Sunday, April 21, 2019

Waiting for the purple cow...

Wishing all our readers a happy Easter, happy Passover, or just a happy Sunday!

Last week, to a huge fanfare, NASA published
the first photo of a black hole. Sounds like an oxymoron, right? Because how could you photograph... well, never mind, there it is. Looking for all the world like a golden donut. Something I thought I'd never see. Like the Yeti. Or El Dorado. Or a purple cow.

It got me thinking about all those things we never thought we'd see and then we did. Like:
- the dark side of the moon
- the Red Sox win the world series
- a 3-D printer
- fake hamburger at BurgerKing (apparently coming soon to an outlet near you)
- gene editing cures children born with compromised immune systems

I'm still waiting for ruby slippers, a time machine, and a cure for Alzheimers. So what are the things you thought you'd never see and the you did... and what remains elusive?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Hallie? I was hoping your darling
husband could give us a little black hole lesson.

Anyway!  I REALLY want to see the Loch Ness monster. And beings from other  planets. Just as likely (maybe)  I'd adore to have a dishwasher that empties itself,  but I have to say I am grateful for mine (and the washing machine) every day.

Who'd a thought fax machines would be obsolete? And we have a stash of DVDs but no longer nay device to play them on.  And now
I have gotten into the habit of telling appliances what to do, but only a few of them do it. And mapping the human genome--that's pretty amazing.

Who'd have thought we could trace ancestors and relatives based on spit? And I still marvel at on demand digital TV--remember when "instant replay" seemed like magic? And when the Dick Tracy two-way radio seemed ridiculous.

Self-driving cars--I could do without.
What I wish for? A memory protector. And a device of some kind that would secretly remind me of people's names. And some way to make sure everyone has food and a place to live.

JENN McKINLAY: And let's give credit where credit is due - Katie
Bouman, MIT grad student, created one of the critical algorithms used by the team of over two hundred international researchers, to be able to manifest that photo. Can I just say - Go, Girl!

And as for things I thought I'd never see? Myself as married or a mom. It was not on my agenda (shrug). I really thought we'd have colonies on Mars by now, so that disappoints :) And I really wish there was a way to have men birth the babies. It's their turn. I'm just sayin'.

Video phones! They seemed so cool when people on Star Trek and the like could see each other when they communicated. But now the reality of FaceTime, Skype means I have to spruce myself up to make a phone call.

I never thought we'd see cure for disease by altering genes, being able to map ancestry through DNA.

However I thought we'd see equality for women by now. Hah.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Flying cars! I'm still waiting for flying cars! And transporter beams! I mean, we have "communicators" now, and "tri-corders (more or less)" so why not those?

LUCY BURDETTE: I have to say that the black hole business boggles my mind. I too would like a lesson from our resident physicist Hallie!
Speaking of cars, our Subaru does things I'd never imagined--it beeps like mad when it thinks you might back into something.

Sometimes we accuse it of over-reacting, and sometimes I'm so glad I didn't run over the person it spotted! It will also slow you down if you're following too closely and slam on the brakes if it feels the need. I would like everyone to have those features so we're all a little safer!

Can I say I never thought I'd see HID FROM OUR EYES finished? Ba-DUM-bump! Of course, the first things that come to mind in the "never thought I'd see" category are political, but I'll be good and elide over that topic. Some of mine are personal - I never thought I'd see my children grown (or nearly so) holding down real jobs, serving in the military, thinking of getting married. I mean, I know this stuff happens to 99% of all humanity, but when you're in the throes of child-rearing, the fact it might end never seems quite real.

I never thought I'd see China rise to compete with the US for the title of "Most Influential Nation in the World." Does
anyone else remember being told to "Eat your food, there are children starving in China?" There's a funny twist on this in CRAZY RICH ASIANS where a wealthy Singaporean Chinese dad tells his kids, "Eat up! There are kids going hungry in America!" (On reflection, it's probably not that funny...) 

On the things I still want to see: people on Mars! A cure for Alzheimer's! I can skip on the flying cars, but I'm totally down with truly autonomic vehicles that will enable me to read while on the road. Oh, and as I start planning getting the house painted, I'm still waiting for a safe paint that can match the coverage and long life of those terrible, wonderful lead paints. How's that for a specific wish!

