Just Pause It

For children today, the word “pause” is such a natural part of language that they use it in things unrelated to devices. One day my 7-year-old son and I pretended to be Transformers while he got ready for bed. Naturally, Optimus Prime couldn’t very well tell Ironhide “I love you” and tuck him into his recharging chamber. “Hey, let’s pause the game for a minute,” my son said. I hugged him and kissed his cheek. “Okay, un-pause now,” he said, and again we were good-guy robots from another planet.

When I was my son’s age, we didn’t have Transformers, and we didn’t use the word “pause” in everyday conversation. Though it hasn’t risen as quickly as “delete,” thanks to technology it has become ubiquitous.

Most households in my childhood experience had a pause button on a cassette player, but I’m willing to bet that it was used only by those of us who actually made recordings. That strange double-vertical-dash symbol meant almost nothing to those outside that somewhat geeky circle. “Man, that deejay started talking before I could hit pause. Now Santana’s ‘I’m Winning’ will always have that guy’s voice on the end.”

When VCR’s became popular, the pause button saw more action across various demographics, and I suspect the word did, too. “Hey, ____, I’ll pause this for you while you go fetch me a ______.”

CD players brought their own pause button, with a unique spin. That is, the disc continued to spin but the laser stopped reading the grooves. It harkened back to the original pause “button” — gently lifting the needle from the record. “Why did you pause that?” “Because all you Fred Flintstone motherf—–” are jumping around making my disc skip. Now cut it out.” (Don’t hate the cursing, that’s an actual quote from a college party in an old house with wood floors on a raised foundation.) Other disc-based technologies carried on that same tradition.

Game consoles, PC games, and handheld gaming devices allowed the player to pause a game, often only after certain checkpoints were reached. “Dude, I totally paused our game, so you can go tell my mom to bring us some more beer to stock the basement ‘fridge.” Or, “Little Johnny, pause that game now or you will not get any food at this buffet.”

Then came the one that really changed it all — the Tivo. With it and the many similar recorders that came after, one could pause “live” television. “Hey, pause that, I think Janet Jackson’s boob just popped out.” “Don’t be preposterous, that was merely — oh, my, well I never!”

We can see, then, how pause — as a function and a word — has become such an integral part of lives touched by technology. Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, I couldn’t have predicted it.

What word will our children’s children use every day that we will rarely hear in our lifetime?

Fighting Ice with Ice

Ice and snow descended up northern Texas and shut down pretty much everything for four days straight.

One of our friends who has lived here all her life said that the past two years have seen more snow and ice than in the 26 before that.


I recently lamented that our son would not grow up knowing snow the way I did when I was young. At the time I was thinking of the sheer amount, but judging from recent events I must adjust that thinking. Although he won’t roar around a large pasture on a three-wheeler fishtailing on the snowy curves, he still can have fun in powdery white stuff. In fact, last year he and I found a great sledding hill after an 8-inch snow that stayed on the ground only about a day and a half (thawing the whole time).

Did I say “powdery?” Snow usually is heavy and wet here.

In this picture we finally had ventured out of the house after three days of being climatically sequestered. His choice of sweet treat? The self-serve frozen yogurt shop.

The overcast glow coming into the large windows up front made for perfect portrait lighting. By now our son is accustomed to having my camera pointed at him in even the most mundane situations. I was glad that I had taken my DSLR that day instead of my point-and-shoot. When a child is eating one quickly grows to appreciate the DSLR’s immediate shutter reaction time.

The Messed-Up Day: Redemption Threatened

(concluded from: The Messed-Up Day: And Benjamin Waited)

My work completed and both of us fed, I headed off with Benjamin. Finally we would take that Arbor Hills trip I had promised him since the first day he rode without training wheels. Lest anyone start figuring that since he’s seven, I must be awfully neglectful, I would like to point out that he learned in November, and our weekends have been full of family trips or inclement weather ever since. Plus, he needed to become a fairly strong, confident rider before trying the steep, often densely populated paths and offroad trails that awaited.

And to survive his first involuntary flight. (click pic to enlarge)

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The Messed-Up Day: And Benjamin Waited

I promised him, and that was my mistake. I was determined not to let it ruin his day.

On Friday I told Benjamin that he and I would take our bicycles to Arbor Hills Nature Reserve, a hilly area in west Plano set aside for walkers, runners, and mountain bikers to live peacefully alongside our smaller-brained brethren of the natural world. Sunday’s weather was supposed to be nasty, and I had some work to do for a customer at about noon on Saturday, so we decided that early Saturday morning was the time to go.

That night, while working from home to complete a scheduled task, I heard from a co-worker that a customer’s planned disaster recovery test was going to start early Saturday morning. “But your part probably won’t start until later, after I do my part,” she said (except that I’m paraphrasing to conceal the details). I originally thought this would take place Saturday evening, only slightly interrupting a planned date night.

I told Shannon that I might not get to take Benjamin for that ride. “Oh, he will be so disappointed. He told me it was going to be the best day ever,” she said (and I didn’t change that quote at all).

I informed my co-worker that I would take my laptop, because when on call I have mobile internet access. If needed, I could take a break from my ride with Benjamin to do my work, and then resume our fun.

If only it had worked out that way. (click any pic to enlarge)

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All the Marbles (Pic of the Week)


Tuesday night the last thing I felt like doing was going to a meeting with lots of people. I had worked a long day and had to hurry home to get my son to his Cub Scouts meeting 15 minutes late. (click image to enlarge)

After finally making it through a congested spot, I heard a honk to my left, and noticed rapid movement from that direction.

I looked over to see a man waving out the open passenger’s side window. I had stopped quickly to pump in a few survival gallons of gas earlier, so maybe he was letting me know my gas cap was open.

I slid my window down.

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