Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Rolling Blackouts

Today, and I would guess for several days, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex power users will be subject to rolling blackouts—approximately every two hours, all electricity goes out in selected areas for a minimum of 15 minutes. Some areas have experienced well over an hour before the power comes back on.


I personally was expecting this.  I’ve been in this area before when lingering cold hit and knew that the system would become overloaded at some point.


So far, it’s no big deal.  It’s daytime, we can still see to read or play games, and, at least in my area, power hasn’t been off so long that houses can’t reheat a bit.  I say “a bit” because it is clear that the inside temperature here will not go above 64. 


Now, just as I wrote that last sentence, the power went off again.  It is 12:12, approximately two hours since the last one.


I’m able to keep writing because the battery on my laptop is fully charged and this particular document is on my hard drive, not in the “cloud” where I usually compose.  Had it been there, access would have been lost.


The house is eerily silent. I had been listening to the radio. It is gone. No background noise of warm air blowing through the vents. No hum of the refrigerator motor. No cars drive by. No children’s voices—I have none at home and it is just too cold for the neighborhood children to be out.


I pull on an extra sweater and another pair of socks, and cover my legs with a blanket.  I was able to make a cup of hot tea because I was keeping some water hot in a teapot with a candle underneath, but the tea quickly cools.


All pretty doable right now, but it is going to get less doable when darkness settles in.  I have very few candles in the house and am not sure there is a flashlight here.  I’ll pull out what I do have and get myself ready for the evening, knowing I will be fine.  I can get under the covers. I did recently purchase for myself an e-reader with a case that has a light—and that battery is fully powered.


Nonetheless, this experience does remind me of just how fragile we humans are and how much we depend upon each other for survival basics.  It wouldn’t take many hours without power for this house, a pretty well-built one with decent insulation, to become inhabitable.


At 12:28, the power came back on.  Very short blackout.  I already feel the house warming again—which shows just how quickly it lost temperature when the power stopped.


Time to check candle supplies, find matches, and search for a flashlight. I'm concerned for the elderly of the church and have been in contact with most of them. For now, all seem to be OK. Everyone has adequate food and warm clothing. Most off of them have faced some very difficult challenges in their lives, and this is just no big deal. It's harder on the children who are used to being wired and connected and entertained electronically so much of the time. Could be a very, very interesting time for all of us.

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