Trapped in the Real

So the power went out, quite suddenly, whenever that was. Tuesday, last Tuesday, the 29th, maybe? That was sometime after, I think it was after, the big tree limb fell on M’s car and, as it turned out, totaled it, for the Insurance company’s notion of “totaled”, which is a pretty low bar for a 1999 model (we’re going to talk to them Monday about “retaining the salvage” and getting it fixed ourselves, rather than ouch buying an entire replacement car) .

And it was sometime before the sustained whooshing noise that came later on, a bit scary in the dark, which later turned out to be three or four or five tall trees all knocking each other over into and across the old tennis court area (good thing we never replaced the above ground pool when the last two trees fell across it).

So: no lights, no power, no heat, no landline ’cause we get that from the Cable company or something now, and it needs external power. Even virtually no cellphone connectivity; the signal strength has been bad and sporadic, so probably our nearest tower is also without power.

We’ve been running the wood stove at night and when we’re home on weekends. It’s a little Vermont Castings “Intrepid” I think it is, and wants short little sixteen-inch logs, but we have a face cord of those from last season and just ordered more (by cell from the parking lot of The Mall, where the signal was decent.)

It’s been interesting, these long disconnected evenings and weekend days (weekday days are normal, as work has power, and even had free lunch one day last week to thank everyone for having navigated the mazes of tree-blocked streets to come in). I’ve been doing lots more zazen than usual, which feels good, and more reading of the same thing for more than three minutes at a time, and probably more sustained thinking.

On the other hand I really miss, perhaps more than I would have predicted I would miss, the Temple of Seven Stars (is that what it’s called?), the Dread Wastes, and the hustle and bustle of the Stormwind Auction House, flying about on dragonback, teleporting here and there to shop for fancy clothes that I can easily afford, or to go listen to music with friends, the sixty-thousand things in my inventory, the ability to create a dirigible with my mind, to fly and script and create and play with the underpinnings of the world. Not to mention the more mundane pleasures of seeing what the usual people, and their usual people, are saying about politics and religion and weather and so on, and put in my two cents, or even a quarter, in one of a few different personae, depending.

Someone tweeted (and I can’t find or point to it now ’cause I’m back home tending the fire in the stove and the pad’s battery is down to 24% and it would be tedious to find it on the phone even if the signal happened to be strong enough) that they were expecting soon to see a horde of blog (“blog”) postings from New Yorkers about what they learned about their souls from a week of being disconnected. This is probably not going to be one of those unless I learn something about my soul between now and when I post this. :) But still it’s been interesting.

(And it may continue to be interesting for awhile yet, as Con Ed’s outage site, when it is working, gives a date of November 9th for most of the outages in this area; I’m hoping that’s a very conservative estimate to keep from looking bad by missing it and it’ll actually be much earlier, but One Never Knows…)

I started and finished two Ian M. Banks Culture novels that I was delighted to find on the pad here: Surface Detail and The Hydrogen Sonata. Both very good, very idea-packed, very Cultury. I enjoyed finding out about two or three more branches of Contact, and the Culture in general continues to be appealing, if in a slightly Mary Sue sort of way (if that concept can apply to an entire galactic civilization, as I think it can). Which is to say, they are The Good Guys, even to the extent of thinking carefully about what that means, and they are powerful and rational and sort of always mostly win.

(The revelations about the details of Subliming in The Hydrogen Sonata surprised, and at first disappointed, me. I’d always thought it was more like “once a civilization starts to develop technologies like X, Y, and Z, and then decides to continue to Q, it’s then not long before they vanish from the universe to, presumably, somewhere more interesting or something, usually in ways A or B or C”, rather than “if a civilization holds a vote and decides to Sublime, then the big black globes from the Other Place come and take them away”. But hey, it’s Banks’s world. :) So I’ll just have to do it my way when I write my own galactic future history…)

Battery down to 21%, fire doing nicely, temperature over by the thermostat up to 58F from 56F, which isn’t bad. Hope to get over 60 before bed.

I’ve been learning about generators, too. We are vaguely considering getting one, but still only vaguely. You can get a little four-cycle gasoline generator that puts out up to 2000W or so for under USD1000, and that’s probably enough to run the furnace (oil heat, so mostly the blower) and a few lights and device chargers. Gasoline is something like 36 kilowatt-hours per gallon, which seems to mean a few days of running a 2000W generator on not too much gas, unless there’s like a 10% efficiency factor in there that I’ve missed or something. (Hm, have to look up the power draw of a refrigerator.) Larger generators can be had for more money, and eventually need like certified electricians to install and all.

Radio Shack has these little dinguses (dingoi?) that plug into a car “cigarette lighter” and provide power out a USB socket which seem like a fair way to charge devices via gasoline. We have two of them now, but haven’t actually tried either. (And my cellphone doesn’t have a USB charging cable I don’t think, silly thing.)

It would be fun to run a zendo. What would be a good name? One could like rent a little room in some local community center (or use one’s living room, especially if there is lots of parking space in one’s driveway), and put out a little classified ad. “Wednesday Zazen in Name of Town, 8-9pm, Address Goes Here.” And all you’d have to do is put out some chairs and zafus and zabutons (the expensive part!), and maybe a little stack of Welcome papers, and at 8 you’d sit down, and at 8:05 you’d ring a chime for sitting, and at 8:30 ring one for kinhin say, and at 8:35 one for sitting again, and at 9 one for being all done and then maybe have cider and donuts until 9:30, and go home. Sounds like a blast. :)

19%. Maybe I will stop writing now and read something, or just sit. It’s about 7:30, still 58F in here, a bit above 40 outside. We have our candles and flashlights and book lights and fire and cat. And lots and lots of covers. :) Will post this from work tomorrow most likely.

Keep warm!

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