Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nothing

I've been out of pocket the last few weeks...okay, the last month and a half. Well, I'm not entirely back into my routine. I have a couple of trips to make yet. By the time June is gone, I will have stood on the Atlantic Ocean twice and the Pacific Ocean twice. Within the last 9 months (this is the fun part of traveling) I will get to take my kids to both Disneyland and Disney World. Considering that I currently reside in New Mexico (I'm still a Texan. I'm just living in one of our western counties for the moment), it's quite an accomplishment to pull off these events. I hope to gain enough time in my week to start visiting all of you again. Well, enough about me.
I saw in the news a few weeks ago that an astronaut was trying to convince the world that aliens exist. That reminded me of a story that I posted back in 2007. I decided to dust this story off and recycle (my only efforts at being green). I think you will appreciate the value of this story.

Nothing
Bret Simmons walked into the room and held the door open for Doctor Hal Reed then gingerly shut it behind them. He stood breathless for a moment, “This is very impressive. I have never seen such an elaborate laboratory.”

Simmons smiled graciously. “Thank you, Dr. Reed, coming from a man of your esteem, your words mean a great deal. We are looking forward to working with you.”

“About that,” began Dr. Reed, “what exactly did you want from me?”

“I wanted to hire you to make something.” He paused for effect, “Something big.” When he said “big” his voice grew in awe.

“You were so secretive; I hardly knew what to think.”

“Yes, that is why I paid you so handsomely.”

“Handsomely? I should think so. With the money you paid me, I will be able to continue my research for years to come. You were most generous.”

Simmons waved him off, “think nothing of it. I have followed your research on the beginning moments of evolution for quite some time.”

“You flatter me, of course.”

“None sense.” Simmons cut to the chase, “ I assume that you are a fellow atheist.”
Dr. Reed looked down at his feet. “Well, let’s say this: I am eagerly seeking to prove there is no God.”

“Very well,” Simmons mused. “You may say it however you please, just so that you succeed.” His voice grew irrational. “These…idiotic…religionists just won’t shut up! That’s why I paid you so dearly, out of my pocket, and paid you in advance.”

“Well then, what is our business here?” Dr. Reed seemed eager.

Simmons motioned to a conference table across the room and they took seats around it. “I want you to make the greatest scientific discovery of all time. Moreover, I want you to get full credit for it. I want you to make something, anything, out of nothing.” He clasped his hands together in delight.

Reed leaned forward, “I beg your pardon?”

“I want you to make something out of nothing.” He was matter of fact.

“But,” Dr. Reed stuttered, “How? With what?”

He shrugged, “I don’t care. Just create something.”

“What do you expect me to use?”

“Nothing. Something from nothing.” He repeated.

“I must have something to start with. All matter must have basic building blocks.”

“Like atoms?” asked Simmons.

“Yes, atoms would do nicely for a start.” Reed wasn’t sure if he should laugh.

“Oh no, that won’t do at all,” dismissed Simmons. “You must do it with nothing.”

“But I can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Well, I don’t know how.” He was sincere.

“But you are a scientist.”

“So?”

“You are a Big Bang theorist. Surely you must know something about it.”

Dr. Reed’s pride was injured. “Well, of course I do. I am the leading researcher on evolutionary models.”

“That is why I hired you. You are the best.”

Reed shrugged, “But I can’t do this.”

“What do you mean?”

“No one can do what you are asking. It’s not humanly possible.”

Simmons was cross. “Don’t even start that, Doctor. That’s why we must succeed.”

“Why? I’m not sure I follow you.”

“We must prove the Creationists wrong.”

“Why?”

“If they are right then that means I am wrong. It means that there is a God. Do this and prove them wrong.”

Reed shook his head in disbelief. “But I have nothing to start with.”

“There was nothing before the Big Bang,” bantered Simmons.

Dr. Reed swallowed, “Well, there could have been. I mean, there could have been some swirling gasses.”

Simmons leaned forward, “Okay, where did the gasses come from?”

Reed threw up his hands, “I don’t know! Maybe from a previous Big Bang.”

“How’s that?”

“Well,” Reed’s eyes widened, “I surmise that the entire universe is in a great cycle, a long, continuous cycle of beginning and end.”

“Okay, go on…”

“You see, the universe expands into substance and contracts into nothing, leaving only swirling gasses. Then it starts all over again.”

“Okay. What causes the gasses to swirl? I mean, in the absence of solar winds to stir them, or gravity to pull them, what starts the swirling?”

Reed shrugged, “I don’t know.”

Simmons was incredulous. “You don’t know? How is that possible?”

