23 February 2006

"I was late because... my dog ate my homework?"

I was sitting in a pre-pre-departure briefing (that’s the briefing I have to attend just before the pre-departure briefing which I have before I depart) a couple of days ago in preparation to dispatch out to the field (pull alert). My squadron commander was in the room giving us sound pieces of advice when his phone rang. He promptly answered it, and to pass the time, the rest of us began quiet chit-chat about what alert had in store for us and gave each other a hard time about anything that came to mind (one of a missileer’s primary duties is to find creative new ways to poke fun at fellow missileers).

My squadron commander was only on the phone a couple of minutes when, in closing, I overheard him say, “I’ll send him home now.” I didn’t think much of this comment until he turned to me and said, “Dan, go home.” Now, a squadron commander doesn’t just turn to a missileer going on alert that day and tell him or her to go home unless something dire has happened, such as noticing in passing that the person has developed a sudden case of profuse bleeding from all major arteries in the body and there aren’t enough tourniquets at hand to stem the flow at least until they can get back from alert. Since I felt altogether rather well that particular morning, I was a bit stunned by what my commander had just said, and responded, “ah…yes sir.” Was I in some kind of major trouble? Was I getting kicked out of the Air Force? Obviously this was connected to the phone call – had someone discovered my deepest darkest secret that was so well hidden I didn’t even know about it, and had just now tipped off the authorities?

By this time my squadron commander felt it appropriate to expound on his reasoning (and you thought dramatic pauses only happen in the movies). In a rather monotone voice, he said, “It’s something about your wife and breathing. If she isn’t at home, look for the ambulance.” Oh. Okay. So, no blood? That’s good I guess. Well, off I go then – good bye folks. I’m off to see whether or not my wife is dead. You all have a good day now.

To make a long story short, when I arrived at home and parked a safe distance from the police car, ambulance, and rescue fire truck (all with lights flashing); I learned that, although she had eaten it many times before, my wife had apparently developed a sudden and severe allergy to kiwi; which upon ingestion attempted to close her airway and finish her off as a parting gift for being so rudely peeled, sliced, and munched. After a few injections, some oxygen, and an ambulance ride to the ER, I was assured that she would be fine so long as she didn’t bother the little green fruit again.

Now I just have to deal with my coworkers who kid me about having their wives call 911 so they too can get out of alert.

17 February 2006

A Theory on Time Travel

For those of you out there who are skeptics of time travel, carefully consider the following. If I count out loud at exact one second intervals, I am able to propel time forward by one second for every number I count. For example, if I count to three in this manner, I have successfully transported myself into the future three full seconds from the time I began.

If then I have this power over forward motion, it stands to reason that I hold this same power over reverse motion. Hence, all that is required to travel into the past is to count aloud backward at exact one second intervals. If one wishes to go back in time a full minute, he or she must simply begin at a count of sixty and count backward until reaching one, and voila – one minute into the past.

Although the theory is perfectly sound, practical tests have been less than convincing. The problem lies in the fact that as one begins the count backward, at the exact moment he or she reaches the next number down (one second having elapsed), the subject is transported in time back exactly one second and arrives right where he or she began; thus negating both the forward second and the backward, resulting in a net time of zero. Since in that zero moment, the test subject had not yet begun, it is impossible to continue the downward sequence (after all that would be skipping numbers). The only thing he or she can do is begin at the start (note that I do not say begin again because in the zero moment they had never started before).

This is further complicated by the fact that the individual has no memory of having started (again, because they have not done so), and therefore may become stuck in this loop until they ultimately decide not to begin at all. There is no real way to record how long a person has been stuck in a loop like this, since time is for all intensive purposes paused, but energy is nonetheless expended at a rate equal to the effort it takes to count one number. Consequently, one can hypothesize that whenever you feel suddenly tired or exhausted for no apparent reason, it is most likely because you have tried to transport yourself into the past and became stuck in one of these space-time loops for an indefinite period of time. This also explains why people die at times without any apparent cause. I believe it also explains phenomenon such as the depletion of the ozone layer and the existence of Chihuahuas.

As a disclaimer, I warn the wary reader – Do not to try this at home.

16 February 2006

Two cowboys walk into a bar...

Recently my wife and I were traveling with our kids back from a town about two hours away from where we live when our son expressed a sincere and urgent desire to use the bathroom. As he is only four years old, and “accidents happen” we took his plea with the utmost sincerity. Unfortunately, we were still about fifteen minutes from home and the only place we could find to stop was a gas station/convenience store/bar/lounge/cafĂ©. My wife offered to take him in while I waited in the vehicle with our other two children. However, I had certain reservations about entering such an establishment in what my wife referred to as a “podunk trailer town.” When I suggested that our squirming child could possibly hold out for a little longer, my wife intuited that the gist of my argument lay in the establishment itself rather than simply wanting to continue on home. Her quirky reply before she left the van with my eldest son: “What? Are you afraid I’ll come out with three more kids, a dog, and a country song?” I had no recourse left but to laugh.


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