Sunday, December 30, 2029

Tear gas on the way home today.

I tried to sleep to the sounds of gun shots and the occasional explosion coming from the town and perhaps even from within the green zone itself. It was a failure. It seems fear keeps me awake better than Orexinal.

Erik banged on the door about an hour ago with the news. The President has ordered the arrest of the Speaker of the house and more than a few Senators and Reps have disappeared.

I guess tired of the months long cat and mouse game, the speaker sent out the Sargent in arms to arrest the President’s chief of staff for contempt of congress, but this time not symbolicly as it has been with all the other contempt charges for Prescott’s staff members. This time they were armed and they caught up to Mrs. Prince on her way home. A firefight broke out between the capital police and her private guards and Mrs. Prince was killed.

And now I am supposed to be packing. A Greystle guard is outside my door having just told Erik and I that we are to move into the lab until things settle down.

I don't know where they are going to fit all of us. God I hope Janice and Sally are all right.

Thursday, December 27, 2029

Alpha Update - what' s up down there

I get to spend less and less time with the core Alpha team. Almost all the developers are working on setting up Tangent. And some of the stuff they've come up with is amazing. We’ll be able to see divergents in real time. Not POV “seeing” of course, or even rendered snapshots but dynamic graphs showing the branches and offshoots of the data sets that comprise Alpha and Alpha’s Tangent.

I've broached the subject of what change the Alpha team would like to make that would trigger the change and creation of Tangent, but the concept of them playing "God" and manipulating an event on Alpha turns the meetings instantly into shouting matches. The team has become a bunch of Deists I guess, believing the creators of the world should stop interfering with mortal affairs after the initial creation.

I am noticing that my argument that Alpha itself will be untouched and that it is Tangent that will be the manipulated one is starting to sway them. Of course the fact that we still have jobs cannot be underestimated as a motivator.

Listen to me, this project has become too much politics and drama. I was going to devote this post to Alpha itself, not shop talk.

There are a variety of different species of our intelligent apes. Some separated by mountain ranges but in a few cases sharing the same valley.

As you'd guess most of the time they don't get along, but generally the keep out of each other’s way. If you like violence however, you have to tune in whenever the resources are scarce then you've got theft, sabotage, and outright wars. It's all too familiar.

Whether forced or possibly even romantic there have been examples of cross breeding. Leading, alas, to ostracized children that often don't make it to adulthood because they have no support. If they do make it they almost always end up childless as they are often sterile.

They aren't always rejected by their peers. Some often display gigantism or dwarfism like ligers and tigons (oh my). Whether to be used as warriors or mascots these unfortunate children are at least given a life with the tribe.

Technology both agricultural and martial has been slow to advance. Or at least it seems that way to me, one who has never witnessed the creation of a civilization before. Arrows and plows have both made an occasional appearance though. Flashes of genius that haven’t yet taken root.

Now to see technology we literally go to the other side of the world where our stoic little lizard friends have created wood analog computers that predict lunar cycles and even the positions of the fake little planets we've placed up in the skies. These guys are causing us a lot of CPUs. To make it easier on our systems the stars and planet projected on to their sky are our own. Alpha has our moon and sun. Even our Jupiter. Our already existing projections data of our solar system and night sky are just being loaded right into Alpha – so no new number crunching needed.

This touches on something we've discussed a lot over and over. While Alpha is often wondrously alien it also is very familiar. It is very Earth like. And by projecting our solar system onto the Alphan data we bring up again the most compelling argument as to why. Earth is our template. And because of that our rules and laws of existence create Earth like creations.

We have made Alpha in our own likeness. Heh, Janice would kill me if she read that.

Tuesday, December 25, 2029

It doesn’t really feel like Christmas

No one had time to buy gifts (or really the money - shipping costs from Grid vendors are insane).

We didn't have any decorations up.

But we had a big lunch with most of the original team together for the first time in a while.

I also gave Sally the old Star Wars toys I had as a kid and of course kept in my office. She was really happy with them, though she's been playing with those exact toys forever - whenever she visited the office. Now she owns them and she thinks that makes all the difference.

And Janice gave me a kiss.

On second thought, I guess it does feel like Christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2029

Strolling on the Grid

Erik (who is on the tangent team now by the way) let me scan the grid at his room tonight. His desperate gratitude at me having secured him a job is a little unnerving, but the truth is he's a good addition to the tangent team and his research will definitely be helpful in taking POV to the next level. That is if we ever get a chance to work on it again.

I haven’t told Erik about POV yet. I'm worried about what Greystle will to us if they discover we've been hiding such a breakthrough. If it didn’t mean the end of Alpha, then at the very least means then end of my involvement, and that of Adit, Kaitlin, and Janice. It also means that we’ll be kicked out of campus and without jobs. With the way things are going that means tent city. Jackie points out that if Greystle gets a hold of POV they would use it in ways we’d find very unsavory. Of course Jackie says everything Greystle does is unsavory, but I don’t think that is uncorrected thinking.

I feel like I'm being a little paranoid using Erik’s ID on the grid but we can't be having a person of authority on the project going to the news and opinion areas of the grid. I don't want Greystle to think the project is lead by a destabilizer. I assume they'll be less concerned if it is just a team member roaming about (I say now suddenly feeling guilty). I did make sure to avoid the more outspoken corners.

All the fake IDs Adit made for us months back seem to have abruptly stopped working. The government has announced a Grid crackdown to stop the destabilizing elements, and new security agents have scoured out a lot of fake IDs and took them off the Grid. Adit could probably make even more sophisticated fake IDs but he’s kind of swamped right now.

Janice was right about what is going on on the Grid. Traffic seems down. Interaction seems at a minimum. The news out there doesn't sound good but it seems… edited.

God, it is probably a lot worse out there.

It feels like the old web. Nothing is live. A lot of text, little real/immediate imagery or video. It’s not that the Grid isn’t being used… it feels like it is being edited. I can’t imagine the resources required to do that, but it looks like it is being done.

Saturday, December 8, 2029

It's a blur but it has become routine.

Day after day it happens so quickly, generally when I have a tooth brush in my mouth, the Greystle hired guard picks me up. Usually it is someone I don't recognize and they rarely give me their name.

We walk through campus and the students and refugees give us death stares. Outside the lab the gal from the roach coach hands me the stack of food that will be my meals for the day, and then I try to ignore all the construction folks walking down the stairs to the new floor (floors?) below the server farm. We've got the whole building to ourselves now with several floors being stocked with the new equipment and working space for the new staff.

Then the meetings start. First the Tangent meeting. The big topic that is being studied now is how best to get the Tangent Alpha up online so the branching can begin and once it does begin how will we track the branching. We have the systems and staff ready; we just need to make sure we get the start down right because in the end that is the thing, after that we step back and watch it go.

After that marathon of timetables and logistics comes a quick lunch as I walk down to my old office and meet with the heads of the Alpha project.

The first half hour is generally complaints and questions, neither of which I can address. Because I don't know anything and outside of the actual project I can’t “do” anything. The rest of the meeting is the only moments of wonder left in my day. Each group shares with the team their newest discoveries, questions, and answers that they have come across in their past day's dig into Alpha. Then the project heads makes their requests for equipment and staff that I deny. Tangent Alpha gets all of it now.

The team has become very agile though with loaning each other staff back and forth as needed. And each team has devoted a staff member to by fully dedicated to optimizing the snapshot data now that Adit's software team has been pulled completely on to Tangent. Because of their work the team has been able to have the data necessary to be able to back track trends as their significance becomes apparent. A minor change in diet from a few days ago can be brought to light when the jaw structure change in the dominant primate leads to an increase in miscarriages in the species. That was an impressive piece of detective work. I'm so proud of them but it is apparent I'm not really necessary any more but luckily no one ever brings that up and I get to bask in the reflective glory of discovery for 90 minutes.

Next comes the Everest of my daily meetings. Status with Greystle. This isn't a university project any more this is a Greystle project. Even my bank alert now says the daily paychecks are coming from Dulles Scientific Consulting and not the university. I asked around and it looks like DSC was formed a few weeks ago and has no official affiliation with the university even though we all live and work in the university and the company has the same name as the university. I'm now a part of Greystle I guess, and I didn't even get a welcome package from HR. Adit wrote an agent for the team that takes everyone’s daily deposits and converts them to a variety of different denominations based on the day's exchange rate. It has been a great hedge against the hyper inflation.

Then I use what remains of my energy keeping up with the actual business of managing this project. That consists of Grid forms and apps flying by while I eat my dinner. Before I get close to feeling I have a handle on what is going on a guard will come and take my back to my room.

I cross the campus and notice again, as I do every night, that glow in the dark frisbee and teens coming back from dates have been replaced by tent cities with bonfires to keep everyone warm. I actually saw a campus security guard today… he hurried away when he saw me and my “escort.”

And night after night I collapse onto my bed even before I brush my teeth or change. Except tonight – tonight I actually got to write an update. I want to see if I can do this more often.

It is all a blur and seeing it in words allows me to focus it and I don’t like what I see.

Tuesday, October 9, 2029

Staffing

I feel sorry for the geology team; they’ve got some pretty wild things to report about Alpha. The tectonic plates aren’t behaving at all like they should. They’ve been looking at the code and can’t find out why it isn’t behaving the way it should.

They keep bringing it up at the meetings but it’s hard to compete against the beginnings of civilization. I even heard Lisa muttering about all this damn anthropomorphism, as if the real signs of society occurring were all just wishful thinking.

But I do have sympathy for Lisa. Her team’s research got a pretty huge hit when Alpha was slowed down this week so that biology and anthropology could at the very least try to keep up with their data.

