Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Day One: Wednesday

The first day of the Week of Penury went reasonably well. Had some last minute crises, like the camera dying just before I needed to take the photo of my meter late last night. I had bought a 10-pack of spare AA's; however these turned out to have been on the shelf for a very long time and were flat! Had to rush out to a garage to pick up some more, high power batteries before the Week started.

For those who are wondering what the heck I'm up to, I have committed myself to live for a week in my own home without mains electricity, and without motorised transport. No big deal, I hear you say. But this actually entails giving up more than you might initially think: electric lighting, my computer, electric oven, hot water, refrigeration and electric heating. It is Autumn here in NZ and getting chilly. (In case you are wondering how I posted after the fact last night; I took the photo, switched off the power at the mains at home, headed over to a friend's and used his computer, then cycled home.)

I got home at about 11:30pm, found my way into the house, found my torch, then lit some candles. I aim to use the torch as little as possible. Adjusted to life in the dark by having the last of the cheese in my fridge with some crackers, and a wee dram of Glenmorangie. Listened to some radio on my walkman, prepared lunch in advance, then to bed.

Woke at 6:30am this morning. It was still dark outside. Stumbled into the kitchen and boiled water (on my portable gas stove) to make porridge and coffee, and to have a wash. In accordance with the Civil Defence instructions, I have allowed myself 3 litres of water a day for everything I might need it for, plus a litre a day for my dog. I should mention at this point that I have also restricted the use of running water to toilet use only: no drinking, cooking or cleaning water can be drawn from the cylinder. So to cover me for the next week, I started with 21 litres plus 7 for the dog.

After washing, I got on my bike and cycled to work, getting there about 40 minutes earlier than I normally would.

I am still going to work this week, as the opportunity to do the Week of Penury came up at short notice and I couldn't get time away. While this isn't what I had intended initially, I have factored it into the equation. Originally, I had also intended to do without my phone for the week. However, my borther injured himself a few days befor I was due to begin, so I needed to be contactable. I had realised (only a day before) that I would not be able to use my phone without the power on, since it is cordless: the base receiver must be on for it to work. I got around this by borrowing my friend's standard land-line phone. My mobile is also still available for the purpose of contactability.

Lunch at work was a banana, a pear and a museli bar. I noticed that I got hungry again quite soon after lunch.

After work, I cycled home again, stopping to check my private mailbox on the way. I finish work at 6:00pm during the week, by which time it is dark outside at this time of year. At home, I found my torch again and lit candles. Quickly knocked up some chilli, using the minced beef that had defrosted in the fridge, kidney beans, a carrot, and half an onion. I threw in a beef stock cube for good measure, and added half a tin of tomatoes. This turned out suprisingly well.

One problem I face is only being able to cook using one pan at a time. I boiled water to make pasta, while the chilli cooled. I realised that rice is probably better than pasta in this situatuion, since the rice absorbs the water, whereas you throw out the water from cooking pasta.

I scoffed this quickly, as I needed to meet with my brother at 8:00pm.

I used his computer to type this post.

Well, now I must head home to get to bed at a quasi-reasonable hour. More tomorrow.


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