Tag: Lasers

210 – Free Alaska, Part 1 of 1

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and ten.

Flash PulpTonight we present, Free Alaska, Part 1 of 1.

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by the In Broad Daylight.

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight, we present a tale from Flash Pulp’s future history, a time of terror, tyranny, and automatons.

Flash Pulp 210 – Free Alaska, Part 1 of 1

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

He wasn’t a terrorist – he’d done nothing wrong, beyond being born in a place full of oil, and this wasn’t the Middle East, were Logan Clark’s thoughts as he snapped down the last of the zip ties.

They were overkill, and he knew it, as his welding job would either hold, or the device would be too imprecise to be useful, but he’d been nervously filling time before his departure.

The Alaskan sky above his two-car garage was cloudless and unending, a blue canvas stretching from horizon to horizon, marred only by the occasional flashing streak descending from altitudes beyond his ability to see naturally.

Reflecting on the fact, Clark patted the plastic telescope absentmindedly, his eyes tracing the wire connecting the Warlmart-purchase to his laptop. His absorbed state meant missing the entrance swing open.

“Dad?” asked Trinity, fourteen. Both of her hands were tucked in her blue sweater’s pouch pocket.

Giving his head a shake, Logan replied. “Yeah, baby?”

“Mom seems pretty mad.”

“Ah, hell.”

His knees popped as he stood, and his back ached as he bent to wipe the dust from his jeans.

What followed was another explanatory conversation which he knew wouldn’t end in his favour – but he also knew it didn’t matter much, as he’d made his mind up.

The argument concluded with the bedroom door slamming in his face, and his apologizing through it to no response.

As he moved towards the living room, he retrieved his battered Miller’s Trucking ball cap from its resting place on the kitchen sideboard, then, still wearing his boots, stepped onto the beige carpet and addressed Trinity, who was working the TV remote hard to find something other than news coverage.

“If she comes out, tell her I’m sorry,” he said.

“Dad – what exactly did you do? Mom hasn’t been this mad since you cussed out Aunt Kim at Gran’s wedding.”

“I’ve got some stuff I gotta take care of – just a quick trip.”

Trinity chewed her lip and muted a Pillsbury commercial.

She asked, “you aren’t messing with those idiot rebels, right?”

“Hah, as the man said, I wouldn’t join any club that’d have me as a member. Make sure your Ma eats, I’ll grab something for myself on the road.”

He didn’t wait for a reply, and he intentionally forgot his goodbyes.

“Just a quick trip,” he said aloud, as he stepped back into the garage.

* * *

The drive out of Juneau had always left him relaxed in the past, but, as the pickup cruised north, his shoulders grew increasingly rigid.

Looking to distract himself, he engaged the radio.

“Hey,” said an announcer he didn’t recognize, but who, to Logan’s ear, seemed to have a Floridian accent, “we should just be happy that the drone strikes are so surgical. There aren’t stormtroopers knocking on every door, there aren’t tanks in the streets of Anchorage, so calm down.”

The twang in his radio tone stood out strongly after the eighteen month long ban on civilian flights.

“Perhaps,” Clark replied, to the empty cab, “if there were, the folks down south who still believe in justice might raise a stink, and citizens wouldn’t be quietly murdered in their beds by flying robots.”

“They aren’t killing us,” said Florida, “they’re killing the terrorists – the pipeline saboteurs, and secessionists, have brought this justice from on high upon themselves.”

Logan punched the power knob.

“Ain’t no way a teenager staring at a tiny screen from a thousand miles away knows shit about shit regarding ‘saboteurs or secessionists’. It ain’t twenty-twenty-five anymore, they want to have some say in matters up here, they’ll have to march some actual boots our way.”

The bobble-headed husky on his dash nodded in agreement.

* * *

By the time he’d reached the tumbled hunting cabin, his neck was stiff and his wrists ached.

Once the property had belonged to his father, but the bank had taken the land not long before the cancer had taken him, and the shack had rotted to the ground in the shadows of the Yellow Cedars. He was concerned that the family connection might link him to his actions, but he knew from experience that the military were no detectives, they were missile lobbers, and no one would come looking if they somehow managed to stop him.

