saturday just to have this lunch, only to have to drive back home afterwards.  

Going a little conspiratorial, this sprawling condo complex has always seemed excessively underused. You can always detect activity at the Disney's Hilton Head Resort, where we are staying. This one across from us is well maintained but I can count on my two hands the number of people I've seen using the beautiful pool, walking the grounds, or using the kayaks that are stacked next the water. The lack of use of the pool is particularly weird to me. During the summer the Disney staff almost have to force people to leave the pool in the evening. During a previous summer visit, our room looked out at that complex and it stayed quiet the entire day.   

I finished my day walking around the resort taking in the beauty of the marsh. The heat and humidity finally kicked in late in the afternoon making things seem sticky. Looking forward to repeating everything tomorrow.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Officially On Vacation

Began a long awaited vacation back down at Disney's Hilton Head Resort. Yes, that is one ugly face but surprisingly I didn't break the camera.
Despite the human traffic a species of terrapin decided to lay her eggs close to the resort fire pit. Talked with the a member of the staff and she said the babies are due Monday morning, if the obey the schedule from the time they were laid.

Hoping to get some relaxation in the coming days. There will be more pictures tomorrow.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Pondering Human Intelligence

That dot is Earth!

One of the ideas that I have toyed around with for years is the philosophical question as to whether Homo sapiens are a true intelligent species. My overall point being that most animals have enough sense not to crap in their homes, fight to the death, or practice fanatical or fantastical beliefs when there is no evidence to support them. Yes, I know some exceptions exist, such as chimps who have shown disturbing human-like behavior such as organized group warfare and murder.

If humans were truly intelligent it seems to me that we wouldn't totally trash the planet for resources nor destroy whole ecosystems for short term gain. But yet we are still doing both of those things all in the name of capitalistic profit even though we have ample information that those practices cannot go on for much longer. For Americans, water shortages are a relative minor pain in the ass that stop us from washing our cars or filling the backyard pools. In many regions of the world there is a real possibility that countries might have to go to war in the decades ahead to secure enough water for basic existence. And as for ecosystems, the world's oceans were once thought to be inexhaustible, but some species of fish are now commercially extinct because of decades of industrial scale fishing.

Nor would humans instinctively divide the planet into competing ant hills. Yes, world government is foolish wish given that our species can't really shed our primitive tribalist tendencies. That being my whole point, evolution has forced us to cooperate for the benefit of our individual groups but we can't seem to connect the dots and realize our species is just one big tribe. We gleefully divide each other into countless groups for the benefit of economic exploitation or outright genocide. If a starship full of intrepid alien explorers discovered our planet and after some observations realized we had divided the planet into over two-hundred omnipotent, self-serving nation-states the best thing they could do would be to quietly get the hell out of Dodge before we notice them.

On the matters of faith, while numerous religions have promoted the ideas of serving the greater good and that all men and women are brothers and sisters, you can't ignore the fact that many people believe that only they know the will of God. That delusion has brought about some of the bloodiest wars in history. Even now fanatical and self-serving devotion to various invisible friends causes otherwise decent people to commit monstrous actions. You would think that an intelligent species might be able to realize that if some A-hole religious leader commands his followers to kill their neighbors because that is what God commands, they wound just find a new holy man. 

I was raised Christian, but the idea that God would only let the followers of Jesus into heaven while truly saint-like Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and countless others have to burn in Hell because they practice a different faith is ridiculous. While officially agnostic, I still follow what I was taught in Sunday School as a young kid. As long as people treat each other decency and respect and don't trash the planet, they should get their Heavenly ticket punched. Yes, I believe that would even allows atheists and sorry ass agnostics like me through the Pearly Gates. Screw it, not to insult anyone but given the hypocritical and even monstrous behaviors of supposed “holy” men and women in all faiths, if all they have to do to wipe the slate clean is whisper a halfhearted prayer of forgiveness to get into Heaven, otherwise decent idjits like myself should be in like Flint.

Given my criteria on what it means to be an intelligent species Homo sapiens pretty much fails across the board. Yes, there are personal exceptions, but overall I tend to agree with a character from a science fiction movie, humans are more like viruses than mammals. No, this isn't some John Lennon-like lament over an imagined Utopian society, our species will never achieve such perfection.

On a personal level, what supports my idea is that we live in a wondrous universe filled with mysteries and intriguing possibilities but can't stop our squabbling for very long to explore it. There are questions that beg to be answered but we seem content to continue to crap in our home, fight to the death over stupid shit like who has the better ant hill, and obey the commands of delude psychopaths who believe they and God have one-on-one conversations. 

