Getting Off (The Grid)

Sadly Erecting BaldSometimes I feel like there are too many things running freely around in my brain. It’s likely, if I were a control freak, I’d be insane. Still, I’m not ruling out the possibility.

Take, for example, the commercial currently on TV, turned to a very low volume, but playing into the right corner of my eye. The commercial is showing the sad faces of men, rotating in circles, which suddenly change instead to happy faces of men with a fuller hair. I have no idea how big the market is for men wanting more hair than they have. Judging by the number of commercials I would guess it must be comparable to the market for men who want their erections to be firmer and last longer. I’d also hazard a guess that both of these markets combined are dwarfed in comparison to how much people are willing to spend on pills which cause them to be less unhappy. Which makes me wonder, can a man with an erection ever be unhappy, even if he is balding?

But interestingly, the power has gone out and the house is in darkness while I type this using the chemically stored energy within my laptop. So, I can’t really access the answers I need out there in the interconnected ether which is bringing this to you in my future. I’ll leave it to you, to research on your own, if you have similar curiosities.

But before the sad, flaccid, bald men came to mind, I had some less inspiring thoughts about squirrels. Not just any squirrels. Troublesome squirrels. Secret agents of Chaos squirrels, actually. We have them here. They run along the power lines, exploding, causing blackouts. Sometimes you can find their charred, burnt orange carcusses lying contorted on the ground. I don’t think they’re very smart. Nevertheless, they are agents of Chaos. When they’re alive, before they’re recruited, you can often find them running fast in aimless directions. They will stop suddenly for a while, looking around quickly, chewing, then, for no reason, bolt off on some wild, seemingly random course. I was thinking of them earlier, just before I returned home to write this. Now I’m in darkness, with a limited charge. The squirrels are crafty and swift.

Which is why, if you are like me, you are interested in power, and the lack of it. Being at the mercy of squirrels can be problematic. You would imagine, when paying huge wads of money each month for power, squirrels would be unable to thwart you. But they do, and not just myself. There are other people who depend upon my having power and they become cranky when I don’t. So I’ve had to think a few steps ahead of the squirrels, along the lines of natural philosophers like Michael Faraday, to metal and magnetic fields, and the burning of long-dead organisms. Or, rather, a data cash card at Costco to purchase a generator.

So now, when the squirrels strike, we’re ready. We have contingency plans. We fire up the beast and it shrieks unbelievably loud, reverberating far into the distances, sending the dog fleeing and cowering into the house. But that’s power, baby, and we’ve got it now. Everyone for miles around knows it, too. And there is nothing the feeble little squirrels can do about it.

Dad’s Generator MufflerBut, being modest, there is no reason for vulgar displays; best we conceal the power, drawing as little attention as possible. This is a time when having a life-long devotion to the military industrial complex comes in handy: unique and insanely over-blow gadgets to get the job done. If you might be wondering what this picture is, it’s my father with his newly-made muffler for the generator. It may look like a giant wooden box, but once it was finished and closed up, it had become a veritable circus inside. And irritatingly to me, once again, his madness actually works.

Unfortunately, as always, more certain power comes at a cost to some of the pleasantries in life. The squirrels, and people who crash head-long into posts have forced us to string thick wire throughout the house, which I leave in place at all times, ready for those incessant moments of powerlessness. Ironically, I mostly enjoy being without power. I find candlelight soothing and centering. Stillness, and quiet. The warm aesthetic of a book, full of pages with printed words, held in the hand, being read in a dim, flickering light. The mystery of a world without power, almost primal. With no gunshots outside, no screaming, and no soldiers bursting in. Only those damnable helicopters.

We’ve recently decided to leave the grid. No more paying for transient power that leaves us dependent, especially when the cost is so high, and will only get higher. It will be power from the movement of air, the cast-offs from the sun, and the creation of water. The process will be gradual. My dad has more crazy ideas surrounding the exploitation of air and I have some knowledge of the characteristics of matter, energy and the associated forces. Photo voltaic cells that can exploit a larger spectrum of light are becoming practicable. Water from either the stream or the well is practically limitless. It will be an interesting experiment, finding this kind of independence from the machinations of the squirrels. Let me know if you have similar inclinations.