Power's Out

High winds today. I'm not sure exactly what time the power went out, but it was sometime between when my alarm clock went off and when I fixed my coffee.

So the first order of business was to find someplace to buy coffee. Having no idea how widespread the outage was, I first tried the cafe around the corner.

Temporarily closed due to power loss.

So I hopped in my car to try the one down the street. Made the mistake of trying to make a left turn from a little street onto a big street while the signal light was out. I was telepathically cursing the passing drivers, who didn't even slow down: "A non-functioning signal light is a FOUR-WAY STOP! Just because the light isn't red, doesn't mean it's always green for you!" Then, when the drivers coming from both directions finally yielded for me to take my turn, I didn't quite trust them to stay stopped.

(Driving while the power is out requires patience. More patience than the driver behind me at the library parking lot this afternoon had when I ignored her honking and obscene hand-gestures, which I can only imagine were intended to encourage me to rear-end the driver in front of me, who for some reason had decided to make a three-point turn in the middle of a busy intersection. Not that that has anything to do with the power-out, except that I imagine it contributed to my fellow-driver's short fuse, and possibly also my other fellow-driver's confused driving. I just had to whine about that. Thank you for your patience as I got it out of my system.)

The second place I tried to find coffee was also temporarily closed due to the power outage. But I had gone through a couple of functioning signal lights on the way there, so I knew it couldn't be everywhere.

Finally found coffee on my third try. One town over. (Yeah, I live in one of those areas where municipalities butt right up against each other. It's not like "one town over" means where I grew up: a 30-minute+ drive.)

Then, returning home to really start my day, I dumped half the cup in my lap on the way out of the car.

Damn.

When just my internet connection is down, it completely messes up my day. I get so used to these modern conveniences, I never notice how much I depend on them until they're unexpectedly taken away. But then I notice how much more electricity affects my life than the internet.

Can't take a shower, because while the plumbing is fine, the water heater is electric.

Can't cook, because the stove, oven, and microwave all require electricity. Kinda makes you pine for a gas stove. Or a little camp stove with its own fuel supply. Just in case.

Can use the computer, as long as the battery holds out, which is about an hour. If I had an old-fashioned dial-up internet connection, I could even get online. But I don't, so I can't.

Being able to use the computer makes me forget that everything else on my desk requires electricity. So I'm just about to try to print something out, when I glance up and remember, duh, the printer isn't going to work during a blackout.

I likewise forget that the lights in my home are electric, and thus reflexively switch the light on when entering a dim room, like the hallway or bathroom. Just as reflexively, I switch off the bathroom lights after washing my hands, even though they hadn't gone on in the first place.

After changing my pants and mopping up the puddle of coffee in my driver's seat, I went to a cafe with free wi-fi access, which was therefore heavily populated this afternoon by students from electricity-deprived apartments. There weren't enough power outlets to go around, so I just ran my computer's battery down, then moved to the public library, where I am now completing this post while letting my machine start to recharge.

Power is still out at home. I'll be pleasantly surprised if it's back on by morning. Duke Energy has a lot of customers to take care of right now. (I am part of the third big red dot from the right on the 7:59:54 version of the Carolina power outages map.)

The good news (or bad, if one was hoping for a day off) is that Duke and Carolina have back-up generators. I just need to figure out what I'll do for my daily dose of caffeine in the morning. Hopefully it won't involve spilling it in my lap again.

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