This basically all leads to the root of the problem, we are woefully understaffed. We are missing untold amounts of data every day. Our project was to create a world and we were perfectly sized to do that but our success has left us unprepared really on how to fully learn about what we’ve created. The parameter for success was to create a world and if we were so lucky as to have created a living world, to study it. We were a bit vague on study, and never would we have imagined how much there was to study. Greystle isn't really going to go for hiring many more though we will need more for tangent alpha. Perhaps I can get Erick on board. This project can provide some shelter to people we know.

Friday, October 5, 2029

Escorts and Agriculture and Religion - oh my

This morning I was awoken by my “escort,” and she wasn’t wearing a cocktail dress, she had a gun. I have an armed escort to work now. That got some looks around campus.

Today it was like a morgue in the lab. Everyone seemed to be there. Everyone seemed to be working. But no one made a sound. The real world was on everyone’s thoughts today.

The staff meeting today was the most... efficient, I guess, that we've ever had. No sidebars. We never went off topic. We never got sidetracked. I didn't like it. This wasn't my project. My team. This group of people was scared.

We can't imagine how to create and maintain our Alpha and its tangent if we are afraid to let our minds wander. If we are afraid to get off the path.

The path seems the only safe place.

But what is occurring on Alpha allows us to stay on task while still enjoying wonder. And it is wonderful and weird.

Some branches of the primate Alphans have already begun to develop agriculture. And because of it have become much more dependent on things out of their control. They are developing a spoken culture to explain their fear. Perhaps we are witnessing the beginnings of religion?

Also the primate Alphans seem to have many divergent branches. It will be interesting to see which, if any survive. Many of the branches are more or less sexually compatible, and we have seen that there have been cases of two dramatically different branches getting together. The heart wants what the heart wants after all.
The unfortunate offspring that happen often suffer from either gigantism or dwarfism like lygers and tigons (oh my). These children are shunned as you’d expect and don’t live long without support. And of course it seems that they are sterile. But it is interesting how closely these different species will live together, often with just a river or a hillside separating them. In Alpha’s future will we eventually have two or more completely divergent species fighting over resources?

The reptile guys don't have agriculture or seem to have any traditions beyond their silent democracy. Were their elections of Alpha males (or females) a weird evolutionary oddity? Though Janice didn’t like to hear it that is what a lot of us thought. Until we noticed something about their seasonal migrations. They were building. Basic root cellars and shelters really. Very odd, but as a new extended family moved into an area they soon began to use and expand the facilities left by the previous area occupants. They've built the beginnings of a town for others, without out ever meeting. If only the "friends" you make in the grid were as a real part of your community.

Things are happening fast. We have decided to slow Alpha down… way down. We are missing some important developmental moments at the speed it’s been running at. Greystle is fine with that as they’ve almost completely lost interest in Alpha and are more interested in the coming Tangent Alpha.

Thursday, October 4, 2029

A researcher with nowhere to go

Well now I can't get back to sleep.

Erik Dasner lives across the hall - he's the guy who just gave me the news.

Erik is especially nervous because his project at the medical school is getting its funding stripped. As soon as they close the books on the project Erik gets kicked off campus. Now with what is going on will the green zone be abandoned? If so what the hell happens to him? How does a researcher get a job in town?

Erik’s research project ended with a result so boring it doesn't really shine on his CV, which considering the amount of work that went into the study is a real shame.

After the two biggest murder sprees in 2018 were discovered to have been committed by men who had brain shockers funding poured in for a study about the long term side effects of this treatment. This was the first year that brain shockers were approved for mood disorders and no longer were limited to epileptics and schizophrenics. It was an incredible life improving technology that required only an hour long procedure to implant and optimize. And the idea that this technology could lead to such violent behaviors was quite the story, the media milked it for all its worth and a lot of people who could have been treated with the brain shockers were instead given the same old mildly effective drugs they’d been given for the past few decades. The game changing technology was given a black eye.

So Erik became the lead researcher in the study and after 10 years they discovered that a small percentage of the group did indeed exhibit abnormal behaviors from violent sexual fetishes to self mutilation and anger management issues. In an even larger percentage they noticed cheating, lying, and general anti-social behavior. Basically what they discovered was that the long term effect of brain shockers was that they were just typical humans. The percentage of aberrant behavior in the study group was basically the same as it was in the general population.

By then the technology was off patent, the lawyers had moved on, and the media had long since lost interest. No one publicized the findings. Since it was off patent there was no real money to be made clearing the treatment’s good name. Hopefully at least a few doctors read about the results and then recommend the treatment to their patients.

At least that is what Erik hopes. Otherwise 10 years of his life really was for nothing. And nothing is looming in his future right now either.

And the present just makes him more terrified about what nothing will be like.
Erik just burst in and woke me up. The campus is in lock down. We can’t even get into the Green Zone now. Where the hell is this going?

Wednesday, October 3, 2029

Lizard Voting

From the tree we could see the lizards gather up the flat stones. They placed the stones in front of the various elders. Two stones in front of one, three in front of another.

Janice was right: this was an election. These lizards had a representative democracy.

Thank god the animal I was in didn't get something to eat while we were online. Poor Adit was the one who needed a bucket after this POV visit.

After rinsing out his mouth he grabbed some used coffee grounds from the filter and gargled with them and some six hour old coffee. Seriously it couldn't have been that bad. I never thought of Adit as a drama queen.

Though I admit I don't think I'll remind anyone that I haven't had taste mapped yet.

After Sam Larson’s anthropology team discovered the rudimentary tool making quasi-primates, Janice has had her team scour the data from Alpha to find other examples of individual intelligence. Janice couldn’t let her team’s record of having the coolest discoveries upped by another team, especially not anthropologists.

Alpha has many thriving examples of group intelligence, my favorite being the elephant sized jelly fish like creatures that live in one of the rain forests that ring the northern tropics. These jelly elephants stack their dead on the dirt at the edges of their swamps. The dead creatures dry out and collapse forming a thin paper like husk. Eventually with body after body stacked on top of each other the compacted husks form walls that are as strong as concrete. Creatures as dumb as ants thus create barriers that protect their "stomping grounds" from storm surges. While an amazing example of emergence, this feat of civil engineering is just one of many. Alpha is full of it. It seems that any piece of data we pore over reveals something fascinating. But individual intelligence is truly special. What individual intelligence will give us is the potential to see cultures emerge perhaps even communities. You can’t have those things without a sense of other and thus a sense of self.

With this group of politically active lizards we jumped into something we didn't expect so early on. It looks like we've got ourselves a society here.

Janice brought the lizards to our attention in today’s morning meeting. She announced to all that in the deserts in the southern most continent of Alpha were reptiles that though don't yet have tools, have an amazingly complex social structure. Including something that looks almost like a democracy when it comes to the selection of leaders. We had some arguments over that last point in the meeting. Leave it to Alice to say that from a distance America looks like a democracy too. That was met with laughter and grimaces. Guess which came from the Greystle folks.

Yes, there are Greystle representatives in our official meetings now. Thus there are now regularly scheduled unofficial meetings

Thanks to POV we got to watch the election first hand. Yes we could render it and watch from any angle in the main lab, and we will tomorrow with as many of the team we can get in there, but seeing it first hand, from up on that tree, made it so real. It made it alive.

I hope we can come up with a good name for these guys because some here are already calling them Reptilians and that just don't feel right.

Sunday, September 23, 2029

Insomnia

You know insomnia frightens me now. Not only because it reminds me of my Orexinal days, but because it is the only time my mind is free to wander. No Alpha, no POV, no purchase orders. Just wander… without supervision really.

And it wanders to Janice. My mind knows to take it slow. Earn her trust. But I want so desperately to be close to her. Now.

And such thoughts make it even harder to sleep when sleep is what I need.

I need sleep because I need to explain the cost overruns we're incurring on the new Tangent Alpha platform.

Tangent Alpha, I just came up with that term now. I guess insomnia has some uses.

One thing I'll definitely make sure not to include in the report is that some of the costs have been spent on POV.

Tuesday, September 18, 2029

POV in Action or running away from beasts

I started the day simply running for my life. “Simply” in that it really was my only concern. My brain was otherwise free… free to be terrified. I’d never been so frightened.

I was running past low lying leaves, darting through the high grass, and my jaws were sore and stretched over the food I carried in my mouth. I had the strange sensation of having my ears lifted searching out the sounds of the predator I was running from.

I just kept running and running.

Then I was back in the lab hurting all over and throwing up.

So yes our first POV experience in Alpha was a success.

An amazing success.

We didn’t talk for a bit. We cleaned up and I went out to brush my teeth, but then after a pause we hugged and jumped for joy. Adit was so excited his arms were flailing about as he thought of ways we could improve it and lessen the impact.

Janice hugged me again, even harder and kept asking if I was okay. As soon as she realized she was hugging me a bit too lovingly for a friend she stepped back. That hurt, but, you know, you gotta take your victories where you can. POV worked and Janice hugged me. And I wasn’t eaten by whatever it was that was chasing me.

One result of the experiment that surprised and excited us was how well the brain to body loop worked. I felt where the rodent’s legs were just as I know without looking where my limbs are. We didn’t think such a nuance would be transferred via POV. It is one thing to capture the brains perceptions but capturing the feedback from the body wasn’t something we considered. Janice assumes that we weren’t actually feeding into the body brain loop at the cycle of body to brain but later on when the brain translated the body’s communications. The rodent’s brain was translating his leg’s “thoughts” for me in a way.

Whatever it was it was magical. I knew where all four of my “legs” were in relationship to the rest of my body and the ground even while I stared straight ahead and listened for the predator.

And when the experiment was over I was sore all over. The phrase “I ached in muscles I didn’t even know I had” really took on new meaning.

Walking back to my room I felt a buzz in the ground before I heard the screams or smelled the tear gas. I was like the rodent, I burst into a full sprint knowing that there was a beast somewhere behind me.

Back in my room I learned that some demonstrations in the Green Zone had turned into riots, and that the riots had spilled into the campus.

