The Novels

Economics 101, a Novel (Rough Draft) -- My first sustained attempt at a novel, two-thirds finished in rough draft, and heading a little too far south.
What would you do if you and your study partner, with whom you had been seriously discussing marriage, suddenly found yourselves all alone together on a desert island? Study economics?
Sociology 500, a Romance (Second Draft) -- The first book in the Economics 101 Trilogy.(On hold.)
Karel and Dan, former American football teammates and now graduate students, meet fellow graduate students Kristie and Bobbie, and the four form a steady study group.

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Sociology 500, a Romance, ch 1 pt 1 -- Introducing Bobbie

TOC Well, let's meet Roberta Whitmer. Bobbie entered the anthropology department office and looked around. Near the receptionis...

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Economics 101, a Novel, ch 140 -- Morning of the Second Day

[JMR20160909: This was a blind alley. I am currently working in the initial (rough) draft of this chapter, here:]

 (The story starts here:

In the previous chapter, Zedidiah started searching for the missing customers and pilot:

Let's get back to the thought experiment and see what Karel and Bobbie are doing on their second day on the island. I hope this chapter is not too tedious.

It's worth pointing out here that this chapter includes a lot of activity that some may consider outside the domain of economics. Don't be confused. It's all economics, even if it isn't money in the bank.

Bobbie woke up in the pre-dawn twilight and checked on Karel, who was half-awake. Then she changed into shorts and a T-sheet inside the tent and went barefoot down below the grass line to do some exercises.

Hearing Bobbie leave the tent, Karel crawled out from under the dinghy and took it off the trunks they had set it against, and then went down to see what Bobbie was doing. She had finished her warmups -- stretches, push-ups, and sit-ups on the sand, and now she stood up, dusted herself off, and started doing plié (ballet knee-bends) and relevé (standing on tip-toe).

"I heard through the grapevine about you doing exercises every day."

"Not every day. Four or five days a week." Plié, relevé, reach.

"Did you learn those exercises in your dance classes?"

"How did you guess?" Plié, relevé, reach.

"When I was playing football, I sometimes thought about taking dance to improve my coordination."

"You played as a running back, right?" Now she shifted to standing and sitting breathings, working her abdominals and gluts. Concave, straight.

"And receiver, although I was never good enough to be on the starting team. You understand football. That impresses a guy."

"It's interesting to watch and analyze as dance. You know, the plays you guys practice and run, all of that's basic choreography." Concave, straight.

"Your understanding of sports scares a guy, too."

"It didn't scare you." Concave, straight.

Karel hesitated. "When we first met, you were very intimidating."

Bobbie sensed the hesitation, as if something that had started to mesh between them were slipping out of sync. "You didn't show it." Now she started walking across the beach in waltz rhythm -- plié, plié, relevé -- working her arms and upper body through common positions as she walked.

Karel wondered if she was aware that he had been there in the department office, that January morning. For some reason, he fudged. "I suspected the teachers were trying to set us up, ..." And as the words left his mouth, he regretted them, but he felt stuck. "... so I had basically decided to consider you as a fellow student and nothing more. Period. So the intimidation factor didn't matter."

Why didn't he ask? And, again, he found himself regretting things he had left unsaid.

Now Bobbie hesitated. She wanted to know, but didn't want to know, even after more than three years, whether he had been aware of meeting her that January morning. "You know, I appreciated that. Most guys either hit on me, hard, or run away at full speed."

Proud words. Vain words. But she was trying to leave an opening to sometime telling Karel that she had had a crush on him well before she know his name.

"I'm glad I did neither. Glad we're friends. I think I'm going to follow your example." And Karel started doing push-ups, the exercise not really salving his conscience.

Bobbie felt the gap in understanding close, just a little bit, as she stopped to watch Karel for a moment, then continued with her traveling exercises.

After about a half hour of exercise and small talk, in the light of the sunrise, Bobbie stopped to rest and said, "So, what should we do before breakfast?"

"I want to see as much of the beach as we can while it's cool, but maybe we should eat some breakfast first."

"Alright, I'm game for a walk."

So they went back to the tent and got out the food box. And Bobbie picked up the fruits they had picked the night before.

"We forgot to check these." Bobbie said.

"Jackfruit can be eaten raw, let's see if that really is one."

