Authors: Girish Karthikeyan
Whatever floating body culminates the end of this rope sees fit to pull me up to a great elevation. I hold on above every natural structure leaving this the realm of flying contraptions designed and build by the human civilization. I hang from my lifeline, figuratively and truly, in waiting for the real test. The voice comes to mind once more to instruct the novice. Release the foothold to life, release the burdens of fear and doubt, as you are now capable. I hang on bitterly to this restraint and to my chagrin the soft touch of fibers gives way to the sharp, biting, cutting of razors ripping and tearing into my flesh. The pain is far out of mind and thought, but a minuet twitch sends me sliding from the rope in a lubricant of blood.
I’m thrown ground-ward by the inescapable gravity of the situation. My inner strength and voice speaks, undaunted by this as with anything, commanding me to stop this insanity. Are you testing yourself or killing yourself? Decide now! Killing is the answer. I absolutely cannot do this. I am not ready. Good answer Agent. I’m tumbling down, rolling over and over, everything comes to a halt, then resumes as a skipping record. Time repeats, time after time. The rope holds Jenna, Jenna freefalling to me, stopping my descent as time moves yet again. The stop is too much for my feeble mental strength and fortitude. Everything fades to blackout.
I wake up, unfazed to that startling experience, just only now a dream. The pitch black nature of this room resolves to the sight of my apartment. This puts me at ease. Everything is as it should be. The drift to sleep takes over.
Mon 8/14/17 11:51 a.m.
just submitted the learning study to Dr. Mekova for approval. What about my next study? What other aspects assist accelerated learning, except happiness? Interest helps. The tech bringing new info feels almost like an epiphany. The effectiveness of learning comes from aptitude, interest in the topic, and intelligence. Interest doesn’t always follow aptitude.
How to improve interest? More info shows up. Expanding knowledge on the topic brings about interest. This fosters finding an aspect of the subject pertaining to the individual’s interests. Other opinions? Focus on the student’s interests. Find different ways to teach the topic, so it caters to the students interests. A lot of studies pop up about this. Not a good option.
I pace the back of my desk, which helps. Pacing started in my undergrad. Before that, I never needed to. I move back and forth with an even pace. Random thoughts at dead ends return search results, but I like it that way.
Then aptitude. How to increase the individual’s aptitude? I go back to the first study about learning which flashes back the forgotten info. Increasing aptitude involves focusing on one set area for an extended period of time. Given enough time aptitude develops. Anything better? Focus on existing aptitude? Another: increasing interest leads aptitude. Fully researched.
Intelligence. How to improve intelligence? Wait, first what produces intelligence? More processing power used for fast reasoning or error-checking. What
? Dead end. They quickly find better or more efficient ways to do mental tasks. The ability to visualize complex scenarios, common.
What causes this difference? More efficient neural pathways in the brain. Increased neural plasticity as another trait found. In some cases, increased portions of the brain exhibit frontal and parietal lobe activation. Thoughts exist inside the frontal lobe, an ideal drafting table. The parietal lobe provides visualization. Makes sense. In a small percentage of cases, fewer redundant pathways stick around. The nervous system contains three or more redundant pathways for each function. Thoroughly answered.
I take a break for lunch, get my food, and see Dr. Mekova sitting at the conference table next to three small plates of food, barely touched. Dr. Mekova says something and looks at her food. “Check, location check, food check, guests unchecked.”
“Irena, what are you working on?” I put down my ceramic soup bowl and wide saucer filled with garlic buttered toast.
Irena grips her fork and tries stabbing one of the cheese filled mushroom caps. “This is the going away party we are having for Zhou. How do you feel about Zhou leaving the Institute?” She finally manages cupping the mushroom in a spoon.
“I have mixed feelings about it.”
On one aide, I didn’t know him that well. I should feel nothing about him leaving.
His history with Claire changes some things.
"Actually, in all honesty, I’m glad he found a better opportunity. That’s how I feel.”
A little too honest.
