Thursday, July 24, 2014

Holo Grammy, Part II

CHAPTER II, A Back Story
 Advances in artificial intelligence and holographic technology spawned new international-state sponsored industries.

     Throughout the planet crime levels and the fear it inspired, had increased to the point that the punishment for almost any infraction dictated extended prison sentences. In this new world order, prisoners had to work for their keep. So, in essence, they became slaves of the states in which they were housed. This new economic paradigm was readily accepted as a sop by the frightened populations.  The unintended consequence of these new laws was a boon to the world economy.
    However, families wanted to keep in touch with their loved ones even if they were incarcerated. But many of the millions of convicts housed were terminated due in part to physical infirmities or for political reasons.
     The officials had no way of addressing these extra-legal actions and were straining to rationalize their activities. Bad press like this, especially within a republic, was not something any political entity desired. There were ways the populations could discover this and raise a protest. It was not something that could be completely hushed up.
     A group of engineers, scientists and psychologists working within the penal system proposed to physically, and psychologically map each individual incarcerated. The data would be fed into the main computer. This advanced system allowed the state to project a holographic image of the prisoner to who ever wanted to speak to that person. The caller would never know the person they were talking to was only a computer generated representation of that person. Housing data was cheaper and easier than warehousing people.
     The program was introduced and was total a success. The prisoners were always accused of additional crimes against the state. The punishment meted out forced them to remain incarcerated for the rest of their natural lives. There was no recidivism. It was a win-win situation. The states made up the costs of incarcerations and then some. The application of this new technology seemed endless.

CHAPTER III,  One day at Home

Fred walked down to the kitchen to get some snacks. He saw his parents in front of the screen. A friendly voice, an actor of world wide renown was on the screen, smiling, speaking in soothing tones. “Yes this is a great idea. All of you,” he spread his arms wide in an embracing fashion just like the televangelists his parents adored. He continued his commercial. “We all know caring for elderly parents can create mental anguish. And, the financial burdens can crush your children’s hopes of a good college, not to mention your own financial well being. To help us all in this time of decreasing resources, The World Court and our dear country has authorized the development of retirement cities throughout the planet for our Senior Loved Ones.
All families will still be together linked by direct communication to your Senior Loved Ones. And those that have the resources can always visit their Senior Loved Ones over and above the mandated visits. Yes, and please believe me, this will solve our planets ills.  The concentration of people with similar requirements, our Senior Loved Ones, will allow us to concentrate the needed resources in specific locations instead of all of them spread out all over the planet, driving needlessly here and there for care, food, and entertainment.
The actor continued, “Look at my own mother.”  He pointed to an older woman fashionable dressed behind him. “She volunteered to be one of the first in Palm Springs.” The screen slewed to other very pretty senior citizens waving to the camera surrounded by friends and contemporaries.  Then it showed a shot of the actor with her sitting poolside in an animated discussion that couldn’t be heard. Both were always smiling. It was heart warming. 
Fred looked at them with pity and disgust.
“Hollo Grammy,” Peter said in his usual enthusiastic manner. “Hello Peter,” she said back. Peter thought the voice was a bit strange but then adults were always acting strange. He let it pass. “I’ve got some news for you. Fred is joining the service. He said he wanted to do his share for the world.”
Grammy said nothing.
“Grammy did you hear me? Is the connection bad? Peter asked a bit worried. Maybe something was wrong. Maybe she was sick. Grammy turned to face him and was blinking again. He had never seen her blink like that before.
“It’s just my eyes dear, they are itchy and I think I caught a code, or have allergies.”
“Grammy,” he laughed, “it’s a cold, not code, and how can you have allergies there?  It’s supposed to be perfect out there.”
“Yes, perfect,” she said. He noticed she had stopped blinking and started again.
“Are you going to call a doctor?” He asked in all seriousness.
“No dearie, I’ll be fine, just fine. Have you read that old Boy Scout book I left for you? Do you remember it? You might find it interesting. I have to get rid of this code.”
“Cold Grammy, it’s a cold. Go to the infirmary, please.” Peter was chuckling at Grammy’s mistakes. She made them every now and then. It made him wonder, maybe she was in a better place.
Peter was about to say that his Dad always says that, “when a woman said everything was Just Fine, you can bet, it sure as hell isn’t.” Peter didn’t say anything and then said, “Grammy, Grammy,…”
She said, “Dearie, I have to go. Call again soon. Good-bye,” and abruptly hung up.
Something is not right, he thought. She never acts like that. Is it old age that Mom and Dad talk about?  He was just about to go to his parents when an idea crossed his mind. He went into the library and logged on to the system.
That evening at dinner he told his parents he had spoken to Grammy. “She was just fine,” was all he said. His Dad looked at him a bit strangely but said nothing.  No one asked any questions about his conversation. He noticed that they were both very quiet.
When he was sure everyone else was asleep Peter popped some of the old videos into the machine and watched and listened. This one was an audio/visual book by a priest, Abbot Hoffman. He was funny. He had to have been a comedian. What he proposed might have been acceptable so long ago. Today He would have been considered a terrorist. Grammy had a strange sense of humor sometimes.
He replayed his conversation with Grammy. He had saved all of them since she moved out. He felt closer to her than his own parents. She was the one who taught him to read, mathematics and science. He just never told anyone. She had said it was none of their business, and you’d be better off not mentioning it.
The next day he called Grammy again. She picked up right away. “Hello Peter, how are you?”
“Just fine,” he said as looked into the screen. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“Oh yes, why wouldn’t I be? How silly of you.”
“I was just wondering,” He said looking intently. “No reason. I have to go to school. I’ll call you soon Grammy.” 
“Yes Peter, you do that. Good-bye.”
Peter played that day’s conversation again and again. He had every word and gesture memorized and could mimic it in total. That’s probably why he was left to his own. He had an incredible memory. His recall was perfect. The school said he had a job with the government in a variety of anti terrorist departments. The government could use his skills. Peter wondered what they were talking about. He retrieved all the books Grammy had recommended and read and reread them.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kendall's Confession

