Just for the afternoon. Bright sky, almost cloudless, calm Gulf. The Huntress, with new engines, got us to where the red snapper were. In the time allotted us, we had reached the limit that bureaucrats tell captains like Mike and mates like “Groovy” can’t exceed if the red snapper stock is to be maintained. The fact that a congressional committee found the survey on which the snapper quotas were based to be “fatally flawed” apparently made little difference to the quota-setters — because the quotas are still set. But at least the bureaucrats are extending the snapper season a few days to make up for fishing time lost to Tropical Storm Debby.
Point is, nobody seems to have told the snapper that their stock is depleted, for we filled our quota and had a fine time doing it.
And we went to bed tired.
To be awaken by the weather.
Now, I have always liked morning storms out on the Gulf. Not everyone does — my lovely wife, for instance. We were down here not long after we were married and one came up — lightning, thunder, with dark all around. It was about an hour before sunrise, not that anyone would see the sun rise that day.
My wife is not a morning person, so waking her before she wants to be wakened is something one does only on a need-to basis. I thought I needed to. She didn’t. But being a good trooper, she stumbled out and we crossed over to watch the light show over the water. I took a camera and we snapped pictures on the hope that at least one would turn out.
On our wall we have a photograph of three — count ’em, three — lightning bolts coming out of a cloud, together, and hitting the Gulf. Neither of us remembers seeing that, but the camera did.
But I didn’t go out this time. Instead, I waited for the storm to move on and then I went to the office to check the weather, but the Internet was down. So I went to the living room to check the weather, but the TV was down.
I ask you, how is it that a company that can bounce signals off satellites, move prodigious amounts of information along hair-like filaments, and create computers that can do all the things they do can’t devise a system that can survive a thunderstorm?
But it can’t.
Or, if it can, it won’t.
So there I sat, offline.
Now, I will admit there were certain advantages to this situation.
It was easier to resist the temptation to go onto Facebook and read testimonials about how much some wife loves some husband (hopefully married to each other); to see a snapshot of someone’s breakfast (which, by the way, looks good); to see Bob Davis’ early morning bike-ride picture; and to find out who is mad at the government today.
Being offline also freed me from Internet advertisements that find their way into my e-mail despite the diligent efforts of the university spam patrol. (How is it that those keepers of appropriateness can block the advertisements for male enhancement but not block the woman in Nigeria who has $20 million waiting to put in my bank account if I would just send her the account number?)
And it also lifts from me the urge to go to al.com and see what the future of the freedom of the press looks like and start the day with a nasty attitude.
Yet, with all these urges and temptations taken away, I felt strangely, well, disconnected. I could still write — word process — but there was nowhere I could send it.
I could not communicate with friends and family; OK, I could telephone my mama, who doesn’t do the Internet anyway, but let’s let the exception be the rule.
And then, wonder of wonders, it came back, just like that, and I got online to discover why I missed the Internet so.
A friend had recommended that I go to www.floatingsheep.org and read about a survey done that compared the number of tweets that mentioned “beer” to the number of tweets that mentioned “church.” I did and discovered that in wet-to-the-bone Calhoun County, more tweets mention “church” than “beer,” while in the county I grew up in, the county where my late father fought epic battles with church-led prohibitionists (and finally won), “beer” is tweeted more frequently than “church.”
I never would have known that without the Internet.
Harvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Eminent Scholar in History at Jacksonville State University and a columnist and editorial writer for The Star. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.