This article originally ran in the 8.9.12 issue of Metroland
years, I’ve been Mr. Online. Friends
joke that when they send me an email, no matter what time of day or night, they
get a response instantaneously. It’s not
an addiction, I swear. I work online,
all day, almost everyday, unless I’m out meeting a client, running an errand,
or going to court. It all happens on my
laptop, my writing, research, correspondence, my music library... I deal mainly
with federal courts, the Copyright Office, and the United States Patent and
Trademark Office, all of which are totally wired, and accept filings online and
send out all their decisions, rulings, and the like via email. When I teach classes I send out assignments
via email. I don’t shop much, but when I
do, I prefer online. News, sports,
weather. And then there’s Facebook. Click.
month and a half ago, I did something weird.
I bought a house that had no internet.
Not, like, it just didn’t have it --
this house couldn’t
it. I’m 2 1/2 miles up a dirt mountain
road, bordered by state forest on two sides. There’s no cable, no DSL, not even
any cell service except at the end of the driveway, where there’s one bar of
AT&T’s crappy old Edge network. I
now have a patio chair where I can sometimes have a telephone conversation if
it’s not raining or the bugs aren’t too bad.
My old iPhone and the one bar crappy Edge network aren’t quite up to
delivering email or Facebook to me at the end of the driveway. Oh, and no TV. And I refuse to surrender and get a landline
phone. Never again.
buying the house, I had both a satellite guy and a tree guy tell me that with
some moderate tree trimming, I’d get satellite internet and TV no
problemo. My mistake was (and pay
attention now if you think you might ever buy a house in a forest in the middle
of goddamn nowhere) that I didn’t have the satellite guy and the tree guy come
out at the same time
and make an
ensemble no problemo assessment. Nope,
they came out on different days, waived their arms around, said no problemo,
day after I closed on my dream house, the satellite and tree guys met for the
first time, on the roof of my new home.
After some harrumphing and passing little magic scopes back and forth,
they told me that the satellite internet and TV outlook had been upgraded from
no problemo to something nearing SOL.
OMFG! But then they walked around
and figured if I put the dishes (one for internet, and one for TV) on poles in
the ground away from the house, I’d have a pretty good shot at service. But first I’d have to cut down several big
trees that were in the way of the line of sight.
OK, whew. But these trees were within 100 feet of a stream
that runs behind the house, which meant that I had to get permission from the
town to cut down the trees. So I went to
Town Hall with my application and was told I’d just missed the deadline for the
July meeting, so I needed to wait until mid-August to have my request
So here I
am. It’s been interesting. Mornings are great. No more grabbing a 6 AM coffee and logging on
to see what came in overnight, a process that often started a chain of online
events that could last past 9. Nope, I
read the paper, take the dog for a spin on the nearby Appalachian Trail, have
breakfast, and then figure out where the hell I’m gonna go get internet
today. I’ve been to libraries (and
benches outside libraries), coffee shops, friends’ businesses and studios, any
place I can grab me some wifi. I do
everything I need to do online, download what I think I’ll need to work
offline, and head home. At night I read
books; I’ve read five in the last month, which is more than I read the last two
years. It’s not ideal, but it sure
changes next week, hopefully, when I get permission to cut down a couple trees
and get satellite internet, which everyone tells me does suck. Not as bad as dial-up, but not great. I hear there’s cell towers going up nearby
sometime soon, so maybe I’ll get phone, too.
Yay. And I just read about some
screaming internet fiber going in someday down on the main road, part of some
state “Internet To The Boonies” program.
But I’m 2 ½ miles up the mountain.
I’m not holding my breath.
Paul Rapp is an
intrepid IP lawyer in Western MA who is looking forward to next week’s
WordxWord Festival in Pittsfield. You
can try to reaching him through his website paulrapp.com, which needs some