Thursday, September 28, 2006

So, What Happens to Callahan if We Win Again This Saturday?

I promise I'll get back to my story shortly (this week!), but I just want to get some things off my chest.

Jayhawks vs. Cornhuskers
OK, the inescapable truth is that we're taking on Nebraska again on Saturday in Lincoln. I say inescapable, not because I'm dreading it. More so, because our college message boards are S-A-T-U-R-A-T-E-D with posts about the upcoming game. You'd think this is because our loyal Jayhawks are just as excited as a little teddy bear about the upcoming rematch. Well... wrong again.

Our KU ATHLETIC BOARDS are seething with... Cornhuskers? Check it out for yourself. I'm not kidding. And they've been there in noticable numbers since Monday.

Jeremy has been roaring up a storm from our computer room every evening before bed reading Nebraska commenters on our boards. It kind of makes you want to mention: you guys are all aware that we're not playing until the weekend, right?

Note to the Cornhuskers: Maybe it's time to accept this. Last year, we beat you. I mean, we CRUSHED you. And this doesn't make you bad people... it's really going to be OK. And you're going to get a chance to redeem yourselves.

OK, but seriously: I think this may be a bitter pill for the Cornhuskers. Because our northern neighbors will have to come to terms with one of two things ->

1. Nebraska will have to admit that KU has a decent and improving football program these days, and they lost, fair and square to the better team.

- OR -

2. KU still sucks... and thus, Nebraska has devolved into a program that sucks worse than we do.

And before you recant me, I already know:
Chelsea Cornhusker says to linux_chick(me):
"But, but... we were rebuilding last year. B-because the West Coast offense. And-and we beat Troy last week. So, we're almost back to winning National Championships like in the '90s... because we beat TROY!

DA*@#$*@@!! WE BEAT TROY!!"

Linux_chick to Chelsea Cornhusker:
Thia and Jeremy at KU v. Nebraska
I know this is killing you. It's going to be OK, Chelsea.

Now I'll sign off on a more serious note: Good luck to you, Nebraska. I know I'm looking forward to Saturday :)


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Chapter Four: Darkers

“Mother, where do the Darkers come from?” Marta asked as she assisted Veppa setting out dinnerware.

“Sweetheart, you learn all about where the Darkers come from in Nurturement.” Sweetheart had been a term from the ancient times her mother had passed down to her. Veppa had promised to pass it on.

“No, Ma,” Sardin retorted, flipping on the media switch. “Nurturement teaches us where the Darkers are. They're up in the atmosphere, just out of reach. Marta wants to know where they came from, their history.”

Marta, seeming to understand that she had been mocked, stuck out her tongue in protest.

“Little one, what causes this curiosity?” Veppa asked.

“They want us to kill them, right?” Marta asked.

Veppa paused, turning from the cooking food. “By Highness! No.”

“If I go to the Academy, I would study how to kill them,” Marta pushed.

“Why do you think that?”

“The questions, on the pre-aptitude,” Sardin cut in. As if reading each other's thoughts, Sardin and Marta made eye contact before Sardin continued. “It's the patterns in the questions: given a small piece, how can we solve a large problem, or finding weaknesses in unbalanced situations to ensure victory when you're at a disadvantage.”

Veppa wasn't sure why she was surprised anymore at either of the twins's responses. Their eight-year-old analytical minds were growing at an astonishing rate. And now, they were interpreting the methods of tests as training. They had turned the questions themselves back against the interrogators in hopes of understanding what the Institution was searching for. Veppa had little doubt either of her daughters would pass Delta examinations.

“Well, remember that there is a military mirror of the our class system."

Sardin, losing interest, returned to images of war flowing from the media. “We know, we know. There's Legislation Alpha, Beta, Delta, Bedouin, Taper, Common and there's Military Alpha, Beta, Delta, Bedouin, Taper, Common.”

“I'm saying that they may be testing you for military leadership. Bit I believe that if our legislative leadership is good, there won't be a need for war.”

Marta glanced to her sister, but didn't follow. “Go ahead, Mother. I'm listening. Tell me about the Darkers.”

Veppa began setting the drinks. “Well, they were just like us.”

“Human?” Marta's eyes grew wide.

By Highness, what were these children being taught in Nurturement?

“Yes, human. They are human... kind of.”

“That's amazing.”

“Before the era of Genetic Identification we live in today, there was the era of Breeding. We had just interpreted our DNA and society as a whole decided to identify genetic traits preferable for specific societal roles. These roles were identified and then eventually bred for.”

“Mother, that's aweful,” Marta protested.

“No! It's boring!” Sardin eavesdropped.

“Remember, this was before the Institution,” Veppa continued. “At that time, it was believed that the framers of a global Government needed to be highly intelligent if our planet could ever realize world peace. So, the world's most intelligent individuals were bred, genetically altered and over time, developed into a new people.”

We bred the Darkers?” Marta was fascinated.

“Well, Sweetheart, they were all volunteers. The breeders and the bred together believed they were doing a public service.”

Sardin re-entered the conversation. “So, what happened?”

Veppa shrugged. “It failed.”

“The Darkers failed?” Marta asked.

