Friday, May 20, 2005

The World is My Coffee Shop

By the way, you may have wondered why I was posting like a demon while my wife and I were in Florida inspecting her mother's health. This was the first time I traveled with my laptop, since I am paranoid about loss and thievery and figure that, while I keep an eye on the laptop, the rest of our luggage will be stolen all the more easily.

But when I called my wife at her office at 8 p.m. the night before we were flying out -- at 7 p.m. -- she said she wouldn't be home until midnight because she had a meeting summary to complete that her boss needed immediately and perhaps intravenously so vital to the health of Oakland it was.

I said: come home, do it on the plane, we'll email it back.

I have a wireless card. The world is wireless or very nearly, right? The report was done and edited by the time we got to Tampa. But the Tampa airport does not have a hot spot, though at least they knew what a hot spot was. My mother-in-law lives in Winter Haven, about an hour's drive away, and I concluded we should look for a hot spot there rather than in Tampa. When were off the freeway and approaching mum-in-law's neighborhood, I started trolling for unsecured wireless networks, found several, connected with one, and we stopped in somebody's driveway and sent my wife's email. To my surprise, when we got to mum's, several blocks away, I could still maintain a very weak connection. I did not know wireless extended that far. Ours doesn't.

It was wonderful. One of my sisters-in-law is a tv addict and my mother-in-law's hearing is sharp to the point of hypersensitivity. Not only were big chunks of the evening filled with television shows I did not particularly want to see, but those shows were also inaudible, given my own hearing deficit. I roamed the house looking for a wireless sweet spot and then checked out my news and my blogs, and posted. And when I was doing neither of these things, I ran Yahoo's baseball game channel -- little dots actually hop from base to base -- in the background and so learned almost in real time when my beautiful A's blew two consecutive games to the Red Sox when Dotel gave up walk off home runs in the bottom of the 9th.

It was just a little alienating to have that wireless connection so handy and so constant, and for decency's sake and for the sake of your humanity you have to be ready to drop the computer if anyone really wants to talk. But sometimes being in a difficult family situation is like being trapped in a whirlpool, and it is nice to be reminded that out there somewhere is still comparatively calm water where your own little troubles aren't even part of the weather report.

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