I didn’t even realize there were any massive protests going on in the Green Zone. Somebody in the hall told me they had been going on for days.

Congress has stepped up to the plate it seems. Who knew they still knew how.

One of President Prescott’s aides who kept on refusing to testify was declared in contempt of Congress. The speaker has actually called on the Sergeant at Arms to “arrest” the guy.

This could get interesting.

I’m ending my day listening to gunfire that sounds way too close.

Friday, September 14, 2029

Today's Word: Pivy

Walking back to the lab with Alice after lunch this afternoon, a beautiful young woman rushed by in tears. Young.
“Pivy” said Alice.

“Wha?” I said.
“Pivy. That is the feeling you are having. It’s Pity and Envy.

Pity at the stupid earnestness of teens and envy at their rawness and how they are so gloriously alive.”

I was stunned. I never thought such sentimentality existed in Alice. Though I admit that I don’t know nor really want to know what exists in Alice. Today in our morning meeting Alice’s Net Tat displayed Road Runner and a Predator riding a unicorn. It was animating up and down her arm. I told her she had to stop it because it was distracting the hell out of me. She had it run up her sleeve and out of view. During lunch I think I saw the stupid unicorn’s head peeking out at me occasionally.

I have to admit though I wasn’t feeling anything like Pivy at that moment.

I was pausing because she was just so strikingly pretty; I wanted to reach out and help her. You know the type of pretty that tricks your mind into believing you see them as they really are? A beauty that somehow makes you believe the person is pure. That’s got to be a plus when trying to get a job.

But that feeling only lasted for a second. My mind went back to POV, Alpha, and Janice.

I’m sure the young lady’s mind never strayed from whatever overwrought angst moment it was in.

There needs to be a word to describe that moment though. It wasn’t “Pivy” but it was a disturbing clash of realities.

A brief glance at a woman, a woman crying, a casual walk back to work, and the sounds of gun fire and sirens drifting our way from beyond the green zone. That’s the realities I confronted on the way back to the lab, before diving deep back into Alpha’s reality.

I’ll tell Alice I’ve coined a new term: Noranity. Normality and Insanity.

Wednesday, September 12, 2029

This guy knows primitive apes

Sam Larson was the kind of guy who always should have known better and yet somehow got in trouble anyway. As an anthropology student he did an experiment for his thesis where he sent out emails telling people that if they forwarded the email and then followed up with a snail mail postcard they would get shares in an upcoming IPO of Grid Iron an early pioneer in the grid infrastructure. I forget what the exact reasoning as to why sending a postcard and an email would qualify you for shares, but I do remember that if you spend 30 seconds thinking about it you’d realize that it made no sense.

It was such a blatant fraud Sam assumed he’d see very few postcards. Grid Iran had never made any move towards going for an IPO. But rumors that Grid Iron would soon file the paper work to go public suddenly was all the talk on the business reports. The CEO held press conferences announcing that they planned to stay private; given that their dramatic expansion was being funded by its own profits there was no need to sell shares.

But the IPO of Grid Iron would be discussed night after night with various investment houses spreading their own rumors that they were in talks with Grid Iron to underwrite their IPO.

Sam realized that he was the start of all of this when the postcards started arriving by the thousands. He phoned reporters, wrote letters, blogged all over the internet but no one listened or believed him.

Then the Grid Iron board sued the CEO saying that he was misleading them about the plans for the company and trying to strip them of their shares of the company. All for an IPO that was never planned and not even mentioned until Sam wrote his email. Lots of lawyers got involved and in the end Greystle came in and picked up the pieces.

Sam had taken down Grid Iron.

The post cards stopped, but the death threats started. Sam dropped out of his school and somehow ended up on our project. Ned brought him in just weeks before the initial Greystle funding was announced. It’s not a leap to think his position here was a thank you gift from Greystle. But conspiracies aside Sam has been a great team player.

Now Sam is head of anthropology on the project and if he says he sees culture and intelligence he knows of what he speaks. Too often what we may think may be a sign of intelligence really is not, such as digital watches.Deep in the jungles along the equator lives a species much like our primates that have gone beyond the simplest of tools (rock stick etc.) to using multiple materials fashioned into a tool. Yep it’s the old Hollywood cliché: a hammer of stick, vine, and rock.

Luckily Sam had numerous agents scanning Alpha looking for certain event combinations. And these little guys (3 feet or so) popped on his screen earlier this morning.

We had a big party at lunch today; everyone was more excited than I have seen them in months. Janice was a joy to behold, she seemed so happy. Only later did I hear that she was also pissed at her team for not even noticing we had primates down there.

We’re going to have to slow Alpha down a bit more; things are beginning to get interesting.

Sunday, August 5, 2029

Buying Spree and POV

While Kaitlin is in spec heaven buying every piece of hardware she has ever read and drooled about, Adit and I got to work more on POV.

It was the perfect opportunity, I’m no longer worried about the funding presentation, and I’ve gotten over the fact that the months of preparation were somewhat for naught since Greystle basically threw the money at us and ignored the presentation. It would have been nice if they threw the money at us so that we could do what we wanted with the money, but I’m just glad we can keep Alpha running.

Ned barely ever shows up anymore. He’s off making speeches that Greystle sets up for him at various business events. They are treating him like some kind of politician: free food and free travel.

Adit is trying to get POV to interface with an entity living on Alpha. If we want to “see” really see, what is going on Alpha we have to choose location and time amounts and basically record it and then display the scene. Real time display of a location in Alpha would amount to just a blur as time whirled by quickly. But with POV we’ll see what something on Alpha sees, when they see it.

We’ll just flip the switch on and off and we should have experienced hours of time in that split second. Of course that might also kill us.

So we brought in Janice. Actually the real reason I wanted to bring in Janice was to show her I could reveal a secret to her; that I could open up to her. I can’t get her trust back with my still having secrets. Adit understood and was cool with that. The idea that POV with an Alphan might kill us was a secondary consideration. But Janice could definitely help with that.

When Adit was explaining how POV worked between he and Kaitlin he told a story I hadn’t heard before. In their earliest attempts Adit thought there was something wrong because he’d get sensations that didn’t fit the experience. He’d be plugged into Kaitlin and sounds would be accompanied by colors. Tastes and numbers as well. He was pretty sure they had some problems mapping vision correctly, until Kaitlin complained about how everything seemed a bit “flat.” When she’d hear something that way Adit heard it seemed hollow, though the sound was true.

Then he remembered Kaitlin is synesthesic and basically when she heard noises or saw numbers she would also see colors. The colors didn’t interfere, cloud, or alter what she saw, she just sensed the color. So many sense experiences were, well, colorful. Kaitlin never even thought of it, but when she experienced what Adit experienced it felt flat because it wasn’t the full experience. There was no feel for the color of the moments.

Janice took notes and was in rapt attention. She was fascinated.

Oh God it felt so good to be in the same room with her all day.

I miss her so much.

Tuesday, July 31, 2029

Begging for Bucks

Well our presentation for a second round of funding from Greystle finally happened. Only 5 or so months late (oh but they’ve been good months).

We need more horse power and we need it fast. We want the servers to keep Alpha going, but also to take our simulations program to a whole new level.

We were not going to grow just another planet, we were going to grow an entire solar system. Start with just the “star stuff” and see it form a star with an accretion disc. Watch the planets form and jockey for position, watch life occur not just once but perhaps multiple times in multiple places in our new solar system. We’d learn incredible amounts about our own sol system and even about the Milky Way. And we’d stare at the beauty of our comets whizzing by our planets.

Greystle wanted to give us the funding; they were positively excited on that count. They just didn’t want to take the project in the logical direction that we had planed (and documented and charted and diagramed), they wanted to go a different way. A way that kind of freaks me out, though an interesting freak out.

They want to make history diverge. They want to take a snapshot of Alpha, put it on a new server set and run it from the time of the snapshot but with just a modest variation. They then want to see how the two Alphas become different from each other.

They want to see how they diverge, how quickly and how much. They didn’t seem interested in us discussing the lack of real science at play here and how this takes the project from observation to manipulation.

Our project is now taking an almost philosophical path now, where we actively play God. This new direction for the team didn’t go well in the staff meeting, but there was the unspoken understanding that if we didn’t take the money then Alpha itself would be turned off. Then someone said we were taking blood money, but that was met with groans. I can safely say that no one is happy about this.

Though I know I’m not alone in also thinking this will be kind of cool.

Friday, July 27, 2029

A new member of our motley crew.

Today I interviewed the soon to be newest member of Adit’s software team. He's a freak and will fit right in.

Stan Chen is a theoretical physicist. Alpha though isn’t theoretical nor is the software that runs it. No, we need Chen to work out the physics of Alpha in even more detail; really we need to know better about what we can hide.

Alpha is possible with our equipment because of Jack and Adit’s “quantum compression” that renders information only when needed. This could be because of us wanting to see data on what is happening in Alpha or something interacts with something else on Alpha.

Since for millions and millions of Alphan years the interactions on Alpha were simply physical (volcanoes, cooling plates, ocean waves, etc) and mathematically predictable this tactic saved us a lot of horse power.

But as Alphans appeared, be it slime, bugs, or mammals, our rendering has been continuous as all these independent beings interact, observe, and evolve. Our rendering speed has gone from millions of years or more a day to less than a few hundred thousand a day (at the most).

We need to come up with more efficient rules to save on cpu queries. Chen could let us use the latest theories on the behavior of macro and micro physics (we have got Newton covered) and basically come up with ways for us to cheat. Because the day is coming when we’ll have animals that might notice more than just the movement of the sun and stars but perhaps study them and we’ve got to make sure we have a bit more there… there.

