The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:02 am Friday, June 14, 2019

“Evolution”

By Marie Craig

Many opinions exist about evolution. Scientists can give proof that it is a valid process. Some deeply religious people nix the idea. But most folks just don’t care, and they spend their time with important things like TV and social media.

I wasn’t real sure, myself, how I felt. But I had an experience that gave me great insight. When we lived in Columbia, S.C., our sons were young. We had a seasonal pass to the wonderful Riverbanks Zoo. They gave members a special behind the scenes tour one evening. We four went and got to see all sorts of interesting things. A tour of the infirmary was a special treat. The tour guide explained all the procedures that animals needed. We also enjoyed a lecture by a staff member about all the challenges of keeping wild animals happy and secure.

But the thing that impressed me most was when we entered the food preparation room. We saw all the different items that were for the wide range of animals. The demonstration given was preparing bananas for monkeys. The bananas were not peeled but cut in inch long slices. We then walked with the tour guide to give the food to the monkeys. These were little monkeys, about a foot high. They got real excited when they saw us and reminded me of a bunch of kindergarteners about to get their afternoon snack. I watched one in particular as he used his little nimble fingers to remove the peel and pop the fruit into his mouth. He instantly grimaced, shivered, and removed a banana string from his mouth and threw it down.

So that’s how I know that evolution is for real because that’s exactly what I do if I get a banana string in my mouth.

“Deep Family Roots”

By Gaye Hoots

Genealogy is a subject I have been interested in as a child long before I ever heard the word. As a child, I questioned my grandparents about their lives when they were young. Grandpa Hoots told me stories about raising four boys during the depression. He told me he was young when his mother died and talked about his siblings; some lived near enough to visit. When I was about nine years old, I went with my parents to Indiana. Two of grandpa’s sisters lived near the same town as two of grandma’s brothers. We visited all four families, and I still remember the details of that visit fondly.

Uncle Otis and Aunt Bertie lived in Winston-Salem until his retirement when they bought a farm and moved to Advance. Uncle Otis was grandpa’s youngest brother and was only four years old when their mother died. Aunt Deliah, an older sister, took him into her home and raised him. She had no children of her own and was one of the sisters living in Indiana. I never met Aunt Adeline and didn’t remember her. She was married to Marshal Joyner. We visited Marshall and his second wife until their deaths.

Aunt Molly, another of the older sisters, lived in Yadkin County. I remember her as a tiny woman with a commanding presence. Aunt Deliah also had a very strong personality. Aunt Ada lived in Clemmons beside Daddy’s brother, Allen. We had frequent visits with them. Grandpa’s sister, Nora, died when she was about twenty-five years old. I remember Grandpa saying that I resembled her. Recently I connected with her granddaughter, who is my age.

There was a third brother Thomas who had moved to another state and married. He died very young, leaving a widow. Our first ancestor was a German by the name of Jacob Huth. He changed his name to Hoots and settled in Yadkin County to raise his family. He served in the Revolutionary War and was given a land grant of six hundred acres.

I have the history on my other three grandparents, and each has an interesting story. Many of the traits possessed by my ancestors have been inherited by the younger generation. The knowledge of this history makes me appreciate them and our country greatly. Findagrave.com is also an excellent source if you are researching your family.

“It Came from Outer Space”

By Kevin F. Wishon

In the past, occasionally, when working on someone’s computer, an error would occur while loading an application or upgrading the system software. Of course, more often than not, I would get the question, “What happened?” Now, I know a few things about computers, but I’m not a computer engineer. However, to assuage the owner’s worry, I felt obligated to give them a logical reason as to what may have occurred. If I didn’t offer an explanation, then some owners would start down the path of wild assumptions. They would say, “It’s my bad luck,” or “I’ve been hacked,” and so on.

I would give them answers that made logical sense, such as, “The disk drive had a data read error, or corrupt data may have caused the system to malfunction.” Also, I might mention that electrical noise in the system from a defective or failing power supply could trigger all sorts of odd behavior. Heat is another issue. “Are the vents on this computer clear for thermal ventilation?” I took comfort in giving the computer owners this selection of possibilities. These reasons made sense in my mind and discouraged the idea that superstition was the root cause.

So, you could imagine my surprise when I recently learned that cosmic rays could be the cause of computer errors. Yes, I said cosmic rays. And no, this article has not shifted from non-fiction to fiction either. Recently, while listening to a science radio program, I learned that cosmic rays that hit our atmosphere, sometimes, pass on highly charged particles that could make it to the earth’s surface. If by chance, one of those particles passed through a computer system, there was the possibility it could cause an error in processing or bit flip. Bit flip is a term that describes a change in computer memory from an outside source. In the mid-90s, IBM was encountering strange behavior in some of the systems they sold. Upon the completion of studies, a paper was released explaining how cosmic rays affected IBM computer systems. Apparently, the higher the elevation the computer was located, the more likely it was to be affected.

Now the likelihood of a cosmic ray causing computer problems for you is low, but it still could happen, It has been attributed as a factor in a Belgium voting machine irregularity of the early 2000s, and run away car incidents before 2010. These situations gave me pause when I heard about them. Thankfully, since that time, computer systems have been engineered with memory refresh and other features, which default to safety stops or shutdown if a computer system is operating abnormally. Apparently, the reductions in the size of our electronic circuitry are partially to blame for the rise of our vulnerability.

Of course, this revelation just blew through the comfortably logical list of possibilities I once used. However, after a week, I began to realize that this was not much different from the occasional solar flare that hit the earth, usually causing satellite disruptions. The difference being, these cosmically charged particles have traveled much farther to reach our planet. So now, after a computer error occurs, and someone asks me what happened, I’ll have a curious addendum on my list of possibilities to tell them.