Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

2.4 Mhz of raw computing power, in the palm(s) of your hand(s)

Still hot as hell here. I think I hit my upper bound on hot food, too. I never really got used to spicy foods, as I lived in the Midwest and ate a lot of really bland stuff. In college, I worked with a lot of people into the cult of the chile pepper, which seems to be prevalent in computer geeks for some reason. I had horrible stomach problems for years, so I didn’t get started on this, though. Since I moved to New York, I’ve slowly tried to introduce hot food to my diet, but I can only do it to a certain extent. I do okay with a chicken vindaloo, and I’m to the point where Tabasco is pretty middle-of-the-road. But I’m nothing like a coworker who is both New Mexican and of the aforementioned chile/tech geek cult, who can put ten ounces of pure nuclear habanero sauce on a single taco without flinching.

I don’t know if I mentioned that I bought a Tandy 102 from EBay. They are very neat little machines, especially given their mid-Eighties vintage. They have a full keyboard and a 40 by 8 character LCD display. Their 8-bit processor and up to 32K of RAM ran a tiny OS with BASIC, a text editor, and some other basic stuff like an address book and calendar. What’s cool is that the whole thing ran on 4 AA batteries for twenty hours, and when you hit the on switch, the thing immediately came on, more like a calculator than the five-minute wait on a current Windows laptop. It has a serial port to connect to a real PC, and should be a neat toy to play with on the train or while sitting in bed. Maybe I’ll run a serial cable from it and use it as a dumb terminal off of my Linux box. Of course, I have a real VT240 collecting dust in my closet, so I probably won’t do much with it. And the size on this places it smack-dab between my SideKick and my laptop. But for only $45, it’s not too bad.

I’m currently in the process of re-reading a bunch of Asimov stuff in order. In my senior year of high school, I only had to take a couple of classes in the last semester, so I had a few study halls, an hour that I worked in the theater, a piano class, and a lot of other filler. I had high hopes of reading every book in the library, or at least the ones I found interesting. After I read every World War II book cover to cover, I started reading all of the SciFi they had in the place – Bradbury, Orwell (okay, not really SciFi) and I worked through a lot of the Asimov. I don’t think they had any PKD, which would have been great too, although it seems like all of the good anthologies of his stuff have come out in the last decade or so. Anyway, I am reading through the robot books (I, Robot,The Robots of Dawn, The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun) and I’m considering going into the Foundation books, but it depends on how I do on the other stuff. I did some digging around, and I never knew that Asimov actually died of HIV complications. He had a heart bypass in 1983, and he got a bad blood transfusion. It was kept secret at his death, until a biography that came out last year. Pretty weird.

OK, I need to go write, if that’s at all possible in this heat.