The Masseur

by NachoTheBrony

Chapter 6: Things looking up

~Cornbread Chip~’s Personal Journal, Day 120 in ~Equestria~
~Autumn 81, Year 2 of the Fourth Era~
Earth’s Date: December 12, 2012.
Fourth month recap.

Yeah, I haven’t done recaps concerning months two and three, but I didn’t feel like there was a lot to recap on: just how Hikaru and I continued to adapt to ~Equestria~, continued learning ~Ponese~ and continued to inject science and technology into ~Equestrian~ life.
Well, while I continue to inject science and technology into ~Equestrian~ life. Hikaru continues to swim in the bureaucracy like a fish in water, part times as my lab assistant and continues to nag me about reinventing all of the office machines from a pre-computerized environment.
To be honest with myself, I’ll be lucky if I can recreate typewriters, modern paper (the local paper is much more akin to amate paper (Aztec bark-derived parchment)), ballpoint pens and copy paper, let alone the Xerox effect so I can recreate a photocopier.

About the language courses: we still receive some six to eight hours of classes a day, but the focus has moved away from language and more into general education plus some 20% of language. Works for me: I find ponies to be fascinating. Also, because of Hikaru’s nighttime occupations and Robbie’s new activities (which only allow him to be with us two hours per afternoon), our classes have been shifted to the afternoon, and only five days a week. And Shi Pun is no longer taking them.
And considering that we are now learning language through the language, we got beyond the need of being taught by linguist and into being taught by normal teachers. I miss being taught by Good Listener and his two lady friends, but I compensate by dragging Hikaru to visit him at least once every ten days, or having him visit us in the castle.

About Robbie: he’s steadily loosing weight. That on itself is a story, as I have put on several previous entries. Summarized: on Day 95 or so I had a full physical examination, which now included a careful interview by the doctors. Among many things, they asked me if I knew why weren’t Hikaru and me gaining weight ahead of winter. I replied that, contrary to what Robbie may make them think, humans are unable to hibernate. I didn’t know at the time, but that detonated a storm of behind-the-scenes talking than, a week later, ended with Robbie being evicted from the diplomatic halls and into and empty dormitory in the guards’ garrison, and then being forced by spear-point into running around the parade grounds. I just then had to laugh when, three days later, a new generation of recruits joined Robbie inside his dormitory and all of them started boot camp. Since then I have had many talks with the doctors and the drill sergeants, making sure that they get their money’s worth out of him, without utterly breaking him. I have also been talking with the garrison’s blacksmith and, as a prototype, he made me a Roman plate armour and a tower shield. And I know that, some time next week when the new recruits receive their armours, Robbie will learn for sure that I’m very much involved with his current living arrangements and may be out for my blood.

I’ll have to remember to tell him that he’s welcome to kick my ass if he can keep up with me on a race. That should give him some motivation.
On the other hand, I think I won’t say that: he is, after all, being put through boot camp, while I haven’t had an appointment with a bicycle or a treadmill in 122 days. My dietary discipline may be keeping me from gaining weight, but other than my hands and head, I’m definitely getting soft.

I think I have to invent myself an exercise machine. That, or put my arse in gear, go to the parade grounds and actually do some exercise.
If I’m honest with myself, I know that would go and make an exercise machine just to have the excuse that “it isn’t perfect, yet” and thus not use it. Damn it.


I’m starting an exercise program tomorrow evening, after classes and before dinner. I can’t let myself go floppy.

About Shi-Pun: the teachers had given up on her a long time ago, considering that she couldn’t be bothered to even try to learn to communicate. I’m not even sure when was she dismissed from class and evicted from the apartments, but I do remember that I enjoyed something like a week’s worth of blessed silence before I noticed that she wasn’t there in her usual corner. She currently lives in a room next to the kitchens, where she peels potatoes and does other simple tasks that can be done from a chair.

And the Spaniards: they aren’t our concern anymore. On Day 103 at dusk, the two princesses orchestrated a huge spectacle for them, visibly pushing around the Sun and the Moon, and then gave them a hearing (with me acting as translator). The hearing was brief: the Spaniards refused to even give them a little respect, and the princesses decided to banish them. On Day 105 at sunrise, a military caravan took them away. And three days ago, the caravan returned from the border with the nearest dragon territories, reporting that the Spaniards had been shoved across the wall’s gatehouse with three days worth of food and water and two flint knives (my suggestion).
Now, if I remember last month’s geography classes correctly, these dragon territories are broad expanses of desert dotted with volcanoes and crawling with predators. Thus, if we are lucky, those bloodthirsty bastards may not be anybody’s concern by now.

Good riddance.

