We had some really cool results at work today.

Well, cool looking. I kind of hesitate to call them “results”, since in theory we’re doing a scientific experiment here but I have no idea what our hypothesis is, much less what kind of data we’re getting here.

But it looked neat.

Today when the arcing streams hit our crystalline sample, they sort of… refracted. Which you don’t really expect to happen with an arc. It was like each beam split into four separate arcs which jumped away at right angles for about half a meter before they bent in mid-air. They kept making right turns until they’d traced squares in the air.

But then I moved to the side and saw that they were cubes. And then I moved to the side a bit more and saw that they were… cubed again. I walked a slow semi-circle around the experiment, not taking my eyes off it for more than was necessary to avoid falling off the platforms. Every step revealed new facets, another layer of cubic recursion.

“It’s like a tesseract,” I said out loud.

“But not,” Dr. Li whispered, uncomfortably close behind me. “Of course you would spot that. If a cube is a square in three dimensions and a tesseract is a square in four dimensions, then this time/space manifold represents a square in n-dimensions.”

I nodded, because it made a surprising amount of sense. And anyway, nothing that he said could be stranger than what I was seeing. In the space inside each square shape, the image of the lab around the apparatus was repeated, though distorted in a way I can’t quite explain or even call to mind.

I became aware that the machine had been running for longer than any previous test. Usually it shut itself down amidst a shower of sparks, or someone threw a switch as soon as the beams started arcing out of control or the sample of the day exploded or melted down. This wasn’t out of control and our current sample had endured every test without any permanent change.

“Shut it down, people!” Dr. Cranor called out, and I watched as the graceful geometric transformation of space collapsed in on itself.

“We are close, so close,” she announced, as much to herself as the team, I think.

“Closer than she could possibly imagine,” Dr. Li said, still uncomfortably close to me.

This job would be great if I could just fire my boss. But I guess that’s pretty normal.

I just found out about this: an official Federated Para-Sciences Twitter account, run by the clowns at Automation Services. Those guys are hilarious. I don’t know how they get away with it, but I’m glad they do.

Apparently I really do have a fan at the top. The account was created the same morning I suggested it. They even linked back to my blog. I’m going to see if I can figure out how to run a feed from the Twitter on here, as a reciprocal gesture.

I had put some leftovers in my fridge last night and today when I got back from work they were gone, although my milk jug has been dutifully topped up back to the same level it’s been at every day, the level it was at when I moved. Call me the absent-minded PhD, but I hadn’t really caught that before.

I’m not sure if they’re replacing it with fresh milk each time. I’ve been drinking a lot of milk since I’m going to end up with a dirty milk glass on my counter one way or another, and the realization that I’ve been drinking from the same half-empty jug of milk since I moved was kind of sickening. I poured the jug out and disposed of it outside my quarters. Of course they’ll just give me a new half-empty jug of milk, but at least I’ll know it’s a new one. I think I’ll probably avoid it, anyway.

This whole situation is ridiculous. Hopefully I can resolve it soon.

She said, “You know, Foley, you just made Grade 4, but I believe you know as much about phase shifts as some of my Grade 6s.”

I thought she was right, though it would have sounded kind of arrogant to say so. It wouldn’t have been, but it would have sounded that way. So I just said “Thanks.”

“I think Dr. Li has noticed, too,” she said.

“I think Dr. Li notices a lot of things,” I said.

It seemed like a safe reply. I’ve never had a clear impression about the nature of their working relationship. They rarely speak to each other directly, which doesn’t seem very cordial, but Dr. Cranor is kind of distant with everyone. By the same token, it’s not like they ever fight.

“Dr. Li is a very… driven man,” she said, pausing before driven like she was searching for a neutral enough word. “He knows how to get results. What he doesn’t always know is when to stop. I would caution you to be careful around him.”

So now both of my bosses have warned me against the other one, which is weird, but it’s nice to know the main boss thinks well of me. Actually, both of them seem to.

Today, Dr. Li was waiting for me outside the lab, as I was getting off the train. He grabbed me by the sleeve and pulled me aside, even though no one else was there since I’m the only person traveling from the Grade 4 laboratory to this work site.

“Listen very carefully to what I’m about to say,” he said. “Don’t respond. Don’t give me an answer yet. Just listen and think about it. Alright?”

