The Doc's Always Right

I was sitting in my garage one late afternoon; reading and thinking. I always tended to remember my dad during that part of the day. I remembered the evening after Verne and I came back from 1888 after he tried to change my parents' minds of naming him Verne just before he was born. Dad told us, "Don't worry, lads, time has a way of fixing itself." He was right, he was always right. Verne turned out to be named Verne after himself; quite the story.

Then, the shocks and fumes of time-travel interrupted my reminisce. After the smoke cleared the DeLorian door opened, while all the too-familiar myst floated down. It was in very bad shape: the tail light where we hid the emergency button was broken and sparks were flying down the back of the car. It was definitely much more teared down than how we left it in the warehouse after dad died. Something was clearly at odds.

Only one person I know was able to time travel and land inside a garage. He stepped out, with the look of savagery I knew from when we were little. "Verne?" I gasped.

"How is it that you always recognize me?" he flaunted.

"You shouldn't be here. You... I... You're dead in this year. I saw you fall myself," I stuttered, while trying not to see him.

"Julie, Julie. Of course I know I'm dead in this year. Well, not me, technically," he had a disgusting stare I've never seen from him before. "It's funny, I kind of expected a much more manly version of you in this time line, with my death and all, but nope. Same all, same all. It's as if you're the same wuss regardless of the time line you're in," he muscled out with an undistinguishable accent.

"Time line?", I hastily questioned.

"Inter-temporal-line travel," he paused, while stretching his back. "You've heard of it, right? Passage between time lines?"

My eyes widened, my heart began racing, "It can't be. I saw dad's blueprints. You would need to map every possible outcome of every possible temporal fork from the beginning of time right until its end. Dad trashed it because it was obviously..."

"Impossible. Yes, I've heard," cracking his neck. "Your dad was a brilliant man, don't get me wrong, but he only went so far. Your time line's Verne on the other hand; he was something else. Inter-temporal-line travel was a superb idea that can only be of a superb mind like Verne's," he sighed.

"But, my dad told me that..." I quibbled.

"Look, it's understandable how your dad reacted. His son has just died and he found his blueprints describing an idea he thought was ludicrous. What was he going to tell you? That your freshly deceased brother was a nut case?" he interrupted. I froze in shock.

"It's a shame, really. Verne's Temporal Fork Analysis and Compression Algorithm was a masterpiece. Made it so much simpler, " he paused, condescendingly looking at me to finish his thought. "Can you guess how?"

"I... uhmm... well," I stumbled. "I suppose that each temporal fork is linked to another, so they can theoretically be grouped into one," I said, trying to pull myself together. "But even if you could group them, the resulting amount of groups would still be enormous," I inquired. He nodded.

I went on, "Having them linked, however, would make them related in such a way that they can be filtered by some sort of relevancy factor; a type of measurement of how a fork affects the following forks. In that way, the amount of forks could be reduced to a practical size," I paused. He smiled. "But how can you calculate such a complex factor?" I nervously asked.

"Your brother came up with a simple but elegant solution to that problem: ask the user to provide that relevancy factor. Make the user act as the filter. That's how he came to my time line: he wanted to meet his alter ego. And your brother was very thrusting with his findings," he said, while stepping closer. "I'm definitely glad I stopped by."

"What is it that you want from this time line?" I stepped back.

"You see, you've just confirmed that you can recreate your beloved Verne's plans. And, actually, you're the only one left that can do that, Julie," I felt his knife clawing into the inside of my liver. "Y'know, one would think that the future would have provided far more practical weapons than knives, but they're all traceable and far less sneaky. Besides, the police, not to mention the federal government, would go nuts with a person burned to death by gamma radiation in this country, leading to social chaos, which would then lead to nuclear war, blah, blah, blah."

I felt numb all over while my knees touched the ground. "But being stabbed and left for dead in your garage, with your house a mess? Oh, that's far more common, far more menial, far more expected. And, according to Verne's design, your death by robbery will only inconvenience the Truman family across the street; something about burial grounds custody. But that's it. Your life is literally without significance. No wife. No family, whatsoever. Not even a dog to keep you company. Couldn't find a replacement for Einstein? Didn't like that puppy you saw in the pet store three weeks ago? Lucky me. That dog would've barked, the Kevin kid next door would've suspected, his parents would've gotten involved. You get the idea. You would've named her Marie Curie, by the way. She's long gone, and the Jules of that time line is too. Oh, and Kevin? He tripped and fell in the well out back."

"You killed my brother," I whispered while I was finding oxygen in the air around me without luck, "You pushed him over the edge."

"Hiking accident. Brilliant, isn't it?" He smiled.

"Why?" I coughed.

"Because now I can be the only one, Julie," he whispered.

I could feel my body wanting to faint, and I didn't have the energy to keep it from doing so. My face touched the ground while all my body felt as if it were going somewhere without moving.

As I was hearing how Verne was tearing up my living room, I could see the sparks flying down the car and the emergency button dangling close beside them. The wires that connected the button to the small quantity of nitroglycerin inside the DeLorian were swelling up and were about to make contact. The last thing I felt was a swift air wave knocking me over and the last thing I heard was the scream of that other Verne.

"Don't worry, lads, time has a way of fixing itself."

You were right, dad, you were always right.

Magic Yellow

Surrounded by wilderness, I'm hearing sounds that I shouldn't be. Cars stopping and going, children loudly demanding their parents' attention, and planes whooshing by. I'm standing here with a forest in front of me and a grocery store behind me; to my right, a canyon with an incessant river forming it; to my left, The Canyon Village Lodge with Wi-Fi and Sky TV at your disposal.

Six years ago, I wouldn't have thought of wishing that this trip would be more "roughing it" than "need more clean towels". But it is what it is, and my parents aren't up for the latter kind of trip. And I suppose that I should be grateful that a national park like Yellowstone is so accessible, but am I too melancholic to think that its accessibility is fading away its magic?