HALLIE: So what did you think you'd never see and 'lo and behold, here it is?

And by the way... YOU'LL NEVER KNOW DEAR is downpriced! Going for $1.99 starting Monday for one week only! Here's a link to booksellers.


  1. A picture of a black hole? Absolutely astounding.
    The whole DNA/ancestry thing boggles the mind . . . .
    I regularly wish for a transporter [just beam me there, Scotty] and am amazed by video doorbells that that let you talk to people standing on your porch when you’re not even home . . . .

    1. Video doorbells?!? Really?? Now that would be useful in a crime novel...

    2. I'm with you Joan for a transporter

    3. Hallie, our daughter has one from a company called Ring . . . you can see the people on the porch and talk to them through the doorbell [I think it uses an app on your phone] . . . .

    4. A transporter is one of my fondest wishes, danielle-momo . . . .

  2. It's all mind-boggling! My father used to talk about seeing his first airplane.
    I would love a personal transporter and a self unloading dishwasher. Just being able to email and read books on a device is amazing. The fact that a phone can do anything is completely nuts of course. A phone is a big black thing that sits on a desk somewhere or if in a home was in a central location or the kitchen and usually the only one.
    The black hole is beyond me but then so are all of the new species being found.

    1. Gosh, remembering my first princess phone. Pink. And now "hanging up" is dated. As is "picking up the receiver." or "listening to the handset" Even answering machines are pretty much passe.

  3. I'm still waiting for a woman to be president, but then I'm also still waiting for the Equal Rights Amendment. Waiting. Still waiting . . .

    I am of two minds when it comes to self-driving cars. One the one hand, a self-driving car would help me remain independent well into my dotage, since public transportation seems to be a pipe dream in these parts. On the other hand, the cars I've driven that have auto-braking and other semi-autonomous features seem the be possessed by the spirit of an overly cautious helicopter mom/backseat driver from hell. "You're too close to that fence! You're going to plunge into the abyss at the end of your driveway (where the street dips in lieu of an actual gutter)! We're all Going to DIE!!!!!!" I think there are still some kinks to work out there.

    1. Right. Grist for a Stephen King novel. I think he's already written it.

    2. And, if I am well into my dotage, where will I tell my self-driving car to go? "Home to Rolla"? Where I was born, but haven't lived in ages. "Mother's house"? Which doesn't exist anymore. More to contemplate on the social/emotional side of the equation, before we fall in love with the merely technical image of things to come in the rosy new future.

  4. I'm with Gigi about the ERA and the first woman president. I mean, come on, people!

    I never thought I'd see the day when I would give away the World Book encyclopedia I proudly bought when I got my first real job after being home with my kids. Every house needs one, I thought. Less than a decade later, Google and other searches had taken over. The scope of the internet boggles the mind - and would have delighted my research-loving father. Also never imagined not having to tote a camera around, or having the internet On. My. Phone. Just think about it.

    No self driving cars for me (shudder).

    Great topic! Happy Easter/Passover/Sunday to all. I'm off to write a bit, then dust, make a flourless chocolate cake, and put the sour cream-yogurt-dill sauce on the salmon I poached yesterday. Easter brunch for ten, including my favorite toddler.

    1. I remember years ago when I was working in high tech, they talked about CONVERGENCE. What I thought it meant was convergence of tv and computer... TO a computer. Who'd a thunk it would converge onto a cell phone?

    2. Yum! Sounds like a delicious brunc.

    3. It will be! Guests are bringing appetizers, meat, asparagus, a rice dish, and potato kugel, so it's all gluten free for one guest and yummy for all.

  5. Happy Easter/Pesach/Spring to everyone everywhere.

    Things I wish I'd never seen:
    The Challenger crashing to the ground.
    The Murrah Building blowing up.
    9/11 and the aftermath
    Notre Dame burning

    Things I'd like to see again:
    My children as newborns
    My first glimpse of Paris
    Salisbury Cathedral at Evensong
    My grandparents and parents

    Things I thought I'd never see:
    A man on the moon
    A government run by a fool who thinks he's a god.
    A mixed race person in the royal family
    Gay marriage

    Things I never dreamed of:
    Meeting and knowing so many of my favorite authors! I'm looking forward to Dallas in October and hoping to see each of you, especially Julia, upon whom I still haven't laid eyes.

