EC Holiday (12-24-94)
Have yourself a sexy little Xmas.
How would you like to have a personal system that offered easy (clear, reliable, fast, ubiquitous, fuzzy) access to your diary (which is of course multimedia, right?), to your fax machine, to all your professional and personal correspondence, your financial and legal history (in toto), as well as to whatever might amuse you? Chess, bridge, Tetris, Doom, or Myst? Discussions of computers, the Internet, Dave Barry, the bell curve, Edith Piaf, Tori Amos, or the Klingon language? It will also offer you Cindy Crawford, porn pics, and alt.sex.bondage, but you don't have to pay any more attention to that than you do to the sex shops near Times Square or the graffitti in a public toilet. And if you're worried about the boundaries of some users of your personal system, you might try filtering the bytes as they arrive. You will, to be sure, have some bad cyberdays. When you start this system it shows you the screen as you last saw it, scattered with icons -- aliases to the software you want available whenever the mood takes you. Mine is pretty tame.
The college professor's study's piled with papers, books, correspondence -- the guilty detritus of semester's end. Yet somewhere over the event horizon is a house by a frozen bay, winter light on a snowy woods, a warm window to holidays past and coming. When last seen, it was bathed in summer sunlight on a meadow. Now the traveler tags climatology data for central Minnesota, toggles a familiar script, pulls on the suit and helmet, and says portentously, "Engage."
He opens his eyes. The basement is shadowed, lit only by the weak light coming in under the snow-covered deck. He crosses from his study to the door and pauses to check the gear: thick wool calf-length stockings over the long johns, bluejeans, down jacket, the stocking cap and scarf, Thinsulate mittens, heavy boots with rubber feet.
He pulls one of the mittens off and touches the door knob gently with his forefinger. Lightly frosted. It was cold, he thinks. He takes the knob and opens the door, pulling on the right glove as he steps outside. Just as the weather-gopher said, the sky is overcast and a light breeze is floating in from the point. Single-digit cold, but let's leave the scarf off for now. He steps off the porch onto the thin snow near the house. Thoughts that go so far.
A deep breath of the icy air and he's off, long strides across the meadow, left along the clear path to the point. At the junction of lake and bay he stops. The canoe was here, overturned on the shore, and the loon and her chick were halfway out across to the beaver lodge. Now it's just me, the snow, the wind. Robert Frost stuff. I wonder if there's a Web page on these winter poets.
He steps onto the frozen lake. There's only an inch of snow where the wind blows along the lake, and he decides to work up a little sweat by hiking straight across. That crunch of cold snow underfoot, the creak of the ice, the beginning chill through pants legs. Just right. He puts the thought aside, watches the far shore as he heads to the middle of the lake. Three hundred yards out he stops, listens -- wind in his ears, but from the southeast? He turns back to the shore, sees his boot-print trail disappearing toward the point and looks left through the bare trees.
Smoke?! A deep breath: My my. A hard-wood fire at the A-frame, in the dead of winter. Why didn't I think of that? He's moving fast now, at an angle to the shore: cold air on forehead and thighs, and in five minutes he's standing beside the piled dock sections on the shore half-covered with drifted snow. The Norway pines are a green frame for the cabin left to snow-in for the winter. Impossibly, there is a line of boot tracks across the yard, up the steps to the deck. And through the glass front, there's the fireplace: warm yellow light flowing through window and patio door onto the cold white deck. It's late afternoon, getting dark. Where'd the time go?
He crosses the yard in seconds and slides the door open. The air inside is dry, the fireplace a cone of warmth that amazes him, draws him forward. It can't smell this good, he thinks. Oak, pine . . . and coffee? Yes, there's a French press on the kitchen counter and, he knows, it holds a very un-Minnesota Sulawesi. He realizes his heart is pounding and slows his breathing. I hadn't thought of the A-frame, and I haven't digitized this footage. Where's this coming from?!
The phone rings. He picks it up, almost notices he's supposed to be wearing Thinsulate mittens.
"Hi, love. Surprised? Get your gear off and run a bath. I'm on my way."
Next week: the HyperSyllabus.Douglas Davis, Ph.D. <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Copyright (©) Douglas Davis 1994, 2005. All rights reserved.