Yardley, Monday 7 January 2002
Americans love gadgets. The finest example I've seen here is a car radio with a remote control. Why someone would want to operate his car radio with a remote, I do not know. It seems much easier to rather have the buttons within reach. For instance, why is the volume button not on the steering wheel?

The very same day I encountered the other extreme: a car without radio, without even an engine. It was the horse and carriage of an Amish (.../amish.shtml), an extraordinary people residing mainly in Pennsylvania.

The Amish live a pure life. New things must increase the quality of our lives. They do accept improvements but will not embrace every change.

  • They do not use any electricity or mechanical aids.
  • They exclude outside influences. They do not watch TV or listen to the radio.
  • They do not use cars.
They travel with horse and carriage. Really lovely carriages, with wooden spoke wheels, available in the colours black, black and black. At first I thought the carriages were a tourist gimmick. But no, they are real. They are parked all over. One finds them around houses and in garages. The horse and carriage really are their sole means of transportation for longer distances.

These carts ride on the roads, with huge reflectors on the back. The carts are equipped with lights. They have two lamps in the front, two lights on the back and even indicators.

  • Are the Amish using electricity after all?
  • Are the lamps battery operated?
  • How do they then recharge the battery?
  • Are the lamps running on a dynamo?
No, before I get lost in my own thoughts. New things must increase the quality of our lives. Being visible to speeding traffic is not just an improvement. It is a matter of life and death.

Till next week,

Special thanks to the Bonthuys family for the scenic route through the land of the Amish in Pennsylvania.