Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Travels of Jack Pynesapp - Book 2 Chapter 8: Red and Jimmy

This is 41 in a series of blogs chronicling an expedition into 'space' with Jack Pynesapp and his granddaughter Red. To read the entire story (with notes) please see the JackPynesapp web site: [ click here ]

Travels of Jack Pynesapp



Book 2: Red and Jimmy

Chapter 8

Arthur faced Red and smiled; "Concert cancelled?" 

Red smiled and shrugged; "Oh, you know. Show biz..."

"Yes, I know 'show' when I see it."

"I guess you do." Red smiled. 

"I could use a cup of coffee. If you two would like to join me in the lounge? I'll buy." 

Jimmy leaned over red and said; "We tried that once, remember? I think we'll pass." And he sat back in his seat. 
.
Arthur smiled at Jimmy; "Okay, suit yourselves." He looked at Red; " I just thought you might like to know why your Grandparents had to rush off." 

-----------------------

The Observation car was nearly empty. Four people playing cards at a table towards the rear of the car when Arthur, Red and Jimmy settled in a booth towards the front. The Waitress asked if they wanted anything and Arthur ordered a Decaf. "What would you two like? My treat."

"Just water for me." Red said.

"Decaf is fine." Jimmy said.

"So, let's cut the crap, Okay" Arthur began after the Waitress walked away.

"Good idea, " Red said, "you were going to tell us about or Grandparents."

"In a minute..." Arthur started.

"Okay, let's go." Jimmy said to Red as he started to stand up to leave. "We've been here before."

"Just wait a minute." Arthur protested. "I'll get to that soon enough. What's your hurry anyway? We have a couple hours to kill and I just want to explain a few things."

"Okay, but make it quick." Jimmy sat back down. The waitress brought their drinks and left again.

Arthur sipped his coffee and began again; "First of all, I know where you two are really from and I know that you are not musicians."

"I suppose Billy told you all about that." Red said.

"Ah, you mean William. Yes, he has been a great resource to us since he joined our company. "

"I'll bet."

"But you see, although William does know how to get here and how to get back, he is not the brightest bulb." Arthur smiled at his joke and continued; "He is content to be ignorant as to the mechanism behind what he does."

"But you think we know more than Billy?" Jimmy asked.

"Well you see, I haven't figured that out yet. It doesn't seem to be the case; by what I've seen so far, but that's why I want to talk to you."

"You expect us to tell you anything when you won't be honest with us?" Jimmy asked.

"I have been perfectly honest with you." Arthur protested.

"Hah" Jimmy sneered.

"What do you know about my Grandparents? " Red interrupted.  "And why are you interested in them?"

"I'll answer the second question first. When William first came to us we had no idea
 what he had done was even possible."

Jimmy interrupted; "When you say 'we', who are you talking about? Who, or what, are 'we'?"

"As I told you before, I have an engineering consulting company and one of our customers is the railroad. The railroad is our main customer, actually. So naturally they are - we are - interested in anything that involves their rail system.  They have an exclusive license to the patent on the technology that moves these trains (a patent that my company holds, incidentally) so you can see why we're interested in any other possible applications."

"Like some sort of dimensional portal?" Jimmy said.

"Jimmy!" Red gave Jimmy her best 'shut up' look.

"Yes, that would certainly be interesting." Arthur smiled. "Don't worry Red. Like I said, we know where you are from."

"Well, since you already know everything, why are we sitting here talking?" Jimmy asked.

"Grandpa Jack." Red suggested.

"That's right, Red. Your Grandparents seem to have some information that we would dearly like to have."

"Why don't you ask them, then." Jimmy sneered, "Why bother with us."

"Maybe he already has." Red suggested.

"Yes," Arthur smiled. "we have talked."

"And..." Jimmy asked.

Arthur sighed; "Let's just say; they haven't been very forthright."

"You said you'd tell us where they are." Red insisted. "I think it's time for you to tell us."

"l said I'd tell you why they had to leave. Honestly,  I don't know where they are now."

"Jimmy's right, we've waited long enough." Red pulled Jimmy's hand and stood up to leave.

