Harry's Glasses

Harry one day finally had to get glasses. He stopped driving at night a couple of years ago when he realized, after being diverted on his routine drive home from work due to construction, he couldn't read the street signs and got lost.

When he got his glasses it was an amazing, liberating experience. He didn't realize just how bad his sight had become, and once again he could see everything.

Days later, Harry was one night sitting at his computer when his glasses became smudged. He took them off and wiped the lenses with the special microfiber cloth and then put them on again. The clarity lasted for a few hours but then the smudges returned.

Harry became frustrated as the smudges kept returning inexplicably, more frequently and intensely. He finally got fed up and went back to his optometrist who examined the glasses under a low-powered microscope. He found very small fingerprints.

"Do you keep your glasses where your children can reach them?" asked the Optometrist.

"What? I don't have any kids." replied Harry.

The Optometrist was stunned for a second. He wondered if Harry needed to change the locks on his doors.

"Somehow kids are getting their fingerprints on your glasses." he said.

Harry looked at him as if he was crazy. "The smudges happen while I'm wearing them" Harry said.

The two men stood in silent wonder for an awkward moment.

Optical Anomaly

Once upon a time there was a college professor who had a strange theory about consciousness. When he was young he kept asking himself why he was not someone else besides himself. 'Why am I me and not someone else?' he often wondered.

He also pondered the idea that the conventional wisdom about the location of our thoughts is based on the illusion created by the stereo quality of our sense organs. In other words, if both our eyes and ears were located on our left hands, he imagined, we might think our minds were located in the center of our left hand between those organs, and consequently disregard the brain entirely as something like the Appendix.

Over cocktails one evening he proposed before his peers the idea that consciousness operates not on a cellular level, but a subatomic level. He arrived at his theory while observing that animal behavior has been greatly underestimated. It has become a recent development in research to avoid looking at lower forms of life through the lens of Anthropomorphism.

His colleagues laughed in his face so hard he had to squint and turn his head to avoid the Gin-infused spittle. They all teamed up and yelled him out of the room. He was marched toward his office by the mob of fellow scientists, all the while publicly rebuking his theories. Students out on the lawn stopped dead in their tracks to watch the spectacle, Flying Frisbees hit at least three students distracted by the racket.

He was chased off campus. His life was in ruins. Sitting in his car, in the garage with the engine running, he reached for the garage door remote to push the 'Close' button and finally end it all. But then it suddenly dawned on him that one last experiment might prove his subatomic consciousness theory.

He still had access to technology that would allow him to create a clone of himself. He manipulated the DNA of human egg and sperm to create the conditions necessary for artificial insemination and gestation of a perfect copy of himself.

From this process he believed he would prove that consciousness is at a subatomic level and is merely supported on the matrix of neurons throughout the human body.

He closed his savings account and sold his house to pay a female volunteer to carry his clone to term. The process was quick and as luck would have it the egg began to develop.

As the weeks went by the professor monitored every move of his investment. The mother of his clone was growing weary of his intrusiveness.

In a dream one night, a bear was growling and approaching the professor. He didn't flee, instead he lay on the ground and played dead. The bear approached and the professor could feel the drool and hot breath of the giant beast over his body. The bear laid down and rested his head on the professor's chest and went to sleep. In short, the bear didn't harm the professor, but never left his side, creating all manner of complications in every day life, until the professor woke up, of course.

The professor looked in the mirror and noticed a dark spot in the lower left corner of his vision. He rubbed his eyes and it was still there. After a long gaze in the mirror he thought he might be having a stroke so he went to the hospital. His doctor could find nothing from the visual exam so he ordered a scan of his brain, which also found nothing wrong but elevated activity in the Occipital lobe.

The professor suddenly realized that the current technology couldn't possibly measure brain activity on a subatomic level. He also realized that his clone developed enough to begin the process of sensory input while still in the womb. He believed he was now closer to proving that an identical clone could quite literally share consciousness, thus also proving the concept of reincarnation, and possibly the idea that an identical clone of ones self might even prove that human beings were merely appendages of a singular consciousness.

