Books: An Abridged Existence (excerpt)

Chapter 16

Carl is sitting around, too lethargic to do anything. Sitting around makes him tired, and moving around just makes him even more tired. So while he sits around, he flips through the channels faster than the corporations can think of more garbage to give its own channel. He cycles through all 143 channels several times, often falling asleep while flipping. There is plenty on TV for Carl to watch, however, none of it is any good. By most standards even the best programming at this time in the afternoon is garbage at best.

Then he falls asleep for quite a while. When he wakens again, the sun has gone down and it is dark. He reflects on his years at college, and of a particular experimental class that he had taken just for fun. It was a combination of computer science, physics, astrology, and mathematics course pushed into one class. The interesting part was how they tried to make all of the subject appear related to each other. Unfortunately, the entire class was a complete failure and overall waste of time. Not only did they not have a text book, but the teacher insisted on not giving them notes. This was nearly impossible to do, since he talked very rapidly, and a very dull monotonous voice. Carl ended up dropping the course halfway through.

This gave Carl an idea for his next invention. He is not quite sure how to make it work, but he is confident that he will be able to build it within a few weeks, maybe even days if he is lucky. He decides to build a device that will be able to return a numerical answer to any question asked of it. The tricky part is getting it to give the correct numerical answer. However, the device he has in mind will only be able to accept yes and no questions, and questions that result in the answer being a number.

For example, if someone asks a yes or no question along the lines of will it rain, a one or a zero shall be given as the answer. A one theoretically means yes, and a zero theoretically means no. If someone asks what is five times five, then the machine should answer with twenty five. Or at least that is the idea he had in mind. Carl will also have to make sure that the device does not lie either. That potentially will make things rather difficult for someone trying to get a straight answer.

Carl begins looking around his shop for parts, and makes a list of things that he will eventually need in the short future to build his device. He decides to call the device Mark. He has quite a few spare parts just lying around in various heaps in his laboratory, and even more in bins located throughout the rest of his house. After he gathers and itemizes all of the parts that he thinks he will need and also has, be makes a list of all the parts he does not have but thinks that he will need. He decides to get these parts after the design process, just in case there are other parts become necessary that he does not initially think will be required.