Software Update 2.19

laura in wheelchair - 2018 - cropped
Eduardo Suré; Laura in Wheelchair, 2018; Watercolor

Laura opened her wheelchair’s drive management system and selected the customer service counter at her nearest MobilHuman store. The wheelchair’s automation transported her from her living room to her garage, loaded her into her car, and took her to a strip mall. After parking in a handicap space, the car door opened automatically and the chair conveyed her up the entrance ramp to the door. The chair then took her through the building to her destination.

The MobilHuman customer service department was minimalist, bright, and modern. The technology running everything was well hidden to avoid blemishes on the architect’s creation. A handsome young man in his early 20s greeted her with a smile.

“Good morning, Laura,” he said. “My name is Jason. How can MobilHuman enhance your personal transportation experience?”

“I would like a different wheelchair,” Laura replied.

Jason turned to the counter behind him and looked down at the display surface. “I see that you own the Stallion model with the Zippy 2.19 operating system,” Jason replied. “Which of the following best describes the component for which you need assistance: color, seat, wheels and tires, controls, propulsion, battery, applications, or would you like to hear more options?”

“The whole thing,” Laura replied. “I’d like a completely different wheelchair.”

“Sorry, I don’t understand,” Jason said. “Would you like me to repeat the components?”

“Please don’t,” Laura replied. “Look: the chair wanders off, so I want a replacement.”

“I see,” Jason replied. “Has the chair taken you to a wrong location?”

“No, it just leaves when I’m not in it,” Laura replied.

“I understand,” said Jason. “Please give me a moment to look over your service plan and the chair’s diagnostics.” He smiled at her before turning away to face the counter. He maniacally operated the countertop interface like a pianist reaching the climax of a dramatic piece of music. Laura watched him stop to read for a minute.

“Will you be able to replace my chair?” Laura asked losing patience.

Jason looked at her and smiled, “Well, Laura, there’s nothing wrong with the chair. It looks like…”

“But there is something wrong with the chair,” Laura interrupted. “It wanders off.”

“It looks like the chair’s performance is in accordance with Zippy 2.19’s terms of use,” Jason said.

“Listen to me, Jason. While I was at the gym last week, I got out of the chair to use a weight machine. When I was done with my first set, I looked over and my chair was gone. Gone, Jason. Do you know where it went? It was on the other side of the room with some stranger’s phone plugged into it!”

“Uh huh,” Jason replied.

“Three days ago, I went to a bathroom at the mall. I took a little longer than usual. I had a big steak dinner the night before and no roughage: don’t judge me. After I was off the chair for a few minutes, it unlocked the stall door and left the bathroom. It left me in the bathroom, Jason. And it left the stall door open!”

“Did it come back?” Jason asked.

“Well, yes – but where did my wheel chair go, Jason? I am disabled. I can’t walk. I don’t carry a grappling hook to close bathroom stall doors.”

“I apologize for the inconvenience,” Jason said.

Inconvenience?” Laura asked. “It wasn’t an inconvenience. It was cruelty.”

“You may need to adjust your settings, Laura,” Jason said.

“I don’t want to adjust my setting,” Laura replied. “I had to go to work earlier than usual this morning, and the chair wasn’t even in my house. I had to call in sick. I want a different chair.”

“Laura, I can help you change your settings,” Jason said. “They’re all within the boundaries of the terms of use. Would you like me to guide you through your options?”

“What are these terms of use you keep referring to?” Laura asked. “I don’t remember agreeing to anything.”

“You couldn’t update the chair’s software without entering your digital signature which acknowledged that you read and understood the terms of use,” Jason said. “There was a helpful summary in a bulleted list just above the button you clicked to accept the terms.”

“What did the summary say?” Laura asked.

“I can help you with that,” Jason replied. He went to the counter and tapped through the menus until he found the text. “It says that the user agrees to allow MobilHuman and third party affiliates to use the chair while it is idle as a voice and data switch, a vehicle for deliveries weighing less than 75 pounds, as a recharging station, and other services detailed in the agreement above.”

“What the unsalted crackers does that mean?” asked Laura.

“I appreciate your patience while I assist you, Laura. Would you like to change your settings to increase your chairs availability of service to you?” asked Jason.

“No, I do not. I want a different chair,” Laura answered. “And I don’t want it to have any software updates. This chair was actually fine until the software update.”

“I’m sorry, Laura, but MobilHuman only sells chairs with automation,” Jason said.

“Can I go back to Zippy 2.18?” Laura asked.

“I’m sorry, but Zippy 2.19 had critical software patches to eliminate known security vulnerabilities.”

“You know what, Jason,” Laura said, “Just forget it. Thanks for your help. You’re doing a great job.”

“You’re welcome, Laura,” Jason sincerely said.

Laura left MobilHuman in the same chair she went to exchange. When she got home; she took her old manually operated wheelchair out of storage, cleaned it up, and got into it. She parked her automated chair out of the way and chained it to a column in her house so it could not leave.

