Wednesday, October 07, 2015

This, That And SF World-Building

     It's lovely outside this morning, fog slipped in among the trees and rooftops, softening outlines, hazing and hiding distance, gentle silvery morning light.

     Went to an engineering conference yesterday and was treated to a quick course on the Smith Chart, a tool that is easy and friendly if you use it often and like a Chinese translation of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs if you don't.  The PE who gave the talk is the best sort of a "throwback:" an old-fashioned, hands-on engineer with a thorough education and years of field experience, who enjoys RF work and wants to share the joy.   Professionals of that sort are gems; his mentor (now gone) was that way, too.  He's years younger than, me, too, which is a relief: I'm not gonna run out of really clever PEs to brainpick before retirement.

     "Stakhanovite" is a term I have been toying with idly for a couple of years, trying to fit it into the complicated, funky culture of the independent, sunless trading hub/semi-secret society, "Smitty's World."  There has to be a fair amount of Russian, ex-Soviet culture there, or nobody would get it when some joker stencils "sto pervyy kilometer" ("101-й километ") in the airlocks that separate the first "hidden" sections from the public ones, and I think I've got it -- the guy that works extra-hard (and is a bit or more of an apple-polisher) is said to "work like Stanky Vic," or even "like stank," which manages to snarl up both old Soviet and American slang in a neat little knot. 

     I was in the basement folding laundry and Tam was off doing something* when I thought I heard someone groan at the back door. Kept folding, only to hear, "Ooooh!  Aah!"  So I went upstairs.  Tam's cat Random Numbers Wu was sitting in the hall doorway, as close to the center of the house as you can get, wailing about The Unfairness Of It All, Especially No Second Breakfast.  I got her plate out, which Rannie-of-two-hours-ago had thoughtfully left unfinished, and set it down in front of her, with Huck locked out so he wouldn't take it. She seemed happy with that.  But oh, my, the sadness before!
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* Possibly arranging Tammerdammerung, which is a version of the dreadful dark end of the Norse gods and all the world in which, just as things are at their very bleakest of bleak, all is lost and it's all headed ineluctably downhill to rack, ruin and oblivion, The Tamara shows up, scolds the whole lot of 'em for "grabastic faffing about," kicks every combatant's backside, tames the Fenris wolf with a pat on the head and nice collar and leash, tempts and soothes the world-girdling serpent with a fat mouse, grabs Loki by the ear and adjusts his attitude permanently, does the same squared to the Frost Giants and puts 'em all back to work, straightening up the mess and puttin' the world to rights.  There's a lot of grumbling by bigawd it gets done and in jig time.  Then she hauls them out to the range so's they can start to learn instead of being whining posers.  Which is exactly as things should turn out.  It's a lovely story and it otta be a warnin' to us all.

13 comments:

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Tammerdammerung sounds like big fun.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Y'know, those Smith charts (especially that first one) look a bit like they could evolve into Gallifreyan writing, to me. Assuming some similar principles existing in temporal physics and several thousand years of usage, anyway.

rickn8or said...

"Tammerdammerung sounds like big fun."

But sometimes, it's just what the situation calls for.

And you think it was easy for Rannie to wait until you'd gone to the basement and get engrossed in laundry before bewailing her situation? How does a cat get by with half her staff missing anyway?

Alien said...

Yeah, I remember when The Boy cried and whined because he was used to The Girls finishing what he left and intended to save for later, only to have it pointed out by The Humans that it was still in his dish after all. I think he really just wanted someone to open a fresh can of something different....

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

How does a cat get by with half her staff missing anyway?

This.

Hat Trick said...

"the Smith Chart, a tool that is easy and friendly if you use it often and like a Chinese translation of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs if you don't"
You nailed it!
And what would be that engineer's name?

RandyGC said...

Ahh, I vaguely remember being able to use a Smith Chart, for about a month while studying for my Advanced license, and pretty much forget it all within a month of upgrading. Made the E6B Whiz Wheel seem positively user friendly.

D.W. Drang said...

"Stanky Vic".
On some worlds the term "Vic" is used to indicate the bureaucratic tendency to work harder, not smarter...

...And I concur that I eagerly await the Tammerdammrung.

We need T-Shirts.

Anonymous said...

I understood the Smith Chart for about 2 weeks. One of them was in college, and the other right before I got my general Ham license. I vaguely remember that "Ah-ha" moment when I realized how great they were for their specific task...

Use it or lose it I guess...

pigpen51 said...

I have to say, I haven't heard the term Smith Chart for years. I have, of course, seen them, even used them in the past when I used to build x-tal transmitters when me and my dad were kids, but we just used them, never really called them anything. Fortunately for me, the two men who brought me into ham radio in the early 70's did not just want to teach us all to memorize for some test, but to actually try and learn something. So we learned about impedance matching antennas with feedlines and such. Not to the extent of electrical engineering, but enough to be dangerous.

I am afraid that I am just a lowly General operator, but I did come up through the ranks, so to speak. I started out as a novice, the as a tech plus, then got my General, just before the huge restructuring. I have to say, that in some ways, I miss the old days, but the equipment today is really just so, so much better.

As to the cats, I am a dog lover. I am kind of indifferent to cats. Cats instinctively know this. I was at my daughters house last Saturday. My other daughter was with me trying to get one of the cats to play with her. Not a chance. The only place the cat want to be was sitting on my lap, while I gently rubbed his head. Like I said, I am indifferent to them, I don't dislike them, I love all animals, I just don't get weak in the knees like I do with dogs.

Tammerdammerung? I think she is practicing to take over the world. Not that she needs much practice.

Roberta X said...

Hat Trick: Jeremy Ruck. If you need a PE for Broadcast work, he's the guy.

rickn8or said...

"Tammerdammerung? I think she is practicing to take over the world."

Tam can run things if she wants; I don't want the job. I figure she'd do a pretty good at it.

fast richard said...

I want a Tammerdammerung T-shirt.