After 20 years at the University of Oregon, I have retired. So, I will begin posting about my new experiences here and hope you find them interesting.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Star Trek's Circular Reference Still Computes!

As one of the original trekkers from the 1960s, I couldn't help but look forward to the new incarnation and I was quite pleased with the newest addition to the Star Trek film franchise when I went to see it on opening day. It did not take much adjustment on my part at all to accept Zachary Quinto as a young Spock and I thought Karl Urban really nailed "Bones" McCoy. Chris Pine was suitably brash and swaggering as James T. Kirk but he did not capture my heart like Quinto and Urban.

Much like his character Scotty, Simon Pegg sort of settled into the role when the Enterprise was in dire straights and he needed to be the "miracle worker"! I hope they dispense with the fossilized Ewok though. When I saw him I thought to myself, "Did George Lucas poke his nose into this production?" Star Trek may be a space opera but it has built its fandom on morality plays and stories with adult themes (mostly). We don't need to spoil the franchise with "cute" (and I really didn't find it all that cute anyway). The last thing Star Trek needs is a "Jar Jar Binks" distraction.

Somehow, the bar scene with all the aliens sitting around felt more Star Wars than Star Trek as well.

Eric Bana did an excellent job as a villain but I think it would have added more complexity to the plot if the Romulans of the past had learned of Nero's plans to destroy Vulcan and tried to intervene as well since they were kindred species. I also must admit I prefer my Romulans with hair and more warrior than pirate.

Somewhat of a spoiler ahead...

With the old past supposedly wiped away now, future movies should be less constrained by what has gone before. With Vulcan now gone, I don't know what Spock is supposed to do when his Pon Far rolls around but I'm sure the filmmakers will think of something! Of course the Romulans are still prowling the galaxy so maybe a Romulan princess can ease the pain. Also, like most space/time alterations, this plotline raises the issue of a paradox. Now that the Federation is aware of the time the Romulan sun will go supernova, they can plan to deliver their solution sooner or evacuate the planet sooner which means the reason for Nero to come back in time to destroy Vulcan, etc. will no longer exist so he won't. So then the Federation won't know about the supernova, Romulus will again be destroyed, Nero will come back and destroy Vulcan...in the technology profession we call this a circular reference!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Jessica Davis makes firefighting look fun!

My great niece, Jessica Davis, is studying to be a municipal firefighter in Fairbanks, Alaska. She just finished a Rapid Intervention Technician course through the University there which teaches students how to rescue downed firefighters in a burning building. She said she had so much fun and learned more than she had ever learned in a class.

"We did emergency evacuations which meant we jumped out onto a ladder headfirst and turned ourselves around and slid down the ladder, we hung from a window, repelled from a window, rescued teammates through the floor (Nance Drill) and then one of the hardest, The Denver Drill, which is supposed to simulate a firefighter stuck in a very tight space and trying to get them out of a window with limited manpower."

Go Jesse! We are so proud of you!

Jessica is the daughter of my sister's daughter Traci Davis and Scott Davis of Ketchikan, Alaska. We all trooped up to Alaska a couple of years ago to see Jessica graduate from high school. It was the most fun I have ever had at a graduation ceremony. The Native American students wore their traditional ceremonial robes and many students demonstrated their unique personalities by their apparel and unusual ways they accepted their diplomas. One boy did flips down the full length of the runway to the Superintendent to get his sheepskin. Jessica accepts hers dressed in her Dad's firefighting regalia! We had a wonderful time fishing on a charter boat (we didn't catch much - a small halibut and some rockfish - but I got some great shots of feeding the bald eagles), panning for gold, visiting the Saxman Native Village where I danced with the Native American dancers of the Tlingit tribe, exploring the Discovery Center, shopping in all the tourist shops with people from all the big cruise ships, and barbequeing in the rain! My sister and I and Traci's twin sister Trina also enjoyed The Lettermen in concert. They sang songs from my high school days (like "Cherish" - it sounded as good as the original by The Association!) as well as many recent hits like "My Heart Will Go On" from the blockbuster film "Titanic".

For a complete blow by blow of my trip (and to watch a video of my Native American dancing!) read my post in my Incredible Journeys blog.

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