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ATPM 8.06
June 2002



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Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life

by Trixie McGuire,

Electricity: What Is It Good For?

We have two Macs and a year-old Compaq, routed up to a cable Internet connection through AT&T.

Last month, our power went out as a result of weather. Yes, there were downed power lines—not near us—but they were down, etc. I heard the same story from every power company customer service representative each time I called to report that our power was still out! Power was back on all around us. We just happened to be one of the many “small pockets” still without electricity.

I live in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, and our power was out for over 40 hours. For heavens sake—the world came here for the Olympics. What would the world have thought if the power had gone out while we were playing hostess to the mostest? A few years back, Utah Power and Light was up for sale. It was merged with Pacificorp, which is owned by foreign (Scottish) investors (if my sources are right; please correct me if I am wrong). The Utah Power and Light trucks that were a common sight during my childhood were replaced by sub-contracted electricity trucks.

I could go on and on about big corporate mergers and lack of true customer service, but the real reason I was upset is that the power went out a half hour after we had cable TV installed! Have you ever had to deal with a 17-year-old male who for years has begged for cable TV—and when he finally has the cable remote in his hot adolescent hands, the power goes out and stays out for 40 plus hours? I am here to let you know: that is something you do not want to experience. Then he realized that he would not be able to get on and play StarCraft. Well, you don’t want to go there either.

But that was not the real problem. The real problem, in our household, was that my 15-year-old daughter, who has grown up with a computer always there, had started a lengthy report for school. All her notes were on the suddenly powerless computer! When the power went out she was in her room watching a video that she needed to watch in order to finish her report. Mom was forced to call the power company outage number almost every hour on the hour for her own sanity—as if a mother with teenagers has any sanity. (Oh, but they were cute as little babies—let’s have another one!)

So, the night before the report was due, we packed up her TV and VCR and drove her four blocks north to sit in the basement at her grandmother’s house to finish the video, so she could rewrite her report. All the time we were hoping that the power would be back on when we got home. It wasn’t, and it was 10:30 PM, so we packed all her scribbled notes and headed for Kinko’s, which is only four blocks south, and spend 20 cents a minute for computer time plus printing. Total cost: $17.82. So I am forced to ask: we have two Macs and a year old Compaq, routed up to a cable Internet connection. Without electricity, what are they good for?

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Reader Comments (2)

anonymous · February 23, 2003 - 22:08 EST #1
We had a similar problem here near Seattle, Washington. Our power was out for three days in 25-degree weather while our neighbors on either side had power. The power company said that we were low priority since they have to fix downed lines that affect the greatest number of people first. Luckily, I have an inverter and plugged our older laptop (with dead batteries) into my VW van and could write my reports at a campground. At least the campground had hot showers and fire pits so that we could keep warm.
Trixie McGuire · February 23, 2003 - 23:17 EST #2
I should knock on wood before I write this, but here goes: The power of the written word is strong, even if it is for an online audience. Since I wrote this story, knock on wood, when the power goes out, it usually comes right back on. I truly think that the electricity "Gods" replaced or updated all the transformers in my immediate area! (I'll keep you all informed, in case the "powers that be" change!)

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