Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pirate in Elmira

Medieval Internet Apparatus
Talache "Half" Road
The End of Talache Road
The Only Blackberries That Work Out Here
This is What "Off-line" Looks Like
Half Moon Rising on an Internet-less Night

Someone is drinking rum and stealing my Internet.

Here’s the reality of being connected in a remote area that still looks as if it belongs to British Columbia and men who traded in beaver pelts—there are no cables, no fiber optics, not even dial-up. True, highways, train tracks and power lines speed past Elmira Pond, but not the super-highway of information known as the Internet. WWW does not include northern Idaho in its world wide web.

Admittedly, I was appalled when told there was no service out here. Wait a minute—I’m a writer, I need my connections. Last August, when we first lived up on Telache (a road to nowhere, half missing and ends at the steepest beach on Lake Pend Oreille) I couldn’t even get phone service—cell or landline. When I told my husband that I wanted to live in the country I didn’t mean out of it. Timbuktu has better global connections than Telache.

That’s how we discovered HughesNet. It’s the only service for saps like me who have no service. It’s called satellite Internet and like a black hole in space, it sucks. You think your Internet is slow? Oh, ho, ho…you have no idea what s-l-o-w is! So, I play Mahjong Tiles as my photos upload and accept that some websites will never materialize.

We are allowed 10 gigabytes of data a month and you’d choke on your latte if I told you how much I have to pay for those precious bytes. They must be encrypted with gold nuggets to cost so much, but such is the price to live and write in paradise. Checking email, high-fiving friends on Facebook, blogging, downloading work files, uploading work files and researching barely uses up our data. But we can’t stream. We can order movies through the mail, but can’t download them. We can listen to Pandora, but not MN Public Radio.

Pirating is nothing new. Neighbors in apartments pirate from other neighbors; patrons tap into wireless systems even when “free Wi-Fi” is not posted; and stores even sell antenna’s that boost your pirating power. However, when you tap into our dinky data allowance, there’s not enough to share. And this peg-legged fool is trying to stream, probably not getting good results because it only sucks down the data without actually playing a smooth stream.

So, we come home from fishing last night and check our data. Yes, it’s an obsessive thing both Todd and I do, because he knows I’ll take his computer privileges away if he interferes with my work. He likes to listen to music on YouTube, but it eats gigs. So he self-monitors. I want to make sure I have plenty of gigs when I’m proofing projects—like now.

To our horror, we discovered that 4.5 gigs went missing while we were fishing. Like good married couples, we blamed one another first. “What did you do” we both roared at each other. When we realized that neither of us had been home, we didn’t know what to think. Our nearest neighbor is too far away to pick up our wireless router, but upon talking to a HughesNet rep in Mexico City they verified that someone has “tapped” us with an antenna. 

According to the rep, their technology service can do some kind of encoded anti-pirate magic to protect our precious gold-infused gigabytes, but they aren’t answering the phone. In the meantime, I’m blogging offline and Todd is playing Solitaire instead of ogling sexy Swiss Mausers and debating with other gunnies about which powder to load for stability at 1,000 yards.

And some pirate is fiddling with his antenna, wondering why it isn’t working. At least he doesn’t have to call Mexico for help.

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