Wow! I thought I had you all stumped there for a while! But, in the 11th hour, someone chose the most implausible (and, ironically, correct!) answer to why I woke my parents up at 11:30 PM last Monday night.
But, let's address the most-chosen answer first which was to "make them go outside to look at the amazing northern lights". First off, it's not really the right time of year and/or weather for northern lights right now. BUT, I have done that before to them . . . except it was with a phone call at 2:30 AM as I was driving home from some hideously late something-or-other. (And, no, they weren't quite as appreciative of the "go out and look!" call as I'd hoped they'd be. Oh, well . . . .)
Anyway, the truth of the matter is that as I was coming down the hill into town after dropping my girlfriend off, I saw a good portion of the lights go out. Street lights, restaurant lights, the whole bit. As I drove thru town, people were milling about, looking up and down the streets as if to say, "Hmm, wonder what happened?"
But, it caused no worries for me (or so I thought): I just had to get gas (I was on 'E') and head on home. But, wait, the gas station doesn't have any lights on . . . nor does the OTHER gas station across the street! What the . . . ?
A discussion with the owner of the gas station - who was standing out front with a flashlight watching all the power company trucks - revealed that there was some major "switching of transformers" going on or something like that. Word was that it could take anywhere from one to eight (!) hours! But, in all their infinite wisdom, the powers-that-be had decided to shut ALL of the commercial side of town down at ONCE. During busy tourism season. No gas available for those one to eight hours, no lights or power in the motels. Nothin'.
So, now you know why I had to wake my parents up - hoping Dad had some gasoline stashed (as we all do, who live in the Northwoods) . . . enough to get me home. And, he did, and all was well. But, I tell ya: I could offer a word or two of advice to the brainiacs behind that "let's turn everything off in town all at once" move!