“Yes. No, well yes and no.” Veppa faltered. “The Darkers emerged as the intellectual elite. That worked. They continued the breeding work on their own and applied genetic alterations to themselves. Future generations became astronomically intelligent, telepathic, telekinetic, increasing in abilities at an exponential rate.”

“So, how did it fail?” Marta pressed on.

“They didn't act as the rest of the governed initially expected. One day, the Darkers left. They just vanished into the sky. They didn't govern, they didn't say why. Every few years they attack us.”

“Why?” Marta asked, puzzled.

Veppa was out of information. “No one knows. That is quite the mystery.”

“So, the Institution rose out of the governed,” Marta resolved.

“Yes. Genetic breeding halted, at least on the surface and below—who knows what the Darkers are doing? The governed began searching the naturally born for advanced capacities of ethical reasoning. The pursuit of highly evolved Morality replaced the pursuit of intelligence for the framers of the Institution.”

“Why do we call them Darkers?” Sardin asked.

Veppa applied the final touches to dinner. “The genetic alterations modified their appearances. They were human-like, but grew taller, elongated features. They stopped growing body hair of any kind and skin pigmentation was almost always near pitch black in color.”

Sardin shrugged. “I don't mind if we're supposed to kill them. I hope we do. I hate them.”

Veppa accepted defeat. “Many people do.”

Marta finished the last of the dinner placements and after some thought, returned to Veppa's side. She placed a small hand on Veppa's wrist. “Mother,” she spoke softly. “If you want me to perform badly on my Delta examinations, I will.”

Veppa pulled back, a little afraid. Could it be that Marta was capable, and at such a young age? Even so, how could she know Veppa was doing the same? It wasn't possible.

“I love you, Mother,” Marta whispered. “And if you ask me to do anything, I will do it for you.”

Chapter Three: A Briefing with On High

Max could see Hardton was riddled with anger as Veppa closed the door behind her and returned to the conveyor.

“What is the meaning of this? It's outrageous!” Hardton fired.

Max could tell Hardton was an easy pick for his position. His stature alone proved highly intimidating. He displayed above-average intelligence, even for a Taper and clearly was quickly brought to remedial action under circumstances of concern. Unfortunately, he was also obviously in love with Veppa Wallers. This fact, Max guessed, had caused Hardton to overlook growing morale issues erupting within his shipping department.

“Let me remind you that I was invited here by you-” Max started.

“To investigate substance trafficking Not to eat alive one of my best employees who is not even a suspect here.” Hardton cut in.

Max was growing more impressed with the Taper. “My apologies,” Max bowed. “It's important that I understand how your department is managing to catch nearly all smuggling before they reach port.”

“Are you quite finished?” Hardton pressed.

“Of course. I'll deliver my assessment to you in the morning.” It wasn't a lie. Max had, in fact, finished his assessment.

An automated alert bong filtered through the room. “Emergency transmission from the Transport bay.”

“Continue,” Hardton seated himself.

“Hardy? It's Markus.”

“Go ahead.”

“We've got a problem with transport four,” Markus

Obviously frustrated, Hardton massaged a temple. “Highness! Again?”

“One of the tanks is saturated with Substance Q.”

“You caught it before shipment?”

“Just barely,” Markus added.

“That, at least is a relief. Ready the tank for the Authorities. I will be down directly.” Hardton ended the transmission and directed and agitated glare to Max.

“I can see you have a day. I'll leave you to it,” Max bowed and exited.

“I'll look forward to your report,” Hardton called out sarcastically.

Max smirked as he was leaving. A Taper, growing precocious with a Bedouoin he himself had contracted. Under different circumstances, Max believed he and Hardton would have been friends. It was regrettable that this was near impossible now. Especially given the man's apparent love for Veppa, the Common. No, Max resolved that it was far more likely that Hardton would need neutralization before any advance was made to Veppa... if it came to that. And Max believed it would.

As Max exited the compound, he activated his headset and took a few deep breaths before speaking. It's one thing to interrogate a Common, a Taper, even. But his findings this time were to be directly reported to On High, not an Alpha or Beta, but the leader of the Institution and the Global Government himself. Most would never learn his name, let alone hear his voice or speak to him.

“Oh High, I've completed my analysis,” Max reported.

“Nice work. What's your status, Sir?”

The humility of On High surprised Max. “I believe competitive Commons have regrettably been employed in the same sector, leading to discontent.”

“Please, continue.”

“My findings are that Commons possessing similar competitive genetic traits have become adverse to one another for limited duty praises. The strife has lead to pursuits in illegal activity in disillusioned hope of attaining a skill superior to others in the sector.”

“And this continues, even when illegal efforts are frustrated,” asked On High.

“Yes. Given the genetic analysis of the guilty Commons, I believe the frustrated attempts may have only intensified the determination of future efforts, On High.”

“Interesting analysis, Sir.”

Max waved his embedded ID chip in the base of his forearm over his transport sensor until the doors unlocked. Max buckled his lap belt before entering the destination and giving the order to drive. “With all due respect, On High, they are only Commons.”

“Did you find anything else of interest?”

“As you suspected, Veppa Wallers may be a problem,” Max admitted.

“How smart is she?”

