Brenternet (The World as seen by Brent Moore)

Trying to appeal to the highest common denominator. I can't give you 110% effort, but I will give you 107.4% effort. If you're a spammer and leave me a comment, I will make fun of you. I use twice as many semicolons compared to most other bloggers

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Location: Smyrna, Tennessee, United States

As the title implies, I am Brent K. Moore. I married MariLynn Simons on Sept. 25, 1999. we attend Stewart's Creek Church of Christ. We have five pets, a dachshund, Slinkie, a malamute, Juno, and three rabbits, Ebunny and Ifurry, and now Houdini.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nephraim's Box part 3

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If you haven't done so yet, read part 1
and then part 2.


Darp made more and more trips into the various worlds that the Nephraim’s box had to offer. Unlike his earliest experiences, not all of his trips were unpleasant. In fact, most were wonderful.

After his first three journeys, he noticed that something from the other side had come with him: A walnut, some mercury and the silver ornament. Part of the fun from this box, in his mind, was making a game out of this. In every destination, he decided to take one item and add it to his collection. From his next ten trips, he was able to acquire: a blue apple, a pyramid-shaped egg, a used shell from a nuclear fishtank warhead, a six-inch long fossil, digital socks, a matchbook from Buckingham Palace, a dinosaur bone, a smurf, a piece of the Great Wall of China, and an ordinary rock. When he got the rock, he was on a planet made entirely of gravel; he didn’t have much to choose from.

Much time had passed. Darp was enjoying this box so much that he started to shirk from his daily responsibilities. It started with his job. First, he couldn’t wait to get off work daily so he could travel somewhere new. Then, he didn’t want to go to work at all and he used up his vacation time. Next, he used up his sick leave. Finally, he didn’t bother to call in at all. When he was fired from his job, he didn’t even notice, nor would he have cared.

*     *     *

Nephraim hasn’t bothered to visit the future for a couple of months. He finds the current society a much more pleasant place to live. It just so happens that the future doesn’t want him either.

When Nephraim sold the TRS-80 to the eccentric multizillionaire Maxim Marsh, there was only one other known TRS-80 in existence. That remaining awful machine was, of course, at a public library. At the library, computer rights activists broke in to steal it and set it free. In the wild, the TRS-80 will not survive very long living on nuts and wild berries; it had a sheltered life and does not know how to fend for itself among the world of super-mega-corporite-computers. In the furure, robbing a library constitues a felony, even if you only want to put a computer out of its misery. The computer rights activists avoided getting caught. Instead, the cops visited the eccentric multizillionaire Maxim Marsh. Mr. Marsh truthfully told the cops that his computer was purchased from Nephraim.

Instantly, Nephraim became a wanted criminal. Nephraim does not find out because he doesn’t go to the future anymore. By now, that is good thing. Why bother? He is living in the 80’s listening to the Bangles and he still has his own box.

*      *      *

Mr. Darp did devise a temporary money-making scheme. It just so happened that the box appeared 20 seconds in the past. He hopped into his box and was still inside of his room, now seeing himself getting into the box. For a breif period of time, he was in two places at once. He exchanged pleasantries with himself as his other self stepped into the box.

Then, Darp remembered he had a fifty-dollar bill in his pocket. He stepped through the box again and saw his old self again. This time, he gave his old self the fifty dollars. Of course, the old self still had a fifty in his pocket, giving him one-hundred dollars. The self with the one-hundred dollars went through the box and handed the money to another old self, who had fifty dollars in his pocket. Now, the current old self had one hundred and fifty dollars, which became two-hundred, which became two-fifty. Each time he passed money through the loop, he became fifty dollars richer. By the time he quit, the only thing he remembered was being given two thousand dollars going into the loop. The only disadvantage was that all the fifty’s had matching serial numbers. He had to spend each one at a different location. To this day, having 40 different non-counterfeit bills with the same serial number baffles the US Department of Treasury. This is the joy of temporal paradoxes!

*      *      *

It is now present day. Nephraim woke up this morning and did what he has done for the past 1,348 mornings: turned on the television and watched a stupid television program. This was entirely possible because he had access to a satellite dish. This morning, he witnessed, “Spencer Euglena - Microbe Cop. It’s one full hour of Deoxi-Ribonucleic Action!” However, this program was better than yesterday’s selection “Nanny Noodle’s Nature and Noise.”

These television shows provide another reason why Nephraim hates life. Music wasn’t good anymore. The technology was very antiquated. He was a fugitive from his own time. He had no friends, even though he had money. Using his box to travel to new places got old.

He sold his smaller twenty-inch box to Freidman’s Theoretical Physics store several months ago. The gang at Freidman’s wrote a user manual for the box and put the box on the shelf between the Tesla coil and the x-ray glasses. A week passed until Darp’s friends bought the box and a limited service agreement. The friends gave it to Darp and he has been using it ever since.

