A Very Unparked Domain
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Doing the laptop scuba dance

In the spin-offs from the 1970’s disaster movies (think Towering Inferno, Aiport 77, the Poseidon Adventure and their ilk) there were a disproportionate number of water rescue scenes where the rescue diver had to share the only oxygen tank with the (skinny and scantily clad) damsel he was attempting to retrieve from the watery depths. They pass the breathing mask back and forth until they make it to safety with just molecules of oxygen left in the tank. (There’s usually a presumed-to-be dying-breath smooth in there somewhere, too.)

And that’s why, when Neil and I are sitting in a public place, using two laptops, and sharing just one power cable, I think of it as the “Laptop Scuba Dance.”

Right now we are sitting in front of an unlit fireplace in beautifully upholstered wing chairs in the lobby of the Publick House Historic Inn in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. There’s free wifi in the hotel, but just in the historic parts (ironically), not in the newer (and vastly cheaper) motel section where we’re rooming.

Sturbridge is a great place to buy antiques, but not such a great place to find free public wifi. Because Neil is working during the day, that means we spend our daylight hours loitering the public areas of the Inn.

The lobby fireplace is the first place we’ve also managed to find a power outlet, but it is only within range of one chair. So every 45 minutes or so, we have a conversation like this:

Neil: How’s your battery power?

Me: I’m good, I’m at 42%.

Neil: I’m down to 11%.

Me: Okay, let’s trade.

We proceed to trade chairs and the swap the power cable into the dying laptop.

Our laptop batteries are asymptotically approaching nothingness, but we do manage to limp them through an entire working day this way.

And when the staff gives us funny looks for getting up and swapping chairs, Neil tells them that it’s because the music has stopped.

I should point out that the staff here have been very understanding about our loitering tendencies. In fact, it was the rooms manager who suggested that we make use of the wifi in the common areas, and she has been having great fun giving us a hard time about what a good job we’re doing of advertising their wifi service.

(We’ve been very impressed with all of the staff here; if I were still a hospitality recruiter I’d be doing my best to headhunt them!)

The only disadvantage to our current location is that we are sitting right next to the main dining room, and the smells from lunch are incredibly tantalizing. (There may be some colonial deep dish apple pie in our near future.)

The main dining room of the Publick Houses’s Tap Room restaurant. Taken with the camera on Neil’s BlackBerry at breakfast on Monday, August 11, 2008.

I’m sure the burning question on your mind is: Does Neil get a big heroic smooch every time he trades off the power supply to save my laptop?

You’ll have to try to squeeze an answer out of the Public House staff: I don’t kiss and tell.

And now the next time you have to borrow a laptop power supply, you’ll know the name of the dance you’re doing.

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