And I can scarcely believe how much they came to affect me: the day of their departure I braved the mid-November sunrise wearing nothing but a loincloth and some body paint. I then tapped my own blood, painted it on the wheels and bars of the wheeled cage, then a touch on the hooves of the pull team and a little on the forehead of the leader. I then went to stand between the princesses and let myself continue to drip blood until the caravan was out of sight. At that point my plan was to visit the castle’s infirmary and then go and start my normal day, but my emotions took the better of me and collapsed and started wailing.
Quite frankly, I find it freaky in retrospective: I had had many opportunities to cry bitterly in my life, but I always cried quietly. Even In my grandpa’s funeral when I was eleven or so: there I was in the funeral of the most important person in my life, and I found a corner rather than make a show. And here, a good twenty-one year later, I lost all of my hard-earned emotional control and just went and let myself collapse.
The princesses came down on me and began nuzzling me. I awkwardly hugged them back (after all, their necks (especially Solaria’s) are much thicker than my whole body) and cried until I could regain control. Once there, Princess Solaria made a comment under the assumption that I was sad to see them being wheeled away. I cured her of her assumption: I was devastated about me not having had the fortitude to have been fair to them and give them back a little of the hate that they had grown among my ‘tribe’. Then I spoke for about an hour, detailing everything I could remember: locations and bodycounts of famous massacres (including the most infamous one that our Conquistador had to have been part of, where Pizarro’s army entrapped 10,000 Quechua pilgrims inside a plaza and killed them all), a 95% population decrease between 1500 and 1600, bits and pieces of scientific knowledge that had been know to my ancestors but that modern science had barely begun to understand, an irrelevant accounting book being treated like a sacred text because it is among the half-dozen Aztec books that survived the burning libraries of the Conquest and the witch hunting of the Inquisition, the religious-excused slavery system, medicine men being ‘processed’ by the Inquisition for the crimes of healing people and promoting hygiene practices that were much more advanced than those practiced in Europe in the 19th Century...
Day Court was delayed an hour that day. I think I might have fallen asleep, spent, on top of the princesses, because I later woke up around noon inside the Night Quarters, inside the sweet embrace of the wings of Princess Selene.
My hand’s shaking, damn it! I can’t finish the recap today.

~Cornbread Chip~’s Personal Journal, Day 121 in ~Equestria~
~Autumn 82, Year 2 of the Fourth Era~
Earth’s Date: December 13, 2012.

Not much happened today, except for remembering that, if my father was alive, it would have been his birthday yesterday. As I’m writing this, I’m sipping some hard cider, toasting to Death’s ghost for having taken the devil back to Hell.
May the devil burn in Hell.

Okay, lets finish the recap:
About the metrication project: after I finally got the potters to stop kissing my ass, I could finally get my ass in gear and present a Metric system of measurements to Princess Selene, who became completely enamoured with it. About three months from now, the Royal Crowns will emit an edict introducing a new system of measurements applicable to commerce, land management and education, and placing a time limit (something like five years) after which all other systems of commercial measurement become illegal. I’m not completely happy with the chosen labels,but at least I know that the system will not only be standard, but also science-friendly. The system goes like this:

A millimetre is a royal touch, centimetre is a royal nudge, a meter is a royal step, a hundred meters is a royal jump and a kilometre is a royal flight.
A gram is a royal feather, a kilogram is a royal hoof and a ton is a royal weight (despite me later finding from the doctors that Princess Solaria actually weights some more).
A millilitre is a royal spoon, a litre is a royal flagon, a hundred litres is a royal barrel and a cubic meter is a royal bath.

The first problem, and the need for the ridiculous labels, is that the system is decimal, while the local number system is vigesimal. I’m far from being a mathematician, and the princesses are happy with it the way it is, so it stays, but I’m wondering how it will affect the development of science once it rises from the current alchemy and ‘natural philosophy’.
The second problem is that, so far, there are no submultiples, leaving lesser measurements to be made using fractions. Princess Selene and I have already had conversations about it, and have come up with two progressive plans: first, we have in reserve three submultiples, in case trade has a need for them: the royal tear (a microlitre), the royal eyelash (a milligram) and a royal hair width (a micrometre). And for future scientific development, I’m already starting to dictate a book that she wishes to distribute to mathematicians, alchemists and universities, where I detail the inadequacies of the current labels, the eventual convenience of discarding all labels other than the bases (the step, the feather and the flagon) ands go into hard math about the behaviour of decimal unit measurements, multiples and submultiples. I hope they first have a good understanding of decimal notation before they try to tackle the yotta- to yocto- table, considering that it is untranslatable into vigesimal notation.
Uh… wait!
(Note to self: retitle the book as “The advantages of numeral systems not based on cycles of 20”, then make the existing book into its first section and include a second section on binary (and octal and hexadecimal) being convenient for telecommunications and machine language, and sexagesimal being convenient for radial geometry.)