"Your Grandparents have gotten involved with some shady characters here in LA." Arthur said. "These folks have been actively resisting the use the Gravity Drive system we use to power our trains since it's introduction 20 years ago."

"Why?" Jimmy asked.

"They maintain that it's due to fears about it's safety and they site studies that reportedly show that it has long-term adverse effects on the health of the train's passengers."

"Does it?" Jimmy asked.

"We have done extensive research of our own and found no adverse side effects to any living subject either inside the train or in the area surrounding the tracks." Arthur assured. "We have also studied their results and found them to be.." Arthur sighed; "Well, let me just say that we've found their research to be  extremely 'suspect'."

"I can see their point, though." Red smiled. "Transporting people from one dimension to another is a pretty major  'side effect', wouldn't you say?"

"You could say that, yes. And we believe that's why your grandparents are working with these folks. This organization can be very convincing -- and they are  very well financed. "

"And you're not?" Jimmy said sarcastically.

"No, not really." Arthur protested; "Not compared to these guys. They pretty much own all the media outlets in this country as well as most of the government. "

"But you must be pretty rich, I mean, you own this great technology that seems to power the whole transportation industry. That must bring in tons of money in licensing alone."

"We believe in keeping the price of transportation down so we barely charge anything for licensing and only charge a small rate for our support services. Which leaves next to nothing to pay for lobbying the government or media promotion."

"Assuming what you say is true -- and I'm not sure I can assume that -- what is it that you think we can do?"

"I assume you're on your way home right now. Correct?"

"By home, you mean back to our dimension." Jimmy said.

"Yes."

"Yes, we're heading home."  Red agreed.

"Then all that I ask is that you take me with you." Arthur looked at Red and then at Jimmy.

Red and Jimmy looked at each other. A minute passed as the train fell through the night.



Monday, April 24, 2017

The Travels of Jack Pynesapp - Book 2 Chapter 7: Red and Jimmy

This is 40 in a series of lblogs chronicling an expedition into 'space' with Jack Pynesapp and his granddaughter Red. To read the entire story (with notes) please see the JackPynesapp web site: [ click here ]

Travels of Jack Pynesapp

Book 2: Red and Jimmy

Chapter 7;
A soft female voice said; "Please find an empty seat and, while sitting down, activate your ticket. Once your ticket is validated you will be assigned to that seat for the duration of your trip with us. You may then move about the train at your pleasure and your seat will be reserved for your return. Thank you for choosing United Rail and have an enjoyable journey."

Red's phone said; "Your ticket has been accepted to Chicago. You have reserved seat 305-14-2. Thank you."

Red and Jimmy settled in as the train took off. The only sensation of motion was the pressure of their backs against the seats as they accelerated. That, and an almost imperceptible feeling like they were falling.  The conductor was standing by the seat across the isle from them. The lady who was sitting there, asked him about this. He said that some are more sensitive to the sensation than others, and that standing up and turning around a couple times usually helps. He said that it's only a brief sensation, while the train is speeding up, and it will end when the train reaches full speed.  

"A clue." Jimmy whispered to Red. 

"Arthur called it a 'gravity drive' so I guess it makes sense."

They had been watching for Arthur -- and anyone else who looked like they were watching -- as they waited for the train and then boarded. Nobody seemed the least interested in this young couple. Red had commented that this probably just meant that whoever was following them was very good at their job. 

"I still don't know why you think anybody would be interested in us." Jimmy laughed. "You're just being paranoid." 

"Shut up." Red said, "And keep an eye out for anything suspicious." She stood up and turned around like she was having problems with the falling sensation. As she turned she looked at the people in the other seats.  The car was nearly full. People were busy settling in: adjusting their seats, taking out blankets and pillows, taking out various things to read, work with or play with or just looking out the windows. Nobody paid her any attention so she sighed and settled back down next to Jimmy. 

"See anything?"

"No."

"Told ya." Jimmy scoffed.

"Just keep watching." Red scolded.

----------------------------------------------------

The sensation that they were getting heavier was the only way Red and Jimmy could tell they were approaching Albuquerque. This was an express train so Kansas City would be the only other stop before Chicago.