Max was surprised. He could not answer how On High might have assumed Max was concerned with her intelligence. Of all the attributes of concern in the aptitudes: Integrity, Physical Endurance, Intuition, Management... Intelligence is not even primary. The governed had long since given up defeating the Darkers through intelligence. Max answered, “Intelligent enough to fake the aptitude tests.”

“You're certain she's faked low scores?”

“My intuition leads me to believe that she can not only pass intelligence problems, but can infer how many to solve correctly so that her scores repeatedly result in Common – Average,” Max responded.

“How much of the intelligence aptitude can she pass?”

“I would say, On High,” Max cleared his throat. “All of them.”


“On High, if I may ask a question of you,” Max knew
this was highly inappropriate, but resolved that the success of his investigation rested on his resolving of a simple dilemma.

“You may, Sir.”

“I had believed, as all of us are trained, that the
Methods are unbeatable. My findings, then seem incorrect?”

“Do you believe your findings to be incorrect?”

“No,” Max responded honestly.

“Then, what do you need from me?”

Max continued, “If I knew of a flaw, it may help.”

“I know of none.”

“Then my findings are impossible. I only mean, how can I hold that the Methods are sound, and my hypothesis is accurate?”

“But you do this everyday.”

“No, On High. I admonish logic in my investigations and honesty, int-”

“Why do you, a Bedouin, established in knowledge and integrity, secure yourself when traveling by transport?” On High responded with a question of his own.

“Because it feels safer,” Max conceded.

“Even though,” Oh High continued. “Now that all transportation devices are automated, there have been no traffic accidents for centuries.”

“Yes,” Max understood the train of thought and already regretted asking his question.

”It could be pointed out, that it is even impractical to elect security belts, as they cost you some time when traveling from place to place.”

“Of course.”

“Although, you are perfectly free to use them if you wish.”

“I apologize, On High.”

“It could be argued, then, that you yourself hold some mistrust for our present day systems, the Methods, Sir,” On High accused.

Max recognized this had quickly become a disaster. Max had a choice to make: blaspheme the Institution or disobey On High by refusal to answer. For a member of the Authorities, this was no choice at all. Max incriminated himself, “That would be a fair assessment, On High.”

On High paused a moment and laughed. “This mistrust is precisely why you were selected for this mission. Good work, Sir.”

On High was gone.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Chapter Two: Veppa

Veppa Wallers eyed her terminal carefully before activating her headset. She hated giving bad news.

“Greetings. Transport and Shipping, thank you.”

“Make it quick,” the voice engaged.

“Greetings, Markus. It's Veppa.”

“I'm en-route, hurry up.”

“Apologies, Markus. I think we're going to have a problem with this shipment,” Veppa waited until the termination of terminal-tapping on the other end indicated that Markus was finished pulling up his report.

“V. I'm staring at the details right now. It's all cleared.”

“I know,” Veppa admitted. “I looked at it too, but you really should check all the tanks in transport four.”

Markus was annoyed, “We'll miss deadline.”

“I understand. It's your call, but I'm certain,” Veppa asserted. She knew it was the third stop this cycle. The regular persistence of shipment schedule issues would start to weigh on vendors soon.

“How do you know this?” Markus asked.

Veppa always blushed when she had to explain herself. “It's the weight. Transport four looks light to me, maybe .5% lighter than the others. Check the hoses for a leak, or else one of the tanks may be sabotaged again.”

Markus yelled over the transport bay, “You heard her, transport four. Mark them all again and check the weight this time!”

“Thanks, Markus.”

“Well, you're never wrong,” Markus sighed and ended transmission.

Veppa lowered her headset and caught the sight of Elsa Clark making her way to Veppa's desk. Elsa was Veppa's long-time best friend. Elsa had in fact, gotten Veppa her job as Quality Assurance managerial specialist at Neutronic Atmospheric Transport, even though Veppa was only a Common. They had grown up together on one of the old-fashioned surface rurals and when Veppa's mother died, she had moved in with Elsa's family. Veppa ultimately received tutoring at Elsa's class level, Taper-minor. Now, Elsa was making her way with a purpose to Veppa's desk, carrying a myriad of food and drinks.

“My Highness!” Elsa cursed. “Did you see the media today?”

“Uh, no,” Veppa admitted.

“Here, take this,” Elsa dropped the pieces of nourishment on Veppa's desk and began furiously tapping at Veppa's terminal.

“Greetings, Elsa. Please help yourself,” Veppa offered sarcastically.

“Oh, stuff your face, I got you a rice muffin: your favorite.”

“Actually, I hate the muffins, it's the rice scones I like,” Veppa corrected, examining Elsa's drink options.

“Pss. You know, I can never remember what you like best. You're always changing your mind.”

It wasn't true. Veppa hadn't changed her mind since Nurturement, but then Elsa did have trouble remembering. Veppa gave up the argument when Elsa succeeded setting the terminal to media mode.

Veppa offered Elsa one of the earpieces from her headset as sounds and images of tragedy bombarded through the feed. 5,000 were dead. An entire Quadrant destroyed overnight.

“Isn't it awful?” Elsa spoke over the broadcast. “It's another Darker attack. The second this cycle, must be some kind of record.”

Veppa pulled the earpiece from her ear. “Why do they always assume it's the Darkers?”

