It’s August. If you live in the northern hemisphere, you know that means it’s 35C (95 F) outside. Unless you’re in Europe right now, in which case you don’t know how hot it is because all the thermometers are under water. As is your house, your car and your office building.
Anyway, because it’s boiling out, officials have once again released their hot weather advisory: you’re instructed to take in plenty of fluids, stay indoors, and turn off the air conditioner.
Yes, you read that right. Energy managers were absolutely shocked to discover that power usage has gone through the roof this month. So they’ve asked everyone to please just stop using electricity.
“We just cannae take much more of this!” said Ontario Hydro chief engineer Jimmy Doohan, in a recent interview. “Our dilithium crystals are gaen to blow, laddie!”
If this were a one time request or a special circumstance, I wouldn’t mind shutting off a few lights and such, to ease the strain on the system. However, I don’t know about your local utility, but mine has been completely surprised, stunned and flabbergasted by August power usage, every year, since about, oh, 500 BC. You’d think by now they’d have say, a backup plan, or something.
Of course, these are the same people who are totally surprised by snow.
“We cannae do it!” said Chief Snowplough Driver Montgomery Scot in an interview last winter. “If we keep up this speed we’re gaen to blow up!
All right, maybe I’m being a little hard on my regional administrators. After all, humans have a long history of unexpecting the expected. For example, in my copy of the “Big Book of Bad Plannin-” (they ran out of room for the title), there’s evidence to suggest unpreparedness started as early as the cave days. Here’s one cave painting, translated:
CRO: Wot you say we put campsite here?
MAG: But isn’t dis in path of annual mammoth stampede?
NON: Don’t be silly. Dat only happen last year. And year before.
CRO: Wot dat noise?
[Thunder of several thousand large animals approaching]
Fast forward several hundred years, and things hadn’t improved much during the time of the Roman empire.
CAESAR: I say we move all our armies to the eastern front.
GAIUS: But sir! Don’t you think the Gauls will revolt again this year, like they have every spring?
CAESAR: Nonsense, whatever makes you think that?
LEGIONARY: Ave! Caesar, there is some fellow named Asterix here to see you?
CAESAR: Let him in.
[pow! crash! biff! smack!]
CAESAR: Oh, I die! Fac ut nemo me vocet.*
(*Latin for: Hold all my calls.)
We hadn’t even smartened up by the Middle Ages:
PONTIUS: Ho! Geoffrey! What dost thou think of my political speech?
GEOFFREY: Read it to me.
PONTIUS: Gentlefolk: I thinketh that ye olde Archbishop ist a weenie…
GEOFFREY: Hark! Look at that sundial! Methinks it is time to go. Anon. Alack. Etc.
INQUISITION: Mr. Pontius? Come with us, please.
I’m not sure why humans are so bad at planning for the future, especially for those things we can predict. But, I can think of three reasons: 1) Humans are basically just dorks. 2) Nobody takes history class in high school anymore, so we’re doomed to repeat ourselves endlessly or 3) We’re too easily distracted.
If number three is the case, it’s only going to get worse. Because with computers and the Internet, attention spans have decreased to the point that… oh, look! Here’s an email from my cousin Joe.
…Where was I? Oh yes, so what’s the solution? Well, maybe everyone should start by doing some advanced planning in their own lives. Figure out what you want to be doing next week. Next month. Next year. Heck, even next decade.
How can you go about doing that? Gee, I really don’t know.
I never thought to research that far ahead for this column.
Photo Credit: “Field of sunflowers” by I, BenAveling. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons