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Chapter 25: How Things Change

I've been out of work for one month today, Friday. I've been hunting for home-based jobs. So far my list includes tax preparation, web page maintenance, medical office accounting and billing, and consulting system administration. The latter means that when someone's disc crashes you go out to his or her office and tell him that if he'd made proper backups there would be no problem to get his application back on the air, but since he didn't, several months of his work is down the drain. That job is my last choice. None seem really appealing, but going back to Xylogen: well, I like the company and I like the people, and those count for a lot, but I can do a lot more with my life, I think, than program computers to control bigger and better oobleck vats. But you fill in any of the jobs I've found so far, and I can see that the same sentence applies, and I'd grow bored or annoyed much more quickly, I'm afraid, than at Xylogen. Thinking about the work situation makes my tail drag.

The work I've been doing for Tiger, by contrast, really gets my tail up. We're in kind of alpha test mode with several products. The text reader, that shows Tiger signs (glyphs or the hand picture) for a text file, was the first to get working, but now I've managed to fuse it with the lion writing analyzer to work out the syntax of the message and to produce reasonable grammar in Tiger's language, rather than making an ad-hoc guess about the input syntax that was fine on simple sentences but was wrong half the time on real text. The data glove input method was accurate from the beginning but I've recently fixed an annoying bug that made it lock up the machine. It turned out that it crashed if any finger strayed into the mouse zone when the hand was turned more than 90 degrees, so the program needed the determinant of the transformation matrix to be negative, or at least it thought it did. The input condition is rare, so the failures seemed random. The program that converts bitmaps to text, I thought it would be the easiest, but there were some non-obvious difficulties handling the fonts. Anyway, it usually works now, particularly if you identify and preload the fonts that your application uses.

Tiger has been using the programs enthusiastically. She's reading e-mail from her friends, lions and humans, and replying to it, and she tries to have a NetBoard conversation with someone or other every day, face to face if possible. The program to convert Tiger signs to English text was the last one I started, and it shows, but most of the time the English grammar is right, and the program has a feature to learn word groups; for example ``base finger joint'' would be turned automatically into ``knuckle''. I have to proofread anything Tiger writes, but the program gets better as I learn from every screwup. Reading and writing are slow for Tiger, but as she practices she can do them with less effort, and she really enjoys at last being able to communicate with her friends without dragging me into it to translate.

I wonder how many people have the kind of dyslexia Tiger does, so that they can handle one symbol per word but are lost presented with multiple letters or sounds. I wonder how many different kinds of dyslexia people have, and whether any elements of my software would be of any use to them, if modified. And whether I could make that into an actual job. I've told Mike at Xylogen that I'll need another two weeks to get the software ready, which is probably accurate. I've set that as the cutoff date for deciding finally what I'm going to do with my job.

For about two hours Tiger has been working at her laptop on the kitchen table, logged in to her machine at Whinx. Of course I've been monitoring closely on my laptop to catch any problems in my software. She's uploaded my mouse shell so she can work with reasonable facility. She didn't waste her time reading mail; she downloaded a copy of her system mailbox to her home machine and she says she'll look at it if she feels like practicing reading or cussing. She's spent the major part of the morning running the quantum logic design editor, augmented with Tiger signs, on a copy of her ALU that she saved as backup just before the accident. The editor modification is another recent product and Tiger is very excited, and scared, about finally trying her hand again at quantum logic.

Tiger (in hand signs): That's it! Just before the accident I was having so much trouble with carries in the multiplier; they were getting instantiated too early and the calculation had to be done in two steps. I think I found a way to not look at the carry until the very end, and you get the whole result at once. I'm going to check this over once again and then run the simulator on it.

Me: Are you having any trouble seeing the diagrams?

Tiger: No! They don't have arcs, and the Tiger signs really help me see the patterns in the cells. Be quiet a minute while I check this contingency path, OK?

``Quiet'', for Tiger, means to not demand that her eyes focus on my hand rather than her logic design. She checks. Satisfied, she uses the mouse shell to run the simulator, reading a file of test data that she made before the accident. I renamed all the files in this directory so they can be represented by Tiger signs, which she can select on the mouse shell without being stymied by random alphanumeric names. Tiger is nervous waiting for the simulator to finish, and I'm nervous. I remember shortly after she came home from the hospital when she tried hard on a writing task but the result really wasn't satisfactory. I tried to stroke her and she crumpled her paper and threw it in my face.

