When the Lights GO Out  



        Where were you on August 14, 2003 around 4:15 PM when the east coast blackout occurred? Hope you weren�t in a subway under the Holland tunnel or in between the floors of a of a multi-level apartment complex in NYC. I was fortunately situated in my subterranean, suburban dwelling listening to answering machine messages when the tragedy occurred.

        Three of the five messages came in loud and clear, but the fourth message became garbled as the lights grew dim and flickered. I thought of the air conditioner that my wife Catresea had recently turned up a notch and wondered if that was drawing too much power. Lights got brighter and the messages resumed when I shut down the AC so I relaxed at my desk and caught a phone number. The  lights flickered for a few seconds before the room became quiet and dark so I groped around for an emergency flashlight and headed towards the circuit breakers. Since all the breakers were tight I decided to invade my neighbors� private swimming pool party to get the scoop.

          �Are you in the dark,� I said? 
�We�re all in the same swimming pool�, he said.

          I was tempted to say I wish, on this hot day, but managed to bite my lip and restrain myself.  It was good to know that our humble house circuitry was most likely still good. Thoughts of a major east coast black out were only realized after dragging in a dust laden portable radio from the garage and stuffing it with batteries. Two hours was LIPAs first estimate to repair the damage and get the grid back on line. By 7PM all of Connecticut was electrified. Great Neck, Long Island was up by 8PM .      

 Catresea and I had both evolved large sets of eyes to capture the dim light of our subterranean dwelling, but when the power went down we were at a loss. Even our two cats had difficulty finding their food bowl and their kitty litter in the dark. A florescent lantern helped with the navigation process, but without it our tiny apartment was as dark as the innermost recesses of a hidden cavern. By 9PM we began to worry about the freezer packed with frozen food. Ice cream was our main concern. We made a concerted effort to rescue the ice cream first. Catresea consumed a double portion of Cookies and cream and I downed the last of the Buttered Almond. After this we lost interest in Chinese food leftover's. The Marie Colanders� would have to stay in their boxes. Their fate was in the hands of the Long Island Power authority.  Unable to watch the Jay Leno Fab Five make over preview, we decided to go outside and watch Mars for awhile as it hovered 54,000,000 km away, a mere stone throw according to astronomers. We slept dreaming of food puddles in the refrigerator, but by 5 AM the following morning our power was back on and our troubles were over. We were lucky to only loose a half gallon of ice cream and a few pints of skim milk. Other areas of Long Island were out till the end of the week.

          Have we become overly dependent on our power company?  When electric and oil prices are raised and services are lowered will we continue to pay the piper? Do we have a choice?

        I think we do. Diffuse energy from the sun is our birth right like the air we breathe or the water we drink. Energy from the Universe is for everyone. 21st Century technology has many alternatives that can replace fossil fuel dependence with solar energy independence. To compete with the fossil fuel empire we must develop a long range perspective and think on a global scale. We should be looking skyward for answers. Our rooftops hold the key to energy independence. Our fossil fuel/government has a greedy eye on our rooftops. Major oil companies now own numerous solar energy patent rights and government regulations prohibit the installation of unauthorized systems.  To become truly free we need to reestablish our link with the Sun and tap into our birthright energy from the universe.