I looked in the TI-74 manual to see if it had anything to say about the SQR() function, and it only mentioned that it was the same as N^.5.

So I tried running the same program on the 71, 75 and 74 using N^.5 and interesting results. Both the 71 and the 75 took longer, but the difference was smaller, each came in at about 1 minute. Still faster than the 74 running SQR().

I expected that the 74 would take about the same amount of time, or less, thinking that the SQR() function just exponentiated and that was why it was slower. Guessing maybe they were trying to save code space or something and didn't have a separate algorithm for finding a square root.

But I was wrong. The 74 took almost six minutes! Three times as long! I thought something had gone wrong, but I kept waiting and it finally reported "Done!" with the right answer.

So now I'm going to test exponentiation versus just multiplying N by N and see which is faster. On the Apple II, it's faster just to have N multiply by itself, than raise it to the power of 2.

The things that entertain me...

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 15:39 Saturday, 2 September 2023

Retro Update

I've been trying to configure an HD image for Virtual II with the appropriate system software and hardware configuration. That's mostly working. Decided to take a break and see how fast (or not) the HP-71b, HP-75 and TI-74 Bascalc were, compared to the Apple II.

The fastest just using the plain old, built-in BASIC is the HP-75, coming in around 16s for 1000 square root operations on the first 1000 integers.

Taking second is the HP-71b at almost twice as long, about 31s.

Dead last, by a mile, is the TI-74 at 1m 43s!

The Apple II with Mahon's USR function is fastest at about 7s, but even Applesoft's SQR() beats the TI, taking about 50s to complete the test.

Now, there may be some optimizations I'm not making; but it's all pretty much a straightforward for-next loop with nothing happening inside the loop except finding the square root.

I'm puzzled because the TI was pretty competitive with the HPs on the other test, which I can't recall just now.

Something to play with.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 11:26 Saturday, 2 September 2023

A New Month

My "edict" for 2023 properly created September. So, "Yay for automation!"

I've been spending time re-organizing my Virtual II and Apple II archive to make it more useful. I don't recall exactly when I got rid of all my Apple II stuff, but when I did I went on a frenzy of downloading a lot of disk images, books, magazines and docs of any kind. I made some effort to configure a few Virtual II set-ups for Applesoft, UCSD Pascal and DOS 3.3 Integer BASIC. Then I went through some hard drive re-organization and basically increased the entropy, which was the opposite of what I'd intended.

So now I'm trying to fix that. And, of course, getting distracted by many things. Which is fine, because what am I doing that's so important?

This morning, on a whim, I played around with Michael Mahon's USR.SQR. I was up at 0445, so it seemed like the kind of thing one does in the quiet hours before dawn. I wrote a program to compute the square roots of the integers from 1 to 1000, first using Applesoft, then USR.SQR. Michael reports about a 10x speed improvement, I got somewhere north of 7x. Virtual II reported its average speed was 100%, accurately replicating the 1MHz 65C02. The good news was the answers all seemed to agree with each other.

I wrote another little program to compute x with Applesoft's SQR(n), and y with USR(n) and subtract the two, for the first 1000 integers, sum that and then take the average; and as I recall, it was something on the order of 10^-13. I did that with Virtual II running full speed, because who wants to wait for useless, trivial information? I should have printed it to a virtual printer. Anyway, close enough for me! I may play with it using a thousand random numbers, acknowledging that Applesoft's psuedo-random number generator is fatally flawed. It'll give me 1000 decimal numbers to use, versus integers, and see how that does. Granted, Applesoft converts all integers to floating point values, they'll likely be "bigger" than the first 1000 integers.

After I finish this, I'll (probably) try the same with the HP-75, the HP-71b and the TI-74. Because why not?

Anyway, no birds this morning. Went out to look for the moon and we're solidly overcast. The good news is the humidity was below 90%, even if it was still nearly 80°F. So I walked at 7, while the street lights were still on. It was fairly pleasant until the latter part of the walk. Wasn't soaked with sweat as is usually the case, but still feeling warm.