“Veppa!” Elsa hushed, quickly eying if anyone had heard. “Who else would it be? Who else could do something like this?”

Veppa shrugged.

“These are dangerous times, you know, Veppa. It's not like when you and I were kids,” With that, Elsa took a bite of her scone.

“Elsa,” Veppa spoke cautiously. “I've noticed your nail-polish lately.”

“Oh?” Elsa was playing dumb, Veppa knew. The Authorities were really starting to crack down on Substance Q abuses and it was conventionally known that consumers hoping to hide their habits had begun injecting at the fingertips and coloring their nails dark in concealing efforts.

Fine, Veppa thought, I'll come right out and ask. But she instead opted the safer approach. “Is everything alright?”

“Everything is perfect. Speaking of kids,” Elsa changed the subject. “Are you, Seevan and yours still coming out to watch Raffball tonight?”

To be fair, Veppa wasn't sure. “You know, I reminded Seevan this morning, but he had to work.”

“You know I hate going alone,” Elsa complained.

Veppa conceded that she would do her best to make it.

An automated lockdown alert chimed on. Veppa startled, as always. The friendly feminine voice did little to calm her. “V. Wallers. Please discontinue all productivity and report to managerial services directly.”

“For the love of Highness!” Veppa cursed. “Can't I go just one cycle without getting on level?”

Elsa laughed. “You're just lucky Hardton likes you.”

“Yes, it's obviously doing me so much good,” Veppa responded sarcastically. “Well, my conveyor is here.”

Hardton was unusually sensitive, kind, for a high-ranking Taper. Appointed managing Chair of Neutronic Atmospheric Transport for innate genetic ability and high aptitude scores managing large projects with high attention to detail, he found himself both respected and coveted by even fellow Tapers. Veppa knew a softer side to Hardton. She had always been a source of fogginess in his world of order. He'd taken a chance, hiring a Common, and he never took chances. And then there was the affair.

No. Veppa waved Elsa away as she stepped on the conveyor and resolved to push all memories of her past with Hardton out of her mind. This was about business. He hadn't called for her in that way for over a year and all parties involved would do well to forget the event. Veppa decided to do her best to do just that.

Within moments, Veppa had arrived at Hardton'
s office. He was standing in his usual dignified manner, but with his back to the door. Veppa cleared her throat as she entered the office.

“Wallers,” Hardton's greeting was uncharacteristically distant. Veppa understood when she cleared the door.

They weren't alone. In the opposite corner sat a man clothed in red. Veppa had never seen a member from the Authorities in person, but assumed the mysterious figure fit the description.

“Is something wrong?” Veppa asked, alarmed.

“No, no,” the man stood and bowed. “Veppa, my name is Max. I'm from the Authorities. I've been asked to observe this question and answer session today for several members of the Q&A staff.”

Veppa shot Hardton a confusing look, “I'm not sure I-”

“Please, Veppa,” Max continued. “You're not in any trouble. I'm only here to observe.”

Veppa swallowed hard. His response sounded unlikely, but she knew members of the Authorities were bound to truth. Such members were genetically tested for traits of integrity and honesty, perseverance, specifically. Any testimony against individuals of the governed, like herself, help up by members of the Authorities were regarded as evidential truth and convictable. In fact, convictions and criminal investigations were the only mechanisms under which Veppa had ever heard of the Authorities's involvement.

She nodded politely and Max sat.

“Wallers, your department is experiencing high levels of efficiency,” Hardton's voice trailed.

“Sir?” Veppa didn't understand. Hardton invited a member of the Authorities to give her professional praise?

“Your immediate supervisor thinks highly of you, Wallers. She seems to attribute a large portion of your department's success to you.”

“Sir, I'm glad my management is pleased with my performance,” Veppa grew agitated. Was there going to be a criminal accusation or not?

“Your aptitude tests, Veppa,” Max stood and cut in. “Seem to contradict your level of success with your duties. Please excuse the frankness.”

“Am I completely lost to something? Since when is scoring badly on aptitude tests a crime? Isn't that kind of the point: for the Methods to place people where they belong?”

“You wouldn't be,” Max paused, but spoke pointedly. “... performing under your abilities, would you?”

“Of course not. That's impossible anyway. The Methods are proven,” Veppa regurgitated.

“Veppa, please don't fight,” Hardton pleaded.

Max smiled invitingly and paced to the opposite wall. “Veppa, I'd like for you to submit to a full-genetic scan.”

“Out of the question,” Veppa snorted.

“It is, of course, voluntary—for now,” Max conceded.

“And if I refuse?” Veppa challenged.

“Nothing. Your cooperation is only... appreciated,” Max smiled again.

“I refuse. May I return to my duties now?”

Hardton directed a grunt of annoyance to Veppa.

“Of course,” Max bowed. “By the way, my congratulations to your children.”

“Congratulations?” Veppa softened.

“To Marta and Sardin,” Max explained. “They are both staged for Delta testing at the Philosophical Academy. I apologize. I thought both parents were informed this afternoon.”

