CHAPTER 1 1980s
Part 1 HTI
MALIBU, CALIFORNIA: MAY 7, 1986
"Jonathan Frederick Wensler, with a name like that, you should be President of HTI," was the greeting John received from Emily. "No way," said John. Then they hugged warmly and walked inside.
John visited Emily and Howard Monroes' home about once a month. Usually, Emily made dinner and the three of them would talk and talk and argue, and talk and laugh and talk some more.
"Is everyone else here?" asked John.
"Everyone but the lawyers and Hal. The attorneys are coming after dinner, that's when we'll sign the papers. Susan came alone because Hal's on an assignment for the paper. And Cory arrived last night from Virginia."
Emily arranged the dinner to celebrate the signing of the papers to create Holospace Technology Incorporated, or HTI. HTI was being established to develop and market an advanced biofeedback technology, which the founders hoped, would revolutionize health care.
During dinner, they reminisced about the background of events, including a possible medical miracle, that led to the formation of HTI. They did not know that the world's most deeply held beliefs and conceptions of reality would be dramatically transformed by the technology they were launching.
JOHN, EMILY AND SUSAN
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA : JUNE 1983
John met Emily three years earlier. They were both heavily involved in preparing a complex proposal for several hundred million dollars. They worked at a large aerospace company called Advanced Systems Technology Incorporated (ASTI), which survived primarily on government contracts. The current proposal was for work on President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative.
John was a scientist working on a key technical portion of the SDI proposal, and Emily was in charge of the cost portions of the proposal. John called her after she sent him EMMA. Estimated Man-hours and Materials Acquisition (EMMA) forms were the cornerstone of building a meaningful cost proposal. John did not have much interest in these forms; he thought they were generally a waste of time. He knew they were a waste of his time.
"Hello, this is John Wensler. I just received your memo, and it will be impossible for me to fill this out by Friday. In fact, it's probably impossible for me to fill this out...period."
"I'm glad we're finally talking." Emily ignored the fact that she considered Friday to be the absolute final day for receiving this completed form. She continued, "You've been working on this proposal for 6 weeks now, how's it going?"
"OK...OK...but very tight." John's tension eased a bit. He had never met Emily, but her voice was pleasant and confident. "We will, with a little luck, be ready for the SDI proposal review meeting in two weeks. Our crude prototype model is almost working. There're still some bugs, but we have to be able to demonstrate the sensor-computer system at the meeting. This demo is essential if we're gonna win the contract."
"Aha," said Emily, "the prototype demonstration is really important."
"And preparing for the demonstration is what my group is doing. Some of us have been working 16 hours a day for the last two weeks, and who cares about EMMAs when we'll have nothing if our demonstration fails."
"Zach used to fill out your EMMAs, didn't he?"
"Yes, Zachary took care of a lot of the junk I'm now forced to do. The planning documents for 1 year, then 3 years, then 5 years, and now I have a ten year planning form buried somewhere on my desk. I really appreciate Zach's management duties much better now than before he left. I hope he finds happiness in his 31 Flavors franchise...how could he do that!"
"John, I must have your EMMA."
"Don't get too personal, now." John interrupted with a chuckle.
"These forms really are necessary," Emily was becoming a bit angry. "While you'll be having fun playing with your prototype, and impressing your Star Wars generals at the review meeting, I'll be justifying to auditors and lawyers the eight separate forms which I must prepare...eight forms based on your estimates of what you need in terms of people, man-hours, computer time and materials. John, if I don't have those forms ready by the meeting, you will be disqualified from bidding¾ even if your prototype can sense, shoot, and survive better than Rambo."
John laughed, and made a mental note to use the sense, shoot, and survive line at the meeting. "I give up, but I need help with EMMA...and my costs must be kept below 10 million."
"Good, when can we meet?" Emily liked this John Wensler.
: TWO WEEKS LATER
The Proposal Presentation
"Good afternoon. My name is John Wensler, and I head the Sensors Technology Group." John knew most of the key people in the audience. He had briefed them on various projects during his 17 years in the Defense business.
"As some of you know, my current Air Force project involves developing and demonstrating a Pilot Advisor." As John began talking, he projected his first slide on the screen. The slide showed a color picture of a pilot in the cockpit of an Advanced Tactical Fighter wearing a futuristic looking helmet.
"During the 'heat of the battle'," John continued, "this computerized system provides real-time information from the on-board sensors, and provides strategy options and advice on a screen in the pilot's helmet." John clicked his slide-control unit and the next slide showed a pilot's view of the computer screen in the helmet.
"The pilot, in turn, provides instructions to the computer through electrical signals from his brain." John paused to let that sink in. He then clicked on the next slide which showed the inside of the helmet and the standard electrical connections to the forehead and temples of the pilot.
"It's true that computers are fast, have good memories, and can perform complex tasks much quicker than humans. It's also true that sensors can detect signals that are invisible to humans. However, the pilot's experience, instincts and ability to adapt to new situations cannot be simulated or matched by any computerized system...certainly not now, and I don't believe that the pilot will ever be replaced by a computer in a life and death dogfight situation."
John's next slide showed a map of the world with missiles headed toward the U.S. from the U.S.S.R.
"If the Soviets ever decide to attack the U.S., there will be a huge dogfight like the world should never see. The battle will be largely between unmanned computer-controlled missiles programmed to seek and destroy various targets. Where's the pilot...what role does human intelligence and instinct have to play? Does the fate of the United States become dependent on a battle of computers once the attack is launched?" John asked.
"We don't think so," he answered.
John projected his next slide, which summarized the objective of his task.
OBJECTIVE OF THE
To Significantly Improve the Effectiveness of the SDI Mission Using Human Intelligence and Instincts.
"We propose to develop an integrated Battle Management System (BMS) involving a human being¾ let's call him the Systems Pilot¾ who will make significant real time decisions. The Systems Pilot will be able to make these decisions rapidly enough to be effective because he will be communicating directly with the computer.
"Normally, a Systems Pilot would interact with a computer by pressing keys, touching a screen, or talking directly to a sound sensitive device. These techniques limit the pilot to maybe two or three channels of input at a time. Thus, he can be typing on a keyboard while talking to the computer, but he can't consciously do much more than that. Our proposal involves teaching a Systems Pilot to handle 20 channels simultaneously, and to make wise decisions on a rapid instinctive basis.
"The prototype unit, which we will demonstrate for you shortly, has a 5 channel capability. These 5 channels have been sufficient to consistently improve the performance of the computer-only BMS by 50%. We project improvements of over 1000% with the 20 channel unit. With the 20 channel unit, the BMS system will be able to sense, shoot, and survive better than Rambo!" The proposal evaluation group, including General Berrit, chuckled at the analogy.
General Berrit was the senior military person at the briefing. He used the pause to make a comment. "50% is not very interesting because our hardware improvements will do much better than that. But a factor of ten improvement would be worthwhile. But you'll have to convince us that such an impressive advance is indeed possible and not just wishful thinking."
"Yes sir," said John. "That's what we intend to do."
John turned and addressed the entire audience, "I'd like to take you now to our Simulation Room where you can meet our Systems Pilot, Captain Carl Eastman."
John led the Evaluation Team and six of his ASTI colleagues through the hallway to the heavily guarded Simulation Room. In the room, there were at least 50 people in front of computer terminals. On the front wall was a huge screen which showed the location of various missiles, satellites and targets. Some of the missiles were still on the ground, but most of the missiles and all of the satellites moved quietly through their trajectories. Orange flashes punctuated the screen; these flashes represented explosions.
Missiles were being fired from the surface of a realistic looking Earth. Some were launched from the USSR, some from the US, and some from various points in the ocean. Many missiles were being destroyed in the air or near their launch points, but some of the nuclear warheads were detonating on US and USSR territory.
"As you can see, this is the War Simulation Room," said John. "The blue missiles and satellites are ours, while the red ones belong to the Soviet Union. The SDI anti-missile missiles are in dark blue."
John led the Evaluation Panel to the center of the room where there were six terminals with keyboards in a circular pattern surrounding a bulky and heavy-looking chair. The group stopped just outside the circle. The large screen showed that 58 minutes had elapsed since the USSR began its attack.
"Gentlemen, this is the center of the dogfight for the Systems Pilot," John said. "The view of the big screen is certainly the most dramatic feature, but from the battle management perspective, additional critical data are needed. For example, all the information coming from our high altitude surveillance aircraft and satellites are directed to one of the small terminal screens you see in front of you."
John entered the circle of terminals and sat down in the bulky chair. John put his hands on the arms of the chair and effortlessly swiveled in a complete circle. "From this chair, I can see the big screen as well as the 6 monitors. And, I can communicate directly with the three CRAY super computers from any terminal to see the latest info on anything in their data banks."
John punched a few commands on one of the terminals. "I'm ending this simulation and bringing up a summary of the battle," he said. The graphics on the big screen disappeared and was replaced with the battle status at 1 hour. The number of missiles, warheads, aircraft, ships, subs and satellites destroyed as well as the number still operational on each side was shown. The remaining political, economic and medical capabilities were estimated as a percentage of pre-battle capacities. The number of people killed in the battle, and the number of people who would die from radioactive fallout 1 day, 1 week, 1 month and 1 year later were indicated.
"This battle summary is for one specific engagement assuming the Russians attack using Red Scenario 3 and we respond with Blue Scenario 9." John paused, "I would like to begin our demonstration now by bringing in Captain Carl Eastman who will pilot the prototype in the next simulated defense against Red Scenario 3." This was the cue for Carl to enter the control room.
Captain Carl Eastman entered the room in full uniform with an impressive array of medals on his chest. He was carrying an oversized helmet with a thick dangling electrical cable somehow attached to it.
"Good afternoon," Carl said as he put on the helmet. "I've been working with John for 6 years, but only recently have I started wearing funny hats and long pony tails." The group laughed.
Carl continued, "We worked together on the pilot-computer system for the advanced jet fighter program. Together, we developed systems which will be of significant value to our pilots in winning air to air dogfights. The current project gives me the chance to develop real time strategies for defending our country in a much bigger war. If we have to go to nuclear war, I want to win...and this helmet can be a big help," Carl finished with conviction.
He continued, "I've been trained to electrically influence my brains electrical output in repeatable ways, which permit me to communicate with the BMS computer. When I'm hooked into the computer program, we do much better than when the BMS computer operates alone. I'll let John give you the technical details. I'd like to start the battle."
"Thank you, Carl." John helped Carl into the chair and connected the electrical cable to the back of the chair. There was a crisp metallic snap as he made the connection. The chair and Carl now became a unit which could be linked to the BMS computers.
John punched a few keys and the new battle simulation began. "We are beginning the battle with Red Scenario 3 again, and the BMS program will again start using Blue Scenario 9. But this time the BMS will have Carl helping make key decisions. Please note that Captain Eastman has never faced Red Scenario 3 before. His contribution to this potential attack scenario is being tested for the first time."
