Here in the States we just finished celebrating Thanksgiving Day. The new media here loves this holiday, and for so many reasons. They regularly refer to it as “The Most American of Holidays,” presumably because it’s only celebrated in the US. Never mind that Canada celebrates Thanksgiving Day too, even if they did steal the idea from us and try to camouflage the fact by having it on a different day.
The idea of Thanksgiving Day is that you get together with family and friends, share a meal, spend time enjoying each other’s company, and spend a few moments being thankful for – the simple things that really matter in life. You’re supposed to focus on what you have, not what you don’t have. What’s good about your life, not what’s lacking. It’s a great idea, in concept. As we’d say in the computer biz, it’s a terrific design. The implementation, on the other hand, often falls a bit short.
This year, here on the East Coast of the US, our Most American of Holidays got screwed-up because of a major snow storm that dumped about half a meter of heavy wet snow directly on my house (See Figure 1). The fact that we had this snow storm on Thanksgiving Day was taken as proof by a number of my friends that Major Climate Change had already begun, and that the Earth was headed for immediate annihilation. Initially, this made me pretty upset because I did not want to miss the rest of this season of Homeland. If I acted fast, perhaps there was still time to get Rosetta to download the next episode or two onto 67P/C-G where I can view it “sometime later.”
Turns out I didn’t need to worry. The panic here about snow on Thanksgiving Day was just that: Panic over nothing. Snow on Thanksgiving Day? It’s been known to happen. In fact, it’s been known to happen a lot. Maybe not in the past few years (who can really remember much further back than that), but definitely in the past. In fact, there’s an American folk song know as Over the River and Through the Wood, that talks about traveling to “Grandfather’s house” for Thanksgiving Day “through white and drifted snow.” That song (originally a poem) was written in 1844. Snow on Thanksgiving Day in New England was pretty common back in the 19th Century, apparently. So much for this snow storm being a harbinger of Major Climate Change. When I mentioned these facts to my friends, they told me that it was perhaps the fact that we do not frequently get snow by Thanksgiving Day that indicates we’re all about to be drowned by Major Climate Change events. They said I should be worried. I poured myself another hot buttered rum. But I digress.
So, the snow started on Wednesday afternoon, the day before Thanksgiving Day. By 5PM, there were several inches of snow on the ground at my house and most of the area had lost power. Given that I live in a rural area and that I do not find it either quaint or amusing to live without electricity, I have a backup generator. So, losing power isn’t a big deal for me. What was worse, far worse in fact, was that I lost my Internet connectivity. I can live with Major Climate Change. But no Internet? Losing Internet connectivity is a Big Deal.
I get up on Thanksgiving Day. The usual trash is on TV. I go to check my Twitter feed to see what’s going on in the world. Ahhhh… no Internet. Not to be discouraged, I decided to just check the local weather forecast… on the Internet. So that wasn’t going to work. Then it occurred to me: My iPad has mobile broadband. 4G support even.
Apparently I was not the only person with this idea, because the wonders of 4G/LTE were S-L-O-W. And the signal where I live wasn’t exactly strong.
So, there I was, standing on my couch with my arms in the air pointing my iPad to the North (where the signal was a bit stronger) trying to find out when my power was going to be restored. Well, again, really, what I cared most about was when my Internet was going to be restored. Because standing at awkward angles to get a good 4G signal on my iPad really wasn’t a reasonable long-term solution for Internet connectivity.
In frustration, I grabbed a turkey leg from the refrigerator. I cut a slice of apple pie and mostly ignored it. I made believe I didn’t care. I moped. I talked to my dog. The power stayed off all day Thursday (Thanksgiving Day). And so did the Internet. No Netflix. No Amazon. No forums. No random visits to make fun of something on Wikipedia.
Thank goodness for TiVo. If it hadn’t gone off on its own and record a bunch of episodes of Tattoo Nightmares and random movies, I would have gone out of my mind. When there’s no Internet, you’d be surprised how comforting it is to see how well Big Gus can cover-up a youthful indiscretion.
On Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving Day, the power and the Internet were still both out. My wife was asleep. But I had a plan:
That’s not my actual handwriting, of course. My actual handwriting is much more manly and … well, whatever. But the point is the same: OSR World Headquarters never lost power. OSR had Internet connectivity. Thus I developed a sudden compunction to go to work, even on a holiday.
And while I was at work, for a few blissful hours the world was once again my oyster. I fired-up TweetDeck, followed-up on forums, fetched the long-term weather forecast for my home town, and just because I could, I checked the weather in Hong Kong (24 degrees with scatter clouds and a 51% probability of precipitation)… because I, once again, had Internet coverage!
After several hours of cavorting on the Information Super Highway, I decided I had been absent from home long enough. I slipped and slided my way to my car, and started to head home.
On my way home from the office, my wife called: “I just wanted you to know that the power’s back on! And the landline works again. Cooper says hello. We went for a long walk in the snow, it was really beautiful. Oh, and I think the Internet is probably back too.” You think!? You called to tell me the power’s back and my Bernese mountain dog says hello, but you only think the Internet is back! How can you not know?!? That would be the first thing that I checked!! My wife hung up the phone.
When I got home, the Internet was indeed back. And life was back to normal. Any fact I wanted to know was, once again, available at the click of a button. And I was thankful. I guess it was my own little Thanksgiving Day.
Funny thing though: I couldn’t resist programming the TiVo to start recording all the new episodes of Tattoo Nightmares.
Peter Pontificates is a regular column by OSR Consulting Partner, Peter Viscarola. Peter doesn’t care if you agree or disagree with him, but there’s always the chance that your comments or rebuttal could find its way into a future issue. Send your own comments, rants or distortions of fact to: PeterPont@osr.com.