Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

  My Wife and Times

Daniel Will Harris

The Sandoval Signpost (Web edition) is pleased as punch (diet punch that is) to bring you the humor and insightful human observations of Daniel Will Harris, author of My Wife and Times. —Ed].


By Daniel Will Harris

I have a shocking confession to make: I'm an electricity junky. There, I've admitted it. I need to be somewhere near small holes in the wall where I can plug in something and have it do its thing. When the power goes out I find myself flipping on light switches I know won't work. I can *feel* the lack of energy in the walls. I miss the thrill of all those electrons, buzzing around in the walls.

And I'm not alone--even my chinchilla is addicted. I gave him one of those heated rocks that are really meant for reptiles, and it's his best friend. When the power goes out he just seems *sad*.

It's odd to think that in the last 100 years much of the world has become *addicted* to electricity. If you think you aren't, go to the circuit breaker in your house and switch it off. And NO batteries (they're just canned electricity). Turn off the main water valve if your house has a well. Without power, just try to buy something at any store, including the supermarket. Try to drive without stop lights. Climb six flights or more of stairs in a high rise. Try to send e-mail, surf the web or watch TV. Of course you *can* live without these things, but you'll suffer serious withdrawal pains.

I'll come over and video tape you (since these reality/voyeur shows are so popular, we can call it "Electric Island") and we'll see how long it takes before you try to knock me out and take possession of the laptop, flashlight, and portable refrigerator I've brought with me. Then you can tape me as I have an *out of battery experience.*

If you live in California, the high-tech capital of the world, then you know what I'm talking about. Every day 33 million Californians are told their power may go off. California has the 7th largest economy in the world and more computers per capita than anywhere else on the planet. So it's ironic that we may not have the power to run all this high-techness.

The reasons are complex and debatable. Many Californians say it's about greedy out-of-state power producers who are price-gouging--charging 700% more than they did last year (and there's truth to that). Political types explain it's the fallout of badly written deregulation laws, and the free market is getting more than the market can bear (also true). Still others will say that it's the fault of bad zoning laws that don't require solar power and other clean ways to make buildings more self-sufficient (true again).

I personally have begun to wonder if it isn't just the Universe's way of telling us to slow down.

You see, there could be a good side to being unplugged for a few hours a day. It gives us more time to nap. It's a good excuse to go outside. It's even a good reason for missing deadlines: "I'm sorry, I couldn't do that work, my power was off." It sure beats "my robot dog ate my Zip disk!"

More good news--suddenly mundane everyday things, like making toast or washing clothes, turn into naughty luxuries. Yes, I made toast this morning. I'm bad! (Of course, while toasting I also warmed my hands since my thermostat is set to 60.)

And while "turning-off" sounds good, I have to admit I'm grumpy about it. I've been saving energy for years. I don't use air conditioning. I have a low-power LCD computer monitor. This year our power bill shows we're using 25% less power than last year (despite my wife's penchant for heating the bathroom until endangered rainforest creatures could move in and feel right at home.)

Yet I don't get any credit for this. I don't get back any of the power I saved. I know, virtue is its own reward and I'm helping the environment, but even so, once in a while the power company could leave my power on or at least send a fruit basket.

Instead, during our new and exciting "rolling blackouts," I end up with a $1,500 paperweight on my desk. The "paperweight" is my computer, and it sits there dark and silent while I write with a Fisher Space Pen.

So here are some suggestions to help alleviate this "crisis."

All "stationary" and "spinning" bikes, treadmills and other repetitious equipment in gyms and fitness centers should be attached to generators. The more you use them, the less your membership fee is (since the club makes money selling the power you generate). I mean, otherwise people are just getting all sweaty and creating nothing. This solution also works for kids and rodents (my chinchilla, however, won't run on these little wheels because he's too classy).

Make it a law that all politicians must wear small windmills in front of their mouths. They give off enough hot air to light up the eastern seaboard. In a similar vein, political analysts and stock analysts should also generate power from all their backpedaling.

And for my birthday this year, my friends can all chip in and get me a solar panel. A big one.

My Wife and Times Cover
If you would like to read more fabulous stories, you need Daniel Will Harris’s My Wife and Times. The 148 page book contains stories that are conveniently short, perfect for bedtime reading, or between airport friskings. Price: $15 postpaid and is available for purchase online at or on





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