The screen cleared for a moment, then the Earth's surface appeared and Russian missiles began their trajectories from the oceans near the US east and west coasts, and from Russian silos. This attack was a full-up, no warning attack aimed at inflicting heavy damages and a quick surrender.
As soon as the battle started, Carl swiveled his chair to see the 6 monitors arranged in a circle around him. He looked at the data on these monitors as well as what was happening on the big screen. He typed in some requests concerning more detailed data than was being shown on any of the screens. It was not clear how he was influencing the battle until John began explaining the electrical connections.
John let the panel watch Carl for a few minutes, and then continued, "Carl is connected to the guts of the BMS computer program through his helmet. He communicates with the computer by controlling electrical signals from his brain. These signals provide key decisions to the BMS computer program at 5 decision points.
"These 5 decision points direct how some SDI resources are used during the battle. For example, one important decision concerns where the surveillance satellites and aircraft focus their attention in order to find enemy missiles, decoys, aircraft, satellites, ships and submarines. Capt. Eastman communicates to these branch points using the natural electrical properties of his brain and biofeedback training.
"The wiring you see on Capt. Eastman is basically a brain EEG. What we measure at each of the 25 contacts on his head is the variation of electrical voltage. This variation occurs in every living organism, and with the extremely sensitive equipment currently available, we can rapidly and accurately measure and evaluate the voltage variations at each contact. A major breakthrough came when Dr. Susan Cantor, who you will meet shortly, decided to combine the signals from the contact points to produce one overall signal which Capt. Eastman can influence.
"Now, you're probably so confused that we had better go to our Biofeedback Laboratory and Testing Facility." John led the group out the side door and down a long hallway filled with colorful pictures of military equipment successfully built and fielded by ASTI.
The proposal evaluation group followed John through a door at the end of the hallway. Susan was waiting for them in the reception area. She and John shook hands.
"Welcome to our biofeedback lab," John said to attract the groups attention. "I'd like to introduce Dr. Susan Cantor who is in charge of this laboratory." John introduced each member of the Review Panel to Susan; she was very personable, technically knowledgeable, and quite attractive at 45. She always made a very good impression, and the introductions permitted the group members to become accustomed to one of the few professional women in the field. After the introductions, Susan said, "Let's go into the lab and talk applied biofeedback."
Susan led the group through large wooden double doors into a laboratory filled with computers, terminals, and all sorts of complex looking electronic equipment. They walked by several early versions of the computer-chair-helmet which Captain Eastman was using. Susan said, "It was only recently we worried about Carl's comfort. Fortunately, he's a tough cookie."
There were a few chuckles as the group stopped to view the first version, which was displayed with the helmet propped-up a couple of feet over the chair. Wires were bursting from the helmet and flowed down the back of the chair where they were secured with black electrician tape. The wires then fanned out along the seat of the chair where they disappeared into many holes which lead into a metal box under the seat. The wires reappeared in a bundle and were connected to a small computer.
Susan led the group to a corner of the lab where simple photographic displays of biofeedback were set-up. "Biofeedback is a well established human capability. Our bodies react to our intentions. And when we are provided with real time feedback through a quantitative measure of our progress, we can train or modify many body functions. This is done quite naturally when we learn to walk or to ride a bicycle...or to fly a jet plane."
Susan pointed to pictures of children learning simple motor skills. "These examples are so commonplace that we don't think of them as biofeedback¾ but they are. Another example, which was considered controversial many years ago, is the ability to consciously modify one's skin temperature using a sensitive thermometer for feedback. There's no mystery to this, the blood flow¾ and thus the temperature¾ can be controlled to specific parts of the body simply by a focused desire.
"Another illustration of biofeedback is shown in this picture. An anxious patient who is suffering from tachycardia, which is a rapid heartbeat, is learning how to slow his heart rate."
Susan moved to the last picture which was called Epileptics and Biofeedback, "A relevant example for the current proposal is the modification of brain waves. Biofeedback has been used extensively to train people to change their brain electrical output. This has been used not only for inducing relaxation, but epileptics have been trained to avoid seizures using this technique.
"The details on how this biofeedback works is not understood, but it is clear that your intentions can have a direct effect on your body and mind. Carl Eastman has learned to control his brain wave patterns to rapidly and effectively communicate with an appropriately programmed computer."
Susan walked over to a table which had a computer terminal and a pilot's helmet on it. She paused, looked directly at the group and said, "I'd like a volunteer to use this single channel helmet. We built this for the Air Force a few years ago as part of their advanced aircraft project. Biofeedback training is a necessary part of using this helmet, and Lesson #1 of that training demonstrates a simple biofeedback technique."
There was no response. "It's really very easy," said Susan.
John waited a moment, and said, "What's this, no volunteers, General Berrit, how about you. Even this simple example will give you and everyone else a pretty good idea of our approach. What better way to evaluate our proposal."
As all attention focused on General Berrit, he said, "All right, all right, but I warn you, I may not be a good subject...I would have to consider my attitude very negative."
"That's OK," Susan said with an obvious smile. "As long as you don't consciously intend to do nothing, which by the way is very difficult, I think you'll get the hang of it faster than most."
"Show me," said the General.
"Step right up, and take a chair," Susan said very cheerfully.
John could see that everyone, including the General, was enjoying the jovial mood and looking forward to the demonstration. Susan's terrific, he thought, I don't know what I'd do without her.
General Beret approached Susan. She picked up the helmet and said, "The helmet has 3 adjustable electrodes which will conform to your head. So just put the helmet on, and let me plug you in."
The helmet had one cable which contained the wires from the contacts on General Beret's forehead. The snapping sound let everyone know that Susan had connected the General directly to the computer.
She continued, "General, please type the word 'helmet' and then 'show signal'. This will activate the signal processing hardware and graphics program."
The General quickly typed the commands and the screen showed three wiggly lines which kept varying in detail, but all showing similar oscillations.
"The oscillations show the normal waking state time variation of voltages at the three contact points. A more informative way of examining these signals is to evaluate the frequency spectrum of the signals. The frequency of oscillations is measured in oscillations per second, or Hertz. The frequency spectrum shows the primary frequencies which have the most energy. The alpha state, which occurs as sleep approaches, has a primary frequency of 8 to 12 Hertz. The deepest state of sleep involves primary frequencies of about 1/2 to 2 Hertz. However, there's always a wide spectrum of frequencies in brain waves." Susan paused because she was afraid she was becoming too technical for some of the panel members.
"General, please type 'show frequency spectrum below 100'." Immediately after the general hit the return key, the screen changed to a slowly changing line on a graph. Susan continued, "The peak marked at 25 Hertz represents your most active brain wave frequency. The spectrum is updated every half second.
"So, General, right now your brain waves are producing the most energy at 25 Hertz. There are other local peak frequencies, but for now, watch the peak at 25 Hertz. Notice that this peak will naturally change slightly, there it goes to 26...27... Now, why don't you focus on moving this peak to a lower frequency."
"What do you mean 'focus on moving'?" asked the General.
"Focus your attention on the peak near 25 Hertz, watch it closely, and then mentally¾ and emotionally¾ simply intend for the local peak frequency to become lower...to move to the left."
"OK, slow down boy, slow down," the General said jokingly. And then he began concentrating. As soon as he seriously watched the peak with a desire for it to slow down, the peak began decreasing from 27 Hertz. Within a minute, the peak energy was at 14 Hertz. The new frequency began oscillating a little, but a new stabilization frequency had clearly been achieved. "I'll be damned."
Susan and John were clearly pleased, and the rest of the panel members enjoyed the General's success. Susan then suggested that the General raise the primary frequency, and the General was able to change the value to about 37 Hertz. The demonstration concluded after convincing the General and the rest of the panel members that a specific number could be achieved and maintained with only a little practice. This was successfully done when Susan asked someone to choose a number between 14 and 37, and this frequency was maintained quite easily.
"That completes my portion of the presentation," Thank you General for your help, and thank all of you for your kind attention," said Susan.
John concluded by saying, "This simple example demonstrates the natural ability we all have to vary the energy frequencies transmitted by our brains using biofeedback. This ability has been further trained in Capt. Eastman so that he is simultaneously aware of the status of 5 local peak frequency levels¾ and more importantly, he is aware of how these frequencies influence the BMS computer program. Let's return now to the control room and see how the battle is going."
Back at the control room, the battle had progressed for almost an hour, and John told the panel that he would terminate the battle at one hour¾ the same time as the earlier computer-only simulation. John went to the command terminal in the back of the control room and typed-in some instructions.
At a battle time of 1 hour, the big screen flashed "Simulation Terminated". Capt. Eastman assumed a more relaxed position in the chair, John disconnected the cable attaching Carl's helmet to the chair. Carl took off his helmet and approached the panel.
"This Red attack was not very imaginative," the Capt. said. "Once I got a feeling for their strategy, I clobbered them. Please excuse me, I'd like to change, and then I'll join you to critique the battle."
"Thank you, Carl," John said. "We'll see you in a few moments." John sat in the control chair again, punched a few commands into the terminal and the large screen showed the battle status at 1 hour for the computer-only defense compared to the battle fought with Capt. Eastman.
"Capt. Eastman seems to be improving with each new challenge. This is his best score to date. His battle performance was better than the computer-only battle by almost 70%, as you see summarized at the bottom right of the screen. He was able to destroy almost twice as many enemy warheads, which is very impressive. Unfortunately, there was still considerable damage to the US. But, as you can see, the number of casualties were reduced dramatically...Carl saved over 10 million lives."
Capt. Carl Eastman returned to the control room dressed in his military uniform. A tall rugged-looking man who didn't fit the image of someone working with computers. "How'd I do?"
"Very well...very well indeed," said John.
The next half hour was spent answering questions. Most of the questions were directed at Capt. Eastman concerning his confidence level in the system. Carl was very effective at selling the proposed work to the General and to the entire panel. Carl, John and Susan made an impressive team with their different styles and expertise; John and Susan were the scientists using all the latest technology, and Carl was the exciting military man involved with winning the battle in a high tech arm chair.
EMILY and HOWARD MONROE
MALIBU, CALIFORNIA : JUNE 1983
Howard Lee Monroe's passions were films and Emily. He fell in love with films first...this was something Emily had difficulty accepting.
Emily was conscious of her jealously, "...but I can't help my feelings," she sadly asserted. "I want to spend more time with you. Why do you have so many projects going at the same time?"
This was not a new topic. His business traveling was a constant source of conflict in their marriage. "You know that you and film-making are my life. I don't have any other women, I don't want any other women, I only want you and to make films. I love you so much, but I love my films too."
