« Guatemalan Worry People | Main | Listing Slightly »

December 30, 2008

Power Outages

By Sarah


You can thank a power outage for the late posting of this blog. For some reason, ever since my technically inclined 20-year-old nephew came to visit, our modem has been on the fritz and I’ve been going nuts. I don’t want to blame him, but I can’t help it. Could it be that he’s downloading huge files? Negotiating with the Chinese?

Experiences like this, minor inconveniences, really, illustrate how wedded our family has become to the internet. With the modem down, we sat scratching our heads trying to figure out the conditions at Sugarbush for skiing. (Call a friend who went the day before never occurred to us.) Ditto for finding a phone number. We were at a loss realizing we couldn’t just type in someone’s name and city, having forgotten the tattered phonebook in the drawer.

So pathetic.

And to think that twelve years ago we knew nothing about going online. I remember a book I bought about how to go on the World Wide Web. It was as thick as three phonebooks and required me to type in all sort of TCP numbers into my Mac. Even so, it was dialup and took forever. What we got, as I recall, was a very basic Yahoo! web page, glorious by our standards. I felt like Alexander Graham Bell calling Watson when, after trial and error, that first SoVerNet page slowly scrolled down the screen. Eureka.

“They’re like billboards,” a friend told us, in trying to describe web pages. I remember thinking of the Web as some dark highway with Yahoo! and Gov.Net popping up in the distance. (This was before Google or even – gasp – Amazon.)

Come to think of it, how did we live without the Internet?

How did people find out about books? Through newspapers, I suppose, or word of mouth. One of the great luxuries of being a newspaper reporter was the ability to read the “wire” as it came across on big machines that had to be kept in cooled rooms. Sunday morning after a neglected Saturday night could mean walking into a room of paper filled with random bits of current events – from the weather to Richard Nixon’s impeachment.

Now, of course, everyone can read the “wire” instantly. The cooled rooms are gone as is the paper and, frankly, I believe that’s a good thing.  There’s a lot of moaning and hair pulling about what’s happening to newspapers and books, but people are losing sight of the issue. All that’s changing is the medium. The message is still the same. Newspapers may no longer be printed on paper. That doesn’t mean the news stops. Content will out.

The same goes for books. Will we ten years from now be buying bound paper? Maybe. (It is, after all, a medium that’s lasted 500 years.) My guess is we’ll be reaching for a more instant form – ebooks – that will provide convenience while eliminating romance. However, there’s a lot to be said for ducking into a bookstore on a rainy day with a new date, a potential love. I’m afraid that sitting on the couch and clicking through the Kindle can’t compare to pressing a book into the hand of a new interest and earnestly suggesting that he/her read it because it meant so much.

In the meantime, we live in a hybrid world, not quite sure where all this is going. How, for example, will cookbooks exist when Epicurious lists hundreds of recipes to which readers continually update with comments and improvements? Why buy a whole CD when we want to hear only one song? (This, my musician friends tell me, is the downfall of music. How many of us bought the Rolling Stones’ Some Girls to hear Miss You when we ended up falling in love with Shattered? The beauty of buying whole albums was that it forced you to listen to the other work.)

Or, for that matter, why use a phonebook when a quick online search will suffice?

Oh, right. Those power outages. That’s one thing about books – no energy necessary.



P.S. Sorry, Margie, for not turning this blog into a list. Having just now been able to get online, I didn't get the memo in time. Hope you're enjoying those bath salts I got you for Xmas. Errr,they were bath salts, you know.



TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Power Outages:


My Internet went out on Friday night, and I had to find a way to call the cable company to troubleshoot. I actually used the phone book. (After two hours, we determined it was CPE--my own wireless thingee--and I was at Best Buy at 8:00 Saturday morning to get a new one.)

Of course, if the Internet were really down, I wouldn't have been able to use the phone, since we get them both from the TV cable company. Then, I would have to use my cell phone, unless....

I use the phone book to find plumbers. And believe me, I have needed plumbers this holiday season. And the furnace man. Talk about the need for low tech. Today may be the first day in weeks that all our bathrooms are functioning. Oh, except the one in the basement that's still drying out from the flood. Somebody tell me the holiday season is almost over. Please, please, please.

Encourage that nephew to get a real career, Sarah. Plumbing is where it's at.

