Friday, December 06, 2002

Prey Okay, for what it's worth, here is the readers digest version of Michael Crichton's Prey. First of all, while I had some fun with this, it does contain all kind of spoilers, so you really shouldn't read this unless you read the book. Second, this is in fun -- because I did like the book -- it was something that held my attention. Go out and buy the book and have fun with it -- let it engross you and entertain you. Then come back here and read this gentle parody.

It's midnight now. The house is dark. I am not sure how this will turn. The kids are all desperately sick, throwing up. I should be attending to them, but I’m too engrossed in Michael Crichton’s new novel, Prey, to attend to them. Let me tell you the story so you don’t wind up in a similar situation…

Day One 11:17 a.m.

I’m Jack Forman, I used to make distributed parallel processing or agent-based programs, but that got too confusing to my VC (Venture Capitalists, to those of you not familiar with the lingo), so my boss called it the Forman Grill to capitalize on my name and the success of another product. I was honest, too honest perhaps, and when I discovered my boss had off-shore accounts to skim off the fat from the Grill, I signed a NDA (look, I can’t keep stopping the story to explain these things to you - look it up) and took a big lump sum to leave the company. No, I wasn’t fired. No, no, no, no. Ask my head-hunter who keeps talking about shelf life. I wanted to leave so I could go shopping for diapers and table settings.

Shopping - now, I could tell you a thing or two about shelf life. Did you know that nanoparticles of garlic salt has a shelf-life of 50 years? Strawberry jam, however, only has a shelf-life of 6 to 9 months. Worst of all are linen table mats if you use strawberry jam - they get so stained that even boiling water can’t take it out. And I’m sure that bacteria grow on those stains . . .

This is why I’m out shopping at Crate and Barrel for new placemats. Don’t these yellow ones look pretty?

Oops, that’s my cell phone. Oh, it’s my strikingly pretty wife, Julia, who at 36 is the mother of my three off-spring and is the Vice President of Xymos, a world leader in molecular manufacturing. I think I’ll keep her.

“Hi Jack, look I can’t come to Eric’s soccer game today, I’m too busy administering the kiss of life to all my co-workers. Oh, and don’t buy the yellow placemats.”

Hmmm, I wonder if she’s having an affair. And how did she know about the placemats??!!!?

Well, I’ll go get diapers for the baby.

Day One 11:49 a.m.

Oh, look, it’s Ricky Morse, a handsome surfer guy who used to work for me and now works for Julia. He’s looking pretty buff for a guy who’s just given birth to a whole swarm of children - I can’t remember if he had twins, triplets or what.

“Hi Jack, what kind of diapers do you use?”

“Hi Ricky, I like Pampers because of their anti-static properties.”

“Not me Jack, I prefer Huggies because they contain the nanopoops.”

“Nice lipstick, Ricky.”

“Thanks, Julia gave it to me.”

“See you in Nevada.”

“Not if I see you first.”

I don’t trust Ricky.

Day One 1:14 p.m.

“Hi Dad, you just missed mom and this creepy faceless guy who looked like a surfer.” It was Nicole, my oldest kid. “She said she had to go to work all night in the middle of the desert in Nevada. Oh, and she looked really buff.”

“That’s nice, dear, where’s your brother and sister.”

“Eric’s playing with Amanda---”


“-Mom did something to her and now she’s all black; but if you twist her arms just right, she’s like an etch-a-sketch. Dad, what does Mom do in the desert all night in Nevada?”

“Now dear, you know your mom had a degree in child psychology.”


“So she does some sort of work that is only legal in Nevada and involves a lot of kissing.”


“She’s a molecular manufacturer.”

“Right, Dad. Are you in denial?”

“That’s my sister’s line Nicole. Oh, hey, look at the time, I need to meet my headhunter or take Amanda in for an MRI or something.”

Day One 3:04 p.m.

“Eric, Mom won’t be able to come to your soccer game today.”

“That’s okay. Do you know why my .mp3 player doesn’t work? It worked fine before Mom kissed it.”

“Here, let me look at it - I used to do this kind of thing at MediaTronics - oh, look something’s been gnawing on the microprocessor.”

“Okay - I’ll talk to Mom about doing some vacuuming.”

Day One 5:47 p.m.

“Hey Dad, Mom called to say she’ll be coming home for dinner after all. She said she’d bring home Japanese circuits and something fleshy that dissolves quickly.”

“That’s great Nicole, how’s Amanda?”

“She really cries a lot when we shake her up to do a new drawing.”

“Okay, I’m going to take her in for an MRI. Any other calls?”

“You’re sister called to say you’re in denial and is flying up. Also MediaTronics wants you to work as a consultant in Nevada. They said their having problems with algor--”

“Al Gore? The original terminal man? No, no, that was Rising Sun - Crichton relied on him too much in that book on Japanese Industrial Policy. Besides, he’s as irrelevant as a velociraptor.”