Have a nice weekend.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 08:23 Saturday, 2 September 2023

Don’t Fall For It

Like a dumbass, I tried to take advantage of Bud Light's 4th of July $15.00 rebate. I submitted images of the receipt and the barcode on the 18-pack and got confirmation and a tracking number, and promptly forgot about it.

But I'd made a pdf of the confirmation. The other day as I was sorting through my "PDF Intake" folder, I saw the rebate confirmation and remembered! I went to the web site and checked the status. As I recall, it said something to the effect that it was approved and I should expect my check in a couple of weeks.

So I've been kind of watching for something that didn't look like the usual junk mail, and so far, nothing.

Today I went to check on that status and it says "Fulfilled." I guess that means the check has cleared? And it was "Fulfilled" as of 12 July! Which, to the best of my recollection, was before I'd checked the status the first time, a few weeks ago.

In any event, I've received no check.

Being a glutton for punishment, I tried the "Contact Us" link. No one available to "chat," so I tried to fill out the email form. The mandatory fields include "promotion number." Well, I can't find a promotion number on any of the correspondence I received from Anheuser-Busch! And a google search yields nothing. Well, of course.

But they are running another promotion for Labor Day!

So, be warned. They'll renege on the "rebate." No avenue of appeal. And $15 isn't worth the time I've wasted on this already.

Bought the beer because I didn't like the bullshit boycott. Well, sympathy is wasted on corporations.

I recall Mitt Romney saying, "Corporations are people too, my friend!" Yeah... Assholes.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 09:56 Thursday, 31 August 2023
Medium telephoto image of an osprey perched in a pine tree, taken from below

Started walking at 0700, so it was still pretty dim. Brought along the E-M1 Mk3 with 12-100/f4 mounted. Tried to do something "artsy" with the setting moon over my suburban cookie-cutter landscape and failed. The tree is really the subject here, the osprey is just a bit of eye candy.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 08:43 Thursday, 31 August 2023


It was something of "lazy" day yesterday, if that word has much meaning for a retired guy. We'd tune into the news every now and then. I watched the pressure on the barometer and noted when it started to rise again.

And I spent a lot of time playing, and enjoying, Untitled Word Game Pro at the Internet Archive. I played it in the browser, and you can too, rather than in Virtual II. (Turn off the sound in the emulator if you leave the browser. It'll make some noise when it's not getting attention.)

Over the weekend, I'd started dusting off my copy of Virtual II. I discovered that many of the "saved states" I'd made were broken because I'd rearranged the file structure. I'd had a //e configured for UCSD Pascal v1.3 with a 1MB RamWorks card. Makes for a lot less disk swapping and fast compiling. A configuration I called "ABIDE" for "Apple-Beagle Integrated Development Environment" with a bunch of Beagle Bros utilities. Program Writer and Beagle Compiler being the two main ones, with Michael Mahon's USR square root routine.Putting all that stuff back in order now, and doing some general housekeeping.

It was a bit of self-care after the chilling act of hate that played out not so far from here on Saturday. I really don't know what to say except all the claims by local officials that, "This is not who we are," ring pretty hollow. Hate has made a home in Florida, and Republicans have made it a permissive environment for it to thrive here.

Hate has always been in Florida. It never left. But for much of that time, it hid in the shadows. Afraid of the condemnation and criticism of the larger society. Today it feels emboldened and empowered by a state government and a gerrymandered voting majority that has made it clear that some people are unwanted and unwelcome in their Florida. The bigots and bullies feel valued and validated; and though they still hide their faces behind masks, they're unafraid to spew their messages of hate and even to kill and to terrorize.

It's a pretty awful state of affairs, and Florida should be ashamed.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 05:36 Thursday, 31 August 2023

Blue Moon

Telephoto closeup of the full moon on 31 August 2023

Idalia passed well to the north of us. All we experienced in my area were some clouds and gusty winds. I'd expected (and hoped for) a couple of inches of rain, but we got less than half an inch through the whole thing. We're pleased and grateful, and we know a lot of people weren't as fortunate.

