The “S” Word is on the Way & 028 Agent White’s Interview with Col. George Blackwell

Good Morning Ted and Jody:

The weather folks are using the “S” word to describe next week. You know, that time in the Great Pacific Northwest when the sun is out, the temperatures are in the 80s to god knows how hot and it is dry. They are positively doling at the prospects. Those kinds of climatic conditions drive people out to search for water in which to immerse themselves (I suspect it is because we have not quite shed our amphibian ancestry). Ironically, it is these same conditions that melt the snow pack that keep the flowing bodies of water at temperatures guaranteed to induce hyperthermia in minutes. The weather folks note this as well but still drool over the prospects of 80+ degrees.

What this all means, is that the flowers on trees are all by over. However, there is one holdout, the flowers in the water which should continue well into next week. I took time out from my busy day on the exercise bike (while the stationary bike is not helping me get rid of that pound that I am only four or five pounds away from shedding, it has seemed to lower my overall blood sugar by several points) to shoot the flowers and present them here. (I have not figured out how to get proper clouds in the shots that are directed downward, but I am working on it).20170518_1329 9 shot Panorama ns1 email.jpg20170516_084048 email.jpg

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The pestilence leaves for the Middle East today. Let us pray they like him and want to keep him.

I trust this finds you in good health, spirits, and happily not in hyperthermia inducing water.

Warmest regards, Ed

028 Agent White’s Interview with Col. George Blackwell
Fiction in 932 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017

“Col. Blackwell, thank you for agreeing to talk with me again,” said Agent White.

“It is my pleasure to assist the ATI in any way I can,” replied Col. Blackwell. “What precisely do you want to know.

“Normally I would be advised to mask what I am looking for,” said Agent White. “however, you are too smart for me to play games. I am looking for any way you could still travel in time.”

Col. Blackwell chuckled, “I gave that up for my health. I had the implant removed and had another ATI agent bring me here. Here I am not likely to encounter contemporary time travel in my lifetime. Sort of removed from all temptation, so to speak.”

“How is this for your health?” asked Agent White.

“I am what you might call a danger junkie,” replied Col. Blackwell. “I tend to go in where the ammunition is in the air, or bombs are going off. A person could get killed that way. At least that is what my lovely wife tells me. She used to get physically ill when I went on missions. 43% of my operational command over the years did not return alive. She explained that she loved me too much to want to have to get a folded flag. So, she was going to leave me. As much as I love danger, I love her more. She agreed to, shall we say, rough it and live in an earlier time where there was no civil or international warfare. Now, to be precise if I gave up my commission and implant. So, here I am and here I will stay.

“Is that your wife,” asked Agent White pointing to a woman seated on a bench some distance off.

“Yes, your presence makes her nervous,” replied Col, Blackwell. “We have been here five years now and I suspect she thinks I yearn for the old life. I suppose I could, but I don’t, I write instead. I write fantastic science fiction stories about military operations across time. I used the old high energy approach to time travel in my novels—fictional adaptations of actual events to come. I often wonder if I am influencing any people in the future to be more circumspect.

“So, you gave it up for her health and your continued marriage to her. Could you ask your wife to join us?” asked Agent White.

“Yes, certainly,” replied Col. Blackwell. He stood up and waved to his wife. Cupping his hands over his mouth he called out “Julia, come and join us please.”

When Julia rose to join them, Agent White could see the woman was pregnant. Agent White rose and walked toward Mrs. Blackwell and greeted her and said, “Mrs. Blackwell, I am Amanda White. I am here to clear your husband as a suspect in a series of time crimes.”

Julia Blackwell laughed, a laugh bordering on hysteria. “Thank God, I thought you were here to recruit him. And I thought we were doing so well, him not coming back from missions missing body parts. He seemed to enjoy the writing and his agent brings money. But still, it isn’t the same as being shot at is it?”

Agent White changed the topic, “When are you due.”

Julia Blackwell patted her stomach and said, “21 days.” Smiling broadly, she asked, “What crimes?”

Agent White shook her head and then replied, “We noticed when five bodies materialized in the 21st Century that were not contemporary to that period. We initially thought it was a dumping ground for a murder for hire or a scam on cryogenics. We subsequently found wine theft from a long time ago, baseball cards and we suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg. Quite frankly, someone who fits your husband’s taste for danger would not normally be a suspect as these crimes have all been rather sneaky. However, he is one of four former time travelers who are now off the grid I have to check out.”

“I trust my husband; but, I check on him,” replied Julia Blackwell.

Amanda White looked confused, “Check, how do you check?”

Julia Blackwell cocked her right index finger and said, “Come inside and I will show you.” As the two women entered the house, Julia said, “Everyone has favorite things, or habits or things they depend upon. You know the kinds of things you think you can’t live without. Back in real time, I call it real time as this is more like a dream. Back in real time, George was never without a cigar. It was not so much she smoked them as they were part of his attire. He liked a brand called South Pacific. When I check, I look for that particular cigar. In this dream world, he uses a different brand of cigar, a wholly different style or shape. I look for evidence of South Pacific cigars. I know George and if he were still moving around in time he would not be able to resist picking up a canister of South Pacific cigars and bringing them home. In five years, I have not seen one after the first week when he ran out and had to switch to a contemporary brand.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Blackwell,” said Agent White. “You don’t know how much you have helped my ability to check out the other three on my list. If I am reading you right, if they are staying where they are, they won’t have the thinks they used to not be able to live without.”

Julia Blackwell nodded.

Posted in fiction, photographs, weather | Tagged | 6 Comments

Getting Old, The Pestilence Performs, Basic Income & 063 Edith Gunderson and Captain Batan Give an Assist

Good Morning Ted and Jody:

Time for true confessions. I am getting old. I rushed home yesterday to finishing getting room on my computer and getting out a letter to you and did. However, I normally use the letter in a blog, deartedandjody. I had the blog all finished with content, labels and a photo header, but somehow got distracted and failed to hit the publish key. So, I got to the computer this morning and there it was, ready to publish. I hit the publish button some 12 hours after I had it finished. While you got the letter and the short episode, none of the 110 people who get it on their Word Press Reader got it until this morning. As I say, I am getting old; and, I am acting like it.

That was quite a performance the pestilence put on last night in Arizona. (And given the response from the crowd to his self-horn tooting, I wonder what drugs they were given?) I really don’t see the difference between labeling an ethnic group the enemy and labeling the media the enemy, both ways are spreading fear of someone as a bias for your support–‘get them afraid of someone and they will believe I can save them’ is his strategy. Then too there are the code words. Quite frankly I had never heard of code words until the guy came along. So are I have learned the ‘cosmopolitan’ is a code word triggering antisemitism. I can’t wait to hear what the other code words are that those who object to political correctness use to maintain their political incorrectness. It wouldn’t surprise me if the very slogan ‘make America great again’ was a code phrase. It makes me wonder if those who long to use language to denigrate others are so numerous and so limited in their view of the world. Anyway, after hearing his Afghanistan War speech the night before, which was close to reasonable, I was surprised that he was off the rails again last night. While I am not sure what the use of the symbol # means or conveys. I get the impression it is designed to show some impact or importance of a message or a message itself. After last night I would say #SaryForAmerica might be appropriate. However, upon looking it up online, the hashtag, #, preceding a word without a space between simply makes a searchable term in the venue in which it is employed (it even has a name, a meta data tag, see you can teach an old dog new tricks sometimes even without a treat) revealing other who use the same term on that venue by clicking on it. Who knew? (Thanks to Nick Lewis, http://nicklewiscommunications.com/what-does-a-hashtag-pound-sign-mean-in-social-media/ .)

Following up on my comments on the economy yesterday there is an ongoing discussion about Basic Income out in the ether. I have read some of it and what I have read lays out reasonable arguments for providing all a basic income. What seems to be the issue that holds it up from becoming reality is the question of how to pay for it. I have stayed back from that discussion. However, I would argue that my proposal to democratize money is a viable way to pay for a basic income. Here is a link to one of my 27 posts on Democratizing Money. https://democratizemoney.wordpress.com/2016/07/03/a-reintroduction/ . In those 27 posts, I make the case for putting new money into the hands of citizens—providing a basic income. I will be posting on democratizemoney fairly soon as I do think the time is right to begin discussing how to pay for a basic income by changing “what the rules of the money creation game are.”

