Category: fiction

Waiting On The Curiosity Rover

About 1:30 AM Monday, the NASA Mars rover is supposed to land on the Red Planet. This is exciting. How many times have we heard about Mars landers working, or even getting close to the planet? I don’t know, but I bet it is tough to find. It is tough to hit a moving target millions of miles away.

Mars and Earth both orbit the Sun, but at different speeds and distances. Plus, it takes several months for the rover rocket to get to where Mars is going to be. Think of it like shooting a gun in a direction where, six months later, you hope your target will be.

There’s lots of anticipation, and for a wee hours show, I am sure there will be a large viewing audience. I hope to be up at that hour. It would be nice to record the event, but I don’t know exactly when the landing will take place.

There will be all-star journalists at every juncture of the event with team coverage on every network. I am looking forward to Fox News reporters to be on site at Houston, and on Mars at the proposed landing site.

Without a doubt, The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore will be on the Red Planet looking for any of those famous Martian dust devils, or red sandstorms. This kind of thing can really screw up a landing, and we will all be there waiting and watching.

Maybe there will be special editions of Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room, or Anderson Cooper’s canceled show might be resurrected for one night.

The View will be all agog how Barack Obama dreamed up the trip, and how many people will be employed on Mars. Do not tell them that Obama doesn’t have a clue what Mars is, or where it can be found.


UPDATE: The Rover Curiosity landed as planned, and the mission has been a huge success, to this point. However, Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel was nowhere to be seen. Where is Cantore? Did he miss the bus to Mars? What’s the story?



Laying Off The Higgs For A While

As I was bringing in my space craft for the last jump in alter-space before home space, my little space buggy had a Higgs drive problem. Now,  a Higgs drive is not exactly a drive like a motor, but it is the little engine that allows for faster than light travel. You see, once you engage the Higgs, you and your machine are weightless (have no mass), and can proceed in going where ever you want at speeds faster than light.

The Higgs drive is actually a Higgs Null Generator. It nulls out the Higgs field, and that in itself allows for FTL (faster than light) travel.

It can be a beautiful thing if things go correctly.

The problem is knowing where to go with a limitless arrangement of universes to which to travel. Piled on top of that is the fact that we have only been to two other universes, and those are right next door to ours.

But, I digress. The Higgs engine lost its ability to know where the home universe was for a short instant of time. It took what seemed like an eternity to get things straightened out, and from an earth time standpoint it could have been an error of a couple of billion years which is, to most folks, an eternity.

Somehow, I had let a candy bar fall down into the access panel of the Higgs, and chocolate had melted all over things. Dirty is dirty in any universe. That gooey, sticky Mars bar had to be cleaned off the internal parts for the unit to function. A quick look at the manual, and a partial disassembly of the unit helped in the cleanup job. I actually had to lick the chocolate off the parts.

Whew! If I couldn’t get that Higgs going, I would be discovering other universes without knowing where I would be, and could never return home. Sweat was literally rolling down my back, even though the vacuum outside was near absolute zero. It’s a good thing I like chocolate.

That was such a frazzling experience, I think I will leave space exploration, universe hopping, and blogging to somebody else for a while. So, it’s the beach for me. It’s time for a vacation.

We are gone to the beach for a week. Have fun, y’all.

Alien Fish Story

picture of 1985 Ford F150
Arkansas Ford F150

After watching a very interesting episode on the History Channel about space aliens, I went to the local Quick Trip to get a  Cherry Coke Zero and to fill the car with gas. As luck would have it, I pulled in behind a 1985 Ford F-150 pickup truck with Arkansas tags.

The idea struck me that I had been thinking about space aliens, and now I am behind somebody from Arkansas. That’s about as close to a space alien most earth people will ever get. I was raised in Memphis, Tennessee, just across the Mississippi River from Arkansas.  I know those people, and have great respect for them when they play football, cook barbecue, and drink beer. That’s universal stuff in the South.

The man pumping gas into the pickup truck was about five foot, ten inches tall, wearing tattered camo’s, and a dirty Brave’s baseball cap. He had about four days worth of beard, and smelled like he took his alcohol seriously.

Approaching the gentleman, I broke the ice with the universal good-old-boy line, “Where y’all from?” The answer was kind of muffled, but I attributed that to the shape of his teeth, of which there were damned few. I should have known that he had a mouth full of Redman tobacco. He was from the Ozark Mountains in Northern Arkansas. That is fishing and hunting country!

He was not impressed that I was from Memphis, but he was OK about Bull Shoals Lake and Lake Norfork, two of the best water skiing and fishing lakes in the entire world.I asked him if he did any striped bass fishing, and got a big, ragged-toothed smile.

Sure enough, the man had a fishing story for me.

His name was Sidney, and he started talking about the time when he and his cousin, Simion Paul (asleep in the front seat), were fishing Bull Shoals at three in the morning for striped bass. They had caught a couple weighing about fifteen pounds each, when Sidney hooked a really big one. He said that this one had to be about seventy-five pounds. The record was a sixty-four pounder.

As Sidney was fighting to reel the fish in, Simion Paul grabbed the StowMaster Tournament fish net to finish the job.

