Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #68

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #68

…If Matthew Brady had snapped a picture, the photograph would capture the very essence of the South…

Mathew Brady’s New York Studio

When the Love Dairy & Ice wagon finally pulls up in the yard of the Bavarian castle, they see John Ferrell on the front porch swing, cradling a child who is fast asleep, or was fast asleep before the resident Dachshund propels its little legs out from under the front porch, yapping all the way to greet the Quincy contingent. Ziggy and Frieda, clothed in gardening garb, come out from the back. From inside the house, Laura Bell appears, covered in the flour used for the Wiener schnitzel dinner she is preparing. It is a house favorite, honoring Maggie’s father presence. If Matthew Brady had snapped a picture, the photograph would capture the very essence of the South; five people that you would not normally associate with each other.

But as different as they appear to strangers, they have an easygoing look about them.

Pleased to see that Herb Love had found his way here, forgetting all about being seen with his baby, Ferrell hands her over to Frieda. After he introduces the Endlichoffer menagerie, the menagerie withdraws to the house, leaving the veranda for transactions and negotiating.

“Gentlemen, I was afraid you were not going to make it.”

          “You were afraid? We may still be at your house, if it were not for a polite exit,” states Love with man to man frankness.

          “She does have a way of commanding one’s attention,” a reticently beleaguered husband admits. “Tell me, what do you have for me that have piqued my curiosity so?”

Loyal Campbells-001

Herbert Love defers to Willy Campbell, who has a canister of Loyal Campbells in hand.

“Well, Mr. Ferrell, we was hopin’ you’d find these to your likin’.”

John Ferrell plucks a single Loyal from the container, drawing its five inch length across his nose, reaching its base and moistening it. He knows what to do with a cigar. Willy strikes a wooden match to begin a smoldering fire that will eventually consume it. After several critical puffs, he concludes, “Fine, fine blend I must say. Not expected from a cigar of this size.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #68


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Outer Space Tracings – WIF Space

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Scary Things

About Space

Image result for space gif

Since the dawn of man (and woman), humankind has gazed longingly at the flickering stars high above in search of meaning, guidance, and inspiration. A gradual progression in science and technology has taught us much about our faraway skies — namely, that it’s cold, dark, and tantalizingly mysterious up there. It’s also scarier than Hell.

Nonetheless, it’s hard not to daydream about the outer limits or simply laugh at Captain Kirk and that space lizard in the worst fight scene ever filmed. Although many elements of the final frontier remain elusive, recent discoveries have revealed an array of terrifying threats that will keep even the bravest star warriors hiding under the covers with the lights on at night.

10. Meteor Showers

Imagine cruising along in your Honda or Chevy GUV (Galactic Utility Vehicle) blasting sound waves on the ol’ satellite when suddenly out of nowhere — BLAMMO — you’re blindsided by a huge boulder. Not only is your insurance rate going to skyrocket, but the nearest space side assistance is billions of miles away. Bummer.

Although this scenario may seem like a sci-fi nightmare, a similar occurrence actually occurred on planet earth in 2013 after a meteorite exploded over the Ural mountains in Russia. By the time the dust settled, over 400 people had been injured, underscoring the disturbing reality that cascading debris can strike without warning.

Fortunately, most large falling objects burn up while traveling through the earth’s atmosphere. Space travelers in the future, however, will have to dodge a spate of other potential hazards, including meteors, comets, and asteroids.

9. Black Holes

Q: What traps light, warps time, and operates on a colossal scale but yet can’t be seen? A: Black Holes. True to its enigmatic label, black holes have been mythically confounding ever since Albert Einstein first introduced the notion with his general theory of relativity in 1916.

Recently, astronomers took the first image ever of a black hole via the Event Horizon Telescope, a network of eight linked telescopes around the world. Although many questions still remain unanswered, black holes are characterized by the way they affect nearby debris, stars, and galaxies — and typically form out of the death of a large star called a supernova (more on that that later). Unlike a planet or star, a black hole doesn’t have a surface but rather occupies a region where matter has collapsed on itself. The amount of concentrated mass is such that nothing can escape its gravitational pull — not even light — and certainly not an astronaut who makes a disastrous wrong turn while lost in space.