The dark spot, over the following weeks, grew more distinct, and was accompanied by faint noises and muffled music. The professor was sharing a consciousness with his clone experiencing the external life of his mother.

The professor wondered if the communication link was two-way. Perhaps he could instantly pass on his own knowledge to his clone who would be a genius child, and the child would not start an education from scratch, but have the intelligence to continue the professor's work from where the professor left off.

In the professor's nightly dreams, the bear was now constant companion, protecting him from villains, but one night the bear appeared haggard and gray. It bellowed loudly from across a large field but wouldn't approach. Overhead the sky was filled with circling crows.

The professor woke up in a cold sweat. He called the mother and took her to the hospital to discover the clone had died in the womb, but the dark spot remained in his vision. It was different now. It was still a spot, but there was something behind it. Something filled with rage and dark hatred for the professor, and there were the shrieks and screams of agony that came from the spot within the professor's mind. Now more than ever he feared for what was waiting for him after his own death.

The end.

Genetically Modified Virus

Once upon a time scientists worked on genetically modifying animals and plants to get bigger and better consumable yield.

The scientists made some headway in making chickens bigger and fatter, but the effect somehow plateaued. The investors weren't satisfied.

One scientist was sifting through his old notes from college when he came across an article about a virus that caused stem cells to mutate specifically into fat cells in certain animals. He got the brilliant idea to modify the virus to infect chickens, effectively doubling their size.

Even more brilliant was that the virus would not need to be given to each chicken because it was an airborne virus and spread easily across chickens, especially if they were packed together in confined spaces.

Unfortunately the virus mutated and infected people who ate chicken.

The End.


Old Phone Surge

Once upon a time there was a smart-phone popular with business professionals. It was the first to offer a fully alphanumeric keypad and became all the rage of its day. Then one day a competitor offered a phone with no keypad at all, but a fully programmable touch screen.

The news shocked the older company but they pressed on by increasing the size of their screen to compensate. They could see the writing on the wall, but they had one huge ace up their sleeve. A trick they learned from watching ENRON tinkering with their own stock price through shell companies. They also saw how another company was moving aluminum between warehouses to manipulate prices.

The old phone company quietly waited for the right moment and was about to launch their final thrust when the recession of 2008 caused them to delay. The company scrambled to shore itself up by making the screen even bigger and touch sensitive in addition to the keypad. They had little choice because the executives were heavily optioned at a stock price that would require a full economic recovery.

A long six years rolled by, and the company was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. The "ace up the sleeve" was almost forgotten. The new phone was launched into the public with mixed reviews, but that was not the "ace up the sleeve."

The "ace up the sleeve" was a magical way of making the stock price go up suddenly by creating the appearance of high demand. The executives could sell their shares of stock and retire, but how? A subsidiary company would flush cash through other companies in the form of vouchers for the new phone.

The company posted a "surprising profit" but revenues continued to decline. The "ace up the sleeve" created only a tiny bump in the share price, enough to start a quiet offloading of shares but not much more.

Cotton Polyester Jam

Hank offloaded his last bail of cloth from the truck owned by the company that buys unsold clothing. As he approached the warehouse he pushed a button that automatically opened a huge sliding door. He dreaded this part because he knew there was only a tiny bit of room inside the building.

He feared an avalanche of moldy old bundles of clothes. Hank knew a coworker who picked up an old shirt off the ground and tried to take it home. He was immediately fired. 'What could possibly be such a big deal about an old shirt?' thought Hank. The door lurched as it slid open against the lateral pressure of massive piles of old unsold retail clothing merchandise.

Hank was able to load the very last bail of old clothing into the final empty space in the very last warehouse. He called his supervisor who called his manager who called the home office. The secretary took the message that the warehouse was full and said management will hear about it immediately.

An emergency meeting of the board of directors was held. The concern was not about the fact that inventory was maxed out but that the secret warehouse where they stored the unsold merchandise was full.

