028 Agent White’s Interview with Col. George Blackwell
A Baby Picture, Rain, Thoughts on a Constitutional Convention & Voyage of the Seed Ship 048 All Hands on Board
Good Morning Ted and Jody:
It has been a quiet week at Silver Lake, but a wet one. Since Wednesday morning we racked up over seven inches of rain–four yesterday through this morning. I am going to have to get a taller rain gauge or brave the elements by going out to dump it more often.
Here is another photo of Saga Jane, They told her a joke to get her to laugh–the joke was about one of the many boneheaded things I did when Ann Marie was a kid.
I’ve been thinking about the dynamics of a constitutional convention in the current political climate. If the delegates were elected by Congressional district, the constitution would have the flavor of the Republican majority in Congress. So, it would be a long-running show with nothing to show in the end. If the delegates were elected by state (under the fantasy that the Union is among states even though the current document states “We the people. . . “) then the partisan slit might be more up in the air. If a close majority, it will be cloaked in secrecy (Much like the last one, although they kept mum because they exceeded their charge by the Congress under the Articles). However, this is mere speculation and resembles what would happen as much as a meerkat resembles a saber-toothed tiger.
Warmest regards, Ed
Voyage of the Seed Ship 048 All Hands on Board
Fiction in 1075 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
[Dining Deck 14, Seed Ship] “I have spent the last 18 hours sampling the communications traffic from Fodar, ”said Sue Lin to the assembled crew with her voice being carried on the Seed Ship’s speakers. “It is not good. All the communications are from Nhoailpians and Begtseans who appear to be in control of our home planet. I did not hear one single Fodarian or see a Fodarian face on any of the broadcast channels, commercial channels, or government channels. There was no news programming, but rather it is propaganda extolling the virtues of subservience to the saviors who have extended their protection to the vulnerable people of Fodar. My friends, our planet has been conquered by the same people who enslaved us on this ship before Commander Edith and the good people of the Seed Ship released us from our chains.”
A man’s voice spoke from the throng, “What could we possibly do against the might of the 12-Worlds? For it the Nhoailpians and Begtseans have conquered Fodar, the farthest planet from both of their planets, they must have conquered the others as well. We are but a few thousand against the billions at their disposal.”
Another man’s voice picked up the theme, “What do we know about fighting. All war on Fodor ended tens of thousands of years ago. We are not fighters. We are not bred as fighters.”
“Yes,” said a woman’s voice, “they will kill us all.”
Commander Edith raised her hand. “I am not one of you. I was not raised to fight. But, I was also not raised to give up or submit to force just because it was greater than any force I could muster. I have learned that people who use and rely on force often forget how to think and improvise. I have watched you work in this adopted environment that the Seed Ship is. I watched you cope with the weather challenges of Hatzog. Some of your friends and relatives stayed there to make homes and a future. I have watched you adopt the sole remaining Tzolzil and learn from him and teach him. You are people who adapt, learn and rise to challenges. I submit we can find ways to not have to fight, but none-the-less prevail against the tyranny of those who enslaved you before. If you are willing to try, we have the force of this ship and the moral high ground for all intelligent people are meant to be free and equal.”
Sue Lin stood and said, “It is up to us to decide the fate of ourselves and our world. Go to your groups and reach a decision in the traditional way. Then we will assemble again to hear your decisions. In the meantime, Commander Edith and I will adjourn and plan our first actions in the event you agree it is good to be free.”
The assembled crew began dispersing with conversations containing snips of phrases rising above the din such as “might does not make right.” “we have to obey the rules, so should the Nhoailpians and Begtseans.” “If they didn’t use money they would not be so stingy and mean.”
Edith turned to Sue Lin and asked, “What is this about the Nhoailpians and Begtseans using money?”
“They both measure wealth and prestige in terms of credit chips that they store in a metaphorical form in data banks,” replied Sue Lin.
“Metaphorical, huh, Commander Edith said. “There is a way in.”
“What’s that?” asked Sue Lin.
“Just thinking out loud,” replied Commander Edith. “Now let’s go see if Michael and his research crew have been able to invent an inside-out hologram. Computer, this is Commander Edith. Please ask Nikud, Moly and Welli if they could please meet me on the Agricultural Deck in Harvey’s shop.” She then turned to Sue Lin, would you prefer to walk or can I offer you a pivot?”
[Harvey’s Shop, Seed Ship] Commander Edith and Sue Lin materialized on the Agricultural Deck in what they had begun to call Harvey’s Shop to find Michael entangled in Harvey’s vines and Moly’s android standing beside Michael. Michael looked up and said, “Jiggers Guys, the Fuz is here.” Then he smiled and said to Commander Edith, “Those old movies you told us about are the pips.”
Commander Edith snorted and said, “The Bowery Boys, will creep into your language.If you don’t watch it you will sound like you were raised in the Big Apple.”
“That’d e swell,” said Michael. “I think we have what you want. Watch closely.”: Michael then turned to Moly and said, “Hit it.” Michael and Harvey disappeared and in their place, the Commander and Sue Lin looked at the bulkhead of the Agricultural Deck.”
“How big can you make it?” asked Commander Edith.
Michael’s voice said, “We can’t hide a star, but we can a planet. Turn it off Moly.”
“How did you do that?” asked Sue Lin.
“We start with a diamond the right size and right cut, “ replied Michael, “and then use it to focus and bend the light from behind any given place and put it back after it has gone around an object. It is essentially the opposite of what we do to give Harvey normal vision, Normal for a person, that is. I can show you the equations.” Michael moved to the white bulkhead behind Harvey’s waterbed and began writing.
Commander Edith began clapping and then said, “Bravo. Bravo. Save the mathematics for someone with the background to understand them. You are telling me we have a diamond large enough to hide a planet?”
“Yes,” said Michael. “It really doesn’t take a big one, just the right size really. From what I have read, most wedding rings on your Earth would have had a stone more than sufficient for the task.”
Both Nikud and Welli in their androids had entered while Michael had demonstrated his inside-out hologram. Commander Edith finally noticed them and said, “Guys, how would you like another clandestine mission?