Black holes exist in many different sizes, and similar to tornadoes, they tend to move around at high speeds, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Even a small one in our Solar System would be catastrophic, tossing planets out of orbit and ripping the sun to shreds. Although intrepid explorers will be tempted to visit these dark voids, nothing so far has ever survived a trip to a black hole.

8. Solar Flares

Our sun is a glorious, awe-inspiring star that provides warmth, light and the necessary temperature for precious life to exist. It’s also steadily expanding —and will someday completely destroy earth, torching our beloved planet like a marshmallow that’s been left too long around a campfire. Fortunately, that won’t happen for billions of years, but in the meantime, solar flares are capable of inflicting tremendous damage with little or no warning.

solar flare is a violent eruption that occurs when stored energy on the sun is suddenly released. This produces another one of those ridiculous hotter-than-Hell numbers, releasing a flash of radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum.

Scientists classify solar flares according to their brightness and in relation to x-ray wavelengths. The largest of categories, X-class flares, are large, disruptive events that can severely damage satellites, wipe out power grids, and basically relegate all “smart” technology to stupid pieces of crap.

7. Eridanus Supervoid

First of all, stop your juvenile snickering. No, this isn’t slang for an epic bowel movement or anything of the sordid kind. The Eridanus Supervoid is believed to be a massive empty section located in the Eridanus Constellation just south of Orion. However, what makes this discovery so intriguing is that it’s not only the largest structure ever observed in the Universe, but it’s missing about 10,000 galaxies — or around 20 percent less matter than other regions. As a result, the oddity could possibly contain an “alternative reality” within this ominous patch of sky.

In 2004, cosmologists at University of Hawaii observed a span stretching 1.8 billion light-years across and located about 3 billion light-years away (1 light year = 5.88 trillion miles). They identified a large Cold Spot on the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), a map of the radiation left over from the Big Bang, providing a critical tool to study the origin and development of the Universe at cosmic timescales.

The startling revelation presented a perplexing conundrum: the enormity of the cold spot doesn’t align with our current understanding of how the Universe evolved. While it’s not uncommon to find a few small warm and cold patches on the CMB, cold patches of this magnitude are a head-scratching anomaly. According to one report, it’s “too big to exist.”

6. Fermi’s Paradox

In 1942, an Italian-American physicist named Enrico Fermi led an all-star team of scientists to build the world’s first nuclear reactor. This monumental effort was part of the Manhattan Project, a top-secret U.S. government operation that produced the atomic bomb. Afterward, Fermi shifted his attention and extraordinary acumen on solving another complex subject: why haven’t we detected any other alien civilization despite the billions upon billions of other Earth-type planets that most likely exist?

The theory, which came to be known as “Fermi’s Paradox,” posits how the high probability of extraterrestrial life is contradictory to the lack of fact-based, demonstrable evidence supporting it. Naturally, this school of thought discounts the myriad of claims made by people who have allegedly witnessed UFOs or experienced alien encounters — not to mention phenomenons such as Crop Circles and Cargo Cult Theory.

While it’s tough to argue with a genius of Fermi’s stature (especially with our own limited, reptilian brains), we’re left wondering if it’s more frightening that we’re all alone or that hostile life forms are waiting to devour us like a Great White Shark munching seal snacks. Either way, it’s best to keep that aforementioned light on at night.

5. HyperNova

Many subjects dealing with the cosmos involve an impossible-to-fathom number. A hypernova is one of them. In this instance, the astronomical figure relates to the excessive amount of heat and energy generated from an explosion. But first, let’s review what is known about these fascinating wonders.

Novas are relatively small eruptions that occur in double star systems. When a white dwarf’s gravity pulls material away from a companion star, gas piles up and eventually becomes dense enough to ignite in a spark of nuclear fusion. Next, the Supernova, usually marks the death of a large star and the formation of a neutron star. The heat of a supernova can reach 120 million degrees — a temperature five times that of a nuclear blast.

