Been on the road for the last week or more and I’m home now, reflecting on the hospitality industry’s provision of network access. It was a vacation we needed. I didn’t know how much I needed to get away until, sitting in the Madison airport looking for a wifi signal and waiting for our flight to load, I was faced with a daily charge for network access and I just folded up the netbook and put it away.
I’ve had a daily hook-up to the internet for about the last fifteen years and I’ve paid for a maintenance dose whenever the connection wasn’t free. This is worth mentioning because it frames the ennui that saturated my being… it was a Sylvia Plath moment. She wrote:
…cross the gypsyâ€™s palm and yawning she
will still predict no perils left to conquer.
Why pay to peer into the pixelated tunnel? Why shut myself off from what’s here and now, my immediate surroundings, for a few minutes’ twittelation?
In truth, I’ve gotten more comfortable with the cellular hook-up, the tiny browser that pulls up a wikipedia entry on “kudzu” just when I need it without the need to crack open a laptop, a tablet, or a netbook. But at night, in the hotel room, when I want to answer emails, or read the news, or compose trite poetry about the dolphins in Charleston harbor, for my computer I want that free high speed internet access that they advertise. I didn’t always get it this last week in the Carolinas.
The first night we dropped our suitcases into a clean but spartan room at La Quinta near the Charlotte/Douglas Airport and went downtown to see what influence the Bank of America had on the NASCAR, grit eatin’, baptist set. We found an alleyway that was host to scads of under dressed young women, rednecks, yupsters and wannabes lining up at the rope for high energy music at the Forum or ducking into Pravda for vodka martinis chilled on the slab of ultracool ice that serves as their bar.
And there was a Briix pizza location right around the corner where oldies could get a slice and a coke on ice. We were on the road to Murrell’s Inlet the next morning and I didn’t even notice that I hadn’t sipped from the La Quinta ethernet connection.
We spent a few nights on the coast at a Holiday Inn express, and the wifi wasn’t working. They needed to reset their router or something, but I didn’t feel like trouble shooting it for them. By the time we got to Charleston I had been offline for four days and frankly I was jonesing, “… burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo,” as it were.
There, in Charleston, we stayed at the Vendue which of course advertised “free high speed wireless internet” connections. Well, the signal was weak, but more interesting than that, the hotel’s ISP was redirecting Google searches to Yahoo!. I’d like to learn more about that practice. What does Yahoo! pay for a redirect service like that? What does Google lose? Anybody familiar with this? Seems pretty shady to me. I want to take a closer look. It’s just whack when you enter a search term in the Google box and get a lame Yahoo! results list returned.
(We finished off our whirlwind tour with a few nights up the hill in Asheville and then last night back at La Quinta in Charlotte. Great network connections at both locations, so nothing for me to whine about…)