August 8, 2012 at 11:00 AM by Dr. Drang
I’m back from a long weekend/short vacation in northern Michigan. We stayed with friends at a house with no TV and no internet out in an area with spotty cell coverage. It is de rigueur for bloggers, upon returning from such a vacation, to write a post about how wonderful it is to be disconnected and to encourage one’s readers to unplug every once in a while and live the simple life.
This will not be such a post.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful time. Biking on empty roads with actual topography, piloting a boat to dump my kids who were tubing off the back, eating more ice cream every day than I usually eat in a month—it had that odd combination of busy and relaxing that makes a vacation fun. But being disconnected wasn’t part of the fun.
I suppose the reason so many of those “offline is refreshing” posts get written is that we have so many people for whom being online is their job. It’s only natural for them to enjoy a getaway from work. But most of us surf the internet for pleasure, not to get article ideas or track mentions of our company’s products. And after a day outdoors, it’s nice to spend a little time on Twitter or Facebook, looking in on what our friends and the rest of the world are doing.
Last weekend, the rest of the world was watching the Olympics, and having only the occasional dribble of news about it was trying. This was especially true of our host, the guy whose decision it was to keep his house a TV- and internet-free zone. Bob is a serious runner—part of a national championship team in college, in his college’s hall of fame, an age-group winner in every 5k he runs, that kind of serious—and it killed him not to be able to see the 10,000 meter men’s final.
So great was his itch to watch the race, he packed up his laptop Sunday morning and drove into town to grab some wifi at the library. He was thwarted by NBC’s requirement to log in via your cable provider’s credentials; he had no idea what his Wide Open West username and password were. Did I use this opportunity to tell him about 1Password? No. While being a know-it-all on the internet can get you compliments, being one in person usually has the opposite effect. I’ll tell hime when he comes to our house next week to watch our TiVo’d recording of the race (my wife thought ahead—my cross country-running son wants to see it, too).
One good thing about being offline was getting reacquainted with Mr. Mulliner and his endless supply of love-struck nephews. I threw my slightly-worse-for-wear copy of The World of Mr. Mulliner in my bag at the last minute and went through a dozen or so of the stories.
World is out of print—not even a Kindle version—which is a shame, because it includes all the Mulliner stories and a funny introduction written by Wodehouse when the omnibus came out in the early ’70s. My copy has a printing date of 1979 (which you could probably guess from the $5.95 cover price) and despite the pages still being white and the binding still being sturdy, I wouldn’t mind getting a replacement.1 Used copies are available through both Amazon and AbeBooks.
Most people know Wodehouse from the Jeeves and Wooster stories, but my introduction to him was the Mulliner stories, many of which were adapted for episodes of Wodehouse Playhouse, a gentle British comedy that was brought to PBS stations here in the States following the success of Upstairs, Downstairs (the Downton Abbey of its time) and Monty Python. I suppose that’s why I’ve always preferred Mulliner. Jeeves seems a little tame when you cut your Wodehouse teeth on stories from the Angler’s Rest.
I seem to have taken a left turn somewhere a few paragraphs ago. Back to the laser focus this blog is known for in the next post.