[HYPE] Stormaddedon to Destroy Oklahoma [\end HYPE]

I survived the storms last night.  A few downed branches and leaves….EVERYWHERE, but I survived.  I lost power twice and internet didn’t come back on untill this morning. There were no hail dents on my car. The only damages that I found were a blown over trashcan and a cracked pane of glass in my spare room.

Work this morning was surprisingly mild.  We only had one major event that did not resolve itself. After an energetic night storm like this we usually have four or five sites that are down for one reason or another.

I understand the dangers of powerful storms, I’ve lived in oklahoma most of my life. It is nothing new, but the storm hype seems to grow each year.  I don’t think the TV channels make a lot of money by preempting everything (even commercials) on a storm night.  I have seen several FB post and tweets angry with the preempting of the entire night. Saying that they only need to interrupt TV when danger is impending.  I think it might be too late if they do, but I can’t help think that it isn’t done out of pure goodness and interest in public safety.

As it turns out I am not wrong that they don’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts. If a television station that has weather service does not preempt TV for a disaster warning they can lose their FCC license. The guidelines say that tv stations are free to use the airways as long as it is clear that they are providing a public service.

‘…each radio and television licensee is required by law to operate its station in the “public interest, convenience and necessity.”’ – FCC

In effect they are providing this public service in their own self interest. This trade off benefits both parties.  The hype though, that needs to stop.  I have been reading FB posts for a week before this storm.

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Weather Fright

For the last week the weathermen have been going crazy predicting the perfect storm conditions for today.  I have my doubts, but I also do not have a storm shelter.  If indeed a tornado is headed my way I race the 5 miles to the nearest public shelter or I head to the office.

The public shelter is a truck stop that is near I-40, we all hunker down in their showers (I hesitate to say smelly, unpleasant chemical odor is more appropriate.) and wait out the storm.  I have done this on multiple occasions and have had some very interesting chats with cross country truckers.

One such conversations was with a couple from England that had come to the U.S. by Canada.  They enjoyed the open road so much they decided to do it full time, alternating driving shifts as often as they could.  They had been married for 30 years and been truck driving as a couple for the last 20 years. They truly seemed happy. They had owned a tattoo shop in Edinburgh Scotland before moving to Canada to join some friends on a business venture that fell through and left them stranded across the ocean, broke, and homeless/countryless.

We talked for a couple of hours and I wish I had thought to exchange email addresses or some other contact information.  I think about them sometimes. In my darker thoughts on life, their happiness reminds me that not all is lost, no matter how lost you are.

Another time, I met a biker that was very upset at being stopped by this storm.  He was trying to get home to Arizona and had had nothing but bad luck on his journey.  When I said he was a biker that might not be the right term. This was his first long trip on a bike and he was clearly disillusioned with the road life.  As we talked I learned that he had quit his job and bought a bike. He felt trapped in his life and needed something new, but I think this wasn’t what he wanted.  Now he just wanted to go home and wash off the road dirt, sell the bike, and work a dead end job till he died.  The grass is always greener…

Now with this pending weather event, that may or may not happen, I will probably will be sitting in a public shower with strangers, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. I think I might be looking forward to it.

Let Me Count The Ways

True time travel (yes, it’s possible) is called time dilation.  The faster you go the slower time will pass. This is the core of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity.  As I have explained to my son, a scientific theory is not the same definition as a theory.  Scientific Theory is taking all the available information and forming an explanation of the natural world using the scientific method and repeated testing. You may be wrong, but with the information at hand that may be the only explanation.  As you gather more data points form experimentation and testing, you can adjust your theory to fit your data.  Just because your initial theory was incomplete doesn’t mean it is wrong. That is the great thing about science, once you learn more you can make better and more stable theories.

There are many effects on time, and there are several theories about time and space. Speed effect on time works like this, if the Earth were to come to a sudden and complete stop, no spin, no rotation around the sun, and no movement in the Milky Way galaxy, time would be faster for us that it is now. Not by much but it would be measurable.  On the other side of this idea is the faster you go the slower you experience time.

There are universal speed limits though, nothing can go faster than the speed of light and nothing is slower than a full stop. The amount of energy to accelerate an object close to the speed of light is exponentially greater the faster you go. The energy to go from %99.99 light speed to %100 light speed is would be infinitely greater than %99.98 to %99.99.  It is impossible to achieve. If you traveled at %99.99 the speed of light time would dilate for you, and from your perspective you would have time traveled into the future.  There have been several experiments with nuclear clocks that prove this theory.

A full stop, could be achieved by showing down the molecules in your body, by cryogenesis, or freezing. It’s the unfreezing that’s the tricky part.  If you were frozen today for 1000 years when you were revived, to your perspective you would have traveled into the world of tomorrow.  At absolute zero, all molecular movement stops, but it cannot be achieved by thermodynamics alone. Scientist have come close and discovered quantum effects like superconductivity and superfluidity, but have not achieved a complete molecular stop.