Warmest regards, Ed

063 Edith Gunderson and Captain Batan Give an Assist

Fiction in 797 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017

[Spaceport Redemption] Special Agent Fleishman, Mindy Blanchard, Edith Gunderson, and Captain Batan materialized outside the communications room. Edith Gunderson craned her neck and looked around. “I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is something different here.”

I see two differences,” said Captain Batan. “First all the buildings that are over one story are built like block style pyramids with each story smaller than the one below it. Second, the sky is not blue.” He took off his sunglasses, and nodded, “Yes, I know it looks blue to the naked eye, but the frequency is somewhat off and the blue-blocker glasses I wore coming here tell me it is closer to green than our sky. That tells me there is something slightly different about the atmosphere from the one to which we are accustomed. I doubt that it is thickness as I can’t tell any difference in the pull of gravity. If it is different isn’t off by very much.”

I suspect it is the trace elements in the atmosphere,” said Special Agent Fleishman. I ran an analysis of the atmosphere here, in the alien craft and on Earth back in our universe. The trace gasses are slightly different in all three place. However, they account for less than 1% of what we are breathing and looking through and there are none here that are toxic.”

Millie Blanchard looked around and sniffed the air. “Funny,” she said, “as much as I have bounced around, I didn’t feel or noting anything different when I got here nor for the months I have been here working on the currency and banking system.” She paused and then added, “Humph, I guess I am just too poor to pay attention.” Then she giggled a bit, put her hand over her mouth and looking at Edith Gunderson said, “James is the shortest fellow in the room.”

Edith Gunderson raised her eyebrow and nodded’; and, Captain Batan shook his head in acknowledgment.

Edith put her hand on the lever that opened the door, and said, “Remember, no one talk until after Captain Batan does.” Turning to the Captain she said, “Now you know what to say?

The Captain again shook his head in agreement.

Edith opened the door and stepped in. She looked around and walked directly to James and said, “James, I am Edith Gunderson. How can I help you?” she extended her hand for a handshake.

James looked confused. “I knew you were coming. But, how did you recognize me?” He still was confused.

Edith with her hand still extended said, “Because you were the one in the room that looked like he needed a hug. Alfred smiled at his wife and wanted to hug her. Walter and Stephen both seemed to be watching me with anticipation, but you looked like you needed a hug. I have a lot of experience hugging hurt and lost little boys. I suspect it works the same way for men.”

James nodded and looked down at the floor, “They say I say things that I don’t remember saying. I must black out or something.” Tentatively he reached out for Edith’s hand. “I am feeling very alone and frightened. Do you think a hug would help?

Edith pulled his arm toward her and put her other arm around him and used the universal soothing words that women throughout the universe use, “There, there, everything is going to be OK. You are safe now. I’ll protect you. I won’t let them hurt you anymore.”

James’ shoulders heaved for he was softly crying.

The only sound in the room for at least 30 seconds was the sound of James breathing gulps of air between sobs. The rhythm of his gulps of air slowed and the volume decreased.

The relative silence was broken by Captain Batan saying, “This one believes in something. He believes it to be true. That one had an open mind, but I had to provide an image the first time for him to talk to; after than I could I find a way into his mind. I blocked him from knowing I was there. I blocked him from knowing what I used him to say. This one will know I am borrowing him. This one will know what I say through him. That one,” with Captain Batan pointing to Special Agent Fleishman, “was on my ship and I could not communicate with him. I do not know what is in his mind. He is the first I could not communicate on my ship. So, I will talk through this one now.”

Edith Gunderson continued to hold James in her comforting hug, but she thought to herself ‘Captain, that is not what you were supposed to say. What is happening?’

Posted in democratize money, economics, fiction, media, Old Age, political | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Moving Data, The Market Correction in the Wind & 062 A Case Officially Closed

Good Afternoon Ted and Jody:

I turned my computer on this morning; and, it notified me that I had just about filled its memory. Photos will do that. Anyway, I responded to its suggestion that I go to setting and change some parameters and destinations to solve the problem. It turned out that none of its suggestions would actually free-up space. It did take some time to find that out. So, off to Costco to get a couple of terabytes of external memory. Moving data off the computer would more appropriately free up space. Going to Vancouver to get the space and then moving the files took more time that I wanted to spend, but spend I did. (Not to mention traffic was thicker than molasses in January in Vermont. I guess a bunch of people stayed in Oregon over night to miss yesterday’s traffic jam and cause another one today. Or it is the last time folks can take a vacation before school starts in September and they are all doing so. Either way, it was slow going coming home.) I guess you could say this was an unexpected data moving day for me—it did eat up the time today.

Speaking of August vacations and back to school in September, I recall hearing a financial analyst saying that come this Fall, when everyone is back from summer vacation and the kids are in school, there is likely to be a market adjustment. I also recall the claimed the last time we had a market adjustment with a politically inexperienced president and a Republican was the Fall of 1929. The current economic expansion is the fourth longest since 1850, yes, 1850. Expansions do not go on forever. When an expansion ends, not only do stock prices drop, but investments shrivel up, people lose jobs and economic activity drops to an anemic level. If one looks at who has stable incomes, that proportion of the population is declining annually. That means more folks will suffer the brunt of the start of the next contraction. It is interesting that the last contraction began with a Tax Cut. Guess what is on the pestilence’s platter next. Yup, income tax reform which actually, in the hands of Republicans mean lower taxes for the wealthy and the middle class and those with jobs are left to pay America’s bills. Funny, the very groups that are going to be hit hardest by the next contraction. Now, I am not forecasting the state of the economy. However, watch for the market adjustment that is due sometime in the next 75 days. Then hang on to your wallet.

Warmest regards, Ed

062 A Case Officially Closed

Fiction in 500 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017

[Present Day, Our Universe] Special Agent Fleishman and Mindy Blanchard, AKA Aida Calkins, materialized in the stairwell of Police Headquarters. “Ms. Gunderson’s office is down a few steps through this door” Special Agent Fleishman said reaching for the door knob. But the door opened and Captain Batan, closely followed by Special Agent Simpson, came through the door almost running over the two.

“Excuse me,” said Captain Batan. “I have been telling the bean counters we really need a see-through door here and . . . “ But he looked up and saw whom he was talking to. “Allah be praised, we have wondered when you would show up again.” Then he saw who was with the Special Agent and exclaimed, “Mrs, Calkins.” His jaw dropped. He quickly recomposed himself and said, “From what Agent White and Special Agent Fleishman have told me in the past months, you have been through a lot. Would you mind coming up stairs to the detective squad so we can officially close the books on your kidnapping? Special Agent Simpson here,” jerking his thumb over his shoulder to indicate the FBI agent, “can’t call off the search for you until she has filed a written report with photos.”

Special Agent Simpson, added quickly, “We are so pleased that you are safe again.”

Mindy Blanchard nodded and said, “Yes, I would be happy to close the file on my kidnapping, but the adventure continues. I am getting used to being called by my real name again, Mindy Blanchard. However, I have close to 30 years of responding to Aida and Mrs. Frank Calkins. Both are me,” she paused and looked up to the right and said, “I think.”

[Two Hours Later in the Detective Squad] Special Agent Simpson shook her head. “I think I had better transcribe the recording of your report myself. Yes, some of those place names and dates will start an investigation worthy of the old X-Files.” She looked at Mindy Blanchard. “Captain Batan understated what you have been through. You are a strong woman, Mindy. You are my hero.” Then she started to laugh.

“What is so funny?” simultaneously asked Captain Batan and Special Agent Fleishman.

