>Power of Power

>It’s been a strange 24 hours. Last night at about this time I was working on something–oh, yeah, trying to download student essays to grade–when there was power surge. My computer and DSL modem are on a surge protector with UPS, so that wasn’t a concern (much–who knows if these things really work), but I lost the connection to the network. I fiddled with the modem for a little while, but nothing happened. So I checked the phone–no dial tone. Uh oh.

So I found a number for Verizon and called on my cellphone. I’ve had some problems with Verizon lately, so I wasn’t optimistic, but the call had to be made. I “spoke” to a computer that instructed me to take a phone outside to the Network Interface Device to test it or, if I didn’t want to do that, I could schedule a service call. I had no idea where the NID was, so I “asked”–punching 1 or 3 or some stupid number–for a service call. The computer, in her very polite voice, informed me that a technician would visit during a 13-hour window next Tuesday. Next Tuesday! Six days away! So I thought hard about the NID and realized I did know where it was. I have only one “regular” phone that doesn’t require a power source, so I pulled that off the wall and headed out to the NID. Dead. Which meant it wasn’t just MY problem.

I called Verizon back and pressed enough buttons that I was able to get to a real person, and that was good only in that she was able to add to my problem ticket that I had tested the NID and found no dial tone there either. (This was good because I wouldn’t have to be present for the technician, who now didn’t need to get inside the house.) So, no phone. Which meant no internet. Now, that actually began to appeal to me. I envisioned sitting down to work in the morning without the distraction of the internet. I would get SO MUCH done! I could always head into town with my laptop and use the wireless at the library or a coffee shop to do email, etc. I had my cellphone for emergencies and oculd check messages that came into my landline. All in all, it seemed manageable.

So I sat down with a tape for a self-guided meditation course I’m doing. It was really helpful in pushing aside some of the anxiety that the phone mess had created. I was breathing and trying to focus when my mind wandered, when suddenly the lights went out. I turned off the tape (it’s on a battery) and looked outside. Dark everywhere. The computer was still on (thanks to the UPS), but I shut that down and turned off the UPS. Downstairs I lit candles and then found the phone number for the power company to report this problem. And then there wasn’t much I could do. So Bhikku and I sat on the porch in the dark. I had a candle out there for a while, but it was actually nicer in the dark, so I blew it out. I saw neighbors pull out there candles or flashlights and come outside to investigate. In a few minutes trucks were driving slowly along the road with bright lights, looking for the source of the problem (I imagined). About 45 minutes later, the lights came back on. The evening was already disrupted, but at least I could reset the clocks, and plan for a semi-normal night and morning (minus the internet).

At some point in the middle of the night the power went out again. I had turned the UPS back on, so now I had to turn it off again because its beep is shrill and unpleasant when you’re trying to sleep. I didn’t bother to reset the alarm. So in the morning, more or less at my usual time, I got up. The lights were working and so, oddly, was the phone. And the internet. And I proceeded to get distracted once again. It couldn’t have waited a few hours to come back?

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