Refer to “Butter Whale Drama”
Refer to “Should have gone with cloud.”
Staunch McDauntless ran over a nail and his tire went flat.
He pulled over and gave the flat a gritty thousand yard stare, and said, “It’s an entirely different kind of flying.”
Staunch McDauntless surveyed the tattered defensive line.
They’d stood up well for the first six waves, but the claw zombies got through on the seventh, and nearly cut them all to ribbons.
Sargent Pickles lowered his ‘nocs, and noted dully, “They’re coming again. More this time. Looks like this’ll be our last fight.”
Staunch didn’t like the hollow resignation in his old friends voice, and resolved to combat it with something inspiring. He struck a match and said, “You know who didn’t get to be in our last fight? George Zip.” He held the match to his flamethrower’s pilot light until the bit of gore that had snuffed it burned away and the flame hissed and popped back to life.
“What are you talking ‘bout Staunch?” Pickles retorted, snapping the ammo chain into his cannon and hoisting it up. “George literally just died in the last fight.”
Staunch MeDauntless sat brooding at the bar.
Memories of the past few weeks replayed through his head. Battles won and lost. Betrayels and new friendships. All to protect something that wasn’t even real in the first place. Now it was hopeless, and he knew it.
The bell attached to the door jangled as the old, ill fitting thing was wrenched open. Two cloaked figures moved in, settling in stools next to Staunch. The closest figure grabbed a handful of pretzels and munched into them.
Staunch lifted his whiskey and turned to examine them. Could be trouble, but Staunch didn’t really care anymore. “Leon’s getting larger.” He said.
Leon Dopplehammer laughed and lowered his hood. “Hey Staunch.” The figure seated next to Staunch remained motionless for a moment until the bartender tried to walk past, and his hand shot out like a viper and latched onto the bartenders wrist.
He lowered his hood to meet the gaze of the surprised man, revealing Staunch’s old partner, Smith d’Aegis. “These pretzels are making me thirsty.” He croaked dramatically. “Hennegin’s.”
Staunch was not happy to see Smith again. Especially not now. Their partnership had come to an unpleasant end. They weren’t enemies, in Staunch’s reckoning, but they weren’t friends either. Smith needed everything to be a contest, so they had been constant rivals.
Staunch McDauntless’ chimera grunted and raised its head in alarm.
He never does this at home, Staunch thought from astride the mythical beast’s back, instinctively unsheathing his claymore and shotgun. The motion engulfed his shotgun arm in pain, and blood started to well from around the arrow shaft still buried in it. He set the shotgun down and hacked the arrow tail off with his claymore. Then he reached down into a saddle bag and retrieved his duct tape and set about taping the shotgun to the claymore. When he was finished he hefted the work up in his good arm and examined it, then tossed it away in disgust.
Upton, his loyal chimera friend, was looking down the city street. In the night, the building at the end of the street was mostly shrouded in darkness except for a small well lit drive up above which, in bright red buzzing letters it said: EMERGENCY. “The hospital? What is it?” Staunch asked.
Upton looked taken aback at the question for a moment, then pointed a wing towards the hospital while looking at Staunch with an eyebrow raised.
Sensing what he assumed to be his mount’s urgency, Staunch grasped the saddle pommel with his good arm and tightened his legs to signal Upton to take wing. The beast took to the air with a roar. The shotgun nonsensically taped to a sword remained where it had landed in the gutter.
Old Bill tells his friends, “Hey, I bet you $1000 I can convince that guy over there to move that pile of small rocks from there to over there.”
“Why would I want that?”
“That’s just a waste of time.” They respond.
Old Bill goes over to the guy anyway and says, “What’ll it take to get you to move that pile of small rocks from here to over there?”
“About $10 dollars per stone.” The guy responds.
At this Old Bill gets nervous and tries to get a quick count of the pile of stones. He sees there are fewer than 50 stones.“
“Alright, its a deal.”
The guy picks up a stone, announces “10” and moves it to the new pile, then picks up another, announces “20” and so on until he gets to “470” with the final stone. “That’ll be $470 dollars.”
“Alright, well I bet those guys over there $1000 that I could get you to move those rocks, let me collect from them and I’ll give you your cut.”
“Hold on,” the guy says, “I don’t care about any bet, you owe me 470 dollars.”
“Right, right.” Old Bill says and heads back to the group. “I told you I’d get him to do it. What’d we bet? $1000? Who’s going to pay up?”
“Oh, none of us ever took your bet. We only hung out here because we thought it’d be funny to watch you try. Its been pretty boring so far though.”
“What do you mean you didn’t take the bet?” Old Bill squealed, “I said I’d pay that guy $10 per rock moved, how am I supposed to make good?”
“Oh, now its funny again.”
“You’re in it now, buddy. Looks like he’s coming over, com’on guys lets leave these two to work it out.” The groups moves off, laughing.
No love in the Twin Cities so far. I was hoping for double the freshness. Like two mentos, one on either side of the teeth, up against the cheeks, and you lift the tube up to your mouth to pop in a third, but then you stop yourself. No, you think, two is enough, and you slowly lower the tube, trying to wrap the top piece up with leftover wrapping, but realizing only too late that there just isn’t enough wrapping left to get good enough coverage. So you pop that third mentos in anyway. Yeah. The Twin Cities.
