Trip Reports

Captain's Pep Talk (10-Jul-2002-20-00):
8:00 PM local time, Wednesday, July 10 (1700 July 10 UTC) 37 57 N 023 32 E. Temp. 92, Humidity 41%, Cloud Cover 5%. On the hard at Theo Bekris and Co. shipyard, island of Salamis, Greece.

Before I left home, I was a Mac user. But certain marine software applications couldn't be found at the time, at least by me, for the Mac platform, so I reluctantly took a fatal step and went over to the Dark Side. Well, my new (six months) Compaq laptop, the one that replaced the old one the folks in Sri Lanka couldn't fix, has developed a problem similar to the one that eventually made it necessary for me to use a flashlight on the first computer to see the screen back in the South China Sea, speaking of dark. Fortuitously, one of the regular readers of these dispatches, by the name of Steve Wozniak, works on computers. I don't know him personally but another one of our readers told me he's a good guy and an ace. So I got in touch with him to see if he could fix the laptop, and you know, keep it all within Maverick's Naval Support Services back on the mainland. By the by, I hoped to throw him a little extra work and, truth be told, save a buck or two. After all, he couldn't be worse than those guys in Sri Lanka. Nice folks, but jeesh. There is a place in Athens that could do it that has a big storefront and a receptionist and so forth, but you know, that kind of setup is expensive and the cost is passed along to the Captain. I figure Steve to be the kind of guy that works out of his garage.

Well, he replies that he's not really doing much repair work these days, and that he's not really a Compaq guy. He mentioned something about some apple business he went into a while back, and started going on about that, but I could hear that his sails were luffing, even by email. Everybody knows things have been tough in the computer business recently, and a lot of people are out of work. Now I'm not saying Steve is one of those, but I didn't get to be a Captain by being a fool, you may be certain of that. As the reader knows by now, I've got a sixth sense about this kind of stuff, and what he needed was a pep talk, the kind the Captain uses to rouse his crew when the seas are a little rough. I had little doubt that I could use my rather impressive talents in this area to the same effect they have on Mr. Shrode, if I may say so without immodesty.

So I said, "Steve! Fruit? Sir, it's been around forever. Computers are the wave of the future but waves aren't always cresting, and just because you've found yourself in a trough is no reason to call a mayday and abandon ship! You've got to go with what you know, sir, that's my opinion. Keep your feet on the ground, your eyes on the road, your shoulder to the wheel, your hand on the plow, and your nose to the grindstone, boy! I know it sounds uncomfortable, but it works, and you may lay to that. And as far as not being, as you put it, a 'Compaq guy,' well, if you've seen one computer you've seen them all. Don't be so modest, sir. A man of your expertise can surely figure any of them out, I reckon."

He made some mild objection to my saying that computers are all the same, but that's all just part of the syndrome, folks, take it from me.

So I continued, "Look, you've got to keep your sails full, even when the conditions get rough, sir. You shorten down, with your sheets smartly trimmed, and bear off a little if it comes to that. Put on the life vests and foul weather gear, keep a sharp lookout and don't neglect the navigating. Sometimes it will seem like the storm lasts forever but if you keep an even keel sooner or later the sky will clear and the seas will flatten out, and all the rough stuff will be forgotten. Just stick with it, Steve, and some day you may invent something that changes the way people work and play, read and write, compose music, or communicate with each other. You could change the world!"

All right, like that's ever gonna happen, but sometimes you've got to lay it on thick when the crew is tired and seasick. As I said I have a sixth sense for these things, though, and I think Steve took heart from my little lecture, even though he still says, very politely, that he won't be able to fix my laptop. That's OK, though. As long as I save one person from giving up hope and putting his boat on a reef, I feel my efforts are well spent. Don't bother to thank me, Steve, it's all in a day's work for the Captain.

It all just sort of makes my computer problems look small by comparison, but nevertheless we continue our saga. I delivered one of the beleaguered laptops to the repair folks and on the way back I thought I'd stop by the agora, or downtown, of ancient Athens to continue my archaeological studies. I've been to the acropolis and agora numerous times and still they have an effect on me that is different from any other ancient ruins. People may talk about how wonderfully preserved are the ruins in Ephesus, that we didn't visit, and Perge and Aspendos, that we did. But that's like saying, two thousand years from now, that the ruins of New York and San Francisco are in bad shape, but you should see the great ones in Turlock.

When I got to the agora this time something happened I've never seen before in travels to Greece. There was a little thunder, and lightening, and I thought we were in for a brief summer thundershower. It began to rain, and then intensified to the point where it could have competed with the real deal you see in Kansas. But unlike those midwestern things that usually move on after only a short time, it rained intensely for about two and a half hours, all the while accompanied by intense thunder and lightening. I had one of the two computers in a backpack and couldn't risk getting it wet so I was stuck. Another problem was, I had left the hatches open on the boat. What I could do while I was waiting for the rain to stop was visualize the agora in a new way, and think of Laches and Miltiades, military men, along with a few Sophists, running for cover from the rain like the Captain did. Socrates, famously, was completely unaffected by the weather and would stand shoeless in the snow, thinking about stuff. Maybe someone would have brought him inside, but he would have made a good picture standing out there in the rain.

Next report from this location: Socrates in the Agora

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