I’m afraid this is a bit of a ramble but finishes with a challenge – are you going to join me?
Towards the end of the last year I had a friend make a comment to me about the amount I used my computer. They were under the impression that I used a computer all day at work (can’t help it! I’m an IT Support engineer) then came home and spent most of my evenings on a computer as well – this second one isn’t so true, I normally come home and the last thing I want to see is another computer, so I sit down in front of the TV instead – no comment on whether this could be considered a computer or not. Still the point of this post in my habits when it comes to using a computer but more the thought process that this friend started in my mind about just HOW reliant we are on computing and technology throughout our lives.
There’s a large range of Sci-Fi fiction that looks at what happens if the machines we use on a daily basis turn against us – extreme examples could be the Terminator Franchise or the TV show Battlestar Galactica. Both deal with merciless robot killers with abilities and endurance way beyond what humans can offer. Other examples can be found in the writings of Isaac Asimov where the machines rise up and take over humanity for humanities own good. Just searching in Google you get 172,000 results for the term “Robot Uprising” ranging from comedy songs to a satirical book detailing how to survive should robots rise up. A strong theme of these books is fear – based on the idea of if these things were taken away how would we cope – and this is something that I think people are really missing today.
As noted before I work in IT support and it’s worrying how something little (such as a fuse) can affect a lot (fuse blows, server loses power, 1000 people unable to access they’re work). The example is made up but we’ve had similar experiences in the office. Now imagine the same scenario on a more global scale – would we be able to cope in a world without televised news, internet shopping, Facebook etc. These thoughts also made me question my own environmental impact – by leaving my computer on over night how much electricity am I using which could be put to better use, do I need hot water in the evenings, or can I just boil a kettle to do the washing up with etc etc etc. Finally it also made me think about the days gone by before we had electricity, TV, computers, etc – back to the time of Regency England – how would we cope in that lifestyle. So I’ve decided to give it a go and I want to invite you guys to join me.
I’m provisionally planning this for the first weekend of July – though will confirm that times closer when I have a better idea of what I’m doing and where I’m going to be – no point in picking that weekend if I’m going to be away! The idea is to use the minimal amount of electricity as possible for the whole weekend – starting at 6pm Friday, through to 6pm Sunday. The idea of doing this in June is that it’s the start of the summer so will hopefully be a bit warmer than it is at the moment!
During this time I will be laying down the challenge to myself of living without using any electricity with a couple of exceptions for those items that would be so awkward to sort out before an after that it’s easier to just leave them on. I think it will be easier to explain by the example of the following devices which are already planned to remain exempt:
The Fridge\Freezer – I’m not going to spend Friday defrosting the Fridge/freezer and trying to keep food cool over the weekend. I’m leaving this on and keeping food in it. In my defence I don’t have a parlour or a cool room which the food could be put in instead so the Fridge has been given this job.
The Heating Timer – my heating time is a pain in the backside to setup and program – so it’s going to be left on. Then again the heating and the hot water are going to be turned off unless specifically turned on manually (they’re gas fired).
The Kettle – I have an electric hob. Due to this I won’t be using the hob over the weekend. However I can’t be bothered to build up a small fire the BBQ to boil a saucepan of water whenever I want a cup of tea.
Phone – I’m going to leave the landline on for emergency calls, but all mobiles should be going off.
Camera – of course you want to document the fun you get up to without electricity, so a camera is going to be useful, and let’s face it, it’s easier to work with a digital camera rather than a film one so this could be excused.
Naturally everything else is expected to go off and stay off – so no electric lighting – use candles instead, or if really really pushed wind-up torches. Food should be cooked over the open flame – am thinking of having a bit of a BBQ/board games on Saturday, and other cold meats etc. For entertainment I’m afraid music is out unless you can find live music, and there’s no TV, film, games consoles at all. Still nothing like a good book or getting some friends over is there? Talking about getting people over driving would be out – cars require electricity to run and we’re working without that for this weekend.
So. There’s the rough details. Do you fancy joining me on this adventure? Am more than happy to have people over at mine if you fancy a chilled weekend, enjoying a good book, some games, and a BBQ. More details will be coming out closer to the time I’m sure and let me know in the comments if you fancy joining in.