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...

Friday, February 3, 2017

Sociology 500, a Romance, ch 1 pt 2 -- Introducing Karel


Two more people we want to meet, here.

Karel turned the ignition key off. As his ears adjusted to the lack of engine noise, he was able to hear the birds singing in his friend, Dan's family's garden. He sat back and relaxed.

The door of the house opened and Dan stuck his head out the door. "Hey, Karel, how the heck are you?"

"Not bad for just finishing a five hour drive. How about you? Got your stuff?"

"Yeah, I got my stuff, but come on in and say hi to the family. My little sister's dying to see you again."

Two voices chorused in unison from inside the house. "Dan!"

Karel opened the car door and stretched his legs. "Your little sister ignores me whenever I come."

Dan ducked back in and came outside, carrying a briefcase and a backpack. "Unless you give her a ride on your shoulders," he replied.

The door opened again behind Dan, and a seventeen year old girl came running out and slapped the back of her brother's head. He just grinned.

Karel stood up and walked around the car, and gave the girl a hug. "My you've grown, Sheliah. Wanna piggy-back ride?"

"Mom says I'm getting too old."

"Ah well. Are you gonna marry me when you turn twenty?"

"Mom says you have to find someone your own age before then."

"Darn. She's probably right about that, though."

"When are you gonna find someone as cool as me?"

"That's a tall order. But I'll let you know when I do."

Karel went in and said hi to the Claymount family while Dan threw his stuff on the back seat. After catching up on family news for a few minutes he and Dan got in the car and headed out of town.

Dan had promised to drive at least half of the way. But Karel knew Dan would be tired from the long bus ride home, and he wanted to leave enough time to stop for a nap somewhere on the road.

They talked, and Karel joked, "I don't know whether I'm better friends with you or your family sometimes."

"Yeah. We're too busy to keep up with each other. Sure is too bad the team waived you after your second year."

"Too bad about missing the playoffs these last two years."

"I told Jack when he decided to drop you from the team that we just didn't have the depth without you. No depth, no risks, no forward progress."

 "He obviously thought he had the depth without me."

"I don't think that was it. He was just mad at you for sticking to principles. That time you asked him to take down the nude centerfolds in the locker room really bugged him."

"That and my unpredictable nature on the field."

"Heh. Well, yeah. Unpredictable. But we've been watching reels of other teams. The really good players don't always stick to the patterns."

"Football can't last forever."

"Which is why I let you talk me into checking out grad school with you, right?"

"Right. Meet any interesting women since we talked last?"

"Lots, but it seems they either are not interested in football, or they aren't interested in E-P-ism. How about you?"

"Same as always."

The conversation continued for a while and Dan drifted off to sleep. About midnight, Karel pulled the car off the road at a rest stop. Dan rolled out a sleeping bag in the back seat and Karel did the same in the front, and they both slept until the pre-dawn dusk woke them up. A short walk along the highway helped them clear their heads, and then they got back on the road.

We used to do that in our world, too, up until the mid-1980s. We can't do it any more. Too many problems with criminal activities going on in the middle of the night, so the highway police have to wake you up and tell you to move on.

But in the time frame of this story in the world of this novel, it was standard operating procedure for students traveling the long distances between home and college, especially for male students.

A bit after nine in the morning, Karel parked the car in a school parking lot and and woke Dan up.

"Hey, we're here," he said, shaking him gently by the shoulder.

Even after sleeping, Dan had not been feeling safe behind the wheel. So Karel had driven on in the rest of the way.

"Oh, man. Sorry I couldn't wake up."

"That's okay. You can drive on the road back."

"Has it been five years?"

"Five for you. Since I finished up my master's during the off-season while we were playing pro, it's only been three for me."

"Yeah. So, I'm going to the PE department to look at a graduate degree in sports education while you check out the anthropology department, right?"

"That's the plan."

"And you'll come down to the PE department to look at studying dance education as an option to anthropology, right?"

"Right. So we'll meet down there and then go get some lunch."

And that is how it was that Karel was sitting in the anthropology department offices, tired from the long drive, trying to read application form instructions, when Bobbie came in that morning. And why he wasn't there when she came back.

He did get an afternoon appointment to talk with a member of the faculty before he left.

"Hey, Karel, what's wrong?"

"Oh, nothing."

"You look like you just lost a friend."

"Just kicking myself for not trying to get a girl's phone number."

"That happens."

"Didn't even introduce myself. I only said something stupid like 'Nice day.'"

"Heh. Hey, don't sweat it. If it was meant to be, you'll get another chance."

"You should talk."

"True. Girls just don't understand us boys. Did you get an interview?"

"Got an appointment for the afternoon."

"Me, too. Are you going to go in and ask about the dance program or what?"

"I'm going, I'm going."

In the dance office, one of the professors was available to talk, but she was not encouraging.

"We just don't have the expertise to help you with teaching dance to football players, and, frankly, I don't think the football body would train well in dance. Getting the turnout would be nearly impossible."

