RUN A LEVEL FIVE DIAGNOSTIC! – BY TOM CURLEY


Warning:
If you are not a Star Trek fan this might not make sense to you.
Or maybe it will.


I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek lately. Not just the original. But most of the other ones too. Star Trek Next Generation, Star Trek Voyager, and Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

screenrant.com
screenrant.com

It’s addicting! I just keep watching. One right after the other. I admit I remember all the episodes from the original Star Trek. I’ve seen them all at least a hundred times and that’s no exaggeration. As for the other shows, I’ve found that some,  I remember. Others, I’ve forgotten. BBC America  will run an episode of the original Star Trek followed by Star Trek Voyager, then a Star Trek Next Generation episode.  I’ve never watched them all intermixed like that.

That’s probably why I never noticed there is one thing that all Star Trek episodes have in common. Something that they all do in all the episodes all the time. EVERY EPISODE! EVERY SINGLE ONE! I’m betting even the most ardent ” Trekker/Trekkie” has never noticed it!

What is it?

They run a diagnostic. At least one, often more. Any time anything goes wrong on or off the ship, they run a diagnostic. It’s the go-to solution for absolutely everything.

pinterest.com
pinterest.com
THE DIALOGUE:

Ensign: Captain, the  warp drive just went down!

Captain: Run a Level Two Diagnostic. Advise me when it’s done.

Chief Engineer: Captain! The Di-lithium crystals are absorbing too much anti-matter!

Captain: Send down a Level Four Diagnostic Team and advise me when it’s done.

memory-alpha.wikia.com
memory-alpha.wikia.com

Chief Engineer: We can’t do that Captain!

Captain: Why not?

Chief Engineer: We only have three Level Four Diagnostic Teams sir and they’re all busy.

Captain: Doing what?

Chief Engineer: Well, Team One is doing a diagnostic on the subspace communications array. Team Two is scanning the inertial dampers. And Team Three is running a diagnostic on why all the food replicators on deck three are putting “American Cheese” on everything it replicates.

americaomg.com
americaomg.com

Captain: I see. So what do we do?

Chief Engineer: Well, we do have a Level Two Diagnostic Team free.

Captain: Great! Send two Level Two Diagnostic teams. That would be the same as a Level Four Diagnostic Team. Right?

Chief Engineer:  Hmm. Never thought of it that way before, but yes I guess that would work. The  problem is we only have one Level Two Diagnostic Team available sir. The other one is examining the warp core.

Captain: Oh. …  OK. How many Level One Diagnostic Teams do we have?

Chief Engineer: Three sir. But one is busy.

Captain: Yes but we still have two Level One Teams free! Send in one Level Two team and two Level One Teams.  That will give us a Level Four Diagnostic!

Chief Engineer: Brilliant sir! Why didn’t I think of that?

Captain: That’s why I’m the captain.

I’d pay money to see that episode.


Here’s the thing. My Star Trek binge started right after the election.

thecollegefix.com
thecollegefix.com

Every day, I bounce from immersing myself in the whole” Star Trek Universe” and jolt back to this one. The real world. The. Real. World.

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abc7news.com

I think we need to run a Level Five Diagnostic on this episode of life. Something’s terribly wrong.

Oh yeah. And, if you are a Star Trek Fan, from now on, you will notice this “diagnostic thing” every time you watch an episode of any version of Star Trek.

DUMBEST BAD GUY IN THE WEST – Marilyn Armstrong

Open Range (2003) stars Robert Duvall, Kevin Costner, Annette Bening, Abraham Benrubi and a lot of other people, but notably Michael Gambon (Professor Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter) as the stupidest villain in the old west.

Mind you, Open Range isn’t a bad western, as these things go. It’s pretty standard, with a rather better cast than most westerns. All the good clichés are included and the movie builds up to a massive shootout between Duvall and Costner against Gambon and his thugs.

Open Range Poster

Here’s the plot. It contains spoilers, but I feel safe in saying the movie has no surprises, so really, there’s nothing to spoil.

Old West, 1882. “Boss” Spearman (Duvall) is an open range cattleman, who, with hired hands, Charley (Costner), and Mose (Benrubi) (et al), is driving a herd cross-country. Charley, a former soldier who fought in the Civil War, feels guilty over his past as a killer. 

Boss sends Mose to the nearby town of Harmonville for supplies, a town controlled by a ruthless land baron, Denton Baxter. Mose is beaten and jailed by the marshal (owned body and soul by Baxter). The only friendly resident owns the livery stable.

