4 Days without power and counting

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The last time we were without power was during the ice storm of 2013. I was at Mom's house and it was good I was to bail the basement, keep the fire going, keep the house above freezing so all of the pipes didn't freeze. The temperature was falling into the teens at night. There was a spring running through the basement and before the cold hit, torrential rains had fallen, so the spring was a torrent.


If I hadn't kept the level of water below a foot, the water heater, then the heater, then perhaps the entire electrical system would have gotten flooded and the house would have been unlivable for months. I spent twenty-four hours a day for three days just doing those things, bailing, cutting wood, feeding the fire, feeding my mother, feeding myself, being a good son, and at the end of it, I was gassed. Around two in the morning, on day three, I went to the basement with my flashlight, saw the water was just about to hit the electronic ignition for the water heater, thought about bailing in the dark, decided to give up, lit the holy candle the priest had given me for just a such an occasion, said a prayer, went back to my chair, mom refused to give me room to live in for reasons that would make a good novel, got comfortable, blew out the candle, and within minutes heard the pump kick on, exactly at two.


An hour later the basement was dry, I'd lit the water heater, turned on the heater, and we were back in business. I learned after that utilities wait until non-peak hours to restart power so the draw doesn't overload the grid. It was my hope to never have to survive another three days as grueling as that. Little did I know what lay in store for me, but that's fodder for another novel.


On Friday, the bomb cyclone hit, and despite the assurances of people at the library that the snow wasn't supposed to stick, at noon when there was an inch on the ground already and it wasn't slowing down, I warned everybody that we were heading into a weather event and it was time to go. No one heeded my warning.


I'd walked that morning because of a wind advisory and I walked back to the house and found that the power was already out. I didn't worry. This wasn't expected to be that bad, but then it got worse, and worse, and fortunately I had fresh batteries in the transistor radio so I heard about all kinds of crazy commuting problems. I had everything I need to weather the storm,, so I hunkered down.


The routine of living without power was still familiar to me from the last outage. Don't try to read after it gets dark. Don't try and do things in the cold. Just get in bed and listen to the radio or meditate on projects until it's sleepy time. So by six-thirty I'd taken my shower, had brushed my teeth, was preparing for bed when the phone rang. I never answer the house phone because it's not our deal, but this time I figured I should since it could be the power company. It was the neighbor, the one with the generator that sounds like a fleet of incoming helicopters, or ten, immigrant landscaping crews. He invited me over to hang.


Not only did they have on the sixers' game, by much gadget wizardry by the lady of the house, since cable was out, through her phone, to her computer, to the big screen, which was now a monitor, she's in the communications business, they had dinner, and great wine, and despite having brushed my teeth, I ate and we talked, and then at ten they made it clear that it was time for me to go, and I did. It was so nice to get to know them, after a year. And I imagine I dispelled at least half of the rumors they'd heard about me. Maybe a third.


The communications women had told me that power wasn't expected to be out too long. I did what we do when power is out. I kept the freezer closed. I heated the house with the oven and got it up to sixty during the day, livable. I read, and did chores such as cleaning up the yard of debris. I waited. That's what you do a lot when the power is out, wait for the power to come back on because so much of our lives are bound to power.


Yesterday I got a paper, read about the devastation, and realized how easy I had it. I had heat. I had a stove to cook on. It wasn't freezing out, just cold. There was no spring running through the basement. No old mother to care for. Just me. I did some writing on a piece that is the beginning of my novel, my new beginning, Making Noyes from Lehman Switzerland to Main Line Legend, and decided the beginning I have, that someone was able to attach something to so no one could read it, is the best beginning, with a few tweaks. So I'll write that today on Facebook and send it to all of my followers, because I say F... you to those people who steal my work. We'll see what becomes of you in the end.


And today I heard about the Oscars and that The Shape of Water won and it sounds pretty cool, not a load of crap like Black Panther. And I heard about all of this call for more minorities in the industry and I wanted to ask, what is a minority? Are Jews still a minority? Because if they are, what's the point.


Let's give jobs to people who are competent of any description. I don't want a world where truck drivers become cocktail waitresses and writers become house painters all because there's a hierarchy of thieves who always get their way and you have to do their bidding. You want more women in the business, fine. Then say it. You want stories with minorities? Write better stories. Let's battle it out. Let's remember that it was two, white Jewish guys who wrote Black Panther, not some kid from the hood. And let's remember that it was a genteel, white woman who wrote, To Kill a Mockingbird. Let's not become all hung up on the idea that it's the person who writes the message is the message, because that's just more crap thinking and not worthy of consideration.


But seeing how the world is, it's probably what will be adopted and the reasons are because the powers that run the show want it that way. They don't care who writes, or who acts, or who directs, as long as they control the message, the studios, the theaters, and how the audience can be manipulated to adore limited thinking.


Now I have to go. I have to write. I'll answer and comment tomorrow, or later today if I have time. Thank you.                          


