Monday, January 12, 2009
Winged Mercury, and Dude, Where's My Internet?
The moral of the story is two-fold: when you head off for the weekend don't forget to tell your mother that you're going; always leave the neighbors with a spare key.
Saturday I was bundled into a car, literally dragged away from the computer when my fingers were smoking with literary inspiration, so that I could make it to New York City in time for a family gathering of some importance. We had planned to go later in the day but there was a blizzard on its way - maybe we could miss it? We didn't but fortunately it wasn't a real blizzard. Unfortunately neither Connecticut nor New York felt like plowing our direction of the highway. There was definitely some careful yet white-knuckled driving for the entire trip but we arrived safe and sound at Grandpa's in the Bronx.
Dinner was extremely pleasant though - leftover chicken soup from last year's Passover (from the freezer) - and roast chicken cut up into scary chunks with a nicely dressed salad and the good company of family members reunited. My family has recently begun to merge with my lady's family and I'm being indoctrinated into a large and warm circle of wonderfully literate and engaging people. We were each shown to our accommodating beds for the night and I sank into mine with great relief after a harrowing drive. I had, briefly, attempted to access the internet with my laptop but there was no open wifi, and no dialup. However a couple days away from the computer is a welcome change I find.
I am also always sound asleep at 4:00 a.m. It's never a time you'll find me restless or in a book. I like my eight hours and I generally sleep like a bear in winter. The cell phone had to ring quite a few times to wake me and even when it did I found myself too late to catch the call. It was my mother in California. This is alarming. Obviously something is wrong - perhaps with my younger sister or my little nephews. I called right back. My mother is so hysterical she doesn't even realize it's me at first. She'd tried to phone me at home but my phone was dead - she'd tried Pan but it was down. Apparently she'd received word, all the way in California, that there was a fire that COULD be my house all the way in Vermont and once she found both my phone and web site offline she was sure I was burning to a crisp.
Amazing how news travels. She was ranting at me with various things she thought I should do to save the cats when she realized I was safe, but my mind was foggy and I was waking everyone else up as I got louder and louder in my confusion. Then it was reminded to me that I could simply phone my local police station and found out the truth of the matter before further panic ensued and we also woke up the octogenarians in the apartment. It turned out that my home and cats were safe, but a neighboring apartment building was, indeed, ablaze. Once I had calmed down my mother relief changed to chagrin because that is when it occurred to me that my community site was hosted on a server in my living room and when the fire department turned off the electricity to the block they shut me down.
The emergency power backup that I have hooked up to the server is designed to shut down the server safely if the power goes off and stays off for a long time. It's also designed not to go back on unless a human being tells it too - in case the situations of power fluctuations, etc., which means that I was now 200 miles away from the button to turn it back on. There was no way I could just turn around and drive back before attending the family function.
In the morning I expected to find dozens of direct messages from my Twitter network to my cell phone, but oddly nary a one. I tried DMing out, but it kept refusing to send them. I feared that either I was technologically a dunce, or that Twitter was down too. I think the real answer is that I am a dunce at times, but the fact remains that if I had a Blackberry or iPhone I would have been connected and able to let people at Pan Historia know what was going on. Finally I had to phone a real person to get the message out.
I managed to put my troubles out of my mind most of Sunday, instead enjoying being cut off from technology and enjoying spending the day in New York City's Museum of Natural History - I hadn't been there in years - and then later to a fancy Italian restaurant with the huge group of family gathered together. The day, however, was not completely unfraught. Frantic calls were made that upset my partner. It seemed that her car was not starting back in Vermont. There was much discussion of the ramifications of this as the car was needed for work on Tuesday as well as our impending journey across the U.S. Visions of exorbitant mechanics fees were the topic of much of the conversation.
It became obvious that we would just have to cut the New York City trip short so we shipped out early this morning, Monday, and headed back to the wilds of Vermont. Or rather it seemed like we had been in the wilds of Outer Mongolia with our lack of ability to get internet, Google the news about the fire, tweet, fix the car, or turn on the server, and now at last we were returning to civilization.
The car started. The server rebooted with the touch of a button. The coffee was made, the dinner was cooked and once again all is well with the world. Now let me Google a bit more about that iPhone contraption…
Oh yeah, and did I mention that Mercury went into retrograde this weekend?