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Wednesday, January 24, 2001

I remember the day when I could turn the heat up whenever I got cold. Once upon a time I could turn on the lights when it got too dark to read, or just too gloomy in general. In those days I could take long, hot showers, as long and hot as I wanted. Those were the days. When was that, December of 2000? The good old days.

Yesterday I couldn't put the laundry off any longer without running out of clothes. (And you really need clothes when it's so cold and wet out.) I probably even waited too long, because I had to do two loads.

That's because I have a low-capacity washer and dryer, the kind that saves space and energy. Except that it doesn't really save much energy when you have to do two loads. It's a little like those low-flush toilets that end up not saving any water because it takes two or three flushes to do what one used to do. Back in the good old days.

Here's a curiosity, though. I put thirteen T-shirts in the dryer at the same time. When the buzzer went off, twelve of them were completely dry. The other one was still totally soaking wet. I decided not to run the dryer again for one shirt, so I put it on a hanger. Just doing my part to keep the lights on in Sacramento, so they can figure out how to keep the lights on here.

One thing I don't have to worry about in this place is running out of water. The well must be in fairly decent shape, considering the condition of the driveway. After just a half day of rain, the trenches I dug earlier this month were already running like rivers.

I had to dig out the trench that the landlord filled in, because the garage was starting to flood again. I don't know why he thought adding more gravel for the water to flow over would help the situation in any way. All it did was get me out in the rain with my shovel to do the same job for a second time.

My people, by the way, are not used to driving in the rain. We don't do very well under these conditions. Some of us try to stop too quickly and slide into each other. Some of us drive so slowly and cautiously that everyone else wants to rear-end us. We're not very bright when we get behind the wheel anyway, even under good conditions, so it doesn't take much Weather to bring out our weaknesses. I saw a little of everything on my morning errands yesterday. Made me proud to be a Californian. Such diversity.

It actually stopped raining for awhile in the afternoon yesterday, but it made sure to start in again by the time the mail came, so that I would get to experience walking through the mud while getting pelted with tiny, soaking drops. It's just not the same if you don't come back with your jeans soaked, you know. And it's a nice touch when the only mail you get is a grocery ad and an invitation to join yet another book club.

Then, just before the sun went down, it graced the late afternoon sky with a shaft of light that illuminated the tops of the parting clouds. It was a lovely picture that I wasn't about to wade out into the mud to take. This phenomenon didn't last long, however. Soon it was fully overcast again, and soon after that fully dark.

They're talking about year-round daylight savings time as a way to combat the energy shortage. On a purely selfish personal level, I'm happy with the idea. The extra hour of daylight does me no good in the morning, when I'm sleeping. It would make a big difference in the afternoon, when I'm trying either to work or to unwind after work.

The energy I get from natural light is the kind I need to keep me going. And it's pretty much free.

At the same time, I recognized that people who get up with the sun would be inconvenienced by this proposed arrangement. On the other hand, we all readjust our clocks twice a year, at the whim of the government.

If only readjusting our inner clocks were as easy. It generally takes me a week or more to stop reeling every time we spring forward or fall back.

Do you think maybe I should just not listen to the news? Or watch it or read it? That way I wouldn't get all worked up about the messes they're making in Washington and Sacramento that I can't possibly do anything about.

If I never hear that person's name, I won't have that little chill go up and down my spine when I think about what he's doing. When the lights go out, it'll be nothing more than an unpleasant surprise, instead of something I've been obsessing about for days and days.

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What good is that happy lie?
All you wanted from the start was to cry.