Unusual Jobs

by Johnny Carlton

Copyright 2012 Johnny Giesbrecht

Johnny Carlton is a writer of suspense thrillers available as e-books at www.amazon.com

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Most men live lives of quiet desperation.”  I don’t know how true that is, but I think that at least a lot of men and women go through periods of their lives during which they’re discontent with the work that they find themselves doing.

If you’re one of these, if you feel there’s not enough spark in your job description, maybe you should check out some of the more unusual jobs that are actually available, generally speaking.

I remember hearing an alleged true story about a juvenile delinquent, who, in going through rehabilitation, took no interest in any of the job training programs being offered–until someone came up with a workshop on cutting and polishing gems.  He dived into that with a passion, and, so far as I know, showed every sign of launching himself on a productive, lucrative, and enjoyable career.

Following is my little list of types of employment that are somewhat off the beaten track:

English Teacher in a Foreign Country

A good friend of mine did this and found it to be a great adventure, partly because the country he was sent to wasn’t a bed of roses.

Wilderness Guide

Here’s a good one if it’s adventure you’re after, and if you’re young enough to put up with the physical challenge.  You can take a training course in guiding white-water rafters, etc., etc., and find yourself staring down grizzly bears in the great outdoors.  I have a relative who had gotten into this kind of work and liked it.

Cruise Ship Worker

If you want something a little glossier, try to get on as a worker on a luxury cruise ship.  I know of someone who did this and ended up marrying one of the dancers performing in the ship’s showroom.  What kind of work did he do?  Does it matter?


Still thinking of ships, maybe you’d like the challenge of working on the docks loading and unloading ships.  You’ll rub elbows with some interesting types.  I know because I’ve tried that one.

Ballroom Dance Instructor

If those old Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers movies turn your crank, take training with Arthur Murray Dance Studios and become an instructor.  It won’t put you on stage or in the movies, but you’ll be a star on any normal dance floor.  I tried this one too, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Security Guard

You want something more macho?  Try being a security guard.  I did, in Los Angeles, and guarded some interesting places:  Capital Records, various motion picture studios (you get to see big stars close up), and the Emmy Awards show.  At that location I alerted the police to a thief who was then arrested.

Forest Fire Lookout

I have a relative who did this lonely but important work for quite some time and liked it very much.  Besides being able to view the world from the top of a tower, she messed around with studying wildlife and growing her own garden in the wilds.

I could go on and on with this: Crop Duster; Bush Pilot; Ranch Hand (I did that); Ranch Hand On A Guest Ranch (I did that and liked it); Stuntman (I did that and didn’t like it); Actor (I enjoyed that a lot); Photographer (my wife does that); and Skyscraper Window Washer (I wouldn’t touch that with a ten-story swab).

So, you’re wondering, did Johnny Carlton ever find work he really liked and could stick with?  Yes, finally.  I’m happy writing suspense thrillers and this column.

But I am looking forward to trying a few other things.



Can We See the Wind?

by Johnny Carlton

Johnny Carlton is a writer of suspense thrillers available as e-books at www.amazon.com

This morning I was sitting in our sunroom, looking out the window and enjoying the bright new day and watching a breeze gently moving the branches of a large evergreen.  Not for the first time, the following question came into my mind:  Is it possible to see wind?

W. O. Mitchell asked a similar question when he titled his 1947 book, WHO HAS SEEN THE WIND?  And it seems he borrowed that title from a poem of the same name by the English poet, Christina Rossetti, 1830—1894.

Rossetti’s poem is a pretty little thing (you can find it on the internet) but does not answer the question to a physicist’s satisfaction.  As for Mitchell’s novel, I haven’t read it; but, going by the movie based on the novel, it comes across as a confused atheist’s pathetic mixed-up philosophizing.  After seeing it I can no longer fully enjoy anything by Mitchell, including the play, “Jake and the Kid,” which keeps coming around to little theatres.  (However, I think his play about the Amish people, “The Devil’s Instrument,” has a lot going for it.)  In any case, he has never answered his question about the wind–not that he ever intended to or needed to.

But that question, “Who has seen the wind?” when taken out of its purely sentimental, artistic application and looked at through the horn-rimmed spectacles of a bushy-haired physicist, takes on a whole new interest.  Just for a brief moment let’s slip on those glasses and take a look.

Is it possible to see wind?  What is wind?

You can see the tree branch moving as the wind strikes it, but does that mean you’re seeing the wind?  Maybe, but one is tempted to say that you’re not really seeing the wind, only the branch being affected by the wind.  Well, then, what is it, actually, that’s making the branch move?  And if we identify it, can we see it?

Well, we all know, from high-school physics, that what is making the branch move is air molecules beating against it.  Is it possible to see air molecules?  Yes, because they’re physical entities, so if we magnify them sufficiently we should be able to see them clearly.

So let’s imagine that someone builds a special magnifying device, which he calls a wind viewer, and aims it at the tree branch.  We look into it and, sure enough, we see the air molecules hurtling through space and striking the tree branch, causing it to move.

Have we seen the wind?

Maybe.  Or not.  We originally saw the branch move but more or less decided that we were not seeing the wind, only what the wind was doing, namely moving the branch.  Now, when we’re watching the air molecules moving, we can’t help but ask:  “Are we seeing the wind, or, rather, are we seeing what the wind is doing to the air molecules?”  If the movement of the branch is not the wind, but rather what the wind is doing to it, then why should the movement of the air molecules be any different?  Again, I’m tempted to conclude that the moving air molecules are not the wind any more than the moving branch is, but just another thing being manipulated by the wind.

