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Column: Powerless, but not helpless

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Three weeks ago, the Green Bay Packers were powerless to stop the creative and crafty Colin Kaepernick, the new, sensational San Francisco 49ers quarterback.

He became the first player in the NFL to pass for 175 yards and run for 175 yards in the same game. For a native Cheesehead like me, it was difficult to watch.

Today, on Super Bowl Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens get their chance.

I just hope we aren’t powerless as fans when game time arrives around 6:30 tonight.

Literally powerless, that is.

You know, lights-out, no-electricity powerless.

Like I was for a couple of hours last weekend, when nearly 2,000 homes and businesses in northern Bartholomew County were without power after equipment failed at a utility substation.

Being without power for a couple of hours around the middle of the day wasn’t an extreme hardship for me. But it was an inconvenience, and it was a reminder on how much we rely on electricity.

My morning routine includes making a fresh pot of coffee. But not that day. Coffee makers run on electricity.

Toast? Think again.

Hop on the laptop and check the Internet? Although ours runs on a battery, at least in a backup capacity, there is the small issue of the modem. It plugs into the wall.

No Internet.

Since I wasn’t born yesterday, I already knew the television wouldn’t work.

Not knowing how long this would last and needing a few grocery items to get us through, I decided to head into town, where the power would certainly be on.

I grabbed my keys, hit the garage-door opener and ...


Oh yeah, no power.

With our other car parked outside, I headed out the front door — which just swings open and closed when you press on the latch, a simply wonderful thing on this late-January day — I made it into town and found the grocery store to indeed be open.

The backup generator, I assume, was allowing the store to limp along. Until that went out.

With a few necessities picked out, I ambled to the checkout counter, where the hand-made sign informed customers, “cash only.”

Credit-card machines run on electricity, I was reminded. Fortunately, I had cash. Exact change, in fact. Happy clerk.

Making change from a make-shift cash register — a handy device known as a shoe box — can be a challenge when you’re operating in backup mode.

Fortunately, I didn’t need gas. Pumps run on electricity.

I thought about picking up a couple of sub sandwiches.

But unlike the grocery store, the sub shop apparently didn’t have a backup system.

Using a marker and hunk of cardboard, the handmade sign said: “Closed. No power.”

For businesses, it was more than an inconvenience. Cash registers can’t “ring” when the store is dark.

Back home a short time later, a wonderful thing happened at 12:40 p.m. The ceiling fan started to whirl again.

Powerless no more.

Coffee machine? Despite the flashing 12:00, yep, it works.

Toaster? Ready to drop in a piece of bread.

There on the couch was the morning Republic. While the power was off, I had plenty of time to catch up on news from my world, without the necessity of an electrical outlet.

No power, and yet still plugged in. A beautiful thing.

Now about this Kaepernick guy ...

Tom Jekel is editor of The Republic. His column appears each Sunday. You may reach him by phone at 379-5665 or by email at

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