Time, Time, Time


We live in a very strange age, and as such I find myself wishing for things like a rewind button, a speed up button, or perhaps a “mark as read” for life.

Time, as someone or other said, is the strangest thing, starting with our perception of it, and ending with… well, our perception of it.

Some people posit, in fact, that there is no such thing as time outside human perception, and that everything happens, as it were simultaneously.  The idea is so bizarre, I can’t picture it, and if you can you must have a very oddly arranged mind.

The nature of humans is to be sequential, of course.  My personality today is not like my personality at 30, which in turn was quite different from my personality at 3, but if you arrange them sequentially you get a sense of “one of these things came from the others.”

I liked the idea of Heinlein’s story (Lifeline? I can’t remember the title.  I have a problem with titles, including my own.) where each individual was a bright streak through time, worm like, with a definite beginning and end.

(One of the whole things that turns me off from the idea of uploading your personality, in case it wasn’t obvious from Darkship Renegades is this idea that your sense of self also gets uploaded, and more importantly, that it leaves the body you’re leaving in at the same time. That requires either the belief in souls — I do, but uploading your soul would seem to be more than a simple technical operation. Which reminds me I need to put up my son’s short story collection since one of them exactly plays with that idea. Because if souls exist it probably would also be evil to trap it in a machine — or a very odd idea of what the “ego” in the sense of that thing which is each of us is.  And since I can’t see a mechanism to remove it from the living body, unless it’s a metaphysical one (Heinlein could write that, I think. Most of us couldn’t) how would the “me” in a machine evolve away/toward the me in the body, and how trapped would it feel?)

Moving right along, I’m sure I’m not the only one for whom the sense of time in childhood was incredibly extended. I swear an afternoon playing at my friend’s house lasted as long as a weekend now.  Everyone I know reports the same thing. Older son says it’s because of the way experiences (new, versus old) impress on the brain. Some physicists a couple of years ago came up with the idea that time is accelerating. But for my money, I don’t think either is quite right. Because my time can still get bizarrely dilated when I dive headlong into writing a book. Sure, it seems like it was two hours, but once I emerge from the daze, it feels like months or years have passed, perhaps because the intense experience makes me feel like a completely different person.

Meanwhile, boring experiences also take forever to get through.  I remember, after delivering #1 son and seeing he was alive, well, and frankly pissed about how long the whole process had taken, I wanted to push the forward button and take us to a place where I wasn’t so frigging exhausted and could move around and talk and think.  So I did the next best thing and asked for help sleeping… and crashed for 24 hours, waking up to a very hungry baby.

Often when they were little, and I couldn’t sit down and eat two bites without a crisis in between, I wanted to fast forward to “when they can feed/clean themselves.” And I won’t lie and say that I don’t sometimes, now, wish I could rewind to some of the times when they were little, but in my defense, I’d just play “favorite times” over and over again, like the labor day weekend when we discovered Lakeside in Denver.

Perhaps because I was always a very unnatural mother, I’m not actually nostalgic for the diaper years, or the times when I needed to watch them every second, except for one or two truly exceptional days.

All this to say: it’s been a lot of fun having younger son live with us for three weeks, while between apartments.  I feel a little guilty I co-opted him to work in the garden, but I couldn’t have got all the stuff done (from deforesting to planting flowers) by myself, and Dan’s knees, at the time, don’t permit him to do heavy stuff like that.

I look like a victim of domestic abuse (there’s bruises EVERYWHERE) and younger son has lost all the skin in his palms to blisters (builds character) but the backyard is halfway to looking civilized.  It remains for me to run the sweeper and the dethatcher and then sometime in September, overseed.

Which brings me to why my writing has been so slow.  In the wake of my coming back from being very ill, I had to deal with a bunch of things I’d normally have done in the house when we bought it (it was a foreclosure, remember?) before it got much worse.  I still need to find a good, reliable handiman/builder, among other things to rebuild the second floor porch/balcony which has dry rotted supports and other issues and also buy a new oven-microwave unit to replace the one that died.

BUT in the mean time, it has intruded upon my attention that I’m managing my time very badly.  I realized it this morning, when I ran everything I needed to do, from feeding and medicating felines to finishing planting, to putting out trash, to writing this blog.  It was all supposed to be done by 9, and as you see I failed.  I knew I would when I reviewed the list in my head.  Because it’s impossible.

I needed to do it before 9 because son and I have been promising ourselves a few hours at the zoo while he was here, and he leaves tomorrow.  So…

But as I realized I need to block off the writing time and hold it sacred (because there’s always another household care/maintenance task to do) I’m calling it taking half a day off.  I’ll be working on Deep Pink come one pm.

That’s the new attempt. To formalize my relationship with writing time and make it x hours a day when it takes primacy. I used to do it when the boys were in school and writing time was from the moment I walked back home to moment I walked out to pick them up.  It worked too, except for the week after 9/11.

I’m going to try to do the same again, before it’s too late.  Because time is finite. And I have a lot of stuff to do that means much more to who I am than mere home maintenance, even though that also needs to be done, so it doesn’t fall down around my head.

And now, it’s time to get ready to go see the monkeys with the kid who used to be called Little Monkey.  That is lost somewhere in the midst of times, but his adult self is quite nice, and we’ll enjoy a nice morning out.

Before it’s too late.


178 thoughts on “Time, Time, Time

  1. everything happens, as it were simultaneously. The idea is so bizarre, I can’t picture it, and if you can you must have a very oddly arranged mind.

    That isn’t exactly how simultaneity works, although I concede few would argue my mind is not oddly arranged.

    Our perception of Time is linear, along a single axis, yet we readily recognize Space as having three dimensions. Thus it should not be quite so difficult to conceive of multiple dimensions of Time even though we cannot perceive those — any more than a Flatlander could perceive the third spatial dimension of Height.

    I found myself recognizing Time as multi-dimensional when I realized that I never see the Daughtorial Unit as she is, but instead as a being with depth in time: when I think of her I think if her as I’ve known her since the moment of her birth, extending (through various fogs, hazes and obscurations) unto the Now. It required very little imagination to apprehend that G-D, Who created Time, might must exist outside His creation and be capable of perceiving it as multidimensionaly as we see the interior of a tessaract.

    The moving finger, having flipped, flips on — but the entirety of its flippery can be understood as a simultaneous event viewed from multiple points. As the Tralfamadorians* would say, “So it goes.”

    *I concede it gives me great amusement to contemplate gaining insight into G-D’s mind from having read Vonnegut.

    1. Raymond Feist played around with the concept of time in his Rift War series, postulating a being from outside our universe trying to undo our universe to reduce everything into its original null timescape.

