An Engineer in Paradise Blog

An Engineer in Paradise

This blog was started by accident - a chance mention of silk in a Challenge Question set my mind racing and the first, brief episode was born. The reaction to this and the follow-up episode was positive, so keeping the episodes together seemed like a good idea.

I'm a fairly unusual creature - an engineer who enjoys language and likes to use it to its full. Oh yes, and I'm a woman!

I hope you enjoy reading An Engineer in Paradise, remember: If you have nothing to laugh about - laugh on credit.

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Episode 6 - Things Begin to Heat Up

Posted June 05, 2007 9:25 AM by English Rose
Pathfinder Tags: Humour

And so the time had come. Once again she put on her disguise; after the encounter on the train, she could never meet Jarad in her everyday appearance. He must never be allowed to find out with whom he had disported himself that night. The opportunity for blackmail was huge, and if Control ever found out...

She swallowed unsteadily. If that happened, there would be no stand-off showdown for her. She would suffer the ignominy of...No, she would allow her thoughts to run in that direction. Her disguise had been sufficient; he had not connected middle aged contact on the station with the young temptress on the train. And she would not have recognised him, had it not been for that cravat.

Checking her appearance in the mirror, she nodded regally at the staid society matron who looked back at her. She walked through to the integral garage of the rented house, checked over the equipment in the boot and then climbed into the Ford Explorer and set off for the hills.


Meanwhile, from two separate directions, Blaine and Jarad were also heading for the rendezvous. Both knew that this would be a contest of knowledge and skill rather than strength – but as yet, neither knew what tools they would be given or what task they would have to complete. Both were well aware, however, that this would be a fight to the end.

The adversaries arrived at the same time, several hours after their referee who had set up the equipment in readiness and retired to the watch tower. They would not meet until the matter was settled, indeed, they did not know who had been given the responsibility of this role.

In their respective work areas, Jarad and Blaine surveyed their challenge – a couple of obviously home-made heat exchange solar panels, some spare pipe, a small boiler and a tube with a cork wedged in it. They set about assembling their heater circuits, screened from one another by a bluff.

Blaine, she observed, was much further ahead with assembling the units. She wondered whether he had noticed that the panels were of unequal length. Jarad, by comparison, appeared not to have started. She watched him closely – he had noticed the difference between the panels and was calculating which order would be more beneficial, she realised suddenly. This was going to be interesting. She settled down under her sun-umbrella to watch as the two fit young men worked up a sweat in the Arizona sun.


She was glad of the umbrella and the solar-powered fridge freezer as the day passed and the sun rose towards its zenith. Or rather, as the Earth rotated so that the sun could be seen at its highest relative point, she corrected herself.

Glancing at the data logger readouts, she could see that Jarad's calculation time had seriously affected his system's performance. Starting his assembly phase so much later than Blaine meant that his deep ground water, which was pumped into the circuit only after the system had been fully assembled, was still at a much lower temperature than Blaine's. it was starting to look like Blaine would win the standoff. Or had Jarad spotted something during his calculations that would allow his to heat the water faster than Blaine?

Blaine, she noticed, was busy constructing something around his panels. She watched, and nearly applauded when she realised that he was constructing a "sun funnel" around the panels to direct more sunlight and heat energy towards them. Of course, they would also help shield the panels from the breeze and thus would lower the convective losses.

The day wore on and the temperatures rose; Blaine's water easily maintained and even increased its initial lead. The pressure in the tubes rose, Blaine's always slightly ahead of Jarad's. Slowly it climbed towards the top of the scale, until...

... with a sound somewhere between a pop and a bang, the cork flew out of Blaine's tube.

Jarad's instincts took over at this point; he dropped to a crouch, rolled under the cover of the bluff and reached for his gun...and brought his hand out empty as the men had been relieved of all their weapons on arrival at the site. When he heard the air horn, he made the connection and walked around the bluff to Blaine's area, his face ashen, unable to believe that he had been beaten.

Blaine stood calmly; he had seen the outcome of these competitions before and knew, as well as an observer can know, the fate of the loser. He knew also that one day it would be his turn, so he felt no need to humiliate his opponent further. He wondered if Jarad had anything more than nursery rhymes and playground stories to go on. Probably not, he decided. He smiled gently to himself.

Jarad had wasted so much time on his calculations that the order of the unmatched panels was irrelevant when you factored in the extra heating time Blaine had gained. Indeed, she smiled to herself, if the order had ever had any bearing on the case at all.

Lightly inspired by Solar Panels

© ER Literary Production 2007

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#1

Re: Episode 6 - Things Begin to Heat Up

06/05/2007 9:30 AM

Nice one Rose...most chuckle worthy!

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#2

Re: Episode 6 - Things Begin to Heat Up

06/05/2007 1:25 PM

Deliciously devious to play them both off. The temperature keeps on rising....

ps Del - now you've shaved your pinkies of their fur , the ring/index finger length ratio tells me you are actually a macho dog type ! My cloven hooves are not even opposable , so I'm in trouble.

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