Sunday, September 9, 2012

What a Tool!

My family went on a camping trip this weekend: the lake was beautiful, the weather was cool, and Scooters was less than ten minutes away. I spent this morning meandering through a beguilingly pleasant woods, my Basset Hound Erasmus excitedly sniffing and gamboling about, my dad and oldest brother with me, and a tall Scooters Butter Pecan brew with cream and double sugar in hand. Yesterday evening, my dad pulled this out of the car...

I took one look at this hand-powered drill/screwdriver and squealed, "Oooohh, I could totally steampunk that!" Dad handed it over to me, knowing that I'd probably sneak over and swipe it anyway. Now I am thinking a steampunk carpenter might be an upcoming costume: I could be an airshipwright and build airships for a living. This drill/screwdriver would be a handy accessory and could double as a weapon if something irksome needs a good poking.

Speaking of airships, my plan tomorrow is to hie myself to UNO's library for some serious research. I have an ever-growing list of research topics, and astronomy just added itself. The Horizon will be flying day and night, and I need to acquaint myself with Victorian maritime course plotting and other ways of directing an airship without modern navigational methods. Sadly, Captain Roberts does not have the nifty star chart app a friend at our campfire showcased last night: we were using it to view the various planets, constellations, and stars on display over our heads while the app sounded out the names of the stars in a monotone android voice. Roberts would probably kill for something like this. Sadly, he has to make do with following the stars and hoping clouds don't cover up the heavens and prevent him from guiding the Horizon in the right direction.

In the course of some research Friday, I encountered this handy article about marine chronometers    It points out the interesting fact that a marine clock that was just a few seconds off could potentially cause a ship to be diverted miles off course. So far, I believe Captain Roberts will have a state-of-the-art (for the time) marine pocketwatch that is extremely accurate and there will also be a marine chronometer on board the Horizon. When I left writing on Friday, the Horizon was flying across Ireland to deliver a load of grain to the dock in Galway, Ireland because a massive grain mill explosion in the country meant that food prices were skyrocketing and they needed food quickly. Writing this section made me realize that 1) I didn't know how 19th century ships kept time on board 2) I didn't know nearly enough about how 19th century ships navigated their path 3) I have even more research to do.

Therefore, Monday will see me at the library of UNO for several hours where I can pretend I am a graduate student again, eat the homemade potato chips served in the library cafe, and amuse myself by fiddling around with the moving shelves in the basement. The long shelves of books in the basement are on railings, so if you wish to walk down a particular aisle, you press a button and an aisle magically appears between two shelves. This allows both for more shelves to be placed in an area and unique amusement opportunities as I see if I can run the length of an aisle as it is closing without being squished. Therefore if no further blog posts are forthcoming, I probably got laminated between the shelves at the library. Death via books: that would not be a wholly terrible way for a former grad student to go.
Twitter @Melissa_Conroy


  1. Have fun. No getting squished! We want to read your finished books! ;)

  2. I've always had the same fear of getting squished in that room! You are so brave!