Finally, a hypernova is an ultra-energetic supernova marking the birth of black holes and the release of intense gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), the most energetic form of light. As the mightiest of the Nova family, hypernovae are 5 to 50 times more energetic than a supernova. Additionally, for sake of completion, “Champagne Supernova“ is a song by the mega pop band Oasis, featuring lyrics of which scientists have yet to decipher the meaning…

4. We’re really, really, really small…

Although mother earth appears to be a gigantic sphere of bottomless oceans and endless roads, we’re relatively puny compared to other planets. How small? In terms of relative scale, Jupiter is 2.5 times larger than all the rest of the planets in the Solar System combined. But if you really want to feel minuscule, look no further than our sun — that big fiery 10,000-degree inferno 93 million miles away.

The Sun’s diameter is 109 times bigger than the rock we call home and is so large that 1,300,000 planet Earths could fit inside of it. While the luminous ball appears to be the largest star in the sky, that’s only because it’s the closest. The #1 star in the universe is the gargantuan UY Scuti, a Red Supergiant with a radius around 1,700 times larger than our sun.

But don’t despair, Earthlings. At least now you know how a ladybug feels, clinging to a thin blade of grass.

3. Rogue Planets

These wandering vagabonds (also known as nomad planets, unbound planets, orphan planets, starless planets, etc.) are objects with enough mass to qualify as planets but orbit a galactic center directly. The Universe, despite its vast expanse, consists of a jam-packed arena of activity that often resembles a well-choreographed dance. But a rogue planet disrupts this flow, stumbling recklessly to the beat of its own rhythmless hum while bumping into other cosmic bodies like a drunken ballerina.

Scientists believe rogue planets may have have been ejected from a previous planetary system or have never been gravitationally bound to another body such as a star. Furthermore, our galaxy (aka the Milky Way) alone may have billions of them.

Interestingly, some rogue planets feature a molten core, which combined with an insulated, cold exterior, could possess subterranean oceans that support life. A team of petrologists from Rice University recently theorized that a rogue planet the size of Mars possibly collided with earth 4.4 billion years ago, and could very well have planted the seeds of life while creating enough debris that later developed into our moon.

2. Space Junk

Ever since the start of the space race, man-made objects have been piling up in what has been politely termed “orbital debris.” But that’s being a little too kind. Let’s just call it what it really is: space junk. A wide range of discarded litter now includes thousands of metal fragments, cameras, spent rocket boosters, and even a complete 1958 U.S. satellite (Vanguard-1) that’s currently the oldest artificial hunk of metal still in orbit.

This overflowing galactic garbage, not unlike our polluted oceans, is rapidly nearing a critical juncture; the consequences could be detrimental for both astronauts and those below running for cover from the falling rubbish. There are currently over 1,700  satellites in operation, yet represents less than 10 percent of debris large enough to track from the ground. An obscene amount of smaller objects could also cause serious damage — and sadly, the number will only to continue to climb.

In just one single action from 2007, China destroyed a decommissioned weather satellite during one of its weapons tests, smashing the object into over 150,000 pieces. However, any attempts to clean up spiraling mess could present even more problems in terms of national security (surveillance equipment) and/or result in conflicts over territorial rights. In short, we’re doomed.

1. Zombie Stars

Just when you think we couldn’t be inundated any more movies, TV shows, and books about bloodsuckers and the undead, the science community has joined the fray with “Zombie Stars.”  Really? What’s next brainiacs, a Frankenplanet? Never mind.

As one might guess, a zombie star is something that won’t die. Ever. The monstrous explosion from a supernova typically glows brightly for a while before the dying star is obliterated into space dust. That is unless, for reasons that have yet to be determined, the star manages to avoid death. Adding to the horror show, the zombie star can become a vampire star by sucking fuel and energy from a nearby star to revive itself.