      If God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omni-present, that kind of implies that He’s not constrained by time. He exists in and out of it at simultaneously. to Him, our universe, and ourselves, can be perceived as one massive gestalt, and as each individual piece at the same time. All that was, all that is, and all that shall ever be, everywhere. Now try to conceive of it as allowing the existence of free will and avoiding predestination. It’s mind boggling to try to try to imagine what that kind of a mind would be like. And pretty damn humbling.

        1. Actually, you deal with predestination all the time: fiction authors predestine heroes, villains, supporting characters, etc. God is the author of creation and salvation.

            1. Pantser or outliner it is the author whose will ultimately prevails. Not wanting to get into a theological debate here–just pointing out that predestination is not an alien concept to any author of fiction.

              As for the subject of time–it is a gift to us in condescension of our finitude and brokeness. We need time because our finite minds could not be anything but stunned by actually beholding infinity.

            2. I suspect that God is not into predestination, but He is a big believer in predisposition. It’s up to us to do the right thing, no matter what temptation or easy path is placed along our way.

              I sometimes suspect, too, that the men and women among us who are saintly by nature are not necessarily feted in the halls of heaven, when compared to the baser creatures who managed to overcome their predisposed natures to rise to being merely human instead of monstrous. After all, what glory is there in doing the right thing, when you’re predisposed to doing right? Wouldn’t a man who was predisposed to evil, yet who managed to eke out a lifetime of decency have the harder path, and be adjudged the greater man than he who was born righteous, and remained on that path…?

              The converse of that is, I suspect, also true: The most despised and debased are likely those who were predisposed towards righteousness, and yet who fell into evil. Those of evil predisposition who failed to rise above that are merely sinking to their own level, and are likely held in higher repute than the good who turn bad.

        2. Alright my view is likely heterodox in at least some fashion, but here we go. I view the free will/ predestination arguments much like the particle/wave duality of light in physics. Light is light, particle’s and waves are models we use to describe its behavior. In some cases one model is required in other cases the other, for many either works equally well. Similarly Free Will and Predestination are models of the operation of time/history as we (limited) creatures can perceive it. They are maps of the territory, but we need to be extraordinarily careful not to mistake the map for the territory. As someone pointed out for G*d to be G*d he must exist outside of our restrictions and is not limited as we are. Perhaps we can ask Him when we get there, but somehow I suspect we’ll have other things to do…

        3. Understand that ‘predestination’ is NOT ‘destiny’ or ‘fate’. It is about your ultimate destination, not about where you wander in the meantime.

          An omniscient and omnipotent God sitting outside time has much more facility to use your free will to achieve His purposes without allowing our free will to thwart them.

      1. I’ve always figured that time is a human invention, created to deal with the idea of infinity which, if one tries to think about it too hard (everything has always existed in some form, and will always exist in some form, including you) makes the human brain go plib and start aching. 😀

        1. I’m a laissez-faire athiest. A good friend is a preacher. It gives us something to talk about if we get bored with guns, motorcycles, or politics…

          I once observed that in an infinite universe, we didn’t need God; eventually all things would come about purely by random chance.

          Bob observed that given infinity, the probability that God exists would be 1.0.

          Stupid infinity…

          1. Of course, by pure random chance, a mind that remembers everything that think happened to you would arise for just a moment. (Called a Boltzmann brain.) This is generally regarded as higher probability than the universe. . . .

  2. Lifeline? I can’t remember the title.

    That’s the one.

    As opposed to the loop-de-loop swirls and knot-jobbery of By His Bootstraps and All You Zombies ….

      1. Dude, how about a spoiler alert next time?!


        (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist, especially when the work in question is 80 years old.)

        1. Dude, my new shirt has Kakashe with his rashengan showing, and I felt like I should have a spoiler warning in front of me for a spoiler old enough to drive…….

  3. I’ve always been unsatisfied with the multiple different explanations of time: what it is, how we perceive it, how it operates, etc. Nothing seems quite right about any of them, to me, at least. Sure, I can grasp the concepts around these explanations on a surface level, but trying to apply them beyond the abstract gets…well, you can’t really do that, can you?

    If you skip these explanations, and just handwave the 4th dimension aside for a moment, the theoretical dimensions which follow it all make perfect sense. But I keep getting stuck on that 4th dimension. Can’t get past it. I’ll admit that I’m neither very smart, nor overly educated in physics; so it all could be just over my head.

    1. “Sure, I can grasp the concepts around these explanations on a surface level, but trying to apply them beyond the abstract gets…well, you can’t really do that, can you?”

      I don’t know any really simple large effects from time and space being so tightly coupled so that it’s productive to think of them as a single four-dimensional system with time measured in seconds on the same footing as distance measured in light-seconds. There are various simple small effects, though, e.g. time dilation in fast-moving things like satellites, that are not hard to measure with current tech. And the simple impossibility rules from relativity (can’t send signals faster than light, and can’t get speed of light to change by moving your experiment as e.g. the Earth moves around the Sun in the famous Michelson-Morley work) have held up exceedingly well under a century of ingenious attack, more or less like the first and second laws of thermodynamics (no perpetual motion machines) have held up for a century and a half, and I don’t know of any way to avoid time-and-space dimensional coupling when writing rules of mechanics which both (0) work for ordinary slow Newtonian mechanics and (1) accommodate those impossibility rules for fast mechanics.

      Also, lots of patterns in atomic and molecular behavior are rather strongly coupled to relativity (or coupled to spin, which is coupled to relativity). Some of the effects are small and conceptually sorta simple (e.g. splitting of various hydrogen spectroscopic lines, and suppression of certain spectroscopic transitions). Some of the effects are so large that they matter in day-to-day life (e.g., oxygen’s funny spin pairing being related to how even though oxygen is a very powerful oxidizing agent, it tends not to spontaneously react with oxidizable fuel nearly as rapidly as other oxidizers such as chlorine do) but unfortunately not all that conceptually simple, because systems made of a dozen or more charged particles mutually interacting are naturally mathematically complicated. I don’t know anything along this line that is a simple clear smoking gun that time is intimately coupled to space, but there are at least hundreds of phenomena along this line where we have very clear reliable match between experiment and theory, and we reach that in part by enthusiastically embracing relativity, while it is unclear how to build a comparably effective rival model which avoids cross-coupling of time and space.

      1. There are various simple small effects, though, e.g. time dilation in fast-moving things like satellites, that are not hard to measure with current tech

        Did they figure out a way to tell if there’s a “the thing we think is an absolute constant, isn’t” thing going on?

        Like the arguments — here, Sundry Proofs of the Stationary Earth–where we just don’t know enough yet.

    2. That might be a broken metaphor.

      Gotta admit, I’m not to cool with the “time is the 4th dimension” thing, either.