“I would not want to be Deputy Marshal Atkins?” said Special Agent Simpson. “He’s in charge of the hunt for their lost witness,” pointing to Mindy Blanchard, “Your husband, Alfred. The poor sod is not going to learn much from this report. If he hadn’t been such a creep about sharing information earlier, I would tell him the truth and let him go into therapy. In any event,” turning to Captain Batan and Detective Philipson, “Gentlemen, this case is closed.”
As Mindy Blanchard and Special Agent Fleishman rose to leave, Captain Batan asked, “You mind if I accompany you? I do have some vacation time that if I don’t take I’ll lose. What you two are into sounds more interesting than fishing. You see, my wife is visiting her mother’s for the month.”

Posted in computers, economics, fiction, political | Tagged | 4 Comments

061 The Problem With James’ Memory

061 The Problem With James’ Memory

Fiction in 629 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017

[Spaceport Redemption] “I do think we need to get to the bottom of your blackouts, James before we can put you back in a space rocket,” said Stephen.

“But, I feel fine,” replied James. “I just don’t remember the three things you claim I said.”

“I don’t know what the protocol is for ‘memory events’,” said Deborah. “We simply have not had this happen that I know about.” She looked at Stephen and Walter and continued, “Do either of you know how to go about handling a person with memory issues.”

Both men negatively shook their heads and mumbled something to the effect “a new one on me.”

Mindy Blanchard smiled and said, “Back in the other universe, I knew a woman who dealt with children who had, as you say, memory issues. It seemed that when a child was abused he or she had to find a way to escape the memory of the abuse as they lived with their abuser. Anyway, this woman, Edith Gunderson is her name, worked for what we call Child Protective Services and had a great deal of experience bring back memories and doing it in such a way that the child did not suffer.”

“Why do you call it Child Protective Services?” asked Deborah.

‘In the other universe, some adults mistreated children, their own children,” replied Mindy Blanchard. “So, the government set up an agency to specifically deal with both the parents and children in such situations.”

Deborah shook her head. “We have learned a lot from sending people to school in your universe. Were it not for the technical information we gathered over there, we would not have a ghost of a chance of preventing the catastrophe of this alien ship, which we thought was an asteroid, striking our planet at high speed. But, I continue to be amazed at learning the pain and harm your people impose on one another. But children being harmed by their parents is the most egregious thing I have heard.” Nodding to Mindy Blanchard, she continued, “Yes, this is more horrible than the story you told me about Norma Rae and the men who wanted to kill you.” Dorthy clenched her jaw and one could see her tensing it as she continued to shake her head.

Special Agent Fleishman said, “If you want, I could ask Ms. Gunderson if she might be of help in helping James find his memories or even the reason he blacks out.”

Deborah asked, “Do you think she would? After all, it would mean she would have to cross over to this universe.”

“Hey, do I have any say in this matter?” demanded James.

Mindy Blanchard put her hand on his shoulder and said, “She will talk to you. She will listen to you. There are no drugs, no injections, nothing other than talk. Most people enjoy talking to Edith. She has a dry wit and a quick mind.”

Walter said, “Boy-O, how can you pass up a chance to talk to a lady?

“Oh, OK, I’ll do it,” James said.

Mindy Blanchard nodded. “In that case, since you are willing, James, I do believe she would come. Perhaps the Special Agent would allow me to go back with him and explain things to her. She and I used to have dinner together regularly and quite frankly, I miss seeing her and talking with her.”

Special Agent Fleishman said, “I would be delighted if you would accompany me. We may even discuss this with Ms. Gunderson over a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows.” Turning to the assemblage, Special Agent Fleishman said, “We won’t be gone long.” He pivoted taking Mindy Blanchard with him.

James looked confused, “What is this ‘cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows’ thing?”

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A 98% Solar Eclipse Here This Morning

Good Morning Ted and Jody:

I fought against getting up this morning, but getting up won. It is those damned alarm clocks. They only do one thing all day and they insist one pay attention while they do it (then they go back to sleep. I suspect alarm clocks are in the feline family). Well, the damned thing got me up so I stuck my head out the front door at 5:00 A.M. The sky was completely clear. A bit of light was leaking in from the east to dim the stars, but Venus shined brightly. 30 minutes later, a marine layer moved in. I swear, the marine layer has a monorail express from the coast. This is not a good day for the marine layer to be here. Someone should have told it that people want to look skyward and risk damage to their eyes this morning by looking at the 98% eclipse (I checked with the county treasurer earlier, last week, he told me the county couldn’t afford a full eclipse like the countries down in Oregon, so we have to settle for what the county treasury will buy). So, all in all, an inauspicious start to the day.

However, I drove west to breakfast and the marine layer disappeared in five miles. That was a good omen. Indeed, it cleared up enough here and at the boat launch by 8:55 to have a clear view of the sun and the eclipse. We drove to the boat launch and stayed for most of the eclipse. The protective, eclipse glasses gave us a good way to watch from time to time as it progressed. As the eclipse developed the sun reminded me of the crescent moon as shown on some early Pakistani stamps and their flag, only backward, to start. Beginning at about 9:05 the light outside gradually dimmed to its weakest at about 10:20. Then someone gradually dialed the dimmer switch back up. We did get to 98%. It noticeably cooled down at that point. For the last few minutes before the maximum coverage for us, the birds began to leave. I saw two herons fly up and perch in trees (the first time I have seen them do that but they were too far for a photo) and at least a dozen others leave along with gulls and geese. Smaller birds flew up and settled n the trees. The wasps and bees stopped buzzing and the mosquitoes came out. Then minutes later the mosquitoes disappeared, the bees and wasps resumed their work and the small birds began to flutter and finally fly. 20 minutes after maximum the herons, seagulls, and geese came back. For a few minutes, it was similar to being out taking shots of sunset or sunrise just before the sun comes up or sets. However, I do not have the equipment for photographs of the eclipse. Not even using eclipse glasses to cover the lens produced enough clarity to see the crescent sun. Even with 98% of it covered it is just too bright.

I did take some images of reflections and messed with them to turn them into abstracts. Some from water shots and some from shadows on the ground.

 

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I will write today’s episode after lunch and send it along this evening.

Warmest regards, Ed

Posted in photographs, weather, wildlife | Tagged | 4 Comments

Some Feeble Excuses for Publishing Late Today & 060 Into The Interior

Good Evening Ted and Jody:

Have you ever had one of those days that sort of slips by, almost without notice? That summarized today. I awoke late. I noticed color in the eastern sky, but by the time I got out there the pinks and reds were gone. Nonetheless, the sun was low and the clouds were still in place so I made the best of it with four images starting at 6:53 at one location and ending at 7:06 at the fourth location some five miles away. I had to hustle to get them before the sun got too bright.

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Then I went into breakfast, hoping to run into Art as it has been a while since I last saw him. He was not there when I got there but showed up a few minutes before I needed to leave. Art has stumbled on a television channel that costs him nothing and shows movies all the time. So the reason I had not seen Art was he has been staying up late watching movies then sleeping in the next day. He confessed, he also found a years supply of People Magazine and has been reading them to catch up.

Then, I went to see Juli and get a much-needed massage. Juli reports that working as a clinical nurse she finally feels as if she is really working as a nurse. However, she does have some issues with the way we (Westerners) practice medicine and would like to get a shot at nursing for an Oriental (Eastern) practice. The only Oriental practice in town is Nancy Goodwin’s acupuncture. Nancy also goes to Western medical practices for things outside her competence (Her license extends only to setting pins). If one goes back to the time of shamen and witch doctors, you remember the type of medicine our mothers used to inflict on us—caster oil, mustard packs and towels over our heads to hold in the steam so it would fill our lungs and the like—the paradigm has changed significantly just in our life times—doctors no longer make house calls and just want to prescribe opium byproducts. So, Juli may have a point. We need another paradigm change, Why not Eastern Medicine?

From Juli’s caring hands I stopped to check my Lotto ticket and, much to my disappointment, I did not win again. This not winning is getting to be a habit with me. Please tell me the earnings the folks selling the lottery tickets receive go to a good cause. Please.

