The Novels

Economics 101, a Novel (Rough Draft) -- My first sustained attempt at a novel, two-thirds finished in rough draft, and heading a little too far south.
What would you do if you and your study partner, with whom you had been seriously discussing marriage, suddenly found yourselves all alone together on a desert island? Study economics?
Sociology 500, a Romance (Second Draft) -- The first book in the Economics 101 Trilogy.(On hold.)
Karel and Dan, former American football teammates and now graduate students, meet fellow graduate students Kristie and Bobbie, and the four form a steady study group.

Featured Post

Sociology 500, a Romance, ch 1 pt 1 -- Introducing Bobbie

TOC Well, let's meet Roberta Whitmer. Bobbie entered the anthropology department office and looked around. Near the receptionis...

Saturday, February 10, 2018

[]Backup 2] Economics 101, a Novel, ch_09 -- In the Islands

[JMR201802100930: backup of http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/08/economics-101-novel-ch09-in-islands.html.]

Previous: Fifth Semester, Getting Ready for the Islands Table of Contents

Now we thik we know how Karel and Bobbie got to the islands without getting married. But let's go ahead and get a glimpse of how things went in the islands.



Orson Hyde University campus is nestled against the foothills of a very long mountain range. It is a part of small city that sits between a lake and the mountains.

There is a large city about an hour to the north, which has a major airport. It was this airport at which they said goodbye to their families and left in the company of the MacVitties, after completing their preparations at the university.

During the trip, Bobbie did not pay much attention to the men giving her the eye. She noticed some of them, but she didn't pay much attention.

In the passenger cabin after one layover, she said, "Karel?"

"Yeah?"

"Have you noticed the guys looking at me?"

Karel replied, "Have you noticed me noticing some of the women around? Sometimes a guy gets distracted."

"Are you trying to make me jealous?"

"Maybe, but I was really just thinking that beauty draws the eye. You distract me, too, you know."

Brother and Sister MacVittie studiously ignored this conversation. Their son smirked quietly to himself.

"Telling me I'm beautiful again."

"Just telling it like it is."

"Heh. Thanks. Well, anyway, guys used to hit on me a lot."

"You've mentioned that before."

"Now it seems like I can mostly ignore them before they get that far."

"That's a good thing."

"I'm sure part of that is because I'm with you and don't seem unattached."

Karel cleared his throat.

"And I've gotten into the habit of dressing down a bit."

"When you doll yourself up, you're just gilding the lily."

"Give me a break."

Sister MacVittie leaned across her husband's lap and said, "He's just telling you the truth."

Bobbie looked at the back of the seat in front of her. "I know I am cursed with good looks. But that's actually kind of what I'm trying to talk with Karel about."

"I guess I'll keep my nose out of things."

Professor MacVittie thought it was the better part of valor to stay out of things, too.

But Bobbie was no longer just talking to Karel. "Something's changed inside me. I used to be like a deer caught in a car's headlights when guys looked at me. Now it doesn't mean that much to me. And I think that means guys mostly don't feel as motivated to hit on me."

Karel said, "Mostly. But I've warned a few off, so far."

"And you've missed a couple."

"Yeah. but I'm trying."

"It's okay. I was able to warn those guys off, myself. And I don't feel upset about it any more."

Professor MacVittie finally spoke up here. "That's an important thing. I hadn't realized you were struggling so much with that."

"Guys are generally more civilized at Orson Hyde University."

"Not all that civilized. I think I have said some things I have to apologize for."

"No, you've never offended me."

"I'm glad of that."

Sister MacVittie asked her husband, under her breath, "Pray tell, what is it you think you might have to apologize for?"

He replied, as quietly, "Complimenting her on her looks without thinking how she would take it."

"Oh, that's all." She squeezed his hand.



At the last layover before they reached the main island, they met the first counselor to the President of the District of the Church which nominally included the islands to which they were going.

"I have been authorized to form a traveling branch of the Islands, and to call the two of you to preside over the Island Traveling Branch, Karel as the branch president, and Bobbie as the Relief Society president. Do the two of you accept these callings?"

"Sure."

 "Yeah. Uhm, Yes."

"This means you are authorized to hold your meetings and so forth."

"Okay."

"Your branch is a dependent branch, so you will need to coordinate some things with the parent branch, district, and mission presidencies, as described in the handbooks."

He gave them addresses and long distance phone numbers to contact them by.

"Your own home teachers and visiting teachers are assigned out of the parent branch until and unless better arrangements can be made. They happen to be your parent branch second counselor and his wife."



Visiting teachers are assigned from the Relief Society, and home teachers are sent from the priesthood quorums. In the less fully organized branches and wards, sometimes they have couples assigned to do both at once. It wasn't official policy at the time of this story, but it is sort of semi-official now.



"I don't expect that they will actually be able to come visit you here in the islands, but you can keep contact by mail. And they have told me that, if there is an emergency, you can call them collect."

"If we can get to a phone." Karel commented.

"Radio can be patched in. And you will be in their prayers."

"That will be helpful." Bobbie nodded, swallowing suddenly.

"Since this is the district, the mission president has authorized me to authorize the two of you to perform baptismal interviews. The district president has authorized you to perform all non-temple ordinances, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, Karel presiding and Bobbie assisting, as necessary, as explained in the manuals."



Wait a minute, you say?

Okay, I have a small confession. This is not just a slightly alternate history, this is a different planet. Lots of parallels that I have taken the liberty of translating to artifacts of your own world's history.

"Mormon", for instance. Their Church is one with a similar history to the Mormons of (ahem) our world, and they believe in a Savior/Messiah with a name cognate of "Jesus" ("God is help") and a title cognate of "Christ" ("Annointed One").

(And the prophet who abridged their new world scripture is named a word that is a pun on "more good" and "eternal love", pointing to having a hope of literally following their savior as they progress from grace to grace.)

And their Jesus teaches of repentance and redemption, of salvation by faith on His name, and the idea that the Creator of their universe is a friend, not an enemy to His children.

And there are a few differences, such as the ones I just mentioned. But maybe it shouldn't be too surprising. Policy should reflect the historical and social context.



"Now, in addition to my calling as first counselor in the district, I am first counselor in the temple presidency for the temple for this district."

"Oh." Bobbie blinked.

"Be happy to have you visit if you decide you have reason to get up that way."

"Understood." Karel nodded.

"I know you've heard it before, but it will be to your own benefit, as well as the benefit of the Church, that you set the best example you can for the people of these islands. You both have been missionaries, and you understand that the happiness of these people is God's only concern."

Bobbie and Karel both agreed.

After more discussion, he sent them on their way, with the blessings of God.

And they flew on to the main island near where they would be doing their research.



"Yo. You must be the professor and family and students."

"Sheldon MacVittie. Would you be Zedidiah?"

"He's Zedidiah."

"Hi." Zedidiah raised his hand in greeting.

"I'm Wycliffe."

"Good to meet you."

"Yeah. Likewise. Luggage there?" Wycliffe indicated the trunks and other luggage stacked neatly at the edge of the tarmac, where the MacVittie's son was keeping an eye on it.

"That's our stuff," Bobbie confirmed. "Do we have too much?"

"It should fit in one go, right, Zed?"

"Yeah. A little tight, but it'll be okay for a short hop."

