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Friday, October 27, 2000

Jaffo's Idealism Survey

Last night, another late night, tired and ready for bed... too tired to keep myself from answering Jaffo's Idealism Survey...

1. Describe a day in your dream-life. Not necessarily how you got there, but the little details of what it's like to live there.

Simon's log, Aug 28th, 2038: As I rowed my boat quietly across the lake today, I could see the fish swimming below, some following close to the boat, the occasional curious one nipping at the drops of water trailing from my raised oar. The piano was near the west shore today. The winds, different than usual, had carried it there, within the small floating gazebo we built for it on a whim last year. I almost didn't find it, but I heard harry jumping on the high B# key again -- I don't know why he likes that particular note so much. When he saw me coming, he jumped in the water in a panic; he's lucky one of the larger fish didn't eat him before he got to shore.

I played for a while before I realized a soft voice had been joining me from afar, now not so far as Sarah spiraled down from above in her sky sailer and lofted to a stop in the water behind me. We played in minor keys, told a story in our melody of challenge, loss, and triumph, within the grand existential irony of life itself... until suddenly we stopped, listened to our echoes fade into silence, to the animals resuming the noise of their transient existence. She smiled a sated smile and wept a single tear, did a back handspring into the cockpit of her sailer and blasted off to deliver her bounty to the lab. I threw her a line. She clicked it on board and flew low. By the time the line snapped tight, I had my feet in the ski. It yanked me off the deck head first, but I was prepared for that -- we'd done this a hundred times by now. A tuck of the knees and I was all the way around by the time I reached the water, snagging the hook off its holder with my free hand mid flight.

She brought back two H70's from the basement of what was probably once an old office building before the cities were razed. By the time I got there from the shore, she'd already installed them and was loading the neural software. Alex was pleased -- they would probably gain him another four or so IQ points. He gave his daily assurance that there were no signs of Them returning, though we knew they would, just not when.

Alex's nanobots continue to do wonders. Sarah and I don't look or feel a day over eighteen, despite my being seventy today. It was fortunate we were able to reverse engineer the interface to the nano-assembler we pulled from that alien ship. (Sarah figured most of it out by the time she had the power source and engines retrofitted into her sailer.) With the parts we have by now, Alex could have most any body he wanted, but for some reason he continues to be roughly a dog.

We lit a fire in the pit, spit roasted the fish I hooked in a low carving turn on the way back to shore, and wrestled jokingly over the head until Sarah pulled a long knife from I don't know where (we hadn't found a need for clothes in quite some years) and got me pinned to the floor by its point on my neck. I said "ok, you win, so now you have to eat it" and in the moment she pursed her lips in disgust I palmed the blade aside and hooked my knee over her neck, pitching her backward and onto the alien-skin rug. I grabbed her by the calves and slid her toward me to keep her from prouncing up, landed on top of her and kissed her until she let go of the fish head. We rolled over so she was on top, and I heard Alex patting our way. "What's that big grin?" Sarah asked me rather suspiciously. "Did I tell you what I did this morning," I said, "I made Alex... fully functional." Her eyes got wide...

We pondered again the odds that there are any other humans left. Sarah and I met in a fortuitous moment when we both decided from opposite directions to sneak past the advancing aliens and into the ship that everyone else in the crowd was running from. By pure luck it was the last thing they had counted on as the ship was completely un-manned (or, umn, un-thinged) and Sarah managed to get the door closed before the first one got back. Boy did it look pissed! I heard them make a lot of strange noises in the weeks that followed, but nothing like that day. It would have been even more pissed if it knew, in that moment before I inadvertently (but not regretfully) cooked it with the thrusters, that I would never have figured the controls out if it hadn't displayed all of its limbs for me in a grand gesture of fury which like an instructional diagram brought the whole layout of the panel into sudden and perfect clarity for me.

