Thoughts on Technology in the Face of a Blizzard


And here we go again. Nemo is upon us, starting to throw what will amount, according to the forecast, to buckets of snow. Of course the power is going to go: we expect it now. And as I alternate staring out the window with staring at the Wundermap, I realize how contradictory and conflicting my feelings are about all this.

Staring at the Wundermap, it bugs me that our power grid, our communities, our homes are not resilient. Put the darn lines underground – but who will pay for that? Why didn’t we at least get a generator?  Why are we dragging our feet on the issue that when the grid goes, the solar array goes as well? Should we get a battery backup or some other way of storing the energy? I check on the chargers, powering up all the batteries in the house. I crank the emergency radios. Did mice get into  the bug out bag again? Half that bag is electronics. We’ll have the Kindle and DH’s smartphone to go on the net. The freezer is stuffed: if we don’t open it, the food in there will stay good for a couple of days. We should move our cars to the bottom of the driveway…

Staring out the window — at the towering, whitening, waving trees, the snow horses blowing through, the raccoon’s tracks, erasing — I calm infinitely  down. I know there is a big wood pile and lots of dry firewood on the porch still. The wood stove is idle now but it’s ready to warm our house when the temperature drops, and for cooking and boiling water. The pantry is stuffed, and I just made bread. We have enough books and games to keep us entertained for weeks-years. I’m thinking, if he power goes out for a long time we’ll just put everything in our fridge in a box on the porch – latch the door so the raccoon won’t get in. The tropical fish in the heated tank would perish, but the chickens and the bees will be fine. I wish we had a cat, to take care of those mice. Amie can play for us on the cello. I wish I could play the cello…

I find more comfort, more safety in those things:  in what Ivan Illich called “tools for conviviality,” in wholesome sources of energy made available by nature, and in the fruits of hard work on our part, and in companionship. The wishes and wants that these conjure are sweet and slow.

In my work I promote both these sides.  I am trying to make my community “go solar,” working on energy “solutions” while promoting skillshares, arranging potlucks, joining in hope and despair work. But more and more I know that it is only the latter that I am passionate about because only they make me feel truly safe, fulfilled and connected. No extra machine is going to make me feel secure in the face of the fragility of our technology. I may rationalize that we need “green technology” to buy us the time we need, but I believe it less and less.

More and more it feels like just another postponement of the inevitable, and we’re the kid who did something wrong (terribly wrong), taking a detour on the way home, where the reckoning awaits. But we must and do want to and will go home to the deep and dark ecology.

Update: the next morning:


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1 Comment

  1. “No extra machine is going to make me feel secure in the face of the fragility of our technology” that is so very true. For me, it’s the ability to live without the machines that offers a sense of security. Technology has created an illusion for a way of life. It’s scary that some people don’t get that.

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