About the telegraph project: Considering that the decimalization has now moved beyond science and into bureaucracy, I had been left to my own devices to find some other project to work on. There I thank Jules Verne: he gave me the idea of building a telegraph, which came to push into the backburner the typewriter, which is still far too complex to feasibly achieve. Something else to thank Mr. Verne about is that he largely described how to draw wire, a process where I would have lost weeks-to-months before I could have found the way. Something that I did have to figure out on my own, though, was how to make isolated wire, but it only took me a week to think about dipping the naked wire through a cauldron of this molten resin that woodworkers use as glue.
By the way, a very valuable offshoot from the project is wire-drawing. It’s kind of hard to believe, but it seems that wires are a rarity and had to be forged when needed.
Something annoying is that I had to create a Morse code from scratch. It isn’t like we could have used Earth’s Morse code (first, relying on a different alphabet, and second relying on my memories of a code that I haven’t used since I left the Boy Scouts), but it was still an annoying thing to do.
So far I have spewed seven versions of the code, each one covering a flaw found on the previous one. The first one had 47 symbols, representing the 45 letters of the ~Equestrian~ alphabet, a comma and a period. The second had 48 symbols, with the first one being a number symbol (and numbers being dictated through an equivalent tabulation of the first twenty letters of the alphabet). Version 3 had 50 symbols, including two for “Yes” and “No”, considering that the Equestrian language only has a word for each concept, but these words are long, thus inefficient for telegraphy. This led to Version 4, a behemoth of 95 symbols, including a ton of common usage words. It took me a day or two to see reason and decide it was unreasonable to expect people to remember a seven-bit binary notation, thus leading to Version 5, which only had 52 symbols including one saying “Code” and a SOS, which I hadn’t included in previous versions. The “Code” symbol thus led to a tertiary tabulation based on the alphabet which, although it translates again into the common-usage words, can be transcribed as “@A” or “@I” without having to instantly remember to translate into the words “Princess Selene” or “Princess Solaria”.
And, by the way, I am putting the word for the night princess ahead of the word for the day princess. I am a suck up, and I’m unashamed of it.
Versions 6 and 7 have been minor improvements over 5: Version 6 was simply the deletion of ‘filler’ words (pronouns, augmentatives, diminutives and the like) and the inclusion of ‘mood’ words (happy, sad, angry, etc), which I thought would be useful in diplomatic communication. Version 7 is what I got from asking Good Listener for some feedback: after explaining to him how the number and code tabulations worked, he very much insisted that I also created a tabulation of three letter codes. I hadn’t wanted to start such a tabulation in the first place because it would contain no less than a hundred thousand possible combinations, but Good Listener insisted I created three letter codes for at least geographic locations.
In hindsight, it makes perfect sense: in for nothing else, postmasters will need location codes for sending, receiving and redirecting communication.
And finally in this project, Hikaru suggested that we also create a special code to be used by accountants sending and receiving tables of numbers. Good Listener and me were intrigued, and the three of us got it done within a couple of hours: it basically goes “Table of N columns by M rows, with header row saying blah, blah; header column saying blah, blah, first row saying 1 blah, 2 blah... end of table.”

Future Projects: Here I’m mainly counting that, after I’m done with the telegraph, I will work on a typewriter and will outsource the project as soon as I can figure out a hoof-friendly keyboard (clockmaking might be in its infancy, but the discipline exists). Beyond that, I’ll move into steam power, and especially into creating steam locomotives. After that, I’m not sure at the moment: perhaps I’ll undertake hydraulics, and through it I may begin trying to recreate machine logic, which should be a project worth years of work even to just create a basic calculator. The ‘machine logic’ project could also have another very useful offshoot: once I have a typewriter and some sort of machine language, I could upgrade telegraphs into telex printers.
The locomotives’ project comes from a rather shocking fact: despite that ponies don’t possess engines, they do possess railways! I discovered this a couple weeks ago, when I found that there is a train station a couple blocks behind the main produce market. As it turns out, ~Earth~ ponies pull the trains up and down these railroads.
On a side note, I’m astounded at how incredibly civilized these railways are: they snake and curve like crazy and pass through tunnels and bridges, all of it achieving that the pulling ponies never have to pull the train up a slope greater than some 10 degrees, despite the mountain mostly having a slope of no less than some 35 degrees. The mountain’s aesthetics are also incredibly well kept: it isn’t only all happening on the back side of the mountain, so the city’s aesthetics are kept clean, but also that the railways are hidden by lush evergreen woods, so the sun doesn’t go beating down on the pull teams unless it is straight up. And should I also mention that it is a double railway, so it can simultaneously used up and down?
Anyway, I’m digressing. Something else into the list is elevators: ponies can walk up and down stair without fuss, but any cargo being moved around has to either be elevated through telekinesis or through the long spiral ramps hidden on the back of the castle.

Beyond that, I don’t know.

I want to turn on my netbook, but I don't dare. I may have lead-acid cells for me to try to recharge the lithium battery on my device, but I find it much more likely that I will just fry the battery.