A privileged view

“Let’s go now to the terrace.” We are both dressed, and it is time for me to move on planning. “I want to check something.”

“After you, my dear Jesse. This is your home.”

I walk to the balcony. In principle, you don’t need to experience a zooming view. It’s something that needs to be called somehow, by voluntarily focus on a detail. I know that from yesterday. So if you don’t focus, the view is the usual. The problem is, it’s hard not to focus. But I’m not here for that. I look to the sky. The green moon is there, with its hanging appendix. I try to focus there, and its irregular,bulky disk grows immediately to the point I’m able to distinguish between the appendix that hangs from the moon to the City and the roots of it. I focus more. Some creatures seem to crawl up and down the appendix, with different loads over them. The Transporters. Then I look back to Machiko. “Did you see them? The Transporters?”

She’s having a weird smile. “Jesse, did you think already about my proposal?”

“Which proposal?” She comes closer. I’ll be trapped in a corner of the balcony.

“You know which one. I proposed you to stay here with me. We can come back to the life we had on Earth, 5 years ago. It will be perfect.”

“55 years ago. Or more.” I correct her. There’s something on her that is waking up my sense of danger.

“Do you know what I do with the complicated clients, my love? ” The last word was definitely an irony, wasn’t? “I found out another use for this terrace. You can use it as a quick transport system. You know, I’m not a doctor in Particle Physics, but from the first day I had an explanation for this phenomena. I think there’s some kind of field between here and there ” she points to the moon ” that creates pipes that allow us to see things that just happened at the other side of the pipe. But they don’t only transport light.”

“What do you mean?” Now, if I need to leave the terrace, I need to pass over her.

“It means, if you throw something in that pipe, you see it disappearing at high speed..and that is not always what you want, or is it?”

And with a feline move, she pushes me out. Out of the terrace, out of the building, out of the city, and soon, out of the planet. But I will fade before arriving. Actually, I fade now.

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Why would you come back. Here you have a lot of empty space, a clean and new environment, abundance of food, if you care to find it, and people helping each other. The pioneers wonderland, you could call it. There is a simple reason I would come back: this place is not home. The colors are too bright sometimes, you feel slightly heavier all the time, and then you have things like the zooming terrace of Machiko.

Where does this leaves me? I left the system, in the search of something better. I could create a family, here, with Machiko, but despite I like her offer, I’m not going to settle before I have answered all my questions. And that means travelling, until finding out how to connect this me and the one I left on Earth. And maybe finding out how this world moves in the meantime. So my goals for the next days, or months, are clear: I need to solve the riddle of the history of this place, and find out, if possible, and not in this order, why the things are like they are, where are the original builders of the City, and how can I safely return back home, wherever I decide it is, at the end of my quest.

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Ohayo!” Machiko smiles. She looks indeed still almost like a schoolgirl, with her slender body and no sign of ageing on her face. The orientals always had that weird way of getting old, like if they decide to freeze in a certain age, let’s say, 30, and after that they stay the same…until they collapse completely to become a dried grape, like us. “Would you like something for breakfast? Maybe a miso soup?”

“Machiko, didn’t you never asked yourself how it is that you can find a lot of Earth products on your local shop?”

“Not really. If the people come, why not the goods?” A good and simple argument. Because the economy is not based on charity. “Besides, I’m not sure these things are real. How can I prove that this soy is not something completely different, but with the same properties?” She puts me over the table a trade with a cup of coffee, a couple of fried eggs and a toast. “Now you need to ask me from which animal are these eggs coming from.”

“From which animal are these eggs coming from?”  She laughs before answering. “Who cares? They taste like the ones I remember from my home town! If they come from a giant spider, or a dinosaur, I really don’t mind. They are tasty and they are cheap enough.” She starts drinking her soup. I look at her, naked but with the pants she doesn’t look like an influencer. Suddenly she raises her eyes to look at me. “So did you think about my proposal? I could use somebody like you here, sometimes the situation can be tricky and I’m not quick enough to handle them.” Yesterday, after making love, she proposed me to share this place, to come back living together. I didn’t answer. And I will not.

