Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, March 09, 2018

The Flintstones

I believe I mentioned that my electricity was out from Friday to Sunday afternoon? Well, it went out again on Wednesday night, it's still out, and they are saying absolutely nothing about when it might be restored. We all take it for granted that not having electrical service is a denial of our basic human rights, but of course nobody had any electrical service until the 20th Century and even today, more than 1 billion people do not have regular access to electricity, although the number is declining.

Obviously, electrical service is not essential to human life or even to a luxurious life. I've been re-reading Shakespeare as a project (you always need one) and you don't even notice that it isn't there. But we've built our lives around it so we're miserable when we don't have it, even for a day or two. I'm lucky in that we have a shower here at work (from whence I write) and I can recharge my devices here as well, but I'll have to get through the weekend without those amenities. I can nurse my computer  through a few minutes of Internet access a few times a day, and maybe I'll turn my phone off overnight and get through the weekend, but otherwise I'll have to try to make a virtue of this.

No television is one possible benefit. I actually didn't have a television for a good part of my adult life, and there was no Internet at that time either. I read dead trees newspapers and books and did stuff in the real world. Sometimes if there was a sporting even I wanted to see I'd go to a bar. But along about 1990, I think it was, I got a little black and white TV with a stick antenna and then gradually upgraded over the years. It worked its way into my life as a pretty much reliable companion. At first I pretty much only watched sports, then I started watching Seinfeld and then news programming. Now I'd say I have TV dependency disorder. So I'll have to break the habit for a few days and see what happens.

Fortunately, I heat with wood, so that's no problem. I can try cooking on top of the woodstove. It severely limits what I can do -- probably not hot enough to sautee but I can try soup or chili, that sort of thing. Maybe I can wrap something in foil and put it on the coals.

And of course I'll spend my evenings reading by flashlight, as Abe Lincoln used to do by the glow of the fire. Getting enough candlelight to read would result in asphyxiation, which explains why they killed all those whales. But before whale oil, I imagine that for the most part, people just sat around in the dark. We don't really see that in old novels (or Shakespeare), it's sort of edited out of people's accounts of their lives. I wonder what exactly they did between dusk and bed time?

Obviously, people didn't bathe nearly as often as we do. In cold weather, it would have been a major project. We have to do it every day or we think we're unhygienic, but once a week was an accelerated schedule for most people before they had electric well pumps and water heaters to go with their indoor plumbing.

I'll let you know how it goes.

1 comment:

Gay Boy Bob said...

Buckle up.
Looks like you've got another storm coming your way. Where I live, we get a little snow sometimes, but nothing like the Northeast.

My general rule of thumb about where I would consider living depends on whether there's a possibility of my toilet freezing. That leaves out the Northeast, most of the Midwest and a whole lot of other places.