Section 3 ‘Another Chance’
Section 3: ‘Another Chance’ Chapter 3.1 ‘How Time Flies’
May 2019 Dellville AZ.
Casey’s rubber-soled sandals squeaked as she walked down the faux marble stairs of the luxurious DellVille Renaissance Center. She always enjoyed technology-mediated social interactions like tonight’s experiment with community Climate Change.
The 2017 CumuLinker Reformation was showing new ways to communicate through responsible use of the private data accumulated by Google and other social mafia platforms. Gone was surveillance-based selling personal data to advertisers while further enriching the weary billionaires who now entrusted that data to innovators from the People’s Internet Movement.
CumuLinker also promised to soothe the mood of the country. Its C-A-L-M model for interchanging personal profiles felt like a kindly third party introduction agent. However, inadvertent cruelty using a child’s photo during a Life Replayed panorama at her recent 50th college reunion suggested that more algorithmic ethical training was required. 2019 was turning out to be a year of serious experimentation with both technology and policy lessons learned during the 25 years since the Dawn of Web Time. Tonight’s event would evaluate how well the CumuLinker Cloud could advance discussions among ranchers, retirees, and science-interested citizens in a region facing drought.
Although never much of a crafts hobbyist, Casey was enamored with how her electronics wearable vest expressed enthusiasm for ocean preservation and smart water management. That appareled, dubbed a Whisperer, also provided reception from the CumuLinker Cloud that would then be transmitted via synthetic speech hearables to encourage attendees to slow down, absorb CumuLinker’s pre-approve personal introductions, and consider other position statement on the night’s issues. “Listen, Learn, Link” was the guide.
Casey appreciated this communication process that overcame her shyness and tendency to show that chip on her shoulder. She now had more time to think during and after a C-A-L-M introduction to someone from an unfamiliar culture or different perspective. No longer did acquaintances blithely move on to a more cheerful or wealthy or socially compatible attendee. CumuLinker wisely used personal information accumulated from email and web searches and video selection to deepen conversations. C-A-L-M worked well for Casey Hawke.
Tonight she was all geared up to exercise her Whisperer prowess with computational strategies she had developed since discovering the logic-based language that drove CumuLinker. Her algorithm would skip via the CumuLinker Cloud around the room to acquire hobby data from other Whisperers. New links would later connect sections of the DellVille Social Graph residing on her home computer. This data trove might replenish those retirement funds she’d lost in the 2018 Great Trickster’s Tariff Wars.
tonight’s meeting held additional adventure. A new Whisperer attachment had just arrived on a 30-day trial. The Body Reader promised to help her overcome social anxiety by nudging her toward compatible conversation partners, as reckoned by CumuLinker. She might not leave this meetup alone.
A welcoming registration screen and greeter desk blocked the entry:
May 8, 2019 6 p.m.
- DellVille XSM EXtreme Social Media in Progress!!!
- Today’s topic is “YOUR WATERY WORLD”.
- Welcome y’all from CumuLinker Universe and the former Kingdoms of FaceLook, TitterVille, Blog World, and Beta-bits!
- Forget your worries and party like it’s 2015.
A Greeter wearing an over-sized cowboy hat asked her to sign a gaily printed rule sheet.
“Oh, gag, so old school!” she muttered, smiling at a young dude wearing a lime green Polo shirt bearing the CumuLinker Universe emblem with its quiet, thoughtful, generic human face. Peering at the small print, she complied.
- You own your Whisperer. CumuLinker protects your data as you’ve stipulated in your C-A-L-M conditions and the Climate Change meeting approved topics.
- Social media profile start those conversations you really want. No more going home to Google an acquaintance. Calendars and contacts will be loaded onto your Whisperer with this event’s data.
- Virtual reality glasses, watches, BodyReaders are permitted, but please do NOT record audio or video.