Me: Tiger, if the simulation fails don't be dismayed, OK? It's rare to get something right the first time, particularly something that complicated, and after not doing it for a month and a half.

Tiger: And with half a brain. OK, I'm a lion and I'll act like one.

Bear (in hand signs): Tiger, Tiger, I'm hungry! Can I have lunch now?

Tiger: I'm jumpy. Would you please take that up with Simba?

Me: Come to me, Bear, and get a hug. Sure, I'll get you some food. How about cereal and a banana?

Bear: Goody! Here comes Claude; I think he wants some too.

I feed all the kids, grouping them at the opposite end of the table, letting Attila supervise Emerald, and telling Bear to keep an eye on Diamond. Tiger raps on the table with the backs of her claws, and I go around to check on her result.

Tiger: It failed.

Me: As we expected, right? But is it better than before? Did your contingency change make a difference?

Tiger: Well, let me go over this output as fast as I can, which isn't very fast. This one is one unit too big. This one is one unit too small. This one is just right. Sounds like that human child with the three bears. Well, that's interesting: they're all correct or one unit off, in what looks like a random pattern. Maybe it's not as much of a failure as I thought. You were right that I shouldn't be dismayed, because only the last simulation gives right answers. I really have to improve my attitude. And to start, let's take a real close look at what the output is telling me. The carry contingency is working! But somewhere in the circuitry a one-bit contingency is getting randomized. I'm going to track it down as a lion would who doesn't have pieces missing.

Me: Simba hugs you. Your stomach and your kittens don't.

Tiger: Don't tell me you're hungry too!

Me: Aren't you? It's 12:20. Come on, take a break.

Tiger: Already? We just started. I'm strong as a lion, and tough as one too! Go on and eat. I'll call you if anything goes wrong.

Me: The word prudence comes to mind. The word impulsive comes to mind.

Tiger: The word wet towel comes to mind. OK, I'll take a short break, but I'm going to nail this bastard after I eat. Agreed?

Most of the errors turn out to be caused by a simple oversight in the test setup: the accumulator is cleared to zero at the start -- later tests will preload it with a partial vector sum -- but the carry-in bit is left in an indeterminate state causing the result sometimes to be off by one, more or less depending on the sign. Before Tiger finished the internal carry contingencies the output wasn't expected to be right, so the testing error was not noticed. Now with the carry preset, only five errors remain. These are very mysterious, because when the failing cases are grouped at the beginning of the file none of them fail, but three items that formerly were correct are now wrong. Obviously the state from one multiplication is carrying over to the next, but how? The whole multiplier is cleared at the start of each operation. And carryover should introduce an error on half the tests, or all of them; why are the errors so few? That's where it stands when Coyote comes home from school. And Linda is with him.

Me (by voice): Hi, Coyote! Hi, Linda! How was class?

Coyote: Fine. In botany we're doing alternation of generations. We need to talk something over with Mariposa, and then we'll be back to help with dinner. Is she studying on the other side?

Me: I think so. She was in here a while ago asking me a question, but she went back.

Tiger: It's getting late, isn't it? Let's put this stuff away and plan the dinner.

Me: Don't tell me you're hungry too!

Tiger pokes me in the ribs, saves her file and logs out. I give her a big hug. She's really done remarkably well. Today we only planned to do two hours before lunch, and clearly she's fatigued from the hard work, but she used her toughness and she got significant and valuable progress on a difficult real world design problem, even if one magic touch didn't bring the project to completion. Tiger needs to build up her mental strength, but she's going to be able to go back to work at Whinx. Losing that would be a real setback for her, and therefore for me. I'm also pleased that the software I worked so hard on was able to support her work, even if inevitable bugs and rough edges remain to be finished off. Going back to work at Xylogen will be a letdown, and the home-based job I'd hoped to find really doesn't seem to be materializing despite my best efforts.

Tiger: Simba, your tail says something's wrong.

Me: I'm really happy you've done so well. It's amazing what you've done. And I was worrying how you would react if you couldn't handle chip design; if you had to find another kind of job.

Tiger: You didn't exactly answer my question. If you're not happy, I'm not happy.