I use the serrated edge of my enlarged grapefruit spoon, cutting a path through the baked-on top of my onion soup.
Irena finishes chewing and prepares another one, testing its handability. “I take it you will be going, then.”
Irena enters me into the guest list. “Has anything changed with you?”
“I just finished my fitness program. A good experience.
I learned so much about myself, my limits, and how much I can change.” I blow on the soup in my spoon with a bit of puff-pastry (baked-on top) and take in the submerged pastry for a sweet, slightly oniony, thickened mouth of ambrosia.
“It sounds like it was grueling 5 weeks. It was 5 weeks, right?” Irena downs the remaining appetizer course, before moving the small plate of rice front and center.
Claire joins us with plate of rice paper rolls, assembly required. “How are you going to keep it up?”
“My trainer was awesome.”
“Nice segue. Can we go back to the matter at hand, Conor?” Claire sprays the top rice paper circle with included solution so it turns clear.
“I was getting to it, Claire. He gave me an exercise program to do at home. It requires 30 minutes of doing a two-point handstand.”
Claire starts laughing at this.
What is so funny? Claire has this annoying habit of laughing at the most inappropriate times.
“Is that all at once or something? Just thinking about it makes me laugh.” She straightens out the row of steaming, roasted veggies along the center of the prepped circle.
“No, it’s throughout the day. I’m not going to choke myself out.” The topping runs out and I switch to eating the garlic toast between spoons of soup.
Claire drizzles a runny, peppery sauce over the stuffing, before rolling the rice paper and starting to eat. “What else are you supposed to do for exercise?”
“It starts small. I can add more as needed. Right now, I’m also jogging 10 blocks. I’m going to keep challenging myself.”
“Seriously, you’re doing a good job. Just keep it up.” Claire smiles as if suppressing laughter.
“Claire, how is Zhou doing with the new job?” Irena spoons up rice stained with a dark broth, riddled with strips of spinach or something similar.
“He’s excited. He got a job at the Windell Neural Center doing studies independently. Here he mostly assets others with their studies. It is just a small promotion, from S6 to S7.” Claire finishes the roll and readies another.
“I'll expect you as well?” Irena crunches a banana (plantain) chip peppered with chili powder, before another mouth of rice with a deep yellow chunk of cauliflower.
“Yes.” Claire speeds through the assembly of the next one.
“Has anything changed since last night at
?” I dredge the near-empty soup bowl with a piece of toast and scoop some onion filaments on.
“Yes. Remember I was talking about conductance?”
“Yes.” The crunch of the toasted bread feels satisfying after the soup runs out.
“Could you explain it?” Irena finishes the rice and turns on the saved chips.
“It is a new security protocol that can replace tech id in some places,” Claire responds.
“Why isn’t that already being done?” Irena moves onto the plate of churros, actually just one.
Seeing Irena eat makes me imagine what it tastes like. The hint of crusted on cinnamon sugar, the crispy/chewy fried batter… We discuss the whole conductance walkthrough from last night. Claire mentions working with Dr. Nigel Simmers (nanobiology
techie) a few years ago, who now researches it across town. Gary enters and chimes in about knowing Nigel acting young and carefree at 70.
Claire constructs the last roll.
“Gary, are you coming to Zhou’s going away party?” Irena stacks up her three empty plates.
“Who?” Gary starts cutting through the steak in front of him, while the juices mar his snow white potato puffs.
“Zhou.” Irena returns to her pad.
“Yes, Zhou. I’ll be there for sure. Any chance to party on the company’s cred is good enough for me.” Gary chews a piece and swallows.
Irena is now focusing on her pad, after just finishing lunch. She plans to ring in as needed.
“We were talking about Claire’s study, the fact that Irena is planning Zhou’s party, and my new exercise regime.”
No MP for Gary.
“Thanks for the review, Conor. Like Zhou, I also found a promotion. I’m going to manage a biochem field research team.” Gary slaughters a potato puffs.
“What is your team going to work on?” Claire slides her plate away.
