This is the public log of DeeDee 'dzyjak' Jackson, a fictional character. DeeDee lives and works aboard a space station which orbits Saturn, and sometimes he writes about it.


Time Zone

I can't sleep. Too much weirdness in my head.

I read somewhere that a fundamental rule of existence is that you can't know both how fast something is moving and where it's located at the same time.

That makes sense to me. I mean, you have to know where it's at to know how fast it's going, and once you figure out how fast it's going, it's no longer where you left it because it's MOVING. Actually, I think that was the point... You can only measure movement as compared to your own movement.

You can only KNOW the present. Whether this means anything in the context of our lives or not I don't know, but it feels true to me.

We know things about the future, but we know them in the present. One of the defining elements of life is that living creatures can predict and react to an event before it happens. The more complex the life-form, the more and farther into the future those predictions become... Life doesn't follow the rules of inertia--it doesn't have to be acted on by an outside force to change momentum.

Which brings us around to quantum mechanics--where a decided uncertainty exists in this invisibly small world which leaves us guessing (educated guessing to be sure) about where a particle will actually BE at any given measurement in time.

So, we, as sentient beings, can guess the future for quite some time... Our sun will burn as it is now for 3 or 4 billion more years.... We know some day in the future, we will leave time.... But we can't know the future because only the present exists.


Paula Explains

  • Six hydro-tanks, plus accessories
  • Three cats
  • One champanzee named Curious (not George)
  • One attractive human female named Paula
  • One long range family transport capable of supporting life indefinitely
  • And me. I've named my new ship the "Ion Jack." Somehow, this is becoming my home away from Fort Falling.

    Curious has obviously been trained as an environmental systems technician. It's just that the systems he was trained in look a lot more grown than made--which is not unusual on a space station, but most of it seems like it's still growing. When I look too closely at some parts of the new system, my stomach shifts in the same way as when Paula explains one of her hydro-tank projects in too much detail.

    And why is Paula hanging around here? With me? She's doing more than just 'repairing' the environmental systems. She's moving in, and turning my ship into her own private lab. I am a little uneasy with a chimpanzee knowing more about my own ship's environmental systems than I do.

    I also wonder why she brought that psycho tomcat which I had dragged out of a bio storage section somewhere in the sacrificial part of the station. He's not really interested in being polite to humans, and the other two cats Paula brought aren't very high on his list of interesting companions.

    So I asked her.

    "I felt you would be too much of a distraction in our time of crisis," Paula said, "So I told you to get lost and never come back. Then I started wondering why you were still on the station. I found out you have parents on Ceres Metro--you could have left here years ago."

    "Yeah?" I asked suspiciously. I was starting to feel like an interesting specimen of something.

    "I didn't think she would know anything about you, but I asked Doc," Paula continued. "She told me you were too worried about the cats to leave. To prove it, she introduced me to that attitude you call Rat Bane."

    "I like cats," I muttered.

    "That's when I started thinking of you as an addition to my life, and not simply a potential diversion," Paula said.

    Let's hear it for decaying orbits.

  • 2005-08-24

    The Perfect Sandwich

    Eddie and the guys were talking about how to make the perfect sandwich.

    I know how.

  • Two slices of bread. Whole grain.
  • Mustard. The spicy yellow kind from Ceres station. My people make the best.
  • Mayo. I prefer the imitation stuff which is a bit sweeter.
  • Smoked ham. Yeah, yeah.... Vat protein.
  • Mozzarella. High tech vat protein.
  • Spread the sauces, apply the meat and cheese.
  • Take a bite the instant you fold the sandwich together. That is the moment when every sandwich is the perfect sandwich. Don't wait too long, or it's just another sandwich.

    My suggestion never ends the argument, but it works for me.

  • 2005-08-21

    Gyroscopic Wasteland

    More than half of the station is empty now. One of the nice things about tech work is the core work. Sure, it's cramped, and often smelly, but there aren't any people around to get in the way of your thoughts.

    One thing I never noticed was the constant murmur of humanity humming through the walls. It's very lonely without it.

    Loneliness leads me to depression, which doesn't go anywhere, really, but perhaps an absence of a journey is a journey of it's own. This empty place weighs on my mood and darkens my thoughts. I have walked down kilometers of urban through-way, scanning randomly for pressure changes, inspecting suspect joints and joinings, and obsessively marking the doors on decommissioned apartments. Every hour seems like a day. Days walking in circles--pressing against the inside edge of a gyroscopic wasteland.


