A Night to Remember

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 0 comments

On this night in 1912

In the icy darkness of the North Atlantic sometime between 2.15 a.m. and 2.25 a.m. a primitive spark gap transmitter blasted the following message into the aether and was forever silent thereafter.

... --- ... ... --- ... -.-. --.- -.. -.-. --.- -.. - .. - .- -. .. -.-. .-.-.- .-- . .- .-. . ... .. -. -.- .. -. --. ..-. .- ... - .-.-.- .--. .- ... ... . -. --. . .-. ... .- .-. . -... . .. -. --. .--. ..- - .. -. - --- -... --- .- - ... .-.-.- - .. - .- -. .. -.-. .-.-.-

RMS Titanic, passengers and crew.

May the silence of the deeps keep you safe unto the ending of the world.

The only known photograph of Titanic's Marconi room. Taken by passenger Fr. Browne, who disembarked in Queenstown.
Operator is probably Harold Bride. Photograph from the Fr. Browne collection. 

The Titanic Marconi room set from the James Cameron movie.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your spark gap clean.

Photos from the fantastic webpage

Role Play Serial Story from The Messdeck Part III

Monday, April 6, 2015 0 comments

Catching up!

Here is the third part of the serialized tale from our Roleplay group.

You can start from the beginning here.

Last time we left Max and his crew aboard the aging cargo airship HMAS Doris tied up to a mooring tower on the edge of York in England. It is a freezing cold winter's night. Since there is no lift and it would be a long climb for Max with his bad leg, he has sent his crew below so they can get warm and have some good food while he stays aboard on "Ship Watch".

Lost at Sea
A serial story from The Messdeck.
Part III
Collected and edited by Kevin Jepson 
Feb 1
*Max opens the cabin door. Standing in the control car is a tall Royal Navy Lieutenant in a heavy winter great coat with a leather satchel over one shoulder. His fur lined hood is thrown back and he has a great big grin on his  face.*

"John Barbesly! Good God man what brings you to ice bound Yorkshire? Come in and get out of this wind!"

"Could ask you the same question Sir."

"Belay that Sir stuff, nobody here to worry on it John."

*They go back into the little cabin. Max clears a space of the Navigator's charts, carefully avoiding the communications equipment, while the Lieutenant starts to unpack his satchel.*

"First off I'm going to get rid of this cold! You will like this Max!" and he takes out a odd mushroom shaped contraption and puts it on the floor under the table. After fiddling with it for a second or so he pushes a button and there is a quiet womph sound and then a rich red glow from inside the mushroom's top.

Max jumps back "Dammit man, you trying to blow us up!"

"No Sir! See this is based on the same pattern as the Davies Mine Lamps. The hydrogen may get inside but if it burns it can't get through the mesh."

*Soon there is a lovely warm current of air coming out from under the table. Out of the satchel comes cloth wrapped hot food and some insulated tankards of mulled wine.*

"I seen your Marine getting this ready to bring back up to you an overheard him talking to his Sergeant and he mentioned your name so I said I'd take it up to you."

"Much appreciated John, much appreciated indeed, was fair to being frozen solid I was. But what are you doing in old Blighty? Last we met you was Admiral's Clerk on that flagship in Esquimalt[1]. Were just before we left in such a rush!"

"Oh Aye and that's a tale indeed, you get going on that food and drink I'll fill you in!"

*As the chill finally starts to leave the little cabin on the Doris, the Lieutenant tells Max of the events that followed the precipitous departure of the Velvet Brush from Esquimalt*

"You hadn't even got over the horizon towards the mainland before all hell broke loose in the shipyard. There was Lobsterbacks[2] everywhere. One of our own detachments was detailed to try to round up as many of the Company Boffins as had not managed to leave. The ones they rounded up were surprised, it was like they couldn't understand what was happening."

Max munching on a pasty says "Well yer probably heard that someone had tried to disable us with a bomb. Were planted in the drive, would have taken our tail right off!"

"Aye we did hear that eventually, but we hadn't at that time. A signal had come from the Admiralty ordering the whole yard locked down! The Old Man was livid, he got the order direct and was told to take over the dockyard. Seems that the Admiralty wasn't taking any chances that the dockyard officers weren't in on something nasty."

"Argh, can't imagine that were a fun thing to do."

