Why not play by candlelight?

No one from south-central Kansas will ever forget where they were when they heard about the 1990 Hesston tornado.
My son, for instance, was with friends in Kansas City when the evening news showed pictures of a Pizza Hut that he frequented. All that was standing was a walk-in freezer where 15 people had sought refuge during the storm.
I, on the other hand, was working late. Unaware that we were under a tornado watch, I was startled when the loudspeaker at work announced, “We are under a tornado warning. Seek shelter immediately!!”
In the shelter, I found 10 or 15 fellow employees.
We listened with horror as the radio announcer anxiously reported that a tornado was heading toward Hesston College—and was cutting a wide swath of devastation through the town of 3,500 people.
As I drove home, I heard the announcer say “This is a killer tornado!”
That “killer tornado” was part of an outbreak that affected the Great Plains and U.S. Midwest from Iowa to Texas. The storm spawned 64 tornadoes from March 11-13, 1990 and caused more than a half-billion dollars of damage.
Amazingly, although the Hesston tornado was on the ground for more than two hours, only two people were killed.
Fortunately, Hesston College was spared. But one of the homes destroyed was that of the college president.
When the president and his wife came up from the basement, their house was gone but the telephone was ringing. They looked through the debris and retrieved the phone. It was his mother from Iowa inquiring about their well-being.
I recalled that “urban legend” this past Saturday, when our unusual spring ice and snowstorm left us without power. I tried to call my son to find out whether he had electricity. And to my surprise, my new telephone was useless without electricity.
Years ago, before electricity had reached our farm in northern New York, it didn’t matter if the snow drifts towered eight feet tall. We could always take the receiver down, crank our telephone, and talk to our neighbours.
Maybe technology has gone too far. Too far for creating functional lives and too far for the environment. Why does a telephone have to use electricity?
It happened that Saturday (March 28) was the second worldwide “lights out” Earth Hour as 4,000 cities and towns in 88 countries dimmed their lights from 8:30-9:30 p.m. to highlight the threat of climate change.
Beginning in New Zealand, the great monuments of the world were darkened time zone by time zone–the most prominent being the 2008 Olympic venues in China, the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx of Egypt, the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral in Europe, the U.N. headquarters in New York, and McDonald’s arches at 500 locations in the United States.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Earth Hour “a way for the citizens of the world to send a clear message: they want action on climate change.”
And action begins at home. Owning a telephone that doesn’t require electricity. Unplugging your electric toothbrush when it doesn’t need to be charging. Turning off the non-essential lights. Running appliances during non-peak hours. Turning off your computer when not in use.
And joining Earth Hour like our family did on Saturday, playing dominoes by candlelight.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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