20 April 2014

Library in the Clouds

by Leigh Lundin

During my Criminal Brief days, I began experiencing down time hours on end, even days at a time. It was early days for residential internet, but that didn’t mitigate the anguish, er, annoyance of being unable to access that giant library in the cloud.

Local cable and DSL companies were upgrading their lines and equipment. The closer crews made their way to my house, the worse the situation became. It turned out the rearmost corner of my property was designated some sort of hub. Cables from it fed my neighbors and me, so I often found men traipsing through my yard. As long as they kept me posted as to their comings and goings, I didn’t so much mind having a trencher, backhoe, and big hole in my yard as I did constant interruptions of service. I’d come to depend on the World Wide Web for my research of almost any topic.

Before the internet, I’d depended upon my father as my research center. He was a… well… I’d have to say a renaissance farmer. He farmed the land and livestock, but in the evenings, he read… everything. No topic escaped his interest: not the sciences, not the arts, not sports, not history and current events. If he didn’t know the particulars of a given subject, he knew where to look it up.

His library consumed a cramped room, expanded into a walk-in closet, found its way into barrister bookcases in the living room, then crept into the various bedrooms like a gothic creature. I can’t say he had more books than the local county seat library, but he certainly competed with it. Long after he died, I’d catch myself reaching for the telephone to ask, “Dad, what do you know about…?”

Starting early this year, I began experiencing spotty service. While outages weren’t frequent, the internet slowed to the pace of a snail’s pet tortoise.

Defining Slow

In South Africa five years ago (and Britain and Australia), one of the providers was so excruciatingly slow, some wags held a race sending files via homing pigeons versus their internet provider. The pigeons won.

But by now, there and here, that should be a thing of the past.

It’s awful when karma and déjà vu plot together. For many days, I had no internet at all and Road Runner was out all together. The various providers couldn’t figure out the Road Runner problem, which may have something to do with Wiley Coyote. I could easily live without RR, but not basic internet. And to be fair, that latter problem is my own because my house is torn apart for repairs.

To bridge the gap of a month or two without a regular ISP, I purchased a couple of wireless devices from NetZero and FreedomPop… and promptly managed to misplace one and today discovered the other isn’t working. Ah, technology. Now I have to galavant to the local wifi eatery, justifying my visit with a sandwich while cadging internet time.

I’ve come to realize how dependent I’ve become upon the internet. I didn’t replace my research and reference books lost in the hurricanes, volumes ranging from the small print edition of the OED to the CRC– the equivalent of an alchemist’s bible, purchased ‘back when’ by every math, science, and engineering student.

And of course, I still miss my dad, bigger-than-life, much more than a walking Alexandrian repository of knowledge. I often think how he would have loved the World Wide Web, no topic out of reach. Unless one doesn’t have internet at all. Like me.

Until my internet service returns, I miss all those subjects, just out of touch. But wait! There’s always Burger King.


  1. Leigh,I can relate to your anguish over the demise of your Internet service. How does your fourteen-year-old deal with it?

  2. Leigh,
    My service is still alive but often barely kicking, and there're no repairs going on in my area.

    I dread seeing a Comcast or ATT repairman climb the pole in front of my house because sometimes either my phone, TV, or internet service starts acting weird.

    Is there a word for those of us who go a little crazy when our service goes down?

  3. Fran, the 14yo handles it with all the aplomb of a dramatic diva thespian with angst and tears and screaming… Oh, wait, that's me, too.

    Louis, the only word that come to mind is £@$%™§¶, but that's not us, it's them!

  4. Leigh, I commiserate with ya', buddy.

    Our new apartment is nice, but we had to jettison a lot in order to fit into the smaller accommodations. My sacrifice was a home office. So far, I’m doing ok smoking and writing on the patio during the morning, and at the barbeque pavilion during late-night (my laptop can tap our wi-fi from there). This summer, however, I’ll be ‘forced’ to spend more time at a local cigar store lounge with wi-fi. Oh, the humanity! LOL

    God Speed getting your service back online—and steady!


  5. A Broad Abroad20 April, 2014 15:58

    Sorry to learn your internet hiccoughs are still not resolved. Sad, too, you can't still log in to Dad-Net.
    A peaceful Easter to one and all.

  6. Leigh, it made me sad knowing how much you miss your dad. I wish your internet troubles would get resolved. I know how frustrated I get when we lose service.

  7. Thanks, Dixon. I don't mind acting the itinerant writer, holed up in a coffee shop (or cigar shop in your case), but I miss home service.

    Dad.net… Yes, that would be about right, ABA. Amazing how much he know about so many topics.

    Vicki, thank you. I'm not sure we ever get over those we love, but that's how they live on after life, living in our memories.


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