I know these full moon shots aren't terribly interesting as photographs. Not close enough to reveal impressive levels of detail, and there's nothing terribly interesting in my bourgeois suburban Florida neighborhood, where the horizon is seldom farther than the house across the street, to put in the foreground. But I do retain some feeling of wonder that I can get a shot like this by holding a device in my hands. This is a handheld high-res shot from my E-M1X with the 100-400mm zoom mounted. Lately, my go-to camera for moon shots.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 05:01 Thursday, 31 August 2023

This and That

Sunday was Tinderbox meetup day. Mark Bernstein gave a master class in using action code stream parsing to identify specific highlights by color within the body of a note, and creating new notes with the highlighted text. In doing so, he also demonstrated how to create a series of test notes, breaking down each step in the process in order to identify where a problem might occur. It was pretty amazing. Here's a post in the forum that links to the video, the chat and the file itself if you're a Tinderbox user or interested in what it can do. I mainly use Tinderbox for output, but lots of people ingest text into Tinderbox for analysis.

In the "pre-show," some of us were chatting about "old software." I mentioned that Tinderbox was perhaps the longest serving application I've ever owned, maybe exceeded only by TypeIt4Me, but I'm not certain about that. Mark checked his records while we were talking and reported that I'd purchased my copy in June 2002, not long after it was released, at the still-introductory price. Consider that Mac OS X Jaguar, 10.2, was only released on August 23rd, 2002. So Tinderbox was a MacOS 9 application back then.

I would have been running it on an iMac G3 "DV" (or "slot-loading"), the second iteration of the "gumdrop" iMacs. I recall I bought that iMac on credit from Sears, of all places. This is before the Apple Stores, when Macs were available in large retail department stores. I'd been a part-time "product rep" at the Navy Exchange at the Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base when I was stationed there with the Board of Inspection and Survey. I was a geographic bachelor and it gave me something to do on weekends and a little extra spending money.

I wasn't sure yesterday if I was employed in June 2002, but looking over some old documents, I think I'd just been hired. That might explain why I wasn't deterred by the purchase price of $95 back then. I'd officially retired from the navy on 1 September 2001, and the economy kind of went on pause following 9/11. I wasn't hired until 2002, and I think it was about mid-year. It wasn't long after that when I bought my "dream" Mac, a PowerMac G4 MDD. I wasn't so rich that I could afford the top of the line, but it was still pretty sweet. And noisy. I just sent that Mac to recycling a few months ago. I'd always thought I'd set it up somewhere, but it's huge and our house is small. Hence my interest in "calculators," though enough of them can become problematic as well.

We were also discussing software documentation, and I mentioned to one of the participants that they should check out 4am's write-up of his efforts to defeat the copy protection scheme in a 40 year old piece of Apple II software. Click on the text file link in this Internet Archive entry for Spare Change by Broderbund. It's both entertaining and fascinating.

As regards my effort to get the HP-75D talking to the HP-IL video interface, that went smoothly. Just have to tell the computer to use it. "Display is..." or something, can't remember just now. Kind of like the old "PR#3" on an Apple II, when you wanted to activate the firmware on an 80-column display card in slot 3. The interface has 996 bytes of RAM built-in, and as long as it's plugged in, whatever was in there, stays there. So I was still looking at the HP-71b text when I connected the 75D! So there's a 32-line buffer of 32-characters each, 16 lines displayed on the TV at the time and you can scroll up and down in the buffer. Haven't seen if there's a way to copy any of that text back into memory or not. I suspect not.

Today I'll probably mess around with saving and loading files on the 64K of "mass storage."

Ok, you're all up to date. Carry on with whatever it was you were doing.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 05:26 Monday, 28 August 2023

Telephoto closeup of a waxing gibbous moon

Little luck with birds the last few days. Stuck my head outside to look for the moon last night though. Wasn't disappointed.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 05:21 Monday, 28 August 2023


Stuck my head outside shortly after I got up and we're back to being a sauna. Blech!