"I'll take it down to the water and wash it." And she did.

Karel got out the knife and plates they had washed the day before and set out bread and cheese. When she came back, he cut the spikey fruit open and smelled it. "Smells right," he said handing it to Bobbie for her opinion. "Smell like jackfruit to you, too?"

"Smells good."

Karel cut a small slice and ate it. "Tastes like jackfruit. Should we wait a few minutes to see if I react, or do you want a piece?"

"Recite the first fifteen squares."

"Zero, one, four, nine, sixteen, twenty-five, thirty-six, forty-nine, sixty-four, eighty-one, one hundred, one twenty-one, one forty-four, one sixty-nine, uhm, let's see, sixty-nine and twenty-seven is one ninety-six. I always forget fourteen squared."

"Stomach, throat, nose, okay?"


"Eyes watering?"


"I'll try a piece. But let's not eat too much at once."

"Let's check if that other is breadfruit later," Karel said as he cut her a piece.

"We're forgetting to pray."

"Woops. I'll say the blessing." And he offered thanks and the usual requests over the food, and asked that they would be guided and protected from poisoning themselves while testing the island's native plants.

And neither of them had any problems with the jackfruit, so they had a bit more after the bread and cheese.

After cleaning up from breakfast, they cleaned the sand out of their shoes.

"Which direction should we take?"

"Let's ask God. I'll go first." Bobbie prayed first, then Karel. We don't really need to know all the details, but they asked for direction, that they would enjoy the hike, and that they wouldn't waste too much time, and, if there were fresh water available, that they could find it soon.

After drinking the rest of the water in their canteens, they filled them half-way from the water Wycliffe had put in their food box. And then they looked at each other. "Anything on which direction we should go, yet?" Karel asked.

Bobbie put out her fist and said, "Rocks, ...," and Karel smiled and joined in with, "scissors, paper, go!" Bobbie held up two fingers to Karel's open hand and imitated cutting.

"Hmm." She thought, then shrugged. "South, since we started north yesterday. How far should we go?"

"Maybe two hours along the beach, then turn back if the island is too big?"

"So we'll be back in about four hours or less. What if Wycliffe comes back while we are hiking?"

"Let's leave him a note."

Bobbie found a pencil in her purse and wrote on Wycliffe's card, "Out hiking. Wait for us!"

"Write, 'Gone south.' below that, so we can erase it for next time."

And they put the card on the trunk, setting two rocks on it so Wycliffe could see it.

Mind you, Wycliffe was, in fact watching from the other side of the veil. He had been watching all morning, with breaks to see what Zedidiah and Professor MacVittie and even Karel's and Bobbie's families were doing. Distance isn't quite the same in the world of spirits, either, apparently.

Karel said, "Hey. I think I want to take that water filter. Were there iodine tablets with it, too?"


"Maybe we should take our backpacks and some food." So they emptied their backpacks in the tent and prepared some food for lunch. Then they put the filter and the iodine tablets in Karel's pack, and grabbed some rope and other supplies, as well.

"Swimming stuff?" Bobbie asked.

"Just in case." Karel said, and they took their swimsuits off the tentlines, rolled them up, and put them in their packs, too.

Shouldering their packs, they headed south, with the morning sun low on their left.

"Let's keep close to the trees," Karel said. "I want to see both the forest and the ocean."

"Good idea. It'll be faster than walking on the sand, or in the woods, either."

The story gets a little tedious here, but see if you can map the island in your head as we go.

Five minutes brought them to where they had turned back the day before. From here, the beach narrowed, the tree line slanting to the left. They had now brought the small mountain they had seen the day before up to their right.

"How tall do you think that is?" Bobbie asked.

"Did I guess at the height yesterday?"

"Do I remember?"

"If that's a half-mile or so away, I'd say maybe 600 feet."

"That sounds tall."

"It does look a little steep near the ridge."

Continuing for a minute or two, they found the beach narrowing, the water line slanting in towards them. About five minutes further, the beach bent right, and they came to a clear stream, maybe an inch deep and a foot wide.

"Water!" Bobbie exclaimed as the stream came into view. "Is it salty?"

"Let's at least take a look upstream before we taste it."

So they followed its twisted path into the woods, west and north, keeping away from the stream to avoid kicking dirt into it. The first five minutes were easy, but then it became steep enough to make them breathe hard. After less than ten more minutes of climbing, they found a tributary stream and followed it thirty or forty yards to where it sprang from the ground.

