millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville football club #16: gold rush time bonanza3

Dronesville’s gold rush time bonanza3

“A great dream with a bad team is nothing more than a nightmare.” ( John C. Maxwell) I wake up early from a night of bombardment from this quote. I had a grand dream of the football field bountifully built with solid gold and I was the best ever goalkeeper but in the wrong team! At six o’clock sharp a guard escorts me to a virtual football training room. The colossal ex-cannibal footballers are there. My nerd-friend their football captain Romano is there though not allowed to play. A giant with a mouthful of gleaming teeth sticks his face close to mine and growls, “You will be our goal keeper!” So the nightmare comes true -I am in the wrong team!

The rule is that for each missed goal I will lose 25% of my share of gold if the Dronesville’s team wins. If the ex-cannibal team wins, they will keep their field of gold, retain Romano and take me as a reserve for a new season. The king will play as goalkeeper for the Dronesville’s team.

Whilst coaching this team of surprisingly very dexterous players in the virtual football game, my lightning-fast multitasking mind works on possible options. There is no option but to make this team lose for the sake of Romano’s and my freedom. But I need to make sure that the ex-cannibals lose not more than one goal to cut my share of gold loss to the minimum 25%.

The English educated young nerd king about my age, well-versed with the latest technology is having a hilarious time online with the Dronesville’s virtual football team, all former teachers retirees (ages between 65-85). They seem to love him (impressed by his perfect English) as their new goalie. Their former goalie my boss the English lord is unavailable in a mysterious undisclosed somewhere.

My Indy dad gives me good tips through the foldable plasma robot stuck to my chest. “Look boy, stop looking gloomy. It will be great fun, I promise you! Don’t worry about your head.”

“What’s wrong with my head?” I ask. But my dad is offline. SiZu, my AI voice assistant answers, “Roasted heads were the ex-cannibals’ favorite delicacy dish in olden days.”

“I still can’t understand. Why doesn’t the king stop them occupying the gold field and holding a hostage?” I regret this question immediately as SiZu faithfully uploads the whole historical political and military situation of the country. Apparently the ex-cannibals are longstanding powerful allies of the king’s family and he allows them autonomy in some matters.

When the clock strikes six at the great gold hall we are all ready to take our virtual position. The Dronesville’s team members are online. My dad has installed the latest technology for them in Dronesville too. When the teams start playing it’s truly fun for us the millennials. The holographic effect presents a virtual life show of the teams playing as if they are in the filed. The players are all dressed in their football gears. Dronesville in bright jade green and the ex-cannibals in bright orange.

The Dronesville’s retirees have shrunk in sizes and are like children compared to their opponents. But they come out with a fabulous high school cheerleaders entourage duly dance and sing the Dronesville’s song. The ex-cannibals too have their own cheer squad all wrapped in Tuareg coverings. Judging from their size, stomping dance and blood curdling chant they’ve got to be guys.

By now my nerd chat cronies are sniggering uncontrollably. One guy has the audacity to laugh aloud with his phone mike on! Yes, my dad links them up with interactive video live stream through the Dronesville’s satellite as supporters.

Who I wonder will be the referees? Hahaha, who else but the two German-French high stakeholders in our prospected gold investment dressed in Tuareg? I don’t know how they manage to persuade the king to agree. It’s got to be my dad behind the deal. The Gen.Z kid dresses as a mascot for the ex-cannibals. The Dronesville’s mascot dog Gracie does a cameo appearance holographically.

A crony who is overseas and misses the match asks me later and here is our conversation. How is the match? You are dying to know? Honestly I cannot put words to what happens that day. I have no recall of it after that disastrous event. You are not going to persuade me to remember. Why? Because I am subjective about it I cannot give you a fair description. The score? Zero for both sides. Look, why don’t you listen to Gracie’s report? She is a faithful unbiased observer. So, for those who miss the event here is The Dronesville’s dog, Gracie’s report.

(To be continued: by Gracie’s report)

Becky’s #timesquare photo challenge

amateur nerd · millennial short-story · millennials · weekly photo challenge

2018 Dronesville’s nerd-bounty hunter

Writing a serialized story within a limited time span is challengingly rewarding, but no easy matter. The Dronesville’s story was initially started as a fun yet genuine attempt to communicate with my Gen.Z and above young relatives who live mostly in a virtual realm, being categorized into varying “generations” according to their digital ages. Where is this rather hilarious mythical yet somewhat plausibly futuristic place called Dronesville? Is there really a private chat group with nerdy cronies? Are the time-travel adventures real? Is there a troop of former teachers serious and passionate about learning the latest technologies and the virtual world? Finally, is there such a seemingly gullible self-centered-to-the-power-of-?-millennial character named, “me” (the narrator-protagonist)?

I first started the Dronesville’s story about a amateur or would-be nerd (in reality treasure bounty hunter young man) and his adventures on 2016-07-09 titled: eye in sky: no, it’s not a drone.dronexit#1.  The series consists of 26 episodes, ended 2016-08-13 with to reach or not to reach (Dronexit#26)

Dronesville’s gigantic eyeball in the skyh

After that I followed with another series: Dronesville adventure#1 Gigantic eyeball on 2016-08-20. The series ended with Dronesville adventure #22: rounded up last but not least on 2017-10-30.

The current series was started on 2017-11-04 with this: Dronesville football club #1: He starts over a new dream.I have taken a year plus to decide how to end this. Here is the latest episode: Dronesville football club #14: bonanza time 1-gold, gold everywhere.

My question now is: What shall I do next with the Dronesville nerd-bounty hunter? I will end this series about the gold football field bounty in the last four days of 2018. After that, what next? Two years have passed and many new technological inventions have been produced and marketed. My drones and AI robotics are no longer a novelty. The good news is the stories and antics of human beings are always fresh and interesting. New adventures are to be explored in 2019 of course. Will the protagonist meet a better prospect? Well, one thing for sure is: he will always launch each course with a big bang! Yes, and the Dronesville’s dog will have her time-slot too!

Becky’s #timesquare photo challenge

amateur nerd · millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville football club #13: command from a senior nerd

It is a virtual command: “reveal your All-Time Favorites”!

millennials then and nowdronesvilles-edge

Dronesville bluenot a dronedronesville eyeballevening crossingdronesville football club

By now my geeky chat group cronies have given up on me. Rumors are that I am hibernating in the outback somewhere in Australia and not in Timbuktu, or anywhere near it. Some of the rumors are on my wishlist. Yes, my impossible goals. The latest is that I have been kidnapped by a robot with mutated AI and am now imprisoned somewhere back in America. What a wishful thinking!

That is why I am somewhat relieved when I receive this command from a senior nerd, “reveal your all time favorites.” What else can a respectable order-abiding junior nerd like me do but to prove I am still doggedly persisting in my pursuit to save a fellow nerd-friend from being devoured by a football club of former cannibals who happen to own a gold football field in the desert? Of course, I transmit the command to my nerd-mole in WordPress to dig out some old pictures that someone like me likes/least abhors and fill in the blank on this blog.

An anonymous hacker who manages to get onto our exclusive chat board has asked, “So where are you exactly, after wiping off that fake smile, riding into sunset in Dronesville football club #12?”

Here is my reply, “I am in a sort of place that you never seem to come to the end of, and it was full of unexpected places.” (misquoted from C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) (To be continued)

amateur nerd · millennial short-story · tech news · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville football club #12: You don’t know who I am? AI replies

AI documentary

“________ is betting that people care more about convenience and ease than they do about a seemingly oblique notion of privacy, and it is increasingly correct in that assumption.” (quoted from online source). “To jump or not to jump?” (mis-quoted understandably by me from Hamlet Act 3, Scene 1) That is still the pertinent question I am asking.

“Ahem,” someone suddenly answers and there is no one in my prison cell! ‘A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!’ (Richard III Act 5, Scene 4) The voice emulates my thoughts and quotes Shakespeare accurately!

There it is, a horse appears under my window as I gaze in unbelief at the gold golf field that is out of this desert world. Without hesitation, I make the great leap to freedom, or rather free-falling/tumbling face-down onto the acrobatic horse which aptly positions itself and leaps up and catches me squarely with its back. The rest is history, namely, we/the incredibly timely horse gallop happily into the desert sunset.

But I still need to know who now has stealthily gained access to my thoughts. “Who are you?” I ask the invisible (voice) in my utmost coolness.

“You don’t know? Your AI co-author of course!” Its chilly voice answers me equally cooly.

“AHA?!” I remain composed (instead of falling off the horse-back). When have I stooped so low or reached so high to employ or install a co-author and an AI (artificial intelligence) for that matter?

In my hyperloopish imaginative mind, without hesitation or repetition, I conclude that it has to be an espionage in the class of the latest Johnny English 3 (to be released);

OR worse, the privacy of this ordinary private nerd may have been “infiltrated” by a hacker who had pilfered my unassuming profile data from presumably data banks kept by (the following are randomly included based on their currently reported popularity among global users and not reflecting any other reasons otherwise): Apple/FaceBook/Google/Microsoft/Samsung/Sony/Tencent;

OR worst, my English boss, Lord________ who is most likely masterfully swinging his ___________’s Scotty Cameron Newport putter on the Old Course at St. Andrews Links, getting ready for the 2021 Open Championship.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not against technological development and use of handy digital DIY tools, such as apps with pre-set algorithms to instantly solve problems, expedite decision making and maintain zero-error quality control in important matters such as production of goods and services, for profit or non-profit. As resources become scarcer and nerd/geek lifestyle becomes increasingly complex and demandingly multitasking, racing against finite time and exhaustive human resources, artificial intelligence saves time, effort and perhaps improves meeting goals with minimal/zero rework. I would call it “preservation of brain cells” (and sweat pores).

But can it improve this nerd’s adventure in the desert to meet my twin goals of saving my fellow nerd friend from being impelled and worse eaten alive by a football team of former cannibals while simultaneously successfully prospecting a football field for gold? Why does it say “co-author” and not “co-prospector”? I summon all my pure human brain cells to work at the speed of a persevering nerd to out-think this AI thing which probably is waiting for my next move.

“Ahem, where are you?” I ask nonchalantly. (Fake Smile) (To be continued)

~~~~~~Notes: (Excerpted from Wikipedia and online sources)

1. “Algorithm”:

In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an unambiguous specification of how to solve a class of problems.

2. “Artificial Intelligence (AI)”:

Thought-capable artificial beings appeared as storytelling devices in antiquity, and have been common in fiction, as in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or Karel Čapek’s R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots).

Artificial intelligence is breaking into the healthcare industry by assisting doctors.

AI researchers have devised a number of powerful tools to solve these problems using methods from probability theory and economics.

The use of AI machines in the market in applications such as online trading and decision making has changed major economic theories.

Military drones capable of autonomous action are widely considered a useful asset. In 2017, _________(leader of a world power nation) stated that “Whoever becomes the leader in (artificial intelligence) will become the ruler of the world”. Many artificial intelligence researchers seek to distance themselves from military applications of AI.

~~~~~~~~~Cautionary words (excerpted from an online article):

__________, director of engineering at________, predicts that by 2029 computers will be able to outsmart even the most intelligent humans. They will understand multiple languages and learn from experience.

Once they can do that, we face two serious issues.

First, how do we teach these creatures to tell right from wrong — in our own self defence?