“No, they’re having problems with an algorithm you wrote.”

“Well there’s plenty of diapers for the baby - I’ll go to Nevada after your mom drives the car off a cliff.”

Day One 5:48 p.m.


Day One 5:49 p.m.

“Okay, now I can go to Nevada.”

“Dad, I didn’t get to tell you about the ghost who vacuumed my room.”
“This is supposed to be a brief parody, Eric, we don’t have time for that.”

“You don’t love me.”

“Do you want me to kiss you?”

“Bye Dad.”

Day Two 5:29 a.m.

“Look at that swarm - I’ve never seen anything like it…”

“Hell, that ain’t nothing, that’s just the PR guys. Wait until you see the lawyers show up in the next iteration. Get your stuff in here, it’s time to meet the expendable personnel.”

“I’m David Brooks - I’m even more scared than the rabbit that gets eaten.”

“And I’m Rosie Castro - see my big breasts.”

“Umm, it was nice knowing the both of you.”

“I’m Charley Davenport I burp, fart, and hum a lot. I’m pretty annoying.”

“You’re fat and sloppy. I thought you were Dennis Nedry?”

“That was another book - here I’m a good guy, but I still get eaten.”

“Where’s the field biologist who’s quiet and underappreciated? The one who can build bombs?

“I’m Mae Chang - we worked together before - I’ve been Theresa Asakuma, Dr. Karen Ross --”

“Let’s get a move on people, we’ve got a lot to do before this day’s up…”

“Hi Ricky, you’re looking buff.”

“Let’s go on a tour Jack, we don’t have much time before the rabbit gets eaten.”

Day Two 7:02 a.m.

“Okay Jack, here’s where I disclose the vehicle for getting us all in the desert with them, so pay attention. We have a contract from the Pentagon, which is the worst form of evil on the face of the earth--”

“I thought corporations were. Like the one that funded Dr. Jonas Miller in Twister. I thought we like government funding”

“Yeah, corporations and venture capitalists are evil. Government funding is usually okay, but the Pentagon is always the worst - it trumps everything. That’s why we had Jonas Miller driving his weather trucks painted in Army green, so you’d know they were bad. Really bad. Army Bad. Non-defense research is always good, unless funded by venture capitalists, they expect results-”

“Dr. Venkman--”

“I’m Ricky and quit interrupting me - this is going on too long already. Look, the Pentagon wanted us to develop a bunch of little camera-like receptors - sort of like the rods and cones in the back of your eye -- to go spy on enemy forces and send back pictures. We developed these molecule-sized particles -nanoparticles - that do just that, only they were too light and tended to blow away. So we had to figure out a way to make them more stable. We loaded them up with jet engines, radio, memory, sound machines, and color changing ability. They were still as wobbly as the first George Bush so the Pentagon decided to cancel the contract. The company was going to go under and we just couldn’t get decent help. Then Charley left the back window open and they all got away.”


“Let’s go up here - I have to show you where they got out, so you’ll know about the sprinkler system.”

“Is it red? Red triggers my epilepsy, you know?”

“No, that was the Andromeda Strain - here you have to go up this ladder--”

“I’m afraid of heights”

“Of course. You can take the elevator this time.” We got on the lift and he continued. “The other problem with these things is that they reproduce like Starbucks outlets. They’re solar powered, so they thrive in the desert.”

“Well, why don’t you just go out at night and round them up with a bunch of blow-dryers?”

“We thought of that, but there are two problems. First, we don’t have enough extension cords. Second, they’re so small we can’t ever find them.”

“Why don’t you paint them with glow-in-the-dark-stuff?”

“We don’t have any - but we do have a lot of radioactive stuff we could use.”

Day Two 10:21 a.m.

“Hey, how did that time marker get there - I was still talking?”

Just then, Charley belched heavily behind us. “Oh, geez, here you are. The rabbit’s died--”

“Is someone pregnant?”

“No, it was the nanoparticles – they killed the rabbit. Mae went out without you and dissected it. Now it’s time for you to go to the shed with Charley, Rosie, Mae and David.”

Day Two 10:41 a.m.

Boy, it was hot out – I’d hate to end up stuck in a car with vinyl seats and the windows rolled up on a day like this. At least the wind was blowing – no swarms of nanoparticles to chase us around. “Okay, let’s go find that radioactive stuff.”

“Jack, you’re supposed to use a scientific name – not stuff – otherwise people start thinking about plot and dialogue and forget about the gadgets.”

“I found the stuff” belched Charley, “let me put it in these Windex bottles.”

“Jack I’m really scared” stammered David Brooks “can we go back inside the complex?”

“Yeah Jack, hasn’t the wind died down enough for us to be threatened yet?”

“Not yet – besides Mae hasn’t found the explosives we’ll need later.”

Day Two 3:10: p.m.