Chen’s CV is perfect but I had heard that he hadn't been able to hold any one position for long. The fact that he'd found other projects to work on after being kicked off of others is an unfortunate proof of his abilities.Chen seemed to be relieved that I had asked so bluntly about his problems holding down a job. He blamed it on his episodes. Every few weeks Chen loses a day of work because he has had a temporal lobe seizure. He is epileptic. The “episodes” as he calls them only last a few minutes but the experience wipes him out for at least a day. It drains him physically and mentally, and he pretty much has to sleep the day away.Previous employers refused to accept this excuse because Chen himself refused to take medication. Without going into detail I assured him that I was very understanding of those who wanted to avoid medication and as long as Adit’s team’s work wasn’t hindered by his occasional absences then there shouldn’t be any problem with him joining us on the simulation projects. And then he pushed it and explained why he doesn't take medication. And if I had any doubts about him before this, this put them to rest. This guy was a nut but the type of nut that would be perfect for this project.

He didn’t believe he had a disease per se, but rather he was somehow wired differently and that allowed him to occasionally crossover into other universes. Seriously.

When he has an episode he has brief flashes of memories of things that did not actually happen. Not wild dream like scenes, but realistic scenarios of trips with friends or dinner at certain restaurants. But he also consciously knows as he experiences these memories that they are not actually his. The experience he has is disconcerting, confusing, and physically draining. Déjà vu with an attitude. But he doesn’t think these are just false memories that are a byproduct of a bunch on neurons firing randomly but that they are real memories. Memories from a different him.

Chen is a strong proponent of the multiverse theory where our reality is actually just a small sideways glance at what truly exists. Our universe is just the view from one point on the shore of an infinite ocean. And infinite other points of this shore are infinite other versions of our lives, even our lives without us. Chen goes so far as to believe that every probability created from the movement of an atomic particle exists. An infinite number of universes with Earth, an infinite number with Earth but not me (sucks to be me), an infinite number with me but with me still having my beard. Etc. An infinite number of infinites.

With all these universes occasionally energies can cross over and be detected, though not necessarily understood. It could be the Voyagers mysteriously slowing down as they left our solar system or it could explain the nonexistent mass that is dark matter and even dark energy. Or, as Chen explains to me, it could be thoughts that occasionally cross over from different versions of yourself. Memory leaks (now I know he’d be perfect from software design).

He calls this phenomenon a Mental Teseract. I tell him to keep it himself for now.

That said maybe when things calm down around here his idea will be a great dinnertime conversation piece.

Wednesday, July 25, 2029

Tatoos and Memories: Relationships

Alice has upgraded her NetTat so that she can update the imagery via a contact lens interface.

She's using it like a mood ring.

Sometimes there is a happy kitty on her arm, next razor wire around her neck, then a simple tear drop on her face. And yes I actually saw that progression today, all within an hour. She must be exhausting in a relationship.

And relationships are something I'm starting to get back. I feel like I'm friends again with everyone here. It isn't like it used to be but it is getting better. I have hope again, hope that we will again be a family.

Luckily the us vs. them mentality here has really made getting back into the fold fairly smooth. The Greystle folks keep to themselves, and we keep to ourselves.

Ned is almost officially a Greystle employee at this point. He is now known as "Ned in Bed," because he is basically a Greystle lackey and will always take their side in any argument.

One relationship that hasn't been restored is the only real relationship I had. Janice is keeping me at a distance. I've lost her trust. She's coming to me about Alpha related issues now, so that is an improvement, but she doesn't treat me like a friend... yet. I hope I can type yet.

One blessing is that I think the whole situation was kept from Sally who is the only person who treats me exactly the way they always had. She is a great kid. How a girl can be so normal with only geeky adults for friends is a mystery. But even she knows her mom and I are no longer together, but she never asks. Its like she just wants to be a kid and doesn't want to know.

Now Kaitlin and Adit. That is a relationship that seems to be going well, and seems to be pretty public knowledge by now, especially since I'm asked about it by someone at the Coke machine every time I'm there. Which, now that I'm back to traditional caffeine for my sleep denying needs, is someplace I am often at.

Kaitlin actually opened up to me a little about the relationship. She told me how proud she was of Adit to even be in a relationship.
"He's not like you and me Rob. Every time he sees me every memory he has of me is retriggered. There is no distance and no priority based on time. He remembers everything and forgets nothing. He remembers how he felt when he met me, how he felt when he touched me, he remembers how I looked on every day he saw me. My bad hair days, my inside out shirts, and every runny nose I had."
I didn't really get the significance until she hit me over the head with it.
"Rob, if I yell at him he will remember it forever. He will be both hurt and angry forever. Not only will it never be forgotten, it won't weaken. It'll be like it just happened. And every moment of anger towards me will always be there making him both angry and ashamed forever. You see Rob, by getting together with me he's really put his heart on the line.

It's weird. I feel a pride in having someone risk so much for me, but god Rob there is also this wall I have to have, a circuit breaker that is always there because there is this responsibility you know. I could hurt him forever."
I would risk anything for Janice, and I feel like it'd risk everything. But Adit, he has no choice, he really is putting everything out there.

Though I have to say I feel like I'm just as ashamed whenever I see Janice now as I was six weeks ago as I stood there watching her look at the floor instead of at me as all my failings were aired. And for now I want that shame to feel fresh. I deserve to feel it.

Sunday, July 22, 2029

Catching up 2 - POV

When I got back to the office I thought the first thing I'd hear about was the status of Alpha, but instead it was about the subject I dread: Politics

There is some kind of court case against President Prescott going on and that seems to be the new excuse for an increase in crime in town and even in the green zone. The thing Adit and Kaitlin wanted me to know was that there was a curfew now in the green zone. They figured I wasn't aware of that and I wasn't.

The campus security is also especially twitchy now.

More importantly though Adit and Kaitlin let me in on their little secret: Using the tech that keeps Adit… umm… Adit (and not Rasa), they are able to share experiences.

They started working on this right after Adit got his upgrade.

If you want any proof that Orexinal was affecting my performance I think you need go no further than the fact that my two main technical resources had basically been working part time on the alpha project and full time on their own experiment, and I had no idea.

Much like how Kaitlin and Adit upgraded Adit so that all electrical activity is recorded and “played back” to trigger his memory, they now can record the specific frequencies of each brain reaction to stimuli and compare that to how another brain reacts to the same stimuli. They can then create a mapping table between the two.

The program would learn how I see blue, and it would learn how Adit sees blue. Then I could look at blue, and record my brain looking at blue and then upload that recording to Adit. He’d then see the blue. It isn’t a recording of the blue or even my brain’s reaction to the blue. It is my brain’s reaction to the blue mapped to Adit’s brain’s reaction to blue. It would be what I saw as if he saw it.

Adit and Kaitlin mapped different sensory experiences. Their reactions to colors, shapes, smells, sounds, lights, all were mapped. Then touch. And as they are intimate now… all touch. They can really “share the experience.”

So besides transsexuals it looks like if Hera and Zeus ever get into an argument about sex again they can ask Adit or Kaitlin rather than just relying on the answer Tiresias gave. And no, I did not ask either Kaitlin or Adit which sex enjoys sex the most. And given the difference in anatomy and thus the difference in neuron wiring to respond to feedback from said anatomy the shared experience can really only ever be an approximation.

Actually all sensations through this tech will just be approximations, but according to Adit even just watching TV from the point of view of the person sitting next to you blows away any sense of “self.” And coming from a man whose every memory is triggered by a computer program that is saying something.

Over some beers we discussed what to call this and though I personally thought Perceptitron was cool and retro, in the end we decided to call the tech POV (Point of View) and we decided not to tell Greystle… or anyone else.

Thursday, July 19, 2029

Catching up.

Adit asked me today if I had been posting anything here, and I realized that since I woke up I hadn't.

I guess with learning that Adit had discovered this blog took away a little of the fun for me. And now that it's just on this old tablet it seems less like a blog and more just some text file.

But reading it over from the beginning earlier today made me realize I wanted to continue posting. I don't want to forget these days working on Alpha.

So let me catch up: I'm awake now (sleep typing not being one of the side effects) and at night I go to sleep. Seems simple enough but just a few weeks ago that scenario terrified me.

The first "night" I slept for eighteen hours. When I woke up I was hungrier than I had ever been in my life. I rushed around eating every scrap of food I could find. When I sat down after eating I felt increasingly tired and worn. The idea of going back to sleep again and so soon was frightening. I began searching for some Orexinal. Instead all I found were notes from Adit listing all the things I now owed him.

"Sorry Rob, but I found them first. You owe me a coke - Adit"
And
"Nope - you owe me a weekend without you guys calling."
Etc.

I basically am going to have to take Adit out to the nicest restaurant in the green zone

I quickly gave up searching and headed towards the bed. I barely made it.

Sixteen hours later I was awake again and starving.

Having no food left at my place I headed down to the campus cafeteria. As I walked to a table I passed some guys from Alpha's geology team and they grew quiet as I walked by.

I was devastated. I think that was when I realized how much damage I had done to myself and to the project as a whole. I wanted to lead more than a team; I wanted the team to be a family. My family. Adit could be my brother. Janice could be my wife. Sally my daughter. But at that moment I realized that instead I was the drunk dad who almost ruined it for everyone.

I went straight back to my room. I was already having trouble walking and my head hurt. I was getting tired again, but I made sure to search everywhere to make sure every stash of Orexinal was found and flushed. I checked between the cushions and under the desk, I didn't want one of those damn pills around.

As I start to drift off I left a semi coherent message for Adit asking him for yet one more favor. To search my office and make sure there weren't any pills there for me to find.

And I told him I'd be in the office the next day ready to work a full day.

I was there the next day but a full day seemed beyond my abilities for nearly a week.

Sunday, May 13, 2029

Hey Rob - It's still me, Adit


Okay, I was messing with some of your old equipment you have back here, seeing if there was anything Kaitlin can use, and I find another Orexinal stash.