Yesterday turned out to be a fairly decent day. The humidity wasn't oppressive, and there was just enough breeze to keep you from roasting. So we hopped on the golf cart and tooled over to "food truck night" for dinner. Had some BBQ and a beer, made a circuit of the trucks and headed back to the golf cart.

I feel like we're still early in the presidential race, but that hasn't stopped some resident from adorning their golf cart with a Trump 2024 flag, paired with an American flag, as is the custom. We'll see how that develops. There are always golf carts with large American flags mounted on the back of the cart. I really don't get it. But then, I have Buckaroo Banzai, Big Lebowski and Serenity stickers on our cart. Pretty sure nobody gets that either.

COVID is ramping up again, and of course now we have to travel. A wedding over Labor Day and then Mom's 90th birthday later in the month. I know I'll be wearing a mask. It's not just the fact that I'm traveling, but we're going to be around others who are traveling as well. If it were up to me, I'd just stay home. As it is, I feel like September is going to be a month of anxiety. If I manage to stay well, I'll be very grateful.

Such is life in these modern times.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 05:45 Saturday, 26 August 2023

Retro Rockets

Kind of a pun on the way "retro" technology can kind of "slow" your progress in other areas. Still, I'm having fun.

Started a local entropy reduction effort in the Command Cave yesterday. Maybe only 30% complete, but I made a "clean spot," so I decided to try out the HP-82163A, HP-IL video interface. A few days ago, I found the little composite video input dongle for my 32" TCL "smart" TV mounted on the wall next to my desk. Put it aside where I'd have some hope of remembering it when I got around to testing the video interface.

The biggest challenge was finding an outlet to plug the interface into. This required crawling beneath my desk, which at my age and weight is not a fun thing to do. Happy to know I could still get up afterward! Power connected, I plugged in the composite video cable, and the two HP-IL cables. I only have two, and they're the 5-meter cables, which are insanely long. So if I want to connect the printer or the tape drive as well as the video interface, I'll need to buy some more. They're very pricey on eBay, but I'll keep an eye out.

With nearly everything connected, I then learned I had to configure the TV to recognize the composite video interface, because the TV is, you know, "smart."

I grabbed the HP-71b first, because it was small and near to hand and has a more sophisticated HP-IL interface than the HP-75. Plugged in the HP-IL cables (again, happy that my 71 came with the HP-IL module, that's pretty pricey too), turned it on and Boom!

Text on the TV!

I think it's like 20 lines of 32 characters, so it's smaller than even the Apple II's 40-column, 24-row text screen. But it's a huge improvement over the single line of LCD characters built into the device.

So then I grabbed the HP-75 and plugged it in and... nothing.

I think I have to tell it to look for the interface. I started reading the docs, but then got distracted. Surprise.

The original HP-75 I bought with the tape drive and thermal printer doesn't seem to want to run on batteries. I bought a replacement battery pack that uses ordinary AAAs in lieu of the NiCads it originally shipped with, and checked the voltage on the terminals and it seems fine. Computer runs fine on AC power, but won't on battery. I'm guessing there may be a capacitor shot in there somewhere.

Well, as it happens, I had bought another HP-75, this one a "D" model, badged "AT&T Information Systems," with the barcode wand interface (but no wand), and the "Pod." It's an enclosure for the computer that includes a 300baud modem (Novation chipset, of Apple-Cat II fame.), and 64KB of battery-backed RAM storage! That was only $149!

That computer runs fine on the battery pack in the Pod. I put the original 75 in the Pod, thinking maybe it'd work on battery from the Pod. It doesn't, so I put the AT&T one back in it, but not before making sure the AT&T 75 runs on batteries outside the Pod. (I had to use the battery cover from the other HP-75, since the battery pack is actually removed when it's mounted in the Pod, and a part of the Pod itself occupies that space.)

Anyway, I started looking for the docs on the interface and the computer. I have one of those HHC thumb-drive archives, found here, that contains nearly everything ever written about these devices and... Oh, shiny!