Taking pictures of wild animals from the car doesn't ring "wilderness"; it screams "Disneyland", and the two are definitely mutually exclusive. I can't find a moment beside a waterfall alone to hear the relaxing sound of, well, water falling, because every two seconds there's a camera going off or a mother calming down her kid. This is clear evidence that Yellowstone isn't a place for sightseeing anymore, but an amusement park that has no roller-coasters.

Take Old Faithful: it is the most watched attraction in Yellowstone, not because of its size or extravagancy (it's not the biggest nor the most extravagant), but because it's the most predictable and its schedule is compatible with that of man. The visitor center provides a predicted hour it will go off and has a little sign that says "Remember: we don't schedule, we predict", an implicit confession of the many occurrences in which people have complained about Old's "misbehavior". A ranger actually had to tell a group of people, while we were waiting, that there wasn't a man-controlled pump below the surface that made it go off.

By the way, Old Faithful blows around every 40-80 minutes, so you can go have lunch at any of the three (yes, three) different cafeterias nearby if you just missed it.

We were lucky enough to be present while a much lesser known geyser, The Grand Geyser, blew it's 24 hour load (5 hours give or take). It's huge, freaking huge, and lasts almost 15 minutes (almost three times longer than Old). But it isn't practical for amusement-park minds; and no more than twenty people were there experiencing it. Compare that to the more than a hundred people that came in to see Old and left the geyser basin right after to go the gift shop 50 yards away.

Don't get me wrong: I loved that almost nobody was there to see Grand. It was solitary. I could hear it bubbling up and gushing sulphuric water up in the sky. For a moment, I could hear the Earth breathe. The people that were there are now forever connected. It was magical, like all Yellowstone should be.

There is no quiet place in your cities, no place to hear the leaves of spring or the rustle of insects' wings... The Indians prefer the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of the pond, the smell of the wind itself cleansed by a midday rain, or scented with pinon pine. The air is precious to the red man, for all things share the same breath - the animals, the trees, the man. Like a man who has been dying for many days, a man in your city is numb to the stench.
Chief Si'ahl
Leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish Tribes, Washington State

PS. If you laughed at any of the "load", "go off", or "freaking huge" double-entendres, you can be my friend.

I'll Show You Mine if You Show Me Yours

I rarely watch television anymore. It wasn't in small part because of how unimpressed I am up with the writing quality of many of the series; another is that the series that I do like always get cancelled. But a third is how so many of the series seem to be overly feministic: the woman is strong and overcoming, while the guy, if there is any, is either a stupid ass that is lucky to be the woman's object of interest or a completely fictitious blue prince that the woman drools over but everybody knows doesn't exist.

Unfortunately, I don't know if the pseudo-reality in television has spilled over to society or the other way around, as in most metropolitan areas in USA and Mexico the man is know pushed aside. The reasons vary: we are the ones that start wars, we are the perverted ones, we,men, are the problem. Thus, we need to sit in the back of the Metrobus while the woman can sit anywhere she wants; there are laws specifically to protect and enhance the woman's life where she is repeatedly confronted by the harshness of the male presence. Children can't sit alone with an adult man in an airplane flight, bathrooms are "woman exclusive", and a woman can cut in line with no problems and any justified verbal retaliation coming from a man is frowned upon.

I know history, I understand why this is so. But why am I being punished and stereotyped for the wrongdoing of a few? Yes, a few. Stating that "all men are alike" implies that you know, intimately, a large enough random sample of the male population, at least a 20%. Do you want to do the math? When one instrument is de-tuned, the whole orchestra sounds bad, but it doesn't mean all of them are lousy musicians.

I understand, as I've stated, the grounds for the feminist movement. However, their main goal of empowering women by these methods does not only feels petty but is counterproductive. A strong woman (or person for that matter) would scoff at the fact of "being protected", as it entails a privilege over other people that is unjust and degrades their dignity as a human being. We are all equally important in society and the law should treat us that way; no extra credit should be given just for having a vagina or a penis.

Our physiologies are different but our roles are potentially the same. When a child is born, everybody involved goes through it, some physically, others psychologically, anothers economically. Each challenge has its virtues and shouldn't be dismissed as inferior. The same goes for raising a child, household and workplace roles, and all their moral and ethical implications. These aren't sex-specific, why do they feel that way everywhere I go?

Tell you what, I'll show you mine if you show me yours. I enjoy the sight of any of the possibilities, I hope you do too.

EDIT (2010-07-20): From reader comments and various re-readings, I've noticed that this post was published without the care of explaining myself that I like to have in my posts. I apologize. For amends, I present to you a reply I made to one of my favorite readers in the comment section that I think clarifies this post a bit more:

My intent here is to point out how society is beginning to lean on a legal overprotection of women by denigrating the social status of men, instead of making clear the sexual equality under the current law.

To do this, arguments of historical sexual deviance are thrown. In this is what I meant by "few", which they are in the bigger scope, as few men are convicted of rape compared to the total male population. Keyword being "convicted", as far more women are found innocent in rape crimes than men and it isn't considered discrimination, while it clearly is.

If a job isn't given to a woman, sexism is always suspected and even sometimes used as leverage. If a man even hints at touching a woman, charges can easily proceed. In all the examples I've mentioned (in the post and this comment), turn the roles around and ponder about the different outcome. It's a social/cultural thing (I'm not pinpointing women per se) and its acceptance was driven by misguided guilt, misplaced blame, and ignorant pride.

As for misogyny, if I were a woman, I would hesitate bringing it up, since "more than a few" are guilty of misandry. Discrimination goes both ways, and it only worsens with more acts of discrimination.