Friday, August 15, 2003

Pondering electricity

With all the stories and news coverage about the electricity outage on the other side of the continent, I've been reminded of my growing up days with limited electricity.

The generators came on from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, as well as two mid-mornings a week so that people who had electric washing machines could wash their clothes. When we went into town where they had 24 hour electricity, I would get up early in the morning so that I could turn on the light and play.

Later, when the Zambian government was given antiquated Soviet generators, we had quasi-24 hour electricity. It wasn't always reliable, however. We had a voltage meter on the wall, and when the voltage dipped too low, we made a mad dash to unplug first the freezer and then the fridge.

I enjoyed visiting friends who lived about 100 miles away and who used paraffin (kerosene) lamps at night.

My kitchen is fairly electric appliance free, although I do regularly use a blender and, of course, a refrigerator. I have an electric breadmaker, about which I debated with myself before finally purchasing. I occasionally use an electric hand-held mixer, too.

I sympathized with Amanda's coffee deprivation ordeal due to the electricity outage. My coffee contingency plan has been in place for a few years now—spurred on by living in So Cal and the Y2K survivalist emphasis around the time I moved into my current house.

I have a gas stove, which I light with matches. And if the gas is cut off, I have a small charcoal grill on which I can boil water. I use a manual coffee grinder, so I can even have freshly ground beans. And I have both a stove top percolator and a recently purchased filter cone that sits on top of a mug into which I pour boiling water over the ground coffee.

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