The lady across the isle was gathering up her things and getting up to leave.

Three hours had passed since leaving L.A. Red was getting hungry so she opened the diner app.

"Let's get something to eat." She said to Jimmy. "There are two seats available in the dinning car right now. Should I reserve them?"

"Sounds great." Jimmy agreed.

They were seated at an empty table (so far) and they ordered two cheese burgers and fries.

"No company this time?" Jimmy observed.

"It's kinda late and maybe people don't like eating during take-off. But don't worry, maybe someone will show. "

"I'm not complaining."

Nobody did show up to join them and Red and Jimmy ate in relative silence.

-----------------------

As they approached their seats, Red nudged Jimmy and pointed to the man sitting in the seat across the isle that the lady had vacated. He was looking out the window as they sat down.

"Did you enjoy your dinner?" He asked the window.

Red looked at him and said; "Hello Arthur."





Thursday, April 20, 2017

Nightmares

For all my life, any nightmares I have had have been about threats to me personally. Only lately have they become threats to all life on earth.

The first was the night after Trump was elected president. I dreamed we were on vacation on the west coast when our tour guides had everyone move to designated bomb shelter areas. This was a general alarm that everyone in the area knew about and all the news and the whole internet was covering it. Our country and some foreign power had escalated to a point where the missiles had been launched and we were just waiting for them to arrive. We were all hoping - against hope - that at the last minute someone would come to their senses and abort the missiles and we would be saved. But nobody really believed that and we all knew that this was the end of all life on earth. It was a totally empty and hopeless feeling; complete despair; utterly hopeless; helpless feeling. Then came the rage and then I woke up.

The second came last night. I don't remember much of the background or what led up to the end. It was a battle with some sort of general darkness. Everyone was waiting for this darkness to come and animate us all. It came as a sort of smoke; completely black (even in the night) and it swept over us like a fog. The first wave came many of us found a way to hide from it and we escaped. But another wave was coming and we all knew there was no escaping this time. It was terrifying but we all held out some glimmer of hope that we would survive again somehow and then I woke up.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Travels of Jack Pynesapp - Book 2 Chapter 6: Red and Jimmy

This is 39 in a series of lblogs chronicling an expedition into 'space' with Jack Pynesapp and his granddaughter Red. To read the entire story (with notes) please see the JackPynesapp web site: [ click here ]

Travels of Jack Pynesapp

Book 2: Red and Jimmy

Chapter 6; 

Okay. Well, that was interesting.  But it didn't answer any questions, did it. I like these 'Port' things. It sounds like they will give us (as well as Red and Jimmy) ALL the answers. Dosen't it? 

"Jack Pynesapp"; Red said out loud in order to 'call' her Grandpa on her new 'Port' phone thing. She wanted to talk to him some more and find out what the heck is going on here.

"Jack Pynesapp is currently unavailable. Please try again later." came the reply from somewhere in her head.

She gave Jimmy a look of exasperation. 

"Busy?" Jimmy asked.

"Unavailable." she said.  "So much for advanced technology.

"Who said it was advanced?" Jimmy said. "It's just different."

"Same shit, different dimension." Red laughed dryly.

"Try Grandma." Jimmy said.

"Marge Pynesapp." Red said. Another look of exasperation. "Same thing."

"Probably talking to each other." Jimmy suggested.

"Why would they be talking to each other on the ports when they're together?"

"You're assuming they are still together."

"Grandpa said we could learn how to use these things by asking questions. How do we ask questions?" Red asked.

Jimmy shrugged and then said; "Port, how do we ask you questions?"

He heard a soft voice say; "What would you like to know?"

"Like that." He said to Red. "It said 'What would you like to know?'"

"Okay," Red sighed, "Port, where is Jack Pynesapp?"

"You are not authorized for that information."

"It said I'm not authorized for that information."  She echoed to Jimmy.

"Port, how do I get authorized for that information."

"This access is controlled by the administrator of your Node."

"Who's that?"

Nothing.

"Port, who is that."

"Jack Pynsapp is the administrator of your Node."

