Dark thoughts

Will this energy policy protest be effective? 4/1 Future Shoes hed: Dark thoughts dek: Will this energy policy protest be effective? by Michael Finley

Have you received this notice in your email box, headlined “ROLL YOUR OWN BLACKOUT THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER”?

It continues,

As an alternative to George W. Bush’s energy policies and lack of emphasis on efficiency, conservation and alternative fuels, there will be a voluntary rolling blackout on the first day of summer, June 21 at 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. in any time zone (this will roll it across the planet).

It’s a simple protest and a symbolic act. Turn out your lights from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on June 21. Unplug whatever you can unplug in your house. Light a candle to the Sungoddess, kiss and tell or not, take a stroll in the dark, invent ghost stories, anything that’s not electronic–have fun in the dark.

The release goes on to give reading recommendations and urge people to oppose the Bush-Cheney dismissal of conservation. You know what this reminds me of? It reminds me of those sad moments in a ball game when the home team is behind, and the clock is ticking down to the buzzer, and there are a handful of people in one of the remoter sections trying to start The Wave.

I mean, if I were Bush-Cheney, this protest by darkness would not cause me to lose sleep. Indeed, if I were to join it I would probably catch up on lost sleep. Dark is nice that way. At the same time, I think it behooves us to consider conserving energy at our workstations. I long ago developed the habit of leaving my computer on 24 hours a day. The reason wasn’t so much that I could wake up, sit down, and commence being brilliant, but that most of the crashes I have experienced have happened during boot-up. I left my machine on to protect my data.

It wasn’t such a bad thing to do in 1985. My power supply was all of 25 watts, as I recall, and the machine was pretty efficient. It was like leaving a 25 watt light bulb on. But today, I have a much bigger power supply, plus I have a big-ass 17-inch Super-VGA monitor (it crackles when I put my face up close), plus all these peripherals–scanner, CD-R, printer, a sound system.

And oh, yes, I went and had two children, and they have computers, and they took it into their minds to leave their computers on 24/7–even though they’re only home and alert about three hours a day.

Now that’s just wrong. So I’ve begun a nightly ritual of padding from room to room, switching off all the machines. Except my daughter’s, because she won’t let me in her room. Will I pull the main switch June 21? I don’t know. I do know it won’t have anything to do with the Sungoddess. I don’t even know why they mentioned that, since the network canceled Baywatch.

I guess I’ll poll some of my cool friends, and if they’re doing it, I’ll consider doing it. But I do not, like those sad people standing up in the stadium and waving their hands over their heads, want to do it all by myself.

Columnist Michael Finley also writes Diversions monthly for ComputerUser magazine.

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