All four androids issued what almost passed for the sounds a human makes when the human is inflating him or herself in his or her eyes, then in unison, they saluted and said, “At your command, Commander.”
“Commander Edith and Sue Lin,” the computer said over the speakers. “The assemblage in the Dining Deck 14 asks that you come and hear their decisions.”
Good Morning Ted and Jody:
Saga Jane update: I can now confirm she weighed in at 6 pounds 5 ounces at birth. I still do not know how tall she was (but then babies don’t stand well on their own, so it matters less, but still of interest for if she was a foot tall or six inches tall we would be talking two completely different configurations). After much pressuring of her parents (they got sick of my continually asking when is the kid going to school or getting a job?), the kid is enrolled in an online origami course and works nights at a KFC (apparently cleaning up scraps), so she is turning out to be much less of a deadbeat and moocher than most babies are. (Good Jeans always show.)
Yesterday, as you know, Nancy was in a class all afternoon. Without supervision (and without a licensed driver by my side to guide me), I took off East on WA 504 to a few miles past Toutle and then turned northwest on WA 505 toward Toledo. I had a feeling there would be a break, here in there, in the rain and was rewarded just East of Toledo with a shot across a fairly open field. I did click the shutter a few more times but have not had time yet to combine any more of them into the panoramas for which the shots were intended. I will save that for a day when I have more time on my hands.
Warmest regards, Ed
Voyage of the Seed Ship 047 Entering the 12-
Fiction in 1142 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
[23 Months Have Passed, Command Deck, Seed Ship] “This is Star Fleet Command of the 12-Worlds Combined Stat Fleet Command,” came across the speakers on the Command Deck. “Star Ship Good Fortune, your return is unscheduled and early. Please advise the nature of your emergency so we can send appropriate aid to you.”
“Computer, this is Walter. Please inform Commander Edith that we are being hailed from the 12-World System’s Combined Star Fleet Command. Thank you.”
“I have advised Commander Edith,” replied the computer. “She will be on the Command Deck momentarily.”
“Thank you computer, but I am already here,: said Commander Edith materializing on the Command Deck before the computer announced her pending arrival. “Please play back the hail.”
The computer obliged. Edith listened and said, “Before I pivoted, I had the computer notify Sue Lin. She should be here shortly.” Turning to Walter she commented, “They apparently still think we are their ship—the Good Fortune.” She thought for a moment and asked, “Can we tell from which world the Combined Star Fleet Command hail originated?”
Walter fiddled with some controls on his navigation station, peered at his three-dimensional display of the 12-Worlds system, noted a bilking blue light on the screen and replied, “They come from a location as far outside the planets’ orbits as the farthest planet is from their sun.”
Sue Lin entered the Command Deck, took note of the three-dimensional display of her home solar system and asked, “What is the blinking blue light in our uttermost asteroid belt?”
“We were hailed from there,” said Commander Edith. “What do you know about the Combined Star Fleet for the 12-Worlds?”
“There wasn’t one when I left,” replied Sue Lin. “Only the Nohoilpians had vehicles like the Star Ship Good Fortune that were suitable for travel outside the 12-
Worlds System. The rest of us had ships that plied the interplanetary trade routes, but no starships. We relied upon the Nohoilpians for reaching beyond the solar system.” She paused for a moment then added, “And look where that got us.”
Commander Edith shook her head and said, “Yes, it got you enslaved to the Nohoilpians and their overseers. I never knew which planet the overseers were from.”
“They were from the first planet in from the sun, Begtse,” replied Sue Lin.
“Well what shall we tell them?” asked Commander Edith. “Shall we tell them the truth or make something up they might believe?”
While Commander Edith was attempting to learn about the consequences of her options, Michael and Moly entered the Command Deck.
Once more the Command Deck speakers came to life. “Start Ship Good Fortune, you have 1 hour to explain your approach to the 12-Worlds Empire or you will be treated as hostile.”
“Well, that we pretty clear,” said Commander Edith. “We are going to be treated as hostile regardless what we tell them. So the truth it is. Computer this is Commander Edith please open a transmitting communication channel to the 12-Worlds Combined Star Fleet Command and then when I clap my hands close it.”
The computer responded. “The channel will be closed when you clap your hands, It is now open.”
“Combined Star Fleet Command, This is Commander Edith of the Seed Ship, formerly the Star Ship Good Fortune. We are returning with some 2,000 Fodarians who we rescued from slave-like conditions on the Star Ship Good Fortune. We have come to warn the people of Fodar of the enslavement of their fellows by unscrupulous pirates from Nohoilpi and Begtse.” Commander Edith clapped her hands.
The assemblage on the Command Deck stood quietly while they waited for a reply. Finally, the speakers crackled to life. “We know of no piracy or enslavement. Since you are in possession of a ship in our feet, you are the pirates. We will have to board you and return control to its rightful owners. We will have a boarding party alongside you in three standard days. Do not resist or we will reduce you to atoms.”
“Computer this is Commander Edith, Please locate Carlos and ask him if he would be so kind as to join us in a conference to defend the ship against the forces of the Evil Empire that seems to have control of the 12-World System. Then please scan the communications frequencies for any signals from Fodar.”
“I have notified Carlos and he said he would join you in 10 minutes,” replied the Computer. “I have a list of the transmissions from Fodar arranged by type of signal on the screen at the communications station.
“Are we going to have another space battle like the one we had when I was a kid?” asked Michael, who was now 16-years-old.
“I suspect there will some hot plasma, or focused lasers, not to mention plain old solid objects thrown our way when their boarding party fails to board us,” replied Commander Edith.
“Harvey and I have cooked up some tricks for, as he calls it, not fighting battles but letting the other side see the error of its ways,” replied Michael.
“What have you two cooked up?” asked Commander Edith.
Moly jumped in, “I helped, I did some of the simulations. I helped.”
“Right, Moly was the key thinker on this one,” replied Michael with a wink.
“I saw that wink,” said Moly.
