UPDATE: Bumped up to top b/c it was going to fall off front page.
An interesting idea:
This fall, plan a weekend, or two consecutive days and nights as an "energy vacation". Start upon waking Saturday and go until waking on Monday morning. During your "vacation", turn off your thermostat, refrain from using any lights and use electricity only sparingly - i.e. to keep food from spoiling. No driving. No TV. And, yes not even any blogging or 24 hour news updates. (if you must, a solar/crank powered AM/FM radio can be used to get your news porn)
You have two ways to start your "vacation". The first is fully prepared - having stocked up on all necessities: candles, good books, deck of cards, bottles of wine, gallons of water, grill food, etc. Some people just like to be prepared, and you have to give them that.
The second way is to use items and food stocks that you have in your home, and use foot or pedal power to get the rest. Walk to the library on Saturday to get a good book. Stop by the grocery store, buy and carry what you'll need for the day on the way home. What, your nearest food store is 5 miles away? Dust of that bike and flexible cooler and head out! Or, see if there is a closer alternative that you could walk to. Local corner stores, butchers, specialty stores would love to have your business. You won't have asian pears, and imported organic soy oat grass bars (or what ever is your fancy) in the same place, but maybe you'll be surprised at what you can find in walking distance. (I found a delicious meatball mix at an Italian butcher down the hill from me that is to die for!)
Aside: If you live more than 5-10 miles from the nearest food store, and you don't either a) grow all your own food, b) have a neighbor that can provide you or barter with for all your food, or c) enjoy going to bed hungry. Maybe the exurbs or rural setting isn't for you, in the face of peak oil.
As far as food prep goes, you can be as "hardcore" as you'd like about that. For me? The grill/smoker will be allowed. I'll stick to charcoal instead of gas. I think that I'll (gasp) skip the electric coffee pot though. Try to stick to locally produced or grown food as much as possible. Try to leave a small enviromental footprint. Recycle all packaging, compost waste (or if you don't have one, start a new compost), and avoid imported goods and trivial purchases.
Just imagine the possibilities of a weekend spent at home without any distractions. Unplug the phone if you wish or leave the answering machine plugged in with the volume down and return calls on Monday. No TV, no blogging too! No trips to the store or shopping. Boring to some, second nature to others, there are many things that I can think of to do on an energy vacation:
- write letters to family and friends on real paper and mail them out.
- play cards
- read a good book
- walk to a friends house, or introduce yourself to a neighbor
- talk to your spouse or significant other, talk about all the things that you dream about doing in your life, things outside of the day to day distractions, and daily grind
- get up at sunrise and take a walk through your now peaceful and quiet neighborhood
- star gaze under a cozy blanket at night
- build a fire (if you have the means) and zone out into the flames
- brainstorm ways to reduce energy use and live a more sustainable lifestyle
- go through a old stack of pictures, relive some memories, and add some new pictures to your picture frames
- take a walk around your home, or neighborhood and take a roll of film on nothing in particular, just what ever catches your eye
- draw, paint or write something creative
- anything you like!
Just try to do it for two consecutive days to get the real feel for it. I think that you will be feeling more relaxed (and appreciating electricity a hell of a lot more) on day 2.
We all depend way more than we think on cheap oil and electricity. A couple of days "vacation" from it, can make us realize how we can get by without a trip out of the home each day by car, and without all the lights in the home on, and non stop TV, internet and news bombarding us with information. It will awaken your own imaginative and creative side, not to have TV doing the imagining and dreaming for you. Sit and think about what is really important to you, what your views on a subject are, not some pundit's on a blog or TV show. Think about ways you can directly impact the area you live in, instead of worrying about global ideas that are for the most part out of your hands. When you come back from "vacation" still read DKos, and Eschaton, but check into sustainablog, baloghblog, unplanning journal, peakoil NYC and others, and help start to shape your community directly, and help prepare for your future in a world without cheap energy.