Where There’s Internet . . .

. . . work gets done. For us, at least.

The place we’re staying, we haven’t been able to connect to their wireless network. I have an idea what might be up, but it’d probably be more work to test than it’s worth for the 16 hours we’ll still be there.

So we’re in the WIred Monk coffee shop, using Mary-Lee and Cheri’s wireless and electricity and restroom.

We bought a cuppa tea and an Italian soda this morning. Since we’ve been back this afternoon (we walked home for lunch) we haven’t bought anything yet, but we will. They even came over and asked if we’d like cups and ice for the water we brought for ourselves. It definitely did not sound like “You’re using our free internet. You should buy something.”

I’m one of those people who stops at the fast food restaurant in the middle of nowhere to use the bathroom ’cause it’s the only one for miles, and I have to buy something from the dollar menu because it feels unfair to use their plumbing without giving them something in return.

Finding internet access isn’t too tough here in North America. I don’t expect to have to crawl under someone’s house and tap into their wiring or anything. Still, there are challenges, and they’re not only logistical.

As every adventurer discovers, the real challenges are inside us; the journey simply exposes them.

Desire for a Flood

We are not ascetics. We love good food and wine (well, Sue’s pancreas has decided she can’t have alcohol any more, but she loves the smell) and we prefer nice furniture to garage sale stuff. We like a comfortable life and nice things.

Clearly, though, folks who are doing their best to divest themselves of stuff aren’t focused on said stuff too much.

Our goal is a simple lifestyle. This doesn’t mean living on crummy food or in dingy basements. (Consider that some of our best alcoholic beverages originated in monasteries.) It’s about choosing which stuff needs to be nice, and which stuff doesn’t matter.

I read this sentence this morning:

“This world’s advertising elements try to build in us a desire for a flood of consumer goods that we do not need. (Italics mine.)

Need. That can be a tough word to define, and we’re in the process of redefining it for ourselves.

Most of us can agree that the average family does not need six cars, or a house with more bathrooms than people.

But how many computers does our family ‘need’ ? Does Fiona need a computer? Do I need all my musical instruments?

Drawing the line between ‘need’ and ‘want’ is a difficult and, in the end, subjective and personal challenge. Resisting the media’s crushing push to make me want more more more, though, is an imperative.

Guest Post: Ken Grossman on Brilliance and Absurdity

Ken has been a good friend to our family for many years. He’s a deep thinker with a sense of humour skewed in directions we like. He sent this as an email, and at Sue’s request is allowing us to post it here.

The nomadic lifestyle took awhile to sink in with me but I’m on-board now. I cannot say whether it is an absurd idea or brilliant but I suspect it is a bit of both. Here is what I like about it:

  • It serves that inner voice in many of us to live life with gusto
  • It also serves the inner voice that speaks to our wanderlust (But we may need to be aware of too many inner voices as we may end up on medication:)
  • A chance to meet people and REALLY get to know them
  • I think you and Sue have the brainpower and personality to pull this off
  • The world has become very virtualized and there are not many things you cannot do over the Internet
  • Freedom, not total freedom, but freedom to a degree that most industrialized people will not voluntarily seek
  • Exposing Fiona to an unconventional and rich array of experiences, I suspect she will grow up to be a different sort of person and I can’t wait to see
  • I would hope there is a potential through your website to catch an audience that may fuel you both spiritually and financially
  • If you can be successful, I would think you would achieve a comfort with living your life in a predatory world and not fear the future. (See Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

There are probably more things I can think of I like but on to the things I am fearful of:

  • You WILL be very dependent on the Internet; stay tuned into potential changes there
  • I don’t know what kind of safety nets you have in place but I suspect that it is not many. Your level of vulnerability concerns me
  • A big safety Net issue is Health care…
  • Traveling the roads makes you very dependent on your vehicle
  • There are bad people out there. Some of them really really seem like good people. Be careful
  • Fiona is blessed to have you both but I would be concerned about her none the less. I don’t wish to verbalize all the reasons…
  • It is a truly crappy economy out there and this might be the perfect way to face it, but, we relentlessly move towards the future and preparing for that should be somewhere on your radar.

OK, a couple of thoughts.

  • The My-Fi from Verizon is very good for browsing the Internet but it sucks for file upload/download especially outside the 3G range. I’ve read about new technology for cars but I don’t know anything about it. You will need to find hot spots.
  • You may want to put a Android phone near the top of your list. If you can try one for 15 days before returning it (Verizon included a $35 restocking fee for my Droid X) then that might be worth it. If you cut loose on this project, I think a Droid phone would be like a Swiss Army Knife for you.

What do you think about Ken’s lists? Are the pluses enough? What about the concerns? We’d love to hear your comments below.

Laptop Problem Solved, Methinks

I’ve whined about my laptop. Yesterday at Brad and Krisy’s, I lost the wireless connection in the antique wireless card. Got to Caitlyn’s today, and it still refuses to connect. Since I’ve made my living as a network technician in the past, I’m confident it ain’t my fault. I think the wireless card or other internal watchamajiggy is dead, like the two batteries.

I’m typing this on an iBook G4, which though it’s nearly 5 years old is more powerful than any computer I own. Yes, the powerful Dell Precision Workstation I use for my audio and video editing, PhotoShopping and all that, is a tad puny compared to this little beast.

As of a few hours ago, it’s mine, a gift from someone who until today, literally could not give it away.

It’s not the newest Mac, not state-of-the-art, but did I mention, it’s now the most powerful computer I own (and including this one, we own eight, including two servers.)

Every once in a while, it feels like all I have to do is look skyward, ask, and receive.

I am, I assure you, deeply grateful. And a little freaked out at the syncronicity of it all.

Open Letter to the Department of Transportation, State of Washington

(Please place tongue firmly in cheek before reading.)

Dear Person Who Cares,

It has come to my attention that travelers attempting to use Interstate 5 to get from, say, the coastal area near Hoquiam to get to, oh, I don’t know, the community of Arlington, north of Everett, by way of Tacoma, are being re-routed to Silverdale, just north of Bremerton (which, incidentally, is nowhere hear Arlington. Okay, it’s near, there just happens to be a gap in the highway which the locals refer to as ‘Puget Sound’.)

This may come as a surprise to you, but many of the people traveling north on I-5 are doing so intentionally. When they are, without warning or notice, shunted onto Washington State Highway 16, which, though it does turn into the equally lovely Highway 3, still provides little in the way of satisfaction to the Arlington-bound traveler, it is both confusing and wasteful, both as regards to time and natural resources.

Your local Silverdale representative (a young woman named Rachele, disguised as a clerk in a Chevron mini-market) explained that the signage in Tacoma is known to be defective. This was confirmed by our hosts when we finally arrived in Arlington over 5 hours into our 3 hour trip.

I would like to recommend that, beautiful as the Bremerton area is (whether you are heading north, in blissful ignorance, or south, in silent frustration) that perhaps it is not the optimal destination for those who weren’t planning to go there.

So, could you put a sign on the I-5/Highway 16 offramp fer cryin’ out loud?

Thank you so very much for your prompt attention to this matter.

Joel D “It’s nothing personal, Bremerton” Canfield