HomesteadersNothing makes you appreciate technology more than riding out a hurricane. Even though I live some 60 miles from the Atlantic coast, the winds whipping through my corner of Pennsylvania were enough to knock out power to some 850,000 people. It was like a week in the 19th Century -- no lights, no running water, no heat, no Internet and no cell service. You don't really appreciate mobile devices until you can't call anyone and there's no weather service to tell you when the rain will stop. I've always thought of myself as a tech guy with a retro streak: I appreciate hand-wound movie cameras (have one) and manual typewriters (have two) as much as my iPad, my Galaxy, my Google TV and the Surface I'm going to convince Alice to buy me. I have developed a new appreciation for car chargers. How valuable Twitter was in spreading storm information, I have no idea. I didn't have cell service, remember. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and, boy, am I fond of electricity now. Sitting by the fire is a nice way to pass some time, but it's uneasy when you don't know what's going on in terms of your family (is Mom OK?) and the world (is New York still there?). If friends live near the shore, all you can be sure of is that their homes are being inundated. It'll be relatively simple to prepare for some of the next storm's challenges. A small generator will take care of the well and the fridge, but they certainly won't keep me in touch if the weather's bad enough. When our power first went out I thought, well, I'll have some quiet time. What I learned is being so deeply out of touch isn't a very quiet thing at all. Image: Wikipedia