All this talk about mentos has got me thinking. What about? Fig Newtons. That’s right those little square things you used to get as a kid with that magical flavor. They were no Oreos of course, but how do you compete with Oreos? They’re interactive. You grab and twist and pull apart. Maybe sneak a little lick of the frosting, then put the top back on like nothing happened. But Fig Newtons, Fig Newtons. They were almost like little pop tarts, but with a special flavor. You couldn’t heat them up like pop tarts, but let’s face it, that was always a double edged sword. You’d play a little roulette game with the timer knob on the toaster, trying to hit that sweet spot between just as lukewarm as when you put it in and mouth blisteringly hot. It still haunts me. The sweet smell of toasted pastry and strawberry scent, as my tongue felt like it was covered in gooey napalm. None of that risk with Fig Newtons. No way. Safest snack there was. You couldn’t even get that filling stuff on your hands. Why? Becaue it was ingeniously wrapped in a thin layer of cake, of course. And inside, that fig goodness. Which brings me to what I wanted to tell you. You can get whole dried figs, and they taste just like a thousand fig newtons concentrated and purified.
Good food. You’ve always gotta be on the look out for it. Minneapolis has some great places to eat, but it can be easy to get some things confused here, like, things aren’t always where you would think they would be or they aren’t what you’d think they’d be called. There’s the US Bank stadium which looks like it time-traveled here from the future, or the city hall which looks like a purple castle stolen from the past. And anyone ever eat at that Lickity Splits place downtown, by the purple castle? I thought the wait staff was a bit confrontational, and the food was rubbery, but the decor was simply fascinating. And if you head out towards the Arts distract from there, you’ll get to Glam Dolls Donuts, where you can stop afterwards to pick up something for a little fun later.
Speaking of the stadium and city hall, there really are a lot of marvels of architecture and civil engineering in and around the cities. It makes the amazing seem within reach, easy, and that starts to give you unreasonable expectations. Why isn’t everything unbelievably great? For instance, I noticed while driving into the cities on the freeway that no one was vending chili dogs to commuters at freeway speeds. There were no special chili dog lanes. There were no special EZ chili dog pass readers. And there were no pneumatic chili dog cannons that target and fire a chili dog into the drivers window of your moving vehicle after automatically billing you.
What’s the deal? Is it too much to expect high velocity chili dog delivery systems on our nation’s freeways? They time traveled the stadium in from the future, so why no chili dogs?
Practical engineering is the oldest and most concrete form of engineering, and it amounts to the construction of a tool to automate a task. This is quite different and much easier to achieve than the modern concept of professional engineering which typically requires the accummulation of a relatively vast amount of practical knowledge and reasoning skills. There are only two steps to being a practical engineer:
Step 1: Identify a laborious task that can be automated to be faster, more consistent, cheaper, or in some way more desirable
Step 2: Automate said task.
Step 3: As I previously mentioned, there are only two steps.
Step 4: Well, now you are just being beligerent.
Step 5: At this point, I’m assuming that you are some type of broken computer program, so… Goto 10
And that’s all there is to it.
Whether you accidently rub the wrong lamp, find a cursed gem, or perhaps even come across a monkey’s paw, you may find yourself working with a Djinn, or genie, and even if it’s an incredibly beautiful blond actress of a genie, you still have to find a way to gauge it’s intentions and abilities. After all, you can’t just take the word of anything that materializes out of a cloud of smoke, or appears in a vision. That would be irresponsible. So here are a few tips to handling an encounter with a Djinn:
1. Firstly, never assume that the creature wants to grant you wishes. In fact, it could just be mad that you woke it from its centuries of slumber and may just want to kill you. Watch it like you would a lion, and be prepared to flee.
2. There is no way of knowing if the creature has any concept or understanding of human speech, let alone English. Also, it may not appear as human. So if it does not address you in english, or speaks in what sounds like a language but is not english, then raise your open palms in front of you in a gesture of goodwill and peace. This gesture is your best shot, but stay on your toes, it may not have any desire for peace. If it doesn’t speak english, then your best bet is to leave it alone, just back away slowly until you’re out of sght, then book it.
3. On the off chance it speaks english, or eerily learns it instantly upon hearing you speak, then talks can continue, and it may get offended if you try to run. I cannot stress enough how important it is to not mention wishes. In fact, don’t ask for anything at all. The creature could take that as a request for a favor, grant you the request, and then demand payment of its choosing, which could be anything from bits of string to your still beating heart. So without asking any questions, try and find out what it wants (difficult, I know, but wise). Try to claim that the creature is in violation of small rules and gauge it’s reaction, Say something like, “This place is forbidden! You are not allowed.” If it reacts with anger, then running away would be a good idea. If it reacts with fear or haughty denial, then you may continue. Keep away from questions, continue to claim its presence and motives are in violation of non-existent rules until it explains itself. There is a risk associated with this method, but it is by far the most wise course. The risk is that the Djinn is just a really cool person, and you’ve alienated it with your nonsense.
4. If it offers wishes, just walk away, the risks outweigh the rewards. Just the chance that it could misinterpret a wish is enough to say that making a wish, like traveling backwards through time, is a bad idea. If you really have to, to save a dying loved one or something, do not make the wish on the spot. Call in a lawyer, if possible, and work with him and the Djinn to draft a wish that will safely achieve your goals. At the very least, sit down and write it out before saying it, look for ways your words could be used against you, take the time to write up intended definitions of the words you’ve used, be smart about it. The last thing you want after all this is to end up blurting out “I wish for gold!” and have to watch as the thing shoots you with Goldfinger’s gun.
The important thing to remember is that your safety comes first. This is a fight or flight situation, not a sugar or no sugar in your coffee situation. Oddly enough, these rules can be applied to a wide variety of encounters. Be it aliens, strange beasts, fairies, or even just human strangers these rules are a handy tool for meetings which require caution.