Thank you, George

The other night I was putting away the food. William was around, being useless.

"Fridge this!" I commanded the boy.

"Fridgificate!" he answered, affirmatively.

"...and this." (handing him another tupperware full)

"Fridgify aye aye!" sayeth the boy.

Whatever other legacy survives, only history will tell, but this much is sure: Mr. Bush has given us new language, the slang of the next decade or more, I'll wager.

We owe him huge.


Memory was filling in, a satisfying feeling. “My brain is growing bigger all the time. Mostly I add to the map: can feel 75 thrums out and about twice that down, further when Father pings.” Namue thought these things, one after another in sequence. There was a precision in thinking sequentially, timing the thoughts. Each one flashed into being with a thrum of her heart, pushed up into consciousness with plenty of time to linger over the idea, watch it soak into memory, indelible, before the next stroke. All was sequence and rhythm, beginning with the heart. She had a mighty heart.

They all did, and one pulse from it would typically be enough to power two flukebeats, both up and down. Of course that could be varied, but it wasn't something you changed without conscious decision. It wasn't something you didn't think about, with a part of your self, with every single thrum, because each one had a cost, in time, energy, oxygen, trading for speed, distance, depth. Thrums measure life.

Every cost had it's accounting and the mighty machine of her body ran smoother faster deeper than those of the fishes because of the mind that drove it, the careful accounting that always balanced precisely every use of blood and sinew and air. She swam without ripples, breathed without splashing, left no vortex to swirl away energy.

“Yesterday, could NOT feel the bottom, had to dive 41 thrums to ping it from yet so far that 5 thrums could expire before the soft echo, squishy gooey mud all the way, barely changing from water to earth at all.” No need to go there. But remember that place, as all places are memorized.

Everything counted by thrums. Thrums divide into flukebeats, and flukebeats into distance and distance into time, which is hundredths or thousandths of heartbeats. “Live two million thrums, stroke a million flukebeats, eat 100 thousand fish, and love 10 thousand times, once for every sunrise.” That was the saying, though she did not understand all of it.

The lesson was first taught with tuna, fastest fish in the sea. Six moons old and her father, Enkei, told her at last to catch one, her own. Joyfully Namue dove to the task, anticipated for long dozens of sunrises.

“Where?” she had chirped softly back and, Father rolled and arced slightly so that his deeper thrum, focused down and forward naturally through his sternum, washed a dim blood red pulse of sound over the distant school, barely audible even to Namue and imperceptible to the stupid, skittish fish, some of whom must have heard the blood rush through the chamber, the valve snap shut, but in that case, thought it just another sound from the deep, because none of them bolted. An actual ping of course, would have scattered them.

Bubbles burst from her head at the excitement, she tripled her thrumbeat and accelerated in 7 or 8 swift strokes to her ultimate speed, near 28 knots, faster than all but the largest tuna could match, and then only for seconds, while she could hold it until the air ran out, some minutes hence.

Perhaps a thrum too early, she loosed a shock beam at the center of the school. They panicked, tuna darted in every direction. A cacophony of bubbles spinning off from cold spiny flukes as the school sought to save itself, stroking so hard the water boiled at their fintips. Namue followed her killing beam with a wider ping, to bring back the picture of the few broken fish caught in it's focus, from which she'd choose the fattest.
But nothing was there, only doppler-striped echoes from the fleeing fish each of which she had unconsciously tracked from their cavitation, 17 reformed there and doing most of her knots down and away, 3 there, regrouping and two others still zigging alone now lost from their school and, stupid fish, unable to find one another until dawn's light made them optically visible. Namue snorted at their incompetence. And yet they might win! Expecting to coast up on incapacitated prey, she had shut down propulsion and was now moving at barely 18 knots, obliquely away from the school. Angry and shamed, she switched to actively spraying pings every two thrums, fish darting when each death-foretelling click crackled their scales, but their turns only cut her distance and swimming for their lives, only a few of the school were holding their distance. The school calved and calved again, splintering to make her choose, and every time pride made her choose the faster until, 70 thrums into the chase, with oxygen beginning to wane, Namue was scant meters from the pack. One last wide blast, too unfocuesed to kill but equally untrackable so they couldn't know which way to flee gave her final targeting. She could hear their hearts now, count their ribs in her echo. With 8 more strokes she simply overhauled the 4th fastest fish in the school, a huge, two meter long male. She could feel him over the last chase, swimming up his frantic wake, tracking his vortex until it washed over her tongue and then was stilled.
Air-starved and hot, Namue coasted joyfully to the surface, holding the fish so father could see it, and because swallowing would use energy she didn't have, wouldn't, until the air was changed out, from her lungs, blood, and meat. Inexplicably he sulked out of sight as she wallowed, recharging with 5 deep breaths in as many minutes, barely diving a few dozen meters to coast blissfully out of the swell, finally gulping down the beautiful sashimi without the joy of sharing it with Father. He would know anyway, having seen all the echoes... Finally when he would not come her she coasted over, pup-like to be congratulated.