"This looks good," said Karel. He took the filter out of his backpack and filled the cup from it in the spring as Bobbie looked on. He looked in the water and said, "I wish I had a microscope."

"If we're going to be safe, we should carry that back to the camp and see if anything shows up in it," suggested Bobbie.

"Okay, let's do that." Karel emptied the cup into the filtration section, closed the filter, and put it back in his pack, being careful to set it in upright. Then they followed the stream back down.

At the tree line, Karel said, mostly to himself, "A bit more than ten minutes to this point, we've come about a half a mile from camp." Bobbie was looking across the ocean, and did not reply.

Going south past the stream, the beach bent left again. From there, the water line and the tree line ran more or less parallel, due barely east of south. After they had walked another five or so minutes, the beach began to curve right. When they had followed the curve a bit more than ten minutes, Karel checked the shadows of the trees and said, "It looks like we're heading west. Total hiking time along the beach is about thirty minutes, so I'd say we've been walking about a mile and a half."

"Seen anything new in the trees?"

"There's so much interesting stuff I've lost track of it all."

"Me, too."

"We'll do a proper survey when we come back. Seen anything besides water in the ocean?"

"Don't really know what to look for, but I haven't seen any islands or boats."

"Same here. You know, the mountain here looks more like a ridge than a peak."

"Edge of a volcano wall?"

"The ridge seems to drop a bit up ahead, maybe a broken wall. It'll be a fun hike, to find out."

The beach narrowed further as it continued to curve towards the north. After less than five minutes, the beach slanted a bit to the left, almost due west again, narrowing to about ten yards at one point. The beach was steep and rocky here, and the forest floor rose sharply to their right, blocking their view of the ridge they had passed.

After about ten minutes heading west, the beach curved right again, then ran straight, heading northwest into a small bay. They could see a lower ridge ahead, descending toward their left. Another five minutes took them to another small stream just before the apex of the bay.

They sat down and rested just beyond the stream.

"I think we should explore and test this stream later," Bobbie said, with a bit of emphasis on "later".

"I'm with you on that. Do you have a notebook?"

"Yeah." Bobbie dug a notebook and pencil out of her pack and started sketching the path of the beach as she remembered it.

"Let's see, a stream about here, at about a half a mile, you said. And the beach curves like this, and here's the little bight we are now in."

"How far do you think we've come, to get to this stream?"

"Forty minutes walking time along the beach, plus or minus a bit, so I'd guess two miles or so."

"What do you think?"

"Looks like the way I remember it so far."

"We might be able to walk around the whole island in about two hours or less."

"Well, let's see if we can fill in the rest of that."

So they stood up and headed west again. After a bit more than five minutes, the beach curved to the right. In five more minutes, they came to a straight stretch heading just west of north. The beach widened out and turned sandy again as they followed it, with the low ridge now to their right.

After a bit more than ten minutes, the beach bent slightly left again, still mostly north. The low ridge was behind them, now. After about five more minutes, they thought they might be seeing water through the trees on their right.

Two more minutes took them beyond the trees onto a wide sandbar covered with grass and scrub above the tide line, extending more than a quarter of a mile in front of them, curving to the right, to end short of closing off the clear blue water on their right, pointing due east.

"Wow. If that sandbar were a little longer, this estuary bay would be a lagoon," Karel said absently.

"Estuary bay, lagoon, sound, salt marsh, whatever it is, it's beautiful."

"I don't think it's a salt marsh. Good thing we brought our swimming suits."

"First things first. What time is it? How far have we come? How wide and long is this sandbar?"

"Eight thirty-seven. We have come, uhm, about seventy minutes, total, or about three and a half miles. The sandbar looks to be about two hundred yards across, here." Karel answered. "Do you want to walk it to get the distance?"

"Last one in is a rotten egg!" called Bobbie, as she ran instead for the water. But the ninety-yard dash to the water's edge cooled her enthusiasm, and she caught her breath while she waited for Karel to catch up.

"Swimming with your clothes on is one way to do your laundry. But if you don't take your shoes off first, your feet will be hurting by the time we get back to the tent."

"You can carry me."

"Sounds like your idea of romance, but I'm not sure I like it."