I barely made it home in time to take Nancy to lunch (that will teach me to mope over lost lotteries. Speaking of losing the lottery, if one doesn’t buy a ticket, does that still count as a loss? If not, I could do my self-esteem a lot of good by breaking the $2 a week habit I seem to have. I wonder, can one quit cold turkey?)

Lunch involved a deep discussion of whether or not we should stop at a local super market and buy chicken legs and thighs for 99 cents/pound. That led to the discovery of $9.99 pocket hoses at the supermarket. Heck, I used to spend up to $30 for one. Now, at $9.99 I can buy a full year’s supply (they all break, so I generally need four a year, two for the front and two for the back) and not feel like quite the idiot. I still feel like an idiot, but I do like using them except when they burst and I get all wet. But then, there is the danger every time I use one and my heart races (I often forget to take the pills that keep my heart from racing before watering, so I at least have a simulated feeling of danger using the hose). While we were there, Nancy saw an ice cream sale and needless today, we got a four year’s supply of ice cream. Now, I need to buy an extra freezer to store the ice cream. Funny how one thing leads to another.

All that shopping got up home a bit later than usual, so I am writing late today. Sorry about that.

Warmest regards, Ed

060 Into The Interior
Fiction in 1036 words by T. Edward Westen

[Spaceport Redemption] “How long have they been inside?” James asked.

“About 10 hours,” replied Deborah.

“They have to come out in eight more or their base pulls them back,” said Walter. “It is some sort of safety thing in case they are in trouble or. . .” Walter sort of trailed off.

“Why are they doing this?” Asked James.

“Why did you ride the rocket, Boy-O?” queried Walter.

“To help to save the planet, self-interest, adventure,” replied James.

“And, I suspect because it was the right thing to do,” added Deborah.

“Yes, we’ll it is the only planet we knew until those guys from the other universe showed up,” said James.

“Least the facts get lost, we went over there first,” said Deborah. “Agent White is from here. She was the first person to cross between universes. Granted she was only four-years-old at the time, but she is from here. They, those in the other universe took her in and accepted her. Besides, if you knew their planet was in danger wouldn’t you go help?”

James sucked in his cheeks and firmly set his mouth before saying,” Of course I would. I hate to admit it, but I just a tad bit jealous that they are in there exploring and I am still down here.”

“We’ll, Boy-O,” said Walter, “There is that little matter of you not remembering your little speech to the congregants of the One True God down in the cafeteria nor how you managed from space to get the followers of the One True God to return control of the Spaceport to us.”

[In the Alien Craft] “As near as I can tell we are about two kilometers into the craft, now,” said Special Agent Fleishman.

“I count 80 layers that we have come through, with every other layer being air ducts. The air ducts seem to get smaller as we go deeper,” replied Agent White. “I am being some what over whelmed by the variety, newness, and richness of what we are seeing.”

“Sensory overload, to be sure,” replied Special Agent Fleishman. “Let’s work our way back so we can pickup any of Johnathan bats that have returned to their launch points. I had him drop-off some software at Spaceport Redemption so the Walter and Deborah could make sense of this place. Our observations will fill some details. I suspect it is time to get a crew of their personnel up here to see what they can do with it.”

As the two time travelers moved back toward the surface collecting Johnathan bats, both avoided the obvious question until Agent White indirectly articulated it. “I find it strange that we find no signs of either present or past occupants of this vessel. However, if we did and they turned out to, shall we say, object to our trespassing, you and I could pivot out. But, a crew from Deborah’s team would be stuck to face the consequences. Are you sure it is time to bring them up? After all, we have just barely scratched the surface in exploring this craft.”

[Spaceport Redemption] Special Agent Fleishman and Agent White, each holding a large sack of Jonathan bats, materialized. Deborah, Walter, Steven, Alfred Blanchard, Mindy Blanchard, and James all spoke at the same time. ‘Well,’ ‘what did you see?” “What’s it like?” And “Thank goodness you are OK.”

Special Agent Fleishman handed his sack to Walter and jerked his thumb over his shoulder toward Agent White saying, “These and the ones Agent White have will give you maps of some of the first 80 layers, down two kilometers, of the alien craft.” He paused. “Outreach Agent Simmons did bring you the software to read these, didn’t he?”

“Yes, yes, he did,” said Deborah, “We were anxious that you two were OK and anxious about what you were finding.”

Special Agent Fleishman noticed that Walter was having a bit of difficulty interfacing the first of Jonathan bats with his computer, so he said, “Agent White can give you our impressions while I give Walter a hand.”

Agent White cleared her throat. “The first open space under the alien spaceship’s skin was apparently an air duct. It had grills that let air into a lower chamber that we speculated was a hydroponics garden. We decided to continue using air grills to move deeper into the craft, a perpendicular line, so to speak from where we started. I suspect the inhabitants of the ship used things equivalent to hatches or door, elevators, tubes or the like to move about. We used the air hatches to go down farther faster and to let what Special Agent Fleishman called Jonathan’s bats go on more levles quickly to get their mapping done faster. Rather than attempt to characterize the different levels, after we speculated that the first level that wasn’t an air duct, but probably agricultural, we though tit best not to try to characterize levels but take photos in the flood lights and leave the characterizations to someone qualified to make them—say an anthropologist or the like.” She handed her camera to Deborah. “We did not see any inhabitants or signs of current inhabitants or even evidence of current or former inhabitants, except for the structure itself and its layout is clearly of intelligent design. However, we only got two kilometers and eighty levels into it. It is about 16 kilometers to the center. There still could be some kind of life down there. On balance, it looks to me as if I would be comfortable in and about the things I saw, so they may be of a similar size and shape to us.”

James appeared to be frozen. He stood stock still, eyes not blinking and barely breathing, then he said, in a flat voice, “They are you.”

“Boy-O, What are you saying?” demanded Walter.

James did not answer but stood as he was before he spoke. Walter grabbed him but the shoulders, shook him gently and said, “What are you saying”

James blinked and said, I must have blinked off. What did I miss?

“You said,’ They are you,’ Boy-O,” said Walter. “What did you mean?”

“I said what?” asked James.

Posted in clouds, fiction, medical stuff, photographs, time | Tagged | 7 Comments

Another Drone Flight, The Discussion about Race in America & 059 Back and Forth, Then In

Good Afternoon Ted and Jody:

I really have to pay more attention to social media. Today is a birthday party for my 4-year-old great grandson. Ger, and I am now just checking the social media account and find this out. The party started two hours ago two hours north of here.

An update on my Phantom 4 PRO that was wantonly attacked by a tree the other day. I may have inadvertently saved the camera and gimbal (footnote) from injury in the attack because I failed to remove one piece around the gimbal that is clearly marked in two languages, yellow on red, “remove before flight.” It is a foam rubber support to protect the gimbal and camera in shipping. I hate to think what the shippers were expected to do that needed a protector to keep the parts from destruction during a run-in with an evil tree. Now I watched several hours of videos and went over the instruction book with a magnifying glass. It was only by accident that I learned of this ‘necessary removal this morning before I did my morning flight. Without a cat to stalk, I took a landscape again.DJI_0011 ns 20179819 09xx email.jpg

(footnote: I did not know this but a gimbal is a pivoted device that allows rotation of something about a single axis. I suspect the gimbal on the Phantom 4 PRO allows rotation around more than one axis, at least I hope so or mine is broken despite my claims.)

I took the Phantom 4 PRO for a walk this morning. OK, I walked and it flew. This is a way for me to get the hang of guiding it in flight. More photos when I take it for a scenic walk.

I read a piece yesterday about the ‘discussion’ about race in America (the troubles brought to light in Charlottsville, VA last week. It was a Washington Post article, I do not recall the date, title or authors. I save it digitally or at least thought I did, but can not find it. So, I will paraphrase. The authors took the position that the Union Army did not properly finish the war. They suggested that had the Union Army properly finished the war there would be no Confederate Statutes in America, much like there are no Fascist status in Italy and Germany or status of those who prosecuted WWII from Japan. The article did note the preponderance of Confederate Monuments were erected during the period in which Southern Legislatures were enacting Jim Crow laws and building a segregated South. Let us hope, at the very least the current discussion moves to a non-violent level but continues.