On this afternoon, Darp pressed the magic new location button. The box made a low-piched humming noise and Darp consulted the user’s manual. It read, ”If strange noises are emitted from the box, discontinue usage. Failure to do so relieves the Freidman Corporation of any and all liabilities.” How could Darp live without using the box? Without hesitation, he rushed the box to Freidman’s service desk. He was already showing some withdrawal symptoms.

Nephraim’s phone rang. It was a Freidman’s customer service representative calling because the staff had no idea how to fix the box. He was surprised that anyone was interested. He rushed over to the store to help the technicians. Then, he was escorted past a trembling Darp over to the humming box. Nephraim looked at the box for a minute then kicked it. Darp passed out. The humming stopped. Unfortunately, an even more annoying screeching started. Nephraim studied the box for another minute then kicked it again. All noises stopped. “Good as new,” he proclaimed.

When Darp revived, he was relieved that his box was working again. He invited Nephraim over to dinner to thank him and discuss life with the box. Nephraim was impressed that any individual could be this excited about all the possibilities the box had to offer. He accepted the invitation. They had a lot to talk about.
39655

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nephraim's Box Part 2

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If you haven't read it yet, start with Part 1.

Mr. Darp, after letting his bruises heal for a moment, decided to take a second trip through his new toy. After pressing the magic new location button, he gingerly poked his head through to the other side. This time, after looking first, he was ready to rush in because he was in a place full of gold. He stood up and all around, the only thing he could see was gold. He climbed a nearby pile and still all he could see was gold.

Darp let out a huge cry of joy. Then, he did what most any person would do in this situation, throw several gold bricks through to the other side. He started dancing and singing, “I’m rich! I’m rich!”

During his jubilation, he had failed to hear a buzzing sound off in the distance. Suddenly, around a pile about 100 feet away came a pair of four-foot-tall blue creatures, each wearing a brown security outfit.

“We’ve found our intruder!” said the one on the left.

“And, he’s taking the king’s gold” replied the other.

Darp found it humorous how security guards in any dimension could wear ugly brown uniforms. He didn’t find it humorous for very long because the men in blue started chasing him. He jumped back through the box, back into his original reality. The shorter blue guard commented, “he didn’t get much of our pavement.”

The first thing he noticed upon reentering his living room was the noticeable lack of gold. Instead, there was a silvery liquid, which he tried to avoid, not knowing if it was radioactive or not. He quickly consulted the box’s user manual. It states that, as a quirk, in certain dimensions, elements with an atomic number larger than 72 will have one added to its total number. This was labeled a “feature” and not a “bug.”

Darp recalled that Gold was somewhere near the bottom of the periodic table, but as a poor chemistry student back in college, could not remember what came after it. He found his Encyclopedia and found the table and realized he had a big pile of Mercury on his living room floor. Then he pondered about what he would need on the other side to yield gold on this side. The answer was platinum; once again not a very good tradeoff from his perspective.
He now had a mess to clean up.

*     *     *

After making several journeys to either side using his prototype, Nephraim devised a moneymaking plan. In the future, he found a simple, yet entertaining kiddie-toy. Taking it back in the 80’s, he sold that same kiddie-toy for 15 dollars. What the uninformed purchaser did not realize is that toy runs on futuristic batteries and will become useless in a couple of weeks.

With his 15 dollars, Nephraim went to a thrift store and found the perfect item, a used TRS-80, with enough money left over to buy a couple of vests, some boots and a Six Flags coffee mug.  Back in his future world, he knew of a local eccentric multi-zillionaire by the name of Maxim Marsh, who also was a vintage computer collector. This man operated an old computer museum whose featured item had been a Microsoft Windows 2438. Incidentally, Windows 2438 will be the last operating system the Microsoft people ever produce. This is due to the unbelievable unpopularity they will get after Mousepad Gates releases Microsoft Anti-Christ 1.0 a year later. 

Mr. Marsh was ecstatic to buy Nephraim’s TRS-80 for one million Terradollars. Globally, collectors had presumed all but one TRS-80 had been lost or destroyed by the mid 2150s; the remaining one working TRS-80 was being used at a public library.

Now, Nephraim had enough money to pay for his ten-thousand terradollar monthly rent for a long time. He still enjoyed life in the 1980’s but slept in his own time every night. His big problem in the 80’s was that he had no money.

*     *     *

Darp had called a local friend to help clean up the big pile of mercury on his floor. His friend was a middle school science teacher and Darp had offered him several ounces of mercury if he would clean most of it up.

In Darp’s third trip through the box, he found himself in a very lavish mansion. He knew this place had to be worth millions of dollars. The place had Victorian architecture and several interesting heirlooms made of precious metals and gems. From upstairs, he heard a female voice calling out, “Is somebody there?” The source of this voice soon started to walk down the stairs. An attractive 35-year-old Southern Belle wearing an expensive dress and plenty of jewelry came his way. “Honey, you’re home!” she said upon seeing him. Darp noticed a wedding ring on her finger and started to think he would like this place.