They were on the couch in the study reading. He scooted over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Why don't you leave your dumb job at ASTI and spend your time with me. I'd love to have you work with me in any way that you'd like. We could travel together when I do my films." He then added the Groucho Marx-type line, "Could I offer you a job working under me."
After 10 years of marriage, this corny line did not bother Emily. What bothered her was that she knew that if she were to interfere with his career, they would both be unhappy. She couldn't understand how she could be drawn into the paradox of loving and aching without it being anyone's fault. "Enough rehashing, we both need to work. And by the way, please don't call my work dumb. Believe it or not, I really believe that what I do does help defend this country. I know you think Star Wars is a waste of money, but you'll have your chance to vote in a new President in '84 if Reagan's ideas are so bad!"
They met at the University of Southern California in 1971; she was beginning her MBA studies, and he was in his second year of graduate school in theatrical arts. At first she was impressed with his money and southern background, then his talent for producing historical films, and then his courting and passion for her. Emily and Howard were married in 1973.
Emily wanted to discuss a new subject, "Howie," she said, "I want to have a baby."
"What," he said, "you've always wanted to have a full time career. Are you sure?"
"No, but yes I'm willing to change my life to have our baby. Something special from both of us. I think we'll make good parents, if we both back off from work and spend time with our child."
Howard had always wanted a child, especially a boy. But Emily insisted that they share the responsibilities of raising a child. "Em, right now, I would like a child more than anything else in the world. You know that film I just completed, Children in Africa, well I've been feeling more and more that we should raise a child. Just because so many children are deprived may be the best reason to raise kids who have the benefit of money and more importantly, the benefit of love from parents like us."
They hugged and kissed and made love.
Emily stopped taking her birth control pills, and two years later Matthew Patrick Monroe was born.
The change in Howard was so profound that he became the full time father and mother. He took responsibility for Mathew's booboos and baabaas. Howard encouraged Emily to go back to work though he had all the help with diapers and dishes that money could buy.
Howard came from the tobacco Monroes of Virginia. The Monroe fortune was quite diversified by this time, and Howard's share was substantial. Howard, however, had no interest in actively managing any part of the tobacco business or its offshoots.
His parents set him up with a 3-part trust fund when he enrolled at USC:
1. One million dollars. ("...this should be used for long term investments. A million dollars will help teach you money management, I hope," his father told him. Actually, Howard was never concerned about money since he always felt he had more than enough. This attitude bothered his father and brother. And after marrying Emily, she took care of the finances.)
2. Two hundred thousand dollars per year. ("Use this for your expenses...like tuition, apartment and food. This will also give you some extra spending money, dear," his mother told him. "I understand it's very expensive to live in California.")
3. Twenty five percent of the "farm" assets. ("Good luck in California, and don't worry about the farm," his older brother, Cory, told him. The farm assets included the million acres or so controlled by the Monroes and the other diversified investments.)
GEORGE MONROE'S MEDICAL MIRACLE
SHERMAN OAKS, CALIFORNIA : DEC '83 to DEC '84
John Modifies the Prototype
ASTI won the proposal for the SDI work. A three year contract for 50 million dollars was awarded, and 10 million was for John's group to design, build and test the advanced version of the first prototype.
Shortly after work on the advanced unit began, the prototype was moved to a storage room. About a month later, John asked for permission to take the prototype to his home in Sherman Oaks, "...so that I can experiment and tinker with it using my new PC computer." Since there was nothing classified about the prototype when separated from the SDI war simulation computer programs and data, permission was granted.
His IBM PC, with the readily available recording/transmitting equipment for low voltage signals, was capable of interfacing with the prototype. There was, of course, a significant reduction in speed compared to the sophisticated computers available at the office. That didn't bother John, since he was just formulating and testing some new ideas...ideas about using the prototype to send electromagnetic signals back to the pilot's body. Signals which could then be used to further reinforce the biofeedback loop.
John spent a year¾ most of his evenings and weekends¾ working on the hardware and software for an advanced biofeedback method for returning a filtered electrical signal back to the pilot or user. Provide the user with the ability to improve his own health, was the motivating thought.
He designed a clever modification to the electrical contacts on the user's body which permitted signals to not only be transmitted to the computer, but electromagnetic signals could also be sent from the computer to the user. John also wrote a computer program which enabled the user's electrical signals, which were sent to the computer, to determine the frequency content of the signals returned to his own body.
Thus, instead of the pilot's electrical signals directing a Battle Management System computer program, John's new biofeedback method permitted the user to influence the nature of the signals to be sent back to himself. The returned electrical signals could be easily amplified and John felt that the natural biofeedback of the person would modulate the signals in positive and healthy ways intended by the user.
John had generated a simple sketch of the idea:
ENCINO, CALIFORNIA : DECEMBER 10, 1984
John often talked about his ideas with Emily and Howard¾ the three of them had become good friends. The conversations were usually at dinner at the Monroes' home.
On this evening, after dessert, John said, "There are two key concepts: First, an amplified biofeedback of self selected frequencies, and second, use the marvelous and largely uncharted capacity of the human nervous system."
John's voice went up an octave, or so it seemed, as he continued. "The Cray is a super fast computer with lots of memory, but the human computer has a parallel processor capability that can not be beaten. Look at all the things we do in parallel without given it a moments thought." John always became very animated when he talked about the human mind-body capabilities.
Emily was the practical one in the group. "John, calm down, and tell us what good this will do. Are you going to make a BMS that will end all war?"
"That's a good idea, but I'm thinking of how this could be used for self healing," John's tone had become serious. "How much of our illnesses are really brought on by ourselves. I'm beginning to believe that we choose most of our illnesses."
"That's not a very useful concept," Howard piped in. "You'll find it very difficult to convince a sick person that he chose his illness."
John was waiting for that one. "Yes, for some people. But many others will readily accept that their choices caused their illness. The best example, right now, is lung cancer in smokers. Many people will accept the higher risk of lung cancer because they are not willing to give up cigarettes. Howard, you are probably one of these people. Don't you agree that by continuing to smoke you are likely choosing a higher risk of some illness or other?"
"Yes and no, but mostly no. I reluctantly agree that my smoking is unhealthy for me. But, smokers are willing to take the risk for the pleasure. If they become sick, the sickness is caused by a weakness in their bodies. They did not choose to be ill, they chose to smoke. There is a big difference here, John."
"Not as big as you think," John said. "The choice of smoking, while believing that you risk illness is sending negative messages to your body."
"Oh, if I continue to smoke, but believe that I become healthier with each puff, then I will live to be a hundred?"
"That is the 64 thousand dollar question. And I know it sounds crazy, but if you truly and deeply believed that, maybe you could improve your health."
Emily couldn't stand it anymore, "All of this is a bunch of crock. Deeply believe, you say, that has no meaning. Since if a person tries what you suggest and dies, you would simply say that he did not believe deeply enough. There is no way of ever settling this discussion."
This argument always bothered John because he didn't have a good answer. "I don't know. Certainly the believing concept has limits. Since if I take a strong poison, I will die no matter what I believe. If I jump off the Empire State Building, I will die no matter what I believe as I fall, even if I do have the courage to say 'so far so good'. But all kidding aside, beliefs are so crucial to all our attitudes toward life, toward what we consider important...I believe that holding positive beliefs will have a positive impact. It's true that I can't explain it and don't understand it, but I still believe it!"
They were silent for a moment, and then Howard broke the contemplative mood with some bad news.
"Can you turn this mumbo-jumbo into something practical? Dad has lung cancer." Howard said grimly. "It was confirmed this afternoon. Can biofeedback help dad?"
"I'm so sorry about your father," said John. "How's your mother handling this?"
"She's very worried, of course, but right now her strength is keeping dad going," Howard answered. "All those cigarettes and cigars have finally taken their toll. He's had a mild case of emphysema for over 5 years, but refused to give up smoking. He is such a strong willed person...I don't understand why he just couldn't quit."
Emily knew why, and said so. "Your father never wanted to quit smoking, he would consider quitting to be a traitorous act to the tobacco industry. That marvelous industry that made the Monroe's so rich!" She was a bit angry, and she was also scared because Howard still smoked. "Why the hell can't any of you give up the filthy habit."
Emily began clearing the table. Howard and John helped her. They were all very pensive as they walked to the kitchen. John's thoughts were on whether he should be so presumptuous as to think that he could, in fact, help Howard's father.
John finally said, "Howard, I believe that your father's health can be improved using biofeedback.
"Are we talking in general, here, " said Howard.
"No, I believe that the modified prototype could be used. But, I hesitate to be too optimistic because the improvement will be primarily up to your father."
After John's comments, Howard called his parents to see if they would even entertain the idea. His mother, Margaret, answered the phone. "Howie, I'm so glad you called. George is being ridiculous. He refuses to listen to the doctors and do the chemotherapy or the radiation treatments. He says that if it's his time, then he's ready to die. Howie...Howie, I don't want him to die."
"Don't cry mom. But it sounds like he's giving up. That's not like him. What are the doctor's saying?"
"The doctors say that if he doesn't begin chemotherapy and radiation treatments within a couple of weeks, then he'll be dead within a few months. George is so stubborn and pigheaded that he refuses to accept that he is a victim of lung cancer. He'll just die without fighting, and in his mind he will die peacefully believing that he died of natural causes."
"Mom, I have a long shot for you, but it's a chance. And if we can convince dad to give it a try, it might really help. It doesn't involve drugs or radiation, but it does involve his being hooked up to a computer and his wearing a suit filled with wires."
"Sounds like a bunch of quackery to me," said Margaret. "How the hell will this help your father. Are you going off the deep end?"
"This technique is based on concepts of a good friend of Emily's and mine. He believes that dad can help himself using advanced biofeedback techniques. I would prefer for dad to follow the doctor's advice first, but if he won't, maybe this is worth a try. What have you got to lose? What has dad got to lose?"
"Well, George will never agree anyway. He's still feeling reasonably okay, just a little short of breath. Believe it or not, he's still smoking cigars...at least he recognizes that inhaling cigarettes is now bad for him."
"Mom, Emily and I are coming home for Christmas. I'd like to bring John along with his biofeedback set-up, if that's okay."
"Oh, I'm so glad we'll be seeing you and Emily. It's been too long. And, yes, if dad agrees, John can come too."
"Okay, mom. Now, can I talk to dad?"
"I'll get him," she said.
Margaret went into the study where George was watching "Gone With The Wind" on a video cassette tape. George was watching a lot of old southern theme movies since he found out about his cancer. She came in just as Tara was burning to the ground. "George, is that what you're doing, allowing yourself to burn out...to be finished because your time has passed? Are you so sure your time has passed? You're only 65 Georgie, that's not that old."
George ignored her rhetorical questions. They had discussed his position a thousand times and there was nothing new to be said. He was not going to be subjected to those doctor's therapy and an extended stay in the hospital if he only had a 50% chance of living. He would rather die with dignity at home. Anyway, he felt that his chances with the doctors were really very poor. His instincts told him that if he started with them, he would die with them as a statistic.
