A Night Off the Grid

I’m proud of the fact that I haven’t missed an entry in the newest volume of my holographic diary since I began it on Wednesday.  I have never claimed that type of streak with this blog, but I’m guilty with an explanation for last night: No electricity.  (But you have a laptop, I hear you protest.  Yes, I say, but it’s useless without a router.)

Just after 4 yesterday afternoon, the TV and air conditioner in the bedroom suddenly sputtered, coughed once, and then died.  No rain had fallen during the day, but there was plenty of wind.  Susie and I noticed it when we were in Clintonville, waiting for a bus to take us home from First UU.  By the time we were done eating lunch, the wind was strong enough to start blowing trash and tree limbs in the circle outside our house.  Then, at 4, everything quit.

This storm is coming on the tails of Hurricane Ike.  More than half of Franklin County was out of power, and we remained so throughout the night.  It was a night like the Great Power Blackout of 1965 in New York, "when the transistor radio, the candle, and the art of conversation enjoyed a one-day renaissance," according to Walter Cronkite.  (I love all things radio, but if I still own a transistor radio, I don’t know where the hell it is.  We didn’t have C-cell batteries to power our boomboxes’ receivers.)

Surreal is the only word I can use to describe how it looked when I stepped out onto the sidewalk to look at the neighborhood.  No lights anywhere–not even street lamps or traffic lights.  As I looked toward downtown, all I could see were the lights on the tower at Mount Carmel West.  Later in the evening, the neon lights on the top of the American Electric Power building were on; I guess it wouldn’t restore public trust if they were blacked out.  We stayed in the master bedroom, using light from the candelabra I brought up from the living room mantle.  The battery on the laptop still worked, so I played some of the albums I’ve ripped to Windows MediaPlayer.

We got to bed at a decent hour–unlike right now.  I used the alarm on my cell phone to wake up, although during my many mini-awakenings during the night, I didn’t have the slightest idea what time it was.  I’m used to glancing across the bedroom and looking at the LED display on the cable box.

There was some free entertainment.  The couple who moved next door to us had a high-decibel and -intensity fight, and the sound echoed all the way up and down the block.  Words like "son of a bitch" and "crack whore" and "skank" were bandied about quite a bit.  It made The Jerry Springer Show sound like Masterpiece Theatre by comparison.

I had no way of knowing whether or not State offices would be open, so when 5:30 came, I treated it like a normal day.  Good thing I did, because the offices were open, although there was quite a skeleton crew.  (Besides there being no electricity in over half of Columbus, schools were closed.)  Steph heard that electricity could possibly be out until Wednesday or Thursday, so she called me at work and read me a list of foodstuffs to buy, all of them not requiring immediate and constant refrigeration.  I went straight from work to Kroger and bought over $50 of produce, snacks, bread, etc.  I came home and found that we had power–at least our side of the street does.  I’ve seen some candles burning the windows of our across-the-street neighbors.

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