Gravity is theorized to have an effect on time as well.  Gravity slows time the greater the gravity the slower time passes. Black holes are so dense, and the gravity is so great that even light cannot escape. If you entered a black hole you would never experience the entry into the black hole (you would probably be dead, but if you didn’t die…).  Time would stop and you would forever be on the edge of the event horizon.  If by some miracle you were able to pull away from the black hole and return to earth, again from your perspective, you would have time traveled into the future.

These effects on time only dilate time and give the appearance of forward in time travel.  In the travelers point of view he has traveled in time to the future. Traveling back in time that is a whole other problem. Paradoxes that would result from stepping on a butterfly in the primordial past could alter the present so greatly that you would not recognise it.  There are several multiverse theories that prevent a paradox.  If you did travel from the present into the past and squashed a bug that would alter the present, maybe it just spawns a second universe line from that point forward leaving the original intact.  One with the living bug and one with it dead.  (If you don’t know what a paradox or a multiverse is, never fear there are many web pages that can explain them to you.  You may need to time travel into the past to read them all, but they are there.)

It may be that time travel into the past can never happen.  If it did happen would it even really be time travel and not just hopping onto another parallel world?

In reality we are all time travelers, we are passing through time in a bubble of about 2 to 3  seconds called the present.  We are trapped in this bubble, zooming along time. Even if we experience time dilation, once it has ended we are back in the same present as the rest of the universe.

Twenty-Eight Years

This is an old short story I wrote shortly after high school.  I have never much liked the story, but being written nineteen or twenty years ago it was strangely prophetic about my fathers heart troubles.  And, no I did not know how they fix a house foundation.

 

 

I lived there for 37 years, well off and on anyway. My parents had bought the house a few years after it had been built. I was 3 then, so I guess it’s fitting that the house and I are over-the-hill in the same year.

After my parents had died, they left me the house. It had always been my home even when I had my own place. They had kept good care of it, but there was only so much that my dad could do.

In his latter years his congestive heart failure prevented him from doing much of anything strapped to an oxygen tank. And my mom, well, my mom couldn’t do anything without getting frustrated out of her mind when it didn’t go just right. OCD ran in the family and she had to stick to her ‘routines’.

“Well, the foundation is sinking, and it’s getting deeper. I ‘spect it’s this La Nina weather pattern, too much rain for this part of the country.” Jim said. He was the local general contractor. He wasn’t cheap, but I wanted the house fixed, not patched over.

“What can we do?” I asked, dreading the impending answer. I didn’t want him to say there was nothing to do but start over.

Jim sucked air through his teeth, trying to dislodge some of his lunch.

“We can try to lift the house on jacks, but that will only be temporary, it will start to sink again in a few years. What the house needs is foundation with support pylons.”

I nodded mostly relived.

“One is expensive and the other is really expensive. But, a new foundation could help the house last for 60 years with the right care.” He made sure I knew what he was going to charge and that if anything unforeseen happened it could cost more.

I agreed and signed the contract to create a new foundation for the house. I was also having him remodel the house and add on two extra rooms and a full bath. It wasn’t about money. I had plenty of that, well enough of it anyway. I wanted my children to grow up in the same house that I did, if I ever had children.

The process of lifting the house up and placing it on a trailer was awesome to say the least. I stood across the street huddled in my jacket. It was starting to get brisk in the mornings, but Jim assured me that the foundation would be finished well before gets cold. I worked the zipper up and down twice, before I forced myself to stand still with my hands in my pockets

I watched as the house of my childhood was lifted off the ground, and loaded on to a trailer. All my childhood memories of climbing under the house to play had flooded back to me. I had once gotten stuck under the house and had a panic attack. My dad ripped up the floor in the living room to get me out. To this day I still won’t go into tight places. Not that I’m claustrophobic, I am just very aware of how easy it is to get stuck.

I could see my dads patch job on the floor. It was visible but very well done. The sunken floor joist fell loose. Cracked in half from the extra pressure it had been supporting. Decades of dirt fell lose, showering the trailer.

Jim came across the street. “We will reinforce the current floor joists with more modern material. We will clean the underside up as well, and replace any rotten wood we find. The new foundation will support the joist all the way across, as well as giving a good side support to the house. You won’t have to worry about warped floor boards anymore.

I thanked him and went to my hotel. I hadn’t been sleeping very well, I was afraid that the house would just collapse when they lifted it. I unlocked my hotel door and relocked it and then unlocked it again. I entered and repeated my lock unlock lock pattern. I checked all the lights and made sure they all were working twice before I sat down. I opened my brief case and took out the days work.