      It doesn’t….”feel” right.

      Kind of like if you tried to envision going “up” as the same as going “right.” But more.

      1. “Kind of like if you tried to envision going “up” as the same as going “right.” But more.”

        Without using more technical language, I can’t tell for sure, but it looks to me as though your intuition is exactly correct, and your disagreement is with misleading oversimplified pop-science descriptions of space-time, not with actual space-time as proposed by Einstein and now embedded in various physical theories such as quantum electrodynamics. Time is not quite the same as a spatial dimension, it’s merely so closely tied up with space that you might as well use the same units, and (among other things) you can get conversion between space and time by changing your velocity. (And indeed, you can get quite a lot of conversion between the two, if you are serious enough about changing your velocity that you change by a significant fraction of the speed of light.)

        There a general formulation for curved space (and even more generally, for curved manifolds — think of the experience of an ant singlemindedly walking straight ahead over the skin of a modern jet aircraft) in which a central role is played by the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_tensor . If you skip to the “Lorentzian metrics from relativity” section at the end of that Wikipedia page, you’ll find that space and time are slotted into the calculations differently, with a -1 coefficient for time and a +1 coefficient for each of the 3 spatial dimensions (or vice versa, depending on whether you are in the Southern Hemisphere^W^W^W^W^W^W^Wwhich arbitrary sign convention you use). This comes out in some informal qualitative ways (not only when you wade into the storm of tensor algebra you skipped over in that page to get to that section). E.g., sometimes people talk about a “light cone” which is all the part of space-time which has a causal connection to some point, and timelike vs. spacelike displacements for things which are in or out of the light cone.

        Your analogy with up vs. sideways seems for reasonable, as well. For some practical purposes such as parachuting you can’t exchange height with length and width, but height is still in important senses the same sort of property as length and width, and even gets interconverted under some extreme circumstances (like a boat tilting), as opposed to very different not-interconvertible properties such as mass or temperature or electrical charge.

      2. It makes more sense when you play with partial differential equations.

        There are a bunch of models of physics using those that are mathematically pretty and predictively useful. (I remember being very impressed when someone walked me through vibrating membranes to show why circular drums have a lot of nice qualities.)

        I think useful is probably important.

        Seeking pretty has gotten us a lot of useful. I suspect we risk some sort of fundamental error when we automatically assume that it is a law of physics that we can boil everything down to pretty math.

        Time and three space dimensions at right angles come out of a lot of classical physics. Modern physics interests me less, because of my suspicion that it is a castle in the clouds. As Brother Schofield says, it may be a bunch of epicycles. If there is a right path, and if we have gone down the wrong path with modern physics, it is possible that our formulations of classical physics are what led us astray.

        And just cause stuff can look the same mathematically doesn’t mean that it is.

    3. What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.
      — Saint Augustine

  4. There was a short story by (IIRC) H. Beam Piper where an author was complaining about “losing time” and was able to prove it by writing down what happened for several days.

    It seem that it was possible to “steal” somebody’s time and some criminals were doing so to him.

    Fortunately, an agency that dealt with such matters discovered who was stealing his time and even gave the author “extra time”. 😀

    Of course, there is also the following lines written by David Eddings.

    Young Wizard: “Well, i suppose that I can make time…”
    Old Wizard: “Don’t even think about doing THAT.”
    End Quote
    LOL 😆

    1. Sorry, that wasn’t a Piper story.

      It was “Where the Time Went” by James H. Schmitz

      1. Yes. And as it happens, I read it for the first time last night.

        Note the protagonist was an author who couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t making any progress on his stories…

      1. When referring to “mere delayed-action matter explosives,” “tricky” goes doubly for my favorite variant of Heinlein’s 30-Second Bomb:

        “I’m a 30-second bomb! I’m a 30-second bomb! 29… 28… I lied.”


        1. Sounds like something out of the Evil Overload list. Have it explode at a time BEFORE 0:00, if you are the type to even include a time-indicating display.

          1. A truly Evil Overlord might go the other direction: at 0:00:00 let it make a SNAP, so people think it’s a squib — then, as people gather around to look at the dud, there’s the Earth-shattering kaboom.

    2. Young wizard was only speaking colloquially, but considering the mess he had made with weather, I can’t blame them for being concerned. 😁

      1. Plus, he had done some stunts that the other wizards thought were impossible. 😀

    3. I have a fragment of a Cat story where the children ask Rada about buying time and she spins a bit of a tale about a time shop, and why some kinds of time should never, ever be bought.

      1. Remember parking meters?

        My mother never quite gave up the fantasy of finding a meter where she could deposit a nickel and get an extra fifteen minutes when she really needed it.

        1. The town I grew up in & around had some oooold meters. A penny bought 12 minutes, more or less. Eventually the City decided the upkeep wasn’t worth it, nor was an upgrade, and aided local businesses by going meter-free. The old meters were auctioned off, fwiw. No, I do not have one. I do not miss them even a little bit.

    4. Perhaps our dreams are merely the natural wear and tear on our time of it being taken while we sleep, and returning it slightly soiled?

  5. very oddly arranged mind
    Doesn’t that describe pretty much everyone lurking about this place?

    Having raced cars and been in several accidents both racing and on the streets, time can vary a ton.
    A second is a very long time when you’re in the air about to impact the side of a car, doing a snap roll on the dirt track, or trying to keep 700+ pounds of motorcycle upright in a ditch at speed.

    1. I have, as far as I can recall, only experience time-dilation/distortion twice. Once was the result of hypnosis, the other was drug-induced (a combination of local[s] and muscle relaxants for a nasty dental procedure).

      For a long time I thought I recalled a sort of time-distortion of running through a field or larger not-trimmed country back yard and somewhat floating. It might have been a dream based on a memory, or it was a distorted memory. In the last several years I found/(re)discovered what that was. It was part of the intro sequence to H.R. Pufnstuf, of all things. o/` Once upon a summer-time, just a dream from yester-day… o/` Thankfully I was not afflicted with a whiny flute.

        1. A good thing in lieu of being able to stash that flute where it would do the most good, at any rate.

      1. I’ve experienced time dilation all too frequently, such as the last bout of gout, lying awake with a throbbing toe-ache and watching the clock not progress.

          1. Mine didn’t feel that long, but it was… intense… though not as much as for all too many. I was sort of “lost in the shuffle” and it’s rather jarring to hear the doctor looking for you, confirming that you ARE indeed his patient, and hearing him exclaim, “I am NOT used seeing my patients walk!”