Not cool. First thing when you get up we’re going to go through everything you’ve got - together. I won’t tell Janice – If you help me flush all your stuff.

Look, it’s really important you do right by yourself and your whole team when you wake up.

With what has happened with Greystle we aren’t just a project team anymore we’re comrades in arms, and we need you fearless leader. Ned isn’t one of us, you are.

So stop this crap! If you don’t this is all going to fall apart.

Hey Rob, Adit here.

A blog? I haven’t seen one of these since the Grid came up. Did you know one of my doctors had a Rasa blog going on when I was a kid? When I was tracking your web usage on Alice’s backup I looked it up and read it; it was like meeting an old elementary school friend. Well you know, I assume it would be like that, if I had any elementary school friends. Or if I went to elementary school.

So about your blog Rob, I was able to hack into it via the Grid. It looks like no one else has yet but just in case when you wake up I’m going to give you an old tablet pc that has all wireless connectivity removed from it. I figure that way no one can stumble on to it. That way you can keep updating this knowing Greystle can’t read it.

How ya doin’ Rob? Actually right now you’re snoring, I am five feet away from you. Since you were sleeping I figured this was as good a time as any to set up a bogus Grid account so you can get full write access again. I’ve already done all the other team managers. Tomorrow I’ll do the full alpha crew.

You and Janice huh? Well since I know your secrets I’m going to tell you a secret. Kaitlin and I have been an item since my upgrade.

And Rob. I think it is only a secret to you. You have been seriously missing things guy.

Anyway, about Kaitlin and I, when you wake up I do have something very cool to tell you.

Take care Rob, we’ve all been really worried.

Saturday, May 12, 2029

Hitting the fan II - this time it's personal

I look like crap, I feel like crap.

And tonight I go to sleep. I really have no choice. I'm locked into my room, and I’m not allowed out until after I wake up. And sleep I will, they took away my Orexinal.

They have Kaitlin in the other room acting as my guard. I wonder if they’ll slide me food under the door.

How could it have come to this? Pathetic sad little boy afraid to go to asleep. I am crap.

Earlier today I went to get some Mountain Dew and Twizzlers. I came back from the snack machine to find Alice, Adit, Kaitlin, and Janice in my office. Janice’s eyes were red and she wouldn’t look at me.

Alice noted that the whole group knew not only of my Orexinal habit but what I myself had read about it on the old web. It seems I’m not as good as I thought with the old browsers and I had left a cache of all the sites I visited on Alice’s cube.

Adit and Kaitlin apologized for not recognizing I had a problem because they had thought I had stop using when we had finished the “Rasa” project.
I tried to explain that it hadn’t affected me, and that was met with a strong rebuke. Examples of my failures were too easily given from handling Greystle and the VKV to my inability in getting additional funding.

Janice’s rebuttal hit home the most. “Really Rob? No effect?”

In an effort to relieve my pain Adit decided to increase my embarrassment with a question I couldn’t really answer. When was the last time I took a shower? I’m sure it was just a few days ago.

I tried to explain it was hard to get into a routine without really having a “morning routine” anymore.

When I started to get angry and a little aggressive Adit grabbed my arm, which made me scream out in pain. I hadn’t realized I had begun cutting myself. Late at night I guess. Perhaps I was trying to keep my body awake.

I tried to explain it to them even though I didn’t understand it myself. Janice left the room without talking to me.
I guess that is what an intervention is.

They let me across campus to my room. You’d think a person basically being dragged would grab attention, but the lawns now seem to be just a staging area for near riots between Prescott supporters and activists. No one noticed us.

God I am tired. I’m frightened, what if I don’t wake up? Will this be how Janice remembers me? How will she explain this to Sally?

My head hurts.

Thursday, May 10, 2029

Hitting the Fan

At six this morning Ned ran into my office absolutely livid. He was a mess. It looked like he came into the lab right out of bed. And basically he had. He got an early morning visit from a Greystle lawyer.

Ned ranted about how the project was not only going to stop but that I and the whole team was going to go to jail.

What the hell?!?

“Rule Number 1 Rob, Rule Number 1 – Don’t screw the money!” Ned said that every ten minutes for most of the morning.

Someone in the biology team was so excited about the medical possibilities of the VKV that they sent some of the info to some medical students. They went outside the team.

Greystle found out about it instantly. What idiot on our team would put project data on the grid? It doesn’t matter if it was encrypted, that is a fantasy now anyway with every key owned by the government. And now I guess we could say Greystle owns them too.

When Ned ran to meet with Greystle’s lawyers I called all the managers to the main floor. Adit, Janice, Kaitlin, etc. Every group manager was there and I let them have it. I asked them if their CVs were up to date because they were going to need them soon. I was shaking. I think I might have been crying.

I told them that Alpha would most likely die and that Ned was trying to save our asses.

And then it got worse.

Janice just stared at me coldly and said “you would kill them all. All the animals, all that life. You’d kill them all for Greystle?”

I always thought the phrase “the silence was deafening” was crap, but I swear my eardrums were bleeding while all of us just stood there. No one shuffled. No one cleared their throat. A lot of death to think about, and inside I screamed as I thought of what Janice must now think of me.

When I finally spoke again I took a more conciliatory tone. I said that if Alpha was going to continue we’ve got to work better with Greystle. If the VKV is going to be used in medicines and save lives in the REAL world we’d need to work with Greystle or else what we learned here could never be used to help anyone.

I then ordered Pizza. That seemed to help a bit. But there was almost no small talk as we ate. Janice wouldn’t look at me.

During lunch Ned came in with somewhat good news. Alpha would live.

Ned convinced Greystle that the mistake would not be repeated and that Alpha was a proven money maker that could not exist nor be maintained without the present project team.

So now as it stands nothing has changed except that if any of us leaves the green zone we are instantly off the project and possibly even instantly put it jail.

We also lost our write access to the grid.

Okay, this is embarrassing to admit, but I didn’t know it was possible to that. I’m sure Adit will figure out a work around, otherwise half the team will lose their entire social life.

So we’re now prisoners of the campus and the green zone. Just as well I guess, none of us ever left… really. I mean at least now our campus pharmacy is fully stocked of Orexinal. Of course even if I didn’t take some tonight I doubt I’d be able to sleep.

I’m pretty sure we’ll have to push back our “beg for more money” presentation to Greystle yet again.

Sunday, May 6, 2029

Our Study of Life – Saving Lives

Down on Alpha an amphibian species (mega toads really) started getting wiped out by an auto-immune virus. Not a big deal in itself because we’ve had thousands of species develop millions of diseases by now.

What was interesting was that the mega toads (officially we’ve been naming everything with 16 alpha-numeric codes that note their evolutionary tree and closest real world sister species, but that is not really good for conversation - mega toad is what we call these guys) evolved a defense mechanism that basically out-evolved the disease.

The toad’s immune system adapted to host a virus. A case of endosymbiosis, this virus would not attack the toad nor would the toad’s immune system attack it. The virus “lived” by using the auto-immune virus as the building block to replicate itself. A virus of a virus. Now my understanding is that the definition of a virus is that it is dormant until it is inside a cell, so this mega toad hosted virus killing virus isn’t really a virus. It is something new.

Though Janice’s people pour over all the data coming out about Alpha’s life forms and their evolutionary turns, but there is just so much detail, luckily Adit’s got multiple agents in the code to scan for the evolution of bacterias and viruses and flag any evolutionary path that isn’t following the standard lifespan bell curve. That’s how this was caught.

The biology team had no problem convincing me that the simulation should be slowed down to near real time so that this could be studied in more detail. It really seems that this virus killing virus (and yes we do now call it VKV) could be engineered in the real world. We could cure scores of diseases.

Thursday, May 3, 2029

Oceans of Fish and Fields of Beasts

Alpha is going better than we had allowed ourselves to hope. Okay, that is a lame thing to say, obviously he hoped it would go this well, we all did. But such a success was kept off our project goals. Best to keep disappointment secret.

Alpha is no disappointment. Alpha is wonderful.

Janice’s team wants to slow down the simulation so we can study the biodiversity, animals in shapes and sizes we have never seen in our planet’s history. But the study of mating behaviors of animals that don’t exist isn’t what we’re about. We’re studying the life of a planet as well as the lives that live there. We’ve got billions of years to go.

Now the real world, my world, isn’t so wonderful. Janice has had to cancel dates “due to scheduling conflicts” every day this week. Something is wrong. Maybe she thinks I’ve been spending time with Alice… God I hope not. I don't want her to ever think I am in any way more interested in someone else. My world is her and that fake world rendered downstairs. I’m too nervous to talk to her about it directly. Its like I’m back to where I was months ago… afraid to have a real relationship.

Tuesday, April 24, 2029

The old net and old opinions

I’ve been feeling a bit down lately. At first I thought it might be a bit of “post-partum” depression in finally having consummated my relationship with Janice. After so much tension and expectation the body is bound to feel a little “let down” at having finally gotten what you so long desired. But I couldn’t be happier about it, and I get more giddy about she and I every day.

I thought maybe the die off on alpha was getting me down, but really that is part of what the project is about: life and the cycles of life. The die off is part of the living artificial world we have created, and besides the life count summaries are leveling off and the extinction rate is back to where it was before the die off.

Alice keeps prodding me about Orexinal and says I should get off of it. But I can’t find anything on the Grid that had anything but praise about Orexinal, so Alice had me look at her old internet snap shot backup that she grabbed from Archive.org before the government shut them down with the passing of the Freedom of Commerce act. Millions of machines once served up all the data that she’s got stashed in a few cubes on her desk.

It seems there is a big black market for backups of the old net Definitely useful to have an anti-authoritarian goth chick on the project team.

And as you’d expect from the medium that was outlawed because of the volume of anti consumption commentary (don’t want to denigrated products you know, you might hurt their feelings); there is certainly more of anti-Orexinal buzz on the old online slow road.

