I write this article under strange circumstances. On Sunday, we had a thunderstorm. It quickly escalated into a very severe storm, with wild lightning and mad thunder. With a crash, the power blinked off, and the phone went dead, and did not return. The net went with it. A hum filled the air, coming in through the open windows. A 12,000-volt power line had fallen to the ground. Sparks and arcs burst forth as the rain continued to fall, thunder and lightning continuing as well. The air resonated with the loud 60 hertz hum, and the awful sounds of the electricity sounded truly terrifying. I felt afraid to touch anything metal. From the depths of my past, Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning” played in my head. I ran around the house to try to hear more, and returned to the computer room. The brutal sounds continued. I hoped my hair wouldn’t start standing on end. Visions of electric death filled my head, and I smelled some smoke.
This continued for fifteen or so minutes. Trucks then began to arrive. The transformer went off and on momentarily, but continued. Someone yelled: “Sir! Get back in your house!” I felt glad that I decided to stay inside and avoid the urge to check it out for myself. Trucks and people began working, the fire department and electric company had come. Finally, they shut off the transformer, but power remained on. Work continued long into the night and early morning. At some point, I did indeed lose my power, before getting it back again later. I still have no phone or Internet as I write this, and will have to wait to get online to publish this article.
Whenever I lose power for an extended time, I find myself having similar thoughts. These mainly revolve around how much we depend on electricity, and wondering what people did before we had it. These thoughts then become refined, and I begin reflecting on how electricity alters our behavior patterns. I also note how good it feels to not have an electric smog surrounding me, and wonder what I can do to experience this while experiencing electricity’s benefits.
As soon as the realization hits that power probably won’t return immediately, everything changes. All the devices that seem so futuristic immediately seem like useless relics. Walking through a room with computers feels like walking through a museum of ancient dust-covered non-functioning exhibits. Having electricity transforms the present into the future. Not having it transforms the present into the past. It amazes me how much humanity accomplished without it. Imagine getting on a boat in England as my ancestors did, setting sail for a far off land never to return, and with no way of communication. I can’t!
Along a similar vein, I can’t help but wonder what exactly people did without electricity, especially once the sun went down. Did religious leaders really need to tell their flocks to be fruitful and multiply? I’d think that after sunset, they wouldn’t have much else to do! Electricity makes it possible to do things at all hours of the day. You can listen to music, watch a television show, communicate, eat, work, anything you want. It also makes it less necessary to interact with others, and they probably did a lot more of that in the past as well. Battling and babbling with Verizon’s automated customer service computer demonstrated this point. Today, when I went to the bank to get some cash, I couldn’t use the ATM, and actually had to go inside and talk to a human to get it. Weird! Perhaps having electricity messes with our heads more than not having it.
How do we bring balance? I thought of meditation techniques, EMF balancing devices, things of that like, then an answer emerged from another angle, perhaps indicative of the effect. Do things that don’t require electricity. Good luck with that.
Verizon came out the next day to fix the problem. Their automated tests claimed that they could get a dial tone on my line, and could ping my router, both of which I doubted. “Tell them to actually call your number.” suggested my Mom. Whatever, they dispatched a technician. He determined that the outside box got fried, as well as the plug to my router. I told him of the tests, and he said: “I don’t see how that’s possible.” Don’t believe Verizon’s somewhat freaky automated service. It also weirded me out how the cell phone distorted its hold music to sound like satanic industrial music, or something. Anyways, he fixed the problems, and I returned online. I meant to publish this article sooner, but have gotten immersed in learning Emacs. I’ll have much more to write
about that, for sure.