I learned an important lesson. I'm completely unprepared.
I never replaced the laptop that blew up a year ago and so didn't have an alternate machine. I misplaced the stick memory to which I'd copied my passwords. Even if we had a burglar alarm system it would have stopped running without wall power, so I was forced to stay home.
Mostly I read, I slept, and I used my cell phone. I got cold because the heater requires electric power to turn on the gas. I couldn't eat because opening the refrigerator door would spoil all the food inside it. Had this gone on overnight no one in the house could have gotten to work tomorrow because all our clocks use wall power.
The new cat next door is named Noah, but I call him NOAA Weather Radio and don't have one. (This is not the cat. It's $49.99 at Amazon.)
The blackout, which covered large parts of the metro area at various times, was caused by a wind storm following an otherwise-uneventful weather front. I kept looking to the sky and listening for a tornado but nothing ever came down. Trees and branches and power lines were just knocked down by 30 mile gusts.
Had this been an actual emergency Atlanta would have been completely shut down. As it is people panicked before the broken streetlights, some sitting in front of them for minutes at a time, others blasting through them at speed.
The lights were also out all day at my son's school, but there was no way to get the buses back, nowhere really for the kids to go, so they just sat around in their first period classes until they nearly went barking mad.
After everyone got together we went to the suburbs for some food and to buy a Netbook, partly as a way to write during a future trip and partly as a back-up in case this happens again. The salesman was trained to fear shoplifters and insisted on accompanying me to the register while the wife and kids went elsewhere in the store. She was pissed, and we never got that NOAA weather radio the neighbor's cat has been telling me to get for weeks now.
Americans, including me, have become incredibly dependent upon undependable systems. Electrical systems. Cable systems. Water systems. We take it all so much for granted we're at sea when we lose these basics.
Two-way electrical systems and fuel cell generators partly backed by solar power or windmills would make us much more resilient at times like this. Dish antennas make us independent of the cable. Water is the pollution created by fuel cells.
So getting serious about the War Against Oil also protects us during these minor emergencies. And it may keep the neighbor's cat from giving you dirty looks.