Karel started chuckling as Wycliffe examined him and Bobbie.

"Wycliffe, do you mind?" Bobbie was also chuckling.

"Just wondering if I dare make a pass at the prettiest lady I expect to ever see in these islands."

"You just did." Bobbie laughed.

The MacVitties kept a watchful eye, amused, but ready to take action. Karel didn't seem worried.

"Wye, not the paying customers." Zedidiah looked up from the mental calculations he was making about how the luggage might fit in their plane.

"She yours?" Wycliffe asked Karel.

Karel shook his head. "She is her own, but I wouldn't try taking liberties with her."

Wycliffe grinned. "I'm not sure whether I'd be more worried about your response or hers if I did."

Karel and Bobbie both laughed.

"Wye! Knock it off!" Zedidiah stopped his examination of the luggage and came back. "I must apologize for my partner."

"No offense taken," Bobbie was still laughing. "An open pass is a bit refreshing, even if I'm not planning on picking it up. I'll be a bit too busy. Sorry."

"Understood. 'Though I'm not quite sure how you two fit together."

Bobbie and Karel looked at each other, amused, and Wycliffe watched them.

"Leave it alone, Wye, and help me figure the luggage out."

"Yeah. Lemme help you work that out."

And both of them went over to the luggage and started measuring pieces with their hands, talking about where to load them in the plane's cargo area.

"Do you think we can trust them?" Professor MacVittie asked.

"I think so." Bobbie replied.

"He's not entirely harmless," Karel pursed his lips to one side. "But I get the feeling he isn't one to take advantage of people. Just says what he thinks."

"I think I agree," Sister MacVittie said.

Wycliffe went into the building, and Zedidiah returned. "We're pretty share we can take it all in one trip. If not, we have a friend or two who would be willing to fly the rest out with the mail or something. But you'll need a couple of taxis to where you're staying tonight. Wycliffe has gone after them, and for someone to take care of your paperwork."

"You took care of a place for us here?"

"No, the islanders did. We told them about you and they decided where you'll stay. That's the way they work. You can walk there, but the luggage can't, and that's why you'll need the taxis. Ah. Here comes Officer Paalo."

An islander approached them from withing the building. "Hello! Welcome to the islands."

"Officer Paalo can stamp your visas."

After introductions all around, Officer Paalo counted their pieces of luggage without bothering to look inside, scanned quickly over their immunization paperwork, took notes in an official-looking logbook, and gave them visa stamps in their passports.

"Oh. You're not married?" he asked, handing Karel and Bobbie back their passports.

"No, ..." Karel replied.

"Not engaged?"

'No." Bobbie replied with a shake of her head.

"Then I should ask. We were under the impression you two would be staying together. Wycliffe informs us that we may be mistaken."

Karel looked at Bobbie, and she just closed her eyes.

"Uhn, that would not be appropriate," Karel said, reaching out to reassure Bobbie with a pat on her arm.

Bobbie opened her eyes. "Definitely not."

By that time, Wycliffe had returned with not two, but four taxis.

"Change of plans. The bungalow they 

"When they found out your students would not be sleeping together, they decided to change your ac

Professor MacVittie introduced himself and gave them contact information for the university and requested to be contacted immediately if anything untoward happened while carrying Karel and Bobbie from island to island.

Then Wycliffe and Zedidiah introduced them to Officer Paalo, who stamped their visas as a representative of the government and gave their luggage a cursory check, and took care of other such necessary paperwork.

And Karel and Bobbie went over their schedules with Wycliffe and Zedidiah.

The MacVitties spent a couple of days vacationing while Karel and Bobbie made contacts, learned a little more about the islands, and reviewed their preparations.

Then Zedidiah flew the five of them to their first island, which was close by. Zedidiah and Wycliffe generally flew without co-pilot, saving the weight for cargo.

On the first island, Zedidiah introduced them to Nazoru and his daughter Hanaka, who were fairly comfortable with foreigners and with English, and could serve as intermediaries if necessary.

Nazoru and Hanaka offered to let them both stay in their hut. They were surprised and somewhat amused that they wanted to stay separately.

Ultimately, it was decided that Bobbie would stay with Hanaka and Nazoru, and they found another family for Karel to stay with.

And they found a family for the MacVitties to stay with, as well.

Nazoru and Hanaka introduced them to many of the people on the island, and Karel and Bobbie got to work and met more. At first, they just let the islanders teach them how they lived. Then they started helping out when they could see ways they could help.

They compiled their notes in the evenings, being careful to change names and otherwise keep the private information private. They found it worked best to go over their data with the families they stayed with, for accuracy, and also to assure that the private information was kept anonymous and private.

Again, the MacVitties stayed out of the way, leaving the work to the students. Their job was simply to be there if they needed help. On the other hand, they were also interested in the island life, and spent most of their time learning how the islanders lived. Professor MacVittie took some notes of his own, but refrained from recording details that might be private.

Towards the end of the week, they got together to compare notes. Other than that, they spent as much time working separately as together.

Sometime during the first week, one of the islanders came to Karel looking for medical help. One of the children had cut her leg. They were surprised when he deferred to Bobbie, insisting that he be there even though Bobbie did the actual cleaning and bandaging up.

They asked about the usual procedure, and the islanders explained that the village elders had already prayed over the wound. But they knew that foreigners did some other useful things, so they had asked.

The next time, Bobbie and Karel had the parents come, and let the parents perform their traditional first aid. Bobbie showed them a few more small things they could still do when she and Karel were gone.


Nazoru and Hanaka joined their first Sunday services, watching with interest. Afterwards, they asked Bobbie and Karel about their beliefs. They continued to join the services for the whole month, and continued to ask questions.

Other islanders also visited during the later Sunday services.

After two weeks, Zedidiah came to pick the MacVitties up. They were sad to go. (And the family they had been staying with was sad to see them go so soon.) Professor MacVittie took Bobbie and Karel's initial reports back to the university with him, with some letters home, and to Dan and Kristie and other friends.

During the month on the first island, Bobbie and Karel participated in the birthing of two babies. Again, they let the islanders teach them what they usually did, trying to avoid teaching them things they would not be able to continue after they left.

And then Zedidiah picked them up and flew them to their next island, introducing them to islanders who would help them get started before he left.

And Zedidiah took their reports and other mail with him to send on.



And that was pretty much the way it went on each island.

Except that on the third and fourth islands Wycliffe picked them up. The distances were longer, and Wycliffe had more experience with long distances.

While they were on the second island, they wrote letters to professors they were talking with at Harvard and Berkeley, detailing their work to that point and adjustments they were making to their approaches.

A plane came in after about two weeks, and they sent those letters with the pilot.

On the third island, they got enthusiastic responses from their respective schools, both hinting at the possibility of assistant professorship positions.

On the last island, having become accustomed to their work, they had a little time, maybe once a week, to spend together walking on the beach and talking. Not wanting to tempt each other, they focused on their work and refrained from even holding hands.
 


"Got everything?"

"Double and triple checked."

Bobbie and Karel were pushing their luggage out of the hut that served as the airport building on the last island, to the plane waiting on the airstrip.

"I'm gonna miss these islands."

"Me too. In some ways it seems like I've been back on my mission."

"Sans companion?"

"No, not really."