All right, then, we’ve got the tiger by the tail, let’s not let him go.  The next question in our search for the wind is:  What is causing the air molecules to move?

Well, science has already told us something about that, right?  What happens is that when air heats up it rises and this creates a vacuum; so the surrounding, cooler air molecules rush in to fill the space–hence wind.

Now, if we want to know what wind really is, we have to ask ourselves:  What causes the air molecules to fill the vacuum?  Why don’t they just stay where they are in spite of the vacuum?

Well, first of all, it’s because there’s more pressure on them on one side than on the other.  Nothing is pushing them on the vacuum side, but from the other side, where there are lots of air molecules, each wanting its own space, there is obviously some sort of pressure; thus the molecules move toward the area where there are less molecules and more space.

We are now leaving high-school science behind, and not only that, we’re leaving behind some of the cutting edge of professor-type physics.  Why the latter?  Because professor-type physics (including Newton’s, Einstein’s, and Hawkings’) have not yet dealt with the matter of repulsive force.  These great thinkers have become very intrigued with the attractive force of gravity, but have neglected interest in the basic repulsive force in nature.  This is really strange since they believe that the universe came into being with a big bang–an explosion, not an implosion–so, if that’s the case, a repulsive force manifested itself before an attractive force did.

In my non-fiction book, GEOMETRIC DYNAMICS: A New Foundation for Theoretical Physics, I look into this matter of the basic repulsive force in detail.  Here and now, I will just say that there is an overlooked, taken-for-granted law of nature (and all laws of nature are God’s laws) that proclaims that two or more physical objects shall not occupy the same space at the same time.

Here is a brief quote from my theoretical physics book:  “To many people Newton is the man who watched an apple or something falling toward the ground and wondered why it was moving in that direction.  In regard to theoretical physics, I wish to go down in history as the man who saw an apple or something falling and asked why it stopped moving when it reached the ground.”

All right, so I’m promoting my book on physics.  (Strangely enough, it’s presently selling better than any of my fiction.)  GEOMETRIC DYNAMICS is available as an e-book at www.amazon.com.

Now, let’s get back to the matter of, what is wind and is it possible to see it?

Looking at the matter from a strictly scientific viewpoint we might decide that since at its roots wind is a law (or, actually, a combination of several laws) we can’t see it physically.  However, our conclusion might be changed as we realize that the whole thing is also a matter of semantics:  People as a whole, along with some influence from linguistic professors, decide on the definition of words.

My Webster defines wind as movement of air.  My Thorndike-Barnhart agrees.  Therefore, according to these official definitions, if wind is moving air, then we can assume that it might be feasible to see wind, providing we had a way to magnify these air molecules sufficiently as well as to observe them in motion.

Next week:  Can we see the wind of a long-winded essay like the one you’ve just read?  Just kidding.

Fairies, Elves, and other Assorted Little People

by Johnny Carlton

copyright Johnny Giesbrecht 2012

Johnny Carlton is a writer of suspense thrillers available as e-books at WWW.AMAZON.COM

Pretty much as far back as history goes, large numbers of people, in a great variety of countries, have believed in fairies, elves, gnomes, trolls, pixies and a few other species of little folk.

What are fairies?  That depends partly on what country these old stories come from, but the straight-out fairies proper are pretty much thought of all over as being of the Tinkerbell variety–about eight inches tall, winged, and cute.  Unfortunately, they have a reputation for playing pranks on people.

The elf, who, it seems, originated in Scandinavia, is a wingless type of fairy and, like the regulars, is also reasonably easy to get along with.  Elves seem to spend most of their time dancing on grass and sitting in trees, and for some strange reason like mournful music.

Trolls live underground.  Unlike fairies and elves, they’re ugly little toots, at least in appearance, being humpbacked, relatively short and wide, and they have big crooked noses.  However, they don’t make a habit of harming anyone.  An interesting little-known fact about them, that you may have missed when you attended that last troll seminar, is that they hate loud noises.

Although most of what we come across about fairies is expected to be received as way-out folklore, there have been alleged sightings.  Probably the most famous and interesting of these involve what are known as the Cottingley photos and took place in rather recent times.

In 1917 two teenaged girls in Yorkshire, England presented the world with photographs of fairies.  Elsie Wright, aged 16, and her cousin Frances Griffiths, 10, said they took these pictures in their garden.  The girls were not professional photographers and were said to not have any knowledge of special effects or photographic trickery.

There were five photos, not all taken nor released in the same year.  These pictures presented fascinating images of foot-high fairies, mostly of the cute kind, frolicking around on bushes while one of the girls looked on, presumably while the other took the shot.

The pictures were studied by experts of the time, and some of these, at least, could see no trickery in them.  The girls gained considerable support from the famous author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who insisted that in his estimation the photos and fairies were entirely genuine.

What a difference a few years can make.  Even laymen today, being much more image savvy due to constant exposure to imagery, can quickly see that the photos are phonies.  The fairies in the foreground just don’t match up with the girls and the bushes.

Elsie and Frances were still getting some publicity as recently as 1982 when they admitted that the first four of the five pictures were fakes.  I have no idea why they didn’t include the fifth one.

You should have no trouble finding the pictures yourself on the internet.

But let’s be honest here.  Just because someone made fake photos of fairies doesn’t mean that real fairies don’t exist.  That would be like saying that just because someone made up a story about having seen a UFO proves that alien spacecraft haven’t ever been in our atmosphere.  They have been.

I know because I’ve seen them myself on two occasions.