Thursday, May 05, 2011

There Be Dragons Online

I slew a dragon and built a fire today. The former figuratively. The latter literally. The dragon was some malware that infested our laptop, the sort that informs you rudely that your machine has such-and-such worm and demands you fix the problem via the only thing it lets you do -- go to a web site where the fix is "sold." All you have to do is hand over that string of numbers on one of your plastic cards.

Bastards. Somewhere in the world are bastards who create this kind of thing. But through a variety of maneuvers I won't bore anyone with, I obtained a download that offed the malware dragon. Not quite hand-to-hand combat with a fire-breathing lizard, but satisfying all the same when it actually worked.

As for the fire, I built the season's first in the back yard. But there were limitations. I didn't have that much charcoal left over from last year, so mostly I burned large sticks. Nice for burning, but a little uneven for cooking meat. Still, it was satisfying to get the thing going.

Then it rained. I covered the grill, so the meat continued to cook. The rain was brief but heavy, more of a cloudburst really. The black metal hissed as the raindrops hit it and smoke billowed out of the side.

I can't let the day pass without mentioning the flight of Freedom 7, which was 50 years ago today. I see that Google ignored it, which rankles a little. Last month's anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's flight was duly noted with a doodle, but poor Alan Shepard, the first American in space -- and, we should note, the second human being -- got none. He also happened to be the only one of the Original Seven astronauts to make it to the Moon, where he famously swatted some golf balls, though Wally Schirra was aboard Apollo 7 and of course Gus Grissom died in an Apollo capsule.

This is a dramatization of Shepard's flight from the fine series From the Earth to the Moon, a section of episode 1 that happens to be about half as long as the actual flight. Also, some footage of Shepard hitting those golf balls, which was in early 1971. And just to show that there's information about everything online, this is a page that takes up the question of whether he left behind two or three balls on the lunar surface.

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