Captains Log of the Vessel 'Freedom's Centerpiece'
Tuesday August 1st 1326 Post Creation, 1706pm
Received a most curious visitor yesterday afternoon. He arrived in a whirlwind accompanied by thunderbolts and a mob of overweight gentlemen in expensive suits who blew trumpets vigorously and stripped the house of edibles as quickly as any cloud of locusts. The visitor proclaimed himself to be he whose name must not be uttered -- which is, I suspect -- a title he uses when he has forgotten to bring business cards. True to his word, he did not mention a name. Although he claimed to be pure blooded Babylonian, he didn't seem to speak the language very well. Much of the time. he seemed to be reading his lines -- badly -- from a device somewhere behind my right shoulder.
We collected nearly twenty pieces of silverware from the entourage on their departure.
The unnamed one directed me to assemble my family and build a great boat whose purpose would be made clear to me later. He threatened to carpet bomb the town and strafe the herds if I did not come down immediately on the side of freedom and democracy -- whatever that is -- forthwith. Something about "I'm either with him or against him". I'm not entirely sure what carpet bombing and strafing are but the sound to me like something I'd like the Sherif Ishmael -- God curse his progeny to the 20th generation -- to try out first. I agreed that I thought Freedom and Democracy were the greatest thing since sliced bread. ... After all, I can always change my mind if they turn out to be something bad.
The visitor left me with about 7000 scrolls of "blueprints" (They are purple) and "Specifications" I examined one of the latter called Mil-Spec-21578A which contains hundreds of pages of tiny print that make no sense whatsoever.
I checked with my attorney today who advised me to build the damn boat and keep careful written records of everything I did. He also told me to make sure that the "Specifications" were well worn -- as if they were in constant use. I asked him if I should attempt to comply with the "Specifications" and he told me he would have to check with spiritual advisers. He sent a dove later in the afternoon advising me that he thought the compliance was neither advisable nor possible and recommending that I burn the note after reading it. No doubt I will be billed for 20 hours for the 4 hours effort he put into this, and I doubt the sleazy worm will be anywhere to be found if problems come up. I have given the Specifications to the goats who have already given them a well worn look.
Question: Why would you hire a tribe that lives in the middle of the desert to build something they have never even seen -- a boat?
Thursday August 3rd 1326 Post Creation, 1925pm
My son Japeth has taken over the job of provisioning the boat. Ham will manage construction. Shem has taken over the job of handling publicity, and none too soon as I had to be restrained yesterday afternoon from cutting up a reporter from Channel 8 and throwing his or her (It's unclear to me which pronoun fits) scraps to the dogs. Imagine asking me inane questions about my interest in horticulture while his/her camera crew trampled my crocus beds. I am a bit embarrassed about the incident as whatever substance he/she uses on that preposterous hair would surely have made the dogs sick. They do not deserve that.
Saturday August 5th 1326 Post Creation 1834pm
An emissary from the nameless one turned up today. He appeared to be sickly, but not too sickly to consume a platter of sweetmeats and seven glasses of wine. After a great deal of social banter, he finally got to the point which was that I could safely ignore most of the "specifications". He advised me however, that I should try to come close to the specified size and to build strongly as the payload would really require those things. The real point however turned out to be that I have to build the entire boat out of something called "Gopher Wood". This wondrous material costs 17 shekels a board foot and is available only from one company in some place called "Texas". The visitor made it quite clear that seriously bad things will happen to me and mine if Gopher Wood is not used.
Regrettably for him, his safe passage was not made a condition of discussion. He is presently residing in the dungeon undergoing our special family bread and water weight loss therapy. Once he is suitably trimmed down, we will sell him to a quarry somewhere. We will, however, use Gopher Wood for the arc. If the nameless one sends enough emissaries, perhaps we will even be able to afford it.
Thursday, November 30th 1327 PC. We started to lay the keel for the boat. My cousin Osmer has examined a plank of Texas Gopher wood and has proclaimed it to be ordinary Lebanon Cedar. We have arranged a complex financial deal whereby sales documents for the Gopher wood are forged and notarized by something called a 'document mill'. Money is lent to us to pay for the imaginary wood. The vast reported profits from the non-sale of the imaginary wood cause the stock -- of which we own 43.6% to soar. My attorney slithers by occasionally to arrange the sale of the bloated stock to widows and orphans. He has advised me that it is neither prudent nor possible for me to fully understand the details of the transactions. Ordinarily, I would reject this deal -- which clearly has me marked to be scapegoat -- out of hand, but I know something that has apparently escaped the Texas geniuses. This arc is one hell of a big boat and it will take a lot of water to float it. I do not plan myself or the arc to be here when the forces of law and order come dogpaddling out with their warrants.
In the meantime, the arc is being constructed out of cedar, and the emissaries from the nameless one continue to fetch decent prices in the slave markets at Damascus. Financially we are doing fine -- at least on paper. Perhaps this government contracting racket has something to recommend it.
Monday, August 4th 1328 PC. We had something called a Design Review yesterday. It entailed hauling out the blueprints (they remain purple) and specifications and going over them with dozens of voracious gentlemen in suits. Shem, Ham and Japeth took care of the catering -- the volume of which may lead to famine in the towns if the fall harvest is not exceptionally abundant. The kids also took care of something called a Power Point Presentation which was colorful and impressive, albeit spectacularly deceitful. Upon watching it, I felt my breast swell with pride at the quality of our arcmanship. That despite the fact that I know full well that we have not the slightest clue what we are doing arcwise.
Anyway, we seem to have survived the review although I am told that we will receive a formal list of questions we must answer and will possibly be asked to negotiate a set of design changes. When I expressed concerns about the cost of the catering, presentation, question answering, etc, I was told not to worry -- it's all chargeable costs and billable hours.
OK, I won't worry. But I am making arrangements to have a herd of fast camels, emergency rations, and a reasonable amount of portable wealth deployed where we can get to them quickly if (when) the need arises. There is no way this nonsense we are engaged in can possibly be legal.
I wonder if the camels and rations are chargeable costs? I must remember to ask.
Wednesday, August 13 1328 PC. The questions and design changes have arrived by courier. Ham has persuaded me to send the courier back with our answers rather than selling him in Damascus and sending our answers back with the next caravan. Something about "not rocking the boat" -- a curious metaphor that seems to have no connection to the monstrosity being constructed in the North Pasture. The questions are trivial when they are not silly. The design changes also are trivial. Mostly things we would have done anyway like putting doors on the restrooms. I guess that my fears had no basis.
Ham says we have "dodged a bullet" Could be. What is a bullet?