It took awhile – several hours in fact, for the wind to die down so we could be threatened by the swarm of nanoparticles. The whole time I had to put up with David’s whining, Rosie’s Shakespeare and Charley’s bodily noises. Finally, we got the word from the complex that the wind had died down and the flock of raptors had returned. I mean particles, yeah, particles – big clouds of particles.

“Okay, here’s my plan” I explained. “We’ll have Charley take the lead and we’ll all move in formation – head straight for the swarm and then burp and blow them out of the way.”

“I can’t do it Jack, I used up all my gas in the past few hours – I can’t – ” but before he could finish David Brooks broke and ran. He looked just like that rabbit. Just as we thought he was going to make it, the particles all lay down on the ground and made a line 1/10,000 of an inch thick. David tripped and fell – he was snatched up and was carried him off to the Wicked Witch by the flying monkeys.

Next was Rosie – they didn’t like her Shakespeare. Charley, Mae and I all ran for the cars. We baked, Charley was in a different car from Mae and I and the critters found their way in – he sprayed ‘em with Windex. The wind came back; we went inside; Julia came back; Mae discovered a phage ate the bacteria that powered the particles. It smelled like poopy diapers. Mae and I drank some – Charley discovered that Julia, Ricky and some of the others were hosts for the pod people. Julia kissed Charley and he died. Mae and I blew up the nest of the particles but the more civilized particles inside had taken over Ricky and Julia and were eating them alive. So much for looking buff.

I climbed the tower and we sprayed poopy water all over everyone and they all screamed: “I’m melting, melting” and dissolved into brown sugar.

Day Seven 11:57 p.m.

Yeah, all that happened in the last seven days. Mae and I were the only survivors. I came home and made the kids drink the poopy water and everyone threw up, except the baby, but she didn’t work as an etch-a-sketch anymore. I lost all my stock options not to mention Julia’s. Oh, I guess I lost Julia as well. But I got these really cool yellow placemats and, thanks to Nanotechnology, they’re stain-resistant.

But next time, we might not be so lucky.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Quickies. I just finished reading Prey -- I loved it -- couldn't put it down -- will make a great movie -- just don't think about the holes and fluff.

I'm officially a geezer now. My turn signal is broken and stuck on.

I took the day off and enjoyed the snow -- I'd guess we got about 6 inches.

Great column about how the old guys used to take care of a Warren Sapp.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Power Rankings. My Raiders lead the pack at number 3. Well, that's the way I read this chart -- and I think it's somewhat more accurate. Basically, the ordinal numbers on the left reflect the position of each team, but the "Cu" (or cumulative average) reflects a team's true standing. If you look at the first four teams here, they range from 2.75 to 3.5 -- or rounding, there is a four-way tie for number three. This is appropriate for this year, I think.
No. Team Cu. Hi Lo
1 Raiders 2.75 1 6
2 Eagles 2.88 1 9
3 Bucs 3.13 1 5
4 Falcons 3.5 1 6
5 Packers 4.75 3 8
6 49ers 7.88 3 11
7 Saints 8 4 10
8 Chargers 8.75 3 17
9 Colts 8.88 6 12
10 Broncos 9.63 4 13
11 Dolphins 10.38 7 16
12 Steelers 10.88 7 13
13 Patriots 12.13 9 15
14 Jets 14 6 17
15 Titans 14.13 11 16
16 Chiefs 15.38 13 17
17 Bills 16.75 14 20
18 Ravens 18.25 17 19
19 Giants 19.5 17 21
20 Browns 19.63 18 21
21 Rams 20.5 18 23
22 Redskins 23.13 20 26
23 Jaguars 23.38 21 27
24 Cowboys 23.5 20 26
25__ Seahawks___ 24.63___ 23___ 25___
26 Vikings 26 20 30
27 Bears 26.75 25 28
28 Panthers 27 24 30
29 Cardinals 29.75 27 32
30 Lions 29.88 28 31
31 Texans 30.25 29 32
32 Bengals 31.5 29 32

Sources: ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, War Room, CBS, Sagarin (USA Today),
and the AP.
I'm still here -- I've just been quiet lately. Yesterday, my wife and I had another funeral. I guess this is the hardest part of turning 40, having the parents of our peers passing away. That sounds self-centered -- I don't mean it to be. I ache for those friends and their families and try to help out.

Yesterday was the mother of a good friend of ours. I was very honored to be asked to be a pall bearer. It's very hard to lose your mother... This is the third mother of three very close ladies of a small group we've participated in to have passed away in the past three years. All by cancer. A co-worker of mine told me his mother died 12 years ago and there's not a day that goes by that he doesn't think of her.

Anyway, I'll put up the NFL power rankings in a little bit and be back in a day or two. It's time for me to take a break from blithering and be still.

Monday, December 02, 2002

Shades. The WaPo writes of the emerging anti-war effort which runs the spectrum from crimson to tomato: "It's a campaign of all different kinds of groups, from the National Council of Churches to the International Socialists organization"

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Happy New Year! Advent begins today -- and a new liturgical year.