Unplugged: Entertainment off the grid

When I started blogging in 2012 lists were popular. Most of these were about as interesting as the average hamster running the social media wheel with their photos of food, cats, babies or desperate requests to share something you don’t agree with. I’m sure it felt like they had something fascinating to share, and I suppose that is a flaw many of us have. We assume that our interests are so fascinating that people feel bereft if we don’t help them spread the information. It is true that I continue writing even though I don’t have any measurable progress. I write because I like it, but I wouldn’t be honest if I claimed that I didn’t care whether people read my texts or not. I would still argue that I don’t choose topics based on what I think will be popular.

Blogging preceded social media and the pioneers posted every day, sometimes several times a day. That meant they had to produce something fast, preferably without thinking. Writing without thinking sounds like a winner in today’s world. I published some lists too, but I tried to make them relevant. I wanted to transmit some ideas and values, or to tell people about life in this corner of the world.

A list of my favourite songs probably wouldn’t mean anything to other people if I didn’t include some background information. Sounds of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel would be on the list because it was the first album I owned myself, and music was my escape from a reality I didn’t much care for. This particular song has a lot of fascinating background information and it’s worth a post of its own. The song is about an inability, or perhaps an unwillingness to communicate, which makes it just as relevant today as in the 1960’s.

My list would also include Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen because I think they, together with Paul Simon, are the best poets in music. Michael Jackson was a part of my childhood and I liked some of his later songs as well, such as Earth Song and Man in the Mirror. These seem to show a maturity that came with age, compared to his earlier songs that were more about being cool.

Cover of the book Elvenbane. This very well written book was a lifeline when I had no distractions.
This very well written book was a lifeline when I had no distractions.

I was thinking of the lists again a few days ago because I had been without internet for a while. When you don’t have internet or a TV subscription, and radio is crap, you will soon find yourself climbing the walls if you literally can’t imagine life without. I can manage without,  but because I depend on it there is a transition where I am bored. It doesn’t happen often, but I have had some experience. I moved with my family from Nordland to Rogaland county three years ago. We had to leave almost everything behind because even the cheapest alternative, renting a truck and driving the 2 000 km myself, cost more money than I had. When we came to Haugesund we had to spend all the money on a deposit and first month’s rent, and TV and internet would have to wait. I have lived in nine apartments since 2003, so there’s been a few transitions.

What do you do when you are sitting on the floor in your new apartment, because you had to leave all the furniture behind, and you know it’ll take a couple of weeks before that situation is likely to change? You read. I am in a similar situation now, which leads me to this question: What is your favourite low tech (or no tech) entertainment?

I have been exploring an independent, out of the box lifestyle in my recent posts. I wouldn’t go completely off the grid or prepper style, but a more sustainable life would be a good idea for most of us. This post is in that spirit because if something happened it would be important to find ways to entertain yourself. In case of a black out no one is going to offer something to help you keep sane. It’s all up to you. I like collecting books, but if I had to manage with just a handful of books I have a pretty good idea about which authors I’d prefer:

Arthur Conan Doyle
Jack London
Charles Dickens
Jane Austen
Agatha Christie
Douglas Adams
John Tolkien

There are of course lots of other books I would miss, but if I had this core I could manage very well. There is so much excellent science fiction, and it would be hard to choose, but there are a few authors I  really like. The best thing you could possibly give someone is a book, and one of last year’s Christmas gifts made me very content when I lost the connection to the world. Elvenbane is the first of four books in The Halfblood Chronicles and I thoroughly enjoyed all the 560 pages in the first one. You know the expression absolute power corrupts absolutely. The elves in the book came to a human world through a portal, and they used their magic to enslave people. They can only be described as pure evil, which is not at all how we are used to thinking of elves.

Playing board games is a very social activity, and I am out of practice. Monopoly, chess, backgammon, cards, Chinese checkers and diamond hunt were some of the popular games when I was growing up, but they were not a part of my childhood. I have recently been introduced to games like Munchkin, Ender Game, Arkham Horror and Betrayal at House on the Hill. These are fascinating and it would have been totally my thing when I was a teenager, but it still requires social skills. I play them with my family, but it’s more challenging with outsiders. These science fiction/fantasy boardgames would still be on my preppers gaming list.

When I am alone there is nothing like a jigsaw puzzle. Surviving in a black out kind of scenario isn’t just about food and safety. A life without entertainment would be a very hard one, and it’s not something anyone would choose.

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