Friday, March 28, 2008

Basic Electricity [CCR]

It is simply amazing how we have become so dependent on electricity. Beyond the fact that I make my living through the manipulation of energy, I have recently noticed that all our lives are totally dependent on the availability of electricity. If we examine our daily activities we can only wonder how our ancestors lived without it.

Yesterday we were making the trek from North Carolina back to our home in Tennessee when I noticed the battery light on the van. In days past we probably wouldn’t be too worried about that light until nightfall. But the modern engine has changed our world. Today we get our horsepower and our economy through the use of a computer based control system on the car. Simply said, if I continued to drive down the road I ran a high risk of waiting for a tow when the car’s control system shut down.

As I felt a small worry coming to me I reached for my cell phone. It had plenty of battery so I had some time to make a few phone calls while I continued down the highway. I called information and located a dealership in Asheville. After talking to their service department they had someone waiting for my arrival and they gave me directions. Again, electricity helped me out.

We have already discussed the oil lamps and evenings when the electricity failed during a storm. But our lives are much more dependent than simply waiting out a storm. Batteries have given us that insatiable thirst for energy even when the lights go out. I am not sure how we might function otherwise.

Luckily I watched my grandparents relive the days when electricity wasn’t so plentiful. Grandmother Daily actually made lye soap and Granddaddy showed me how to use all his hand tools, including his brace. My children wouldn’t even understand a brace had I not bought one the other day. I was amazed to find one. They watched me forego my drill and install curtains using a simple bit and brace.

Our story ended well yesterday. Yes, I took a wrong turn and a second call with my cell phone got me headed in the right direction again. Upon arrival the car dealership diagnosed my van and confirmed my thoughts. Fortunately they had an alternator in stock and the van was soon repaired. We returned to the highway with a small delay which meant driving after dark. But, I was comfortable in knowing the lights were being powered by a brand new alternator and we could find our way home.