“No, Dude, I have something in my eye,” replied Michael. He quickly continued, “What we think is that we should throw a glitter bomb in a random direction and then while they are distracted, pretend to move the ship in another direction. But not move at all. They will see the glitter bomb and then turn and they will see a hologram of us in a think we have moved. But the thing is we will move the hologram in among them and the hologram will launch what appear to be conventional weapons toward each of their ships and one toward the source of their communications for good measure,” he said pointing to the blue light in the hologram of the 12-World System still running over the Navigation Station. We will get them to fight each other.” Michael stood straight with a smile. “I got my part of the idea from an Earth book by Sun Tzu-‘The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.’” Michael smiled again, “But that does not mean the enemy doesn’t have to fight.”
“It just might work,” said Commander Edith. “I’d feel a lot more comfortable if we had stealthy technology like the cloak of invisibility from another set of old Earth books.” She sighed, “But that was fantasy fiction.”
“Really,” said Michael. “What if we put a hologram of space in front of the Seed Ship?”
Good Afternoon Ted and Jody:
It clearly is the dominant season here in the Pacific Northwest—rain. We have had 3 inches since Wednesday morning. Yet, there are breaks as one front after another moves through. This morning one break occurred around 9:30 as I was off to a late breakfast affording several images which I added to my inventory. However, it did rain a bodacious plenty before and after I took my shots.
Nancy is off taking a class at Longview Sewing today. That leaves me without adult supervision.
I got a note from Chris Warner (circa 1980 at CMU) about calls for a Constitutional Convention. Quite frankly a Constitutional Convention frightens the daylight out of me. In this era of white people being afraid of their own shadows (losing their privileged and superior status in their eyes), he figures it would be a threat to the freedoms we already have. I think he is correct. Then too, with big money having no effective restraints on its ability to buy representation, they might be able to enshrine their freedom from paying a fair share of taxes in a whole section of a new document. Never has the statement that “Democracy is a good idea that requires constant defense” been truer. If we were French we could at least cry “To the Barricades” (in French of course).
Warmest regards, Ed
Voyage of the Seed Ship 046 Plant 03-354, Good-Bye
Fiction in 443 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
[Command Deck, Seed Ship]”Looking at the structure of the material taken from the underwater structures that you and James found, Walter, Harvey, and Michael found they are riddled with gamma-ray penetrations,” said Carlos. “Along with Moly interfacing with the computer data banks, they identified damage done by gamma rays. The evidence suggests this planet was in the bullseye of a gamma-ray burst from a supernova. Normally, these bursts are far away and outside what we call inhabited galaxies. But this one was close enough to Plant 03-354 to kill all living things. It happened so long ago that any organic material has been completely mineralized. We ought to find fossils. But that is about it.”
“Gamma rays completely eradicated life on this planet?” asked an incredulous Commander Edith.
“Yes, it took a pretty intense bombardment,” said Carlos. “But, judging from the evidence in the microscopic structure of the building materials not to mention the sediment samples, the bombardment overwhelmed the planet’s weakened defenses.”
“What do you mean weakened defenses?” asked Walter.
“This planet has almost no ozone layer,” replied Carlos. “Without an ozone layer to protect life by literally absorbing the energy of solar radiation, life would be subject to radiation poisoning from its sun. The sun alone would cause massive cancers and other mutations. A gamma-ray burst would not be significantly retarded and if nothing else might wipe out the bottom of the food chain. That alone would doom complex lifeforms on a planet if it did not do the same to them.”
“That is why a planet so close to the 12-Worlds home system has stayed uninhabited,” said Edith. “A beautiful potential home is, in reality, a death trap.”
“Ironically, the odds of another gamma-ray burst hitting 03-354 is almost zero,” said Carlos. “But the steady bombardment of this planet’s sun without an ozone layer to protect them would cause a near 100% rate of cancers and mutation in any species that mistakenly chose to colonize 03-354.”
Commander Edith turned to Sue Lin and said, “Next stop your home, Fodar.”
Sue Lin smiled. It was a sad smile. Then she said, “Going home sounds like a good thing,” She shook her head and a quizzical look crossed her face. “But, home has been this ship for so long that Fodar seems more like a legend in my mind than a reality. But, they need to know their ‘friends’ on others of the 12-Worlds have enslaved those of us who participated in the joint, grand exploration of the universe.” Her lips tightened, her eyes narrowed and she said, “To Fodar.”
USPS, Chocolate is the New Health Food, A Photo & Voyage of the Seed Ship 045 Oceanic Probe of Plant 03-354
Good Morning Ted and Jody:
For years I have used the USPS web pages to calculate postage. At some point, I must have signed up (you know us old people don’t always know what we are doing online. There was the time SWAT surrounded the house, but that is another story) for what they call “Informed Delivery: USPS <USPSInformedDelivery@usps.gov> . Every morning I get an email that shows me the junk mail that will show up in my mailbox each day (or the next day). If they showed me all the mail, like first class and bills, I would know in advance whether it was worth my while to stop and get the mail when we go to lunch. Yesterday, it did not show me the envelope from you. Thank you for the stamps and the paper with the CMU reorganization information. If I read between the lines correctly, CMU is joining Harry’s and McDonald’s and is laying the groundwork or preparing for digital replacement of more faculty and staff. I wonder when they are going to discover room bots so they can replace the firm they hired to replace maintenance and grounds workers? Perhaps the administration will invest in hologram technology
Yesterday, much to my amazement one of my news feeds contained the line “How Chocolate Became a Health Food.” The headline is just a bit misleading but still, Edith Gunderson was onto this before it became a “fad health drink for the rich and wanting an excuse to get fat drinking Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows.” https://flipboard.com/@flipboard/-dark-chocolate-is-now-a-health-food-her/f-fa046955aa%2Fvox.com Next I expect to find a prospectus for investing in a marshmallow farm, They had grit farms in South Carolina in the back of pickup trucks back in the 1960s! So why not marshmallow farms in RVs in Washington State?
While we did get an inch of rain between midnight and 5:00 this morning I decided to go out with an umbrella (to keep rain off the lens) around 10:00 this morning when the rain was only a “Washington Rain,” (light an not requiring a windshield wipers on anything but intermittent) an shot an empty parking lot (it took 7 shots to fully capture its emptiness).
Warmest regards, Ed
Voyage of the Seed Ship 045 Oceanic Probe of Plant 03-354
Fiction in 2710 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
[Submariner Prob Ship, Planet 03-354] “No, I saw these in the hanger.” said James. “I really did not know what they were and never thought I would be at the controls of one.”
