April 2008

Banal

The dictionary definition of Banal, once again compliments of the good people at dictionary.com

They have a couple of different definitions for that.


I) banal
Part of Speech: adj
Definition: commonplace; tired or petty
Etymology: Serbo-Croatian ban 'lord, ruler'


ba-nal - buh-nal, -nahl, beyn-l
adjective devoid of freshness or originality; hackneyed; trite: a banal and
sophomoric treatment of courage on the frontier.

And to be quite honest there are more than a couple other somewhat similarly phrased but still unique in their own way definitions to choose from.

Why start with Banal?

Because two things occurred to me as I booted this machine up for the I4th or so time today.

The first is this.

Today while I waited for this machine to whirl itís way into being I found myself wondering what would happen if through a bizarre series of events involving a kiddies turtle pool (you know the plastic kids pools shaped like turtles) several boxes of high grade cough medicine, a rake and that spare time flux capacitor that I keep in the storage room under my old VHS movies (at least I think thatís where it is, I would look but that would bring me in close contact to at least two of the other required ingredients and thatís just not a risk Iím willing to take without the proper preparation) I ended up 44 years in the past with me, my laptop and my wits.

Itís a good question I think, I mean really.

I could probably do a lot of things with it, but the thing I would most likely end up doing would be (and itís a toss up of two, really) to either sell the thing to the Canadian government or drop it in a Volcano.

There are strong arguments for both.

On the selling it to the Canadian Government side of the argument, assuming that they were able to reverse engineer even one one thousandth of the technology in this thing, Canada would be able to get past the embarrassments of the Avro Arrow program and itís demise in short order.

Which is a good thing probably. If Canada was able to demostrate even a fraction of the technology that my laptop wields 4O years ago, it would have made the sonic booms that the Americans heard from the Arrow seem like a pin drop.

On the drop in a volcano side of the argument...

Every episode of star trek or anything like that where someone goes back into the past with good intentions always ends with either disaster narrowly averted or the well intentioned protaganist dead.

Let alone the potential blowback if the Americans or Russia managed to get a peek at it. I mean thatís a whole parallel universe nightmare just waiting to happen.

So a volcano might just be the best bet. Safer for everyone and I get to be somewhere tropical with tiki torches and such.

Cause that would be a heck of a lot more interesting and exciting I think, a desperate race against time to insure that the laptop was permanently destroyed before anyone could unlock itís technological secrets.

Kinda like Terminator 2 without at the paradoxes.

Definitely more interesting.

Which leads me to my second thought.

Most of the applications for computers these days are such perfect functional definitions of banal that it is mind blowing. Exchanging information over the Internet? Sounds like a good idea, but if you take a look at the vast majority the average Internet user uses the Internet for, its staggeringly bland. People look for social sites so that they can network with people that they have never met or used to know, but these friend sites are little more than public popularity contests with the results posted on line.

And since when did the word internet become Internet. Itís a proper noun now? My spell checker and I will never get along.

Anyways, most people use computers in the most banal way possible. Keeping track of their social circle or any hapless victim who may have had the misfortune to stumble into it and then back out but not without a half dozen people facebooking him because after all, theyíre friends now, arenít they?

I mean seriously, the next time you sit down at a computer of your own free choosing (work obviously doesnít count) try and think about whether or not you are using the truly awesome technology at your disposal for anything that is even the smallest fraction of itís potential.

If youíre not, maybe you should be. Maybe you should be using to do something that isnít quite as tired and boring and predictable as the next person.

And the next person.

And the next person.

And the next person.

And the next person.

Thatís humour right there.

Preamble

A Word About Open Letters Ė disclaimer

OK, for the record, all official like.
Iím not sure why I do this, why I send these out into the ether to an imaginary audience when I know the audience Iím aiming for will never ever see it.
If you read any of the open letters and your knee jerk reaction is to think that theyíre to you or for you or about you, they definitely arenít.
But maybe they should be.
That said, on with the show...

Open Letter #2

I hope you're ok.

Itís been years since I've seen you. I think I maybe saw you a while back in a place where you of all people have no business being.

At least not the you I remember.

Canít be sure these days. So many days lost in the haze that I donít expect that Iíll ever get back.

So many days that Iím probably better off not to have the memory of at my fingertips.

But I can still feel it.

I had a funny thought a few days back. Not ha-ha funny, more an odd sort of funny. The funny that leaves you feeling a little cold and damp. The funny that gets into your bones.

It occurred to me that you could be dead, and I might never know it. It occurred to me that I donít remember how to spell your last name to find out. It occurred to me that the realization of that question might be my final and strongest memory of you. The idea that you might really be finally and utterly gone.

I think dangerous thoughts like that sometimes. Thoughts that are probably left well enough alone.

Thoughts that wonít likely go away.

Thatís probably overdramatic, but always one of my strong suits.

I know that you were thinking about moving out of the city.

Thinking about escaping.

I canít blame you. Not even a little bit. This city always was poison for you. It was always a place that you were just transitioning through, a temporary hell but you knew that fact, and that knowing made it almost bearable.

The tragedy is that I donít really remember the last time that we really talked. I was so far gone then. I know we must have, we must have had some final conversation, some catalyst that set in motion the subtle mechanisms that would allow us to drift without noticing.

I just donít remember what it was.

Iíve been thinking about Scotty lately. Itís strange because I canít remember his face. I remember his songs and I remember his laughter and I remember his kindness and I remember that they found him on a hot summer day leaking out of the tailgate of a pickup truck in Manitoba weeks after he had finally had enough of whatever demons were at his heels.

I never did find out how he did it, there were speculation and rumours and talk of knives and blood, but I never did find out for sure.

And I donít remember his last name either, so I probably never will.

Thereís no hoping that Scott will ever be any more ok than his is now or has been for the last 8 years.

8 years.

Where did that go?

Anyways, I guess the bottom line, the one drawn just underneath all the melodrama is just that I hope youíre ok.

I think that I am. Iím pretty sure of it in fact. Some days it feels like I have to learn to walk all over again, but Iím definitely better than I have been in a long, long time.

In case you found yourself wondering.

I hope that you can say the same. Wherever you are. I hope you found somewhere to be that wasnít a trap.

I hope you found a way to silence all of those voices that didn't end in violence.

Although, if I'm honest with myself, I know those odds are pretty much even.

But like I said.

I'll probably never know.

you know where to find me.

Nate@natepike.com