Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Free the Luddites

From today's highlight reel:

A walk through the Capitol grounds down to the street art gallery of the old power plant, along the canal walk to Brown's Island, a U-turn to walk the pipeline west to east, followed by east to west (the rapids incredibly high and strong after all the recent rain) and finally over to the T Pot bridge.

Not necessarily because I needed to walk the T Pot for the fifth time in eight days, though I certainly had every intention of doing so, but because I had a date with a drone. Well, me and dozens of others who showed up at the specified time to line the railing, smile and wave like beauty queens as the drone hovered in front of us for what felt like forever given the cloudy sky and cold breezes whipping over the water.

Our group portrait benefited from the enormous flock of birds who took to the sky behind us moments before the red-eyed drone showed up to capture man's aluminum accomplishment set against nature's sepia-toned background.

There was even a dash of the political when a couple of rafters appeared, anchored and unfurled a spray-painted "Free the James" sign directly in front of us. The scuttlebutt was that it involved dams and fish spawning, but it certainly added an au courant air to the group photo.

I'm hoping my distinctive hat will make me easier to pick out once they send us all the photo, which someone claimed was destined for the Times Dispatch archives, but we all know is really destined for Facebook, at least for 95% of the participants.

Don't look at me.

Although it involved no technology, another walk this afternoon was pretty wonderful, too, mainly because of the little beagle I have been given access and leash privileges to. We've been making eyes at each other for months and now we're consummating our relationship in public.

My attentions mean that his artistic mistress doesn't have to hurry home from the studio at inconvenient intervals and I've got a velvet-eared companion every time I feel like stretching my legs in the 'hood.

When we got back this afternoon, I gave him a treat, said adieu and, I swear, he gave me a look that said he knew I'd be back for more.

Damn beagle, of course he's right.

In what surely must be one of the most glacially slow-moving friendships on record, a computer geek professorial type I met 15 or 16 years ago - who'd contacted me last summer about having an actual conversation to solidify our Facebook friend status - finally made that happen by taking up residence across the table from me at My Noodle & Bar.

The way I see it, if I'm friends with you on Facebook, we should be able to carry on a conversation in the real world, especially given the hefty number of people we have in common. Turns out that it was that photo I posted of myself in front of a vintage VW bus that spoke to him, mainly because he still has his and uses it for an annual trek to the Everglades to hang out with old friends.

Volkswagen: helping hippie types make friends since the '60s. Who'd have thought a Luddite and a techie could find common ground at a subterranean pan-Asian joint, even with a Cool Hand Luke mocktail?

The highlight, though, was most definitely when he looked me square in the eye with disbelief and inquired, "Are you a Luddite?"

Sure am. I guarantee you I was the sole person on the T Pot bridge without a cell phone today.

I like to think that, despite being captured by a drone, my soul remains intact. Now, whether I show up in the photo or not remains to be seen.

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