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January 14, 2006

Loss of Power

It was Sunday January 1st 2006 and I was staying in a room at Hawthorn Suites in Santa Clara, California. I had gone to sleep late and chosen to awake naturally, at my body's prompting. Upon awakening, it was light outside and I went to check my email; I found that I could not get online. After a while, I realized that the power in my room was out. I went to the front desk in the hotel, where they told me that the power in the whole street was out; it must have been caused by the heavy rains.

I needed to get up to San Francisco that morning to meet with some people and I needed to get a number of things done before I went, including getting my bags unpacked from my recent trip to Sonoma. I figured that I would defer having a shower in the gloomy bathroom and instead start bringing my suitcase and other bags in from the car. Before leaving the room, I checked that my card key for the electronic door lock was still working.

On the way back into my room on one of the trips, a goatee adorned, spike haired Raiders fan strolled towards me along the corridor. He asked me: "Hey man, you got power?" the end of the word "power" getting stuck under the back of his mid-western tongue.

"No I don't, the power's out in the whole street", I replied.

"What?" he asked in irritation.

"The power's out for the whole street."

"Fuuuck!" he said, retching his head forward like a clucking chicken; as I opened my door, I didn't hear him say anything else, not even "Thank you."

I went back into my room and got all my things unpacked and put away. Just when that was complete and I was ready to have a shower, the power came back on; outside, I heard a loud chorus of whoops and hollers; someone whistled, another shouted: "Yeeeeaaaah! Alriiiiight!"

What had they all been doing? I thought; they must have just been sitting there in the gloom for an hour, twiddling their thumbs and muttering to themselves. Without TV, they were lost: abandoned to their own thoughts and to each other. There's so many things that they could have been doing: going for a walk, reading, meditating, talking, have sex with each other, writing, or going for breakfast. I was just amazed that they seemed to be so incapable of getting on with life without any power.

If a power crisis does arise and if this is an indication of how people will be able to adapt to it, then I think we could be in for some interesting times.


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