Individual Entry

Tunnel Vision

I love the internet! So much so that I travel everywhere with either my Ubuntu laptop or my MacBookPro or both. Wi-Fi is becoming more and more ubiquitous and accessible everywhere. Here in the Peoples' Republic of New Jermany (proNJ), the two major cable companies (Optimum and now Comcast) have been installing wireless access points which allow their customers to have internet access even outside of their homes. When I don't have access to a wireless hot-spot or one of the cable company Wi-Fis, I use my Sprint EVDO for internet access. I also use it while I am driving. It allows me to have internet access even in a moving vehicle. This blog is about the amazing ability to have internet on-the-road, literally, on the road; a testament to the fantastic technology of 3G internet service.

This past weekend, my wife and I packed up for a long weekend at a music festival in Pittsburgh, PA. The bags were packed, the cooler stocked with some fine adult libations, the cameras were stowed securely and my Ubuntu laptop was seat-belted in for the ride. I use an iGo system for powering the Ubuntu laptop. This has provisions for power supplied from the wall, a car cigarette lighter/convenience outlet and even an AirPower port when flying. I plugged one end of the iGo into the car's cigarette lighter/convenience outlet and the other into the Ubuntu laptop. The laptop was now juiced for the duration of our seven hour trek.

I inserted the Sprint Sierra Wireless AC597E ExpressCard EVDO into the ExpressCard slot of the laptop. It immediately connected to Sprint's 3G wireless service. I then fired up RhythmBox, one of the music players that comes with Ubuntu linux. I like to use RhythmBox because it places a small icon in the menu panel when it is running, even if the application's window has been minimized. When tracks change, a popup appears from the small icon detailing the track playing and then fades away a few moments later. This way, if a track comes on that I don't recognize, I can glance up to see what it is.

I tuned the RhythmBox to my favorite internet radio station — Aural Moon. I selected the 96K AACplus stream which RhythmBox can decode. I adjusted the volume and we set off on our 400 mile trek to the Pittburgh music festival with Aural Moon internet radio playing from the laptop's Sprint wireless internet connection.

Across interstate I-195 to pick up the proNJ Turnpike; Aural Moon played. On the proNJ Turnpike and over the Delawere River bridge to meet with the Pennsylvania Turnpike; Aural Moon played. Up the Pennsylvania Turnpike Northeast Extension to my mom's house, where we dropped my 9 year old for the weekend; Aural Moon played. We never missed hearing a note save for when the 9 year old was shooting his mouth off to stifle the sound. We arrived at my mom's house and I left the Ubuntu laptop playing the stream while we visited with mom for about half an hour.

We finally hopped back in the car to continue the journey to Pittsburgh. The laptop was still playing the stream. We hopped on Interstate I-78 west with tunes still streaming from the laptop. A long trek of about 60 miles on I-78 and then we picked up Interstate I-81. Lots of beautiful Pennsylvania countryside to view to the soundtrack of the music still streaming from the laptop. We finally met up with America's first highway — The Pennsylvania Turnpike — near Carlisle, PA., where we began a 200+ mile Pennsylvania Turnpike run to Pittsburgh. It was now about 18:00. The blood sugar level was getting low and both of us were in need of a rest stop to purge our bladders. The laptop remained on in the vehicle streaming music while we entered the rest stop to use its restrooms and order subs from the Quiznos before continuing our pilgrimage to the yearly music mecca in Pittsburgh.

We were back on the Pennsylvania Turnpike which has also been coined the Tunnel Highway. Through the Blue Mountain Tunnel (4339 feet/1323 meters); through the Allegheny Mountain Tunnel (6070 feet/1850 meters); through the Kittatinny Mountain tunnel (4727 feet/1441 meters); through the Tuscarora Mountain Tunnel (5326 feet/1623 meters); each roughly one mile (5280 feet/1609 meters) long bores through western Pennsylvania mountains and the music, amazingly, continued played without missing a note!

The long tedium of 200 miles on the Pennsylvania Turnpike came to an end at exit 57. We paid the toll, a whopping $12.50, for the trek from exit 226 were we picked up the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Carlisle. The rest of the route, another half hour or thereabout, was on Route 22. Two more tunnels too; the Squirrel Hill Tunnel (4225 feet/1288 meters)and the Fort Pitt Tunnel (3614 feet/1102 meters), each roughly three-quarters of a mile in length. The sounds of Aural Moon were still pealing through these two tunnels too. Simply amazing.

We arrived at our hotel, home for us for the next three days, at about 21:30. We left the vehicle with the laptop still streaming Aural Moon in the arriving guest parking area and we exited the vehicle to enter the hotel lobby. We approached the desk and I gave the person at the desk our surname and confirmation number. I signed the paperwork and I was handed the keycards for the suite. We said hello to a couple of other folks we have come to know from all of the festivals and gigs we attend and then returned to our car. I pulled out of the arrival parking spot and drove the vehicle around to a side entrance closest to where our suite was situated.

The laptop continued to stream tunes as we unloaded the car's contents and lugged them up to our hotel suite. In fact, the Ubuntu laptop was the last thing to be carted up to the room. After the other contents of the car had been safely stowed in our suite, I came back to the car one last time to collect the laptop. I unbelted its seatbelt. I pulled the power cable from the laptop and the car's cigarette lighter/convenience outlet and wrapped up the iGo's cables with the velcro straps supplied on its cables. I then grabbed the laptop and closed its display lid. The music was still streaming.

Back in the suite, I placed the Ubuntu laptop down on the desk. I pulled out the MacBookPro and the Bose SoundDock, and hooked them up. I connected to the hotel's wireless with the MacBookPro and tuned into Aural Moon's stream with iTunes. The sound jettisoned from the Bose SoundDock speaker system filling the suite's communal space with ample volume. With the music now streaming from the MacBookPro, I no longer needed to keep the Ubuntu laptop connected to the stream or, for that matter, the internet via my Sprint Sierra Wireless card. I pulled the EVDO card from the Ubuntu laptop. After 400 miles; after seven hours; after six tunnels; the music was silenced.


IQ's song, Tunnel Vision, prompted the title of this blog. It seemed so appropriate too since IQ headlined the Pittsburgh event.

Tunnel Vision

Don't want to lead a revolution
Let another go ahead
Don't have a need for elocution
No desire to raise the dead
You can't avoid the circulation
Amend the circumstance
Don't want to lose the combination
Still want to hold it in my hands

Can't see around this tunnel vision

From inside of what I've found
When I was wracked with indecision
When my hide was hunted down
Under a moon of innovation
A many-splendoured thing
I need the company I'm keeping
And I feed the hunger


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