“Remarkable what a day or two in a training simulator can do for one’s skill set, Boy O,” said Walter.
“You can say that again,” replied James. “You want to try the helm?”
“You mean that joystick,” replied Walter. “No thank you. I trust both your skills and your luck.” There was a pause as both men watched the water get darker until all pretense of surface light had long gone. “Switching on the descent lights and the descent camera.”
For well over an hour the Submariner Prob slowly descended into the depths of Planet 03-354’s largest ocean. The descent lights seemed to weaken as if the ocean were thicker. In truth, they reached just as far into the darkness. It was just that the longer the darkness persisted the weaker the lights seemed to the two men who were intently watching the screen.
“The analyzers show no change in the composition of the water and no sign of any life what-so-ever,” said James, We are still 15 meters off the bottom. Wait, look to the left on the screen, there is something jutting up that is a milky white.”
As the two men watched and the Submariner Probe slowly drifted closer to the object it resolved itself into a 10-meter tall statue of a Woman. As their decent continued low flat shaped objects, only 5 meters above the seabed began to resolve into focus on the screen. Both men watched in silence as they moved over rows and rows of what appeared to be flat-roofed, low-built structures. James gently maneuvered the Submariner Probe to a space between two of the structures an used an extended arm to probe the bed of the ocean between them. “This is soft sediment. They cannot be resting on soft sediment they must be berried in sediment.”
“How deep?” asked Walter.
“I have the probe in 50 meters at full extension. There is no sign of a solid bottom,” replied James. “These are the tops of buildings we are seeing. I’d wager a month’s wages.”
“But the meters register no indication of anything remotely alive on this planet. How can this be here?” asked Walter.
“It is going to take someone a hell of a lot smarter and more knowledgeable than I to answer that one, my Friend,” replied James. “Let’s move the probe and see what kind of resistance it gets on the top of one of these things.” He moved several dials and watched the screen as the probe passed over the top of one of the flat, milky white structures. “Here we go.”
Both men watched the probe push against the flat surface and then break through in much the same fashion a sharp object punctures an eggshell. The inside was filled with water. Turning the probe to explore the interior, the two men saw openings that would be windows and doors in any human structure. The room, for lack of a better description, was otherwise empty. Returning to the downward exploration at about 4 meters the probe found another flat surface. “I’ll wager that is a floor for a chamber and a ceiling for one below,” said James.
The probe broke through in much the same way as it had the previously flat surface. This time it entered a space filled with sediment. The probe found another flat surface at another 4 meters down. “I think we have gotten what we can get on this trip,” said James. “I have noted our location so a followup will not have to repeat our method of entry. We have samples, lets, take this baby and the samples we have gathered back to the surface and let the folks know about this strange sign of life.”
“Why strange?” asked Walter.
“Our instrumentation shows no organic signatures what-so-ever,” said James. “But if that isn’t a city below us, I have never seen a city. Cities are not geologic formations, they are built. Who built it and where are they?
Good Morning Ted and Jody:
I realized this morning that I never get a day off. Ever since I retired, I have been bereft of days off, holidays, sick days and forget personal days or days for jury duty. Never a day off. Retirement sucks with no days off. I’d get a job, but I don’t know when I would fit it in; and, then there is automation taking the jobs for which I would qualify. Even MacDonald’s is trying to shift to customers placing their own orders.
If I put the “self-order” at McDonald’s together with the “terms of service” at Harry’s, I rather suspect “service” has been eviscerated from both enterprises. Ah, lamentations, lamentations, lamentations. No days off and no service. I think I should bury my head in fiction–it is more personal.
Warmest regards, Ed
Voyage of the Seed Ship 044 Surface Probe of Plant 03-354
Fiction in 719 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
[Recon Rocket, Planet Surface] James, suited for a vacuum, walked 25 meters from his ship, looked back and thought to himself, ‘It is always a wonder that we are able to land one of those on a tripod the tail fins make.” Then he laughed out loud. ‘We do cheat by using hydraulics to level the ship as we land.’
“What’s the joke, Boy O?” Walter’s voice crackled in his ears.
“I was just thinking how silly it is for me to think I did something by putting the Recon Rocket down safely when it has more automatic stabilization than you can shake a stick at,” replied James.
There was a brief silence in his helmet and then Walter said, “We didn’t want to tell you, but for recons, we don’t install the expensive stuff.”
“You’re kidding. Right,” said James.
Again the brief silence, then “Right, now, you have established the surface is solid. Right.”
“Your kidding again,” said James.
“Well when one is on a roll,” said Walter’s voice.
“Will you two knock it off,” said Commander Edith’s voice in Jame’s headset. “Get some rocks and take a soil sample and get back here for dinner.”
“Yes, Mam,” James said echoing Walter’s voice in his ears. Then James continued, “Isn’t getting a soil sample from here like taking one from the Sahara Desert to figure out what the soil is like on Earth?”
“If we were looking at the composition of the soil, yes,” replied Carlos in Jame’s ears. However. We are interested in how the rocks are broken down by the factors that weather them. That gives us a picture of what forces are working down there—wind, water, sunlight and perhaps microbes. They each weather rocks slightly differently into smaller rocks we tend to call soil regardless of the organic content.”
James put some rocks and soil in his sample bag. He deployed the analyzer and read the display and commented, “Still nothing harmful or organic on the meter.”
“We are still going to put you in quarantine, and scrub you down before letting you sit down to dinner with us,” replied Walter. “Which, by the way, is, Pizza Supreme delivered by Al’s Pizza of Brooklyn, your favorite.”
[Dining Deck 12, Seed Ship] James entered the Dining Deck, spied Carlos and joined him. “If you are here you have finished the analysis of the rocks and soil already?”
“Nope, Harvey is doing that?” replied Carlos.
“I hadn’t thought of the Tzotzil using its magnifying eyes,” replied James. “How did you get him to work for you?”
“No me, Michael,” replied Carlos. “Harvey and Michael are best buds,” Carlos chuckled at his pun. “I do not quite understand the attraction but they are inseparable when Michael is not required elsewhere. If Harvey had feet, he would tag along to classes and basketball practice. And if we let him Michael would sleep on the Agricultural Deck.”
