Well here we are again, another good week gone by, and another
welcome Friday. I'm tired and brain-dead, and looking forward to
napping in the warm sun this weekend. I am definitely not
complaining-- unlike 18% of the people in my county I have a job
and a roof over my head. I am extra grateful right now for having a
roof over my head because one of my friends doesn't-- her house
burned down on Wednesday.
The county I live in is poor, and has been for decades. The
population has been declining for years because family-wage jobs
are scarce. This is about as nowhere as you can get-- no rail or
bus, and only a small-craft airport. The nearest city of any size
is a three-hour drive away.
You can build a good life here, if you like rural life and can
make a living. I never did like city life much because to me it's
insanity. Noise, stink, dominated by vehicles, human-hostile, and
crowding people together like experiments with rats. Crowd them
enough, they eat each other.
So, getting back to my friend. A sizable percentage of the homes
here are single- and double-wide trailers from the 1960s and 70s.
They're called trailers even though virtually none of them ever
move from their first location, and the trailer chassis is still
there underneath. I wonder that some enterprising person doesn't
mine old trailer parks as a rich source of old steel.
If you're not familiar with these, pre-1976 mobile homes are
well-known firetraps. There was a time when people were sent to
prison for arson when their trailers burned down, because fire
investigators didn't believe that trailers could burn that hot and
fast without accelerants. Finally some real investigation was done,
and some real science applied, and they learned that no, they don't
need help and are perfectly capable of burning unbelievably fast
and hot, and can reach flashover faster than the occupants can
reach the door. In fact it's the only thing they're good at,
because they suck badly at being homes. In a saner world they'd all
be condemned and gone.
People know all this, and yet these old trailers hang on because
they're cheap. You can buy one in a trailer park for a couple
thousand dollars, and rent the space it sits on for $150 per month
including water, sewer, and garbage. You can rent a trailer for
$300 per month.
My friend's place burned down from unknown causes-- it could
have been the wood stove, a stray cigarette, or the wiring, which
is always a horror story in those old trailers. Nobody was hurt,
thankfully, but she lost almost everything. We'll all pitch in and
help, but it's an awful thing to lose your home that way.
What Does This Have to do With Linux?
I'm not sure because I'm still thinking it over. I have some
half-baked thoughts on how Linux and FOSS reward people who aren't
afraid to roll up their sleeves, dig in, and learn something. I
think that real hackers are hackers in multiple arenas, not just
computers, because the essence of being a hacker is not being
afraid to dive in and learn how things work, whether it's fixing a
computer or building a fence. Or designing affordable housing that
is not a death trap. 90% of learning is first believing you can
learn, and having an open mind to new knowledge. The rest is
observation, research, and trying things out. A person can learn an
amazing amount just by looking at things and poking at them in
Then keep poking and improving and making things better.
Contrast that with why the economy here is so bad-- a lot of
folks want it to be the way it was a hundred years ago. Those days
aren't coming back, and they weren't that great anyway. All those
emigrants flooding to this beautiful new unspoiled land, and then
doing their best to ruin it beyond repair. Real life is adaptation
and change; pining for the old ways doesn't accomplish much.
OK I'm done, now it's your turn to come up with some suitably
deep thoughts. Or even shallow ones, I'm not picky :)