Bubbles bubbles wiggles and giggles,
I like to fart in the pool.
Who can tell when the bubbles swell,
Hey I’m nobody’s fool.

And it’s not the tub
with those captured smells
No matter how the fan swirls

Bubbles, bubbles wiggles and giggles

I like to fart in the pool.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

You Are Who You Eat

2 large 28 oz. cans imported Roma Tomatoes
(or equivalent fresh local organic)
1 small can paste
1 medium onion chopped
1 small shallot diced
4 to 6 cloves of Garlic crushed or diced
1 medium carrot diced
Various Italian spices, fresh only
Salt and pepper
Either  2 cups Marsala wine for sweet or Chianti for stronger fuller sauce
Olive oil and butter.



“Frankie”, Lord Francesco, Chef of the Gods, now a semi-retired immortal, was on sabbatical from The Heavens. He opened a small eatery on his favorite planet with its truly insane people. The eatery was a ten seat operation located on a side street just behind a strip mall, with parking for ten vehicles. He served weekday lunch only and served until the prepared meals were depleted. When he was out he was out. On weekends he cooked for a food kitchen pro-re-nata. He has one assistant and his name plate read Number Two.

As he stirred the sauce, the sweat dripped off the top of his bandana and down his nose to his chin.  It was summer. The A/C compressor was compressing as hard as possible but the kitchen was still hot. It bothered him not. He was doing what he loved, cooking. He just sweat a lot. What his, bandana, and shirt sleeve didn’t catch the sauce did.
That fact never bothered him But his Number two had a coronary ever time he witnessed it.
“If the Health Department ever saw you they’d shut us down,” yelled Number Two pointing to the sweat falling into the rich sweet tasting red sauces.

Frankie looked up from the pot of quick sauce he was stirring and said, “They will never see it. I will make sure of it, trust me. Now, go set the tables and tape today’s offering in the window.”

Number Two looked at the offering:
Rigatoni pasta, w/sliced grilled salmon, in a sweet red sauce, w/ olives, mushrooms, grape tomatoes and artichokes, a small salad and a glass of Chianti, $15.00.

The perfume of the sauce was heavenly.  Number Two knew the basic recipe by heart. It was just the little things that he was missing. 

Number Two inhaled deeply. The dining room and kitchen smelled heavenly. Only one thing bothered Number Two. It was those spices that he was never sure about. Just how much and just where did Frankie get them. What was the secret? He knew he had a few more millennia of apprenticeship to undertake before all would be revealed and he would be allowed on his own. He’d just have to wait. And time? Time really meant nothing to him.

