Sunday August 28th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: chaos effect.

Max and I cleared off the deck this morning before giving it a good wash with the hose and scrubber. We took turns with each tool, both to give him a break from squeezing the nozzle on the hose and to make sure the whole thing generally got done properly.

This evening we met up with the farm family at the beach for a picnic dinner. Lots of fun but, oddly enough, the drive home was the highlight of the night for me...


We left the beach around seven o'clock, as Miles needed to go to sleep. Which meant that he was pretty fussy and not interested in having to drive before being put to bed.

Kat started singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star to try to calm him down shortly after we started driving. I joined in and we went through it several times with some success.

Then, out of nowhere, Max decides to start singing his ABCs. Kat and I laughed, but she managed to continue with the song that she'd started with. Max laughed and kept going with his song. It took me a little longer to recover.

And then I decided to start singing Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.

Max thought that was hilarious.

Kat hit me.

I choose to be encouraged by the first reaction and quite entirely ignore the second. So we drove the rest of the way home with each of us trying (with varying degrees of success) to sing our own songs.

The end result was Miles getting home without too much fussing. Not the least bit sleepy, but I was happy to take what I could get.

Max, to my great surprise, was very sleepy. To the point that he insisted I carry him from the car to the house. I even got him to sleep before Kat got Miles to sleep.

And, as I sit here typing this, the whole thing still brings a smile to my face.


morganna said...

Every elegant beach
Grains of sand neatly aligned
Stretches out into infinity
Each curve fractals into more curves
Never ending chaos

Greg said...

@Morganna: the picture I get from your poem today is beautiful, and I'm sure there are well-hidden monks somewhere raking the beaches into exactly the right shape. I really admire how well you do this in so few words. I have one tiny complaint, and that's because I'm a mathematician: fractal can't be used as a verb -- it's a portmanteau of "fractional dimension" -- curves have to fractally contain more curves. But that's me being fussy, of course.

@Marc: it sounds like you're getting your money's worth out of your child labour ;-) Although it also sounds like Max was having fun helping out, which is surely the key thing. The drive home sounds hilarious and I hope your bruises heal quickly :)

[Posting as two: sorry, over the character limit again]

Greg said...

Chaos effect
The station clock read a quarter to one when the station porter leaning against the wall stopped whistling. His lips were still pursed and his fingers were still beating a counterpoint against the wall, but the noise stopped completely and a moment later his face started turning blue. Ernest, who was standing at the train window with his hands folded behind his back, frowned and called to his friend.
"David, if you might spare a moment?"
"Of course," said David. He set down the newspaper, in which he'd been perusing the society pages with increasing wonderment that anyone would waste their time writing them, let alone reading them.
"The porter," said Ernest, not needing to point: the man was falling to his knees as he spoke, his hands clutching at his throat. "No, wait David! We're far too far away to help him, I'm sure. But what, in your opinion as a Magician of the Realm might be affecting him?"
David halted mid-turn, his immediate instincts to seize his bag and run from the train. The use of his official title was like a slap to the face and he quickly saw the situation as Ernest was looking at it: the man was asphyxiating abnormally fast, there was no visible agency for how it could be happening -- magic had to be in use. As soon as he accepted that he analysed the scene again, faster and with a different mind-set.
"As you know, Ernest," he said, "magic is easiest when there is the possibility for contagion -- for touch, if you will. Here there is none unless there is some subtle substance in the air, but then the air would need to be directed to avoid affecting others as well."
Ernest gestured to a child walking past the station doors. "It would seem we can discount that," he said.
"Exactly. So this is an area-effect and they are diffuse, as you would expect. Asphyxiating someone this way is nearly impossible."
"I note you said nearly," said Ernest. "There is a way?"
"The chaos effect," said David. He knelt and opened his bag, and started delicately shifting things around inside it. "It's doctorate level theory, though the application is startlingly straightforward. Basically there is an intertwining of order and chaos that you can exploit; in an ordered system like the human throat you can unbind that order into chaos, but you can't be sure of the effect. Of course, in an enclosed ordered system like the human throat you can be certain of choking, even if you don't know exactly how it will happen." He removed a wax-paper wrapped object from his bag and stood up. When he had removed the paper he was holding a delicate rhomboidal prism that glittered like sunlight on mercury.
"Please hold this this, like so" -- he demonstrated holding it between his finger and thumb -- "exactly here." Ernest complied, and David gripped his wand, squinted out of the window, and then said "Fiat lux!" quite clearly.
A beam of light lanced from his wand and through the prism, striking the porter now writhing on the station platform floor. For a moment he still writhed, then he seemed to relax. A few seconds later he sat up, looking puzzled and massaging his throat.
"Success!" said Ernest. "Well done, David! And I've learned something too, a most magnificent achievement."
"Thank-you," said David, taking the prism back and wrapping it up again. "But I think your thanks are too early: surely it's now down to you to establish why that young man was magically attacked?"
"And in just ten minutes before the train leaves! Alas David, do you think even I am that capable?"

morganna said...

Greg -- I knew that about fractal :) But I decided to take literary license with it to fit the right rhythm. I apologize for offending your mathematician's sensibilities.

Marc said...

Morganna - agree with Greg, that is a beautiful scene you've painted. And, as I'm not mathematician, I've no technical complaints :P

Greg - hey, the kid wants to help *shrugs* :P

Man, I am enjoying reading about these two's adventures. Some great details and touches in this one.