The Day the Lights Went Out

15:30. I'm sitting at my computer, reloading and reloading Internet Explorer, annoyed that the Albion email server still isn't up. I'm feeling there's something missing in my life. When I was in France, there was a sense of newness and adventure. Everything was a new experience. Right now, there is too little adventure in my life. I consider blogging about it, but decide that blogging about the lack of adventure would be really boring. I despair and return to work.

16:15. The lights flicker, then I lose power to my computer, losing whatever file I was working on. This is the second time this week that it's happened. I curse the construction workers for blowing another fuse, then realize that it's not only my end of the room, but the lights and all of the computers. I look through the door of the sorting room and discover that the lights are out there as well. Damned construction. I realize that I haven't heard any construction noise in a while, and someone points out that they're not working anymore. Someone calls the appropriate campus authorities and finds out that the whole campus is down. Gradually, as we call out to other places, we learn that all of Ann Arbor has lost power. People start speculating about anti-Affirmative-Action terrorists.

Brian gets off the phone with his wife, who says that she thinks that New York City has lost power as well. People start speculating about real terrorists. I am reminded of something I read somewhere about a device that somehow destroys all electrical signals, but I'm not sure if this actually exists.

16:30. After running around for a while like chickens with our heads cut off and calling everyone we know, we've run out of things to do. We can't work without lights or computers, so we're released for the day.

My dad works next door and we can't get ahold of him on the phone, so I run down the hill to see how his workplace is dealing with the blackout. I creep across the lawn and peek through his window, only to see him sitting in his well-lit office, tapping away at his computer. The damned building has a back-up generator, so they're just fine except that the phones and air-conditioning don't work.

17:45. The three McN*tts, having stalled on leaving for a while, start the journey home. We came in to work separately this morning, but abandon one car in the parking lot. It's going to be a zoo anyway, so we might as well decrease the roads' vehicle population by one. The drive is surprisingly easy, all things considered. There are big backups and people cheating at intersections, but there are also strange gaps between intersections where one can drive quite freely.

I wonder where my website is hosted and regret having never gotten around to backing up my blog.

The radio says it may be 3 to 4 hours before the power is back.

18:30. We arrive at home. We walk around the house to unplug everything, automatically flicking on light switches as we enter a room and flicking them off as we leave. The worst part is that I'm surprised when the light doesn't come on. I am surprised every single time.

I suspect that my brain may be powered by the now-nonexistent eckeltricity, especially when I am reading a comic where the characters are making microwave popcorn and my first reaction is What are they doing? You can't make microwave popcorn! There's no POWER.

19:00. Robin's mom is in Chile and she's home alone and scared. I invite her over for dinner and we play cribbage. Although all of my normal mental capacities seem to have been lost with the electricity, I have developed SUPER CRIBBAGE POWERS, sort of in the way that Daredevil lost his sight and developed his other senses. I attract amazing hands and peg well, but lose my powers once I become aware of them, and only win by about two points.

Dinner is spaghetti and tomato sauce and corn from the garden, all made possible by our grill's burner. Hardship? Bah. This is an adventure.

It starts to get dark out and we search out the flashlights. I find a snake-light and wrap it around my neck. When I look up, the light moves up. When I look down, it moves down. Left, right, all around, and so on. I declare myself Light Girl and am excited when people actually use my new moniker, such as, "Hey Light Girl, get over here and help me find another flashlight."

The radio says that it may be 24 hours before the power is back up.

21:15. Robin claims to be afraid of looters. My mom points out that looters are more likely to go someplace like Best Buy than our houses. Robin and I look at each other in interest. Looting Best Buy sounds like a good idea. Then we remember that we are the biggest goody-goodies ever and sigh in disappointment.

Robin can't leave her dog alone to come and stay with us, so I go to spend the night at her house. Upon arrival we decide to play Scrabble but first search out all of the candles in the house. We discover that the light produced by one candle can be significantly increased by placing reflective objects behind the candle, so we almost forget to play Scrabble in our nerdly search for the ultimate reflection. Soon we are surrounded by candles, silver teapots, trays, pans, and cookie sheets.

We turn on the radio. Electricity has returned in Michigan's thumb. That's nice - the Michigan Militia will have power and no one else will. It's important to get them back online.

The radio seems to have no speculations about when the power will return.

21:30. Have begun to pretend am Amish. Have also begun to talk like B. Jones. Begin speculating that outages were caused by Amish who have decided to start proselytizing.

22:00. Still listening to the radio and playing Scrabble. The game will never end. Foster Braun keeps talking about how the outages may have been caused by a turban exploding or a turban bursting into flames, and how once you take one of those turbans out, it could shut down all of the turbans in the system. It's a turBINE, dude. An exploding turban never caused more than a headache.

Businesses are being advised not to open tomorrow. We are excited at the prospect of a day off.

22:20. We knew that we had to cut down on water use, using it only for drinking and medical purposes. Now the radio tells us that drinking water must be boiled before use. Of course, they tell us this right after Robin drinks a big glass, so we start wondering if she's going to grow another head. We search the house for drinkable substances and find one bottle of iced tea, so we have to drive over to my house and wake my parents up.

