Our 27th year of publishing

Published February 2, 2021



What hath John wrought to this, our ‘primitive’ hideaway?

By John Toth / The Bulletin

I felt like Samuel Finley Breese Morse on May 24, 1844, when he sent his first telegraphic message: “What hath God wrought.”

That sentence reflects what he had done - changed the way we communicate. I did something similar recently, and I’m wondering if it was a good idea.

The hideout is where I go to escape from the 21st Century. Life is simple - free TV, radio and very limited access to the Internet. I have avoided bringing cyberworld into my above-ground bunker. This is the place I withdraw from the Internet drug that flows through my veins all week as I labor on the paper and occasionally check in on who is commenting on Facebook and what the latest posts are on Twitter.

Well, maybe a little more than occasionally. I mean, it’s right there, just a tab opening away.

I cannot unplug altogether from civilization because I still have to get things done, and that requires that I access the Internet, even though it is on a limited basis. That’s where the problem lies.

The hideaway is awkwardly located in an area where the Internet, without some type of a router, is hard to get. It takes a long time to download or upload files with just a smartphone hotspot signal.

I have waited more than an hour to be able to upload a large file. I have even driven to a nearby store where the data signal is better - most of the time. Of course, the time I needed it to be better, it wasn't. I had to drive three more miles to finally get a good signal.

I ignored these little setbacks because I was really dedicated to living at the hideaway like a caveman - without the Internet, for the most part.

I don’t mind watching free TV. I do that at home because I cut the cable cord many months ago. I only watch a few channels, anyway, and I can get those with an antenna rather than dishing out all that money for cable TV.

I also like listening to the radio. I grew up like that. I still prefer manually tuning in the stations rather than pushing a preset button.

The hideaway had all the basics I needed. But there was a big problem that could only be overcome with a better Internet signal. What should I do?

If I gave in, the sanctity of the hideaway could be ruined. I would plug that Internet IV right back into my arm and suck up all that YouTube and its endless programming of retro music and documentaries about trains.

That’s not what the hideaway is about. After all these years, there had to be another way to solve my problem and also maintain the hideaway’s purpose - to isolate myself from the world and pretend that I am the only one in it.

Well, Sharon and I. She comes with me. But that’s it. Just the two of us, in our world. And all our pets, who also make the trip. But that’s it.

Then I found what was a promising solution - a hotspot that would generate a better Internet signal, but with a data limit so that I would only use it for work. Down I went to one of the nearby T-Mobile stores to see what they had along these lines.

I walked out with a 5G hotspot that can accommodate up to 30 devices, like computers and cellphones. I forgot to mention that it comes with more data than I’ll ever use.

“What hath God wrought?” Or better yet, what have I bought?

I couldn’t resist. It was just a little more expensive per month than the limited data plans. I gave into my weakness.

I blame Sharon, who stayed in the car while I went into the store. I think she dislikes all this tech stuff almost as much as I dislike rummaging through department stores.

Enough to say that I took a bad work situation and made it better. But what have I done to the hideout? Will it ever be the same?

I’m soaking up all the fast and abundant Internet signal that I can. I am listening to retro music and watching old train documentaries - all at the same time. I am out of control. What have I done?

I know how you felt, Mr. Morse.

(John looks forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send me a note at john.bulletin@gmail.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.)