Sunday, July 1, 2012

Powerless

We interrupt this vacation travelogue to bring you a breaking news update.

Friday Night, 11:15 pm:
Bluz: Shit!  The power’s out.

Saturday Morning, 6:00 am:
Bluz: Shit!  The power’s still out.

Saturday Evening: 10:00 pm:
Bluz: Shit!  The power’s still out.  I’m going to bed.

Sunday Morning, 6:00 am:
Bluz: Whoo Hoo!  The power is on!

If you’ve watched the news lately, or live in the Great Lakes or Mid-Atlantic region, you heard about the storm that rolled through on Friday night, which generally made a mess of everything.

Around 11:00 pm, I was sitting up, watching “Spaceballs” on HBO and contemplating going to bed.  I already had the PC turned off and was waiting to develop enough energy to get off the couch and go to bed, when I heard all hell breaking loose outside.

I’d heard there might be a storm coming but I wasn’t expecting anything like this.  The last two hurricanes that hit this area (Floyd and Isabelle) weren’t nearly this bad, at least not this far inland.  Then, around 11:15, the power went out.

I have candles and a flashlight and stuff, but it can be hard to find your stuff in the dark, especially when you’re not totally sure where you last put it.  I was lucky that I have a wristwatch that has a light, for night viewing.  It also creates sufficient light, in a darkened room, so that you can find stuff and not smash your feet into the table legs.  With that, I was able to find my flashlight, and successfully maneuver into the bathroom to remove my contact lenses and then go to bed.

I used to lose power during every single thunderstorm, when I first moved in.  Then after a couple years, my municipality got serious about trimming back tree branches away from the power lines.  Since then, I hardly ever lose power.  So when I got up Saturday morning and the power was still out, I knew it might be a bad one.

I knew we had water, but forgot that due to the electricity-operated water heater, I wouldn’t have hot water.  Unfortunately I didn’t realize this oversight until I was in the shower.  (You might have heard the screaming.  Homie don’t like the cold showers.)  So I cleaned up the best I can with a washcloth.  Sometimes having really short hair (and little of it) pays off.

After reading the paper, which had limited information about the storm, due to its late arrival to the area, I decided to go to the movies.  (Nothing like putting your head in the proverbial sand, to pretend that everything’s OK.)

Quick movie review: I went to see Prometheus, and loved it.  It was my first 3-D movie, so that may have tipped it even further to the positive.  The movie was shot in 3-D, (as opposed to adding the effects later, which isn’t nearly as effective), so it was really eye-popping.  Well, it was, once I got used to wearing the glasses.

Prometheus is a “prequel” to the “Alien” series, which is one of my favorites.  If you like the “Alien” movies, you should like this one.  It has all the same ingredients: Great effects, suspense, ugly creepy-crawlies and a strong female lead.

After the movie, (and a meal at Wendy’s), I called home to check on the power.  My answering machine didn’t some on, so I knew there was still no juice.  That made WalMart my next stop.  I have some supplies at home, but as yet, I didn’t know how long we would be in the dark, so I wanted to stock up.  I picked up a new flashlight and an oil lamp and a long-nosed lighter.  About the latter, I figured I may need to light our gas stove burner manually, so I wanted to be able to keep my distance, thus saving some valuable knuckle hair.

What Wally’s didn’t have was ice, so I made my neighborhood liquor store my next stop.  (OK, it wasn’t just the ice that I needed.)  I was worried, because of the widespread power outage, that all the stores would be cleaned out, but I was in luck, because they crowds hadn’t hit the liquor store yet.  This was good, because as I drove home past my local grocery store, they didn’t seem to have any power themselves.

As I was driving around the neighborhood, I got a good look at the scope of the damage.  There were huge limbs and trees down everywhere, some blocking 3 of 4 lanes across the road I was on.  There were many stoplights that weren’t working.  Now, I know that broken stoplights should be treated as a 4-way stop sign, but I believe I’m in the minority, here in Maryland.  Lucky for me, the traffic was light.

When I got home, I split my bad of ice in half and put the pieces into two soft-side coolers I have.  Then I filled in around the ice with all my frozen perishables.  (I’m not giving up that bag of walleye filets without a fight.)  So with the freezer full of ice and frozen goods, I knew they would keep for a while, as long as I could stay out of it.

By the time I was done, it was about 4:00 pm.  Pinky was staying at her place, so all I had to do was amuse myself for the next 6 or 7 hours, without TV, PC, DVR, VCR, or A/C.  It was time to go “pioneer.” 

So I sat in my computer chair, (because it’s right beside a window) and dug into a new book, Keith Richards’ autobiography, called “Life.”  (Great read, by the way.  I’m about a third of the way through it and it’s a fascinating read.  If you like the Stones, or rock and roll, go get it and read it.)

My new oil lamp, portable radio and Keef book, to take the place of all my useless toys.

I also have a portable radio so I was trying to find some news on it.  I scanned all through the AM and FM spectra and couldn’t find squat.  All the “News” stations were running national shows.  I settled on the Orioles game and was rewarded with a quick news break, wherein they stated that there were about 400,000 people in Maryland, without power, and it might take up to a week to get it all back.

When you need news, there’s noting more depressing than an inoperable computer.

