Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Powerless

I had just picked up the cat--you start with the top end and just keep picking her up until, eventually, her feet leave the floor--and strolled into the kitchen, when something went bing! My first thought was that I must have had a thought. I've watched the cartoons and bing! is just the sort of sound that a thought makes when it goes off. Then I realized the only thought I had had was "Man, this cat weighs a thousand pounds," and that didn't seem profound enough to have produced a sound effect.

"What was that?" Dave asked.

Oh, you heard it too?  "I don't know," I said, and then noticed our oven was blinking. PF. Power Failure.

This was disconcerting. I understand power failures. They happen during winter wind storms. Trees are thrashing about, howling noises build up tension, and then all the lights go out. It's mildly exciting, and we grope our way up to the tower to see if the whole neighborhood is out. The world is dark except for mosaic patches of lit-up blocks, which stand as a metaphor for life and luck and the futility of expecting justice in a dispassionate world. You get philosophical in the dark.

But this was weird. It was a sunny summer morning, nine a.m., and our oven was out. We checked the other clocks and they were out too. It was so sunny it was hard to tell if the lights worked, but they didn't. I shoveled the cat under one arm and went to the computer, which was lit up. But then it made a baleful burbly sound. I shut it down.

Huh. Well, no big deal, I supposed--until I saw the coffee pot. It was plugged into the wall, so I didn't have to worry about it getting away, but it wasn't going to make me any coffee. This was serious.

The computer uttered a musical bleat. Somewhere in the next room, a laptop concurred.

A chirp from a smoke detector on the top floor was followed by a consensus of chirps. The doorbell put in an opinion. A portable intercom interjected a beep, and the second oven weighed in.

All over the house, digital gossip prevailed. Beep. Boop. Ping! BLAT.

I was chilled. This felt uncomfortably like the technological equivalent of birds taking off in advance of an earthquake. What was going on? Were we in danger? Beep. Boop. Ping! BLAT.

I don't trust my devices on the best of days. I resent their superior intelligence. Clearly they knew what was going on, and I did not. They were communicating with each other. It was ominous. It smacked of...collusion. Oh shit! Of course!

It's the RUSSIANS!

I needed to think. First things first. If I were going to get to the bottom of this, I'd need coffee. I decanted the cat and walked around the corner to the coffee shop. They hadn't lost power at all. I got a latte and walked back home. Where everything was up and running again. Full power. Lights and everything. Like nothing had ever happened. How silly of me! The Russians aren't in a position to turn off my coffee-maker.

Da, whispered the microwave.




26 comments:

  1. That happens to us every now and then -- usually when I'm using the slow cooker and have been away from home, and come home to uncooked food. I think that it is probably the result of a car crashing into a utility pole, or a truck not clearing the wire, or even maybe a squirrel being zapped by a transformer. Sucks for us, but sucks much worse for the hypothetical squirrel.

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    1. In the future, you should put pre-cooked food in your slow cooker. And the little squirrel bastards deserve whatever they get.

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  2. Glad it was temporary. That thing has happened a few more times here. Maybe they are add more solar panels!

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    1. Our solar panels go magically into the grid and not directly into our wall sockets. I don't know how it works.

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  3. The thing is, it *could* be the Russians running a test of the power grid take-over. Just a test, to see if they can do it.

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    1. This is the Pacific Northwest. If (as Murr's experience suggests) the Russians are powerless to take down our coffee shops, we'll survive.

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    2. Even North Korea with an ICBM could't hit them all.

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  4. This felt uncomfortably like the technological equivalent of birds taking off in advance of an earthquake.

    It reminded me more of the technological equivalent of birds preparing for action at the start of the Hitchcock movie bearing their name. Watch those appliances carefully.

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    1. I'm sure they're watching me. And gossiping.

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  5. Why do I hear the theme from the "Twilight Zone"?

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    1. Thanks to Infidel753, I'm hearing the theme from the Hitchcock hour.

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  6. I have a gas hob.Sure, the stove has Piezzo ignition, but when the power runs away(as it frequently does!) I can still strike a match to light it so I always have espresso.

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    1. I thought "hob" was a typo at first, but then I remembered it as an old-timey fireplace thingy. Not really an Australian thing at all. Do you have a spider to put on your hob?

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  7. And in the aftermath of a power cut I realise (again) who is in control here. The machines are. Without them I am helpless and after they are put on a power diet I am required to go round ministering to their needs. Particularly ensuring they know what time it is.

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    1. Because you don't want no stinkin' coffee at 10pm.

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  8. And nyet whispered the cat. I can always light a fire in the front yard, get some water from the creek and put equal amounts of coffee and water in a pan, bring it to a boil, then let it cool down to just below scalding. It'll wake me right up and maybe start growing hair on top of my head. Electricity is notoriously unreliable out in the rural areas.

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    1. You've got yourself a good creek, there.

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    2. And an interesting recipe! Half coffee, half water?

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  9. I wonder what all the coffee lovers will do when the power goes out forever?

    I'm not one of that lot, but I WILL be sad when my stash of dark chocolate is gone. Same thing, I guess.

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  10. How did it come to this? Why, I remember just a few decades ago when no one had any kind of "electronic equipment" sitting around the home, silently sucking tiny amounts of electricity while waiting to be fully-activated. Goodness, we didn't *plug in our gas range* and light the burners with man-made electronic sparks -- we had gas pilot lights that burned a tiny flame 24/7. And, quaintly enough, every room had a window, too. So when electric power went out, the only way we'd be aware of it is if we ambled over to the fridge for a snack, and noticed that the light didn't come on......Goodness, life is complicated and noisy these days....And oh, I still contend that the power went out in Murr's house because she was wearing silk that generated a dangerous level of static electricity. She just doesn't want to admit this publicly.....

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    1. No silk. Never silk. This is fake news.

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  11. Remember when someone once said the computers will eventually take over the world? This must have been a trial run. They're working out the kinks...

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    1. When they all start beeping at once it's like being at the beach and watching the ocean suddenly drain out of the bay. Uh-oh.

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  12. Glad it was temporary. That thing has happened a few more times here. Maybe they are add more solar panels! thanks for sharing!

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