The two of them went upstairs and they talked for a while. Darp started to dream about never having to go back to his own reality. As soon as she was about to smother him with passion, a male voice came from downstairs, “Vivian! Are you home?”

She responded, “I’m up here Vince!”

Darp questioned, “Who’s that?”

“You idiot. That’s my husband Vincent. Now, you need to go find a place to hide until the coast is clear.”

At this moment, Darp’s assumption of being married to Vivian and his vision of the good life had been crushed. Thinking of his box, he replied, “I know of a place where he won’t find me.” In the interim, he went to a coatroom.

Listening outside, he heard Vivian talking to her real husband. He also heard that Vince was coming near to put up his overcoat. He was scared for a moment, but Vivian was able to distract her husband long enough for Darp to get out. He proceeded to sneak downstairs, but was not completely unnoticed.

Vince spotted him right before he got back to his box. Vince yelled out, “Hey! Who are you and what are you doing in my house?”

Darp, thinking quickly, picked up a silver ornament off a nearby table. He responded, “I’m from the IRS. I’m taking this to cover all your unpaid back taxes.” He, with the ornament, jumped into the box and reappeared in his apartment. From then on, he used the silver ornament as the centerpiece of his kitchen table.

*     *     *

For Nephraim, acquiring something from the past, taking it to the future and then selling it had worked once; he was hoping it would work again. He spent a good portion of his time creating a second box similar to his prototype. This time, he decided to make it smaller, specifically twenty inches square. He does this just in case he ever wants to take his second box through the first prototype.

After finishing his second box, he repeatedly changed the location on the other side until he found a date he could settle on. Eventually his box presented him with 1950’s New York City. He looked for anything he could trade which could become valuable in 1980. One gentleman gave Nephraim two dollars in exchange for Nephraim’s hat because the man thought the futuristic hat “looked funny.” He took his two dollars to a nearby nickel and dime store where he bought some comic books and baseball cards. He had neither heard of Superman nor Ted Williams but he figured he would be able to sell these items for a few dollars in the 80’s. He was pleasantly surprised when he sold them for a few thousand dollars; they were in excellent condition. He didn’t understand what difference it made, but he wouldn’t complain.

With his new money, he got a six-month lease on an apartment. He was starting to spend more time in the past and less time in the future.

go to Part 3.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Nephraim's Box Part 1

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[Brent's Note: About 10 years ago, before I had a camera, before blogs, and well before Twitter, my creative outlet was writing short stories. Many of those stories have been posted to this blog over the years. Many of my stories would fit in a genre I call Sci-fi Humor.

Back in the day, these stories were shared with a group of literary friends. The short story "Nephraim's Box" was essentially universally agreed to be my best story. In the 10 years since then, I have been waiting for the right time to publish this story. The right time will never come because I stopped writing Sci-fi humor, which is a shame because this story would be the first story in a whole book I have outlined in my mind which will never be written.

In the meantime, I have decided to post this story to my blog, with the story divided into thirds. Part 1 is today with parts 2 and 3 coming over the next couple of days.]

Nephraim’s Box 
By Brent K. Moore

Mr. Darp loves his birthday. Every year, his friends always seem to find the perfect gift for him. This year was no exception.

They gave him a square box about twenty inches on each side. It was wrapped in some very sappy “I love you” wrapping paper, because they knew it would annoy him. That was a couple of hours ago, and after everyone ate a Kroger’s German Chocolate cake, his friends all left. Now, he has a chance to play with his new toy.

The box is called Nephraim’s Multidimensional Trans-warp Come-and-Go Box or “Nephraim’s box” for short. His friends bought it at a liquidation sale at Freidman’s Theoretical Physics Surplus Store.

By now, Darp knows what the box does, but he doesn’t quite know how to operate it yet. Inside the box is a porthole into another dimension. If he were to step through it, it would thrust him into a new location, a new time, a new dimension, a new reality, or any combination of the above.
“That’s so COOL!” Darp was overheard as saying. The only problem is that the box’s operator can’t control where it goes.

Taped to the upper lid of the box, was a booklet of instructions. It has some of the predictable warnings. “Avoid Prolonged exposure to sunlight.” “Do not mix batteries.” “Do not force someone against their will into another dimension.” Darp’s immediate thought was about whom he could force against their will into another dimension. His Boss? No, then he might not get that promotion he thinks he deserves. His Landlord? Now that is a good idea! Before doing anything harsh, he just decided to play around with it first.