    Spin On

    It has been two months since I began posting to this public log. Life in a decaying orbit doesn't feel as bad now. I can't say for certain if the events, or the postings, or some combination, has made the difference.

    A few things made less murky perhaps:

  • The hub itself is 0.0 Gee, but the hub wall is moving, because the entire station is spinning. Same for the spinball-field wall. If you are paying attention to that movement, which station dwellers do by instinct, you can use it to gain and control momentum. If you don't pay attention, you can die. We call it 'station blind.'

  • EMF Eddie got his nickname on the spinball field a long time before Kenny started naming people. He can clock-out a spinball using the wall to generate momentum--and he's really good at it. It's not exactly illegal, but more than three steps and you lose possession of the ball.

  • In general terms, 'clock-out' refers to momentum gained from spin and released at a tangent. In spinball, the player will 'clock-out' the spinball by gaining momentum while in control of the ball, translating that momentum into a spin, and then releasing his or her own momentum along with the ball. It's not easy.

  • A spinball is twice the size of a human head, and twice as massive. The best description I ever heard was when I was ten years old, "It is something like a giant, heavy, soft, and somehow bouncy sponge."

  • We grow things in hydroponic vats... Like hotdogs, and sponges... And it's also part of our environmental systems.

  • Dogs are boring. Great danger detectors, though. You know how dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but cats only differ in markings? Well, cats do come in all shapes and sizes, but with personality instead. Anyway, that's what I think. I like cats.

  • Fort Falling has told the Outer System Alliance to spin-off. The ships they sent to 'save us' are pathetic. Half of us would die on the way to Titan Base. And then what? We commandeered the best of them--six worth keeping--and we dared them to send more ships.

  • Fort Falling has a population of 1109 humans. 312 of those are station techs, and 178 are engineers (mostly of the hydroponic variety). The designed population of Saturn Station One is 100,000 humans. When we blow the place in half, there will still be enough elbow room for over 40,000 people... And the end-caps will still be nearly five kilometers apart. We 1109 will own the place, because there's no one out here with the resources to take it away from us... Or to save us.

  • Doc Hester is up to something more than just saving the station. I haven't worked out what it is yet.

  • 2005-08-16

    New Space

    I've been looking over the abandoned ships on the lash up collar, and I found one that should be trust worthy in space after a bit of work. The ship is a family class passenger transport, with living space for about a dozen people--if you don't mind sharing elbow room. I filed the salvage papers six months ago, and I became the official owner yesterday.

    I asked Paula to look over the Environmental core. She told me it was fine, but a few improvements wouldn't hurt. I've been clinging to the outside with mag-grips so I can clean and repair the ion-drive systems while Paula does her super-genius environmentally things. She brought Curious, three cats, and six new hyrdo-tanks to get her started. She also released a large number of specially designed, sexless spiders into my ship. I hate spiders, but they are hell on flying bugs.

    It will be a few months before the ship is ready to support life without using station resources, and then it will take another few months to reach Jupiter system--if that's where we decide to go. I get the feeling most people still on the station are planning to stay until after we have attempted to stabilize the orbit. I don't even know why I'm still here, so I wouldn't care to speculate on the motives of other people.


    Curious Habitat

    Doc has a large number of animals. The 87 cats I've brought in only use a small percentage of the habitat Doc is building... Well, planning anyway. Doc has acquired several assistants, including Paula and Curious, who do the work.

    Curious is one of Doc Hester's chimpanzees. He makes rude noises if you call him a monkey, and he throws things with remarkable accuracy if you call him George. Curious has his own room in Doc's hydro-park, and is allowed full run of Doc's lab. He often wears a heavy looking, faintly pulsating green harness. Doc says it's part of his atmo-suit, and that he doesn't like to take it off.

    I've never seen an atmo-anything which looks like it was grown in a hydro-vat, but the harness is similar in many ways to the sleeping bays built into Doc's zoo, so I'm not arguing. I'm starting to suspect that Doc's version of Environmental Tech is beyond my understanding.

    Hydroponic science appears to be a major portion of Doc's design, and most of what Paula is doing makes my stomach spin. Curious seems to know what's going on though. I'm a little confused about that.


    Titan Base

    Titan is a horrible place. The gravity is worse than useless. The weight is not enough to keep a human healthy, but it's enough to make centrifugal alternatives expensive and ineffective.

    Titan Base is actually a small space station orbiting the moon in question. Before Fort Falling was condemned, only the hydrocarbon miners and their families lived there. A lot of the miners have left for Jupiter system, but enough remain to support an active trade route.