“It’s OK. It was long time ago that you dumped me. And now you come here, looking for me, and looking like if you survived to a nuclear holocaust…that you did. Don’t misunderstand me, you look great. You look so great that I can’t believe you’re almost a hundred years old. Which reminds me you didn’t explain me the thing with the time… and this place…” I devour the eggs. Indeed they taste great. I need to tell her something, if I don’t want to start a war here.

“You know how I am with the technicalities. So please do not get frustrated if, after my explanation, I can’t answer your questions.” She smiles. “It’s OK. You will do it great, don’t worry.” My turn to smile for the sexual joke. “Do you remember the cartoon pictures of the Earth and the Solar System?” She nods. “Good, so let’s imagine that the Ecliptic, the plane where or the planets of the Solar System lay, it’s a two-dimensional sheet instead of a four-dimensional one. Got it? Then imagine that our Solar System sheet has, somehow, another one above it and another one below it, for example. And that these other sheets are other subsets of dimensions and physical laws, that coexist in a high-level Anti-de-Sitter eleven-dimensional space. ” She looks at me with a strange face, doubting if to laugh or to throw me her miso soup. “Then, one day, something -we don’t know what was it- triggers some kind of phase transition, where the set of dimensions that were separated start to merge in a new one. The problem is, we will have matter, a property that is space-dependent, from different system sheets, occupying the same space at the same time. What is happening to that matter then? In our case, it coalesces in a mixture of two subsets of matter, one from one set of 4 dimensions, the other one in another set. ” She starts to dress. Am I boring? Probably, but she asked. “As a result, what we have now, is a 11-dimensional planet, with several time axes. And we live in a 4D subset of it, but we seem to be able to walk from one subset of 4 dimensions to the other, no problem.” I dress also. Maybe I could take a shower, but I didn’t see her doing so, so I don’t even know if that thing exists here. I continue, then, “We have a second problem. We don’t know the physical laws of the other subsets. Starting with the speed of light. Also, we don’t know how extensive they are. In the System, we have learnt thanks to our scientist and explorers that not all the edges bring you to the City, and very importantly, that the edges, these risks between matter regions, work only on one direction. So if you fall here, to come back to the Earth subset, you need to find an edge in the City to fall though it.”

“And why would you do that, I mean, come back? There you have a wasted land, if I understood properly! A wasted land with a small, civilized area. Here you have everything you need in principle, and the buildings are ready to be occupied, like if somebody left them yesterday.”

“Yes indeed. Why would you want to do that?”

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SPHIRE update on CentOS 7

Last January I was telling you my experience installing Sphire. I got a new version of the package, and this time installation was smoother. Note that the package provided to me comes from a workshop (workshop? what is that?) so it could be it’s not the final one. I got a pendrive with several folder. Obviously I go to the folder named “Installer”.

I will from here use eman2.2.linux64.centos6.cluster.numpy18-2017_05_04.sh that seems to tell me, from the name, that I need to install it in a cluster running centos6.

## > ./eman2.2.linux64.centos6.cluster.numpy18-2017_05_04.sh

Welcome to EMAN2 2.2

EMAN2 will now be installed into this location:

- Press ENTER to confirm the location
 - Press CTRL-C to abort the installation
 - Or specify a different location below

[/root/EMAN2] >>> /usr/local/EMAN2_sphire
ERROR: File or directory already exists: /usr/local/EMAN2_sphire
If you want to update an existing installation, use the -u option.

I understand this is not an error, since I have created the folder on purpose. Anyway, I go for the update option:

## > ./eman2.2.linux64.centos6.cluster.numpy18-2017_05_04.sh -u

Welcome to EMAN2 2.2

EMAN2 will now be installed into this location:

- Press ENTER to confirm the location
 - Press CTRL-C to abort the installation
 - Or specify a different location below

[/root/EMAN2] >>> /usr/local/EMAN2_sphire
installing: python-2.7.13-1 ...
...bla bla bla...


