Daily Prompt: Call Me Ishmael – The First Sentence

I usually do not post on a weekend but the Daily Prompt caught my eye and of course I just had to respond.  DP Challenge: Take the first sentence from your favorite book and make it the first sentence of your post.

My very very first thought was my favorite first sentence is not in my favorite book.  Way back in October 2011 I wrote about three of my personal fave authors and called it Cussler, Koontz and Stockett, and the line said, “Death was driving an emerald green Lexus“.

The first sentence of my favorite book is “He should never have taken that short cut.”  It’s from Michael Crighton’s book TIMELINE and the poor book is barely hanging on to existence.  Well actually it is not hanging on at all.  Its soft cover is curled back from the spine top and bottom.  The back cover has about an inch square flapped firmly back and some of the pages are missing.  At first I kept putting the pages back loose leaf like and then one day a few pages disappeared.  That was okay as I thought I would just fill the gaps in from memory as I read and reread and reread.  This book has served me well for the last twelve years but I can’t put it to rest until I replace it.

I discovered a long time ago that bedtime reading cannot be anything I am currently reading for the first time because I simply cannot put the book down.  So bedtime fare is one of a few fave rereads (although sometimes I get so caught up in it….well you know.)

So my poor book, like a weary soldier continues to soothe my soul and mind and guard against that thief of the night, Insomnia’ and yes it will be retired once I find another copy.

my valiant knight/night

my valiant knight/night

looks pretty weary huh?

looks pretty weary huh?

held together by the last straw I think

held together by the last straw I think

Hypothesis for Today’s Living – Electrically Charged

Smart Meter, Boring topic

Smart Meter, Boring topic (Photo credit: miheco)

As many of you know my thoughts get to bubbling and boiling now and then on issues of truth.  What is truly true?  What is financially profitable for those who declare truth?  Why are we so ready to believe authoritative statements of so called fact just because they have access to media, speak louder and longer, and often sport impressive degrees utilizing just about every letter of the alphabet?

I have been knocking back three or four books a week lately and the latest was an interest book by Brian Clegg called Gravity which is intriguing as long as I jump over some statements such as, ‘It says that the square of a planter’s orbital period is proportional to the cube of it semi-major axis.’  Clegg then goes on to explain that sentence that in no way added clarity for me, but aside from that the book really does hold worthwhile information that my plebian brain does understand.

Now don’t run off yet because here comes the crux of my thoughts.

Science, which I once thought was solid is probably the least solid of any subject matter.  The current definition of Hypothesis is: 1.  A supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation   2. a proposition made as a basis for reasoning, without any assumption of its truth.

I love number 1!  ANYONE can make a supposition on the basis of limited evidence!  and do!  And in many cases the public buys it.

Basically hypothesis is my favorite question – What If.

See I used to think Sciences were confirmed truths and I am not the only one.  It seems folks just like to grab onto an idea and declare it truth: the earth is flat, the heavens rotate around the earth, man is the center of existence.  Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Huygen, gradually dispelled these ‘hypothesis becomes truth’ ideas though not without effort.    I find it amusing that scientific truths that change as new discoveries are made are heralded and brand new discoveries. Yipee! When the fact is that the truth has always been there, we just haven’t noticed it yet.

Cover of "Timeline"

Cover of Timeline

Michael Crichton, in one of my fave books TimeLine says in the Introduction;  ‘By the end of the nineteenth centyr it semed that the basic fundamental principlels governing the behavior of the physical universe were known.’  And the same was true at the beginning of the twentieth century.  But explosive new information continues to change the world.  Man as in HUman continues to be surprised.  Perhaps the surprise is at their own ability to continue uncovering layers of knowledge.

But I digress – badly – horribly.  What really got me on this train of thought is not ever changing scientific principles but ordinary every day things we take as truth.  I’ve said it before and will continue to say it, she says with that more dinosaur rather than guru wisdom, we, the people need to embrace some of the mindset of the sixties – question everything and believe nothing you are told with out careful examination.

Take something as simple as our Hydro (electricity from water), although most of you probably just call it electric as sources include nucleur power, wind generated power..etc etc.

Now here in Southern Ontario, sometime ago suppliers started advertising that the cost of power would increase dramatically but the common folk should rejoice because the government was going to install Smart Meters.  Why to prevent the increased cost you just had to let your life be guided by Smart Meter.  Occassionally someone on the six  o’clock news will say that regardless of when they use electricity the prices have skyrocketed.   So I took a look at the ‘rules’ to save money on the Smart Meter.

