Saturday 19 June 2010


I am now sitting in the dark. Well, sort of in the dark as I do have the glow of the screen of my laptop to guide my way. A few minutes ago, the power went out. After a couple of moments of reflection as to whether this was a quickie blackout or something lengthier, I carefully made my way down the hall to have a peek off of my 8th floor balcony to see how extensive the outage was. A preliminary assessment would see this cut in services covering about a four or five block square. I looked at the people walking around in the dark which was more of the dark one has in a city where even black is bathed in the ambient glow of the surrounding urban areas. I can hear some sirens getting closer.

As I sit here typing in the glow of my screen, I am thinking of how dependent we all are on this wonderful commodity called electricity, the source of light to keep the boogie man at bay. We may read and discuss newspaper articles on coal fired plants and the associated air pollution, the dangers of nuclear energy, the loss of land due to hydro-electric installations, the unsightliness of windmill farms, but in the end, what ends up at our door step is electricity, the glue which binds us together, keeps the dogs of anarchy at bay and provides that light of hope in the longest of nights.

A few interesting facts:

North America as well as some northern parts of South America (parts of Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, etc.) plus some of Japan have systems of 100 volts with 60 hertz. The rest of the world is pretty much 220 Vs with 50 Hz.

There are apparently 13 different types of plugs in use throughout the world. Other areas of the world preferred for some unexplained reason to create their own style of plug rather than adopt the U.S. standard. This U.S. standard is in use throughout North America, parts of Central America and in a few countries in the northern part of South America plus Japan.

Canada is the world's largest producer of hydro-electricity.

Nuclear power accounted for 6.3% of the world's total primary energy supply.

The US consumes 25% of the world's energy.


I got tired and went to bed. 15 minutes later, before I had fallen asleep, I heard the telltale click of various appliances coming back on with the return of the electricity. Somebody somewhere had done their job and restored power. Society, as a group working together, made life better for all of us: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.


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