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Published: June 10th 2017
Geo: 12.5657, 104.991
Except for the Spring Guest House in Phnom Penh, connecting to the internet here in Cambodia has been a daily lesson in patience. I was able to connect through Wayne's phone for awhile, but it took, on average, an hour and a half to do twenty minutes worth of work, a frustrating experience unless one used the time waiting to open or send or simply connect creatively: to chat with others, or to knit or crochet or sew or mend something, or to write-- by hand-- a new blog entry. After awhile even the phone connection didn't work, so now I use a modem, which continues the daily lessons in patience unless one arises at 4AM, when the connection can be quite good. The most important words in that sentence are "can be" as there are never any guarantees with the internet here in rural Cambodia.
I have found that without internet (as it happened for the weeks in Antarctica), once I let go of the feelings of having to check in with clients and students daily (I do have backup homeopaths covering emergencies, but no one can take on my students temporarily), once I let those feelings go I suddenly have hours of freed-up time during the day. What a delight! What an eye-opener! What did we do with all that time when we weren't always connected electronically?
But I also know that I find comfort in accessing my inboxes, in connecting with friends and family, in getting my work done each day. Not only in checking on things I have to do, but did my husband write? My children? My friends? What comments are being written on my travel blog? Are there new lessons from my students? Any homeopathic emergencies? Are there actions I need to take online? (At home I am an email activist, although with limited or sporadic internet when traveling I have to let most of this go.) Besides the comfort of being able to check my inboxes, there are frustrations when I can't connect easily. What time is my flight to Kuala Lumpur on Friday? What are the baggage allowances on Malaysia Airlines? What time do I arrive in LAX for the NCH homeopathic conference? We have become such find-it-out-immediately and do-it-yourself internet junkies that our (mine, at least) initial reactions to not being able to connect are impatience and frustration. What have we done to ourselves with this marvelous --and now ubiquitous-- invention of the computer? Are our lives better in every way?
When I was growing up my generation sought, and found, whatever information we wanted or needed at the library. I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which had lovely, extensive libraries thanks to Carnegie's millions. We'd go frequently, either to do research for school, or to get a new pile of books to bring home for pleasure reading, exchanging them weekly, or at least twice a month, depending on how many books we were allowed to take out at one time and how quickly we went through them. Even with Kindles and Nooks and tablets (I take my beloved Kindle when I travel) I still prefer real books. Everything about a book is appealing: the way it feels in my hands, its smell, the covers, the photo of the author, even the blurbs written to promote the book, everything promises pleasure. The gift of a book still pleases me immensely, but since I already have my own fairly extensive library's worth of books, perhaps no more are needed. I can, and do, always borrow from the library.
As my children learned to read I made sure each one knew how to use the card catalog in whatever library was closest to where we lived; with this skill they were able to find out whatever information they wanted. The world was opened to them! Now, with computers, it is so easy. All information, correct or incorrect, appropriate or inappropriate, can be found online. It is almost too easy. Except when we cannot connect.
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