A Dark Shape in the Night

We had quite a thunderstorm last night. Susan and I had been discussing the representation of an r hacek using HTML. She was making an update to her Andrew Litton Discography and needed to add the name Dvorák. She had noticed that while there is an escape sequence to produce the acute a there doesn’t appear to be a way to do an r hacek. (there is also no c hacek so you can’t render “hacek” correctly either – sort of a recursive accent rendering problem!) By a huge coincidence, I had been searching for information on phoneme frequency in human language just the other day and remembered an entry in the Wikipedia that said the sound represented by an r hacek occurred only in Czech and was the rarest phoneme in human language. Several other pages suggested that it was not possible to make the r hacek using HTML and recommended either using a graphic or “Dvo[r hacek]ák”. Yuck!

Now, all this time there had been lots of lightening and thunder going on outside. Suddenly there was a particularly bright flash and we lost power. Both our computers went down. Without the air conditioning and fan noise, it was very quiet. We sat in the dark for a few minutes and listened to the thunder. When the power came back on, we waited for fsck (my box) and chkdsk (her box). Just about the time we were back up and running, we lost power again. This time we decided to give up and go look out the front door at the weather.

We opened the door and, stepping onto the front porch, we became aware of a large, dark, hairy shape moving toward us in the darkness. Startled, we jumped back in the house and Susan shortly produced a flashlight. The hairy black creature turned out to be a big dog that had taken refuge from the weather on our front porch. He looked friendly enough so we went back out and patted him for a while. Each time we stopped patting him, he would use his nose to lift one of our arms onto his head – he apparently liked to be patted.

We patted the dog while the power came on briefly once or twice and then went out again. We decided the dog might be hungry but weren’t sure what to feed him. Our lizards eat crickets but we didn’t think a dog would want to eat bugs. Susan keeps a little bag of tuna-flavored cat treats for a neighborhood cat that stops by occasionally but that didn’t sound right either. We finally gave him a dish of water and a couple of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies which he appeared to quite enjoy. Shortly thereafter, the power came back on so we said goodbye to our dog friend and returned to the house. Rather than chance the computers getting zapped yet again, I read Susan a couple of chapters from our current book, Lloyd Biggle, Jr.’s The Chronocide Mission.

This morning with power restored, I finally found one page indicating that “& #345;” would do the trick for most browsers: Dvořák (though it looks like a badly rendered caron using my Mozilla/Linux combination).