By Art Reisman
A few weekends a year I spend time at our rural retreat out in the middle of high plains of Kansas. My internet options are very limited. We have Wild Blue as a Satellite provider. Their service is on average worse than dial-up when it is working, and there are many reasons for it to randomly go out. Including heavy rain, woodpeckers destroying the plastic cap on the center of the dish, and just random congestion that can occur at any time of the day. There was also the time I accidentally used up my data quota after leaving the Internet radio on for a week. In response, they shut off my service without any notification.
As a back up to the wild blue, I have a 40 foot repeater antenna on the roof that picks up a 3g signal from the local wireless provider. If I sit right under the repeater, in a closet, I can get a data signal on my phone for those emergencies when I must respond to an e-mail, so technically I am not completely off grid.
When the Internet goes down , I will fight for hours resetting routers and checking cables, just like my 1-year-old grandson screaming for hours when overtired. I will not give up my Internet access without a fight.
But then it happens. At some point I give up. The Internet is unusable or completely gone. With great relief, I look over at my night stand, where I have a stack of unread nature books that sits for months at a time. Much like the island of misfit toys, these books just need to be read. My favorite nature writer Richard Coniff lulls me into a wonderful world without politics, without doomsday weather events for which I have no control, no angry customer e-mails :) For several hours I can enjoy nature and the glorious rhythm of life without the Internet.