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Dec 11

Blogging all my nowhere posts to nobody

My brain used to be a Size 10, but all that carrying-on in the 80s and 90s shriveled it down to about a Size 2. Thus it’s not uncommon for me to come down with blogular amnesia. By which I mean, I just completely forget I have a blog. Sometimes for days on end. I attribute this phenomenon to two factors.

One: forgetfulness.

Two: the cheeky habit time has of just flying by.

For example, a day can often turn into two days. Two days can turn into three. I shudder to think what seven days might turn into. A week, possibly.

This can all happen in the blink of an eye. One hardly notices. Seriously, just the other day I was 24 years old, leaping tall buildings in a single bound. But today? I’m like 50 and every joint in my body needs replacement surgery. What the frak? Tomorrow — because unlike in that treacly movie where Brad Pitt plays a creepy geriatric man-baby, crones age in the same direction as everyone else — don’t be surprised if I turn out to be 83.

Meanwhile, as I continue to ossify at warp speed, some dreadful crisis or other always diverts my attention and before I know it, instead of writing a pithy essay entitled “The Night the Rabid Racoons Attacked,” I’ve spent the entire morning trying to unstick a venomous six-inch centipede from a glueboard, which glueboard is also stuck to my boot.

Not today, though. No, today, not only have I remembered I have a blog, I have actually composed a riveting commentary and am ready to publish it. But who knows if anyone will ever read it? I can’t post anything because my internet is down. And when your internet iCraps out in East Jesus, nobody can hear you scream.

Homespun text banter with the CEO of my ISP

OK, that’s not strictly true, at least for me. It turns out my ISP isn’t pure evil like Verizon or KableTown. It’s two dudes named Rick. The Ricks actually can hear me scream, albeit not before I have put in considerable effort to be heard. When my internet connection goes blotto, I have to schlep a mile up the road to where the cell network sort of quasi-works, and then shoot the Ricks a text. One of the Ricks then shimmies up a tower somewhere in Dripping Springs, TX and fixes it. Sometimes I stroll, or ride a horse, or take the Gator to the cell phone sweet spot, so getting a hold of the Ricks can be kind of a diverting little jaunt in the country.

Not today, though. It’s 7 in the morning and 35 degrees and the wind is envortexing the farm at 30 miles an hour; it feels like about 45,672 microscopic curare-dipped icicles are being driven into my body by a commensurate number of microscopic hammers. My lack of country pluckiness obliges me to wrap up in about 8 parkas and take the car up the road. The Rick and I manage only a brief exchange before the ominous words “No Service” reappear on my phone. Faintly, the theme from “Jaws” begins to play.

NO SERVICE. I huddle down in the seat, hiding from the frozen, isolated nowhereness like the busty blonde teen in a slasher flick hides from the crazed maniac who lurks at the lakehouse dismembering helpless sexy girls because his mother was a drunken lesbian slut murderer who sold his puppy to buy an 8-ball; i.e., ineffectively.

A couple days ago, when I still had an internet connection, I’d downloaded a semi-recent Diane Rehm podcast to listen to while picking up horse manure. The topic was “The Future of the Landline” or something (I regret that I am unable to confirm the precise title, having no internet access via which to fact-check). Copper-line phones are going the way of the white hipster belt/ironic trucker hat, apparently. They’re gonna be phased out.

Big deal, you say. Who uses a landline anymore?

Well, everybody out here does. As you may have deduced from the preceding paragraphs, cell phones don’t work in Cottonmouth County. At all. I mean, cell service kind of sucks in town, I know, but it’s a mild, half-assed suckiness that pales in comparison to the flat-out worse-than-uselessness of mobile phones in this or any other rural outpost. Also, in town there’s fast internet and wi-fi everywhere. Out here, Verizon’s constant refrain to the hayseeds is “Coming soon! Fiber optics! Cell towers! Lightning speeds!” but what they actually mean is “screw the rural jurors who have to crawl a mile over broken glass to find the faintest glimmer of a spot where their goddam flip-fone can get a bar or two. Let them use dial-up.”

Like the dude on Diane Rehm said, the big telecoms are always promising improved coverage and hi-speed access to us yokels, but they never make good. I’ve been out here listening to those promises for over 5 years, and I still get internet access via an achingly slow and rickety DSL-over-wireless network for which I pay twice what anyone in Austin pays for superfast cable. And I’m one of the lucky ones. Some of these farmers out here couldn’t receive Rick’s flimsy, flighty little wireless signal even if they wanted to, so they’re forced to use dial-up. Yeah, I know! Fucking dial-up!

