Blackout blues: … and how some of the locals are handling it. Apparently, I’m not as bent out of shape as, say, some real Net slaves. Then again, I haven’t had the power cut out anywhere near me (touch wood). And some slightly better adjusted people (the ones with real lives) are doing their thing just the way I hope I would do it.

“I just have to tell you, I felt lost,” said Rosanne M. Siino, whose power failed for two hours last week, leaving her without e-mail � and pacing nervously � at her home office in Scotts Valley, near the Santa Cruz mountains. “Thank God for my cell phone.” “Everything we do is dependent on technology,” said Ms. Siino, a marketing consultant who telecommutes to San Francisco, 80 miles away. But her woes go beyond the practical. She has a short attention span, she acknowledged, a need for Internet speed � fed by a culture grown dependent on a round-the-clock stream of digital blips and pulses.

“When you’re not on computer,” Ms. Siino said, “you may as well cut off your arm.” …

Armed with cell phones, laptops and handheld computers, people can switch to temporary, mobile mode when the power fails at their homes, offices or home offices.

Or perhaps, at their cafe offices, like Simple Pleasures, a neighborhood spot in the Richmond district of San Francisco, which went dark for an hour last week. Its toaster and espresso machine down, the cafe was reduced to selling regular, low-tech drip coffee, but life and commerce did not stop for patrons. Several kept chatting by cell phone; one woman, oblivious, typed away on a new translucent orange Macintosh laptop.

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