"Howie is on the phone," said Margaret as she handed him the receiver. "He has a far out idea, but maybe it's something to do rather than simply wait around for you to die."
George always loved to talk to Howard. In spite of the fact that Howard never liked the tobacco business, they always seemed to have a special rapport. They shared a love for movies which dated back to Howard's childhood. Howard became a film producer largely because of the encouragement and contagious enthusiasm from his father. "Howie, how are you?"
"Dad, I'm fine. How're you feeling."
"Still the same as when we talked last week. It's sometimes hard to believe that my lungs are in serious trouble. I'm a little short of breath, and I'm not feeling as strong as usual. I'll lick this thing on my own."
"Dad, oh dad, do you really believe that?"
After a pause, George said, "No, but I'm ready to die. I've had a good life. I have a wonderful family. If God wants me back, I'm ready to go."
"What happened to the fighter in you. What about all those old movies we saw together where the good guys never give up. You took me to thousands of those, or so it seemed. You were always the strongest fighter of them all, dad, what's happening? Don't give up. Why not let the doctors do their job?"
"Howie, I just can't trust the doctors on this. I've been to doctors many times, as you know. But this lung cancer is different for me. I just know they can't help me."
"How do you know?"
"Because I know that I'm getting what I deserve for all the smoking I've done my whole life. I never accepted this until they told me I had lung cancer. But now I believe that doctors cannot undo what I've caused over my whole life. Only Jesus can help me now. So, I've been praying to him for guidance, and he has not indicated any particular confidence toward the doctors. In fact, whenever I think of going into the hospital, I become ill."
"Are you waiting for a miracle?" asked Howard. "Like 'The Miracle on 46th Street', or something."
"That would be nice, but I don't expect any miracles, I expect to die in a few months. God has not given any guidance, so I presume he's waiting for me to join him."
Howard became very angry, "What are you telling me, that God wants you to die! I don't believe that, I think you're using Him as an excuse to give up. Why not let the doctors do their stuff. You can buy the best doctors in the world."
"No, Howie. I will not go down the chemotherapy or radiation road. I know that I will die doing that...but I will tell you that I don't want to die, but I don't know what I can do!"
"I have a suggestion." Howard then told his father the details about John's work and approach to self healing using biofeedback enhanced with sensor and computer technology.
"Let me see now," responded George, after Howard's rather lengthy description. "You want me to hook up to a machine in a Buck Rogers outfit so that I can cure myself."
"That's right," said Howard.
"Curing myself of cancer seems too godlike."
"Why, you've cured yourself of hundreds of illnesses in your lifetime. God gave you the strength to do this by providing you with your immune system. If you would like to invite God into the Buck Rogers outfit, I'm sure that would only help the biofeedback. The key seems to be your desire to become well, and the mobilization of your own body resources. Dad, maybe God wants you to mobilize your strengths to live longer."
"Let me think about it."
"I'll call you in a couple of days. And, Emily and I will see you, in any case, next week for Christmas. I love you, dad."
"I love you too, Howie."
The next day, George called Howard, "Howie, I'm calling you because I've about run out of old movies to watch, and dressing in that Buck Rogers outfit sounds like fun. I'm willing to give it a try."
VIRGINIA: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1984
Howard, Emily and John traveled first class to Virginia to visit the Monroe's farm with two majestic homes on the property. The first house originally on the land had been destroyed during the Civil War. But after granddad Monroe, George's father, bought the farm back from the Yankees and started making money growing and selling tobacco, he built a new Southern style home for his family. When George took over the farm, he added a second large house for himself. Howard's older brother, Cory, lived in granddad Monroe's house.
Howard had mostly good memories of his childhood home. He remembered many wonderful Christmases with the huge tree in the living room. And under the tree there were always marvelous presents. Howard always appreciated that it was fun to be rich.
As the limo approached the house, Howard shivered a little out of fear for his father, and for his mother if his father died.
John was impressed by the large house and 300 acre grounds that surrounded it. Howard had all of John's equipment shipped to the Mansion, and John hoped there was no damage. He wondered if he was being to bold to really think that his biofeedback concept could cure, or even improve, Howard's father's cancer.
Emily had been to the house before, and was rather blasé about the arrival. She was mostly concerned about George and Margaret.
Margaret came out of the front door when she heard the limo approaching. Margaret hugged and kissed Howard and then Emily before being introduced to John. "Welcome to our farm and our home, young man," she said to John. "It's the Christmas season, and please feel that you're part of our family." She paused for a moment and then continued, "I want you to know right up front that I have no illusions about you curing Georgie, I don't expect it at all. But I think he'll enjoy the attention and the diversion from his rather depressing 'waiting to die' attitude and his endless watching of movies."
"It's my pleasure to be here, though I wish it were under healthier circumstances, Mrs. Monroe," said John.
"John, please call me Meggy or I won't feel that you're part of the family," Margaret said.
"Meggy, thank you for being so kind," John said. "I don't have any family left to spend Christmas with, and Howard and Emily have basically adopted me for the holidays."
"Let's go into the house, it's cold out here," Margaret said. "James will take care of all the luggage. We've already put all your equipment in a guest room in our house. This seemed best so that Georgie could get to it easily. Howie and Emily will stay in the other guest room, and we've set you up in Cory's house. Cory uses it as headquarters for running the family businesses, and there's a large guest room which you can use. I hope that will be satisfactory."
"Of course," John said as they entered the home. "What a huge tree and living room! The couch and desk are magnificent. I wish I knew more about antique pieces, but these look like they go back to George Washington's time."
"They do," said Howard. "The pieces are quite valuable. As a kid, though, we were not allowed in the living room because of them."
George walked in from his study, and gave Howard a big long hug. "I miss seeing you, son. And you too Emily." He gave her a hug and kiss. "And, I suppose when my grandchild is born I won't see much of him or her either!"
Howard became a little defensive and said, "You can visit us whenever you want to, and we do see you about three or four times a year. Why don't you move to California?"
George turned to John, "You must be John Wensler...welcome." They shook hands firmly.
John noticed the firm handshake and the strength in the posture of the tall man. He certainly seems strong enough to heal himself, he thought.
John said, "And you must be George Monroe, the Patriarch of this fine family. It is a pleasure to meet you, and to be in your home."
George liked the look of John's face, the feel of his handshake and the sound of his voice. George immediately felt comfortable with John.
George said, "Why don't you all freshen up from the long trip, and we'll meet back here at 6 for drinks and then dinner. John, Cory should be waiting to meet you in his office. Howard, maybe you could do the honors."
Howard took John through the kitchen and out the back door which was connected by a 50 foot glass covered pathway to Cory's house. The pathway provided the first good look at the back part of the property. There was a very expansive view with a small river just visible at one corner. Off to the other side there were several small houses which were for the farm workers.
The pathway led to the back door of Cory's house. This too was an impressive house. A little smaller and 40 years older than the other, but clearly built to last. Howard guided John to Cory's office.
Cory heard them coming, and met them at his door. "Howie, you're looking good," he said as he shook his brother's hand.
"Cory, this is John Wensler. John, meet my brother and financial wizard, Cory."
Cory and John shook hands and exchanged greetings. John was surprised that Cory was relatively short, probably 5 ft 4 inches. Howard, who was nearly 6 feet tall, clearly took after his father, and Cory inherited Meggy's physical characteristics.
Cory was anxious to discuss what John's plans were for George. Cory was suspicious of John's motives and qualifications. "Your equipment arrived yesterday, and I noticed you're using an IBM PC. Is that powerful enough?" asked Cory.
"A workstation or CRAY computer would be better. They would allow me to process signals from more contacts in the helmet and suit," answered John. "The biofeedback response time is a little slow, but satisfactory. I can improve the response time by decreasing the number of contacts, but I think the 200 contact locations on the body are more important than very fast response time. Actually, your father will be doing most of the work by modulating his electromagnetic output."
"Have you tested the system with anyone who has been sick?"
"No, in fact I've only used it on myself for relaxing, getting rid of warts, and freeing myself of headaches," said John, "but the biofeedback principle is quite sound, and the healing capabilities within us are occasionally quite remarkable. Based on what Howard has told me about your father's strong will, I believe that he might be able to help himself."
"Sounds pretty flimsy to me," said Cory. "Looks like a waste of time, and how do you know that it's safe?"
John knew it was safe since there were only several millivolts with small amperage applied to the skin at the 200 locations, but the charge of a flimsy basis for believing that his biofeedback system could help did bother him. "It's safe, but I don't know that it will actually help your father. Howard asked me if I believed that it could help him, and I said yes. The evidence for helping anyone as sick as your father is worse than flimsy, I'm afraid. But, my whole space biofeedback theory needs someone to put it to the test. If your father is willing, so am I."
"My father is going to be a guinea pig...terrific," groaned Cory. "And 'whole space', what kind of bull is that?"
Howard interrupted this increasingly heated conversation, "Cory, let's give John a break and let him clean up before dinner."
"I'm sorry if I attacked you, John, but my father refuses to heed competent medical advice, and that's frustrating me to no end," said Cory. "Let me show you to your room."
Cory showed John to a spacious guest room in the east wing of the house. This room was often used for business guests, and had its own small living room with wet bar and a desk.
There were 7 of them for dinner¾ George, Margaret, Cory, Howard, Emily, John and Dr. Franklin Murphy. Frank was invited by George after Cory insisted on "...getting qualified medical advice concerning the safety of using John's biofeedback contraption."
George introduced Frank to John as "An old friend of the family who has given us sound medical advice for over 20 years. He sent me to the best specialists and agrees with them that I should undergo the radiation treatment for shrinking the extent of my lung cancer. I would like him to actually see your equipment and set Cory and Meggy's minds at ease concerning my safety...though I don't know why they're so worried about my safety under the circumstances." George laughed at that. No one else thought it was funny, however.
Their dinner was a delicious roasted turkey with all the trimmings. The Monroes had the best cook in the county, and had been able to retain loyal and competent help. "I thought you only had turkey this good during Thanksgiving," said Emily with a smile.
"Around here," said Margaret sadly, "it used to be Thanksgiving most times of the year...until Georgie got sick."
"Meggy, please cheer up a little," said George. "John and his Buck Rogers spacesuit contraption are going to help me. Right, John."
"No, that's wrong, George. The spacesuit, as you and Howard call it, may permit you to help yourself. There are no guarantees, but I believe that when we hook you up to the spacesuit and use the computer to analyze electrical voltage signals from 200 locations on your body, you can modulate these signals to return health promoting electrical signals back to your body. That's Computer Aided Biofeedback," said John.
"Sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo to me," said Dr. Murphy. "Measuring electrical signals from the body is a long established practice used in electrocardiographs and electroencephalographs, for example. But to believe that sending electrical signals back to the body will create some sort of magic healing response, to cure a serious bronchial carcinoma, sounds like the worst kind of quackery."
Before John could respond to this attack, Howard said, "Calm down Frank. John assures me that the amount of electric current sent back to dad will be no larger than normally generated by the body. Also, Frank, the biofeedback idea for mobilizing the immune system is not new, what seems to be new is the use of many body sensors which are simultaneously involved in the biofeedback process."
Cory now jumped in, "You want my father to be a guinea pig. He may not be shocked to death, but what about psychological damage or some other mental damage...what about a stroke. This all sounds too risky."
"I don't see any real risks, other than the risk of wasting time," said John. "Your father will be able to terminate any biofeedback session whenever he wants to. Frank can be in the room with him all the time if he wishes. The potential benefits are limited only by the self healing powers which your father can muster. And from what I've heard about George, I feel he can help himself if he truly wants to enough."
Emily said, "How much is enough?"
John said, "I don't know. But the fact that some people seem to have miraculous recoveries from illnesses prescribed as fatal says that there are significant factors governing healing which doctors don't yet appreciate. Subtle factors may be the most important, including the will to live, the desire to be healed, and the belief that you can again be healthy."
"Young man," said Margaret, "You seem to be saying Georgie's attitude can cure him. Then why do we need your machine?"
"The machine acts to amplify the effects of the user's attitudes. I view the health oriented biofeedback process as a catalyst for mobilizing the person's immune system," said John. "The critical factor will be whether George is ready, willing and able to regain his health."
"He's not ready, I'm afraid," said Cory, "or he'd listen to Frank and the other doctors and get competent medical treatment."
"Now wait a minute," said George. "I want you all to know that I do want to be well again, I want my health back more than any of you can appreciate. But I will not become a pitiful vegetable. I would rather die with some dignity than take a 50% chance that all the radiation therapy and chemotherapy will simply prolong my death and confine my final days to a hospital room. That thought sticks in my craw too vividly for me to go down that path. Besides, getting in a spacesuit sounds like much more fun!"
Cory was now resigned to his father trying the biofeedback contraption. He asked for more specifics, "John, when do you want to start, and how often should dad plan on being wired up?"
"I'd like to set the equipment up as soon as possible...starting tonight if that doesn't cause any problems. If there's no shipping damage, we can begin tomorrow afternoon," answered John. "The first session will be an introductory session so George can become familiar with the suit, helmet, and the computer keyboard and screen. Then, I hope he'll use the system at least twice a day, but whatever he feels comfortable with is probably best."
"I'm a little tired," said George, "Good night everyone, and John, tomorrow I'll try out your Buck Rogers spacesuit." He stood up, kissed Emily, and rustled Howard's hair in what was obviously an affectionate gesture between a father and son. Margaret excused herself also, and the patriarch and matriarch of the Monroe family retired for the evening.
"Cory, let me know what time tomorrow the charade begins," said Dr. Murphy, "I want to be there." He stood up and left in an angry huff.
"He's pretty fixed in his views," said Cory.
"Fixed in concrete I'd say." said John. "That man is not going to help matters. Cory, for your father's sake, please satisfy yourself about the safety of what we're doing, but then keep the good Dr. Murphy away from your father...as much as you can while we're here. Your father's attitude toward the biofeedback is critical. Right now he seems enthusiastic, I'd like to keep it that way."
"Can someone show me to my equipment?" John now asked. "I'll sleep better if I can check it out tonight."
: Sunday, December 23, 1984
The next morning, at breakfast, they chatted about Christmas and the snow and nobody discussed George's health. He looked and sounded fine, but there was a cancer festering inside him.
John informed everyone that his equipment was just fine and that he needed just a few more hours and it would be ready. "Ready by noon," he said.
"But, what about going to church this morning?" asked George.
"Well," said John cautiously, "if you don't mind, I'd rather work."
"You're a Christian, aren't you?" George asked very seriously.
"I was born and raised Baptist, believe it or not, but that was too strong for me. Now I rarely go to church."
"You still believe in God, don't you?"
"Yes. And I believe in the power of prayer for those who believe in the power of God." That seemed to satisfy George.
: After Lunch
Cory called Frank, who joined them for a lunch. It was a light lunch of cold cuts, and everyone was quite civil. "I'm ready to start," said George when they all finished eating.
"Good," said John, "So am I. Let's dress you in the outfit and hook you up. But, please recognize that I don't have a NASA type budget for my equipment. Also, we'll have to fit the contacts to your body size. That should take about half an hour. I suggest we start."
"If you don't mind," said Frank, "I'd like to help you put George in this biofeedback outfit."
"That'll be fine," said John.
The guest room containing the equipment was quite large, and there would be plenty of room for all of them, once the session started. John had put the computer and color monitor on the desk. The 'spacesuit' was laid out on the bed. It consisted of the prototype helmet with some modifications, and a pin striped suit with socks sewn to the bottom of the pants¾ and wires everywhere.
"This does look a little like a Buck Rogers helmet, but the suit...the suit looks like it was made by Rube Goldberg," said George as he took his first look at the sophisticated prototype helmet and a black pin stripped suit punctured with wires. The wires from the jacket came together in one cable, and there was another cable collecting the wires from the pants.
"Do you really want to get into that thing?" asked Frank.
"Frank, please don't be a pain in the ass," said George, "I'm going to do this. You just let me know if you think there's any danger."
"The body sensors are still a little rough," said John. "Look, I've been working on this for about two years. I was interested in designing and testing the concept, not in aesthetics. Or, is it that you don't like the pin stripped suit."
George laughed at that. Frank was still not amused.
John continued, "There are 50 contact pads in the helmet, 100 in the jacket and 50 in the pants. These are placed on the head and neck, over the heart, along the spine, on your stomach, thighs, knees and feet. These contact pads are not quite like those you use to do electrocardiographs, Frank, but close. The primary difference, and the key element of the biofeedback concept, is the extra contact to the skin which carries the return signals to George's body. Why don't you both take a good look at this pad."
Frank said that it looked like a modification to the standard pads he could buy in any medical supply store, with the extra contact device attached to one side. He asked several questions about how the electric signal was limited to safe levels, and was finally satisfied that everything was safe enough for George to proceed.
George asked, "How do I control what is sent back through these contacts?
"That is both easy and very difficult to answer. Generally, biofeedback works by 'focused intention'. Thus, it is well known that almost anyone can increase the temperature on their hand when they have a sensitive thermometer attached to provide the biofeedback information. All that is required is the intention, or desire, to increase the thermometer reading. Thus, the easy answer is all you have to do is have strong focused intentions...intentions to heal and become well," answered John.
"Sounds to simple. And where's my health thermometer?"
"Let me try to answer your first question," continued John. "The details of how a person increases his hand temperature is really not understood in any detail. Sure we can measure that the blood rate to the hand is increased, but the fact that an intention can manipulate what is generally considered a purely subconscious function is certainly noteworthy. The connection between the focused intention and the physical processes of the body are what is not understood."
John paused¾ he was still fascinated with the connection between mind and body¾ then he continued. "That is the mystery. A mystery which easily includes healing since each of us has tremendous unconscious healing powers. We use them all the time in fighting many bacteria and viruses. We don't always have to go to doctors to become well."
"That's certainly true to a point," said Frank. "But, there are many diseases which the body cannot fight off by itself. For example, penicillin can easily rid the body of many bacterial infections which would otherwise be fatal."
"The decision to take penicillin," said John, "is another example of a focused intention. There is no contradiction between medicines providing healing versus other means which activate the healing powers of the body.
"And what about my thermometer?" said George. "How will I know when I'm doing it right?"
"Right," said John, noticing that he too easily became sidetracked, "the computer screen over there will become your visual meter. Once we connect you to the computer, the signals from the contacts on your body¾ as well as the signals returned to your body¾ will be analyzed. I've developed a program which converts these signals to colorful patterns on the screen. When you see a satisfying pattern on the screen which feels right, then you are 'looped in'. By looped in, I mean that your focused intention to heal is now sending positive signals back to your body, and you're getting conformation with the satisfying patterns on the screen."
George had a puzzled look on his face, "Satisfying pattern?"
"It sounds more complicated than it is," said John. "Basically, be clear on your intentions and trust yourself¾ trust your own feelings. All I've done is develop a way of visualizing when the biofeedback signals are positively reinforcing the intention signals being sent from your body to the computer."
George's look told John that his explanations were doing no good. John said, "I think we should suit you up, Buck. Trust yourself...you'll get the hang of it."
Once George was suited-up, and his three separate cables were plugged into the appropriate boards, John showed him how to load the program and start a session. The screen quickly came up with a test pattern of colors, and a message which said that all connections for sending and receiving were operating. "Press F1 when ready to begin." was the message on the bottom of the screen.
George pressed F1 and the colors changed from the regular test pattern to a colorful screen filled with changing patterns which seemed relatively random. "What do these patterns mean?"
"Look, George," said John, "this is not reading tea leaves. I won't be able to interpret your patterns. You won't be able to understand the patterns either, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that you now focus on activating your healing powers, and go with your feelings 'til you lock in..."
John noticed a perplexed look on George's face, "You'll know when it fells right¾ don't worry about it," John said as he placed a reassuring hand on George's shoulder. "Try visualizing your lung cancer. First see the reality of it, and then see your immune system healing the cancer. I believe that you have the strength. What do you believe?"
"Good question...," said George, "I still feel relatively okay, but I've seen my x-rays, and I've talked to enough doctors to know that I'm pretty sick. I started this mostly as a lark to get Meg, Cory and Frank off my back. I'm not a believer in this almost godlike healing potential which you describe, but I also don't think it's impossible. This morning at church, I prayed to Jesus for guidance and for Him to heal me. The sermon was on how miracles were an integral part of the church, miracles of Jesus, miracles of God. Jesus cured a Leper and many other sick people...I'm not Jesus."
John said, "Why not ask Jesus to cure you through this biofeedback process."
George felt somewhat better with that thought. He turned toward the monitor on the desk, closed his eyes and prayed for a minute or so. The screen showed a softening of the stark colors. "I'm ready to begin," said George.
"You already have," said John. "Now help your immune system heal the cancer.
While looking at the screen, George imagined his lung cancer being a heavy black, and potentially lethal, mass inside his body. He tried to imagine the mass slowly being consumed by his body immune cells.
After about 5 minutes or so, George was becoming very frustrated. He didn't know much about immune cells or how his immune system worked. How can I imagine immune cells curing me, when I wouldn't know an immune cell from a jail cell, he thought. Jesus, sweet Jesus, please help me.
George closed his eyes and prayed. And then new images formed in his mind's eye. George began seeing little angels taking small pieces away from the black mass and bringing them to Jesus to be purified in His presence.
