Archive for transfer station

Rag Pickers

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2012 by javedbabar

Sami let rag pickers work the Transfer Station’s bins. He wasn’t really allowed to, as it reduced the waste’s recycling value. However it could be termed a grey area, as people were allowed to “retract and repurpose extant waste”. He had skim-read regulations and found that phrase. He could quote it if questioned.

He called out, “Jamz, how’s it going over there?”

A thin boy in a red hoody, crouching in a bin, straightened up and waved. He cupped his hands to his mouth and said, “A good day so far, Mr Sami. Let’s hope it gets even better!”

Sami loved these kids. He saw them most days after school, analysing the day’s new arrivals, before the waste was shipped out the next morning. At weekends they were usually away, helping their families with odd jobs around town.

They were poor kids from the trailer park. The rich-poor division in Lucerne was extreme. It was often referred to as the professional-unprofessional problem, but in truth it was more about privileged and unprivileged members of society, if such a thing existed.

A famous British Prime Minister had said, “There is no such thing as society”. Sami’s teacher, Guru Baba, had wanted to meet this lady to ask her what she meant by that, but she had recently died. He referred to her as an “anti-role model”.

When Sami worked on film crews, he had learnt about the effect called persistence of vision, where an image remains on the retina for a short period after its source is removed. This effect is used to create the illusion of continuous motion between frames in movies.

There was a similar effect in societies called persistence of privilege. Studies showed that children of wealthy people were physically and mentally healthier, wealthier, and ultimately happier in life. You can’t blame the parents, as their biological imperative is to promote their genes, and you can’t blame the kids for having good role models, and for enjoying their lives. Who can you blame then for children picking rags daily after school?

Jamz was the rag pickers’ unofficial spokesman. He came over later and said, “We’re all done for today. There’s nothing much out there, but slim pickings are better than thin air. Thanks again.”

There was an informal agreement that rag pickers would not take the right materials from bins, only misplaced materials. They took plastic from metal bins, metal from wood bins, wood from fibre bins, and fibre from paper bins. This cleaned the waste stream, making it easier to sort later; less labour was needed to dismantle complex consumer products, such as cell phones, and there were fewer breakdowns at the processing centre. So the value of materials lost was recouped in efficiency. Sami felt it was a case of win-win, or maybe bin-bin.

Sami began training Jamz on the 3D Unit. He taught him to prototype products, print components, and create unusual gifts. At Christmas, he called the rag pickers together and said that he and Jamz would make them each a model of anything they wanted.

At first they were shy, but then began to speak up.

“A dad.”

“A mum.”

“A house.”

“A car.”

“Money.” This wasn’t allowed at the 3D Unit, and would set The Authority’s alarm bells ringing.

“A better future.”

Fossilicious

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Sacred Geometry, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2012 by javedbabar

“Stop! Stop! Stop!” Sami shouted. The truck didn’t stop, and continued reversing towards the compost area. He ran towards it, waving his arms, and shouted up to the cab, “Where are you going?”

The driver stopped.

“You’ve got bulk building waste, it doesn’t go there. Can you please put it in the bin over there?” He pointed to a double-height yellow steel container.

Maybe it was an honest mistake, thought Sami, a new driver backing up to the wrong bin. Or was it deliberate, a trick to reduce costs?

Dumping compost was free, but building waste was $200 per truck load. Why didn’t he go to the commercial facility, which was cheaper and better suited to bulk waste? Coming to Lucerne’s Transfer Station was a soft option, especially with the regular guy off today and Sami managing the 3D Unit and waste facility. The driver thought he’d get away with it.

“It’s quite tight here. Shall I help you back up? No? You’re okay? Then go ahead.” Sami kept an eye on his manoeuvres. Truckers were always the best drivers on the road, but they were careless here. He didn’t want any more bins bashed.

As the trucker tipped his building waste, Sami saw it was mainly red, but with cream flashes. Had they demolished a clay brick structure, held together by mortar? Who built like that around here?

When the trucker handed over the cash Sami said, “Where is this waste coming from?”

“The Taxila area, up towards Mt Negra. They’re digging out an old water channel. It’s a long way to haul it here, but there are tough regulations for heritage areas.”

“Was there a structure? Why is the waste red?”

“I don’t know, pal. I just bring it here.”

The trucker drove off. Sami was curious about the waste, and walked to the bin. He saw one of the cream objects, and another one, and more. Though it broke regulations, he climbed into the bin and poked around. The cream flashes were bones, huge bones, bigger than cows and horses. More like elephants. But no, Guru Baba had an elephant’s foot stool as a reminder of man’s brutality to beasts, and Sami knew the scale of elephants. These bones were bigger.

Sami hauled them out, one by one, and lay them on the ground. The red material fell away. Some bones were bigger than he was. He treated them like pieces of a puzzle, but he couldn’t fit them together successfully. Then he had an idea.

He scanned the bones individually with the hand-held scanner, and then modelled the form on his computer. It was the strangest beast he had ever seen – like a triceratops, but with six legs, and horns all along its spine. He looked the creature up online but found no references.

He scaled it down 1:50 and printed out a model in red. It was the first Samisaurus seen in Lucerne for two million years. Sami took it for a “walk” in the yard on a trolley, and said to the creature, “Look, there’s Mt Alba, and over there, Mt Negra. Imagine them smoking, like they were when you were alive.”

Beautiful Baby

Posted in Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2012 by javedbabar

Sami was closing up for the day. There had been a trickle of customers coming to the 3D Unit, mainly single mums working as designers and who needed prototypes fabricated, builders and plumbers wanting small components printed, and people who wished to create unusual gifts. There weren’t that many of them though. People were still confused and a little scared of 3D printing. Every new technology takes time to catch on.

