The curse of the mummy’s deadline

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An interview with Romulus III — Chief Architect to Ramses II

Cairo, Egypt — In search of an appropriate interview for the October edition of MicroStation Today, I found myself in Cairo, wandering the streets and looking for a story. A few of the locals informed me that the Egyptian Museum had a healthy collection of mummified ancient Egyptian kings, so I thought — being the Halloween issue — it couldn’t hurt to take a look.

In ancient times, missing a deadline could mean your death.

After wandering through halls laden with artifacts from the tomb of King Tutankhamun, I located Ramses II, arms crossed and with a gold mask covering his face. I kept walking and a few displays down, there was another mummy in an open casket, a roll of papyrus and ancient Egyptian pen laid at his feet.

Intrigued, I picked up the papyrus and was startled to discover… it held blueprints for a pyramid! If I could interview this chap, the article would fit right into the October edition! I picked up the pen and thought for a bit. My eyes darted to the inscribed plate in front of the casket: “Romulus III — Chief Architect to Ramses II”. Suddenly, the mummy started to move!

MicroStation Today: My god!
Romulus III: Aaaaauuuuuuuurrrrrgggghhhhh! Who disturbs my slumber?!

MST: Um… Er, hello. That would be me. I’m a reporter for the monthly periodical called MicroStation Today. It’s a CAD-related magazine… MicroStation specifically. I was wondering, could I do an interview on you? I’m sure our readers would love to hear about your experiences as an architect in ancient Egypt!
Romulus III: Hmmmm… As you have taken my drafting pen, you have incurred the wrath of the dreaded Romulus III — Chief Architect for Ramses II. This, I cannot forgive.

MST: What if I were to replace the pen immediately after we do our interview? No harm, no foul right?
Romulus III: Well, I suppose that would be alright. It is a tad drab just sleeping all the time. What have you got?

MST: Well, you must have a pretty interesting story on how you began as an architect. Can you tell us about that?
Rumulus III: I started off as a mason [someone who builds with cement and materials like stone and brick] when I was 15, carving stones and such. There was a complete lack of wood, so most of our buildings were built of stone, which was just as well, I heard that a lot of them are still standing today. You can’t say that about most structures that old. Anyhow, I wasn’t that fond of manual labor, so I apprenticed under a master architect, and he taught me a lot. By the time I turned 24, I was Ramses’ Chief Architect. I had a lot of respect, but also a lot of responsibilities. Structure design is no walk-in-the-park, let me tell you. I would have given anything for some way to speed it up and handle the problems that kept popping up.

MST: You know they have something like that now, it’s called “MicroStation”. It’s a Computer-Aided-Design software program. It lets you design entire structures with pinpoint accuracy and much faster than traditional pen and papyrus.
Romulus III: That’s amazing! And there are no problems with it?

MST: Sometimes there are, but there are tools like FileFixer and Title Block Manager that help sort those out quickly and painlessly.
Romulus III: Wow! Sounds like those would have been life-savers!

MST: Yeah, I know.
Romulus III: I don’t think you do! I was executed for not finishing the designs for Ramses’ “Thebes Temple Remodeling Project” in time! That man was an insane multi-tasker! He wanted all existing monuments to reflect his divine nature and power, so we had to come up with plans to redesign dozens of existing temples in his image, and he wanted it done in a month!

MST: You could have done it in a week with MicroStation and Toolkit.
Romulus III: Exactly! Now you know what I mean when I say “life-savers”. Anyhow, at least I was given the gift of eternal life by mummification. He must have liked me to some degree.

MST: Yeah… Next question: What do you think is your greatest accomplishment?
Romulus III: The Ramesseum, hands down. [Editor’s note: The Ramesseum is a memorial temple that was built by Pharaoh Ramses II in 13th century B.C. It currently lies in ruins across the Nile river from the city of Luxor.] There were three statues of the man [Ramses II], one of them weighed over 1,000 tonnes! It was preceded by two courts and had giant pillars, huge walls, the works! I am definitely proud of that one. I heard it’s not doing so well today though. Pity.

MST: What is your favorite movie?
Romulus III: Well, you’d think that I don’t watch TV, stuck here in my display. However, the museum guard booth is just down the hall a bit, as you can see, and last year one of the guys (“Bakari”, I think his name is) brought his daughter to work. She sat in there and watched a cartoon called “The Prince of Egypt”. Excellent film, very true-to-life stuff. I pulled my wrapping down a bit from over my eyes and watched the whole thing. I laughed so hard, I started coughing up dust!

MST: Yeah, I saw it too, good stuff. Now, what do you predict will be the “next big thing” in CAD?
Romulus III: I had always thought it would be wonderful if they made a special table with instruments attached that helped you measure distances and draw perfect lines and curves on your papyrus.

MST: Yeah, that’s already been done. It’s called a “drafting table”.
Romulus III: Ah, I see. Well… then how about some sort of magic box that can hold thousands and thousands of designs. Maybe even simulate the designing process — allowing you to draw faster and more accurately!

MST: Yeah, we’ve got that too. It’s called a “computer”. And the “Computer-Aided-Design software” I told you about earlier is what simulates the designing process.
Romulus III: So that’s what a computer is? Fantastic! I heard you say “computer” earlier, but I just ignored it. Didn’t want to tie you up for too long here. Anyhow… So you’ve already got that, huh? Okay, well I’m sure there are things that could be improved, like, say a guy needs to make bulk changes to all of his designs? Changing all circles to squares or making all of a certain type of line thicker, that would be a “next-big-thing” wouldn’t it?

MST: We’ve got that too, it’s called Global File Changer and it’s part of Axiom’s Toolkit.
Romulus III: What about when something goes wrong and you can’t open your designs?

MST: FileFixer handles that. It’s also in Toolkit.
Romulus III: Well you know what? You just may have asked the wrong mummy!

MST: That very well may be the case, Romulus. I’ve got to catch a flight in about half-an-hour. Are you ready for me to replace the pen?
Romulus III: (Yawn) Yes, I think so. I’m growing rather sleepy. This is the most excitement I’ve had in the last 700 years!

Romulus crossed his arms and laid back in his display case. I placed the pen and the papyrus back at his feet and made my way outside to flag down a cab. “The Editor is not going to believe this,” I thought, clutching my notebook to my chest. I hopped in the cab and said, “To Cairo International Airport! And step on it!”

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