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Archive for August, 2015

Hi everyone:

I originally wrote this on my Facebook page on the morning of Monday August 10, 2015 and then decided to also put this here on my blog – but in a slightly revised and updated format. Hope you enjoy it!

A glorious morning here in downtown Hamilton – starting off my week here at the Hamilton Public Library Central branch, located next to Jackson Square. I sometimes think of this place as my home away from home when I need to work on things and want to get away from my apartment. I suppose that’s one drawback to being a freelancer who works from home – you get tired of your own walls after a while and need to get out.

This morning, however, there’s a different spin on this situation – and I thought it might be fun to tell you what’s going on. I woke up a few hours ago, sometime in the middle of the night, to find my apartment in total darkness. At first, I didn’t think much of it – isn’t that what things are supposed to be like at that hour? Until I looked over at my clock radio and saw nothing, instead of the normal glowing red numbers telling me what time it is.Then it slowly dawned on me that I had a power failure. Was it just my place? That thought only lasted a few seconds until I got up, looked out my bedroom window over downtown Hamilton and began to realize that our entire neighbourhood was gone. Reminded me a little of that classic August 2003 blackout when something like half of eastern North America lost electricity. Very strange indeed.

I went back to bed and after what seemed like only a few minutes, I got up again. Of course I had no idea when I woke up that first time or even how long I had slept again. This time I figured there was no point in going back to sleep, so instead I got up, got myself dressed and as I put on my watch and glanced at the time, I discovered it was just coming up on 6:30. I was feeling frustrated with my situation, so I went for a walk through the area. It wasn’t long before I began to confirm what I had seen earlier from my bedroom window, that this was much more than just my building or even my street. Even my local Hasty Market grocery/convenience store located only a block away had closed because they too had no electricity. I finally spotted a couple of Horizon Utilities trucks (our local energy company) just down the way from my building, with a couple of men with those orange vests we so often see utility people wearing, sitting inside one of them. One of the doors was open, so I struck up a chat with them. They explained that a couple of underground power cables servicing the downtown area had snapped, and this is what caused the power failure. They told me that things were being worked on and they expected everything to be back to normal by later this morning or early afternoon. As it turned out the power was restored by 11:00 a.m. If anyone from Horizon is reading this, thanks for restoring our services so quickly. It’s much appreciated.

But all this now takes me on a different track – something that I briefly touched on back on my Facebook page.  Events such as this morning, and in particular that we lose our electricity so rarely these days (which I think is a real tribute to the electrical workers employed by Horizon Utilities and similar energy companies around the world – this morning was only the second time since that August 2003 event that I had lost power at home), leads me to discuss the following, which I hope all of you will appreciate and understand – something for thought on a warm August day:

It’s funny how you take something like electricity for granted. Just a part of 21st century society. You turn on your computer at home and it’s there. Think I will have some of last night’s leftover pizza for lunch, all I need is 45 seconds in the microwave. I take a piece or two of pizza from the freezer, put it on a plate, place it in the microwave and set it for 45 seconds. Press the button and voila – it’s there and ready to eat. It’s Saturday morning, maybe I will watch my favourite DVD on TV or catch that big soccer match live from Europe. Press a few buttons on my television set, insert the disc and it’s there. So many other examples of the role energy plays in our modern world. But what happens when it doesn’t? You turn a switch and…nothing! Just like when I woke up this morning and realized I had no electricity. How often do we consider that scenario? Are we prepared for those few minutes (or hours in this case) when we don’t have power to run our appliances, computers and other equipment? Our grandparents and earlier generations lived in a world without electricity – but can you do that? How would you react if you came home tonight and discovered your home had no electricity? Have you assembled an emergency kit for your family to use in the event of a power failure (e.g. flashlight, radio, batteries…)? If not, perhaps you should consider it.

It might seem strange in today’s high-tech world (and in particular for the younger folks who may be reading this), but let’s consider for a moment that electricity is still a fairly new player in our society. Even as recently as 50 to 75 years ago, many areas of North America and Europe not only didn’t have electricity, but also didn’t have indoor plumbing or other modernities that we now take for granted. Indeed, that situation still exists in many areas of our world today, not only in North America and Europe, but especially in parts of Africa, Asia and other parts of the so-called “developing” world. So next time you flick a switch to turn on that lamp in your living room, or punch the desired cooking time into your microwave – knowing that you’re just a couple of minutes away from a nice hot meal – just remember that not everyone on this planet will have that luxury. Yes, I did indeed call it a “luxury”. In our fast-paced North American society, we might take energy for granted and consider it a “necessity”. Instead of doing that, however, let’s remember those who won’t have a hot meal tonight. Or can’t have a luxurious warm shower tomorrow morning because they don’t have the electricity to heat the water. That is, of course, assuming you have access to the water itself. Some areas of our world don’t have that either. For them, it is indeed a “luxury”.

But let’s see if as a society we can do better. Next time you call for electricity to your home by pressing a button or throwing a switch, don’t take all this for granted. Instead, lets remember the less fortunate in our world. And if you are able to do so, I hope you will find a worthy organization out there online that will indeed help provide electricity for a village in Africa. Or clean water to an oasis in the Arab desert. How about a town in the jungles of Thailand, Malaysia or Vietnam? All these people deserve the same necessities of life that we take for granted. If you have enjoyed reading this posting, then let me challenge you to go online, to find an organization that will help raise the standard of living in the poorest parts of the world, and then make a donation as you feel you are able to do. You don’t have to be someone with lots of money – even a few dollars will help. Electricity to heat and light their homes? Clean water for drinking, bathing, laundry and other essentials? We can change our world if we work together. Will you consider that today? I hope so. As always thanks for reading this blog entry – until next time!

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