Veppa's heart sank. Her only children, her two twins would soon be tested for Delta admission. She should have been elated. It was the highest honor handed down from the Institution to the governed. Ethical training was reserved for individuals of the highest genetic quality, the highest aptitude scores; the Philosophical Academy was training for future leaders of the governed. Occasionally a Delta may retain a high-ranking political office. But no one really heard from the Alphas or Betas after examinations. These lucky individuals were dispatched to a life of rigorous training, study and ultimately became the decision makers, responsible for legislative endeavors that promote global peace. They seemed frozen in time, regarded as Saints by the governed. It seemed no way to live, in Veppa's opinion.

“I'm sure I was alerted. Thank you. My terminal is on lockdown,” Veppa responded respectfully.

“Of course it is. If I could ask one final question of you, Veppa,” Max started.

“I'm bound by law to answer anything you ask,” Veppa answered.

“Let me assure you that your cooperation is appreciated. My question is this,” Max cleared his throat. “Why do your daughters and yourself still retain your birth name when Seevan Noble is genetically proven to be their father.”

Veppa coughed beaten and lowered her head. “It's perfectly legal in this modern era of Genetic Information to retain one's birth name.”

“Of course,” Max returned to Veppa's side and placed a palm warmly against her shoulder. “I reiterate. You've done nothing wrong. Still, the break from tradition is notable to my investigation.”

Veppa inhaled deeply. “Marta and Sardin were born when I was 16. I was not yet engaged to Seevan Noble, though it is true that they were born to him. I had also promised my mother I would retain her name after marriage.”

Max raised his eyebrows as if to express genuine interest. Veppa knew her answer sounded Common, getting pregnant so young, demonstrating loyalty to family over Institutional tradition. She didn't care. She was disgusted that members of the Authorities would demand such personal information from here while not attributing any accusation of misconduct against her.

“I think that will be all today, Wallers,” Hardton cut in. “Please return to your duties.”

Veppa fought back tears, turning her face hot. She nodded in submission and allowed the conveyor to deliver her back to her station. Her headset was already buzzing when she arrived.

“Veppa? It's Elsa. Were you just interrogated by the Authorities?!”

Veppa expelled bottled up stress to her friend. “I don't know what that was.”

“What did they say?” Elsa flabbergasted.

“Nothing! Absolutely nothing.” Veppa punched in her conveyor release code.

The feminine voice chimed: “Thank you, V. Wallers. Please resume productivity.”

Veppa mocked the voice as her terminal transitioned from lockdown. She noticed that she had no waiting messages.

“Nothing? They must've said something,” Elsa pressed.

“They asked me about my aptitude scores and some bits about Marta and Sardin.”

“You weren't accused?”

“No, I'm back at work, aren't I?” Veppa seethed.

“Thank Highness for that.” Elsa's voice sobered. “Things are changing around here. Nothing is the same anymore.”

Veppa thumbed her rice muffin before taking a bite. She knew Elsa was right.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Chapter One: Prep. Work

Sensing she may be staying a while, Lexicon signaled the bartender for another round. She had to admit, the poor drab beside her had taste. It was a nice bar: good atmosphere for a business making it on the surface, where even the Authorities are unlikely to show up these days. Sure, Lexicon had heard that businesses still existed above ground, but given the recent frequency of Darker attacks, most sane individuals went below. Lexicon herself hadn't ventured above ground since 2805... maybe '06? Nearly ten years ago. Glancing at the blubbering mess beside her, Lexicon crinkled her nose in disgust. This was taking far too long.

Montrose was moaning, holding his head in his hands. “I'm a Taper,” he said. “Ta-per. I have in-innate managerial skills. It's simple genetics.”

In-innate? Fabulous. Lexicon determined the man was well past the point of embarrassment, but forced a smile. “Now, your duties can't be so bad, no?”

Lexicon was speaking to Montrose, but her attention was diverted out the window. A small transport was whizzing past, navigating some fearless inhabitant to this bar, that restaurant or home. The side of the transport read popular Institution propaganda: Prosperity, Faith, the Methods.

“I'm in Nurture and Development,” Montrose hissed.

“Running one of the N&D Centers seems like a very important job to me. Properly shaping today's young minds are essential for the success of the Institution,” Lexicon was still focused out the window. She found herself admiring the moon. She had remembered gazing up from her bed at it for hours as a child. Now, it seemed larger than she remembered. Big, perfect and white.

Montrose jerked alert. “Now you juss- wait! I don't mean to sound ungrateful to the Institution.”

Lexicon inhaled and took a sip of her steaming drink. That didn't go well, and now he's defending accusations of blasphemy against the Institution. Lexicon checked the time: 23:00. It was getting very late.

Montrose continued, “You've got me wrong. I have faith in the Methods. They're proven. I make all my kids submit to the Methods, and they all lead saddis-satisfying lives.”

“Look, Monty,” Lexicon cut in. “It sounds like you've had a day. What do you say we hop a transport to your dwelling?” Lexicon leaned in to seductively caress the collar of Montrose's business shirt.

Montrose smiled. “You're pretty. What's your class?”

He had to be joking. Lexicon was beyond irritation now, still realizing she had to tread carefully. She was a Bedouin. All Bedouins were proven by the Methods to be genetically superior to Montrose, by his own admission, a Taper. He might feel taken advantage of, if she told him the truth, though even in her line of work, she generally preferred to speak truthfulness to the alternative. She hoped to On High he didn't ask her occupation.

“I'm a Common,” she lied.