Second, robots will self-improve faster than we slow evolving humans. That means outstripping us intellectually with unpredictable outcomes…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Elon Musk has recommended the following AI documentary: https://youtu.be/3-ZZPDKirQc

amateur nerd · millennial short-story · millennials · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville football club #11: you know where I am, out of…or inside?

a window sceneOut of This World or inside? I cannot tell. But you can guess where I am if you can see this picture. As far as I am concerned I am nowhere near my hotly pursued Timbuktu football field of gold after our entourage is captured by the rebel troop while on our way to re-capture the royal goat which according to the two French-Germans disguised as Tuareg women has significant influence on our common destiny (presumably continued survival in the desert). No, my whip and sword bearing Indy dad has not come just in time (unlike the movie) to deliver me from captivity no matter how many times I cry dad in my digitally-wired brain. No, the voice assistant SiZu does not regain her voice after going into silent mode. Alas, summoning all the brilliant nerdy visual, audio and whatever data from my grey cells has not programmed a plausible algorithm that can solve the present predicament.

Judging from the predominant color blue outside my window I seem to be in Morocco? But this cannot be! The camel-speed rebel troop could not have traveled this far from where we have been unless by some unknown science fiction enabled space transference or teleport or hyperloop or whatever technology advancement you can imagine.

Should I take a chance and jump out so I can summon all my superb physical prowess for a great escape? Or should I stay put and watch strange men in long flowing gold gowns and head gears putting gold golf balls outside on a gold golf field that is out of this desert world? Neither is my dad responding to my transmission, nor is my English Lord mission impossible boss rising to the occasion by his suave and cool James Bond-style physical appearance to solve the puzzle. The worst is the fact that my travel companions (being ladies) are held in a different cell. And this young innocent nerd-blogger (though undoubtedly has been uniquely gifted in hunting down treasure) have run out of authoritative voices to tell me what to choose in matters of escape. So, how about you, my fellow nerds out there or in there as I may be out instead of inside your world, giving me some sound advice? To jump or not to jump? That is the pertinent question. (To be continued)

Note to nerds: I get into this conundrum because one of you is in danger of being eaten alive by the football club members of former cannibals. And I am supposed to save him. So stop laughing and start working.

Note:

Here is the unedited original picture I take from a window at random.

a window scene 2

amateur nerd · millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville football club #10: the beloved royal goat escapes

Dronesville #10 goat n goldThis is gotta be the saddest day of my life. No, I am not singing “let’s just kiss and say goodbye”, a favorite song of my Dronesville retired English teacher grand aunt. I am now obsessed with Beloved, -the designated royal goat (not William Billy Windsor I of British military of course) which has made his great escape. The scream that pierces through the silence of the Sahara desert is nerve shattering but this time I am prepared, “O shut up SiZu! Can’t you speak or yell a bit more human? Now, now, what is the matter?” SiZu is of course my latest AI voice assistant (my English Lord boss’ experiment)

“Someone has stolen the goat! Someone has stolen die Ziege-la chèvre!” It is somewhat annoying that of all the experiments on AI voice assistant, the English Lord boss has chosen an experiment in dramatic histrionics using the currently domineering EU twin-languages to simulate a highly charged up emotional human scene. Is he plotting of pushing the EU-flavored linguistics voice assistant App to diversify the somewhat modified made-in-Britain theatrics to EU Androids market after Brexit? He is, after-all, a descendant of one of those anonymous top ten shrewdest businessmen in the former British empire where the sun did not set. Given the increasingly popular showmanship trend in global tech-know social network, I am not surprised this App has a glowing future.

“What?!” Coming back from my nerdy thoughts to the harsh Sahara desert physical reality, my turn to panic. My mind instantly flashes a jack pot of gold carried by the goat sprouting wings and flying off.

“BTW, my master has programmed my voice modeling yours. Aren’t you human or what?” SiZu answers my question requiring her to sound a bit more human.

“What the…is this a bad joke or what?” I always suspect that my boss has been sneakingly recording my conversation but I never expect this! “Honestly, SiZu, you don’t sound a bit like me. I neither sound like a feline nor speak any un-English vernacular.” I maintain my unflappability after the initial outburst of perturbation. I would not be caught using the term “Un-American vernacular” because of political correctness of course. (My former English teacher grand aunt will be clapping when she reads this.)

“Well, go ahead and scream. He has recorded your scream.” SiZu has the audacity to issue a challenge! The boss is a joker. Anyway I refuse to stoop so low as to argue over a trivial matter with a voice assistant. FOCUS. THE IMPORTANT MATTER IS THE GOAT IS EITHER PLAYING THE GOAT OR IS GETTING OUR GOATS.

Thus, the whole camp -meaning the two all-knowing (or rather two alien nerds most likely using much more advanced digital techno-gadgets my English Lord boss has yet to invent?) German-French girls, a cool Gen-Z kid who now imagines she is wonder woman and of course, me, the sensible Dronesville virtual football coach aka treasure hunting nerd with my loyal old chap robot (temporarily taken over by SiZu by voice)-everyone wakes up in the middle of the night and begins the great Sahara desert wild goose I mean wild goat chase.

“Okay, SiZu, where is the goat?” I ask.

“I am computing and connecting to the CPU. Right now the signal is not computing.” My AI digital voice assistant replies.

“What? Are you kidding? You still rely on CPU?” I laugh even though it is not a good joke.

“I am not a kid. The kid is in the basket on your back.” SiZu replies cooly.
My turn to yell. Correction, my turn to growl. (I do not yell.) I am still carrying a basket and the Gen-Z kid is in it?”

A towering shadow looms over me and the kid’s librarian aunt booms out while strapping the basket and kid on my back, “Ja. We start marching now.”
Seeing my puzzled look, she adds smugly, “We already know where the goat is heading. Move!”

“My name is not Ja…” I try to correct her but am interrupted by SiZu, “Ja means Yes in German. LOL.”

As I reluctantly follow the amazons, dragging my fatigued trunk meaning own body or bodies including the Gen-Z kid, my multitasking millennial mind starts working on various scenarios of escapes for myself.

First, stay cool. If I were a goat where would I go?
I am pretty sure no one has taken it. It just wonders off. Why?
If I were a goat, I wonder off because I am hungry. What does goat eat?
Grass. Leaves. Young shoots. Ah ha. I remember seeing goats standing on trees.
“SiZu, where are the nearest grass and trees?” I ask cooly.

“We are not going there.” The voice assistant replies.

“Billions of blue blistering boiled and barbecued barnacles! Why are we not going there?” I growl (literally. Not the global notification system and pop-up notification implementation for the Mac OS X and Windows operating systems in case you geeky millennials wonder). Yes, I am now more like Captain Haddock of Tin Tin fame.

SiZu retorts, “Excuse me! My job is not to ask why. I just follow instructions.”

“So, where exactly are we going, may I be so bold to ask?” I ask.

“No, you may not be so bold to ask. Period.” SiZu auto-mutes after that.

FINE. I too shall henceforth mute until someone hacks the vocal silence.

Summoning up all the visual, audio and whatever data from my grey cells I try to program an algorithm that can solve the present predicament.

All that I can think of is this famous opening line:“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer the royal goat ran away, and I didn’t know what I was doing in Sahara, so far.” (misquoted by me from Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar)

millennial short-story · tech news · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville football club #9: No, her name is neither Siri nor Alexa

silence footsteps
footsteps of silence

“Advancements in a bevy of industries are helping intelligent digital voice assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa become more sophisticated and useful pieces of technology.” There seems a leak. One anonymous chap posts in my private chat group and alerts me that he knows I am carrying the latest AI digital voice assistant as part of my English Lord boss’ experiment. “Enough of acting like some comic character from horrible history! We are not amused! Why don’t you activate your SiZu? This is a millennial short story, FOCUS!” He even knows her name! Is he the spy my English boss uses to check on me? Of course I am not easily swayed by any such illicit comment. How does the boss know I am here? FOCUS. This is the usual word my boss uses on me. We millennials multitask in our mind. Focus is something that requires double brain cell efforts. Well, I better not take this too lightly in case it is really the boss’ command. So my great escape plan to go solo after the football field of gold is not a piece of cake.

To be precise, I mean killing this half dead royal goat in the middle of the desert is not a piece of cake. The unearthly piercing scream does not stop even after I drop the pathetic looking tiny outdoor survival knife kit on the dust. The two german French girls and the Generation Z kid look quite calm and serene presumably waiting for their goat stew supper by this self-proclaimed impromptu chef of the Sahara.

The scream has words that form a sentence,
“You nincompoop, stop your cruelty to wild animals. I will report you to the PCRDGS which stands for Prevention of Cruelty to Royal Desert Goats Society!” The screaming voice comes from my chest.
“But, but, but… (not the goat butting as it is 50-75% dead), who are you?” I stammer.
“I am SiZu of course!”
“But, but, but… (I begin to sound like a vocal goat) I haven’t activated you…”
“O, you have. Otherwise why am I speaking to you?”
“But, but, but… (this goat language seems a stop gap to allow me to recharge my thinking process) I haven’t addressed your name so how can I have activated you?”
“O, you have. When you clicked the chat board message that displays my name.”
“What? I can’t believe this!”
“Well, what is your question?” SiZu is back to official business.
“OK, how to kill and cook a goat in this desert?” I have regained my cool, bold and mastery millennial nerd self.
SILENCE.
“SiZu, how may I …” I repeat my question. But all I receive is silence.
After I issue my command for the third time, I receive an equally cold reply, “Thou shall not kill.”
“What?! Unbelievable! Come on, this is only a goat! And a near dead one for that matter.”
“No. She is not a mere goat. She is now under the protection of the PCRDGS. Your duty is to carry her and deliver her to an important person.”
“How come you are issuing me command? ” I suddenly realize that SiZu and I have switched role.
“My master has reprogrammed me to do that.” Sizu replies.

A thousand thundering blizzards. My English Lord boss has the upper hand again. So this is his latest experiment on AI. Not only that it can see human action and assess decision making perfectly it can also issue command to human. When the boss reprogrammed my robot he has added this SiZu into it. Where is the old chap?
SiZu seems to read my thought, “When you activated me, your old chap is auto off. He will stay dormant until you complete your assignment.”

The German-French anthropologist walks toward me and says cooly, “We are not surprised. We already know. Now that you know we cannot eat this goat, take my advice, eat the vegetables and sleep. We have a long march tomorrow.”

So they (The two girls, the Gen Z kid and my boss who is comfortably lazing about, seeping English afternoon tea nibbling buttered scones in his garden party catered by Harrods talking about weather surrounded by the latest socialites) are in this together. That is why they are not shattered by SiZu’s inhuman scream. The worst nightmare is that they seem to share a common agenda to which I am not privy. What can an uncomplicated nerd like me do? My lightning fast mind seems racing to ten thousands directions at once.