Smart Meter Hungry Meter

My hypothesis for this one is:  The robotic acceptance by the public is directly influenced by the degree of fecal matter dished by profit making government and non-government agencies to feed the illusion that consequential high costs are generated by that same robotic public. *Bridgesburning 2012

Hypothesis are fine as long as they are not accepted as truth.  The truly great minds intended, I believe, that they be a jumping off place for investigation, but gosh darn we are so hungry to feel “Truth’ we want to leap frog over the points and make it true by saying it’s true.

Now just to explain Mr. Smart Meter’s secret plan for winter – our current season:  (keep in mind a family of four as an example).  If you wish to be truly cost effective you can only use hydro from 9pm to 1am.  That’s the time to run appliances, heat, cooling, cooking, bathing/showering, laundry.

Now lets look at the most expensive time to run hydro: 5pm – 9pm and 1am to 11am  Seems to be that pretty much covers essentials like eating, bathing unless you insist the evening meal be taken at about 4pm and keep the kids up til 9ish for perhaps a snack because nothing else can be gotten until after 11 am (late late brekkie).

Summers are pretty good and weekends and holidays are also reasonable.  But the big nasty gobbling everything we have hydro company makes winter the most distasteful season and the most expensive.  Just think if we could spend November to May each using no electricity we might actually have some money in our pockets to head south for 6 months not for luxury but necessity.

*And NO Ontario Power /Hydro – I will not accept your definition of the highest used times for winter.  You would have to do some mighty big talking to get this girl back on the robotic farm of truth acceptance.

 

The Reliable Unsurprisingly Surprising Mr. King 11/22/63

Stephen King unsurprisingly tells a tale in 11/22/63 that is way more than it would seem at first glance, which in itself is hardly surprising because you don’t build a huge readership and fan base by going for the obvious.  Mr. King always delivers that little bit more and he does it with style.

Ostensibly the book is about using time travel to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963 in Dallas Texas.  The idea being of course that so many of the bad idea roads America travelled down following that event would have been prevented.  Seems like a short sweet idea with a big final hurrah at success.

I said in a blog recently that we must be careful of what we wish for and Mr. King aptly demonstrates the why’s of that caution and by the time you finish reading this novel you may answer the question: ‘If you had the power what one thing would you change in the past?’ a little differently at the end of the book than you might have in the beginning.

For one thing the story becomes very personal on more than one level.  I like that King writes from an everyman perspective so there are no big talk- their- own- language scientists around.  How the time portal works from Al’s Hamburger joint by stepping through the pantry cannot be explained.  It just is.  And when you go down the steps into the past you always arrive at exactly the same moment: at 11:58 a.m. on the morning if September 9, 1958.  This very fact has a huge impact on everything.

How Al Templeton, the original user of this portal,  makes the best use of the opportunity may at first seem rather mundane, but then he experiments a bit with some deeper subjects and comes up with a plan that will have worldwide impact.  Except, because of a glitch he must find someone else to do the deed, or as it turns out, the deeds.  And that’s where Jake Epping aka George Amberson comes in.

Intrigue and sub plots are woven as intricately and delicately as an elaborate lace tablecloth double and tripled layered here and there and well everywhere.  It’s a delicious story that is not as farfetched as say Michael Crichton’s Timeline (which I adore and reread again and again). Um I must take that statement back because Timeline is believable.

11/22/63 is expansive because it is not nicely encapsulated with a beginning, middle and end, but has endless possibilities in our own minds.  The potential for discussion of those possibilities is immense and leaves the door wide open for more.  What is the story of the man with the yellow card?  I want to know more about him and the others like him.  How many portals are there?  Who else has used them to what end?

I love it that the past is obdurate and like Dean Koontz’ (best book of his all time in my opinion), Lightning the past (or Fate) will seek to return, to correct change.

It is easy to become intimate with each of the characters: Jake, George, Harry Dunning, Al, The Yellow Card Man, Lee Harvey Oswald, Marina, June, Sadie Dunhill, so many that count so much.  The people are as real as you and I and that is why we care so much about them.  There are no heroes here, just folk like you and me, living the best we know how in any given moment, and often coming up just that wee bit short.

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