"I know it would be pioneering, but I'm willing to put in the effort."

"I really hate to be so discouraging, but I can't promise that any of the faculty here would be able to put in enough effort to help you. We're up to our necks in our own curriculum."

Karel must not have hidden his disappointment well.

She continued, "Look, you have another option you're considering, right?"

"Yeah. Anthropology."

"Maybe that's going to be a stretch for you, too, but I think it will be less of a stretch."

On his way out of the office, he noticed a poster on the wall.

"What's this?"

"Oh, that's from several years back. A master's candidate from," and she named the school Karel remembered Bobbie saying she'd gotten her master's from in the morning, "came to do some workshops in modern dance here. It was very exciting. I keep the poster as a reminder."

"Roberta Whitmer."

"Do you know her?"

"Know her? Can't say that I do."

After that, they went up to the school cafeteria, showed their alumni cards, and got lunch. While they were eating, they talked about the morning.

"I can't believe she just basically turned me down flat."

"You've got to quit letting women walk all over you like that." Dan paused and thought while chewing. "But on the other hand, maybe that girl you didn't really meet this morning is part of your destiny."

For some reason, Karel had not mentioned her name, nor had he mentioned her other degrees. And he refrained from mentioning the poster, as well.

"Well, let's go to our interviews."

Karel's interview was with a Professor White. When Karel gave him his CV to look at, he scanned it, muttering, "mission, football, instrumentation technician, military, engineering, semiconductors, ... . Lots of experience. I don't see a connection. Why do you suddenly want to get a PhD in Anthropology?"

"When I was a missionary in," and he named the same mission that Bobbie had named, "I thought the islanders I worked among had an intuitive understanding of the cultural basis of economics and management. At that semiconductor company, I watched managers who seemed to have no interest in things cultural tear the company apart with bad management and worse economics. I think their lack of interest in the human factor was the proximate cause of their bad management."

"I see. So, what do you intend to research?"

"I want to describe the human factors of management and the simplified economic models they operate under."

At the time of this story, management was still not a separate field of studies at most universities in the world of this novel.

"Okay, that sounds like something we can work from. Tell me more about your background, so I can get an idea of the holes we need to fill."

And Karel explained how he had spent a lot of time over the last year working through anthropology texts and management theory books, commenting on how various popular philosophies seemed to induce a blindness towards management listening to what the workers have to say.

Of course, the holes Karel had to fill were different from Bobbie's. Where he could just monitor the senior-level anthropology research methodologies class, he would have to take the actual anthropologist's introduction to medicine and physiology.

And he also committed to correspond with Professor White for further advice as he prepared to begin coursework in the fall.

When they left, later in the afternoon, they both had the necessary forms and had made the necessary contacts.

Dan drove on the way back, and they arrived at his home around midnight. Karel crashed in Dan's room for five hours before driving home in the morning.

On the way home, he complained a bit to God:

"Why didn't I try harder to strike up a conversation with her?"
It didn't feel right, did it?
"If I were smooth like Dan, I could have gotten her phone number, I'm sure. Why can't I be smooth like him?"
Dan said it himself, he's not particularly successful at getting married yet, either.
Karel didn't have a quick response to that. Further bickering with his conscience and his social senses and more fussing with the impressions he was getting led him back to the same place. Not asking for her phone number was the right thing.

Ultimately, he said, "Well, Father, like Dan said, if it's something that should happen for me, I'd sure like another chance to make her acquaintance."

He could have described the response he felt as a galactic "Hmmmm."

Both Dan and Karel spent a lot of the time over the next eight months preparing to go back to school.

They made another trip about four weeks after their first trip, to hand-deliver their applications, because it was a little close to the deadline. Even though they were there the same day as Bobbie, Karel didn't meet her again. Dan didn't run into her, either, now that I mention it.

Karel wanted to live on campus, and Dan wanted to live off campus, so after they submitted their applications, they each spent part of the day separately arranging for housing and checking out possible work opportunities.

I explained a little about what a "mission" is, when we met Bobbie.

I forgot to mention there that a missionary's field of labor, the area where a group of missionaries serve, is also called a "mission" in E-P-ist parlance.

There are two parallel organizations within the Church. One is focused on the ministry to-and-of the members, and one is focused on the missionary work. 

In the latter organization, a "mission" is a physical area and the missionaries assigned to work there. The country corollary to Japan, for instance, would much later be divided into seven physical areas called missions, and the country corollary to the Philippines would be divided into twenty-one. Each of those missions would have around fifty to a hundred fifty missionaries working in it.

At the time Karel would have served his mission in the world of this novel, the two countries corollary to the Philippines and Japan were both within a single mission. Later, during the time that Bobbie would have been serving her mission, they were split. Both served for a time in the Japan and the Philippines of their world. But they spent most of their time in other islands which are a bit harder to relate to places in our world.

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[This part is backed up here:]

[The original of this chapter can be found here:]

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