Art without engineering is dreaming;
Engineering without art is calculating.

Steven K. Roberts, N4RVE

High Tech Nomad chapters

Naked at the Epicenter

This little snippet from my Miles with Maggie series took place two months before the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that shattered our newfound Santa Cruz complacency. The foreshock impressionistically recorded here was but a teaser… yet deeply intimate somehow, coming as it did on the edge of sleep. The impact on the psyche was intense,…

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Standing in the Window

Somebody on the net recently asked me what my days are like. The popular image, I’m sure, is of a bustling Winnebiko lab with scurrying white-coated technicians fitting glittering surface-mount subassemblies onto a frame of high-tech composites and tightly laced bundles of optical fiber and coax. Surrounded by Sun workstations, I coordinate the efforts of…

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Born Toulouse

Above: the Rebirth jazz band in 1984 (photo by Steven K. Roberts) by Steven K. Roberts New Orleans, Louisiana — July 14, 1988 There’s a sort of melancholy about this city, you know, a strange melancholy that excites the lusts and touches the soul… and every descent from our balconied French Quarter suite into street-level…

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Gambling, Gadgets, and God

by Steven K. Roberts Louisville, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Columbus, Dayton, Atlanta… May 19, 1988 An unreal sense of detachment strikes me now, after a half-decade of visceral struggle against wind, gravity, motivation, and (most recently) bus-mechanics. It’s confusing, oddly serene: the sweat on my forehead is an abstract brew of managerial stress and poor ventilation,…

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Key Wasted

by Steven K. Roberts Key West, Florida March 7, 1988 Ah, tourists. With every street encounter I am distanced further from the picturetaking plague of bustling intruders who descend en masse on every place immortalized in brochures. You can see them in the tour trains, faces turned to follow the amplified prattle of the driver;…

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Bussing into Dataspace

The marvelous drawing above is by Chris Browne, cartoonist of Hagar the Horrible, who hosted us for a couple of days in Sarasota. Another of his illustrations is down the page. In this story, the Computing Across America book is at last published, and we make the transition from bikes to converted school bus… wildly…

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And now for something completely different…

by Steven K. Roberts Titusville, Florida — 15,382 miles December 27, 1987 AUGH!! Slow down, reality (or speed up, fingers). I keep adding to both ends of this story from different cities, scrambling it beyond all recognition, trying in vain to keep some kind of perspective. Impossible. What looms as a major event one day is…

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Blood in the Spokes

The accident described in this story had lifelong implications; it is funny how often something occurs that we don’t recognize at the time as significant. Three decades later, as I add this to the archives, I squirm in pain that is directly traceable to this grisly tale. There was some coverage in the local paper…

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Rocking into the Bible Belt

by Steven K. Roberts Cary, North Carolina — 14,475 miles November 8, 1987 How’d I get into this, anyway? The movie’s over, and still I sit dully switching the cable between the decadence of music video, the two-dimensional world of late-night soap opera, and the hypnotic criminality of religious broadcasting. I miss Max Headroom. Our host…

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Technology Update

by Steven K. Roberts Richmond, Virginia — 14,241 miles October 28, 1987 At last we have fled the madness of metropolitan DC. Looking back, it seems a marathon — a sort of delirium like those tangled memories of fevers past. For a month we cruised the confusion, working, doing the media dance, visiting new friends and…

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