Frabjous Times


For a time, powerless

When some thunderstorms went through Sunday around 6pm and made the power flicker, I took precautions to isolate the computers from power surge. But when another, more active, storm cell rolled through four hours later as we were preparing to go to bed we weren't so prepared. I was in the shower when I heard the thunder outside and hastened to get out of the water for safety's sake, and a few minutes later everything went dark. At least the flashlights from our emergency kit came in handy. The air conditioning in the bedroom had been running maybe a half-hour to purge out the heat left by the record temperatures, which was not really enough to bring it down to a comfortable state. I ended up on the sofa and on the carpet downstairs in the living room to try to get some rest, not actual sleep.
When we got up in the morning, the radio reported 25k people without electricity in the county because of a substation that took a hit, possibly down for more than a day. When it grew light I dragged out the generator and got it started with a couple of cups of gas left over from last time this happened.
I plugged the refrigerator in (good) but then saw the lights inside flash and go out (bad), even though the compressor seemed to be making cold air. We got about a half-hour out of this exercise, and I went out early to refill my gas can for $5 so I could repeat this routine every few hours. I noticed that the way I'd set up the generator originally I had the exhaust pointed toward the side of a plastic 5 gallon pail, which resulted in a nice oval hole being burned through the side. Hot stuff.
It turned out that neither of my two appointments that morning were much affected by the outage, so I put in my time, draggle-tail and just slightly envious. It looked as if nearly all the neighborhoods around us had power back by morning, though the newscasters were reporting 25 thousand customers with some amount of problem because of a lightning strike on a substation. At one of my appointments, I was able to recharge my Treo for a while, though it seemed as if TMobile was having coverage problems with calls being spotty and sometimes dropping out.
No power at 1 pm when I got back from my first call, nor at 2:30 when I came back for lunch after my second. I had hoped to do some more refinishing work in the shop before the power problems put an end to this idea. Instead, I thought it would be best to make use of the daylight and do some chores around the house, so I started by washing a dishwasherload of plates and flatware by hand. It wasn't until I was done when noticed that lights were on in the living room behind me. We must have done a good job turning off all the kitchen lights and sources of noise when the power went out, so I didn't know that the juice had come back on. I phoned Pam to tell her the good news. It sounded as if some of the other Public Service customers were not so lucky as us, according to the news reports.
Flash forward to the end of dinner Monday evening. Out go the lights, the radio, and everything. So once again I'm washing dishes by hand, this time by headlamp, and to bed without benefit of air-conditioning (although considerably cooler temperatures prevailed as compared to the weekend). We woke again at 1:25 am when the lights in the hallway went on, so this outage was only for three hours. I slumped downstairs to reset the digital clocks. All in vain, however, since we woke again at 5:25 am when the air conditioning window unit beeped, owing to a small power glitch going through the line. Since that time, we've mostly been living back in the 21st century and have put the generator back into storage…till next time.
Originally published: 2005/08/17 08:11:30
Previously published: Wed Aug 17 07:12:04 2005