Karel and Bobbie looked at each other. Wycliffe must have missed the meaning that passed without words between them in that look.

"I've been silly."

"No you haven't."

"I wish I could just ask Wycliffe to let us fly back by ourselves. I really want to talk with you all by ourselves."

"Would you be okay navigating over ocean?"

"True. The weather's different, and you have to depend more on instruments."

"And, of course, it's their plane, not ours."

"Do you think those two joke about us?"

"Listening to their chatter on the radio, yeah. Does it matter?"

"Guess not."

"Let's get our luggage on the plane."

"Hi, Wycliffe! Good to see you again."




And now we know enough to continue with the story.


Table of Contents Next: Bobbie and Karel -- Changing Priorities



The previous backup for this chapter is here: http://joel-rees-economics.blogspot.com/2016/08/bk-economics-101-novel-ch09-in-islands.html.

(There is no second draft of this chapter yet.)

Friday, February 2, 2018

[Backup] Me and Mrs Jones

[Backup of http://joels-random-eikaiwa.blogspot.com/2018/02/me-and-mrs-jones.html.]

Beep-beep.

I wait for maybe fifty seconds and reach to ring the doorbell again. It feels awkward ringing this bell, but it should. This apartment used to be mine.

The door opens.

"Mr. Jones, long time no see."

"Uh, hi, Mrs. Jones. How have you been?"

"Not bad. Yourself?"

"Well, enough, I guess. Uhm, well, except, look, I'm really sorry about this."

"What? It's not like there's child support you aren't paying."

"I'm not here on personal business."

"What is it, then, George?"

"There's been a complaint. Medicine missing at the hospital. I have to take you in for questioning."

My ex-, or, should I say, estranged wife sighs and turns around. "I'll go get my purse and a jacket. Do you think it'll take long?"

"Can't tell you. They should not have sent me. The office knows it's a conflict of interest. I can't ask you what happened, and I can't even offer advice."

"Can I make myself a little more presentable?" she asks as she picks up her purse and goes into the bedroom.

"Sure."

"I want you to know my side of things."

"Wait." I recite the litany of rights. "Got that?"

"So I'm being accused?"

"I can't answer that."

"Well, I want you to know what happened, even if the office is deliberately trying to get me to waive my rights."

I'm not allowed to stop her from talking, either.

"So get out your recorder and make this official," she adds.

I pull out my standard-issue phone and thumb the recorder app. "It's recording."

"Four times in the last two weeks, I've found some patient's prescription in my purse. The first time, I didn't find it 'til I got home. But I called immediately and told my boss and the physician in charge. Since then, I've checked my purse every day before I go home. Three more times, and each time I took what I found to whoever was in charge at the time before I left."

She waited for a comment.

"You know I can't say anything here."

"The third and fourth time, I checked my purse after I took it out of my locker, and there was nothing there. Then I checked it again after I changed clothes, and there it was."

I continued to wait, looking around the once familiar room.

"The was only one person besides me who was there both times. I think you know her." She was being vague. Then, being sure I could see through the door, she imitated a hairstyle I would recognize.

Julia Gomez. The chief's daughter. The reason Georgette and I are have been separated for three of the eight years we have been married. I have no kind words for the woman, but I can't say so. Not under the circumstances. 'Gette knows, anyway.

Something clicks in my brain.

Chief Gomez runs his unit like a fiefdom. He keeps the force under his thumb, by hook and by crook. One mistake, and he uses it to blackmail you. If he can't catch you at something useful enough, he sends his daughter to do his dirty work.

I don't give in, so she took it up a level four years ago. Manufactured a compromising situation, and even though I didn't fold, it was my word against hers. And she has made it more of a personal battle since then. I have become the thing she can't have, and she can't stand not getting what she wants. Now she is using my estranged wife against me.

The chief would not allow this, so she must be out of control. Or, ... I am also the only officer on the force not  somewhat under his thumb.

I go to a window and look outside, being careful not to disturb the curtains or show my face.

I have backup I didn't know about down on the street five floors below us. Two more cars that I can see. There should be no need for that. Then I notice the hardware. Subconsciously, I recoil.

I could walk 'Gette downstairs and keep her to close to shoot without hitting me, but I couldn't protect her at the station.

Walking into the bedroom, I say, roughly, "Can't wait forever for you to put on your pretty face. Nobody at the station'll be persuaded anyway."

'Gette looks up at me in surprise. I hold up two fingers and point to the window, then do cherrytops with my finger. I turn sideways as her eyes go wide, and do a charade of shooting with rifles.

"No use delaying things."

"A girl's got her pride." Fortunately, she also remembers I'm on record. I had told her some time ago that the recorder on our police issue phones actually transmits what it records to the station.

"Okay, one more minute."

It is also fortunate that, with the phone on my belt, the camera is at such a level that I can keep my gestures out of the viewfield. But I can't risk too many more clues, and we are probably out of time. I point toward elevator, then the emergency stairs and point down. I think that racing the elevator down is our best chance.

She makes some finishing touches and puts her makeup away. "Let me get some snacks, just in case it takes a while."

I follow her into the kitchen and let the camera record her putting soy bars and a couple of cans of apple juice into her purse, then casually turn away so she can grab her piece from its drawer, quietly. She also grabs a jacket and two backpacks she keeps as seventy-two hour kits for natural disasters and such.

"I'm ready."

I lead, so the backpacks won't be picked up by the camera.

She locks the door behind her, and we go to the elevator. When it opens, we walk in, then I drop my phone. "Careless of me."

I turn the camera facing the wall and leave it there as she steps back out, and then I follow her. She hands me one of the packs. When the door is safely closed we both break into a run for the stairs.

But she heads up, gesturing me to follow. I throw my nightstick down the down stairs and follow, dropping my pager near the wall on the first landing up, hoping they'll think I threw it there.

On the roof, the next building over is only six feet away and at the same level. This whole block is close like that, the only block with tall buildings in this town. She doesn't wait, just runs for the edge. I follow, and check below as I go over the edge. It appears that the officers on the street are focusing on the ground floor, waiting on the elevator. The building after is at the same level, and we clear the edge together. The third building is taller, but there is a fire escape we can reach. Fortunately, the fire door opens from the outside. Safety code.

Inside, we run down the stairs. I follow her into the basement.

"There's an underground maintenance accessway that opens in this building," she says. I wave her back from the entrance, but there's no sign of anyone, so we enter the accessway and make our way under the street. Back at surface level, there is an indoor mall, which we enter from beneath. We come up in an employee access hall.

"Your fashion sense sucks."

"I do stick out, don't I? I think you should change, too"

"There's a Team Captain."

We slip in the back of the sportswear shop and I hold my conscience at bay as we lift T-shirts, shorts, and running shoes.

Back in the maintenance access, 'Gette pulls off her shirt, and I freeze.

"We never did finalize the divorce. Get changed."

It takes me a minute longer to change, and we stuff our clothes in our packs.

Once again on the surface, we cross the mall and walk as casually as we can to the bus terminal. As the bus pulls out, we hear sirens and watch police cars closing in on the apartment building from all sides.

"I think I'm glad I read your mind back there."

"Me, too."

"What'll we do?"

"Hang out in hotels in Cincinnati and further east? Watch the news for a week and post incriminating hints to Twitter from netcafes?"

