You can find this design on RedBubble here: https://www.redbubble.com/shop/ap/53450113
You can find this design on RedBubble here: https://www.redbubble.com/shop/ap/53450113
I’m taking a creative writing class this semester to shake things up a bit and it has been a lot of fun. I wrote the following piece for the class and thought I’d share because I haven’t posted any fiction on my blog in a little while.
We had just finished reading Ocean Vuong’s novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. If you haven’t read this book, I highly suggest it. It is an incredibly beautiful piece of literature. The prompt for the following piece was to take a line from the book that we liked and use it for the first line of a short story. The line I chose was “I’m not telling you a story so much as a shipwreck.” Since the novel takes the form of a letter to the main character’s mother, I thought it fitting to do the same… but in a pretty different way. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.
I’m not telling you a story so much as a shipwreck.
I fear the worst, and if there is anyone that deserves to know what’s coming, it’s you.
I suppose I should start at the beginning. The first time I traveled through time, I was so overwhelmed with the fact that it had happened that I didn’t really get a chance to take advantage of the opportunity. My machine – which I’ve affectionately named The Device – can only jump just less than 6 days into the future, stays there for just over 21 minutes, then falls back through time to the moment it left. Having wasted a trip checking and rechecking the date to verify that I had actually made it would be fine if it wasn’t for the other constraint of the Device: due to the fact that there are only 3 quarks in a baryon and some other reasons too lengthy to get into, the machine can only make this trip 3 times.
I can picture the incredulity on your face. I assure you, it is true. I have made this trip, I have done it 3 times, and the Device sits lifeless in the corner of my study, its core burned out, never to budge again. True, I could construct another, but it would take another four years due to the slow timeline of the distillation process. Four years that I do not believe we have.
This reminds me, mother, I should probably come clean: I was not called in to the office the last four Christmases, as I said. I was working on the core for the Device. I am sorry for lying to you and prioritizing my work over time with you. I see now that this was a mistake.
The second trip, I was ready. You might not think that much can be done with 21 minutes and 17.93 seconds, especially when you can only jump 5.92 days into the future, but you’d be surprised what can be accomplished with a little planning. I know you taught me that gambling was a sign of weakness, but I fear that I have another confession to make. That house I bought you, the car, the weekly fancy fruit baskets were not the result of my salary. I suspect you knew that though. How could they have been. In fact, they (and much more wealth) are the results of five days of bets and investments that some have called “incredibly lucky.” It doesn’t take long to look up which stocks shot up the fastest in a weekly period, nor to write down who won major sporting events and horse races. A week of sure things has made me a small fortune that I haven’t known how to tell you about until now. Is it still a sign of weakness, mom? Is it weakness if it wasn’t really gambling?
Another thing you taught me was to settle for what I have and not to strive for more than I need. This, I fear, mother, is another lesson that I ignored. My small fortune should have been enough, but I found that there’s no such thing as enough money. If I had hundreds of millions instead of hundreds of thousands, imagine the good I could do. Is it being unthankful for what I have to strive for more? Is it selfish if I intend to use much of it to help others?
Well, that’s 2 of 3 trips down. The thing about money, is that it’s easier to make money if you have money to begin with. One more trip to the future to gather information and one more week of sure bets would certainly put me under the gaze of the IRS, but it should also allow me to grow what I have by at least a hundred, maybe a thousand times. That’s what I thought, at least.
I got there to find that nothing remained.
Just that small jump of a handful of days put me in a desolate wasteland of smoldering soil. The air was so thick with smoke that I spent most of my 21 minutes in the future, doubled over, coughing as if my body were trying to eject my very lungs.
I should have been near downtown, but as far as I could see through the smoke, there was nothing but ash. No buildings, no trees, no rubble, no people remained. It’s possible that whatever happened was local, as one can’t travel very far in a third of an hour while unable to pull in a full breath. I don’t think so, though.
My hair has been falling away in clumps and I’ve been nauseous and weak since getting back. Signs of radiation sickness.
I’ve spent the last 3 days – between bouts of vomiting – trying to determine what’s coming and trying to stop it, but there’s only so much I can do, not knowing what it is. This morning, too weak to stand, I was taken to the hospital, where I now lay confined and quarantined while they run their tests and ignore my input as the nonsense of a sick and fevered mind.
I can’t stop thinking about all the time I spent working that I should have spent with you, now that I can’t remedy it. I’m sorry, mother. I felt the need to tell you, to get it off my chest, but pray that the letter is too late. I pray you don’t have to spend your last days awaiting the end.
