Entry 162: Dark Ages

September 19, 2012.

5:30am: A big storm blew through last night, and it knocked down a tree near our home, which wouldn’t have been a big deal, except for two things:

  1. It blocked off the road to our house.
  2. It brought a bunch of power lines down with it.

Why is it that trees never manage to fall around here without taking power lines down? Maybe we need “TREE FALLING” signs so that trees know where to fall just like deer know where to cross the road.

I can tell you almost exactly when the tree fell. It went down minutes after our mail got delivered yesterday. I know this because the mail truck got trapped on our street. It’s out there now. I guess our mailman walked out to the main road and had someone pick him up. But shouldn’t there be someone guarding the truck and its precious cargo of bills and catalogues?

Anyway, so the power went out. No big deal. Our massive generator kicked in just as it’s supposed to, leaving just enough time for every clock in the house to reset to 00:00. My daughter Casey had something to complain about nevertheless: “The generator is so noisy. How am I going to sleep?”

Ah, but that wasn’t the big disaster. The big disaster happened overnight. While we were sleeping (noise and all), the cable went out, and we were plunged into the dark ages.

I was the first to discover it. I woke up at 5am, walked the dog, and drove out to see if the tree was off the road. It was, although every car that lives in the neighborhood was parked helter-skelter on the other side of where it had fallen. It looked like a miniature version of that scene in Woodstock with all the vehicles are stopped alongside the road, except that these vehicles were mostly BMWs and Mercedes, not VW vans with psychedelic paint jobs.

I came back from the excursion, grabbed a cup of coffee that I was able to brew because of our wonderful (but noisy) generator, and went online.

Or tried to.

We have Triple Play, you see, which is the technological equivalent of putting all your eggs in one basket. When the cable goes out, there’s no TV, no phone, no Internet. We can’t even watch TV shows that we’ve recorded, because we record them now on an “all-room” DVR that stores everything down at the cable company instead of “locally” in our house.

Casey woke up soon afterward and appeared in the doorway to my office. “The tree’s gone,” I told her. “So you can go to work. But the cable’s out, so you can’t go online.”

This news was the technological equivalent of “shock & awe.” She stared at me, incredulous, as if I had told her that she can’t breathe. “Seriously?” And she stalked off to her downstairs living quarters.

Just last night, we watched a new NBC show called Revolution (which we had DVRed because it’s on at 10:00–way past my bed time), which takes place 15 years after a mysterious something knocks out every power source.* Those people had it rough.  (Although they got to carry crossbows.)

My daughter, meanwhile, is complaining that the generator that is keeping our lights on is too noisy, and there’s no Internet. What’s that all about? I mean, she can still get online with her iPhone! It’s just a major inconvenience that she has to check everyone’s friggin’ Facebook status on a smaller screen!

My wife Barbara will be going out this morning, too, leaving me all alone here in the nineteenth century, unable to work (I need the Internet). Maybe I’ll just read a book. Or perhaps I’ll watch a Blu-Ray movie on our big-screen TV with Surround Sound.

Just like the pioneers did.

See you soon.

UPDATE: 11:30am–The cable came back on and the phone rang immediately. It was Casey, wanting to know if we had Internet. Otherwise, I suppose, she would never come home.

*Revolution is a J.J. Abrams show, like Lost, so we may never know what the something was. Or we could find out, in the series finale, that the power was knocked out by a polar bear.

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