Yeah, didn't get very far. But, I did verify that at least the 64K RAM mass storage is still accessible. So that's very convenient. Don't have to worry about whether or not the tape drive works, or I have cables. Don't have to mess around with those magnetic "cards," (really, about 1-foot long strips). And I stumbled on an easter egg on YouTube where if you type "kubla khan" at the ">" prompt, the computer will "recite" it in the LCD.

I'm somewhat chagrined to mention that I also caved on a ROM module purchase I thought I'd talked myself out of yesterday. HP made their own modified version of VisiCalc for the 75. I couldn't imagine how you could use a spreadsheet in that one-line display. There was one up on eBay for $175, which is more than what I paid for the 75 in the Pod. So I went to bed thinking it was something I'd never use, let alone "need."

Then this morning I read an article by the lead HP programmer who built the program and decided that it was cool enough that I should own it. It was a "make offer" listing, so I offered $149 and I got it. "Fool and his money," yada, yada, yada. I should put that in a spreadsheet.

What's interesting is that the 75's OS allows you to have various "files" resident in RAM, and they made spreadsheets the same sort of thing. You can have more than one worksheet resident in RAM and make references from one sheet to another. And you can call BASIC programs from cell formulas, which also seemed pretty cool. So there are some extensions to BASIC that are specific to VisiCalc in the ROM.

I'll put that module in the AT&T 75 in the Pod to take advantage of the built-in mass storage. (64K!)

Anyway, that's me. Spending my kids' inheritance and not getting my housekeeping done...

The beat goes on.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 13:08 Friday, 25 August 2023
Snowy egret wading at the edge of a pond in dim early morning light.

Went out to get the paper this morning, and it actually felt nice. Almost cool. That's because the temperature was ~73°F! Humidity was still high, but you can deal with that. So I walked a little early, before the sun was over the trees. As a result, it was a little dim for photography. I wouldn't usually shoot in this light, but I figured it might be the only bird I'd get this morning, so I tried. Turned out ok, I think. Snowy egret.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 08:03 Friday, 25 August 2023

Boil Water

I've mentioned before that I try to take a moment each morning, as I'm filling my water bottle, to appreciate the privilege it represents. To be grateful for it.

Well, we had a water main rupture earlier this week, and unlike receiving power wirelessly from a remote, off-site fusion reactor, which insulates us to a great extent from utility outages, we are pretty much dependent on JEA for our water.

So I've been boiling water at night to fill my water bottles so they're cold in the morning. It's the first time I've made use of the "Hi/Boost" setting on the induction range. It does boil water fast. Of course, it does nothing to help cool it after it's been boiled. But I've started early enough in the evening now that I just watch a TV show while it's cooling.

While I really value safe drinking water, what really troubles me is what happens if the water utility fails and we can't flush out toilets?

It's not like we can all go dig a latrine or build an outhouse.

So, another privilege to appreciate while we enjoy it.

Because it may not always be so.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 09:32 Thursday, 24 August 2023

Spell Checker

As I'm eating breakfast this morning, Mitzi and I are discussing the Republican debate. All of a sudden, it occurs to me that I misspelled Nikki Haley's name in my post.

Seems kind of odd, but also interesting. Some part of my brain is either still editing that post, or trying to make itself heard when it couldn't as I was writing it.

Anyway, corrected the error.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 09:27 Thursday, 24 August 2023

The “Debate”

The marmot did not watch the Republican Presidential Pageant last night, as the judges interviewed the contestants to gauge their intelligence and personality. I have seen some of the coverage this morning. Suffice to say, none of those individuals possesses the qualities of leadership, intelligence, integrity or character to be president of the local neighborhood watch. Yet the Orange One, or one of these clowns, will be a candidate for the highest office in the land next year.

The marmot thinks America is on the verge of becoming a failed state..

