Section 3: Another Chance Chapter 2: Lives Unfold
May 20yy DellVille Arizona.
Surprised and pleased by their re-acquaintance through a body awareness system, Gavin and Casey enjoyed the warm Spring days and cool nights. She put away her Whisperer code tinkering and Pink Page investigations and computational snooping to fully enjoy leisure and companionship. Gavin was preparing to return to Canada to meet his semi-retired governmental commitments.
These independent minded individuals had experienced a variety of life cycles to define their retirement patterns. Gavin was completing his first year by refusing to take on additional obligations while still figuring out his preferred activities. His experience with DellVille peer learning life style had satisfies his desire for cultural change and Southwestern scenery. Casey was more experienced at retirement with interleaved classes, travel, book clubs, environmental activism, walks, and technology tinkering.
Upon reuniting, they agreed to set aside their Whisperers and pretend that their CumuLinker-recorded backgrounds didn’t exist. They would enjoy whatever topics bubbled up in their conversations. , Gavin seemed to appreciate her need for therapeutic historical perspectives to recover from The Great Trickster visitation.
Casey wasn’t sharing her beliefs in her “Enchantress of Whisperers” power with Gavin. Instead, she amused him with her plans for a Whisperer case theme Boutique. They were pondering together how Whisperers might reduce is difficulties with common male hearing loss. He felt incapacitated in multi-generational, international language settings.
One early morning leisurely walk, Casey tried to explain her discussions with Sally in DC about the Pink Page rebellion. She’d put her personal complaints out for discussion. Her “turn off Like Buttons” petition ” was more than a spontaneous over-reaction to annoying social media distractions. She felt a sense of entrapment. The gent had politely declared that he did not sign petitions he could not understand.
Gavin enjoyed her multi-generational aspirations. He was amused by Casey’s attraction to the frequent backyard migrations of quail coveys. Neither of them had been parents, but they were both experienced as step-parents from previous relationships. Perhaps that lack of direct responsibility fostered a need for leaving a legacy.
Casey introduced Gavin to her ‘Little Syster’ Brittany when they attended the DellVille Computer Hobbyist Club. Both elders praised Brittany’s biographical book report on the Lovelace-Babbage origins of computation. Gavin suggested she imagine a Victorian Babbage house party conversation between contemporary novelist Charlotte Bronte and mathematician Ada Lovelace. Casey loaned her the graphic novel “The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage”. They hoped Brittany would explore her STEM tendencies while blending literature and history.
Gavin and Casey gradually opened up to each other. Their encounter three decades earlier left unresolved issues. Their paths had crossed during the heady days of the Route 128 Massachusetts Miracle at a classy software Education center. With on- site woods, reed-filled pond, river overlook, the remodeled monastery superseded colonial history and transcendentalist lineage.
Many professionals felt the benefits of the Institute founder’s gracious repayment to his adopted country from the wealth of the golden company that bore his name. The dynamic mini-computer industry — popularized in Tracy Kidder’s documentary book Soul Of A New Machine — was unaware of its impending extinction. The fledgling software profession flourished to develop the platforms and applications that would later flip from code to data under the surveillance capitalism model.
Both had been saddened at that magical institution’s sudden demise after its billionaire founder’s financial downfall. They reminisced over her collection of memorabilia of events they had attended, Casey as graduate student at the institute and Gavin as researcher from a nearby corporate lab.
Winters were brutal, summers idyllic, autumn serenely beautiful, and spring fleeting. Somehow the midlife attraction with Gavin had not flourished. Her full-time immersion in studies for only a year came to an end just as his corporate laboratory was restructuring. Her invitation to join a camping trip to Mount Katahdin coincided with his brief return to Canada due to a family illness.
Casey chose to move back to Los Angeles into a mature consulting career that built on her capstone project. Later relationships often surfaced regretful memories about this gentle questioning environmentalist.
“Well, BodyReader took care of that unaccountable shyness this round,” laughed Gavin, as they wondered how intervening years might have gone differently.
The Sunday following that eXtreme Social Media meetup, they loaded their kayaks for a trip to a nearby lake. Winds blowing the still cold water into small waves changed their plans to a walk along the rocky path.