Bobbie grinned and Karel smiled back.

"I guess I might be able to carry you all the way back, with some breaks."

"Mmmmm, probably, both of us would just get worn out and friction burned. And, ... okay. Let's just take our shoes off, wade in a bit and look around, dry off our feet, and keep going. I'm thinking I want to get back and get a hat on before the sun gets too high in the sky, anyway."

So they left their shoes and their packs on the sand and waded in, looking around in the water and talking about what might be edible. Then they dried their feet and dusted the sand and salt off, and put their shoes back on. And Bobbie took her map out and sketched the bay in.

"How wide do you think it is?"

"Maybe half a mile."

"It's a lagoon, isn't it?"

"It would be hard to say it isn't."

"A girl couldn't ask for a better ..." and Bobbie didn't finish the sentence, glancing at Karel.

Karel smiled wryly and said, "Yeah. it'd make a great date. Our friends will be jealous. We'll come back."

Changing the subject, he said, "Do you want to walk around the inside? Or go out along the sandbar, so we have to cross the inlet and find out how deep it is, and decide whether it's a lagoon or not?"

"Let's see what the lagoon's inner beach has."

The end of the tree line, where they had first gotten full sight of the bay, was near the westernmost reach of the bay. Walking from there along the south shore brought them to the southernmost reach in about seven minutes.

After walking less than fifteen minutes due almost straight northeast, they were at the easternmost reach, where a brook about three yards across and less than a foot deep emptied into the bay. They took their shoes off and waded across the brook, then continued about four minutes north and about four minutes west to reach the inlet at the northernmost reach.

The inlet was about ten yards across, and they took their shoes off and waded in up to their knees, to get an idea how deep it would be.

"Maybe waist deep in the middle?"

"Let's not get our clothes wet."

And they turned back, dried their feet again, and continued up the beach past a spot where the beach nearly disappeared, going north-north-west for about seven minutes, then east-north-east about four minutes to the apex of another bight, where the beach disappeared exactly where another stream emptied into the sea.

They crossed this section stepping on rocky outcrops, heading slightly east of north for about six minutes, to another sharp curve in the beach, and sat down while Bobbie sketched in the stream and bight.

Then they continued around the curve, to head slightly south of east for about ten minutes, and followed along about ten minutes more as the beach curved to the south, to another stream. The beach widened here, and from there they could see their camp from the north. Eight more minutes took them to the farthest north point of the previous days explorations, and they continued back to camp, where Bobbie dug out a hat and sat down to draw the rest of the map of the morning's explorations.

Karel took out the water filter and opened it up, to see what the water looked like after sitting for a couple of hours. There was nothing in the filter that he could see, and the filtered water looked clear and smelled fine.

So he dug the cooking pot/bucket out of the mess kit and said, "I'm going back to the spring to get some more water.

Bobbie put her pencil down and said, "I'll come with you."

"Don't know why."

"Don't want you running away with any water sprites."

"Not that I'd mind the company."

So they went back to the spring and captured a bucket full of water. On the way back, they collected some deadwood from the forest floor to try building a fire with.

In the emergency kit, they found flint and steel, and Bobbie gathered some dried grass and dead twigs, and used the hand axe to shorten the deadwood and split the ends. They set the firewood on the sand, away from the grass, and Karel tried the flint without success. Then Bobbie tried the flint while Karel blew the sparks into the grass, and they got a fire going to boil the water with.

Just for fun, they set the fruit they thought might be breadfruit on the fire and let it bake. It burst, and smelled like baked bread, as advertised. So they asked a blessing on the food, and ate the breadfruit with some bread, cheese, and sausage, and drank from their canteens.

The water in the bucket boiled, and they let it boil for twenty minutes, then took it off the fire to cool, and put out the fire with sand.

"What time is it?" Bobbie asked.

"One twenty-one."

"What should we do next?"

"Take a nap in some shade?"

"Tent's hot."

"Guess it's time for me to try to build a lean-to."

"We need dead trees and leaves and stuff."


"Is it hot under the dinghy?"

So they crawled under the dinghy and sat leaning against the trunks, looking at each other and thinking their own thoughts. And both of them drifted out, and Wycliffe watched over them.

Do storms occur on this island?

The table of contents can be found here:

[The initial (rough) draft of this chapter is here:]

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