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I Am (Sort of) Ready for a Power Failure

Updated on February 21, 2020
Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank wrote humorous bits for her college newspaper many years ago. Her funny observations have continued in print and online.

Caught in The Dark

When the power goes off suddenly, you will wish you had prepared ahead. How will you see in the dark? How will you keep warm or cook?

These are basic concerns than can be addressed with preparation, but being mentally ready for an outage is also important.

You must be able to deal with the effects of sensory deprivation caused by lack of TV, radio, and other media which normally provide continual soothing doses of commercial advertising. You must review and memorize the rules for Scrabble and Yahtsee.

You should be aware that sudden media loss can cause hallucinatory reactions, like imagining you see a busy shopping mall festively lighted for the holidays in the middle of the forest, or having the delusion of believing the Disneyland Electrical Parade is marching past your living room windows.

Finding your candle in the dark.
Finding your candle in the dark. | Source

It May Be Only a Brief Blip

Powerless intervals rarely last long. By the time you have a roaring fire in the wood stove, after you fill and light the oil lamp, and have the emergency wind-up radio fully cranked, the TV will suddenly resume it's commercial messages, the heater will kick in and the lights will blink on again, The digital clocks will blink on and on and on.

Our first real rain this season was not heavy enough to re-start the seasonal creeks. It was not substantial enough to turn the hillsides green. It was barely sufficient to rinse the car, yet it proved more than adequate to do something to the dusty insulators on power poles that causes them to short out. We were suddenly powerless.

None of the several dozen flashlights in our house, were anywhere to be found. Trying to locate a manual can opener by the faint green glow of my wristwatch dial was hopeless.

I began to regret passing up that internet ad I had seen for night vision goggles. At mere five hundred dollars, they now seemed like a bargain.

Eventually I found the emergency candle in a crock by touch, after first trying to light a jar of jam.

I was getting into survival mode by setting up kerosene lamps, and lighting the tapers that always stand like untried but ready sentinels on the dining room table.

I dragged featherbeds and comforters into the living room, near the wood stove which was loaded with wood and ready to kindle.

Survival Mode

Illuminating my way with a battery powered tap light shaped like Mr. Man-in-the-Moon, I lugged out the unused crate of survival supplies.

I ignited my denatured alcohol burner with the butane spark wand, and popped the emergency cheese fondue appetizer in the seldom used emergency cheese fondue appetizer pot.

Searching cupboards while wearing my spelunker's strap-on forehead light, I found the emergency cast iron pot needed to start a hearty emergency survival stew atop the wood stove.

With all of this accomplished and a cheery blaze dancing in the stove's firebox, the power came back on, ruining a perfectly good adventure. Darn!

Just when I was all geared up for proving I could do this without electricity, there it was zapping me back into modern times, revealing soot smudges on my arms and face, candle wax drips on the table, and disclosing the truly undistinguished appearance of the emergency stew.

Survival foods should never be fully illuminated, though the package labels do not include this warning.

They are designed to be eaten by campfire glow with the distant sounds of wolves howling in the background, while you are distracted by the challenge of balancing a paper plate on your knees. All these conditions prevent you from focusing too much on a meal which looks as if it could use some food styling .

We turned out the lights to eat.

Losing electric service before dinnertime is challenging enough, but there are worse times for having the power go out. For instance:

1. When you are completing your tax return on the computer and have not saved the final data and calculations.

2. When you are doing brain surgery.

3. When you are shearing sheep.

or 4. when you are doing brain surgery on sheep who have not completed their tax forms.

If you engage in any of these activities regularly, a backup power source is strongly recommended.

In the whole history of humankind, it is amazing to think that hundreds of millions of people have lived without the benefit of video games, bread machines, automatic pencil sharpeners, power car buffers, amplified guitars, and electric toothbrushes. People have survived for thousands of years without such power as we have... most of the time.

I am prepared to use a manual typewriter to write my articles should the need arise . . . but then how do I get them on the 'net?

(If you want to know more about being a foothill newcomer click here.)


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