The Voltage Magazine is visiting some of the far-flung parts of the Universe. This week´s cover boy is Gary O´Donell, an universal electrician, 2nd class.
Where the heck are we, Gary?
You are in Four Delta section, son. We don´t get many visitors here so your visit is a very welcome one. It is a bit remote and not much happens here really. At least not now.
Can you tell us a bit about what you are doing here and the star we are seeing?
It´s a Size #2 star of the now classic 580-series. It´s been around for ages but getting much harder to get these days. They don´t make it anymore, or at least not in sufficient numbers, so we have to reuse old ones and use up old parts to get the even older ones going. A bit of duct tape and we are usually good to go, though. My basic function is to make sure the local stars are working properly. Part of my work description is general maintenance but also to stay on call if there are any emergencies.
The wire arrangement looks a bit, er…interesting. What´s going on there?
Haha, so you noticed the mess, did you? Hard not to, really. Well, the system is quite old and after all upgrades in the past this is now what it looks like. Every few zillion light years there are new bundles and wires to just get the system going as new stars, galaxies and super novas are added. Here in the Four Delta district, a far-off corner really, we don´t get the new stuff they deliver at other places more centrally positioned. At least not as soon as they are issued but much later. Sometimes way much later. We are not at the front end of the line, I tell you, son. A low-grade electrician and his collection of standard stars are not the hippest thing, you know, so we tend to be passed over again and again. What´s in vogue these days are things like black holes and stuff. They even presented white holes now. The total opposite thus, and since doing so I can only dream of new systems. Not going to happen any time soon, that´s for sure, but bitter I´m not. Think it is called progress…
What system have you got?
It is really very basic, but why change a winning concept? Or “whinging concept”, as we sometimes say here, haha! It is a standard 40-10 Bosch control box with a five-level diffuser set and ungraded pulse control. We are only using a small set as this star is manually controlled and not part of the big Inter-Universal Star control. Many original stars are still on the manual grid, so it is a lot of zipping about to regulate them whenever we get issued new orders.
So, every time there is a change of orders, you must get here to set the new levels, right?
Yeah, that's totally the thing. Really old school. I don´t really mind it as it gets me away from the hustle and bustle and you get some time to think and so on. Not so much drama out here. However, it is the on-call duties that can be wearing you down. Just as you think you can relax there is a call and you must get going to sort some malfunction. Usually far away from where you are, and it is not always you have all parts you need. Can be a real mess at times. Big bother, I tell you.
And it is at such times you bring out your trusty duct tape?
Sometimes it just takes a bit of duct tape and hey presto! Other times I must perform a bit of ad hoc surgery on spot or replace the entire unit. Whenever there is a decision to decommission a star we either take the parts if we know they are to be used straight away, or we just leave it as it is to be cannibalized whenever we need it. So, in a sense it is like a small depot of material for local use. Any electrician who has been around for a while has his own stack of disused stars to take parts from.
With those wise words we say goodbye to Gary and wish him good luck keeping it all going.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
When this blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, through the night.
Then the traveller in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark;
He could not see where to go,
If you did not twinkle so.
In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye
Till the sun is in the sky.
As your bright and tiny spark
Lights the traveller in the dark,
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
Some two or three years ago I was thinking a bit on the, for me, weird concept of the universe as a finite or infinite space. If finite, what is then outside? And if infinite...well that is just too weird also. Anyway, the only way to deal with it was to make a section of all that black stuff in space as a model. Scale is 1/25-ish as the tools are from some AMT/Ertl kit. Rest are plasticard, styrene profiles, lots of scrap wires and a control box from assorted bits and bobs. The usual Vallejo paints and oils for weathering.
Fun fact: right before the pandemic I went to a model show in Helsinki, I brought about 25 models. All of them got some kind of reward EXCEPT for this one... Dunno if it was just too weird for the judges to deal with. Not so much WIF as WTF I guess.