You may point a sanctimonious finger and say “first world problems, cry me a river” or whatever, but it is my considered opinion — and I am joined in considering this opinion by professional liberal wankers who publish articles in popular magazines and pontificate on public radio talk shows — that limiting access to communications and information networks in this day and age is nothing but discriminatory, classist, megatheocorporatocratic oppression. If I were a patriarchy blamer, I might say that it’s a plot to ensure the continued ignorance and marginalization of rural Americans, to preserve them as a self-replicating source of the yokel-power that keeps homophobic antifeminist godbag politicians, and country-western pop stars, in business.

Then again, how adorable is it to get a text from the president of your ISP complaining, à propos of nothing in particular, “I got a sick kid. My handyman busted a water line in my bathroom and the internet sucks. Also I’m out of chicken feed”? It’s so worth it!

I kid, I kid! It’s agony! I’d take faceless megacorporate cable internet over folksy texts from nice guys any day. It’s 2012, already. A crone shouldn’t have to travel a mile down a dirt road on horseback just to download a cute kitten video, goddammit!

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  1. speedbudget

    My husband and I are biting the bullet and purchasing two years of satellite internet service for my dad for Christmas because of just this problem. We have no guarantee the internet will work, but he is currently on a DSL dial-up and can do a load of laundry while waiting for the bank website to load. And he isn’t in a rural area. He’s just in a geographic deadzone right on the edges of three huge networks. The ISPs don’t care. Not enough people there to bother running a line, even though the fiber line ends less than a half-mile up the road from him.

    As a result of his lack of internet service, his political views have skewed alarmingly to the far right. I don’t think this is a bug. I believe this is the intended feature of the megatheocorporatocracies running the telecommunications giants who are all owned by a bunch of old rich white men. My dad can’t fact-check shit, and he can’t see the viral videos in their entirety, so he only gets what the local news outlet or Fox wants him to see.

    Oh, and don’t get me started on the government not mandating hooking everyone up Rural Electric style while the banks and various other companies charge you for NOT using the internet to pay bills.

  2. pheenobarbidoll

    Poor folk live in the country, and Indians live on reservations out in the middle of goddamn nowhere. Of course it’s about limiting access to information and communication. What other time can you imagine major businesses turning down the opportunity to bind more customers to contracts? Pretty sad when they hate you so much they don’t even want your money.

  3. Carpenter

    Just curious, does your tiny ISP have a less evil approach to data privacy than the mega-ISPs? Do you think they are less likely to hand over your info without a warrant than Verizon?

  4. Stacey

    My parents live 3 miles out of a “town” in oklahoma on a hill. In the 20 years they’ve lived there, the cable company refuses to dig lines to them, the phone company refuses to dig high speed lines to them, and due to tree cover from march-october, the satellite company says it’s useless for them to try to get satellite internet. 20 years ago, it was maybe 10 families on the hill with this problem. Now it’s more like 80, most w/ kids. Dial up internet produces speeds of ~12 kb/sec. Yes, Kb!. The phone company finally built another wireless, and point to that as a reason for why they won’t dig lines, but the tower is situated just so that when there are leaves on the trees, my parents cell phones BARELY get service.

    In this age of insurance companies, pharmacies, etc insisting you go online to submit your requests, the communications companies are making it frustrating as hell, and almost dangerous.

  5. Ol-Lozy Ram

    Same problem here. Bought a booster. http://tinyurl.com/b6u2f9k

    It boosts! Have to position it in the upstairs hallway, pointing out the window, balanced on an Ecuadorian wood and papier mache retablo. I kid you not. But we can use the phone in the house at least.

  6. Anonymous

    I thank god we bought a house in town instead of fulfilling our romantic dreams of tropical paradise acres on the Hawaiian island where we live. People out in the boonies are still waiting for improvements, not just for fast internet but for city water and decently maintained roads. This is The Big Island, and they spend hours in their cars, which is not my idea of living deliberately, because all the services are in Hilo: the docs, the dentists, the DMV, the stores: everything. And there is no improvement; instead,it all gets worse and rural slummier all the time, with crowded roads and crappy broken down stuff (cars, machinery, trash). everywhere. It was always bad in that respect and now it’s even worse, a crisis which is causing people who can afford to to leave but with the population still increasing, nonetheless, as families double up. absentee rentals, etc.
    A friend of mine just said they are putting in a well 57 feet down. The guys assure her that there will be no problems with water contamination, even though there is no sewer service out her way. Right.