Important note for Linux Cluster use:
If you are using EMAN2/SPARX/SPHIRE on a cluster, 
the version of OpenMPI we provide may not work with your 
batch queueing system, meaning you would not be able 
to run jobs on more than one node at a time. If this is true:
- run 'utils/uninstall_openmpi.sh' to remove the 
OpenMPI we provided
- run 'utils/install_openmpi.sh' to install 
OpenMPI from source (optional)
- make sure that the correct OpenMPI for your cluster 
is in your path. You should be able to run 'mpicc' 
and get a message like 'gcc: no input files'
 (note that it is critical that OpenMPI be 
compiled with '--disable-dlopen', which may 
or may not be true on your cluster. 
You may need to consult a sysadmin.)
- run 'utils/install_pydusa.sh' to rebuild 
Pydusa using the system installed OpenMPI

installation finished.
Do you wish the installer to prepend the EMAN2 install location
to PATH in your /root/.bashrc ? [yes|no]
[no] >>> no

You may wish to edit your .bashrc or 
prepend the EMAN2 install location:

$ export PATH=/usr/local/EMAN2_sphire/bin:$PATH

Thank you for installing EMAN2!

I will recycle the module of my previous sphire version. After changing the module to match the new installation, I have a test run, that I launch, without so much hopes, since we are here speaking about openmpi and python, the two monsters of collective environments.  My error reads:

RuntimeError: module compiled against API version 0xa 
but this version of numpy is 0x9

Therefore, I do need to re-install its openmpi. I do so on a test machine, just in case it does screw my other mpi installations. As suggested:

module load eman2/eman2-sphire 
 cd /usr/local/EMAN2_sphire/

Note that the uninstall will fail unless you have the eman2-sphire environment loaded. Note also that the installation of pydusa takes for a while. A successful install should give you this output at the end:

# All requested packages already installed.
# packages in environment at /usr/local/EMAN2_sphire:
fftw-mpi 3.3.6 0 local
+ conda inspect linkages pydusa

 libfftw3.so.3 (lib/libfftw3.so.3)
 libfftw3_mpi.so.3 (lib/libfftw3_mpi.so.3)

 libmpi.so.20 (lib/libmpi.so.20)
 libopen-pal.so.20 (lib/libopen-pal.so.20)
 libopen-rte.so.20 (lib/libopen-rte.so.20)

 libc.so.6 (/usr/lib64/libc.so.6)
 libgpfs.so (/usr/lib64/libgpfs.so)
 libm.so.6 (/usr/lib64/libm.so.6)
 libpthread.so.0 (/usr/lib64/libpthread.so.0)
 librt.so.1 (/usr/lib64/librt.so.1)
 libutil.so.1 (/usr/lib64/libutil.so.1)
 linux-vdso.so.1 ()

not found:

How do I know my installation is really independent? I will sync “only” the folder EMAN2_sphire and my module definition to one node. There, I do:

user@node ~ $ > module load mpi/mpi-2.1.0 
user@node ~ $ > mpirun --version
mpirun (Open MPI) 2.1.0

Report bugs to http://www.open-mpi.org/community/help/
user@node ~ $ > module unload mpi/mpi-2.1.0 
user@node ~ $ > module load eman2/eman2-sphire 
user@node ~ $ > mpirun --version
mpirun (Open MPI) 2.0.2

Report bugs to http://www.open-mpi.org/community/help/
user@node ~ $ > which mpirun
user@node ~ $ >

Then I launch my test run, and no problem so far. So good job, sphire guys 😀 .

This version is easier to install, better encapsulated, and can run on a cluster. I’ll be looking forward for the results.

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My turn

“In my situation?” It’s time to lie. “I couldn’t have done it better. You see? You have a beautiful flat, in the middle of a transit area, with all the local conveniences available. You’re highly valued amongst the local, and you have a terrace, literally, with a magical point of view. What else do you want?” She smiles, and I see her resisting to get close to me. When we were together, long time ago, she was always approaching me in a natural, feline way. This is what I saw starting and not finishing. I sit at the sofa. It’s fluffy. I feel like I’m going to dig inside. She sits by my side. On the table, both wine glasses and the bottle. “I want you to tell me.” She grabs my free hand. “What is going on on Earth?” I smile. I can tell her whatever I want. I should choose carefully my words, if I want to finish what I started.