Red looked at Jimmy and said, "Grandpa has to give me access."

"It makes sense, I guess, " Jimmy said, "they said they want us on that return train and maybe if we knew where they were we (you) would be tempted to try to find them."

Red thought for a minute. "I guess." She said finally, "Port, is Jack Pynesapp safe."

"His readings are normal."

"Port, what do you mean? What readings?"

" His metabolic readings are within his normal range, although his respiration, pulse, and blood pressure are slightly elevated. It would appear that he is performing some sort of physical exertion."

"Port, can you sense all these things from the earpiece?"

"Yes."

"It said 'Yes.'" She said to James.

"Now that's pretty cool." Jimmy said, "Port, what are Red Vanderbilt's metabolic readings?"

"Pulse: 85, blood pressure: 105 over 73,  blood oxygen: 98%."

"Port, is that all you know about Red?"

"I know her physical location, her rate of movement,  and the history of all these parameters."

"Port: but you can't tell me what her location is?"

"Yes, I can."

"It said it can tell me where you are. So your grandparents must have specifically blocked us from knowing where they are."

"I guess you were right." Red said.

Red said; "Port: are Jack Pynesapp and Marge Pynesapp close to each other?"

"Please be more specific."

"Port: Are they withing 100 feet of each other."

"You are not authorized for that information."

"You are not authorized for that information. " Red echoed and then sighed. "How could I guess. "

Jimmy smiled. "Port, " He started, "Tell me about Arthur Hale".

"I know of 14 Arthur Hale's. Please be more specific."

Jimmy looked at Red and then said; "Wait, Port. Can you let Red -- I mean Red Vanderbilt -- hear what you're saying?"

"I can put you both in a pod if you want."

"What is that?"

"It is like a private space where the three of us can have a conversation."

"Yes, that's what I'm after."

Red heard; "Red, would you like to enter a Pod with James Vanderbilt?"

"Yes, please".

Red and Jimmy both heard a short rising tone.

Jimmy continued, "Arthur Hale is middle aged and the head of some consulting company."

"The closest match is an Arthur Hale,  age 52, currently of Los Angeles, California; President and CEO of Hale and Sons Consulting Company. "

"That's gotta be him!" Jimmy said. "Now what do you know about him?"

"That's the only information that is published."

Red said; "Port, what can you tell us about Hale and Sons Consulting Company?"

"Hale and Sons provide expert engineering and design services to the transportation industry - both private and public. Specializing in state of the art propulsion, conveyance,  guidance, and control systems."

"That sounds pretty darn close." Jimmy laughed.

"Port, can you tell us the names of the other employees of Hale and Sons?" To Jimmy she said: "I've got an idea."

"Arthur Hale; Principle owner and CEO. John Hale; CIO and head of R&D. Arthur Jr.; Chief Engineer and Chairman of the board. William Thompson ; Engineer. Alice Olsen: Senior Account Manager. ... "

"Port, stop there." Red interrupted. "Jimmy, do you suppose?" She asked in wonder.

"If it's not, it's an awful coincidence. What the hell? I'll bet that's Bill and Alice from the train."

"Now I know why Grandpa gave us these things. It wasn't to keep tabs on Him and Grandma. It was to help us figure out this world and stay safe."

"Okay, so? Again I say 'What the hell?' Why are these three people playing games with us? Why us?"

"And what's Billy doing here?" Red added.

"Billy who?" Jimmy asked.

"Billy! You know William Thompson! Could that be Billy Thompson? You know the kid my Dad was talking about from when he was in school. From when he first caught that train?"

One of the problems with working on this story over years is remembering the names of the characters. I had to go back to Chapter XXVI to remember Billy's last name. 


"Yeah, I get it, I get it. But that can't be the same guy, can it?"

"He'd be the right age. We've never seen him. He hasn't been around has he? Why not?"

"That's an awful big coincidence."

"But it might explain how Arthur and Co know about us."

"Why haven't we heard about any of this until now?" Jimmy protested. "Jack must know he's around. Why didn't he tell us."

"Maybe he didn't have a chance."