"Yer right on that score, the Marines were no problem, I think they would rather be under the command of a serving Fleet than a dockyard anyways, and they just wheeled about and got on with it. I went with my Admiral to the Dockyard HQ and was there when the he assumed command. The poor dockyard commander looked surprised but didn't bat an eye, simply stood up saluted and left his office. I was detailed to collect every piece of paper in the place, organize it by date and correspondent. Have you any idea how much paper there is in the HQ of the biggest airdock and naval base on the Pacific Coast!"

Max chuckles "Aye well yer did always like paperwork John."

"Well I tell you my taste for it waned considerable that night! But I tell ya Max, it were what happened the next morning that really made things go crazy?"

"We was heading north towards Prince Rupert by then, had some trouble with the drive arcing all over the place, burned one of our Black Gang pretty bad. Aye and just as he got better he was blown to smithereens in bloody Portsmouth!"

"I heard about that Max, lost yer Commander and them young lads and right in the middle of the largest naval base on Earth too. I can tell you that made every dockyard, port and base in the Empire act like there was war on! Was like somebody kicked the biggest ant hill the world had ever seen... But as I was sayin, next morning word came that somethin odd had happened at the Company yards outside Vancouver. The Old Man, having spent a long night interrogating the dockyard commander, 'in conference' is the term the report used, swore mightily and grabbed the Marine Major and his troop from the flagship, me, and a bunch of dockyard workers, and flew us in a runabout straight there."

Max nods and says "Ah, we seen what happened there as we flew over, were the strangest thing, there were a great ship just like us and she simply collapsed in on her self as we passed."

"Aye and when we got there all that was left was a mass of girders. It was the strangest thing, there weren't a single piece of fabric anywheres in that pile. Nothing, not even the cloth covers of manuals and books, no seabags, no tool bags, nothing! Were like she had been attacked by a giant swarm of moths. Well we secured the site and I went with a couple of Lobsterbacks to secure the office. But as we were approaching some bastard set fire to the place and it was pretty well done by the time we got there. Heard later the bloke who set the fire had died in it too, served the bastard right."

"So did you find out anything about that ship?"

"Aye more 'n I wanted to know, I were put in charge of the team searching it. I can tell you she were nearly finished but that she would never have flown."

"Eh? Why is that?"

"She were a direct copy of your ship, but she had no core.[3]" Max starts and John holds up his hand "Aye and that's OK Max, I been briefed since as to what that means and all, it's my new job see?"

*He folds his collar back and Max sees the insignia of Naval Intelligence.*

"Ah, if she had no core then how could she have flown?"

"Well see that is the question the Intelligence Boffins had too, best guess, and you never heard this from me, is that if that bomb had gone off and disabled your ship in Esquimalt the Company would have spirited the core away and mounted it in the copy. Along with a bunch of other equipment that hadn't been installed yet but was just lying around."

Max takes a big swig from his mulled wine, and after a second or two says "Seems like there is no way they could have got away with that."

"I agree and that were the conclusion of the brass hats in Whitehall too. Don't know the official rationale but personally I think it was a botched job. The sabotage may have been intended to happen somewheres over the rough country North of Vancouver, then they could have salvaged the core and other bits and mounted it in their copy and nobody would be the wiser."

"Christ John, you saying they intended to bring us down in flight!"

"I am Max, and everything that's happened since would tend to confirm that wouldn't you say? Were only cause you were tipped off by finding that device before you left that you been able to stay in one piece."

"An that's a comforting thought to be thinkin and all. So how did you end up in Intelligence then?"

"Well, see that ain't something I'm really sure about. Was about two months later, after we heard about the attack on the Velvet Brush in Portsmouth when I were approached by this odd fellow from England."

"Odd fellow?"

"Aye some high brow named Biffington, he had my transfer papers and within a fortnight I was in Portsmouth talking to..."

Max finishes his sentence "Fleet Admiral Avis Chicheley"[4]

"Aye that's her, and things have been very interesting indeed ever since!"
[1] Esquimalt just outside Victoria, British Columbia was the second largest Royal Navy base in the Pacific after Hong Kong during Queen Victoria's time. In our world it is also a major Navy Airship base. Max and his crew received the HMAS Velvet Brush from the Company builders there nearly two years ago.
[2] Lobsterback is a navy slang term for Royal Marine, used because of their bright red tunics. The other term often used is Bullock, which means bull.
[3] The Core is the extremely powerful heat source that powers the HMAS Velvet Brush and a major military secret. See my Practical Airship Design series for more info on this fascinating Airship.
[4] Second in command of the entire Royal Navy and head of Naval Intelligence, a formidable and manipulative power behind much of the events of the past two years in our Role Play World.

