For here am I sitting in a tin can
far above the world.
— David Bowie, Space Oddity
2005.8.10 (mission day 346): Well, after a crapper of a week, we're more or less back on track. We got word from Mission Control that secondary activities may be delayed to meet primary mission objectives. That's a big weight off my shoulders, provided nothing else "unusual" happens.
2005.8.12 (mission day 348): Damn it all to hell! The idiot Briggs woke me early yesterday morning in a panic, babbling incoherently about power couplings. Figuring it was some minor hiccup, I just nodded and made sympathetic grunts as we made our way aft.
Well, we got there and one look at Slim's face told me this wasn't just Briggs throwing another hissy fit. Anyway, I calmed them all down—I don't know where these kids get the idea that the slightest reactor irregularity will blow a ship out of the sky—and ran back to grab my tools, which I would have had in the first place if they'd sent someone other than Briggs to come get me.
Long story short: Big field imbalance, four cells too broken to function, another two on the very edge, and an entire frigging day to fix it.
Now, sure, an imbalance that big is bound to happen to a reactor that old, but still. No one likes to say the S-word—hell, I don't even like saying "S-word"—but I'm starting to think about it.