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Picking the Grid-Lock: So Much Cooler Offline

Try finding a wireless signal in Iowa, in south central Iowa, to boot (a bit different from south central L.A., but still), secured or otherwise. (No, I’m not going to buy an aircard, it’s just not that important to me.) The fact of my describing the following as “incidents” (our (Jessica and I’s) two attempts to get online) will give you some indication of how difficult, and potentially dangerous, the task is: In the first incident, we arrive at the local public library, in an attempt to gank its wireless signal. Fail: the library took down its wireless network. And, with a line of three or four thoroughly more desperate persons lined up on the steps of the edifice, just to use the one desktop computer, the morning was a total collapse of, what otherwise would have been, a sublime time for “ruling the air”. In the second incident, we arrive, via motor carriage, at the block of a local motel. Parking on the street, we are able to access the motel’s unsecured wireless connection. After one half hour of reconnecting to the wide world via the web, sitting in the car with the air conditioning on, and trading the laptop back and forth across the front seat, the housekeeping staff and management had gathered above us, to an overlooking portico, alternately staring and pointing, and certainly determined to call the police. (Not bad, all in all: This would represent only the second time in Iowa that we had had the police called on us, real or otherwise.) Yet, any worldly New Englander would certainly have known, at an instance, what we were doing. As a final tally, I would say that I checked email a grand total of four times over the course of two weeks of vacation. (We were elsewhere, too.)

And, you know what? It was fudging awesome. There are few things I love more than getting off the grid. Although, outside of my use of the forum for work, I find a limited use in the internet: of learning new things; I have always found ye olde library to be just as useful, and more thoroughly researched and authoritative. There is nothing I love more than disconnecting from the acceptional grid, and em-powering myself.

While I know there are some of you who love the internet, and treat it like a soft, old blankey, surrounding the sucking of a comforting thumb, there should be limits to your exposure. Consider the following as suggestions for a more balanced approach to the world, such that your access of the web, combined with your access of the remainder of the world, may become more equally apportioned:

-Don’t talk on your cellphone when you’re in line at the grocery store, blasting through the others, talking like to someone else the entire time, and blowing off the check-out person without even saying so much as “thank you” to their “have a nice day”. Nobody’s that busy. (Well, that has nothing do with law practice management. It’s just a serious pet peeve of mine. And, if you have a smartphone, which you probably do, this is somewhat related to the internet. Whatever.)

-Don’t talk on your cellphone (unless you have a hands-free device) or text when you’re driving. (This one’s for all those people in Manchester, Massachusetts who drive about two miles an hour everywhere around town, and especially in the morning, when we are just trying to get to the train on time: Put down the telephone, and drive like a normal human being.)

-(Alright, seriously now.) You know, you don’t have to have your smartphone on all the time. It’s alright to turn it off. Especially when you get home. Especially for dinner. Your internet friends can live without you for an hour or two. Your clients can live without you until the next morning.

-Ditto for your computer. The more you leave it on, the more you’ll be drawn to it, like a moth to the flame. Turn it off. Close the lid.

-And, when you’re working, work. Or, better yet, don’t. There’s nothing worse, on the other end, than when someone is pretending to listen to you, while they are actually mostly concentrating on work, and doing neither very well. There is a time for work, and a time for friends and family. Focus wholly on whatever it is you are doing, and the work of your life will terminate far more favorably.

-And, hey, think of all the other stuff that you could be doing when you get offline, and really concentrate on what else you’re doing. You can exercise, and de-stress. You can make dinner–really make dinner, like, not out of a microwave tray. You can talk to real people. You can go outside. (Don’t get me started on this inane regime of desk work that the world appears to be seriously buying into.)

-Besides, how healthy can it be to have laptop computers veritably strapped to our genitals for hours every day? Something tells me that that’s not part of any universal plan. . . . Unless that universal plan is one hatched by an evil (maybe) alien culture, with the aim of making us all very, very sterile.

Of course, the favorable sprouting of all this garden is that you’ll be a better client manager. Your client’s expectations will entirely change. When people know that you are only available at certain hours, and certain times only, and not at others, you’ll be amazed how quickly they’ll stop contacting you, when you have avowed, implicitly, or explicitly, to be offline, or out of their town.

Turn off. Tune out. and, Drop in, to your own life.

(Yes. A couple weeks from now, I will be holding a new Droid X in my hot little hands. Ah, well. I tried.)

. . .

Liner Notes

For this post’s edition of “Liner Notes”, let’s keep it real . . . real geographical! Below appear songs about, related to or by artists hailing from, or claiming their true home as, a state of our recent visitation for vacation . . . a “Midwest Sampler”, as it were:

Missouri:

Medley: a. Kansas City/b. Hey! Hey! Hey!” by The Beatles

St. Louis Blues” by Louis Armstrong

Missing Missouri” by Sara Evans

(If I had a buck for everytime I was surprised when someone handed me a Sam Adams outside of Boston, like we have a patent on them.)

Arkansas:

When Electricity Came to
Arkansas
” by Black Oak Arkansas

Arkansas Traveler” by Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys

Arkansas Dave” by George Strait

Oklahoma:

The Problem” by J.J. Cale (from the album “To Tulsa and Back”)

Oklahoma!” by Rodgers & Hammerstein (Also Oklahoma’s state song)

Okie from Muskogee” by Merle Haggard

(By the way, there are a shizzton of songs about Oklahoma. See here.)

Kansas:

Point of Know Return” by Kansas

Home on the Range” by Dr. Brewster M. Higley, as channeled through Pete Seeger (Also Kansas’ state song)

Sunflower” by Russ Morgan

(There are not as many songs about Kansas. Not even one shizzhundredweight.)

Iowa:

Iowa Waltz” by Greg Brown

The Iowa Indian Song” by Bing Crosby

Iowa” by Dar Williams

There you have it. State Quarters — You(pl.)’re on notice.