The biggest knock on Joe Biden is his age. But the marmot thinks he's been a decent president. I certainly wouldn't want any of these jokers seeking the job to replace him. If absolutely forced to choose one, it'd be Nikki Haley. The marmot doesn't think she's totally lost her mind.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 08:25 Thursday, 24 August 2023
Telephoto image of an airborne mosquito control helicopter

This morning's (non)bird: St Johns County Mosquito Control District airborne asset. Heard a helicopter lingering nearby but out of sight. Figured it was the sheriff's, but then it flew into my line of sight. Glad to see them. Little buggers have been thick and aggressive lately.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 08:22 Thursday, 24 August 2023

For Jack Baty

Photo of a dead fish lying on the sidewalk, probably dropped by an osprey

Hey Jack! Spotted this on my (birdless) walk yesterday. It made me chuckle. Figured some osprey had dropped its breakfast. Funny enough for me to grab a shot with the phone.

Hey, it's not a bird!

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 07:03 Thursday, 24 August 2023
Closeup telephoto image of a newly-opened bird of paradise flower

Shut out on birds yesterday and today. This morning the second of Mitzi's three bird of paradise plants flowered. She's had these plants for two years, and this is the first time they've blossomed. The third plant had a stalk(?) that would have become a flower, but it seems to have died. Two out of three ain't bad, I guess.

Shot this with the E-M1 Mk3 with the 75mm/f1.8 in 25MP handheld high-res mode, which is why the framing is a bit off. Should have backed off a bit to allow for camera motion and the frame blending.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 09:36 Wednesday, 23 August 2023

So True

Looking at southern California, Maui, Canada and I'm reminded of William Gibson, 20 years ago: "The future is already here — it's just not evenly distributed."

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 06:33 Wednesday, 23 August 2023


In a funk all day yesterday. Didn't sleep well Saturday night. Surprised at how the death of a fictional character seemed to affect me.

Played with the HP-48SX, working my way through the manual. Didn't require much real thought, other than puzzling out the locations of the various shifted keys. My SX has one column of dead pixels. I've seen worse. Some dumb part of my brain wants to look for a "perfect" one. So far I've managed to squelch that. I can run a "perfect" emulator if I really need to, which I don't.

Wanted something light last night. It seems harder and harder to find anything worth watching as a "new release." John Wick 4? Please. I own 1-3. (Well, kind of "own" them. I guess I have them on sort of "permanent loan" until I die or something, because I'm not passing them along to my heirs, so I guess they're not really "mine" are they?) Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I thought they went one too far with 3. Love Keanu, but really.

So I turned to my library of "permanently loaned" movies. Watched The World's End, figured that'd cheer me up. And it did. I'd actually forgotten how it ended, or at least a key element of it. I guess there are some welcome aspects to having less facility with memory as one ages.

Caitie texted me yesterday about the earthquake, she didn't feel it but apparently a lot of her friends in LA did.

Stepped outside this morning and my sunglasses fogged up. The house is at 77°F, so the dew point was above that, and there was no dew on the grass, so the ground never cooled below 78-79°. Felt like a sauna. Yellow flies were numerous and aggressive. Notched another five "kills" on the walk, at the cost of at least two bites. They don't itch very long, but intensely for the brief time that they do. One was so aggressive I assumed I must have killed its sibling and it was seeking revenge.

Was lucky on some bluebird pics, as previously posted. Flickr Uploader seems stuck at the moment. Le sigh.

Got back soggy from the walk. Turned on the ceiling fan in my office to dry me out as I processed the pics. Now I need to shower, as I no longer feel funky, I am funky.

Have a wonderful Monday.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 08:57 Monday, 21 August 2023
Telephoto closeup of a bluebird perched on a blue aluminum fence, back to the camera head left, sunlight reflected in left eye

This morning's bird. I took some shots from farther away, unsure if it'd let me get closer. This is straight from the camera.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 08:48 Monday, 21 August 2023


While Donna Deegan's new mayoral administration holds the potential for rousing Jacksonville city government from its malignant torpor, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is in the hands of a Duval County Republican, the party responsible for decades of mediocrity.

It remains to be seen what Sheriff T.K. Waters' legacy will be, but early indications are uninspiring.

Originally posted at Notes From the Underground 08:17 Monday, 21 August 2023

We are going to have to reinvent the notion of insurance. The current model is unsustainable.

