Chapter One

 In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.
Andy Warhol

“The plane! I see it!”

 Okay, it is a private jet. A Learjet 60XR, brand spanking shiny new, and it is definitely on the approach to the Atlanta airport. Los Angeles airport, LAX was booked, so they had to hold the event in Atlanta, Georgia this time. Hundreds of adoring fans and hangers-on crowded the tarmac as the Learjet approached and the engines gradually powered down. The former US Navy pilot made no effort to taxi towards the airport but merely turned around in a circuitous route towards the mob gathered at the end of the runway.

The marching band filed out, four abreast, playing the Beatles song, “Yellow Submarine”, and spelling out a cursive capital letter “G” for all to see. Flashbulbs popped randomly in the crowd as the most eager onlookers traded in the last of their patience for anticipation and exuberance. Airport security personnel moved the portable stairs near the hatch as it slowly opened. A quiet hush swept over the crowd as they held their collective breath in anticipation. A uniformed member of the official welcoming committee fell over backwards from having locked his knees back, and was quietly carried off and replaced with another of his colleagues and came to attention. He locked his knees back, too.

 A man in a very conservative business suit and full wrap-around sunglasses stepped out of the aircraft, looked around, and descended the stairs. He mumbled something into his collar, and two more similarly attired but more muscular men repeated the first man’s entrance. The first bodyguard mumbled something else into his collar.

Finally, the guest-of-honor apparent looked out from the doorway at the top of the stairs. She looked left, paused, then looked right. Carefully, she stepped out onto the platform and the crowd could stand it no longer!

Balloons and doves were released, flash bulbs went off in a gratuitous storm of light, and everyone cheered for all they were worth. Confetti flew everywhere as the lady descended the stairs. She blew kisses and waved in all directions just as a super-sized white limousine pulled up near the Learjet. The replacement member of the welcoming committee on the end fell over backward as she got into the limo. The throng of admiring fans burst forth and chased the car all the way to the gate, screaming and singing loudly and badly all the way. 

The car stopped. The crowd caught up, and someone opened the door. Gwen got out of the car, and gushed, “Okay!! Who wants to go next?”

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Chapter Two

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. T.S. Eliot

Gwen walks over to a red Jeep Wrangler, throws her Hello Kitty overnight bag in the back, and climbs in the open passenger door. “Konnichi wa, Gwen! Good turn out this time I see!” said Puzzle Wunkin, who had been waiting to pick her up at the gate. “Yes, best one yet! I passed the break-even point for the year already so I actually cleared a little bit this time,” Gwen gushed.

“I am still trying to understand this business model, Gwen.”

“What is so hard to understand? Everyone wants to be famous, don’t they?” asked Gwen.

“I don’t.”

“But many people do, otherwise there would never have been a Hannah Montana, or a So You Think You Can Sing show on television, right?”

“It’s Dance, not Sing, but what kind of industry makes one percent of its participants millionaires while the other ninety-nine percent work in restaurants so they do not starve?” protested Puzzle.

The Jeep pulls out into traffic, as the conversation continues. Gwen Abernathy is a twenty-first century entrepreneur. Unlike the old robber-barons of the twentieth century, Gwen makes her money by taking advantage of logically valid but unlikely business schemes. She knows that Puzzle understands her businesses as well as she does, but this conversation has become a kind of tradition and neither of them would hear of skipping this step.

“…but it is worse than sales!” said Puzzle, “it’s like, what do you do for a living? I buy lottery tickets, and then I buy lottery tickets with the winnings! See? N.G.H. ! Not Going to Happen!”

“Somebody wins the lottery once in a while or nobody would buy the tickets, right?” asked Gwen.

“The lottery is a tax for people who are bad at mathematics. What they are really selling is hope.” Puzzle explained, knowing that being right was not going to matter.

“You unplug your computer when there is a storm, right?” asked Gwen.

Puzzle smells a trap, but he goes anyway, “Of course!”

“And what would you say the chances are that lightning will strike your computer?” Gwen asks, innocently.

“About the same as winning the big prize on a lottery give or take. A bit more likely than finding life on Mars, asking it for change for a Susan B Anthony dollar, and getting four nickels, three dimes, and two quarters back. It does not mean it could not happen, but the same dollar in a 401k would be better spent.”

“Invested,” Gwen corrected, “Hey, pull in to this 7-11, they might have a moon pie.”

“Sure, Gwen. I am ready for a root beer stop.”

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About HamsterLabs

HamsterLabs began around 1997 when I decided that I could probably make a little extra money on the side repairing broken computers or occasionally building one from parts. It used to be possible to build better than you can buy one of almost anything, even from a kit. You still can build some things better than you can buy them, but it is getting more difficult. When laser printers talked PostScript and cost five thousand dollars they were worth repairing, and I repaired many of them. It took me a while to realize that I was only ever paid for the time it took to do the repair, never for the value of the repair itself.

Writing computer software is one of the remaining crafts it may be said that you can still build better than you can buy. This depends conspicuously on whether you can write it at all or not. This is also one of the few vocations that allow the lone programmer to own the means of production, in this case a compiler or interpreter. If one has sufficient talent, time, and inclination one may be able to have a go at it.

Or were you looking for the other Hamster Labs: ?

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