The handbooks for the students who started at the ETC during the fall of 2017 semester.
One day Mark was writing up a Power Point presentation called "My Life So Far". (He was planning to show it to his mom.) But as he absent-mindedly rubbed the magic lamp on his desk, a genie popped out and asked sonorously, "What have you done in your life so far?" Mark said, "Wait a minute! You're a genie, you're supposed to give wishes, why do you care?" The genie said that was just how he rolled--he was interested in his clients--and so Mark showed him the following:
Grew up in Colorado
Went to Space Camp for free
Won the school geography bee thanks to Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
Rice University, double major in CS and English
Won Sammy for Best Lead Actor of the Year
Independent study of poems by Victorian Jesuit
Worked for ViaSat in San Diego as a lead test software engineer
Saw Simon Russell Beale in Jumpers and Lucian Freud's retrospective at MOCA
Discovered Krazy Kat
(There were also pictures and cool flying-in text things in the Power Point presentation that we can't show here. But they were cool. The genie was impressed.)
"Clearly," said the impressed genie, "you belong at the ETC." Mark inquired politely what that was. The genie told him, and then said excitedly, "Yes, I can see your future! You'll document the age-old conflict between the cyborg monkey robots and the valiant space chickens! You'll tell a story about some dead guy and his wife! You'll work for a circus made of spaghetti! All I need to do is clap my hands and....'
But Mark interrupted the genie, thanked him for his time, and threw the magic lamp out the window. Then he applied to the ETC and did all that stuff by himself, which was nice because there were all sorts of surprises, like how the genie forgot to mention that the ETC would be seventeen and a half hours ahead and upside-down. Or how Mark would leverage an in-class essay into an "extended abstract" that he got to present at a "culture technology" conference in Korea. Twice. Or how half-way through the program he'd get a full-time job from a games company with a funny name known for their realistic, sober contributions to the marketplace.(Also for their work with those Matrix boys.) Oh, and they're also in Wellington, New Zealand, Coolest Place on Earth. Anyway. The moral of the story is: genies are forgetful, and it's more fun to do stuff without their help anyway, so throw your magic lamp out the window. THE END.