He’d been to the area two years previous on a hunting expedition with a few friends from work. They hadn’t managed to kill anything beyond cases of beer, but a stumbling tramp through the woods had reminded him of Platform Rock. The jumbled stone formation, named by Logan’s father for its flat crown, provided a clear view over the tree-tops, and he’d spent an evening deep in thought after making a drunken ascent.

Now he was discovering it was a long way to haul equipment, even with a handcart, but Clark was a man who’d learned patience via a storied career in the muck of the mining industry. The ore sniffing business had also introduced him to the newest advances in high-powered portable lasers.

Night had fallen, and he was huffing, by the time he had once again booted the laptop, and plugged the telescope in. With a last check of the laser’s battery slug, he tugged at the pull cord of the small gas engine intended to power the computer, then hurried down the slope.

The racket would certainly be noticeable for some distance, but he knew no one would come to investigate.

The online fellow who’d put together the rig’s simple software package had thought to apply a delay before start-up, but Logan found himself too worried that he’d somehow pooched the process to make for his truck until the show had begun.

He could see little from down below, but the ratchet of the mount’s directional motors was easy to hear, even over the chug of the generator.

The laser clicked twice, and Clark was sure something was wrong.

It clicked again, and there was a flash to the west – a drone being eaten by its own suddenly-flaming fuel supply.

The clatter of aiming recommenced, and Logan, smiling, ran for his vehicle.

By the time he reached home, it was starlight alone that glittered in the night sky.

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to skinner@skinner.fm, or the voicemail line at (206) 338-2792 – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

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A Laser Light Show On Mr Blog's Tepid Ride

Today, we once again pull a gem from BMJ2k’s archives over at Mr Blog’s Tepid Ride. This time we present the third in a trilogy of expeditions to Home Depot (- well, Lowes).

Mr Blog's Tepid Ride
If anyone asks, tell them I’m upstate.

Strange thing, life. (Your life may vary.) If I were still working at my old school there’s a good chance I’d have been on the senior trip this weekend. Senior Trip last year was fun, if your idea of fun is keeping two rival high schools from rumbling is fun. But I did get to sit in a hallway until 4am and almost died playing paint ball on a glacier, so I guess everything is relative.

Not being at the old place anymore has definite pros and cons.


  • Longer commute
  • Less familiarity with students and staff
  • Not involved with school events
  • Not working with friends
  • Not working on yearbook
  • Not going on Senior Trip


  • My new school is not closing down

Well, in all honesty, if I were back there I’d like to have gone, if only to see if the burger guy Kathy almost got fired last year is still there. At any rate, I’m OK with not going, but life being the cosmic game of “shit” that it is, kept throwing it back in my face. For example: On Friday, I found out, my new school also had their senior trip (I am sick of capitalizing that.) I had no idea it was coming, nor do I even know where they went. This is because not only do I not teach seniors, but I am also extremely dense. I found out about the senior trip when my period four class asked me “what are you doing here, you’re supposed to be on the senior trip?”. News to me. All I know is, the COSA (not to be confused with LA COSA NOSTRA, trust me, I made that near-fatal mistake) told some kids that I was going. Again, news to me. Needless to say, if you haven’t already figured it out, I did not go. I am fairly certain that I wasn’t supposed to. I think.

Then I found out that my old colleague and general partner-in-complaints Michelle is on the senior trip with her school. If somehow Michelle and Liz are on the same dude ranch, and my school is there without me, I will be pissed. Like I said, Life is a big game of “shit.”

But I made up for it. I went to one of my favorite places, one which, in fact, inspired a couple of good blogs. (I know what you’re thinking, smart-alec, yes I do have a couple of good ones.)

I went to Home Depot.