The bartender had made his way back to Lexicon and Montrose. He laid two drinks in front of them before retreating back to the other end of the bar.

“A Common. That's wonderful. I bet someone as pretty as you never questions her class. I bet you're happy and satisfied, prossss-perous.”

Lexicon took a sip of her drink. He was right. The combination of genetic analysis and aptitude tests that make up the Methods had never let her down. Her physical ability had landed her in the military track. She had never given a whip about politics, so between legislative and military tracks, she was right on target. Further, she had been detected as a middle-of-the-road Bedouin. Achieving the Bedouin class was somewhat prestigious, true. Bedouins are genetically regarded as superior than both Tapers and Commons, but with less responsibility than the Alphas, Betas and Deltas studying at Philosophical Academy. For Lexicon though, it was the position itself that seemed to fit her to a tee. The simple fact was that most military Bedouins were like her: assassins. A position she usually found extraordinarily rewarding, excluding of course, present company.

Montrose stumbled off to the facilities, calling back to Lexicon, “You juss- wait right there, pretty thing. I'll be right back.”

Lexicon gulped down her drink and reflected back to the time: 23:10. If she was lucky, she could wrap things up here, accompany Montrose to his dwelling, end him, implant herself with his Identification chip and be in bed by 00:00. She really needed the sleep. The next day at Quadrant 1542 Nurturement and Development was a big deal, even for her.

She glanced around before taking a sip of Montrose's abandoned drink. “Marta Wallers,” she muttered under her breath. “Should be interesting. Never killed a kid before.”

A new sci-fi story

So this is totally random, but I've decided to start a science fiction story for fun. I'll post a chapter a day as I have it completed (so not as to overwhelm anyone) I've only finished through five.

Here goes, it's been a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy :)

Friday, July 07, 2006

Menstrual and Working...

Wading in a sesspool of hormones and getting my behind kicked on the new job does not seem to go quite like mashed potatoes and gravy.

7:30 a.m.
First, I don't want to go in at all. I'm tempted to stay home, and Jeremy is looking at me like puppy who doesn't know why his owner was mad. He doesn't move: "Baby, do you want me to leave you alone? What can I do?" Absolutely nothing. Worse, I don't deserve you being so sweet to me when I know later I'm going to curl up in a ball, won't let you touch me and make you feel totally rejected. But, I sludge into my backpack and say: "I'm ready to go."

8:10 a.m.
I go to work. I've left my security badge at home, which burns up another couple of minutes of fruitless searching and results in ultimately signing up for a temporary at the main desk.

8:20 a.m.
At my desk, I dock my laptop and log in to find literally thousands of error messages from the database I've been recently made responsible for (last week). I check my cluster: both cpus are maxed at 100% utilization. Also, my data-loading drives are close to 90% capacity, expanding quickly. It's a grim choice: save the data, or keep the server from crashing. And I'm not sure I can pull off either one. I actually elect to save the data, devoting my efforts to developing a script to migrate the largest files elsewhere, anywhere for later loading.

My manager comes in. He's understandably stressed. He promises to identify the cpu spike if I continue working on saving-the-world-I-mean-data scripts. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, and he knows it. But he doesn't care, because *anything* would help at this point.

Blurr-O'Clock - bedtime
The rest of the day is spent ignoring my disaster of an inbox, and writing scripts. I solve one problem that causes another and then fix that problem... which of course breaks another process essential to our database that I never knew existed. Fantastic.

8 hours later, Jeremy and I go home. He says he likes my new brown shirt, but I feel fat.

... At least it's the weekend. Woot. I'm officially devoting the next two days to reading the news and mindless trivia until I pass out. Fun :)

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Me and Jeremy
Originally uploaded by linux_chick.
Lots of changes in the past month or so. Here's an update:

Jeremy and I got married June 2, 2006 in a lovely informal ceremony in Reno. See our pics here. The big ceremony is still set for next year (June 2, '07) in Kansas.

Internship Status
I've accepted a full-time position with the Database and Information Services Team in Intel's Folsom branch. I will be working in software development and database administration. I officially start this position Monday (June 26th).

This changes several plans for me, namely that instead of returning to KU in August, I am permanently moving to California now. 9 months from now, I will have successfully completed my probationary period and can look into transferring to another university such as UC Davis to wrap up my B.S. in Computer Science.

Jeremy is packing up all our stuff and will be joining me on an internship with Intel next week. He'll return to KU (unfortunately, without me) to wrap up his degree in January.

Summer Project Ideas: Gnome's Women Summer of Code

Apparently, the F/OSS community is hurting for female developers. In an effort to encourage women, Gnome is offering a Summer of Code Project for women here. After reading extensive Gnome-directed criticism, I am convinced that a great need exists for a spark in feminine technical interest if a level playing field across genders in these areas can ever be achieved. So, I applaud Gnome and would like to show my support. I have been seriously considering applying for a project this summer.

If you're a female student interested in a project like this for the summer, review some gnome-suggested projects here, then apply here. Applications are due July 1. The project pays $3,000 for two months of work.

You've hung with me so far, so you might as well check out this dell laptop that caught on fire at a Japanese Technical conference. :)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Craig and Travis and the Egg

Craig and Travis and the Egg
Originally uploaded by linux_chick.