Warmest Regards, Ed

059 Back and Forth, Then In
Fiction in 1124 words by T. Edward Westen

[Spaceport Redemption] Special Agent Fleishman, Agent White, and the portable x-ray machine materialized. “We are in,” said Special Agent Fleishman. “But I can’t see anything. I need portable lights. I think a gas or atmosphere test would show the air in there is safe to breathe, but better safe than sorry. And we need some way to map where we explore. I need to pivot back to my home base as I am running close to when I will be automatically pulled back. Besides I need some sleep. How long will it take to assemble the things we need for the next trip out to the alien craft?”

Deborah rubbed her chin and said, “30 minutes.”

Special Agent turned to Agent White and said, “I think it is your turn to drive.” Then to Deborah and Walter, “We’ll be back in 30 minutes. Home James.” Agent White smiled and pivoted taking Special Agent Fleishman with her.

[27th Century, ATI] Agent White and Special Agent Fleishman materialized outside of Outreach Agent Simmons cubical. “You read my mind,” said Special Agent Fleishman. “Johnathon will have lots of toys that will be most useful for exploring and mapping the alien craft. Let’s tell him what we need and then I really do need some sleep.”

[Spaceport Redemption] “Why did you tell those people to evaluate what they have and what to take with them and what to leave behind, Boy-O?” asked Walter.

What in the world are you talking about?” asked James. “What people?”

Down in the cafeteria. You were standing on a chair. We have it recorded. Everything is recorded around here,” said Walter.

Let me see the recording, for I still do not know what you are talking about,” said James.

Walter played back the recording. As James watched, his eyes got bigger and bigger and eventually, his jaw dropped. When he finally regained his composure, James said, “I do not remember any of that. Who is Nikud?

[Space, the Other Universe]”Give me a minute this this gizmo,” Special Agent Fleishman said holding up the air analyzer Walter and Deborah had provided him, “and I’ll be right back.” He pivoted from near the surface of the alien craft. Literally a minute later he materialized. “According to this the air is breathable and seems to have no organisms in it at all.” So, bring the box of goodies Jonathan made up for us and I’ll take the lights. I’ll drive.” Both Special Agent Fleishman and Special Agent White vanished along with the various paraphernalia they carried.;

[Inside the Alien Space Ship] “I am opening my helmet,” said Special Agent Fleishman. He took a deep breath. “The air in here has a flavor to it, more like outside in the woods on Earth than anything.”

Agent White opened her helmet. “No, it is more like two blocks from the beach, some hit of salt air, but just a hint.”

Both ATI agents were silent for a moment as they looked at the area illuminated by the flood lights Special Agent Fleishman had turned on. The chamber they were in seemed to extend forever in two directions. The floor, ceiling, and walls encased an area four meters square. On three of the surfaces, there were gratings spaced every five meters. The gratings were held in place with simple latches that worked much like the locks on restroom stalls. Push in one direction the latch was firmly locked shut. Push in the other direction and the latch was open. Agent White leaned toward the nearest hatch and pushed its latch open. She pulled. Nothing happened. She then pushed. The hatch released outward from her into another dark space. “Another chamber,” she exclaimed.

Special Agent Fleishman worked his way toward Agent White and the grill that she has opened into another chamber. He shined his flashlight into the chamber, but the chamber was so large the small beam from his flashlight got lost in the darkness. He went back to the flood lights and maneuvered them into position so the light from the floods shone directly into the chamber that Agent White had opened. Both agents peered into the lit chamber. The floods exposed a ceiling, relative to their position about 20 meters up or into the belly of the alien craft. The ceiling appeared to have banks of some substance that reflected some of the light back to the floods and diffused some of it around in the chamber. The floodlights and the diffused light from the ceiling structures also showed a series of latticeworks from what they regarded, given their position. as the floor of the chamber into which they were peering. Moving the flood light to one side the latticeworks seemed to be repeated over and over as far as the beams from the flood lights reached. “What do you suppose those latticeworks are?” asked Agent White.

I don’t know,” replied Special Agent Fleishman. “But, if you put a spin on the space craft in direction of either starboard or port, you would create a centripetal force that would act as a kind of artificial gravity. If those lattices works sit in tubs, vats or some kind of containers, I would hazard that we are looking at a hydroponic garden.” Special Agent Fleishman paused. “I think it is time to turn loose some of the auto mappers that Jonathan gave us. Let’s set one to go in each direction in this tunnel and then one in each direction in the chamber you found that looks to be a garden.”

Don’t they need light to do their mapping?” asked Agent White.

No, they use sonar, or echo location to find their way and map where they have been,” said, Special Agent White. “Johnathan says the maps they make will even give true color if you want a snap shot of where they have been. He calls them ‘bats’, by the way”

Outreach Agent Simmons is quite a clever fellow,” said Agent White.

Indeed,” replied Special Agent Fleishman as he gently nudged a small object sporting three sets of propellers equidistant around a ball sporting a multitude of protrusions. “They are programmed to go as far as they can and return to the spot where they were launched before they run out of juice.”

How far is that?” asked Agent White.

In a one gravity environment like Earth, about 25 kilometers, 12 out and 12 back with one in reserve,” replied Special Agent Fleishman. “In this space without a significant wind and no gravity, who knows, probably several hundred kilometers? Gravity puts one heck of a drain on the energy to keep those babies aloft.”

Posted in bigotry, Drone, fiction, political, Uncategorized | Tagged | 8 Comments

Elderberry Pancake Syrup, The Phantom 4 PRO Scares a Cat & 058 A Prophet and An Explorer

Good Afternoon Ted and Jody:

Yesterday morning while watering I noticed my elderberry bush had a large supply of bunches of ripe elderberries. Late in the morning I took a bucket, clippers and a pole with a hook on it out and harvested several pounds of the berries with the intent of making elderberry, pancake syrup. When we got home from lunch I stripped and washed the berries and put them in a blender. I ended up with 7 cups of berries, blended down to 5 cups. Then I strained the solids out and was left with a quart of juice. I added four cups of Splenda, 1/8th of a teaspoon of cream of tartar (which I may not have needed, but just to be on the safe side), and two tablespoons of lemon juice. I then heat, stirring until I achieved a rolling boil. I turned down the heat and let it cook for about four minutes after which I set it aside to cool. When cooled, I bottled it in a sterile bottle and refrigerated.

This morning Nancy had a fasting blood test. After staying up all night studying for it, she left the house this morning without taking her crib notes with her. I, however, remembered to take the bottle of elderberry, pancake syrup with me. So while she sat for the blood exam, I had pancakes with, you guessed it, elderberry syrup. How was it you ask? Well, let me put it this way. If I had not strained the solids out, I would have more than I presently have; and, that would not be a bad thing.

I cleaned up the Phantom 4. I checked the blades and decided that they might still be usable once I got the blackberry stains off the. So, I cleaned them and installed them and put the Phantom 4 through some of its paces this morning. Yes, the blades worked just fine. I still have to learn to control the camera for composition. It seems to have a bias for the angle of the selfie I sent you yesterday. I obviously have a lot more learning to do.

This morning when my drone was about 200 feet up, the neighbor’s cat walked under it just a few seconds after I hit the home button. As the drone descended the cat looked up and kept a wary eye on it. As the drone got closer to the ground, and the spot where the cat was standing and watching, the cat made a beeline for cover and ended up under the Ridgeline.DJI_0014 email.jpg

My smartphone, which houses the Phantom 4 app, keeps telling me the app has a virus and I should uninstall it. I keep ignoring the warning. However, I read a news report that the Pentagon, which had been using the Phantom, ceased using it because the app that runs it sends information back to its manufacturer—like photos and GPS locations. The Phantom is manufactured in China. I suspect it is the app’s built-in sending of information to China that causes my phone to object. Funny, my phone was manufactured in South Korea. If I were paranoid, I would worry about the Chinese and Sout Koreans having too much information about the defenses around my house—specifically the 6-foot fence (I have already camouflaged the gun emplacements).

