As an Episcopal priest with a massive 'canonical area' (denominational parish) I spend a lot of time out and about, often in breathtakingly beautiful locations, often miles from anywhere. I also spend increasing times on the island where my house is not. Mary also runs her holiday business from these places. And a narrowboat moored in Kirkintilloch and many other points on the canals. Selling holiday lets, keeping in touch with colleagues in Scotland and elsewhere, and also an increasing amount of pastoral work, demands connectivity and, for me, the use of Skype and now also Google+ hangout videoconferencing. But all that needs connection and a place.
Remaining connected is important. I am not a cutting edge technology person - I use it when it's useful and ignore it when it's not. But this week my rather ancient Nokia's screen finally reached the point of unreadability due to scratches - it was a keypad phone, 3G but only just. This phone has been the nerve centre for webmail, map browsing, Google etc. for the two years ministry/Spinnaker View running in Scotland.
So this morning, I am sorting some of this out. A little bit of shouting at our 3G provider produced some improved contracts for the kids' phones, and a conciliatory Android smartphone, which I have (reluctantly) switched to. The pain of learning a titchy touch-screen's keypad will pass, and I am far too tight to buy a tablet.
And now I have the warm glow of things coming together. A modest 'add-on' on my 3G contract allows the new smartphone to be a wireless hotspot (and my Aberdonian roots like a mere one month rolling contract!). The resurrected netbook (new motherboard from ebay), D2's iPod touch, all the data hungry devices, all of this is suddenly connected to broadband while we are tied up in the marina! Skype and videoconferencing (within data reason) suddenly beckon wherever 3G signal is to be found.
Which still raises issues with wilderness. The old definition of wilderness (used in Duke of Edin award hiking planning etc.) was to do with distance from habitation. The new definition feels like distance from suitable electromagnetic comms bandwidth. And we still have some battles to be fought there in the hinterlands of Argyll and Bute.
But let me bask a little in the glow of satisfaction as I blog via my new portable wifi hotspot. The frontier of my personal EM wilderness has been pushed back a little, here in wild Kirkintilloch!