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Saturday, February 5, 2011

"No problem." That's what I told the guy from the utility company when he knocked on my door at three o'clock this afternoon to let me know my power would be out for a few minutes when he switched out my meter for the newfangled "Smart Meter" of song and legend. First, of course, he had to find the meter, and I couldn't help him with that. I've lived here ten years and never seen a meter reader.

The guy already had the landlord's address, so I sent him over there looking for meters and such. I know my landlord and I share access to a well pump, so it's possible the gas and electric flow are handled in one place as well. I only knew (and cared) that it wasn't my problem, but I did wish him good luck on his task. He has his job to do, whether I want a new meter or not.

What I meant by "no problem" was, "Thanks for the warning." I had time to turn off the computer and the satellite receiver before they could be damaged by a power surge, or at least so that I wouldn't have to deal with their warnings about sudden shut-downs. I left the satellite radio on, mostly so that I would know when the power went off and when it came back on, but also for the spooky background music I like to play while I read my latest vampire novel.

Reading was safe, since I was pretty sure the ordeal would be over before darkness fell (and my Kindle was already fully charged). I couldn't see the utility company allowing their contract employees out after dark. Or maybe I'm just projecting the foreboding from the book I'm reading.

Anyway, at 3:35 pm the power went out. It stayed out for maybe ten seconds, long enough that I had to reset all the electronic clocks in the house but not long enough to freak me out. I really was appreciative that the guy had given me a heads-up, but I waited half an hour before turning the computer back on, just in case.

So far I haven't found any difference with the new meter, but then it's only been a few hours. Time, I suppose, will tell if they are really super accurate and reliable, as the company claims, or fraught with flaws, as I keep hearing elsewhere. Our utility provider is known far and wide for its incompetence, so naturally I have tremendous confidence in every innovation they make, especially since every innovation is designed to satisfy the company (but not necessarily its customers). That's a business model that very seldom ends up with whole neighborhoods blowing up from faulty gas lines. Very seldom.

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