Wednesday, February 28, 2018


I have a dim appreciation that "space", as in rockets and sci-fi, is not a discreet vicinity but a continuum. Thinking that way helps me manage the house. During my early years, I was encouraged to read the children's sci-fi written by Robert Heinlein, one of the persons who invented now. Paul Allen read Heinlein, too. During the 1969 moon landing, a network television camera in Rocketdyne's tiny auditorium turns to Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. Up in the last row, the two authors are laughing like mad, presumably at the outcome of their speculations.

A recurring theme in Heinlein's work is travel or emigration into space. He mentions a thirty-pound weight limit in one of his books: that was a revolutionary concept in the Fifties, when luggage was tuned to the carrying capacities of trains and ocean vessels. Packing a foot locker was traveling light. It took decades for me to realize that Heinlein's thirty-pound limit was the same one used by airlines at the time. Air travel was rare and expensive, and excess baggage fees would have been draconian. Not too many years later, I learned to backpack and discovered that the thirty-pound limit was that recommended for female hikers.

I toted thirty pounds of gear over a good few miles of trail back in my day, and the experiences set my home furnishings compass to ultra-light. Focussing the ten essentials of life support on field gear is a sure-fire way to set up a nimble, economical household. The Great Big Hiking Co-op has references on its web site. Going light and staying relatively light keeps the household nimble and resilient. Thirty pounds gets much more bang for the ounce now: I easily carry a daily collection of life support and communications gear that would have staggered a healthy mule in 1962 -30-

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