At last! Maybe it was the giddy excitement of knowing Rasa was gone (done?) and that I could get back to the Alpha project, or just fear of her staying angry with me, but I suddenly had the courage to ask her out. And I even said, “umm… you know, as a date.” And she didn’t hesitate to say yes.
Alas it was a platonic date to be sure, but after all these years of friendship I think a kiss (or anything else) on the first “date” would have been a bit too much.
It was a great dinner. Luckily there are a lot of great restaurants to choose from in the green zone around campus so we didn’t go into town (which I haven’t done in years). We chatted about Sally, Alpha, and even Greystle.
Something amazing is happening in Alpha, evolution is progressing quickly there are insects, plants, and an abundance of animals in the seas and lands of Alpha. But there aren’t any vertebrates yet. If this was the history of Earth we’d already have a variety of vertebrates walking and swimming about. But nothing yet on Alpha. The whole biology department is giddy over the puzzle this presents, but just in case Janice is having Adit look over some of the biology related algorithms and routines. It’d be awful if we discovered our bug filled Alpha was due to a bug and not just the way life happened to have evolved on Alpha.
Personally I hope we do get some vertebrates on our little world soon. Perhaps it’s my “fanboy” side but I’d love to see sentience and eventually intelligence and culture. Basically I’d love to see cool alien cities on Alpha. And I just don’t see invertebrates delivering that – does that make me a speciest? Or a backbone bigot?
I had thought Janice’s hate for Greystle was based in politics. And while there is that, there is a more personal side. She blames them for the destruction of her uncle’s dream. Janice’s uncle was the inventor of the “Real Cost” Gas Monitor.
I remember the late night ads from when I was a kid (have I always had a problem with sleeping?). The gas monitor clipped into you car and tracked that amount of fuel going out of your fuel pump and showed you the cost of what you were consuming in real time. When you got gas the system reset to the new price. So while idling at a stoplight or when leaving the car on while talking to friends on the road the drivers could see the nickels flip by. Pass someone on a hill and you could see the quarters flip by. With people seeing immediately the cost of their driving they would actually change their driving habits. When people realized it cost $7.50 just to go to the store they started being more diligent with making shopping lists.
Janice’s uncle wanted his invention to give a tangible incentive to customers to cut back on driving and poor driving habits. He wanted less fossil fuel to be burned, but he knew the easiest way to get people to do the right thing is to show them the immediate benefit to themselves. And saving money always works.
His product was changing driving habits. A consumer study proved that his product was having a dramatic effect on the amount of gas people purchased within 6 weeks of buying the “Real Cost” Gas Monitor. He was doing a good business but he always knew that if he had more money he could make more of them, make them better, make them cheaper and market them to a wider audience. Then some San Hill Road venture capital guy showed up at his office with an incredible opportunity. Her uncle sold his company for partial ownership in larger multinational venture. His product would be taken to the world.
Well needless to say it wasn’t. The company was shut down and her uncle lost the rights to sell his own product. The patent holders were this new company and this new company wouldn’t sell his product. He was devastated. As was his family, and as a young girl Janice saw her proud, big, and fun Uncle became the quiet, withdrawn, and sad man that she knew until he died a few years later.
When Janice got older she did do some research on the venture firm and found out it was owned by a division of Greystle. All the other investments of that division were in oil and gas processing and distribution. They had purchased her uncle’s company with the sole goal of destroying his product. I guess leaving him financially ruined as well was just their idea of fun.
That put a damper on the conversation for a while, but talk of Sally and her growing interest in science got as back on a more joyful track.
Date Number One: Success!