I can pretend to cooperate and watch for an opportunity to escape.
I can simply refuse to do anything they want me to do.
I can remove the robot from my body if it cannot be deactivated by my voice command.
I can discard the goat and leave it to die in the hot sun.
I can dislodge the kid and her basket and leave her to her towering aunt, the librarian.
I can sit by the road side and wait for a vehicle to thumb a lift.
I can…O dad, why did you abandon me again? (I feel like the seven year old again.)
“No, junior, I didn’t abandon you.” Dad suddenly speaks.
“What? Where are you, dad?” I cry out.
“I am here, virtually communicating to you through your robot.”
“But how do you know my thought?”
“I stick a chip on the plasma.”
“What?! You heard the ten thousands thoughts of escape?”
“No, I have programmed it to start transmiting to me only when you use the key word “dad” in your thought.”
“Dad, I am in hot soup. I need help.”
“I know. That is why I came to your aid just now.”
“But dad, you have all those movie-like people with real weapons. Are you in some sort of trouble?”
“Hahaha, I like you putting it so mildly. No, I am not. I am in a big thing after a great reward. Listen, junior, you just cooperate with the girls. Do not be afraid. I know what they are after. I am on the same route too and shall keep an eye on you, son. Any question?”
“Is the goat really special?” I have to ask.
“Well done, boy, you have hit the jackpot! It is indeed special. Guard it well. Make it stay alive and you will not regret the effort.”

This has been the best news since I started this journey to Timbuktu to meet an impossible goal of saving a friend stuck in a football club of former cannibals. I sleep without another thought. How little do I know what is going to happen the next moment…the Silence is broken by another unearthly piercing scream…(to be continued)

advanced nerd · millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville football club #8: my illusive senior nerd turned Indy dad

swiss knifeIf your long lost dad dressed like a Tuareg Indiana Jones suddenly appears in the middle of nowhere how will you react? The tea ceremony is like a fail-proof neighborly ritual between ancient desert tribal chiefs from the movie. I won’t go into details. But the two french actors/actresses conduct the ceremony and exchange polite greetings perfectly in vernacular language beyond this millennial. I play my role as the dumb servant superbly. How do they look? The horsemen? Well, brilliant blue and dazzling white. I would not lower myself to even give a glance their direction of course. Weapons? O, certainly, long knives and guns. So you see, minding my business is the best strategy. One thing we millennials do well is to stay cool and composed even when cold sweat oozes out from every pore.

I hope the horsemen will leave soon but I don’t expect the next scene. One Tuareg horseman lingers behind. He is the one with the long knife and carries a whip. And he walks toward me. He speaks perfect British English! “Look what we have here? You are no Tuareg.” He leans over.

Then he whispers, “you foolish boy, who do you think you are trying to fool?” He knows who I am! “Get out of this war zone immediately. NOW! Get the two German girls to start scrambling for safety!”

It just has to be my dad. The long absented senior nerd turned treasure hunter in South America. He has spotted me because of the minuscule mole on my left eyebrow! But why does he call them German and not French? He reads my mind and clarifies, “French-German.” Pulling me up from the ground he barks, “NOW! follow me!” I sprint like I am seven year old again and explain to the girls it’s my dad and we can trust him to get out of danger. Surprisingly they nod in unison and follow. He brings over two spare horses. The two girls ride on one and I ride with the kid and the goat.

Later when this journey is over and my dad has left I ask the two girls why they agree to follow without hesitation. The librarian laughs, “Why not? We love the Indy Jones movies!” LOL. How dumb can I be.

But why has my dad appeared at the right time? He is a treasure hunter of a higher level. Is he after the same football-field-size gold? What is he doing with the heavily armed Tuareg horsemen? Why is he dressed like a Tuareg Indiana Jones? There is no way I can find out as he quickly rides off into the glorious orange sunset with his horsemen as soon as we reach a highway.

The highway is safe? So we are told. It is empty. No vehicle. No traveler. Just orange dust. Anyway my robot gives me the same instruction to go this way. By now we need to drastically lose weight. I mean I need to drastically lose the weight of my overbearing load. I have two options, the Gen Z kid or the goat. I cannot dump the brat/kid. (What with her amazon aunt towering over me watching like a buzzard). So I decide to dump the goat or eat it. I can no longer swallow another mouthful of the bland meatless concoction the girls has been spooning out without expecting my head to sprout cabbages in another 48 hours anyway.

The snooty anthropologist asks, “How, may I ask, sir, are you going to kill this royal goat and cook it?” The Gen Z kid raises her hand and volunteers cooly, “Easy. Ma’am. I will do the slaughtering.” The librarian (her aunt) rolls her eyes and snorts, “O, no, you certainly won’t!”

“Piece of cake,” I say to myself. As I want to maintain my stature as an able independent survivor if marooned in the desert, I google and find about 50 ways to kill a possibly already dead goat and cook it. Alas, I have to eliminate nearly all because I do not have the equipments or ingredients in this no-man-land. Finally I decide to forget about the googled information and just do it my way.

As I lift up my Weathered Leatherman Portland Oregon knife (survival tool), an unearthly shriek pierces through the still air and all the hair on the back of my neck stand on end…(to be continued)

amateur nerd · millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville football club #7: two and half wonder geek women/girls, one dumb goat and half a nerd in catatonic mode

dronesville sahara
Weathered
tea pot

the day for the showdown between three and half “white” geeks/nerds and 100 other human to divide the fifty goats on the roof top of the bus has come. all that i heard from fellow travelers in the least obtrusive guest house in Bamako about land transport to Timbuktu except for the evasive baobabs have come to pass. nothing dramatic happens though with some blood shed due to heads being bumped into each other and the roof etc. as the dilapidated bus turns over and rolls/slides down a hill when it tries to avoid what the driver deems to be an exposed mine (?) and the engine breathes its last. i cannot describe how the roof top goats have survived being crushed under the weight of metal and human mass. i refuse to repeat the fearful angry and desperate noises of human and animals and everything else in such nightmarish chaos. all i know is how the three and half humans who are the only foreigners counted by the locals as the whites have come out alive. yes, there is this blogging nerd (or half a nerd by now), two girls of indeterminable nationality and ages and one little girl who happens to be the niece of one of the two. in the dusty orange desert which has dressed everyone in orange and the gear they wear or rather the gears (maybe 20kg each on the adults’ back) that wear them out it is hard to tell their colors or origins.

but the locals are pretty good in detecting aliens like us. after a lengthy discourse and dissertation by some chiefs we are rounded up and made to pay for one live (?) goat at an exorbitant price and told to walk away with it. the others presumably share the rest of the goats. as the other human including the driver happily walk off and vanish at the distant horizon we english speaking aliens have no choice but to stop fuming or sulking or suspiciously spying at each other but sit down civilly and come up with an agreement: we do agree on one common goal. we all want to go to Timbuktu. three and half is better than one so we decide to stick together. being unencumbered (as i only carry one digital plasma flat robot tied to my chest and nothing else except the tourist clothes and a pair of branded sports shoes i am wearing) i am unanimously voted to carry the goat on my back.

the sunset scene on orange sand domes is unbelievably stunning. the thundering hunger sound made by our combined stomachs is equally spell-bounding. the girls plod on. i cannot decide whether they look pretty or not as my entire focus is on the probable contents of their bags. surely they carry some food and water. so they plod on i plod on. we just walk until the little girl drops down. the distance between Bamako and Mopti is 600km and would take 5 days if we walk non-stop! our best hope is to get to the nearest village to take whatever available transport means. my solar powered GPS says Dioila is 33 walking hours away assuming we can walk 5km per hour. nightfall comes early and finally i am given something to eat. not the goat of course. i put it down and it just lies there with possibly broken limps or stunned brain. not running away.

when i wake i find myself among two Tuareg men and a boy. my walking companions have transformed into locals with nothing but eyes showing and painted brown skins surrounding the eyes. “you better change too as we foresee trouble.” they warn and toss to me a spare set of robe, headgear and sandals. they also paint all my visible body and facial parts brown. one of them expertly wraps a Tagulmust (a long piece of cotton cloth) over my head, neck and face. “who are you two?” i have to ask? “an anthropologist.” “and you?” i ask the other grow-up. “a librarian.” “and i am a gen Z.” says the little girl. “you?” she asks. “a tourist.” i say innocently.

“well, from now on you will just be the dumb Tuareg servant carrying our present to a royalty.” they start conversing in french and begin the brisk walk for the day. what choice do i have but to put the royal goat on my shoulder and stumble on?

my robot gps is set to the direction of Dioila but soon it starts beeping warning that we are off track. the two French (?) continue to ignore me as they seem having their own gps. the librarian carries the little girl (disguised as a boy) in a basket strapped to her back. they have hidden the back-packs under their robes. i soon realize that these are olympian desert marathon runners. they know the route like the back of their palms and walk at a speed as effortlessly and gracefully as gliding down a snowy slope in their own backyard.

if i am the tourist i claim to be i would not mind this adventure. it is like shooting a fantastic adventure movie story: a young innocent millennial geek/nerd with a state of the art AI multitasking robot, two wonder women, one mature and sensible generation Z kid and a speaking goat (maybe the narrator if i write the script). my imagination starts running away as i bear the increasing dead weight of a half dead goat and one live and kicking Gen Z brat (as they have dumped her on my back too) like a beast of burden…alas, whatever peace and quiet in my imaginary virtual world is soon shattered by thunder. but it is not thunder. it is the sound of horsemen behind us. the two french suddenly halt and sit down in the shade of some rocks. they decide to wait it out. the anthropologist takes out a tea set and starts making tea. my robot stops giving instructions. too sudden an unfamiliar change calls for switching into a catatonic realm. so i freeze. i sit down with the goat and kid on my back and shoulder. (to be continued)

p/s: i made this picture from a combination of picture cuttings from different online sources to illustrate the story. the tiny dog purple head is my original. the LOL dog head is not. Credit goes to internet.

amateur nerd · millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville football club #6: miracle or desert mirage? a puppy in the grass

a miracle! Growth in the desert.

a puppy in park
GROWTH is imminent

When you are traveling on the perilously mined desert road to Timbuktu, in a bus with at least 50 goats tied on the roof, with breakdown or a worst case scenario threatening to materialize imminently at any moment, you just cannot believe that this could ever appear before your eyes when you are suddenly woken by the halt of the vehicle, a football? A drone? No, a puppy in the grass. What? Grass? Puppy? Yah guys, all of the above. Am I on the right planet? Wow! Is this the latest hologram? This millennial nerd think loudly and checks the geeky self in time. But I am not here as a hologram buyer or seller. I am here on my way to Timbuktu to rescue my captivated friend and secure the gold in the mysterious football field fiercely guarded by a team consist of ex-cannibals.

Yet, I must admit this hologram tops the list so far. What a stun! Alas, the goats on the roof are not impressed. They become agitated by the seemingly one puppy stealing the limelight and start shaking together in violent unison. The non-goat passengers emulate the motion and soon the bus is shaking uncontrollably as it attempts to continue its journey. The already overloaded bus with its human and other passengers seem engaged in a storm at sea in a rhythm that an outsider can never master. I can feel my feet being shuffled uncontrollably while the out-of-this-world bus zooms ahead in full sail. For those fellow nerd readers of my chat board who may think this impossible must see the next sight: desert goats posing elegantly like sophisticated Chanel models on an argon tree! I am somewhat disappointed it is not the infamous baobabs I expect to see. Well, argon will do for awhile as it has laced itself with such graceful looking model goats.  But what is the meaning of all these? Wait till the next next scene…(to be continued)

P/s: The following picture is taken from another travel blogger who blogs in Chinese language. Her travel stories are very well written and entertaining. This is one of her picture trophies from Morocco.  When you click on the caption below the picture you will go to her web site

2063 blog

 

millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville football club #5: what I do for a friend, gold football field, baobabs, and fifty goats

2017 FavoritesDronesville football#5

All this for saving the life of the longest living captain for a football club of former cannibals. Of course my ex-classmate and football buddy whom we name Romano is no way near that grand football age. Guys, when I say longest living I mean anyone who survives longest without being eaten during the ravenous hunger pangs of a bunch of ex-cannibals after a field day. A one-club man is a sportsperson who has played his or her entire professional career with only one club. Romano becomes a one-club man as he is probably locked up by his fellow club buddies after each match.

