ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the October 2014 Creative Jam.  It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] chordatesrock.  It has been sponsored by an anonymous donation.  This poem belongs to the Dr. Doohickey thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

"Dr. Doohickey and the Smile Machine"


The loss of his legs was a blow,
but Dr. Doohickey found ways to cope.
Mostly, he built things.

This was not what his doctors recommended,
but then, these were the quacks who couldn't
figure out how to articulate a bed and gave him
a wheelchair that had to be pushed by hand,
so he had plenty of reasons to ignore them anyhow.

(The last thing he wanted to do was talk about
how his legs had gotten hacked up in a wood chipper.)

Whenever his feelings began to gum up his thoughts,
like oil left too long in an engine, Dr. Doohickey
went down to his lab and made something.

He designed an inertial compensator
to make zoom wagons more maneuverable,
although he did not yet have a Class Z license of his own.

He constructed one hundred two-legged robots
the size of ping-pong balls, which could connect
into a robotic centipede to climb over obstacles.

(There was nothing wrong with his hands.)

When his mind was running smoothly again,
Dr. Doohickey turned his attention from science to art.

He brought out boxes of gears made from
silver and gold, copper and bronze,
even glass in rainbow colors,
and spun them together.

He carved Tesla fluid valves from clear crystal
and mounted them so they would tilt back and forth
while directing streams of tinted liquid.

He worked until he got stiff, building beautiful things
with springs and screws and metal plates
that felt like fine satin in his hands
and gave him a sense of accomplishment.

(The stumps of his legs ached, sometimes,
but he could ignore them.)

The gizmo grew under his fingertips,
complex and exquisite, illustrating
favorite principles of physics.

It had no purpose, yet it was pleasing.

His assistant Crystal came downstairs,
her heels clicking on the way to the lab.

"What are you making?" she asked,
leaning over the workbench
to admire the results.

"This," Dr. Doohickey said
as he waved a hand over it.

"So what does it do?" Crystal asked.

Dr. Doohickey gazed at the gleaming gizmo
with its array of soothing springs and valves and gears,
all whirring away with a sort of scientific white noise
that made the small of his back relax and his lips curl up.

"It makes me smile," he said.

"Oh, that's useful," Crystal said brightly.
"You should make more to sell.
I'm sure other soups would enjoy that."

"Maybe they would," Dr. Doohickey said.

"If you make a spare, I could call WeGeex," she coaxed.
"You know they'll trade time in the FunLab for it."

He hadn't gone there since before the accident.

"Is the FunLab even accessible?" Dr. Doohickey asked,
fingers drumming on the arm of his antchair.
"I can climb stairs in this thing, but it
runs down the charge in no time."

"If it's not accessible now, it will be
by the time you get there," Crystal said.
"Imagine what a ruckus it would cause,
if they realized that some geeks couldn't get in."

"All right, one copy coming up," said Dr. Doohickey.
His fingers reached for the little boxes of bright gears,
a smile already stretching across his face.

She smiled back at him.

* * *


Therapy doesn't always work, whether focused on talk or behavior.  Nobody should be pressured into any therapy that doesn't help them, or actively makes them feel worse.

Everyone needs coping skills to deal with life's challenges.  Learn how to develop some.

An inertia damper is an extant device that absorbs or redirects force in ways we already understand.  The science fiction device often called an inertial damper or compensator is a futuristic device that absorbs or redirects force in ways we do not yet understand, sometimes referred to as inertia negation.  See the difference?  The same design could be truth or fiction depending where you're standing in the timestream.  But it's all force manipulation at the core.

Modular robots that can connect and cooperate also exist, such as these roombots and robot snakes.

This is a Tesla fluid valve.

Brushed metal or satin finish has a distinct grain, which may feel smooth or satiny-grooved to the touch.

Dr. Doohickey has made a Rube Goldberg machine for fun.

Moving meditation offers various ways to still your mindPuzzles, fibercrafts, and other hobbies can help ease the stress of PTSD and other mental conditions.  Dr. Doohickey has discovered building things as a coping technique, and it works quite well for him given his logical perspective and tactile focus.

WeGeex is a corporation that specializes in technological innovation.  They have a Zetetics branch devoted to analyzing and retro-engineering whatever gizmos or super-gizmos they can get.  There's an Implementation branch that takes the usable bits from there and converts them into products which can be mass-marketed.  Instead of a conventional Research & Development branch, however, they have the FunLab.  Employees can earn time in the FunLab as a perk for excellent performance, perfect attendance, and other standard stuff; but they can win big chunks of time and a supply budget  for letting the company play with any of their inventions.  Since many gizmologists, super-gizmologists, and super-intellects are strongly motivated by opportunity to explore and make stuff, the corporation gets a LOT of random stuff handed over to Zetetics.  Employees can keep the patent rights to their own work if they want it, and always get developer credit; plus anything developed from an employee's work by the company earns the original employee a royalty.  FunLab time has no obligations beyond safety precautions; if you want to do pure research, you can. 

