Up in the Air

I'm too tired to have anything particularly coherent to say, but this is just too cool: a WiFi-enabled aircraft! Mind you, figuring out how to balance my keyboard and iPad on my lap is proving a bit more than my sleep-deprived, dehydrated brain can manage. Plus I realize my seatmates could read whatever I am writing over my shoulder if they were so inclined which is making me feel a little shy, but I am determined to give you a report from the air, so here goes.
 
It should be something momentous, a great insight into the wonders of modern travel. Can you imagine doing this even five years ago? (Okay, maybe you could--I'm not exactly in the business world; they seem to get connected faster than we academics do.) I can barely imagine doing it five months ago; this is the first trip that I've been on that had such possibilites (the aircraft on my flight to Reno had the option as well, but then I was so sleep-deprived I just fell asleep). Mind you, I realized last week that I hadn't actually flown to a tournament in well over a year, thanks to the Great Road Trip my family made with me last summer to Summer Nationals (you remember Summer Nationals, right?!) But surely I've been on a plane more recently than that? (Yes, to the AHA annual meeting in January.) So we are on the cusp of yet another new age in just the past few months.
 
It is impossible not to think of Orson Scott Card's characters (whose names I have forgotten, I read the book so long ago) effectively blogging from interstellar space--and that was way back in the 1980s, before ordinary folk like Fencing Bear even had access to the Internet. And now, here we are, in my lifetime, blogging from the skies! And it's ordinary. I've never done this before and already, in the few minutes that it has taken me to get rolling on this post, I expect to be able to blog during the flight. I mean, really. Can you believe the age we live in? I don't know which is harder to believe: that I have spent all those years since I read Speaker for the Dead struggling to make sense of the same thing that I am writing my second book about now--or that what we imagined as unimaginable technology then has become de rigueur now. It is breaktaking. And oh so easy to take for granted.
 
Like God. (Aha! I knew there was going to be an actual point to this post if I just kept at it for a little while.) Like God. How easy it is to take all of the good things in our lives for granted. Like winning a medal, like I did yesterday. For the (wait for it) fifth time in a national event. When even three years ago, as I reminded myself in my post day before yesterday, I had never been up on the podium at all and was still convinced that I never would be. Not that it feels at all ordinary (unlike blogging from the plane!), but it would be churlish not to acknowledge how blessed I have been to make it to the podium not once, not twice, but five times in this event since then (three times at Summer Nationals, and now at both of the NACs at which we have been able to fence 40-49). It still irks me (of course) that I didn't even make top 16 the day before yesterday in the combined Veteran event (I came out of the pools at 13, but dropped to 17 when I lost that DE), but I am at least capable (thank goodness) of keeping a few things in perspective. For the moment. Before I decide to raise the bar on my expectations yet again. (For example, if only the man sitting next to me would finish his drink so that I could stop worry about it spilling on my iPad while, you know, I write this very important post!)
 
It is a good thing, an imaginably good because real thing that humanity has achieved so many of the things that we have even in the relatively short time that we know about thanks to the invention of writing. (Gotcha! You thought I was going to say in my lifetime again, didn't you? It is, after all, the way we so often talk, as if it is only in our lifetimes that people were able to invent amazing technologies that transform our lives.) Can you believe the things that human beings have achieved at all? Textiles and ceramics and metallurgy are miracles of innovation, not to mention languages, art, music, story-telling...I could go on and on and on if not for the invention of distilling and architecture that enabled my friend Lynn and me to celebrate our victories with appropriate exuberance last night (and thus, thanks to the fact that we are both women of a certain age, deprived us so effectively of our sleep; oh, the perils of having that second drink!) Or, indeed, that enabled us to be women of a certain age celebrating such victories, and not dead already from who knows what might have killed us in another age. Thank God for the freedom that He gave us as his creatures to create! Or, rather, subcreate in His likeness and image and thus worship Him with our inventiveness.
 
Which is something entirely different from trying to play God, as so many modern people (cough cough progressives cough cough) seem to think we should. Yes, let us have airplanes that can carry me and my friends across the country three times a year so that we can bruise each other with metal sticks and then I can write about it and make my musings available to the world even another airplane carries me home. But let us preserve at least a little bit of the wonder that such things are even possible before we start blaming each other and the world for not satisfying our every whim instantaneously. Or, once such technologies become available, blaming those of us who have access to them for not sharing them with others as soon as they become available to us. Which we do when we forget that having airplanes and iPads and Internet connections are not things that we are born with, but things which we, as human beings have made with the brains and hands that God gave us precisely so that we might make such things and thus transform the world.
 
Okay, I'm getting a little lost in the argument here, not wanting to get too political just yet. But I hope you get the drift. Do I need to be able to blog from the air, any more than I need to be able to play swords with my friends? No, of course not. But thank God and the clever people who figured out how to make the tools with which I could. That's definitely something worth writing from up here in the air about.
 
[Update: It turns out that I can receive signals via WiFi while I'm up here, but can't actually publish the post without paying a fee, which is fine. No need to get sniffy about not having something free that wasn't even possible a few months ago. So know that this was written in the air, even if I wasn't able to share it with you until I was back on the ground.]

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