His naturalist spirits were flowing that early morning. The migrating water fowl in the lake shallows kept him lecturing on flight pattern mysteries while Casey paused to read from her iBirds app. Gavin urged her to expand her connections with the avian environment beyond the noisy quail neighbors of her domicile.
They shared an interest in Technology’s influence on Society. Gavin and Casey had witnessed history from different sides of the North American border. Through his home institution, University of Toronto, Gavin worked intermittently with Canadian funding programs and played a role in science policy. His two environmentally situated novels had sold well. He was devoted to Canadian environmental activism, following in the tracks of Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson. This Canadian did not grasp the concept of a country feeling both obligation and regret over its world domination.
That morning, as Gavin prepared their breakfast, Casey had read an article about the effects of climate change on the evolved patterns of animals. The fur coats of hares were turning white well before snowfall arrived in regions, upsetting predator-prey cycles. She emailed the Eon Magazine link to Gavin as she realized they both were highly experienced thinkers at the final cusp of physical vitality. Perhaps they could be not only lovers but cross-mentors for a few years.
As they traversed the lake border path, they slipped into semiprofessional banter about events that they had witnessed but remained opaque to the public and other professions. They realized that soon there would be few like them left who could provide facts for historians. Casey bemoaned that the Internet was obscuring its own origins. Records of 20th century research projects were obliterated by the billions of results jumbled into web searches that rarely reached back before the Dawn of Web Time. Few online articles captured the spirit of their shared New England educational passage or the overlapping Japanese Fifth Generation Initiative that rattled US boardrooms.
Gavin’s occasional guest lecturing in technology history and Casey’s short adjunct stint teaching databases alerted them to how many heroes, victims, and villains were soon to be known only through their contemporaries. Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators focused on the glories of the now contentious Silicon Valley. The computing industry was finally reconciling its wealth with its trickster-like effects on its 2 billion person-data sets. Op ed writers were debating whether technology mania had brought on The Great Trickster visitation, or vice versa. The world was slowly absorbing the meaning of the mythological moment.
Neither Gavin nor Casey wanted the memories of fun, collaboration, and productivity from their various professional eras to disappear in the smoke of their demise.
Casey tried to convince Gavin that her vision of the shadowy monster stealing everybody’s data was a turning point in history. Then the billionaires abandoned their behemoths and cleared their consciences by creating Privacy Overlord CumuLinker. Now CumuLinker had its own Whisperer technology to reform inter-personal dissension. And, while they’re at it, Whisperers could organize each person’s life data into private narratives and public performances, as seen at her OMG reunion.
Casey resorted to her habit of picking a deep topic to fortify her arguments. “Gavin, don’t you see how computer scientists are like the physicists of World War II? Their equations and equipment bred disaster. Physicists acknowledged that ‘they knew sin’. My profession yields a path of tweets toward disaster. Our systems are too complex. Do you know that the Web’s vulnerability is causing small wars?”
Casey flung her iPhone into the air, hitting a branch an. “Now look what you made me do!”, she screamed.
“Come on, Casey,” Gavin poked her shoulder. “Do you have a chip there? Gotta fight somebody all the time?”
Touchy on this subject, Casey acknowledged. “Yes, but maybe you and I can agree on some epochs that matter. We have a lot of knowledge to share. Did you know I’m a ‘Sage-in-Training’?”
“Well, dear Ms. Hawke, you bought into a BodyReader ensemble, the Plus version I believe, turning over some intimate data to CumuLinker. Right? And, didn’t you tell me that you couldn’t wait to get messages from your followers and new ‘friends’ when you posted that ‘Kill The Likes’ proclamation? Don’t you have free will?”
Casey bowed her head. “I concede, Doctor Hunter. Yes, I’m trapped in TIRex, stoked with CumuLinker, twirped on Twitter, and whatever you want to call my ways of communication. You of the email-only geezer crowd, who somehow also bought BodyReader.”
Stepping off the path for an oncoming bike, they hugged and looked at each other. “Not our first spat, was that? Hardly worth mentioning,” Casey said.
Gavin nodded. “You know, my environmental heart jumped at that meetup last week. I saw your water management group wearing your #35 daily gallon goal. You were hanging out with golfers and muttering to your Whisperer like a busybody. When I saw your earables drop so daintily near your V-necked sweater, I knew this romance would finally be happening. That is not BodyReader talking. That’s my own feelings. Shall we go home, Enchantress?”