"The shareholders will finally catch on that we manipulated the stock price by creating false indicators of growth in wholesale orders to our stores! Everyone sell their shares immediately and I'll hand-write a letter and send it by postal service to our shareholders. They should figure it out in a week or so. That should give us time to make a killing on this killing."

They sold their shares and then jumped ship with their golden parachutes.

The End.

The Greasy Goose

Once upon a time there was an independent contractor working for the State of California. The contractor had a secret garage meeting with some Major Oil companies who suggested that the contractor should broadly overestimate the amount of oil in the Monterey Shale by ninety six percent.

The contractor smiled and carried out the suggestion. Suddenly there was a surge of upstart oil speculators buying up land at premium prices and drilling exploratory holes in search for the black gold. They spent and drilled themselves into bankruptcy while the Major Oil company execs sat back in their heavy leather chairs surrounded by cigar smoke, the sounds of rustling newspapers and ice cubes in glasses of Bourbon. They were counting on the hungry young oil upstarts not noticing that Major Oil was doing nothing and it worked.

The banks that loaned money to the upstarts also failed. The following year a more accurate report was filed with the State of California and Major Oil was comfortable having swatted away competitors by fabricating the existence of a large supply of oil ripe for the taking.

Trolling Startups

Once upon a time there was a nephew of an oil baron who was getting a hundred thousand dollars a month in allowance from his uncle. One day he was bored and decided to open a bar downtown just to make himself popular among the local business community.

His business model was terrible. He didn't have an ounce of creativity, but that didn't matter. He didn't have any customers until he started to undercut his neighborhood competitors by seventy five percent. He was able to pump his trust money into the overhead to make up the difference. One day something wonderful happened.

The bars in the neighborhood went out of business and everyone came to his bar. The building owners were hemorrhaging money and finally had to put their properties up for sale that were once occupied by the competitors. The nephew made a phone call to his uncle who immediately bought the other properties.

The second nation under the rug indivisible

Once upon a time there was a large nation that had 5 levels of government: Federal, State, County, Municipal, and Districts. There were 50 states and territories each with hundreds of counties, each with several municipalities and each municipality with several districts. It was understood by everyone that they were comfortably independent of each-other, under the watchful eye of the authority from the above tier who ultimately obeyed the human rights for every individual set forth in the national constitution.

One day someone noticed there were too many news reports on the Internet showing brutal police tactics from all over the country. There was also an increase in reports of police officers breaking laws. Something was odd. There was an emerging pattern of behavior in public officials all over the country, especially in the lower tiers of county and city government.

The strange pattern of behavior led to research that showed in many counties, a few of the same people who were members of the local Chamber of Commerce were also trustees and board members of hospitals, universities and appointees to high government positions by the governors or mayors they helped elect.

In the cities, the public outcry was fierce to have the chiefs of police resign after their officers used unnecessary force that resulted in too many deaths. Many of the chiefs did resign, but that didn't help because they were not the ones who vetted the new recruits to the police academies. A special brutal psychological profile was desired for the ranks of police recruits all across the country. This pattern of behavior implied that somewhere there was written explicit instructions to recruit officers with violent anti-social tendencies.

While the public was distracted by their political representatives, senators, governors and presidents, the nation in the shadows was being organized by the National Chamber of Commerce, creating a network of local chambers of commerce made up of the moneyed interest groups that paid for the campaigns of their preferred, distracting political candidates.

I wouldn't have believed this either until I heard that the local chamber of commerce in a small town welcomed with open arms, Walmart, Best Buy, Target, and other superstores that ran all the local businesses into foreclosure and bankruptcy.

Huge Bank - Small Country

Once upon a time there was a huge bank that financed a revolution in a small country, then put a puppet oligarch in charge. The huge bank then gave a couple of billion dollars to the small country in what was called a "bailout loan."

The Oligarch took the money on the condition that a large portion of that money was spent on multinational conglomerates that were favored by the huge bank. The oligarch pocketed the difference and funneled the money into the pockets of the friends of the huge bank who coincidentally had accounts at the huge bank.