Frankie looked up at Number Two, wiped his brow and asked, “Gavone, what-are-you looking at? NOW Go set the tables, tape the offering on the window and get the fish ready.”

“Yes boss.”


The customers were queued up before ‘Frankies’ opened. On the door, in red letters, was nailed the notice:
                First come, first served, no reservations.

As they entered and being seated by Number Two one patron was heard to say, “You know, I feel better for days after I eat here.”

His buddy replied, “Me too. “We’re lucky to even get a seat. It’s Friday. I had to call in and say I had an AM business meeting so I could get here on time.

Another patron said, “Frankie cooks better than my wife and she’d kill me if she ever heard me say that.”

“I don’t know what it is, but this food is heavenly,” added even another patron at another table.

The whole crowd gave a hearty laugh. The atmosphere was very warm and informal. The assembled patrons raised their glasses and in unison, said “Salute” as they looked toward the kitchen.

Frankie came out, bowed, wiped his head, smiled and ducked back into the kitchen. He was preparing the Saturday meals for the food kitchens. You see, as only Frankie knew, the sweat from his brow dropped into the sauce. And a little bit of this god’s DNA was absorbed by anyone who ate his food. Massive doses cured any disease. No one ever knew it, not even Number Two, yet.  But everybody who ate it left of sounder mind and body than when they had entered. This fact went for the food cooked for the shelter kitchen too.

As Frankie backed into the kitchen he heard someone state, “The food is a bit saltier today. It’s still great. I wonder if he let his Number Two cook?” This was followed by laughter all around.

Number Two just shrugged.  Frankie smiled and knew. He gave an extra dose for a few of them. He was an unknown quantity, a super secret and that’s how he wanted it.

The End

Monday, July 14, 2014

Holo Grammy, Part I

It was a breath of fresh air. The new Constitutional Convention was held and a new constitution ratified. The Fifth Constitution of the Federated States of the Pluto/Republic of America, spanning and including the geographical territory of what was once Canada and Mexico, reflected the technological and social changes that were unimaginable in the early 19th Century. It was clearly needed and readily accepted.