WeGeex put out a steady stream of cool new products and are a leading source of cutting-edge technology.  They also have a fund set aside for damage compensation if a product turns out to have a harmful flaw.  Part of that program includes a bounty  for customers who identity the problem, which can be taken in cash, free products from another line, or time in the FunLab on its monthly Customer Appreciation Day.  This makes WeGeex hugely popular with early adopters.  Ironically they also make a line of shatterproof plow blades and other simple agricultural equipment for the Amish.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-28 05:29 am (UTC)
corvi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] corvi
This wonderful poem-machine made me smile too. :)

wonderful, soothing, rewarding

Date: 2014-10-28 05:35 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
A surprise is something you didn't know you wanted until you get it. Thanks!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-28 10:45 am (UTC)
fred_mouse: cross stitched image reading "do not feed the data scientists" (Default)
From: [personal profile] fred_mouse
"Imagine what a ruckus it would cause,
if they realized that some geeks couldn't get in."

Oh, I wish..

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-28 11:22 am (UTC)
chanter_greenie: a cream-colored yellow Labrador lying at the top of a staircase, one paw draped over the top step (mellow yellow)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
Add me to the list of people gone all smiley. :)

I know at least a couple people RL who would be delighted to have WeGeex around. Offhand, I count one chemist, one engineer, and one polymath with an interest in medical science who'd have a marvelous time in the fun lab. ... Hmm, if I could mess around with radio tech in there, I might take an interest myself.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-28 02:00 pm (UTC)
thnidu: edited from img383.imageshack.us/img383/3066/ss35450qf7.jpg (smiley)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Ironically they also make a line of shatterproof plow blades and other simple agricultural equipment for the Amish.

Of iron, I assume, plus assorted other stuff both nary (like carbon to make it steel) and super (like whatever makes it shatterproof).

I like Dr. D's way to comfort. I'm properly astonished at that valve, but to this longtime Callahanian it is altogether fittin' and proper to find it among Nikki's inventions.
Edited Date: 2014-10-28 02:05 pm (UTC)

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-10-29 02:02 am (UTC)
chanter_greenie: a blue-shaded dyed egg (not enough blue in the world)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
Callahanians unite! :D

Somehow, I can't help thinking he would approve of the smile machine.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-10-31 04:54 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
>> I was in alt.Callahans for a while.<<

:) Doesn't surprise me.

eta: By the way, I liked this.
Edited Date: 2014-10-31 04:55 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-11-01 05:04 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Yeah, I had no idea the Tesla Valve existed, but I am sitting here thinking of aircraft applications for it... fuel lines need check valves... and you could use one that allowed *some* backflow in a shock absorber...

<3 <3 Tesla. (And the man whose company carries his name, Mr. Musk...)

And also Amish craftsmanship.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-11-09 06:31 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
Add me to the list of people who smiled because of this poem too. ^_^

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-28 05:42 am (UTC)
kelkyag: notched triangle signature mark in light blue on yellow (Default)
From: [personal profile] kelkyag
<warm fuzzies>


Date: 2014-10-28 05:45 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-28 12:34 pm (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Angel cat)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com

By golly, it works!

Kinda wish there was something like the FunLab around here, I have notebooks full of ideas and no way to make them.

Thank you!

Date: 2014-10-28 05:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> *grins*

By golly, it works! <<

Tested range: apparently infinite.
Conclusion: gizmo super-gizmo.

WeGeex is going to have a field day with this.

Thinking about it further, I suspect that Dr. Doohickey has not simply put together a pleasing set of doodads, but has through trial and error and craftsmanship managed to construct a brain-petting device. The human brain is preprogrammed with a variety of aesthetic preferences based on objective principles, which are distinct from aspects of personal taste -- for example, appreciating symmetry and certain geometric shapes or proportions. Put those in motion, and it sort of strokes over the pleasure center in a subtle repetitive motion. This is why kinetic sculptures are popular, but a majority of those are simple. The intricate ones, well, I've seen some that are gizmo caliber. This one is soothing and pleasing to watch because it was built with a high level of skill and excellent materials. It won't fix everything or work for everyone, but it is still very helpful. And the superpower is all in the imagination; it runs on ordinary physics and bioprogramming.

They're going to wind up passing this thing around, and making videos of it, and the footage will become enormously popular too. And then a whole bunch of other gizmologists and super-gizmologists will start thinking, "Hey, I should make me a one-of-those." Since they all have different styles, they may come up with things that make different people smile. Which is great because there are a bunch of folks in Terramagne who could really use a portable smile machine.

>> Kinda wish there was something like the FunLab around here, I have notebooks full of ideas and no way to make them. <<

I wish that too. One reason for writing about things which are attainable but not within personal reach is that maybe someone will see them and like them who does have that ability. Seriously, what could be funner than turning a bunch of geeks loose in a lab to play "Let's see what happens" ...?
Edited Date: 2014-10-28 05:11 pm (UTC)


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

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