George opened his eyes and noticed that the patterns on the screen had become more tranquil and less random. Colorful shapes would develop which slowly changed and flowed. Some would leave the field of view, or grow smaller and disappear, and then other forms would appear. George closed his eyes, he didn't need the colors to confirm his own feelings. He knew he was doing something right.
This is amazing, thought George. I'm feeling more relaxed than I have in many months, maybe years. He continued visualizing the angels and Jesus for 10 more minutes and then abruptly stopped.
"That's enough for now," he said. "I want to talk to Meg."
As soon as he climbed out of the outfit, he found Margaret in the living room with Howard and Emily. "How did it go?" asked Howard.
"Just fine, just fine," replied George. "Meg can I talk to you?"
"Is everything all right?" asked Margaret, a little worried."
Emily said, "Howie, I'd love to take a walk. It's a delightful day outside." They went for a brisk walk to the river.
"Meggy, my dear Meggy," said George. "I don't know if I'm doing the right thing." He then told her about his imagining how angels and Jesus were helping him cure his lung cancer. He told her how he was feeling very good with the shapes and colors and the whole process "...when suddenly I had this thought that I was using up Jesus's time and that He should be helping other people." And then George cried.
Margaret hugged him, and just let him cry. She knew that he did not feel worthy of Jesus's help. Since his cancer, he began feeling responsible not only for his own lung cancer, but he also felt that his tobacco was killing other people.
"I'm okay," he said to her. "But it really hurts."
"I know," she said. "Look here, now. You are a wonderful person, with two superb children, a grandchild on the way, and a terrific wife who loves you very much. How bad can you be. You're a good person.
"Don't you think you ought to let Jesus choose who he helps. If He wants to send you angels, it would be rude to refuse," she said with a smile. "Besides, I think Jesus has a different sense of time than we do. He can help lots of people at the same time."
George, who was now feeling somewhat better after his catharsis, said, "Meggy, I'm going to continue with this biofeedback, and no matter what happens..." He did not finish because he really did not have anything in mind. All he knew was that he wanted to do something...something to say thank you to Jesus for spending time with him.
: Monday, December 24, 1984
George woke up at 7 am, Margaret was already in the kitchen making coffee, as usual. Cory was in the kitchen with Margaret when George walked in and kissed Margaret on the neck and pinched her behind.
George said, "That smells good, the way coffee should."
"You're feeling chipper this morning," said Cory.
"Yes I am. It's the day before Christmas, why shouldn't I feel chipper. After my morning cup of coffee, Cory, would you help me suit up. I think I could do it myself, but a little help would be useful. Anyway, I'd like to talk to you."
"So you're really going to continue with this," said Cory. "Mom tells me that you feel that you benefited from the first session. You probably could have gotten as much from talking to the priest and praying longer."
"Maybe so," said George. "Will you help me suit up? And, by the way, Frank doesn't need to be here any more. He doesn't see any direct danger to me. He's just worried that I might develop false hopes, and that I won't change my mind about the chemotherapy. He's right about my not changing my mind...and I am going to continue with John's contraption."
"Okay," said Cory, "I'll help you into your outfit. You know, of course, that you look like the silliest person imaginable."
John woke up at about 9:30 am, and walked over to the kitchen. Margaret was there reading the newspaper.
"Good morning, Margaret."
"Mornin, John. What would you like for breakfast? Nothing too fancy, since Wilma has the day off."
"I just want some of that coffee, and I'll make myself some toast and butter. Where's everyone else?"
"The bread is over there, in the pantry. But instead of making yourself butter, why not use the butter in the frig," she smiled. "...sorry about that, but George's good mood is contagious. George, by the way, is doing his biofeedback right now. He couldn't wait to start this morning. Cory helped him put on that silly outfit, and then left. Howie and Emily are still in their room."
"I'm so glad George is still excited about healing himself. I was a little worried last night, when he stopped the session so suddenly."
"I'm not sure there is any healing going on, but if there is, then Jesus is doing the healing. And the thought of Jesus taking time to heal Mr. George Monroe, tobacco farmer, is difficult for George to accept."
"So that's what was bothering him last night. Well, if Jesus wants to help through biofeedback, that's great!" said John.
Just then, Howard and Emily walked into the kitchen.
"What upset Dad so much last night?" asked Howard.
Margaret summarized again, "Your father cannot accept the fact that Jesus would take the time to help heal him."
"I thought the idea of biofeedback was to heal one's self," said Emily. "John, how can you encourage them to believe that Jesus is doing the healing?"
"If George's belief in Jesus is so strong that he cannot accept any other healing agent, including himself, then, for George, it must be Jesus that's doing the healing. The words and specific symbols we use to activate healthy responses are much less important than the focused intent to heal and be healthy.
"I don't know what you're talking about," said Margaret. "Anyway, we don't know if he's really improving. But at least he's happier than I've seen him in months. I'm going upstairs to see how he's doing."
George was doing fine. He felt good about his second session, and decided to have another one after lunch. He suited-up by himself this time, and this third session lasted about half an hour. He stopped the sessions when he felt that the angels were becoming too weary to continue.
: Evening of 24 DECEMBER 1984
The Fourth Session
"It's Christmas Eve, it's snowing out, my family's here," said George as he raised his sherry glass in a toast, "and Jesus is close."
The men were drinking in the den, and Margaret and Emily were sitting in the living room. They had just finished a scrumptious ham dinner which Wilma made for them before leaving to visit her family.
As they clicked glasses, John added, "To health."
"To health, indeed," said George. "Boys, I'm feeling like a new man. I really think my cancer is beginning to go away. Tonight, I'm gonna have my fourth session, starting at 11:30 or so. I want to wish Jesus a happy birthday, at midnight."
"Dad," said Howard, "I've never seen you so absorbed with Jesus. Sure, you've been a strong supporter of the church, but..."
George interrupted him before he could finish, "During my sessions with John's machine, I sense Jesus, and with the help of small angels, He's removing' my cancer. I know this sounds crazy...but the feeling for me is real and exhilarating."
Cory was worried about his father, Could Dad become mentally disturbed from the electrical signals? he thought. He said, "Dad, I'm glad that you're enjoying this experiment, but please don't overdo this biofeedback stuff. You've had two sessions already today, isn't that enough?"
"No, Cory. I'm look'n forward to tonight's work with Jesus and his angel helpers. I want to wish all of them a Merry Christmas."
"Would you mind if I joined you tonight?" asked Cory.
"As long as you don't interfere, I don't think Jesus will care."
Only George and Cory went up to the guest room ¾ Cory's old bedroom ¾ that night. John advised everyone else that too many people might be an unnecessary distraction. "George works hard during these sessions, he must stay focused on being healed, whether the healing is by himself or Jesus doesn't matter," said John.
George was now quite proficient at suiting-up and connecting himself to the computer. Cory had never seen his father so pensive¾ almost ritualistic¾ while preparing. They barely talked, except when George asked Cory to turn out the light in the room "... because it casts a reflection on the screen." By 11:35, George began the session. Cory sat on the bed.
Cory saw the geometric test pattern change into a colorful flower-like pattern . Cory thought he heard George utter something like, "Okay, let's go to work."
The pattern changed size, colors and intensities, and spawned other patterns. Gradually, the original patterns would disappear and new ones would develop. Cory was fascinated by the display, but couldn't see how this could be helping his father. "A great kaleidoscopic show," he thought, "but, so what."
After 5 more minutes of looking at the screen, Cory became bored. "Not much going on here," he thought. Cory's mind began to wander to 15 years ago, when he officially became the Chief Executive Officer of the Monroe fortune. His father had come up to this room, and congratulated him on earning his Ph. D. in Business Administration from Harvard. "I'm so proud of you," his father said. "I'd like you to start as CEO immediately. I'll retain my Chairman of the Board position, but you'll take over my CEO role."
Meanwhile, George was deeply entranced with a large heavy black cancerous mass, 4 small angels and Jesus. The angels hovered over the black mass, and using their hands, each removed a small piece which was burdensome to carry. The angels then flew to Jesus passing through fluffy white clouds hanging above the cancer. George could see the angels land on Jesus's outstretched left hand and place the black pieces into a pool of dark red blood in the center of His palm. The angels washed their hands in this pool, and then flew back through the clouds to gather another load.
Jesus touched each cancerous piece with His right index finger, and the blackness disappeared in a burst of yellow light.
With each burst of light, George felt a little healthier. The cancerous black mass was slowly shrinking, and George knew that his concentration on the angel's work was helping them, and him, because when his mind wandered, the angels would stop their work.
Cory was mildly hypnotized by the colors and changing patterns on the screen. The screen did not, and was never designed to show an image of what George visualized in his mind's eye. The screen's function was to strengthen the biofeedback loop created and nurtured by George's intentions and beliefs.
Cory continued to remember portions of his relationship with his father. Not all of the memories were pleasant, however. Like the time they fought, almost to the point of coming to blows, over selling the tobacco farmland. Cory believed that the profitability of that land was nearing an end. US government subsidies would not last forever, and the sooner they sold out the better. George would not even consider the idea, not even after Cory showed him how they could use the profits to achieve higher returns from their investment. Clearly George was emotionally attached to the initial source of the Monroe's wealth, and would not give up tobacco farming, for anything.
It was past midnight, though no one was watching the clock, and George felt that the angels were growing weary. George had forgotten about his intentions for Christmas Eve. When he sensed the angels' fatigue, and realized that the session was nearing an end, he remembered that it was Jesus's birthday. Happy Birthday, Jesus, and many more, he thought. George then thanked the angels and Jesus for their help, and wished them all a Merry Christmas. That is when the miracle began, or at least that is when George believes the miracle began.
The angels flew to Jesus's shoulders and rested there, two on each shoulder. Then Jesus slowly moved His right hand down through the clouds and touched the remaining black cancerous mass with his index finger. The mass became a brilliant yellow light and pulsated 7 times. The yellow light first contracted and then expanded, initially shrinking to about half its original size and then growing to twice its original size. In each successive pulse, the contractions and expansions became more severe. By the seventh pulse, the yellow light was barely visible at its minimum size, and it engulfed Jesus's hand at its maximum. Then, the yellow light contracted and disappeared, leaving no trace of the black mass.
George was awestruck by what he had just witnessed. He remained still for a few moments, then he reacted. "I'm cured," shouted George, "Jesus cured me!"
Cory was startled by George's yell. "Are you all right," Cory said in a knee-reflex type of response.
"Are you kidding," said George, "I'm more than all right. I've been purified of my cancer by Jesus himself. I ... Help me out of this, I've got to tell Meg."
Margaret, Howard, Emily and John heard George's shout from downstairs. They all came into the guest room. "What's going on?" asked Howard.
