Thursday, August 28, 2014
The Hunt for the Holy Grail
I ask in advance that you keep your gasps of horror and pity to yourself. While I do have a laptop and a fair amount of knowledge regarding computers, I don’t have Internet at home. Too cheap, and no need. I live within walking distance of a public library and can get free WiFi there. That’s been sufficient for my Internet needs, and I get a bit of exercise to boot.
All was fine for many years. I went to the library, checked my email, posted on my blog, and wrote smutty books for an erotic romance epublisher. Before I got the laptop, I used to have to type my submissions on the library system and save them on disk (remember those?) because my home system, the still-hanging-in-there Troglodyte 1000, won’t talk to any computer built in the 21st century. The laptop’s Internet ready and is just waiting for me to pony up the bucks.
But why bother? It’s not just the library. Quite a few places have free WiFi these days. Just find one, set up, and you’re good to go.
Everything was fine until last year. I signed in one day, went to my publisher’s site, and found it blocked by the library’s content filter for “adult/explicit content.” The library doesn’t want people looking at dirty books any more. Not even adults who wrote the dirty books. I spoke to the fine folks behind the counter and they sorrowfully assured me nothing could be done. I later did an informal survey and discovered the libraries in most surrounding counties will let me onto the site. I’m writing erotic paranormal romance in one of the most religiously conservative areas in Pennsylvania. If I still lived in Berks County this wouldn’t be an issue, at least not at the moment. Lucky me.
But hey, no big. McDonald’s has free WiFi, and they’ll let you look at anything, even flat-out legitimate porn. You don’t even have to buy anything. There’s a McDonald’s about a five minute drive from my house. For months I stopped in at Mickey D’s once or twice a week to check sales and see what my fellow smut writers were up to. Birdsongs and rainbows, etc.
Until this spring, when they had a fire. The McDonald’s by my house shut down. Don’t panic: they already had plans to build a new McD’s on the other side of town, closer to the bypass exit. The old one will be refurbished and will reopen eventually.
In the meantime, I had to find a new source of WiFi for Sundays when the library’s closed. Hopefully, one that wouldn't also block my publisher’s site. That lets out Burger King. There’s one of those just up the road from McDonald’s, but they won’t let me on the Siren site either. That’s why I started going to McDonald’s. The Dunkin Donuts out by the turnpike will let me onto the main Bookstrand site, but not the Siren pages. The computer flat out told me, “This is pornography.” Even though you can still see all the books on the main site. Somebody explain computer logic to me. (I’ve been told these blocks are all caused by the computer programs. No human being is ever to blame.)
Wait! A ray of hope! We have a Sheetz up by the exit. They have free WiFi and a quiet little dining section with plenty of outlets and their system lets you look at anything. For two weeks it was perfect. Then we had a massive thunderstorm and power got knocked out for hours. Sheetz’s WiFi hasn’t worked right since. Sometimes it’ll let me connect, but most of the time it doesn’t. Scratch that off the list.
Oh look, the new McDonald’s is open! Oh wait, they haven’t hooked up their WiFi yet. Put that one on the back burner for now.
I can get WiFi at Starbucks, but I don’t like to. I don’t feel comfortable in there because I never buy anything. I’m not a coffee drinker. Mark Starbucks down as “last resort.”
We’re not totally McDonaldsless around here, but the next closest one is about six miles away. Or I can drive over to a neighboring county, where the content filters aren’t as conservative. It’s even worse now that I have a recent book release. I want to check up on my sales but the library won’t let me. I have to drive across town, find a public place and hope a) they have WiFi, b) their system doesn’t block erotica publishers, and c) it’s working to start with. Failing that, the only way I can keep abreast of my own books is to leave town.
Screw this. It may finally be time to bite the bullet and get WiFi at home. Especially with winter coming on. It was different when McDonald’s was just up the street. I’m not driving all over creation for a five-minute checkup on my books, just because I live in an area that’s squeamish about consenting adults making love. In prose, without pictures. Have you ever looked at the covers? Nothing’s going on. But some little kid might happen onto the site and (gasp!) read something. Like they couldn’t do that in the Kmart with Fifty Shades of Grey.
Or I could switch genres. Write mystery or horror or thrillers. Craft lengthy scenes with women getting beaten, abused, dismembered and raped, usually by page 1. Those publishers’ sites are never blocked by anybody. I guess that stuff’s okay to show to The Children.
Let’s see how sales do for my newest book. I can get home Internet through my cable TV outfit, for a reasonable rate. They’ve already assured me they don’t block anything. Of course, if I have home Internet, I’ll probably never leave the house again. If I drop off the face of the earth, you’ll know I’m at home watching porn. Pardon me, “doing research.” God, I love this job.