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[whitespace] Lights Out!

'Roll Your Own Blackout' is a bright idea, but where did it come from?

By Andrea Perkins

IN THE BEGINNING, no one knew who started it. In April, the email began appearing in in-boxes from here to China. "In protest of the current energy policies and lack of emphasis on efficiency, conservation and alternative fuels," it begins, "there will be a voluntary rolling blackout on the first day of summer, June 21, at 7pm-10pm in all time zones (this will create a blackout that 'rolls' across the planet)."

People are encouraged to turn out the lights and unplug everything: "Light a candle, make love, tell ghost stories, or whatever you want to do, instead of watching television."

The mind behind the website www.rollyourownblackout.com is not the same mind behind the original message (which, by the way, is not affiliated with any particular organization). Rather, this site documents how the message spread like Internet hellfire. It also responds to the tired cries of skeptics, who never want anything really cool to happen.

"But it'll still be light!" say the skeptics.

"Then it should be easy, right?" retorts the site. "Actually, you may find that the evening teaches you something about where you really do use energy in a typical evening at home. More than likely, you'll discover some things that you do by habit that you could just as well not do--especially when it's really not all that dark out."

So there. You can also find out who wrote the original message. Hint: it was someone real close to home.

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From the June 20-27, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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