  7. The Crone of Cottonmouth County

    Just curious, does your tiny ISP have a less evil approach to data privacy than the mega-ISPs? Do you think they are less likely to hand over your info without a warrant than Verizon?

    You know, I have no idea what these Ricks would do. I think they’re conspiracy theorists or survivalists or libertarians or something. They appear to have an abiding distrust of the Federal Reserve. For one thing, they would prefer — I kid you not — that I pay my monthly bill in silver.

  8. quixote

    I have a friend in one of the East Jesus Nowheres in Utah. She got satellite internet from Wild Blue. (The only provider where she is, period.) It’s spotty, but better than dialup. If you can pay for it, I guess it’s worth it?

  9. Carpenter

    “For one thing, they would prefer — I kid you not — that I pay my monthly bill in silver”

    Wow, not even gold. Too much of a speculation bubble for them guess.

  10. tom

    It might seem like you’re in the middle of nowhere now, but surely Joe Edwards will be opening something up nearby soon …

  11. Wolfhound

    Is the honeymoon over in Cottonmouth County? In rural VT, our cell phones don’t work reliably and DSL is considered pretty fancy. It’s frustrating, yes, but at least I like living here. I don’t get the “I like living here” vibe from you lately!

  12. Comradde PhysioProffe

    You’ve posted some scary fucken shitte on this here country livin’ blogge, but all this fucken “no phone no Internet” shitte is the fucken scariest. For realz.

  13. Vesna

    Dear Twisty, I’m enjoying this blog even more than I Blame The Patriarchy. Combination of jaundiced worldview and down-home notes on country living is so fantastic I can barely stand it. Here is hoping that Ricks will keep you connected to the rest of us for a long, long time. How many silver coins are they asking for, BTW?

  14. ChariD

    And when your internet iCraps out in East Jesus, nobody can hear you scream.

    That about made me pee myself.

  15. The Crone of Cottonmouth County

    Is the honeymoon over in Cottonmouth County? In rural VT, our cell phones don’t work reliably and DSL is considered pretty fancy. It’s frustrating, yes, but at least I like living here. I don’t get the “I like living here” vibe from you lately!

    I can’t imagine why!

    I like it out here just fine, but I saw that there was a need for keepin’ it real about country livin’. People seem to be either all swoony and reverent about how magically spiritual it is, or they’re snotty and classist about the redneck right wing godbags they imagine are the sole inhabitants of the hinterland. I merely want to point out that neither is necessarily the case, and hopefully have a few laffs along the way.

  16. The Crone of Cottonmouth County

    How many silver coins are they asking for, BTW?

    The Rickses want, I think, 5 pieces of silver a month. Or maybe it’s 2. I can’t remember, not least because I don’t have the slightest idea where to get silver coinage.

  17. thebewilderness

    Same fix here living in a clearing in the middle of the woods in the Peoples Republic of the Puget Sound. When the storms come in and the power goes out there would be no way to scream for help without the land line. I hear tell they can get a cell signal about three miles up the road.

  18. J

    Two 30 rock references. You’re not assimilating properly.

  19. Laurie

    This essay was such a thing of beauty that I just can’t stop laughing at your misery. Sorry about that, but please keep spreading the dread.

  20. EmmAtx

    Speaking of getting swoony and reverent about country living, did you see this from Carolyn Hax’s column? A rare unanimous vote among the commentariat: Run, woman, runnnn!

    http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-12-04/lifestyle/35624885_1_crickets-goats-marriage

  21. magriff

    EmmAtx, thanks for sharing that. I live in Portland OR, the land of the man-boy-urban farmers who live off their girlfriends day jobs to sustain their dreams of sustainability, and I can tell ya, the whole back to nature thing is still alive and well and still just as much of a raw deal for women as it was in the seventies. I’ll take my dishwasher and my car and my bleach, thank you very much Nigels!

  22. The Crone of Cottonmouth County

    Two 30 rock references. You’re not assimilating properly.

    Two! What was the other one?

  23. J

    I may have inadvertently betrayed my Canadianity. I thought Kabletown was a made up parody for the show and not an actual name for a real company.

  24. The Crone of Cottonmouth County

    Oh cripes. Kabletown. I gotta stop watching those reruns. I don’t even notice my own Lemonosity anymore.

