This has been a “B-C” week for the Holmes household.
“B-C” of course usually stands for “Before Christ” and refers to those ancient times prior to the birth of Jesus. In my case, however, B-C stands for “Before Computer.” Unfortunately, our Internet modem is on the fritz and has been for several days, meaning I can’t get access to the World Wide Web or even my email until the repairman arrives, and that won’t be until after the deadline for this week’s column. The fact that you are reading this is only because I made the 20-mile round trip from my house to the Suwannee Democrat to drop it off. (I can hear some of you saying right now, “Well, that was certainly a waste of gas!”)
I don’t physically get ot the newspaper office very often, so i don’t know many of the folks who work there. I guess that’s just as well. After my arrival in the newspaper lobby with this scribbling clutched in my sweaty little hands, I’m pretty sure I heard one of the sales folks loudly whisper to another, “So that’s what the fruitcake looks like.”
At any rate, the lack of computer in our household for the past seven days has been far more difficult than I would have initially thought. I wouldn’t exactly say I am computer illiterate, but I will admit my knowledge is at about the Dick & Jane level. In other words, I know how to turn the damn thing on and when it begins to smoke, I know it is time to either turn it off or get some marshmallows and a long stick. Otherwise, I’m fairly clueless.
Having said that, I do a ton of research on the Internet, almost always relating to what appears in this column. (Yes, believe it or not, there is research that goes into these pieces. It is a surprise to me too.)
Before the appearance of the Internet, I would spend hours and hours in public libraries looking up background information. As a result, I have a “love-hate” relationship with microfilm technology. It always excited me to discover microfilmed copies of documents and old newspapers that provided me with firsthand accounts on the topic I was researching. The downside was the guarantee that by the time I finally flicked the microfilm screen off, I’d have a pounding headache, caused by trying to read hundred year old publications on a screen that was anything but high definition.
The Internet has gone a long way to change all of that. Just fire-up your search engine, put in a keyword or two and often everything you need pops up on your computer screen in just seconds. But what has amazed me most about my recent loss of Internet access has nothing to do with story research. It has to do with the routine, idle computer inquiries that have become the norm in my life. Not important stuff, but silly things that I wanted to know the answer to, immediately. For example, who starred in that film, “A Summer Place”? How many days before those spinach seeds I planted break the ground? How many square feet in an acre?
Of course, there is one good thing about the fact we’ve not been able to get on the web for a week. Me darling wife hasn’t been able to purchase anything.
I’m expecting a call anytime now from Amazon.com asking if she’s alright.
Jim lives in Live Oak.