    In effect, the station has become a rather large lash up, with a population of over 6000. Many of the vessels lashed to the station, ancient and nearing the end of their travel days, are being used as warehouses.

    Titan Base is also ruled by the OSA, and the OSA has started making noises about 'keeping SS1 in the alliance.' If, that is, we actually manage to save any part of it. I thought Doc Hester was going to have a seizure when she heard.

    Counter-Spin just laughed and suggested we ask them to prove themselves worthy of our membership. "If we save even a part of this space station, and live to tell," he said. "Every human in the solar system will want to be us."

    Eddie changed all of the com headers and protocols from "SS1" to "Fort Falling." Wendy had a melt down and tried to declare martial law. We had a good laugh over that, and then we gave her a choice between an airlock or a ship headed for Titan Base.


    Separation Anxiety

    Those measurements we took...

    Today we started installing the single-burn boosters under the primary tangent track. There are about 300 techs left on the station, nearly one-third of the population, and for about a week every one of us has been jumpier than a cat in an airlock. We have a lot of work to do, and much of it is outside the station.

    Dangerous? Yes. Boring? No. Frustratingly slow and rage inducingly clumsy with the gloves and delicate work? "Yes"... Doesn't even begin to cover it. Oh yeah--boosters blow up if you aren't careful. And much of the delicate work involves setting explosives to blow apart the station in the right places at the right time. It's better than riding ring-ice for eternity.

    We will blow the station at the primary rail system. The parallel rails on the main line will be split, while the tangent track will remain to act as part of the support structure for our boosters. Even the hopefully surviving half of the station is going to take a beating getting into a stable orbit.

    Then we will have to get spin going again. Otherwise, what was the point?


    Care and Use of an Ion Grip Loader

    Grip loaders are single person, self-contained vehicles built specifically for 'mass relocation' within a freefall environment. Grounders generally refer to them as 'forklifts' until someone suggests an attempt to fly one around while under gravity. About the only place you can see them docked is on launch platforms. Grip loaders are nearly as much fun to operate as power-suits, but they are a lot more dangerous.

    It took me three attempts to pass the ion-class operator's exam. It's not that I don't like driving them, but I have trouble getting past the anxiety of doing something stupid and shooting off into the ring-plane, or worse, into empty space where no one can find me.

    So the last three days I've been outside the station driving a modified grip loader around and taking measurements. I really, really hated it. Freefall is all well and good, but three days of the stuff is way overdoing it. Plus, every time I woke up and found myself weightless and looking into naked space, I nearly freaked out.

    I have washed off three days of suit funk, and now I'm headed to The Dizzy Pig for some fresh food. Maybe a double-sized green salad with extra carrots and lemon dressing to start. And a double shot of gin. Days of fortified protein concentrate is a fine appetizer.


    The Dizzy Pig Bar and Grill

    The Dizzy is where all the techs go to spin-down. Take off the atmo-suit, relax, enjoy the unvarying 1.0 Gee. Maybe buy a drink to go with the fresh air pumped in from hydro. Order a grilled hotdog* and some baked corn chips with cheese sauce.

    I have just returned from said establishment, where, somewhat to my surprise, Paula was singing with the band. She can really clock-out a place--the only people not dancing were passed out. This made me worry she might reverse her poles again. Everyone's long term plans are shaky at the moment, and Paula isn't inclined to talk about it when we are together.

    The Dizzy is a big place. Most of the station techs hug the left wall where a bank of info portals combines with gadgety decor to make them feel welcome. I usually go there to drink and dance, and I am totally uninspired by trivia games, so I hang right.

    A couple of times each month, Counter-Spin eats in the back, buys a bottle, and goes home to get drunk. He says, "Sometimes you drink the bottle, and sometimes the bottle drinks you."

    • We call it a grilled hotdog, but we all know it's really vat grown protein. I am compelled to add that it must be far more palatable than left-over animal parts.
    • The term 'hotdog' sells more product than the term 'grilled vat protein.'
    • and it makes children shiver in horror when you tell them what people once considered food.


    Lash Up

    Every metro station has at least one lash up. Named from the practice of 'lashing' a space vessel 'prow up' onto a spinning object so the direction of spin-weight is in the same direction as the normal acceleration-weight. If you have an object the size of a space station, you don't even need a lash cable, and you don't need a counter-balance.

    Fort Falling is capable of docking several hundreds of space-going vessels (via launch platform), where they can make use of spin-gravity and other station resources for as long as they pay rent.

    The Lash Up bays are mostly vacant now. Any ships remaining are either not space-worthy or belong to people like Counter-Spin. It seems very empty without the cats.