Saturday, July 29, 2017

edits: Ch. 2, Priorities Begin to Change

[JMR20170725 edits]

{replace}
A proper Adam and Eve story also requires laying too much groundwork -- and there's too much of the models that I would have to explain explicitly if I were to just start off telling you about the Adam and Eve of Karel and Bobbie's world. (And that is also an interesting story for someday.)
{with}
A proper Adam and Eve story also requires laying too much groundwork -- and there's too much of the models that I would have to explain explicitly if I were to just start off telling you about the Adam and Eve of Karel and Bobbie's world. (And that is also an interesting story.)
{end replace}

{replace}
God. And I've been talking about prayer, too. I will be talking about both. But maybe you are an atheist. Or, maybe you don't think you can believe in my God.
{with}
God. And I've been talking about prayer, too. Maybe that worries you. I will be talking about both. But maybe you are an atheist. Or, maybe you don't think you can believe in my God.
{end replace}

{replace}
"Yep. That's east," Bobbie confirmed wryly. "I do hope we're not here long enough for you to make an accurate astronomical compass." Bobbie grinned, and Karel chuckled in response.
{with}
"Yep. That's east," Bobbie confirmed wryly. "I do hope we're not here long enough for you to make an accurate solar compass." She grinned, and Karel chuckled in response.
{end replace}

{replace}
But bear with me, and I think I can convince you that I am not trying to sell you my gods, at any rate. And religion and cosmology is generally a part of most value systems, and economics is impossible without value, so we can't really avoid talking about the stuff.

So let's not fuss about it. I'll try not to pull my punches with the religious elements of the story.
{with}
But bear with me a bit, and I think I can show you that I am not trying to sell you my gods, at any rate. Religion and cosmology is generally a part of most value systems, and economics is impossible without value, so we can't really avoid talking about the stuff.

Let's not fuss about it. I'll try to keep the religious elements of the story out where you can see them.
{end replace}

[end JMR20170725 edits]


Current version: https://econ101-novel.blogspot.com/2017/05/e02-priorities-begin-to-change.html.

Monday, July 24, 2017

edits: Ch. 1, The Framing Story -- the Pilots and the Island





[JMR201707241351 edits]

{replace}

"Your thesis plan looks good, but you'll need to do some on-location research." Professor MacVittie was helping Karel review his plans.

Karel Pratt nodded his agreement. "I guess I should say so in my proposal? Should I revise the plan to say something about needing the fieldwork, but not yet knowing when and where?"

Professor MacVittie nodded slowly, in half agreement. "Well, you could, but I think you know enough to be somewhat specific already. You should be able to name several islands as possibilities."

Karel scratched behind his ear. "I guess I can say I'm looking at a few locations, but don't know which, yet?"

"Sounds reasonable." The professor paused. "Changing the subject a little, but do you know Roberta Whitmer?"

Karel looked surprised. "Not really. Well, I think I've met her. She calls herself Bobbie, right? And she's in the anthropology program, too?"

"Yes, that would be her. Her thesis seems like it could complement yours. Professor White and I were thinking you might want to talk with her. Just a suggestion, of course, but it often helps to have someone you can work with."

"Mmm," Karel thought for a moment, then nodded hesitantly. "I'll talk with her and see."
{with}
Studying economics is not like studying physics.

In physics, we can start with things we see and work directly with -- the angle of a shadow on sand, water pulling on an oar, a rubber dinghy floating in the sea, an airplane gliding through the air.

Even the moderately complex chemical reactions that are the regular controlled explosions of fuel in an airplane engine are quite repeatable. (And so are the effects of running out of fuel.)

With economics, nothing is static.

Sure, we have money. But money is a contrived proxy for value, and is not constant over time, or even from person to person. So we need to simplify our basic models to make them understandable.

I don't know about you, but the simplest economic system I can think of is one person on a desert island. Except, of course, one person alone is only interesting for a little while.



"Your thesis plan looks good, but you'll need to do some on-location research." Professor MacVittie was helping Karel Pratt review his plans for his doctoral studies at Orson Hyde University.

Karel nodded. "I guess I should mention it in the proposal. Should I revise the plan to say something about needing the fieldwork, but not yet knowing when and where?"

The Professor nodded in agreement. "Well, you could. But I think you know enough already to name some specific islands as possibilities."

Karel scratched thoughtfully behind his ear. "I guess I can say I'm looking at a few locations, but don't know which, yet, ..."

"Sure. Why don't you think about that." The professor hesitated before changing the subject. "Say, do you know a Roberta Whitmer?"

"Roberta Whitmer?" Karel was surprised. "No, not really."

The professor thought he might have seen something unsaid behind Karel's eyes, but it was gone before he could be sure.

"Well, I think I may have met her once. She calls herself Bobbie, right?"

"She does."

"And she's a pre-PhD student in the anthropology program, too?"

"Yes, that would be her."

"And?"

"Her thesis seems like it could complement yours. Professor White and I were thinking you might want to talk with her."

The professor still couldn't read Karel's reactions.

"Just a suggestion, of course, but it often helps to have someone you can work with."

"Mmm," Karel grunted, then nodded somewhat absently. "I'll look her up and talk with her and see."

{end replace}

{replace}
Karel continued: "And we've been working together on the itinerary. We contacted some travel agencies, ..."
{with}
Karel continued. "And we've been working together on the itinerary. We contacted some travel agencies, ..."
{end replace}

{replace}
Ultimately, the faculty and Sister MacVittie decided it would be best for Professor MacVittie to accompany them for the first two weeks. That way he could help them solve the early problems. He could also make contacts in the islands for the university.
{with}
Ultimately, the faculty, Bobbie, Karel, and Sister MacVittie decided it would be best for Professor MacVittie to accompany them for the first two weeks. That way he could help them solve the early problems. He could also make contacts in the islands for the university.
{end replace}

{replace}
Names? I'm translating the names mostly by meaning and history rather than sound.)
{with}
Names? I'm translating the names mostly by meaning and parallels in their history rather than sound. But some of the names do sound similar, Bobbie's and Karel's, in particular.)
{end replace}

{replace}
And you thought this was a novel, right?
{with}
And I told you this was a novel, right?

Well, it is -- something like a novel, anyway.
{end replace}

{replace}
Well, when trying to decipher the physical laws of the universe, we find it easier to start with a simplified model. For example, when describing the flight of a cannonball, we start by ignoring air friction and wind. That makes the math simple enough for one person to handle without a computer in many cases, and the calculated results are close to the actual flight in the common cases.

Economics is not as easily simplified as physics. In physics, we can see, or at least measure the interactions, even when there are interactants we don't directly see, like wind, or electric or magnetic fields, or chemical reactions.

Of course, gunpowder is not very simple, but we might instead use something simpler like a catapult or trebuchet to launch the cannonball. Those are a bit more repeatable than crude gunpowder.

We can see what happens, and we can measure and time the acceleration paths, and so forth. And we can compare our results with the path and timing of a dropped cannonball or a cannonball rolling on a slope, where things happen a little more slowly and are easier to measure.

We can simplify.

In economics, we deal with complex interactions and abstract interactants. Some of the elements are fairly straightforward, like food, fuel, and housing. Some, like value, are so abstract that we can't even safely define them once and expect them not to change while we are trying to observe them.