Me: OK, OK. I wish I'd been able to come up with a home-based job that really attracts me. Working for Xylogen has a lot of pluses, but let's face it, they grow more and better slime, and I'm going to be doing pretty much the same thing over and over for the rest of my time with them. I'm going to have a problem with that, and I was hoping to search around and find an honorable escape route. I haven't. Another thing, with your recovery the person at home isn't going to have to take care of you, but still, we haven't solved the problem of Mariposa. With Coyote away at school and you at Whinx and me at Xylogen, even with staggered schedules there are a lot of hours of kitten care that fall on Mariposa. That issue isn't resolved. This is your day to celebrate, and I really didn't want to get into those issues right now. You be happy, OK, and don't screw it up because I have a problem. We'll work it out. Later.

Tiger: OK, brave Simba, we'll work it out later. Right now, I'm in the mood for curry burritos.

For us now, dinners are a little strange, because Tiger has to use her hand to hold her chopsticks or fork and hence can't talk, and she also has a lot of trouble to shift back and forth between targeting her food and watching hand signs. Thus the kittens monopolize the conversation, by voice, with topics that don't require Tiger's attention, such as how many of what kind of beetles Bear found under the dead leaves outside. After dinner the kittens zoom off to play, except for Emerald, and the senior people can start on what interests us, using Tiger signs.

Tiger: I'm happy with myself today. I woke up in that hospital room and I couldn't move half my body and I couldn't see or hear or think right. I thought I was going to be just a piece of almost dead meat, that Simba would have to throw in the garbage after my eighth kitten. I decided to fight, to learn to use what I had left, and I've done that. Today I logged on to my machine at Whinx and I did about six hours of work. Real, productive work like I did before the accident. I haven't lost my touch designing chips. It's going to be tough, not being able to talk or to read alphabet, but with the software Simba built I think I'm going to be all right. In the next few days, until the software is ready, I'm going to practice work discipline, and then I'll go back to work.

Coyote: That's great, that's great! Let me give you a great big hug!

Linda (by voice): Could you fill me in, Simba? I missed a lot of the hand signs.

Which I do. Mariposa knew generally what we were working on, but not the degree of success, and she also hugs Tiger.

Linda (by signs): Tiger, I'm so happy for you. My family and I were praying for you to recover, and I guess our prayers were answered. May I hug you?

Linda hugs Tiger, followed by me, and of course by Emerald who doesn't want to be left out.

Coyote (using simultaneous voice and hand signs): Today is a happy day, and Linda and I have our own announcement. We're a mated pair.

Me (similarly): Yes, and so what's the announcement?

Coyote: Well, what I mean is, we're making it official.

Me: Oh! Sorry. Well, congratulations to you. Just how official do you mean, like, a wedding?

Coyote: We kind of wanted to ask your advice on that. And Tiger too, of course.

Tiger: You two are doing well, building up the pair bond. Simba and I had a lot more fights.

Linda (slowly by hand signs): We wouldn't fight in front of you, do you think? But we've been able to keep the fights small.

Tiger: For which I take some credit, teaching Coyote.

Linda: Well... yes.

Tiger: Our history, you shouldn't copy it because our situation was unique, but you can learn from it. We formed our pair bonds early, much earlier than you, and we immediately began to live together and to mate. You two have developed the pair bond over a longer period, which I think is wise. When you say you're making the bond official, I assume you mean you're going to the next step. But just what did you two have in mind for that step to be?

Coyote: Like you said, to live together.

Tiger: And...

Coyote: To mate.

Tiger: Simba and I aren't going to make any comment about that. However, Linda, was the idea that you would move in here, or that Coyote would move out?

Linda: We talked about that, Coyote and I, and we also have been talking it over with Mariposa for a few weeks. It depends a lot on your attitude toward me.

Tiger: What do you think, Mariposa? How much are you willing to do for their pair bond?

Mariposa: Like Linda said, we've been talking. I'm willing to move into one of the vacant rooms. I can't hog Coyote because he has to grow up, but I don't want to lose him either. If Linda could move in with us that would be perfect, because I'm happy and he's happy and she's happy. I like Linda, as long as she doesn't lose Coyote for me.

Tiger: It would also help us a lot to keep Coyote in our family for a while, and to add Linda. Being in junior college and working, you won't be around that much, but every hour helps us in caring for the kittens. Simba and I also talked over our attitude toward you, Linda, before my accident, and we would welcome you into our family.

Linda: Thank you, Tiger, and thank you, Simba, and particularly, thank you, Mariposa.

