Wicked Witch’s Hat

Wicked Witch of the West's Hat

Wicked Witch of the West’s Hat

Actress Margaret Hamilton (1902-1985) wore this infamous black hat as the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. With her signature scowl, green skin, and ominous cackle, Hamilton created an enduring image of the modern witch. Adrian Adolph Greenberg (1903-1959), widely known as just Adrian, created the costumes for the film, including this villainous black hat and Dorothy’s ruby slippers.

We waited to view this hat, while a young woman took a selfie. She posed so that it looked like she was wearing the hat. She was also trying to look scary serious. Carl commented that “Margaret Hamilton never smiled.” This brought a smile to her face. The Wicked Witch wouldn’t have survived five minutes in Seattle today, because with all of the rain she would soon be singing her old song, “I’m melting, I’m melting, all my beautiful wickedness.”

Rogue Internet Cop

Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet at Seattle's EMP Museum

Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet at Seattle’s EMP Museum

When cops go rogue it is a bad thing. It is also front page news. Fortunately for all of us that is a rare event. When there is a rogue Internet cop it is just a major pain in the ass. Let me set the scene for you. Late Wednesday night, like sometime after nine, when I went to bed, something happened to our computer. I woke up to this dreadful news on Thursday morning. I tried fixing the problem, mainly by repeatedly rebooting the machine, but to no avail and all too soon I toddled off to work. My parting wish was, “Maybe it will fix itself, while I’m at work.” “Fat chance”, I said to that wish and walked out the door.

I came home Thursday night, after spending all day bent over a hot keyboard at work. The last thing that I needed to deal with was computer problems. Maybe I should clarify what those problems were, because on the scale of such things my problems weren’t all that bad. The hardware seemed to be functioning just fine. All the software with the exception of Internet Explorer (IE) and McAfee seemed to be working just fine too. McAfee seemed to still be working, it just wasn’t very responsive, like at all. IE worked fine too, except with websites like our email, Facebook and this blog. Websites that had a login associated with them, websites that communicated securely. To make matters even more perplexing Google’s Chrome still worked with all of the offending sites.

I could have let things ride. I certainly have enough other things going on that I didn’t need to spend all night trouble shooting some esoteric PC problem. In fact, I had an easy workaround; I could just switch over to Chrome. But no, there was the principle of the matter. It was a case of man versus the machine, me versus it. Besides there could be some more sinister underlying issue.

My first attempt at fixing the problem was to engage my handy-dandy AT&T technician. I’ve had good luck with their tech support in the past. I figured a little old problem like this one would be a piece of cake. After spending the better part of an hour instant messaging with ‘Kurt’, he decided that my problem was not really an AT&T problem and told me to go bother Microsoft instead.

Police Car 995 - Blade Runner at Seattle's EMP Museum

Police Car 995 – Blade Runner at Seattle’s EMP Museum

Left to fend for myself, I got to thinking that there had to be some connection between the secession of secure communications and the non-responsiveness of McAfee. I figured that if I just shut down McAfee, I could at least test this hypothesis. This was easier said then done. An Internet cop like McAfee doesn’t like to go quietly. I eventually figured out that I had to login to the McAfee website and deactivate my computer’s software there. Download their special uninstalling software and run that. That worked, but it took a while. Afterwards, I had to reactivate my computer’s account and then download and reinstall the McAfee software, which took even longer. In the end, I was successful, but it took all evening. I still wonder if it was really worth the effort. I guess that I should be happy that real life technological monsters are so mundane.

All Shiny on the Outside

Exterior of the EMP Museum

One more story from last Sunday. I was in Dierbergs, one of the two locally owned, family run grocery store chains that dominate the Saint Louis market. I normally shop Schnucks, it is both closer to home and cheaper than Dierbergs. Besides, Schnucks sports a more interesting and diverse clientele, who are not always annoying. I’m speaking of the students from the three neighboring universities. Dierbergs just happened to be conveniently placed astride my return route from the infamous Micro Center.

So, I’m immersed in my usual snatch and grab that passes for grocery shopping. I like to go commando, no list, no cart. Just a green basket slung in one arm, ready to be wielded as a shillelagh if necessary. Such is 21st-century foraging, it is about getting in and out of the store quickly. The longer you dwell, the more time they have to sell.

So I digress, I’m shopping in Dierbergs and I’m approached by a man. He has a plastic container in his left-hand. I can see that it is one of those whole chickens that both chains rotisserie roast. They’re a good deal, a lot of meat and not particularly expensive. He says that he is short a dollar or two and would like to buy this chicken to bring home to his daughter. While he is telling me this my vision is focused upon his right-hand. It is badly deformed. He has only two fingers, ring and pinky, and only a knuckle’s worth per. He notices this and kind of nervously laughs. I slipped two one-dollar bills between his right-hand’s ring and pinky fingers, which he seemed to strain to grasp. He thanks me and we quickly go our separate ways.

I don’t normally give money to panhandlers. I feel bad not doing so, but I believe that it is the better policy. Besides it’s cheaper. I still wonder about this guy’s story. He could have easily return the chicken to its bin and returned to the liquor aisle where this meet had occurred. Bottom line, I wouldn’t have given, if I didn’t want to, any ulterior motives aside, he was worse off than me. The next day, I decided to assuage any lingering guilt by buying one of those scannable food bank coupons at Schnucks.

Fractal Shadows

Fractal Shadows

Fractal Shadows

This photo shows the fractal hair stylings of Carl and Anne. Their fractal enhanced shadows are projected on to a whiteboard that they face. A camera is embedded in that wall. It photographs them and replays their enhanced selves in movie form. The more you move the wilder it gets.

This exhibit is part of the “Icons of Science Fiction” exhibit at the EMP Museum in Seattle. Carl took us there on our first day in Washington. In addition to interactive exhibits like this one, it also has memorable props from science fiction movies and TV shows. Examples include Captain Kirk’s chair, littered with tribbles, the Terminator’s skull, Chris Reed’s Superman costume and an Imperial Dalek from the Doctor Who TV show. The following is per the exhibit:

Daleks are actually mutant cyborg aliens. Imperial Daleks were the first of their kind able to levitate, thus overcoming one of their main obstacles to galactic domination: stairs.

Anne and Carl Going to Lightspeed