Saturday, October 15, 2005
Note: The following is a transcript of a chat session during the early days of the internet.
cmd> LOGON ID BBS#TX-1409
msg>LINKAGE IN PROGRESS
cmd> BROADCAST  Anybody out there to hear me out? 
cmd> BROADCAST So, no response, eh. Okay, is there anybody out there who wants to know the reason why the all the lights went out in (Massachussets-delete) Massachusetts? 
msg>FL-4145: No, why?
cmd>BROADCAST  So there you are guys. Sorry, you're all wrong. Listen to this, the thing about the lightning or aliens in the dailies? That's all crap, you know, the power outage was caused by the MAGNETO.
msg>FL-4145: MAGNETO? What is that?
msg>CN-5731: Heavy stuff, Kiddo.
cmd>SEND CN5731:  Real heavy, man, so listen.
msg>FL-4145:  Go on.
cmd>BROADCAST  So, you want my story eh. All right, I'll give you time to prepare your printers and make a hardcopy if you wish. 
cmd>BROADCAST I am looking for my friend, in fact, the only friend I had. His name is Venchito Callaghan but everybody calls him Venchito, maybe because his last name is difficult to pronounce or perhaps his first name sounds cute. Anyway, Venchito had this machine which he calls MAGNETO. A small gadget, I would say, with a footprint of only two by two by two feet. He was very proud to call me that momentous night for a demonstration. But you see, something went wrong when he turned on the power switch and I had no choice but to make my move, to save the world from imminent disaster. That scene is still vivid in my mind. That was the night when the lights all went out in Massachusetts. 
msg>CN-5731: Venchito - what a name!
msg>NY-6412: You're a hero?
msg>FL-4145: Was that last week?
cmd>BROADCAST  No questions, please, let me finish. 
msg>FL-4145: I've heard about the Yuletide blackout, go on.
msg>CN-5731: Venchito - really weird a name!
msg>NY-6412: Give us the crap, Dude.
cmd>AUTO BROADCAST Venchito became my buddy the moment I met him in grade school. He was what you can call a wall to depend on, especially during examinations. He was a perennial topnotcher in all our subjects and there never was a time that he left me to my own devices. As I said, he was my wall. A lot of people call him nerd but I think they're wrong. You see, a nerd is somebody who thinks only of what he's doing and doesn't care for the world. Venchito is exactly the opposite. Aside from being a wall, he's also a bridge. He listens to everything I say and comes up with an advice or suggestion. If not for Venchito, I may have been down the drain. He was the one who pushed me off the wall to be in this computer thing. You know, I was a music freak then, the heavy metal type, did composing, arranging, sound mixing, etc. and I also indulged, with regularity, in physical fitness and body-building. I almost failed to finish high school because of those activities. As Venchito said to me, I have an over-developed body but (undeveloped-delete) underdeveloped mind. I hate that! After graduating from high school, I lingered with the 'jammers' for a while to hone my musical skills, that included marijuana and drugs. But I kept in constant touch with my best friend by regularly dropping by at his lab, especially during nights when I was 'high' on drugs. You see, Venchito was a wizard when it comes to numbers and I honestly thought he would be a good mathematician. But when his parents died in a plane crash, Venchito was totally devastated and he became a hermit, clammed in his shell. Although his pension from the insurance was enough to see him through, Venchito discontinued his studies and closeted himself in the basement, which he converted into a lab, day and night in the company of his books and experimentations.
There came a point when I got sick and tired with music and I realized that my body was spent and my mind became numb. My only refuge was Venchito and his wonderful ideas. It occurred to me that he was the only one who cared, so I followed his advice and enrolled in a computer course to try out networking.I got hooked in telecommunications and before I knew it, I landed a job with Generics International for a telecommunicator position. They assigned me in Texas and I seldom saw Venchito then although we get connected sometimes, you know, he has a computer-link at home and he knew my number and NetCode. Before Halloween last year, I paid Venchito a long visit and I stayed with him for a week where we had a good time discussing his scientific projects. You know, I always have the ear for Venchito because I was his only friend, that goes for me, too.
(SAPCE-delete) SPACE LINE 
He was very excited to explain the MAGNETO device that he was inventing that time. It works like an amplifier of the sound system. But mind you, its main function was to attract, or simply magnetize, things that you desire. Not clear? It wasn't clear to me either. Anyway, Venchito said that objects or any matter (for that matter-delete) is composed of molecules and each material, say wood, has a precise arrangement different from a steel chair. He mentioned something like DNA of persons. Well, the lingo was really confusing me then.For simplicity, you can identify the molecule arrangement of a (material-delete) matter. This MAGNETO device is an amplified magnet which can attract a particular material depending on the molecule arrangement. It has two dials, one for VOLUME and one for TONE.
