11 February 2011

Star Drives and Phantasms

I am a professional knuckledragger.

I have always had a love of things mechanical and electrical. I began as an amateur fixing my own bicycles (and cars a bit later on) and gained professional status when Uncle Sam taught me how to fix airplanes on floating airports. Nowadays my machines don't fly, and I don't have to float to fix them, but it's still machine fixing. No one really notices when all the machines work, but when they don't it's up to the knuckledraggers (both amateur and professional) to Make It Better.

An aircraft is nothing more than a collection of nuts, bolts, rivets and assorted parts all traveling approximately the same direction at more or less the same time. It's the job of the professional knuckledragger to keep this a true statement, and when it is not all sorts of Unpleasant Individuals with no discernable sense of humor start asking Probing Questions. This is, in the knuckledragging community, what we call A Bad Thing.

Other knuckledraggers in fields other than aviation can tell similar tales. Ship fixers, for instance, have their own collection of stories about main shaft bearings seizing up at inopportune times (for instance, when you already have two of your props dragging and the INSURV team is onboard; the only solution is to shut the third main down long enough to get their helo off the deck, fire up the two that will run long enough without causing the water outside to come inside, launch everything else off, shut them both back down and head for home...slowly...on one screw - not that I would have heard any of those stories, of course).

And now it appears as if starship maintenance is no different than anything else, only in this case the collection of odd fasteners travels more or less in formation in a hard vacuum, and it's the professional knuckledragger's job to keep the vacuum out, the air in, and the rivets all heading in the same general direction. "I Work On A Starship" is a book and blog about just that.

You see, it seems that unbeknownst to anyone else, the Nazis managed to put men on the moon before their precious Reich collapsed in on itself, long before Armstrong and Company arrived. Those Who Followed found the equipment as they were gearing up to put a defensive installation on the moon and promptly confiscated it for their own use, who knew? Good thing they're not Nazis, but at least the war is over.

This is not a single story containing the normal good guys vs bad guys conflict and resolution. It's a collection of tales and anecdotes that will be familar to anyone who gets grubby for a living, and if you are that sort of person you will find yourself chuckling and nodding at parts that, even in an unfamiliar setting, are intimately familiar. And that's just the first half.

The second half of the book is an actual story, with chapters and everything. It does have good guys, bad guys, conflicts and resolutions, and if you only read that part of the book it's a good tale in and of itself. You don't have to be a knuckledragger to appreciate "Another Day" (although it does help), but if you are looking for a space tale this is a good one.

I can only hope that Senior Drive Tech Roberta X, wherever she is, keeps writing about her adventures on the USAS Lupine. Maybe her counterpart on USAS Vulpine will be encouraged to spin a yarn or two as well.

I could also hope that the USSF would be interested in a fat old retired squid next time they need knuckledraggers, but for now I can at least read about it.


cary said...

Great. Now I have another blog to read that will take up my time and entertain me to no end.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you - it's just that it will take me away from my own blogging while I catch up on hers ...

Larry said...

I understand completely...
Thanks for dropping by Cary!

Roberta X said...

High praise indeed! Thank you, Larry -- and Cary, too.

Larry said...

Keep 'em flying Roberta X, and thanks for dropping by!