Things of the past
Getting from point A to point B used to be prettier
I recently had a horrible computer crash, and the only way to recover from it was to wipe the whole thing clean to the exact configuration it had when it left the factory. I also suffered from a backup file that had somehow become corrupted, so I couldn't recover my data afterward. I was, however, able to recover the music and pictures that Gerald had stored on an external hard drive at the time I got the computer as a means of transferring them from the old computer, and the pictures that were in the camera that hadn't been erased. So I lost about a year's worth of pictures, other than those that got saved by being posted on my or Pat's blog.
Once I got my computer cleaned up and re-installed the most important software (in order, which might say something about my priorities: Norton Internet Security, iTunes, Mozilla Firefox, MS Office 2007, and H&R Block TaxCut), I discovered that the default setting on Vista has a cute little slideshow going in the sidebar, randomly showing pictures stored on the computer.
Looking at the slideshow, I see that I have a huge lot of photos showing modes of transportation. But not just any modes of transportation – my photos concentrate on sailboats, steam trains, and the Queen Mary. Airplanes show up only as dots in the sky over shots taken in and around Marina del Ray, and motor vehicles appear only incidentally, towing sailboats.
Now, modern transportation has its positive aspects. It's nice to be able to leave Prague and arrive in Albuquerque in a mere 24 hours (less if storms in Houston don't force the plane to go into a holding pattern until short on fuel, then sit on the ground in New Orleans for three hours, while the passengers watch Phantom of the Opera again and again).
Now, I actually like Phantom, but those older modes of transportation, while slower, have their own special romance. A train that takes all day to go 64 miles may seem tedious, but the scenery that the train passes through is utterly spectacular. A sailboat is definitely not the vessel to be on if you want to get from one side of the lake (say, where the fish are biting) to the other (say, where the fishing tournament weigh-in is to be held) in a hurry. But I can tell people I spent hours on the water having fun, without burning a single drop of fossil fuel. And the Queen Mary doesn't even go anywhere anymore. But it still exudes the grandeur of a past age when people took time to dress for dinner. Sunday brunch on board is an experience not to miss.
I realize that all of these modes of transportation have something in common: What's important is not the destination, but the journey.