Deadlines, Dead Air, Dead Time

Kage Baker always wanted us to get a portable generator.

This was because we lived most of our lives in places where the power supply was chancy – the Hollywood Hills, remote little beach towns, oak groves in the center of hay meadows … and she hated it when the power went out. She liked lighting candles for illumination (we were never without some) but when she couldn’t listen to records or use the computer, she went rapidly nuts.

Eventually she’d always settle down with a pad and a pen, but first there was much railing and storm quotes from Shakespeare. But if she had to transmit something electronically when it all went pear-shaped, there was no recourse. Just a lot more carrying on …

I never did get around to buying a generator, for all the sense it might have made. The things are noisy; and run on gasoline, which is dangerous to store; and take up room better used for books or props or costumes, or anything else we were more likely to use more than once a year. And we never seemed to have the money to hand right after a power failure had reminded us how sensible it would have been.

But today I rather wish I’d done it. In Los Angeles, it is raining like the end of the world. Thunder and lightning are so loud and frequent that car alarms are being set off. This is insane weather for this time of year – instead of a March Miracle solving our chronic drought problems, we are evidently getting an April Apocalypse.  The whole western edge of the city is flickering on and off, and our power keeps browning out here on the edge of Griffith Park. So I’m fretting.

My situation is worsened by the fact that I am helping a friend with a writing project – the deadline to which is, of course, today … I’ve been swotting away grimly, but clever time management is of no use if the power fails! The email keeps going wonky, too, and you know what? I have now become so dependent on the near-instantaneous communication afforded by the aether, that my brain short circuits when my email goes awry.

It’s a terrible thing. I must re-think this generator thing. And maybe look into how hard it can really be to set up a pigeon post … and in the meantime, Dear Readers, I’m going to take advantage of my system’s precarious vigour to work on my deadline before it goes dead. And if it does go dead, I’m crawling back into bed where the cats have taken refuge from the thunder.

And I advise you to do that, too.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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4 Responses to Deadlines, Dead Air, Dead Time

  1. johnbrownson says:

    Okay, you got me on “swotting”. Anachronism? Finger slip? Useful verb I could have used to good effect, back when- or even now, when I want to annoy my friends? Do tell, love. -Buff


  2. Kate says:

    Swotting – working hard, especially on an intellectual task – like studying, doing homework, researching, writing to meet a deadline … it’s British University slang, so it’s usually something one does while at Oxford or similar, don’t you know. Or if it’s a wet green day and you used to be a teenaged girl obsessed with all things English.


  3. Carolyne says:

    We have two diesel generators for power outages (one serves the house, the other the frost-protection pond pump). Diesel fuel is safer to store and can be kept for a longer time. A generator demands some specialized know-how, however: when you use one to supply power to your home wiring, you must take yourself OFF the public power grid for the time that the generator is connected. An alternative is a substantial (I think the technical term is “big-ass”) UPS; some of those can run a laptop for several hours, and they’re not as likely to fry its tender internals, as generator power might.


  4. Elaine says:

    This issue with the power? This is exactly why I wish I had a good old dependable manual typewriter around the house. That’s what I learned to type on, and I don’t like being at the mercy of PG&E to be able to write someting without having to handwrite it in the event of a power outage.


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