Yeah, I know, normally you’d be having the latest episode of Nerds Assemble put up in this space today. Not this week. This week, something horrible happened… the power went out:

Of course, as we scrambled about in the darkness (the power came back yesterday lunchtime) I wondered: what the heck can geeks get up to when there’s no power and the weather’s less than great outside. (‘Cause obviously there’d be people that would be all like, “Go outside, GTFO! Blergh!” and stuff.)

(This article is only slightly serious and its writer hopes you can use your own good judgement on what to do when power failure strikes. She also hopes you’ll have read this article before the lights go out and remember its “wise” words.)

What you can do will depend on available light levels, because, quite frankly, there is no point in straining your eyes, trying to read by torchlight/candlelight. Seriously, it’s a bad idea and not all geeks already wear glasses and there is no point in starting on that path by reading in poor light conditions. Here are some things you can do when the power goes out, with lightness and darkness rankings.

Only attempt these after you have phoned the company responsible for maintaining the power lines in your area, so that you may report the fault and it can get sorted out. Oh, and don’t open your fridge/freezer.

Read a book or a comic

Comics book shelf header v1Okay, whilst there’s still some daylight around, filtering through those window things, you can read. I know I’ve got a huuuuuuge pile of books I haven’t read yet. Comics not so much. Obviously, only attempt to read on a Kindle (or similar e-book devices) if you have enough charge. Forget reading by phone or on your tablet, because you probably won’t have enough charge to get a decent session in and you may find that you need all your phone charge, because it turns out you don’t have any wired phones to jack into a phone socket and all your landline phones transmit wirelessly… You need that charge on your mobile for phoning important people, like the company in charge of maintaining power lines.


Play D&D/roleplaying system of your choice

Roleplay-diary-thumbWhile there is reading involved, you hopefully won’t be doing this for a prolonged period. Attempt this only if you already know the rules mostly, when starting in lowlight conditions and because you don’t have the internet to help you check stuff (remember, 3G uses mobile power and you need that power). Grab some notepads, books and dice, and mini-figs/LEGO if you need them, and play a sample campaign if you have nothing planned. Admittedly you need more than one person for this work, but if you’re in shared accommodation, have friendly neighbours or family members who don’t mind trying something different: go for it.

LIGHT RATING: Needs at least torches + candlelight.

Play charades

BookYou can make this as geeky as you damn well want. I don’t need a blackout to give me an excuse to suggest this as a game to play. Light levels are not so critical, however, the more intricate the motions you go through for your charade, the harder it will be to see and interpret what you are doing. And yes, you do need more than one person for this to really work. If you somehow don’t know how to play or remember: when it’s your turn, pick a text, mime what medium it is (opening hands for book or comic, box for TV, hand cranking for film, miming of game controller for videogame), say how many words in the text’s name and then break each word in its name down into a mime action – don’t speak.

LIGHT RATING: Needs at least torches + candlelight.

Rearrange your entertainment collections

games-collectionYes, I am suggesting that you should go and have a tidy-up. I know some people do meticulously add stuff in, but I’m not like that when I get new things. Or maybe you’ve found that you’ve arranged your books/comics/games/films/TV boxsets in such a way that you never know what to read/play/watch (alphabetically can be very unhelpful). Instead,why not rearrange your collections according to genre or particular creators. That way you can easily find something when the power is back on depending on what you’re feeling in the mood for. And if you don’t know what you’ve got and have a pen and notebook handy: write that shizzle down while you don’t have it piled three-deep on a shelf.


Play game/s

catanI’m talking boardgames and card games. Why the forward slash? Well, if you play Risk, you’ll probably have yourself covered for most of your power outage. Again this means having other human beings in the vicinity of yourself, but who wants to be alone in a power cut? Dust off those boxes of Monopoly, Catan, Cards Against Humanity, chess and so on or break out that 2001 tournament legal Magic: The Gathering deck and raise some hell. Go on, you know you want to. But whatever you do, this is the activity that is even more likely to lead to people getting pissed-off, so try to keep things civil.

LIGHT RATING: Needs at least torches + candlelight.

BONUS: Make something

Emily knitting v1I’m not making this a main tip, because not everyone is crafty. But if you’re like me, a knitter, then you’ve probably got books on how to knit and what various basic stitch patterns look like and how to make them. So go and make up some designs in a notebook and make something with whatever scraps you’ve got kicking about. And if you’ve got a Warhammer 40K army kicking about that’s in need of a paint job… Forget it. You need decent light. Bonus for knitters and crocheters: Lattes and Lama have been doing a Geek-A-Long knitting project that is worth checking out before your lights go out if you need some ideas on what to do with random bits of wool.


  • dmosbon

    There’s also the time it gives you to sharpen up your survival kit in case a zombie plague materialises at the very same moment.

    • Emily King

      Very, very true.

      One part of my zombie survival plan I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is whether cans on string should be something to aim for, as a detection system for around camps.

      • dmosbon

        I think tin will become a valuable commodity for that and other reasons. Nail bomb housings for one.

    • Paul Blewitt

      I’ve never really understood why there’s not more oil slicks as defences, especially on things like stairs…

      • Emily King

        And baby oil is one of the last things anyone would nick from a pharmacy in an apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic environment.

        Just need to remember to pull up carpets on stairs.