Numbers, the only true constant, I poured over the numbers well past lunch. I didn’t count things as such. I just new they were right or wrong, it was a gift. I found five mistakes fixed them, and faxed them back to the office twice. They understood my obsession and were lenient, because I did my work and I did it fast.

I went to grab a bite to eat at the local deli. Oh, how I had missed that deli. I ordered two sandwiches and paid for them. I would take the other sandwich, and give it to someone who needed it. There were plenty around town.

Late afternoon the next day I got a call from Jim. He wanted me to come down to the work site. I dreaded the worst. Maybe the house collapsed on the trailer, or the inspector came by and said the house had to be demolished.

I pulled to a stop and locked and unlocked and locked again my car doors, before rushing over to Jim. He was looking down at where the foundation would go. Lodged in the dirt was an ancient dingy baseball, stitching was still red-brown. Ruth in black ink shone like a beacon. I reached down and worked it lose from the dirt.   I squeezed back tears. I had lost that ball, when I was stuck under the house.

“Isn’t that something? Who knows how long that has been under there?” Jim said

“Twenty eight years ago. My Grandpa gave this ball to me when I was ten. I lost it under the house not too long after that.”

I took the ball and went to my car. I unlocked it.

Once.

And got in.

Fractal of the Self

The man slung the phone out over the water. It skipped across the the surface several times before it finally sank.  The brightly lit screen shining the open call all the way to the bottom.   He thought it odd the phone of a dying man, his phone, would struggle on for so long after its demise was inevitable.

He briefly wondered, how it sounded to his wife on the other end of the line as the phone bounced across the water and sank with a final blub glug, before the bullet entered the back of his head.  He fell to his knees and bit his tongue, the coppery taste of blood filled his mouth.  His face smacked the wet ground and he smelled lilacs and burnt toast.  The man who had pulled the trigger was already walking back to his car, the deed done. Not so much as a word for the recently deceased.

Blood was pumping vigorously out to the gaping wound in his head.  He was already dead, his heart just hadn’t gotten the memo.  He stood there next to his body and a void opened before him.  Standing on the precipice of an immensely high cliff he felt the urge to jump.  The call of the void was a compelling one, it’s song urged him to leap.  He took a step forward into bright darkness of the void.

He turned to look and saw himself step through the void, an infinity of himself stepping off an infinitely long precipice.  Each self having made the same infinite decisions that lead him here, and an equal amount of selves that had made different decisions, but ultimately took the same journey through the void, in an infinite amount of different ways. All dead, some had live long lives and died natural deaths, others were murdered in various ways or died in random accidents.  He hadn’t been a bad person, but his death was just as final.

It was a fractal of his being, every decision he ever made, every decision he could have made stretching on for eternity.  His reflections turned to him and the stepped into him.  In that moment, he was everything, he knew everything he could have been. It was torture to know how his life could have been, for better and for worse.  The magnitude of the experience rang through his being and he wept for the loss and the shame for what he could have been.

Delusions, Fooling Yourself.

When I as a kid, for a short time, I felt that I was watched. Watched all the time, like some little blue gnome was right behind my head, and no one but I could see him. Even I couldn’t see him since he was behind my head, and no matter how fast I moved he was always right behind me.

Then I discovered the infinite mirror image that let me see behind my head and there was no gnome just me.   I felt relieved, but I still felt watched. Deep down I knew there wasn’t really a gnome following me watching my every move, but it was kind fun trying to catch the little bugger off guard relaxing.

The feeling passed after a few weeks, but I felt kind of violated. That my own privacy had been taken away even when it hadn’t. I guess that is better than a friend of mine from grade school. He suffered from the delusion that everyone in the world was a robot or an alien, or something not human and he was the only human left. He was somehow on display for the universe to examine, kind of like the movie ‘Truman Show’ but more sinister.

Most of the time he was just a normal kid; running, playing, jumping, screaming, you know kid stuff. Then sometimes he would freak out and have a panic attack because the world wasn’t real. When these times happened and I was around I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t comfort him and reassure him, because in his mind I was a fabrication.

We only truly exist within our own minds. What I experience as reality could be a delusion. Each of us experiences the universe form a unique point of view, but I can’t prove that you experience anything. You could be a construct of my mind, or you could be an organic robot here to tend to my psychological needs. I am content to believe that you are a human being and have your own view of the universe. I think most of us share this belief even if you don’t express it in the same way.

“I think, therefor I am.” This is a profound philosophical statement. I only exist because I am consciously observing the universe around me. Society only exists because of the collective conciseness that binds us together to be observed by one another. We are all in the minds of each other therefor[where] we exist.

Swatter

Flash fiction. Complete short story in 50 words.

 

The door was closed. Holes, in the mesh, let in the fly. She buzzed around, scouting. Spying a small puddle of orange juice, left there from the morning, she landed.

“Sweet and tangy, I could just die.” She thought.

SMACK!

The swatter slammed down just after she had flown away.