As I gathered, the Volume Dial adjusts the power of attraction applied. The Tone Dial selects the type of material to be attracted. The monitor, which Venchito calls SURFACOR, looked like a (transluscent-delete) translucent videocam lens. This Surfacor was covered by a steel mesh, I don't know why. For a sample demonstration, he adjusted the dials and turned on the power switch, surprising me when my shirt button clung to the mesh of the Surfacor. It was as if somebody pulled it from my shirt forcefully. By the way, it was electric-powered but it also contained some sort of a reactor which can perpetuate power until you turn it off. Cool? Yeah, Man, you only need electricity at power-up but once the MAGNETO starts working, electricity is not needed anymore, just like a car and its battery. Venchito said that he was still in the fine-tuning stage for he needed to identify the DNAs, that's what he calls the molecule arrangement, of all matter categories, from plastics to metal. Besides, he wanted to enhance the Surfacor to include a focus adjustment. So that you can pick up, say a selected apple in a basketful. He enumerated an endless list of benefits that mankind can derive from the MAGNETO. The only one I remember is the painless extraction of teeth. But really, there were hundreds if not thousands. And you know what? He wanted me to witness the initial test run. I was sort of excited when I got back home.
Sorry, whoever you are, I am in AUTO BROADCAST mode and you cannot interrupt. I know my story is incredible but please, read on before you conclude, okay?
It was on a wintry December night when Venchito linked into my computer. The message on the monitor showed an invitation, a formal one, to witness his final test run of the MAGNETO. How can I turn down a dear friend? So, I took an emergency leave from my job at Generics International and headed for Massachusetts. Venchito was beaming with pride when he welcomed me in the front door, a very extraordinary thing for him because I suspected that he never leaves his lab anymore.
It was mid-afternoon and I was surprised to find hot tea on the table, complete with crackers and a pack of my favorite Marlboro cigarettes. We spent hours and hours in reminiscing the past, our boyhood, our (adolecence-delete) adolescence, even the things we did during Christmases. I wonder, has he gone nuts? But he was perfectly sane when we went down to his lab after a light meal of TV dinners. The lab was spic and span, so unusual, immaculately clean with no tools nor paper lying on the floor. I began to suspect something fishy. The MAGNETO looked elegant with a coat of green paint. It was newly-painted, I suppose, for I could still smell the strong odor of paint thinner. Venchito positioned himself in the front side and motioned for me to come nearer. Before turning on the power lever, Venchito explained a little something that seemed a fairy tale to me. He had adjusted the Surfacor to focus to a particular rock in the moon, yes, that's right. Venchito wanted to get a rock from the moon via his MAGNETO device!
I almost got dizzy in amazement but before I could mount a protest he elaborated. He said that he had identified the DNA of the moonrock from the analysis report of Apollo 11. He's smart, I told you. What a headline it would be to present such a bounty to the local Science Board. The MAGNETO will surely cause another revolution of some kind in the field of space travel and I sort of consented, thinking that it was worth the gamble.
The Volume dial was on the maximum and I was kind of scared, maybe because I did imagine the power load that it will require and the distance is incalculable, would be catastrophic. But before I could think of a good way to start an argument to stall the testing, Venchito was already pushing up the power lever of the MAGNETO. However, it dawned on me that the device doesn't really need too much power because of the reactor and that idea pacified me.
Several seconds passed but nothing happened, I was using a high-powered telescope to monitor the progress of the chosen rock. Suddenly, I heard Venchito cursing, the power lever seemed to be stuck. He didn't know whether it was working or not. He got a mallet and gently hit the power lever to the down position.
After a few poundings, I heard a (crank-delete) clank and saw the power lever loosen, in straight parlance - broken! We looked at each other and grinned. I went back to adjust the telescope. Suddenly, I heard another curse. The Tone volume that sets the selection of matter was detached, probably by his pounding.
By his looks, Venchito was both embarrassed and furious, his face was red and the tiny beads of sweat trickled down his brow. That was the last thing I saw for suddenly, I could not see a thing. It was dark, pitch black everywhere, not a single glow of light around. THE LIGHTS ALL WENT OUT IN MASSACHUSETTS.
There was (chaotic-delete) chaos in the room, Venchito was shouting and I was screaming. I suspected it was the MAGNETO that caused it, since the Volume dial was in the maximum, excessive power consumption drained all the electricity in the neighborhood. Venchito may have made a mistake in his computations and I gave a sigh with a feeling that my postulating-delete) postulation was correct in the first place.
But my fears immediately crept up when Venchito ceased yelling. In a strained voice, he officially declared that the Tone dial was probably set to the DNA of light and since the Volume was in the maximum, the MAGNETO sucked in all the light. Can you beat that? In an instant, my fears went to the backseat and humor took over with my uncontrolled laughter. I told Venchito about my Uncle Al, but you see, it was only a joke. I related that Uncle Al was a great acrobat, so great that he can walk on light. Venchito got interested and he asked me if my uncle was a scientist. I said yes but he doesn't do it anymore. When he asked why, I gave the punchline. Venchito laughed aloud, momentarily forgetting the problem, when I said that Uncle Al met an accident during one of his capers. A friend trained a powerful flashlight to the moon and dared Uncle Al to walk on the light into the moon. Well, my uncle obliged and he started walking by the flashlight beam. Up in the sky, his friend turned off the light and Uncle Al fell down with broken bones and everything. After the guffaws, Venchito shifted back to his serious tone and tried to explain to me what was happening - the MAGNETO absorbed all the light in the room. To further convince me, he asked me to use the phone. So, I literally crawled my way up the stairs and groped for the phone set.I was scared as hell when the city operator couldn't discern what happened. There was electric power, airconditioners were working, radios were broadcasting, no TV though. I went back to the basement, half-convinced and trembling in panic.