Captain Herndon of The Ship of Gold

Sunday, April 5, 2015 0 comments

Exploration of the valley of the Amazon (1853)

William Lewis Herndon was a professional naval officer in the US Navy during the first half of the 19th C.
He is mostly remembered as the captain of the SS Central America the famous "Ship of Gold" which sank in a hurricane of the coast of Cape Hatteras in 1857.

However his long and distinguished career in the Navy included one of the first source to mouth explorations of the Amazon river. Captain Herndon's report of his explorations in the Amazon was a best seller and immensely popular when it was first published in 1853. One young man was so inspired that he set out to travel down the Mississippi to try to get to the Amazon himself. There were no ships heading to Brazil from New Orleans so he stayed in the States changing his name from Samuel Clements to Mark Twain, the call of the men on the riverboats sounding the depths.

You can read a scanned copy of Captain Herndon's book here at the Internet Archive

Captain Herndon, although a US Navy officer, was in command of the SS Central America when she was lost in a hurricane in 1857, taking 423 men and many tons of gold to the bottom of the Atlantic along with her.

He was widely honoured for his heroic attempts to save his ship before loosing his life when she finally foundered after 3 days of pounding in the hurricane.

From Wikipedia

Herndon was carrying perhaps 15 tons of gold (then worth $2,000,000) and 474 passengers, many of whom were from California and were returning to the East Coast, as well as 101 crew members. After leaving Cuba on 7 September 1857, a few days later, they encountered a three-day hurricane off Cape Hatteras. The hurricane steadily increased in force. By the 12th, the Central America was shipping water through several leaks due to the ship's lack of water-tight bulkheads and general unseaworthiness. Water in her hold put out her boiler fires, precluding the use of steam for both controlling the ship and pumping out the bilges.
Herndon recognized that his ship was doomed; he flew its flag upside down as a distress signal and hoped another ship would see them. At 2 p.m., the West Indian brig Marine arrived to help take passengers from the stricken steamer. It did not have room to take on all of the passengers and crew. Commander Herndon supervised the difficult loading of women and children into lifeboats to transfer to the Marine. He gave one of the women passengers his watch to send to his wife, saying that he could not leave the ship while there was a soul on board. Most of the women and children reached safety on the Marine. Herndon's concern for his passengers and crew helped save 152 of the 575 people on board.
Men on the Central America tried to break up wooden parts to use as floats, in hopes of surviving the sinking. Some were rescued later by passing vessels, but most of the 423 persons on board died in what was the largest loss of life for a commercial ship in United States history. Survivors of the disaster reported last seeing Commander Herndon in full uniform, standing by the wheelhouse with his hand on the rail, hat off and in his hand, with his head bowed in prayer as the ship gave a lurch and went down.
The ship disaster and loss of so much gold, which banks still depended on, contributed to the financial Panic of 1857 in the United States.
The wreckage of the ship was discovered in a 1987 treasure recovery expedition.

The story of the Central America and the search for her is chronicled in a book "Ship of Gold" by Gary Kinder and will be the subject of another post. Stay tuned.

Keep your sightglass full your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

Spring Regional Parasol Duelling Competition

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 0 comments

Parasol Pursuits!

This year at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo there will be not one, but FOUR Parasol Duelling events.

We will be having a formal panel and inside demonstration on  Saturday April 18th, two outdoor demos on Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday April 19th there will be a Parasol Duelling competition!

Looking forward to seeing Ladies from all over competing in this competition.

Over the Summer there will be more Parasol Duelling competitions across North America at Steampunk events large and small.

All leading up to the Second Annual World Championships which will be held in Calgary this September at the Beakerhead Festival. 

So start practicing Ladies!

To find out more about this great sport go to:
Madame Saffron Hemlock’s Parasol Duelling League for Steampunk Ladies

Click here for information on the history and development of Parasol Duelling 
or click the Parasol Duelling tag.

The Rules for Parasol Duelling are here.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

Role Play Serial Story from The Messdeck Part II

Sunday, March 29, 2015 0 comments

A visitor arrives

Here is the second part of the serial tale from our Role Play group.

Part I is here.