Sidney said, ” ‘Bout that time, a blinding light flashed down from overhead like a million flashbulbs going off all at oncet “.  I didn’t think Sidney was old enough to remember flash bulbs, but I let that slide. After all, whenever a guy gets a good story going, do not interrupt him with facts. It might not be healthy.

Sidney then says he hears a voice holler,  “Drop the fish and nobody gets hurt!”.  Then, Simion Paul yells, “It’s the cops, and they’re not taking me alive!”

Sid says that’s when things get whacky. He swears that a seven-foot tall green-looking bug dropped down into their boat, grabbed the fishing rod, net, and seventy-five pound striped bass. Then, the creature took their stuff, tumped the boat over, and flew a saucer shaped craft into the night. After that, Sidney remembered nothing.

Well, Sid did remember waking up the next day on the highway by a sign that said, “Mountain Home – 6 Miles”. There was no boat, no fishing rods, and no fish. There was no Simion Paul, either.  Sidney thought he had lost his cousin to space aliens and was worried about how to break the news to his Aunt Sooey.

That’s when Simeon Paul made his appearance, stumbling out of the roadside ditch, with a beautific smile on his face.

Simeon Paul had seen the light, and that changed his life, and the way he spelled his name. Sid, though, was left with nothing but a fish story and a hangover.

Rock Bottom

I think I have found rock bottom. Specifically, I have been watching the most icky, stupid, worthless, and goofy reality shows I can find, and may have come up with shows that represent the very worst America has to offer.

You have read my praises, before, of shows like “The Deadliest Catch”, “Swamp People”, and “Storage Wars”. In these shows I found people who are the salt of the earth. You have to respect the sheer terror and danger inherent in fishing for King Crab in the Bering Sea, or hunting for alligators in the Louisiana swamps, or the possibility of buying somebody’s five year-old kitchen garbage in an abandoned storage unit. That is really scary stuff.

In “Ax Men” you can sense danger in every scene. Trees can fall the wrong way, or the foreman can get pissed and knock your head off. Yet, these men don’t hesitate to charge into a forest of widow-makers everyday to earn their simple fare of fast food burgers and cheap beer. Life is tough for some people.

Wait! You ain’t seen nothing, yet. There are people doing necessary, but objectionable jobs. You have to respect them because these are usually the only jobs they can get.

These are people at the very rock bottom of the food chain. These are the ones who didn’t get a GED, and cannot say “do you want fries with that” without using the “F” word multiple times. These are the people who pick up after everyone else. These are people with hearts of gold, but brains of granite. This is the auto repossession industry.

Enter the reality show, “Repo World”. It seems that they find the scuzziest people they can to play the parts of drivers, and even scuzzier people to play the part of the non-paying scoundrels. Are they a real portrayal of the business? Probably so.

Some articles say, no, the whole thing is phony. If you look at the fine print before and after the show, they are producing re-enactments of real scenes. How convenient. Just reenact a gang of jackbooted motorcycle hoods kicking a repo-driver while he is down. I just don’t think a dozen or so of America’s toughest would be stupid enough to commit crimes while being filmed. But, I could be wrong.

OK. So, I spent the entire weekend watching pure trash. Maybe that’s your opinion. I call it social research. With my work done, you don’t have to watch those shows yourself. But if you like to see the occasional cultural train wreck, have at it!

History Channel Space Aliens

Can you believe it? The History Channel is running programs that have nothing to do with history, or any facts, either. Shades of Erich von Daniken, Swiss author and devout believer in space aliens as little gods. None of his speculations were based on any set of facts. von Daniken believed that the earth’s ancient cultures had been visited by space aliens.

Now, we have the History Channel buying into that garbage. It is time to set the record straight.

We did not get visitations from space aliens. It didn’t happen that way.

Aliens from other dimensions came for a few visits, and got bored with slave beheading and virgin sacrifices at parties. It was just wrong because the aliens came here for the chicks, anyway.

A space alien would have to come to the planet earth by passing through what we call, outer space. They would have to travel across thousands or millions of light-years, and nobody lives that long. Even if they knew how to do it, space travel would simply cost too much.

Our ancient aliens popped in from another dimension. They had flying machines, and they could bring enough fuel to cruise around the earth for a few months or years. There were no BP stations way back then.

Extra-dimensional aliens look just like us. If some of them do come back, we would not recognize them because they are human.  Surprised? Don’t be.

Returning to their own dimension was a snap, and just as quick as snapping your fingers. We don’t see them anymore because they aren’t interested in us. If they were here we would be invited to their parties. When was the last time you got an invitation from an alien?

Just look at all the so-called evidence which is nothing more than drawings and carvings of ancient people. They look just like us except for hair styles, and the occasional helmet looking thing that is probably just a hat. You know how styles in headwear change over time.

There were likely aliens from several dimensions which accounts for all the different hair and headgear styles seen in rock carvings. This makes more sense than believing in space aliens.

Just because we have no physical evidence of the existence of these other dimensions, at least our mathematicians postulate them. As far as aliens from outer-space is concerned, we don’t even have math to show people exist out there.