It seems Orexinal’s definition of “no side effects” is “nothing you can see.” Kinda like the definition of the legal torture allowed by police (man, one trip outta the green zone and I’m starting to sound like an “activist”). Depression and paranoia seems to be the side effects most people were complaining about. The paranoia is pretty targeted though, you become paranoid about sleep: what sleep does to you, where do you go, what is your mind doing without your control. The dream/sleep state is the enemy (I can get behind that).

Orexinal, among other things, generates many of the chemicals your brain generates while you dream. Keeping the brain healthy. The fruitier of the commentary I read posits that the “spiritual” aspects of dreaming are left unfulfilled and that the Psyche naturally gets depressed having been removed from its natural state. The truly paranoid articles suggest that the paranoia against sleep acts as an addictive hook to get the user to continue to use the drug, and that this “side effect” was a planned property of the drug.

Hard to judge the veracity of any of these claims. Actually impossible. Well that’s one advantage of the Grid’s vetting of public content (though Janice’s position paper on the beginning of life has still not been green lighted), you know the experts agree on it.

So should I get off Orexinal? I’d say “I’d sleep on it,” but I won’t.

I erase the history log of the sites I went to before giving the cubes back to Alice.

Thursday, April 19, 2029

Outside the Green Zone

I know I’m not “in touch.” I’ve heard that accusation many times by the “activist” cool kids in the student center cafeteria, that’s one reason why I avoid eating there. That and the food is awful.

I admit I’m more into Alpha than what goes on outside Dulles’s halls. But stepping outside the green zone was a slap in the face.

First the smell. I don’t know how they prevent the smell from getting into the green zone, but they do. My stomach writhed and flipped in reaction to the smell. It wasn’t just the garbage it was as if the streets were sweating.

Second is the fact that the town was falling apart. When I first started going to Dulles as a student, downtown was full of, shall we say, cheap housing. But now it’s all gone to seed.

I wonder if the Roman Senate, as they heard news of lost territories, increased crime, and a diminishing treasury, ever put two and two together and realized that Rome was waning? Did they try to stop its slow death? Or did they close their eyes of it all and continued to bask in the glory that was Rome, all the while rubber stamping all of Julius Nepos’s decrees.

Heading out in the middle of the night seemed like to me the best way not to get noticed but the campus guard wanted to “escort” me for my own safety. It only took him 50 bucks to realize I’d be okay walking into town on my own. No bus or cabs, so there was a lot of walking. I discovered my campus ID was also my “pass” back into the green zone.

Alice had me meet her contact underneath the huge Prescott banner at the corner of Barbara Ave. and Houston St. I had assumed it was a left over “re-elect Prescott” poster from last year’s election. I was wrong. It was a banner, huge, 4 stories tall. It didn’t even have his name, just his picture and the words “Our Leader” at the bottom. They were all over town, covering the broken windows of all the abandoned buildings.

A few thousand dollars later I was heading back to the green zone. Another 50 and my bags weren’t searched, and exhausted I went to my room and collapsed on my bed. I closed my eyes and didn’t sleep. I waited 10 minutes, showered, changed, and headed back to check on Alpha.

Alpha doesn’t sleep, and neither do I.

Wednesday, April 18, 2029

Ned made a cameo appearance down to the main Alpha lab this morning carrying a big box and a big grin. Jack had sent Ned a gift for helping Jack out with travel permits.

It was a 45 year old Macintosh computer. No hard drive, no color, no ports of any use, and yet this little 8 mhz machine was an integral part of a path the led from the abacas to Alpha.

Kaitlin was in awe and giggled when Ned turned it on and she heard the tinny little chime. Some of the students (okay and staff) didn’t even know what it was at first, they thought it would look a little less old.

And with that Ned went back upstairs with his little bundle of joy. He didn’t even ask how Alpha was going.

Too bad, because it’s going well we’ve got vertebrates now in all flavors, cold, warm, and this one species that switches based on the ease of finding food. Very cool.

Tuesday, April 17, 2029

Orexinal

I’m afraid to go back to sleep now. I feel like a child afraid of nightmares. But I’m afraid of dreams. I’m afraid of even a moment of not being conscious. A moment of not being in control. I think there is even a tinge of the classic “what if I don’t wake up” fear, but it’s more of “how long will I sleep” fear. Will it be days?

And gosh durn it, I get so much done never going to sleep.

I know at some point I need to stop taking Orexinal. Alpha is up and running, Adit is up and being Adit, and I even have a personal life! I don’t need to always stay awake.

There is nothing more I want than to wake up next to Janice, but there is nothing more frightening to me right now than the idea of being asleep.

Fear wins.

With Kaitlin and Adit using some of my Orexinal supply I’m beginning to run low. And I’m starting to get really anxious about it.

I’ve checked with the campus pharmacy and they’re all out, and not expecting more for at least a few weeks. The strikes have disrupted a lot of the supply chain.

The Good News is Alice has a contact in town that can get me a couple of months supply, the bad news is that he is pricey and outside the green zone.

Oh well. Field trip!

Friday, April 13, 2029

Flight

Though the die off is still happening it doesn’t mean evolution has stopped on Alpha. We passed a milestone of sorts today: an Alphan flew.

I guess you could call these fliers "bugs" but they're weird drippy things (seriously, they drip, like they're rotting) that hop/fly between puddles as they evaporate. They can actually cover a substantial distance before they have to land.

Janice’s team has declared the species be called the Volucris Dumonticis after Santos Dumont the Brazilian aviator. I guess we have a lot of Brazilian biologists on our project, and they were quite proud of the name. Cool.

Monday, April 9, 2029

Our First Die Off

In our planet’s history there have been multiple periods of mass extinctions, Die Offs, where changes in environment or atmosphere or something cause a significant percentage of life on the planet to disappear.

I guess I wouldn’t want Alpha to be different as it is supposed to teach us what life (and the history of life) could look like on a different planet.

But it is still hard to see the Alphans (so many types of slugs!) disappear. To Janice it is like watching pets die, for Adit it is like knowing the code you worked so hard on was removed in beta; I’m not sure what it is for me except that it leaves me cold. I don’t want these things, bits of data, to die.

But they are.

First it was what should be one of the hardiest form of life, bacteria. Strains of this and strains of that started dying off and we didn’t notice until we started comparing the life count summaries we get at the end of each day.

Then we slowed down the simulation a tad so we could see in more detail what was happening. You’d think the die off would move up the food chain if it started with the bacteria, but then larger species far removed in the food chain started dying off, and then a variety of grasses. The cause and effect is impossible to track.

But track it is why were doing all of this.

Adit and Alice are leading most of the development team in going over the code in greater detail to make sure this isn’t a software bug (how awful it would be to find out that this pivotal moment in the history of Alpha is an error in some routine). So far nothing seems wrong, just as with the invertebrate issue, this seems to be part of Alpha’s evolution.

Kaitlin and Janice have been going through the snap shot archives of Alpha to see if there were any earlier signs of chemical changes in the atmosphere that we might have missed. The snapshots are hard archives of a moment in time in Alpha. Alpha is just too huge and memory intensive to record so every ten minutes of real runtime a moment in time is frozen and stored. Given that our simulation speeds have varied from real time to as fast as the servers can go, the snapshots capture intervals as short as ten minutes up to hundreds of thousands of years in Alpha time.

The tricky thing is that the snapshots are literally of what was, and as much of what Alpha is, is various algorithms unfolding, interacting, and rewriting themselves with a touch of randomness. So though it is Alpha’s past if Alpha started again from there (then?) the present Alpha we see might not be the Alpha that unspools. i.e. that past could lead to infinite versions of the present. Statistically they’d average out to be the same, but tell that to the dead slugs.

So far it looks like this was the natural evolution of the planet but we’ll continue looking into it. Like I said, Earth has gone through many such die offs in its history, so this maybe just be the first for Alpha, but it is awful to watch the list of extinct Alphans fly by on the screen.

One nice thing is that Alice has updated her NetTat to a still Mickey Mouse. I guess she realized the animated evolution tattoo she had on her arm earlier the week wasn’t in good taste once the die off started to happen.

Friday, March 30, 2029

I don’t think a platonic date is how you’d describe tonight.

Maybe it was the fact that we got the first date over with and now it was "official" that our relationship had changed, but whatever it was there was no hesitation.

We were like two teens. Awkward but with an urgency.

Luckily I had to leave when the babysitter arrived with Sally. If it ended in a “sleepover” how would I explain I don’t sleep anymore?

Date Number Two: Success!

Friday, March 23, 2029

Dinner with Janice

At last! Maybe it was the giddy excitement of knowing Rasa was gone (done?) and that I could get back to the Alpha project, or just fear of her staying angry with me, but I suddenly had the courage to ask her out. And I even said, “umm… you know, as a date.” And she didn’t hesitate to say yes.

Whooo Hooo!

Alas it was a platonic date to be sure, but after all these years of friendship I think a kiss (or anything else) on the first “date” would have been a bit too much.

It was a great dinner. Luckily there are a lot of great restaurants to choose from in the green zone around campus so we didn’t go into town (which I haven’t done in years). We chatted about Sally, Alpha, and even Greystle.

Something amazing is happening in Alpha, evolution is progressing quickly there are insects, plants, and an abundance of animals in the seas and lands of Alpha. But there aren’t any vertebrates yet. If this was the history of Earth we’d already have a variety of vertebrates walking and swimming about. But nothing yet on Alpha. The whole biology department is giddy over the puzzle this presents, but just in case Janice is having Adit look over some of the biology related algorithms and routines. It’d be awful if we discovered our bug filled Alpha was due to a bug and not just the way life happened to have evolved on Alpha.