            I was disappointed to learn the correct spelling of a painkiller was “Toradol” and NOT “Tauradol.” (Can you imagine… “Side effects, in some rare case you may transform into…” centaur, minotaur, or who knows with transformation hazards.. )

    2. As I remember the accident that totaled my pick-up in 2014, things happened very slowly, but I also recall them happening almost instantly. Ditto when I was almost knifed while working in Mexico (long story). It’s as if I have two mental recordings, one at full speed and the other m-u-c-h s-l-o-w-e-r.

        1. I’ve had a few surgical procedures that weren’t officially using general anesthesia, but they managed to put me out entirely. It’s jarring to go from surgical prep to waking up.

          The retina procedures used Versed, billed as a mild sedative, but (IMHO) rates as “too loopy to contemplate mortality”. I rather enjoyed the sight of the tiny tools digging at the retina in the first procedure. Was blind for the second one, but at least I could listen in. I much preferred that situation; guess that makes me another Odd.

    3. I’ve done time and even space dilation/distortion a number of times. I’m one of those “lucky” people who is prone to extreme fever spikes when I get sick. I’ve gone right up (and past) the temperature where most people think survival is impossible (nope, I’m still kicking). Let me tell you, the hallucinations… It’s like EVERYTHING dilates!

      My mother tells stories about when I was a little kid, and I would be so hot she could barely touch me, but she held me while I would cackle and laugh like a mad-person. As an adult it isn’t anywhere near as fun though. Laying there wondering if this is the time the fever will kill me or cause enough brain damage that I come out the other side unable to think anymore really takes the fun out of it.

      1. Cooling vest? They have a lot of high tech but affordable cooling and ice pack technology now, that you can wear all.day without getting ‘ice burn.’ You can even get these little hookups to powered coolers. Hats, pants, wraps, all kinds of stuff.

        1. Might be worth a look into. The older I get, the rarer the occurrences, and I don’t seem to spike as high as I used to. I’ve only had it happen a couple times in the last 10 years (used to happen a lot more often), and the last few times didn’t go much over 105. Which, while not good, is pretty tame for me.

          Cooling vest sounds neat though. Since I live in Florida, I might want to look into that just for summer. LOL! (I find it funny now the news keeps saying hottest summer ever… but other than a couple days this summer, it just doesn’t seem all that hot to me. Go figure.)

          1. I do not know whether it is an application that would serve your purpose, but I’ve seen several articles this summer about clothing designed to hold ice packs against designated body parts — the danglies for guys, the squishies for gals, popsicles for the undecided — that seem likely to be discreet and effective.

            They’re doing wonderful things with gel paks these days!

      2. I work with an autistic fellow who once stayed awake for a week or so. When the tiny unicorn started dancing up his arm, he decided he might just need some rest after all.

    4. My worst time-dilation experience was during Operation Desert Storm.

      As the unit to which I was attached was driving southeast towards Basra, I was monitoring the brigade command net while driving an M1008A1 CUCV (basically a 1 1/4 ton Chevy diesel pickup truck with a radio rack in the cargo bed). At about 0300 hours local time, we received an all-stations call that the Iraqis had agreed to a cease fire.

      To begin at 0600 hours local time.

      It was the only time I have ever seen a watch’s second hand move counterclockwise….

  6. “…any more than a Flatlander could perceive the third spatial dimension of Height.”

    I’ve always thought that a flatlander wouldn’t even be able to perceive another flatlander, or at least be unable to “see” them because of that lack of a third dimension. They wouldn’t even be able to perceive Carl Sagan’s apple passing through their plane. And since they’re only two dimensional, could they even interact with one another, since that would require a Z-axis, no matter how infinitesimally small? I guess this assumes flatlanders can’t occupy the same space, so perhaps they can?

    1. They would perceive one another as perimeters or as oncoming points (give a wallaby a straight line …) and they would perceive an object, such as an apple, passing through their plane as an irregular circle, growing and diminishing in diameter according to the speed of its transition. A similar thought experience gave me insight into the tripartite god, imagining how a Flatlander would perceive three fingers* passing through its plane.

      *Tentacles, if you prefer.

        1. Don’t get too concerned. Many minor infestations from the Beyond can be handled by simply cueing up a Sinatra CD and turning up the volume…

            1. “And I’ll fry the brain of anyone I miss:
              I got a tape of Frank Sinatra singing Grace Jones and Kiss!”

      1. I would disagree that they would perceive an apple (or irregular circle) as anything other than a segment that increases and decreases in length (if they could perceive it at all). I guess “perceive” is the right word to use, since ‘see’ would be impossible.

        If a Flatlander could perceive anything other than itself, its only concept of shapes would be that of segments, or maybe one big line, depending on how many objects populate its universe, or how far its perception extends.

        1. Upon consideration I must acknowledge your superior visualization. It’s been so long since I read the book that I cannot recall the author’s descriptions, but a circle, seen edge on, would certainly seem likely to appear only as a line segment, even as one circumnavigated it.

          Although I suppose we must accept the postulate that their sensory apparatus might permit perception of the entire circumference, given that we are discussing imaginary critters.

        2. (reaching for my copy of Flatland, by Edwin Abbot) … Part I section 6 talks about recognition by sight. It appears that most regions of Flatland are pervaded by Fog, which causes objects at a distance to be appreciably dimmer than those more close by. Hence, after careful observation and experience, the inhabitants are able to infer the configuration of the object observed.

          1. That does sound familiar, and it still conjures up the same problem: A truly two-dimensional object is not observable from the same plane – it is effectively invisible.

  7. A lot of people need a time clock to punch or they won’t actually work. I’m sure this is the source of many manager’s resistance to working from home. Also in their mind they aren’t paying to get the job done. They are paying for your time and want full measure even if it is just you doing pointless jumping jacks until the clock runs out. Of course you have to be able to regulate yourself to be self-employed.
    I HAVE to do my laundry and go buy supper today. I SHOULD write some. If I do too many other things that don’t pay me – like make this post – I won’t…

  8. I wanted to fast forward to ‘when they can feed/clean themselves.’

    My dream had been in looking forward to when the Daughtorial Unit would become voice operable.

    Silly me – I had forgotten that humans, especially children, have random access command codes! Still, I finally understood why parents so often seem to blurt out random names and phrases when addressing our kids.

  9. I have seen multiple people say that your sense of time accelerates as you get older, so that if you live to be 100, by the time you reach your 20th birthday you’ve already experienced half the subjective time in your life.

    I don’t believe that for one second.

