Saturday, April 18, 2015

Just a humble dot . . .

What is a dot?   Wait, don't groan just yet! 

This is a dot

‘But it’s blue’, you say. Good eye, Sherlock! Who said it had to black?  That is what you probably expected to see, right?    How would that blue dot look on Mrs Patel's forehead?   I think it would best be red: The bindi dot

But, enough of this ethnicity stuff – for now – we’ll come back to it a little later.

Yes, a humble ‘dot’ can be this color, that color, by itself, in a group . . .  well, you decide: See here what a dot looks like:  A dot - in many guises

Wait, have you heard of a Polka dot?  Of course you have - even if it was not anything to do with a bikini. But have you heard of it spelled this way?   

Yes, that is the ‘mascot name’ of the High School in the small town of Poca, West Virginia. It's true - I even refereed soccer games there. No! Their uniforms did NOT have polka dots on them. 

But wait - a ‘dot’ can be more things than the traditional concept of a simple small circular object. It can be a 'DOT' – a large complex organization – as in Department of Transportation. Where I live, in Missouri, we have MODOT; across the Mississippi River in Illinois,they have an IDOT – of course they have that in Iowa, Indiana and Idaho too.

Returning to the smaller version of dots -  the one which we, the people who spend too much of their crawling around the internet, are most familiar - is one of those that follows that annoying faux-abbreviation – www. I mean, think about it:  ‘World Wide Web’ – 3 syllables; needs to be ‘abbreviated’ to three tri-syllabic single letters – www?  George Carlin once asked why ‘abbreviation’ is such a long word?  All may now groan in unison. 

OK – that provides the much awaited segue back to the ‘ethnic thing’ mentioned above. Not only do we see the ‘dot’ immediately after the ‘www’, we see another 'dot' in domain names – or more precisely, in the domain name extensions that announce various websites. In the USA, we most commonly see ‘.com’ – enunciated as ‘dot-com’. Of course, there are the ‘dot-gov’, ‘dot-org’ and the ‘dot-edu’ domain extensions.  Across the pond, in Merry Olde England, you’ll see ‘dot-co-do-uk’ – as in a www followed by a ''

Now oddly enough, one of its (England’s) most famous bards once said, in the play (whose name must NOT be spoken) – ‘Aye, there’s the rub’. That was whilst talking of a situation in Scotland – another part of the UK. Of course, 'Bill-of-Stratford' - as he may be seen in today's social media venues - could not possibly have known what was to come half a millennium later. You see, there is yet another little-known part of the UK – the part in which I was born and raised. It is known as Wales. Until 2015, any website – whether in the USA, or in the UK, that dealt with Wales probably had a domain name extension that was‘dot-com’ or ‘dot-co-dot-uk’. Not a whit of consideration given to the possibility of a ‘dot-WALES’, was there?   Well, in 2015 – it ‘.wales’ – AND its equivalent in Welsh – ‘.cymru’ (kum-ree, for the phonetically inclined) became recognized – AND available in the USA.

I proudly believe I may have launched the very first such domain name extension, in conjunction with my rebuild of the local Welsh Society’s website. 

* Edited in early 2016: the website is no longer available - (no) thanks to lack of interest from the membership of the Society.

So, you see - though the humble 'dot' may appear so insignificant, just as with Mrs Patel's forehead, it is what is BEHIND that humble 'dot' that is so important. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Yee-hah, it's April !

Yes indeed it is!  That magical 4th month of our modern calendar - thanks to that Roman fellow, Julias Caesar, in 46 BC.

Were you one of the unwitting fools who got caught out today - or just one of the many fools

who don't know what April Fools' Day is all about? If you read that, then now you know!

Moving forward almost 300 years from that Roman era, we come to the appearance of one St George - well, being Welsh - and him being the patron Saint of England, I won't say too much about him - especially as he supposedly slew a dragon (another insult to the Welsh!) - and is even depicted in that act on the banks of the River Thames (that's in London, for the geographically-challenged among us)

His birthday is celebrated on April 23rd - and is logically known as St. George's Day.

That's an interesting date - one some believe is both the birth and death date of William Shakespeare - others say he was born on April 26th. I'll bet Mary Arden knew the exact date - in 1564. "Who is she?", you may ask; "Just 'Google' it, I say!"

Not too many years later - about 56 in fact - something else happened - though it September, not in April. Listen up: You MUST have heard of that saying: 'April showers bring May flowers', right?

Well, did you know that in 1620, the rainy days of April (not some reported religious persecution) lead, some 5 moths later, to a bunch of people (whose 'name' John Wayne often used) departed from the coast of England to a place across the pond - also named Plymouth - on a sailing ship. What do you think those (albeit belatedly) April showers brought to America? Yes - (singular, but still) a Mayflower! 

After the Industrial Revolution, transportation took some quantum leaps - and people also began to get 'antsy'; fed up with living in the same house or town for year after year, they again called upon those 'April shower followers' - who has not had the joy of this experience? -

That brings us to the modern era - well, not quite 'modern' - there was another BIG event that took place on April 16th - back in 1943. In the midst of the ravages and turmoil of World War II, while her husband was waging war against the Axis in Europe and North Africa, a frightened mother-of-two, gave birth to a third beautiful (but fat) baby boy - humility dictates that I not show that photo of him - just know that he, 'C'est moi'.

So, finally we are about to embark on another 'April notable'!  Do you know what is the birthstone of April? Oh, sure - all the ladies do - it is the diamond!

Even their 'men-folk' (well, those red-blooded American men - especially those in St Louis and Chicago) know - and fervently care - about diamonds. You think I'm crazy? 

Look at your calendar: April 5th, 2015  A 'Battle Royale' is slated this weekend. 

Forget the 'Ides of March' - the 'Ides of April' is every bit as terrifying - tax filing day! 

But, not to end on a down note, April brings one more joy - the humming birds will return to my yard - see last year's blog about these amazing creatures: Humming birds

March is history, it is APRIL !!