“Actually,” he looked down at his feet. “I might be leaning toward a creator.”

“What?” Simmons shrieked. “But you said…”

“Well, consider it.” He waved a hand in the air and dismissed Simmons concerns. “What about this building?”

“What about it?”

“Where did it come from?”

“Huh? I had to build it.”

“Exactly!” Simmons blank stare probed him to elaborate. “If there is a creation, there must be a creator.”

“A creator?” Simmons was starting to panic.

“Of course. Think of the Mona Lisa.”

“The Mona Lisa…” Simmons repeated.

“Do you think that paint just fell onto a canvas? No, she has a design. There must be a designer.”

Simmons stood up, and then sat down again. “So what are you saying?”

“Someone, not God, created the universe.”

“Who else has the power to create a universe if not God?” Simmons face turned red. “Not that God has the power, but…oh, you know what I mean.”

“Aliens,” Reed said smugly.

“Oh brother.” Simmons groaned.

“Yes! Can’t you see? Aliens created our universe.”

“With what?”

“Swirling gasses.”

“Back to the gas again.” He placed a hand on his chest and groaned. “Then where did the aliens come from?”

“I haven't gotten that far.”

“But, just a few months ago you were certain that there was no creator.”

“Yes, yes, I know. But that just doesn’t make sense. Logically, I can’t make any sense out of it. To think that all of this evolved out of nothing?” He stood and walked to the window. “Take just the sun alone--why imagine it! One million Earths would fit inside of it. And to think, by chance it was 93,000,000 miles from Earth. Any closer and we would burn up. Any farther and we would freeze. And it’s not even a big star; it’s just a smaller average star.

“The sun evaporates seawater, which causes clouds to form. The clouds are driven by the wind and rise to heights taller than mountains, giving the rain needed to sustain life, and purifying the air at the same time. That couldn’t happen by chance.” He observed Simmons rubbing his chest and moaning. “And to think that chance created the human heart. And chance formed the ribs within a human body in the womb? And the human mind, with its unending complex thoughts and desires? Could chance have made all of this? It makes you think.”

Simmons had enough. “But, I…”

“Yes of course! The eye!” Reed was excited. “It has over 43,000,000 nerve endings in it. We can’t even make one nerve cell, much less a functioning human eye.”

“But we evolved slowly.”

Reed shot back at him, “Did we? At what point did our blind nerve cells work in concert to create sight? At what point did our lungs develop the capacity to process oxygen? Can you imagine how awkward the stage was between breathing atmosphere and breathing with gills? At what point did both a male and a female coexist long enough to copulate? I don’t think so, Mr. Simmons!” Reed was parading around as if on a crusade.

Simmons was absolute. “That’s all fine, but I am not prepared to believe in God.”

“Ah yes, God. Me neither. If there is a God, and He is the Creator, then we would be created also, implying that we might be accountable to Him. I am not ready to believe in Him, either. I like my life just as it is.”

“Fascinating.” Simmons mused. “How, then, did the Earth come to be?”

“Aliens.” Dr. Reed nodded in satisfaction, quite proud of himself.

“Aliens?” Simmons paused. “That seems hard to believe, too. After all, they had to come from somewhere also.”

“Perhaps, but the alternative is rather unpleasant.”

“So, then,” Simmons committed, “Aliens?”

“Aliens.” Dr. Reed nodded in approval.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April 15--A Day That Forever Changed the World

Grit your teeth, bite your tongue, weep, wail, and get out your checkbook and write one to Uncle Sam, for April 15th is upon us. People all over America will experience tremendous heartburn and anxiety, and all for the cause of money. There are a few grim reasons for dreading the 15th, but few of them concern our cash supply, or lack thereof. Journey with me through one day that has forever changed the course of our history….

April 14th. A cruise ship plows quietly through ghostly still waters on a dimly lit night, unaware that she was about to create an incident that would forever alter nautical laws and traditions. Her captain was sound asleep in his extraordinarily comfortable quarters. Never before had such comfort been built for the purposes of luxury and everyone was taking full advantage of their fortune. Telegrams were constantly being sent over a newly developed telegraph system for ocean voyages; the rich were showing off their prestige. In fact, so many messages were sent that the lineman had to issue a command to all other ships in the area, “shut up and get off the line” due to their transmissions concerning icebergs floating into the northern routes. The accommodations were so posh that even the third class and crew’s quarters were better than the first class on most contemporary ships. Truly, the lap of luxury was at the customer’s beck and call. After all, a ticket on this ship cost several thousand dollars, why shouldn’t the rich boast of their achievements? Then the night watchman, from the crow’s nest, signaled, “ICEBERG AHEAD”, and the world would never be the same.