Personally I hope we do get some vertebrates on our little world soon. Perhaps it’s my “fanboy” side but I’d love to see sentience and eventually intelligence and culture. Basically I’d love to see cool alien cities on Alpha. And I just don’t see invertebrates delivering that – does that make me a speciest? Or a backbone bigot?

I had thought Janice’s hate for Greystle was based in politics. And while there is that, there is a more personal side. She blames them for the destruction of her uncle’s dream. Janice’s uncle was the inventor of the “Real Cost” Gas Monitor.

I remember the late night ads from when I was a kid (have I always had a problem with sleeping?). The gas monitor clipped into you car and tracked that amount of fuel going out of your fuel pump and showed you the cost of what you were consuming in real time. When you got gas the system reset to the new price. So while idling at a stoplight or when leaving the car on while talking to friends on the road the drivers could see the nickels flip by. Pass someone on a hill and you could see the quarters flip by. With people seeing immediately the cost of their driving they would actually change their driving habits. When people realized it cost $7.50 just to go to the store they started being more diligent with making shopping lists.

Janice’s uncle wanted his invention to give a tangible incentive to customers to cut back on driving and poor driving habits. He wanted less fossil fuel to be burned, but he knew the easiest way to get people to do the right thing is to show them the immediate benefit to themselves. And saving money always works.

His product was changing driving habits. A consumer study proved that his product was having a dramatic effect on the amount of gas people purchased within 6 weeks of buying the “Real Cost” Gas Monitor. He was doing a good business but he always knew that if he had more money he could make more of them, make them better, make them cheaper and market them to a wider audience. Then some San Hill Road venture capital guy showed up at his office with an incredible opportunity. Her uncle sold his company for partial ownership in larger multinational venture. His product would be taken to the world.

Well needless to say it wasn’t. The company was shut down and her uncle lost the rights to sell his own product. The patent holders were this new company and this new company wouldn’t sell his product. He was devastated. As was his family, and as a young girl Janice saw her proud, big, and fun Uncle became the quiet, withdrawn, and sad man that she knew until he died a few years later.

When Janice got older she did do some research on the venture firm and found out it was owned by a division of Greystle. All the other investments of that division were in oil and gas processing and distribution. They had purchased her uncle’s company with the sole goal of destroying his product. I guess leaving him financially ruined as well was just their idea of fun.

That put a damper on the conversation for a while, but talk of Sally and her growing interest in science got as back on a more joyful track.
Date Number One: Success!

Monday, March 19, 2029

Kaitlin the Synesthesic

Besides learning more about neurology then I ever thought I would, I also learned some fun things while in the lab: Kaitlin is synesthesic.

Specifically she has some sort of grapheme-color synesthesia. But she doesn’t see numbers or letters in colors. Well not really. She says she sees “specs” in numbers. As she scans the specifications of hardware, its emf frequency, fcc rating, input requirements, etc; it becomes colored.

Adit and I would quiz her on the fcc rating of a equipment and she’d look up at the spec sheet and give the right answer instantly. It seems the darker the blue the higher the rating. Who knew? Well, okay Kaitlin – but no one else, because we can’t see the colors.

It was wild looking at Kaitlin stand back from the spec sheets and have us rearrange them as if she’s matching color swatches. But it works, so I don’t mess with it. She could tell what was compatible with what by seeing if the colors flowed well together or if they clashed. Hardware configuration as interior design.

Adit is hardware and software conflict free.

Sunday, March 18, 2029

Grass

Walking back to the lab with lunch I suddenly stopped and realized Spring was already at its peak. All the leaves were out, dark green and full sized. It seemed like the trees were all still grey when Rasa, Kaitlin and I first “moved” into the lab.

I put down the bags and took off my shoes. I swear I heard my toes sigh as they dug into the grass. I needed a break, just a short break, and sat down on the hill in front of our building.

I heard my name and turned to see Sally.

I must say Sally made me happier than I’ve been in weeks when she let me know that Janice missed me. Sally said she missed me too and then she made me feel like dirt: I had missed her birthday earlier this week.

She accepted my lame excuse about work and stuff, and I think I finally got back on her good side by rolling down the hill with her over and over again.

I think there is a biological milestone just after puberty that makes getting dizzy something that induces nausea instead of giddiness.

Nothing like walking into a lab with cold food, grass in your hair, and mud on your pants to stop the conversation. If I didn’t know it was impossible I’d say that Adit lost his train of thought.

Saturday, March 17, 2029

Jack and the Analytical Engine

I finally was able to get a hold of Jack; it was weird hearing from him after so much has happened.

Kaitlin has basically taken Jack’s earlier work and quickly made it her own. In fact she’s updated Adit’s system so that all of the wiring can be external of the skull. Now all Adit really would need is a cap but for aesthetic reasons they’ve been grafting the inputs below the scalp. Not only can the sensors on top of the skull record the firing of each neuron to record the memories - senses, and emotions, but the sensors can record the unique frequency of each neuron’s firing so the “playback” doesn’t actually have to be from “shocking” the effected area as before but actually by shocking the skull at the neuron’s frequency. The brain then thinks that neuron fired. This makes Adit’s new system exponentially more precise than the one Adit and Jack came up with years back. Rasa is now Adit 2.0 (God he’d kill me if he heard me say that). Its good to have Adit back. Rasa is almost completely gone now. Adit even slept last night and woke up knowing who we were, and what we were doing; basically knowing who he is.

All of the old hardware in the brain is no longer needed which is why we needed to get a hold of Jack. Occasionally the “playback” hits a frequency close to what the old hardware was tuned to – and when that happens we get instant seizures. Adit’s got a big ass bruise on his head from when the first one hit. With the new method for “playback” seizures are no longer supposed to be an issue.

When Rasa first came to me I was trying everything to get a hold of Jack, but truth is once I found out Kaitlin was on top of things and Ned had most of the specs, it didn’t become as necessary for me to find Jack – and I was kind of relived. Now we needed him. We can’t remove the old hardware without at least doing an itty bit of damage so what we need to do is map out all of the frequencies of the old hardware so that when Adit is experiencing a memory “play back” we skip anything that would conflict with the old hardware. Sure there might be itty bits of memory gaps here and there, but at most we’re talking about a blink. I forget more in ten minutes then Adit probably will over his lifetime.

Ned didn’t have that kind of detail on the hardware Jack used, so we hoped Jack did. And he did. Jack had the details in a secure area of one of his grid corners – we got the info instantly. But Jack really wanted from me was help with his new idea.

Jack wants to make and market desktop versions of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. Yes you too can have an analog computer the size of a small room and made of iron and brass miniaturized to the size of a knick-knack for your desk. While I agree not many people have a fully functional metal analog computer of gears, rods, and levers as a paperweight, I’m not sure many would want one. Jack went on to explain that at first he was going to make Babbage’s Difference Engine because there were complete plans, but he thought everyone would just think of it as a cool Victorian calculator, but with the Analytical Engine each purchase would come with a stack of punch cards with programs ready to go. “Though no one would actually use it – it would be much more obvious to them and the friends they are showing it off to that it is indeed a computer.”

Jack needs to get out of state. He made a grid contact that can work on mass-producing the prototype Jack made after he finalized Babbage’s specs. But there are some design issues his “contact” has encountered and Jack needs to get into New Jersey to help with it. I really don’t want to get into this and I pushed him off to Ned – politely of course.

He’s not even allowed into Jersey now. Damn, I don’t think he realized how much of his freedom Maple Sap was going to cost him. Who would?

Wednesday, March 14, 2029

On Land

Almost spilled some of the miso soup on some neurologists who were leaving the lab when I brought in lunch. They were brought into the lab to help Kaitlin and Rasa on some things. Yep, Kaitlin and I have started calling Adit “Rasa;” we want to make sure we don’t use his real name with any of the folks that come in to help now and then - when we get into something that’s out of our areas of expertise (well that’s almost on everything for me).

Got a call earlier for Janice that some Alphans made land! I wish I was there. I was going to use that event as an excuse to ask Janice out. A milestone of the project celebrated by just the two us – some place nice. Alone. Instead I’m basically living in a lab with Kaitlin and Rasa. Actually using the name Rasa has another advantage – this isn’t Adit. Not yet, not until he’s “fixed.” He is different. I miss Adit, and I’m sure Rasa does too.

Anyway the Alphans that made land don’t have lungs yet. Janice says they have an amazing filtration system in their “skin” that basically plucks the oxygen right out of the air. I think Kaitlin was half proud and impressed at her “Alphans” progress but also just as pissed that we again handed Greystle a patent bonanza. You just know that there will be ten new products coming out next year that filter air in heavily polluted areas and none of them will mention Dulles, Alpha, or the cute little slime blobs that made it happen.

I think Janice is pissed at Adit, Kaitlin, and I too. She doesn’t know what we are up to. Ned has told everyone that we have to prototype a new simulation process for Greystle so we can get a new round of funding from them. I know he choose that excuse because it was the most plausible, but it just pushes Janice’s buttons. She hates those guys.

Sunday, March 11, 2029

Oh.

It wasn’t until I was 17 that I finally had a girlfriend. And it was serious, it way going to be forever. But even a 17 year old deep down knows that isn’t true, and when coming home from a movie in my parent’s ancient hybrid I blurted out that I was going to leave town and go to Dulles Tech. I didn’t let Anna speak I kept going on about how this was best for me, and how we can still have a relationship even though I’m gone, and though I didn’t plan it I started babbling about my parents getting a divorce and before I knew it I was crying. Finally I was silent and Anna said “Oh.”

Adit's story is mentioned in dozens of studies. His case is the case study on countless white papers and thesis papers and journal articles – etc. Luckily as soon as he came to Dulles as a child he was known only as Rasa. I always assumed that was in reference to Tabula rasa, that and it sounds Indian. Rasa is famous in many diciplines of study - taking brain-computer interface (BCI or wetware) technology to a whole new level. Rasa was a source of pride at Dulles. Only Jack, Ned and I knew that Adit and Rasa were one in the same, until I told Kaitlin.