"I'm cured," said George. "Jesus cured me. He touched my cancer and turned it into a yellow light which disappeared. I'm sure there's no cancer left. It's a miracle. Isn't it wonderful, Meggy?"
"Yes... that's wonderful," Margaret said cautiously. "George, it's late, let's go to bed now, and talk about all of this in the morning."
George and Margaret went to their room, but everyone else talked late into the night about George's strong experience. No one believed that Jesus actually touched George's cancer and completely cured him, but they all believed that George believed it. John felt that George's beliefs were strong enough to activate some self healing. All of them agreed, however, that complete mitigation of the cancer was impossible...a complete cure would be a miracle.
: 25 DECEMBER 1984 to 5 JANUARY 1985
Christmas day was spent exchanging gifts, reminiscing about old times, and talking with George about his experience. George readily agreed to see Frank to have another examination. George was looking forward to the exam. Everyone else, including John, cautioned George not to be too optimistic.
John said, "Look, George, you're enthusiasm for the sessions has probably started the healing process. But healing takes a certain amount of time. Hopefully Frank will be able to see some improvement, and you can continue with the sessions. But I don't want you to be too discouraged if there's no significant change."
"John, Jesus brought you to me as part of His plan to heal me. I don't know why or how. It's true that healing usually takes time. I learned to appreciate that when I saw how many trips those poor angels were taking to carry small pieces of my cancer to Jesus. But, last night, He chose to touch me and cure me."
"I hope you're right," said John. "In any case, what about another session today?"
"Why? I don't need any more sessions," answered George.
"Why not," said John. "Even if your cancer is gone, you can use the enhanced biofeedback techniques you've learned so well to become healthier. When I use the suit, I focus on various parts of my self...physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual...with the intention of improving the health of each. Sometimes, I work on strengthening the connections between these aspects of my being."
"Do you see Jesus or angels?"
"No, I never saw those images. I have a sense¾ a feeling¾ of the areas which I want to improve, and I sometimes see fleeting images with clear symbolic meanings to me. Your experiences have been much more visual and clearly stronger emotionally, and hopefully physically, than mine.
"Okay, I'd like to see if the black mass is still gone. And maybe I'll try to improve my health," said George. "Let's have another session now."
George and John went upstairs and George had his fifth session. George tried to visualize any remaining cancer, but he did not sense any dark cancerous mass. He felt completely cured. So he took John's suggestion and focused on his health, and in particular, he focused on protecting himself against any new cancerous growths in his lungs.
George no longer saw Jesus. The small angels, however, appeared in his mind's eye as soon as he began to center his thoughts on protecting his lungs from any future cancer. The angels¾ there were still 4 of them¾ flew to his lungs. George's conception of his lungs was quite incomplete, and the angels flew inside a large expanding and contracting balloon-like structure with walls made of filter paper. George noticed that the filter paper was loaded with black tar from all his smoking. There were two angels in each balloon, and as they flew near the walls, the winds generated from their wings dislodged some of the tar. George knew that these winds were not only cleansing his lungs, but were also providing protection against cancer.
On Wednesday, December 26th, George and Cory went to Dr. Murphy's office. The results of George's examination shocked Dr. Murphy and Cory. The cancer was gone!
"Are you sure?" asked Cory.
"Yes, the lesion is gone. It's been confirmed with tomography¾ a lung X-ray¾ and I also did a bronchoscopy," said Dr. Murphy.
"How can that happen?"
"I don't know."
"Is it possible that the first diagnosis was wrong?"
"No...I don't know, at this point I'm willing to consider anything."
"Is it a miracle?"
Dr. Frank Murphy did not answer.
That evening, George relished telling everyone, "I told you so," as he showed the biggest happiest smile you could imagine. Then, George had his sixth session. He continued working on his health, not only for his lungs, but for his entire body. George had learned to appreciate his health¾ that happens when you lose it.
"Jesus can perform miracles," said George to John after his session. "That's what the bible says, and somehow your biofeedback unit acted as a means for Him to help me. I'm glad I'm a God fearing Christian."
John said, "Look, George, I'm so happy with your recovery, and yes it does seem to be a miracle, all right, but I think that your focus on Jesus as the prime mover is overstated. I feel that you healed yourself."
"No way," said George.
"You used your strong belief in the power of Jesus as a catalyst to heal yourself. The enhanced biofeedback unit helped focus your healing power. Healing can occur for Jews and Muslims too...enhanced biofeedback could even work on atheists," said John.
"No way," said George again. "The only way miracles could happen to atheists is if Jesus felt very¾ and I mean very¾ generous."
Margaret, Howard and Emily were delighted with George's recovery. That was enough for them.
Cory was also quite happy with the cure, of course, but that was not enough for him. He was awed by the miracle he had witnessed. He did all the checking possible to make sure there was no medical mistake. A cure, without medical assistance, was considered impossible by the medical community. Is that the definition of a miracle? wondered Cory.
And so, Cory, John, and George embarked on an almost constant dialogue for the next few days concerning: What is possible for human beings to do, what is possible for God to do, and can you tell the difference!
John believed that what we now consider to be miracles are within the power of human beings to do...George's miraculous cure was a prime example according to John. George said that was hogwash, and Cory was not convinced.
"John, how much healing potential do you think human beings are capable of?" asked Cory.
"I really don't know what the full potential is," said John, "but I bet it's far beyond what we now believe possible." John's mind flashed with an image which caused him to shake his head and say "Wow!"
George and Cory watched the expression on John's face go blank as he experienced an inner thought for a few moments. Then Cory said, "John, what's going on in your head?"
"Sorry about that," said John as he returned to the conversation. "I was imagining the sensors in the biofeedback outfit covering the whole space outside¾ and also inside a person's body. All the electromagnetic signals from the person could then be used in a super-enhanced biofeedback loop...the healing potential..." John didn't finish the sentence. He didn't have to.
"You're quite a dreamer," George said. "Is the technology even possible to cover a person's body inside and out with sensors?"
"100% is probably not necessary," answered John. "But, it's pretty easy to see how to cover most¾ maybe 60 or 70%¾ of a persons outside body with sensors. For comparison, George, the sensors in the outfit you used covered no more than 1% of your body's surface. The inner space is much more difficult, but this could eventually be mastered. The advances in sensors and computers being developed under the Star Wars program as well as in the medical community are a very impressive beginning. CAT scanners, for example, were developed in the late 1960s and early '70s. They combine sensors with computers to see through skin and bones. Why not improve these tools further to identify bio-electrical activity inside the human body?"
Cory added, "Technology is certainly moving ahead very rapidly. Faster, bigger and better computers and other electronic gadgets keep coming on the market. We own a high tech company that's now planning to put a computer on a small chip. I don't understand the technology, but I understand enough to know that it's a new world out there."
George said, "Both of you seem to agree that an essentially whole space biofeedback technology is possible. Maybe so...maybe so..." George wondered how close to Jesus that technology could get him...could it get Jesus to touch him again.
The discussions remained quite theoretical until George approached Cory and John on New Year's Day. "I completed my eleventh session last night after our little party," George began. "I asked my angel friends to suggest an appropriate New Year's resolution for me. And much to my surprise, they came up with one. This resolution involves the two of you, and can only be done if you agree that it's a good idea.
"What I would like to do," he continued, "is sell the tobacco business and help other people...the way I was helped. Let's start a corporation to build and market whole space biofeedback units."
SUSAN and HAL CANTOR
ENCINO, CALIFORNIA : July 4, 1983
"What a wonderful day, all five of us together for a change," said Susan.
"This is our first barbecue since last summer," said Hal. "Your hamburgers are remarkable Jerry."
"Dad, you know you can barbecue when I'm not around. I remember when you used to do it all the time," said Jerry.
"No," said Hal with a smile, "once you took over that job, I retired. And I never could get Tracey or Robin interested in cook'n outside."
Susan and Hal Cantor moved into their Encino home in 1958, when Susan was pregnant with Jerry. Tracey and Robin, identical twins, followed 4 years later.
Susan was a physiologist who specialized in developing sophisticated instrumentation to measure and graphically display neurological responses. She stopped working shortly before Jerry's birth, but she missed her work, and four years after the twins were born she began working for ASTI. She wished she could have spent more time with the children when they were growing up, but she had no major regrets.
Hal, actually Harold, began his career as a newspaper reporter for the LA Times. For the last 6 years, he was a freelance writer who specialized in criminal investigations.
Hal met Susan at UC Berkeley during an anti-Korean War rally. He was covering the rally for the newspaper, and he interviewed her because she was cute. He told her that he was doing an article on student views. After they dated for a couple of weeks, she found out that he had lied to her. She was flattered by the approach, but also insisted that he do an article or "I'll never speak to you again," she told him. Hal interviewed several other students and wrote the article, two years later, shortly after she graduated, they were married.
Jerry joined the Marines after graduating high school. He had good grades and qualified for a Marine program which included 4 years of college. He was now a Major stationed at Camp Pendleton near San Diego. Hal and Susan tried to talk him out of joining. In high school, he joined the ROTC program to annoy his parents. They were always pushing him to work harder and earn good grades so he could get into an excellent college. He didn't want to do that¾ it was too conventional. He summed up his position before joining the Marines, "Folks," he said, "I never would have guessed it myself, but I actually enjoyed ROTC more than any other class. The discipline of working together, the camaraderie, and the strong feeling of supporting my country all make the Corp right for me. Look, they're sending me to college. It's okay, cheer up. I can't be the first Jewish boy to join the Marines."
Robin and Tracey almost always enjoyed being identical twins; they were identical, but mirror image twins. Robin had a mole on her right shoulder, while Tracey had the identical mole on her left shoulder. Robin was mildly introverted, while Tracey was mildly extroverted. They became good friends, and rarely argued. Their last fight was over a guy who tried to date them both when they first entered UC Berkeley. He was a rat who they both eventually dumped. In college, their different interests led them into different fields. Robin was studying history and planned to teach in elementary school, while Tracey was involved in computer sciences and planned to work in the area of artificial intelligence.
This was the first July Fourth in several years that the Cantor's had been able to spend together. After they finished their huge salad, hamburgers...with all the fixings, corn-on-the-cob, baked beans, and ice cream with chocolate fudge, Hal said, as he always did when he overate, "I'll never eat again." There was a simultaneous groan from everyone else, and then they all laughed.
"You've all been making fun of me for years," said Hal with a big smile on his face. Then he turned to Robin and Tracey and said, "And you two have always been the worst. Now that you're almost 21 and graduating next year, I suppose I can tell you the truth...I never minded one bit." Hal stood up and gave each of his girls a big hug.
"Before you all scatter," said Jerry, "Let me take a family picture." There were more groans while he set up his 35 mm camera on the tripod. "Now get ready," he said, as he ran to join them. "and smile." They watched the red blinking light of the 10 second timer, and after the shutter clicked, they all hugged.