It's gotten silly. After Ike came through, and we had no power for a while, I felt isolated, disconnected, and lost. The phone lines were working, and after four days I realized I could (ack!) use a Dial-Up connection at 28.8! It was miserable, to say the least. BUT... I can vividly recall when just connecting to the Net was a wonder, something mysterious and exciting and terrific.

It was a good lesson, that's for sure....

So true.

The kids are even worse. If the Internet goes down, it's like a national emergency. Most of the textbooks are now online.

Don't get me wrong - the homework is not the emergency - it's World of Warcraft and the XBox Live games with their friends that simply cannot be interrupted. Even I am in awe of the real-time game playing - they sit there with their headsets and controllers and play with kids from all over the place. Very cool.

Technology is great, but I still worry about terrorists wiping out the internet or even the electric supply. Just like in investments, I still think it's best to diversify - I want my land phone separate and useable without electricity. I want my books, so if everything else fails I can still read! A propane grill just in case, etc. If I could, I'd have a backup generator,.......I think I need another worry doll!

My 24 hour internet outage between moving from DSL with phoneline to dry-loop DSL lasted for 5 days. My hubs almost went NUTS! LOL For me, it was strange. I felt a relief that I didn't have to look at my email, or read blogs, or whatever. I used the time to get my tax receipts together. Now, having proclaimed how great I was then, the DAY we got to Florida, I had Brighthouse out here to install cable internet in the motorhome! But we will be here for 2 months, so....

William - 28.8 download speed...didn't that drive you NUTS? I remember when I used to be on dial-up. It was so slow that I used to play hands of solitaire of while I waited for a page to load.

As far as e-books, I have quite a collection on my computer. In fact, right now Harlequin is giving away an ebook every day through Jan 3 (they did this last year too), so I usually pick up 7 or 8 that way. I have some I have bought from various online publishers, but usually these are from friends. I'm waiting to buy an ereader since I'm not sure which way to go there (Kindle? Sony?)

I discovered this past September, when the big windstorm of 2008 hit Western PA, that I can live with out TV. I just can't live without my internet connection. I had major withdrawal symptoms. When it came back four days later, I spent hours upon hours catching up.

We spent 10 years with dial-up. We had no other options until our cable system finally upgraded it's lines and began to offer broadband cable in our small village. But my husband still resisted the siren call of broadband until December of '06 when the need arose for the speed of broadband.

My daughter was going to England for four months and we needed to be able to use a web cam. Now it would be very difficult to go back to dial up.

I still use the phone book for local numbers, but the internet had eliminated that pesky fee for looking up a phone number.

I have never subscribed to a newspaper. I would buy occasional copies of the Post Gazette as the Beaver County Times sucks, but these days, not even that. They, along with most magazines, have changed too much in their attempts to find that elusive something to get readers back.

It's amazing how life has changed since the internet became part of our day. I was working in the time before email, faxes, and internet, and it was amazing people would actually wait a few days for information to arrive in an envelope.

And kids can't even imagine life without it. I have to say, I would miss cable TV, computer with internet, and yes, the phone (since we have our phone through the cable company as well). But my husband would go absolutely insane. I am used now to getting a lot of information over the internet, but we still subscribe to two newspapers and a bunch of magazines the old fashioned way. And I like cookbooks in the actual book form, although I do look up recipes on the internet as well. I guess I'm still a hybrid.

Hi -

It's Me, Margie. Happy New Year! I am doing my part to help develop international relations. Barack sent a select few of us out there to, like, smooth the way for the State Dept people.

UPS has been a big help- providing around-the-world service and so forth. So much so that I made up a new slogan for them, and didn't even demand credit:

"When it absolutely, positively has to come first thing in the morning."

Good, huh?

Here's a little gift for all you Blond Bond Fans. My Cousin Rita sent me the link - and we're not saying that's HER in the photos, but I know Rita, and the resemblance is freakin uncanny. Just sayin'.


Off to make more friends! Happy almost New Year!

You, Margie, are brilliant. UPS should pay you, big time for that one! LOL

The phone lines are not affected by power outages, but today's phones are. What a pain to have a dead phone when the electricity goes out, so I have one ancient princess-type phone that does not rely on electricity to ring or make calls. Cell phones have helped, but when you lose charge with that option it's good to have a low-tech backup, if only to use to call the power company and report an outage.