*     *     *

Like Penicillin in 1928 or the nuclear fish tank warhead in 2372, Nephraim’s box was discovered by accident. This brings up the story of Fernando Sanguine Chauncy Bohanon Nephraim, who will be born in the year 9964. In the future, Earthlings will generally have three call-by names and two surnames due to vast overpopulation and under-imagination. He will become a mildly successful inventor whose true calling in life is making sandwiches. He will make and distribute homemade hoagies that could be bought at several of the finer convenience stores during his generation. Nephraim will learn to increase his profit margin by buying meats in bulk, but will run out of places to store all of it. Being a bachelor, it will never occur to him to buy a larger refrigerator. The initial purpose of his box is to create a location to store his ham and salami at a crisp, cool temperature, without taking up too much space in his studio apartment.

With his 4 foot by 3 foot prototype, he will be able to store his hoagie helpers in the Antarctic Circle, without ever having to leave his kitchen. When transporting to the other side, another similar Nephraim box appears. He will have the ability to walk through the porthole, store the food wherever he chooses, and find the box on that side, allowing him to come back through to his apartment.

Nephraim will have a flaw design, however: his food is not safe. What he will not realize is at any moment, hungry or mischievous penguins can come and take his loot. Disgruntled, Nephraim will set aside his box for four years until he adds a modification. Now, with the push of a button, the destination on the other side of the dimensional porthole will change. It is still useless to Nephraim because he can not control the destination, just change it.

Upon pressing the magic button hundreds of times, the destination on the other side is his studio apartment’s closet, five years earlier. As a test, he will take his daily Digital Newsbit and store it on the other side. Completing the test, he goes to his closet and to his joyous surprise, he will find it. Using this trick, he can age gourmet cheeses, will become reasonably prosperous, and will get patent #74E3BF03A72C.

*     *     *

Back in our current millennium, Mr. Darp has learned about the box’s control and is ready to try it out. One thing the instructions did not tell him was how to get in the box. Being twenty inches square, he was not overloaded with options. Should he jump? Should he gingerly step one foot at a time? Should he go headfirst? Should he throw in his landlord and ask his advice? Being the adventurous type, he jumps in.

On the other side, he consequentially falls out of a tree. Fortunately for him, it was one of the lower branches and his plummet was limited to five feet. After a momentary stunning, he regained his composure and got up. He appeared to be in Anytown, USA. He was in a residential neighborhood, with children who had stopped playing in the street to see what the commotion was. The woman whose house was on the property that Darp was now standing came out of her front door and questioned, “Are you all right?”

Darp replied, “I’m all right, Ma’am. Don’t Mind Me. I’ll be leaving soon.” He proceeded to climb the tree and get back into the porthole located in the Nephraim box on this side. A chipmunk was looking into the box because it noticed a walnut that fell into it. However, it scrambled off as Darp started making his way back into the box. Once again, he was safely in his living room.

*     *     *

In the interest of clarity and sanity, the rest of the future will be regarded in the past tense. Soon after Nephraim invented his box in the not-so-near future, he became dissatisfied with his role in life. War and disease are a thing of the past for him, but he thinks society is going downhill.
Then, the year 10,000 hit. With the Year 10,000 comes the Y10K computer bug. In comparison, the Y2K bug had just been a historical footnote. Enough awareness was spread early to fix most of the anticipated problems. 8000 years later, only a select few people were aware of the earlier problem; not many records had been kept since nothing terribly drastic happened. As the end of the 9900’s approached, almost every single thing became computerized. Through the future ages, as technology improved and became smarter, the need for technicians decreased, leaving a limited few who knew how to program computers. When the Y10K bug came, mountainous problems arose. The only working people who did not depend on computers and profit from this disaster were the farmers who now could price gouge for their beefalo meat.

With most types of meat now costing over one hundred Terradollars per pound, Nephraim could only sell his hoagies to the rich, and soon went out of business. Fortunately for him, he could escape from our future. With the prototype of his box, he spent much time deciding on a future location to live out his life. He passed up on many opportunities to live in wonderful, surreal locations, but chose to live on the Earth, because human nature never changes. He settled on the late 1980’s America.

On to part 2.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Today's Snow Day Quiz

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Nashville is often known as "Music City USA" or the "Country Music Capital of the World." Did you know that Nashville used to be called the "Powder Capital of the world?" Occasionally, smaller towns get nicknames proclaiming them to be the something "Capital of the World"

For the quiz, match the city near Nashville with what it is known for. (all cities are in TN, unless other wise noted.

Cities:

1) Columbia
2) Cosby
3) Covington
4) Dalton, GA
5) Ft. Payne, AL
6) Jonesborough
7) Knoxville
8) McMinnville
9) Mt. Pleasant
10)South Pittsburgh

is the _______ Capital of the World

A) Blow Pops
B) Carpet
C) Cornbread
D) Moonshine
E) Mule
F) Nursery
G) Phosphate
H) Socks
I) Storytelling
J) Underwear

Answers are posted as a comment!