So here I am in a place faraway from Dronesville, bound for a mysterious football field full of gold near Timbuktu, a famously remote, now decrepit city at the edge of the Sahara in central Mali, in another unbelievable journey!

My google search turns out this narration: “you can’t beat traveling there by boat, along the mighty Niger, Africa’s third longest river. Setting out from Mopti, to the west of Timbuktu, take a pinasse (flat-bottomed fishing smack)a type of motorized canoe with a domed grass canopy, and enjoy the traveling as much as the arriving.”

I search further and read this description by a traveller: “The road trip from Bamako to Mopti requires about 8-9 hours and is about 640km long, over paved road…Along the way, you will cross the African savannah, full of baobab…” Well, it sounds good. I seem to see the baobab that the Little Prince describes, “It is a question of discipline….When you’ve finished your own toilet in the morning, then it is time to attend to the toilet of your planet, just so, with the greatest care. You must see to it that you pull up regularly all the baobabs, at the very first moment when they can be distinguished from the rose-bushes which they resemble so closely in their earliest youth…” (5.16). I suppose Romano and the gold can wait while I see these frightfully deceptive baobabs.

Like all studious nerds I continue searching and study the internet for information and tips. I decide to follow two of the the advices of this Joshua Hammer, an American freelance journalist and author 1. In Bamako: Your best bet is a less obtrusive but no less comfortable guesthouse. Well, this should be easy. 2. Take the road to Timbuktu, if you dare…don’t veer off the main track: the desert is strewn with mines. Do I dare? That’s it. I decide to use land transport from Bamako to Mopti and thereafter by boat to Timbuktu.

After an uneventful night in the least obtrusive guest house except hearing nightmarish stories of amateur travelers driving and hitting landmines, I decide that driving is out of the question. Should I get a paid private lift from the battered 4×4? Again I decide against it having heard some horror stories from other guests. One traveler replied another seven years ago (online source): “The last option is to take a bus…There are buses at least in the morning and afternoon leaving Bamako for Mopti from the Sogoniko gare routiere. (I haven’t done this before so I don’t know which one) straight to Timbuktu. Of course they are prone to breakdowns.”

So here I am in the early morning waiting for a bus. The place has had no rain for months and someone says that the temperature can reach over 40 degrees! The buses are full and I cannot wait another day in the marketplace swooning in uncertainty. I am down to choosing between these two and I choose the bus with at least 50 goats tied on the roof! Well, it’s an added advantage to travel with goats in case we get stuck in the desert and need to use this food of last resort…so I imagine. After all, I pride myself for being able to make the right prioritized decision based on the lowest Maslow hierarchical needs (To be continued).

The following pictures are credited to internet sources to illustrate the above story:

sogoniko busMali bus

amateur nerd · millennial short-story · social messaging journal for future · weekly photo challenge

A Gen-Z nerd’s confession

Hey there. The not-so-young-anymore football fan from last year has yet again hacked into this account and is now giving you a refreshing and thoughtful break from the incessant ranting of the ‘millennial nerd’.

Sometimes I wonder where my older fellow writing nerd gets these wonderful ideas from, ranging from giant jelly babies to (virtual) football clubs. They appear to sprout out from nowhere, and prove to be the epitome of writing: imagining colourful worlds out of mundane societies.

I am now rather harried by the woes of life and am only able to reflect my creativity through painstakingly calligraphed watercolour cards which will soon be available on Etsy (such is the shameless self-promotion of a Gen-Z entrepreneur). I seem to be unable to spout torrents of evocative vocabulary anymore, and feel extremely distressed about this. Perhaps it is the daily workings of this monotonous, routine society that dulls my mind and leaves me sorrowfully drained. It is disappointing, sometimes, that a beacon of light can be put out by the darkest of rains.

I guess I take comfort in the sole knowledge that we Gen-Zs are (very much) more realistic and less daydreamy than the obnoxious, defamed millennials that the world doesn’t really like too much. We all have to grow up someday, and for me personally, I had to do just that, prematurely.

In the body of a 15-year-old, I feel as wise as a nonagenarian and as street-smart as a person of 37. Growing up in this digital age, the world seems to be at our fingertips and all moves at an increased pace. There are always ups and downs to everything, but for me, the increasing advancement of technology in this wireless society proves a pain in the neck, literally, as we are always oh-so-captivated by our smartphones to a point where some of us have never even seen a real tree before. How sad indeed.

Having only recently been given the precious opportunity to experience the world of work ( I tried law and I hated it), I see life from a unnervingly different angle now. I share the suffering of a working adult struggling to earn a living, and I empathise with those encountering discrimination, whether in the workplace, or due to their skin colour or race. I used to think the world was a lovely place full of happiness and free hugs but now it seems to only harbour hateful feelings towards those who do not fit into the social norm.

Oh well, I shall have to leave now. This endless tirade of downcast emotions has taken a toll on me, and I must return to doing my sums.

I leave you with a question for today: what is life? I know, it is often a question asked one too many times, but I urge you all to think of an answer from a different perspective as opposed to the one you have kept for so many years. I hope that by pondering on reflective thoughts, we are able to keep our brains from rusting.

I bid you all adieu, and until next time, farewell.

P.S. I am sad to announce that i rarely even watch football anymore, given the miserable multitasking I am being forced to do, so you can rejoice, dear reader, about (hopefully) never having to sit through another session of me screaming GOAL! every 3.28 seconds or so.

amateur nerd · English perspective · millennial short-story · millennials · social messaging journal for future · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville football club #4: more algorithm routes to success

More routes of Experimental successes.

dronesville sale pitch“Why are you posting two-dimensional card board people? LOL.” The issue concerning my writing style has been mocked at by a well-meaning but perhaps ignorant unread crony. Another superficial or action-oriented millennial character has the audacity to demand, “Give us Indiana Jones! Pirate of the Caribbean!” I admit I too am loyal fan of them on rainy days when tired of practicing for my next impossible goal of joining the Swiss Top Secret Drum Corps.

But honestly, haven’t you all read the great Asimov’s Foundation? The characters are card board mouthpieces. I shall continue to relentlessly emulate IA (acronym for Isaac Asimov for the uninitiated) at best or JE (Johnny England) at worst. Ahem, an anonymous outsider(?) asks, “Surely you have something significant to REPORT on those flights, don’t you?” The word REPORT arouses my suspicion. I suspect either an IRS agent or a prospecting rival is after the same gold. Who knows he or she might be on the same flights? Not to worry, sooner or later the chap will be ferreted out.

To satisfy my family inquisitor, the retired English teacher grand-aunt, here is the official report: The flights are sardined (sandwiched, warns my former English teacher) with the usual generic flavored travelers and the rest, enigmatic (or rather, anemic as my English teacher remarks) card-board individuals, like me, with inadequate dimensions for profiling to match any algorithm. After many requests ranging from polite gentleman’s perfect dictions to whimpering but futile attempts to attract attention and get food from apathetic “flight attendants” whom I suspect are preset with AI algorithm to repel chaps like me, this innocent victimized human resolutely and stoically sleeps as in hunger strike for a good cause until the first stop where he gorges himself and thereafter snores with Top Secret drum beats in bliss as his digestive and sleep systems synchronize harmoniously.

One young(?) smartly dressed man/woman sells inedible stuff (his/her best-seller book) and this captivated audience carries on sleeping while hearing high-pitched verbose bombastic presentation on how to make a million in one year. Two women of indeterminable ages in front nibble on loud exotic tidbits congratulating each other on having each opportunely made a fortune selling refrigerators, washing and drying machines and air-conditioners to a tropical third world country with regular power failure.

(This reminds one of the report (blog) of 1971 Mali being donated shinny electric IBM typewriters and papers proudly on display to Western visitors by a local governor. They were greeted with the impressive sight of an array of local women sitting on concrete floor behind typewriters which were unplugged because there was no electric power. The governor had a large wall safe opened showing that it was filled with reams of typing papers.*)

A man in his forties but dresses like a teenager wearing a baseball cap whispers succinct bullet points how he buys cheap run down hotels in developing countries, refurbishes with cheap materials and re-sells them for a large margin and is now magnanimously inviting sleeping business partners. To top it all, the “flight attendants” with precise AI do their multitasking entertaining and creative sale pitch.

By the time this humble law abiding citizen of the world finally reaches the capital city he already germinates and masters in his super nerd mind twenty apps for his target potential clients (with sale pitch to each in eight seconds, the maximum current attention span of the Generation Z) on how to become a millionaire in algorithmic ways or at worst give sale pitch on any otherwise boring uneventful long flights.

The overland/overwater journey is another report. (To be continued)

*Credit of this passage about IBM typewriters in a place without electricity goes to: https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/475150/posts/2363

For those interested in drum:
https://youtu.be/YJVdnMAGIt8 (Top Secret Drum Corps Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2009)

millennial short-story · social messaging journal for future · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville football club #3: two routes to success

Experimental season for successes.

The first least impossible goal is to escape from Dronesville. My past efforts had proven futile but this time I have thought out a fail-proof plan. This is the easiest on my goal list, alas. As anyone can see it is that time of the season when everybody is in a celebrating mood. With winter knocking on the door and bounty snow fall promises who would bother with virtual football club?

I just received a WhatsApp message from one ex-classmate who had lost himself for years hiking in a secret place near Timbuktu. It is a message for HELP. “Hi guys you may not know i am still stuck out here being the longest living captain for a football club of former cannibals who have been converted from the love of human meat to football!!! i am running away not out of fear but out of extreme boredom and also because of this sudden insatiable yearning for ________ fried chicken and a shower i must get back to civilization! i know one of you bored nerds out there doing nothing except twittering thumbs can get me out. i am desperate. got to run. bye.” Next, he wrote, “BTW, this hideout the size of a football field is full of gold. Pure gold.”

Aha, I know that is my break. My first two least impossible goals are: “escape from Dronesville’s virtual football club and get some gold for myself (and not for my boss, the English lord.) My getaway action plan: jam the drone controller, tie a muzzle on Grace’s mouth, use my master key to drive off into the sunset my grand aunt’s 2018 Land Rover Defender. Yes she is testing on one before its official launch. I will park it at the ________ international airport safely of course for her to collect.

So far so good. I get away as planned. However, the international flight is not what I have expected. I inadvertently omitted to pre-book and pay for meals online and cannot buy them on the plane. The rules have changed! Why? Because there is a technical hitch and credit cards cannot be accepted. Nor can they accept cash in lieu of card as this is the airline policy. Imagine a young and healthy nerd with nothing to eat for 10hr 35min! Nothing to do except to sleep… At the first stop I eat something at the transit area. It takes another 11 hours to reach the second stop. Again I have to buy whatever food I can on the ground. I fly for another 7 hours to reach the capital of the nation. The drive from the capital takes 20 hours to reach my destination and much of it is off-road. 48 hours of travel plus layover time.

What? You are already tired reading the numbers? Wait till you hear the rest of the story. (To be continued)

P/s: Some geeks just posted on our secret chat board they have calculated the numbers and guessed the routes as: From SF to Heathrow to Johannesburg to Bamako to Timbuktu. LOL! Guess again.