  6. A single man designed his kitchen with two dishwashers, one for clean dishes and one for dirty. He didn't need cabinets because his dishes and glassware were in one of the dishwashers.

    I hope I live to see a cure for Alzheimer's and responsible, thinking women in charge of our country.

    1. Those dishwasher reminded me of Anne Tyler's novel, THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST. The guy WEARS his dirty sheets in the shower to wash them and himself.

  7. Happy Day to all, no matter your belief system! Taking the Christian idea of resurrection, I am hoping for a resurrection of a spirit of righteousness and good in this country to overcome the spirit of self-centeredness and mean-spiritedness which seems to permeate our country today. Whew!

    Things I thought I'd never see: home computers! Can anyone else remember when computing meant stacks and stacks of punched cards you took to the building housing a mainframe and then went back to find your results spewed out in a roll of green paper waiting in bins? And now, you don't even need a computer! What I am still waiting for: A WOMAN PRESIDENT! Women represent over 50% of the population--and yet we are still struggling to have women's voices heard. And the thing that never lets me down--new books!! Love to all on JRW!

    1. *I* remember those punch cards. And that the program ran and ran for hours and then just stopped and you had to figure out where the bug was.

    2. I remember seeing my first computer in 1963. I was a student in Kiel, Germany and the computer took up a whole room and we had to put on protective clothing to go in

    3. I remember those punched cards were at the time I was studying in administration and computer is the only course I've failed.
      I never thought then that one day I might enjoy a computer or how simple it would be.

  8. These are all so much fun to read! And yes, I could do without flying cars too.
    And I was trying to convince my library committee that The Stand should be our town read. It is so prescient, it is staggering. It does, however, have some language situations that people were worried about I had forgotten about that.

    1. The thing about flying cars, for me, is that I want one, but I don't want anyone else to have one. I am, of course, an excellent driver who would never make a stupid mistake that could kill lots of people with my flying car. But everyone else out there is nuts! Maybe we save the flying cars for when they're all self-driving?

  9. So many things seemed amazing to me when they came about, things I couldn't even imagine, yet now take for granted now.

    But I still wish for a time machine or a least a pause button, and, yes, Hank, I want a memories protector too!

  10. Great post! Video phones are great for Deaf people who can talk to each other in Sign Language! I love that now I can see movies nominated for Academy Awards at the cinema instead of waiting for the movie to come out on DVD. Now movie theaters have rear window captioning and I can read the dialogue while watching the movie. I was thinking about the baby boomers starting to lose their hearing now and I thought lucky for them because of the benefits like these for deaf and hard of hearing people.

    Rhys, I recall a Deaf friend from Sweden had similar feelings as you do about the video phone. She said she would have to look presentable (brush her hair, wear clothes instead of PJs, etc) before she could answer a call on the Video Phone.
    And I get what you mean about equal rights. I remember that even when Thatcher was the Prime Minister of Britain, there were no separate loos for women members of the Parliament. I remember visiting a friend who was a Law Lord (?) and he had an office in the House of Parliament. When I needed to use the loo, someone stood guard outside the loo so that I could use it. I saw the news later about the lack of separate loos for women in the Parliament. Now Britain has two female Prime Ministers. Scandinavia already has had several women Prime Ministers. The USA still does not have a female President! I think that is part of our Puritan heritage?

    I love the text capability on the mobile phone. We are discovering a lot of amazing things these days. Jenn, I have been seeing the news on Facebook about Katie Borman and the black hole!

    Hank, I do not like the idea of self driving cars. I would like to see more bicycles than cars on the road.

    Wonder what we will be seeing in 5 years? 10 years? I cannot imagine what technological advances will happen in the future.


  11. My grandparents were born in the 1890s and it boggles my mind to think of the changes they saw in their lifetimes. They were born in cabins with no electricity or indoor plumbing but lived to see us land on the Moon! I can hardly imagine what I'll see in mine.

    I'm you guys. Despite the amazing things we've seen, I'm still waiting for my flying car and a colony on the Moon to prepare the way to a colony on Mars. On the scale of bad ideas, self-driving cars are right up there with cloning dinosaurs! I would love a transporter though. Scotty! Beam me up. Oh! and a TARDIS so I can travel through all of time and space.

