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LAW OF DIMINISHING MARGINAL UTILITY: The principle stating that as more of a good is consumed, eventually each additional unit of the good provides less additional utility--that is, marginal utility decreases. Each subsequent unit of a good is valued less than the previous one. The law of diminishing marginal utility helps explain the negative slope of the demand curve and the law of demand.

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by Orley M. Amos, Jr.
Professor of Economics
Oklahoma State University
Go to: Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Chapter Seventeen: Leonardo's Place

The trio's lodging for the night was a large square structure adjacent to the central dome. Big and spacious, it was easily ten times the size of the meeting room Cali and Tyler had stayed in the night before. The openings, actually real-world type doorways, were also big and spacious, easily big enough humans.

Concern for detail and construction quality that Cali had observed on the outside were maintained, even amplified, on the inside. Numerous life-sized human statues rested in evenly-spaced apertures in the walls. Cali recognized a few faces. Was that Einstein? Yes, of course!

Hieroglyphics, like those on the outside, adorned the very tops of the walls. Paintings and photographs decorated the walls between the statues. Most depicted stars, planets, and solar systems. Some contained hieroglyphics similar to those carved into the walls.

In sharp contrast to the purple floors of the locators' village, a soft cushion of green-tinted carpet -- not unlike the red carpet-grass of the trees -- covered the floor. Recalling their previous night's accommodations, the two students would have found this floor a significant improvement. However, a bed, large enough for two humans or several Leornians, sat in one corner. The interior was also filled with chairs, a sofa, tables, lamps and other furniture. All were big enough for humans. A large, human-sized desk sat in a second corner. The structure looked as much like a real-world hotel room than anything belonging to this land.

"Oh, wow!" Tyler said as he had come to do when impressed.

"This is some place," Cali had to agree.

"How do you like it?" Mark asked Leonardo.

Leonardo nodded.

"Do you remember?" Mark asked.

Leonardo looked around thoughtfully, trying to regain something he had long lost. He slowly surveyed the room.

"Is this...?" Leonardo began.

"Yes," Mark said smiling. "This is your home."

"I think..." Leonardo's eyes widened. "I think I remember now."

"It's all here," Mark said, "Just as you left it."

Leonardo walked over to what had once been the center of his life -- the desk in the corner. He touched the sheets of purple-tinted, paper-like material laying on top, then he turned and smiled.

"Yes," he said, "I remember now. This is my home."

A painful expression then consumed his face.

He said, "I remember... but then it leaves." He crawled onto the chair in front of the human-sized desk, then eagerly sifted through materials on, and in, the desk. "Maybe if I just sit here for a while, it will come back."

The carvings, statues, and pictures aroused Cali's curiosity. She pointed to the hieroglyphic carvings near the ceiling, and asked, "What are those, Mark?"

Mark glanced at the carvings he had long taken for granted.

"Those? Oh, those are the source of knowledge," he said casually.

"The source of knowledge?" Cali repeated, thinking the response needed something more.

"Yes, that is the knowledge we send to the real world and teach to learners here," he explained.

Cali moved closer to one of the walls and looked up. "But what does it mean?"

Mark stood next to Cali, pointing to where she was looking. "That is the early theories of planetary motion," he began. "All of this is about astronomy, it was Leonardo's subject -- astronomy. And over here," he said pointing to another place, "are parts of Einstein's theory..."

"And you understand all of this?" Cali interrupted.

"Of course," Mark said, slightly indignant. "It's my job to translate the source of knowledge. I have worked economics for many years, but I can translate other information, of course."

"This is very strange," Cali said. "I just assumed instructors got their information from textbooks, just like us."

Cali walked around the room slowly, examining the carvings.

"How did these symbols get here?" she asked.

"They have always been here," Mark said. "We're not sure who put them there. Maybe the professors. Probably the same ones who built our village. But..." he shrugged.

"You mean," Cali thought, "You only know what's in these carvings?"

"Yes, of course," Mark responded. "This is what the professors want us to teach."

Tyler, who had been testing the softness of each piece of furniture asked, "You guys didn't build this place?"

"Why no," Mark answered. "I guess you could say we inherited it from the former residents, whomever they were. No one knows how long they've been gone."

"Did they make the locator's villages, too?" Cali asked.

"No," Mark responded, "the locator's constructed those, based on information we provided."

Finding that the sofa met his comfort requirements Tyler sat down.

"Well," Mark said, "I must leave. You should rest."

After the instructor left, Cali continued to examine the carvings, statues, and pictures, then she found a comfortable chair of her own.

"I guess we should let Leonardo have his bed," Cali said to Tyler. "After all, this is his home." But, Tyler did not respond. He had curled his tired body into a comfortable, sleeping ball on the sofa.

Leonardo did answer, "Please, you take the bed. Leornians don't sleep in beds. I'm almost certain I never slept in it when I lived here. Feel free to use it. I want to sit here for a while, anyway."