Your son, Dr. Robert Beckmer
As usual, you can get stuff (like t-shirts, mugs, and stickers) with this design on it on Redbubble here: https://www.redbubble.com/shop/ap/46069630
Margaret stared at the lady in horror for a long moment.
“Um,” she finally managed, “what do you mean by ‘euthanize?’”
“Oh,” the woman laughed. “Not euthanize. Youthanize, with a ‘Y.’ Though, now that you mention it,” she paused, biting her lip, deep in thought.
Margaret sighed quietly.
“I guess,” the young lady continued, a wide smile flashing back to her lips, “that it probably wasn’t the best name for our reverse aging treatment, was it?”
“No,” Margaret agreed, shaking her head.
Turning, the young woman said, “I’ll be right back with some forms.”
“Okay,” Margaret mumbled, watching her disappear around a corner.
As soon as she was gone, Margaret rushed to the door, determined to not be there when the girl returned.
I’m not sorry.
So, 2019 has come to a close. It was… a year.
I was unemployed for the last half of 2018 and the first half of 2019. So, I was in a pretty dark place this time last year and didn’t write a “2018 in Retrospect.” Otherwise, every year since 2013, I like to write up a few comments about what happened in my life over the previous year.
This is about me and things in my life, not world events and not politics, though… it’s pretty hard to not let politics affect my life. I’ll keep my opinions about the conservatives that are ruining the country to a minimum.
I’ll just say this: please stay informed this year and make sure you vote in November. We can do better.
If you are not interested in the details of my life, that’s fine; this is mostly for me anyway. Go eat a cookie instead.
I have to start out this discussion with a comment about my special lady friend. We are coming up on 8 years together and, well, she is amazing. I’ve known she was amazing for a long time, but there’s nothing quite like moving to the most expensive place in the country, then one of the pair (me) being unemployed for an entire year to bring out the true colors of a relationship. In these rough circumstances, she somehow just got stronger, more supportive, more compassionate, more understanding, and more patient. Without her, I don’t know how I would have made it through that period. I’m lucky beyond words to have her to share my life with. Also, she’s really smart, pretty, and funny… which is nice. 🙂
In June, we finally got a dog! His name is Kepler. If you haven’t seen pictures of him, then we clearly aren’t connected on social media. More pictures below (I also made a 2020 calendar of Kepler pictures that you can buy here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/richard-d-mellinger-jr/kepler/calendar/product-24332405.html complete with dog-themed holidays). He’s almost 2 years old now, some kind of mix (DNA test results pending), just over 20 lbs, and looks like a little German Shepard. He’s high energy, fast as all get-up, a high jumper, and he wants to herd everything. We still have a lot of training to do (the little girl on a scooter that he chased down the street can attest to this) but I think we’re off to a good start. He makes every day start with a grin, because of his stupidly cute, little face. Everything really is better with dogs.
Near the end of 2018 and right up until we adopted Kepler, I was volunteering to walk dogs at the shelter near us (San Jose Animal Care Center: https://www.sanjoseca.gov/your-government/departments/animal-care-services/adoptable-pets/adoptable-dogs). It was an incredibly rewarding experience. I learned a lot, met some great people, was able to help out some dogs in need, met MY dog there, and I squished a lot of cute faces. I only stopped because Kepler has some pretty severe separation anxiety (we’re working on it) and it made scheduling complicated… also he ate my ID card. I plan to go back when he mellows out a little more and I highly recommend volunteering at the shelter to anyone that is able.
I wrote some short stories, some of which I think are pretty good, I started a new novel, and I got 1 story – Vilhelm the Vargr – published (read about it here: https://imasillypirate.wordpress.com/2019/02/26/vilhelm-the-vargr/) and got another – Little Round Window – put under contract to be published this February (preorder the collection here: https://kyanitepublishing.com/product/kyanite-press-vol-2-issue-2-winter-2019/).
This Fall, I started teaching at Mission College (a community college in Santa Clara). I taught an astronomy class the first semester and I’ll be teaching a physics class (Calc-based Electricity and Magnetism) next semester. It’s still only part time and I’m looking for something else/ crossing my fingers that I can find something full time soon. I like it there and they seem to like me. So, that’s nice.
This summer, I went on a trip to the east coast. Visiting my sister (at Harvard… by the way… because she is incredibly impressive and hard-working), one of my buddies in Virginia, and Washington DC. It was a neat trip.
Having moved to San Jose, I’m much closer to my parents in Monterey, and my brother is, like, 10 minutes away. I’ve really enjoyed being able to spend time with my brother. He’s a cool dude.
My dad retired and seems to be enjoying it. My mom works at Trader Joe’s now and they take good care of their employees. I love hearing my parents play together (mom on the bass, dad on the guitar or mandolin). They sound amazing.
