A new entry in the Omicron Matter – Jason learns new ways of seeing things. Jason is at the tail end of his recovery and Millicent directs him to start working on his father’s notebooks with Rachael. He hadn’t seen her before and is shocked to see the extent of her injury. But they start work indexing the notebooks using Charles Babbage’s ideas.
For those who are new to the Omicron Matter, the home page is s a good place to start.
Author’s note – I have spent a little time getting organization back in place. Menus are updated. I will be adding navigation between pages to make transition between them better. I am looking for appropriate illustrations that provide some color without influencing the reader too much.
Thanks for your support. Look for more tomorrow.
Jason had spent a week in recovery from his injuries. After a day or two of enforced bed rest, he was allowed to move around. His head still hurt on occasion and his chest hurt from an apparent broken rib, but he could get up and move around. He had wanted to go to the gym and start doing some of the training that Millicent was giving Michael, Liam, Eleanor and Simone but he was told no. He was certain he would go crazy from the lack of activity. But Charles and Millicent were insistent and unsympathetic. He spent some of the time in the Science lab getting “certified” on the lab equipment. That was tedious, but Charles was insistent and truthfully things would be safer and last longer with Charles rules and guidelines.
In one of the breaks between certifications, Millicent joined him in the laboratory and plopped the stack of his father’s lab books on the lab bench next to him and said, “Grab those and follow me.” He followed Millicent across the hall into the Medical lab. Rachael was in the middle of the room, her bed tilted up, her head immobilized but facing a large screen that she seemed to be reading when they came in. Millicent pointed in the direction of Rachael and said, “Do your indexing in here.”
Jason had not been right in the head when everyone came back to the ship. Millicent and Charles had been keeping him quiet and, more or less, bed ridden. So he had never really understood the extent of Rachael’s injury. Her body seemed so small amidst the tubes, wires and screens. From behind one of the screens he heard her Cockney accent saying, “Jason?”
Millicent pointed to a chair and a table at the wall and he slunk there and put the books on the table. He answered, “Hello Rachael, yes… it’s me.”
Rachael said from behind the screen, “give me a moment.” The screen moved away on its own and the bed began to rotate towards Jason and the table. He could now clearly see Rachael strapped into the bed. She made the bed wobble back and forth a bit and said, “It’s not much, but for the first three days, Charles wouldn’t let me move anything. Now at least I can look at people without eye strain.”
Jason remained quiet – he wasn’t sure what to say. Rachael filled in the awkward silence, “I’ve stunned you silent. I seem to do that to some.”
Jason sputtered and said, “They told me, but I didn’t really understand.”
Rachael smiled crookedly, “Well I had heard you were beaten senseless. And then I heard that wasn’t possible because you had no sense to begin with.”
Jason winced a bit and turned red. Then he chuckled and shrugged and raised his hands, “I’ve heard that that.” He rubbed his scared nose and jaw a bit and completed, “from multiple sources.”
Charles piped in, “Only because it’s true.”
Jason looked at her and then said, “People said you were hurt badly and some other nonsense.”
Rachael asked innocently, “Nonsense?”
Jason waved at her legs and the bed, “That you wouldn’t walk again.”
Rachael leaned her head back a bit and smiled wanly, “I’ve been told that. It is hard to argue with the assessment or critique the reliability of the sources.” She moved her hands and arms in their newly restored freedom. “I’ve got these back and I can even write. This table is letting me have civilized conversation again. Charles said I might even be off this in a week or two.”
Jason said, “See – up and about. Nothing keeps you down.”
Rachael smiled with a bit of sadness in her eyes, “I’ll be in a wheel chair…enough of this maudlin drivel. Why has Millicent imprisoned you here? What is this I hear about indexing?”
Jason mentally noted that he would never complain about his restrictions ever again. “My father’s notebooks. “
“Ah… the mysterious and cryptic notebooks.”
“You jest, but there are four or five activities going on and he didn’t have the sense to start new notebooks when he started a new activity. They are a mish mash of daily work.”
“The logical thing would be to organize them into chapters. We could concentrate on one notebook. Are the pages numbered?”
“Then you get to use Mr. Babbages wonderful card indexing system.”
Jason slapped his head, “Good lord, not you too.”
Rachael sniffed a little, “Actually I’ve learned it in the last couple of days. Charles has been keeping my idle hours busy with readings and illustrations. Apparently I am to enjoy it until I start some odd activity called Occupational therapy. “ She waved the thought away, “Say what you will about Babbage. He was parsimonious. He was niggardly. He was a right nasty bastard. But his system works. Maybe he developed it to track broken windows and streets with too many urchins playing steel hoops.”
Jason grumbled, “I wouldn’t doubt it.” Then he said, “Millicent gave me the cards and a brief explanation.
Rachael said in a good nature fashion, “Then we’ll spend the afternoon proving Charles Babbage knew cards but was clueless about humans. Start with titles where you see them and the pages only.”
 Charles Babbage – is considered the father of the modern programmable computer. He designed and built a method to feed data into a machine and have it work calculations. Charles Babbage was also involved in several mean spirited campaigns such as targeting broken windows (465 of which 14 were caused “by drunken men, woman and boys”) and against organ grinders (“It is difficult to estimate the misery inflicted upon thousands of persons, and the absolute pecuniary penalty imposed upon multitudes of intellectual workers by the loss of their time, destroyed by organ-grinders and other similar nuisances.”)