Someone on the radio points out that U-M has their own electrical system (which they can, but don't usually, use during the summer). So much for my day off.

23:00. Robin's boyfriend, Bob, calls from Virginia. I ask him if my website is online, and he says yes. Good, I can stop worrying about not having backed up.

Robin trounces me in Scrabble, which is not hard to do when she got 43 points in the first round and I got, I believe, 8. We go to bed around midnight.

The next day. 7:00. The alarm goes off. I don't want to get up and go to work. Luckily, the radio announces that U-M is shut down and employees should not report to work. I roll over on the cat and go back to sleep.

8:15. "We have power!" Robin exclaims. I am happy. I roll back over on the cat.

Eventually, I realize that I'm not going to get back to sleep, so I get up and help plug things back in.

According to the radio, it turns out Ann Arbor water is just fine. So much for additional heads.

Since we can't sleep, we decide to go for a drive. We go to my house, taking a roundabout route so that we can see the lines at the gas station. How many of these people actually need gas? How many actually have somewhere to go?

Once at my house, where the power has also been restored, we turn on the TV. Detroit's mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, is on TV, saying that Detroit is the greatest and that we are now prepared for all kinds of eventualities, such as tornadoes or hurricanes. I don't know how long Kwame has lived in Michigan, but I don't remember ever having a hurricane here. Where would it come from? Up the St Lawrence Seaway? And what is he doing wearing a pink shirt?

So anyway, that's pretty much the end. Later in the day we went to Kroger's, where they were giving away bags of ice, and Meijer's, where they were running on auxiliary power, so we bought emergency essentials like tequila, Cointreau and limes. In an emergency situation, you have to make some sacrifices, so we had to get key limes instead of big ones.

So danger was averted, nothing serious happened, we didn't lose power long enough to suffer any real hardship, and I had my adventure. Hooray.

srah - Saturday, 16 August 2003 - 10:00 AM
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more blackout stuff from Suck is Life (...except when it doesn't) - August 20, 2003 10:54 PM

    An interesting account over at Srah's about her experiences last week. I don't get to her site as often as [Read More]

Comments (18)

gravatar alfie - August 17, 2003 - 11:18 AM -

Ocean's 11! Woohoo! The pinch knocks out power to all of Las Vegas!

gravatar alfie - August 17, 2003 - 11:24 AM -

An exploding turban might cause more pain than just a headache. I agree, looting Best Buy sounds like fun! We lost power here briefly and we lost it again briefly yesterday because of a storm, but we're ok now.

gravatar alfie - August 17, 2003 - 11:25 AM -

Which cat?

gravatar alfie - August 17, 2003 - 11:26 AM -

Ah yes, the true essentials.

gravatar srah - August 17, 2003 - 11:28 AM -

Gomez. And I didn't even blog about the part where we drank the margaritas. I got smashed and beat Robin and Wes at Scrabble because I would only play if they let me use foreign languages.

gravatar alfie - August 17, 2003 - 11:33 AM -

Gomez is the girl? The one that always tries to jump on me?

gravatar alfie - August 17, 2003 - 11:34 AM -

Was it Grandma's spaghetti sauce or the store bought?

gravatar srah - August 17, 2003 - 11:37 AM -

Gomez is the girl and I think it was Grandma's.

gravatar Jez - August 17, 2003 - 12:05 PM -

I can only win at Scrabble if I'm allowed foreign languages AND my own made up language.

gravatar Jez - August 17, 2003 - 12:07 PM -

I bet "Kwame Kilpatrick" would get you a high score in Scrabble, if it was allowed.

Welcome back to the 21st century.

gravatar Justin - August 17, 2003 - 4:13 PM -

I think you'd have to have a pinch the size of Rhode Island to take out THAT much power.

gravatar katie - August 17, 2003 - 6:03 PM -

Harumph. Our power flickered for 2 seconds while Vermont switched off the external power and turned on the internal power. We rule. Except that we suck for not getting a day off.

gravatar alfie - August 17, 2003 - 8:34 PM -

Dang. First you eat all of Grandma's spaghetti sauce while I am stuck at Baldwin, where the spaghetti sauce is nowhere near as good, then you had to go and rent Colin Firth in leather pants without me. You people are having way too much fun without me. Grrr.

gravatar srah - August 17, 2003 - 9:53 PM -

I would like to rent Colin Firth in leather pants.

gravatar alfie - August 17, 2003 - 10:27 PM -

Well, so would I, but I think that is a little doubtful.

gravatar Jez - August 18, 2003 - 4:29 AM -

I had the day off on Friday because it was a public holiday. AND we had electricity.

gravatar Mr. Hibbity Gibbity - August 18, 2003 - 7:39 AM -

Actually, what you were speculating on is called an EMP or 'Electro-Magnetic Pulse' bomb and they do exist.

They actually used them publicly for the first time in this latest war with Iraq. Creepy.

gravatar Mr. Hibbity Gibbity - August 18, 2003 - 7:47 AM -

Perhaps he was wearing a pink shirt because he . . . got dressed in the dark? Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a 'light-girl' ; )

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