Tiger: Now there's a detail: room assignments. Just like when we designated our pair bonds. We would like Mariposa to move over to this side and to have one of the kittens in her room, most likely Emerald when Fox is born and Emerald moves out of our room. Coyote and Linda can keep the big bedroom on the other side, if you want, but in three or four years we'll have Fox and the next two kittens who will need space. I recommend that you take the vacant bedroom over there, and change the big bedroom to vacant, to put the last three kittens in. That way you won't have to move to the smaller room later. I know you won't stay with us forever, and you might be out before the eighth kitten needs space, in which case there's no problem being in the big bedroom. You shouldn't kick out Claude and Diamond, but other than that, we'll leave room choice to you. Is that acceptable?

Linda: Certainly. Thank you, Tiger.

Tiger: Coyote, how about you?

Coyote: Well, yes, of course!

Tiger: Then welcome to our family, Linda. Simba, would you negotiate details by voice? Signs are a strain on Linda and I think detailed details will be a bit of a strain on me too.

Me (with abbreviated signs for Tiger's benefit): OK, Linda, how much do your parents know?

Linda: I've prepared them that I'm going to move out with Coyote, but we didn't know when or where until just now. Just that it would be soon. I told them we had to look for a place.

Me: How many hours a week do you work? Ten, I think you said. How is your car financed? Specifically, the insurance. And do you have an encumbrance rate for repairs?

Linda: What's an encumbrance?

Me: I'll explain later. What about the insurance?

Linda: I pay all the car expenses out of my wages. There's not a whole lot left over after insurance.

Me: Enough to pay for all your clothes?

Linda: I wish I had nicer things, but yes, I pay for my clothes.

Me: Coyote feeds himself and Mariposa and buys both their clothes. We didn't insist on that; he did. While you're still students, let's continue the same arrangements: clothes aren't our responsibility, your car isn't our responsibility, and Coyote and Mariposa's food are delegated to Coyote. You're on our food budget. I hope you like lion food; you've eaten it often enough and you know how we operate in the kitchen. Now for medical expenses and insurance coverage, I don't believe we can get you on ours. We'll have to negotiate that with your parents. When you graduate, of course, all of this will have to be renegotiated, but then you'll have, and pay for, your own insurance through your employer. As for dependent status, you're your parents' dependent for this year, but next year you're either our dependent or your own, depending on how we jigger the accounts, and we'll work that out when we start the new tax year. Is all of this OK so far?

Linda: It's kind of going by awful fast. Tax year?

Me: There's a lot more to being a mated pair than romance and genitalia. I'm sorry that went by too fast; let's boot up my machine and get it in a file so you can see it, and so both of you can have a copy. Mariposa and Tiger, could you handle washing the dishes without us? Thanks. And Attila, I see you're learning there with your little bug eyes; would you bring my computer please?

Attila: They aren't bug eyes! Emerald has bug eyes.

I get the two lovebirds to formalize what you might call a dependency agreement with us, and I also guide them through a simple prenuptial agreement in which they declare their assets and promise, upon legal marriage, to establish a community property regime. Coyote has his assets all in a file, but Linda is going to have to fill that part in later. The document also provides very briefly that in case of a split the declared assets will be returned and anything over will be divided half and half.

Me: Now Coyote asked me for advice about a wedding. You understand, we got legally married, let's see, about two years after your present age, while having bonded three years before your age. For us the official marriage was merely a legal formality while the pairing negotiation was the key event, due to our special status as experimental animals. Your case is a lot different from ours. But I suggest that you two...

The phone rings.

Me: Attila, could you please take a message on that? Write down the person's name and phone number, and get an idea what he or she wants. OK? Thanks. Now Coyote and Linda, I suggest that you consider now to be the beginning of marriage, but that you formalize the relation after strengthening your pair bond for about a year. I'm sure you can feel it in yourselves, the bond isn't digital, going from zero yesterday to one today. It takes time and work to glue yourselves together, and you can feel the bond growing. Now it's time to start using semen as a component of the glue, and soon the bond will be clearly and reliably permanent. Not to say that it won't change and grow with time; even today my relation with Tiger is growing, but to go, you might say, into production with it you have to get to a certain level, and you're a big part of the way done, but you aren't quite ready for prime time yet. Agreed?

Coyote: Well, you're getting all serious, with taxes and delays, but I've learned to listen to you whether or not I feel the same way.

Linda: We're in love! Doesn't that count for something? It feels like you're taking all the romance out of it, like a business proposition, like you're making us prepare for divorce.

