wafting your way along the slipstreams of the Info Highway

from Bubbles = Tom Digby



Issue #21

New Moon of September 12, 1996

Contents copyright 1997 by Thomas G. Digby, with a liberal definition of "fair use". In other words, feel free to quote excerpts elsewhere (with proper attribution), post the entire zine (verbatim, including this notice) on other boards that don't charge specifically for reading the zine, link my Web page, and so on, but if something from here forms a substantial part of something you make money from, it's only fair that I get a cut of the profits.

For more background info, details of how the mailing list works, etc., look at issue #Zero.

If you email me a reply or comment, please make clear whether or not it's for publication.

September 10 was Dad's birthday. He would have been 88. Do they have birthday parties in Heaven? I'm assuming that's where he went, even though I disagreed with some of his ideas about child-raising.

So now I'm wondering whether they have birthday parties in Heaven. Do they have birthdays in Heaven? Do they have days in Heaven? Do they have time in Heaven? Even if they do have time and days and years, people in Heaven may not consider birthdays important any more, especially after the first few hundred of them. They may have better things to do.

But even if they don't have birthdays in Heaven, they might have parties of other sorts, many of which we on Earth don't have names for yet.

I could see having family reunions there. Dad probably went to Christian Heaven while I'm likely to end up in some Pagan version of Summerland, but even if they're not the same place it should be possible to visit back and forth. So maybe they have family reunions, especially to welcome new arrivals. People from various branches of the family come from far and wide, even from different Heavens, and since it's Heaven the inevitable differences and disagreements and incompatibilities between family members can somehow be worked out for a few days, or whatever they have instead of days there.

The only real fly in the ointment is what if some members of the family got sent Downstairs. Would they get to come on some kind of temporary release program, or would their fate be one of the few things that people in Heaven grieve over?

You guess is as good as mine. But we'll all find out eventually.

There are other thoughts that come to mind about Heaven. Do they use computers to keep track of new arrivals, or do they look people up in a big book like you often see in cartoons and such, or does the gatekeeper just sort of Know? If it's computerized, do they hide the computer or make it look like a book or something to make people who don't care for computers more comfortable?

There is something to be said for old familiar archetypes in stressful situations, and arriving at the Pearly Gates is about as stressful as any I can think of. It's a major lifestyle change, possibly sudden. And no matter how strong your faith is, there's still that faint shadow of doubt in the back of your mind as you're probably remembering and repenting all the things you did wrong. So having a comfortable human presence there to welcome you in what you see as the traditional manner is probably best. If you enjoy working with computers you can get into that later.

Of course this can change in the future, as newer generations get more comfortable with computers. But then again, tradition may prevail over trendiness even in the distant future.

The idea of working with computers brings up another question: Is there work in Heaven? Probably, but only for those who enjoy doing it.

One example came from an earlier discussion about whether they have roller coasters in Heaven. If they do, then won't your wings get in the way? Not if you can take them off and check them at the entrance. Check them? Even assuming nobody in Heaven would steal somebody else's wings, it may be more efficient to check them than to just pile them up and have to rummage through the pile later to find yours. So there might be a check booth for wings and harps and such next to the roller coaster.

But then who would work the check booth? Someone who enjoys doing it. You get to sit there all day meeting new people, and the physical work of going back and forth to the actual racks where you put the wings isn't all that hard. Or maybe the hard part happens automatically by magic or something. But be that as it may, you get to meet people and you get to feel useful. So there would be people who enjoy working the wing check booth at the roller coaster, even if the job was unpaid volunteer work.

And there are lots of other things to do up there, such as running the roller coaster itself. Direct people to seats in the cars, see that they're properly strapped in, and start it moving. It's another opportunity to meet people, if you prefer being out among the crowds rather than being cooped up in a check booth all day.

And if you get tired of that? Move on to other things, some of which have no Earthly counterpart. I suspect there are lots of openings for Spirit Guides and Guardian Angels, for example. And the world could always use more Muses. And on and on, ad infinitum.

Being a Guiding Spirit may be as tricky as playing chess. Even if you know all the consequences of everything your subject might do, what with Free Will and such there's no way to force your subject to do the right thing, and maybe even no way of knowing what they'll do until they do it. So you'd have to plan several moves ahead, and have alternate plans ready. And you'll have to work with other Guiding Spirits handling various other people who may get involved in one way or another:

If my subject misses his usual bus his future wife will be on the next one. So I'll have a minor power failure that prevents his alarm clock from ringing. That will get him on the right bus. And it'll be about half-empty, and he'll probably take a window seat on the left. Then she'll get on two stops later.

But will she sit next to him? I'm going to need to make sure no other window seats are vacant right then. And she usually sits farther back, but I think I can have somebody else who'll be getting off at the stop after block the aisle so she'll be more likely to sit where I need her to sit. If I do that, then her Guide says he can probably put her into the right seat.

And what if that plan fails? I think I can get him walking through Lake Park next Tuesday at lunch time. And her Guide can cook up an errand or something to get her into the park then. Now what can we do to get them talking?

And so on. It's more complicated than it looks. Much more complicated.

This issue may be slightly smaller than the last few, partly because my mind is occupied with being in the middle of a computer upgrade. And, of course, a corresponding wallet downgrade.

"He was always the science nerd of the family. Back in high school, when everybody else would sit around after class playing air guitar, he'd be playing air theremin."

You may or may not be familiar with the theremin. It's an electronic musical instrument that looks like a box with two radio antennas sticking out of it. You play it by waving your hands around the antennas. One antenna controls pitch, the other volume. It makes an OOOO-EEE-OOO glissando sort of sound, often heard in old science fiction movies. Building a theremin is a common Science Fair project, or at least it was when I was in school.

Nowadays, with newer solid-state technology, you could build one the size of a Walkman, or even smaller. It could be battery powered, and could transmit its output by radio to a hidden speaker system some distance from the performer, so you don't have to clutter up the stage.

So what if you built such a pocket theremin and made the antennas out of flexible wire and sewed them into the performer's costume? Hide the works in a pocket or something, and you'd be making music by waving your arms around with no visible instrument. Find a dancer with musical talent and teach him or her to play it, and you might have something interesting.

Someone at a poetry reading venue I frequent said that every time she thinks she might be going crazy I remind her that she's still relatively normal. It's nice to be useful.

A couple of weeks ago was the World Science Fiction Convention. I enjoyed it. And I'm reminded of this:

               Incident Along Fantasy Way 0055 hr 9/09/74
                            Convention Report

For a time I thought my Muse had deserted me.
But no, she had only gone to their convention
And she gave me a partial report.

The days were taken up with the official program:
Panels and seminars and papers 
"Estimating the Connectivity of Disparate Ideas"
"New Techniques for the Management of Fertile Minds"
"The Topology of the Subconscious in Spaces of N Dimensions"
And so on, on and on and on,
Until at last,
The late evening social sessions.

Here were the constant arguments between the Muses
Of Crime
And of Punishment,
Juicy tidbits from the Muse of Gossip,
Rumors of parties hosted by the Muses of Sex
(Gay and straight and what-have-you),
The Muse of Animated Cartooning crying about hard times
And Saturday morning TV
And being promised help by the Muses
Of Electronic Design
And of Computer Programming.
Crowds held spellbound by the Muse of Witty Conversation,
And the bright child-fantasies of Muses
Of arts not yet invented.

And, over and through all, 
The Eternal Question,
About which even the gods can only speculate:
"Who inspires the Muses?"

                                   Thomas G. Digby
                                   written 0055 hr  9/09/74
                                   entered 2200 hr  2/08/92

                                -- END --

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