Thursday, February 28, 2008

When Stuff Goes Off-Line

If there is one thing submariners and astronauts share (besides their highly developed senses of humor), it is the angst and anxiety over breakdowns.

If you have been around long enough, you may remember how unreliable U.S. manufactured autos used to be until Japan started eating Detroit's lunch. Autos are much better now. Who would ever have imagined 100,000 mile warranties?

Submariners are expected to fix things quickly or, in a worst case, make do with sheer resorcefulness. When we had to put to sea, not only was equipment in peek operating condition (for its age and history), spares and then some were carefully stowed.

In my day, 4-layer diodes were still new enough to be noted for their less than stellar reliability. This was not long after the Navy was paying up to $30 grand for individual transistor circuits allowing what was then considered revolutionary, miniaturized packages to be installed on cramped boats.

Anyway, they held up much better than vacuum tubes. The new Sturgeon class boats still used about a dozen or so, types of those. Imagine boats with both vacuum tubes and integrated circuits!

At any rate, high-price stuff would still break underway and have to be fixed expeditiously in sometimes amazingly resourceful ways.

At home when stuff breaksdown, which a lot has all at once, I have to take time to see if I can fix it, it should be sent out for repair, or simply replaced. What a month! A page scanner, TV, lawnmower, communications equipment, recorder, CD player, radios and an ant invasion. TV - tossed; Mower - now works; Scanner - replaced; wife's car - sent out to dealer (they liked my jury rig) and did $300 worth of stuff I could have done. The other stuff (about a dozen items) - backlogged. Exterminator is coming Monday.

Very depressing for ex-submariners when stuff goes off-line.



At 03 March, 2008 17:21, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you do about a broke septic tank?

At 04 March, 2008 12:50, Blogger Vigilis said...

Always had good luck with that one!


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