Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Was that her, or a Foretaste of Things to Come?
Was it opening day equipment malfunctions or something more sinister? Was that the Mistress of Mischief I glimpsed near the Voyager's water closet or an illusion generated from an over excited imagination? Was the smell smelt while starting the ship her noxious perfume condensed from the corpses of the recent dead, or the rotting carcass of some dead bird caught in the rafters over the captain's chair? Where those her bony fingerprints on my station's computer screen? Was that her whispering, "Tis the wind, and nothing more..." or the escaping breeze from the air conditioner rushing through an open door?
Tuesday was opening day for field trips. Everything seemed to be going well, if you exclude the paranormal explained in the previous paragraph. I should have taken the omens seriously and doubled checked everything. My failure to understand Fortuna's addiction to attention led to a very messy first mission.
I tend to attribute equipment malfunctions to The Mistress of Mischief. Some of that blame is rightfully deserved. Fortuna can try one's patience. But to be fair, I should acknowledge and accept partial blame. Is it Fortuna that caused my newly installed iPod mixer to fail at the start of our first field trip mission? If yes, then I share no responsibility. If no, then what?
Could my decision to purchase Ebay equipment be the reason for the odd malfunction? Purchasing Ebay gently used saves the Space Center a few bucks (an understatement - which is unusual for me). The only problem is trying to decipher what the advertiser means when using the word 'used'. The term 'used' can mean anything from "sat in grandma's curio cabinet for several years, never touched except for an occasional dusting" to "stored in the kids' playroom and used for batting practice".
Opening day, my Bridge speech was finished. I confidently walk down the stairs from the Bridge, assured in the knowledge that the master of the ship was back in the control chair.
"Let's go to work." Four simple words that tell my staff to set aside all distractions, batten down the hatches and prepare for a whirlwind of perfection radiating from my station. They know concentration is the key to surviving a Mr. Williamson mission. Taking their eye off the ball, even for a second, might mean a missed command. A missed command could lead to a breech in the Space / Time Continuum. What was perfect is now blemished. A breech in the Continuum, even so slight, might let our sharper campers look through the barrier and into the internal workings of the Center.
I sat in my chair, put the walkie talkie into my left shirt pocket, took hold of the microphone and began.
"You've got Tex......"
I knew something was wrong while addressing the Left Wing students in character. I was multitasking (speaking in character while preparing the sound and music for an upcoming scene. Our flight directors are professional multitaskers. Luckily the school district doesn't base its pay on multitasking!). The music was set. I was using an ipod two station dock with fade in and out recently purchased used on Ebay. The dock was working fine when I started the ship.
I reached for the transition lever and slid it to the right. There was nothing, no sound whatsoever. What was perfect was blemished. The problem distracted me. I went off task. Tex began to babble incoherently. I noticed shocked expressions from the other side of the control room. My credibility was on the line. I was shaken up. I couldn't get my new purchase to work correctly, which meant the music wasn't going to flow like the Nile.
I struggled through the mission, cursing the day I bought that mixer.
The P.M. mission went better. I knew what to expect and made the necessary mental adjustments.
It is now Thursday. I've flown with the mixer for three days now. I discovered it is much like my Battlestar (Lincoln Town Car). It has its own personality. I discovered that the mixer will work if you connect the iPod slowly while lifting the devise gently forward. This must be done while tapping your left foot four times and reciting the alphabet backwards - repeating the letter M three times.
Its the story of one old biological unit learning to work with a similar old piece of electronic equipment.
I'm getting the hang of it :)