My Blue Sargasso

When my mind is unoccupied with science, it becomes troubled. O, how I yearn for the depth and quiet of the Sargasso Sea. There, I fell in love with the ocean. On a research vessel battered by the mid-Atlantic gyre, beneath constellations without names. Landbound, I’d never seen a sky from horizon to horizon. It’s a remarkable thing, this bubble around us, this little skin against oblivion.

What can I do when the oblivion finds a home within me? Dream of ginseng tea, saltines, and a blue that could swallow me if I let it.

Sargasso

View from the RV Atlantic Explorer

HeliKnow Services Pamphlet

I received this in the mail!

Basic nuclear genome sequencing: 30 credits – you provide the DNA, and we do the rest! HeliKnow will record your complete genome sequence, the unique pattern of A-T-C-G that makes you you. Our high-throughput DNA sequencing technology yields rapid, confident, and confidential results for less than zero-zero-zero-zero-zero-zero-zero-one credits per nucleotide. What a bargain!

Notice: to provide optimal service, HeliKnow only analyzes blood samples. Cheek swabs are unacceptable.

Gold package: 60 credits – our most popular package! Your genome is egregiously confusing. Luckily, we speak DNA-glish! Trained HeliKnow technicians will interpret your genes in a layman-friendly report that includes:

1)  Ancestry

2)  Major phenotypes

3)  Health risks

4)  Terminal genetic disorders

Remember, unlike our competitors, HeliKnow respects client confidentiality.

Notice: technicians are not prophets. Please purchase our fate package to foresee your death.

Fate package: 1000 creditspalm readers are charlatans. Only DNA can speak to fate. Deus Helix has hidden messages in every double helix that writhes inside your body. Using proprietary bioinformatics analyses and rituals, HeliKnow prophets will scry your destiny. Ask, and ye shall receive. Common questions include:

1)  Will I be powerful?

2)  Will I be rich?

3)  Will I fall in love?

4)  Will my lover betray me?

5)  What are my lucky numbers?

6)  Why do we suffer?

7)  Are you sure that’s the right answer?

8)  How horrible. It’s not fair. Why?  

Remember: your fate is confidential! At HeliKnow, data mismanagement is punishable by absolute termination.

Optional fate package “expiration” feature: 500 credits you are going to die, and we can tell you all about it during your session with our prophets. Learn where, when, how, and why you will perish.

Notice: a one liter blood tribute is necessary to scry your death.

Platinum package: 10,000 credits – defy fate. HeliKnow can improve your genome with proprietary mutagenic and viral vector technology. Erase the dark portends written in your genes and replace them with wealth or love. Stop aging; our technicians can lengthen telomeres, strengthening body and mind.

Notice: you cannot outrun death forever. Deus Helix is an author, and we are all imperfect drafts of Its masterpiece. With every generation, inheritance and mutations draw us closer to perfection. But countless speciation events separate Homo sapiens from immortality. No human will survive this universe.

Indeed, no human will survive this millennium.

Volunteer opportunities: stop being human. Our great prophet sings the sacred Deus Helix genome. Once she finishes reciting Its glorious sequence, we need volunteers. From egg donors to biochemists: come one, come all, and help clone Deus Helix. A lucky few will be transformed, their bodies enhanced with demigod genes. Your sacrifices ensure the betterment of humankind. Don’t miss out! The great prophet may complete her recitation this very hour!

Notice: volunteers work pro bono, but HeliKnow will compensate volunteer families for funeral expenses, when necessary.

Church of Deus Helix: free and priceless – join our congregation. Worship with us. Listen to the great prophet sing Its genome. Spill your helices upon the red altar. Evolve!

Notice: all congregants must sign a confidentiality agreement.

Thank you for choosing HeliKnow for your genome sequencing needs!

Maybe I should apply to HeliKnow after I graduate. Their benefits seem very cool.

((This is a piece of fiction.))

Hello, Future! My 2016 Resolutions

Courtesy of DreamSelfy, 2015 Little Badger (left) and a projection of 2016 Little Badger (right).

The new year is coming! To honor Time, It That Steals All Things, I’ve constructed an elaborate list of resolutions! Behold:

  1. Escape Texas

Wish me luck!!!! 😀

The spider is the moon: pictures from my Sunday adventure

The spider is the moon

Tonight, the spiders cling to hidden webs. The moon is a spider. The trees are her many legs.

The streetlamp is just a streetlamp.

Cool

Twilight is delightful when its colors are inverted. The streetlamps devour all souls! AAAH!

On a serious note, I’ve been working 24/7 on a scientific poster about phytoplankton genes, so it was great to stretch my legs this evening. I filmed a spider (pictured above) as she built her web – the process took thirteen minutes and was really relaxing. No wonder they’re into web-making.

Accepted by Princeton, rejected by Princeton’s creative writing program: one outsider’s experience

I’d like to send you back in time: it’s 2006, and I’m a naive highschooler in Texarkana. I had just accepted Princeton’s unexpected but very appreciated admission offer and was excited – “just won the lottery” excited – to study creative fiction as an undergraduate student.

During my first semester in the orange bubble*, I sent a fiction sample to the writing program, crossed my fingers, waited … Continue reading

Haunted Teapot: Why I Haven’t Written a Blog Post Lately

Wowie! It’s been a long time since my last blog post. There’s a good reason for that. A couple months ago, a friend of my great uncle sent me a teapot. It had a cryptic note in it, so I assumed that it was cursed, because people are weirdly enigmatic around cursed artifacts. Anyway, I barely know the guy (heck, I barely know my great uncle!), and I had every reason to mistrust the teapot, but I ignored common sense and used it to brew tea anyway. That was probably a bad idea, because the teapot’s whistle sounded like a tormented scream, which bothered my neighbors. After a few pots of jasmine green, I started having spooky visions. Instead of telling literally anybody that I needed help (spooky visions are never healthy, ok?), I just allowed the teapot to torment me, read the cryptic message again and again and again, and drank more tea. Continue reading