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Yesterday morning I read my emails, while drinking my coffee. Then I loaded up my spinning wheel and went off to a social spin at a craft barn about an hour away. When I got back I was confronted by a very tired, sore, discouraged husband who had been changing blades and maintaining his lawn tractor. He wanted nothing more than to sit and surf the net. Sadly, when he went to log on, I heard him exclaim, “Our internet service is down!”
Country life online
We are on a strange Internet-getting scheme. Tied to the WiFi router in the house is a little radio up in a spruce tree. The radio exchanges data with another on a hilltop, which relays to and from a transceiver at the gas station in town. From there it gets onto the subsidized fiber optic network and thence to the wide wide world.
As weird as this is, it has very high limits and is faster than the satellite service we used to have, which also had data limits so small you couldn’t stream. My husband used to sit up between midnight and 5 AM to download movies because he could do it off-peak for free. Otherwise, nothing to watch.
With no neighbors and being a quarter mile from the highway, we would have to run cable in for DSL or direct connection to cable. Serious money, when there are no poles coming down from that direction. The way the power and phone come in, DSL is eliminated as being too far out. Thus, up the tree with the radio.
We pay a good bit for this odd internet service but it is a better deal than satellite. And we don’t pay a TV service. TV ended for us when NH Public Television finally went digital. We now do not receive anything over the air. Too far out.
ISP on speed dial
My husband has the ISP on speed dial. He calls and listens to the outage message. They are usually right on it. Occasionally he makes the initial report of an outage, but yesterday it was known to be after the gas station. They worked on it into the night. Lo and behold, this morning we were back on.
When this outfit first set up a few years ago, they were running the radio on the hill on batteries. But in the winter the batteries got weak when it got cold, and we had a lot of service interruptions. Finally they ran electricity to the radio and we have had better service in the winter.
Lately it seems the fiber optic cable or something on the next node is failing. We can often get to the gas station if nowhere else. My husband has a diagnostic on his computer that he determines this with. Sadly, the gas station only has one outlet. There is nothing to switch over to when that leg goes down.
When internet service is down
Remember, we are in a no-TV zone, and it turns out that very little radio gets to us at home. Most radio that does is in French here, since we are close to Quebec. So without the standard entertainment package, we rely on the internet for a lot.
When the internet service is down, then, it feels like we’re cut off. It’s worse than losing the phone. All the phone does is ring. We screen out the pests and there is very little coming in.
It’s almost as bad as losing electricity, which means the loss of heating, plumbing, light and refrigeration functions at our house.
When the internet goes away, we don’t get to stream movies, read the news, work on the blog, fool around on social media, or check and use email. Much of my dealings with other people go best through the email. Without it, I feel much more cut off and disorganized.
My husband’s hobbies include photography and commenting on news stories. He loves explaining technicalities of photography to learners, and engineering comments to raise everyone’s hackles. It gives him something he can laugh at, even when his aches and pains prevent him from being active.
We got through an evening without a streamed movie by fishing out a movie on DVD and playing it. It was a British show called Going Postal. We probably hadn’t seen that one in five years or so. It’s still good, if a bit longer than the usual feature film.
When you do without something you’re used to having all the time, it often makes you think.
This thing where I’d rather use email than phone, for example. My father worked for a government agency that dealt in secrecy back in the 1950s. He trained us to get off the phone as fast as possible, so we didn’t get used to visiting on it. We would just call, set up a meeting, and hang up.
Nowadays I’m still shy about being on the phone for very long. I would rather do email than phone. Voice mail makes me babble from nerves. Without email I would be forced to phone more. Thank goodness the need did not arise!
Meanwhile, the phone book has come less and less frequently and thus is out of date. Some businesses use VOIP or cell phones instead of landline. Lots of times the only way you can find out how to contact them is by Googling them. Imagine needing to contact a business but not having access to a search engine!
Without the internet service, I couldn’t do my online courses yesterday, so I stay behind. I couldn’t do work on the blog or check in with my online community on Ravelry (for the uninitiated, a knitting website). And I couldn’t get my kitten story on the newsfeed. Those give my day a hopeful start.
As rowdy as the internet is, and as full of preposterous blather, we miss it when it’s not available, both because it is useful and because it’s entertaining. What do you miss when internet service is down–if it ever is?