“Hollo Grammy,” Peter said in his usual fashion. “I can’t wait to see you. Mom and Dad said it looks as if we’ll get the passes we need this solstice.”
He loved her. When she lived with them, she treated him with respect, never talking down t him and provided love. On top of that she was a font of knowledge. Now Grammy was in a place they put old retired people. The video’s always showed real people enjoying themselves. He wanted to see her. She was different than his parents or his brother Fred. They never answered his questions as to when they were going to visit. There were always some excuses. His father acted as if they were real. The letters were official looking with stamps and seals. No matter what they stated still he wanted to see her.
 “Oh, sweetie, yes that will so be nice, indeed,” she responded as her blue gray head nodded the affirmative as a large smile broke across her face.
She must need glasses, he thought. No one notices that she blinks a lot. Peter thought she looked like the Cheshire cat in those old videos Grammy gave him as a special present long ago. He wasn’t supposed to have these videos for some reason he never understood.
     He knew it was not safe to ask about things like that. He had learned that lesson. One beating was enough. He didn’t mention it. Owning a player and old discs was against some sort of law.  It was a law he never understood. What could be wrong with old videos and books? He had hidden the portable player in his closet. No one ever looked there. He only played it when his parents and brother, Fred were out of the house or deep asleep. And, he only played it in the “Safe Room”, the one designed to protect the family against poisons if their locale was attacked.
“It’s a war against bad people,” his dad would always shout when he asked any related question. “You have to be vigilant, always vigilant.” That’s what he was told over and over again.
“But against what?” he asked a few times.
“You’ll know it when you see it,” was the same response. Even at that young age, he realized that they didn’t have an answer. And, he knew better than to keep questioning. It wasn’t until years later, watching an old video late one night, of an even older book about a cave, he realized what IT was.
Fred stared right into Peter’s face, “Talking to GRAMMY again?” the voice of his older brother Fred was as sharp as a knife to his heart. Fred’s voice sent a chill through his blood. Fred then added for good measure, “You know she’s not real.” He was always mocking and bullying him. “It’s a video of her talking. They sit them down and they follow a script. Then they set it up to answer any questions with artificial intelligence. The letter from the government explained it. You are such a baby and a big dope.”
“She’s fine, I can tell it’s her and not a screen saver shot. I know those when I see them. Yes she is, yes she is.” Peter shouted holding back his tears. He didn’t dare look at his brother Fred. Fred was 15 and knew a lot and was the perfect boy. He was a member of all the right organizations. He played sports. He was in the band. He was in the political science class. He even got to meet a general and the president once. They said they had big plans for him.  Everyone said he was going places. Peter was the dreamer and an obvious disappointment to his family, and being so, was bait for teasing.
Peter asked, “What letter? I never saw a letter. Mom and dad never said anything about a letter.”
Fred ignored the question and taunted him all the more.  The truth of the matter was that no one but a few people were ever supposed to know that. So to cover his slip he continued, “You might as well believe in God, or what was it they called him, that fat guy you believed in for so long?”
“Santa Claus?” said Peter grabbing the bait, hook line and sinker, again.
“Yes Santa Claus, that’s it.” Fred yanked hard. “You’re such an idiot you know that. You’re a baby and an idiot. They should have let you die. There are no old folks. I heard it on the Hushweb,” said Fred said in loud mocking tones.
He repeated quieter this time, slowly and in mocking tone. “You’re an idiot, you know that don’t you? There are no old folks. I heard it on the Hushweb. They’re just past old workers, POWs. That’s what they are called and a burden on our society,” Fred sneered. He continued in even a lower volume, “Did you know that over half the planet’s population is retirement age? Do you? Only fractions have saved for themselves, and even less the resources to care for themselves. We are a planet of finite resources.  They are taking the food and water out of your mouth, out of our mouths! Think about it, Peeeter.” He said Peter with such a mocking tone. He finished with a verbal coup de grĂ¢ce, “You’re talking to a computer!”
     “The Hushweb is for subversives and perverts. And Grammy is not just a past old worker. She’s our family.” Peter said it emphatically and quietly. He wouldn’t him let his brother see the tears.  “And No One, no one at all was supposed to talk about the HUSHWEB. Peter whispered this last part with clenched teeth.
Fred realized he had gone too far and said in an equally quiet voice, “The Hushweb is where the truth comes out. And until you realize that you’re just a pawn, like mom and dad and all the rest of you.”
     Fred knew more than he was telling. He couldn’t say any more. The information was supposed to be secret, only for the elite and the Guard Scouts who were the secret young elite in training. Peter knew about Fred’s training. His parents did not. He overheard a piece of the conversation Fred had with some girl Fred was trying to impress. It was enough to let him know his brother was special but not in the manner his parents had hoped for.
Peter begged the question, “but,” and hesitated, “you seem to be part of all that. You met the president. Didn’t the general say they had plans for you? Aren’t you in the advanced placement classes for college and military?” Peter was a bit confused by his brother’s comments. It wasn’t the first time he said something like this. Yet Fred seemed to go along with the crowd. He never said or did anything that would indicate he believed any different than all the others he grouped with.
Peter understood peer group pressure and surmised that Fred went along with the crowd but believed something else entirely.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


T is for Tesla
T is for tent.

T is for trouble cause you can’t pay the rent

Monday, July 7, 2014

Driving Our Teslas

The difference between then and between now:
livin in our slick urban townhouse ghet-toe
(we’re clean we’re green)
We’re electrified and we… are… so…so… satisfied.
Sacrifices made, butt that’s the price we paid.

Bethesda you ask?
No, not a chance.
The mortgages too high and so is the rent.
Butt we drive our Tesla, and yes, we live in a tent.

(Better than a trailer park,
We’re leaving our green foot mark)

Butt we’re driving our Tesla (livin in a tent).
Don’t cost much money (livin in a tent).
Taxes? a lot cheaper with a slit trench and a tent.

Got a 60 amp service commin off of a pole
a statement so proud, a statement so bold.
Then sittin right next to our tent and our trench,
so it won’t get wet, it won’t get so cold,
the charger’s stuffed, ha! in a watertight hold.

(Better than a trailer park,
We’re leaving our green foot mark)

We get our heat off from the sun and when it’s not
reverse-flow-runs-the-batteries-down a whole lot.
Then our range?
It decrease, a fact you can bet.
But we’re driving our Tesla,
and freeze in our tent.

(Better than a trailer park,
We’re leaving our green foot mark)