Early in the morning of June 8th, we had a magnificent storm. The eerily comforting glow and hum of digital/technical life was replaced by the repeated shine and crackle of lightening, the angry booming of thunder, the teeming rain and the assault of hail on the window panes. As suddenly as it came, the storm passed and the house grew abnormally silent and dark.
Shortly after 5 am (boo!), My Hubby and I were (quite rudely) awakened to the sound of the phone ringing, as the alarm clock no longer worked (Note to self: Replace battery in Alarm Clock). It was my Hubby’s father and Boss calling to see if we had power…
“Huh?! What? No! What time is it?! Yikes!” Within a couple seconds, we had him out the door in time to leave with his ride for work.
So, after that excitement, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I was thinking back to the Great Power Outage of 2003; it lasted more than one day! And, I had just gone to great lengths to procure Radiohead tickets for the sold-out Toronto show, only to have it be cancelled and postponed to a date I absolutely could not attend. Anyway…
As the years pass, more and more people are replacing newspapers with online news and listening to radio online or on satellite. But what happens when we have no access? What happens when the power goes out?
The mobile phone is good for awhile, until the battery is used up, and it is my only lifeline to other people. The iTouch is also rendered powerless when the battery is spent, and without a Wifi connection, it is not so useful anyway.
I was lying in bed trying not to think about all the food that we couldn’t afford to replace that could have gone bad. And then, the most disturbing and distressful thought of all, “HOW WILL I STRAIGHTEN MY HAIR?” (You see, I had my shower the night before so my hair is a disaster area until I run my trusty ELECTRICAL straightener through it.) I reluctantly came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t be straightening my hair, and then, “I am working at a school in town, where we have no power. Will there even be school today?” Normally, I would check the Board’s Website, but I couldn’t – No Power. I may have had to actually go outside and talk to real live people for some information – just like the good ol’ days (so I hear!).
Ironically, this forced a Technology Detox from my frighteningly techno-dependent life. I had just started reading “The Digital Diet” by Daniel Sieberg. Regaining balance in our lives and breaking our technology addictions are the main themes in the book, and one of the first steps is a Detox, and there’s the irony!
So, I’m not sleeping, and I’m thinking all these things and I find some paper and a pen (wow, old-school!) and I get out of bed to sit by the window. It was turning into a hot, sunny morning. The effect of no power was quite evident, allowing a reflection on how I depend on it and the part it has in my life. With the noises of life silenced, I could clearly hear the birds, singing their morning songs, quite clearly unaffected by the turmoil their human neighbours were experiencing. Here is what I didn’t hear:
No constant hums of the fans, the refrigerator, or the computer powering up. No YouTube videos or songs playing on iTunes that accompany my morning routine. Not even an alarm clock going off! Just the shrill ring of the cell phone (a temporary tie to our technological life).
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- No coffee (in a power outage, coffee makers and electric kettles are rendered useless.)
- No smoothie (ditto with the Blender)
- No light to help me find clothes (Note to self: Find flashlights and make sure there are batteries)
- No computer/Internet to see if I missed anything during my slumber (Facebook withdrawal is setting in…) And, I can’t help but feel slightly unsettled without the muted glow of Computer, which, admittedly, is the first thing that gets turned on upon arisal and arrival.
- No status updates, no Tweets, no checking the weather on-line (oh, wait… My cat’s fur had gone sort of crimpy. That meant it wass humid out… )
- No air conditioning, no fans
- I’ve already mentioned that my hair straightener was cruelly unavailable (Note to self: get a mini-generator for next time – I must be able to straighten my hair at all times!)
- Heck, I can’t even charge my tooth brush (Note to self: Get backup non-electrical one)
“Oh, dear! WHAT DO I DO? WHAT DO I DO? WHAT DO I DO? WHAT DO IDO?”
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Things to do with No Power:
- Eat all the food (Romantic-Style Candle Lit Dinner, not in front of the Telly or Computer)
- visit someone with a BBQ
- read (by sunlight)
- write (My. gosh! I still remember how!)
- Art (on paper, with a pencil or crayons!)
- play cards/boardgames (how they were originally meant to be played)
- Make a List of things needed to be done before the next power outage
- Take a walk and notice your surroundings… and, if it gets to be night and still no power – gasp, oh the horror! – then marvel at the world without power
- Reflect on how technology (and lack thereof) affects you
- Exercise (most likely does not require electricity)
- Talk to actual people!
So, I got ready for work, the best I could in the dark with no power and I walked to work. No power means no school. I walked home from work and found that…… the power had returned. I thought to myself, “Ah but why not use this as an opportunity to stick with a power-free day, to step away from my monitor and my gadgets. Take the time to appreciate REAL LIFE. Why don’t I exercise? Why don’t I…….” Excuse me, computer has booted up;)
1. We are screwed if the apocalypse or some other worldly disaster were to occur!
2. Perhaps, I should follow through with the Notes to self!
3. Maybe, we should try to do some of those things that don’t require power a little more often!