Me: I'm sorry. No, I'm not sorry. Yes, I am. Mariposa, could you get Tiger's attention? We need her back for a moment. Tiger, they're complaining that the details we're negotiating are taking the romance out of it, setting them up for divorce. I'm sorry that lion people, at least Tiger and I, never got a chance to feel what you're feeling now. I felt scared that I was too young to manage a pair bond, and I worried how I could handle cooperating in life with someone I'd never met before except once as a child. And sex! I like sex, but as male and female? I don't know how I got through that day. And we ended it up by planning our college education. Jeez!

Tiger: I was furious that the males marched into our life without asking permission. I was scared like Simba was, about getting along in a pair. And if you think sex is scary for the male, Coyote, imagine what the female thinks the first time about that thing going inside her and depositing stuff. Romance was the farthest thing from my mind. The reason we bonded was that we're the hope of our species, and we had better not screw it up. We're tough as lions and we managed. I suspect Simba was pointing out to you that there's a lot more to getting and staying married than romance, and if you do the details well then the love can grow strongly, as ours did, while if you screw up the details the consequences will chip away at your love. Expend some time and energy on planning and details, OK?

Linda: I'm sorry, I didn't mean to blow you off like that, Simba. It's just so different than what I thought.

Me: Just what I thought on our wedding day. I think I won't tell you now, but remind me in a few days to tell you what happened when we first tried to mate. Lion mating turned out to be a lot different than I'd ever imagined, even though I had a lot of experience with sex. With practice mating. Likely you'll have less trouble than we did, because of your experience doing it with each other, nonvaginally.

Linda: I wonder when we ought to do what.

Coyote: Let's list items. When are you going to actually move in? When do we go over to tell your parents and get your stuff? When and where does Mariposa move?

Me: You forgot one. Lions aren't shy to discuss mating.

Coyote: As I've noticed. Linda, I think we shouldn't rush; I think we should get all the moving done and pick a time when we're not going to be interrupted by details.

Me: I'm not trying to intrude on your sexuality, but I think that's a wise choice. May I make a suggestion on another topic? Two suggestions? Move in this evening; you'll both be miserable until it's done, and so will Linda's parents, I suspect. Second, I'll drive. You two are probably both too excited to drive safely. You pick one carload of stuff that you can grab quickly, you do the tearful goodbye thing, and you split, and that's all we'll be able to manage tonight. Tomorrow we'll bring anything you missed tonight. I hope there's not a lot of possessions; a lion family is very light on possessions.

Coyote: There's another thing. Mariposa, this involves you. Look, let's all discuss this together and then we'll finish the dishes together. Mariposa, you're my little sister and I don't want you booted out on the bare floor. I think what's fair is like this. Tomorrow, not tonight, we'll move Mariposa's desk and bed and pictures over to the room on this side. We'll all help. For tonight, Linda and I will sleep in the vacant room on the other side and Mariposa will be in her proper bed. We'll borrow Mariposa's exercise mat for Linda. We'll use our spare blanket or Linda can bring hers from her house. What do you think, Mariposa?

Mariposa: Your wedding night on mats?

Coyote: First, I'm not going to be happy if you're on your mat because of Linda and me. Second, we're going to be sleeping, not mating; I want to do it the first time when we're rested and can pay attention. Right, Linda? Third... Well, lions aren't shy, are they? We make out on my mat now, and we may be going to do it different, but we like the mat and I don't see any reason to change, at least for now. We'll be fine. Linda, will you be fine?

Linda: I'm certainly not going to kick Mariposa out of her own bed. We'll be fine; don't worry.

Me: OK, then, the earlier we get started on the move, the better. There's a detail I forgot: Linda's permanent bed. I'll offer a setup like ours, which we'll pay for. Call it a wedding gift. We'll work out the details tomorrow, and maybe buy it then. Hmm, I wonder what that phone call was. Attila, Attila, where are you? She must be on the other side.

Mariposa: Look on the phone. She would have left the message there.

Me: You're right. Hey, it's from Dr. Deutsch. I'm supposed to call back. I wonder what he wants, an update on Tiger?

Tiger: Well, call him. It would be polite to do that before driving out for an unknown time.