Lost at Sea
A serial story from The Messdeck.
Part II
Collected and edited by Kevin Jepson

Feb 1
*After an uneventful, but very cold, trip following the railway lines up to York, the Doris is tied up to the top of a commercial mooring tower on the edge of town. Below her on the tower is a very sleek looking Navy Airship, her hull is flat black with no markings visible at all.*

The very cold and cramped control car
of HMAS Doris*
Simpson climbs down from the keelwalk and says "Mooring is secure Sir!"

"Very good, well done Simpson."

"Thank you Sir"

Max sets the engine telegraph to "finished with engine" and then taking the voice tube he yells into it "Watkins! Secure the engines and get yerself forward we are going ashore."

*A tinny "Aye aye Sir!" comes back and soon the steady thumping of the old engine stops. Max then knocks on the door of the single cabin at the back of the control car before entering.*

"We are moored and it's time to get off this icy balloon and have us some warm food by a fire eh?"

*Miss BB and Iveta are seated on either side of a table top, which Iveta's charts and Miss BB's Aetherwave set are vainly trying to share. Iveta is wearing her uniform greatcoat and cap but seems unperturbed by the cold, the only concession to comfort being her half gloves. Miss BB, however; is swathed head to toe in a bizarre and very colourful mix of scarves, sweaters, and cloaks, with only her face and uniform cap to mark her as an airship officer.*

"Will you be able to climb down the mooring tower in all that Lieutenant?"

"Oh, I will take them off before I do." then almost as an afterthought "Sir".

Turning to the Navigator Max says "How long will it take to plot a course North from here? The railway lines don't go where we are heading."

"I have it already Sir, also the diversion is plotted too if the weather permits Sir."

"Very good, now let us be about getting warm shall we?"

"Aye aye Sir!"

*A dockyard worker unrolls a rope bridge like structure from the tower out to the control car. The crew start to carefully cross the windswept gap to the platform on the tower. As the Sun is setting it is getting increasingly cold. Already the ground below is in darkness. Max is the last to leave and as he makes his way carefully across he sees Sgt Fraser and Cpl Cooke engaged in an intense bout of Rock Paper Scissors. Sgt Fraser soundly beats the Corporal and with a wide grin waits at the end of the bridge as Max comes across.*

"And what was all that about Sergeant?"

"Sir, we were deciding who gets to stay up here on ship watch Sir. I won Sir, so I get to stay."

"Ah, however 'rank hath its privileges' Sgt and no you don't!"


"We is a hundred feet in the freezing Yorkshire sky Sergeant, and the dockyard tells me they haven't got a lift so I will be staying on ship watch, you go get yerself some hot food and warm drink. Send Cooke back up with something hot."

"Aye aye Sir!" and with a salute Fraser turns and heads toward the tower ladder.

*Watkins and Simpson are busy helping Miss BB negotiate the top of the ladder. Iveta watches for a moment and then with a slight smile simply swings herself out over the side of the tower and disappears into the darkness down the OUTSIDE.*

Cooke shakes his head "Jeezus Sergeant did ya see that!"

"Aye I did, that one is happier on the outside of an airship than she is on the inside."

*Max waits till everyone has begun the long descent and then crosses back to the control car. The wind has strengthened so he carefully checks the mooring lines and then climbs laboriously up to the open keelwalk and goes back to check on the cargo and the engine. By the time he returns to the control car he is very cold and is having trouble holding the rungs of the ladder when he climbs back down into the control car.*

Well Max, you'll be solid ice in an hour if you don't get out of this wind!

*Max goes into the little cabin and taking up some of the scarves and blankets from Miss BB's pile he sits in her chair at the table. Soon he is dozing off as he gets slightly warmer. An hour or so later Max is startled awake by a change in the feel of the control car.*

Ah we got a visitor must be Cooke with a toddy. That'll go down well about now.

A strange voice calls out "Ahoy the Doris! Permission to come aboard."


Part III is here.

*The painting is of the control car of a WWI German Zeppelin painted by Felix Schwormstadt in 1917

Role Play Serial Story from The Messdeck

Sunday, March 22, 2015 0 comments

Lost at Sea Part 1

Our Role Play Group is on a bit of a hiatus while we try to sort out how our main story will carry on into the future.

I'm going to serialize two of the side stories that came up during this time to give you a bit of a feel for the World in which we are playing. The parts of the story are presented here pretty much as they appeared in our role play.