As soon as I heard Kaitlin say “hello” I leaped into listing resources we might need, how I’ll get Ned’s permission to secure a lab, and that budget was not an issue. Finally I paused, “what’s this about?” Kaitlin finally was able to ask. I let her know that Adit was Rasa and he was broken. Whatever Adit and Jack had done wasn’t working. I paused again. Silence, and then Kaitlin said “Oh.”

Now Kaitlin and Adit are making my stockpile of Orexinal disappear as we’ve locked ourselves into a lab right above the Greystle guys. If they only knew the patent potentials happening in this room.

Kaitlin is like a kid in a candy store looking at Jack’s specs on Rasa that Ned had locked away and working with Adit on possible reasons for the malfunction and ways to improve the system. I have to say Adit has taken to Kaitlin. He never had before – when he had memories of her from before his last night of sleep. He is starting to look like he is secure. I think he finally feels safe. Good. I can’t imagine what it really is like when everyone is a stranger.

I’m trying to help out, but I am so out of my league. Honestly the only help I can give them is time and privacy. Oh, and I seem to be getting the drinks and food too.

I am the go to intern on this project. I’m fine with that.

Thursday, March 8, 2029

Knowing no one's name

Adit is sleeping on my office cot. Freaking out must be exhausting.

I’m not sure what the diagnosis is – or if there is a term for what Adit has – or is; but he was lumped into the “autistic” bucket even when he was a baby. Because they didn’t know else to call him.

Adit is unable to make any connections, to parents, siblings, the family dog. I’m bad with names, but Adit doesn’t recognize names, faces, voices – nothing. His family signed him over to a hospital and just walked away from his life. Without the human connections his learning was stunted and slow. As a toddler he was no smarter than an infant. A Dulles human behaviorism psychologist noticed him in a tour of the hospital. Here was this toddler who seemed to be learning who everyone was every morning but still seemed to understand symbols and mathematical concepts way beyond his years.

Adit is like an isolated mesh network. Once you are on the network everything is connected and working seamlessly. But the network stands alone; it has no connections to the wider grid. Adit is an island.

By the time Adit was five he was living at Dulles full time. His childhood was split between working with the math and later computer science departments on new ways to solve problems and taking social interaction classes where the psychology students tried to help Adit function in society. In the end labeled photos that he kept in his pocket was the big break through for him back then. It was a natural jump from that to keeping Adit wired to a face recognition program and having his lens project biographical information for him for everyone he saw. It always would freak out strangers that Adit knew their names.

As a teen Adit met Jack and worked with him on skipping the lens projection and fire the information right into his brain. When Jack and Adit first zapped his brain with a face and a name they watched the scan live as his while brain lit up. A cascading effect had been triggered and hundreds/thousands of memories about that person surfaced.

They discovered that Adit was not only storing memories of people and the events that occurred with the people, he was (with zapping) able to recall all of the memories in minute detail.

Adit held on to and utilized those resurfaced memories all day, but when he woke the next day they were all gone. Just as it had been all his life. The resurfacing wasn’t permanent.

Jack and Adit worked on multiple methods to consistently recreate the memory cascade. Despite the occasional seizures induced by a zap too many they made quick progress. Adit refined the program and the hardware specs. In the end Jack had wired up Adit’s brain like a Christmas tree.

In real time the system records all of the electrical traffic in the brain created by all the new experiences being generated and stores the last 5 seconds or so of every interpersonal interaction. Simultaneously it triggers a replay of the last recorded interaction with a person when he meets that person again each day.

Today it didn’t work.

Adit woke up completely lost. After a huge freak-out in the main square as stranger after stranger who knew who he was approached him asking if they could help, Adit escaped back into his apartment. Luckily he found a “break in case of emergency” note that had a photo of me with contact information.

It took hours to calm him down enough to eat some food and come back to the lab.

I’m trying to reach Jack and am getting nowhere. Now I’m starting to freak-out.

Tuesday, February 27, 2029

Life in a poison world

Life – or something like it!

That was fast. The universe really must be teeming with life.

When we first started out Jack and a lot of the anthropology folks wanted to go the exogenesis route and just plop life willy nilly all over Alpha. I think their argument was basically “it would save time.” We went the organic compound route. Some Greystle guy thought that meant we were going the panspermic route and Janice practically bit off their face when she heard that.

This was about seeing life happen, not watching it evolve from microganisms or another primitve form of life. It was about seeing life itself occur. So yeah we had rocks dropping on alpha with stuff, but none of that stuff was alive.

The rocks, comets, and dust were as chockfull of organic compounds as those we’ve found way out in the Kuiper belt: amino acids and primative sugars, just like my mom’s cooking.

I’d say it is beautiful watching the shooting stars splash into the dead world, the splash of molten metals, the swirls of gas shooting away from the impacts at hurricane speed, and the instant electrical storms, but the truth is we have all been so busy pouring over all the unspooling data that we’ve never bothered rendering anything that’s been going on for the past week.

Our patent pending count from the gasses, isatopes, and other general crap is already over fifty and Greystle has brought in their own chemistry folks. The fourth floor now has more of their people than ours. Janice won’t go on the fourth floor anymore, she says they’re spies. Not sure how you can spy on your own product, but I understand; you can’t help but feel self-concious around those guys.

The fourth floor has the only vending machine with Janice’s favorite noodle bowl, so I have to go up there twice a day. Those guys do not fit in. We’re all running around excitedly spouting out words like “stromatolites” and “prokaryotes” they’re talking about “office action” and “patent flooding.”

Sunday, February 18, 2029

I can’t sleep

Well actually I haven’t tried, but I’m pretty sure I can’t sleep. It’s been two days now. Basically it’s a combo of starting Alpha, working to get all our requirements done for the proposal Greystle wants, and asking out Janice (well without the actual asking out part – I’ll get to it).

I got some Orexinal at the campus store and it works great, I was starting to fall apart and now I’m doing fine.

I won’t mention this to Janice. I mean she’ll be pissed enough about me taking a drug, but the fact that the pharma company that makes Orexinal is one of Greystle’s companies will push her over the edge. Ever since the Jack crap she’s gotten to be an almost activist about those guys. Ned and I now make sure she never goes to any meetings with them.

Friday, February 16, 2029

Our new printer has a collate button just for shits and giggles.

I had to share.

Thursday, February 15, 2029

Okay we aren’t actually basement dwellers. Most of us are on the 2nd floor, but we don’t have windows in the building so we might as well be on the basement.

Actually the basement is where the servers are, which was useful last winter the week we lost heat and Jack rerouted the fans to the duct work and our massive server farm became our heating source.

OM

Today was the day. A simple command line was entered by Adit, and I got to hit the red enter button.

“Om” Adit chanted as we looked at the code fill up the screen. I let out a laugh but Janice gave the “that” look. Adit was being serious. “Om” being the first sound of the universe or something.

When we projected the rendered images the gravity of the moment hit me. The gases, dust, and debris gathering together before us. Alpha was being born. EDIT: I just noticed the gravity pun – sorry.

We’ve started

We have it cranked up so Alpha should begin cooling by the end of the week.

Ned and I have a meeting at the Greystle Group tomorrow to get more funds. Kaitlin has quite a wish list for new hardware.

Because I need to get ready, I’m skipping the “launch” party, which is probably just as well. A bunch of basement dwellers getting together in a stunned state of disbelief (at having actually begun and still recovering from the whole Jack/DHS fiasco) is probably as fun as it sounds.

Tuesday, February 6, 2029

Moment of Honesty

It wasn’t just the hell DHS put us through the prompted the mind resetting beard shaving; I also needed to reset my personal life. I’m going to stop tell Janice I’m no longer babysitting Sally.

Its not Sally. I love Sally. And its not that I now know more about the Wilder and Ingalls families than I thought possible. Its just that I don’t want to be the one that let’s Janice go out. I want to be the one taking Janice out. I’ve too long been her support. I now want to be her partner.

When we were freshmen it was me she went to with that little plastic stick and asked me “is that pink?” It was me who went back with her to the store and bought more pregnancy kits. It was me who got the dirty looks from the checkout clerk (and yes it was me who then blurted out “I didn’t do it!”).

So often I’ve been there for her. But I don’t want that anymore. I want to be there with her.

I'll wait until after we launch before I tell her though. We're all too tightly wound right now.

Monday, February 5, 2029

Shaved off my beard today.

Really. I had to do something to change my state of mind if we were going to get back on track.

Today Homeland Security will be gone. We’ve got a new tech lead, Kaitlin, starting today and she’s great, and has been vetted by DHS (previously something I wouldn’t have thought was part of the interview process).

So no beard means fresh start. Yes I am that primitive.

Thursday, February 1, 2029

Bad habit I picked up during our week of hell – Advice columns.

I’m addict to the local one sheet’s advice column. I mean check out today’s:
Dear What do you do,

My friend had tiny camera mites placed in the girl’s shower at my high school. He and I watched the vid one night after studying. Later I asked my girlfriend how she got the scar, but I forgot the scar was in a place I couldn’t have seen. She had scanners check her house and school and found the mites. Now I’m in real big trouble. Should I turn my friend in?

Is there anyway I can make it up to my girlfriend? We were only on our second date.

Signed,
Saw too much


Dear Saw too much,

He’s isn’t much of a friend if he’d let you face this punishment alone. Chances are your school will only give demerits for this kind of thing. I don’t think you should be too worried. Were the mites of your friend’s own design? If so, he really should look into what local nanotech companies offer internships and stop looking in places he couldn’t walk to himself.

As for your girlfriend, I think it is for the best that this was only the second date, perhaps it will be less painful for you when you finally understand that you really blew it with her.
Nice.