Masthead CMC Magazine July 1, 1995 / Page 9


A Midsummer Site's Dream

by Lisa Schmeiser (

Summer is to computer as. . . Are you having trouble filling that analogy? Do those two words just not seem to go together? Ah, but they do. With a few clicks, you'll soon be on your way to a summer filled with events that will help you fill the blanks in that analogy.

Let's see. . . it's hot, hazy, humid. Your first choice is to go to the beach, right? You underestimate the allure of putting on a suit of armor in August. Visit the Northern California Renaissance Faire site to find out why people opt to return to the Age of Outdoor Plumbing. If you work your way through the links, you can find all sorts of informative Renaissance and Medieval period sites.

Another medieval fair is Quebec's Medievals Faire. For five days in August, the historic portion of downtown Quebec is home to a festival celebrating French culture during the Middle Ages. This site is available in both English and French texts, a geographically elegant solution.

If medieval festivals aren't your thing, there are always music festivals. Forget Lollapalooza; there are more esoteric music festivals in mudfree locations. Check out the Oregon Bach Festival, a two week round of choral arrangements, chamber concerts, and guest stars. This year's theme, "War, Reconciliation, and Peace," celebrates the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. The festival also wins points for the activities encouraging interaction between musicians and festivalgoers, the location (tree-filled Eugene), and the web site. If the festival is anything like the attractive, easy-to-use, informative and entertaining web page, buy a plane ticket to Eugene.

Another festival west of the Mississippi is the Colorado Music Festival. Read what one hard-boiled reporter had to say about the summer series:

"The Festival Orchestra played magnificently throughout an evening that left the audience mesmerized." - Boulder Daily Camera
The site isn't too bad either - utilitarian, easy to download, and nicely organized. One of the standout user-friendly features is how immediate the important information is - there's no drilling through layers of pages to get to the facts.

Finally, if you happen to be nearby, check out the Provinssirock Festival. I would tell you more about this rock festival, but the attractively designed page is written in Finnish.

But summer isn't all feasts and festivals. Some of you may be dealing with whiny kids on a regular basis. "I'm boooored," they snivel. The museum, the movies, the zoo, the beach - been there, done that. If aliens were to land in your back yard, they would undoubtedly complain that they've already seen that.

Before you find yourself saying, "honey, let's sell the kids," consider sending them to camp. While the mosquito-and-campfire experience can't be conveyed via the Web, there are a few summer camps for the '90s you can ship the kids to.

REACH Summer Science Camp takes 450 young scientists and exposes them to "cool" science. While the information about the camp isn't very readily accessible, the site does a wonderful job of promoting the role of science in non-laboratory settings. Their pages contains a collection of links to places like the Annals of Improbable Research, Idea Futures, and a site that lets you "fly" an MIG-29 over Russia. Virtual Ventures at Carlton University offers an Internet Camp, where campers can create 3-D animation, build a MUD or MOO, and run a video conference. The front page is a little hard to read because of the enthusiastic purple tiling, but once you drill a little deeper, the contents and opportunities are exciting. And if you're concerned that your child won't be able to thrive in today's virtual world, check out Renaissance of Discovery, a summer camp geared toward providing little Leonardos with "survival training for a generation facing technological dominance." The site is well-crafted, the sell is hard. You may want to keep visiting, because the camper's projects will be added to the page over the summer, and this will be your first chance to see all the computer commando skills the kids have learned.

Another promising campsite is the Friendly Pines Camp in Arizona. Billed as "a summer wonderland for kids 6 to 13" this site includes such parent-friendly features as the article "How to Prepare Your Child for Camp," weather updates, and thorough biographies of the camp staff. There are no pictures of the friendly trees (the site is still under construction), but the content makes the site worth visiting.

Are there any adult camps? No, unless you count summer school. But even that might be fun; U.C. Berkeley asks: "No plans for the summer? How about spending a month or two in California's Bay Area studying Swahili and C++?" My first question was: together? (No, of course not.) Incidentally, the site is the first entertaining class schedule invented.

So. . . we may have the answer to the analogy: summer is to computer as entertainment is to variety. So power up the computer, grab a popsicle, and start planning your summer vacation. [CMC TOC]

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