Note that Max (me) tends to talk to himself, which is useful in the RP as a way to give out some more info.  Sections that begin and end with an '*' are descriptive.  I'll try to clarify history and details from previous roleplay as footnotes when necessary.

I hope you enjoy it.

Keep your sightglass full your firebox trimmed and your water iced

Lost at Sea
A serial story from The Messdeck.
Part 1
Collected and edited by Kevin Jepson


While our fine ship, the HMAS Velvet Brush, is in the Airdock for her much needed refit, the crew is dispersed to other duties.  Her Chief Engineer Lt Cmdr(E) Maxwell MacDonald-Smythe aka Max, is ordered to take an old airship, HMAS Doris, up to the Royal Navy base at Scapa Flow. He is to begin testing a new device known as the Chirper, that can determine elevations and depths, much like a modern sonar depth scan.

With him he has several members of the Velvet Brush's crew. Two members of his Black Gang, John Watkins and Philip Simpson who invented the Chirper, the Navigator Lt Iveta Baleva, the communications officer Lt Beulah Bueckert, aka Miss BB, and two of the Marine contingent, Sgt Kade Frazer and Cpl Ellis Cooke.

It is winter and the old Doris has seen better days.

Jan 28
Airdock 6 at the Experimental Airship Division yard near London

*Max is standing at the side of the airdock surveying his new command. Having received her from the hands of the Airdock Boffins only a few minutes before, he now watches as the last of the dockyard workers file away and his ship sits alone with her new crew*

Well Max me lad, she's all yours now. This will be an interesting junket and no mistake.

*HMAS Doris is a smallish, hydrogen filled, cargo carrying airship. Until recently she was a commercial tramp carrier called "The Matilda" on contract to the Navy supplying remote light houses along the Northern coasts of Scotland. The Doris is small, she could fit entirely inside the Velvet Brush between the forward accommodation and engineering, with room to spare! The outer cover of her hull is dirty grey and streaked with coal dust. Bright white squares show where her old threadbare cover has been repaired.*

Well yer no stranger to the North at least.

Max spots the bright crimson uniform of Sgt Fraser approaching "Ah Sergeant, all secure?"

Sgt Fraser snaps to attention and salutes sharply "Aye Sir, ship is cleared of all dock workers Sir!"

"Very good, please maintain ship watch. I expect the last of our supplies will be arriving shortly, make sure they get squared away as soon as possible."

"Aye aye Sir!" Another quick salute and Fraser turns and takes up his post beside the entrance to the control car of the airship.

Well, no luxury on this trip Max, be nice to sleep in a hammock again while aloft though, like sleeping on a cloud, if a bit noisy and breezy.

*Max walks aft past the control car under the belly of the airship his cane making tapping sounds that seem oddly loud in the cavernous space of the airdock. He walks past the cargo car in which the Chirper is safely installed, to the third car that houses the engine. There is an open triangular keelwalk connecting the three cars that hang below the hull like rowboats suspended from a bridge. Using the keelwalk while in flight will be an adventure in itself. As he approaches the third car he sees Watkins climbing down from it, he is covered in soot and his coveralls are all greasy.*

"Well Watkins, will she fly?"

"Aye Sir she will, but not fast. She'll be lucky to make 20 knots and against any kind of wind we'll be sitting still. Don't know how them fellows kept station in the North Sea Sir."

"Well if they could do it we can. Were you able to get something setup for Comms and the Navigator in the control car?"

"Aye Sir, we took that little box they called your cabin and set it up for them, at least they won't have the wind whistling past 'em."

*The control car and the engine car are open with no glass in the windows to save weight.*

"Well we best make sure they have some warm woolies just in case eh?"

Watkins smiles "Aye Sir, but I think Miss BB has that handled Sir."

"How's that?"

"Well Sir, she arrived this morning with a Jessus big trunk and had a couple of the dock yard blokes stash it in the back of the cabin Sir. When I asked her about it she said it were warm rough weather clothes for all of us Sir."

"Hah! Well she is resourceful that one, probably won it all off the Quartermaster at poker if I know her!"

Watkins laughs, "Aye Sir, probably Sir."

"Well I'm off for my final report to Admiral Wilcox, get her ready to go as best you can I don't want anything left adrift when we leave."

"Aye aye Sir!" and with the touch of his cap Watkins heads back up the ladder.