The Interest due on the loan came out of the pockets of the citizens and they were foreclosed on by the huge bank because they couldn't afford the interest. The huge bank now owned most of the land.

The End

Lighthouse on Dream Ash Island.

It's an unseen orb that arrives from time to time for no reason at all. An unwelcome guest with no immediately apparent rational explanation. The first response is to look for a cause outside one's self. Something in the environment, some condition or circumstance. Anything in the real world that is an unwelcome influence or minor irritant.

It's a darkness unseen but often illustrated in cartoons as a storm cloud following someone. It could be sadness, despair, anxiety or anger. We often look deep into our past to search for explanations. Some event in our childhood, some wrong decision. Something, anything to rationalize the suffocating presence of the unwanted negative emotion.

For some it is present all the time, lurking in the background, influencing our behavior, activities, decisions; rendering us insufferable as colleagues, friends or family. The vaporous demon of negative emotion is compounded often by the resulting feelings of abandonment. We often say we have abandonment issues, but it's the same emotion creeping over us with the arrival of empty weekends, holidays or fair weather shared with no other.

The feeling interferes with the ability to remember names, instructions or directions without the aid of pen and paper. It can be beaten back only partially with food, alcohol, gambling, or other distraction that shifts focus from it to the sensation of gratification following simple materialistic activities.

The frustration of not knowing its true nature, that it lies only within ourselves, can cause some to escalate toward violence, lashing out. However, recognizing its true nature, that it's merely a combination of chemicals in our brains that trigger unwanted feelings, that nothing outside ourselves causes negative emotions, may provide some solace and strength in our social character. If it weren't so damn insidious.

Years later the damage is done. friends are gone, family gives a wide berth, intimate companionship is long foregone. All that's left are the ashes of dreams upon which to build a lighthouse, a warning beacon for the rest of you to find and strangle your dark, persistent, insidious negative emotions, and not blame them on others.

Dream: The lightning of the molten moons

As best I can recall in this dream, it was a cool, partly cloudy evening at what I now can assume was some sort of picnic, carnival or farmers market near a street or a park. As far as I could see there were tables and booths. I never saw so many people crowded into one place and enjoying it.

I was sitting with a friend at one of the crowded picnic tables. He had fried chicken and coleslaw. It made me hungry so I got up and went browsing through a sea of serving tables and booths serving all kinds of food. I reached into my pocket for my wallet. It wasn't there. As I was walking out of the park I looked up and saw something the filled me with dread. The moon was the color of slate with cracks glowing reddish orange. Behind the moon and slightly to the right was another larger moon and they shared what looked like lightning. There was a ring of debris expanding around them.

I went back to my friend's table and he tossed me his car keys. My appetite was overshadowed by dread and anguish. I kept looking up at the moons slowly destroying each other, debris spreading wider. I reached the edge of the park and the keys were gone. I surveyed the massive crowd of people milling about and was overcome with a sense of hopelessness that I would ever find the keys so I just walked home. In the living room I found another friend laying on the couch staring at the TV.

There was nothing to do but go about our every day lives and not think about the falling molten moon debris.

The takeover

I had a crazy "Planet of the Apes" like dream last night where I had to find a hiding place from an invasion force of primates. The neighborhood was teaming with gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees. They moved through the street like a giant hairy pyroclastic flow.

I hid in a closet behind a pile of clothes. At first I heard growing sounds of car alarms, smashing glass and metal, then I heard shreiking and thumping footsteps growing closer. The hairy horde exploded through the front doors and windows and seemed to pass by me. I thought for a moment that I would escape until a big hairy hand reached over the pile of clothes and grabbed me by the back of the neck.

After that I remember little of my dream except the feeling that I was under constant supervision. At one point I was sifting through debris looking for shoes. At another point I remember trying to get a cup of coffee and I picked a large mug out of the cupboard. I worried about being perceived as greedy for picking such a large cup. I didn't know what the punishment might be so I put it back and got a smaller cup. After than I don't remember.