“So, put wheels under his waterbed,” said James.
“That has been suggested, pleaded for and even demanded,” said Carlos. “However, Commander Edith tells Michael no and makes it stick. I think the thing that convinced him was when she handed him an old-fashioned mop and bucket and told him if any of Harvey’s water was anywhere she would take the mop handle to Michael after he mopped it up. Michael started working on a cover . . .”
Carlos sentence was interrupted by the computer. “Carlos, this is the computer notifying you that Michael says Harvey has finished the analysis.”
Carlos stood, picked up his tray and said, “Thank you computer.” He turned to James and said, “When you get done with Al’s pizza come up and you can see the results for yourself.”
[Command Deck, Seed Ship] “All the results show the rock are volcanic and only volcanic,” said Carlos. “What we can’t figure out is the level of oxygen in the atmosphere. Volcanoes in every instance we know of do not produce oxygen. There has to be something else?”
“Time to look at the oceans,” said Edith. “As I recall there was an early organism on Earth that was responsible for building up the oxygen levels. As I recall cyanobacteria that also built up stromatolites. Let’s go algae hunting.”
Good Morning Ted and Jody:
We made a clean entry into Portland yesterday. 1 hour and 10 minutes portal to parking space. Returning, however, took just a bit longer-1 hour to get out of Portland (across the river to Washington). Then once in Washington, the laws against traffic jams took effect and everyone seemed to move more freely. The bridge where we crossed is about 40 minutes from home. I have thought long and hard about the time difference going and coming and can only conclude that since we get into Portland during the lunch hour everyone is at lunch leaving the roads to us. Coming back we left the audiologist at 2:24 which is apparently the height of the “running errands” drive time in Portland. Since we missed lunch, I headed to a restaurant on Nancy’s approved list in Vancouver. We got there to find the place gone. The property was razed with bulldozers and backhoes littering the lot. Only their sign remained on a pole in the corner of the lot. The last time we were there Nancy casually remarked, “They need to remodel this place.” I guess management heard her.
Our representative in Congress has been making noise about a proposal that Oregon wants to put into place to pay for more bridges across the Columbia. She is opposed to the Oregon plan as it would impose tolls on the poor people of Washington who work in Oregon. From my many excursions into Portland, I think she has it all wrong. We need a toll on those bridges to keep random traffic from overcrowded Portland streets coming into Washington and causing traffic jams here. I can hear the rumor spreading now in Portland, “You know if we get into Washington state we can drive faster and have more space between our vehicles. Let’s go over and have a driving party.” To nip those in the bud we need tools on the bridges!
My hearing has not changed much. However, the technology has changed a lot. So I ordered new thingies to put into and hang over my ears, smaller and more powerful. Hearing aids have joined the 21st Century as there are now two apps I can use on my smartphone so it can adjust the, for lack of a better term, the functionality of my hearing aids: Easytek and Myhearing. We pick the units up next Wednesday so we can enjoy yet another sojourn, bumper to bumper getting out of the city.
Yesterday was a varied photo opp day. Surprisingly there were very few photo ops while I was in traffic (it is a stiff fine in Oregon to have physical contact with a device while behind the wheel). However, early and late in the day made up for the long time stuck in traffic.
And I took this last one with horizontal shots to make the panorama and it merged the wires!
Warmest regards, Ed
Voyage of the Seed Ship 043 Michael’s New Friend
Fiction in 513 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
[Agricultural Deck, Seed Ship] When Michael arrived in the section of the Agricultural Deck where Commander Edith had ‘assigned’ to the Tzotzil orphan, Moly’s android was already there and trying to reassure the Tzotzil that he was in good hands. “. . . but you eat vegetables too.” Moly said.
Michael watched Moly stand silent and then Moly said, “Actually it is the same. You just do most of the stages of digestion in your water bed and they your system retrieves the nutrients, especially the sugars to run your brain through your roots. It is exactly the same thing as chewing, except yo and I do not get to enjoy the real flavor and texture of our food.”
Again, Michael watched as Moly stood silent and then after a few moments, he said, “See, that is the thing, humans and other fauna get to taste things so they can choose what flavor or intensity they want when they put fuel into their bodies. Humans seem to me to be active in all aspects of living, I wish I could taste and smell things. I recently learned an emotion and it was not fun, but I will risk that for just one taste of something, anything.”
“Moly,” Michael said, “I can’t hear it responding. How can you hear it?”
“First, he is not an it,” said Moly. “When you go calling people, even plant people it, you dehumanize them and make them eligible to well, be eaten or just killed or turned into rugs. Second, he is talking directly to my mind. I can do that without touching him as I enter his nervous system and then his thoughts are mine, or, if you prefer, I can know them.”
“So you are mind reading,” said Michael.
“Not exactly. I get into a low level of his nervous system so I am not into his central brain where thoughts form, information stored, and sensory perceptions recorded. So, I only get the information or words that he wants me to get. It is similar to how they communicated with each other.”
“That means you have to be a translator for anyone talking to him?” asked Michael.
“Only if you don’t want to get your hand wet or have him put a vine on you,” replied Michael.
“Why then did you talk out loud,” asked Michael, “when you were thought communicating with it, I mean him?”
“Simply put, talking out loud is formed in the brain and as the brain sends it to the anatomical, or in my case electrical, systems to make sounds, the thoughts are put into play, so to speak,” replied Moly. “Does that make sense to you, Michael?”
Carlos heard the exchange between his son and Moly and was pondering whether or not to enter the conversion with his parental warnings However before Carlos could decide, Michael took several strides, reached the edge of the Tzotzil’s water bed, stuck his hand in and said, “Hi, my name is Micheal, what is your name?”
A Sunday Drive, Jeff Sessions’ War against Washington State & Voyage of the Seed Ship 042 The Last of the Tzotzils
Good Morning Ted and Jody:
Yesterday after lunch we drove up to Elk Rock Viewpoint at 3500 feet and a few miles beyond. Tomorrow the rains are supposed to return and today we drive into Portland for my biannual hearing exam (I actually go in the year in between as he checks to make sure I can still hear). So we took the opportunity to go up and make sure the mountain was still properly nailed down and the wildlife was taking proper care of it. The angle of the sun was right and the small filter provided by a wispy cloud let through just enough light that I thought to capture the color of a ripe bed of weeds—I loved the richness of the yellowish color and the computer chip in the camera captured what I saw.
