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A ping test is used to test the presence of an active connection.  A server pings a computer to see if it’s attached to the network. (“I’m here, are you there?” )  A cell phone tower pings a cell phone so the network knows where to route a call. (“I’m here, where are you?”)  It’s the digital equivalent of that classic line from comedienne Lilly Tomlin’s “Ernestine the Telephone Operator”character:  “Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?”

Now and again, the World pings me, just to see if I’m paying attention.  It works like this:

There’s this author I like and this other author I like.  I not only have read everything of theirs I can get my hands on, I follow the LiveJournals of both these authors, and therefore have the potential for limited interaction with them (which is mind blowing in a way, but that’s another blog post.) This other author I like started this shared website thing called “Shadow Unit”  for what has been called variously “a serial drama in internet form” and “a fansite for a TV show that doesn’t exist.”  Both these authors have written episodes for this website.  After becoming somewhat familiar with the TV show and very familiar with the website, my take on it is that “Shadow Unit” is what “Criminal Minds” would be like if it was written by award winning SciFi authors who didn’t have to answer to the network or the sponsors.  In other words, it would be really good. (Not surprisingly, it is.  Really good.)  Both the TV show and the website began in 2005.  I’m finding out they both have a lot else in common besides a cast of characters who are agents of the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI.

Allow me to digress:  I have to say I don’t watch a lot of network TV.  I watch “Once Upon a Time” on ABC because Robert Carlyle is in it and I like him, and because it’s an interesting twist on a cross between fantasy and soap opera.  I watch three series on the SyFy Channel, “Merlin” because I like the actors and the writing, and Bradley James is such a hunk, and Warehouse 13 and Haven, because they’re well written, have good characters, and excellent dialog. (I’ve pretty much followed those three from the beginning).  I discovered “NCIS” a couple of years ago, and had to catch up to the current season (9th) through reruns.  It’s on CBS.  I caught some episodes and liked what I saw, I like Mark Harmon and his character and I like David McCallum.  And then there’s “Bones” on Fox Network.  I got in late on that one too (7th season) and had to get up to speed by catching reruns.  (Yes, I am obsessive/compulsive.  I print out the episode list for past and present seasons and check the episodes off as I view them to make sure I don’t miss any.)(Which reminds me, . . . .)

I record “my shows” on DVR so I can watch them when I want to (TV revolves around my life, not vice versa) (did I mention how great it is to be able to fast forward through the commercials?).  I feel constrained to mention that “Warehouse 13” and “Haven” have not started their 2012 season yet, “Once Upon a Time’s” cliff-hanger is this Sunday, and NCIS has probably got its cliff-hanger coming up if it hasn’t aired already.  That’s only 3 series I’m actually actively watching at the moment.  (Whatever else I watch is targets of opportunity, what I run across while channel surfing, but it’s usually “nonfiction” TV– nature shows, shows about historical events and people,  shows to do with archeology and anthropology,  shows on medical topics, DIY shows, etc.  IMO, about 95% of what is on TV, network and cable both, is junk. )

So, what I’m leading up to is if “Criminal Minds” is such a great show and is liked by two of my favorite authors, maybe I should check it out.  With that idea in mind,  week before last, I searched out all the times it’s being broadcast and rerun, and set them to record so I can get up to speed with the current (8th) season.  I’ve been watching a couple of episodes at a time, and I’d already seen all the episodes in the story arc which culminates in the character of “Emily Prentiss” leaving the show (the teasers showed funeral scenes!) except the final episode in that arc which comes near the end of season 6; however, the past seasons’ episodes are being rerun pretty randomly and I didn’t get to see that last episode in the arc (“Lauren”) until last night.

As a part of the show’s structure, “Criminal Minds” begins with a voice over by one of the shows recurring characters giving a quotation that is relevant to that episode.  The quotes come from all over, Friedrich Nietzsche, Euripides, Rose Kennedy, Yoda, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Winston Churchill, Sir Peter Ustinov, Bob Dylan, Terry Pratchett, Abraham Lincoln. . . .  So here I am about to watch an episode I’d been waiting several days to see, and this is the opening quote:

“The secret to getting away with lying is believing with all your heart; that goes for lying to yourself even more so than lying to another.”  Elizabeth Bear.

Ping!