  12. My favorite thing-that-never-used-to-be-dreamed-of is being able to stay in touch with hundreds of people every day, from all over the world, some of whom I've never actually met, but who I consider among my best friends. I've been able to meet some of them/you in person over the years, but there are dear pals I only know from the Internet, from as far back as 1989, via Usenet. How cool is that?

    In the Harry Potter books and movies the magical newspapers have movies and people interacting right within the pages. There are places on the Web that do this very thing. JK Rowling was prescient about this genius development!

    But yes, why can't we have a woman President? Oh, yeah, we should have, right this minute. Grr. Sorry. Not sorry.

  13. A cure for diabetes is what I want to see.

  14. So many wonders! I wonder when a woman will head our government? So many other countries have experienced this. I'm not a fan of self-driving cars. All that computer stuff is going to go blooey at some point. I'm concerned that people will not learn how to read, write, do math, drive, and other basics if some manmade thing will do it for them. A flying car might be fun though. I never thought mobile phones would shrink from suitcase size to pocket size. And have computers in them. Car GPS units were such a hot thing and now you can use your phone instead. I thought I'd never see the Berlin Wall come down the way it did. Or women astronauts and military pilots. Or women starting, finally, to get public credit for their scientific achievements. Mom was really impressed when she got to see what live penguins looked like. I have to think it was from a newsreel at the movies when she was a kid in the 20s or 30s.

  15. Like Cathy, I'm always amazed at the everyday things that didn't exist when my grandparents were born, horse transportation morphed to cars to planes to spaceships that you live in for months. Microwaves. I'm still coming to terms with the idea of reading a book on a machine. Which is heavier - the paperback in my purse or my e-reader? Carrying my phone around is still a little weird.

    I wish that clothes came out the dryer folded and ready to put away. Self-propelling anything is terrifying. I would like to see the world's oldest tree before a human destroys it. I'm most grateful for that devise that corrects my unintentionalspelling errors. I selfishly wish someone could cure tinnitus.

  16. I’m still waiting for "drive-through" plastic surgery and Valium in a chewing gum.

  17. Sorry, that previous comment was from me

  18. Debs, your mention of flying cars took me to the program that pretty much ticks off wish list items for me. The Jetsons, with the flying cars and jetpacks and robotic maid. Well, we do have the robo vacuums now. My daughter has one and loves it. I haven't made that leap yet. Of course, the devices we take for granted these days--personal computers, smart phones, smart TVs, iPads, e-readers--were unthinkable in my world when I was growing up. Rhys, I have to admit that I don't use the video-chat feature on my iPhone. I am holding on hard to the idea that on the phone one should be heard and not seen. Hahaha! My most fervent wish is a cure for cancer, as I've had too many people I love taken by its cruelty.

    I do think about my mother and father, who both have been dead for some time now, Daddy died at 96 and Mommy died at 84. My father was born in 1901 and died in 1997, so just think of all the changes he had seen. From driving his mother to town in a horse and buggy (which overturned one time) to buying a new car every 2 to 3 years to keep up with the styles, that man saw a lot. My mother, born in 1910, also saw loads of change, and I'm sure she was especially in awe of having to use cloth diapers washed by hand and using a wringer washing machine to new mothers simply buying a box of disposable diapers as needed. I remember that my mother had a dishwasher for years before she actually started using it on a regular basis, and that was only after I married and my husband got her to do so.

  19. I have an Android phone, so no Facetime. Whenever I'm talking to my daughter, my granddaughter asks why she can't see Grammy. Amazing how fast things change. And how quickly we take them for granted!!!

  20. When we first got computers at work, one of the bosses said it would save paper. Ha! People still print everything out. I like my smart phone, computer, Nook reader, etc, but I resent that some organizations and businesses try to push them. I still have a landline, answering machine, and paper books.

    I'd love to have the transporter. I stopped traveling because of the hassle but it would be great to beam over to a place, see some sites, walk around, eat, and then beam home with no packing, waiting around, etc. You could even check the weather and construction before you went so you don't miss things because of the rain or them being closed.