As long as our laptops have a charge we can always get on the Internet because of our wireless Internet card. It came from Verizon, back when I was traveling and needed a way to get (and stay) on the Web all day in my booth, so I could take credit cards and get instant approval. Now we use it to connect when we are away from the home wireless, or when the home wireless goes out. It's awesome, and almost as fast as our DSL line. It has its own phone number, which is kind of amusing, since it can't "take" phone calls. We use it at the farm, since we don't have a phone line there at all.

I just printed out more than half of the "family cookbook" I made for the kids for Christmas. Instead of searching through mountains of cookbooks and clippings, now I can just leaf through my own personal favorites to find that recipe for Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Pie, or Salmon Pasta. Hallelujah. Two copies coming up--one for home and one for the farm.

Margie, you are such a Humanitarian....

Should have posted this yesterday, with Harley's "Worry" Blog:


NOW I'm worried....

Me, Margie goes on humanitarian mission and war breaks out in the middle east? MM - get over there and fix it!

Love the new UPS slogan. Very, um, original.

My sister reminded me of a favorite Asimov short story, “The Fun They Had” which I used to read with classes the first week of school -- a bit of irony for them -- storyhttp://users.aber.ac.uk/dgc/funtheyhad.html

Asimov said in one interview that electronics will never replace the ease and portability of printed books. He was one of the first to use computers for writing. Said it eliminated the need to make up new words to accommodate the typos.

There was a sci-fi ("Outer Limits" maybe) plot in which all humans were implanted with a chip that allowed instant access to all data. One man was somehow unable to be chipped and had to learn to read and make do with books -- then there was a computer virus . . .

I like the DSL, too. I used to answer e-mails while I waited for a page to load. Of course, my first printer was so slow that I used to do laundry while I waited for grades to print out.

Yo, Margie, how do you like my new tramp stamp?

I meant to post about an hour ago but got waylaid by the Blond Bond photos. Apropos of Sarah's thoughts on this important topic, my internet connection is so SLOW, i had to look at those photos SO SLOWLY . . . help.

Wow, things have sure changed online over a short span of years. My first online experience was in about 1990, when you could only read one line of type at a time. It was incredibly difficult to find anything, and typing into the ether was an exercise in faith that anyone would actually receive what you sent. My first Internet account was Prodigy, followed by CompuServe, then AOL and MSN, back when that was the only way you could get online. But that was it, You only got to whatever content was on these servers, which were basically glorified message boards; there was no other "there" there. Chat rooms were such amazing steps forward back in the day.

My first connection was 9600 bps. It took long enough to connect that you could go make a sandwich while you were waiting. And since you paid by the hour, you had to pay for that long wait. Now one of my daughters uses her Blackberry to surf the Web, get email, look up directions, and oh, yeah, call and text friends and family. What an amazing and swift change we've witnessed.

Harley, you're not fooling anybody. ;-)

Here's my complaint about online newspapers: I don't read them as thoroughly as the newspaper I hold in my hands. I hope that print news and books and magazines don't go the way of the buggy whip.

Yes, I'm connected to the internet and use it daily (couldn't read the Tarts otherwise). But I can't take a computer to bed with me, read until I fall asleep, and have the computer slide to the floor (unhurt).

Harley, your case seems really serious! Maybe you need new glasses? Or a new computer? Taking soooo long to see the Blond Bond pix must be extremely painful!

I remember having dial-up and thinking it was too slow then. Erols.com was our server and I think we were billed by time used on the server. It took several years to get broadband in Annapolis, but finally Comcast added it to their selections. We immediately added internet to our Comcast account, and just last year included our home phone line too.

We keep an old landline phone, which has been a lifesaver when our cordless phone's battery dies (which it does often). We hardly use the main line now. Once we were blessed with Caller ID, I quit using that line for everyday uses and now just put that number down for web purchases and other forms.

We had a power outage here in rural Illinois Dec. 30th and thought we were going to go nuts. My daughter was on the Internet, and couldn't understand how the computer still had power, a laptop..duh, but she couldn't load pages, got a good chuckle from that, all the lights out but the computer and she didn't figure it out until I pointed out that no power meant no router.

The comments to this entry are closed.

The Breast Cancer Site