Syncopated Systems
Seriously Sound Science

Common Threads: Media, Science, Technology, and Other Magic

May 2020: The COVID-19 Chronicles


A couple of weeks ago was Star Wars Day. What is that, do you ask? “May the Fourth be with you.”

As you might have guessed, I enjoy jokes, clearly including some that are pretty bad.

When I lived in Austin, Texas, a friend from my regular Tuesday night haunt—the Playland Skate Center roller skating rink—introduced me to “Star Wars Day” a couple of days early, on May 2, 2006.

It was such a groaner that it stuck with me the next day. I realized that I could share the joke while doing my part to “Keep Austin Weird” (a slogan popular there) while also promoting one of my favorite upcoming local annual events, the O. Henry Pun-Off. (Again I’ll admit to to laughing at low humor.)

So, I rented a Darth Vader costume from a fun shop I knew in eclectic south Austin called Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds. I went to a print shop and made a sign with the horrible line, plus a plug with the date of the approaching event and its domain name, “”.

On May 4 around lunchtime, I walked around downtown in costume with my sign for just about an hour. Wearing a black costume and helmet in the Texas spring heat, my breathing actually sounded a bit like Darth Vader.

I met some interesting people downtown. One fellow I met near the capitol introduced himself as a Republican leader in the Texas legislature and mentioned that he was a big fan of my (Darth Vader’s) work. To that responded in in my best Darth Vader voice, “And I, yours.”

That day also happened to be the birthday of one of my best friends, so we met for lunch and got a picture.

My first Star Wars Day, May the Fourth, 2006

My first Star Wars Day, May the Fourth, 2006
Artz Rib House, South Lamar Blvd, Austin, Texas

This was the first Star Wars Day since the global COVID-19 pandemic caused most of our population to stay sheltered at home.

Although I frequently publish material on the Web for businesses and not-for-profit professional and community organizations, I have not published a new article of my own in years. This additional time has given me an opportunity to change that.

I’m sure I join many others in using this time to reflect upon my life, and occasionally wondering if COVID-19 will be what kills me and/or people I care about.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, a surprising number of my friends and other peers have not been so lucky. Some have embodied the adage (from ancient Chinese philosopher—and founder of TaoismLaozi):

“The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.”

I was once an enthusiastic computer whiz kid from Silicon Valley (maybe not quite a child prodigy or wunderkind), and this year I hope to turn 50 years old. I’m still very good at what I do, but I’m too middle-aged to be called a whiz kid and I’m still too young to be called a wizard.

On that note, I hope you had a happy Star Wars Day, and stay safe and healthy.

Next article in this series: Remember the Y2K Problem?

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