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Digital Slob

Curt Brandao

Sunday, August 24, 2003


Feeling guilty,
energy waster
vows to change


Let's face it, without tequila, blackouts are almost no fun at all. It's been more than a week since the East Coast grid collapsed and, for many tense hours, Ottawa's priceless stash of pelts quivered under the cold grip of looters who occasionally make strange vowel choices and often have nothing to lose.

Given this was only one of a slew of horrors, it's only natural to repress memories of an event that, in eight seconds flat, reduced the kilojoule rate of the City That Never Sleeps to that of a arthritic bloodhound loitering on a Mississippi porch. Whether our bug lights kept zapping or not, it's an unwelcome recollection that we're now glad to drown in the condensation of our air conditioners.

But, as a Digital Slob, I won't soon forget how calm our East Coast brethren were on Aug. 14. Their resilience was admirable, especially when you consider that, without electricity, a Digital Slob becomes just a standard slob with about 24 to 48 hours to live.

Perhaps before they even had time to wash the miles of smut off their faces, many Americans got power back just in time to hear well-coifed cable news anchors lecture them on how greedy they were to suck up so much juice. It may be a sweeping generalization, but I doubt anyone reeking of subway urine likes to be told they're greedy -- it might just be a timing thing.

In truth, Digital Slobs and Respectable People are equally addicted to energy, but we differ on how we get our fix.

Ashamed of their gluttony, Respectable People try to hide all their household electrical plugs and wires behind potted plants. We Digital Slobs, however, allow our 6-socket outlet splitters to proliferate in plain view until our living room walls look like mah-jongg boards.

That said, given my role-model status, here's a few energy sacrifices I've decided to accept to ensure future Slobs never have to go outside:

>> Limit myself to no more than two encores of "Danke Schoen" in the shower.

>> Stop watching my "Baywatch" DVD collection in Super Slo-Mo.

>> Eat the half steer hanging on a hook in my closet so I can inch the thermostat back up to a balmy 60 degrees.

>> Unplug my alarm clock and accuse my boss of plotting against the United States when he dares suggest I stop coming in to work two hours late.

>> Research ancient texts to learn how to play Solitaire "old-school" without a computer, using something I think primitives called a "deck of cards."

>> Resolve long-standing abandonment issues stemming from childhood so I can finally toss out my nightlight (I'm told this may also lead to a meaningful, adult relationship, though I'm refusing to go forward with that until my therapist can tell me exactly what net effect it would have on my kilowatt usage).

>> Defrost the freezer in my condo to the point where I can at least close the door -- the balcony door.

>> Partake in more workplace trysts, thus saving on commutes, dry cleaning and wear and tear on my Barry White collection. True, the fluorescent lighting is not the most flattering, the furniture isn't the most comfortable and the pillow talk can be abbreviated when your pillow is a six-month supply of Post-Its. Still, multitasking work and play is much more energy efficient and surprisingly plausible, especially with the advent of federally mandated 15-minute breaks.





See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Curt Brandao is the Star-Bulletin's production editor. Reach him at: cbrandao@starbulletin.com


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