Current events are by choice an uncommon source of ^zhurnal themes. But the absence of alternating current in and around che^z for the past few days is perhaps an event uncommon enough to merit a mention.
Since last Thursday, when Hurricane Isabel left a large fraction of the region near Washington DC without power, life has shifted to a lower gear. So far we've seen no riots, or even much riotous behavior. Alcohol, tobacco, and firearm purchases may be slightly elevated. But ice cream consumption is up dramatically, as are board games played and books read.
The weather is mild; it's quite comfortable to sit outside on the porch (modulo mosquitos). In the extended neighborhood enough electrical service has been restored to run a majority of traffic lights and shops. People venture out in their cars to pick up supplies, then quickly return home. Perishables are bought in small quantities for today's meals. Refrigerators have become iceboxes. Folks go for afternoon walks around the block. At night most windows are dark, or flicker with candle or fluorescent lantern glow rather than the hard blue aura of TV tubes.
The lifestyle change is striking. A normal zeitgeist around here is deadline-driven multitasking hypercompetition, manifested outside the office in the 130dB chainsaw/leaf-blower school of gardening. Instead, the past three days have felt like a camping trip, a vacation at a cabin in the woods. It's a flashback to a slower-paced and gentler era, more relaxed, healthier. Will any of that attitude adjustment persist once the lights come back on?