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Technowhizzes I have known

This is an entry from the third version of Technopagan Yearnings.
Originally published at

Making technology sing

Hard to go wrong with Three Weird Sisters.

Let's see, where were we? Ah yes, it's Tuesday.

I just did a brief explanation of fnords on one of my email lists. Sometimes I forget that not everyone has read the books I consider classics.

And truthfully, I'm getting older. My hair is more than silver tinged these days. I have whole life experiences that people coming of age today will never know. The culture has changed, mostly for the better I think.

That's a cue for today's topic. I want to talk about my first technopagans.

Well, they weren't really Pagan as such, but they had an affiliation for technology. They could make it outperform it's design. They could fix with a little tinkering. Maybe technowhiz is a better term. Somehow they blended that creative spark inside us with an existing piece of technology and made it work better.

There was my uncle. He was one of the last of the shadetree mechanics. Even owned his own shop for a while. He could make the engines hum and sing and purr.

And then there was Montgomery Scott, fictional but a whiz none the less. While Kirk and Spock were banging the ship across the galaxy, Scott made it run. He was the real worker of wonders, that one. Star Trek predated me by a bit, but it was well into syndication by the time I began to watch television. Spock could recite the technobabble, but Scotty made it work. When other kids were playing landing party, I played at keeping the ship running.

Before I went into elementary school, science fiction intersected with real life in a way that has never been seen since. In July of 1969, humans walked on the Moon. If you weren't alive then, you really don't understand. On that day, practically the entire globe watched on television as it REALLY played out. We looked up to the stars and saw where we were going. If someone had worked out warp drive the next day, we would have boarded ships and gone right then. It wasn't pretend, it was real.

I sometimes think that the space film craze of the late 1970s happened because people were frustrated that we weren't in space. We weren't going anywhere except in our dreams.

My stepdad was a ham radio operator and a classical music enthusiast. I grew up with flashing lights and funny sounds and listening to voices from across the planet. While technically gifted, dad didn't have the "touch" though.

I had a physics prof who did have the touch though. He used to rewire the electrical circuit panels to give himself more power. No one else could even make his tools work.

There was a cameraman I worked with on one project. He could do things with his lenses that I have never seen before or since.

In high school I saw my first Apple ][, and that is how I learned about Steve Wozniak. If that man is not a honest to gods technowhiz, I myself will nominate him as an honorary one.

There were a few other technowhizzes here and there. I developed a reputation for making gadgets and gizmos doing weird things, but I cheated. Still, it was an amazing age to grow up in. It still seemed that the Age of Tomorrow was within our reach. I think it was the Iranian hostage crisis that nailed that one shut for a while.

Meanwhile the stars were still there, singing, inviting us to soar among them.

I believe in Homo astra, the star human, humanity unchained from just one planet and one place and one star. That's where my own technopagan path points. I may not make it, but I know we will. It won't be the theoreticians that will get us there and back.

Ahead warp factor five, second star to the right, straight on till morning.


Posted: Tue - May 12, 2009 at 02:10 PM

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