However things were shifting in the right direction. The rest of the Transfer Station was busier than ever. There was less trash and more recycling. The next step was material recovery, where the stuff people bought that they had no further use for could be transformed into something else immediately.

A small black car was speeding through the Industrial Park. He watched it take quick sharp turns as it came towards the Transfer Station. He had unbolted one gate already, and could race to pull both gates closed, but he decided to wait and see who it was.

A young woman lowered her window and said, “Hello, are you still open?”

“Well, it’s six o’ clock and I was just closing.”

“Dr Bungawalla sent me. He said I should see you.”

Sami favourite recent project had been modelling the doctor’s brain. He pulled open the gates and said, “Come on in, let’s see what we can do.”

The woman was distracted and kept looking away from Sami. She bumped her head on the door frame and almost fell out of her car. She had an awkward shape. Was she pregnant beneath her big coat? Sami dare not ask for fear of getting it wrong, which he knew was the ultimate faux pas.

She said “I’m not sure. I’m not sure if I should do this.” She looked weak, about to fall down. Sami felt he should do something.

He said “Would you like to come into the office and sit down? I’ll make you some tea.”

He checked his phone while the kettle boiled. No word from his pal, Shama, who was driving him to Strattus tonight. Cell reception at the Transfer Station was terrible.

After taking a few sips of tea, she said, “I’ve seen my baby in a scan. She’s beautiful, so beautiful, but I really want to hold her now. I want to see her in the nursery, to see if she will like what I have done for her. To see if she likes all the toys and colours.”

Sami’s previous job as Guru Baba’s assistant had brought him into contact with troubled people. This woman was really hurting about something. Sami was an expert listener, and where possible, a helper.

He said, “I am sure you have made a beautiful nursery. What colour is it?”

“It’s mainly pink and yellow. Pink because it’s such a soft colour, it reminds me of buds and petals, and yellow is like sunshine, so happy, so happy always.”

“It sounds really lovely. I’m sure your baby will adore it. When is she due to grace our world?”

The woman handed Sami her ultrasound scans, both as pictures and on disk. “Can you please make a model of her for me?”

“It would be better to wait till she is born. We can scan her then. Right now the spatial resolution and image depth of the embryo scans are…”

“She’s not an embryo! She’s a baby! Scale her up! I don’t care about spatial resolution or imaging depth. I don’t care about anything.” She began crying and said, “I do care. I do care. I do care. Please make her for me.”

Five messages came through on Sami’s cell phone. Dr Bungawalla had been trying to call him all day, to tell him about his patient whose baby had just died inside her.

Sami realized that this model was the only baby she would ever hold. He decided to work all night to deliver her baby the next morning.

Village Facility

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2012 by javedbabar

Sami was locked out of AMP Co. Maybe the lock was stuck, so he tried his key again, turning it both clockwise and counter-clockwise, but without success. He rang the bell twice and banged on the door. He opened the mailbox in case there was a new key in there, but there wasn’t. He called Alfred’s phone but didn’t get through, then walked around the back but that door also was closed.

“Thanks for all your help,” Alfred had said to him last week. “Next week, we’ll be ready to open the store. Advanced 3D printing will at last be available to everyone!”

Maybe Alfred had been so busy chasing technical progress that he had forgotten to pay his mortgage and business rates. Had the bank instructed repo men to remove his equipment and lock up the place?

Sami heard a sliding sound somewhere above him. It was Alfred at a second floor window of the old general store that was now his 3D fabrication lab.

Sami called up, “Hey Alfred! Let me in.”

“I’m sorry Sami, I can’t let you in. You won’t believe what’s happened. The Authority has declared my lab a National Strategic Asset; it’s been nationalized and is now closed to the public.”

“You’re kidding me!”

Alfred opened the window further and leaned out a little. “I am sorry, I’m not. I am now a government employee and must obey their protocols. I can’t let you in.”

Sami was a peaceful guy, but right now he wanted to climb and haul Alfred out, maybe throw him out. “But what about our work together? We’ve spent weeks preparing for the launch.”

“It was really good of you to help me, Sami, but I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do. The Authority heard about my technology.” Sami knew it had better capabilities than fused filament or deposition, laser sintering, powder bed, lamination, sterolithography, digital light processing, or anything else currently available.

Alfred continued, “They declared it a National Strategic Asset, and banned me from revealing it to the general public. That’s it.”

Sami wasn’t Alfred’s business partner; he wasn’t even an employee. He was simply a keen amateur helping out, who had become very involved in the testing phase of Alfred’s printer. Together they had produced another printer, a worm, a baby girl (now adopted by Alfred’s family), a 4D crab, holy objects and programmable matter. They were fully ready to open the facility, and now this!

“There is some good news though,” said Alfred, waving his arms in the window like a broken little windmill. “The Authority does want a public interface for the technology, to introduce it gradually. They want to extend their 3 R’s philosophy, following the Proximity Principle to reduce the waste stream, and achieve responsible self-sufficiency at a sub-regional level…”

Too much jargon already, thought Sami. You can tell he’s become a bureaucrat.

Alfred continued, “…by producing, transforming, consuming and recycling on site indefinitely. They asked me to run a facility at the Transfer Station but I am too busy, so I suggested you could do it instead.”

Just then a text came through on Sami’s phone. It was from The Authority. It said that he was starting work at the Transfer Station’s new 3D Unit next week.

“What about my job as Guru Baba’s assistant?”

“My friend, it looks like you have been repurposed.”