Assimilation Report

Quivering at a meager five feet and 9 inches tall, he stood to give his presentation. “Barksdale, reporting assimilation progress.” Clearing his throat, he waited for the response.

The oval table in the room held comfortably 12 people. However, today there were only four present. This included Barksdale and his three superiors. This meeting was a special meeting. Barksdale is an assimilation reconnaissance field agent for the company. His job, as it has been for a considerable time of his career,is to evaluate social assimilation within indigenous species. Barksdale stands at the opposite end of the table from the other three.

At the head of the oval table sat the larger of the three. His gaze was firmly planted on the report in front of him. Lowering the report, his eyes bored through the air across the table. With a grimace, his upper lip separated from the lower. “Report it then.”

A tiny bead of sweat rolled down Barksdale’s left temple. “As you know, the first assimilation team studied the atmosphere, soil content, temperature variations and potential collision paths with all know space debris.”

The upper lip of the boss was still cocked in a grimace. His head tilted slightly to the left and down, He spat out, “Get to the point.”

A tiny bead of sweat rolled around his hairline to his cheek. Barksdale reached up and swiped it with a shaky hand. He sucked in a short breath. “Yes, sir. The dominant inhabitant of the planet is a species that closely matches our own. They communicate similarly as we do. Eat comparable foods. They even procreate in most the same fashion as we do.” Pausing to take two short breaths and wipe the collection of sweat beads that were now forming on his forehead he continued. “However, there is conclusive evidence that many are born with an affliction.” Barksdale rocked back onto his heels. “Of these, many are terminal.”

The boss’s forehead wrinkled as his eyebrows rose to his question. “What? There has been no report of a wide spread disease. If so many are afflicted, as you are saying, how are they maintaining dominance?”

Barksdale looked directly into the eyes of his boss. “The affliction isn’t really a disease. It does not directly affect the longevity of the afflicted.” He turned slightly to the left and right to look at the other members of the meeting. He reached a clammy hand to this back of his neck and gave it a gentle squeeze. “It is actually remarkable that the minority not afflicted support and maintain those who are. Not always directly, mind you. However, even with the support those afflicted still find ways to demonstrate their affliction. Many to their detriment.”

“Are you telling me that there is something on this planet that will not allow us to assimilate?” The bosses head rolled to the center of his shoulders and forward slightly. His hand still gripped the report.

“Sir, to summarize the conclusion of the report, our findings indicate this potential host planet-” he looked to the ceiling of the room. He took two more short breaths, “this reconnaissance team recommends-”

“Just spit it out, Barksdale!”

“Well, sir, all indications point to : Some people are born stupid and never get over it.”

For someone special

I started writing poetry, if you can call it that, when I was in middle school. Yeah, a few shivers just ran up my spine. I was so very awkward with girls. Since starting this blog, I decided to dig up some of the “old” stuff and take a look at it. This is a poem I have now revisited. It is titled “For someone special.” I can’t remember who it was for now. Being that there were only two or three girls that I pined for back then, I am sure I could guess. But, I choose not to. 🙂 Originally, this poem was pretty free-handed. I generally wrote this stuff straight out of my head (I said heart back then). So, today I revised it to match a set syllable count, meter and rhyme. Not anything that a great poet might have used. I don’t pretend to be very good at the poetry bit. But, I needed to write a bunch of words today and this looked like something that could be fun. And, I wanted to write something for my wife.

For Someone Special (Revised 2013)

Only two hearts that shall be
Only waiting never to see
Looking high, beauty I find
Looking low, waiting to hold

This rose I send bound by love
Heart’s end it came from above
Two in stride the one I find
Bless the one I want to hold

Hope to hope, holding to care
To love you there is no err
Blinding light prevents my find
Struggling my grip to hold

If you shall be ever near
Still waiting for you my dear
Through my love, it you will find
Plainly, is the love to hold

Terrible, I know. But, I warned you that I wasn’t a poet.

Whatever happened to common sense?

I know that as we mature as a population certain behaviors become outdated, less civil or just wrong. Here in the US we found taxation without representation to be deplorable. Then capital punishment needed to change. It was just wrong to hang someone or just chop their head off. No, we should electrocute them. But that wasn’t right either. Now we will chemically put them to sleep.Then stop their heart. Yeah that’s better.

But this editorial isn’t on ancient civil practices or contemporary capital punishment procedures. I want to talk about bullying. We all have experienced it directly or vicariously through others we know. It is not good, right or ever really in style. But it is natural. Call it “natural selection on the social scale” when someone stronger imposes on a weaker person.