"How long would it take to say; 'Oh, and Red; you remember we told you about Billy ....... Well he's here. Watch out for him.' How long does that take?"

"I don't know. What ever, okay. Now we know. So what do we do now."

"I say we get on the train and get the hell out of here."

They both stood up and looked around. What if Arthur, or one of his friends was watching them -- had been watching all along? And just because they didn't see Arthur, Bill, or Alice doesn't mean one of the other people in that company wasn't watching.  The next train departed in about an hour. They decided to get their tickets and just wait in the station.


Friday, December 30, 2016

Stage Hand for a 'day'.

An old friend posted on her Facebook page that she needed people to work on a crew to set-up and tear-down (I think she called it 'in' and 'out') for some political rallies that were coming to town. I thought that his might be interesting so I replied.

The first was a campaign rally for  Tim Kaine (Hillary's running mate) on campus. It was held on the second floor of one of the Student Commons buildings. The call was for 9:30 Monday morning (Halloween day) and after filling out paperwork (tax info, contact info, etc.) we started moving staging off of a semi truck in the basement to a conference room on the second floor. The elevator was too small for many of the carts so we had to unpack heavy staging sections and move them up one and two at a time. Pretty low tech but it seemed to be all in a days work for the experienced stage hands.
Beginnings of the stage. 

After the staging, lighting equipment, sound equipment, and all the banners and billboards were moved to the center of the room we began assembling the sets according to the plans of a couple 'Madison Avenue' sorts (whatever that is) and under the watchful guidance of the Union Steward.

This involved assembling risers, adding guardrails, adding steps, hanging curtains, setting up booms and scaffolds for lighting and sound, assembling and positioning 'bike racks' for barricades and crowd control (all draped with yards of star-spangled bunting).

It was interesting and enlightening to be part of this crew of professional stage hands putting together this set for the stage production that was to follow. It is amazing -- and somewhat disillusioning -- to witness the degree of production, direction, and control that is put in to our political process. Everyone: the crowd, the press, the candidate, the hosts -- everyone who shows up is carefully positioned, scripted, costumed, and orchestrated to produce the maximum effect.

I joined the crew again the next day -- the day of the rally -- to move everything out of the room and back into the truck that was waiting to take it to the next campaign stop.  We had to wait outside the building for an hour before we could start.  Security was tight until the candidate finished and left the building. The weather was nice so we didn't mind waiting; we were being paid.

Finally the truck was packed and we were all released to go our way.  On leaving the building I found a blow-up figure of a Darth Vader in the trash -- probably a discarded prop from a Halloween party.  It turned out to be in perfect condition and in fine working order. Perhaps it was an omen of what was to come of American politics.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Jack Pynesapp, Marge, and Red - dark matter

Today I decided to stop at Mother Fools Coffee Shop on my bike ride. I see that they have their new windows - at long last after the car ran into the front of the shop -- so the view is nice once again for sitting and writing.  There is good music and the nice hum of background conversations to smooth out the thought process. 

Dark Matter

It's nearly 9:00 pm and Red Pynesapp, her Grandma Marge,  and Grandpa Jack are still lying on a blanket, looking up at the stars and talking about 'dinosaurs'.

"Do you see that sputnik?" Red pointed where she was looking. "Up there by the handle of the Big Dipper."

"I see it. Are you sure it's not a plane?

"I don't see any colors."

"Is that how you tell?"

"I don't know." Grandpa Jack admitted.

"Wasn't you're dad going to pick you up at 9:00, Red?" Grandma Marge asked.

"He said to call if I needed a ride."

"Maybe you should stay over."

"Yeah, I don't have anything going on tomorrow."

"It's settled." Marge smiled.

"So Red,"  Grandpa asked, "how do you propose we get to the Andromeda galaxy in time to look back here and see the dinosaurs roaming our world?"

"You keep talking about Einstein and the laws of physics that he came up with. Why do we even have to obey the laws of physics?" Red sighed.  "Didn't someone say that all laws are meant to be broken?"

"If all laws are broken you're left with anarchy." Grandma scolded.

"And chaos." Grandpa added. "If you break the laws of physics you would be left with chaos."