I read in the paper yesterday that the one paragraph in Federal Law that keeps Jeff Sessions from sending in the DEA to bust Washington, Oregon, Colorado and all the states with Medical Marijuana Laws may be in danger of not passing the House: the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which prohibits the Justice Department from spending one dime on prosecuting marijuana cases contrary to state laws. I fin di ti interesting that the bastion of conservatism, Jeff Sessions, wants the Federal Government to bring the wayward states to heel (and he was such a good Alabama Boy too). If Sessions gets his way, they will have to build a wall around our state to keep us incarcerated.
Well, we are off to test our driving patience in the big city.
Warmest regards, Ed
Voyage of the Seed Ship 042 The Last of the Tzotzils
Fiction in 942 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
[Command Deck, Seed Ship] “Moly,” said Walter, “If the last Tzotzil did not die it was the newest Tzotzil; it is still a child in Commander Edith’s eyes. Once our beloved Commander was an agent of something called Child Protective Services. I think she is incapable of seeing a child of any species mistreated or abandoned. I believe she took an oath. They did not administer or require one; but, she took one just the same.”
[Elevator Deck, Seed Ship] Commander Edith pivoted into the suit room looked around, found her space suit and said, “Computer, this is Commander Edith, would you please ask one of the workers here if they would please come and help me into this suit.”
“I have requested the Supervisor to send two females to assist you, Commander, they will be here in less than 30 seconds,” replied the computer
Indeed, two young women ran into the suit-room, without speaking finished the closures on the back of the suit and latched the helmet down. One of them gave a thumbs up and Edith nodded, smiled and pivoted.
[Interstellar Vessel Heart of the Sky] Commander Edith materialized in a compartment recently vacated by a Tzotzil and pivoted to the next compartment. She repeated this five times until she materialized in a compartment that was still intact and still contained its occupant. Noting all was well and the Tzotzil did not have its vines prepared to open the hatch she immediately pivoted.
[Agricultural Deck, Seed Ship] Commander Edith materialized in her space suit and looked around. She walked to a large open area of the hydroponics section that was filled with water but unoccupied. She immediately pivoted.
[Interstellar Vessel Heart of the Sky] Commander Edith materialized in the last Tzotzil’s chamber and climbed into the waterbed with him and his crop of food stock. She with the Tzotzil and his crop pivoted.
[Interstellar Vessel Heart of the Sky] Commander Edith materialized in the middle of the hydroponics bed with the Tzotzil and his food crop. She climbed out and said, “I know you don’t pick up sound but perhaps I am close enough for you to read my mind. Welcome to your new home.” She unlatched her helmet and said, “Computer this is Commander Edith, please inform the Director of Agriculture we have installed a guest on his deck and ask Moly to please come and explain to this youngster, where he is and why. Be sure Moly tells him all the reasons why he is an orphan.”
The computer replied, “I have informed the supervisor on the Agricultural Deck and Moly is on his way in his new Android.”
Commander Edith did not hear the computer’s response as she had already pivoted.
[Command Deck, Seed Ship] Commander Edith materialized and said, “I should think that Nikud and Welli might want to inventory the Interstellar Vessel Hart of the Sky and see if it is worth salvaging before it gets too far away. If someone would help me put this helmet back on, I would be delighted to escort the two of your with your androids so you can batten down the hatches over there.”
“Did you save the kid?” asked Walter as he snapped her helmet’s safety catch into place.
Commander Edith smiled through her face-plate, nodded and gave him a thumbs up. Then she pivoted with the two androids.
A split second later Commander Edith materialized without her space suit. “I was getting tired of the constraints of the suit. Now you were saying that planet 03-354 has what, Walter?”
Walter looked a bit confused. In his mind, he played back what was happening before Moly showed up with the news about the Tzotzils committing suicide and then remembered. “Yes, the planet seems to have the proto-life of nucleic acid and RNA and looks like it would support higher forms of life with a little coaxing. But this data is tens of thousands of years old.”
“So, best we sample before we let people go down there,” said Commander Edith.
“Right,” said Walter. “Where did you stash the young Tzotzil?”
“On the Agricultural Deck,” replied Commander Edith. “I have Moly talking to him.”
“Is that wise?” asked Walter.
“I think it is best for both of them,” said Commander Edith. “Moly needs the responsibility as much as the kid needs some information about where he is and why.”
“But, Moly,” Walter started to say.
“No, the fault was mine, not Moly’s” replied Commander Edith. “Moly is new to dealing with people, any kind of people. I, on the other hand, have been dealing with very ticklish issues with people all my life. I should have tread more lightly and cautiously. But, Land O’ Goshen, they were plants and plants simply do not, did not have feelings, and never thoughts. I blew it. Badly.”
“Well, don’t beat yourself up about it,” said Walter. “After all you are only one person, Commander or not, you are only one person.”
Michael who had been sitting quietly, taking everything in stood up and said, “Is it OK if I go help Moly?”
Commander Edith reached out and gave the boy a hug. “I would be ever so grateful if you did, Michael.”
When Michael had left the Command Deck. Commander Edith said, “He is such a good boy.”
“When I was his age, I wanted to know about sex,” said Walter.
Carlos stood up and ran off the Command Deck after his son thinking ‘I guess I need to have that talk with my son. I have been dreading it. I remember how badly my father messed with my mind.’
Good Morning Ted and Jody:
Yesterday I wrote that in making some panoramas the wired bow. But I neglected to give you an example. So today I remedy that.
I was up and out early this morning with high hopes for a red line on the horizon type of sunrise. However, I did not consider the fog. The fog was thick, but not deep. In many places, one could look up and see the moon. Sunrise, however, was not to be recorded through the fog. So I gave up and headed west to breakfast. I topped the last hill before dropping to the valley floor and lo, there, behind me the sun was making preparation for its appearance—dawn at last. Normally the valley is socked in with fog; but, not this morning.
