As in current, electricity – not lifting or military might. It is amazing how power dependant we have become. A good friend, Pat who has been working emergency response issues as a librarian, and I discussed this a couple of years ago. There is this basic assumption in most plans that since we have power, we will have power. Therefore, hard copy anything is no longer needed. Reference materials? Burn CDs or DvDs. Paper is outmoded.
Arriving at work this morning, the building was dark. No lights, no air, and …….. no computers. Well, computers as long as the batteries lasted with the UPS on the routers being good for two hours. Did I mention that I work in an “open storage” area? That translates to no outside windows. Makes it quite dark inside around the clock.
Admittedly, the power grid needed to be upgraded and this was scheduled maintenance. Since all but a few of us take Friday mornings off – it should not have been an issue. There was an email about it (see lack of power and batteries above) that went out this morning well after I had arrived at work.
Even more critical than limited computer power till the batteries wore out was the beverage situation. Microwaves and coffee pots don’t run without electricity. By the time this little fact had sunk in, I had five minutes to hustle back to the Aviation DFAC and beg entrance to fill my thermos mugs.
Just as I had decided that it made no sense to hang out, the power came back up. Our signal crew then announced that they were going to be doing router maintenance and that everything should be back up by 1230 or 1300.
Ok, I know when I am beat. One of the Civil Affairs crew met me at the USO and showed me the magic secret of getting on the WiFi. It is not just knowing the manual settings, it is limited ports. The USO is shut between 0900-1100 for cleaning. Few are hardy or brave enough to sit outside (even in the sun) in sub-zero weather to use their laptops. Managing to get both the iPad and Mac online (finally) I got at least some critical updates. Slow going, but I could see progress over the 90 minutes we sat there.
There are definite risks to being a society, a military that is so power dependant. Without computers, we have limited ability to talk to the field, to have situational awareness. Many of the junior crew freak out at the idea of being without Facebook for a couple of days. Think of New York City without power for 3 days. Or Washington DC last winter.
It is still worth having flashlights and candles, games and cards. iPads and Kindles are good – until their battery runs out and there is nowhere to plug them in. As much as I want to save trees and recycle, I don’t think I will ever go completely without paperbacks.
(There were 8 of us for services tonight. Never mind all the interruptions from those who can’t tell the difference between the chapel annex and the Chapel… Do we look like a Protestant Christmas service?)