Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page


I am a fan of nature-based observances/celebrations/holidays and made-up new and potentially silly ones like Pi Day and Discardia. I’ve baked and eaten my pie (half apple, half peach & blueberry to clean out last summer’s fruit from the freezer) and I’m eyeing the big pile o’ crap for what might be pruned during this season’s round of Discardia. And trying to pull together my thesis proposal, although it’s tempting to discard it, too…

I set up a meeting with my thesis committee so I’d have a deadline, but now that the deadline is here (well, a week away), I wish I could take it back. I’ll be glad after the fact but I can’t quite see how I’m going to pull it off from the vantage point of now. What kind of place is outer space? How to we (and who is this “we”, exactly?) imagine it, that is both what do we base our ideas upon, and what do we think it’s like, or will be like, because it’s also often conceptualized as far in the future or far in the past. Outer space isn’t always (or often) imagined or understood to be present the way other places are. Or can be. There are people (humans) orbiting the Earth right now. That shouldn’t be surprising; we (the species) have been in orbit continuously for over a decade. And yet it is remarkable when we take a moment to think about it, to imagine them there. At the same time, on the scale of the universe, orbital space is barely off-planet at all; I’m not sure we should consider that part of outer space. Extraterrestrial yes; in the same category as another galaxy? I’m not convinced that’s a useful way to think about the place. Either place.

mmm internets

When I moved here in August, I had done some research on local phone & internet options and was pleased to find an alternative that was not only not one of the major corporations monopolizing the market but was also actively working in support of net freedoms AND did not require a contract to sign up. The only downside was that they could not provide cable internet in my new neighbourhood but projected it would be available in October. They did have DSL, but I already owned a cable modem and didn’t want to buy another gadget I wouldn’t need in a few months. After some deliberation, I figured I’d rather wait and make use of connectivity on campus, at friends’, and as it turned out, a strong open wifi connection in my immediate vicinity.

Five months later I looked up and noticed that there’d been no word of progress on the cable internet front. When I checked in with the company, I was told there was no longer any ETA; they wanted to expand but didn’t know when it would happen here. (I didn’t ask why the new delay). Well, the free wifi I’d been enjoying was reliable and fast, and while I didn’t intend to borrow it indefinitely, there wasn’t any pressing need, and I still didn’t want to buy a DSL modem when I really hoped to have cable internet in the end.

And then last weekend happened, when I was suddenly unable to connect to my old pal “dlink”. The network showed up; there was no new password requirement; my computer just failed to connect. Over and over and over. Now, I’ve taken “digital sabbaticals” before. I generally try to turn off the internet around 8pm most days (although using my ipod touch for bedtime music and reading has made the temptation to take just a little peak uncomfortably easy, with disastrous results for my early-to-bed inclination). I have gone days or weekends without connection, and while there’s always that impulsive reach to plug in at first, it gradually passes and I learn not to miss it, mostly. This week has not been like that; there’s a huge difference between choosing not to have or knowing I won’t have an internet connection and facing the unknown. Suffice it to say productivity was not the result of being offline. Would it come back? Would I be able to connect this time? How about this time? Now? Now? NOW? NO?!

Nick in a boxThis morning A New Hope has appeared, the valiant “linksys”, showing up next to the disturbing void that is “dlink” in my internet connections list but letting me in, opening the door to the wide virtual world. I am simultaneously calmer knowing the door is open (just like my cat) and more distracted trying to figure out where to go first, and next, and next. And I am going to call the internet folks tomorrow and make arrangements for my very own DSL connection that will never ever leave me.