Originally posted at Notes From the Underground 08:13 Monday, 21 August 2023

G’night Moon

Photo of a crescent moon in the latter evening twilight hanging above a suburban house illuminated by landscape lighting.

Spotted the crescent moon last night and had to take this. Used the E-P7 with the 25mm/f1.8. Already posted it on mastodon, but I'd posted an earlier crescent moon this month, so I figured I'd post this one as well.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 07:59 Sunday, 20 August 2023

Mistakes Were Made

Wasn't my night, last night I guess.

We'd finished watching season 4 of Unforgotten, not season 3.

So, spoilers I guess. You know the drill.

I wonder if Chris Lang had the arc of the whole thing worked out before it began, or if it came to him as the series progressed, or if the dénouement was something of a practical requirement because of Nikola Walker?

One of the great things about the show is watching the suspects react as more and more of their past is revealed. How they fray as each piece of the puzzle is slowly fitted into place.

Binging the show as we did, it seemed to me that by season 3, Lang wanted to show another side. There's a scene in season 3 where the victim's ex-boyfriend, who had been a suspect decades ago, delivers a lengthy, bitter, stinging rebuke to one of the detectives. It's pretty much the only reason he was written into the season, I suspect. In the first two seasons, the police are all depicted as competent, professional, empathetic "good guys," albeit with complicated personal lives, at least in the case of DCI Stuart and DI Sunny Khan who are the only police regulars with three-dimensional characters. I suspect Lang perhaps received criticism for that depiction of the police.

A love interest is introduced for both Khan and Stuart. In Cassie's case, he's an ex-career "copper" off the force for budget cuts, who was a junior detective on the original case, now "an historical murder." It seems his role was also to, at least at first, depict the police in a less-flattering light.

Season 3 also focuses on how DCI Stuart begins to fray, as a decades-long career as an empathetic police officer, interacting with people at the worst moments of their lives, finally exhausts her emotional resources.

Season 4 turns the spotlight fully on the police, as all the suspects are, or were, police officers. DCI Stuart has applied for early retirement for mental health reasons. Things aren't great at home, despite now being in a loving relationship with former DCI John Bentley. Her father has been diagnosed with dementia, and is in a relationship with a woman Stuart suspects may be taking advantage of him. A change of will is a plot point. One of her sons is living at home and seemingly slow to find work.

Her request for early retirement is denied, and DCI Stuart is forced to return to work for about three months to complete 30 years service to be eligible for full retirement, or forego over 100,000 pounds in retirement income. Suffice to say, she reluctantly goes back to work and cracks the case.

Not before being doubted, criticized, rejected.

And then her car is hit by a stolen Range Rover in a moment of distracted driving brought on by fatigue and emotional distress, ultimately leading to her death.

The best thing about Unforgotten was Nikola Walker's portrayal of DCI Cassie Stuart. I was fully invested in her character, and her death felt needlessly cruel and unfair. Mitzi said they lifted it right out of a Law & Order season, but I don't know.

So much of the series plays out on the faces of Walker and Sanjeev Baskhar as DI Sunil "Sunny" Khan, as they interview witnesses or interact with victims. What you see there, in Law & Order would be verbalized and far less effectively. I think that's what was remarkable and different as a police procedural. It's high-stakes played low key. The tension, the reactions, conveyed in subtle facial expressions, brief acknowledging utterances. No histrionics. No bravado. To be clear, there are hard, direct questions. But no bullshit table-slamming, or chair throwing.

I loved DCI Cassie Stuart. I loved the series. I loved Chris Lang's writing. In season 3, one of the suspects talks about how life can be turned upside down in a moment, in an arbitrary, unfair event that changes everything. And in another moment, it can bring joy and happiness, seemingly equally out of nowhere. I don't know if Lang was telegraphing Cassie's death, but it seems significant now.

Before she died, Lang lets us know she may be in a new place, a better one. That at least some of the anger was gone.

To borrow from Willie, "Out of kindness, I suppose."

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 05:47 Sunday, 20 August 2023