Saturday, October 7, 2023

Off the Grid

My wife and I were settled comfortably on the couch after dinner, reading our books before tuning into our current TV series, Ted Lasso, when all the lights in the house went off. She was able to find something on her phone that said power should be restored in an hour or so. So on to Plan B for the evening.


I happily went to play my acoustic piano and when the power still had not been restored, used the flashlight on my phone to read my book in our candle-lit home. Almost 3 hours later and still no electricity restored so on to bed. Woke up at 6:30 in the morning, flipped on the light switch and— still nothing. My morning routines by the dawn’s early light and now some 13 hours later, still no power. Realized I can write a bit here on the computer with my 92% battery charge. But getting nervous about the food in the refrigerator, especially as our little heat wave continues. And I have an important Zoom call in two hours.


We suspect that this power outage is local, so one strategy is to take computer and phone to another neighborhood to get charged. But not so easy with the refrigerator. And with a gamelan workshop in Berkeley on my schedule, I have to remember how to disengage the electric garage door-opener to get my car out. 


So an interesting time to reflect on our dependence on the grid to live our life in the manner to which we are accustomed. The toilet still flushes and our gas stove still works so nothing too drastic. But still it’s a wake- up call as to how to prepare for the situation when it happens again. Meanwhile, hope PG&E is out there figuring it out!


PS:  By 10 am, still no power, had to bike to a friend’s house to carry through the Zoom meeting and when I got home at 12:30, power was restored. Now every time I flick on light, there’s a moment of pleasured surprise— “It works!” In the words of that immortal bard, Joni Mitchell  “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” I have now a new appreciation of electricity, thanks to a 14-hour blackout.


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