Boss and Charley worry when Mose doesn’t return. The get him out of jail but are warned to not free-graze on Baxter’s land. Mose’s injuries are severe, so Boss and Charley take him to Doc Barlow where they meet Sue Barlow, the doctor’s sister.

Killing and skullduggery follow. Charley and Boss vow to avenge the various murders and injustice. Charley declares his feeling for Sue and she gives him a locket for luck. 

Boss and Charley are pitted against Baxter and his men. A gun battle erupts in the street, with Boss and Charley heavily outnumbered … until the townspeople begin to fight.

It’s a shootout of Biblical proportions. Epic. Costner is the troubled hero, which is just as well because he directed and co-produced the movie. Gambon, a murderous Irish immigrant with a killer brogue, is a brutal tyrant with no compunctions about slaughtering anyone. Everyone. He owns the sheriff, he owns the town. He has a lot of cows, but it’s not enough. It will never be enough.

He is the consummate villain of the old west, an out-of-control, power-mad cattle baron. You just know there’s going to be a lot of killing.

Skipping over the early individual killings to get to the big battle, it’s now the final quarter of the gun battle. It’s a high body count. I’ve lost count and I swear some of the actors died more than once, but maybe it’s just me.

The first seriously stupid bad guy moment comes when Baxter’s ace hired gun stands in front of Costner — who is loaded for bear and hates the son-of-a-bitch — and taunts him. So Costner shoots him through the head. One shot, dead center of his forehead.

I look at Garry and say “Well, what did he think was going to happen?” The fight was on.

A few minutes later, corpses litter the landscape. Heads are exploding right, left, and center. The townsfolk are unhappy about being under the thumb of Baxter, the power-mad cattle baron, but they’re too wimpy and cowardly to do anything about him.

Until asshole Baxter stands up in front of the whole town (they’ve come out to watch the shootout because they don’t have anything else to do) and tells them that as soon as he gets through killing the good guys, he’s going to start killing them.

“All your children will be orphans” he rants.

Say what?

Guess what happens next? Right you are! The townspeople, realizing they have nothing to lose, pick up their guns and start killing Baxter’s men. What a shock.

Costner marries the pretty sister of the doctor. Duvall offloads the cattle. Costner and Duvall take over the saloon and everyone lives happily ever after.

I assume they bury the corpses.

This one gets my vote for the dumbest bad guy in the west. But maybe you know something I don’t know …


AND NOW, HERE’S OUR MODERN VERSION …

If POTUS is the power-mad cattle baron … and “Baxter” is Miller (the gun-crazy killing machine) while the rest of the “crew” are the usual morons with big guns and few brains — are we the cattle?

You could follow the plot almost exactly, just change cities. Just wait for it, wait for it. Dumpf will make one of those speeches … you know, how “he knows everything and only HE CAN FIX IT” — Alex Baldwin could play the role.

Then Costner could shoot him between the eyes. Great ending. Kevin could be president. Why not? Hasn’t he done it before? Pretty sure he did or maybe I’m thinking of Michael Douglas … hard to remember sometimes. And there’s always Morgan Freeman.

Has anyone asked Kevin? His career hasn’t been doing all that well. This might be a terrific piece, proving comedy is hard but worth it. We could have a good, long hysterical laugh. I know I sure would. I’m laughing already.

ORDERING A NEW PHONE – REALLY! – Marilyn Armstrong

I gave in. The flip phone was not working for me. I needed a phone with something resembling a keypad. Using the multiple hits required on the flip phone keys plus my inability to find text markers in case I might WANT to text meant it wasn’t working. I also couldn’t find any way to save phone numbers although I’m pretty sure there IS a way to do it.

This is what I have. It was free. And worth every penny!

On the other hand, I don’t need the internet — just the ability to phone someone in case of an emergency (like — the phone is down at home or we are on the road and typically lost), so I had to carry a notepad with friends’ numbers and the phone number for the electric company who do not seem to “get” that when the electricity is “out,” so is your wi-fi as well as the TV and telephone cable, heat, and the well pump. And pretty much everything else, come to think of it.

In the mail! I even bought a case for it. Wow, eh?

I also wanted a phone that would link to my wi-fi at home because it makes life simpler. Right now, I have — for $14.50 — unlimited text and phone. That price won’t change, either. So it was $80 for an LG3 LTE phone – plus $2 shipping.  This time, they are supposedly sending a manual.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

I almost never use our cell phone. It’s the emergency phone for when we are on the road or the power at home is out … or Charter has gone down and taken the phone with it.