Mudskippers, humans are little removed from their behavior

This is sad to write, but my one of my few hopes is that Elon Musk succeeds in getting his dream of a permanent human colony on Mars established. I firmly believe that in such an alien and hostile environment where survival is the primary concern the age-old human sins that have kept us bickering like little mudskippers will be burned away. That over time humans would evolve into an intelligent species, not gods by any means, but a species that could look beyond their primitive desires and delusions and find a worthy purpose for our existence.

Well shit, after rereading this it did get a little John Lennon-like. Frak it, I'm getting a beer.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Resisting Oblivion

The only human desire that rivals the ancient wish for eternal life is to be remembered. In fact since researchers had shown other animals can cooperate in groups, use tools, and even have a type of culture, the desire to be remembered by those that come after us might be something that defines what it is to be human. I say “might be” because given what we have already learned from highly social animals like chimps and some cetaceans, it wouldn't surprise me that they too have some innate wish to be remembered by their descendants. How we would find evidence of that, I have absolutely no idea.

Some of the most poignant and hopeful pictures I have seen involve hand paintings on the walls of caves that can be dated to have being made tens of thousands of years ago. What goes beyond mind blowing is that such behavior was once thought limited to just our paleolithic Homo sapien kinfolk. An extremely recent discover in Spain has found cave artwork and a hand print produced by Neanderthals that dates back to sixty-four thousand years ago. The earliest evidence of Homo sapiens living in Europe doesn't appear until twenty-thousand years later.

Interpretations vary, but to me cave hand paintings are at least a partial declaration that “I existed.” That in a time long before writing, hand paintings on the walls of caves transcended the limitations inherent to intelligent creatures who know they will eventual die and be forgotten. Of course as humans progressed we created written languages that were often carved into the sides monuments to declare our triumphs and achievements so that the memories of great exploits would live on, hopefully forever. Years ago while reading about the ancient Egyptian pharaohs, I found it somewhat humorous to learn that the hieroglyphic these ancient kings had carved on the side of their vanity-driven monuments never really mentioned any defeats they suffered in their lives or military campaigns. One Egyptologist on a television documentary half-jokingly suggested that any failures or defeats were carefully spun by the pharaohs' scribes to seem positive by the clever use of careful wording.

As the centuries passed humans made sure anything they created had their name attached to it. Whether it be books, paintings, or any number of other creations or discoveries. It's just human nature for a person to want everyone to know that their hard work or inspiration produced something that will live on after they are gone.

This gets to the reason I am writing this self-reflective crap. A few months ago I got into a conversation with someone about our respective hobbies. Normally, I absolutely do not reveal my blogging to anyone, my politics alone makes me an outsider here in South Carolina but when your hobby can be considered rather abstract and even slightly cerebral, well that just makes you a total weirdo in the eyes of these sophisticated and nuanced folks. But since the individual I was talking with seemed a little obsessive over his model train collection, a fine hobby no doubt, I thought what the Hell.

The question this person finally asked what was the point to all my efforts? I had already told him that it has been years since I made a serious effort to have anything professionally published. He knew enough about blogging to understand that the vast majority of these websites go completely unnoticed by the wider world. My usual, and largely true answer is that I use blogging as a way to blow off steam and frustration. But there is a deeper answer that you can probably guess.

At some point I intend begin recording all my rants and various attempts at fiction onto some sort of permanent storage. The idea being that when I finally head off into oblivion my kids and their kids will have a record of my thoughts. While in no way comparable to the massive ancient Egyptian monuments left by the pharaohs, there is more than a little bit of vanity associated with my intentions. Then again, I like the idea of imagining what one of my descendants one-hundred years or more from now would make of my ravings. This is assuming humans do not bring about a planetary environmental collapse in the next several decades, civilization destroying pandemic, or just go out with a good old fashioned nuclear war.

This train of thought naturally leads me to speculate on the ultimate way to be remembered. As our technology has advanced the ways to recording our existence has become more numerous and sophisticated. Making a video recording of ourselves is so easy these days we're on the other end of Clarke's Law that says, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Just image Joe and Jane Smith from the early twentieth century seeing a commonplace video recording of a kid's birthday party. They may not run away in fear from the magic picture box, but they would have absolutely no idea what to make of it.

While the technology is still decades, if not centuries away, I can see people making recordings of their consciousness that would be fully interactive with anyone accessing them. This brings to mind the question would such consciousness snapshots be sentient beings deserving of human rights and protections? Or would our descendants consider them nothing but more sophisticated versions of home movies no one wants to see?