I know I've slacked on posting, but this picture is probably the best ever from Cali and I think we should start an Intel-Intern facebook group with it "Intel Interns Leap Ahead" or probably something wittier.

Yay, conjunctive clauses.

Well, I'm up surprisingly early on a Friday morning and should probably call dibs on the shower before work.

Happy Friday,

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Brackets are In!!

It could be said that I'm having a pretty good day. I just got to watch KU topple a very confused Texas team to win the Big 12 Tournament. And when I say won, I mean a solid 12 point victory: 80-68. Travis has promised to blast Queen's We Are the Champions for the rest of the evening.

My boss is a KU alumnus w/ TiVo and a fifty-something-inch HD system. How many times do you think we watched Wright's single-axel dunk? Freeze-frame. Slow-motion. Real-time. Freeze-frame. Hmmm, can't answer that one. 360 degrees... unbelievable. The whole team was on.

So, we're #4 seed now. Apparently the tourny win wasn't enough to compensate for early season losses to K-State, etc. It doesn't really matter. Not today.

So maybe Jeremy's brother had to dislodge a life-size hunk of wood from the exterior of his room and most of my home town is still without power. No biggie. By now, I'm sure the bars with functioning roofs and electricity in Lawrence are packed with drunken citizens who've aready forgotten about the property and structural damage to their homes and businesses.

It's probably the best day ever.

In the True Spirit of Dorothy

Lawrence Tornado - Mar. 12
Originally uploaded by linux_chick.
A tornado brushed through my home town a couple of hours ago and left this 4X4 in Jeremy's little brother's room as a present. Apparently, God has been pained by my prayers unloading *exactly* how much I miss my fiance back at home and debated on transporting the man my way Himself.

6:45 am - No Warning
Dad called this morning to let me know that he was OK, just in case I saw anything in the news. He had woken up to some "strange wind" and upon investigating the source saw a tornado across the street making its way inside the curb. I promised to call him back after checking on Mom and Jeremy.

Mom answered the phone. She told me a gust of wind walked across Iowa St. By the time she noticed rotation, it was too late. The suction from the wind prevented her from getting downstairs. She waited it out in a second-story bathroom.

Jeremy said Jason was looking out his bedroom window (the 2nd window) when this piece of the fence came through the wall. He urged me to check out his pics of the damage.

I decided to call Mom back first. Was there no siren? She said they did blow after everything was all over.

She closed with: At least *we* don't get earthquakes.

Weather in California No Picnic
It's amazing how a person can leave an area looking forward to great weather and end up bringing a little piece of home along with. Such has been my experience, anyway. It's annoying at best to hear this part of the state is receiving abnormally bad weather for the season the winter I decide to make the trip. It's been cold and raining for > a week and last week we even got some hail.

Yup, small < dime-sized chunks of ice fell from the sky on our way home from work. On our bolt to the car, we worked past a huddle of stunned employees murmuring to each other: what is it? and our kids are gonna get sick.

But, I suppose all this pales in comparison with today's events back home. There's a lot to be thankful for. I hope that like me, everyone finds their loved ones safe. And I'm grateful God changed His mind at the last minute and decided to leave my Jeremy right where he is.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Coding Goes Better to Kelly Clarkson

Nose Ring #1
Originally uploaded by linux_chick.
Take four engineering students from various parts of Kansas and stick them in a house together and you have our pad. That's Adam, Travis, Craig and me.

Everyone is really great, but we do spend a lot of time together. When we're not home together, we're carpooling *together* to the job where we all work...
in the same double-cubicle, together. We go home together and watch either KU Basketball or BattleStar Galactica on the television set downstairs. Together. Together. Together.

So, practically speaking, what gets accomplished with so much concentrated intellectual ability? We're the creme of the crop, right? I mean *Intel* picked us up, for crying out loud, and gave us a bunch of $ to relocate more than 1700 miles. I'll try to paint as clear depiction of a typical day at the office as I can:

Pick Headphones over Food, Given the Choice
I pull off my headphones to Kelly wailing away about a loser boyfriend to Travis and Craig debating fried seafood.

Travis: I like fishsticks.
Craig: Fishsticks aren't real seafood.
Travis: Why not?
Craig: Because they're just not. I like fried shrimp, but I can't do coconut shrimp. I don't really like coconut.
Adam: I coconut-ted your mom last night.
Travis: ... So?
Me: Nice comeback, Travis.
Travis: Shut up. You don't know.

At this point, I grab a buck and head to the vending machines. I notice another girl walking my way and silently hope she's headed the same place: it's just so rare to see another girl in the building. But, she turns at the restrooms instead.

Oh well. She was kind of dressed up, an indication that she might work in Business/Marketing a couple of buildings away and is just passing through. I'll probably never see her again.

Back to the vending machines, where water is an unnacceptable $1.25. I know that my self-respect will suffer if I spend that much on water. But if I don't get something, it's a wasted trip. Some obsessive-compulsive tendency surfaces and I decide I must get *something.* I opt for beef jerky, which is salty... and I'm thirsty. It's $.65, though, so I get it and return to my desk.

