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

Steven K. Roberts

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

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 turmoil makes the keyboard fingers itch. Stories lurk in the dark eyes…

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The Other Woman

The Other Woman ©1987 by Steven K. Roberts Ithaca, NY (13,231 miles) August 21, 1987 The road, once begun, never stops. Tonight in Ithaca, over a fine dinner of linguine and wine, coffee and sorbet, we spoke of travel. Hitchhiking marathons of 17 years ago were revived in candlelight; freight-hopping adventures came to life with…

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Hiking Heaven, Hiking Hell

by Steven K. Roberts June 29, 1987 Calf Creek (Garfield County), Utah This is hard-core wilderness.  The Escalante River area is a violent, convoluted land, a twisted marriage of desert and mountain with much infidelity on both sides.  Madness happens here; the land kills the unwary without remorse, yet delights the eye with so many…

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Silicon Valley Delights

by Steven K. Roberts Palo Alto, California — March 10, 1987 11,729 miles Eyes wide, steadying myself against a massive redwood high in the Santa Cruz mountains, I stare at the distant campfire. Sparks soar into the trees through a column of suffused smoky light; black shadows stab the sphere of fireglow with every human…

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Taking Care of Business

by Steven K. Roberts Palo Alto, California — February 23, 1987 11,687 miles Sitting at a desk in a cluttered room on a sunny California day is not unlike being chronically married and walking past a nude beach. Through this wide suburban window the sky is blue, the trees are green, and the shadows are…

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San Francisco en Passant

by Steven K. Roberts Mountain View, California — February 12, 1987 11,652 miles It was a crisp morning, foggy enough to romantically mute the distant San Francisco skyline, cool enough to make the ride exhilarating, early enough to eliminate any sense of hurry. Perfect conditions for a float across the bay and the long trek…

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Sonomarin Snapshots

by Steven K. Roberts Sausalito, California — February 5, 1987 11,565 miles Suddenly there begins another mad macrophase. The changes struck with our last wild descent, an abrupt transition at the dusky end of an exhausting 50-mile day. BMW’s and solar-heated redwood hot tubs. Vanity plates and chocolatiers. Evidence everywhere of treats turned de rigueur,…

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Accident and Aftermath

by Steven K. Roberts Healdsburg, California — January 23, 1987 11,450 miles It began dramatically, as befits the coast. Looking down through Minolta 8×20’s on the backs of soaring hawks, wingtips like splayed fingers playing the thermals with precision. Wide-eyed flight down a tightly coiled road, losing 700 altimeter feet in moments only to hurl…

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