She was too tired to argue. And was soon fast asleep.

Tyler was the first to see morning. In fact, he saw it on several different occasions -- awaking and falling back to sleep repeatedly. Each time he awoke he knew there was some reason to get up, but he could not think of it.

Then Tyler remembered something about unemployment, circular flows, and a key of some type. He literally fell from the sofa and began to crawl along the floor. The nature of the structure, being so much like any hotel room in the real world, made Tyler forget that he was in Leornia. He naturally searched for a bathroom, to splash water on his face and take care of other necessary business, like any normal morning. He was, however, quite surprised when he actually found a bathroom through a doorway neither had bothered to enter the night before.

"CALI," he screamed. "COME HERE QUICK."

Cali, half asleep, jumped from the bed and tripped several times as she sought the source of this noise.

Upon locating Tyler, he said, "Look at this, a bathroom. It's got a sink, and shower, and everything."

The students' excitement woke Leonardo. But when he saw source of the noise, he returned to what had been his favorite spot on the floor near the desk.

Cali's hopes were running high. "A shower," she said. "I can take a shower. Finally I can take a shower and stop smelling like a subway."

"Me first," Tyler demanded, "I found it first."

"Oh, all right," Cali conceded. "But let me know the moment, the very instant, you're through." She left him to his reward.

Tyler reached for a familiar-looking handle to activate the shower. Nothing happened. He moved over to the sink to turn on that faucet. Nothing.

"CALI," he screamed again.

She came running.

"No water," he said. "There's no water coming out."

"What do you mean, no water?" she asked trying both faucets herself, with the same results.

Leonardo, once more disturbed from his sleep, entered the bathroom.

"There's no water," he said as matter of fact.

"Yes, we see that," Cali said bitterly.

"There hasn't been any water since, well... since long before I left," he explained. "With the shortage, we disconnected all of the homes. I never understood why the former occupants doused their bodies with water, anyway." He left the bathroom and returned to his resting spot.

"Oh rats," Cali said. "What a lousy way to start the day."

Tyler silently agreed as they left the bathroom. Seeking some degree of consolation, Cali fetched her bag of water and took a drink. Of course she didn't have nearly enough for a shower, but at least she could quench her morning thirst. Tyler grabbed a piece of fruit from his own bag and had it half eaten before plopping into a soft chair.

Clutching her precious bag of water tightly, Cali paced around the room. She drank slowly.

"It's not fair," she said, "It's just not fair to have a shower, but no water. You get your hopes up, then nothing."

Tyler tried to console her, "Didn't Mark say that they don't have much water. Must be a drought or something."

"Yeah, I know. It's still not fair."

She watched Tyler eat another piece of fruit.

"You've got plenty of fruit," she scolded, in some way making the lack of shower water Tyler's fault. "But, we don't have any water."

Seeking to drown her misery, she sipped water and walked, not caring that very little remained in her bag. Then she stopped, staring at the hieroglyphics on the wall.

"Yes, of course," she said slowly. "I see it now. There we have the Copernican solar system. And that's the Newtonian laws of planetary motion. Of course, it's all so simple."

"What are you talking about?" Tyler asked.

"The carvings," she said, pointing to the wall. "I see how the instructors get their information."

Tyler joined her.

"Where do you see that?" he asked.

"Just look," she said, "Don't you see how that tells about the Copernican solar system? I thought I saw something in these last night, but now I'm sure."

With missing glasses and nearsightedness, Tyler move very close to the strange symbols on the walls. He shook his head, "I don't understand any of it."

"Oh, come on," she smiled, "Surely you must. If I understand them, then you should be able to..." She stopped in mid-sentence. Then she slowly walked around the room, studying the walls' assortment of hieroglyphics.

She turned back to Tyler. "You know Tyler," she began, "I've never been a very good student. I've always sat at the back of the class. Classes were always someplace to go between weekend parties. Studying and learning were at the bottom of my list. I only went to college because my parents forced me."

Having known her for only a few days, he offered no rebuttable. Then he observed, "You seem pretty smart to me."

"I know," she said very deliberately, "Why am I so smart? I mean, why am I so smart all of a sudden. I was never this smart back in college." She paused to let this sink in. "Why is it that I can read these symbols, Tyler?" Then she ran over to Leonardo and hastily woke him up.

"Leonardo," she said emphatically. "Can you read the symbols on the walls?"

Leonardo scratched one ear and shook the sleep from his head.

"Why of course," he said staring up at one of the walls. "This says... uh... Let me see now. I think it says... uh..." He shook his head. "I seem to be having a little problem. I don't know what's wrong. I used to be able to read them. But they don't make any sense."

"You could read them when you were an instructor, right?" Cali said, sorry to bring up the thought, but knowing she had no choice.

