William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson
nova_one

8. i almost couldn't go to school because of a nature of things trailer

Frightening things going on – not the least of which are the Lac-Mégantic derailment and the Toronto floods. So naturally, we'll take our minds off this stuff with a nice, happy movie...

The Day After: The US and the Soviet Union nuke each other, and we watch things unfold from the Kansas City area. We watched this movie on YouTube. There's a good Wikipedia article about it.

This is a TV movie, but it's from a time when TV movies were major events. (Merlin may have been the last great TV movie.) It's shot in almost a documentary style – there's music and other concessions to fiction but you're made to feel like it could be real. This increases the tension because the people feel real, and the places and 80's tech are totally real. (Among other things, I grew up with televisions-as-furniture pieces.) Director Nicholas Meyer (who directed Star Trek II and went on to direct Star Trek VI) wanted to simply show the facts and told ABC to avoid casting TV or film stars.

The buildup is excruciating because you know that all the stuff and most of the people are going to be vaporized or worse. The movie does a good job of telling a bunch of little, human stories, both before and after the attacks. In that, it's much more than just an encyclopedic description of what would happen after a nuclear attack.

I've been to Hiroshima. I saw numerous monuments and exhibits. What happened there was inhumane to say the least. Yet as awful as the explosion there was, here there is a difference of scale – it's on a whole other level. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are two cities. This drama observes a vague unity of place – it's pretty much all within driving distance of Kansas City, but the reports that filter in aren't good. Devastation total. Dead animals and ruined soil and rubble as far as the eye can see. You can't get food and supplies from other cities – from the looks of things, there just aren't any anymore.

Of course you would guess all of this would be in the movie, but it helps to actually see it, and I think the effect is similar to seeing the exhibits at Hiroshima for yourself. (The real thing is moving in the way a movie can't be, but the movie is much better than nothing at all.)

I was alive on November 20th, 1983, but I hadn't reached my second birthday, so I'm too young to have watched this when it aired. If I had been old enough to watch, I'm sure I would have been well and truly freaked out. (I mean, there was one day in second grade where I didn't want to go to school because I'd heard for the first time that there were people who claimed to be able to read minds, and I thought I'd be outed for all my thoughts about the girls in my class without their clothes on.) ABC opened up 1-800 hotlines with counsellors and Mr. Rogers dedicated five episodes of his program to informing and comforting children.

As it was, I was a little off my feed after it was over, and Andy put on a bunch of videos from the fringe crowd that claims World War III has already begun. Cooler heads have prevailed to this time, though, and I expect they'll continue to do so, mostly for my own sanity. The stereotypical “conspiracy nut” is talented at seeing patterns, but the pattern of having avoided nuclear war so far is at least as meaningful as any other. Not that we should cease vigilance.

The experience of having watched the movie makes me grateful for the fertility and plenty that we live in. Sure, there are lots of problems, and I think we should continue to strive to fix them (and the new problems that come up because we 'fixed' the old ones). But the amazing beauty, capability and splendour we use daily also needs to be appreciated, and hopefully we'll decide that we really don't want to know what we've got by way of its having gone. 9.

* * *

Tuesday

It was almost chilly at times today! I was tempted to convert my zip-off shorts back into longs.

It was a slow day. I did more sleeping than programming. Still slogging through the Java tutorials. They're hardly a thrill-a-minute, but they serve the purpose of teaching you the Java norms and lingo, and that sort of thing is always cold or at least no better than tepid for me.

Today's bike ride was under the setting sun. I was curious to find where the road to the local cell tower was. It's a sort-of recent arrival in Sherbrooke, all things considered – when I was here for Christmas 2004, I don't think there was service. I wasn't sure how far away the road was or if I'd know it to see it, but it turned out to be obvious (to me) and not too far down the Sonora Road. I biked up a little bit but soon resorted to walking – it was very steep, and I was getting winded just walking my bike up at a steady pace (if I did it leisurely, the legions of mosquitoes would have eaten me alive).

There was a barrier, of course, but my bike kind of fit under it, so... :-p

Reaching the top, I was impressed by how far away from the base the guy wires were. I took a couple of photos of the tower base with my ancient flip phone. At least it's better than Instagram.

celltowerbase1

celltowerbase2

celltowerbase3

I rode back down, very. carefully. It was steep enough that you could easily do a header if you hit the wrong crease in the road. I found myself wishing I had coaster brakes, though I guess they suited my shopping bike in Japan better than this “mountain bike”. I like things that aren't consumables, but brake pads are just that. Better than a spoon brake (link), I suppose. I was whistling “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” to myself, so I'll give Life of Brian that. I may watch it again while I still have it.

Andy's mother had brought over some red wine, so I stopped at the Lodge for the rest of the evening. We chatted with some guests – a party of three from Montreal. The man of the group was a building superintendent. He told me how it was a lot of work and that he was on call all the time, except every second weekend. On the weekends he and another superintendent would alternate being responsible for both buildings.

But he gets to do a lot of hands-on stuff – light electrical, light plumbing – and, needing help with all this (the prior super would call a professional for every little thing), he was able to teach someone who'd just been a janitor everything he needed to know to do things like install dishwashers and change faucets. This other fellow really enjoyed learning the stuff and is far more empowered now. Though now he's the one on call while the super is on vacation, and maybe he'll end up being the new stressed-out, fatigued super. You win some, you lose some.

Josh came over and we watched some TED talks, including Evelyn Glennie's "How to Truly Listen". Oh my gosh, now I know what I want my wife to sound like. Listen to her 'r's! Divine. I would just enjoy the video and try not to worry too much about “okay, what's your point?” - she does get to it, but try to enjoy the journey. Now I'm wondering if her whole-body approach to music could possibly be applied to writing or at least typing.

* * *

Wednesday

Looking at the paper over lunch, Grampy pointed out that (according to The Chronicle Herald) on this day (July 10) in 1943, Canadian troops participated in the Invasion of Sicily: “It was the first time during the Second World War that Canadian troops landed on enemy-held territory with the intention of staying. The invasion led to the signing of a peace treaty between Italy and the Allies on Sept. 8, 1943.” Grampy was in the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade.

Slogged through Generics today. If I understood more than 50% of it, that's gravy.
Tags: sherbrooke 2013
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