Tuesday, August 7, 2007

on word processors, the weather, and guns.

At the risk of sounding like a shill for Alphasmart, I have to once again sing the praises of the little Neo.

I've had this thing for a little over a month now. I've written roughly 20,000 words on it, five or ten or thirty minutes at a time. The battery meter just dropped to 99% a few days ago. At this rate, the three AA batteries in this thing will run out of juice at some point early next year.

There's not a thing I don't like about the Neo. It's very well designed, and it does its one job better than anything else. No boot time--hit the "On" key, and two seconds later, you're ready to type away. No power issues--forget having to lug around a power adapter, or secure a seat next to a power outlet at your local Sip-N-Type. No big-ass laptop bag or thrown-out backs--the Neo weighs two pounds, which is half the weight of the skinniest sub-notebook out there.

Yes, it really is the best thing since sliced bread, and yes, you do need to toss out your laptop and get yourself one of these if you do any kind of heavy-duty writing. It lets you untether yourself from your desk, and you won't believe how many productive five-minute writing sessions you can squeeze into a day if you don't have to first grab your eight-pound laptop, wait for it to boot up, and hope that the battery is topped off.

It's the hottest stretch of the year. Here in the Tennessee river valley, that means heat and humidity so oppressive that it feels like you're walking into an industrial-sized bakery oven every time you leave the house. At this time of the year, I don't mind being stuck in the house with the kids, and any excursion is basically a quick transition from air-conditioned house into air-conditioned van to go to the air-conditioned store. Weeks like this one remind me of a line from that mediocre movie with Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek, where his parents spend time with her parents at some lake in Arizona for Cinco de Mayo...the Mexican part of the family has a great time in the sun, but the Anglos just sit there and sweat, until the white dad shouts at the Mexican dad, "The white people are melting!"

In Germany, residential air conditioning is virtually unknown, and considered a wasteful use of electricity. When I left the place in 1996, they had just started putting AC units into new vehicles as standard equipment, but I didn't walk into my first air-conditioned dwelling until I came over to the United States. We may use far more energy with our central and window AC units, but if its between me sitting in subtropical Tennessee heat sweating out a gallon an hour, and Gaia taking it in the pants, then set the thermostat to 68 degrees, baby. They make more kilowatts at the nuclear power plant every day.

Concealment is tricky in this kind of climate, of course, but I've had very good success with a close-fitting pancake holster under an untucked t-shirt. I never really understood the desire for those little subcompact guns made out of styrofoam--the smaller you make 'em, the harder they are to shoot well. If I can hide a steel K-frame revolver under an untucked t-shirt without even having to use an IWB holster, then why would I get one of those little compromise guns?

That's not to say that pocket guns like the Jetfire and P32 aren't neat. They are, and I've owned my share of both. I used them for backup, though, and not as a primary choice of sidearm. For that job, I want something made of steel, something that'll accommodate all the fingers on my shooting hand. There'll be enough factors spoiling my accuracy in a gunfight; trying to win a life-or-death shootout with a gun the size of a credit card is something I don't want to add to the menu.

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