Leonardo nodded his head slowly.

"Near the end," he admitted, "Before I left the trees, I had difficulty reading the symbols."

"I can read those symbols," Cali stated. Then illustrated her statement.

"That is impossible," Leonardo said, "No one but instructors can read the symbols. Mark must have explained them to you."

"No, not those," she interpreted one wall. "Nor these," she relayed the substance of another.

Then Tyler stated the obvious, "You must be an instructor then, eh Cali?"

Cali nodded as pieces of a puzzle fell into place.

"Instructors don't like bright light, do they?" Cali asked Leonardo.

Leonardo nodded.

"Remember when I had trouble adjusting to the bright light, Tyler," she continued. "And you, Tyler, why is it that you can point out directions? Why were you able to locate the sign on the economics path? And how were you able to find the way out of the caves? Almost like you are a locator."

"I just have this feeling," Tyler explained, bordering on an outright apology.

"I know," Cali interrupted, "but WHY? Were you an explorer scout or something?"

Tyler chuckled and shook his head.

"And locators, with all due respect," she said turning to Leonardo, "do not seem to be very bright and can't seem to remember anything for very long."

Not yet being a full-fledged locator, Leonardo was not offended, but he did nod in agreement.

"Which brings us back to you, Tyler," she said turning to Tyler. "Maybe you haven't noticed, but you haven't exactly been Mr. Wiz over the past few days. You've had trouble remembering things, haven't you? You don't seem to be quite all together."

Tyler looked perplexed at first, then slowly understood Cali's point.

"But, there is something that we're missing," Cali said banging one clenched fist into the open palm of the other hand.

Tyler finished one piece of fruit and reached into his bag for another.

"THAT'S IT," she shouted causing Leonardo to jump. "The fruit and water. It's not just the water. It's also the fruit. Of course, it's GOT to be the fruit and water."

"What?" Tyler looked at the fruit. "What do you mean it's the fruit and water?"

Her pace of explanation accelerated. "What are you constantly eating?" Without pausing for a response she asked, "and what do they have in the valley of the locators? What do I drink all of the time? And what do they have in the instructor's village?"

"Wait a second," Tyler said, "Slow down, slow down. Take this one step at a time. I'm not quite sure I follow."

"Okay," she took at deep breath. "Locator's eat fruit, right?" she looked at Leonardo who nodded agreement. "But do the locator's have any water? No! And since we've been together, you have done nothing but eat that fruit," she said distastefully.

Tyler looked at the fruit in his hand and agreed.

"I think that this fruit," she grabbed another piece from Tyler's bag, "gives locators their ability to locate learners. It seems to have given you the ability to locate things here in Leornia. You're not exactly a locator. Evidently you can do some things locators can't. Maybe it's your human physiology. But, it has made you lose your mental acumen."

Tyler realized that his strange feelings about directions only began once he had started eating fruit.

"And the water," she continued, "While you eat fruit, I drink water. And ever since I began drinking this water, my mind has seen things more clearly than ever before. It's like a triple dose of caffeine, but more so."

"The instructors have the water?" Tyler offered.

"Wrong Tyler," Cali corrected, "The instructors HAD water. It's dried up or something. The water is a key, maybe THE key, to the problem."

Leonardo nodded. He vaguely recalled the time when instructors had water aplenty.

"Yes, we began losing instructors," he said, "when the water grew scarce. I haven't had a drink in a long, long time."

Cali grabbed her bag of water and bounded over to Leonardo.

"Drink this," she ordered. "Drink it all."

"But that's all you have," Leonardo protested, yet anxious to accept.

"I don't care," she said forcefully, "Drink it all."

Leonardo stopped his mild resistance and drank until the bag was empty.

"Can you read the symbols?" she asked, seeking but one response.

"But I just tried," Leonardo said.

"Try again," Cali ordered.

Leonardo looked at the symbols. He concentrated. He ran his paw across his face. He concentrated some more. Several moments passed as the water entered his system.

"Yes, I can," he said jubilantly. "It's coming back to me. There is the big bang theory about the origination of the universe. And that's the constellations -- the big dipper, the little dipper. I understand. I understand it now." He grabbed Cali's leg and hugged. She picked him up and they danced around the room.

"Tyler," Cali shouted. "Did you see that? It's the water. Leonardo drank my water and he read the symbols. It's the water. The water and the fruit."

Without question Tyler would have agreed with Cali's. He would have been, without doubt, equally jubilant. However, when Cali spoke, she spoke to empty air.

Go to: Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Copyright © 1997, 2002 by Orley M. Amos, Jr. All rights reserved. Not to be quoted without permission of the author.


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Today, you are likely to spend a great deal of time wandering around the downtown area hoping to buy either a replacement nozzle for your shower or a decorative windchime with plastic . Be on the lookout for vindictive digital clocks with revenge on their minds.
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