    I think this idea is an illusion produced by the fact that our memories “jump” back to the past like a DVD, rather than rewinding like a VHS tape. This is why parents say, “It seems like it was only yesterday when he was in kindergarten” — it really does seem like it was only yesterday, because that’s how memory works. When you’re remembering him in kindergarten, your brain isn’t processing your memories of when he got into that fight in fourth grade, or the time when he hit the winning home run in junior high, or when he went on his first date in high school… Those years all happened, and each of those years took just as long to happen as they did when he was in kindergarten. But because your memory of him in kindergarten doesn’t “rewind” through the rest of the years, when you think back on when your son was in kindergarten, it feels like the time in between is compressed. And so you end up saying silly things like “They grow up so fast!” to other parents. When, in fact, you had plenty of time with your son, and he didn’t grow up any faster than any other kids do. It’s just that you’ve forgotten the nature of memory, and so your brain is playing tricks on you.

    As evidence for the fact that time does not go faster now than it did when you were five, go find something truly boring, and make yourself do it for five minutes. Notice how those five minutes seem to stretch out for hours, just like they did when you were five? Now quit torturing yourself to prove a point, and go do something enjoyable and worthwhile instead. 🙂

    1. The annoyance I have with memory is not so much time but dwell-time on the unpleasant. I suppose it is or was a survival mechanism (“This. Don’t do it again.”) but when one gets it but the replays just seem to go endless-loop… it’s irritating. I don’t expect great or even good memories on loop (addiction?) but simply having the meter, as it were, go to center-zero more easily would be nice.

      1. I didn’t save the comic, but there’s one where someone is laying in bed, thinking “I shall sleep, now.”

        Cut to brain:
        I shall replay every awkward moment you have been involved in for the last 30 years so you can decide that it was totally all your fault.”

        Person laying in bed, eyes wide open.


        FWIW, Elf says it’s a form of vanity, of only-I-am-real trying to take over your world.
        From testing, his statement is useful.

    2. I’m pretty sure that time seemed longer when one was a child because each unit of time was a greater proportion of one’s lifespan-to-that-point than it is when one is an adult.

    3. This sounds more right.

      And yes, I still turn around and go “Wait, where did this tall, willowy little lady come from?” because I ‘expect’ the sweet, chubby, adorable little girl I’m sure I was just holding last week…..

    4. I think that sense of time is also a function of memory. Whenever people say “where did the time go?” I have a pretty good sense of all the intervening things that happened. Not chapter and verse, you might say, but a general sense of “all of these things happened, so I can FEEL that time spent.”

      I don’t have a perfect memory by any means, but I have a highly associative one, so every memory is connected in lots of places and thus easier to retrieve than for most people, I think.

      And as a side note, I have three kids. I have always had three kids, even though I can remember the time before them. That seems to be the way my brain works.

    5. Forgive me… That is perfect timing, Robin. I have to pick up the daughter at 17:30. I JUST glanced at the clock before starting in on today’s comments – 22 minutes ago, MARK! Didn’t even notice it.

      I’ll leave in five minutes, get to the parking lot, and wait for five minutes or less – and I know that that will be FOREVER. (I have to look at the clock when I park, and again when she gets in – or I’ll be doing the old man grumble.)

    6. It may actually be medical. Thyroid function declines with age. Mine declined a lot sooner, and on variously not enough and too much medication, I’ve experienced time running too slow, and too fast, respectively. The weird thing is that I’m aware of it, and by how MUCH it’s off (normally I have very accurate timesense, to within a few seconds per hour). Most evident with music that has a strong beat.

  10. As an elderly I can tell you, time does fly. As my 12 years younger sister put it years ago, the theory of relativity is proven by this, at age 20, a year is 1/20th of your life, at age 50 (which she was at the time) a year is 1/50th of your life. Well, I can confirm that at age 82, that 1/82nd of your life doesn’t last very long. But we all know that theory. Living it is altogether a different thing. Time is fleeting anyway you see it.

        1. Or just take advantage of progress — and learn calculus. It’s even one of the early lessons.

  11. Eh, cause-and-effect. World’s going to get weird after we invent Time Travel and break the forward flow of time.):)

    1. It was the thesis, I believe, of at least one John Brunner novel, that any universe in which time travel was developed was inherently unstable and would self-destruct its time-line, resetting to some point prior to that development. I would not be surprised were Brunner not the first nor only author to so posit, nor that I have completely misremembered the author.

      1. Don’t know if John Brunner used that idea or not, but the first usage of that idea that I saw was Larry Niven.

        Niven had a series of “articles” where he commented on various SF ideas with several on Time Travel (including that idea).

    2. Micro-scale time travel is something I don’t see working out, at all. The complications are too vast, too wildly variable. If you travel back in time ten years, and don’t change the state of physical reference, at all, you’re going to wind up in open space a long, long away from your lab.

      What I suspect is more likely, in terms of possibility, is macro-level time travel; we are going to find, I suspect, that a by-product of getting around the speed of light limitations via some removal from our physical universe will be that we also bypass linear time. Probably in a big way, too–We might not even notice it, if our entry and reentry points are far enough apart. If you pop out of our space-time matrix here in the solar system, and then pop back into it in the Alpha Centauri system a few hundred years ago, then you’re going to find out there’s a problem only when you look around and try to calibrate things with the local star charts, and that only if you’re really on the ball. Otherwise, it’s going to take someone back in this solar system noticing that “Hey, it’s been long enough for the light from Alpha Centauri to have reached us… Why aren’t we seeing anything in the telescopes…?”.

      I suspect that the entire question of time travel is going to turn out to be very much what we don’t expect it to be–Sure, you’ll be able to go to other stars, but the big question is going to be “When?”. Might prove to have some very interesting implications, in terms of interstellar colonization and civilization-building. Imagine the shock if our first expeditions outside this solar system find remains of past human civilization littering the universe, and all due to the wildly variable way you can re-enter context, in terms of linear time.

      Macro-scale time travel. I think it’s more than possible, it is actually implied. Micro-scale, as in going back eighty years to meet and kill your grandfather? Probably not.

    3. We’re already in a low-probability timeline. I hope the fabric of Reality is nice and stretchy, because we’re already chock full of weird…

      1. Worse than the thought that we’re a low-probability time line is that we are one but our time line is the “Best Of Possible Worlds”.

        IE The higher-probability time-lines are much more terrible places to live. 😈

      2. If the multiple worlds interpretation of quantum physics holds then each possible quantum state reflects a pair of universes. That’s a a LOT of universes and any particular universes probability is 1/# of universes. That’s a massive oversimplification (as there are are fair number of dependencies of one state on a previous one), but for all practical purposes the probability is 0 (effectively so close to zero as to be indistinguishable). And yet here we are. I think I’m going to leave this train of thought to the loopier philosophers.

        1. One of, if perhaps not the greatest, speculations on that came from Howard Tayler. If “infinite universes” is true, then ONE universe must exist where EVERY choice is ‘best-case’ – That’s Heaven. And ONE universe must exist where choice is ‘worst-case’ – That’s Hell.

          If we are in Heaven…. oh, Hell!

  12. It has been said that you are only as old as you feel. At times I might be 25 or younger still. At other times I wonder how I am alive at 180+. The one age I seem to never really be is the one I am. It’s all rather confusing, really.

    1. Orvan I may identify as 25 but my physical person tells me otherwise and complains that I’ve been abusing assorted joints and other parts for 58+ years.
      and there should have been a fricking recall on these stupid lungs…

      1. Ox sympathetic. Not *too* bad off, but always wonder how much cigarette smoke he breathed screwed things up – and ox not smoke cigarettes, hisownself.

  13. Watching an episode of The Rockford Files the other day, I saw a scene shot in a mall. Behind Rockford was a Waldenbooks with a big, prominent sign, “Tolkien Lives”. I’d really like to slip back to that moment and see what was on those shelves.

    1. I had to search to find out the series– but I do remember my mom mentioning the slogan. It even showed up in ag colleges a half-decade earlier.

      They would have envied your access to the released Christopher-Tolkien-found works.

    2. I did not think I & Beloved Spouse the only ones who freeze frame to read book titles. Sometimes you suspect set dresser merely chose for appearance, other shows you are certain set dresser chose for titles.

      Simpsons buries a great many jokes in such throwaways, but as they draw each frame it isn’t as if they can order those books by the yard.

  14. Time. Enjoy it while you can…

    I rather suspect that we are among the last generations who will experience time the way humans traditionally have. Consider the implications of what will change when we achieve a reasonably complete brain/implanted electronic implementation.

    Full-scale digital memories, of your entire life experience as perceived through your sensorium, with time hacks and bookmarks applied. How’s that going to work out, in the real world? What’s the effect going to be, on your understanding of time?

    Consider that you are basically a phenomenon of messy chemical and electrical interactions down on the cellular level, with perhaps some quantum effects thrown in for even more confusion. The order we impose on the world around us is mostly in our heads–Linear time may or may not exist, outside our shared consensual framework. The order we impose is instinctual, but the reality it represents may only be a figment of our imagination.

    You start digging into some of the more esoteric weirdnesses that human cognition produces, and you really start to wonder about what the hell is actually going on–Precognition, deja vu, dreaming things that actually happen to you, after the dream… Are these artifacts of our imposition of linear order on chaos? Likewise, the various supposed end-of-life hallucinations that so many report during near-death experiences? Are those, perhaps, representational of the human mind becoming unbound from its moorings in the linear fantasy we all share?

    As we become digital, which I suspect is an inevitability, what’s going to happen to all that? Will we find that we’re even more tightly bound to this perhaps imaginary imposition of linearity, or will we be able to control it, and unbind ourselves to a degree? How many of us are going to be able to handle that sort of thing, without going mad? Suppose you create a digital “black box”, one that records your mindframe and memories with perfect clarity, and you can revisit those memories and re-experience them with a precision and faculty that we don’t have today. How’s that going to affect humanity, over the long haul? What does that do, to your sense of time’s passage?

    I don’t think we really give enough attention to the ephemeral nature of our consciousness. The “me” of today is not the “me” of ten, twenty years ago–Not even the “me” of yesterday, were you to examine that phenomenon with enough detail.

    As this digital transition takes place, and I don’t see how it cannot progress, absent a great spasm of self-destruction, we’re going to see some rather marked changes to what it is to be “human”. Which is why I think we need to be working on that definition with rather more intensity than we are–The technology is going to overtake reality, very soon, and we have nothing in the way of framework to even begin to address the multitude of implications.

    Here’s an interesting thought, along those lines: Say that you drop dead, in your physical body–But, there’s enough “residual personality component” on the networks to enable you to seamlessly go on, fully digitized. What’s your legal status? What’s your moral status? Does your embodied self represent all that there is, and when something happens to it, you’re legally ended along with it? What are the implications of that “residual personality component” merging with other such entities? What becomes of the collective consciousness that may form, from such things?

    Things like this are worth examining, and thinking about, because they’re rapidly becoming reality before us.

    1. Depends, If we can’t change the past, then it’s done and we have to live with it; but the future is open. Which kind of supports that whole review of your life for judgement after death.

      If we can change the past, that opens a whole can of worms. If I go back and undo all the stupid or painful things in my life, does that change me into someone who doesn’t go back to fix them later? Does that mean I do them all over again? Do I oscillate back and forth between the two?

      Or is time like a river? Can I go back and make a change, but does the river just push back into its bed and no change lasts in the long run?

      “Sure, you went back and killed your father. Your Mom got married to the guy who would have been his best man, and had you anyway. Your life was different, but you still grew up to be a wise-assed little snot.”

      1. Sure, you went back and killed your father. the man who married your mother.

        Nobody’s virtue ought be assumed.

        1. Yeah, there are a lot of mothers and fathers looking over their shoulders, when the kiddies start talking about doing a genetic test…

          It’ll be verrrrrry innerestin’, to watch the implications of all this shake out through the culture and the legal system. Going to take a couple of generations to shake out, but I can see people starting to do these tests at birth, if only to ensure that they don’t have little “surprises”.

            1. Or, that there are genetic leftovers from pregnancy that are detectable in the mother’s body, and the bodies of subsequent children?

              There’s some research showing that, which I find mind-boggling.

              Supposedly, they did some testing and found that was actually happening in some cases. Which leads one into the inevitable conclusion that we’re more colony organisms than anything else, leaving the question of why your immune system doesn’t react very badly to those specific cell lines that have colonized your body. Hell, there’s some evidence that fetal cells cross the placental barrier to aid the mother in fighting disease or organ failure, so you try to figure out how that squares with current understanding of the immune system.

              We don’t even know what we don’t know, in a lot of this. Despite how much we’ve learned, we’re still sitting here at the very beginnings of understanding.

              1. Yeah, you can find traces of every child who ever set under my heart in my blood.

                Even if they never walked this earth.

                …but I’m supposed to genuflect to the idea that DNA testing is perfect?

                Heck with that!

                1. Ooo. Now that’s a nasty one to toss at the pro-abortion crowd. “You know your body is carrying around the cells from all those children you aborted over the past 10 years? Do you ever sense their presence? Do you ever feel haunted by their souls?”

                  1. For what it’s worth, it also hurts like hell for those who chose to trust the wrong medical bastard.

                    We lost a girl before the Empress because I was vain enough to want to get rid of a skin condition on my hand, and the medic was a psychotic bastard. (He also nearly cost my husband his clearance, besides probably killing our daughter. Nothing I can prove, of course.)

                    1. Oh, sweetie.

                      You did something reasonable; skin conditions that can be healed should be. You would treat your car or your house with that much care, so why not yourself? That is not vanity.