Warmest regards, Ed

058 A Prophet and An Explorer

Fiction in 752 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017

[Space, the Other Universe] “I think you are trying to get inside the alien craft as close as we are to the surface,” said Agent White. “Indeed, we are closer than the last time.” Then pointing to the surface, “There is the mark you made with the chalk the last time. Which way shall we go for our next sub-surface survey.”

Special Agent Fleishman said, “I don;t think it matters as long as we stay on this asphalt like surface away from the structures that look like rocket nozzles. For if I were building a space craft I would put more protection in the bow and most of the engines astern. From here, I would recommend port or starboard, either would do nicely.”

“Port, starboard, bow, stern, why don’t you just point. If you are going to talk nautical, I will have to stop and think,” said Agent White, “The closest I have been to an ocean going vessel is in a theater seat watching the film Titanic XVI.”

Special Agent Fleishman pointed; and, Agent White aimed the propulsion valve attached to her air tank the opposite way. After a few seconds of movement, she used her propulsion valve to stop them and lower them the few centimeters to rest on the surface of the alien craft. She then used her propulsion valve to hold the two of them and the portable x-ray unit on the surface of the alien craft while Special Agent Fleishman operated the unit.

After several minutes Agent Fleishman said, “These reading look identical to the ones we took earlier. I’m guessing the space that Walter suggested from the earlier data continues at least this far. What say I take a look?”

“Are you sure that is a good idea?” asked Agent White.

“No, but at some point, we are going to have to separate so you can drag that,” he said pointing to the portable radar unit, “back if I am wrong and pivot into solid matter.” He unhooked his tether from hers and the one attached to the radar unit and said, “I’ll be right back. If I am not, then that won’t be of much use to getting into this spaceship.” Special Agent Fleishman vanished.

[Spaceport Redemption, Cafeteria] James was standing on a chair so the 200 or so people gathered could see him. “The One True God was clear,” said James. He swung his arm in an arc to include all gathered before him. “You were to return to your homes and await further word from him. He will instruct you soon.”

A woman near the back of the room stood up, “I do not mean to question our One True God. We all are uncertain about the future and what to expect. Can you not tell us more?”

“I have not been told more,” replied James. “However, if I were you I would make some decisions about what in my life is worth carrying with me and what I should not carry with me. What has value; what does not.”

The woman stood stock still and contorted her face, turned her head and then snapped to as if called to attention. “That is a heavy burden,” she said, “but, I will go now and search my soul for value in the things in my custody.” She turned and walked to the door. Others, slowly, one by one, stood and followed her. Finally, only one old man remained. He looked up at James and said, “I used to be a prophet until Nikud stopped talking to me. It was a great loss. Do not get used to his voice. Do not need his voice, for surely, he will abandon you as he did me. I do not know what my failure was, but I feel he has forgiven me.” The old man turned to go and then stopped turned around and said, “May Nikud show you kindness now that he has taken you as his prophet”

[Space, the Other Universe] ‘There are times that 23 seconds can seem like an eternity,’ Thought Agent White. ‘and this is one of them.’

Special Agent Fleishman materialized in the same spot he had pivoted from 24 seconds before interruption Agent White’s thoughts.

“Thank God you were not entombed in this,” she said pointing down to the surface of the alien craft. “What did you see?”

“I didn’t see anything,” Special Agent Fleishman replied, “We didn’t bring portable lightning—I need a flashlight.”

Posted in cat, cooking, devices, Drone, fiction, gardening in pots, recipes | Tagged | 6 Comments

A Drone Eating Tree, Television Coverage of Terrorism & 057 Resupply and Return

Good Afternoon Ted and Jody:

Yesterday afternoon I mismanaged my Phantom 4 PRO as it was attacked by a tree that used to grow in Charlie Brown’s playground in “Schutlz Americana,” and had to extract it from a blackberry patch. It took several implements including a garden rake, coal shovel, and pitchfork. I suspect the Phantom 4 PRO survived. I’ll clean it up, install new propellers (which remarkably did not seem to suffer damaged, but since they are one of the keys to it not getting eaten again, I will replace them), and chop the drone eating tree down (an option I always wonders why Charlie Brown never exercised with his kite eating tree). Before the tree leaped up and grabbed it, I did manage to discover Phantom 4 announces when it is at maximum height and take a photo of Nancy and me on the front steps.DJI_0004 email.jpg

When I got on my bike to nowhere this morning the news from Barcelona was flooding in. Actually, there was very sketchy news and one hell of a lot of speculation and videos run over and over again. For the 30 minutes I was on the way to nowhere, I knew nothing more when I got off than I knew when I got on. I did flick through CNN, Fox, and MSNBC and found they substantially carried the same amount of factual information and a wide variety of speculation and nuances that colored how one received the information. On balance, I think a few minutes coverage would have sufficed. I began to wonder if the amount of coverage was an ISIS recruitment tool–”Look how much attention and air time you can get if you strike a blow against the West.” A westerner watching would, of course, grow incensed at the barbaric act. However, the westerner would be incensed given a five minute or less coverage of the event and they move on to the spelling bee in Prognathous, Main where Amy Good-leaf, aged 8 spelled “sanctimonious” beating out the other competitors who could not spell “frankincense.” A mass murder has to be a terrorist to get the coverage he or she wants. It would be interesting to see a statistical analysis of the amount of coverage events labeled terrorist get and the numbers of new recruits ISIS and other terrorist groups haul in as a result of the extensive news coverage of events labeled as speculated to be terrorist inspired or directed.

Warmest regards, Ed

057 Resupply and Return

Fiction in 736 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017

[Spaceport Redemption] Special Agent Fleishman shook his head and said, “It is not clear from the limited area that the screen shows while the particle bouncing is in progress. I get the impression of space inside the alien craft, but again the screen is too small to tell me what I am seeing. Is it open space filled with vacuum or some gas, or just a different solid? However, I think you can tell me what we found by running the data and having the computer show us what we were looking at in the small pieces the screen is designed to display while the machine is running.”

Walter bent over the portable x-ray unit and plugged into it what appeared to be cables with flat head plugs and then connected the other end of the cables to a console on the long table under the computer screen. He flicked a switch and said, “We are uploading the data now and should have an image in a few minutes.”

Meanwhile, other technicians were fitting new oxygen tanks to the back packs on both Agent White and Special Agent Fleishman and had replaced the main batteries on the portable x-ray unit. One of the technicians said, “Would you mind closing your helmet so we can pressurize your suit and make sure you do not have any pinholes from the small bits that must be flying about out there? If you got hit by something big, you would have, err, noticed. But the small stuff would go unnoticed until you started to drift because the air escaping would act as a rocket engine, a little one, but provide propulsion nonetheless.”

Was there a problem with either James’ suit or the one I wore?” asked Agent White.

Not in the one you wore,” replied the technician, “But the one James wore had two microscopic holes large enough to leak sufficient air to move him and exhaust his oxygen supply in a ten minutes had you not brought him back so quickly.”

How is it he didn’t feel it?” asked Agent White.

If it only pierced the suit and not him, we would have no reason to feel it,” said the technician. “”Nerves do not cover every square centimeter of the human body. A small object could have missed an area where nerves were. Then too, it was so small and moving so fast it may have simply not registered on Jame’s central nervous system as his attention was probably directed elsewhere at the time. Anyway, he didn’t report any hits and his exam didn’t show any after we found the hole in his suit.”

Agent White looked around. “Where is James?”

The technician replied, “He is at a conference down in the cafeteria with members of the One True God, err, group. It seems he became their prophet when he knew the name of their god and claimed to be speaking to their god on his trip out to the alien craft, and they are asking him to tell them what to do. Apparently . . .”

The technician was interrupted by Walter saying, “There, you have it, a corridor about a meter below the skin of the craft. I can’t tell from this small amount if it goes anywhere or how big it is but if you take reading about a kilometer away from where you were, and you get the same readings, I would think it is big enough for a human to walking, or rather, float or swim in a gas as the stuff in that corridor comes up a mixture of mostly nitrogen, some oxygen,and a bit of argon trace amounts of a bunch of other gasses none of which are toxic. There is also traces of water vapor, but basically, it is a dry gas mixture.”