The most famous zombie (for scientists, anyway) is known as iPTF14hls. The star first appeared in 1954 and was thought to have died over a half century ago — but a discovery in 2014 revealed it’s still alive with no plans of retiring. According to the renowned astronomer, Iair Arcavi, a NASA Einstein Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and the Las Cumbres Observatory, the star’s inexplicable behavior is the “the biggest puzzle I’ve encountered.”

Yikes. If he’s stumped, folks, all we can do is lock the doors to the space station and hope for the best.


Outer Space Tracings –

WIF Space

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #67

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #67

We lost our maid Olla to the Endlichoffers across the lake, which is where John went not too long ago… spends a lot of time there for some reason…

A huge English sheepdog bounds up Hillside’s lane, one of two such path, the other being a German version, branching off of San Luis Road. Just how that animal can distinguish friend sheepdogfrom foe through shocks of long gray and white hair covering his deep-set eyes, is a mystery. The Ferrell family dog may have been expecting to “see” his master. Upon further review, he adds an earnest bark to his bushy wagging tail.

The ruckus, interrupts another lazy afternoon, brings the lady of the house out of the large front doors. She greets the visitors. “Good day, Herbert… and Willy Campbell… so nice to see you.”

“It has been too long indeed,” Love admits.

“And you have a young little helper with you… Al____?” she tries to recall.

“Alfrey… Missus. Ferrell ma’am.” Willy fills in the blanks, eager to speak his peace. “We never properly thanked you fo everything you fo alls you did for us.”

“We were prepared to take you in, you know. If it weren’t for Jefferson Smythwick’s unfortunate end,” she points to a smaller version of her own home, the servant quarters, “that may have been your home. In fact, we have an opening. We lost our maid to the neighbors across the lake, which is where John went not too long ago… spends a lot of time there, for some reason. I imagine the old couple take the place of his mother and father, died within a month of each other a while back, hasn’t been quite right since.”

right churchLove politely takes in her rambling in his usually patient manner, before asking, “Would you kindly point us in the direction of John Ferrell?”

“Oh pardon me, yes.” Martha struggles to explain the amount of time he spends there, mostly to herself. It doesn’t help matters that she is not included in these many visits. She assumes it is because Olla is uncomfortable with the hastiness of her departure, the change of employment.

Endlichoffer Chalet-001San Luis Lake-001“You came in from the south, right, well then go back in the direction you came, around the second bay to the southeast side of the lake. The Endlichoffer house has a distinct Alpine flavor. It reminds me of the class trip my college French club took to Switzerland. It looks like it belongs on Lake Lucerne, not San Luis.”

“I believe we spied it ourselves.” Herbert tries to keep him and Willy from permanently bended ears. “We must be going, Martha. We need to be back to Quincy before dark.”

“If you find yourself without recourse, feel free to return here. I would enjoy having the children meet Mr. Campbell. They have been listening to the exciting stories of that liberation night very often. Oh, and we have adopted young Miss Abigail. Thankfully she has none of her late father’s inclination of keeping slaves. She is a fine young lady.”

The sun hurtles toward the western horizon, like a fiery ball downhill.

“Thank you for your kindness, Mrs. Ferrell, the fresh lemonade really hit the spot. Perhaps we will see you later.” Love sees that as a likely outcome, regretting that there is no way of letting those in Quincy know of their daylight dilemma.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Suspicious-001

Episode #67


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #58

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #58

…  Old friends and neighbors do not ask too many questions…

Without capturing the one last deep breath that would sustain her for a couple of minutes, Princess Olla submerges herself, without intentions of surviving.

John Ferrell sees the black shoes on the bench and correctly guesses the rest. He searches for bubbles and dives in the water at that spot. Several inspired strokes in his pitch-black underwater probe, he touches saturated fabric. He prays it is Laura’s dress, grabbing what feels like the collar and lurching for the surface of the lake. It takes more strength than he has, but what he has not, the rest is provided. Two bodies break above water, both gasping for air.