: July 15, 1983
Message Left on Answering Machine
"Mom, Dad," said Jerry calling from San Diego. "Hi, sorry I missed you. I'm being sent overseas on temporary assignment. I'll send you a letter as soon as I can.
: July 27, 1983
Letter from Jerry to Hal and Susan
Dear Mom and Dad,
I've enclosed a print of the Fourth of July picture I took of us after the barbecue. We all look great.
I am going to Lebanon. I don't know when due to security precautions. I am shipping out of here very soon for special training. I will keep you informed as much as I can. There will be quite a few of us going over, so don't worry.
BERUIT, LEBANON : October 23, 1983
"The Americans and the French must leave Lebanon. They have no right to be in Lebanon or in the Middle East. They must go. If we have to kill, maim, and destroy to force them out, then that is what we'll do. This land belongs to us and to Allah. What we do we do for our fathers and our father's fathers, and what we do we do for our children and our children's children," shouted Abdul Bahz, the leader of a fundamentalist Lebanese Shiite Muslim group with ties to Iran and the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Abdul was almost finished with his send-off speech to his men. This was the largest attack planned to date, and if successful, his power in the area would be significantly enhanced. He could then easily obtain additional weapons and men.
"You all know what you must do, we will hit the American Marines and the French Paratroopers at the same time. To those of you who will die today, I am jealous of your glory. I am sorry that it is not my time yet. You will be rewarded by Allah. Let us pray," he concluded.
They all prayed for about 10 minutes, and then they carried out their plans...plans for two simultaneous suicide attacks. In one, there was a truck loaded with TNT which crashed through barriers and blew up a U.S. Marine headquarters at the Beirut airport, killing over 240 people. The second suicide bombing destroyed the French paratroopers' barracks 2 miles away, causing at least 58 deaths.
"Allah be praised," said Abdul when he heard the news.
ENCINO, CALIFORNIA : October 24, 1983
Hal had been trying to uncover any information by calling the local Marine headquarters, the State Dept., and the Defense Dept., but to no avail.
John, Emily and Howard went to the Cantor's home to sit and comfort Susan and Hal. Robin and Tracey drove down from Berkeley. And there were several neighbors, aunts and an uncle sharing the tense and frightening time. They were all in front of the TV listening for the latest bits of information concerning the suicide attack on the Marine headquarters when the doorbell rang.
"I'll get it," shouted Hal in response to the doorbell. When Hal opened the door, his heart skipped two beats. There were two men at the door...one dressed in full Marine uniform.
They introduced themselves as Marine and State Department representatives who would stay in touch with them so that they would have the latest information concerning Jerry. They confirmed that Jerry was assigned to the Beruit Headquarters, and they confirmed that there was a suicide attack that destroyed the building, but they could not confirm that he was dead.
Jerry William Cantor's death was confirmed three days later¾ a very long three days later.
It took Susan a full month before she could return to work at ASTI. But with John and Emily's encouragement, she finally returned and quickly buried herself in the building of the biofeedback systems for the newly won proposal.
Susan's brilliant contributions to the design of the helmet biofeedback sensors made her an indispensable person to join John and Emily in forming HTI.
MALIBU, CALIFORNIA : May 7, 1986
THE SIGNING OF THE HTI INCORPORATION PAPERS
After dinner, the lawyers arrived and the incorporation papers were signed. Cory was the President of HTI. John was Vice President and Chief Scientist. Emily was the Secretary-Treasurer. George was Chairman of the Board of Directors.
George Monroe financed HTI with fifty million dollars from the sale of the tobacco business. He understood his role as Chairman of the Board. "I'll use my influence with bankers, lawyers and politicians to smooth HTI's growth. John and Cory really have the hard work to do. John, you have to develop a unit that's less Rube Goldbergish, you know, more professional looking. And Cory, you have to sell it."
John convinced George and Cory that another key part of HTI's strategy should be to develop Department of Defense (DOD) contracts in the areas of sensor technology and human-computer systems. This would permit HTI to remain abreast of¾ and John claimed he could even advance¾ these technologies. These DOD contracts would permit maximum exposure to the latest research ideas.
The HTI plan anticipated 5 years to design, test, obtain necessary government approvals, and develop a marketing strategy for a self-contained biofeedback product which would be called "HT-1". After 5 years, these units would be produced at the rate of 1 per week, and would be sold for about 10 million dollars each. The primary customers would be large hospitals and other medical institutions serving numerous doctors and patients.
Part 2 MANDY
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK : DECEMBER, 1987
They stood naked in front of the fireplace playing their instruments. This was their last night together before Ivan returned to England. Mandy knew he had to leave. She knew their affair was much more important to her than to him. She knew that her love for him was based on her love for his music. Mandy cried as she played her violin.
Ivan and Mandy played Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons'. When they finished, Ivan put down his flute, turned to Mandy and kissed her warmly and passionately. "Let's make love one last time before I leave."
Mandy returned his kiss and also felt the passion, but she said, "No, I want to remember us like this¾ playing beautiful music together. I want to remember that I played a duet with Ivan the Great." And she laughed. She loved to call Ivan Sagorski, Ivan the Great.
"I've always told you that your talent is incredible. And now...now that you've become a woman, your music will mature and you'll be even better," said Ivan. He picked up her glass of wine from the fireplace mantel and gave it to her. He took his glass and lifted it in a toast. "To Mandy the Magnificent. I'm lucky to be among the first to know of her marvelous musical capabilities and potential."
They clicked glasses and snuggled in the big chair in front of the fireplace in a cabin hidden away in the mountains. Ivan and Mandy had used this cabin many times during the winter term.
Mandy looked at Ivan and was glad that she had seduced him. The risks to both of them were enormous. He was a famous visiting artist at the Julliard School. He taught two classes during the winter semester. Mandy was lucky to get into his Chamber Music class. She immediately fell in love with his flamboyant style, his impressive talent and him. She was determined to lose her virginity to him. I'm 19, that's certainly old enough she remembered thinking.
"Are you sorry I seduced you?" she asked him seriously.
"No, of course not. I knew what you were doing all the time." He smiled and kissed her on the cheek. "You've become a woman this winter. I hope you'll remember me for being your first."
"I'll remember you Ivan. Don't worry about that. But I'll remember you for what you taught me about music, not sex."
"The radiant reflections of the flames on your body when you played the violin...the music...the images...so strong and beautiful," said Ivan. "This evening¾ our whole winter¾ will be something which I'll never forget." They slept on the chair in each others' arms until the alarm went off at 6 am. Ivan drove his car to the airport and returned to England, to his work, and to his wife and three children.
Mandy was born on July 27, 1968 in Manhattan to Amy and Anthony Pizano. At 16 months, when Mandy childishly played with the piano keys, Amy guided her through a one finger version of "Mary Had a Little Lamb". Mandy loved the lesson and made Amy repeat it 4 times, until Amy was mercifully saved by a phone call from Anthony during the fifth rendition. When Amy stopped, Mandy angrily started hitting the keys. Amy scolded her and went to the phone. Amy was telling Anthony how cute Mandy was being, when Mandy began playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb". Amy and Anthony were amazed. 16 months was very young, even considering the long musical heritage in both families.
From that day, Mandy's life centered on music. Her parents were quite aggressive about her musical career. They both had contacts which permitted Mandy to have the best education, to work with the best teachers, and to participate in the most prestigious youth concerts.
Mandy's grandfather, Baroni Pizano, lived in Italy. He was born in January of 1896. In his youth he was the finest Mandolin virtuoso in the world. The Mandolin had a long and popular history in Italy, and Baroni was a folk hero to millions of Italians. He moved to New York when Mandy was four years old because both of Mandy's parents were working, "...and I don't want my granddaughter to be brought up by a maid."
Baroni and Mandy became very close, and Baroni began teaching Mandy the art of playing the violin when she was 4 years old. Baroni recognized that the violin was a better instrument for Mandy since most people in the United States did not appreciate the Mandolin. For six years, they worked together on the violin. Her lessons with the piano continued, but she learned to love the violin.
Occasionally, Baroni would take out his Mandolin and play along with Mandy. Their favorite piece was Brahms Lullaby. Baroni said "...this tune touches deep into the soul, and you should play this as often as you can. "
After 10 years in the United States, Baroni returned to Italy. He recognized Mandy's tremendous talent and told Mandy and her parents, "Mandy is the most talented musician I have ever seen, for her age. Her gift is from God, and I wish I could live long enough to see and hear her play in the concert halls of the world. I have no doubt that she will.
"Mandy," Baroni continued, "A gift from God is very precious. Cherish your gift. I know that you will become frustrated and discouraged, I know that you will sometimes despair that nobody cares about your music, your beautiful music. But you must hang tough, as you teenagers say, because the most valuable gifts are gifts which can be shared. And God has given you a gift to be shared with all the peoples of the world."
Baroni returned to Italy and kept up a correspondence with Mandy until he died.
He visited her on the night of his death, February 29, 1988.
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK : FEBRUARY 29, 1988
It was a long Monday at Julliard, and Mandy went to sleep early. She had the strangest dream. A dream so strange that later she would insist that her grandfather had talked to her with music.
Mandy's dream began pleasantly enough with a violin playing Brahm's "Lullaby". Slowly the sounds of other instruments were added until an entire orchestra was performing "Lullaby". Mandy saw¾ and sensed¾ herself enjoying the music. She was alone sitting in a wooden chair surrounded by a light fog. She could not see the orchestra, but she noticed that the music seemed to be coming from all directions.
Then a mandolin joined in, and the light feeling of the music changed. The tones turned more serious and had a sense of significance. There was a resonance deep within Mandy, and she began to cry, in her dream.
Her grandfather walked in playing his favorite mandolin. At first, Baroni was playing in perfect balance with the orchestra. But as he walked towards her, his music began to dominate the Lullaby.
Baroni walked up to within a few feet of Mandy. And he played music which touched her soul¾ music which vibrated deep within her subconscious.
When the Lullaby was over, Baroni smiled at Mandy and began to give her his Mandolin. As the Mandolin was being passed between them, it was transformed into a violin.
Mandy woke up with tears on her face. She knew that her beloved grandfather was dead. You left me something...a message of some sort, she thought. 'Play' and 'meditate', 'play' and 'meditate' are the only words I remember...well you didn't say them exactly, but they were the words, sort of... But there was much more...much more...
"Thank you for saying good-bye," Mandy said out loud. She wiped off her tears and began a ritual that she would continue for the rest of her life.
She rose out of bed, took her violin out of its case and played Lullaby. She cried to her own music. Baroni had also indicated that she should meditate, but she did not really know what that meant, so she simply remained quiet for about 20 minutes remembering her grandfather. I love you granddad, I don't know why you want me to do this, but I'll gladly follow your last wishes.
Flo was conceived that evening in Mandy's subconscious.