Friday, September 9, 2011

Go back to your lives, citizens.

Written by Adam

We rejoined "civilized" society in the evening hours of September 4th after about eight days of living pre-Edison. Many areas had power restored immediately or never lost it, while others took an abnormally long time to get back online.

If you had electricity, life maintained its regular pace, while the rest of us suffered through the redundancy of our plight. "Have power yet? No? I don't know how you are managing. Have power yet? No? I don't know how you are managing. Have power yet..."

We managed quite well, thank you. Aside from hot water, refrigeration and Internet access, there was nothing really missing from our comfort. Television? There is nothing on anyway. Lights? We don't need no stinking lights! Vacuuming? What for?

We went to bed at dark, reading by headlamp or candlelight. We awoke when it was light out.  Early to bed, early to rise, that sort of thing. We had evenings on the porch with candles and Scrabble. There were visits with neighbors and guitar playing. It was very Mayberry in a cooler New Englandy way. So it was a bittersweet moment when the power came back on. 

Bittersweet because the experience illuminated how our lives must be plugged in. Obviously, we live in an electrified society. We need it to function in our modern times. I have to iron my shirts for work, run the Mighty Mixer for health drinks (sorry, "green smoothies" sounds funny coming from a man), fire up the modems for Internet access, turn on the power tools (though the chainsaw still got plenty of use), and on and on. 

My work requirements did not stop just because my domestic world was inconvenienced. It did not matter that I was unable to keep up with the speed of the work week. I was like a horse and buggy in an automobile world. Keep up or you're ketchup. 

My goodness how life is exponentially faster with the power on.

I remember learning in Drivers Education class about Velocification. It is the difficulty you have driving at 35 m.p.h. after coming off the highway where you drove 65 m.p.h. I think they made the term up, but the effect is real. It is hard to come down to town speed when you are used to the freeway. 

That is how I felt the week of the outage. I was ping-ponging from the rural back roads of an unplugged home to the electrified interstate of my work day. Frankly, I prefer the back roads - you can see so much more. 

By the evening of September 5th we were back on the highway. Our computers glowed. We watched a couple of movies on TV. Lights burned brightly. For a moment, I even lost my temper when my computer's sound inexplicably stopped working, the laptop went through numerous updates, and Windows went on a pop-up spree - Allow this, allow that... 

We were back to normal.

Meanwhile, our neighbors had their lantern out on their front porch and were playing cards, our power was turned back on before theirs. Dare say I envied them?

Don't get me wrong, hot water is spectacular. I understand why bathing was optional in the old days. Soap refuses to rinse away with cold water, and you are not going to stand in the icy flow trying to convince it otherwise. The decision of whether or not bathing is even necessary was deeply contemplated each day.

However, I can really do without the lights, the television, and the mad ability to produce and accomplish all the time that electricity empowers us with. For a week, everyday was unplugged to a certain extent, and there was that great "vacation" feeling to it.

Now I am longing for Sunday again. After a week of the juice, I really need get some relief from it all. Honestly, I don't think one day a week is enough.

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