Thursday, August 09, 2012


This article originally ran in the 8.9.12 issue of Metroland

            For many 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.

            Then, a 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 get 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.

            Before 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, and split.

            Then, the 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 considered.

            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 doesn’t suck.

           This all 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, which needs some serious updating. 


At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

smiling for so many different reasons reading this : )

At 4:10 PM, Blogger Roger Owen Green said...

Going too many days sans e-mail and I am BURIED.


Post a Comment

<< Home