Some elements of economics, like money, are deceptive simplicities hiding complex and abstract qualities whose continual, often hidden variations play directly into the math.

We need simplifications to be able to work with economics, even if we have the help of computers. But economic interactions are difficult to simplify.

Complex mathematics looks a lot like literature, abstract mathematics even more so. So, I'll take a hint from the math, and make a small logical leap, as well, and construct this informal thesis on the fundamentals of economics as a set of thought experiments in the form of a novel.

-- but maybe a little bit of an unusual novel.
{with}
As I say, when trying to decipher the physical laws of the universe, we find it easier to start with a simplified model. For example, when describing the flight of a thrown football or papaya, we start by ignoring air friction, and wind, and the way it tumbles in the wind. That makes the math simple enough for one person to handle without a computer in many cases. And the calculated results are generally close enough to the actual flight.

Economics is not as easily simplified as physics.

But we can still simplify.

In economics, we deal with complex interactions and abstract interactants. Some of the elements are fairly straightforward, like food, fuel, and housing. Some, like value, are so abstract that we can't even safely define them once and expect them not to change while we are trying to observe them.

With only two people, maybe we can do away with money. Value systems can be simplified. And we can focus more easily on the bargaining processes, and on what they exchange.

Complex mathematics looks a lot like literature, abstract mathematics even more so. So, I'm taking a hint from the math, and making a small logical leap, as well, and constructing this informal thesis on the fundamentals of economics as a set of thought experiments in the form of a novel -- but a slightly unusual novel.
{end replace}

{replace}
Wycliffe sat on their desk and picked up their schedule. "Hey, Zed. Look what we got this week."

Zedidiah looked up. "Yeah, I see that. Them two grad students from that Apist school. Come to study ant rope loggies -- native cull-chewer and all that. And do busybody serve ice pro jets. Straight as two rulers. Even the natives are laughing behind their backs."

(That's roughly how it would have sounded to us, if we spoke their language.)
{with}
Wycliffe sat on the desk they shared and picked up the scratch paper they were using that month to write their schedule on. "Hey, Zed. Look what we got this week."

Zedidiah looked up. "Yeah, I see that. Them two grad students from that Apist school. Come to study ant rope loggies -- native cull-chewer and all that. And do busybody serve ice pro jets. Straight as two rulers. Even the natives are laughing behind their backs."

(Anthropology, culture, and service projects, of course, but that's roughly how it would have sounded to us had Zedidiah been joking in English. Oh, and E-P-ist.)
{end replace}

[end JMR201707241351 edits]
[JMR201707251541 edits]

{replace}
We need a framing story to get them onto the islands. A good simulation game always has a good framing story, and this is (pretty much) a mental simulation game.
{with}
A good simulation game always has a good framing story, so we need a framing story to get them onto the island that will be our laboratory.
{end replace}

{replace}
"And the nether moon high in this late morning sky is just a little bit romantic, too."
{with}
"And the nether moon high in this late morning sky is just a tad romantic, too," she added.
{end replace}

{replace}
And I guess it would be less confusing to keep saying "hour". Sixteen gohbu are a chippu.
{with}
And I guess it would be less confusing not to say "hour". Sixteen gohbu in a chippu, sixteen chippu in a day.
{end replace}

[end JMR201707251541 edits]

[JMR201707291824 edits]

{replace}
I don't know about you, but the simplest economic system I can think of is one person on a desert island. Except, of course, one person alone is only interesting for a little while.
{with}
The simplest economic system I can think of is one person on a desert island. Of course, one person alone is only interesting for a little while.
{end replace}

{replace}
"Roberta Whitmer?" Karel was surprised. "No, not really."
{with}
"Roberta ... ?" Karel was surprised. "No, not really."
{end replace}

{replace}
I'll tell you about that world as we go. It's kind of like ours in a lot of ways ...
{with}
I'll tell you about that world as we go. It's kind of like ours in a lot of ways ... .
{end replace}

{replace}
Bobbie answered: "Nothing in particular. But we don't want to spend all of our evenings the rest of our lives talking shop at home." Maybe she wasn't being totally up front, but she didn't think her relationship with Karel was any of Wycliffe's business.
{with}
Bobbie answered, "Nothing in particular. But we don't want to spend all of our evenings the rest of our lives talking shop at home." Maybe she wasn't being totally up front, but she didn't think her relationship with Karel was any of Wycliffe's concern.
{end replace}

[end JMR201707291824 edits]


Current version: https://econ101-novel.blogspot.com/2017/04/e01-framing-story-pilots-island.html.




Wednesday, May 3, 2017

RFQ: Ch. 5, A Little Cosmology

Wycliffe's Sacrifice


A Little Cosmology

I had thought to avoid this little list of arcane facts, interpretations, opinions, and stream-of-consciousness. But I see that there are some who might be losing patience with all my talk of prayer and God and religious nonsense.

So, I guess I need to tell you something about the world in which this novel takes place.

Karel and Bobbie call it Xhilr.

Well, if you understand "xh" to be a glotal fricative and "lr" to be a pseudo-consonant formed by rolling the sides of the tongue rather than the tip, you might let me get away with writing it that way. To an American ear, it would sound something like a cross between "chill" and "here", but spoken somewhat gutturally.

In their language, the meaning is similar to our "earth", meaning dirt, ground, or the big clot of dirt and mud that people live on.

(Or a large, electrically neutral sink of electrons, in some dialects, although that would preferably be "xhilr zheemn".)

(And in the islands where Bobbie and Karel have been visiting, it is called a word that sounds like "Bokadakr", but I really don't want to try to explain that today.)

When I said it was far away, I certainly didn't mean "far away like Okinawa is far from Florida", and I didn't mean "far away like the Earth is far from Mars". Nor did I mean to indicate a distance like that of our solar system from, say, the triple solar system we call Algol, nor even the distance between our galaxy and the Perseus Cluster cataloged as Abel 426.

On the other hand, as distances between universes go, their universe is rather close to ours, having a cosmological constant, or, rather, a set of quintessential parameters rather similar to ours.

Which has little to do with the fact that both the length of their year and of their day are fairly close to our own, as well. (Close in terms of the relative entropic rate, which is the only meaningful way in which we can compare their time with ours.) The number of similarities after translation is highly coincidental, and rather convenient because you don't want me stopping the narrative every third paragraph or so to describe some detail about the physics of their world.

(Cough.)
God (Zhimu):
The Progenitor(s). An entity or group of entities, demonstrating very high levels of intelligence, which determined the conditions of the beginning of Karel and Bobbie's universe, and thus the physical laws under which their universe operates. Also, the Creator(s). Sometimes spoken of as Nature Itself.
"Zh" should be understood as the soft "j", or the voiced version of the lingual fricative "sh".

We might assume that they were the perfectly evolved occupants of the universe which preceded the one in which Karel and Bobbie live, if "precede" or "perfectly evolved" had any reasonable meaning in such a context.

Trying to distinguish whether this God is singular or plural stretches both Xhilran and human linguistic limits beyond repair. Let's not do that. That kind of discussion gets messy rather quickly. (As with most arguments about the nature of God, it tends to leave reason behind in chasing semantics with too few clues.)