I got to thinking about impeaching the pestilence this morning at breakfast. While I know George Washington set a precedent by issuing an executive order, I figure to add one count in the impeachment resolution for each of his executive orders (along with his other high crimes and misdemeanors). That way when a large number of the particulars fail to reach the votes for conviction. It only takes one to impeach and I figure this way if he is convicted on one and not the vast number of them, even though he has been impeached, he will still claim victory “They only got me on one count.”
Warmest regards, Ed
Voyage of the Seed Ship 041 The End of the Tzotzils?
Fiction in 866 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
[Command Deck, Seed Ship] “We have begun slowing for arrival at planet 03-354, the last uninhabited planet on our route to Fodar,” said Walter. We have six months to look it over.”
“I wonder why a planet that is suitable for life this close to the 12-Worlds home system is uninhabited?” Asked Commander Edith.
“Perhaps, Sue Lin could shed some light on that,” said Walter.
“Computer, this is Commander Edith, please notify all hands we are slowing in preparation to orbiting planet 03-354, our last stop before Fodar. We will be there is six-months.” She looked around and then asked, “What do we know about 03-354?”
“Hang on a minute,” said Walter, “I just had that information on the screen.” He paused and then said, “.98 of Earth’s gravity, two moons with irregular tides; it is in a cooling period after extensive volcanic activity some 400,000 years ago. No record of plant or animal life. The atmosphere is rich in oxygen. It has . . . “
Walter was interrupted by the speaker system. “It was terrible, wasteful and sad beyond belief. They would not listen about the danger of opening the hatches. I watched them all get blown into space when they opened the hatches in their chambers. The last one took my android with him into space. There was nothing I could do. It was horrible, I never understood emotions, but I do horror and sadness now. It was all so pointless.”
“I’ll make you another android that has taste and can smell odors,” said, Walter.
“Thank you, Walter, you are too kind,” said Moly. “But they are still gone. The first one I who died, I watched die one layer at a time. It was very fast, but the outer layers of cells explode then the next and finally the last cell. Death is forever and they were the only plants with whom I ever communicated; they were not at all like the plants we have on the agricultural deck. I never even learned how to pronounce their names. And now they are gone.”
“Moly, why were they so insistent about expanding their environment?” asked Commander Edith.
“They said it had to do with reproduction,” replied Moly. “They could replace themselves, but they had to give up so much that they died in the process. They were not convinced that their offspring were quite the same as they were before they reproduced.”
“So, they wanted to live longer before reproducing?” asked Commander Edith. “I don’t understand why that would demand a larger environment.”
“Yes, they theoretically could live for what amounts to forever,” replied Moly. “They just add layers on the outside, you know, get bigger around, taller and have more vines. If they did not die and reproduce themselves as smaller individuals eventually they would have run out of room on The Hart of the Sky. But that would have been thousands of years from now and they had already used this regeneration of themselves for what they thought of as eons. It was about new combinations of their chromosomes.”
“So, it was about generating diversity in their population?” asked Commander Edith.
“They would have wanted to think it was that,” said Moly. “However, I was in their minds and know that was a cover, so to speak. I find it strange how intelligent beings seem to hide things from themselves or deny part of their very being. But, diversity was what I would call an excuse. Yes, it was something else entirely.”
“For heaven sake, Moly,” pleased a frustrated Walter, “what in the hell were they hiding?”
“It is one of those experiential things,” replied Moly. “Physically two individual Tzotzils would decide to grow a special type of vine. Their special vines would meed in an empty water bed and well, they would each experience an unbelievable pleasure for a fairly short period of time. It would seem that pleasure is addictive to Tzotzils and they can share a ghost of their experience with other Tzotzil. The intensity of that pleasure fades very slowly and remains in their memory for a very long time. Well, shortly before they encountered us, one of their numbers died before he replicated himself. This left an opening and two of the ones we met recently had that experience, making a new member of their community. Of course, because they communicate telepathically, the experience was shared with all members, except the new one. Essentially, had they not lied to themselves about why they wanted the expanded living room, they may have been a bit less anxious to explode trying. I find, that when people know why they are doing . . . “
Moly’s thought was interrupted by Walter. “My God. You mean to say they killed themselves hoping to have more sexual encounters!”
“Moly,” said Commander Edith, “was the one you did not see die the new member of their community?
“Yes, Commander,” replied Moly. “Why do you ask?”
But Commander Edith did not hear Moly’s question for she had pivoted.
Saga Jane, Mast Head Closes, Infrastructure in Photos, Ice, An Idiot & Voyage of the Seed Ship 040 Recap of Show and Tell for the Tzotzil
Good Morning Ted and Jody:
Ann Marie and her little girl, Saga Jane, are home with their family now. I still do not have any numbers (weight and length) so you have to pick your lottery tickets at random. Her photo on Facebook garnered over 100 likes. I got to thinking she lives in a much smaller world than I do, Iceland, and the number of likes shows it! (Smiley Face Emoticon)
I suppose the big news here is that the Mast Head, one of the restaurants we had dinner in when you came to visit, is for sale: http://tdn.com/news/local/masthead-to-close-oct-sells-to-oregon-developer/article_06e7da7b-4aef-5aa6-8c85-31a6dab7c404.html
It is a real pity for it was the to go to place for onion rings and really well-prepared dinners.
I have been playing with including infrastructure in my images. For panoramas infrastructure, wires again, have a tendency to bow or to not quite overlap. When I look at the results, I tend to say to my self, interesting, but not terribly calming.
Every morning I empty and clean the water dish I have out for Gracie and any critter that comes along. I can tell it is well used as there is lots of dirt in the bottom and the water is largely gone. This, and yesterday morning, there was a 16th of an inch of ice on the top. That and the rain on the pumpkin the other day convince me that summer must be nearing an end.
Yesterday, shortly after emailing you, my monitor went back—no lights. I thought it was dead. I spent over an hour cleaning a path to it (scraping the mold off the important papers and things that had piled up on my computer “desk.” Then I switched out the monitor with two older and smaller models that I unearthed in the pile of less important papers in a corner of my computer room. Nothing worked. Finally, I got the notion of checking the power supply and surge protector and finally fixed the problem by turning the switch on the power supply and surge protector back on. I reach two conclusions from the exercise: 1) the cat tripped the switch and 2) I am too stupid to own a computer.