April 15th. The great ship was mortally wounded, her flood compartments were full, and the metal beast was about the split in half due to the pressure on her hull. Electric lights were flickering off and on as screaming passengers and crews fought to maintain control and panic in their efforts to save lives. Women and children were evacuated as quickly as possible, while the men dressed in their finest attire and went to the lounge for a last brandy and cigar. For there weren’t enough lifeboats for everyone on board, some one had to die, the men immediately recognized their duty and held their heads up as they sacrificed all they ever would be for their families. Of the 2228 people on board, 705 survived to tell the truth about that horrible night. A ship named the Carpathia rescued the survivors and became known as the “ship of widows.”

When the Titanic sank in 1912, the world reeled in shock at the loss. Shortly thereafter, the Commerce Act of 1912 went into effect that forever altered our naval laws. One of the foremost of the laws stated that radio operators could not turn off their radios for the night and go to bed. The Coast Guard was formed to keep a watch out for icebergs. The Titanic also coined the term, posh, which was an acronym for Port-side Over, Starboard Home.

April 14th. A war torn nation was welcoming a permanent declaration of peace, for a full surrender had occurred less than a week before. The war was all but over. At last, American lives would no longer be lost fighting to preserve rights and liberties. The President, in an effort to enjoy a night away from the pressures of politics and the restoration of a needful nation, decided to take a night off for some meaningless entertainment. His plate was full in the terms of establishing new and previously uncharted laws and practices. Never before had so many American soldiers fought and died. Never before had such a sacrifice been demanded in the name of liberty. Never before had the policies of our great democracy been so blatantly and forthrightly challenged. Never before had an attack by a military power occurred after so many years of peace. Never before had a nation needed their President more than they needed him now. A lone assassin lurked in the shadows, waiting for a moment when all attention would be on the stage. At just that moment, he stepped forward, placed a pistol against the President’s head, and fired. He was heard yelling, “Sic semper tyrannis,” which ment, “thus ever to tyrants.”

April 15th. The President was taken to a lodging house across the street where he was placed in bed while doctors worked through the night in a desperate attempt to save his life. At 7:20 A.M., 1865, Abraham Lincoln died. His attending physician pulled a sheet over his head and Secretary Stanton said, “Now he belongs to the ages.”

More? On a related note, on April 15, 1861, Robert E. Lee, son of a Revolutionary War hero, and a 25-year veteran of the United States Army, is offered command of the Union Army—an offer he refused. In 1969, North Korea shot down an American Airplane over the Sea of Japan. In 1986, the United States launched an air raid against Libya in response to a terrorist attack on April 5th. In 2009, Tea Parties were held across the nation, for the first time since the American Revolution, in protest of the trillions of dollars spent by the Obama Administration.

So, when you feel blue over the tax money you have to pay, remember that this day has much more significance than you ever imagined. Some very positive events also occurred on the fifteenth:
1738-The bottle open was invented.
1878- Ivory Soap was developed by Procter of Procter and Gamble.
1923- Insulin was made available for diabetics.
1960- 04 x 15 = 60.

And, most importantly, Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald’s in Des Plains Illinois, selling 15-cent hamburgers and 10-cent fries for a first day’s total of $366.12.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Caitie and the Whale

Seldom do I post poetry, but it's not unheard of. In truth, I've been traveling and I haven't had time to work on any short stories or vet bios. So, for the sake of getting something out there for you to read, I decided to post a poem that I wrote for my kids several years ago. I have been working on a new short story, and I hope to have it edited by next week. It depends on how much time I have when I finally get back home...


Caitie and the Whale

Little Caitie swam with fish
In order to keep her wish
Of swimming around to find a whale
She wanted to ask about the tale
Of the fish that ate a man.

She found a school of fish at play
All at once they began to say,
“To find the whale, leave the brook
In the ocean you must look
For the fish that ate a man.”

In the ocean she did swim
Where the light began to dim.
She found the whale inside a cave
Because she was unafraid
Of the fish that ate a man.

“Excuse me, sir, but I must ask
Of when God did task
You to go and catch the man
When from God he ran
To the fish that ate a man.”

“Of course I do remember
It was late in September
When a man went floating by
So I ate him like a fly.
I’m the fish that ate a man.

“In my tummy the man did stay
Until the man began to pray
So on the sand I spit him out
It is true, so have no doubt
Of the fish that ate a man.”

Little Caitie returned as planned
Back to the ocean’s sand
Never again would she doubt
When her daddy told her about
The fish that ate a man.