Saturday, August 16, 2003

A Little Night Music Maybe there is a curse to things that work too well. I sat here last night with my niece from Sudan musing about the horrors of the power blackout in the US. A young traveller was supposed to arrive last night from New York via Frankfurt, but she never took off. She's trying to get out of New York again to catch up. I know that our airports have been shut down for sand storms and parts of Cairo may have no power on any given night, but we have nothing of the scale the US experienced.

We have blackouts all the time, or are they grey outs or whatever....but the electricity in Egypt is so erratic that we are all used to having it fail at random inopportune moments. It's a good reminder that life isn't actually under our control, I believe. Yes, it's annoying. There are plenty of times that I've retired to get a good night's sleep at 8:30 because there's been no electricity for the computer, TV (a singularly lonely object), or for reading. I've even had to walk down 8 flights of stairs in the dark....or had to decide not to walk up them! What a terrible price to pay! The upside to a patched-together power grid is the fact that while bits and pieces of it fail regularly, they are easy to fix and it's unusual to be away from power for more than a few hours. All in all, I think I prefer to have frequent inconveniences to massive failures.

I remember one time in Alexandria years ago when the power was actually out for a couple of days, a strange occurrence. When we found out why it turned out that the main cable was copper and someone had dug it up, melted it down and sold it! This hasn't happened quite so much, but I'd say that we would be good customers for fiber optics for our phones and such. The cables don't melt down and sell.

On the whole, I think that I really prefer semi-reliable with frequent minor problems to perfect with the chance of utter failure. After all, as humans what are we but semi-reliable with frequent minor problems? Perfection is too hard to deal with.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Radio Paradise - eclectic online rock radio I've just discovered a new reason to love my computer, Radio Paradise. It's an interesting online radio that broadcasts from Paradise, California, ostensibly, but they are working out how to broadcast from anywhere in the world with a laptop. Mellow music, and no ads. Not at all bad.