At home, I use dial-up. Am I the last one? Does anyone else know what it's like to be able to go get a cup of tea between clicks? At school, things are lightning fast. The contrast is dramatic.
Here at home we might shortly get Washtenaw Wireless, a county initiative to hookup the "most rural and outlying areas." Everyone would then have low-cost high-speed internet connectivity. Great, right?
For connecting to the wide world, great.
Has anyone heard about Colony Collapse Disorder? No, it's not about social networking, not this sort anyhow.
Bees are dying, all over the country, and in Europe, too. It's inexplicable. The hive itself will be intact and seemingly healthy. The honey supply will be plentiful; bodies of sick or dead bees are not to be found. The bees just simply disappear.
Why this isn't front page news in every major newspaper, I don't know.
Scientists are onto this. They're working to find out what in the world is going on, and are generating a lot of theories: climate, stress, pesticides, an accumulation of viruses. There's also a theory that I initially dismissed as "way out there": wireless connections may be disrupting the bees' ability to navigate or communicate.
I didn't give that theory the time of day until last weekend when I went for a walk with my neighborhood friend who's a beekeeper. I noticed a big red mark on her forehead and asked her about it.
Her response: "Oh, I should have known better. I was so stupid. My phone went off and i just answered it, right while I was checking on the hive."
"Instantly one took a dive bomb at my face and then the whole hive was alarmed. I got out of there, fast. See my stings?"
I was incredulous. "You think the phone going off made the bees mad?" (She doesn't even use the ringer, just keeps it on vibrate. She carries the phone in her pocket.)
"Without doubt. Beekeepers know (or should know, I was SO stupid) that you don't use devices around bees. Very dangerous."
After talking with her, I began wondering. What if there actually is a connection between the demise of the bees and our luxurious connectivity to wireless communications? Could this possibly be a factor in the problems the bees are having? I'm wondering if I should be quite as enthusiastic about our wild area going wireless.
Is this silly?