Monday, March 17, 2008


I have been living on the farm for three weeks now, without my cell phone, without regular access to the Internet, and with an old TV that picks up about three channels.

(How do I update Farmbedded? After work, when I have the energy, I've been driving to the Lambertville Public Library.)

In the last two days, however, my situation of technological isolation has changed. First, I learned that there is a wireless Internet connection radiating forth from the farm's visitor center. I tracked down the farm's technological guru on Saturday, he did something to my laptop, and now I'm set up to feed from the signal 24/7.

Second, I've been waiting weeks now for the landline phone number I had been using at my folks' place in Flemington to transfer to a new cell phone. A procedural snafu within the ranks of T-Mobile dragged the process out over nearly 20 days, but now my cell phone is in hand and ready to go.

I wonder if I'll be better off or worse off to have my 21st century communication tools back.

I've certainly noticed the absence of my gadgets. Yes, I enjoy waking up in the morning and having only my chores to worry about. This is the grand, under-rated, ever-fleeting Simple Life I've stumbled into, and it's pretty cool. But after work, after I've showered, eaten, and twiddled my thumbs for a bit, I start to wonder what's going on in the world. What's the latest drama in Clinton vs. Obama, how are my friends in Arizona doing, what's new on Youtube, and what does say the temperature will be tomorrow?

In normal circumstances, I would boot up the Internet and surf for an hour or so. I'd read articles from my favorite sites, write some emails, look at Facebook for a few minutes, you know, waste of time stuff. But since I don't have the Internet, I go outside and study the new buds forming on the trees, listen to the birds, and start reading that great novel that's been collecting dust on my bookshelf for too long….

Actually, no, I'm making that up.

Three weeks on the farm hasn't done much yet to change my modern thirst for flashing lights and colors. Many afternoons I still find myself switching on the TV and parking my butt on the couch for half an hour, sometimes longer. All I can ever seem to get is Tucker Carlson on MSNBC, who I think is the most annoying guy ever. But I watch him, and then the commercials, and them him again, because I don't know why. I've noticed that sitting in front of the TV usually feels like the most relaxing thing I do all day, even though there's beautiful, unspoiled farmland all around me. It's like I know any other activity would be good, and that Tucker Carlson is bad, but I need my fix.

I'm not one who thinks everything old and natural is good, or everything new and technological is bad. But I am intrigued now to delve into the roots of my compulsion to have the TV on for at least a few minutes every day. I'll report back.