I took this from the internet to show the cronies of the car I mention. Credit to the Source: autoexpress.co.uk
2018 LandRoverDefender

amateur nerd · finance for millenials · millennial short-story · social messaging journal for future · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville football club #2: too many footballs to chase

Dronesville football club 2Dronesville football club 2

“Ka knew very well that life was a meaningless string of random incidents”. It is just Temporary, I finally quote Orhan Pamuk (Snow) to brush aside the impasse when I get too tired and bored watching the football dangling from the ceiling. After all, my life can so far be described somewhat as how Ka must have felt. I differ on the point that it is meaningless. I find my life meaningful, what with serving the Dronesville’s retirees who are mostly my relatives and former teachers and a super-nerd, an English lord who happens to be loaded with privy information about secret treasure buried in unimaginable places to be found with my unique assistance! Yes, I like to be useful even though I may be considered modestly (or largely) lay-back.

Whilst I have the urge to leave the room and grab some food a voice speaks from above. “Do not move!” What? I look around and see no one. Every one is having the usual Dronesville nap. Besides, I live alone in this quiet little house free of rent in lieu of payment for my virtual football club service to the Dronesville residents. Who has spoken? I sit down and look up at the ceiling and to my amazement another droplet of water appears, then another, and another… Soon the ceiling is covered with water droplets which have started to mutate into golf balls, then tennis balls, and finally footballs. Countless of them are now crowding my whole ceiling.

“These are your goals.” What? They are my goals? How can I ever chase after so many goals?
“Yes, look carefully.” There are words written on each football. “Copy.” So I start writing down these goals, “playing European football for the richest club_____, writing _____ commercially viable applications and sell to _____, composing _____ for _____, re-reading and reviewing at least one classic science fiction in depth (such as Asimov’s The Foundation series, sequels and prequels), making attempts to write a series of _____, doing something positive, meaningful and relevant to change lives… There are so many footballs that I just cannot complete copying. The funny thing is they look so familiar. Where have I seen these before?

“So you recognize them?” The voice asks. What? I look at what I have written and then look up as I hear lots of people talking from above. Pictures begin to emerge on the footballs. Faces grinning or frowning and mouths talking. They look alike.

“Are you not chasing your goals? Why are you chasing after hidden treasure instead?”

Now I realize those faces are mine. I have made goals on the spur of moments over the years and never really focus on one. “Don’t you know once you make your goal, it is registered with the ministry of goals? You are expected to chase after each unless it’s harmful/illegal/immoral/abominable/forbidden.”

“Time is urgent and you have so many goals still ahead of you.”
“Will they go away?” I ask in desperation.
“No, unless you make an attempt and then fail. They will hang around you like this ceiling wherever you go.”

OK, that may sound bad but not as bad. I am still young and can start chasing one by one. But the list is so long. I suddenly think of a brilliant scheme. I will chase after the most impossible one and so on in the order of impossibility and eliminate them fast. “What kind of attitude is that?” The voice hears my thought. “You must follow rules. Succeed three before you can fail one.”

Boo Hoo, what can I do but fall face down and cry. To many footballs to chase away…I can imagine a life of “ceilings” dangling with boring footballs or be aswarmed with football looking bees which buzz like human but making no sense.

But I am an optimist. I refuse to be defeated. Whichever way it may look. (Like the two presentations of the same picture. LOL.)

I get up from the floor and look hard at the list of goals. My task now is to identify the three least impossible ones. (to be continued)

amateur nerd · millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville football club #1: He starts over a new dream

dronesville football club“No man runs the race until he sees the dream.” (Fred C. White). I, the Dronesville’s nerd dream of running a race, well, not exactly. It is like I am chasing an invisible football and hear this remark from an audience who seems to sit high up. I look up and see the football in the sky! Before I have a better Peek into the other arena I wake with the MacBook screen glaring at me. On it there is a gigantic football. What am I supposed to be doing? No, I am not the player. I am just updating the website for the Dronesville Retirees’ Virtual Football Club.

Since the teacher-retiree-residents start practicing their wealth of combined knowledge through modern tech-know skills online they have been fascinated with the seemingly limitless creative ways to compensate virtually for what they lack in the physical world. One of the programs they have successfully launched is virtual football competition with other retirees. They have appointed the youngest member in Dronesville to maintain the website. You guess rightly, I am the youngest. Most of the residents who are also former teachers are in their 60s and above. My former English teacher happens to be my grand aunt is one of the driving forces behind their enthusiasm to learn the digital age.

Life has been rather quiet since I return from my treasure hunt. Some readers may ask if I get my share of the treasure. LOL. You guess. Anyway I haven’t got away to some mysterious exotic island. I have been grounded and immediately reassigned to be the umpire and coach on the internet as there is a game being hotly contested between several retirees teams. The Dronesville team is not performing to the mark right now. Oh, yes, my boss the English lord is one of the players. My grand-aunt has enlisted him as a reserved player. He has become one of their favorites. Honestly I do not know how he has managed to wangle his way out of that extreme predicament on that fateful night with his container load of gold! It remains a secret. So now I have two virtual superiors to serve (sigh).

What happens to the lovely orange car? Well, it was on-loan from the other nerd (spy?) who chooses to remain under-cover in Dronesville, and I had to return it to a spot where he picked it up without my knowing who he really is. Actually the car-drone is remotely controlled by its owner/inventor. Gracie is as happy as ever being the sole Dronesville mascot dog and the Dronesville drone is safely back to my grand-aunt’s custody.

What is my own dream? What am I running after? I admit I have never thought about it until now when I hear this voice questioning me from above. Do I see my dream? I look up at the ceiling and see a tiny shinny spot. A supernatural manifestation? When I look closely I see it is just a drop of water from presumably a leak upstairs. But wait a second. There is no upstairs. A leak from the roof? But it has not been raining since Spring! Now it is Autumn! No, I have not sighted any chem-trails floating pass the roof top sky. Yes, I am a sky-watcher. As I gaze at this “water drop” it grows bigger and becomes a golf ball, then a tennis ball. And finally it grows to its maximum and becomes a football! A continental football. To be precise, an English football.

For hours I sit here dumbfounded staring at this football dangling from my ceiling, not moving or blinking for fear that this might be the dream I am destined to run after. (To be continued)

amateur nerd · millennial short-story · undeserved favor · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville adventure #22: rounded up last but not least

Rounded up last but not least. rounded car
When I hear the loud speaker blasting “No body moves! You are surrounded” I duck to the ground and my left hand shoots up as it has been ready for this moment of encounter. The snag is that it does not hold a gun. My companions do the best they are trained to do too. The drone surges upward and immediately becomes out of sight with its load of gold. The Dronesville mascot dog, Gracie, does her usual vanishing trick by darting with near speed of light (exaggerating here) into a bush. His Lordship keeps on walking as if nothing happens. I remain frozen on the ground with the vision of a car racing through my mind.

I admit I do have a way to get out of a mess. I have tried before and it sometimes works. You guess rightly, I can envision a way out in my blogging. So, here is this rounded car racing toward me out of nowhere. It does not hit me when it arrives because I am inside the car. In fact I am driving it. I can hear the wind giving way on both sides. I can hear sounds of moving obstacles parting, as the car zooms forward to an unknown realm.

As you can see from the picture, this car is a vintage beauty.

(To be continued?)

millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville adventure #21: rounded up

Rounded up!
dronesville treasureNo one could have predicted what happens next. As the others (the drone, the Dronesville dog Gracie, my English boss Lord XY who insists on being kept anonymous) jump, I jump too, expecting the best and the worst. Well the best comes first. I land on soft gentle ground. It is a safe landing after all and not a steep dangerous leap into the unknown chasm. The worst happens too. The boss starts sending me (through my robot) rapid thought of Tin Tin’s Captain Haddock’s curses, insults and exclamations through his robot, “Beasts! Crooks! Gangsters! Highwaymen!” “Billions of blue blistering barnacles””Ten thousand thundering typhoons!”

“Ahem, I beg your pardon, Lord XY, watch your thought mouth…” I thought mutter. “Nincompoop! Directed energy mine field ahead!”He thought retorts back. “What?!Whoa!Rats!Scorpion!…” My turn to thought blabber, “Well, boss, perhaps we should turn back and find another route…”

He takes out a tiny gadget and thought instructs, “Spray this plasma force field over your head and your whole body will be shielded.”

He quickly sprays Gracie, the drone and himself with his plasma spray. I follow suit. Despite not seeing or feeling any difference on my body, I walk behind them (by faith?) through the laser beams-infested tunnel. The beams hit us left and right and bounce off. We are shielded by the invisible plasma force field surrounding us.

So far so good, I congratulate myself. Soon we reach an open door and enter a gigantic dome-shaped chamber with blank walls all round. When I close my eyes and focus on the smell, I smell treasure all round! I smell gold like butter dripping down every wall. “Gold! Gold! Inside the walls! Boss!” I cannot help but yell in ecstasy.

The boss instructs the drone to start working on the walls with a net-like gadget. The drone robot flies to the highest point of the dome and let the net spread itself engulfing the whole space. Tentacles stretch into all directions from the net and attach to the round walls. As the drone moves, the tentacles pull and the walls crumble revealing the hidden wall to wall gold bars which are instantly sucked into the “net”.

“LOL. How can this be?” My chat board cronies mock in disbelief. How can a drone which previously could not lift the combined weight of a dog plus a lean human now suddenly acquire Hercules-like might and lifts a full load of gold bars that probably weigh tons? Where are we standing if the dome walls are breaking down from above? Why am I narrating calmly and not running away for my life?

No, this is not a scene from the latest Indiana Jones’ adventure. It is much simpler and less physically exhausting. The boss, Gracie and I stand outside the activity zone. We are shielded by an invisible barrier. We can see the transparent dome of gold but we are “outside” the danger zone. When the drone flies up to the ceiling, the boss does something with another gadget and builds an instant barrier between the dome and us. The dome is all around us but we are inside a sanctuary dome within the crumbling dome. The boss later tells me that the drone has been modified in my absence and is no longer the same “toy” my grand-aunt acquired.

The drone does a good job indeed. But how are we going to get out? Surprise! Gracie knows the way. She must have been here before. No wonder the boss insists that we take her for this treasure hunt. She leads us confidently into an open field. The boss says that he has his container waiting outside Dronesville for the treasure haul. It is still dark and the night is not yet over. But I feel pleased that the treasure is at my door-step and nothing too “adventurous” has happened. I am just contented going home, taking a warm bath and going to bed, knowing that the boss will soon deposit a large enough sum into my account for my work. I can envisage myself taking a long holiday lazing in a warm sunny place on some secret island without being disturbed by Dronesville’s residents. Oh yes, Gracie will be well fed and rewarded with her favorite treats. My grand-aunt will love to see her precious drone again…

As I think of such happy thoughts about living happily ever after, a rude loud blast pierces my eardrum, “No body moves! You are surrounded!” (To be continued)

millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville adventure #20 the scale and treasure hunt

balancing scaleLooking back there seems to be a higher unseen hand balancing the Scale that makes something meaningful out of the day of madness with the young nerd running as the inverted invisible man! The millennial somewhat immature nerd of course cannot be concerned about whether it is a dream or a reality as he races on with Gracie, the Dronesville mascot dog. Here is his account of what happens next. It requires a further balancing of scale as he continues in the great Dronesville treasure hunting adventure. Read on…

AS I race on with the 1972 mothers with prams, I soon discover there is no longer anyone but me and the dog. I can hear the sound of rushing water. Gracie starts barking to show me the way. I reach down and wash my face. Then I look again, What? Water! I can see sparkling water! My physical vision has restored itself. Well, I might as well take a chillax* in the pool. The surrounding is scenic yet unreal because there is no pool or pond in Dronesville except that nasty pond where people rear baby terrapins for sale. Where is this? Is this inside the Hyper-loop lab? It is daytime but there is no one around. There are shrubs all around the pool.