"Really?" Red asked.

"Yes, because the laws of physics define our physical Universe; the Universe in which we live; in which we exist.  We are a part of it. We are made from the stuff of this Universe. The molecules and the atoms that make up our bodies are all the same as the Universe that surrounds us."

"And limits us." Red grumped.

"We are part if it and it is part of us." Grandma added. "We evolved together you know; this Universe and us. And these 'laws' as you call them, are the substrate upon which the Universe was built. Our creation depended upon them as does our continued existence. They are the fabric upon which all of this is put together. How do you expect us to be able to break such laws? "

"And even if you could break it, what's to say this whole thing might not come tumbling down? You know, like chaos. "

"So do these laws govern thought as well?" Red asked slyly.

"Now see what you've done, Jack." Grandma scolded. "With your talk of imagination."

"Okay, I'll bite." Grandpa laughed. "Red, what are you getting at?"

Red sat up and crossed her legs. She thought for a minute and then began;  "Science fiction writers have talked about this for a long time, haven't they? They've thought up lots of ways to break the laws of time and space. You know like 'warp drive' in Star Trek, and 'hyper-space' in Star Wars and others."

Grandpa added; "And 'worm holes', 'black holes'. I know; Steven Hawking wrote about these and about space-time curving around and even folding on to itself."

"Steven Hawking isn't a science fiction writer, Grandpa."

"I know. But some some of the things he says are even stranger than fiction." 

"So you're going change the rules of the Universe."  Grandma scoffed; "Or make up new ones -- just so you can go to Andromeda?"

"Not change the rules. " Red said as she lay back down and looked for more satellites. "Maybe we just don't understand what all the rules are -- or how they all work."

"That's a pretty safe bet." Grandpa laughed.

"And what I'm saying is: what if our very existence depends on these physical laws. You break the law and all this vanishes." Grandma waived her arms across the night sky.

"Assuming these laws can be broken." Grandpa said. "It's easy to write about this stuff. What if it's impossible to actually do? " 

"Exactly." Grandma sighed.

"There's a shooting star." Red said. "Did you see that?"

"Did you make a wish?" Grandma asked.

"I did."

"What'd you wish for?" Grandpa asked.

"I can't tell you or it won't come true."

"That's only for birthday wishes."

"I don't think so. I think it's for all wishes." Grandma said.

Red rolled on her side facing her grandparents and propped her head on one elbow. "Okay, so maybe we wouldn't have to actually go to Andromeda. You know, like ourselves; physically I mean."

"Are you talking about the  'two places at once' thing again?" Grandma asked.

"Actually, if I see where you're going with this Red, " Grandpa said, "We don't need to be in two places at once. All we need is to have some thing, or some entity that is two places at once. Remember what we're trying to do - basically - is to get information. We shouldn't need to move matter for that. If we don't move matter then we don't have to obey the laws of time and space."

"Even better than that .. " Red paused for a minute while she collected her thoughts, "what if there was some sort of thing that already existed when our universe was created.  It would be 'outside' the framework of our universe. Right?  Like another dimension maybe, you know --  sort of. So it wouldn't be governed by our laws of time, space, mater, and even energy. This would mean it could exist everywhere and nowhere at the same time." She laughed; "But, you know like the words 'everywhere', 'nowhere', and 'time' are all things in our Universe and would have no meaning (or a different meaning) in what I'm talking about. I guess it just 'is', 'was', and 'always will be'. You know?"

"You're saying that relative to this thing, both Andromeda and Earth would be at the same time and place?"

"It's possible; if it's everywhere."

"And if it's 'nowhere' then neither Andromeda nor Earth are here."

"Then where are we; now?"

"We're on both Andromeda and Earth at the same time."

"So all we need is a powerful enough telescope and we can watch the dinosaurs."

"Okay, stop it you two." Grandma protested. "Now you're just being silly."

"But I can see you've been thinking about this haven't you." Grandma continued.

"It's Grandpa's fault."

"I bet it is."

Grandpa said; "Well, even if there is such a thing, what does it matter to us? If it is outside our physical universe then how do we -- who exist within this universe -- use it?"

