Over the past two weeks, my kids and I started to notice that our Internet connection was slowing down. Not everything was affected equally, but YouTube videos took an insane amount of time to load, and we gradually stopped trying to watch them. (Since a majority of The Teen’s waking hours are spent watching videos of other people playing Minecraft, this was a big deal for him.)
One night a friend sent me a YouTube link on Facebook and was saddened when I reported that, in essence, life was too short to permit its viewing. He then sent me a link to a speed-test site, which revealed that while my upload speeds were in the common parlance “slow,” download speeds were better described as “glacial.”
Now, water always wins, and glacial actions are powerful over time, but this is OUR INTERNET we were talking about, and we needed to see our STUFF. I kept promising myself I’d turn the router off before I went to bed some night and turn it on again in the morning, and everything would be fine. But I kept forgetting. By the time I woke up each morning, the kids were already at the computer and would not be prised off.
So, Sunday night after all the kidlets were in bed and presumably sleeping, I called our Internet provider. I figured it was a simple matter of walking through a modem reset, usually accomplished by following the instructions dictated by an automated voice, and then we’d be back to normal. However, to one of the simple questions I gave an answer that punted me to an Actual Person.
The phone tech, in the nicest possible American Southern drawl, asked me to connect a laptop (do you have a laptop? Baby do I have laptops!) directly to the cable modem, bypassing the router. She started running speed tests on her end while I started my laptop, shut it down, and started it again when I was asked to (oops). After a few minutes of my waiting for the aged iBook to launch Firefox (during which time I completely forgot that I simply can’t access the home wireless network while I’m using the landline, which I was [oops]), I heard her say, “Oh. Y’all don’t have to try to get the Internet. Ah can see a BIG problem from here. We’ll send a technician to your house as soon as possible.”
To her, “as soon as possible” means Tuesday morning between 8 and 10am.
I thanked her, hung up, and put everything back to the way it had been before… or I at least tried. I reset everything, and ran diagnostics twice, but I couldn’t connect to the Internet.
If my home wireless network can’t connect to the Internet, my Kindle and my smartphone are going to have serious problems. Remember, I live on a former dairy farm in the middle of Seriouslyrural, Wisconsin. We do not so much have, how are you saying, The Signal.
I can probably make a phone call if I go outside and sit in the car. But until Tuesday morning, I can’t do Facebook. The Teen can’t watch walkthrough videos. The younger three can’t go online to create their own video games on the new gamebuilder site they just got accounts on. I can’t report half my email as spam. I can’t go on WebMD to find out that tweak in my left shoulder is some kind of ligament tumor. I can’t go to allrecipes.com and plug in the amounts of fresh peaches, pears, and plums I have on the kitchen table and find recipes to use them up ASAP. I can’t search unlv.edu to see if that’s where my mathematician-friend Craig will be teaching this fall. I can’t log on to Amazon.com and one-click order that Cuisinart ice cream maker with which I can start trying out all those Jeni’s ice cream recipes.
We are DISCONNECTED.
I will make it clear that we are not Amish. We do have iTunes, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. And we do have the Wii, the brand-new-to-us GameCube, the PS2, the PS1, and the Sega Genesis. We have the iPad mini, the Kindle Fire, the old Kindles, the GameBoys, and the DS units. We have cable television and dozens of DVDs.
Frankly, I’m going to spend my disconnected time in the kitchen. (I do have those peaches, plums, and pears to make something of before the fruit flies consume us all.) When I’m not in the kitchen, I have knitting to work on, and a TARDIS bookcase to paint up in primer. My children may be the anti-Amish, but I do have my Mennonite tendencies on which to fall back in times of crisis such as these.
But the children! Think of the children! Will they remember how to ride their bicycles? How to keep journals? How to draw and paint? How to help Mom make chocolate–peanut butter fudge, poach pears, and make homemade pizza? How to read books? How to play in the park? How to read their library books before they’re due?
Right now, very early Monday morning, that amber light is still flashing on the AirPort, and I’m…concerned.
In the words of Peter Gabriel, “Dear god…what have I done?”