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Basking, bonkers, or bit of both?

Well, both. Saturday I woke up without Internet. And I’m looking at going ‘Netless for six months. Although I suspended service mostly to economize, I was both looking forward to ‘Netless peace and feeling nervous about cutting back my means of livelihood.

Since waking up that first morning I haven’t really worried about the earning-a-living part. That’s manageable. I’ve done it before, after all. But you know what really drove me crazy? It was the day of the Nevada Democratic caucuses and I couldn’t play political junkie.

I have only one potential means of getting news: NPR on a clock radio. But I can’t bear the racket in the house and I’m way past the idea that I should have to wait until someone else chooses to deliver the news I want to hear on their schedule.

How 20th century!

I’m okay with NPR in the car, but Old Blue’s radio doesn’t work, so that’s that.

Gasp. Newsless. Utterly newsless. As bare of news as one of Joel’s plucked chickens is of feathers. On a day that might make political history. Madness!

I couldn’t even get a weather report. And what if there’s a tornado? A hurricane? A rain of frogs! It could happen — and who’d warn me to expect frogs splatting down from the sky? Or even mild tadpole showers? No one, that’s who.

I missed simply sitting down with the computer during breaks. And Saturday I needed breaks from all that cleaning and drilling and cussing.

There’s solitaire. But it’s not the same. Of course, the caucuses turned out as boring as, and more predictable than, solitaire. Good thing I didn’t waste all that time tracking live blogs, eh? But I so wanted Hillary humiliated. Oh well.


That said, Saturday was also a beautiful day. Nice enough to leave the door open for the critters to wander in and out and the fresh February air to destuff the house. Working in the kitchen with paint stripper, followed by Goof-Off, followed by Brasso, and all accompanied with Elbow Grease (TM), clear air was much appreciated.

As was the sheer focus on getting things done.

Habit kept drawing me back over to the computer before I’d realize, “Oh, there’s nothing there” and get on with life.

I was achy by evening, but satisfied. Habit is a cuss to change. And it’s odd earning a living on a machine that also serves as the closest thing to an unhealthy addiction I’ve ever had. Not an ideal combo, that.

But I could get used to this. By Sunday I was starting to and Monday I was so busy I didn’t miss home Internet at all. There’s the library. It let me schedule this post and look up how to fix old mortise locks.

Even if I need to spend an hour or more at the library some days, it’s nice to be able to walk away from the constant noise and buzz and intrusion of the thing, too. To put a box around the endless, everywhere Web. Limits. It’s more about that than it is about trying to escape it altogether. Establishing a zone of peacefulness. I can already feel that.

But by damn, when I want to look something up on Wikipedia, boy is it a nuisance to know I have to delay gratification, maybe even by a couple of whole days, can you imagine??? Oh, the deep inner torment!


  1. CB
    CB February 23, 2016 4:43 am

    Worse for me would be not having YouTube to look up how someone else solved a problem I’m working on.

    Good on you though. Until you declare otherwise, i’m holding that your experience will be a total win.

    I remember in the old 2400 baud days I used to spend more time building batch files and scripts, and doing file and system management than dialing into BBS’s. There you go! Can you rig a way to dial in to a bbs? A couple probably still exist? Or in all your new spare time you could build one. Ha!

  2. Pat
    Pat February 23, 2016 4:46 am

    To bring you up to news, Bill Gates is backing the FBI to force Apple to hack into the San Berardino gunman’s iPhone. But then, what would you expect from a guy who peeks into Microsh*t’s computers!

    Now aren’t you sorry you wanted some news?

  3. RustyGunner
    RustyGunner February 23, 2016 10:35 am

    @CB – there are still a few BBS systems around, and I have a couple of good-quality 56K external modems in the closet. A project I want to pursue is a version of the old FIDOnet with end-to-end public-key encryption as a lower-tech secure backup in case there is some future “issue” with the Internet.

    @Pat – and the phone in question doesn’t even have the encryption protection the FBI is demanding a fix for. It’s all a con aimed at the rest of us. Advice: lengthen your passcode. Even with the demanded change the encryption algorithm itself remains secure, but the fibbies will be able to brute-force the passcode as fast as the hardware limits of the phone allow, so the longer the code, the longer they have to work at it. A 13-digit code will take them something like 250 years.

    @Claire – Sometime in the early 1980s, I spent a week visiting friend in a tiny community in Idaho called Featherville. All the homes and cars had CB radios, there was no phone, television or radio into the valley, no local paper, mail came once a week, and the only available link to the outside world was a radiotelephone repeater on a nearby mountain that cost a small fortune to access. I have never been that isolated before or since, even on the tiny Pacific island I once called home. The world could have come to an end and I wouldn’t have known it until the stars went out. Enjoy the peace and quiet, it is a rare thing anymore.

  4. Felinenation
    Felinenation February 23, 2016 12:20 pm

    How will you know if there’s a tornado? I would suggest getting a tone alert weather radio. It sounds an alarm if the Weather Service issues a warning for severe weather or other potential disasters.

  5. MJR
    MJR February 23, 2016 12:25 pm

    So long as you have enough to cover three hots and a cot plus your other expenses you are doing good. The biggest thing about the news these days is how everything centers around FUD. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt are what make news rooms hum and generate ad revenue while giving people (not so much me anymore) heart burn. In the end your loss isn’t actually a loss, it is a gain for your sanity and health.

    As Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus said: “The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”

  6. Ron Johnson
    Ron Johnson February 24, 2016 4:28 am

    I pledged myself to a No News January in 2015. The first week was tough. It got easier after that, and by the end of the month I didn’t really miss it much because I was reading books, doing projects, watching movies…

    When my self-imposed exile ended, I fired up the old laptop and found that I could make no sense of all the breathless commentary. There had been wars, plane crashes, shootings, etc., that had entered the popular consciousness, but I was like a man from another planet, or one revived after being frozen in ice. It must have taken me a couple of months to ‘catch up’ with the rest of the news world.

    I’m not so sure that was wise. Everyday is another urgent demand on our attention, yet hardly any of the breaking news means a damned thing to actually living. “Sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

    Ignorance of the inconsequential is not ignorance, it is editing.

  7. Stryder
    Stryder February 24, 2016 6:08 am

    It was a slow day in the sleepy little town of Prozac, where we haven’t had a newspaper since 1986 when the old office burned down. It took us three weeks to hear about the Challenger blowing up and we decided we liked not knowing about things that really didn’t affect us personally, so we never rebuilt the newspaper. Three people went completely off their blood pressure meds and the only shrink in town had to move from lack of business. We never have political ads posted anymore and if someone wants to vote, they actually look up the candidates to see what they stand for. We don’t go in for most electronic media around here either. The ones that do, just use the social media for pretty pictures and cute cats, maybe sending birthday wishes to others in the real world. We know about the business of the rest of the world, we just don’t get it immediately and ad nauseum. Just another day in Prozac.

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