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Years ago, there was a hugely popular theme park in Nashville called Opryland. It was torn down and replaced with a mall, stupidly, and I think whoever made the decision to tear down a perfectly wonderful and popular theme park to put in a horrid discount shopping mall must be regretting it. At least I hope this is the case.

Anyway, my dad, who is a carpenter by trade, did some work on Opryland, and was able to test ride the famous Wabash Cannonball. I used to love telling this story to friends, adding that my dad rode it before they ‘slowed it down.’ I’m not a huge fan of coasters, but I did ride them when I was younger. Until, one day, when, of course, I had a massive freak-out. In the middle of a ride.

I was 19, and my family, along with an aunt, uncle, cousin, and my best friend, all drove down to Disney in Orlando. After spending a few days in the parks, we drove over to Daytona Beach, just an hour or so from Orlando. Daytona Beach has a boardwalk right on the beach, filled with shops, Ski-ball, the usual attractions. But this boardwalk also had an indoor amusement park, which, to this day, I don’t understand. Why indoors? Especially on a beach?

So I took my young cousin in and we decided to ride the Scrambler. That may or may not have been what it was called, but there was a ride just like this in Panama City Beach (at what used to be the Miracle Mile Amusement Park, also now a shopping mall) and it was called the Scrambler. Two people to a pod, with the pods spinning on their own while going in a circle, and also the arms moved up and down. Quite thrilling, if you like that sort of thing.

This indoor park was really quite shabby, and as we whirled round and round, I heard noises and creaks and things that didn’t sound exactly safe. Not to mention I’m pretty sure that the ride was going way faster than is allowed. Which says a lot– at 19, I was what was termed a ‘speed demon’ and had just earned in the neighborhood of 8 speeding tickets in one year.

The faster we spun, the more unsafe I felt, until finally I couldn’t stop myself from screaming. I screamed until they stopped the ride and let me off. As I write this, it’s hard to decide whether to laugh or cry. There is enough distance in time from this event that it’s funny, but with recent events being what they are (a subject for another day), and my anxiety levels being at an all-time high, it’s hard to hold back the tears.

Surely I’m not the first person to do this, but I’ve never witnessed anyone else having a meltdown on a ride. Thank fuck there were no cell phones back then to record my meltdown. I guess that is one huge positive note in an otherwise sad tale.

I was greeted by a co-worker today with the words, “I saw your picture in the paper!”

Me: stunned and confused look.

Turns out, that little adult spelling bee I attended last week made the local news. Yes, I do recall a photographer being in attendance. No, I had no idea that my mug would show up in this past weekend’s Tennessean. Us wordy-nerdy grammar fanatics are the new celebrities.

Here’s a link to the article:
http://www.tennessean.com/article/20091114/NEWS01/911140324/Spelling%20bees%20catch%20on%20with%20Nashville%20barflies

That’s me, with the Princess Leia do; my teammate is the one spelling our word, in a decidedly dramatic fashion, in order to gain us more points.

On the heels of this news came a text from a friend: he said that Oxford Dictionary had chosen, as 2009’s word of the year, the word ‘unfriend.’ Gasp! What has social networking done to our language? The following article also cites ‘birthers’ as a close second, which would have been my choice.

‘Unfriend’ is New Oxford dictionary’s Word of the Year –*

Just goes to show how technology and language evolve. What amazes me about the word ‘unfriend’ is that I immediately knew from whence it came. Not only that, but when I told my ESL class, they immediately knew as well. Fucking amazing.

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