Sunday, December 18, 2011

It Felt Like Warp Drive

It reminded me of a scene toward the end of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. You remember, the one where Kirk and Crew hijack the Enterprise to rescue Spock, whose body has been re-animated by the Genesis Wave that was set off on the Genesis Planet. I was tempted to say, "re-activated," but that sounds too mechanical, sort of what you'd do to Spock's successor, Data, in the second generation Star Trek. I'm glad the third generation is really the first generation re-discovered. I enjoy Jean-Luc and all, but at heart, I'm a purest.

It's the same film, by the way, in which Dr. McCoy delivers a line I'd love to have written. The Enterprise is going down in flames and Kirk says, "My God, Bones, what have I done?" McCoy replies, "What you had to do. What you always do. Turn death into a fighting chance to live." I think that's one of the best lines in film, maybe in literature, maybe even in history. Sigh.

Anyway, where were we? Oh, yeah (blush), sorry for the digression. So, I woke up this morning, somewhere around way-too-early with the sensation of cold on my face, nose to forehead. It was the same kind of cold I've experienced on winter Scouting trips, and so have you, if you've ever gone camping or backpacking and felt nature's frosty, chilly, barely-dawn breath on the portion of your face that doesn't fit inside your mummy sleeping bag and asked yourself, Why was it, once again, I thought this was supposed to be fun?

Well, at first I thought a window was open and when my pager sounded its dweedle-DEE-de rendition of reveille at 5.30 (I've got to turn that thing off, it's Christmas vacation after all), I summoned the courage to get up and close it -- the window that is -- except it was already closed. Next thing was to head for the bathroom and then turn up the thermostat. Except, instead of its familiar varoom, the furnace only clicked.


I've heard this before, I thought, and decided it meant we had run out of fuel oil. Except the date on my latest bill said we'd just gotten a delivery. Nobody uses 150 gallons of oil in four days. Not even in Maine in the dead of winter unless they're drinking it. Since I wasn't, in a flash of medical student intellectual acumen that would give Mr. Spock Logic-Envy, I concluded it had to be the furnace. Unbelievable.

With visions of phoning the repairman dancing in my head and flashlight in hand, I stepped into the dank depths of the basement and weaved my way through the hanging gardens of cob webs to face the music. A glance at the breaker box confirmed the furnace, installed years ago by the Dead-Head Oil and Gas Company (owned and operated by a Grateful Dead fan, naturally), was getting power, so what now? Almost fresh out of ideas I noticed a little brass plaque detailing instructions about what to do when the furnace hasn't started up. Well, duh.

Step one, check the power. Done that. Step two, check the oil. Done that, too, please tell me something I can't figure out on my own. Step three, press the reset button -- only once. What happens if you press it twice, I don't know, but I wasn't interested in finding out. As I reached my finger toward the single button I could find, it came to me. This is just like Mr. Sulu, Mr. Scott, and Mr. Chekov, trying to decipher Klingon in order to engage warp drive at the end of Star Trek III. The Genesis planet is exploding and Larry, Moe, and Curly are at the helm. Finally, Sulu throws a switch and announces, "Sir, if I'm right, we have warp drive." Kirk responds, "Go, Sulu!" and they're off.

And so was my furnace. On, I mean. Not off, not as in warp drive or bound for Vulcan, but on, as in working. Okay, maybe you'd have to have been there. It sure felt like warp drive to me, though.

(Non-free low resolution image from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, by illustrator Bob Peak, copyright presumed to be held by Paramount, 1984, used to identify the film cited herein, via Wikipedia)

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