"Use it -- nothing, " Complained Grandma, "how do we even detect it? Isn't that the first challenge?"

Red sat up, crossed her legs and looked at her grandparents. "You said it yourself, Grandpa. We detect it with our minds. It is what our thoughts are made of. We move around within it with our imagination. We can't see it with our eyes. We can't feel it with any of our other senses because our senses are made of this universe. "

"That's right. Our senses are given to us - or have evolved - to enable us to survive in this physical universe." Grandpa agreed. "If we didn't have them we wouldn't survive to reproduce and our species would have gone extinct long ago."

"I don't agree. " Grandma turned over and rested her chin on her hands and looked at Red. "Our thoughts and ideas are just manipulations of images, sounds; memories of things we've experienced and all the things that have happened to us in the past.  Our imagination comes because our brains are not perfect recorders of events. Our brains get mixed up and these memories get rearranged in strange and sometimes novel ways."

"Okay, maybe there's that. But I'm talking about more than our brains -- our minds. I'm talking about our hearts; not the blood pumpers but the place we hold our love and hate and -- well -- our soul. "

"So, " Grandpa asked, "you think our souls are made up of the stuff -- whatever it is -- that was here before our universe was formed?"

"Yeah," Red agreed.

"It doesn't exist in time or space as we know them?"

"Right."

"And it has no mass or energy?"

"Right. "Red agreed. "At least not as we know them, necessarily."

"So it's nowhere and everywhere at the same time?"

"I guess so."

Grandma sat up and looked at Red. "It sounds like you're talking about 'God'." She said softly.

"Okay." Red said. "Maybe so - in a way."

Grandpa said. "Maybe we call it 'God' because we need some way of making it real. Some way to give it substance so we can talk about it when there is no other way to explain it in terms of anything we see or even understand."

"But we know that it's there, even if we can't prove it." Red said.

"That's an interesting idea." Grandma agreed. "Give it physical characteristics so that we can talk about it. Kind of like the ultimate 'elephant in the room'. "

"A big elephant. "; Red laughed.

"This is the biggest elephant." Grandma said.

Grandpa was still lying his back and looking at the stars. "Okay ladies, that's all well and good but how does this get us any closer to seeing the dinosaurs?"

"It doesn't I guess, but don't you always say that the first step in finding a solution is to define the problem."

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Jack Pynesapp and Red

"You've got to jump off the cliff all the time, and build your wings on the way down. " - Ray Bradbury 

Stars

Red Pynesapp's real name is Andrea but everyone calls her Red. Maybe it's because of her hair -- not really red but more a strawberry blond - or maybe because of her last name; Pynesapp. Her Grandfather and her Father are both named Jack (you know like Jack Pine) and someone may have thought it cute to have a 'Red Pine' in the family. Or maybe it was just because of her hair.

 Red lives in Mayville with her parents; Jack Jr. and Gwen. She is an only child (so far) but she spends a lot of time with her Grandfather who is going through a second childhood (his wife; Marge says that he's still in his first childhood).

Red is about to enter 8th grade in Mayville Middle School -- "Go Hornets". She loves to run and jump and pretty much do anything outside so it makes sense that she play soccer for the Jr. Hornets. But it is summer vacation and right now she is lying on her back on a blanket in her Grandparent's back yard next to Grandpa Jack and Grandma Marge. It's 10:15 PM and completely dark except for the light from the billions of starts that fill the night sky.

Red breaks the silence; "Can you believe that some of those 'stars' are really whole galaxies?"

"I've heard that but it's still hard to believe." Marge said. "Do you know which ones?"

"Not really." Red admitted.

"There's the Andromeda Galaxy." Grandpa said.

"It figures you'd know." Grandma scoffed. 

"Do you know which one it is?" Red asked.

"No, I don't think you can see it this time of year - not till later in the season."

"It's funny, " Red said, "a whole galaxy of stars that looks like just one star to us. What if someone was on a planet circling one of the suns in that galaxy and they were laying on a blanket right now and looking at the 'star' that is really our whole galaxy."

"Right now?" Grandpa asked.