In nature social struggles such as these have a permanent stock. Pack animals use bullying to maintain order. Not that I would say that any of our children are like a pack of wolves or a pride of lions. But, I do see the similarity. Cliques, groups, social circles – they are all packs or prides of children. So the intellectual minds of today see this as well. We go to extreme measures to remove the wildness that our children still exhibit. We have well meaning psychologist and psychiatrists develop a strategy to train this behavior right out of us. We tell our children that if someone talks to you “mean” then they are bullying you. That might be true. Heck, it probably is. We don’t stop here though. Nope. We go further. I think that we go too far. We tell our children that they are victims and they cannot handle this themselves. They should go to an authority figure to help them out. Maybe.

My father and grandfather taught us when we were young to stand up for yourself. They supported us when we had conflict with other children. Sometimes watching from afar. But always watching. They taught us as children that we are different from everyone. So are the other children. We are all different. We each have our strengths and weaknesses. But like any muscle that needs stress to build it up so does our inner strength. It takes bullies and challenges, that will sometimes be more than we can handle at first, to build up that inner strength that some people call confidence. When I was small we learned a little prose that was created to help build this inner strength. You know it. Most people do.

“Sticks and stones can break my bones. But words cannot hurt me.”

I recently was told by my wife that one of my children said that the statement was false. I stood shocked at first. I know that people can use words to create pain for people. But the phrase was not meant for that at all. It was meant to help children cope with threats of physical attack. Or that pestering bully that wants to tell you that your pants were too short. Like you didn’t know that already. This isn’t false. It is true. The only time words hurt you – they only time – is when you let them. Emotion can be evoked by events that are surrounding you. That is a sure thing. But you can learn to control these emotions. Being sad because someone points out that you are almost six feet tall but weigh less than even some of the skinniest girls in school – is a choice. I learned it early on. Sometimes you stand out in the crowd. And when that happens, you have to learn to deal with it. Being smart was OK when I grew up in school. But you couldn’t be too smart. Nope you were a nerd, geek or something like that. Standing out again. More names to be called. The odd thing to me is that as a society we haven’t quite gotten that yet. “Got what” you say? Bullies are going to point out the obvious. They are not going to tell you something that you don’t already know. I knew my pants were too short. I didn’t have any others to wear. And just like me, any child that is getting bullied was already sad, disappointed, angry, embarrassed about that WAY before the bully pointed it out. Is it right that they brought your inner feelings like that out into public? No. Not at all. But that bully can only be as effective as you let them be.

Because I am certain that all children are aware of what bullying is, I propose a new/old strategy here. Teach our children to learn how to handle it. Teach them how humor or selective hearing can sidetrack the comment. I used these as a child and still do with great success. Support your child by showing them their inner and outer strengths. Show them that helping out that child, who doesn’t have it figured out yet, can help them even more.

I had classmates that called me names. But if I let them hurt me by saying those names, then I lose. I will not let them hurt me. Names are just words. Their words cannot hurt me.

Galumphing

When I took the Creative Writing Course, that Ann Linquist leads, I was introduced to this new-to-me method of freeing up the brain lock that can occur with writing or really any creative process. The word itself is a nonsense word made up by Lewis Carroll. It means to move around clumsily or heavily. But in this class, it was used to take seemingly unrelated words or phrases and create a poem or some kind of prose with each included. Below is what I wrote for my first stab at the process:

  • Garbage Can
  • Scorpion
  • Thunderstorm

There once was a large garbage can. A really large garbage can. It was so large that it had its own atmosphere. One day while plundering around in this garbage can universe, a less than curious creature found something. He wasn’t sure what it was. He didn’t really care all that much. He was looking for his breakfast. The thing he did find was in a ball. The ball rattled and hummed when he moved it. At first the scorpion was startled by the noise and vibration. Since it didn’t look like it would be very good for breakfast he tossed it aside. When it crashed into the filth beside him it made even more noise and lit up briefly. The flash of white light ran across the face of the ball. Turning to the light the scorpion thought that it might actually be a nice toy for his pleasure later. Since he was a scorpion he had no pockets. So he had to carry the ball on his back. But the ball didn’t want to stay. It would roll to the side with a clamor and glow. Frustrated with the ball he decided that he would just use his stinger to hold it into place. With precision he impaled the ball with his stinger. The ball reacted with a loud clap and white-hot light. The ball was vibrating on the end of his tail. He was getting annoyed with the ball. He decided that it was quite noisy and he no longer wanted the ball. He tried to pry the ball from his stinger, but it did not budge. The rumbling and flashing seemed to only grow more intense. In his frustration to rid himself of the ball he flung his tail this way and that, banging the ball against whatever was around him. With one last burst of energy he launched the ball into the air. It zoomed to the top of his garbage can universe and cracked open. The inside of the ball expanded and boomed with streaks of light. Thanks to the annoyed scorpion the thunderstorm was born in the garbage can.

I had fun with this one. I really like this exercise. It “gets my motor running” in a literary sense. Ann, thanks for the introduction to the method. It is really fun.