Except, I'll mention that, while they do seem to be a collection of individuals, they are of such unity of purpose that it wouldn't matter which of them any of the children of Xhilr engaged with.

No difference in responses, no difference in answers. None of this god of fortune, god of love, god of fertility, etc. nonsense. Trying, in other words, to choose which to pray to, in order to get the response closest to the response one wants, would be an exercise in self-deceit.

(Not to mention rather unnecessary. These Zhimu want their zhinu children to be happy.)

Okay,
god (zhinu):
sentient entity -- by definition, offspring, or creation/creature of God. In certain senses, implementation of complex mathematical automata. Sometimes referred to as "soul" ("pta-maesh"). If not instantiated in a physical body, often referred to as "spirit" ("hrehi"), or, in a more jocular sense, "ghost" ("iuu-hrehi").
Pronunciation -- "pt" is a combined lingual/labial plosive, "ae" is that vowel somewhere between the "a" in "apple" and the "e" in "bet", and "hr" is an aspirated "r", as French, but more to the front of the tongue.

Maybe we need these, as well:

soul (pta-maesh):
an individual sentient entity, or zhinu. Sometimes synonymous with "spirit", but generally indicating physical instantiation: spirit + body.
spirit (hrehi):
an individual sentient entity, or zhinu, not physically instantiated.
ghost (iuu-hrehi):
generally indicating hrehi in a superstitious mode of expression.

Okay, now we can say this:
prayer (ee-noil):
generally, an attempt by a pta-maesh (zhinu) to communicate with Zhimu, or one of several classes of similar activities. Or may be considered as communion with, or reference to one's conscience. May be as simple as silent thought or meditation, or may involve elaborate ritual.
Now, these definitions are barely sufficient for the current narrative, and definitely should not be reverse-projected onto the words which I am borrowing from our own language for use in this universe.

I mean, I am not expounding a theology useful to you or me. This is a fantasy, after all. I'm just using the closest words I can find.

If you are looking for everyday meaning for the above words, don't look here, look in whatever you consider to be your own scriptures.




Wycliffe's Sacrifice Table of Contents Next



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[Not in the 1st draft.]
[Not in the 2nd draft.]
[4th draft Economics 101

RFQ: Ch. 4, Wycliffe's Sacrifice

(Yet another false start:)
Priorities Change


Wycliffe's Sacrifice


This won't sound like a discussion of economics, but we should follow Wycliffe for a little while. Economics is about value, and understanding value requires background information.

Besides, Wycliffe is going to become something of a laboratory assistant for us, and we really should get to know him a bit better.



Wycliffe grinned wickedly as he put the island behind him.

"Leave them together all by themselves for three days, and let's just see if they haven't gotten together."

Now he turned his attention to his engine.

In the process of playing with the mixture, he knew he had left a lot of unburned carbon on the spark plugs. So he brought the plane up to cruise speed and gave himself extra altitude and worked a different game on the engine.

First he feathered the engine, to let the plugs cool while the plane glided for a few minutes. Then he gave the engine spark and let the air on the propellers push the engine back to ignition, then accelerated smoothly to high RPM, regaining lost altitude and speed and burning off some of the carbon on the plugs.

Wycliffe's cache of fuel was on the island where he had told Zedidiah they had set down to work on the engine. It was an island near the main shipping routes, and was often used as a picnic spot for travelers with extra time. Several of the charter pilots in the islands cached fuel and other supplies there, and most of the pilots referred to it as the cache island.
The distance out to the desert island and back to the cache island was dangerously close to the fuel limit for the plane. If he left the plugs as they were, the engine's efficiency would drop and could leave him beyond the limit. He needed all the fuel efficiency he could get, to be sure of making it back safely to his supply of fuel.

He briefly considered going back and picking them up, and then suggesting they take an alternate route where he could refuel. He could let the engine cool on the desert island and manually clean the plugs while Bobbie and Karel explored, and then they could fly to an island where he could borrow enough fuel from a friend to get to the cache island. And they could take it slow, to improve fuel efficiency.

His grin softened to a smile as he thought of the food he'd left with them. He'd packed some extra candles for a little mood, as well as for light. Then he frowned as a thought that had been nagging him forced its way to the surface.

"No salad. I forgot to pack greens and other vegetables in their food box. Shoot. Another reason to go back and get them now."

It had cost him as much as his share of the profits from the the trip to set them up with food and to secure the extra fuel. But he thought it would be worth it.

Having been jilted by the woman he had thought was the love of his life, he had some hangups about romantic relationships.

He'd been watching Karel and Bobbie for the last four months, and thinking of the woman who had left him. Sure, he had made a casual bet with Zedidiah, but it wasn't really the bet that concerned him. It hadn't been a serious bet, anyway, no money involved, just the deep wish to be see someone achieve the happiness he thought he had missed.

They already had something he had never had with Tessa. They trusted each other. They worked well together.

Bobbie and Karel had referred to not wanting to have arguments at home, but Wycliffe had never seen them argue at all. He had heard gossip, but all the gossip was shock and surprise that they were not lovers. Gossip of arguments were just as missing as gossip about midnight trysts.

And he could tell they liked each other. There was nothing awkward or forced between them.

They must have been planning the research project for at least a year before they came, and he couldn't imagine why they would have kept running away from each other for so long. Being a former E-P-ist himself, he thought he understood about eternity, too. Denying each other the happiness he had never been able to obtain was just a crime.

After a few minutes of running the engine at high tach to heat the plugs and burn off the carbon, he brought the engine back to a high cruise speed, and the engine's rhythm was feeling good. So he radioed Zedidiah and told him the same story he was planning to tell their professor -- that, having set down on the cache island to look at the engine, they had decided they wanted to take a few days' vacation. And they had enough food in the emergency kit.

He figured he could straighten out the details later, when Bobbie and Karel were safely together at last.

Then he set the autopilot, set his alarm, and took a nap.



When the alarm woke him up an hour and a half later, he found that a strong crosswind had been blowing steadily for some time, and had blown him significantly off course. He corrected course and got the plane pointed back towards his cache island. But now the wind had shifted more, and he was pushing into a headwind.

Feeling a tightness in his throat, he cut his engine speed back to its most efficient and hoped that the headwind would ease, and that he had cleared the plugs well enough.



With less than an hour remaining to the cache island, he was watching the fuel gauge rather anxiously. The trip really had been too close to the edge of the plane's fuel range.

In reasonably good conditions, it probably would have been safe enough. But he apparently hadn't been able to get the plugs completely cleared. Combined with the extra distance from being off course, and the headwind he hadn't accounted for, he was in danger of running out of fuel.

Rushing the return trip at first had also been a mistake.

He tried to raise Zedidiah again on the radio, but for some reason he wasn't getting any answer.

Then the engine's rhythm became a bit too smooth, and he knew he was running on fumes.

Actually, engines don't run on fumes. The last few ounces of fuel remaining in the fuel lines is not enough to maintain fuel pressure, and engine noise drops as power output drops. Saying "running on fumes" evokes the feeling of the engine's reduced output as it uses the last of the fuel.

When the engine lost power completely, he feathered it, letting the blades turn free to reduce drag. He trimmed flaps and ailerons for all the distance he could get in the last glide and wished for the island to appear on the horizon.