Sarah and I were inseparable from that moment forward, largely because the ship was quite small and neither of us was in any hurry to open the door. Those first ones were just scouts. When the razors came, it was all over very quickly -- so quickly, in fact, we woke up to the boom only to see a rain of sand pouring down from the sky, our previously hidden ship all that was left more than two inches high. Being inside that ship is the only thing that could have saved us; and how many other humans had commandeered one?

I finished Alex some time after that, and he is still a work in progress. I spent much of this morning uploading and testing my latest attempts at understanding the finer nuances of motivation and desire. How, for instance, can you hard-wire something like a desire to see someone else pleased? It's such a high-level concept, deep into the unpredictable landscape of self-organizing abstractions and very far from any single basic perception or sense. I think I finally have it figured out--Alex performed marvelously--but I am starting to worry I have seeded jealousy in an entity who's IQ already far exceeds my own. It is a delicate race to create the prototype for the ultimate comrade in arms without inadvertently creating a greater enemy than the one we are preparing to defeat.

I have quietly begun programming the nano-assembler to build neural archeologists, and hope to combine them with an HX31 into a necklace that will disassemble and archive my head in the event of my death. The hard part is the heuristic for determining whether a future handler of the necklace is friend or foe, as I don't want my bits dumped to /dev/null by an ornery alien or, heaven forbid, a jealous robotic dog. I'll make such a necklace for Sarah, too, once I'm convinced it's reasonably fail-safe against archiving a head prematurely. A simulated Sarah would be better than no Sarah, but for now I prefer the flesh and blood that's still well beyond our ability to nano-construct from scratch.

In the meantime, we rather enjoy the solitude, not to mention the abundance of fish and game, and wild nuts and berries, in the absence of hoards of tool-bearing predators. I am beginning to understand now how we managed to live before there was civilization, and I rather enjoy the experience, particularly having the best of both worlds with an ample supply of leftover techno-scraps, and a millennium of knowledge (with an alien boost) to play with.

Well, it is late. Sarah's asleep. Tomorrow we're finally ready to start reverse-engineering the razor shield, so I best rest.

Simon Funk, signing off from another day in the life of.

2. If you were stranded on a desert island with one song, one beverage, and one semi-conscious sex toy, who/what would you choose?

It would have to be a song of fractal composition, infinite in duration and variety at all levels of structure. And even then, I'd probably rarely play it. And for an equally practical answer, I'd bring milk, possibly mother's, assuming we're talking a bottomless tumbler (boundless breast?), since in a pinch I could live long enough on that alone to build a boat good enough to get me to a tropical island. If I'm allowed an un-conscious sex toy, I'd bring the new ben-wa pager... but that's cheating since I'd really only want it for the integral GPS. Semi-conscious? What does it matter -- something young and healthy.

3. What fictional character best represents your romantic ideal, and why? Be sure to cite the book or movie the character came from so we can all share your lust.

Hmm. My enumeration memory is poor so I have to pick "best" from the mere dozen or so works that come to mind in the moment.... Probably Gena Davis's final character in The Long Kiss Goodnight.

4. What fictional character best represents evil to you? Who would you list as the most hideous, banal, unspeakable villain? Not the coolest villain, but the most genuinely repulsive villain.

Forest Gump! (Umn.. just kidding... sort of...) Kaiser Sozay! (Just kidding again...) The "State" from Brazil.

5. If you could have lunch with one dead celebrity, who would you choose?


6. If you could live in any historical era, which one would you choose? And why? You can choose the future if you wish, but please be specific about what good things you expect for the future.

The renaissance.

7. You have been given ultimate power for 24 hours. Name 2 or 3 things you would do with it.

Grant myself immortality (including imperviousness to harm). That is all. The rest would come with time, or it would be my challenge to make it so.

8. What fictional universe would you enjoy living in for a short period? Think of it as a vacation.

Someone already said Hitchhiker's Guide, but that was the first thing that came to mind when I read the question so there you go.

9. Where would you live if you could live anywhere on Earth? Why?

Maui at the moment, apparently. I can live anywhere on Earth. Who can't?

10. Describe your favorite cartoon program.

Road Runner.

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com