Sunday, August 30

#35 - nutrition boost

While walking with a shopping cart in your local grocery store during some off-hour time period, you notice some movement at the end of one of the aisles. Walking over to investigate, you see three whimsically dressed elves trying to get your attention.

You are understandably started by this, but after backing up a bit, you sense that the elves pose no threat. On the contrary, they look as friendly as can be.

The elves tell you that they would like to offer you a gesture of goodwill, as they have been doing to any other customers who have happened to pass in the last hour or so. You are asked to pick a food item. Whatever you choose will from this point forward have the nutritional value of raw broccoli (a serving of your chosen food would contain the vitamins, minerals, and calories found in a serving of broccoli).

The fine print...

This change in nutritional value will apply only to yourself.

Your selection should be a food in its final prepared form (cake) rather than an basic ingredient that would not be consumed on its own (flour). However, something like chocolate chips (that can stand alone as a food item) would work.

Whatever you choose will still fill you in the same way it does today, though overeating it would make you feel like you ate a lot of broccoli.

It should be noted that others may take notice of an increased intake of the chosen food item, leaving you to come up with some sort of explanation.

Broccoli as you know it will be left unaffected.

After hearing the elves explain things, and having your questions answered (resulting in the information listed above), you decide to take them up on their offer. You also figure it would be a good idea to avoid seeming rude, not sure how the elves would take a polite refusal. What food do you ask them to boost?

Sunday, August 23

#34 - self help

Your neighborhood is home to an eccentric inventor, with whom you have struck up a recent acquaintance. The inventor will occasionally mention some current projects and you have been extended an invitation to view the latest, the "backwards telegraph" in which messages can be sent backwards through time.

You are somewhat skeptical, but think the whole thing harmless at worst. The day of your visit arrives and you head over to your neighbor's house. You ring the doorbell and a half-minute later are hastily greeted and rushed downstairs into the basement workshop. There is a lot of flashing and whirring.

The inventor explains that there was a malfunction during the initial testing of the device. It is operational, but will likely remain so for only a minute or two longer, at which point it may be impossible to even repair (the inventor thinks the malfunction is inherent to the gadget's design). You are invited to use the device if you wish, and you may never have the chance again.

In short, the telegraph machine is set up to send a telegram to a past version of the user. You see from the machine's settings that this message will be sent to your 10-year-old self. You have time to put together one or two sentences worth of advice or information. The telegram will show up in the mailbox you used when you were 10. You have no idea how this works, but there really isn't time for an in-depth Q&A session.

The inventor does warn you, stating hurriedly that any large scale changes that your advice might effect (things like stock investments, for example) will manifest themselves once you have awaken the next morning. Depending on what you say in the telegram, you may awake tomorrow morning wealthy, handicapped, or in another country. The possibilities are endless and difficult to predict, so caution is advised. Also, if not explicitly noted, your younger self will have no way of knowing who sent the message.

What message, if any, do you send via telegram to your 10-year-old self?

Monday, August 17

#33 - fictional dinner companion

Though it has been some time since it first captured the public imagination, one afternoon you find yourself daydreaming about virtual reality. You are curious as to the technology's current status, figuring that significant strides must have been made since its polygonal beginnings. This assumption leads to you enter a virtual reality-themed contest when you happen upon a mail-in form in a monthly periodical.

The description of the contest is very vague and as the weeks pass you forget about it altogether. That is until one day when you are notified by e-mail that you are the winner.

Your prize is described as follows. It seems that a small start up company has teamed with a consortium of authors and literary scholars to develop a cutting edge example of immersion technology. Their software will allow the user to have dinner with a literary character of their choice, and you are to be the first to have the chance to test the program. The company hopes to eventually allow users to interact with multiple characters (who would also interact with each other), but these algorithms are understandably much more complex. For the time being, they are working within the framework of a single dinner companion.

The company's technology is such that the situation will to you seem entirely real. The food, the conversation, everything. It will seem as though you are dining with an actual human being (your selection is somewhat limited in that the designers have asked that you choose a person rather than some other anthropomorphic creature). The character will be able to learn and adapt during the exchange, but will otherwise act in ways fully consistent with how he or she was originally written. You have only to select the character from any work of fiction, and if applicable, provide a specific point in the character's development that the designers will draw from in their preparations. The entire experience will last around two hours.

With whom do you choose to dine?

Sunday, August 9

#32 - name change

For months you have been pestered on your cellphone by telemarketers. The calls have become so frequent that they are even bothersome when you ignore all unknown phone numbers. And though at first the conversations carried some modicum of politeness and common courtesy, those on the other line have become increasingly belligerent as of late (when you happen to unwittingly take the call). You often feel strangely shaken after hanging up.

This is happening to nobody else you know, and when you decide to investigate further you learn of the purported existence of a mysterious telemarketing call list. The list includes roughly 0.01% of the United States population and is shrouded in secrecy. Though you cannot find concrete evidence that the list exists, those who claim it does say that there is no way to have your name removed. There are plentiful conspiracy theories that attempt to explain why the list was created (many think it is simply a social experiment), but everything you hear and read leads you to believe that your name is on this list and that you will need to take some action to stop being hounded.

The nagging calls have persisted even after two changes of phone number, so you finally conclude that your only option is to change your name. You plan to select a new first and last name and figure that you will try to start going by that name even amongst friends and family, to minimize confusion between what others call you and your legal name (shown on mail, identification, and any legal documents). What do you choose as your new name?

Sunday, August 2

#31 - partial immunity

One night, you are roused from your slumber by an angelic visit. The angel tells you not to be afraid, that you are being granted a rare (if puzzling) gift.

The angel states that you are to be given immunity from a single type of death (of your choosing). You have simply to specify one way you do not wish to die, and you are certain to not perish in that way. The major stipulation is that your selection must be a particular method of death, not blanket types of bodily failures. For example, "gunshot wound" and "stabbing" would be separate choices, you could not use an exceedingly vague phrase like "blood loss" (that would protect you from both). Also, though you will enjoy some measure of safety, you will not be 100% invincible. You could still be hurt by different activities, just not to the point of death. If you selected "stabbing" and were at some point stabbed, you could expect a full recovery, though it might take some time.

The angel announces that you will be visited again in one week's time so that you can give your response. Pondering this the next day, the whole experience strikes you as very fantastic. However, you figure you have nothing to lose in this situation. What do you choose?