  25. Gertrude Strine

    Nice one, Jill. Those city people need information. That old trope of regional dwellers choosing it gets very tired indeed.
    As it happens, I too have an opinion on internet stuff from a rural view and it surprisingly doesn’t differ by a lot from most other of us who pay taxes for basics and somehow never get the same basics as those in the city.
    I belong to our local ginger telecommunications group, so take this:

    Australians don’t have the luxury of 2-man service providers. We nearly all buy our internet (either directly or from third-party retailers) from a very few large companies whose idea of prompt attention to fixing landline faults is making one day a week the day for your area, if the technician can fit you in with all the other faults that day. Wireless faults get a little less attention. Wireless is the third-world of this country. Satellite? That’s the fourth world. Charging for regional service isn’t that much different to that for the city, but at least in the city the service is delivered mostly in a timely way.

    Regional Australia, which is anything not within about 20km of capital cities, also relies on the landline network. We affectionately call it The Copper. Even satellite relies on the Copper for backhaul, so it’s all Copper really.
    Constant pressure on the monopolistic national Copper wholesaler to get ADSL delivered at a similar standard to that pertaining in the big smoke has allowed us to play catch-up with the big smoke, with a latency of about 10 years. Backhaul has been installed and the data flows quite nicely.
    So here we sit, able to actually stream vital you tube baby animal porn, and to run VoIP services that can deliver far better quality voice than the analog part of the Copper ever did over our flood and drought affected dirt roads… and now the patriarchy announces that there will be One Optic Fibre Network To Rule Us All, except that Us All means only places with a population density of more than 1000 suburban blocks.
    The Copper however will be made obsolete and those of us who don’t conurbate densely enough? We’ll get a head-patting reversion to fixed wireless nodes where the latency won’t be good enough for VoIP, but where the reduced bandwidth will at least still allow youtube streaming – provided not more than 5 percent of your near neighbours don’t want to use the network at the same time.

    That’s progress in a nutshell for us with rural tendencies the world over.
    Of course, in this democratic setup a person can get themselves linked up to the One Fibre Optic Network by shelling out a minimum of thousands of money, so it’s not unfair is it? Indeed, it’s unchanged from when my uncle wasn’t favoured with connection to the original One Copper Network when it was rolled out last century free to the big smoke, and forked out the equivalent of thousands of money today so he could have a conversation over the same line as Margaret Ottrey over the valley was telling her daughter about her hysterectomy on.

    Fortunately, I see no change in the latency of development between the big smoke and the regions, so I’m betting the Copper will still be servicing our dirt road for at least another 10 years. And by that time, internetian access will have become a privilege only due to rich men… everyone else will have been censored into complete isolated muteness.
    Except when there’s a referendum on which singer bakes the best startup company.
    So, not much will change, ay?

  26. schatze

    One thing I’ll say in defense of land lines is that for Katrina, while cell towers toppled, we never lost phone service on the land line. You need an old, basic phone that doesn’t require electrical power since the electricity goes, but phone service was there.

  27. Kate

    Thanks for the real. I am always suspicious about accounts of rural life. I recently read an article where the back-to-nature-from-the-city people were talking about how much less stress there was in the country and I had to laugh. Cooking is the most stressful activity I can imagine and I’m pretty sure you can’t dial up breakfast lunch and dinner rurally so that stress-buster wouldn’t work well for me. I know I’m not the only one with doubts about the sweet country life.
    So I semi-apologize for laughing at your travails and thank you for recording them.

    PS In the interest of not being judged too harshly I confront many things calmly on a daily basis – men on wet who’ve cut themselves with their machetes, trauma victims, violent assaulters/ees. No problem. But ask me to make dinner and I begin to sweat.

  28. Tomecat

    Having semi-recently relocated to a more rural location than that to which I am accustomed, I can attest to the veracity of the “copper lines being phased out” premise. We here, in western NY, have few options for connection to the larger world.
    Despite being less than 1/4 mile from the closest cable internet service, we are denied access. Having requested surveys repeatedly over the past few years, the response has always been that there are not enough households per: acre, mile, (?), to justify bringing service to us. Soooo, we live on with a very crackly land line, upon which I can often hear complete conversations from other yokels. It’s like a modern day party line, but without the transparency or cost savings. When we call to alert the Verizon people, they always ask if we’d like to upgrade to X, Y, or Z. Being obliging, I always say yes. Unfortunately, upon further investigation, those services are not available in our area. Same goes for our slightly-better-than-dial-up satellite internet service. “Why not upgrade to our new and improved EXCEDE service?” “OK” says I. Same ole, same ole–that’s not available. Of course, we don’t get a discounted price for crappy service because what else are we gonna do?

