It’s been a good year for lupins

Wednesday June 1, 2005

The broadband ‘welcome pack’ arrived on time this morning, just after my ISP had disabled my dial-up account and switched me over and just before I was ready to send my new journal entry files off to the server in Chicago, Il. And before Graham had had time to sink his teeth into his early morning cuppa.

“Ah,” I said. “Looks like we’re past the point of no return before we’ve actually taken off.”

“Grrr,” said Graham.

“Is that ‘Grrr’ directed at me, BT, or the world in general.”

“Dunno. Tell yer wot. Why don’t you shoot off and get the shopping done while I sort it all out?”

“That’s a good idea. Now?”

“No. Wait till I’ve had my shower.”

It wasn’t long before I was parking the car by the post office in Stickney, so’s I could mail off an eBay package, and exchanging a smile and a few words with another walking-sticked old gaffer, both of us enjoying the soft mist of rain that had just started up.

“Ay ooop. It’s only a drop of water,” I said. “Do no harm at all, will this.”

“No,” he replied. “Cools it down does a nice little bit of rain.”

The attitude of counter clerks in small rural post offices towards us eBayers is strange. Reserved. Perhaps a tiny bit hostile. There’s doubtless some reason to it, but I do wonder if perhaps they’ve not thought the contradiction through, on the one hand complaining that they find it difficult to survive in the modern world and on the other seeming to resist adapting to it. Whatever, I don’t understand it, and find my counter experience in these places marginally uncomfortable. No wonder then that I tend to prefer taking my parcels and packets to the main post office, in central Boston.

Not today, though. A diversion into Boston adds a minimum of half-an-hour to a supermarket trip and I was wanting to get the outing done as quickly as possible. That big sheet of watercolour card is going to have to wait another day or two.

When I parked outside the supermarket I checked my phone. No missed calls. No text messages. Good. That means the broadband installation is under control.

Just as I was packing my goods as fast as I could go, trying, and failing, to keep up with an insensitive check-out clerk the phone started to ring. I ignored it. Graham and I have an agreement that, when I’m out and don’t take a call, I’ll return it as soon as I can do so safely and conveniently. Other people have the option of leaving a message but we don’t need to. Outside the store I pulled the phone out and peered at the display. ‘Home’, it said. Not ‘Graham’s mobile’. That sounded good. At least we have a working telephone line.

A loud “Yippee!” whizzed over the aether when I pressed ‘dial’. “It all works!”

“Oh, well done,” I said. “Did it go smoothly?”

“Not really. The CD-Rom didn’t work so I had to do it all by hand.”

“Even more well done. Are you talking alongside surfing?”

“Yes. Isn’t it cool?”

“It sure is. I’ll be home in thirty minutes or so and then I shall want to play.”

“Right you are.”

So there you go. We now have broadband, and can surf the net just like real people. And talk on the same phone line at the same time. And it’s gratifyingly fast. Email is instant, a non-event. Almost all the journals and blogs I read are the same. And well-designed commercial websites are now just a click away.

Graham had installed using the simple ADSL box provided by the ISP, connecting my computer only via an Ethernet cable. That means that his own computer still has to dial in to access the Internet, but it does so over the voice side of the ADSL signal without any problem, and without any apparent loss of speed, or impact on me as I surf happily over the broadband side. Tomorrow he’ll install the Netgear wireless network and then we’ll both have the benefit of the new connection. And he can cancel his dial-up account, saving about half the monthly cost of the new broadband account. With the automatic cancellation of my dial-up account, we break even.

To be honest, the venture is an anticlimax altogether. Broadband is almost exactly as I expected it to be, and my anticipated way of using it seems right on target. It feels slightly odd to have the Internet connected while I’m doing my normal ‘off-line’ writing and photographic work, but I’ll get used to it soon enough.

Even so, I had a delicious day, luxuriating in the suddenly speedy access to the websites I have had, until now, to visit with all the patience I can muster.

One last technical note. The ADSL supplied ‘free’ with a broadband account with BT has an in-built hardware firewall that seems, while primitive, to be completely effective. Which is just as well, because we discovered that Graham had forgotten to reactivate the Norton firewall after installing the broadband connection, so I’d been online for hours without its protection. All seemed well but, just to be on the safe side, I downloaded the very latest updates from Symantec, and performed a full system check, to find it still squeaky clean. I shall feel safer when we’re behind the more secure Netgear hardware firewall, and shall run the Norton software firewall just as I always have done, but it does demonstrate the effectiveness of the BT box, which I would regard as completely adequate and effective if we had only one un-networked home computer connected.

And then, somewhat shamefacedly, I ventured out into the garden. No harm done here by my neglect. It has managed perfectly well without me today, and enjoyed the rain, too. I wandered out to admire the lupins in G’s garden. Semi-wild, reverted to a standard blue, they are a delight. In another spot along the lane there is a wonderful display of cultivated varieties, in every colour of an eye-pleasingly soft pastel spectrum. Purely lovely, though I’m just as happy with the good old-fashioned blue. It’s been a good year for lupins.


Stickford, May,'05
Give me your lupins!



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