Tuesday, April 13, 2004

The Tale of the Penetrated Fowl/Dreams of Rustam

Sylvia has an Easter tradition: she invites her parents over to her apartment and cooks dinner for them. So on Sunday, she and I cooked a ham, a chicken, some corn, cheesy mashed potatoes, and buns for her parents, my parents, and my brother and sister-in-law. About ninety minutes after putting the chicken in the oven, Sylvia gave me a temperature guage and asked me to check if the chicken and ham were cooked. The guague (am I even spelling that correctly?) gague...gague...ga...never mind. I stuck the fork-shaped temperature thingy into the chicken, and when I removed it, the two rubber caps at the end of the tines were gone, nestled deep within the chicken. I immediately realized that I should have removed the caps prior to insertion.

So there I was, staring dumbfounded at the naked tongs.

"Oh no!" I screamed in dismay. Then I had to explain to Sylvia what had happened. Like a trooper, she took my latest foible in stride, and so we proceeded to rip the chicken apart, fearing that the rubber caps would melt inside the hot fowl and contaminate the meat.

Our guests arrived in pairs, first Sylvia's parents, then mine, then my brother and sister-in-law. Fortunately, Sean and Julia (said brother and sister-in-law) took pity on me and carved the chicken, finding the rubber bits in the process, not a bit melted.

On Friday, the 9th, my friend Colin Dunn held a party to celebrate the completion of his mammoth Traveller d20 game rulebook, and there was much merriment had by all. Good job, Colin - I look forward to seeing the printed book in a few months.

At the party I took the Briggs-Meier (sp again) thing once again - I'm either an INFJ or an INTJ this time around, using the questions in Please Understand Me. (I split 50/50 on the feeling/thinking scale.) Both personality summaries, as described in the book, seem fairly accurate, but I'd love to know how scientifically accurate this whole phenomenon is. Can human beings really be broken down into just sixteen personality types? The individualist in me rebels!

Well, an interesting exercise, anyway.

Had an interesting dream last night. It opened in a luxurious home, somewhere in the southern United States. I was an American-raised Middle Eastern student, a scientist with a doctorate in physics, and yet I was still me - different name, but I kept my own personality. I was being held prisoner by a man named Rustam, a very wealthy but sinister man with a beautiful wife and several beautiful daughters.

"Tell me," he said, as I admired his very flashy stereo system (it had some kind of slot that seemed to read flash memory cards of varying types), "If I wanted to put pressure on a steel surface of one meter's thickness, sufficient to crack the steel, could I use an intervening cascade system of pulleys?"

"I won't tell you anything you could use to hurt people," I said.

He leaned in close, pulled me down to sit next to him on a very soft brown couch.

"Listen to me," he said, "I'm quite willing to hurt you to get what I want. In fact, I think the time for physical persuasion has come."

I held up my hands in protest. "No, no," I said, "Listen, I'm a total physical coward. The threat alone is sufficient to force me to do whatever you ask."

"Nonetheless," he said, and made a fist. Then one of his lieutenants, a bald man with sunglasses and a cigar, walked into the room.

We were suddenly sitting around the wet bar in the rec room.

"You're very generous, Rustam," the lieutenant said. Everyone nodded.

I leapt to my feet and slammed my fists on the bar, outraged.

"He is not a generous man! He's had me kidnapped and threatened physical violence, HE IS NOT A GENEROUS MAN!"

Everyone looked at me. I looked over at one of Rustam's beautiful daughters. She liked me, and smiled, and perhaps may have carried a message to the outside world, but her father warned her off with a glance.

"Look here," Rustam said, and used a remote control to turn on a wall-mounted flatscreen television. A map of Canada appeared.

"You've given me what I needed to make a change," he said, "A change for the better."

As I watched, news reports, superimposed over the map, began to roll in. Disembodied voices told different aspects of the same story: Canada's north was warming up, the islands of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories transforming into lush jungle paradises overnight. Pollution was disappearing all over the country, fish stocks returning, the air turning sweet and clear.

"You should have trusted me," Rustam said, and I was ashamed.

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