The technician holding an instrument measuring the pressure in Special Agent Fleishman’s suit nodded and indicated he could open his helmet. When Special Agent Fleishman opened his helmet, the technician said, “Your suit is fine.” He looked to his colleague who nodded his head and continued, “Her suit is fine too. Did you hear Walter?”

Special Agent Fleishman said, “NO, what did the computer come up with.”

Walter repeated what the computer had found and Special Agent Fleishman said, “Agent White, you want me to drive.”

She nodded and he pivoted them out of the Spaceport.

Posted in devices, Drone, political | Tagged | 6 Comments

Waiting for an Arriving Passenger at PDX & 056 Outfitting a Space Expedition Without a Ship

Good Morning Ted and Jody:

As you know the waiting area for passengers arriving on the east concourse has been reconfigured to have passengers discharged from security at the east end of the ticketing area. They have also set up a coffee stand there with several tables and chairs. I sat at one of those tables trying to fit in (I had my device out and I was obviously playing with it, actually, I wrote some of today’s episode while I waited). At one point I looked up and a woman in shorts was standing and looking at the board behind me. She had an eight-inch clock tattooed to the right front and side of her thigh. I wanted to ask why, but she finished obtaining the information she sought on the arrival/departure board behind me and left before I could ask the significance of the clock on her thigh. I went back to writing. A couple of M.D.s sat at the next table the next to me I looked up and they were discussing Medicaid billing for a procedure I could not hear, as a mother with a screaming child appeared out of the crowd drowning out my ability to hear anything else for five minutes. It was getting close to time for the security apparatus to discharge Nancy to the waiting area so I closed up my device and watched a woman come out of the security area pulling a bag. She turned the wrong way, that is into a wall rather than the way to the escalators down to baggage or ground transportation. She stopped, left the bag and walked over to me and asked, “Where can I get a ticket?” I pointed to the row of airline counters and she said, “I don;t want a line, I want a ticket.” I asked, “Where do you want to go?” She replied, “Anywhere, that isn’t here.” I told her, “I’m afraid you will have to stand in a line to get a ticket.” I pointed again and said, “Pick the shortest line and that could get you a ticket fastest.” She looked a bit less confused, went back to where she had left her bag and took the smell of alcohol she had brought with her away with her suitcase. Nancy then arrived. She recognized me right off and we commenced our extraction from the end of air travel for the day.

While I heard about her traffic jams and encounters with unreasonable people yesterday on the way home, I expect to hear about the totality of her sojourn today. I also expect her to sleep late today as she got up on Eastern Daylight Time and went to bed on Pacific Daylight Time.

Warmest regards, Ed

056 Outfitting a Space Expedition Without a Ship
Fiction in 919 Words by T. Edward Westen, 2017

[Spaceport Redemption] “We can handle a ground penetrating radar unit or a mobile x-ray device,” said Special Agent Fleishman. “We will take whichever is smaller, less bulky. We need to find an empty space inside to which we can pivot without becoming embedded in the alien craft itself.”

Deborah nodded and asked, “What is your preference for powering what you take?”

Special Agent Fleishman asked, “What are my choices?

“We have an electrically driven x-ray unit or a fossil fuel driven ground penetrating radar unit,” replied Deborah.

Agent White said. “An electrically powered unit will cause fewer problems. A fossil fuel driven device will generate motion and we will have to encase the engine and carry a supply of oxygen. But, I thought an x-ray unit needs to shoot through an object at a receptor or film to see what is blocked and what isn’t. How can we shoot through an object 100 kilometers in diameter?”

“This is a modified device that acts more like a radar unit in that it bounces particles off objects and back to a series of receptors, one for each type of particle,” replied Deborah. “Rather than a typical x-ray, it measures the bounce return to estimate what is there. It will give you a 3-dimensional picture of objects up to a kilometer inside an object. We use it in place of ground penetrating radar when we anticipate underground structures made of metal. It is really a partial sender/receiver, but it is so new the old term ‘x-ray’ seems to have stuck.”

“Good, a reflective x-ray or partial sending/receiving device makes sense,” said Special Agent Fleishman. He paused and then said, “We will also need some blackboard chalk.”
“Chalk?” Asked Deborah.
“Yes, we will need to take at least a couple of reading and then use some old fashioned geometry to identify likely open spaces by triangulation,” replied Special Agent Fleishman. “We can use chalk to mark the points for reference on the skin of the alien craft”

[A Few Hours Later] Agent White and Special Agent Fleishman closed their helmets gave Deborah a thumbs up and pivoted.

Deborah watched them disappear and thought, ‘That is a whole lot faster than using rockets. I have got to ask about getting that technology. I wonder … .’

Deborah’s chain of thought was interrupted by Walter’s voice on the room’s speaker. “Deborah, are you watching this?”

Deborah looked at the screen in the room and asked, “What have I missed?”

“Only two people appearing out of nowhere.,” replied Walter.

“Don’t you mean out of thin air?” quipped Deborah.

“Not where they are,” replied Walter with a hint of irony in his voice.

[Space in the Other Universe] Special Agent Fleishman and Agent White materialized a few meters off the surface of the craft moving at the same speed and direction as the alien space ship. Agent White said, “I see you like to get close the first time.”

Special Agent Fleishman chuckled and replied, “I have been doing this so long that I trust the calculations.” He turned and looked at the pile like structure they were near and added, “Besides, according to a review of James’ and your encounters here I thought coming in just below the shield and so close as to be invisible to that,” pointing to the top of the pile like structure, “and whatever is up there that picks targets.”

“You think it is a weapon, then,” said Agent White.

“Anything that vaporizes things is a weapon regardless of its intended purpose,” said Special Agent Fleishman. “He’ll, if I put this, ” pointing to the x-ray unit, “too close to you and let her rip, it would at least do some cellular damage. And, the battery alone could incapacitate if not kill you. ”

Agent White looked puzzled. If Special Agent Fleishman could see her face through the solar shield he would have asked what was bothering her. But, he had similar concerns. “I do worry about what the x-ray will do to whatever species is in this thing.”

While they had been talking, Special Agent Fleishman had used his oxygen supply to gently lower the two of them and the x-ray unit to the surface. “Now while I run this thing, you use your oxygen supply to hold us to the surface, Agent White.”

[Spaceport Redemption] “I don’t see any hoods,” said Walter.

“I hope that means the aliens don’t know they are there yet,” said Deborah.

“I don’t see how that is possible,” said Walter. “They have, for all we know what they would consider vermin crawling around on the surface of their vessel using a series of partial shots to probe them. I can not see how a civilization sophisticated enough to build that,” pointing to the screen focused on Agent White and Special Agent Fleishman were at that moment putting a chalk mark on the surface of the craft, ” would not know we are probing them.” Walter squinted at the screen. “Looks like they found something.”

At that instant, Agent White, Special Agent Fleishman and the particle sending/receiving device, better known by the old name, an x-ray unit, appeared in the room. Special Agent Fleishman opened his helmet and said, “We need to refuel. More oxygen and a fresh battery for the x-ray unit.” He paused and looked at the expressions on Deborah’s and Walter’s face, “What is the matter?”

Deborah spoke “Whats the matter, hell! We saw you using the chalk. What did you find?”


Posted in fiction, travel | Tagged | 7 Comments

Making a Measured Mess, Sunset in the Cascades, Confederate Memorials & 055 A Visit to the Tailor

Good Morning Ted and Jody:

I pick up Nancy at PDX in about 11 hours from this writing. I almost have the house in a proper balance of messes so she will feel needed, wanted and useful, but not feel overwhelmed and want to leave again. It is a serious intellectual challenge. Since I have to leave home to pick her up after my normal bedtime, I practiced yesterday and at that time I drove up into the Cascades in hopes of capturing some color at sunset. I was able to stay up that late and still get proper rest. I also captured a couple of shots while I was up there. I got to about 3300 feet about ten minutes before the sun set and got this panorama in 11 shots of Mt. St. Helens in low angle light. 20170814_2009 11 shot v Panorama ns email.jpgThen, I move back down to about 3000 feet for the two sunset shots about ten minutes later.20170814_201954 ns email.jpg

20170814_202104 ns email.jpgIt always amazes me that I am the only one out there capturing those images.

