Tools of the Trade

To give you a clearer picture of my day to day life, I have decided to write an essay telling you about my personal effects I use in the field. Well, that and 140 characters in Twitter are hardly enough for a history scholar to blather on a bit. Every Temporal Anthropologist needs the following items: pocket computer, scanner, camera, Theta Wave projector. Since these are all high tech, they must be disguised as a period object or objects, some T.A.s putting all four items in a medallion. Fortunately, we get to choose what we want our personal tools disguised as.

High Tech Tools

Time Machine:
Technically I can’t call this mine, since the Institute of Time Travel owns all of them, but I would be hard pressed to travel without one. The vehicles appear as six foot square shiny black box. I’m not certain how many the Institute actually owns. Most are one seaters, although some have two, four and even six, I do believe. Inside, besides the seat, are cabinets built in the walls and a large button. The button is the only visible instrument. We step into the machine, close the door, sit down and strap in and push the button. It is a safety feature that the Time Machine will not operate unless the door is closed and you are strapped in.

The Institute presets the destination coordinates, the Holographic Skin and the return coordinates. I assume the switches and dials are under one of the panels. If I was to try to remove the panel and tamper with the instruments, that would be the end of my career as well as my freedom. Also I am not the least mechanically minded, so the Enforcers would catch up with me standing there staring at the dials and scratching my head.

Once the Time Machine reaches it’s destination, it will disguise itself as whatever the Institute preprogrammed it to look like. Of course, it’s still a large black box, covered with a web of holographic projectors that create the illusion that it is a wooden shed or whatever would be ignored. The only control Time Travelers out in the field have is that we can return early if need be, by just jumping into the Time Machine and pressing the button.

Pocket Computer
Back in the 21st century computer manufacturers switched from microchips to synthetic DNA, allowing once huge computers to be made very, very small. Soon the only limitation was making a computer large enough to be practical. My pocket computer is disguised as a Victorian Pocket Bible, leather bound, New Testament. The computer proper is in the spine. In the middle between the Gospels and Letters is a dividing page, which reads Epistles, that is on slightly thicker paper. This is in fact the computer screen. If needed I can pull a keyboard up on the screen, but I use voice activation normally. My voice cue to turn on the computer is to click my tongue twice. No one thinks anything of a Victorian gentleman pulling out a Bible at odd times, opening it up, clicking his tongue and muttering “I wonder where one can find a good tea shop in Glasgow nowadays.” The answer will pop up on my screen.

My computer is programmed not to respond with audio as most computers in the 27th Century would. If I need a voice verification, it can respond using my voice. No, I don’t have that big of an ego, I just want to make sure that if I am overheard, people will assume I am talking to myself. If anyone picked up my computer and opened it, they would find a normal King James Bible, complete with printed pages. If I need a larger screen I can command my computer to show a virtual screen of any size above it. This feature would never be used among the natives in the “field”. I am rather proud of this computer. While I did not make it, I did come up with the concept.

My scanner is with my computer. I simple pull out my Bible, point the back cover at something and tell it to do a scan. A scanner is very valuable in the field. One can scan food to see if there are any dangerous ingredients like botulism or lead. It also is handy to do medical scans on ourselves to see if we have indigestion and should take something, or we have acute food poisoning and should stagger back to the Time Machine and get back to a 27th century hospital, as soon as possible. Never trust the doctors of the past, since medicine is very primitive and they will probably kill you in their attempt to cure you.

What is the point of going into the past if you can’t record it for the folks back home? Many have their camera built in with their computer, but I thought pulling out a pair of spectacles and putting them on to study something seemed less obvious then pulling out a Bible and pointing it at something. That might be a little too eccentric. My camera looks like a pair of wire rim reading glasses. To take a photo I reach up and press the left screw, looking like I am simply adjusting my glasses. On the left side lens at the bottom is a clear circle that shows the picture I took for a few seconds. To take video, I press the right screw. Pictures are downloaded to my pocket computer. I can then view the photos or video on my screen or use the virtual screen.

Theta Wave Projector:
This is something I don’t often use, because it isn’t the most reliable and should only be used in an emergency. Theta Wave light makes one more susceptible to suggestion. If you can catch someone off guard, you can hypnotize them. Of course you can’t hypnotize someone into doing something they don’t want to. Effectiveness varies from individual to individual. One can’t depend on this tool, but it has come in handy. Mine is hidden in my pocket watch. It’s a normal brass watch, but I can pop open the cover, press a hidden button and project Theta Waves. To be honest, I have used it most often to hypnotize myself to relax and go to sleep. Very soothing.

None Technical Items (all Victorian)

Carpet Bag:
Most Victorians traveled with huge wooden trunks that were next to impossible to get around without a handcart. I go with the example of Phileas Fog and Nellie Bly and travel with a large carpet bag. Far more practical. And since I am posing as a gentleman scholar of independent but not elaborate means, it carries enough--my clothes, my shaving kit, and maybe a period book or two.

Tea Chest:
I have a small wooden chest with a handle on top to hold my tea service which I have pared down to the essentials: a spirit lamp with stand (the Victorian answer to the hotplate), a small tea kettle, a four cup tea pot, two tea cups with saucers, a canisters for tea and sugar, tea strainer, teaspoons, and flannel tea towels to wrap the pottery in. This chest is my one extravagance, and makes me feel at home no matter where I go. It’s comforting to know that I am never without tea.

Top Hat:
You can never go wrong with a top hat, which was popular all through the Victorian Age, especially for a gentleman. Top Hats came in all colors, although 90% of them were black. Mine is dark brown. I probably should have gone with black, but this is my one vanity--and it goes nice with my brown suit.

That’s about it. I could carry a walking stick, but I find they just get it the way or I lay them down and forget them. I sometimes carry a derringer. Temporal Anthropologists are allowed guns, but we aren’t allowed bullets, so it’s only good for bluffing. We aren’t allowed to kill or wound anyone, not necessarily because it’s immoral, but because it could change the past.

Remember Temporal Anthropologists should travel light. Take only the essentials. If you have to bring the 27th century with you, then you should just stay home. You should try to immerse yourself into the period you are studying as much as possible. It’s the only way to truly understand the past.