At first, Laura was happy to use her old wheelchair. Then, she noted that the seat could not be adjusted when it became uncomfortable. She also found it highly inconvenient that she had to reach for her phone to control devices that had all been connected to her automated chair. It was also difficult and time consuming to get in and out of her car. A couple of days later, Laura went back to using her MobilHuman chair.



Seven Days

mosquito 1 - 2017 - widescreen
Eduardo Suré; Mosquito 1, 2017; Watercolor
When Brian was a kid, he placed in a bucket the most interesting looking rocks he could find in his back yard. His back yard was only an eighth of an acre, but his parents landscaped it elaborately and he found beautiful rocks among the mulch. As he searched, he felt a drop of water on his face. He looked up at the sky and then heard his mother shout from the doorway that he must go inside their house. The boy placed his bucket on the ground and ran through the door only seconds before a heavy rain fell. He looked out of a window and watched his bucket fill with water. He then went to his room, found something else to do, and forgot about his bucket and collection of rocks.

When the rain stopped, a mosquito found Brian’s bucket of water. It landed on the surface of the standing water and laid eggs. The mosquito’s eggs floated on the surface of the water for two days. After those two days, the eggs hatched.

One larva among the larvae was extraordinary. Its cognitive abilities were humanlike. If Brian had the same qualities, he would have been called a prodigy. The larva did not know it was extraordinary. No one told it. The larva spent its time like the other larva: swimming in the bucket, feeding, shedding its skin, and visiting the surface to take a breath of air through its siphon tube.

The larva changed into a pupa during its fourth molt. Its time being a pupa was a time of rest. It was a time of reflection. It was a time for the pupa very unlike its larval days when it hungered constantly for microorganisms. It did not continuously crave and consume organic matter. It had time to think. As the pupa flipped around the water, it noticed other pupae. It saw the number of them. It noted they had everything in common. It wondered how, among so many, it could feel so alone.

Two days later, its pupal skin split. The mosquito stood on the surface of the water waiting to dry. Its body hardened. The mosquito saw its own legs. They meant to it greater access to the world. It saw a new world that was beyond the bucket of water. The mosquito felt its wings on its back. It wondered how life could be so wonderful to give him legs one minute and wings the next. When its wings dried, it flew. He could go where he wished: the deck, a flower, a leaf on a tree. It was more freedom than it ever believed it would have.

The mosquito was determined not to lead a solitary life only dedicated to meeting its own basic needs. It would use its intelligence to live a life of greater purpose. It would use its mobility to reach other mosquitos. It observed wasps and thought it would form social groups as they did. It would lead other mosquitos to less risky sources of protein than blood. It would teach them to lay eggs in locations offering higher survivability than puddles. This is the meaning the mosquito wanted for its life.

The mosquito observed a songbird flying in the backyard. This songbird, like other songbirds, was intelligent and had extraordinary vocal learning capabilities. The bird was able to name its children, and its children remembered their names their entire lives. It was a bird who ate mosquitos. It was a bird who may have eaten the mosquito if Brian had not been there. Brian, who left the bucket out where the mosquito was born and developed into an adult, clapped his hands once and killed it.


How to Sell Flies to a Frog

frog - 2017-04-23 - 4x6
Eduardo Suré; Frog, 2017; Watercolor

To sell flies to a frog, tell the frog it needs to catch flies to eat.

Next, remind the frog that it uses its eyeballs to push the flies down its throat.

Then, point out to the frog that pushing things with eyeballs is uncomfortable.

Finally, tell the frog to buy your drink of blended flies that it can enjoy through a straw.

The frog will agree.

How to Sell Air to an Alligator

Eduardo Suré; Alligator, 2017; Watercolor
Eduardo Suré; Alligator, 2017; Watercolor

To sell air to an alligator, tell the alligator it needs to wait underwater to ambush prey.

The alligator will agree.

Next, remind the alligator that it can hold its breath.

The alligator will agree.

Then, point out to the alligator that the most it can hold its breath is two hours.

The alligator will agree.

Finally, suggest that the alligator buy your air so it can hold its breath for as long as it wants.

The alligator will agree.


A Tyrannosaurus Never Makes Friends

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Eduardo Suré; Tyrannosaurus Skeleton, 2017; Watercolor
James, the tyrannosaurus rex, opened his eyes and was surprised by how bright it was outside. The sky was as blue as the best summer day he could remember. The trees were as healthy as they were during the wet season, and they reached up with their branches to touch the blue coolness of the sky. The last thing he remembered was running after his prey. The agile dinosaur ran an out route: it ran straight toward the edge of a cliff and then cut at a 90-degree angle to the right to get away. James could not change direction as fast as his prey and ran off the cliff. He thought he must have fallen a short distance, bumped his head, and gotten knocked out. However, the reality of what happened would surprise him later.

James raised himself easily from the ground and looked around. It struck him again how beautiful everything around him was. The only imperfection on the landscape was the skeleton of a triceratops. It lay in the tall grass completely intact less than fifty yards from where he stood. As he looked at the bones, James remembered his opinion that it was always a good time for a snack. He went to the triceratops skeleton and bit at a rib bone. He bit down hard and pulled, but the rib bone did not break or come off.