“Earth is still there.” I finish my glass, and I serve us two more. The bottle is half empty. “The edges didn’t stop moving, and a little after your disappearance, I believe, most of the governments started to release communicates saying that unfortunately they will never be able to control them. There was an UN communication in that sense, asking the people to stay at home, if possible, and if not, try to travel in groups, until the problem was gone. I remember the pompous statement of the UN Secretary, assuring that the edges will disappear as they came, unannounced.  That announcement didn’t solve the problem, obviously. And, as you do remember, the UN was nothing already at that moment.” Break. I look to the ceiling before continuing, trying to imitate a dramatic pose “Then, one year after that announcement, with the economy collapsed, when the population on Earth was the half, the North Korean war started.” I grab her hand. She is definitely getting drunken. I see her eyes narrowing, like a child resisting to sleep when hearing her favorite fairy tale.

“Nobody knows how it started. Somebody speculated that the North Korean leader fell, and somebody panicked and pressed the button. There were nuclear missiles flying all around the globe. United States was mostly wiped out on the first strike, then Japan. The ADS annihilated Russia and China. Fortunately, Europe and Africa were not very affected. People started to fall on purpose, flying away from the Nuclear Winter to come. Didn’t you realize a peak on the visitors at one point?” She doesn’t react quickly, but finally she negates it. “Interesting. Probably a side effect of the different space time consistency. The fact is, like 40 years ago, there were only around two hundred million people on earth, and they were mostly in Europe. ” She seems to react to the number. “Sukoooi. That’s amazing! It must have been horrible!”

“Wanna know a funny thing? It was not. We Central Europeans didn’t suffer so much the Nuclear Winter. The countries close to Russia, Letonia, Estonia, Finland, etc, were of course suffering from the radiation pollution, but we know in principle how to protect ourselves from these things. Spain and Morocco, for example, due to its specific locations, were not even touched. It was a war between East and West. Not with us. ”  Machiko finishes her glass. Her cheeks are red. If I want her, I need to approach soon. “But the news…weren’t you scared by them?” I sight, and I pass my arm around her. She doesn’t resist. “No. Remember that it was the Post-truth age. Nobody wanted to believe what was going on.”

I think I’m going to stay here tonight. Not that I have a better plan. And tomorrow I want to have a fresh look from the terrace. I decide to give her a sip of truth. “Finally ” I grab her waist before making my final move, and still no resistance “around 20 years ago, after 10 years of discussions between oligarchs, the System was born.” She makes some space, and finishes her glass. “You mentioned the System before. Something about being of paramount importance for the System to have this city under control…” So she’s not so drunken! I need to be very careful with what I say. “Anyway, under the system finally we managed to find out what were the edges… and how to fix them. Do you want to know about it?”

“Maybe. But not today.” She kisses me, and we fall in the sofa. The cups fall on the carpet, making some kind of muffled sound.

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50 years

“50 years? Are you kidding me?” I’m not, but I’m tempted to.”50 years indeed. Half a century since the first edges were registered. Since the first people started to fall. Are you able to remember how did you fall?”

“Yes I am.” She takes a few steps back, like if she were scared of me. Maybe she is. Maybe she think I’m a geist, a doppelganger or something worse. “I’m not a ghost, if you’re thinking that now. Also not a robot. The technology doesn’t work here, right? ” I try to smile. I’m not very good on it, as a smuggler, I don’t need to have that sort of ability.  But it seems to work. She relaxes, and walks down to the kitchen. “I have a bottle of wine. I don’t know from where it comes from, but the guy who gave it to me assured me it’s the most popular one on the place he’s coming from.” I interrupt. “That doesn’t always mean it’s good, just that it’s popular.” I don’t see her face now, only her back. She’s searching for something. “Anyway. I was saving it for a special occasion. I think I may have been saving it for now!”

With dancing moves, she brings the bottle and two glasses. “Tachan! Here you have it! A bottle of Rosenberg 2016, one traminer so good that you will feel like it comes from beyond the borders of our reality!” We laugh. She carefully opens the bottle, and in a theatrical gesture, pours a little of wine on a wine glass and gives it to me to smell it. I do so, and nod. “Fantastic smell. Let’s try it.” I gulp it, and an intense and fruity flavour goes down my throat. Soon I feel like if I have eaten some exotic berries. “It’s the real thing. Thank you for sharing it with me.”

“You’re welcome. Do you want to drink it at the terrace?” I doubt. “I think your terrace is quite entertaining, so let’s pay tribute to your offer to our friendship here.” She seems to be pleased of my choice, and also of my wording. Machiko fills both glasses, sips hers, smiles, and starts to speak.

