Unplugged

Last weekend we shed life’s conveniences and spent some time in the wild. We went camping.

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For three nights we slept in a tent. But before you think it was really miserable and uncomfortable, it was not. We have camping cots, so we did not have to sleep on the ground. We also have comfortable sleeping bags, blankets and pillows.

We did not go hungry as well, for we did not have to forage for something to eat in the forest or hunt for some wild game. We have canned goods and packed foods in our coolers. We even have propane powered stove and oven to cook our food. Though we build an open fire to keep us warm and for real “camping-feel.” In addition, we have to roast our marshmallows for the s’mores in the camp fire, of course.

Furthermore, we did not have to dig a latrine, for there was a modern bathroom facility with several toilet and shower stalls. And with heated running water!

You may argue that what we did was not really camping, but “glamping” – glamorous camping.

However, there’s one life’s convenience or some may even consider this a necessity nowadays, that was not available in the campsite. What is it?

There was no cellular phone signal there. It was a dead zone.

For three days, I have no use of my smart phone, except to take photos. No phone calls, no text messages, no e-mails, no Facebook, no news feed, no Google, no ability to check NBA scores, and no access to my blog. Nothing, nada, zilch.

In this current age, we are so wired up that we have connection with people around us and even people in the opposite side of the world. Phone call, texting, Facetime or Skype has been part of our everyday life now. I am finding out that nowadays courting has been reduced to video chat and sending text messages. What happened to the formal home visit, bringing flowers and asking the girl’s parents if they can meet?

I am not saying that this is bad, as it has made our world smaller. This technology has been a lifeline for families that have loved ones working overseas. Skype, Facetime, or any form of video chat is definitely a boon for them.

With the internet available almost anywhere whether thru Wi-Fi or cellular signal, we have access to any information we need. I remember the days we have to go to the library and search for the facts and data we want. Today, we have that instantly at our fingertips that I am not sure our present society will survive without this technology.

But I survive without a phone signal and internet for 3 long days. Proving we can live without it. The only connection I had there was with people around me in the “here and now.” You may say that we were isolated from the outside world, but there was plenty of interaction and connection in those days we were on the camp.

Where we went was a camporee. My wife and I volunteered to join my son’s club as supervising adults. There were 25 other youth clubs, and more than 300 people in that camp. So there’s a great deal of communicating and socializing. Though not by Facebooking or texting.

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some young people leading the worship service

Yet we did have some “long distance” interaction while we were in the camp. We witnessed the mighty sun as it sets by the lakeside and it was gorgeous. We marveled at the distant bright stars above us at night. Moreover, we had quiet communing with the Creator who surrounded us with these beautiful nature, who by the way, is really nearer than we think.

I believe we should be spending more time unplugged.

(*photos taken with an iPhone) 

 

From Where?

“It’s a small world after all.” 

That’s what the theme from a popular Disney ride attraction claims, which features different countries. Yet it is the internet that made that statement a reality.

We can now go to places that we never knew existed before, with a simple click of a mouse or a flick of a finger, even though how distant or remote that place be. Or we could also be seen and heard (or read) by someone from a place we never heard before, as we broadcast ourselves through the world-wide web.

A few days ago, I looked at my stats and the different countries of the readers who have visited my site. As I counted them, there were a total of 144 countries that have wandered (on purpose or not) in my blog site.

It is kind of humbling, considering that many of the articles I post were even written in my native tongue. Please forgive me, but I initially intend my site for Filipinos as my target audience, being an expatriate of the Philippines. But I do appreciate all of you (even those from Mars and other aliens) who stopped by.

For the past few days, there was one country that was a frequent guest. A country that I would say I know nothing about. Until now.

The country is Azerbaijan.

Unless you live in that country or live close to it, I am sure you don’t even know where to find it in a map. Just like me. Or maybe I am just bad with world geography.

But now I know where it is.

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photo from exploreazerbaijan.com

To my reader in Azerbaijan, I would like to thank you for visiting my humble abode. Are you a native of that country? Or maybe a Filipino expat? I would like to hear from you and learn more about your place.

*****

P.S. I have more hits from Azerbaijan than from China. Go figure.

Highly Wired

One sleepless night, I got out of bed in the wee hours of the morning as I cannot get back to sleep. Rather than toss and turn, and listlessly kick like a fish out of the water (damn restless leg syndrome!), I got out of bed so not to wake my wife.

I went out of the bedroom and sat in front of the computer. Then I realized, after a few minutes of staring at the monitor, that there was no internet connection. I checked our modem and the Wi-Fi, but they both have green lights indicator on. After more than half an hour of fumbling trying to fix the connection, turning the power off and on at least 7 times, and clicking on the help button on the computer to try to analyze the problem, still there was no internet connection.

I grudgingly sulked back to bed. While I laid awake, I mulled over: how did we do it then, when there was still no internet? No internet!? For my younger readers, yes there was really a time when there was no internet.

For starters, when we want to know the news, we read the newspapers. I remember, when I was growing up in Manila, my father had newspaper delivered to us every morning. I kind of associate the smell of the freshly printed newspaper to the aroma of freshly baked pan de sal. I would pick up the paper, that is if our dog did not get to it and digest it first. I would scan the headline news for two seconds, and then turn to the comics section, which I read more with gusto. But for developing news and immediate news that would affect me that day, like typhoon signals and suspension of classes, we turned on the transistor radio and listened to DZRH Balita.

If we want to check on something, like for home assignment or research, we would head to our school library. If it was really an extensive research, I would go to the National Library near Luneta, which was a couple of jeepney rides away. First I would look in the reference catalog of the library. Then scribble the reference number of the book on a paper. Then walk the aisle after aisle and row after row of books to find the specific book I was searching for. Once I reached the specific bookshelf, I would then check each reference number of the books in that shelf. Only to find out that the book was not there! Maybe somebody checked it out, or maybe somebody was doing the same research that I was doing.

When we want to talk to our friends, we would pick up the telephone and call. But first we had to tell our party-line who were doing telebabad for more than an hour already, to hang up, and we would say that we need to make an important phone call. To get in touch of our friends and families that were far away, like in the province or abroad, we would write them letters. Yes, the one that you need a pen and a paper to make. Then you would put your letter in an envelope and attached a small shiny adhesive thing in the corner, which is called a stamp (do you know what I’m saying?). Then you would drop your letter in the post office which to me at that time was one tricycle ride away. After at least 3 to 4 weeks (that’s why it is called snail mail), you would have your response letter back, that is if they decided to write you back. And if it was from our relative in the US, I would check if there was a $20 bill enclosed too. Or maybe somebody in the post snagged it.

Now, we have all the news, the information, and any thing that we want to know in our fingertips, with a click of a mouse. And kids complain that they don’t have time to do their homework! And now we have all our friends also one click away, where we are updated with their minute by minute status, like what they had for lunch or what they are watching now. Then we are compelled to click  the “like” icon on their status, just because they “like” what we post on our FB wall. We really have it made nowadays.

We are highly wired that our society is now so dependent to the internet. And it is not just the daily conveniences that internet provides, but also vital services that we cannot live without. I cannot imagine life without it and it is like going back to the Stone Age. I guess people during that era wrote on stone tablets – a predecessor of the i-pad.

You might have realized it by now that my internet connection got fixed finally, as you would not be reading this griping piece of mine.

(image from here)