My family happens to live close to Pasadena, where, as shown in the news, we recently experienced great winds. Our neighbor lost a tree -- right onto his car and house. Another tree partially blocks our street. The drive alone to the nearby Art Center College of Design, where I teach just above the Rose Bowl, brought another dozen trees fallen into the streets and a challenge to get around three of them. The effort proved futile. The college was closed due to a lack of electricity.
We, too, had no electricity. In fact, the whole area, miles in each direction, was without the juice. My wife Ann works as the librarian at a nearby high school -- closed due to a lot of windows blown out and no electricity. The two days without energy showed us a few things.
At first, it felt like camping -- no particular hardship. While our gas stove didn't have its electric starter, matches worked. Our gas fireplace put out heat nicely. (Yes, L.A. gets cold -- not below zero, but at night this week, it's in the low 40s and high 30s.)
When it came to the refrigerator, I insisted that none of us open it or the freezer. It's just physics. The insulation would keep our food cool if we didn't open the doors even once. That left us food in cans and jars.
Ann dashed to the local Vons grocery store to get some bread for the peanut butter. She found that although the store had a few emergency generators, it wasn't enough, because clerks were already throwing out premade sandwiches and other food that had spent a night without electricity. The store was only taking cash, because its connections to banking services didn't work. Ann had no cash.
The same was true at the McDonald's across the street, which also had a generator and a long line of people out the door. Cash only. OK, so we made do with canned fruit -- no big deal, just like camping. Bartlett pears were good for Bartlett, so why not us?
That night, I had already made plans to meet long-lost friends in San Diego for a concert, and I invited Ann. She didn't relish the idea of driving two hours each way just to meet people she didn't know and to hear a guitarist she'd never heard of.
"What are you going to do here in the dark?" I said. "The sun goes down at 4:30."
"I'll figure it out. This will give me a chance to relax."
I found out later that "relaxing" meant she, the cats, and the dogs circled the fireplace, and Ann became scared out of her head watching Alien on her iPad. She stopped only when the dogs started barking and she swore she heard the sound of a creature sloshing in the garage.
(Read the rest of it on the Huffington Post by clicking here.
And if you're curious about Meeks's new novel Love At Absolute Zero, which marries romance and science as a physicist tries to find a wife in three days using the Scientific Method, click here.)
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