The greeter captured her Whisperer images for CumuLinker’s gallery. Casey’s Baja Danzante Island self patch scene stood out well on her jean Whisperer vest over a white sweater. The texture and aqua hues signaled affinity with ocean adventures among the islands of the slowly rising Sea of Cortez. Pods of dolphins leaped whenever that elegant chip on her shoulder exchanged profiles with a Whisperer conversation partner through their hearables. CumuLinker went into ice-breaking mode by finding two attendees from a recent Baja Expeditions cruise. Explaining how to animate their seals and spouting blue whale image Whisper patches gained her two new photo friends and a Baja Adventures invitation.
Casey moved on to the climate change policy discussion corner of the room. A sash bearing number 35 draped on her back. The number signified daily residential water consumption goals for the community according to Climate Survival Special Interest Group. Members circulated among other interest clusters to promote their cause and gather feedback on their scary climate situation. Two consecutive snowless winters generated many debates on flushing frequency and irrigation rights. Decreased influx of retirees threatened DellVille’s City Council if real estate rumors turned nasty. Money always trumped science.
She observed how CumuLinker C-A-L-M was generating information flow. Brief snippets of position statements and online tweets were exchanged through hearables. “I agree fully!” or “Do you really believe that?” often followed a position exchange. CumuLinker sprinkled each claim with intriguing facts to keep arguments impersonal. Unfortunately, some conversations degraded into old style sniping among those suffering from Trickster Derangement Syndrome. CumuLinker would gather good feedback through these first encounters among ranchers and retirees from around the nation.
Suddenly her Quantified Life BodyReader system sensed a similar awareness across the room. Its actuators gradually nudged her toward a smiling tall gent matching the Canadian snow bird rumored to be attending lifelong learning classes. She couldn’t believe the possible co-incidence after over 30 years. Could that really be Gavin Hunter? She’d delay their conversation until her ulterior mission was accomplished.
Casey used a bathroom break to review her new persona as a “Computational Snoop for Hire” despite her disgust at her first client. She needed some suspicious conversation to report regarding that never-ending murder escapade of the despicable Stockbroker. This social occasion looked like a quick and easy $1000 for new informants before his Imminent sentencing. Grisly trial testimony had analyzed plausibility of a golf club as the brutal murder weapon. The client — hoped that some local golfer could be fingered as a suspect leading to yet another re-trial. He was desperate.
Her Whisperer’s spanning algorithm drew an on-the-fly mental diagram of links among golfers with the client’s family and their business network. She scanned the room for talkative targets. Amy and Bill from the neighborhood Association were showing off their new golf swings. They waved her into their conversation and admired her Whisperer dolphin animation. She soon exposed her ignorance of modern golf equipment as she related how her early teenage golf clubs were beat up woods and irons and, “well, she wondered if clubs changed enough to withstand any battering of a clumsy duffer like her?”.
“Sure,” quipped Bill, “the right muscles and aim by somebody like big strong Paul over there and a 3 wood could really tear apart an object at his feet.”
“Ouch,” Casey winced, innocently, “like that murder dominating the newspaper.”
Bill had a strained look on his face as he ducked off for another drink. He suggested Amy tell that interloper where to get beginner golf lessons. Casey thanked them for the golf tips then backed out of the now unfriendly group. Animosity between Bill and Paul might be a clue to invoice. She wondered why they were at a climate change meeting anyway.
Snooping completed, Casey drew into herself. Thirty-five years? Half-a-lifetime separated? should she approach Gavin as former colleague? or equally shy acquaintance? forgiven lover? fellow lifelong learner? possible aging companion?
His reclining hairline and sun-wrinkled face confused her. His hair, unlike hers, was not yet all white. She recalled a pale, overworked,lab director tied to budgets and publications as his company fought for new business. Then her Whisperer alerted her that direct conversation should be facing him for lip reading due to his hearing loss. Now 35 years were slipping into uncertainty.
Her Body Reader clicked. CumuLinker paired her Whisperer with Gavin’s then dropped names of companies and places from the 1980s ‘Massachusetts Miracle’ period when their paths had crossed. Both smiled at memories of conversations among developers and students at receptions in the splendidly remodeled educational institution where the Software Engineering profession bloomed. Their relationship had begun along the river that named a colonial locale nestled among mini-computer company laboratories.
