Monday, April 22, 2013

There is a lesson to be learned.

    The events of last week in Boston and near Waco brought out the best and the worst in people.  I have been musing almost continuously about how, or even if, I could write about it.  I started this several times, but found myself getting angry, and that is not what I want to convey.  There is a lesson to be learned.
    Most of us were moved by the almost universal compassion exhibited by so many distant people.  We expect that the victims as well as those related to the victims to exhibit unfathomable anguish.  We have also come to expect that those who were left uninjured to jump into action rendering aid and comfort, but it is the genuine compassion that spews forth from all over the planet that never ceases to amaze me.  The social sites of Facebook, Google+ and Twitter came alive with messages of support, concern, charity and love as well as a global source of unfiltered news and communication. 
    Unfortunately, the cyber community was not entirely in concert.  I do understand the international aspect of these sites, and I know catastrophe is relative to proximity.  I also know that some people do not deal well with emotional strife.  I harbor no ill feelings for those who may not have known what was happening by the happenstance of location and continued posting in their normal fashion.  Nor was I upset by those who acknowledged what was happening and continued posting with the announced purpose of self-distraction in lieu of emotional tumult.  
    It is the other example of disconnection that raised my ire.  There was the local art gallery who unfortuitously scheduled a major meet-and-greet for the evening of the bombing but felt obligated to clog the public news-feed with endless pictures of their soirĂ©e.  There was a character from the Southwest who decided that while people were being killed and maimed, it was the ideal time to share his new joke about the Pope.  There were numerous postings promoting blogs, e-books, webinars and the like.  I attempted to interact with a number of these people to let them know what was transpiring and why people’s attention was turned elsewhere at that time.   The feedback was unconscionable.  I heard everything from “There’s only three dead,” to “Yes, I know what’s happening, do you want to buy my book, I just lowered the price,” to “People die every day, why should we care about them?”  I could go on, but I think you understand my angst.  There are cretins among us; perhaps they are that missing link that evolutionists are always searching for, neither Neanderthal nor Modern Man.
    There is a lesson to be learned from this:  The size of your circles, your friends list, and your followers is not nearly as important and character of the people who populate them.  Like diseased branches, I pruned the cancerous growths before they could spread their infection.  I assume, depending on how widely read and shared this post becomes, I will have to endure another round of venomous, angry comments and replies.  If so, I may have to do some additional pruning. 
    The vast majority of the readers for these somewhat regular entries on my blog are writers and bloggers themselves.  Watch the comments posted on this blog and on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, decide on your own which are of the variety you wish to graft to your trunk and which are a canker in need of surgical intervention.  The goal of every writer is to impart a modicum of insight in an entertaining manner.  The authors exemplified here possess no insight I wish to know; they do not merit further attention.  They may feel the same way about me, but I am comfortable with that.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

It’s good to be out-of-town

    Living on the side of a mountain has its challenges.  When my wife and I decided on this high altitude haven, I knew there would be one major obstacle.  My business is entirely dependent on the Internet and our new rural retreat lies just outside “the grid.”
    When we first moved to North Carolina, we bought a house 14 miles outside of town.  I loved it out there, and even though I accessed a cyber-connection almost daily, my living was not technology dependent.  I had to settle for a small satellite dish mounted high on the hill above my house with uploads and downloads bounced off some distant piece of orbiting space debris.  Satellite Internet is nothing to write home about; it is barely faster than dial-up.  You can forget about streaming music, or video, or anything that requires bandwidth.
    Why satellite?  Waynesville isn't exactly a technological nexus, and once outside the town’s boundaries, getting DSL or cable service becomes an issue.  The fiber optic lines stopped about three miles down the river.  I begged and pleaded but the phone company was steadfast in their denials.  The cable company was worse, they didn't even make the turn onto our road some five miles away.  To top it off, our property sat in a deep valley and while cell service was sketchy, air cards were worthless.  I had no viable alternative.
    When the economy started its backslide, we took the opportunity to sell the acreage out by the Pigeon River and move into town.  By then my little editing/proofreading business was blossoming and replaced that horror of horror, my job, boss, paycheck, stability, insurance and stress.  But with the business came an absolute need for high speed connection. We had moved into “the Country Club” in the heart of town only to be disappointed by the limited availability of DSL Lite: not the desirable up to 6mbps that is heavily advertised, nope I had a blistering 0.75mbps.  I was so happy to be in town, elbow-to-elbow with strangers, incessant traffic noise, parties, fights, stereos and televisions providing a comforting ambient noise all night, not to mention a yard with no room for my dogs to play.  No, I am no townie.
    It wasn't long before our sanity required that we get back to the peace of the rural countryside.  Hence our move to this comfortable aerie perched high above the valley that nestles the quaint town of Waynesville.

    We are not totally cut off from civilization; we do have electricity from the local co-op.  But as far as other modern wired amenities, power is about the total extent up here.  Neither the phone company nor cable come this far up, and even though I have enjoyed satellite TV for years, I was not about to attempt space as an Internet conduit again.  In my pre-move research, I discovered that the mountain just to my north held a large array of cell towers, and Verizon Wireless has a little known service called Home Fusion.  They installed an antenna on the side of the house and a router/modem inside, and presto, high-speed, dependable Internet. 
    Yes, I have cut the wires (all except electric).  My phones and Internet are cellular, my TV satellite, my water is from a well, my sewerage goes into a septic system, and even though I can see my nearest neighbors high above me, you couldn't climb your way up there and any noise they make is filtered by the dense forest canopy and the clean mountain air.
    All sarcasm aside, it’s good to be out-of-town.