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Father’s Day Advice for Time Travelers

Many fathers are a mystery. Father’s Day is often used by Time Travelers to go back in time, and learn more about their own fathers. Watching your dad nervously hold you as a baby, or harshly interrogate your prom date while you are upstairs teasing your feathered hair are are priceless moments that beg to be explored. It is also tempting to try to make little adjustments. Maybe you will even get him to say “I love you” this time around. That would be great! But maybe you won’t….

Here are some things you might want to keep in mind when you visit your dad:

Father’s Day is not for vengeance.

Great catharsis can be found in going back in time and yelling at your dad. Dr. Henrietta May has built a career around it. But keep in mind if you succeed in illuminating your father about just what a terrible job he has done before he has done it, he may not do such a terrible job at all. You could spawn a whole timeline with a much better dad and a you that travels back to the same branching point and wants to know why you’re yelling at dad.

Things may not be how you remember, or what you were told.

You may remember your dad as an overworked provider, only to travel back and find him in a phone booth at a Hooters, telling your mom he has to work late. Or you could sit in the stands behind him at your little league game while you play second base and find that between yelling “Atta Boy”, he is muttering words like like “disappointment” and “faggy”. You might find your dad in line for Star Trek II and be troubled to find the cheap-looking Vulcan girl he is with isn’t your mother… or that she is.

Also keep in mind the ‘Objects in Mirror’ effect. Your dad may not seem as tall, as funny, or even as frightening as you remember. That kind of disappointment sticks with you.

You might accidentally kill him.

Killing your dad is a terrible way to celebrate Father’s Day.

You might prepare for weeks to find your dad at Jeffrey’s Bay so you can surf with him in his prime, only to distract him when that big wave comes. You could simply give him a heart attack when we realizes you are from the future.

You won’t pop out of existence, though you will create a timeline in which you will never be. Your mom won’t be happy about that. Or worse, she will, and you’ll have to deal with a “Reverse Stewart” in which you realize things really would be better if you’d never been born.

Your kid might be trying to visit you.

While you pop back on Father’s Day to visit your dad on a Father’s Day long ago, one or more of your kids might be trying to visit you. Try to keep the ironic time travel to a minimum.




Dwelling on the Past is Not the Same as Dwelling in It

Stafford Brent’s time travel license has been suspended for 6 months while he is being treated for retronausea.

Stafford returned to Oxford more than a dozen times before we made him stop. Each trip made him a little sicker. Each trip brought his youth so near he could almost taste it.

His younger self  grew troubled by the lurking figures — men he thought might be identical triplet brothers. He thought they resembled his uncle. But if he had identical triplet uncles, surely someone would have mentioned it to him. In his present, the cricket season is wet and each splendid play he makes is accompanied by a cheers from three men that do not belong.

He spotted these men — these triplets — peering out from behind the trees surrounding the pitch, the corner of the field-house, or once, on top of the clock tower with binoculars. He’s seen three of them at once, on different corners of the field. Triplets. He can’t imagine there are more, but in fact there were five Stafford’s lurking about at one point, craving one more moment of the glory of his/their youth.

On a date with beautiful South American girl named Alicia, the young Stafford felt like he had been followed. Every happy moment is soured by these men who insist on watching him. These uncles of his are not nearly as clever as they think they are. He can’t enjoy his youth with is older self watching. The older Stafford has blundered into existence a whole new timeline in which his younger self can experience none of the older man’s joy. The very moments the older man keeps popping back to enjoy are ruined. This Stafford will never return to relive his youth, because his youth was spoiled by his own future creepiness leading him to be a better man.


Safety Not Guaranteed

It is hard for a Time Traveler not to look at time travel movies without some measure of amusement. If the film is a comedy, this is as it should be. Safety Not Guaranteed is a comedy and after seeing it, you may feel the urge to loop back and compare the film to what unfolded back in 1997. The movie is worth seeing. The reality isn’t. The reality involves a lot of sad letters and no time travel at all. Both are based on this classified ad:

The actual classified ad was merely a joke — or intended as one. John Silveira (who has not, according to our records, time-traveled) was filling space in Backwoods Home magazine. He describes why he wrote what he did, and the response to his ad, in a very clear and slightly heart-rending article. It is worth reading, though I would caution members of the union against trying this themselves for reasons I hope are obvious.

I can’t review the film, because to do so would invariably require me to comment on the specific accuracy of its time travel model (or whether it exists at all), and that would give too much away. However, I can suggest you see it since it is in the general interest of time travel and reflects well upon the union.

Keep Fred Rogers Safe

Do not bring footage of the June, 1971 Mr. Rogers incident out of timeline Q17. It traumatizes children and is considered an illegal export. Out of hundreds of cataloged timelines with Mr. Rogers, only this instance reveals any appearance of improper behavior.  Investigations have shown that he was lead to believe the nun would be demonstrating macrame, and the police officer would be providing advice on biking, not using his handcuffs to restrain a beloved television personality.

The temptation to reveal a different side of a public figure can be powerful and the results can be illuminating. However, in this case, all we find out is that Fred Rogers was trusting, and did not expect a pair of rather cruel time-travelers to dupe him into a compromising situation. Further, by removing the video from the context of its own timeline, Fred Rogers is denied the ability to defend himself.

The popular video below should remain as-is, and without further embellishment.

The Shazzy Robins Mystery

Pop star Shazzy Robins continues to be curiously absent in this timeline (Q42) when she is at the height of her fame in all major neighboring divergent timelines. While representing a five dimensional matrix, the two dimensional graph, right, is essentially accurate and indicates she should logically be most famous here. Her absence and the absence of her father, 70’s rock star Tyler Robins, is statistically and mathematically aberrant.

