COLUMBUS, OH–Larry Wisniewski, a 36-year-old Columbus-area office manager, turns to the Internet for information whenever humanly possible.
"Are you trying to find out what time Angela's Ashes is playing at Crosswoods Marcus Cinema?" Wisniewski asked his wife Pamela, noticing her looking through The Columbus Dispatch's movie listings. "I can log on to the Dispatch's web site and check it in a flash."
"Now that my household is hooked up to the Internet, nothing is out of reach," Wisniewski said. "With the click of a mouse, anything we could want to know is available–even stuff that's otherwise only available in print."
Wisniewski's fervor for consulting the Internet has not gone unnoticed by his wife.
"I was on the phone getting directions to a restaurant we were going out to," Pamela said, "when Larry started yelling, 'No, no, don't ask! I'll find it!' So he opens up mapquest.com, enters our address and the restaurant's, and within 10 minutes, he had complete door-to-door directions printed out."
"That's right," Larry said. "And she wanted to get a pen and write down the directions by hand."
The Internet came in equally handy last Sunday, when Pamela suggested making pancakes for breakfast. "There was a good recipe on the side of the Bisquick box, but Larry insisted on getting on that AltaVista thing and searching for more," Pamela said.
After only 30 minutes of searching, Wisniewski came up with nearly 200 different pancake recipes. "Without the Internet," Larry said, "she would've been stuck with the one variety of pancakes available from the box."
"Let's face it," he added, "Bisquick boxes are a dead medium."
Larry has used the Internet to assist friends, as well. "Last week, we had a houseguest who was wondering if there were any Jesuit colleges in Ohio," Wisniewski said. "All I had to do was open up my AOL software, enter my password, point the browser to www.yahoo.com, and click on Society & Culture, followed by Religion & Spirituality. From there, I had only to click Faiths & Practices, then Christianity, then Denominations & Sects, and then Catholic. Then I simply clicked on Orders, Jesuits, Colleges & Universities, Ohio, and boom, right there in front of me are Xavier University in Cincinnati and John Carroll University in Cleveland."
Wisniewski's friends, for their part, are impressed by his technological savvy and access to limitless global databases. "I feel like such a caveman for looking up phone numbers in a phone book," neighbor Steve Lindblad said. "All those pages and that ink–it's so embarrassing."
For all of Wisniewski's success in surfing for online info, he said Pamela is "still getting the hang" of the Internet and its power. "Pam is always asking stuff like, 'Why don't we just look the word up in our old-fashioned dictionary?'" Wisniewski said. "The answer, of course, is simple: because we don't have to."