                      But you met up with an oathbreaker and betrayer instead of a healer, and your family suffered from that treachery. It was not your fault. It is good that you were spared anything even worse, and that the rest of your family survived. Because creepy doctors do some extremely terrible things.

                    2. She’s right, Fox. You went in good faith to do what you should, and you were betrayed. *None* of that is on you..

                    3. Over the past couple decades, I’ve heard quite a few horror stories from people I know, involving incidents of malice, negligence, and/or arrogance by doctors. Some has led to deaths, some to permanent injury, and others just to entirely needless pain and suffering. I am truly worried about the state of the medical profession at home, and abroad.

              2. Despite how much we’ve learned, we’re still sitting here at the very beginnings of understanding

                Any reasonable study of the History of Science will reveal that, in a relatively short time, much of what we are currently absolutely certain of will be proven untrue. I have found a good rule of thumb is that every fifty years fifty percent of what we now know will be found to be false, and half of the rest will be determined incomplete.

                Hell, a hundred years ago they were putting radium in breakfast cereals to give people energy.

                Science: leave it to the professionals, it’s too dangerous for amateurs!

          1. This already happened, due to the whole blood type testing thing.

            That’s part of how we found out blood type doesn’t actually work the way we thought.

            It is only MOSTLY the way we thought. Baby is on shoulder so I can’t get the link, but roughly 10% inaccurate from standard use. (Expert was slightly higher, school level biology was WAY lower. Lots of ways to screw up.)

            …which means the prior “oh gosh this blood type means you cannot be both mom and dad’s child” got a lot of folks killed for stupid pride.

            1. Note, I vaguely remember my dad and his twin brother having done this at school, because awesome science….

              Came up as different parents.

              They LITERALLY can be picked out as nearly identical to different ancestors in pictures.

          2. Especially when the accuracy of such tests still leaves a lot to be desired. (They’re not really a deterministic procedure that always gives the same result given the same starting point.)

        2. One series, not father, but many times great-grandfather, is a sick piece of slime. But someone from the future forbids his deserved execution/death-by-any-means believing the “wipe out the known future” or at least a particular person, loop. Turns out what was “known” in the future was wrong. Other lessons learned, is one person who knows what is going to happen, even with someone from the era who sees the signs and believes them, can’t change the big events. American Revolution still happens. Civil war still happens. Certain events can not be changed. A different trigger, or a trigger that was dismissed as a trigger by history, is the true trigger. History can’t be denied, and it isn’t because of destination. Or other theories explored are if big events are changed or avoided, then you are no longer in the same universe, whether there is a pathway between universes or not (1632 Universe, Conquistadors or Nantucket-verse, Outlander, etc.).

      2. Start considering the impact of which specific spermatazoon gets implanted in that egg, and you really run into some complications…

        I think that just the implications of how we perceive time will be huge, once memory and cognition gets “digitized”. Especially if the scumbags of the world figure out ways to screw with memories a la that movie about dream-modification, Inception.

        Deep Fake is one thing when it’s video or a JPEG; what do you do when the next Zuickerborg reaches in and modifies your badthink memories themselves…?

      3. Elasticity. But that does have a limit. Stretch things too far and they snap. Now (or Then?) does the SNAP mean Reality changes? Forcibly re-asserts? Or YOU jump timelines (“Oh, snap!)”?

  15. “The “me” of today is not the “me” of ten, twenty years ago–Not even the “me” of yesterday, were you to examine that phenomenon with enough detail.” I have two longish scars that remind me of that, from 3 years ago and ~2.5 years ago. And there was something I was going to say about my memory…which escapes me… OH! My memory isn’t what it never was. (Feel free to use it as desired.)

  16. Our sense of time is just a little bit unfair. The older we get – the less time we have left – the faster everything seems to go.

    I have a simple explanation for this: When you are a child, a year is a huge portion of your life. Going from 5 to 6 – wow, that’s 20% of your entire life. More, if you subtract the years that you cannot remember.

    But at 50? A year is a measly 2% of what you’ve already experienced. A trivial increment. A week? Just a blip. Even if you have a few individual hours of boredom that seem to drag: once they are past, they seem to have been nothing at all.

  17. Work.

    I don’t mind (mostly) the drudge physical labor, it’s the bloody TIME. If I could just pay the life-toll and hit a tl;dr tab, that would be great…

    Timothy Zahn did a story series called Soulminder about capturing, saving and transferring souls. Lotta your questions showed up.

    1. I have lost count of the times that I have been informed, “You ain’t right.” And this was not in the context of “you are wrong” either.

  18. Since Time Travel has been mentioned, check out Larry Niven’s speculative article “THE THEORY AND PRACTICE
    OF TIME TRAVEL” in his collection “All The Myriad Ways”. It’s interesting.

    What’s also interesting is his “EXERCISE IN SPECULATION: THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF TELEPORTATION” in the same collection.

    Oh, the title story is his take on “Alternate Histories”, the type where every decision creates a different Alternate History. It’s interesting in a way but not a story to reread too often. 😉

  19. Note: It is space-time, four interacting dimensions. As you speed up, both time and space shift. At higher speeds and gravity space becomes more timelike and time more spacelike.

    At the speed of light, it takes no time to travel, so a photon generated 12 billion years ago has taken no time to travel 12 billion light years. Then there is the connection of mass and energy as shown by the only equation everyone knows e=mc squared.

    The way I understand it is to imagine God like a sculptor looking at his sculpture. He sees it as a whole, so God sees all time at the same time. We, constrained by our one dimensional view of time cannot understand how a being that sees time in 3 dimensions sees it differently.

    When I stretch my brain past safe design limits, I can imagine 5 dimensions in space and 3 in time. That makes the entire universe only a point in relation. God is beyond that. Awesome.

    Just remember the universe is designed for free will, and God seeks intimate relationship with us.

  20. Some people posit, in fact, that there is no such thing as time outside human perception, and that everything happens, as it were simultaneously. The idea is so bizarre, I can’t picture it, and if you can you must have a very oddly arranged mind.

    I must admit I can’t picture it, but I can kind of see the shape– it just has big holes in it where it comes to explaining that we observe things changing. Especially people, since the “I just thought it’s the same person, but it isn’t” and the “the change we see were always there” fall pretty flat when applied to basic things like, oh, a child.
    You’ve got to go out far enough that you’re into philosophy– “everything holds all that it will be” type stuff– rather than theory-crafting.

    And this is from someone who has used the example of a picture-book to explain where dead people are to young children.
    (They’re with God, and thus outside of time– so they’re not exactly waiting, it’s that we’re in something that they’re not. Trying to describe where they are from inside the book, other than “outside of the book,” doesn’t work very well.)