Shit.  If the outage went on much longer, I’d need more ice and so would everyone else.  I figured I’d have to spend Sunday cooking everything in the freezer.  Maybe I could take some of it to work and put it in the refrigerator on our floor.

I also must state that I’m extremely luck to have a ground floor, partially below-ground apartment.  Even without the A/C, it remained comfortable inside.  I feel for the people, (like my brother) who had no such recourse other than to be both bored and sweaty.

My parents called around 8:30, when they heard my brother lost power as well and I wasn’t responding to emails.  This is another reason I always keep a landline with a corded handset.  The phone system has its own dedicated power supply that will remain on when outages occur.  I know I could have used my cell, but I was trying to conserve its battery, in case of greater emergency. 

As the outside lights dimmed, I lit the oil lamp and arranged 3 other candles around me.  I also have one of those little LED lights that you clip onto a book, to help you see in the dark.  I read until about 10:00 pm, when my eyes and my butt could no longer take the strain.  (From sitting so long, you pervert.)

Then this morning, as I foggily rolled over to face my alarm clock, I was rewarded by flashing numbers.  Seems that the power came back on around 5:00 this morning.  Stovetop cooking marathon averted and I get to take a hot shower.

So, after going ‘primitive’ for an entire day, (except for the part about driving around and going to the movies), I’m back in the saddle and living large in Century 21.

Viva la electricidad!*

I now return you to the regularly scheduled conclusion to my vacation posts.  You know… next time.

*Not sure that’s actual Spanish… my high school Spanish teacher is probably rolling in her grave.

16 comments:

  1. Keith to the RESCUE! Now you know how living in the 50's felt, hot, dark and boring.
    Happy to see you awoke to POWER. Less dependent and VERY grateful.

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    1. "I was fine, Luv, as long as I go' me guitar and a fifth'a Jack Daniels..."

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  2. I *think* it is worse to be without power when it is hot. We were without power for two days during Snowmageddon 2010 and our roads were impassable. We were freezing, but we could have just added more layers to keep warm. Plus we put some food (and beer!) outside in the snow. But when it is hot, you just can't take off your skin. Glad it was not so bad in your abode.

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    1. Agreed. It's always easier to warm up than to cool off. And beer helps in any situation!

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  3. Wait, wait, wait. HOLD THE PHONE. You mean to tell me that you don't have a spreadsheet handy to tell you where you keep shit in your house?!

    What is wrong with you?

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    1. Yeah, what Rik said. Fat load of good a spreadsheet would do me in a power outage.

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  4. Dear Cassie the power was out so no computer .... I'm just SHOCKED He had NO paper back up filed away in the CLOSET !!!!!

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    1. And to think I was about to thank you for rushing to my defense.

      First of all, I print very little, especially spreadsheets. Too much paper waste.

      But most of all, what good is creating a list of where shit is, when it can be moved around without my knowledge? I never know where Pinky is going to put my stuff from one day to the next. Just finding my desk pen is an exercise in Where's Waldo.

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  5. I agree about the heat. If the power went out here right now, people would be overheating and dying. That's no exaggeration. And sleeping when you're hot is the worst!

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    1. Jessica,
      Same happens here in Baltimore, especially in the downtown rowhouses. There are “cooling stations” set up all over the city, because people are liable to overheat and die, especially the elderly.

      For all my bitching, I got off light.

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  6. Glad to hear that your power came back on! Mine never went out, but my parents' power just came back on this morning.

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    1. Then you can tell your parents that a little suffering builds character.

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  7. You were EXTREMELY lucky. I know people who STILL don't have power, and most only got it back Sunday night when it did return. But it sounds like you made the most of an unavoidable situation.

    I was even luckier. I lost mine BEFORE the storm. You heard me. It was so damn hot that some crucial piece of equipment overheated and blew up (spontaneous combustion FTW!) and we lost power at 5:30 Friday night. Which was fine as I had grabbed take out for dinner on the way home and it was still light out for a while, but then my house started getting quite hot, and then it started to get dark. Let me tell you . . . small kids DO NOT like to go to bed when it is pitch black. So that was fun. Luckily, they fixed whatever done did broked by 10:30 . . . just in time for the storm to hit and our power to pulse for 3 hours. But we were lucky and didn't lose it again. I will take that over all the people without for days.

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    1. I’m the first to admit that I got off lucky. I was dreading the following week of stress and cold showers, when I first heard the power-restore estimates. There’s only so much reading in the dark they my old eyes can take.

      It could be that I’m fortunate to live in an apartment complex… I know the power companies first fix the areas where they can get the most “bang for their buck.” Fixing areas with apartments gets hundreds of households back online, with a single fix.

      In fact, my experience was just about perfect… enough hardship to bitch about in a blog, but not enough to be truly distressful. I’m glad that I grew up preferring to sleep in absolute darkness (much to the chagrin of my younger brother.) Dad use to tell us (both), when we fought about the ambient bedtime lighting: “Just close your damned eyes… then it’s dark either way. Now don’t make me come in there.”

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  8. Yay for emergency preparedness! The Guy and I were just talking night before last about how we need to get a land line. It not only makes our security system monitoring a lot cheaper (ADT charges you $12.99 per month just to call your cell instead of your home phone), but we would also have it in case of a power outage.

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    1. I don't think there's any question... you definitely should do that. And be sure that at least one of them is the old "wired" kind, lest you be screwed during a power failure.

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