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.comment: Cold Turkey - page 5

Holiday Paradise -- Day One

  • July 5, 2001
  • By Dennis E. Powell

It's too bad that the people running the horse show's public address system don't have the soundtrack to "Woodstock" available. After a very hot and humid morning, the clouds appear out of the west, then the wind and the rain. There is a mad (but satisfying) dash to rig the storm flaps on the huge tents containing the horses in their stalls. It is a lot like sailboat racing -- getting soaked and blown to pieces while concentrating on very specific tasks. Long, deep puddles appear everywhere; people go to work digging small drainage ditches to make sure the water is carried away from the horses, who do not want to be standing in mud. It's difficult but amusing to imagine the horse folk ripping off their clothes and sliding in the mud.

From time to time I contemplate my personal set of requirements for a very good notebook computer. These include a very fast chip that uses little power, lots of memory that also uses little power, scads of storage, a good screen, a very good keyboard (something that seems to have been banned from portable computers), and a quantum improvement in battery technology. I'd love to see the tops of notebook cases replaced with photovoltaic arrays, to trickle charge the battery. The whole thing would need to be very rugged and very small -- I'm eyeing the new Casio -- and now I'd add an additional requirement: make it waterproof, as Sony does with some of its Walkmans. There's the perfect combat portable. Too bad no one comes even close to making it.

Though now I'd add a satellite telephone link -- we've discovered, when my wife tries to check her email, that even cellular phone service here is analog only.

So we sit around, waiting for the rain to pass (some competitors, though none in our little group, have been unlucky in the draw and have to show their horses in the wind and the rain), and talk about . . . horses. This community is as single in its focus as is the Linux community. Horses are life. Linux is life. It's good to see the same kind of obsession elsewhere, because it makes me notice how much is missed when one voluntarily narrows his or her vision, how silly a Linux obsession must seem to those who do not share it. Listening to the discussion of horses is pleasing because it's not a discussion of computing. I'm not online and can't get online, and I'm beginning to understand the remark of the philosopher James Burnham, who said that where there is no alternative there is no problem. It's kind of liberating.

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