Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Yet another prediction in Irreconcilable Differences turns out to be

Hey, this one's even benign. In Irreconcilable Differences, I assert that wind generators, having been obsoleted by increased size by later models for utilities, will come into the hands of farmers. I figured they'd pass through the surplus market, after seeing that happen once or twice in the back of Home Power magazine, but now there appears to be a corporate initiative to do so. Neat. :)

I'm a city kid. So when, one spring break in college, I went home with a friend of mine to the family farm to be put to work instead of flying home, the experience is one I remember. Goedtke's farm (yes, I re-used their surname in Irreconcilable Differences was, and probably still is, a smallish corn farm in rural Minnesota. I remember the drive there, how there was at least half an hour of driving on private gravel roads among fields. I remember how very, very dark it was, and how the house came up out of the darkness almost as a shock. It was spring in Minnesota, coldish still. The house was warm and I remember smelling grain and humidity once we were inside.

Morning came early, and, after being outfitted with a set of the elder Mr. Goedke's coveralls, I went to work. I found out later the chores I was doing - mostly hauling corn out of the field behind a 1940s vintage John Deere A - were normally the jobs assigned to my friend's younger brother, who was probably 9 or 10 at the time. I went home with Dave several times. Attended a wedding with his family, at which I learned to polka (which I've subsequently forgotten). Just a little slice of their lives, but it stuck with me. Things like the people, the family, and also (nerd that I am) the family junk pile, a storage place for machines that are too broken to use, but which might be worth fixing later. And the fact that there were two or three other tractors on the property, apparently parked where they stopped or were towed out of the way, likewise being saved in case they or their parts were needed later. Then there was the equipment the family was using. The 1940s John Deere A, which was my personal soul mate, and whose diesel counterpart makes an appearance in Irreconcilable Differences, a pair of 1960s John Deere 4020s - more modern diesel tractors, and a 60s vintage 5 row (I think) corn combine. These folks were not ones to pursue the newest and flashiest equipment. It still worked, it was durable, and they had the skills to repair it, so they kept it, kept it up, and kept using it.

And yet (remember this was sometime between 1986 and 1990, so this was unusual) they also had a family computer, which they were using to plan crops, as I recall. The radio was always on (all polka all the time), but there was tv, a vcr (again, remember this was the 80s) and all the usual things you'd expect in a modern home. That collision of technologies, and the recycling and repurposing and improvisation of equipment, and the overall mindset on the use of technologies made a huge impression. A lot of that impression, I hope, made it into Irreconcilable Differences. And I'm happy that these refurbished wind turbines will find their way toward farmers. I think it's an excellent idea.



John Foberg said...

Agree on the whole repurposing of machinery. And the intriguing aspects of new co-existing with old tech.

FYI I'm about 20 pages shy of finishing ID. Really enjoyable and entertaining, some really novel and interesting predictions btw, but totally plausible.

The book's windmill scene awoke a forgotten memory .
I worked for Foster Wheeler Energy in a coal fired powerplant in W.V. for a few years. One of the cooler things I was privy to the art of rebabbitting the coal pulverizer support bearings. Done by grizzled old-school machinists. These coal pulverzizers were humongous 30-ton funnel-ended barrels supported at either end by 6" oiled babbitted bearings.
IMHO Babbit bearings are the best wearing, most efficient bearing for low rev high radial (only) pressure loads.
Thanks for bringing back the memories.

I'm now searching for a replacement word for gestalt. I used it several times regarding a cybernetic interface for my mech enhanced protagonist in my novellette Skimmer. But seeing it used quite liberally in ID I want a different term. I'm thinking just plain old interface or link. Maybe just use 'face as slang term for interface as my character's connection is not as deep

JRS said...

I use gestalt for a specific connection, wherein two people are connected together and can sense each other's emotions. In Looking Glass I described it like being strapped into the front seats of a volkswagon close. Not true telepathy, but significantly empathic, and you can send sensory impressions through it.

It's a German word for "The organized whole, which is more than the sum of its parts. Its most common use in English is as a type of psychology, wherein the entire brain/mind is considered as a unit, instead of reducing it to processes.


John Foberg said...

Gotcha on that. My current edit has the protag interface with a proto-AI via retinal HUD and enhanced Magnetic Imaging Resonance. Primarily for the control and feedback of prosthetics, so definitely not a gestalt of any kind.

I absolutely loved the book, but now I need to go back and read LG again /em wink.

Are you currently working on a tie-in or sequel? Or something new?

JRS said...

The book I'm currently working on is hardish-scifi space opera, set hundreds of years in the future. After that one, though, I plan to return to cyberthrillers. :)


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