Power supply supported by termite food
It's hard to understand the surprise when a bunch of wooden power poles fall down, when you consider we are essentially supporting our power grid on large stalks of termite food that we then pound into the ground so the bugs can get at it easier.
To put it in another perspective, think of telephone and power poles as giant, glorified Slim Jims and termites as tiny little ground sharks. Yum, yum.
I don't care what you coat the wooden poles with, they are still termite food and termites are going to find a way to hold their little noses, chew past the yucky protective coating and get at that delicious timber. And after they've gorged themselves the timber is going to go TIMBER! and fall over. Which is what happened in Waianae the other day, when several telephone poles toppled like dominos, blocking the only highway in and out of the west side for hours.
Officials said they are investigating the power poles to find out exactly why they fell but, trust me here, they didn't fall because they suddenly got bored with life. And they didn't fall because of the Earth's magnetic pull. Or because an anti-electric power nut secretly cut them down to protest global warming.
They fell because when you stick large pieces of wood in the ground in a tropical environment, termites eat them, or they rot, or both. And then a mild breeze finishes the job. They fell because we are using 19th-century technology to support 21st-century power and communications conduits.
Our power and telephone poles aren't much different from the ones first put up to string telegraph lines through the West during Wild Bill Hickok's days. That technology made the venerable Pony Express obsolete and yet, in 150 years, we haven't figured out a way to kill the obsolete telephone pole industry.
We could replace all wooden poles with metal ones, but Oahu would look like Frankenstein's laboratory. The point is not to make island eyesores more impregnable, but to get rid of them altogether.
It's clear the only way to improve the views and electrical and phone service is to bury these stupid cables. We have the technology. It was developed even before Wild Bill Hickok and the telegraph. It's called digging.
Bury the cables in termite-proof space-age composite tubes and let the termites go back to eating our houses like they are supposed to. We live in the future. Let's act like it.
, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org