San Luis Lake-001   The rescuer knows how critical every minute is, if his unborn child is to survive. With a display of superhuman strength, John Ferrell carries an unconscious Olla the distance back to the stable, then deciding not to stop there, ferrying her to the house of his neighbor, a retired physician around the south side of San Luis Lake.

Old friends and neighbors do not ask too many questions, like, ‘How often do you save drowning people at this hour?’ or ‘How did you know this woman is with child?’ Instinctive, Doctor Siegfried Endlichoffer resurrects his black bag to treat a patient he is already familiar with. He has spent many an afternoon picking Princess Olla’s brain about what she knows about life on the Apalachee Indian Reservation, as he spoke to the Ferrells’ maidservant and gained her confidence. As it turns out, it is he who provided Olla with the skills of the written word, as rudimentary as it is, even though his native German tongue would be easier for him to relate.

Princess Olla Early Years

He wields his stethoscope skillfully, timing the hearts of both mother and child, like he had never put it down. Prone and scared, his patient stares down her clothes less body, watching the cold steel disk move from her chest down to her burgeoning belly. She is not used to being naked, whether it be in the presence of the doctor or John Ferrell.

This modesty keeps the latter in another room and frustrated, nervously pondering all the numerous ramifications. Most of these scenarios fall on the side of social disaster. He cannot imagine how Laura Bell can return to Hillside Estate, whether the baby survives or not.

After what seems to be an eternity, the crusty German emerges from his den, leaving Laura to don one of Frau Endlichoffer’s house dresses, with plenty of whom to grow.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Ziggy-001

Episode #58


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 52

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #52

…Herbert Love completes the final five feet in free fall; Mr. Behind, meet Mr. Ground…

About mid-lane leading to Sumter South, he hears the whimpering of a female cry.

“Can I help you down, Darlin’?” Love carefully urges her. Shock has gripped the girl, who is unable to respond.Looking-up-a-tree

Realizing there is no other way to reach her, he becomes a middle-aged tree climber. It is rather late in life to begin this practice (of animal or nimble youth), but he manages several good footholds, enough height for his long arms to gain him vertical parity with a young woman he believes to be Jefferson Smythwick’s teen aged daughter, Abigail. He remembered seeing her at the Cotillion of this summer past.

“Miss Smythwick? Honey, are you chilly? I have a blanket for you in my wagon. Would you please come with me?”

It is not the warmest of Florida mornings, even at this midday. Chiffon is not a fabric that stands up to a crisp breeze and she acknowledges her state of discomfort with momentary eye contact. Love seizes the moment and reaches for her trembling delicate hand, which prompts a descent more easily done. boy-falling

After two backward moves, which should only have been one, her rescuer completes the final five feet in free fall. Mr. Behind, meet Mr. Ground. The rear landing is more comical than serious, though it manages to rouse the girl to a conscious stream.

“Are you all right, kind sir?!” She scrambles down to lend a hand.

“Yes I am, but I must say that that last step is a doozy.” The pair chuckles at the notion. As the once dignified Quincian brushes the terra firma from his pants, reality resets itself in the countenance of the young Smythwick, as she pans the horizon for what is left of her home. She starts walking in the general direction of where she last saw her father, drawn behind the next largest structure, the stable and groomsmen barn. It had not been totally consumed by fire, perhaps because of the presence of freshly harvested alfalfa. A large oak on the backside of the building used to suspend the rope swing of her childhood.

unthinkableHad he known what awaits them, around the next corner in this neo-war zone, he would certainly have sheltered this fragile spirit. On each side of the oak, a deadly collar has snagged Jefferson Smythwick and his hated overseer known only as Pigface.


Alpha Omega M.D.

A Slaver’s End

Episode #52


page 49

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #49

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #49

… The Ferrell Grocery truck has made a very special delivery…

Delivery Truck-001

Before that scenario can be played out, there is some unfinished business, where State Road 268 runs into the city of Quincy. A bright autumn sun emerged from the east, there to find the entire Gadsden County Anti-Slavery Society gathered in the town square, rejoicing in their success. 5 October will be red letter day for years and

years to come. It is somewhat of a strange celebration to the eye of an outsider, like hearing a joke’s punch without benefit of the set-up. Nonetheless, the payoff seems to be a fine one.

