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.comment: Cold Turkey

Holiday Paradise -- Day One

  • July 5, 2001
  • By Dennis E. Powell

I'm writing this while sitting on a green plastic chair in front of Suite 1 at a small inn in Lake Placid, New York, a town that provides to my mind prima facie evidence that the Olympic bribery scandal extends far earlier than Salt Lake City. The Winter Olympics of 1932 and 1980 were at Lake Placid. Here, amid the Adirondack Mountains, which are what the Rockies would be if the Rockies were tired and eroded, one may, for $125 a night, stay in the kind of place normally associated with the finer Black Sea resorts circa 1985. (Okay, I may be exaggerating a little. But I'm very cranky.)

We are on vacation. We are on vacation here because of a horse show, where skilled riders take their horses around in circles in the dirt and jump over things (if they're successful) and knock those things down (if they're not successful). That part is interesting enough, though the whole business would be a lot more enjoyable if the temperature were not in the 90s -- nearly 2,000 sweaty horses, as well as the products exuded by those horses, combined with a hot day, do not make for the kind of fresh air one normally associates with the mountains, even puny mountains.

But these things would all be acceptable. Even the absence of good coffee would be acceptable. Even the absence of a place where one may enjoy a cup of bad coffee with a morning cigarette would be acceptable.

One thing is not acceptable: There is no Internet access available to me here.

Which makes me wonder if I, and maybe some others, have become too reliant on being connected.

My friend William F. Buckley Jr. would not dream of making an ocean crossing in a sailboat unless the boat offered air conditioning below deck. I would not dream of taking a vacation unless I thought I'd be able to go online a time or two a day, just to check things out. Yet here I've done it.

My ISP is Earthlink, and one of the things that led to our adopting the cable modem was the claim that with it would come dialup service from practically anywhere. Closer examination, though, and experience, belie this. I've tried for months to find for download a listing of local access numbers -- a good thing to have when one takes longish trips that involve driving until one is weary, then stopping. I've yet to get online via Earthlink dialup, despite many attempts. There is not even the claim of a local access number here. (When, not long ago, I read that Earthlink's founder was in some sort of trouble involving investors who allege they were defrauded and, oddly, the Scientologists, I was neither surprised nor saddened. Having tried various ISPs over the years, I've concluded that maybe the only really good one is WestNet, a small operation in Southern New York.)

Anyway, here I am, in this strange little town, surrounded by horsey folk and cut off from what has become my day-to-day commerce.

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