Here are the notes I read from for this post:
I posted the other day an exercise to think about going twenty-four hours without using electrical power. To clarify, that exercise was to think about it. I donâ€™t think many people would do it. Even orthodox Jews leave their refrigerators plugged in, as well as clocks. The meters to their homes would register power being used. Iâ€™m talking about the meter reading zero. They often leave lights on. Personal choices may mean some donâ€™t use any power.
I donâ€™t know Amish, who might do it, or people in societies without power. I spoke to someone who lives where her power drops for days at a time, but she says everyone gets in their cars, which use spark plugs, to go places to charge their phones and use the internet. I donâ€™t know anyone who lives off the grid.
Even during the blackout in 2003 and after Hurricane Sandy, I still used battery power. My ten-day meditation retreats and two two-week trips to North Korea still used plenty of electrical power each day.
Hereâ€™s that post: Exercise: Imagine a Day Without Using Electric Power
You know me. If itâ€™s possible, Iâ€™d prefer to try than speculate. People talk too much and live too little.
As Iâ€™m recording now, Iâ€™m looking at my circuit breaker for the apartment. I have a call after posting this. After that call, Iâ€™ll flip the circuit to cut off power to the apartment and turn off my phone and computer. Not just sleep mode, but power off. I wonâ€™t go so far as to disconnect the batteries, which I think would be symbolic.
Iâ€™m scheduled to meet a friend at Union Square at the farmers market, where Iâ€™ll drop off my compost. Weâ€™re also scheduled to ride bikes to Brooklyn. I got an email from Grain de Sail, a company that built a sailboat to transport goods across the Atlantic, mainly coffee and chocolate eastbound and wine westbound. So I have some off-the-grid activities. My next obligation is about twenty-four hours later, which is to meet my city councilman organized group that picks up litter together tomorrow at 11:30am.
Otherwise, I have to figure out what to do with my time that Iâ€™m used to filling with internet or writing on my computer. I have plenty of scrap paper to write on and a book to work on. I know I write differently when disconnected from the internet. Iâ€™m curious if Iâ€™ll write differently if that much more disconnected. I havenâ€™t written much by hand in a while.
I had thought to borrow some books from the library to help prepare, but the one near me is closed for the pandemic. Iâ€™ve been reading and listening to books online from the library during the pandemic, but I donâ€™t need books. Maybe Iâ€™ll go outside more. I have a feeling Iâ€™ll go to sleep early since I wonâ€™t know the time. I wonâ€™t go to another building, like a bookstore, to read by its lights.
My building has lights in the hallway and stairway. I was thinking of closing my eyes there to avoid using those lights, but Iâ€™ll make exceptions for them. The libraryâ€™s clock tower has a clock. I think Iâ€™ll avoid using it so I donâ€™t know how Iâ€™ll tell time. Iâ€™ll probably go to the park early with things to write and just be there when the rest of the group to pick up trash shows up, though it will probably be over twenty-four hours from now. It occurs to me now that going outside at night will make it impossible to avoid street lights. I donâ€™t know the phase of the moon in case a full moon could in principle light my way. I guess Iâ€™ll stay inside. Come to think of it, I have some old candles I never use. Iâ€™ll probably go to sleep when it gets dark and wake up when it gets light, around 5am.
I also have a sidcha to make my bed, cross the room, and turn off the alarm within sixty seconds of it going off. I havenâ€™t missed it since starting, though occasionally a second or two late, so maybe I should say sixty-five seconds. With my phone off, it wonâ€™t go off tomorrow morning. Iâ€™ll probably get up and make the bed within sixty seconds of waking up and cross the room anyway.
Walk/donâ€™t walk signs and stoplights Iâ€™ll use while riding. While walking Iâ€™ll try to avoid looking at them and go by peopleâ€™s behavior.
Other than that, maybe Iâ€™ll go for walks or a run. Iâ€™m not sure, but people lived without electrical power for hundreds of thousands of years and many people go without it today. I see no reason why technology designed to help us should make us less capable.
Weâ€™re a pretty needy, dependent, entitled, spoiled society. This is an exercise in resilience, freedom, and deliberate choice.