Me: Right. You don't all have to cluster around. Hi, Mr. Chernik, Simba here. Yes, everything's fine at this end; in fact, Tiger's going back to work in a few days. Yes, we're all very pleased. Thanks for good lion construction and good lion training. And Coyote's getting married. Coyote and Linda, he says congratulations. How did you know who I was after, Mr. Chernik? Discussions, really? OK, I'll hear it from him. Good to talk with you, and maybe beginning of November you and Ms. Holbeck have to come down here and we'll show off the newlyweds and Tiger's progress and my software for her. Right, see you. Hi, Dr. Deutsch, Simba here.

Dr. Deutsch: So Tiger is going back to work. That's great news!

Me: I have to post a full report, don't I? No, Tiger has to post the report! But you didn't call me for that, did you? What's up? Mr. Chernik said something about discussions up there.

Dr. Deutsch: Right, discussions. Hmm, Tiger going back to work may change things. Anyway, how are the home business opportunities working out?

Me: Well, it's a little up in the air. The home businesses I checked out weren't particularly appealing. Consulting system administration? I'm sure you can imagine what that entails. There's a fair chance that I'll be going back to Xylogen. The software I wrote to work around Tiger's disability, I wish I could turn it into a job, but I'm guessing it would be valuable enough to do, but not valuable enough to eat off.

Dr. Deutsch: Tell me why you're not going back with open arms.

Me: Because I'd hoped I could do something with my life more useful, and more challenging, than programming machines to grow oobleck. Not that it's a bad thing to do; no, manufacturing plastic is important and someone has to do it, but it's a dead end job for a computer person and I don't want to be washed up at age 26.

Dr. Deutsch: Do you know how old I am?

Me: Um, no, I assume it's in the archives but I never looked it up. Older than me. But not decrepit.

Dr. Deutsch: No, not decrepit. I've realized my dream with you people. Remember the first press conference when Charlie was asking everyone why they got into the lion project? I told him I wanted to put together an integrated, fully interactive training system. It's working. Do you know we've shipped ten million lion discs? It happened about a month ago, and it got me to thinking about what I was doing. It's time for me to retire and turn the lion disc over to younger people, while Marjorie and I still have the strength and energy to enjoy our retirement. So who knows the content, organization and software intimately and has thorough experience updating the lessons and has the motivation to carry on my work as I would hope? And who's currently looking for a job?

Me: Moi? But what about Mr. Allerod?

Dr. Deutsch: You'll hear it from him, but he's only a few years younger than I am and, well, I don't want to tell you private data that you should get from him, but there's a medical reason for him to get out now too. Toi. I've been watching you for a while with the idea of getting you more involved with lion disc maintenance, and the coincidence of you possibly needing to take care of Tiger at home, and our milestone, brought the issue to a head. You and Tiger did a masterful job updating the early childhood materials, and your exercise lesson was an important addition, and your revision of the geometry sequence two years ago really helped a lot of kids. Plus a lot of detail improvements here and there with your name on them. I would feel very confident putting the lion disc in your claws.

Me: If Tiger's going to be working again at Whinx, I'd need to be here in Salt Lake, not at the Lion Foundation. Much as I love the place, daily physical presence is out.

Dr. Deutsch: Not a problem. All you've done so far has been trans-net. Production is done in Milpitas. You should visit more often, but the job doesn't require physical presence.

Me: Jeez! It's like a ring float to a drowning person. Hold on just a second; I want to tell Tiger. Hey, people, Dr. Deutsch is offering me his job as lion disc manager!

Tiger (reading my hand signs): Grab it, grab it!

Coyote: How much are they paying?

Me: Do I care? But you're right, there are details to negotiate. Dr. Deutsch, we have to work out details, but that aside, I accept the job. Suppose I come up there... tomorrow, Saturday, I have family duties. Kids, suppose Tiger and I drive up there tomorrow evening and come down Sunday evening. Hmm, you're supposed to be in church. One day later, you're supposed to be in class. Delay a week? Leave Tiger here?

Tiger: I want to go, if it's possible. I want to be normal.

Coyote: I think God would forgive us if we watched the kittens on Sunday.

Me: OK, Dr. Deutsch, how about this. Tiger and I will show up at about ten tomorrow night. We'll work out details, set up file permissions and so on, and we'll leave after dinner Sunday. Tiger can see all the staff people and practice talking with them. How does that sound?

Dr. Deutsch: Wonderful! We'll be looking forward to it. You've really taken a load off me.

Me: And you likewise. Bye now. I have a trousseau to collect.

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