The Longest Now


Beautiful experience, technological and social
Sunday May 08th 2005, 6:55 am
Filed under: %a la mod

I just had the most beautiful technological experience. After giving away my old Elph because I never used it and felt it was wasteful to just have it sitting around, I needed a camera a few months later, and got one. I promptly lost its battery charger, and a cable whose purpose I can no longer remember. (I thought it was needed for the charging — maybe it was, to cope with the different power supply there? — but having gotten a replacement since which plugs straight into the wall, I am having doubts.) In any case, I was hemming and hawing about getting replacement parts from Canon for a good chunk of what the camera itself cost, when I remembered that we have a wide open market out there on the Intarweb.

Beautiful experience part 1: Ebay turned up a new battery for $10, and a local camera shop had an original Canon charger for $30 or so. Within three days, packages arrived and the camera was functional again… mass production somehow winning out over efforts to make incompatible hardware and corner the market.

So I brought the newly-working camera with me on my current trip to DC, to stretch its legs. This morning I can’t sleep, and wander the city a bit looking for a place to sit and work outside. Here’s
where it gets good…

2) Your view of a city really changes when you start sitting on random front steps and public platforms, when noone is around and it’s just you and the city skeleton.

3) I had been annoyed that I couldn’t go wake up my hosts and ask for various things like toothpaste and new insoles and a replacement screw for my glasses. Even if it weren’t 4am, I wouldn’t have done that. So wandering around, I find two different 24-hr pharmacies. Fantastic. I joyfully drop a sawbuck; walk outside and find a protected alcove with a nice breeze; and replace, polish up, and improve my flagging toolchain. # of people woken up or vaguely bothered by the noise: 0.

4) I figure I should go find somewhere to sit and write. There’s what looks like an all-night bar nearby, but it’s a bit noisy, and sitting outside I get nothing. So I wander side-streets… aha! A restaurant that’s left its chairs and tables out. I walk up to its front door to look in, and a motion detector clicks on, then starts blinking a large red light. Bzz. Bzz. Bzz. Bzz. Bzz. I back out onto the street and look around. It was such a nice spot, too…

4.5) The light stops blinking. Tentatively, I come back. I sit very quietly at a table and slip out my computer. No troubles with the motion detector this time. Could there be? There is! Second time’s the charm; there’s an open access point with a strong signal.

5) I log on and start to write. I wish I could just pipe the fine view from here into my blog. Well, I /do/ have a camera. And it works now. But I didn’t bring my multi-format flash reader with me. I’m not even sure where that gizmo is. And then– My spider-sense tingles. “What?” I think to myself. “Stop tingling. You’re just chilly.” But despite myself, I scan the sides of my laptop. There’s a suspiciously small flat port next to the headphone jack… I pop out my photo card and slide it in. There are my photos, piped as neatly as you please to my desktop.

And here you are:

View from the outdoor seating area of C.F. Folks, 1225 Dupont? St, Washington DC.  Taken at 5:30 AM, Sunday May 8, 2005.

It’s now half an hour later, noone’s come by save a drunken trio and a hurried biker, and I’m still laughing about this process of finding a hotspot. If I actually lived in DC, I don’t think I could bear to wander the streets looking for a place to get online; I would just buckle and get a broadband connection in my apartment, and miss out on these great open-air sunrises!


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