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Location: New England

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Robots and real-time laughter

This past weekend I had the unnerving experience of watching my friend Topher completely dismantle my computer. With a delicate hand he laid the guts of my machine across the poker table in an orderly and efficient fashion. I was fine when the key board came off. I marveled at the number of screws it took to keep the top panel in place. When a tug and a gentle nudge brought up the next panel I went faint. My baby was exposed- all her secrets locked inside. I told myself 'darkest before the dawn' and 'harder before it gets better' and took myself into the other room.
Folks dropping into the apartment that day were ordered not to bump anything, distract my pal or even breath as they made their way to the middle room. I was happy for company to keep me distracted. Topher was worked steadily- his head bent over the table. I tried not to look. I didn't ask very many questions. I fought the urge to leave the house.
It took Topher hours. I was duly impressed. He did me a great service in coming to my aid. And, when all was said and done there were only three screws left. ( Always a few pieces...)

The experience taught me how much I adore cyberspace. I will be 32 next month. In 1983 - third grade- they showed us a filmstrip. It's a fuzzy child memory. Filmstrips were more of a chance to be little monkeys than to collect information. This filmstrip told us that in the next few years all homes would have a robot- or something to that effect. The thought of metal in a house disturbed me and stuck in my brain. Mom likes wood furniture. My child-world was very organic. Metal men tromping through my home offended me. The film strip was quickly forgotten- until 2000 when I locked my type writer into it's case and set a Mac in it's place- and then it came back. Having a machine in the house wasn't nearly as disturbing as I thought it would be. Once I learned how to type, got a copy of Photo shop and a digital camera, and got on-line the world opened up to me.
I've embraced what I once fought and loathed. I've got a MySpace page and a Friendster page. I'm on Virtual Tourist. Of course, this blog. I've written a web site on Yemen. I don't feel comfortable w/out my digi' on me. I wish I could reach back through time to tell the little girl in Mrs. R's classroom that yes, 'robots' are coming to many homes in America, but, no, it isn't a big bad scarey thing.

This afternoon I made a man in Yemen laugh. He was sitting in a cafe while he was typing to me. The idea of putting a real-time smile on someone's face from THOUSANDS of miles away is a marvel that I don't take for granted.
Just this moment I got a email from dear Capt. Mockett. It's 7 AM where he is. To simply be aware of someone- someone on the side of the Red Sea- to know that my friend is making a pot of tea for his wife some how eases me. Life is going on.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That last paragraph is a beautiful way to end this column. I am moved.


8:04 pm  

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