15 December 2006


Well, it happened -- right at 8:00 PM yesterday the power went off, and it had not come back on by the time I left for work this morning. I understand this was the worst storm here since 1995, and about 250,000 people in Portland were without power. Apparently the electricity here has been back on since about 2:30 this afternoon, so I will assume it's now reliable.

There's snow on the ground outside. Not a lot. Not enough to make cars slip sideways into the gutter and glide gracefully through intersections into exquisite, ballet-like collisions despite the most desperate pressure on their brake pedals. Just enough to crunch a bit when you walk on it.

The storm taught me an important lesson: I need a more powerful flashlight. Trying to read by the one I have, or by the flickering light of a couple of candles, would have earned me nothing but eyestrain and a monster headache. Not even my most beloved Russian grammar tomes could tempt me under such conditions. Thursday night left me defenseless before the full effect of this citywide mini-disaster: terminal boredom.

How limited the existence of the ancients must have been! We feel deprived when forced to do without electricity for a day -- no computer, no proper lighting, in most cases no cooked food, while the stockpile in the refrigerator threatens to warm to blah-ness and ultimately spoil. Yet for thousands of years everyone had to do without electricity all their lives. Pity people such as the Romans after sunset, squinting over their parchments by the dull glow of oil lamps! How many conveniences we take for granted which they could never have imagined! All the more remarkable that they accomplished as much as they did.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

If a giant EMP were to wipe out all electricity in our country--I do believe there would be many people who would simply commit suicide rather than live without modern technology--it has become much worse than a crutch--it has become another organ disembodied from our biology and which mutates much more rapidly than our immune systems can prepare for.

I would have a rough time but I think I would come out okay in the end as long as I had a good fire, a a captive audience and good tale to tell.

16 December, 2006 05:44  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

If a giant EMP were to wipe out all electricity in our country, it would be a de facto act of suicide by whatever nation was responsible, and we would have most of our cool stuff back up and running again in a few weeks, just watch us. Hell hath no fury like an American deprived of e-mail and internet porn.

Don't be misled by my raspberry for blackberries on your site -- I love technology, when it's not being used purely to annoy people in public places. As for biology, frankly I can hardly wait for the day when it becomes optional (see Kurzweil).

16 December, 2006 07:52  

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