Friday, November 17, 2000
There Is So Much To Be Thankful For In Carlisle
One of the best holidays ever conceived is approaching, a holiday when there is no frenzied buying and exchanging of presents, when families and friends put a priority on seeing one another and everything smells delicious. In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, let's count our blessings and look at some of the many things we have to be grateful for here in Carlisle.
·We're thankful to all the waterlogged citizens who helped Town Meeting reach a quorum in a timely fashion last Tuesday night.
·We're grateful that our recent well-run election means Carlisle is no West Palm Beach.
·We're thankful to the Carlisle Police who, in addition to their many charitable activities throughout the year, collect food to ensure that the less fortunate have a Happy Thanksgiving.
·We're grateful to the town center residents who help make Halloween such a treat every year. And while we are at it, many thanks to all those who donated to the center's candy fund.
·We're thankful for the safety of the Vicharelli family and for all the efforts of the Carlisle Fire Department, whether fighting large fires or responding to those "I smell smoke" calls.
·We're thankful for everyone who serves on a committee in this town, and the next time you bump into one of these volunteers, you should thank them too.
·We're grateful for Daisy's Market, a wonderful oasis of convenience.
·We're grateful for all the Mosquito staff, who put in countless hours to help make this paper so unique.
That's only a partial list, but a good start. Make your own list, but don't let it end there. Take it a step further and let the people on your list know they've earned your gratitude. If you do that, maybe it will be a gift-giving holiday after all.
Whatever role our erstwhile Vice President might have played in its development, the Internet stands as the most significant feature on the landscape of contemporary culture. Early in its emergence into popular awareness, the Internet acquired the sobriquet "information superhighway" as a metaphor for the speed with which it carries a breathtaking array of information around the globe.
In Carlisle, the metaphor of a "superhighway" seems particularly apt, implying as it does a high speed conduit with limited access. Whatever speed may link the various information centers on the highway, things slow to a crawl when they reach the Carlisle exit ramp. Despite enormous advances in technology for high speed data transfer, we in Carlisle are still relegated to second-class tickets on the "dial up" freight train.
I am, of course, talking about "broadband" the formerly elusive missing link in the Internet's promise. The term refers to the rate at which a connection to the Internet will carry information. The fastest "dial up" connection rate is 56 kilobytes per second. Until fairly recently, this was the best available to non-commercial users. (Commercial concerns have for many years used "T1" trunk lines at a cost much higher than most consumers can bear.) Within the past three years, however, two technologies have begun to compete to provide access at rates up to hundreds of times faster so fast, in fact, that web pages load virtually instantaneously. New "digital subscriber lines" (or "DSL") offer high speed Internet access over ordinary telephone lines, with the added advantage of allowing voice communication over the same lines while connected to the Internet. And cable modems allow personal computers to connect to the Internet at even higher speeds over the same cable that carries television signals to our homes. Both services are priced only slightly higher than the standard rate for unlimited dial up service. Alas, neither is available in Carlisle.
On a map of Eastern Massachusetts, if communities with DSL service are colored red, communities with cable Internet service are colored blue, and communities served by both are colored purple, Carlisle appears as an island of white amid a sea of color. The reasons are vexing. DSL is available only to subscribers located within three miles of the telephone service's central office, because the signal degrades when it travels too long a distance over the telephone line. In our case, the nearest central office equipped for DSL service is in Concord center, more than three miles from anywhere in Carlisle. Cable access requires the cable provider to make upgrades in some of its equipment. Despite seeking (and gaining) approval recently for the transfer of the exclusive franchise to provide cable service to Carlisle, AT&T declined to offer any specifics (much less make any commitment) about when it might offer Internet access to its Carlisle cable customers.
Across America, communities more remote than Carlisle have broadband. The advent of broadband is even changing the Internet medium. Streaming video and audio files, formerly too large to convey conveniently, are now ubiquitous. Digital movies, music, and film of breaking news stories all will eventually be received over the Internet. Without broadband, we in Carlisle are being left behind. Indeed, without broadband the Internet for us is less a superhighway than a rutted rural cart path.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito