I’ve just managed to kick a bad case of cyber dependency and survive for three days in a log cabin in Perry County, Pennsylvania where the most technologically advanced piece of equipment to hand was a 1.5 million candlepower torch.
It was tough at first: no reception on my BlackBerry – no mobile phone signal – no laptop – no landline telephone – no TV signal, just a small mono radio that was able to pick up a single station that were clearly scraping by with one Bing Crosby album that they played over and over. In mid May, it’s hard to listen to, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”
With so little technical contact, I began to find myself marvelling at anything with a plug or a dial. The 1950s cooker suddenly seemed quite sophisticated, even with its broken clock & timer. The eight-track tape player in the cellar was fascinating, even if I couldn’t get it to play.
Of course, somebody had spoilt it all and installed a microwave. So (with blogging in mind) just as I was about to start thinking about the embedded software inside it, I turned it on and was delighted to find that the light was gone and it really didn’t work properly anyway.
Strangely, the fridge almost had me for a moment. One of those vast American things that you could chill down a whole Ox in, it actually had a beeping unit that seemed capable of detecting whether the door had been open for too long.
I thought I was about to start feeling closer to a few microchips and then, there it was – a power cut. Superb stuff. Cue the candles, log fire etc… Then just as I was worried about my case of Rolling Rock (it comes from Pennsylvania don’t you know) getting warm – the power kicked back in. Phew!
I guess the moral of the story is that when I take a break, I do generally start looking around for things to write, blog or talk about – I’m really not that good at turning off. I’m all for the argument that software runs the world and touches almost every part of our lives. That’s probably why I spend so much of my spare time “trying” to get away from those concepts and immersed in the Discovery channel. But up in the hills for three days, I just couldn’t find an application for an application – if you follow me.
… and so it was, no technology for three whole days. Just myself, my wife, Smokey the Bear to look after the forest fires and the racoons and turkey-buzzards whizzing about in the undergrowth.
But as soon as I had settled in and found myself loving the solitude and peace and quiet, out came that comment I had been holding back:
“Of course, I couldn’t live here without, well… y’know, satellite TV, well… and I’d need a wireless connection… and well, a proper mobile phone connection, umm… and, well, I guess I’d need a land line too – come to think of it, I’d need a lot of new DVDs or some kind of video-on-demand service. I mean, I’d just go mad up here alone in the woods without that kind of thing.”
Oh well, I tried. Honest.