Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Highs and Lows of Technology (and How It's All Good!)

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During my last few days in Croatia, I wanted to pull together some thoughts on technology, with pictures.

Although we have many modern conveniences here: electricity, hot water, a stove with a full size oven, even a clothes washing machine and dishwasher, there are some "comforts" notably missing.

We have to do without such things as television, internet access (even from dial-up service, as there's no phone line), and the ability to drive up to the house (it's a quarter mile walk to the nearest parking, and usually we travel on foot or bicycle.)

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Carting cases of pivo (beer) or mineral water up this hill on a hand truck is a periodic ritual that is, fortunately, self-rewarding at the end!

There are some other particularly low tech rituals that are every bit as pleasurable as anything technology has to offer. Every morning, I am sure to fill up the solar shower so we can have a hot fresh rinse to remove the Adriatic salt from the day's swim without messing up the bathroom (or giving up the view!)

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And yes, that is a fireplace in the background big enough (and designed for) cooking a goat on an open fire. We have yet to use it for its intended purpose, as we haven't entertained the requisite number of guests in the same day. But I've been slowly gathering firewood from the trail near the house, so when the time comes, we'll be ready.

Of course, we may choose to introduce a bit more technology to the process, as I'm told the three hour cooking time is much more enjoyable with the spit being turned by a converted washing machine motor instead of by hand!

As for the technology required to bring you this post, I have been able to use my Treo as a text editor, along with a portable infrared keyboard to spare me the frustration of dealing with congenitally large thumbs. I can write virtually anywhere, without carrying anything heavier than my foam beach pad (although, frankly, I often opt to include a heavier bottle of Karlovacko Pivo among my beach blogging gear!)

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I can save the Word files, and any photos I take, on a memory card, which in turn can be moved to a jump drive about the size of one of my fat thumbs, ready to be plugged into any computer. For 15 Kuna (about $2.80), I can get 30 minutes of web access on a PC at the nearby Hotel Punta.

Truth be told, we actually have a laptop with us and wireless access is also available at the same rate, but since it's a Mac belonging to Ms. seenos, and my blogging speed drops to a crawl on the unfamiliar Mac, it is still more efficient for me to use their machine - even if it does require translating the standard Blogger and Google commands from Croatian.

Occasionally, the low tech and high tech aspects of our lives here collide in interesting ways.

For example, when we installed the current kitchen two years ago, we had to put in an additional electrical line for the stove. In our wood constructed home in California, this would be a relatively easy task, but in a stone house with two foot solid walls, the job requires some serious hammering and chiseling in order to dig out a path for the line that can later be filled with stucco and painted.

Because of the uneven nature of the stone underneath, it is not possible to follow the most direct path, or sometimes any specific path. What you are left with is a nice painted wall with a live power line snaking somewhere beneath the surface.

This is particularly troublesome if you want to drill holes, such as we needed to do in order to hang a cabinet. We knew where we wanted to drill, just not if we could do it without getting electrocuted and/or shorting out the stove.

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The picture above represents our high tech solution. We were able to dig back through our digital image archive to find a shot that we took right after the wall was patched. By putting the laptop next to the actual wall, we were able to drill away without any problems. Other than having to drill into solid rock, that is!

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The result was worth the effort. (You may also note another decidedly high tech luxury - a Bose I-Pod dock that was probably the best thing we ever struggled to squeeze into our luggage!)

I mentioned earlier that we have no TV, which means that on those occasions when we want to end the day will a little mindless visual entertainment, we get to enjoy the oldest, lowest tech, form of evening entertainment - an example of which is a perfect way to close this post.

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This was taken from the terrace cafe of the Hotel Punta about 5 minutes ago.

Hvala i do vidjenja!

1 comment:

  1. Giraffe7:07 AM

    What a wonderful experience you are having. Thanks for sharing it and all the photos. Technology is amazing and so is nature. It's nice that you enjoy both so much. Keep writing seenos, you always give us something to think about besides what we dream up in our own muttled heads.