“A catalog containing hundreds or thousands of biological compounds that have yet been used to an end. Harvest compounds from nature. Find a use for them. If that isn’t possible today, find a way to synthesize the compound artificially, preserving our work for the future.” Gary slices off an ambitious piece.
“That sounds interesting. What's the biggest hurdle you have to cross in order to accept this opportunity?” Irena inquires.
“The biggest issue is logistical. The research loc is 10 to 15 miles away. No living space nearby. Commute out there, each and every day. We are, hopefully getting personal go-seats or sharing a triple.”
“I can’t believe a regular go-seat works." I look into my empty bowl and across to Gary's carnivore plate.
The memory of eating something like that and loving it.
“It’s actually easier to get a triple balanced. The increased horizontal spacing allows for fewer lateral balance issues. The weight distribution can also be altered to create more balance adjustment. The fact that one individual rides a go-seat gives less room for error.” Claire focuses on me, distracting herself from Gary.
Irena looks from me to Claire. “Is it a big change from what you are doing now?”
“Just a small change. There are five other people there. We are more colleagues. A promotion from S7 to S8.” Gary pulls a potato puff (dauphine potato) through a pool of red juices.
“Conor had a recruitment meeting with the GGC, last night.” Claire puts on a sly smile.
“They have been trying to get a meeting for almost a month now. The weekly phone calls were just becoming too much. I decided to entertain them with a meeting.”
A casual scan of everyone's face for believability.
“Is there any other reason to meet with them?” Irena moves her hands under the table, leaving the pad behind.
“Anything I do here is just distributed to everyone. It is almost pure luck if someone looks at it. A consultant for the GGC has the opportunity to influence decisions of people who can make a
This disagrees with more than half the people here.
to know how it went.” Claire keeps looking at me with her malicious, laugh suppressing smile, but I can't look away.
“I won’t know until I get called, sometime this week.”
“Did anything unusual happen during the meeting?” Gary ingests the last piece of steak, piled over a puff.
Take a sec.
“The recruiter asked me to sign something at the end of the meeting.”
“That’s a good sign. You are going to get an interview.” Gary looks forlorn with nothing left worth eating.
“It has been fun. I have six confirmed guests and need to contact other interested parties to bolster my guest list.” Irena starts getting her pads stacked together, walks away, and returns her stack of dishes.
I turn my chair sideways to Gary and Claire sitting along this side of the table. “How many of Dr. Mekova’s parties have you guys been to?”
Claire replies, “My personal record is six.”
“I’ve been a few times,” Gary says.
“What are they like?”
“It's chose your own theme. Before getting in, you make a selection. Everything is changed from your perspective,” Gary answers.
“So it's like
, the food place?”
“Yes, there are a few differences. My father is a big investor in
We have frequented it a few times. Everything is sim. The only real stuff is the food. Who wants to feel hungry after finishing a meal?” Gary pats his overstuffed belly.
“Irena gets juices from a friend she knows, all real fruit. Last time, there was blueberry, raspberry, pineapple, mango, and orange juices. The food isn’t necessarily better than what you can get every day, just different,” Claire also replies.
“Is there anything else I have to know?”
Just shut up already. I know what work parties are like.
“No. I better get back to work. The Claymont research station is going to use my next study as a final audition. All the other potentials are somehow involved in research.” Gary goes back to his desk, dumping his plate in the nourisher.
Just Claire and I are still at the table. “Conor how was your date last night?”
“What?” I blurt it out with my surprise.
with the lady from the GGC?”
I picture a high school convo across a private lunch table.
“That wasn’t a date. It was a recruitment meeting.”
“Let's go through the definition. A) Prearranged. B) Shared meal between two people. C) Dinner. D) A means to an end. E) Dressed up. Need I go on?”
“I still hold my position. She was there to discuss my interest in a job.”
“I’ll agree for now. Give me
“We met for dinner, outside
. You saw what I was wearing. She was wearing a black coat with blue lining and an open back black dress.”