That's when she heard the saying first, as he sang it to her softly, a love song. It was so beautiful, she rolled smoothly in delight, between him and Mother, fluketips osculating so briefly with their bellies as they swam in perfect speed sync, and the first rays of green-gold dawn licked at the crests above.
“I will do all those things Father, but what do they mean?” Namue cooed back, as slowly as she could articulate, a labor some minutes long.

But he did not sing, he turned and addressed her with his killing beam, turned high enough to hurt, paced so that it was over fast as the slap of a wave. It was no caress but a blow, a blast of anger. She had to slow it down 10fold and play it back to hear: “For you, today it means this: you have killed a fish, Namue, at the cost of losing the school for your tribe, burning the fat out of them all, and the cost of a hundred thrums of your own. It will barely suffice you to kill another, and another and you will grow gaunt until you cannot outrun them at all and what shall they eat now?”

After his lecture, Father had rolled leftwards so that his thrumfocus painted the pod, lurking politely off to the side while the lesson was given. They looked variously curious and embarrassed for her in the echo she heard. But mother forcibly drove her into the center of the pod, where there were gentle congratulations, eager questions from her cohort, and she heard Father gurgle out a few happy wasteful bubbles as he coasted effortlessly back to the prow of the pod. He WAS proud, after all!

Namue glowed inside, and thought carefully on his words, ignoring all the incoming echoes, and even her own thrum, making sure the lesson was burned deep and promising herself, as only a whale can, that she would obey it forever.

Father surfaced and blew twice, unusually. He was now supercharged. What had befallen? Father threw a grunt-click backwards, alerting all to attend, but he meant her, and dove vertically in a smooth arc, too silent to follow. All tracked him by his thrum only which he was clearly arranging to be focused on the pod as a beacon. Then four things happened, timed fast as his thrums. First he surged to impossible speed, next a broad ping-ping illuminated the school which had flashed right after the first strike, then a faint echo of what had to be a killing beam, focused schoolward of course, and last, strokes of impossible speed and a crunch. Father gulped the second largest tuna and somersaulted to reverse course, coasting up to the focus of the beam, which he casually illuminated so everyone could see the biggest tuna imaginable lay precisely there, still imobile after a dozen thrums and possibly even broken by the strike. Gently holding it between tongue and the ivory banana-fangs of his upper maw, he brought it up, releasing it ahead of Mother so precisely that she, Shenishui, need only open her mouth to coast over her dinner.
As he rolled away, Namue chirped a question, but Enkei just continued his slow roll towards the surface, indulging in another breath, entirely unnecessary after the spectacular efficiency of the hunt. Namue could hear his thrum deep and slow as though still asleep, barely enough to power his body. Namue turned to Mother, questing.
“It is not joy, small thing. He is proud of you, and thus, of himself, as are we all.” Shenishui sang this slowly, relishing it, and followed to caress Enkei as he descended, enormous, unstoppable.

Energy to Move

Here's some neat stuff from Wikipedia. The fuel efficiency of everything can be compared in terms of passenger seat miles: how much gas to move one passenger (the seat) for one mile. On wikipedia, they reduced it to mega-Joules and kilometers, but you can put it all together. So here you go, in order from best to worst (with some surprises in there...) are all the energy quantities burned, to move you one kilometer

  • heavy rail (long haul freight, flat ground, no stopping) 0.5 ml Wow!
  • Ocean liner: 1.7ml
  • bicycle, 4mL Nothing biological can touch a human on a bike.
  • walking, 10mL Still good, but not close to a bike.
  • regenerating diesel-bus 10mL (but only if it's full of people)
  • supercar: 20ml (next gen VW tandem diesel, @ 870mpg with 2 pax)
  • Jetliner (no kidding!) 30ml
  • hybrid (prius) 40ml
  • luxury ocean liner, 170ml
Couple of caveats, the speed really, really matters! Cars lose half their thrust to drag (and airplanes lose ALL their thrust to drag). What that means is that that VW supercar could probably beat a bike, running at similar speeds, but you're not likely to use it that way. Another thing you're not likely to use full is a diesel bus, which gets 5-6 MPG if it doesn't stop too much, so that thing is an environmental disaster if it's not at least half full. That's why we have to subsidize busses: they don't make sense.

Wikipedia declined to discuss pure electric or hydrogen cars because they are hard to compare: there are sequences of losses in the generation, distribution, charge and discharge of the electricity, (or Hydrogen) and it's all powered by the worst fuel known (coal. Hydrogen and electricity are not energy sources, they're converted coal (or nuclear) energy) but on a basis of raw cost to you, it's pretty cheap. I'll try to figure it out and post it, converting coal to gas on the basis of $, and on the basis of energy (which will be two dramatically different numbers).

Finally, the shot glass? That's 30ml, enough to move you one kilometer at Mach .6. Only it's drambuie, not Jet-a, so I drank it.

Wow, a really great training log

Http:// Check it out.