I asked him what he was talking about, and he said, “I’m telling you what I’m talking about, you damned fool: n-dimensional phase shifts outside of n-dimensions.”

He said “outside of” like he’d just discovered the principles of the internal combustion engine or cold fusion or something, something huge and pivotal and revelatory.

I didn’t say anything to that, because what the hell do you say to that? He went on, and I can’t promise that these are his exact words because he was so wild and rambling, but it went something like:

“Yes! You see? So simple and obvious once you’ve heard it, and yet so profound, so revolutionary. Such a small change, and yet it changes everything. It sounds impossible, but once you understand how it may be achieved, all things become possible. Dr. Cranor is a fool. A fool with promise, but no vision. But say nothing! When the time comes, Harper, you will be faced with a decision. Would you be shackled by n-dimensions forever?”

Then he walked into the lab. I gave it about ten seconds before I followed him. As soon as I walked in the door, he said something like, “Ah, Harper. Good to see that you are now here. I trust your journey and arrival were both uneventful.”

Whatever, dude.

…based on Dr. Cranor’s high spirits Friday. She was using the same sample—which kind of looks like an amber colored quartz spire—for every test, and all we were doing was bombarding it with progressively more intense science-rays from the phase array emitters.

At first there was no effect, but then there was very little effect. The crystal would glow white-hot while it was being bombarded and then be luminous for a period of a few seconds afterwards.

Dr. Cranor seemed satisfied, but Dr. Li has been looking more and more worried. Today he came up to me and told me that it was time we put our cards on the table. I told him I didn’t have any cards and he said, “You don’t yet trust me. I wouldn’t either, in your position. Of course you understand the dilemma this presents me with.”

Of course I didn’t.

Eva told me she had made some progress on my file corruption problem. She’d been working on the theory that a lot of systems will just recreate a fresh copy of a file they can’t find, or how a well-built database will repopulate a field with the expected values if it suddenly can’t find anything.

Like how if you screw up the config file for a game, you can sometimes delete it and the next time you run the game the file will be back with the default values. Or if you have a corrupted save file—which might be the best comparison in this case—you might need to delete it and go back to a previous back-up in order to avoid a crash.

This all sounds good in theory, but the key phrase is “well-built”. Federated Para-Sciences is the kind of place that might have spent decades researching time travel rather than updating their system architecture for Y2K.

I told Eva my concerns and she repeated the fact that she’s absolutely not offering to help me hack the PIP system and fix my file problem, but she’s going to run a few test cases using dummy employee files just to help refine her understanding.

I think. Dr. Cranor cut our morning battery of tests short and had us do one of the samples over again like three times, then announced that we were “in business”. Then she gave us the rest of the day off and told us to come back on Monday, ready to do some “real heavy lifting”.

I think—I hope—that she means we’re going to be putting more power through the sample, and not actually lifting heavy things, because I’m getting pretty used to this skilled labor thing. An upside of a week of reconfiguring is that we haven’t been producing as many technicolor waste barrels for me to tote off.

Today, he came up to me and told me that while my loyalty to Dr. Cranor is admirable, I should remember to whom I owe my career. That’s what he said: to whom.

As usual, I had no idea what he meant. I asked Collette if she had any idea, and she didn’t know, either. A little while later, though, she flagged me down because she remembered that before I was hired, Dr. Cranor had contantly been complaining about how no one would authorize the money for hiring more research associates.

Then one day last year, Dr. Li joined the project, and Buddy came with him. About six months  later, I showed up. Which means I would have been hired about the same time he came aboard. So maybe he brought his funding with him when two similar projects were combined? It’s a bit much for him to expect me to owe him a life debt over this, or something.

It’s a little thing, but I’m noticing more and more how the people who write the scripts for the P.A. system in the trains have a pretty offbeat sense of humor. I guess the fact that it’s a synthesized voice that will say whatever they want to must be kind of freeing, but I’m surprised at the kind of stuff they get away with slipping in. It’s not exactly “kill all humans, have a nice day”, but it’s stuff like that. They really try to give the disembodied voice a sense of personality. It’s usually pretty subtle and easy to miss, which is why I can’t think of any examples off the top of my head.

I’d love to see what someone like that would do with a corporate Twitter account. Can the Executive Direct of Social Media Communication make that happen?