"Yeah I know, " Red laughed, "not right now. They would be seeing how we looked millions of years ago."

Red has always been interested in astronomy -- well, science in general. She is not afraid to ask stupid questions and say stupid things and she and her grandparents spend long hours debating things like time and space. 

"It's only time."; Grandpa laughed.

"But time separates everything."; Grandma added.

"But so does space." Red said.

"But space isn't absolute, " Grandma said, "you can move through space. Time, on the other hand, is fixed. Time is unforgiving. Time is the irresistible. Time is permanent."

"I don't think Einstein said that time was fixed - did he?" Red asked. "It just seems fixed. It's actually tied to space and energy and mass. They're all tied together in his big theory of relativity."

"Okay, point taken." Grandma smiled. 

Jack said; "You know, time is all those things but it's not impermeable."

"What?"

"I mean, it's not impenetrable. I don't mean that you can move through it physically. But you can still move through it mentally. With your memory and with your imagination. "

"Come on Grandpa, "Red scoffed, "Be serious."

"Maybe so, " Marge said, "but what good is that?  Like you say,  you can't move through it to any place you haven't been - really. You can't learn anything new.  You can't visit someplace you haven't been or someplace you cannot go to. Remember Einstein? Time and space are irrevocable linked. "

"Imagination?" Jack protested. "Imagination isn't governed by these laws. Imagination isn't limited by space, energy, or the speed of light. It's instantaneous. It can move at the speed of thought."

"Imagination is just you guessing about what something might be like. Or might have been like in another time. It has no direct link with reality."

"Really? How bout the Wright brothers? They imagined that humans could fly and now humans fly."

"They didn't see the future, they changed the future."

"What's the difference?"

"I thought we were talking about moving through time."

"Yeah, Grandpa. That works (maybe) when you're talking about the future but what about the past. What if you want to go back before memory? Like before recorded history, I mean like back to the age of the dinosaurs."

"You said it yourself, Red." Grandpa said, "That person laying on their back in the Andromeda Galaxy is seeing our world with dinosaurs roaming right now, this instant."

"Yeah, but that's them. I'm talking about us, Grandpa. How do we see those dinosaurs - right now."

"Yes, Grandpa." Marge smiled, "how do we do that?"

"You said that we can move through space, right? Well we just move to where those guys are lying and look up."

"Grandpa, now you're being silly."  Red laughed.

"Don't forget Einstein, Jack - dear. Don't forget that time and space are linked. It would take time us to reach the Andromeda Galaxy; a huge amount of time, and by then we'd just be looking back at ourselves, lying here on the grass."

"Hmm." Jack said.

"Hmm" Red sighed.

Marge smiled and the three of them lay in silence and looked up at the stars.

"Grandma," Red said finally, "what if we didn't have to move through space to get to Andromeda?

"What?"

"I mean, then we wouldn't be limited by energy and mass and time and space or any of these physical laws."

"How do you propose to do that?" 

"Like I was saying, " Grandpa interrupted, " using our imagination. "

"Well no, not exactly Grandpa." Red said. "I mean what if we were there right now; the three of us, laying on a blanked at night, looking up in the sky. With a really powerful telescope (you know we'd have to have a really powerful telescope in order to see the dinosaurs that would be here.)"

"So you're saying that we're there and we're here right now; this instant." Grandma asked.

"Yes."

"We'd have to be two places at the same time." Grandpa said.

"Yes, at least two." Red said.

"Yes, " Grandpa asked, "why stop at two. Why stop at anything? We could be everywhere at once."

"Sort of like God?" Grandma said. "We'd be omnipresent."

"I guess so." Red said softly.

"Well, " Grandpa said gaily, "if God can do it, I guess it can be done."

"But not by us." Grandma scolded. "We're not God, Jack. Shame on you for suggesting it."

"You're right, Marge." Grandpa admitted. "Let's get real here, shall we."

"Us?" Marge scoffed, "Reality? You're kidding, right?"

"Yeah Grandpa, you're no fun."

"Ok, okay, " Grandpa laughed, "so Red, how do you propose we -- non-Gods -- might pull off this feat of magic."

To be continued.