Writing a Steampunk Book in the Dark

It’s Thursday. The wind is off the ocean and blows into the garage where I am working. A cold, bitter wind. I had a deadline due on Friday for a electronic project. I was pushing it. I had been pushing it for days and things kept coming up to delay the project. At 3:40 the shop light over the work bench went out. I glanced over my shoulder and the clip on light hanging form the rafters was still shining. I didn’t have time to run down to the store to buy a new tube for the shop light.

I hit the switch on the drill press. It groaned, a bad ugly groan. I shut it off fast. I took a voltage meter and checked the power coming out of the wall socket. There was only 57 volts when it should be 120 to 125 volts. Way too low is an understatement. The LED light bulb in the clip-on light would run on that low of a voltage. I didn’t know the LED bulbs would run on that low a voltage. Looking closely I noticed that the LED bulb was dimmer than it should be. The fluorescence shop light would not run on that low a voltage. Note to self, need more LED light bulbs.

I was going to miss the deadline, I was cold, hungry, and discouraged.

I went inside and started writing. The laptop showed it’s battery was low. I can’t win. I went to call a friend and the cell phone battery was low, almost discharged.

I’ve got flashlights. I also have a brand new pack of cheap batteries from Harbor fright. They may not be the best batteries or last the longest, but they are so cheap I don’t mine going through them fast.

I plugged the laptop in anyway. It started charging. I plugged the cell phone in and it started charging. The miracle of modern electronics.

Around 5:00 PM the power company called on the phone to tell me the power was out. No s!@#. The robot voice went on to say the power went out at 1:30 and was expected to be back on at 6:30. That did not make me happy. The power went out at 3:40. So if they were 2 hours off on the power out time they were going to be off on the power back on time. Hours and hours off on the power back on time.

It’s cold in the house with the heater off, so I went to a restaurant in the another town and got dinner. It got cold inside the restaurant, and I was wearing a jacket. I won’t be eating there for a while.

Back at the house I took a folding chair into the kitchen. Lit a burner on the gas stove with a match (I had just bought a new box of matches a week before). With the laptop on my knees and light from a half lit ceiling LED bulb (aided by the light from a flashlight) I typed away.

It’s not fun writing while sitting on a cold metal folding chair. The burner on the stove took some of the chill off. Next time, I’m going to dig out the TV tray to sit the computer on. I was so discouraged, tired, and upset that I was going to miss a deadline that I didn’t think of it at the time.

I have a flashlight that takes six AA batteries and give off a wide beam of light. Good for reading or easing the eye strain while typing on the computer. I got another flashlight after the last big power outage. It’s a small LED flashlight that takes two AA batteries and on its second setting it will last 6 to 12 hours on a set of batteries.

I have heard good things about the NEBO WORKBRITE PRO light. It’s an LED light that comes with an adaptor to plug into the wall, but it runs off six AA batteries. It can run off three AA batteries in a pinch. The light is rated for 7.5 hours on high and 16 hours on the low setting. Available at www.batteriesplus.com. I’m going to get one soon.

I always change the batteries in my flashlights when we shift to daylight savings time, whether I have used the flashlight or not.

You would think, as a steampunk writer, I would write by candlelight. Even with three candles it’s not easy to write by candlelight. It’s definitely not romantic, the light flickers and never goes where you want it to, and you get smoke stains on your computer screen. Besides, I could set the place on fire with candles all over the place.

Power returned at 2:30 AM the next morning. I got some writing done, but it wasn’t easy.

Stay strong, write on, and buy batteries for your flashlight.
Professor Hyram Voltage

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