  21. Because if souls exist it probably would also be evil to trap it in a machine — or a very odd idea of what the “ego” in the sense of that thing which is each of us is. And since I can’t see a mechanism to remove it from the living body, unless it’s a metaphysical one (Heinlein could write that, I think. Most of us couldn’t) how would the “me” in a machine evolve away/toward the me in the body, and how trapped would it feel?)

    Split it.

    I wouldn’t want to write the story, but there’s some similar things– Tom vs Will Riker in Star Trek, for example– which would give an idea.

    1. Our minds/brains/things that function to operate the system, are way weirder than we currently have a clue about. When working on a novel late at night, I would fall asleep, and keep typing, or at least someone who shared “my” brain, freed by “my” falling asleep, typed. “It/he/?” typed words, sentences, metaphors, and interesting stuff. My favorite line: “My blog is the frog I am not.” I take no credit. I did not type. Only my body. I had to proofread my stuff, (when I woke up) to clean up what my subconscious typed.

      So who am I? Do you include my subconscious, with a mind of its own? The part that beats my/our heart? We are 5 or 6 “brains”. All need to cooperate, for us to live. Not to mention whatever it is that is capable of hearing God. We have no idea where that is located.

      Also, God knew me before i was born. Knew who I am/would be/are/will be, all before. We have not even reached the alchemy stage when dealing with the mind/brain/operating system. Remember this: both predestination and free will are 100% true, at the same time.

    2. Does this remind anyone else of Timothy Zahn’s “Soulminder” series from the late ’80s or early ’90s?

  22. Different angle, though also a mother:

    I am always in “normal” time, just about.

    It takes roughly two weeks before things are “normal” to me, at the long end; and I can coast in normal pretty well.

    It gets faster when the kids are sick, honestly– I’ve never had a desire of “just get me OUT of this time!” but dang have I wished for them to not need so much right now (ie, get better)– and I’ll reset to “everyone is sick” in about two days.

    Yes, this does make extended visits kinda awkward. ^.^

  23. Grandchildren, Sarah. Better than children, you can give them back to their parents. 🙂

    My great fear is accounting to God for the time I’ve wasted. The potential I’ve wasted.

  24. Memories…I have a distinct childhood memory of being on a motorboat with my family, and being surprised that the outboard motor was in the *bow* of the boat.

    Of course, it was no such thing….home movies show the outboard in the stern, where it is supposed to be. The only explanation I can think of is that before this boat trip (I must have been about 7 at the time), I had no experience of boats, but knew that *cars* have the engine in front. So I was surprised to see the boat motor in the stern, and somehow, when I realized this was normal for boats, the surprise got convoluted into an incorrect memory.

  25. I don’t think that a mass of bruises is going to look like domestic abuse, given their likely location. For instance, when I came back from summer camp with a fascinating collection of bruises, they were mostly on reasonable first contact points, like my shins. (I did have a weird one on the back of my thigh that I realized was the result of a COPE exercise where I was scooting along a metal cable.)

  26. I think of how time was when I was a child. It was always Now and Now was forever.
    Some of the comment threads here make my headache.

    1. Don’t worry, its still Now.

      Memory makes it look like a continum, but memory is an imperfect biological storage medium for sensory impressions. It has cheats and tricks to make itself look continuous, but it does things like edit out sleep. We can’t remember the third of our lives we spend snoozing. Wonder what else is speeding by unnoticed. ~:D

      1. It’s always Now. And if you haven’t noticed, it’s always Here. No matter how hard I try to get There, when I arrive, it’s Here.

  27. From the Work In Progress. When great semi-transcendent beings who move and act freely through all the 28 dimensions of spacetime come to Earth, and are suddenly worried about what the crazy humans are doing:

    “Kali, were you around when one of those demonic worms did a Great Crossing and ate a galactic cluster?” asked Jimmy, with a far away look in his eye.

    “I was,” replied Kali, interested by this non sequitur in the conversation.

    “When it ate everything, what happened to the black holes?” asked Jimmy, looking her straight in the eye. “Did it eat them too, or are they still there?”

    Kali blinked. Then blinked again, accessing far-flung resources. “That is a very interesting question, Mr. Carlson. What makes you ask that?”

    “I’ve been wondering how they do it,” he replied. “I mean, coming to our realm kills them, right? They need a necromancer to drag them here, and a body to live in as well, or they die and fall back to the shadows in days. So how does something like that eat a whole swath of our universe at one shot? Where does all the mass and energy go?”

    “Why ask about the black holes though?” she persisted.

    “Because gravitational singularities aren’t really here in this universe anymore. They’re kind of outside. So if it ate them too, that’s a different kind of effect than if it left them behind.” Jimmy looked at her steadily. “You can see that, right?”

    “I can,” said Kali, narrowing her eyes. “I’m not sure if I should tell you. You might hurt yourself with the mathematics.”

    “I can find out anyway, I’ll just program our big telescope to look for light bending in those large voids. And we have a whole fleet of starships. If we have to, we can go out and look for them. Or I can ask the toaster girls to look for them. That’s the longest base telescope imaginable, baseline stretches from one star to another for hundreds of lightyears. You think doing the math will mess me up? George does most of it, I just have the ideas.”

    “Listen to ancient Kali, inquisitive infants,” she said sternly. “Do not delve too deeply into the secrets of demons. You will not like what you find there.”

    Jimmy, typically, misunderstood and hastened to explain. “I don’t care about the demons,” he said waving his hands in negation, “I just wanted to know if the big ones can cross those event horizon barriers. Because if they can’t, we can shoot Alcubierre warp bubbles at them. It would be just like a bullet! Kapow, scratch one great crossing.” Then he looked at her expectantly.

    “By the GODS!” she exclaimed, “what in the nine hells have you children been doing here?!”

    “Barely getting by, your worshipfulness,” said George. “Jimmy saved our asses with stuff like this. Four times, so far. He’s got a better batting average than Bob.”

    “Bob helped that one time though, remember?” said Jimmy, losing the thread of the conversation.

    “BOB!” roared Kali, pointing an imperative finger at him with all four right hands. “Do you know what these little devils are up to?!”

    “Oh shiiiit,” said George calmly as Nammu began to laugh. “Grandma caught us with our hands in the cookie jar, Jimmy. Got any more ideas?”

    “Um, not if it’s going to make her mad,” he said, which made Nammu laugh louder.

    “Perhaps I should pay more attention to your engines and such,” said Guruh, impressed by the sudden fury Kali was exhibiting. “Using your great vessels of the void as weapons against the demons seems an obvious tactic.”

    “What do you think would happen if one universe crashed into another at the speed of light?” demanded Kali of the werewolf, who shrugged her shoulders.

    “An earth-shattering kaboom?” ventured Jimmy, only half kidding.

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