He tried the radio one last time. No answer. So he focused on maintaining his glide for as long as possible and thought about the danger he had put Karel and Bobbie in. It finally occurred to him that making the decision without asking them was, in fact, kidnapping, and might possibly end up contributing to rape.

At twenty feet above the water and no island in sight, he pulled the nose up a bit to slow down before contact. He considered putting the landing gear down for drag, but instead concentrated on getting into the water smoothly.

The belly of the plane dipped in the water and left a wake behind as the water slowed the plane. He had managed to keep the nose from dipping down, keeping the plane from tumbling.

Now he was thinking about the dinghy he had left for them to maybe take a joyride in. It would not be enough to get them to to an inhabited island, and that fact worried him. As the plane slowed down and started to sink, he opened the door and jumped out and swam away from it.

He put the plane behind him, thinking that would be the best way to target the island that should be up ahead, removed most of his clothes, and started swimming with a conservative side stroke.

(Why did he forget all his emergency training here?)

If he could make the island, there would be supplies, and he would have a chance to contact someone to send after Karel and Bobbie. He'd probably do jail time, but at this point getting them back safely was his first goal.

After the plane sank, he kept track of direction by the sun. It was low in the sky, so he kept it where it had been when he put the plane in the water, just to his left and ahead of him, and kept swimming, shifting from one side, then to his back, and then to the other side regularly, to conserve his strength.

While he swam, he worked out the distance in his head. Even with the most hopeful estimates, he was looking at swimming more than twenty hours. But he had no choice.

Finally, he started to pray.

"God, I hope you're out there. It's been a while since I talked to you last."

Stroke, stroke, conserving his energy.

"I've done some bad things. But this time I've really screwed up. Without help, I'm going to die before I can tell anyone where Karel and Bobbie are. I thought I was doing something good for them, but I was wrong."

Breathe even, stroke easy.

"It's my fault that they're in danger, but if I don't get back, who will find them? Please help me make it to the cache."

Face the sky, mouth out of water, stroke, breathe, rest.

When the sun set, he started looking for stars to get his bearings. It took about a half hour for him to find the stars he was looking for, but he did, and he kept swimming and praying.

After about ten hours, he was wishing he had somehow kept a life-preserver vest from the emergency supplies. He wouldn't have been able to swim very well, but maybe he could have been found by a boat or plane within a few days instead. The sky started getting light again, and he checked the sun's position and kept swimming.

About noon, he started losing strength. Thoughts of Bobbie and Karel kept him swimming for maybe an hour longer. Then he just lost consciousness.

Light graying to dark.

Complete blackness.





Priorities Change Table of Contents Next



[No edit history yet.]



[In the 1st draft.]
[In the 2nd draft.]
[4th draft Economics 101

Monday, May 1, 2017

RFQ3: Ch. 3, Priorities Begin to Change

(Yet another false start:)
Framing Story


Priorities Begin to Change


Now that we have read the framing story for this simplified economic system, we can perform the first thought experiment.

You may note that this is not the simplest economic system we could, ideally, describe. Part of the reason for that is that we already think we know too much about the subject.

Part of what makes physics difficult is when we describe (for example) a cannonball and a feather interacting with the earth in a vacuum to children who haven't really ever picked up a cannonball, much less properly experienced a vacuum.

But most children have played with marbles and balls and feathers. And their intuition will usually betray them.

Playing with planets as physics toys requires a bit of preparation. Simple is often not simple without preparation.

A proper Adam and Eve story requires laying too much groundwork -- and there's too much of the models inside my head that I would have to explain explicitly if I were to just start off telling you about the Adam and Eve of Karel and Bobbie's world.

Even the uninhabited island location is a bit outside the ordinary experience, but it's much more within reach, I think. If we've never been to one, we've heard about such things, and I can tell you more about their island as we go.

I thought, by the way, of stranding Wycliffe on a different desert island, for his experience going one-on-one with nature and God. But he needs to have a bit more direct interaction with God than that, for our experiment to proceed.

God. I keep talking about God. Maybe you are an atheist. Or, maybe you don't think you can believe in my God.

No problem. You understand that the universe we live in is a product of natural laws. For the purposes of this novel, their God is the expression or embodiment of the natural laws by which their universe operates. In a sense, their God does not just own their universe, but their God is their Universe.

And praying is how they consult with their conscience, how they compare things with the impress of the laws of nature within their heart and mind.

Let's continue with Karel and Bobbie's story.



"Where is Wycliffe going?" Bobbie asked, half to herself, as they watched the airplane disappear over the horizon.

Karel shrugged. "I suppose he needs to do more prolonged tests on the engine. I hope that's what he's doing. Or maybe he's going back to civilization for parts or something."

They looked around themselves at the island as a few minutes passed. They could see the beach stretching fairly straight away from them, and the sea seemed smooth enough. Inland, the land sloped up gently for a ways, with a small mountain off in the distance.

"How long do you think it'll take?" Bobbie leaned back on one of the trunks.

"How should I know?"

A few minutes passed without conversation.

"What time is it now?"

Karel looked at his watch. "One twenty-six."

"Just wanted to know." Bobbie paused for thought. "Do you think he was acting a little strange?"

"Strange?" Karel thought for a moment. "Well, you know that most of the people out here are not what we would call normal back home."

"And?"

"It would be hard to tell what strange might mean for him." He laughed. "The island natives are a little easier for me to read."

"I think he was acting a little strange."

Karel looked around the beach again, then at Bobbie. "Maybe so. You need something to keep the sun off you, I think."

"No, I'm okay. But I'm thinking maybe we should move our stuff up the beach a bit. The tide line seems a little close here."

"He should be back before the tide rises too far. I hope."

Bobbie drew her knees up under her chin and thought.

Then she said, "Let's explore."

"Agreed. We've been sitting here long enough." 

And they stood up and dusted themselves off a bit.

"But we need to keep the beach and the luggage in sight."

"True."

Karel picked up a stick of driftwood and drove it into the sand upright. Bobbie watched him check his watch and the position of the shadow.

"East seems to be that way." He pointed out across the water.

"I do hope we're not here long enough to find out for sure."

They walked north, along the beach, first. After walking about five minutes, Karel drove another stick in the ground and checked directions.

"The beach seems to be curving a little towards the west."

"Do you want to draw a map?"

"If we had the time, it could be interesting."

"I think we could make the time. We could put off our return a day or two, after we get back to the main island, and then have them fly us back out here to explore."

"Sounds fun. Maybe so. Wycliffe would approve. So would Professor MacVittie and our parents. Heh."

Bobbie smiled at the thought, too.

"Let's head inland a bit."

"Sounds good."

After about a minute of walking, the beach's level had risen five feet or so, and the sand began to be covered with grass. Another minute brought them into low shrub and high grass, and another brought them into thicker, taller wild woods.

Karel said, "We could lose track of the stuff if we go further."

"I think I do want to come back here to explore." replied Bobbie, and they turned back and walked south, keeping just outside the tree line. Passing the luggage on their left, they continued for another five minutes.

"Still heading slightly east. If we've been walking about 80 yards a minute, we've covered about a half mile of beach. The beach doesn't curve much here. Let's save this for when we come back."

"Sounds good. So, Karel, we are coming back after Wycliffe fixes the plane."

"Yeah. We can let him think he persuaded us to have an adventure."