For someone who is pretty savvy around cameras and computers, I am a total dummy around telephones and printers. Not just cell phones. Regular phones, too. I have some kind of mental disconnect. I can’t change ink in my printer, haven’t figured out how to make copies or use the scanner. So for me to actually get a phone that might work is a giant step.

They have pretty good prices on “fancy” phones, too, but what do I need fancy for? I always have a camera with me and usually have a Kindle in case I have some dire need for the internet while away from home. If I’m on vacation, I have my Mac with me AND the Kindle. And I’m not 100% sure, but I think there’s a wi-fi link in my cameras, too. I have no idea how to use it, but it’s there.

I do not use a telephone for anything financial. I’ve been hacked once and that was enough. I canceled a credit card because it got hacked once and then someone tried to hack it a second time. I figured those people (Walmart) need a better security service before I’ll use their card. I don’t need it anyway.

So sometime this week, I’ll have to take a very deep breath and try to figure out how to use the phone. I’m already scared and I don’t even have the phone.

SHARING MY WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

SHARE YOUR WORLD


QUESTIONS:

Guns?  Are you pro or con?  Explain your point of view.

I am so anti-gun I don’t even know where to start. I don’t object (in theory, anyway) to hunting as long as the animal isn’t about to go extinct. There are plenty of deer and probably enough venison for all who want some.

But people? All the kids who’ve been slaughtered? People in church? People just listening to a concert? It’s not okay in any way at all and please do NOT tell me that guns don’t kill people. No gun by itself kills anything, but put it in the hands of a killer and then, they kill. And without a high-powered military-style weapon, these murderers simply could not do the amount of damage they do.

Have gun will travelI don’t want to hear about “prayers” and “thoughts.” I want laws that keep the nut cases away from powerful military-style weapons. And yes, I WOULD take away their guns, those racist losers who think murdering people in churches, concerts, or schools is the cool thing to do. I would take away their guns and their freedom for the rest of their lives.

How would your country change if everyone, regardless of age, could vote?

I’m assuming we’re talking about lowering the voting age to 16 (or something like that). Obviously, infants can’t vote.
I have no proof for any of this, but my best guess is we’d see a big change in gun laws because many, if not most, young people favor sane and sensible gun control laws.

Voting

I think you’d see a big jump in the minimum wage. Kids are often the people trying to live on that pitiful money. I’m pretty sure young people would do something to fix the cost of student loans and tuition at state universities. The rest? I don’t know but I live in hope.

What’s your cure for hiccups?

Breathing into a paper bag. If that doesn’t do it, drinking water and swallowing without inhaling first.

What’s the coldest you’ve ever been?

Those mornings when I  had to stand at the top of the driveway waiting with Kaity for her school bus.

In January, it was often below zero and there was wind, too. And the bus was almost always late. Man, that was SO cold!

If you would like, share a story, a photo or some thoughts on you may be thankful for this week!

I’m still here. Still breathing. Still writing and taking pictures. The world has not improved, but mine hasn’t gotten worse. These days, when things don’t get worse, that’s the same as better used to be!

PET PEEVES – BY ELLIN CURLEY

  1. ONE PLY TOILET PAPER

Don’t people realize that you have to use twice as much one-ply as two-ply so you end up not saving any money? And that’s not taking the comfort factor into consideration.

My master bathroom toilet paper roll

2. OVER OR UNDER

On the subject of toilet paper, it’s OVER people! The patent application for the toilet paper holder shows the roll going over, not under.

My toilet paper decor in the powder room

3. WEATHER CHANGES

I’ve been checking the weather regularly and we’ve had an unseasonably warm spell. The one day I forget to check, the temperature dips 25 degrees and I freeze my buns off in my unsuitably light clothes!

 

  1. FOOD DISAPPOINTMENTS

Some days I wake up thinking about the cinnamon sugar croissant at my local bakery. It’s amazing! It’s one of the few things that can make me break my perpetual diet (I’m on Prednisone and gained ten pounds last year). I look forward to this sugary treat all the way to the store – and they’re out! I can taste the disappointment and it’s nothing like my beloved croissant.