A voice appears from nowhere. “Come up here!” What?! It sounds exactly like my boss the English lord! Then it repeats the command. What choice do I have? Zero. I look at Gracie and she nods as if she reads mind. I climb up and walk towards the voice through the parting shrubs which open to a building so low that you would not normally notice unless you are the same height as my dog. What is the boss doing inside this dog house? “Come in here!” He is indeed inside! He repeats his command a second time. What does one not do for the treasure hunting adventure? I sigh and crawl inside the dog house with Gracie. It is an entrance to a tunnel. Instead of going downward it ascends up to another building presumably well hidden and camouflaged outside and draws no notice from the normal Dronesville residents. It has a narrow hall and the boss is waiting, wearing a mask over his mouth again. As we move forward in silence I can sense this is a transitional space into either neutral or hostile territory. The boss is well equipped digitally as usual and knows when to move or halt as he listens to the instructions from messages received in his robotic head-gear.

I can now only wonder whether I am Johnny England again or an unnamed millennial digital hero in DIY virtual comics. “Stop mind wandering. Focus!” The boss warns in silence. O, I have forgotten that we are digitally wired (through the mind-reading robots we are wearing) to share thoughts. “But boss, now that we have the dog Gracie and the drone (which has appeared and is resting on Gracie’s back) back, we better get on with our real business, treasure hunting!” I think back. He replies, “That’s exactly what we are doing now! Stop murmuring! Start smelling!” Ouch, his thoughts are ever so loud!

I faithfully turn on my exceptionally sharp smelling faculty and start imagining a generous share of the bounty. I smell at each of the many doors we walk pass and shake my head. How do I differentiate between valuable treasures and old metal trash? Believe me, there is a significant difference detectable by the gifted smelling specialist.

Gracie suddenly races pass us and the boss decides to run after her. She gallops ahead as if pulled by an invisible force. I run too. They run I run. The drone is way ahead of everyone. The hall ends at a door. The drone hoovers near it and Gracie stops, turns to look at us, swings her head back to point at the door. She is pretty good at using her head to talk to us. Her head movement signifies that we are to open it, which is the boss’ responsibility, since he hoards and not shares all his high tech gadgets.

As the door opens a gush of cold wind comes through powerfully as if it’s a wilderness out there! We shiver. The boss halts after he walks one step forward and looks down. The drone swiftly disappears into the hole in the ground, followed by Gracie who jumps in without hesitation. The boss jumps. I jump. (To be continued)

* “chillax”: chill and relax

millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville adventure #19: 1972 “Dronesville” mothers’ marathon, nerd, dog, baby carriages and time points

marathon-m_3476153b
(Jessica Bruce, Credit: The Telegraph, 2015)

‘We is in Dream Country. This is where all dreams is beginning.’ (The BFG) Continue Reflecting. As the running crowd becomes increasingly tightly packed with runners, I can hear conversation. Someone is saying to someone else like, “Hi, so you have decided to join this first ever in human history marathon? what? I am in a first ever marathon? Where am I and what year am I in? Having gone through the WWII in England, I don’t envisage another horrible history episode in the past. Then I hear someone says, “Yes, we are proud of being Dronesville women. We start history today…” What? If I recall correctly, the first marathon in US in which women participated was in 1972 and it was run in Boston and not in Dronesville. But when I listen carefully, I realize that I am running among a pack of women. I am in 1972, running alongside Nina Kuscsik(?)! But we have to be in Boston and not Dronesville. I no longer try to make sense in this symbiotic zone of jumbled up time and space and characters past and present. Strangely I can hear runners pushing baby carriages! Am I in a comic depicting Wonder Woman? The famous Nina had once said, “”I have always sensed the exhilaration and independence of being self-propelled. Besides, you can jog while pushing a baby carriage. Maybe I’m a product of Wonder Woman comic books.” I can hear baby prams being pushed by presumably superbly fit women whooshing down the track.

Nikkormat EL 800Then I realize I am carrying my Nikkormat EL Circa 1972 weighing at least 1.7 lbs! How do I know? I just know. A woman runs pass me and shouts (in 1970s slangs), “Far out! that’s the latest Nikkormat! To the max! Catch you on the flip-side!” (She means, “Cool, do your best, see you later.”) Then someone slaps me on the back and shouts, “‘keep On Truckin'”(go w/ the flow). Another shouts, “Awesome Possome”(very cool). “Chill” (stay cool). Without seeing I click away at the surrounding. I have become the unofficial blind camera man which is rather ridiculous but cool. Soon I begin to enjoy this new role. A perfect camouflage for me. Being simple, I do not try to figure out how come I no longer bump into people or stuff? I just wonder when my sight of this physical world will resume.

I believe I am lucky. ‘But there was one other thing that the grown-ups also knew, and it was this: that however small the chance might be of striking lucky, the chance is there. The chance had to be there.’ (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) Why? Because there must be a link between the ability to see the unseen space and the ability to venture into the past, even with my dog who seems to be enjoying herself too. So amazing.

Space is defined as 1. the unlimited three-dimensional expanse in which all material objects are located.2. an interval of distance or time between two points, objects, or events 3. a blank portion or area.

I have entered the interval between two time points across time zones, like slicing a piece of layered cake. (A word to my millennial nerd friends: don’t try to figure this out. Tbh (to be honest), I haven’t figured out myself. Anyway, it is a good way to celebrate mother’s day running with mothers!) (To be continued)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nina
(Nina Kuscsik, Credit: UPI, 1979)

Notes (from online sources): In 1972, Nina Kuscsik became the Boston Marathon’s first female winner. Back then, the prizes were a laurel wreath and a bowl of stew. But largely because of this pioneering mother of three, women’s marathon champions now get six-figure checks. Kuscsik was inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame in 1999 and the New York Road Runners Hall of Fame in 2012. Kuscsik, 73, is a New York City Marathon icon; she is the first woman ever to run the world’s most well-known race, which she won twice. Kuscsik is also the first woman to officially win the Boston Marathon. She has completed 80 marathons in her lifetime. Notable quotes: “People thought I was crazy. When I won Boston in ’72, now they understood what I was doing.”
“I’ve always felt running is a form of meditation. Running enables us to stop our lives, to go out and find a safe place for ourselves.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mum Jessica Bruce, 32, breaks the world record for running a marathon with a buggy in 3 hours 17mins and 52 seconds, at the Abingdon marathon, pushing her 7 month old baby Daniel. Her husband, David, ran alongside them and even managed to give the baby a bottle of milk as they went. “We had a nappy change and a puncture repair kit with us but we didn’t need it. We didn’t stop.” (The Telegraph 18 Oct 2015)

millennial short-story · millennials · social messaging journal for future · tech news · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville adventure #17: computer’s cold calculating logic, human perspective, a model mother

“The standard story about computers, generally, is that they lack many of our more appealing human qualities but are really good at cold calculating logic. You’d think that combining the two — using computers to emphasize our most coldly rational and greedy qualities, and then using markets to aggregate those computers’ individually hyper-rational behavior — would work really well. I guess it does; that’s why people keep doing it.” (Matt Levine) As I narrated in my previous blog there was a loud bang and it seemed the end of the word had arrived. I hear confusion and loud rather ungentlemanly murmuring,

“What?! Fire crackers? Come on, be real, this is not ______(another big global nation like the USA) yet!!!” I cannot detect who says by their voices and accents. All sound American to me with the exception of my English lord Sir______ of course. Someone says, “That settles it, I am leaving. I am not sitting around listening to some promotion of cheap trade-off.” Soon I hear chairs and tables being shuffled around and impatient footsteps of those leaving the scene. Distant sounds of engines of expensive automobiles too.

Who is speaking today? I wonder. Then I hear this cold voicing of a nerd/millennial’s quote on the stage. I cannot see the speaker. Is it a machine or is it a human? I wonder. He sounds ordinary alright, like you and me, or any cool millennial. I recognize the quote from Bloomberg View on Money Stuff, an email I subscribe to. Whoever is standing on the stage is a nerd from the future like me who happens to be around for no particular reason. But he continues quoting the whole article. Rather like the aliens who have landed speaking to the earthlings in seemingly same and yet incomprehensible language. I never realize how unreal we may sound to those who live in mere twenty years ago. How much has the world gone through from 1996 to 2016. Even a seven year old can become an adult taking care of number one (me) now. LOL.

Because I do not see the speaker and do not know his personal traits: race, skin color, nationality, physique, stature, weight, height, hair color, hairdo, dressing, facial, hand gestures, posture, overall mannerism etc I have to cast aside my personal prejudices (which I admit I still have), like William Blake declared, “For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” I am not saying that the above nerd speaker’s quote (on computer etc) is great because it’s just an article I pick by random to illustrate a point about human perspective.

The sudden invisibility of all people around me has made me looked inward and outward beyond the narrow chinks of my cavern. Suddenly I see something right before me, a dried flattened earwig lying on the table as I turn over an invisible place mat. The poor earwig must have been there for ages. I recall an article in the Manchester Guardian on 6th March 1917, a hundred years ago, “Female Earwig a Model Mother”:
Quote: “It was the earwigs that I specially noticed, and I was almost sorry for them, for, like birds, they were sitting on their eggs. I had to stop occasionally to watch a half-awake mother earwig, if I did not happen to have damaged her with my spade. She turned up an expostulating and threatening tail, metaphorically rubbed her eyes, dazzled by the unexpected light, and then began to fuss round, striving to gather together those precious eggs. She is a model mother amongst insects, and when the tiny larva – very like her in general appearance – are hatched she looks after them in quite a correct manner, while the babes seem to recognise their nurse and crowd round her like much more highly developed animals, even crawling upon her back for a ride.”Unquote. What a wonderful mother!.

When I no longer encumber my eyes and mind with the things I tend to see physically, I see and recall stuff that may be rare and precious. Like treasure hunting in a realm I rarely visit. Guess this new vast empty space enhances focus on stuff that matters at the right time and right place.

In a way, it this NOT what Symbiosis MEANS? Human, other creatures, and even computers past and present co-existing.

WORD ORIGIN
late 19th century: modern Latin, from Greek sumbiōsis ‘a living together,’ from sumbioun ‘live together,’ from sumbios ‘companion.’
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
BTW: “LOL, see how _____ suddenly becomes SOOO…INTROSPECTIVE!” My nerd cronies have lampooned at my previous blog ranting mercilessly in their latest comment in our private chat board. Well, this one will divert you guys so you go digging out the Money article and see what it is all about.

millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville adventure #16: A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.

william blake quoteA fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees. This is what I learn today. Otherwise it will be Meaningless!
Well, I am now at the Dronesville city hall. I am still in an unseen realm. Others can see me but I cannot see them. Is this a reality check or what? The little girl told me yesterday I was to go to the Twilight Zone. Is this it? Someone sits down next to me and he whispers, “Hmmm, you are here finally!” He is my boss, the English lord. Oh well, I am not surprised that he has turned up. I recall a final scene in an Agatha Christie’s famous detective (either Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple) movie in which all the important characters gathered around the detective when he or she unveiled the murderer. Yes, they have to be around but what is the big announcement and who is making it? I wonder. What am I doing in my seven year old self? What happened on November 28? Here are three random quotes from someone (William Blake~ born 28 November 1757):
1. A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.
2. Truth can never be told so as to be understood and not be believed.
3. If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is: Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.

