Posted in Writing

Blacked Out, and Snowstorm-Driving for Dummies

In my drinking days, that title would have heralded a very different kind of post…  But these days I’m Sober and it’s the internet that was Blacked Out yesterday.  In my case, not just Wikipedia, but the whole damn web.

Probably everyone who tried to use the web yesterday became aware (if they hadn’t been already) of the ridiculous legislation coming up in the U.S. Senate, the ramifications of which could cause massive shut-downs of all kinds of sites.  Wikipedia and other sites voluntarily “blacked out” for the day to bring to people’s attention what it would be like if sites on which we depend were knocked out of circulation.  Google featured a blacked out ribbon, but (thank heavens) kept their site functional–I would have been at a loss to get my day’s work done without it.  If I hadn’t already had an opinion about the SOPA/PIPA legislation, my relief at finding Google still active yesterday would have cemented it.

Bessie Buick says "ouch"

I have a lot of writing to catch up after my days on the road this week, so I got up early to hit the writing projects–and to watch the local Winter Storm Warnings come to life with fat flakes obliterating the yard in a matter of minutes.  Just in the hour before Keoni left to take our son to school, we had several inches of  new snow in the yard–too late to call a Snow Day, but we were all wishing they didn’t have to venture out in that.  Unfortunately, an Idaho driver’s license requires neither a “snow skills-test” nor an IQ minimum, and a storm like this will leave the landscape littered with slide-offs and newly dented vehicles.  Sure enough, an idiot driver pulled onto the slick road right in front of Keoni, without even looking, and with no room to stop without clipping him. The guy’s (rather puzzling) exclamation as he jumped out of his car was, “Hey, I was already moving!”  Um, yes–and you shouldn’t have been…  (Time to review the Idaho Driver’s Manual: “In Motion” does not equal “Right of Way”…)

Keoni finally made it home more than an hour later (from the school that on most days is a mere twelve minutes from our house) in possession of the Idiot’s insurance information and the name of his first-born child…  and an aching knee, having stressed his surgery-site with his urgent attempt at braking.  The day’s crashes weren’t behind us, though–our power and internet connection crashed next.

The power came back on pretty quickly, but our internet was down for a good eight hours, as if God were joining the protest of the SOPA/PIPA legislation…  We live well out of town, not near anything “important,” so on a day when the Boise emergency services are going haywire, I know our connectivity is way down the priority list…  (On the flip side, the “plus” of living out here during a storm is that there’s no reason to worry about shoveling all this snow!  The kids have snow-boots, and the geese and coyotes can just fend for themselves!)

what to do when the internet crashes

It’s amazing how powerless and cut off I feel without a web connection!  I enjoyed the first few hours–finished the crossword puzzles in the papers that had accumulated while we were on the road, made some headway in the book I was just sent to review…  And then began to get antsy about not getting my WORK done. 

Next scene: Kana is hunched over the laptop with her (very old) Blackberry in hand, trying to look up the information she needs on the crappy-crummy internet view on the dinky Blackberry screen.  I think this Blackberry was the very first even to offer internet, which was exciting at the time, but compared to the smart phones out today, it’s next-to-worthless…  Stubborn determination knows no bounds, but I must say this is not an effective way to work. I finally surrendered, feeling a little cross-eyed, and resorted to the next-best (or perhaps the better) plan for a powerless afternoon: a good nap in kitty-company!

Last night I got an email from “Fight for the Future,” an organization protesting SOPA/PIPA, and I’d like to think the day’s blackouts may have had an effect:

Today was nuts, right?

Google launched a petition.  Wikipedia voted to shut itself off.  Senators’ websites went down just from the sheer surge of voters trying to write them.   NYC and SF geeks had protests that packed city blocks.

You made history today: nothing like this has ever happened before.  Tech companies and users teamed up.  Tens of millions of people who make the internet what it is joined together to defend their freedoms.  The free network defended itself.  Whatever you call it, the bottom line is clear: from today forward, it will be much harder to mess up the internet.

The really crazy part?  We might even win.

Approaching Monday’s crucial Senate vote there are now 35 Senators publicly opposing PIPA.  Last week there were 5.   And it just takes just 41 solid “no” votes to permanently stall PIPA (and SOPA) in the Senate.  What seemed like miles away a few weeks ago is now within reach.

Maybe our esteemed Legislators are actually reading the “Driving the Country” manual…


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

17 thoughts on “Blacked Out, and Snowstorm-Driving for Dummies

  1. Hi,
    We can only hope that the people world wide can win this one, it needs to be won, no Government should have control of the internet, it really is a scary thought.


  2. What a day you had! And the “the ridiculous legislation coming up in the U.S. Senate” is not only an USA problem. Where I live (europe) similar laws are going to be discussed…it is a world wide danger. We must be careful.


  3. The SOPA/PIPA Legislation is an outrage and sorry to hear about Keoni’s accident. Driving in the snow scares the beejeezus out of me, as do these big brother powers-that-be that see fit to censor our freedom.

    Btw the Gandalf pic above is classic and made me smile!


  4. So, I really like your blog and this is not meant as a personal attack by any means, but I must say, after three days of anti-SOPA and PIPA posts on your blog (inlcuding the black out on the day), I find this statement:

    “Google featured a blacked out ribbon, but (thank heavens) kept their site functional–I would have been at a loss to get my day’s work done without it.”

    to be a bit hypocritical.

    I agree that these bills are bad news and should not be passed, but I don’t agree with the antics of protest that have been going on. It’s clear that you do, however, and so the idea that you blacked out your own site, prevent access to it’s content “in protest” but then were grateful that another site only sorta did it (so you could get your work done), seems hypocritical to me.

    I’m sorry, I just needed to get that said. Moving on now. :-\


    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      If it helps to put things in perspective, the other website I manage–which is used as reference material for a team of writers–I deliberately DIDN’T black out. Unlike my blog, that’s a site I feel is necessary to have available, and it would have been counterproductive, even damaging, to disable it. (And it’s that kind of site–along with Google, and the other ones I rely on–that I would fear for if the legislation passed.)

      THIS blog, by contrast… Well–as much as I enjoy writing here, I really can’t imagine it’s vitally important to anybody, and certainly its 12-hour absence didn’t interfere with anyone’s work…

      By the same token, I realize, my own “blackout” isn’t one that would make a huge difference in shaping the week’s politics… Although I suspect that a lot of those thirteen million voices did come from little unimportant people like me, and chances are that a lot of them realized the implications of the whole bad deal because of the “antics” you found annoying.

      That said, I’ll apologize if I did inconvenience you with my 12 hours of unavailability. I hoped a few people might use the email form provided on the “blackout” screen, and I truthfully didn’t expect anyone would be irritated by my absence. ;)


  5. Late to the party as usual (catching up on blogs today) SOPA/PIPA sucks and as per usual Congress goes overboard and comes up with a cure worse than the disease (which is why I am libertarian) however….I wish that human trafficking/extreme poverty/war violence against women generated a fraction of the outrage of this issue. Nevertheless I think it’s cool you blacked out your site.


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