Waiting for the Electricity

Yesterday was a strange one. I busted my butt to get on campus in a timely fashion. (Persephone had a bad case of back-to-school blues — not a fun morning.) But when I got here I found the lights were flickering. We had partial power — half voltage or something like that. My boss said her printer was making weird noises of its own volition. I was able to boot up my computer and get online briefly, but I soon lost the connection and then we lost all power. The phone system was also having problems. I was supposed to shoot some video of a faculty member who’s won an award; I tried calling him but couldn’t get through. Of course the elevators were not working, so Jim and I went down four flights of stairs and over to the next building and back up three flights. I’d figured we’d have to postpone the shoot but it turns out the faculty member’s research area has emergency backup power. So we headed back down the stairs and over to a third building, and up four flights. Fortunately that elevator was working. We had to wear biohazard gear: masks and coveralls and gloves and footies and hairnets. The gear was uncomfortable and the whole experience was unsettling. It was an animal research facility. I’d vaguely known it existed, but I’d never been there before. I found myself ethically disturbed. I guess that’s the best way of putting it. But we shot the video. I spent the rest of the day waiting for the power to come back on. But when it did the net was still not available. There’s not much I can do offline. It was “Quiet Day,” the day between classes and finals, and for once Quiet Day was really quiet. I talked to one faculty member who came to campus just for a meeting, which had to be canceled because the convener couldn’t access her e-mail to retrieve the agenda. Finally I headed home, and I had to agree with a co-worker who said the day was “mostly wasted.” I was patting myself on the back for being one of the few people who actually got something done. But then today Jim pointed out that the video we shot is probably not viable because our subject is wearing a facemask. You can’t see who he is. The Administration may also have concerns about the location and subject matter; animal research is a touchy subject. We’ll have to shoot it again. So the day was pretty much a bust after all.

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