I did have the foresight to take a jacket. The temperature dropped to 50 degrees in about 15 minutes around sun set in the Cascades. This morning, when I watered the pots (the blueberries, sadly are finished for the year, so no picking), it was 47 degrees so I guess the cooler air followed me back down the mountains last night.

I got to thinking about the issue of Confederate memorials and monuments. I then read a post on REDFLAGFLYING, https://redflagflying.wordpress.com/2017/08/15/history-is-bunk/#comments by my friend Pete this morning and decided on a tentative answer. While this does not represent all of my thinking, it does represent the statues and memorials in places where the connection of the item memorialized to the location is tenuous at best. Anyway here is my response to Pete.

“Good Morning Pete:

“I read with interest your RedFlag Flying this morning. I disagree and here is why I think the Confederate memorials and statues need to be removed

“I read in history books that the US Civil War was fought over the issue of ‘states’ rights.’ What the right was, was the right own other human beings. The Constitution was drafted with human ownership nodded to, “other persons” but not specifically addressed expect in Article I Section IX, paragraph 1. They kicked the can down the road to 1808. What can? The inconsistency of ‘all men are created equal’ and slavery. The economic facts were that the wealth of the Southern States was tied up in human beings held as slaves; and, abolishing slavery would wreak economic ruin on the South. The economic fact was that many northern industries made a profit on commodities furnished by southern slave agribusinesses. The Southern States lived with the constant fear that non-slave states would obtain a majority in Congress and put an end to their economic livelihood. Read the compromises of state admissions prior to the Civil War, they tell the story. Then Lincoln was elected President and a real danger to the slave based economy became more likely a fact. The shots at Fort Sumter were an attempt at a separation from the possibility of economic loss by a preemptive strike.

“I would be interested to hear what other state right or rights were supposedly at issue.

“You can read all the biographical material of the time and come up with all sorts of ‘justifications’ for the Civil War. The cold hard historical imperative is the economics of slavery were a box and no one could figure a way out. The slaveholders were unwilling to solely bear the cost of giving up their wealth: slaves. The non-slaveholders were unwilling to help finance the freedom of slaves: abolitionists included. The War was started as an attempt to separate slaveholders from the embarrassment of swearing allegiance to a creed that included ‘all men are created equal” and living on wealth created by men who were slaves. Ironically, the Confederacy based its being on the same tenants as the Revolutionaries did in the War of Independence over 80 years before.

“The war was fought. Unfortunately, it was not clearly articulated at the time that it was about the inconsistency of the economics of slavery with “all men are created equal.” As with all political and social conflicts, there was mass confusion about what was at stake. What the issues were. It was enough that a battery fired on Fort Sumter and thus there had to be an answer. That answer was the Civil War.

“The winners normally decide how the history is written. Unfortunately the Republicans, the party of Lincoln, “waved the bloody flag,” (reminding the voters of the Civil War) in every election subsequent to the War for close to 50 years. The winners imposed “Reconstruction” on the losers. Not only did southerners loose the economic wealth they built on slavery, they lost political control of their states. Reconstruction put freed slaves into the position of governance. At the same time, those who had borne arms against the United States of America were guilty of treason. This was largely the white male population of the South. As Reconstruction ended and the former electorate resumed its place in governing the states formerly in the Confederacy, they erected statues in honor of their former leaders, and statutes creating a dual society—separate but equal. OK, more separate than equal.

“Statutes enacted, Jim Crow laws, after Reconstruction began to fall by the mid 20th Century. Over 1500 statues erected by post-Reconstruction era governments have only begun to fall. At most recent issue is a statue of Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park (formerly Lee Park) in Charlottesville, VA. What exactly do these statues and memorials represent? Beginning in Colonial times, slavery was justified by the Bible and profit. Laws passed differentiated slaves from non-slaves making one group of people ‘better’ than the other. One had to have little empathy for a person to own that person. One had to dehumanize the slave. One had to make the slave inferior in one’s mind. Otherwise, one could not own a slave. The notions of superiority of the owners and non-slaves over slaves manifest in everyday attitudes and actions. When the slaves were emancipated, the former non-slaves still held onto their views of superiority and passed them on to their children. Some still pass on the idea that they and their children are superior to others because of historical contexts. The statutes represent those historical contexts. They are statues of people who committed treason. They are statues of people who represent an era when all men were not equal. Those statues represent a societal unwillingness to recognize they lost the Civil War and were taken back in. But, some, who call themselves white supremacists, Ku Klux Klan members, Nazis and the like seem not to want to be part of the body politic today. The body politic today refuses to allow discrimination against anyone. The white supremacists, Ku Klux Klan members, and Nazis want the rest of us to go away. They have shown a willingness to kill and intimate us to make us afraid and allow them to run rampant. We will not. We know why the Civil War was fought and we don’t intend to fight it again. The statues need to come down if only because they do glorify an evil—a war fought to maintain slave-holding. Our court system has found the post-Reconstruction era statutes unconstitutional. The memorials and statues are not only an affront to our Constitution, but to morals and our basic creed “All men are created equal.” These statutes provide a rallying point for propagating anti equality thinking: white supremacy.”

Warmest regards, Ed

055 A Visit to the Tailor

Fiction in 460 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017

[Spaceport Redemption] “Special Agent Fleishman, you are over 2 meters tall and weigh in excess of 120 kilos,” said Deborah. “Our rocket ships are designed for a person somewhat smaller. Since taller and heavier astronauts were never envisioned, we never thought to make bigger space suits.”

“I think I see the problem,” replied Special Agent Fleishman. “But, couldn’t it be solved by a trip to your space suit tailors?”

Walter started to laugh. “I don’t think Special Agent Fleishman realizes that you did the design of the suits, Deborah.”

Shaking her head, Deborah said, “Come with me Special Agent.”

[In the Astronaut Suit Factory] “Now let me get this straight,” said Kevin, factory floor foreman. “You want a suit for him,” pointing at Special Agent Fleishman, “that only has an external oxygen hose connection, a backpack arrangement to carry a small oxygen cylinder with an additional external nozzle, a radio as powerful as we can manage, and a tether reel. But, you don’t want any of the other connections we build in that connect the suit to the rocket ship while he is in the rocket?”

Deborah put her hand reassuringly on Kevin’s shoulder and said, “Yes, you have the requirement precisely as we need them for Special Agent Fleishman’ jaunt into space.”

“Special Agent?” queried Kevin. “Say is he,” said Kevin turning to look at Special Agent Fleishman, “ I mean are you one of those time travelers we have been hearing rumors about from the other universe?”

Special Agent Fleishman nodded and said, “Yes, I am. However, the two non-time travelers from my universe, Alfred and Mindy Blanchard, have played a more important role in your project than Agent White and I have.”

“I have worked with Alfred,” replied Kevin. “He showed us how to get things here just on time and not late and not stockpiled. He worked wonders. We get things done faster and without mistakes or taking short cuts, Alfred is a marvel.” Kevin reached into his back pocket and pulled out a wallet. He extracted some obligations from his wallet and said, “Mindy is a marvel too.” Brandishing a uniform, albeit a small number of obligations, he continued, “Who would have thought to make working on the project an obligation and then being able to combine them by taking them to one of those newfangled places called banks. Who would have thought to do that?” Then he smiled broadly as he answered his own question, “Mindy did! But I often wonder when those two play chess, who wins?”

“How long, Kevin?” asked Deborah.

“How long what?” responded Kevin.

Deborah clarified her question, “Before Special Agent Fleishman’s suit is ready?”

Kevin chuckled, “Tomorrow afternoon. Now let me take some measurements.”

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