CumuLinker read a short bio of each to the other. Gavin’s profile alluded to the demise of his environmental corporate workplace then his professional descent into Nova Scotia coastal protection bureaucracy and later published novels about animal communities. Casey assumed that her Whisperer profile simultaneously updated him on her software consulting career after obtaining her Masters degree from this prestigious Institute. CumuLinker collected snippets from web page searches for the institution’s glorious contributions before its benefactor’s demise. these sentimentally confirm Casey and Gavin factual identities and fond feelings for that short relationship.
After a pause, as their eyes locked on each other, each Whisperer replayed their sunset tour around the Isle of Shoals. This tidbit that only they would know had been buried in the memoirs Casey mailed to herself for archiving when she signed up for gmail.
The Danzante leaping dolphins on her Whisperer were now behaving like tadpoles. Or, maybe, those images arose from the last tick of her biological clock.
The Cassandra in Casey held another warning. Gavin slouched some from her memory of his 6’4″ frame. The Vocabulary Analyzer packaged with her BodyReader promised a decade of mental acuity for herself and this target. She wondered how she appeared to Gavin and his own Body Reader. Casey fell the warmth flowing from those blue eyes that often closed when his hesitancy took over. Half a lifetime had slipped away to reopen the senses of that magical year in their over-worked lives.
“Whew, serendipity is on my side,” Casey mused. She began to deactivate Whisperer controls. A tug on one decorative wire disabled Whisperer monitoring. Twisting the wearable’s Blue Tooth plug turned off its BodyReader communications. Flicking its bright center button stopped her programmed conversation managers. Changing from invisible to sparkling aqua, her hearables’ dropped like graceful straps onto her white V-necked sweater, freeing body and mind from CumuLinker.
Casey’s fingers gently touched Gavin’s sleeved arm. They acknowledged each other with smiles. He patted the #35 scarf draped over the Whisperer on her shoulder.
“How about a walk to the pond?”, Casey whispered, looking directly into his eyes.
“Walden?”, he chuckled, “or Tyngsboro?”. And more memories flooded back.
Section 3: ‘Another Chance’ — Chapter 3.2: ‘Lives Unfold’
May 2019 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 used their 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 the DellVille peer learning life style had satisfies his desire for cultural change and Southwestern scenery. Casey was more eclectic at retirement with interleaved classes, travel, book clubs, environmental activism, bird 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 “Enchantress of Whisperers” powers, instead amusing him with her plans for a Whisperer themes Boutique. They were pondering together how CumuLinker might reduce is difficulties with common male hearing loss. He felt incapacitated in multi-generational international language settings.
On one early morning leisurely walk Casey tried to explain her discussions with Sally in DC about the Pink Page rebellion. She had put her personal complaints online for comment. 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 so she dropped her social media reform campaign.
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 although they were both experienced as step-parents from previous relationships. Perhaps that lack of direct responsibility fostered a need for leaving a professional 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 that 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. Its on- site woods with reed-filled pond surrounded a remodeled monastery that disguised its colonial history and transcendentalist lineage. Winters were brutal, summers idyllic, autumn serenely beautiful, and spring fleeting.
Many professionals had 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 with Casey as graduate student and Gavin as researcher from a nearby corporate lab.
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 hesitancy this round”, laughed Gavin, as they wondered how intervening years might have gone differently.
The Sunday following that Social Media meetup woke warm and breezy. 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 iBird app. Gavin urged her to expand her connections with the avian environment beyond the noisy quail neighbors of her domicile.
Both 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 at the University of Victoria, 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 through 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 read him an article about the effects of climate change on the evolved patterns of animals. The fur coats of hares were turning white before snowfall arrived in regions then upsetting predator-prey cycles. She emailed the 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 that 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 nor 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 and victims 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 surveillance behemoths and cleared their consciences by creating the Privacy Overlord CumuLinker. Now CumuLinker had its own CALM methodology to reform inter-personal dissension. And Whisperers could organize each person’s life data into private narratives and public performances, as seen at her 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. The physicists acknowledged that ‘they knew sin’. My profession yields a path of tweets toward incessant failures. Our systems are too complex. Do you know that the Web’s vulnerability is causing ?hackers to choose defense or offense?”