Warmest regards, Ed
Voyage of the Seed Ship 040 Recap of Show and Tell for the Tzotzil
Fiction in 580 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
[Command Deck, Seed Ship, One Week Later] “On balance, I think the tactical demonstrations went rather well,” said Carlos.
“Yes, I thought the ear of corn before and after exposure to a vacuum was particularly effective,” said Commander Edith.
“Giving a different set of skills to individual Tzotzil was a stroke of genius, Commander,” said Walter.
“I was surprised that Moly was willing to stay with them and assist with the Physical things that required a big picture,” said Carlos. “I’m going to miss him.”
“You are not the only one,” said Nikud.
“Yes, me too,” chimed in Welli. “But we all know that one of the three of us had to volunteer so The Heart of the Sky would end up in either a star or a black hole. For having such good eyesight, they can’t see a star they are headed right at.”
“The funny thing is,” said Nikud, “He thought of it first.”
[Interstellar Vessel Heart of the Sky] A vine wrapped securely around the spokes of a hatch wheel tugged and the seal held but the hatch was free to open. Another vine approached the hatch with what appeared to be a paint can opener. The tool was deftly wedged into the seal holding the hatch shut. Three other vines approached and two grasped the tool high and the three vines tightened. The hatch flew outward. The air and all loose objects in the compartment exited the hatch including the water in the individual Tzotzil’s bed. Even though the Tzotzil had a firm grasp on the frame and tank of his bed, he too was pulled through the hole, exploding as he ran into the wall of vacuum that failed to support the outward push of the internal pressure in his cells.
Moly watched the Tzotzil, one by one attempted to infinitely expand their environment. Moly returned to his android in one of the two remaining compartments with an atmosphere and address the Tzotzil there. “You and your next door neighbor are only of your species left. If you open that hatch as I know you want to, you will die as have the rest of your species.”
The Tzotzil responded to Moly, “If what you say is correct, my life is not worth living for it is only through the community that it has any meaning. If, as I suspect you only want to keep me here for purposes we can not yet comprehend, then my life will be without meaning as I will be your slave. We had a community and purpose before you came. You came and told us many things that we can not understand. We understand you are many species, some of which would eat us. My staying would be the same as agreeing to be your food. At least if I open the hatch and go out in the universe, I have a chance to find my friends and have a life again.” While he had been talking to Moly, his vines had nearly accomplished opening the hatch.
Moly watched as he listened. “Is there nothing I can tell you that will make you change your mind?”
“The truth,” replied the Tzotzil.
“I, we, have only told you the truth,” said Moly.
The vines the Tzotzil had been using on the hatch wheel finished their work. Once again the air and every loose object in the chamber was sucked into space, including Moly’s android.
Voyage of the Seed Ship 039 Planning Show and Tell for the Tzotzil
Fiction in 710 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
[Command Deck, Seed Ship] “We went back and got into three Tzotzil’s minds and sort of rummaged around,” said Nikud. “When they have a discussion it is more like sending memos to all the other individuals as their logic is straightforward and since the are telepathic they evaluate incoming memos immediately. I found one conversation in which a Tzotzil made an improper deduction and all the others corrected it immediately. Given a set of facts they are, if not anything else, logical. They have concluded that all they have to do is open a way to the outside, space, from the thing that confines them, The Heart of the Sky, that will give them all the room that they could ever want to expand their population.”
“If expanding their population is their goal, why do they not construct more beds in the parts of The Heart of the Sky they are not presently inhabiting?” asked Commander Edith.
“They don’t know how,” replied Welli. “They have no clue as to what the tools in the tool lockers do, or what the fabrication units in the place on the ship where things are made.”
“That would be a Fabrication Deck,” said Walter.
“We could show them,” said Michael.
“Yes, if they can get over the fact that we eat vegetables,” said Edith.
“I’d promise not to ever eat vegetables again if that would help,” said Michael.
“And have your mother box your ears,” said Carlos. “I think not.
“I don’t know what their problem is,” said Michael. “After all, they eat nothing but vegetables.”
Commander Edith sat up straight, her head cocked slightly to the right, her eyes opened wider, wrinkles formed on her forehead and she held up an index finger. “Michael, I do believe you are on to something.”
“You mean I don’t have to eat vegetables?” and excited Michael asked.
“I’m afraid that is still up to your mom,” said, Commander Edith. “But, I recommend you eat your vegetables. No, I mean, they eat vegetables. We can use that as a way to use logic to refute their newly formed biased against people who eat vegetables.” She sat quietly for a moment. “Moly, how good is their vision? I mean can they see pictures or do they see pixels or dots?”
“I looked through their eyes,” said Welli. “They see pixels or smaller. Their eyes are like microscopes. Why do you ask?”
“If they can’t see the big picture,” said Commander Edith, “then we can’t show them videos or what it is like in space and what happens to plants that are exposed to a vacuum, much less the stray partials that are zooming all over the place in space. Indeed, it would be difficult to teach them to use the tools that The Heart of the Sky carries.”
“They use their non-vision vines to feel things,” said Moly. “When they explored The Heart of the Sky after our visit, the one that looked at the Weapons Station has an accurate mental picture of that station. He did not associate the firing of missiles with what he did, but he did recognize that the light on the computer screen changed when he found what we think of as the firing code. He put that station into a category of not immediately useful for ‘our purposes.’”
“Did any of you get into the mind of the Tzotzil who examined the Fabrication Deck or the tools lockers?” asked Edith.
“Not I,” said all three ephemeral beings at the same time.
“I think it might be a good idea for you three to go back and do a census of what they know about how their ship operates,” said Commander Edith, paying particular attention to what they categorize as useful and why and not particularly useful for ‘their’ purposes.”
After “Aye, Aye, Commander,” in unison, the three androids used by Nikud, Moly and Welli collapsed on the Command Deck.”
Walter shook his head and said, “I am always picking up after them,” as he moved the androids to a bench and out of the way.”I wish they would leave them in a standing position once in a while.”