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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Poppy's Evaluaton

[Time Traveler Evaluation Transcript]
Computer screen went momentarily blank and static fizzed from the speaker. I was not alarmed. That is what one may expect when the cross-time circuit engages in the router.  Still, I hazarded a cautionary sniff, no burning insulation, just a hint of ozone and sea air. I addressed the little microphone: "Poppy, is it you?" Readers wishing to familiarize themselves with Poppy may click here.

A soft, thin voice issued from the speaker. "Geo. It's evaluation time and I might need some help."

"Of course, Poppy. Where are you, and when are you?"

"I'm in my little apartment in San Francisco, looking out the window. It's 1956. I just came back up after checking my mailbox downstairs. One of the envelopes was unsealed and there was just a note inside."

"No address?

"No. No names either. The note was penciled on a little strip of paper.

"Torn or cut?"

"Both. Torn, but on top there's a tiny sawtooth cut. And there are a couple smudges like ink. Oh, I know! It's newsprint --a bit of newspaper margin torn from a page!"

"What's it say, Poppy?"

"It says, 'Sidewalk cafe across the street. See me.' All I need to do is find a person there with a newspaper."

"Very good! Now what do you see out your window?"

"Ten people sitting at the cafe, all with newspapers! Oh gosh, there must be some other identifying feature."

"Hold your communicator lens close to the note and e-mail it through the time-router. It'll appear over this transcript. Got it, thanks."

"I think it only got one word, Geo. Is that ok?"

"It's enough, Poppy. Look at the shape of the three letters. See anything unusual?"

"Yes, all upper case and all either shorter on the left or leaning to the right, as if...as if..."

"As if whoever wrote them is accustomed to leaving room for some other notation. Something that always appears at the upper left corner of... "

"A crossword square number! Yes, out the window, one of the ten people with newspapers has a pencil and is working the puzzle page!"

"Go! and tell me what happens. I'll wait."

Ten minutes passed. Poppy resumed transmission: "Geo., I went up to the puzzle lady and handed her the note. She said, 'Bingo!' Then I asked her if I had passed my evaluation and she said it wasn't her call. Whom do I talk with? How do I find out?

"Poppy, there was more to the exercise than tracing the note. It also tested your readiness to use available resources to solve the problem. I'm sure you'll receive a glowing evaluation."

"But she said it wasn't her call."

"She's right."

"So how can you be sure I passed?"

"Because it was my call, Poppy, and my privilege."



 




23 comments:

  1. Good for Poppy...he passed with flying colours..oh wait...we were pretty much in black and white back then weren't we?

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    1. As one yourself, you know we time travelers are always learning. Say, how come we're in color now?

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  2. I've often suspected that you assumed the identity of a humble, retired gardener as a cover-up. You're really the Pied Piper of Conundrums, captivating the masses with enigmatical intrigue.
    (there's a compliment in there, somewhere)

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    1. Compliment accepted and appreciated somewhere. Thanks!

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  3. Dear Geo.,
    I had to travel back in time to find out who Poppy is. To me she is female - but maybe she/he is in s sphere where it doesn't matter. Or lives in Japan - I read an article about a lot of singles there who only love their computers, noone else, and want to keep it that way.
    Your conversation is very amusing! And she earned her evaluation.

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    1. Dear Brigitta, It's true, Poppy's gender doesn't seem to be fixed. Sometimes I assign one to the character but other times forget to do so. As I learn more narrative skills, perhaps this will clear up.

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  4. I enjoyed this Geo. I reminded me of that movie with Dennis Quaid (called Frequency I think) in which he was communicating with his late father via an old ham radio he had found. Wouldn't it be awesome if we could do this...?

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    1. I remember watching that film with my kids! It was good. Glad you reminded me.

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  5. Replies
    1. Ah, Marty and the Doc! They were great action chrononauts. I'm more the armchair type --a consulting time traveler.

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  6. I love when you do this. :-)

    Pearl

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    1. Encouraging words from an esteemed source. Thanks!

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  7. Such a great way to 'start my reading' for today.
    The coffee tastes good and you brought a smile ...

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  8. Okay, I actually teared up with happiness at the end of this.

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    1. Kind Suze, okay, Poppy will definitely pop up again some time.

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    2. An excellent choice, sir.

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  9. Oh, you had me at the word "Poppy". Great grabber.

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    1. Poppy is one of my favorite words too!

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  10. Another fun trip through your imagination. What can I say? It "popped," dude.

    Like Britta, I went back to the original post, too. And now I'm looking forward to more Poppy guest appearances.

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    1. Thank you Susan. Now Dude must deal with the mystery of Poppy's gender. I've never had to decide that for anyone before.

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  11. Nice work - a quiet and kind little mystery story.

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