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Monday, November 14, 2011


So I was at the bar and this girl was there with her husband, I’ve talked to her before, she leans over and whispers, “You got any power?” Our lights came on Tuesday so I temporarily didn’t know what the hell she was talking about, so I quickly improvised myself a power. I said, “Yes I do.” I looked into her eyes and said, “You are getting sleepy, your eyelids… are getting heavy. Soon, you will drift into a deep, deep sleep. When you awaken, you will remember nothing of what has taken place. When I snap my fingers, you will take on all the characteristics of a small dog. You will look like a dog, act like a dog, think like a dog. You will feel refreshed, alert, and wanting to take a ride in the car with your nose out the window.” I snapped my fingers, and she barked, “Get outta here- that didn’t work!” Although I did see her later lapping an apple-tini out of a bowl, could be coincidence.

Man, that storm was a confluence of nasty winds and heavy snow and just went on forever. I was supposed to go to my 35th High School reunion the night of the storm. They actually held it, and of course the power went out. Leading me to believe that the only people motivated to show up were the ones who are REALLY REALLY successful or those who have done literally nothing in 35 years, leaving a huge “normalcy gap.” I was focused on simply trying to get back to my house- the snow was falling hard, and the trees were falling harder. Remember the ending scene of Hooper? Where Burt Reynolds is driving the rocket car through the chaos and mayhem, snapping his gum and grinning at Jan Michael-Vincent, who is whooping and holding on for dear life, as smokestacks are falling down all over the place just missing the car… That’s what it was like, only I didn’t even have any gum.

There are people in Connecticut who still don’t have electricity from a storm two years ago- the power company is predicting that all their customers will have full power in fourteen months. Connecticut has become the leading importer of fleece. And there is price-gouging going on, so make up your own joke and let me know what it is.

“Isn’t this romantic?” I asked my wife…. Snuggling in a blanket, sitting by the cozy fire, the candles, the radio playing softly, Monday Night Football…. She agreed that it was, and if it was more than 48 degrees in the house she would be willing to part with one and only one layer of clothing. The fire seems so hot when I am adjusting the logs and one goes POP and an ember lands on my foot and I dance like Chaz Bono only more femininely. But boy I get more than five inches away from that thing and icicles start forming inside my nose. I always figure that the fireplace’s poor efficiency is the result of bad Fire Administration. I ask my wife, “Did you screw around with this thing?” I stick the poker in there and adjust the logs, increasing the maximum oxygen flow based on a scientific algorithm that resides only in my head.

Everyone is planning to buy a generator. “When you get, hook it into your buss bar!” My neighbor, Paul explained. “You have a bar in your buss? Why don’t we just live in there for a couple days?” I asked. I talked to a guy who just bought a 20 kilowatt generator. “20 kilowatts!” I sneered, “That’s not even going to run a battery-operated flashlight! I am throwing FOUR THOUSAND WATTS of power at this problem, and I am running every goddamn thing in my house,” I testified. “I am running my HAIR DRYER! You are going to see me using a CUISINART and I will have FLUFFY HAIR! My house is going to be lit up like a Christmas tree, and so is our Christmas tree!” I have never used the Cuisinart, but I picture an increased need for it when the power is down.

There are going to be arguments about what our priorities are as a people. You only have so few watts to work with, and so many appliances vying for attention. I was going a little stir-crazy in the dark after my wife went to bed. The blender whispered to me, “Psst: margarita. 400 watts, out the door and it’s yours.” I started to walk toward it when I heard, “Incandescent lighting. Look at that pathetic candescent lighting over there- you make the call… 100 watts and you can screw the bulb, too.” “Hey hey hey! Cable box! The power is out at Cablevision but start rebooting now you know how long it takes!” “Ring Ring Ring! Sound familiar? Don’t forget you still have to go to work tomorrow! You will need 60 watts worth of alarm clock. Look at your wife sleeping like a baby. Her job is not NEARLY as important as yours…. People will be depending on you!”

Apparently, we are the only cheapskates on our street that don’t own a generator. It’s embarrassing, and my wife looks at me with a hybrid look combining pity and disdain. So I got up off my ass and did something about it. I purchased a battery-operated stereo system, set it up outside, and it plays a deafening tape loop that sounds like a generator running. It is very convincing.

Incidentally, I wanted to explain the difference between watts, amps and volts, but in researching it, the definitions involved a quantity of even more abstruse words, such as coulombs and joules. These words are barely even useful in Scrabble. For the purposes of my explanation we will use the analogy of a garden hose. Voltage describes the potential difference in the electricity of a circuit; the force that drives the electricity through the circuit. Consider voltage to be like the water pressure in the hose. Amperes, or amps, represent the amount of current in the circuit, like the amount of water in the hose. A watt is a measure of consumption of power: one watt is equal to one volt multiplied by one amp. So the watt is like the amount of water that comes out of the hose. The force that drives a person to turn on the garden hose in the corner of the garage near the circuit breaker in order to understand how electricity works is called stupidity.

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