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Powerless

| Opinion | November 14, 2019

by Harry Parmenter

If power is the ultimate aphrodisiac, then I’m not getting any. Where to begin?

Technology: it took me long enough to grasp the concept of downloading an app, but when recently faced with pop-up questions and multiple choice answers like, “Do you want to save a copy? Doing so with compressor may be unsafe,” I was exposed as the tech moron I am. Powerless.

Kids: Six total — three of mine, three of hers. The Brady Bunch rebooted as a Canyon Country tragi-comedy. Can I control anything they do? No. Offer guidance? Maybe. Be there when a cash infusion is required? Forever. Powerless.

Job: I am just a tiny lug nut on the giant battleship of a Fortune 500 company, doing my little tasks in my little room or wherever they can hunt me down, day or night, via the infernal cell phone (see: Technology). Powerless.

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Commuting: An hour plus each way, morning and night, with the 14 morphing into the new 405. Really powerless.

However, as I recently learned, like many in California (the golden state turned copper), being literally powerless makes me seem like King of the World by comparison. Like many in the area, we lost our power twice in the last few weeks, the first time for about 16 hours, the second time more like 36. Losing heat, electricity, light and media — everything we take for granted — gives new perspective. It was an angry perspective at first, as I looked for someone to blame: politicians, Edison, Dave Roberts, anyone.

I first tried calling the politicos — Newsom, Smith and Hill. With Newsom’s office, I actually got a human being on the line. She blamed private industry, i.e., the utility company. I asked her why the governor wasn’t threatening them like he was doing to the privately owned oil entities for alleged price fixing (despite, of course, Governor Brown’s 61 cents-per-gallon gas tax that helps make our petrol almost two bucks per gallon more than anywhere else in the country). Newsom’s rep told me that was “a different situation,” but that the governor had issued a strongly worded statement condemning the electric companies for their pre-emptive blackouts. I do love a good strongly worded statement.

Katie Hill’s office did not return my calls, which I unknowingly made the day before scandal erupted, so I imagine her office had other priorities. Calls to Christy Smith’s office also went unreturned, as she was no doubt busy, shrewdly plotting her bishop-takes-queen move to grab Hill’s open seat on Capitol Hill.

Edison reps were pleasant, professional and accessible. They told me they work with fire marshals and meteorologists (because they’re always right?) to determine when power should be cut or restored. One rep broke down and described it to me as “the new normal.”

Powerless.

You really appreciate what you have when you don’t have it. Refrigeration is such a given in our lives, but losing it for nearly two days means food spoils, milk curdles, beer warms and almost everything gets tossed. Darkness and lack of heat remind you how quickly a real natural disaster rocks the world and how fortunate we are to live in an age with such manifold creature comforts.

Fortunately, we had a portable generator and a gallon of gas, which was enough to get through Game 7 of the World Series. Seeing a team of destiny like the Washington Nationals run the table (sorry Dodger fans, but at least you lost to the champion … for the third straight year) provided a brief distraction before the gas ran out and the generator died. Powerless.

Canyon Country now faces annual blackouts of indeterminate duration and perennial fire threat. Living in such a beautiful area has a price to pay, and I don’t mean property taxes. So buy the generator, update those emergency kits and be ready for anything because at the end of the day we are all … powerless.

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