Venchito, for the very first time in my life, asked for my advice on what should be done with the situation. The question hit me like a ton of bricks falling from a building, straight down on my head. I knew it was getting to be very serious.
I said, wait! I'm almost finished with my story. You cannot interrupt me in any way because I am in the AUTO BROADCAST mode, okay? Just relax and read on.
As a full believer now, I suggested that we use pliers to turn off the switch because the power lever was already broken. Venchito searched for his pliers in the tool box, locating it without much effort. But I found out that it was impossible to budge the power lever for there was no trace of the steel contraption anymore. It was like a tooth pulled out from its socket. We sat side by side against the wall, seeing nothing but darkness, hearing nothing but our own breathing. Agitated by the incredulous situation we are in, I crawled to the MAGNETO and tried to turn the Volume dial. At least, if it was really true that it sucked in all the lights, then lessening the volume will release some of it. But nothing happened. I learned later that the Volume dial was automatically disabled when the power was on to prevent accidents. With brazen irony, that preventive measure reminded me of my joke about Uncle Al's moon travel. Venchito even cited it to me. Wow, how could I convince Venchito that there's really no Uncle Al and that it was only a joke?Seeing no alternative, I suggested that we just destroy the MAGNETO to make things go back to normal. But Venchito insisted against it. As the usual alibi of scientists, he had no blueprint yet although he planned to make one after the test. But how can you make a blueprint without the lights? Silly question. Definitely the power would run out. But I was jolted when Venchito mentioned something about the reactor, saying that the reactor can run the MAGNETO for a lifetime. Furthermore, the MAGNETO may have the capacity to absorb sunlight!
That statement stirred my imagination. We could not survive in a dark world, animals will die, plants will die, everything will die. I didn't know why the only word that I could think of was DIE. My hands were trembling, my knees shaking, I could almost hear the loud pounding of my heartbeat, I sure was scared, no, terrified, yes, that's the word, terrified.I heard Venchito whimpering like a child, probably thinking the same thing as what's on my mind, and I noticed my wet cheeks, it was a mixture of sweat and tears. When my mind said "Hold on folks, it's panic time," my psyche gave in and I crawled to the direction of the tool box and grabbed something, which turned out to be a wrench. Crawling back, the MAGNETO blocked my way. I stood up and started hitting the MAGNETO with all my might, relentlessly until I could hear the splitting of the case, until I lost breath, until my body was drained of all energy, until the lights went back on!
Venchito was aghast at seeing the broken MAGNETO, with (undiscernable-delete) undiscernible parts scattered in all directions. Like a child with a broken toy, he sat on the floor and started grieving. Amidst his wailing, I left the basement, went to my room, got my bag and left the house. I had no idea how long I was walking when I regained my composure.The cab that I called from a phone booth did not take long to bring me back to Venchito's house. With the aid of the breaking morn, I noticed the door in ajar. I hurriedly got inside to discover that he had gone out of the house.
Well, I waited for Venchito. In fact, I stayed for a week in his house, waiting for him to come back until the time I got summons from my company. But he didn't. Mind you, when I came back. So, he must probably be in hiding somewhere in Massachusetts, due to embarrassment, hatred or even fear. I really don't know, I just kept on waiting.find him and apologize for my misdeed. I really had no intention of destroying his device, I was just scared to my wits at that time. I didn't mean to hurt him. He was my only friend and he will always remain one to me. If anybody out there knows a person named Venchito Callaghan, please connect to TX-1409 and you will get a reward.
Okay, okay. Just a moment. 
msg>FL-4145:  Is that true.. or just hogwash?
cmd>SEND FL-4145:  Very true. If you didn't interrupt, I could have made my story clearer to bonkerheads like you.
msg>FL-4145: I did not interrupt, I was really interested in your story and I think I believe it...but mind you, I'm not a bonkerhead and don't call me one, please.
cmd>BROADCAST  If it wasn't FL-4145, then who was that scheming devil interrupting me?
msg>NC-8735: Sorry about that. I just wanted to relay a message which I received a moment ago. It says they're having a power failure in California right now. Please acknowledge.
cmd>BROADCAST Earthquake? 
msg>NV-7491: Correction, this is NV-7491 from the Nevada Grid, my brother in California is on the phone right now. There is no power outage there. Machines are still operating, airconditioners are working, only the lights are out. My brother said...the lights just all went out.