This year I got to see one of my closest childhood friends and his wife play their instruments to a packed room not once, but twice. I got to go camping for the first time in a while. I explored some. I walked a lot. I drew some stuff. I took a lot of pictures. I listened to some good music. I read some good books. I met a lot of people and had a lot of good conversations. I ate a lot of great food. I went to a few funerals and a few weddings. I cried some. I laughed more. I pet a lot of dogs. I forgot a lot of important things that I probably should have included in this post.
Overall, 2019 wasn’t too bad for me personally as a year of transition. It started off pretty bad, but things got steadily better. I’m not sad that it’s over. On to better things!
Happy Halloween, everyone!
Here… have a story.
A low growl pours out from under the bed as a clawed hand shoots out to scrape at the floor.
“Mom!” the child screams. “Mom! The monster’s back!”
The mother, folding laundry in the living room with her headphones in, doesn’t hear the little boy.
“Mom!” he yells again, his voice jumping up an octave.
She looks up briefly, as if she might hear something, but quickly shrugs and goes back to smoothing out the shirt she’s folding.
The clawed hand grabs onto the foot of the bed and the whisper of scales over hardwood flooring joins the cacophony of growling and yelling. Another hand appears and wraps misshapen and bony fingers around the bottom of the nightstand, pulling the creature out faster.
The child quiets briefly to watch with wide eyes as the lumpy, horned head and long, reptilian body come into view.
“MOM!” he screams again.
The mother places the shirt atop a pile of like shirts, all perfectly folded and smoothed. She bobs her head slightly to the music in her ears.
As the creature pulls itself completely into view and begins to stand up, it’s bones snap and crackle. The little boy jumps out of bed, dances around the monster and sprints down the hallway.
The creature follows slowly.
Flying around the corner as fast as his legs can carry him, the boy rockets into the living room and grasps his mom’s sleeve.
“Mom!” he shouts again, “the monster’s back!”
“Oh!” she says, startled. Pulling her headphones out, she heads down the hall in a hurry, back to where she meets the monster, just outside the boy’s room.
“Sorry to call so late,” she says, “but I appear to be missing two more socks and I was wondering if you’d seen them. Both white, one with a red stripe and the other with a blue?”
The monster shakes his head, opening his giant mouth, revealing rows upon rows of razor sharp teeth. “No,” he says in a tiny, high-pitched voice, “sorry, Mrs. S, but I’ll keep an eye out under there for you.”
“Thanks, Rodney. You are such a huge help, I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
With that, she gives him a hug and a peck on the cheek. As he turns back to the bed, he might be blushing, or that might just be his complexion. He then bends his huge body down to the floor and disappears back under the bed.
Here’s a new comic for you!
Per usual, it’s available on RedBubble: https://www.redbubble.com/people/imasillypirate/works/40482125-chopping-onion
Per usual, you can purchase shirts and mugs and things with this comic on it on RedBubble: https://www.redbubble.com/people/imasillypirate/works/39351874-sinking
I wrote a piece of Python code to simulate Doppler shift for the purposes of demonstration. I think it turned out pretty fun.
The user defines the source velocity, the observer velocity, the wave speed, and the starting locations of both the source and observer. The source sends out circles to simulate wave peaks as it moves, and the wave form is shown in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. The circles passing the observer are counted up and used to create the wave form as observed by the observer, which is displayed in the upper right-hand corner.
Everything is calculated in SI units, with time steps of 0.005 seconds, all the positions in meters from the origin (near the middle on the left side), and the speeds and velocities in meters per second… but most computers will take much longer than 0.005 s to calculate each time step… So the units wouldn’t make much sense. I decided to leave off the units and advise users to treat them as relative values (this one is twice as large as that one, for example).
The link to the Python code is here: https://github.com/imasillypirate/DopplerDemo
If you want to run it with python, you’ll need python 2.7 installed. I think it’s easy to update it to work with Python 3, if that’s what you’re working with. The main issue, I assume would be getting the tkinter package working, which has some well documented differences in capitalization. If anyone does this, let me know how it goes!
If you’re running Windows, you can download the .zip file instead which contains an executable and everything you should need.
You can find the .zip file here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/cpgleae66rulphh/DopplerDemo.zip
Just unzip the file, then open the directory and double click DopplerDemo.exe… If your antivirus lets you launch a .exe written by some random pirate on the internet, then you should be fine.
Please feel free to use the code or program in full or in part in whatever capacity you choose with attribution. I’d love to hear how you use it!
Have fun! Let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions.