Saturday, March 8, 2014

Letters from the Equator, 10 - Losing it in thin air...

                                                              Digital delirium                                                                       

     Somewhere over the Indian Ocean, flying from Singapore to Paris - 14 hours and 7,000 miles - and I had to spend another seven hours in the air after that to cover another 3,368 miles to Gabon, on the west coast of Africa. Piece de gateau, and maybe not.
   You will be asking yourself, if you're sane, why I flew to Paris first. Well, because it was Friday, the bugbear of scheduling the world around. If I had left on another day I could have gone through Johannesburg instead and saved a few thou on the ole aerial odometer.
    There's nothing like constant travel to accentuate individual differences between companions. Mine and the computer's had become increasingly apparent since Tarawa. First the machine refused to wake up on demand, and then to transmit. Maybe it was being handled by all those strangers in airport security, or just the anomie of performing in international air space. Maybe it was the time I spent in the outrigger canoe while the computer stayed in the room. Maybe...
     First the computer began to tell me, late at night and with no encouragement, "Please insert disk." I didn't respond and feared this caused resentment. Then the computer refused to send a letter. "This is not complete," it said. True enough, but what bloody cheek.
    We weren't talking major personality disorder here, just peripheral neurosis. Later, the computer napped without warning; it refused to accept my disk at any time of day. These I interpreted as signs of healing. I tried to be supportive. We - the computer and I - were in this together, bound by the digital imperative, imperative buddies of the ether.
    Equatorially speaking, buffeted by the same electronic winds.                                              
                                                      (Next: West Africa)
My newly re-released travel book about the American west, The Kingdom in the Country, is now available in ebook and in a couple of weeks in paperback. Go to:

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