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Disconnected

Well, when I got to Richmond, I was in for a rather nasty surprise.

As we have throughout this trip, we booked a suite in Richmond—with five people, it’s a choice between a suite and two hotel rooms, and the suite is cheaper. Most of the places we’ve been staying have been modern and corporate—Embassy Suites, for the most part.

This latest place is different.

While nice, the place shows its age—the elevators are tiny (which my parents say is a hallmark of older designs) and the room, while stylish, clean and surprisingly large, lack . . . I don’t know what exactly, but it makes it feel dated. Perhaps it’s the size of the room itself that makes it seem old—I’m not sure.

More significantly, this is the only hotel we’ve stayed at that hasn’t had an RJ-45 Ethernet jack somewhere, with a (possibly for-pay, but often free) Internet connection.

Now, I have a modem for the laptop. It’s slow as hell—14.4—but it works. Unfortunately, Dad assured me that all the hotels would have Ethernet, so I didn’t bring it. *sighs*

My parents don’t seem to understand how much this means to me. They assure me that it’s “just a couple days” and I’ll be able to talk to my friends once I get home.

While both of those things are true, they don’t mean much. I spend most of my life on the Internet. I have three real-world friends and thirty ‘net friends; my two best friends are both on the ‘net. (Actually, my RL friends would be pretty low on my friends rank, but I don’t work out the ranks below the top two.) After several years of correspondence and a couple visits, I spent a large block of time—nearly a month—with one of them as a house guest, but I’ve never met the other IRL.

Beyond that, the Internet makes me feel more powerful. If I’m bored, there are thousands of things I can do online; if I need to talk to someone, there are dozens of people I know well enough to talk to. Even when I’m doing something else, the information I have available comforts me—if I’m reading a Star Trek book, I know that I can look up references to obscure episodes, for example. I keep track of a dozen lives through this network, work on three programming projects, and participate in a vast community. I live, work, and play on the network. So losing access, even for a couple days, is cause for me to feel down.

I don’t think my parents understand this. My father, while excellent on the technical side, doesn’t use the Internet to interact with people. The only exception I know of is a site called Universal Thread, a message board centered around the programming language he uses. It sounds like they rarely wander too OOC. He talks to people online, but only those he knows in the real world. He also uses a few sites for utilitarian purposes—like Yahoo Sports—and I think he also looks at pr0n, but even there he’s only supplementing RL entertainment.

My mom’s different. She has online friends, and participates in several writing-centered communities. She’s met several good friends through e-mail, and probably receives more interesting messages per day than I do. But she’s not a techie by any means.

I know the Jargon File has a term for people like that. But I can’t get to the site. *sighs*

I think that’s why Mom tried to help. On Thursday night—our first night in Richmond—we went to a mall, for reasons I’ll explain at some point; she made sure we stopped at a nearby Best Buy to get a modem for the laptop. But the modem required Win98 SE, which I don’t have, so it didn’t work—we had to return it today.

It doesn’t help that I seem to have hit a dead zone in IY manga—I’ve been to four book stores in the past few days, and none of them had anything between three and thirteen. It’s getting really annoying.

I’m fortunate enough to have picked up a Star Trek book that’s restored my faith in Star Trek books—Homecoming, by Christie Golden. It details what happens to Voyager’s crew once they reach Earth. Well, the first half of it; the second half is in another book, which has been released but I haven’t been able to pick up yet.

I haven’t been reading Trek lately because the books have sucked. The DS9 books are all post-end of series, with a half-new crew I don’t really like. And the Voyager books have mostly been in three- or four-book series I’m not willing to commit to. I haven’t looked at the Enterprise books yet; I should, though.

But this new book is quite good. About half way through, the plot starts picking up serious speed, problem after problem presenting itself. And the book cuts off at the exact point it would for an episode—the point when we finally have an idea of the problem’s magnitude. It does all of this and still manages to explain what the major characters are doing, keeping them in-character and fixing an annoying error the producers made in the last weeks of the show.

So far, it’s the second best Trek book, after Federation. To help you understand what kind of praise that is, understand that I once started plotting out—and even wrote a couple chapters of—a fanfic series involving Federation. I actually ended up stopping because Homecoming wasn’t out yet, and I needed it.

And that’s just the first half of the story. If the second is anywhere near as good . . . well, suffice it to say I’ll have a new favorite Trek book. I read the first one in about three hours, on a 262-page book. This is significant because my reading speed is connected to how much I like the book.

I’m re-reading it, and watching the bookstores for both IY #4 and Homecoming’s sequel. Hopefully I’ll find one or the other. In the mean time, I have an RP post to write, and both a novel and a few mangas to re-read.

Hopefully this will be enough to keep me sane until Sunday.

Comments

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haibane_rachan
Aug. 10th, 2003 04:06 pm (UTC)
Agh man.. I know what you mean. To the unconnected, a few days of no net access is nothing, but to people like us, it's.. it's a thousand things you're missing out on. Every minute is something missed.

The internet gives us so much. Whenever my net goes down I get all crazy for a bit trying to adjust to the fact that I can't get out to the world. I think "Oh, I'll go d/l this file while I wait for the net to come back u--oh.. nevermind.. okay, I'll look on google fo--.. wait.. right.. meh." It just sucks.

It's good to have you back, Brent-kun. I missed you.
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