    Sorry for the rant, but as some lady named Twisty used to say, this shit really chaps my hide.

  29. tinagrrl

    I laugh when I read your essays — partly because they are actually funny, but also because they describe living in the “rural paradise” so many city folks like to imagine. At over 70, I do not want to be too far away from a hospital, some decent markets, and high speed internet (even more important when mobility is not quite what it once was).

    As far as pointing this out: “I like it out here just fine, but I saw that there was a need for keepin’ it real about country livin’. People seem to be either all swoony and reverent about how magically spiritual it is, or they’re snotty and classist about the redneck right wing godbags they imagine are the sole inhabitants of the hinterland. I merely want to point out that neither is necessarily the case, and hopefully have a few laffs along the way.” — thank you. As a Texan, I’m amazed by all the folks who think we are ALL some sort of uneducated “right wing godbags” — not true, only some of us are (if you exclude Tyler Tx.)

    Then again, you sometimes make having horses and living in “the country” sound like having a drummer with a drug habit as a boyfriend (“boyfriend” — what a dumb idea!). Thanks for that.

  30. Bushfire

    I feel ashamed that I didn’t get the 30 Rock references. I must catch up on my Liz Lemon immediately.

  31. quixote

    (Hah, Bushfire. That’s nothing compared to the mortification you’d feel if you didn’t even know what 30 Rock was. Then again, maybe I’m coping since I can’t even be bothered to look it up.)

  32. TotallyDorkin

    Hey Jill, you know that you can take a screenshot on your iPhone by pressing the power button and the home button at the same time? True story.

  33. c2t2

    Jill, we miss you!

    On a more productive note, is there any chance the Ricks would accept payment in copper? If so, you could pay them in pre-1982 pennies and more than halve your bill!

  34. Hattie

    You are the best! Love ya!

  35. jupitaur

    It’s not just in the boonies that internet service is bad.

    I live in a city that is majority nonwhite. The cable company that covers this city and the surrounding counties is oddly unable to figure out how to provide high speed internet where darker people live.

  36. TwissB

    As the coal miner said to his boss, “Sir, my interest is waning.”

  37. veganrampage

    Don’t you live in west Jesus?

  38. buttonwillow

    Happy Holidays to you and the animals!

  39. Helen

    Happy new year Twisty!

  40. Ron Sullivan

    What Helen said: Happy new year!

    Wherever you are, hoist one for The Blamers and have a good time.

  41. Fictional Queen

    I’d say bad internet is the opposite of first world problem, haha!

  42. Peg Tittle

    Hi Twisty, I can’t find a way to contact you personally. I’m going to go ahead and set up http://www.hellyeahimafeminist.com as a back-up/second home for the blametariat, and would like your permission to have this as the site’s subtitle: “I have found the mothership. And it’s on Savage Death Island.” That would be in the banner, under the larger “Hell Yeah, I’m a Feminist!”

    Also, once it’s up and running, you don’t happen to have a blametariat mailing list I can use to let everyone know, do you?

  43. quixote

    This nobody is really feeling the deficiency of nowhere posts. I’m getting gaunt(er).

  44. Suezboo

    Really craving some down country writing.
    Happy New Year, Twisty, from a fellow country crone. (different country, same shit).

  45. gingerest

    Oh, no, the zombies got Aunt Twisty!

  46. TwissB

    Do others of the forlorn bereft have the uneasy feeling that the wily Twisty has surfaced in some distant bright spot in the blogosphere known only to the most savvy members of the blogoscenti?

  47. ptittle

    Twisty, hope you’re okay!

    Everyone else, I miss the conversation over at I Blame the Patriarchy so much, now that Twisty’s powered down, that I created a new home for the blametariat. Please come visit! http://www.hellyeahimafeminist.com
    (oh, and I hope everyone else is okay too.)

  48. ptittle

    What I mean to add was LET THE BLAMING RESUME!

  49. Laurie

    Another nobody missing you, Twisty. Have a happy new year, wherever you are.

  50. shopstewardess

    I am comforting myself with the notion that when a blog on the horrors of country life is silent, all must be well.

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