If you have any any information on the radical, yet apparently inconsequential departure in this timeline, please let us know.

Every Time Traveler Has a Secret

Every time traveler has a secret. For some it is complex, for many it is regret. Who else would abandon the present for a reality that isn’t their own? I will admit I collect these secrets. People confide in me, and I try to be worthy of that trust. When Lois Kent, Q42, first told me she had lost a child I told her I was sorry and I warned her against traveling back to try to change the past.

Lois went back just far enough to save her son. She screamed and railed at the doctor who, in her timeline, had given up too soon on her infant. She did this as her other self, her past self, lay scarcely conscious in the delivery room, as her husband, her past husband, looked on, astonished, as an older version of his wife screamed and was taken from the room by security. The baby was saved. But what then?

The timeline diverged. Where was our Lois to go? She could not stay there, pitted against her younger self in a battle to decide who should raise the child. Most time travelers will tell you it is a difficult thing, getting along with yourself. Lois could not come back here. This timeline is too painful, though she does feel some relief knowing her child exists in some form of reality.

I am posting this story here because, at a meeting a few weeks ago, she has asked me to. She doesn’t want the secret any longer. Those of you who know Lois (Q42) know  she has spent years studying and cataloging the alternate works of Hilda Belcher, a breif friend to Georgia O’Keefe, and highly talented painted. She posts many of her found works at her webs site redacted.

Ray Bradbury

Without him, we wouldn’t understand the Butterfly Effect. In a timeline not far from this one, where Bradbury’s works went unappreciated, time travel will never be possible. It wasn’t a squashed butterfly which caused it. It was carelessly trampled dreams.

Over in that timeline they have few satellites, more books are burned, and there are no cell phones due to scarce imagination and, perhaps, for want of Ray Bradbury’s descriptions of “seashells” and “thimble radios.” They also have no internet, and so can not read this post. It’s a pity. They don’t know what we they are missing, or who we are missing.

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

“You want a peek?” A young gentleman asked the question. He held out his binoculars. He was eager to share. It was a moment of pure joy for him, watching the new queen pass. I took them. I looked. The Queen’s gilt carriage had already passed far enough I could only see her hands. Still, I let out a whistle so my new friend would feel I’d been impressed. He quickly took the binoculars back and scrunched his eyes up as he tried to get another glimpse, but of course it was too late.

I told him I liked the bells. Bells were ringing everywhere. He said he liked them too.

I looped back and did it again, getting his attention sooner. The second time I saw the queen. She looked quietly pleased. I told my new friend I liked the queen’s hat and he went bananas.

“A hat? You call that a hat! It’s a crown you bloody lunatic! A sacred crown!” He yanked the binoculars from me and stewed as he tried to focus on her.

On my third and final loop, I called her crown “resplendent” and he smiled as though I told him he was going be crowned king of the world.

A word about the Tardis

I must admit, the mechanics of Dr. Who baffle me, and I’ve seen 118 complete seasons.(If you have a chance to watch Patrick Stewart as the Doctor via timeline Q49:NOF1983, I highly recommend it.) I have yet to visit a timeline in which the inside of an object can be larger than its outside, though I did once have brunch with a girl who ate her double order of pancakes and mine, which did not seem possible, given her petite frame.

Such a manipulation of space may be possible, but I can’t see how. It would require a type of physics that does not, to my knowledge, exist.

I generally council against traveling to timelines so divergent from your own as to be unrecognizable. There is a theory that no one ever returns from the NV12 divergents is because the gravitational force itself (not the mass of the Earth) is different enough to be more than  disorienting; it is deadly. The Tardis might look nice, but I wouldn’t want to have my molecules scrambled just to have a look inside.


A Quick Survey of the Alt Gore Presidencies

Modern Temporal Historians are fascinated not by what could have been, but by what almost was. The extraordinarily narrow 2000 presidential election, is heavily studied, not just because of the slim margin of victory, but because of the subsequent events that followed. (From the Q42 timeline).

Most often, I’m afraid, the 9/11 attacks still occur. Of 188 ‘Alt Gore’ timelines surveyed at the time of this post, the attack on the World Trade Center occurs 102 times. There are an additional 17 timelines in which the target is changed to the Empire State Building or various other targets within New York City, and 12 reported misses into the Hudson River.

I don’t mean to report on these events with dispassion. I’ve done three of these surveys myself and it is horrible to watch the tragedy unfold. The worst part is not because you are powerless to prevent it, but because you aren’t. (More on that in a different post.)

Further out, in a Gore presidency there is never an invasion of Iraq, though there is a single disastrous report of an invasion of Iran. 69 timelines report a war with Afghanistan within 100 days. Most of these become protracted. Gore is re-elected in approximately half the war timelines, overwhelmingly so in the 7 timelines where Osama Bin Laden is caught.

I visited one of these most recently, avoiding the grim photos that swept the internet. Bin Laden was killed July 23rd, 2003 by U.S. Army soldiers from 87th Infantry Regimen. No individual would take credit for the kill, preferring instead that credit be given to the whole of the 1st Battalion. The U.S. is like a party for the remainder of the summer.

The long term effect upon the U.S. would startle anyone in this timeline. Gore used his credibility and approval rating to make possible all manner of alternative energy initiatives. This lead to a tremendous breakthrough in solar technology which, by the concurrent 2016, will allow 30% of U.S. energy use to come from renewable sources. In your timeline, America will still be woefully dependent on foreign oil in 2016.

These reports do not count three dozen or so surveys which stem from an earlier divergent line where Gore wins the 2000 election easily because the Monica Lewinsky scandal  never went public, didn’t happen, or a slight smarter America didn’t care.