So it is a matter of seeing and yet not seeing. I suddenly become concerned with the perspective of a man. How am I to get out of this narrow chink of my cavern? LOL. A millennial has to laugh at himself by himself. Let’s see if I can find a solution from these words of wisdom. A fool sees not the same tree. What am I seeing? Vast empty spaces where there should be stuff and people. It means I see not the same stuff as others see. Mind you I am not admitting that I am a fool. Am I regarding myself as the wise man? (Affirmative of course.) Who else (other than the fool) sees not the same tree? A writer. A dreamer. An artist. A creative person. An actor. An entrepreneur. An adventurer. A traveler. An explorer. A tech nerd. A blogger. A virtual being. A millennial.

Ok. I must understand my situation. I am writing a story. A futuristic blog for millennials. This virtual story is my current truth for this purpose. I can write myself to seeing things again of course. Why do I choose to have invisibility for others? Good question. Normally the writer or protagonist is the one invisible. But here he is exposing himself to everyone and hide everyone instead from his sight. LOL. What is the advantage? One obvious one is that he needs not describe their looks. Save space. Expand his horizon. Clean and neat screen…and many more.

The next thing I shall do is to clean the doors of perception of everyone here. For everyone has closed himself up and that is why I cannot see you.

A loud blast can be heard as if someone has exploded the sound system or worse…(to be continued)

amateur nerd · millennials · tech news · weekly photo challenge

a space craft named New Horizons (haiku, NASA, Bob Dylan)

new-horizons-launchNew Horizon embedded in silence
ten long years evade my lens
questioning perchance (~a haiku from this nerd to spacecraft)

