Friday, December 16, 2011

Ma and Pa enter the 21st century

“Merry Christmas,” said the Farmer. He handed me a flat, white cardboard box.

I opened it with a blend of curiosity and caution. Over the last 20 years, I have opened similar boxes containing barbecue sets from Pioneer Hi-Bred Seed Corn, matching cake and pie servers from Pioneer Hi-Bred Seed Corn, kitchen knives from Pioneer Hi-Bred Seed Corn . . . well, you get the picture. For those of you who don't live in farming country, seed corn companies give premiums like hats, coats and kitchenware with the purchase of their seed. There are a lot of farm wives around here with $30,000 pie servers.

This box looked, for all the world, like it was going to contain yet another kitchen accessory stamped with the Pioneer logo. Not that that would be a bad thing. I don’t think I have a Pioneer ice cream scoop yet.

I still don’t.

The box contained a wireless broadband router.

We are FINALLY getting high speed internet access at home!

From our first computer, a second (third?) hand Dell 15 years ago to my current iMac (truly, my precious), we’ve limped along with dial-up internet because that’s all that was available in our neck of the woods. Want to determine how close to civilization you live? Can you get high speed internet? Yes? Then you’re practically living in the ‘burbs. No? Then you’re in hoot owl country.

We live in some sort of Bermuda triangle of internet access. All the local phone companies’ high speed service stops just short of our place. We were inaccessible from the north, south, east and west.

Several times, our phone company had excitedly promised us high speed internet. They’ve re-configured our phone service package and sent out a big box containing all sorts of modems and cables. Then, at the 11th hour, just as I’m starting to install things, they’ve called and said, “Um? About that high speed we promised? Sorry. Can’t do it. Our bad. Please send our stuff back.”

I was getting a complex.

But no more!

Perhaps I’m speaking too soon. At the moment we have NO internet service because I’ve uninstalled the phone line modem and have not yet made contact with the techs at our new provider to install the new router. They were supposed to call last night but because of some fax glitch between the local electronics store in Williamsburg where we got the router and the main office in Michigan, our contract did not get transmitted.

The only phone call I got last night was from my mother, who is dog-sitting for a neighbor’s elderly border collie, who had, for reasons known only to him, eaten an entire fabric toy. My mother was concerned and wanted to know if she should make the dog throw up. I seem to be getting entirely too much first-hand experience with this lately. Happily, a spoon full of salt on the back of the tongue quickly remedied the situation and the toy made a hasty re-appearance.

So now the main office is supposed to call late this afternoon and talk me through the set-up.

This is truly one of the better Christmas gifts the Farmer has come up with over the years, although his motives were not entirely pure. While it will delight his lovely and charming wife to be able to watch videos and upload photos much faster and shop the LLBean and Clean Run sites with ease, it will also allow him to watch online cattle auctions, something that was always out of the question with dial-up.

But we still live in hoot owl country.


  1. We, too, live in hoot owl country. People just didn't understand why we still had dialup service. Um, it's all that's available? Just got ourselves a Sprint hot spot and it is fabulous! LOVE IT! Welcome to the 21st century, Melinda!

  2. I'm pretty sure that if you're watching online cattle auctions you're in hoot owl country, regardless of internet status.

  3. Wow, genuine dial-up! That's an unheard of relic of the past here in the heart of Seattle. Enjoy your broadband, fast internet is a wonderful thing!

  4. So... I'm sitting here picturing Jeff online with his cursor hovering over the "add to cart" button!!! LOL

  5. Maybe the Pioneer goodies are still awaiting your opening on the Big Day!

  6. Congrats on entering the age of high-speed internet. I'm glad the salt trick worked for you.