By the time I get back, Adam and Travis are apparently engaged in warfare:

Travis: Ha! I stuck it to you.
(Craig, anticipating Adam's next remark, is already snickering)
Adam: I stuck it to your mom last night.
(Travis, red, flips back around to his computer screen)
Travis: You don't know.
Me: Travis, your comebacks suck.
Travis: Ha!

I sit back down and pull back on the headphones. Adam, Travis and Craig fade to the background of Track 6:
It's like I can't breathe, without you inside of me. Nothing but you, I'm addicted...

I am really grateful for headphones. With action like this diverting my attention, I'd never get anything done.

I got the nose ring Tuesday evening. Craig came along, too, so I wouldn't have to make the trip to Sacramento by myself. Here's the promised pic. It's really subtle, so it's kind of difficult to get a shot of the thing.

*Note* I know that I posted a pic of the wrong nostril last post. I had a last minute change of thought and pierced the right instead. I thought about reversing the image, but that's just too much work for a lazy Saturday...

Cali Pics
I'm about to throw up an insane amount of pictures from this California experience, so far... from the road trip to eating out in Folsom, California. When I do, I'll post the link here. (Seriously, by *insane* I mean hundreds. Before you click, be warned).

Long post, whew... I'm going to close here and make some soup.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Pale Ale, Jewelry and Spicy Food

Before the Needle
Originally uploaded by linux_chick.
Intel sucks for getting our checks out to us late this week... but I had to resist the impulse to take a photo of the thing when it did finally come in. It's the most beautiful check I've ever seen: lots of 0s, which is not too shabby for an intern. What to do with an extra several-thousand-dollar relocation check. Oh, I know!

Fun Dollars
*Mom, Don't read this section!*

So, I'm posting a pic I took last night because it has my left nostril in it. (Mom, if you're reading this, I'm sorry!). Piercing next weekend is most definitely on. Since I have to head up to Sacramento to get it done, the roommies suposedly are even coming for moral support. What else is there to do in California, right?

I suppose I shouldn't make it sound too boring, right? It's really not. This last week has been pretty eventful.

Activity Breakdown

Monday: Church Group
Travis went to Community Bible Church last Sunday and having a good impression, took me along to the college group. A healthy group of about 10 were just starting a study on Ecclesiastes; the discussion was so lively though, that we only made it to 1:2 by 9pm. Good times.

Friday: Recent College Graduate Dinner & House Party
This is a semi-official group at Intel that meets from time to time and promotes a sense of community among a younger crowd, obviously with similar interests. We (Travis, Craig and I) went along to the India House, which is kind of an upscale mall-restaurant serving Indian food. I had Curry Chicken and Flan(sp?): great but pretty spicy. Over dinner, the RCG group unofficially agreed plan a weekend getaway to San Fransisco in the next few weeks.

Later that night, Travis and Craig elected to watch Battlestar Galactica, while Adam and I went to a house party an RCG intern had invited us to. Everyone exchanged phone numbers for planning a trip to downtown Sacramento Saturday.

Saturday: Vegging & KU Basketball
We had to wake up at 9am to catch the KU vs. Iowa State game. But, it was well worth it to watch us pull off that win in Aimes. Fantastic.

Matt (an RCG from the house party Friday night) called with finalized plans on heading up to Sacramento, but pooped, I declined.

Later that night, Adam, Travis and I blew a combined $50 on dinner at BJs Pub. For some drama, we actually had to wait an hour before being seated, and decided to drive around looking for something else. But, since we took their table buzzer with us when we left he had to endure the thing beeping every 30 seconds-ish once it was out of range from the restaurant. We were so aggrivated, we ultimately just went back; it was totally worth it, though. Black Olive & Pepperoni Pizza + Pirhanna Pale Ale + an unpronouncable dessert = *Yum!* Can't do it every night, though.

Sunday: Church
Travis and I went to the 9:30 service at Community Bible Church. They taught a sermon from a video tape, which is different, but I'm totally hooked on the people and looking forward to the Ecclesiastes study tomorrow evening.


So, I have kept pretty busy I suppose. It helps ease the sting from missing home and especially, Jeremy. Ouch.

Before I go, a link hat's tip to Travis 's blog, where he posts more pictures and experience tidbits of our endeavors here in California.

I'll close this book here. Peace, -LC

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Looking for Toto...

Intel Sign
Originally uploaded by linux_chick.
It seems somehow fitting that I would be watching the original Terminator, starring Gov. Schwarzenegger himself, my first week here in California. But, here I am.

And things don't seem altogether too different from Kansas when I'm sipping coffee at my desk, browsing OSNews, and half-paying attention to nostalgia on television. Take away some snow, add a home pool and equate Safeway with Dillons and I'm right at home.

I've finished 4 days of my 7 month internship at Intel in their Design Validation department. So far, working full-time in a tech position minus class and homework is everything I thought it could be: I'm intellectually challenged at work, then I go home and do... whatever I want (wohoo!)... I've even had the chance to catch up on where I left off last semester in Card's The Worthing Saga when I'm not listening to the shrieks of my roommates jumping in our 60-degree pool.

It's safe to say that things are dangerously close to perfection; if I could have my fiance back here with me, things just might be...

Well, I'm going to go do something constructive, so I'll close here, for now: Hasta la Vista, Baby ;)