Good Morning Ted and Jody:
This morning I filled out a reference questionnaire for Juli for a public-school nursing position. This is the second public school reference form I have filled out in this calendar year, one was a former student from the late 20th Century, Chris Werner. I think the forced answer multiple choice style of reference leaves a bit to be desired. Nonetheless, I can see that school systems might find themselves overwhelmed with applicants and need some way to winnow them out—turn ordinal responses into a digital number add them up (violating all the rules of mathematics) and take the top scoring applicants. Juli was applying for a school nurse position. Chris was applying for a position as a substitute teacher. Juli applied in Washington State. Chris applied in Georgia. Both questionnaires asked the same questions about the classroom, teaching and the like. As far as I can remember Chris’s reference form the two were, for all intents and purposes, identical. Back in the day, when I had to write these things on a regular basis, I endeavored to put the applicant’s unique qualities up front. Everyone is good at something. Who knew if that thing might be what the potential employer or graduate program were seeking. I must say these closed-ended survey type instruments make that strategy rather difficult to employ when relegated to a box at the bottom of a form. I remember once, Glenn Abernathy at USC talking about an applicant who played the trombone. His comment, “We need new life in our trombone section. God knows we have enough political scientists.” We interviewed the trombone player at USC.
Several weeks ago when I saw the cardiologist, she told me to weigh myself every day at the same time. If I gained a couple of pounds I should go see my doctor. Well, I have been weighing myself the same time every day. The first few times it was guesswork as I could not see the numbers on the scale from way up where my eyes were, but it looked close. So, I bought a scale with numbers I could see without my glasses. I think I already reported that I lost five pounds by buying that new scale (Nancy persuaded me that buying a new scale every few days would not work the same magic, but indeed, I might gain if I did). While I have not gone vegan, I have cut back on things that are white (flour, rice, potatoes) and even more salt than Nancy. The tentative results are slow, but steady decline in weight every week or so (I’m guessing I could lose a whole pound by the time you visit in June).
As the Republicans run in lock step with the pestilence to fix the unbroken I am reminded of the words of Christ, “Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do.”
I trust this finds you happy, healthy, and well on the way to winning the lottery.
Warmest regards, Ed
014 Amanda White Comes Calling
Fiction in 1085 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
Thomas Aldrich Edison looked at the face of the pretty red haired woman on his computer’s screen. “I don’t know you, “he said. “Who are you and what do you want? “
“My name is Amanda White,” the woman in his computer screen replied. “I am with the ATI.” She held up an image of the man who had been supplying him with volunteers for his work on the Lazarus device. “This man was seen entering your place and we are trying to find him. It would be helpful if you would answer some questions. “
Thomas Aldrich Edison asked, “Refresh my memory. What is the ATI?”
“The Agency for Timeline Integrity, ” replied Amanda White.
Thomas Aldrich Edison perked up and said, “Time travel, by all means, do come in.”
His door opened and Amanda White strode in extended her hand and said, “Thank you for giving me the time. We just noticed that Wilbur Seams has been to visit you and we are trying to determine the nature of his business.”
“Wilbur Seams, so that is his name,” said Thomas Aldrich Edison. “He never said.”
“You did business with him without knowing his name?” asked Amanda White.
“Yes, do you know the names of everyone with whom you do business?” Asked Thomas Aldrich Edison.
Amanda White paused before answering, “I guess not. I hadn’t thought about it but I assumed since he had come here several times you would have known. I do apologize for the assumption.”
“He came here six times,” Thomas Aldrich Edison said. “After the first time, he brought volunteers for my Lazarus device trials. He left the last time owing me money.”
“Could you slow down a bit. Start with what is a Lazarus device,” said Amanda White.
Thomas Aldrich Edison said, “Come this way, I will show you.”
He took her to where the set-up tripod with the affixed the 2×2 inch beam of frozen human essence to it was and said, “That is it so far. I put a volunteer in a chair,” pointing to the chair, “then I trigger this to implant human essence in the volunteer and then the volunteer is supposed to come back to life.”
“Does it work?” asked Amanda White.
“It is hard to tell as all six volunteers have disappeared,” replied Thomas Aldrich Edison. “I put notes on the last two asking anyone who finds them to let me know, with a reward offered, a substantial one.
“Six, I thought you said Mr. Seams brought you five?” asked Amanda White.
“Yes, five.,” replied Thomas Aldrich Edison, but a volunteer waked in here just an hour or so ago and wished to participate.”
Amanda White looked puzzled. “If he walked in he didn’t need the device, as he was still alive.”
Thomas Aldrich Edison nodded vigorously and said, “That’s what I told him. But he insisted. I had him sign a waiver and then set the device so that he could trigger it himself. I didn’t actually see him go as you arrived about the same time that he triggered the device. But,” pointing to the chair again, he said, “he’s not there.”
Amanda White looked at the apparatus that Thomas Aldrich Edison called the Lazarus device. She moved her hand back and forth about an inch or so over it and said, “This thing is cold.”
“That’s because it is frozen human essence,” replied Thomas Aldrich Edison.
“Why is there no condensation or dripping? How does it stay frozen?” asked Amanda White.
“That was the tricky part,” replied Thomas Aldrich Edison. “It took me close to a year to develop a super insulator that is recursive. It is much like a vacuum bottle that never loses or gains temperature form its surroundings. It makes storing frozen things much easier. One can simply put them on a shelf or in a closet. No external refrigeration needed.”
“That’s remarkable,” Amanda White said.
Again, Thomas Aldrich Edison nodded his head vigorously, “Yes, I know, but then I am quite brilliant.”
Amanda White nodded in agreement and said, “Rather. So, what is the stuff you froze?”
“As I said,” replied Thomas Aldrich Edison, “frozen human essence?”
“Refresh my memory, what exactly is human essence?” asked Amanda White.
Thomas Aldrich Edison looked around the room as if he was expecting to see someone listening, then he leaned in close and said, “Promise not to tell, for I haven’t patented it yet?”
Amanda nodded and said, “I promise not to tell.”
“Stem cells. Stem cells are the essence of all of us. The can become any part of us. So, I figured, why not life itself.” replied Thomas Aldrich Edison, “I used a special technique to capture their essential nature and freeze it with the recursive insulation woven with it.”
“Am I right in assuming you impact a, err, recently dead person with this with the intent that the dead person will come back to life?” asked Amanda.
“Yes, that is why I needed fairly recently deceased people,” replied Thomas Aldrich Edison. “I paid the man you called Wilbur Seams to bring me 10 volunteers. He stopped after five. He said something about their containers springing leaks and such. He went to get my money from his conveyance, but never came back with it.”
“Do you have any of the containers the bodies came in?” asked Amanda White.
“No, he brought them in wheel chairs and took the wheel chairs back with him,” replied Thomas Aldrich Edison. “Look around, where would I put cryogenic tanks?”
Amanda White’s eyebrows raised. “How do you know they were in cryogenic tanks?”
“Well, he told me. And he showed me the forms they signed allowing them to be used for science if they didn’t make it. I had the computer copy the forms for each one. Computer put the consent form for the first volunteer on the screen.” As the computer screen displayed the form, Thomas Aldrich Edison pointed and said, “See, she singed the form with the company Life Forever back when she enrolled in 2475.”
Ananda White asked, “May I make a copy of this form, please?”
Thomas Aldrich Edison said, “Yes, you may. I will . . .” He was interrupted by the computer announcing yet another visitor. It was not Wilbur Seams, but there was a strong family resemblance.” Thomas Aldrich Edison turned to Amanda and said, I can send him away,
Amanda White said, “I think it might be more interesting if you let him in.”