*Max heads toward the gate, past the control car returning Sgt Fraser's salute as he passes.*

Well now maybe I can find out more about what we are supposed to be doing all the way up in Scapa Flow...

But Mary will be there too and I don't dare even say hello, blast and damn!

*At the gate of the airdock, Max turns and looks at his new command one more time trying to imagine here puffing her way through the winter skies on her way to Scotland.*

Well you're no beauty, but I'll wager yer a tough old girl and all.

Part II is here

Ada Countess Lovelace, Charles Babbage and...

Friday, February 27, 2015 0 comments

The wondrous machine that might have changed the world!

In the Airship Technology Speech I gave back in January at the Absinthe Cafe the place where our Role Playing World separated from the real world was when Babbage's Analytical engine was actually constructed and working in 1880.

This world changing event was due to the work of Augusta Ada  King, Countess Lovelace.
In the real world Ada died in November of 1852 before Charles Babbage had perfected his design. In our alternate world she outlived Babbage and was responsible for making his designs work, under contract to the Royal Navy for whom Babbage was working as well.

The Honerable Augusta Ada Byron was the only legitimate daughter of Lord Byron. She married Baron William King in 1835 and when he became the Earl of Lovelace in 1838 she became a countess. Her fascination with mathematics and science as well as what she called "poetical science", describing herself as an "Analyst (& Metaphysician)",brought her into contact with Charles Babbage.

Of her work on with Babbage on his Analytical Engine she said:
[The Analytical Engine] might act upon other things besides number, were objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine...
Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.

You can read more details of the Countess' work with Charles Babbage on her Wikipedia page.

From the Wikipedia article:

During a nine-month period in 1842–43, Ada translated Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea's memoir on Babbage's newest proposed machine, the Analytical Engine. With the article, she appended a set of notes. Explaining the Analytical Engine's function was a difficult task, as even other scientists did not really grasp the concept and the British establishment was uninterested in it. Ada's notes even had to explain how the Engine differed from the original Difference Engine. Her work was well received at the time; scientist Michael Faraday described himself as a supporter of her writing.

The notes are longer than the memoir itself and include (in Section G), in complete detail, a method for calculating a sequence of Bernoulli numbers with the Engine, which would have run correctly had the Analytical Engine been built (only his Difference Engine has been built, completed in London in 2002). Based on this work, Lovelace is now widely considered the first computer programmer and her method is recognised as the world's first computer program.

The Countess's translation of Menabrea's memoir and her detailed comments are available at Fourmilabs here:

Sketch of
The Analytical Engine
Invented by Charles Babbage

of Turin, Officer of the Military Engineers

from the Bibliothèque Universelle de Genève, October, 1842, No. 82
With notes upon the Memoir by the Translator

A truly fascinating look into what could have been a major turning point in world history.

As the author of the Fourmilab web page says:

“Sketch of the Analytical Engine” by L. F. Menabrea, translated and with extensive commentary by Ada Augusta, Countess of Lovelace. This 1842 document is the definitive exposition of the Analytical Engine, which described many aspects of computer architecture and programming more than a hundred years before they were “discovered” in the twentieth century. If you have ever doubted, even for a nanosecond, that Lady Ada was, indeed, the First Hacker, perusal of this document will demonstrate her primacy beyond a shadow of a doubt. 


Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

A fun bit of information given how the Countess' contributions to mechanical computation were fundamental to the development of the fantastic airship we use in our Role Play check this out from her Wikipedia page:

Ada was often ill, beginning in early childhood. At the age of eight, she experienced headaches that obscured her vision. In June 1829, she was paralyzed after a bout of measles. She was subjected to continuous bed rest for nearly a year, which may have extended her period of disability. By 1831, she was able to walk with crutches. Despite being ill Ada developed her mathematical and technological skills. At age 12, this future "Lady Fairy", as Charles Babbage affectionately called her, decided she wanted to fly. Ada went about the project methodically, thoughtfully, with imagination and passion. Her first step in February 1828, was to construct wings. She investigated different material and sizes. She considered various materials for the wings; paper, oilsilk, wires and feathers. She examined the anatomy of birds to determine the right proportion between the wings and the body. She decided to write a book Flyology illustrating, with plates, some of her findings. She decided what equipment she would need, for example, a compass, to "cut across the country by the most direct road", so that she could surmount mountains, rivers and valleys. Her final step was to integrate steam with the "art of flying".
Oh if only the Real World had been less cruel.

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