Gavin shrugged and snapped a picture of a butterfly at his 6’4” height. Casey swung her iPhone arm into the air, hitting a branch.
“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 smiled. “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 hearables drop so daintily, I knew this romance would finally be happening. That is not BodyReader talking. Those are my own feelings. Shall we go home, Enchantress?”.
Section 3: ‘Another Chance’ — Chapter 3.3: ‘Mature Branching’
Later that day, Gavin re-organized Casey’s remaining two shelves of print books while she loaded a podcast library of MP3 files onto a memory card for him to listen to while driving.
Both Gavin and Casey wanted a joint project to unload their memories and continue this mature branching of their interests. They wondered why so many retirees started, but then abandoned, biographical writing. Each admitted they were themselves “lazy memoirists”. A page here and there on some critical moment in their unique careers never emerged into an organized theme to motivate a full-scale book project.
Gavin excused himself, “Well, let’s call that a feature, not a bug, in our life plans. My two novels were enough writing for me.”
Casey objected. “No, my dear! That is what blogs are for!”. Reaching up, Casey twisted her finger into his chest. “Bloggers know how to write a lot, lazily,and slowly gain followers. I can teach you.”
Casey outlined how they could polish up summaries of epochs they thought important, then paste them into blog posts and add some tags, and follow related blogs. Thus hatched their first offspring, Odd Moments of History blog with tag-line “Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement.”. In seconds, Casey had the web site ready to claim their memories.
Gavin grew serious. “You mentioned being a ‘Sage In Training’ when I teased you off the bike path. Do you mind explaining to a youngster like me why Sage-ing matters?”
“Well, young wise one, here’s the pitch. While full of vitality, as you are, you decide it’s time to package your wisdom and find a few younger listeners who need it. Maybe somebody even wants you as a mentor. You consciously move into another realm of life by offering your elegantly packaged experience. It’s like teaching without those god-awful student evaluations.”
Gavin chuckled, “Please continue, Professor Hawke.”
“I’m sparing you the cosmic and spiritual mumbo-jumbo. I’ll do the blogging and you think through some Sage-ing opportunities, ok? End of pitch!”.
Gavin nodded, a bit overwhelmed with her serious aging proposition. “Looks like we have a plan for the next few months. We’re now mindful memoirists, mutual mentors, and late-life lovers. Does this alliterative proposal fill your heart, at least for now?”
Toweling off after his shower, Gavin seemed reluctant to spill his thoughts.”How did I do on your aging Predictor?
Casey hesitated, , then gently pulled on the towel. “Nobody knows whether to trust this test. All that personal quantification stuff needs validation. But, we both have vocabularies intact, stable balances, and typical bodily responses. One way to continually test is through our blog posts and other writings. When rambling, or vocabulary lapses, or different tics show up, it’s time for serious testing. Let’s trust BodyReader and just get on with our long delayed relationship.”
Gavin picked up a book from her night-stand. “I like that phrase — ‘The Last Gift of Time’ — you borrowed from one of your favorite authors. Professor Carolyn Heilbrun, writing as Amanda Cross, and her academic sleuth character Kate Fansler , right? May I borrow a mystery and memoir for my solitary drive back through the Rockies?”
He’d enjoyed his first snowbird period through peer learning classes. Their renewed romance was unexpected. Now, the gardens of Victoria drew Gavin back to his other home. From there on, an Alaskan ferry beckoned them on a late summer research vacation to Skagway with intermittent visits to compile totem pole myths. Casey accepted that this relationship between individuals used to solitude would be fostered by separation and commuting.
Casey moaned, “Oh, no! Lucky me, too many trade-offs! Can I continue Gavin’s wonderful personal invasion of my solitary routines? What do I owe Sally and our profession and my desire to help save the Web? Can I stand those Pink Page skirmishes? What about my computational snooping practice? When will I find time for ParaLog?
Do I have to choose paths so late on this journey?”.