When the lights go out, the heaters grind to a halt and everyone wanders out of their houses to see if their neighbors also just waved goodbye to their modern, technology-enabled comfort, it always delivers a real gut check as I’m forced to assess my bionic life.
On Monday morning when the ice storm hit, I awoke on my own steam at dawn, mainly because the digital alarm clock set on KRXO’s “Bob and Tom Show” for maximum, chucklehead irritation was dead. Based on the air temperature, we probably lost power two hours before, and the cold was starting to overtake the warmth. There would be no coffee, no CNN, no checking of e-mail, no DVR-delivered episodes of “Little Einsteins” for my son, and no podcast updates for the ride to work.
Later that day, we arrived at my in-laws’ house in far northwest Oklahoma City and started to enjoy all the comforts of home circa 2007. I programmed my father-in-law’s TiVo to record “How I Met Your Mother” and “Journeyman,” and settled in for something akin to normal life that night, reading to my son and getting him ready for bed.
Then around 8:30 p.m., everything whirred to a stop — we could hear the modern world running down around us. Then there was that awful micro-moment of hope so commonly experienced in blackouts when the electricity makes a last valiant effort to return and the lights pop back on. But then that hope abates as the grid goes down and you can almost feel the power failure digging in for the long haul.
Now, this should normally be the moment where I have some kind of sky-opening epiphany over how I’m far too media-saturated and technology-enabled. From here, I am supposed to transform into a neo-Waldenite like Bill McKibben, author of “The Age of Missing Information,” and embrace the natural, freezing life experienced by my pioneer ancestors. My energy footprint becomes the size of a chipmunk’s (real, not singing and computer-generated) as I crush my cell phone under the heel of my hiking boot and warm my family by burning my entertainment center.
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