Here is an excerpt from the acceptance speech of the latest Nobel laureate in Literature, Bob Dylan:
“When I started writing songs as a teenager, and even as I started to achieve some renown for my abilities, my aspirations for these songs only went so far. I thought they could be heard in coffee houses or bars, maybe later in places like Carnegie Hall, the London Palladium. If I was really dreaming big, maybe I could imagine getting to make a record and then hearing my songs on the radio. That was really the big prize in my mind. Making records and hearing your songs on the radio meant that you were reaching a big audience and that you might get to keep doing what you had set out to do…Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, “Are my songs literature?””

~~~~~~~Some information and thoughts about New Horizons (spacecraft)
Here is the latest news on Oct. 27, 2016: about a spacecraft named “New Horizons” (which was launched in 2006) “New Horizons Returns Last Bits of 2015 Flyby Data to Earth”:
NASA’s New Horizons mission reached a major milestone this week when the last bits of science data from the Pluto flyby – stored on the spacecraft’s digital recorders since July 2015 – arrived safely on Earth. Having traveled from the New Horizons spacecraft over 3.4 billion miles, or 5.5 billion kilometers (five hours, eight minutes at light speed), the final item… arrived at mission operations…in Canberra, Australia.
“The Pluto system data that New Horizons collected has amazed us over and over again with the beauty and complexity of Pluto and its system of moons,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado…Because it had only one shot at its target, New Horizons was designed to gather as much data as it could, as quickly as it could…and began returning the vast amount of remaining stored data in September 2015.
“We have our pot of gold,” said Mission Operations Manager Alice Bowman, of APL.
(online resources mainly from National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

But why did it take more than a year for New Horizons to send back all of the data from the Pluto encounter?…
Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930, and was originally treated as the ninth planet from the Sun. After 1992, following the discovery of several objects of similar size in the Kuiper belt, Pluto has been reclassified as a member of the new “dwarf planet” category.
On July 14, 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft became the first spacecraft to fly by Pluto. Whilst Pluto was reclassified in 2006, this nerd likes to imagine that when the space craft New Horizons was launched Pluto was still the ninth planet from the sun.
New Horizons took ten years to reach a space close enough to carry out its mission, while flying pass Pluto (2006-2015). By then the status of Pluto has changed to a mere dwarf planet. (Even the stars can change status when we go further and look closer. Or rather it’s us who change and not the stars?)
I try to imagine the final words exchanged during their brief and first encounter after ten long years between New Horizons (the lone and persevering spacecraft which flew the ten years for a singular purpose to meet with the ninth planet) and Pluto, now a dwarf planet: “Well, the times they are changing…”

This is the first stanza of a 1964 song. It is a classic from possibly many nerds’ grandparents’ time. Title: “Times they are changing” (Bob Dylan)
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Nerd’s note about the photo:
I did a search online and found this spacecraft with a name for the weekly photo challenge. I couldn’t take an original picture as I am ten years late of course. The credit of the launch photo goes to the NASA at the following link which please visit for more serious stuff: (https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/launch/index.html).

millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville adventure #13: I try to fill in the blank (bird inside)

bird-inside

It’s Not This Time of Year Without… (bird inside) As I drive the aromatic flower tea van into Dronesville, I suddenly realize it’s thanksgiving night. I can smell the rich aromatic food through the open windows of the homes as I drive down the empty streets quietly. Ha ha, soon I shall be sitting at my grand-aunt’s table and enjoy a good meal! I start imagining all my favorite food and how I shall enjoy myself thoroughly. But despite the smell I cannot see anyone around, not even one person. The windows are open but there seems no one around inside or outside. Strange.

When I reach the street my grand aunt lives I have the shock of my nerd life. I cannot find her house! It is not there. Or rather it is there but it is not her house. The exterior looks the same but there seems no one inside. I ring the doorbell and the door opens. But there is no one at the door or inside. I can smell the food but there is no food in sight. I look into every room and the kitchen of course but there is no one and no food.

I try to call using my cell phone but no one answers. I try to call every resident I know but there is no answer. I go to their homes and encounter the same emptiness. What has happened? Has someone cast a spell and made the residents invisible? Can they see me? If they can why no one tries to communicate with me? Or the spell has cast them into another realm or dimension of space?

I finally give up and sit in my van and wonder, “It’s not This Time of Year Without…” I try to fill in the blank with words like “turkey”, “family (such as my grand-aunt and other…)”, “Gracie, the faithful guard dog”, or even “my boss” assuming I am on the treasure hunt assignment during thanksgiving season, or just “a room full of people”. Suddenly I miss people. How can it be a festive occasion without living people? What is the meaning of this?

I decide to leave this town and return to the homestay until tomorrow. I am the only lodger but it does not matter anymore. At least I can stuff myself with some buns from the vending machines and get some sleep. I dream. In this dream I am driving the aromatic flower tea van into Dronesville and again it is deserted. I can smell food but I cannot see them. I cannot see people or even the Dronesville dog. What a nightmare. As I wake my cell phone rings. (To be continued)

amateur nerd · millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge

Dronesville adventure #12: how I become the official therapeutic aromatic flower tea peddler

aromatic-flowersAn Aromatic therapeutic flower tea peddler nerd. After being thrown out into the street which serves as a boundary and banned from re-entering Dronesville by two seemingly alien women, I have lost contact with the boss, an English nobleman. Before I can ascertain the next move I stay away as much as possible so as not to put in jeopardy the innocents: Gracie-the Dronesville dog, the Dronesville residents including my retiree relatives (former teachers) friends, and the boss (possibly stuck in Dronesville somewhere) in that order. I still have the robot attached to my chest and it functions well as I can duckduckgo (instead of google) the internet but I cannot access email, Facebook, my private chat group or anyone I know! I have sent signals to Gracie’s drone but there is no reply.

Waiting to hear from the boss I check into a homestay outside Dronesville where I hibernate. Why am I confident to hear from him? You see, he is an ex-spy with 007 background. Even if my robot malfunctions he can still find me with his custom-made nerd detector. I believe he reads my mind through a chip implanted in my eye. To make myself useful I scan the internet for the two women’s information. The chip at the corner of my right eye has a good snapshot of them. By sending this picture to the internet I receive almost instantaneous biodata that match them.

The two are aunt and niece both scientists who have been sentenced to prison for seriously violating endangered creatures’ conservation laws in a foreign country but were mysteriously pardoned and disappeared soon after release. The niece used to be a utility who played in the All-xxx Girls Professional Baseball League. That explains the baseball bat she carries around. They seem to be commercial breeders of mutant giant jelly fish in Dronesville. Why? Where is the demand? I shudder when I think of the time they mercilessly threw me into one of the predators’ tanks!

While lying low in the homestay I meet an elderly, interesting but broke fragrance tea peddler. He has traveled from afar, the land of thousand fragrant flowers, where his family live. Having shared my meal with him I manage to persuade him to talk about his dream of going home as he has been on the road for half a year. “Why don’t you take over my business?” He suddenly becomes convinced that I am just the right sort of successor he has been seeking. “Not me…” I shake my head vigorously. Selling fragrant tea is the last thing on my mind. I cannot imagine becoming a tea drinker when I am saddled with a van load of fragrant tea no matter how romantic it may sound or conjure up in the imagination of delusive minds, a fragrant flower tea seller and connoisseur nerd. Never. But he is adamant in making a deal and gives me an offer I cannot refuse. “Look, young man, I may look tattered but I am not desperate. The business is good. I will sell you the van and the van-full of stocks for a pittance.” It is truly a pittance. “Besides, I have a yearly permit to enter Dronesville where 95% of the residents have been my customers for over forty years.” This is exactly what I have been hoping for, a way to enter Dronesville. To convince me further he makes some hot water and treats me to the best fragrant tea. “Ah…” He shows me how to make the tea and how to drink like a connoisseur.

That is how I become an aromatic tea peddler. My mentor signs over his business license and the ownership of his asset and duly deposits them online to my paperless asset custodian banker, while I duly transfer the e-payment to his bank account. He spends another two days training me and then returns to his homeland happily. Me? I become the official aromatic therapeutic flower tea peddler driving through the gate into Dronesville. (To be continued)

amateur nerd · millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge · young in heart

Dronesville adventure #11: banned from Dronesville

dronesville-adventure-11Banned!!! I cannot say more than this word right now. What happens on this fateful night is beyond anyone’s wildest dream or imagination. The boss and I manage to get into the backyard of the ‘Russian'(which is not Russian as we find out later) mansion, with me again soaked to the bone, this time exotically decorated with a few lively accessories like water lilies but predominantly live baby terrapins stubbornly clinging onto my hair, and some relentlessly fastening their beaks onto my trousers! The boss wears a mask but I can see his rigorous facial movement with his mouth moving soundlessly and I cannot figure out whether he is stifling his sniggering or sniveling. Anyway this is not my concern as I have more important thing in mind. Where is Gracie the faithful and brave Dronesville dog?

The boss seems confident and leads me swiftly through a back lane among the trees and bushes. It is unusually quiet. The residents seem asleep. How can this be? Surely they would have discovered my great escape, haven’t they? We walk through the dark garden and soon arrive at a row of old cabins made of train cars which seem deserted. No sound. No enemy activities. What a good adventure this will turn out to be. But I am congratulating ourselves too soon. A shot in the dark. We hear little running feet but cannot see anyone. Something attacks my feet and topples me. I am being dragged into a shed, dropped into a hole, and onto a moving conveyor belt, through a long tunnel. The thing that accomplishes this feat looks like a dog but is not a real dog. He has a lasso with one end tied to his neck and the other end latched onto my left ankle. Don’t ask me how this functions. I try to describe at best I can and it sounds incredible even to me. (I know some of my nerd cronies are sniggering or howling in laughters. “LOL. Who would believe this ridiculous description?” They would comment in our private chat board.)

But the next scene is more incredible. We are back into a well lit hall and who do you think are there? Haha, the two women I described as crazy in my previous blog. One of them removes the lasso from the robot dog and pets him, saying, “Good dog! Go and take your treat! ( A spray of fragrant stuff over it as it presses a button with its paw. Apparently it is programmed to like such stuff!) One of the women carries a baseball bat. She gives me the threatening unspoken look that seems to say that she may test her power throw or hit again using my head as a target. I do not see Gracie and that is a relief, presuming that she is safe.

One woman speaks, “Nerd, you have trespassed our property twice and there is no excuse. What are we to do with you? Give us a good reason that you deserve a better treatment than to be fed to the jelly fish.”

Another woman says, “We give you two choices: (a) To be fed to the mutated giant jelly fish; or if you are scared of water (b) To be banned from Dronesville?

The first woman says, “I am in a merciful mood now and besides, our jelly babies do not like your taste. So I let you choose to be banished. Ok, court adjourned. Dismiss! Dog, escort the prisoner into exile!”

The robot dog, with its menacing flying lasso, and the second woman with her equally menacingly swinging baseball bat escort me to the front door and throw me out into the street that serves as the boundary of Dronesville. “Goodbye, and don’t you ever step into Dronesville again. You hear me?” She says without waiting for an answer and slams the door in my face. (To be continued)

Notes on photos: The picture is a compilation of four original photos taken by this blogger while visiting an old gold mining town.

amateur nerd · millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge · young in heart

Dronesville Adventure #10: babies, water lilies, and promises to keep

Promises to keep. dronesville10-pond
“As soon as one promises not to do something, it becomes the one thing above all others that one most wishes to do.” There are times when I wish I had not promised the boss not to quit as long as there are treasures to hunt! What if I had not promised? I would have been sleeping and dreaming of stuff like eating ice cream, hunting Pokemon Go, or even racing down the street/park at midnight, chasing intruders, with half the work done by the Dronesville dog Gracie and the drone. I don’t mind working for the Dronesville senior virtual football club. Indeed, as my fellow cronies have complained all over our closed chat board, “When will you get up to living the status a nerd is called to be? This is now the tenth episode and you have not achieved anything except lamenting your seemingly inappropriate occupation?” One mysterious foreign woman caller managed to hack into my anonymous location and called up through a satellite phone and questioned, “Who are you trying to fool? Those two women (my former captors) are not Russians. You stupid nerd!” I tried arguing, “How do you know they are not?” She laughed and said, “It is obvious, baseball is not a favorite of Russian women!” (Foiled!) She further educated me, “The strongest and most organized women’s baseball leagues are in the United States, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Cuba, Hong Kong, and Canada. Look, young man, I strongly suggest you look nearer home for your baseball women!” I realize later She was right.

Meanwhile the boss and I are in the second private garden. There is a gigantic pond in the middle of the garden surrounded by thorny bushes and there is no way to get to the other side except through the thorns or swim across the pond. This is a huge garden. It will take the combined power of the two miniature drones and quite sometime to take the boss across. In view of the urgency as Gracie is possibly in grave danger by now, I decide to swim, regardless that I no longer have my Armani to feed any water predators. I admit I am not a hero, but I have promised the former English teacher and the Dronesville community to take care of Gracie their mascot and it means to feed and shelter her and ensure that no harm should come to her. Anyway, before I can change my mind, the boss is already flying across by the two drones.

As I dive into the water I can hear strange sound like a rush of little feet except that the sound comes from under the water. Another strange thing is that the pond is not deep. It is like a flat span of shallow water lily pond after all! It is too dark to see beyond three feet and I wade through the water lily walking on soft and slimy ground, being entangled often by the giant plants, leaves, flowers, stalks and roots and all. under the starlit sky I can see aquatic plants all over the pond: lilies, lotus, water lettuce, water shield and fairy moss. I realize too late that I have stumbled onto a baby terrapin farm and I am stepping on and surrounded by them! Soon I have baby terrapins clinging onto my back, perching on my head, and some stubborn ones with their beaks firmly fastened onto the legs of my trousers!

By the time I manage my big escape and wade through the waist deep pond I no longer care what I have brought along with me. I feel thankful that the pond contains babies and not ferocious carnivorous adult terrapins. A drone carries me over the wall into the backyard of Gracie’s captors’ house. The boss is waiting in silence. This is only the beginning of the real Dronesville adventure. (To be continued)

Photography: The picture is a compilation of segments from several original photos taken by this blogger except for the drone and the man in suit. The pond is taken from a tropical aquarium. The H2O has a rather unique look (like layers of tiles on a roof) in the picture. The dog does pretty well too in standing on her hind feet.

amateur nerd · millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge · young in heart

Dronesville adventure #8: original H2O nightmare for a nerd

an Original nerd’s mess.
dronesville-adventure-aquariumIt is not a nightmare because I am not asleep. But it is a real life nightmare. How can that be? A dull thud and a distant scream. What happens? Has something happened to Gracie the Dronesville dog who is coming for my rescue?
I can hear the rapid churning sound of H2O like water being whipped around by the giant jelly fish who are getting impatient to come at me out of gnawing hunger. I have figured out that since the two women have not come to this room for a whole day the monstrous fish must be near starving. I can now hear rushing footsteps of the two women or perhaps it is someone else? Suddenly I am lifted up and thrown into a container with a big splash. I am still blindfolded but the Armani suit slides off my body perfectly as the jelly fish starts to gnaw at it. They seem more interested of the Armani than me, for after all it is made of a special material and texture that simulate that of small aquatic fish and their eggs and invertebrates. The Armani sticks to their tentacles. Why did I wear such unusual stuff? Hahaha. It is a requirement by my boss for the treasure hunt over the high sea or some potentially deadly ponds hidden in the backyard of some vicious landowners, in case we fall into the vicinity of water predators.
I can hear the two women leave the room immediately after they throw me into the tank. But there is another person around as a pair of hands pull me out of the water before the giant jelly fish decide to treat me as dessert.
He cuts off the rope that ties my hands and removes my blind fold too. I am most surprised to see that it is my English boss, Lord xxx. He is still wearing his hack-proof mask.
“Where is Gracie the dog?” I ask. But he shakes his head and signals me to follow him out of the room down a labyrinth of dark passages. We soon come to a tall wall and he signals for two drones to carry us over and into the world outside! A black car waits at the side lane and we are soon inside and speeding away from that dreadful place.
The customized car is built into three compartments: a front section with a silent driver, the middle section where the boss and I sit and a back section which is partitioned off by an opaque glass panel. I still think of the Dronesville dog, Gracie. What as happened to her? Was she captured by the two mad alien women while trying to come to my rescue? I shudder. (To be continued)

Photography note: The picture is compiled by segments of several original photos taken by this blogger with the exception of the three heads and the suit.

millennial short-story · weekly photo challenge

Take a hike, nerd: Dronesville adventure #7

Hike
dronesville-adventure-7I am taken for a hike. In my Armani suit looking all respectable notwithstanding perching precariously on a ladder looking into a neighborhood sunny garden minding my own business calling out for my Dronesville’s dog, Gracie, who has disappeared overnight, the sudden blow comes and knocks me off balance completely, causing me unceremoniously free-falling over the edge of the garden down a steep slope gate-crashing into someone’s private property. Later I learn that the blunt object that hit me is a base ball which a Gen.Y woman power hitter hits with great precision and aim landing the ball right on my head as intended.

Once I reach the point of no return someone blindfolds me and tie my two hands together. Then two persons drag me to a prison cell (or a cellar of some sort). I cannot see at all so I start imagining the worst scenario. I can hear sound of running water. Am I in a dungeon? Then I realize I am possibly in the house adjoining to the hyperloop place. It is a large, seemingly ordinary and sunny looking house painted bright sunflower yellow. I can hear footsteps of people moving some furniture in the room. Then a woman voice asks:

“What are you doing spying on us?”

Another woman voice says, “You peeping tom!” (Because I was using binoculars before they hit me.)

“Don’t think that you can fool us by dressing up as if you are an ordinary salesman.” This woman thinks that I wear Armani suit to sell stuff to the dronesville residents!

“He is probably a con man. We have never seen salesman wearing Armani. Perhaps he is a pervert.”

“Maybe he is just a third rate actor who has been made redundant and is doubling up as a temporary salesman?”

“No he seems too foolish not to be a spy, like Johnny England. I bet he is a third rate spy. Let’s see, what shall we do with a spy? Perhaps cut off his index finger and mail it back to the M15 or FBI?”

I can only shake my head vigorously. They have gagged me so I can’t answer them. They don’t seem to want my answer anyway because they keep asking questions and answer them themselves.

Meanwhile, I am still blind-folded. My hands are tied and my mouth is gagged. I am like a sitting duck shaking my head like it is working on a head shaking upside down pendulum clock. The situation is getting out of control soon as the two hotly debate about my real motive and a pandemonium breaks out as they start throwing stuff at each other and causing loud bangs. What sends shiver down my spine is that the two women speak English with foreign accent.

“What shall we do with this intruder?” Finally one comes back to the crucial question.

“Well, maybe we feed him to the jelly fish? Our jelly babies will be delighted!”

“Hmmm, seems good idea. Only snag is he is too big and they get bored with eating the same stuff for too long. With that Armani he may cause indigestion too.”

“Deep freezing can preserve for months, in case we run out of food for the jellies.”

I recall having read somewhere this dreadful information: “Jellyfish are carnivores and excellent predators. They sting with tentacles to subdue small aquatic fish, and eat the eggs and invertebrates that stick to their tentacles.” I realize too late I seem to be in the hands of two possibly mad alien women who are hiding from both the M15 and FBI. But what are they doing breeding giant jelly fish? I shudder to  figure out.

They cannot decide what to do and decide to call it a day and leave me. I can sense the day dragging until nightfall. The two do not return to check on me. I have my window of opportunity to escape. Even though they have taken away my mobile phone, they have not detected my hair-line-thin-film robot glued to my chest. When I am finally convinced the two are fast asleep and certainly not within earshot I telepathically command the robot to communicate with the drone which I am confident that Gracie has taken with her.

Sure enough Gracie or rather the drone returns a signal to show that it is receiving my signals. I send my thought again to signal I am in dire strait if not life threatening danger. Soon the drone returns with an audible signal that rescue is on the way. The GSP link enables my robot to transmit my exact location to the drone which in turn can lead Gracie here. Will Gracie understand the drone’s signal? The drone will translate the signal to her in audible human language and being a transmuted dog she can understand alright! I become quite optimistic after all.

I can hear soft steps of little feet and an almost inaudible humming drone sound by the time I nearly doze off. Am I hearing things or am I imagining? But I also hear a loud thud somewhere…(To be continued)

(Still on)Edge