“You wanted to know what I remember. After speaking with my clients, I could say my fall was quite unfeatured. I could say, also, that I don’t envy them, but for me, it was a smooth transition. Do you remember the first days?” I do remember them. I nod. “Everybody was thinking the rumors on the network about disappearances were a new ad campaign, those were the days of the half-truth and the post-truth. As you know, I was never a fan of the social networks, and I was connecting only to read emails and check the news on the big portals.” She sip. I sip. We look around. I admire once more the place. She managed to make it look like half an office, half a house. The furnitures look like coming from different time periods, and maybe they are. I wonder if they were here when she arrived, or she bought them. I will ask about it later. “So I was not aware people were seeing and experiencing anomalies in a rate that was beyond any advertizing. You know me! I was not taking it seriously.” She sips the wine. I sip the wine. I wonder where’s her bed. I do remember also when we were together, more than 50 years ago. 50 years of my time, not of her time. “Anyway. There you have that I was invited to a party, somewhere close to where I lived, yes, the place you know, and that very night I hear from a friend I trust that the government is calling to report any missing person and any anomaly seen, encounter, or heard, through all the typical channels: email, call, fax…do you remember what a fax is?” I laugh. She laughs. Her smile is the real one, this time I’m sure. “So after the party, and after a bottle of wine in a good company, there I am that I need to return home and in the way, I want to pay attention to all those things, just in case.” I smile. I can imagine the result, I read a lot of reports. She refills the glasses. Outside, the light get dimmer. The light of the stars. “I turned to the left, without thinking about where I was going, since I know the way by heart, and a minute later I’m here. Imagine it. Your city is gone, and you’re in a brand new city! Your home is gone! I of course quickly looked back, just to find more of this alien City, more of this decaying landscape. What would have you done in my situation?”

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No answer

“I’m not going to tell you. At least, not yet.” She looks at me with a good approach to what can be a real disappointment. I don’t remember this expression on her, so she really changed in the last 50 years. “Do not patronize me! Do you think that because I’m here since quite a while, I’m not able to understand Earth politics? Just to let you know, I keep track of everything that happens around me. It’s part a case archive, part a diary. I can tell you, almost word by word, what each intelligent being that came to me told me.” So that is a very different Machiko of the forgetful one I was familiar with. I wonder if it’s the environment that changed her, or she changed because of the city. Probably both.

“Alright.” I make a dramatic break. “I did fall on purpose. I’m looking for something.” She goes to the fridge and get another beer, that she hands me. I wonder if she thinks she can make me speak more because I’m drunken. “It’s a key.” A smile. “Have you been hearing rumors about another portal to us?”

“Yes, I did hear something.” But she lies, because I do so also. I don’t look for a key. I improvise. “Somebody used the key to open a portal, back on Earth, and travel through it to here. I’ve been asked to find him, and find out how he opened the portal, and how we can control it. It is of paramount importance for the System to have this City under control. More and more people fall or decide to do so, and as in my case, there is no way back.” I start walking on the direction of the zooming terrace. I was wondering if I can have a look to the other planets…

“We are fine here. I don’t have internet, that’s true. Also no music until now. But that’s OK, if I want to hear music, I just need to walk around, and I’ll find a troupe ready to play what I want. Or I can simply hear them. Some of them are pretty good, it makes you wonder what they could achieve on Earth…”

“Got it. So you don’t miss what you had on Earth. But don’t you care about?”

“Seriously? No. Did they care about the people when they started to fall through the edges? Did they invest money on trying to find out what was going on? ” Yes, they did, but I don’t want to break her line of thoughts. “They were all scared like hell, they thought it was the end of the world! And then they forgot us.” She stands now also, waving her arms around, like engulfing the world around. She’s still having a gorgeous body. I smile. She looks at me and misinterprets my smile. “Don’t you think so?”

I get closer to her, and extend my arms to get her waist. She doesn’t resist. “Machiko. I’m here, so they care. How long do you calculate you have been here? ” She doubts. “I have visitors. I had already like 300 cases, so I calculate around a year.” My smile broadens. “A year? It’s been 50 years since you disappeared!”

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