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Times Have Changed – TV Bites


TV Bites


Oh, How Times have Changed!

by Neena Louise

Back in August 2003, I was one of 50 million people that was plunged into darkness during a massive power failure in the northeast (see TV Bites column here). I didn’t have a cellphone, iPod nor laptop at the time, and the only thing I could do during the eight-hour electricity-free period to pass the time was read. Although I do love to read, eight hours of not being able to do anything but read to amuse myself was too much. I had just bought a new television that I couldn’t watch. I couldn’t go online at all. I had only one long-neglected telephone that worked without electricity. The only entertainment I had available was an ancient battery-powered radio and books. Although I was one of the lucky ones to have the power out “only” eight hours, I was bored out of my gourd. My biggest concern the whole time? I was going to miss The Amazing Race. Sad, I know.


Fast forward almost 14 years and I was once again plunged into darkness for an extended period. It was highly localized this time – affecting just 1,200 people out of almost a million in this city – and lasted four hours, not the eight I’d suffered through before. The first thing I did was grab my cellphone and use its flashlight to get my iPod to listen to the radio. Because it was such a localized blackout, there was nothing mentioned on the radio, so I used my cellphone to access the power company’s website. I learned they were aware of the outage and were “working on it”. At first I started reading a book, but soon tired of that. I next watched a day-old TV show episode online on my cellphone. I then started to watch a movie on Netflix, but I don’t have much data on my phone plan and the battery was wearing down as well. I knew I’d need the phone for checking the power company’s website, so I stopped watching anything on it. I went back to my book for a bit, but I just couldn’t get into it. I had a lot of recorded TV on my DVR, so I hooked its hard drive up to my laptop (which was thankfully fully-charged) and watched some. I then popped a DVD into the laptop and watched a movie until the lights came back on.


With the power restored, I marveled at how having electricity is not nearly as essential for amusing oneself as it once was, not so very long ago. I didn’t need it to watch TV. I didn’t need it to access the internet. I didn’t need it to watch movies. And if there had been a TV show I wanted to watch that aired that night? Well, I would have simply watched it online the next day. The only thing I realized I wish I had had was a power stick to charge my dying cellphone and iPod. My sister gave me one the very next day, so I’m all set for the next power failure.


It kinda makes me glad I’ve lived this long.

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