Oct 5 red letter-001

The Ferrell Grocery truck has made a very special delivery. In the cab of the paneled truck are driver John and passenger Jacob Haley, he of narrowly harrowing fame. Standing proudly on the rounded rickety fenders are the Flying Bleaker Brothers, never content with grounded positions and waving like conquering heroes of some Slovakian revolution. Peaking out the canvas back are the three Negro children who should be dead—tired that is, everyone in the strong arms of the blacksmith and thrilled at getting a first ride in motored vehicle. Martha Ferrell is in the back as well, tending to a weak Grandma Lettie Golden and fervently praying with Willy and Amanda for a promising future.

No one is more excited than Herbert and Phoebe Love.

“Good Lord Almighty, by your mercies and your power you have brought us success! Herb screams skyward. He rarely screams.

Jacob Haley opens his door and leaps into a Love embrace. “We did it, Herb, we did it!” he cries.

“Yes Jacob, but we heard you had some trouble at Little River?”

River gorge

The school teacher is puzzled. “How do you know this? Nobody has said one word of our predicament.”

The engineer of the midnight freight stopped at our station to report possible pedestrian contact on the trestle. We were sore afraid you all had been killed.”

Locomotive3

“He was going so fast I am surprised he noticed us and he certainly did not stop to find out if he had hit anything,” the nearest thing to a victim, laments.

“He apologized, explaining that he would never have made the Thunder Hill grade if he stops.” Love chuckles. “Hey, at least we did inspect the cowcatcher for fabric and blood. Finding neither, we sent the train on its way.”

“You should have checked the bottom of the train for sweat. I just thank my lucky stars they weren’t a chain or something hanging down.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Escape2

Episode #49


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #47

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #47

…Jacob Haley would have been pleased with the bright flashes and the racket, but he cannot see a thing face down between the rails…

Alive-001

Jacob Haley would have been pleased with the bright flashes and the racket, signs of the slave revolution he had himself worked endlessly to create. But he cannot see a thing face down between the rails, thanking his glorious God for divine deliverance from decapitating disaster.Locomotive      

“He lives! Sweet Mary, Mother of God. Jacob is alive!” the Bleakers cannot contain their cartwheeling joy.

Cheers and tears erupt together. Adversity makes for strong glue.

“What’s all the commotion?” asks the blacksmith, who has been toting Grandma Lettie for three miles now, unaware of the theatrical crossing of the Little River. “Did you beat the train?” What a loaded question that is. Almost, he is told.

Hugging and such stops with one more reason to rejoice,  Lettie Golden has made the crossing, alive no less. ‘But what of Jacques Francoise?’ they ask the smithy.

He heard the hounds out of Sumter and he is leading them a merry chase. Right now I believe he is headed downstream, maybe wetting a line for some trout he calls, “Big Bertha”.

Fort Sumter3-001“Oh and the refreshment lady at mile 3 probably made it to the house up the tracks before the dogs came out, says she’ll get the juicy story at the next meeting.”

A recovering Jacob Haley assesses their status while he listens out of the other ear. It is another mile and a half to State Road 268 and does not want a lucky guess by Jefferson Smythwick interfering with this covert coup. Freedom seems assured. Secrecy must follow.

“Poor Mrs. Ferrell is waiting at mile five, wondering in God’s name what happening. For all she knows, we aren’t going to show, seeing we are nearly an hour behind schedule. She is eager and the doubt will eat her alive.”

Bleaker Brothers-001“We will run ahead and give her the good news!” offer the ever energetic Bleakers, never more than a heartbeat apart.

“She will be thrilled with our triumphs!” Jacob guesses, forgetting that she had recruited husband John. His freight truck will transport the group and their family home will shelter the Campbell family until things settle down in Gadsden County.

“We’d better get going folks. An eastbound freight train is due near dawn and we need to finish up before light.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #47


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