“What do you think you are doing?” asked the triceratops. Its skull looked back at James. James still had the triceratops’ rib in his mouth. After an awkward pause, he opened his mouth and let it go.

“I’m sorry,” said James. “I thought you were dead.” The triceratops laughed.

“I was napping,” said the triceratops. It got up and faced James. “Now leave me alone before I put my horns in you.” James was confused by what he saw and heard and remained still where he stood. The triceratops made a low guttural sound and walked away.

As James stood puzzled, he noticed some movement at the edge of the woods. He snapped out of his daze and ran toward it. There was a bulky creature walking along the edge of the woods. It had a long tail and a duck like bill. It was also a skeleton. As James got closer, he guessed that the creature was an Edmontosaurus. The Edmontosaurus noticed James and ran. James chased it. The Edmontosaurus was fast, but James was used to hunting these creatures. He knew it would tire after he chased it for a while. He was right. Eventually, it slowed down and James caught up.

“I don’t want to play,” said the Edmontosaurus. James tried to bite him. “Look, man – one of you actually got me, so I don’t really like this game.” Again, James was confused. The Edmontosaurus saw an opportunity to get away while James’ brain was working and ran into the woods.

As James watched it disappear into the woods, he felt a tap on his hind leg. “I’d like to play,” said a Tenontosaurus skeleton. James chomped down on the dinosaur, threw him up above his head, and caught him in his mouth.

“What’s he doing to Walter?” said another Tenontosaurus skeleton who stood near James and his victim.

“I don’t know, Arthur,” said a third Tenontosaurus skeleton.

“It looks like he’s trying to eat him, Fred,” said Arthur.

“Hey, buddy,” Fred said to James, “are you trying to eat Walter?” James looked around at the faces of the dinosaurs around him.

“I don’t think he knows he’s dead,” Arthur said to Fred.

“Hey, buddy; would you please put Walter back on the ground?” Fred asked James. James threw Walter up in the air and tried to swallow him again.

“Why don’t you just tell him he’s dead,” Arthur said to Fred.

“Hey, buddy; you can’t eat Walter,” Fred said to James. “He’s already dead. You’re dead too.” James looked at Arthur and Fred as he continued to hold Walter in his mouth.

“Ask him if he’s even hungry,” Arthur said to Fred.

“Hey, buddy; are you hungry?” Fred asked James. James did not feel hungry or thirsty. He looked at the skeletons of the dinosaurs talking to him. With Walter in his mouth, he looked down at his feet because they were the only part of himself he could see. His feet were skeletons too. He opened his mouth and dropped Walter on the ground.

“What am I supposed to do now?” James asked aloud.

“Do whatever you want, buddy,” Fred said to James. “I don’t think we’re going to play with you.”

“I think his question is existential,” said Arthur.

“Do you mean philosophical?” asked Fred.

“I mean he doesn’t know what to do because everybody is dead and he’s not hungry,” said Arthur.

“I get it: James was a predator,” said Fred. “Hey, James; you don’t need to worry about dyeing anymore. You’re not going to die of thirst, or hunger, or because it’s tool cold, or whatever.”

“Tell him nothing can kill him,” said Arthur.

“Nothing can kill you, James,” said Fred. “You’re going to need to live a different way now.”

“All he needs is love,” said Arthur.

“Well, no,” scoffed Fred. “There are other things. But you need to start with love, James. You need to figure out how to belong.”

“Let’s go and let him get his head together,” said Arthur. James watched the three Tenontosaurus skeletons run off. He had spent his entire life chasing and trying to kill everyone. He never had a friend when he was alive. He never found out how to get one.


The Flame’s Choice

Eduardo Sure; Flame, 2016; Photography
One night, a match was struck and a flame started. The flame had to decide what to do with itself. There were three choices before it.

Near the match, there were many things that would burn: paper, curtains, cloth, and many other things that weren’t meant to be burn. The flame knew that setting itself on these things would make it grow large and exciting. However, it would burn out or be put out quickly.

The flame saw second choice. It saw a candle. The flame knew that if it burned on the wick that it would burn constantly, but only slightly brightly, and be ignored.

The third choice for the flame was to allow a draft to blow it out right on the match. If it could be big and bright and exciting, only to be put out; or constant, but unremarkable – then why not just go out now? Why not just get it over with?

The matchstick observed the flame’s doubt and had a suggestion. The matchstick suggested that the flame burn on the candle until it gets bored, and then jump on the curtains or newspaper or anything else that will burn big and bright and exciting.

The flame considered the suggestion. Then, it replied to the matchstick, “If I burn things in the room around me; I will be bright, exciting, and of no use to anyone. If I burn on the wick of the old candle, it may be brief – but I can be useful for as long as someone needs me. And if I’m careful and don’t burn hurriedly, someone else can use that same old candle again after I am gone.”

So, the flame was set on a candle that night allowing a little boy and girl to read each other a bedtime story.

The End