A tiny taste of life elsewhere
So it's 9:30 p.m., the power came back on an hour ago, and I was finally able to check my email, and more importantly, read the news (still no subways, though). In case anyone was wondering, I'm totally fine. I was at work downtown when the power went out, and I had to walk home about 3 miles and feel my way up the stairs in the dark... but I really have nothing to complain about--unlike, say, people trapped in elevators or subway cars, or on the top floors of really tall buildings, or elderly people in tiny overheated apartments. Or people in Baghdad, where it's 120 degrees. Or a lot of other people in a lot of other places. From Reuters ("World Sympathy And Wisecracks for U.S. Blackout"):
Some people voiced admiration, others worried, and some could not help but poke fun at the world's self-confessed "superpower with a Third World grid."My roomate Sarita said it reminded her more than anything of time spent visiting her family in India.
"Now we understand why they (Americans) have been unable to get the electricity running in Baghdad," said 47-year-old engineer Ghassan Tombin in the Gulf Arab country of Dubai.
From Nairobi to Moscow and beyond, the world was aghast that New York and a swathe of other cities across the United States and Canada could be shut down by a blackout. Anatoly Chubais, chief executive of Russia's national power monopoly Unified Energy System (UES), called the blackout "the biggest accident in the history of world energy systems."
... . In Iraq, where the U.S. administration has been struggling to restore power since ousting Saddam Hussein in early April, residents in the capital worried how high-tech Americans would ever restore electricity with such huge power problems at home.
"They have the best equipment and technology and a power shortage can make such a big fuss in the United States. Now I am sure it will take them years to fix the electricity in Iraq," said Ali Saghbal, a worker at a Baghdad power station.
... . In Nairobi, some residents were far from sympathetic, saying Americans were receiving a taste of what it was like to live in the world's poorer countries.
"America, welcome to Kenya, see what we go through," said Alex Mwaura, a logistics officer with an aid agency in Nairobi.
The two of use spent last night sitting on our balcony looking at the stars (stars! in Manhattan!) and watching the candlelight flickering in the windows across the street. We spent today trying to cook as much of the spoilable food in our freezer and fridge as possible, which led to an enormous quantity of boiled dumplings and a really large stir-fry.
The heat wasn't really that bad (we don't have air-conditioning so we didn't miss it). I think the worst part was having no radio and not really knowing what was going on or when the power would come back--we knew from walking around and asking questions that it was back in other parts of Manhattan, but that was all. We were starting to worry it'd be another few days, and then all of a sudden the kitchen light came on and people in the street started screaming with happiness and relief. We of course screamed along.
But before I try to write/think about the broader meaning of this event (what it means for U.S. energy policy, conservation, and so on), I think I need to go catch up on all the news I missed.