The really important thing is that I have never encountered a space alien. In all my space travels I have never met anyone from outside our solar system.

Aliens In My House

picture of rocky the flying squirrel
Attic Alien

Something was going on. For the last couple of nights, we have been awakened by sounds in our house. The problem is that by the time I am awake, the noise stops. It is almost as if someone is sneaking up the stairs to do us a whacking, Soprano style.

Yeah, I know that’s paranoid, but you get that way in a two story house after all the kids have moved out. But, wait! They left their dog. Certainly our trusty, faithful hound would make lots of noise and defend us if someone broke into our house.

Or maybe not. The little wiener dog is going on sixteen years old, and he not only cannot hike his leg, anymore, but he can’t hear it thunder. Plus, when he knows we are gone, he goes nuts because he is afraid to stay by himself. He thinks our job is to protect him, not the other way around.

So much for our guard dog. What can we do to keep ourselves safe? Did some alien vessel follow me as I returned from the other side of the Milky Way the other night? Maybe I didn’t shake them during the chase, after all. I may have to call out the Fleet Guard to help me.

Today as I was preparing for my nocturnal battle, I was working at my computer trying to figure out the best way to fight life forms that are other than carbon based. That is when I heard the noise, again. This time, I was not asleep and didn’t wonder if I was dreaming.

Scratch, thump, bump. rattle, rattle, rattle. It was very disturbing until I realized that my problems were terrestrial rather than space based.

I have critters in my attic!

I hear scratching, scraping, rattling, screeching, and yowling. There is little doubt that a family of squirrels have set up housekeeping in my attic. Plus, I hear some peep-peep-peeping, like there are little ones up there, too.

This problem may be worse than space aliens inhabiting the upper reaches of my house. At least, I don’t have to worry about droppings, disease, and fleas from my space buddies.

So, I called one of those Rid-A-Critter services, and expect a callback any second, now.

Folks, this is serious!

Rocket Man Bob Rides!

drawing of radiation belt
Earth's Magnetic Fields

I was coming in hot, too hot to enter earth’s atmosphere. The rule is to not make any visible trail as you return.

This was a problem because I would have to dump some energy to slow to a decent landing speed. Flashing across the sky, I would cause the local TV station switchboards to light up with hundreds of UFO reports. There would be hell to pay when my commanders figured things out.

That’s what can happen when you jump into alter-space. Alter-space is that place you have to traverse to get to the other side of a fold in the space-time continuum. That is the best way to get from point A to point B in a given galaxy. But, crossing alter-space has its hazards.

Bad folks hang out, there, waiting for careless travelers to appear. In this case I could never identify who or what was doing the shooting and chasing. They were using proton torpedos, and I didn’t want them to get too close.

I was in a real hurry when jumping back to regular space. That’s why I was coming in much too fast for a normal arrival in the metro-Atlanta area. Fortunately, it was after midnight on a Saturday, and most of the witnesses would have little credibility when they admitted to the authorities that alcohol was part of their evening.

As I glided into the driveway of my suburban house, there was a man standing in the front yard. It was Captain Schwartz and he was smoking mad. I could tell by the way he flipped the stub of his cigarette at me as I disembarked from my craft.

As the craft molded itself back into its’ Ford Taurus camouflage shape, Captain Schwartz said, “This little screw-up will cost you plenty, Bobby. You really screwed-the-pooch on this one.”  It was not exactly the first time I had lit up the Atlanta sky, and the Commanders could claim solar flares and northern lights only so many times. The Earth’s magnetic fields shield us from the worst of those solar storms.

“What did you want me to do, take a proton torpedo up the tailpipe? Some hot-dog jumped me in alter-space and I had to do everything I could to get away.”  I said this hoping the Captain would sympathize  with my problem, but that was not going to happen.

“No go, Roberto! I don’ t buy it, and I don’t think the General will, either after that little Santa Claus and his reindeers trick you pulled last Christmas. You need to cool your heels for a couple of weeks. What were you thinking, anyway?” The Captain had me, there. I had been thinking about my childhood, and how I used to dream of space travel.

These things never turn out to be what you thought they would. Space travel is boring as it can be, unless somebody starts shooting at you. Just think. No TV. No satellite music. No iPods. Nothing but absolute dark, and absolute quiet. That’s why it is so tempting to light up a sky, occasionally.

The Captain walked over to the Taurus, reached under the right front fender, and unplugged the anti-matter energy module. There’s enough potential energy in one of those cubic inch modules to start and end World War III. Without it, the Taurus could not become Rocket Man Bob’s space ride. I was grounded.

Dropping the cube it in his pocket, he turned around and said, “Have fun watching TV for the next couple of weeks. Oh! Be sure to catch the local TV news tomorrow morning. Almost every camera in town got your sky streaking routine on video tonight. You’re going nowhere for a while.”

Well, being grounded is what it is. Turning on the television for a much deserved entertainment session, I went straight to the channel guide.

Stay home for a while? No problem. This weekend there’s a  marathon Swamp People showing. Then, starting next week is March Madness.

The NCAA college basketball tournaments will start next week, and everything else comes to a standstill.

Who needs space travel with the most important stuff happening right here on Earth?