(Full Disclosure- I did not go to Home Depot. I actually went to Lowe’s, which, other than being blue instead of orange, and slightly brighter, is EXACTLY THE SAME as Home Depot. And right across the street. Please direct all complaints to the Editors_of_Mr._Blogs_Tepid_Ride@who_cares.com)

Buying hardware is a man thing. Oh sure, women buy hardware. We even let them in the stores. But like peeing on a campfire and punching out rednecks, it’s a guy thing. I was there to buy a washing machine. Major appliance. Measuring involved, plumbing, (and here you can imagine me hitching up my tool belt), and tools.

Now, I’ve had trouble at Home Depot in the past. One time they sold out of the advertised cordless drill the day before the sale began. Another time a salesman tried to sell me some 3/4? sheet metal screws when I knew damn well I needed 5/8. And, infamously, I was unable to buy a knob for my air conditioner, thus setting me on a trip to Boro Park. Forearmed and forewarned, I didn’t go to the store nearby.

I went to the one under the Gowanus. “Gowanus” is an old Indian word for “Hey Chief, that overpass is about to rust apart.” It is a really crappy area. Remember the part of Goodfellas where Jimmy the Gent tries to get Karen to go into his warehouse to get some swag, where he would most likely have whacked her? It was filmed one block over. I have some “cool” (an old Indian word meaning “bad”) pictures of me sneering like De Niro and pointing to the warehouse. I figured that a neighborhood of seedy warehouses over a slimy creek and under an elevated train near the waterfront is about as manly as it gets. It even had an element of danger. I might have been bothered by one of the drunks hovering suspiciously close to my car.

Inside the store I first saw a large display of leaf blowers. Damn they were nice. This model had an extra tank for gas storage and a pair of attachments for stubborn or wet leaves. I got as far as trying one on until I remembered that I live in an apartment and moved on to the emergency generators.

No matter what store I am in, if they sell flashlights, that’s the aisle you can find me in. I’ve got three mini-maglites (the creme de la creme of mini lights) and flashlights that have tripods, rubberized coatings, flexible arms, and even ones that crank instead of using batteries in case The Reckoning leaves me behind. So of course I put a Black and Decker gooseneck work light in my wagon.

After handling every torque wrench and comparing dry wall screws I moved on to the appliances and reflected that, had I handled the merchandise the same way in, say, a lingerie store, I may have been asked to leave.

I went over to the salesman and saw that he was about 90 years old and wearing a tool belt with grease stains older than the Shroud of Turin. Good. This guy should know what he was talking about. And he did. Our conversation was peppered with terms like “thermal mesh,” “brass sheet knurling,” and even one “other big puss salesmen in the electrical department.” Man-type conversation.

I bought a washer and was actually happy that it didn’t come with some hoses that common sense just screams that a washer should come with. Happy? Sure. I got to buy some stuff in the plumbing aisle, which is probably the aisle that over the years I’ve bought the least from. I have to point out, for honesty’s sake (a first for this blog) that all you need to hook up a washer is a Y-hose, faucet hose, and a couple of screw-on attachments. In fact, not a single tool is needed. But just in case, I bought a plumber’s wrench, wire cutters, and knee pads.

Delivery won’t be until next week because the washer wasn’t in stock. Damn Home Depot. (Lowe’s.)

Back out in the parking lot I made it my car without one of the drunks asking me for change. Good thing too, because I wasn’t afraid to swing my new plumber’s wrench.

While it was no trip to the dude ranch, I got just as much enjoyment out of the hardware store. Probably even more, when you consider that I didn’t have to worry about any kids getting kicked by a horse.

* * *

Thanks again to BMJ2k, for allowing me access to his wordsmithing.

Death Ray

Codos sent me this link, while referencing the 30 Rock scene below.


US firm Raytheon has unveiled its anti-aircraft laser at the Farnborough Airshow in Hampshire.

The Laser Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) can either be used on its own or alongside a gunnery system.

In May, the laser was used to shoot down unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in a series of tests.

Raytheon said the solid state fibre laser produces a 50 kilowatt beam and can be used against UAV, mortar, rockets and small surface ships. – More From BBC

Lasers aren’t just for threatening the junks of Super-Agents anymore.

How long until we invent flying mirrors?