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Fermius Firefly

A Dream Log, whenever I remember the dreams I've had.

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Location: San Marcos, United States

Fermius is a pen name drawn from a series of short fiction I wrote when I published the small press magazine Stellanova (on paper.) I play RPG games to escape from my daily grind as a technology wage slave for the state of California. I eat out a lot in order to do my part in supporting our increasingly service level economy. I am butler to 2 feline masters. If you ask them they will tell you I'm not very good at it, late with dinner, don't have enough hands with brushes in them, and sometimes I even lock them out of their office.

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Lightning Caller

        I was performing a sort of puppet show with paper cutouts and found props for a couple of busloads of elementary school students. The venue was the front lawn of a local high school, so there were also some teens around watching the show. A few of them were more interested in the mechanics of what I was doing, including the special effects of the show, which involved some simple chemistry a long iron rod and some static electricity. While I was performing the show I noticed how the little kids were absorbing it.

        I knew they would return to school and the tale I was telling would be retold many times, even acted out in mini dramas on the playground during recess. Each time the teller would be making the story their own. Details would change, characters of their own devising would enter and play in the small universe they would create. At the same time, I knew that if there were any interest amongst the teens and adults, it would be in preserving the show just the way it was.

        I found myself wondering, at what point did we as a culture feel it prudent to make the preservation of something that was living, growing and changing the important element of the story telling interaction?

        The story progressed, and the chemically enhanced metal rod, with its multi-colored lightning was a great hit, bringing the story, as presented by my collected toys and debris a big hit with my young audience.

        I came out from my wagon to meet the kids and answer questions, and to pass out the folded origami characters and props, and to give their teachers the folding instructions if they wanted to make characters of their own.

        I ended up talking with a couple of the teachers and their students as they walked to the bus. I got on with them to say good bye, and made a couple of quick origami busses and bus drivers for their drivers. I gave a pair to the bus driver of the first bus and boarded the second to express my thanks as well. That bus driver was quite the character and started to drive off with me aboard after he asked the kids Should we take him with us? and hearing a thundering chorus of Yes!

        I was laughing so hard I was almost crying.

        In a perfect world that is where the dream would have ended. But it didnt.

        I got off the bus, and was greeted by a couple of police officers. They were concerned about my pyrotechnics. I explained the science behind them as we walked back to my wagon. I figured I would show them my setup, explain that it was static electricity and some common non-toxic chemicals to add a little bit of color and that would be the end of it.

        Unfortunately, while I was visiting the busses, a couple of teens had broken into the wagon and had brought out the eight foot iron lightning rod. While there was nothing but stage magic involved in the kids show, there was some real power in the actual props for the rainmaking show that I did for other types of fairs and events. Those shows required a pyrotechnics permit, which I had, but not for this venue, of course. The larger rod allowed for a much larger current to build up, and the arcs were large, though mostly harmless, they could pack a pretty good wallop. I kicked off my shoes and ran across the wet grass as the pair dumped nearly all of my remaining color chemicals on the rod, theyd had to open up all eight remaining packets to make such a huge batch. I could hear someone in the wagon cranking up the Wimhurst generator to high speed.

        I reached the rod just as the two teens dropped the chemicals and ran. I suspect from seeing the police officers rather than from me. I was just reaching for the rod just as the teen in the wagon hit the lightning switch. Because I didnt have contact yet there was a huge prismatic spark and it knocked me on my back.

        The real problem was that there were now storm clouds forming, and real lightning was causing thunder overhead. I dont think were going to be happy with whats coming, I muttered to the police officer who helped me up.

        So now youre claiming to be a rainmaker?

        I pointed up to the sky. Its not me, its nature, the kids put the lightning caller up, thats just what happens. I explained that I was more upset that they had used up all my color powder, so I would have to make more before the next show.

I showed them the short two foot high antenna that I used in the puppet show.   This is a hundred times less energy, I explained, but Im pretty sure they didnt get it.

Ad astra per technica,


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