"We could ask him to be our chaperon." Bobbie laughed.

Karel chuckled. "He'd be an interesting chaperon."

They walked down to the water and both of them took their shoes off and waded in. Bobbie kicked a bit of water at Karel, getting his clothes wet, and they laughed.

"Really nice water."

"Definitely going swimming when we come back here."

"Yep."

Carrying their shoes, they followed the water line back to below where the luggage was sitting in the sand.

"Is it almost two?"

"Yeah. Maybe we should move the luggage up to the grass, anyway."

"I'll need your help with my trunk."

"Sure. And I'd appreciate it if you helped me with mine. I'm not quite into proving I'm Atlas today."

"Hah."

They cleaned their feet and put their shoes back on, and then moving the luggage occupied maybe ten minutes. They had a trunk and a suitcase each, and there was Bobbie's purse, and Karel's shoulder bag, and a backpack each, along with some other small personal stuff of Bobbie's, wrapped in a scarf.

"I didn't really think about it at the time, but is it a little odd that Wycliffe put our personal stuff off, too?"

"Maybe. He is taking a long time."

And there were also supplies from the plane -- a box of emergency supplies, and the rubber dinghy and the tent each in its own canvas carrying bag. And there were two boxes that they hadn't really taken notice of until the rest of the luggage was moved.

"What're those?"

"Something of Wycliffe's?" Karel picked one up. "There seems to be a tag on this one."

Bobbie picked up the other, and they carried the boxes to the grass and set them down. Karel looked at the tag, but what he had thought was a tag was an envelope. "Oh, for, ... It says, to us."

"Huh?" Bobbie took the envelope and read it. "To Bobbie and Karel." The envelope was not sealed, and inside was a card with a heart and a Cupid's arrow drawn on it.

"You guys need a vacation. There's enough food in these boxes. I'll be back in three days. Have fun."

"That ..." Karel didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Bobbie turned the card over to see if there was any more. "I'll call your professor and tell him you decided to postpone your return for a little adventuring. There aren't any dangerous animals on this island. Don't worry about a thing. See you in three days. Love Wycliffe." And she took a deep breath.

"How sweet." she said. "In a twisted sort of way."

"Meddling busybody." Karel muttered.

They each thought their own thoughts for a minute or two.

"Professor MacVittie will uhm, have mixed feelings about this." Karel started.

"I have mixed feelings about this! Flying out from the main island early in the day, with time for a little hiking and a picnic, and flying back after a day trip, that would have been a fun vacation."

"Mmm hmm. Yeah. Fun."

"We might even have had Wycliffe or Zedidiah join us while we camped out for a night. But this is not going to make our bishops happy, either."

"Or us. Blast Wycliffe. Legally, this is kidnapping."

"And a bit worse. But swearing at him won't bless us."

"Okay. Bless him."

More silence. Then Bobbie laughed. "Yes, bless him. I think we should pray."

"Indeed." Karel shook his head as he got down on his knees. "I'll go first?"

Bobbie also knelt down. "Please. It'll give me some time to calm down."

Karel prayed for Wycliffe to be forgiven, and for his heart to be softened, and for their safe return to civilization. Then he prayed for help for him and Bobbie, that they would be guided and kept out of spiritual danger as well as physical.

Bobbie concurred with a heartfelt amen, and then added her own concerns:

"... Father, we don't know what the future will bring, but please, keep us from doing anything that would offend our future companions or prevent us from being married in the temple. ...."

And Karel concurred with an equally heartfelt amen.

Temples and marriage?

I should mention that E-P-ism has a lot in common with the way commonly known as Mormonism in our world.

A temple in the E-P religion is a place where covenants of an eternal nature are made, and marriage is one of those. But individuals and couples wishing to enter into those covenants are asked to maintain a certain moral decorum that Wycliffe had not considered carefully enough when he made his plans for his little practical joke.

I think, had he stopped to think about it, he would have taken Zedidiah's advice to heart and just brought them back to the airport on the main island.

They stayed on their knees, listening with their hearts. And got an answer:
Wycliffe is in my hands. 
Karel looked puzzled and checked with Bobbie. She nodded, she'd felt the same impression.

Karel again prayed. "Father, if Wycliffe is in danger please protect him. And we do hope that he will be able to return in three days, as he promised."

Bobbie added, "We'd rather it were sooner, if he could change his mind, but please at least bring him back by then."
I want you two here, now, for a while. I know how to save Wycliffe's soul, and I know how to save yours. It's time for both of you to start preparing.
Bobbie and Karel looked at each other and repeated together what they had each felt, watching each other's eyes as the words matched exactly.

Then they prayed together for Wycliffe's friends and family, and then for their own, as they realized the possible meanings of the impressions they had received.

When they felt they had prayed sufficiently, they decided they should follow the impression they had received to prepare.

Karel dug into the emergency supplies while Bobbie opened the boxes of food that Wycliffe had prepared for them.

"Bread, cheese, water. Sausage. Thoughtful of him about the water. Wine. We won't need that."

"Keep it in case we need crude antiseptic. We have one tent. It could fit four in an emergency. You get that. I'll make a lean-to or something. Oh, good, we have a water filter and some fishing string and hooks. Rope. A hand shovel, an axe, a good knife. It looks like a good scout packed this, or someone who knows what one needs in the wilderness. We'll be okay for a while." And he put the supplies back carefully.

Was that Scout? No, scout. Either way, really. They had something like Boy Scouts, too.

Bobbie closed the boxes of food and got her lunch out of her purse. It was an egg salad sandwich. "How careful do we need to be with our food?"

Karel got out his lunch. "Let's eat what we've brought, so it doesn't spoil, and then we'll start exploring for real. We'll set the tent up before it starts getting dark." He paused.

"Bobbie."

She looked up. "What?"

"Where I was reading in The Book on the plane this morning. Book of Ioba."

Of course it was not the Book of Job in the Bible of our world. But it was an account of one of the holy men of The Book of their world, whose life was taken as a parable of patience. And it had verses like this:
You've let this man gain a lot of wealth. He's living the good life. That's why he's being such a good person. If you reach out and take away all the good stuff that you've let him get, he'll start behaving and talking badly enough pretty quickly. Just try it and see.
And God gave the deceiver permission to test Ioba. But He said, Only the material wealth. You may not harm his health or his family.
Bobbie nodded. "That's in the first chapter. God doesn't hate us, he just figures he can let us be tested."

"I reckon so."



Let's watch the values Karel and Bobbie put on things, and consider how those values change as their understanding of their situation changes.

Also, let's think about what Wycliffe has exchanged with Bobbie and Karel, and to what purpose.

And we can think about the ways in which Bobbie and Karel have been cooperating and sharing, and what it is that allows them to cooperate and share.

If I tell that story in full here, it will distract us, so let's save that for another time. But we can think about what it might be that allows them to do the unusual things they do together on the island.

Note how their ideas and priorities were in agreement when they prayed, and how that sense of unity allowed them to hear the answers they got.

Prayer? Perhaps you still wonder about that. Bear with them on this. We all have this connection in our hearts with the forces that created our universe, whatever we call those forces.

The Book? E-P-ism has its scriptures. One of their books of scriptures is a book which they share with other religions around them, and it is usually called, The Book or The Holy Book. And it is similar, as I say, to our Bible.

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