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October 15th 2003
Published: October 15th 2003
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The ride out of Charlottesville started out on a brisk note. As I rode down the hill into town, my fingers grew numb with the chilly breeze. I kept thinking back to the warmth of the hospitality I received from Aron and Ted, and their two sons. They opened up their house to me the night before, allowing me to dry out from a wet ride. I spent an hour in their basement cleaning my bike of road grime, and utilized their laundry facilities as well. And I finally got my shoes dry...

Before I left Charlottesville I decided to swing by the local library & make a blog entry. With some vague directions, I crawled up and sped down a few hills. I attached my Palm Pilot & GPS receiver to my handlebars to guide me on my way to the library. And while it was thrilling to keep up with the 35 mph traffic, I hit a manhole cover at the bottom of a hill & watched my Palm Pilot pop out of its cradle and bounce off the pavement below. I turned around just long enough to see a bus roll over my Palm...
Cursing my lack of foresight, I went back to pick up the pieces & searched in vain for the extra memory chip that held a backup of all of my data.

So now I'm Pilot-less, so to speak. I've called Palm, and I've found out that I can have a replacement Palm within a week. I haven't placed the order yet because I've been in the country, & unable to access the internet. And of course, my address book & itinerary were stored on my Palm Pilot. Now I'm forced to resort to paper, pen and personal memory. Luckily I've repeated my itinerary for so many people that I know it by heart. But it's still disconcerting to be without a piece of technology that I had grown to depend upon so much.

It was, in a way, cathartic to arrive at the Little Flower Catholic Worker in rural Trevilians, Virginia after the loss of my Palm Pilot. At Little Flower the telephone connection is so bad that conversations are exceedingly brief, and everything that can be done by hand is done by hand. 5 adults and almost as many children live in community with eachother, nature and their neighbors. As I appreciated the merits of a composting toilet, I reflected that perhaps losing my Palm Pilot was not the worst thing in the world. I recall a story about a Zen monk who burned his house down every year, saying that in doing so he gained a better view of the moon.

While I don't think that I would go quite so far as to discard all of my technological encumbrances, I am to a large extent controlled by my possessions. I realized after 3 days on the road that I had shot less than half a roll of film. My camera is stowed away inside a waterproof bag, nestled inside a steel cage. I thought as I packed my bags before the trip that such a placement of my camera in my luggage would be ideal-my camera would be safe in the event of a crash, protected from water, and secure from theft since I could lock my bag to the trailer. But such a safe location meant that it took several minutes to get my camera out, and several more minutes to stow it again. I passed by photographic opportunities because it was too much of a hassle to get my camera out. On my rest day this weekend I will endeavor to repack my bags so that my camera is more accessible, albeit less secure. I think the pictures will be worth it.


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