This doesn’t look half as delicious as my favorite treat!
  1. SLEEPLESS AT DAWN

My dogs wake me around 6 AM to feed them. I stagger downstairs and go through their morning routine in a sleepy haze. I stumble back to bed and fall right back to sleep. Except when I don’t. There are days when, for some reason, I wake up completely somewhere between the bedroom and the kitchen. I am suddenly full of energy. This is a problem because I go to bed around 1 AM and I need more than five hours sleep to get through the day. So I lie awake thinking of things that agitate or depress me and just exacerbate the situation. Finally I’ll fall back to sleep, but that sleepless hour or two is SO annoying! Chronic insomnia must be unbearable.

  1. FORGETFULNESS

I’ve put a reminder on my phone that’s set to go off the same time every day to make sure I don’t forget to take my medicines in the morning. (I never seem to forget at night). I don’t forget often anymore, so I’ve gotten used to turning off the reminder each day after I’ve taken my meds. But now I’m so used to turning off the reminder, that I turned it off automatically the other day even when I hadn’t taken my meds.

I forgot to take my pills but I turned off the reminder anyway. On Autopilot. Something is wrong with this system – or is it just me?

  1. LAZY GUARD DOG

One of my dogs, Lexi, is my self-assigned protector. She sounds the alarm with loud barking whenever she sees or hears something outside of her definition of ‘ordinary’. Unfortunately, she’s also lazy. So when she’s on the bed with me and hears something ‘suspicious’ downstairs, she doesn’t go down to investigate or scare off the intruders. Instead, she leaps up and proceeds to scream in her high volume, piercing bark, directly into my ear!

If I go prematurely deaf, it won’t be due to the loud rock and roll of my youth – it will be all Lexi’s fault!

Lexi

BY YOUR OWN PETARD, THOU ART HOISTED – Marilyn Armstrong

Last night I said to Garry “Aha! He is hoisted upon his own petard!”

By which meant he had just become the victim of what he (in this case a movie character) had planned for someone else. Then, I paused, thinking.

“What,” I asked Garry, “Is a petard?”

“I have no idea,” said my husband.  Which is when I realized I’ve been using this expression my whole life and don’t know what it means.

Petard sounds French, but what is it? I grabbed my laptop and typed  “hoist on his … ” into Google. Before I got to petard … up it came. Don’t you just love when that happens?

petards

Voila! Courtesy of Wikipedia, here is the rest of the story.

petard was a bomb used to blow up gates and walls when breaching fortifications. Castles. Walled cities. That sort of thing. The word was originally (duh) French and dates to the sixteenth century.

Typically, a petard was metal (bronze or iron), shaped like a cone or box. Filled with two or three kilos (5 or 6 pounds) of gunpowder and using a slow match for a fuse, the petard was a primitive, powerful and unstable explosive device.

After being filled with gunpowder, it would be attached to a wooden base and fastened to a wall, on or under a gate. The fuse was lit. If all went as planned, the explosion would blow a hole big enough to let assault troops through.

Thus the phrase “hoist on his/her own petard” came to mean “harmed by one’s own plan to harm someone else.” It suggests you could be lifted — hoisted — by your own bomb.

NO CONSPIRACIES IN THIS HOUSE – Marilyn Armstrong

After many years of not watching “The X Files,” Garry and I ran out of stuff to watch. So … we decided to try watching X Files.

Now, maybe a dozen episodes in, I have some thoughts on conspiracies and secrets.

x-files poster


Has anyone ever confided a secret to you? And you realized at that exact moment, it ceased being a secret.

Have you ever told someone something you wished you hadn’t said? Or realized that what you said should have stayed in your head and never crossed your lips?

Sincerely wished you hadn’t said anything then asked them to please, please, never repeat it? And you absolutely knew everyone was going to know about it before lunch?

top secret 2

So how did the whole “secret” thing work out for you?

Now. Imagine a secret so secret that the entire military-industrial complex including all the important politicians of the world — the basic whos-who of world power — had to keep THIS secret or the world might end.

What secret?

That aliens are here and have always been here? That we are hiding spaceships in dark caverns in the desert and mountains? That every individual in touch with this secret — and you have to figure there were a lot of them, even counting them one at a time — was mandated to retain the secret for their entire lives and never tell anyone.

Figure that’s going to work? Whatever the secret was supposed to be, it would be in every newspaper and on every television station — not to mention every social medium — before lunch. Before morning break.

It would be a multi-part television serial by the weekend … and these days … forgotten by Christmas.

That’s my point.

Not that aliens might be here — now or in the past — but that a secret of such magnitude could or would be kept for a single day, much less for decades. This could not, would not, will not ever happen in this world.

Certainly not anywhere with Internet.

Which is pretty much everywhere.