mark henry smith Added Mar 5, 2018 - 11:08am
This idea that we can legislate equality is naïve. We can legislate fair play in certain areas, but until we address the money issues, the inherent inequality in how money is distributed in this country, we're just shuffling pieces on somebody else's board. Competence has to be the only standard for work. Getting the best people in jobs they're suited for, because if we insist that fifty-percent of all jobs go to this or that minority, isn't all we doing allowing people to be hired who know they aren't the best and are going to take advantage of the situation and cause dissention?
Then I heard that we should all just be more loving towards one another. Oi vey. 
opher goodwin Added Mar 5, 2018 - 11:18am
I think equality of opportunity is what we need. We appoint on competence but have a level playing field.
Good luck with the writing.
Pardero Added Mar 5, 2018 - 3:35pm
     Sometimes, despite our best efforts, winter happens. If you get some spare time, consider sloping the landscape, to direct water away from the foundation.
     Consider running the gutters a good distance underground to drywells.
     Consider getting your mama a generator just for the sump pump.
     I believe a theme may have emerged in your diary, but it is not one of my subjects. I think you just need to get laid.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Mar 5, 2018 - 8:11pm
Four days without power? 
How's that whole greatest country in the whole big wide world ever ever ever thing working out for ya?
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 6, 2018 - 12:45pm
Marko - Thanks for sharing. With your wry humor you've taken a simple turd and turned it into a shit sandwich :) 
I don't mean your piece is shit (hope you didn't think I meant that), just a nice insight into your travails trying to make best of a bad situation.
Nature will always humble us.  As for the power companies I guess I must play the role of seeking sympathy for the devil. The greatest difficulty faced, from their operational perspective, is first the locating and then the restoration of interrupted lines or components in their system. There are many automated and communicative systems which can aid in this, but these can not automatically restore anything. In events like these it requires boots on the ground (or on a pole, as the case may be here) and this is where they are most often found wanting. When an event is localized there is a level of cooperation within the industry that neighboring utilities will augment the effort by supplying added crews. When the event is widespread, however, it becomes an all hands on exercise for all, leaving none to spare elsewhere.
Another issue is in line clearance or right of way. Tree limbs are the big culprits and with heavy weighting and winds not all of these come down at the same time. A crew may remove an interruption in one segment of line only to need to return when another set of limbs will give way under the prolonged accumulation. 
Another thing that must be known is that when lines or poles come down these are attached to transformers or switches or a variety of other components which then also need to be replaced. Often times these are items which require some measure of specialization: transformers are not sitting on a shelf ready to go. There will be some, but quite often existing stores are depleted faster than they can be replaced under a widespread outage.
Pardero Added Mar 6, 2018 - 1:28pm
I steal a piece of your diary
I don't think that looks like me
am I so cold now that I'm older
I tell you stories
but that doesn't mean you know me.
by Tanya Donelly of Belly
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 6, 2018 - 1:38pm
and before that of the Throwing Muses of 4AD fame.
I think she may also have briefly been a part of the Breeders (Cannonball), although that may have been the other Muse, Kristin Hersch (sp?)
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 6, 2018 - 3:54pm
Hey Captain....unrelated (sorry Marko)...
I hear CNN is sending reporters to Bangkok to speak with some Russian whore they nabbed for peddling without a permit. Don't know what part of the country you are in ( I know not near the capitol), but would you do us all a favor? If you happen to see any of them spit on them. Please?
Pardero Added Mar 6, 2018 - 7:03pm
The Burghal Hidage,
1. Correct on all counts. (I can't spell it either. We will call her Tanya's sister, Kristin) You are an interesting fellow, I am a poseur of the same, but only when my misfiring circuitry is in order.
2. Given the opportunity, I promise to hock a massive diseased lunger on them.
Even A Broken Clock Added Mar 6, 2018 - 7:13pm
We're about to have a whole house backup generator installed here. We suffered about 6 years ago when we had a huge derecho go through and take our power out in the summer when it was 100 F. Neither temperature extreme is much fun to suffer without power.
The veneer of civilization sometimes consists of a pair of copper wires.
Pardero Added Mar 6, 2018 - 9:10pm
Hard to imagine not having electricity. Rare outages, here. Lotsa wind so built for it, I guess. A whole house generator would be quite a luxury. I wish I had a little portable just for some lights and phone charger. Luckily, I am partial to vintage kerosene lanterns.
Derecho. Neat word and new to me. Maybe like a chinook. I might have to look it up. Certainly not a zephyr from the context.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Mar 6, 2018 - 10:27pm
I hear CNN is sending reporters to Bangkok to speak with some Russian whore they nabbed for peddling without a permit
I was entirely unaware of it. While herself makes the trip into town twice a month I prefer to remain blissfully unaware of most things beyond my beach. 
Never fear for CNN or any other of the presstitutes as they are most often found ensconced in their luxury lair called the Foreign Correspondents Club from which they deign to offer forth all manner of nonsense alleged to have taken place in the Kingdom.
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 7, 2018 - 9:29am
I can picture now....Thai lady-boys as far as the eye can see and unlimited expense accounts. What could possibly go wrong?
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 7, 2018 - 3:03pm
Yo Marko!  Shit man, I don't even know if you're connected! Hope you're holding up okay over there. When you can get up for air let us know, eh?
Mark Hunter Added Mar 8, 2018 - 12:10am
Electricity has gotten so reliable around here that no one even begins to prepare for an outage anymore. It's been years since our power went out for more than an hour, and that time it was only a localized outage. I have to remind myself to periodically change out batteries and otherwise update our disaster preparation, just in case.
Of course, spring storm season is coming up, so it's a bad idea to be complacent.
mark henry smith Added Mar 8, 2018 - 2:41pm
I am the shit, so when someone points it out I gush with pride.
Hey, when you were homeless, living on a bike for six months, what's four days without power? Nothing. My bed is the most comfortable. I could cook. Just have to take things slow. Then I played golf of Tuesday before this storm hit with lot's more snow and we're supposed to get another over the weekend. Springtime in paradise is supposed to make you question.
I read the story about the Russian whore in The NY Times, and her boyfriend, and them trying to trade what they have on the Russians and whomever for freedom from the Thai sticklers. You have to do something pretty incredible to get arrested for sex trafficking in Thailand, but she got arrested for working without the proper permits. She was teaching sex clinics. Getting lessons in a sex clinic from a whore is like getting a lesson on integrity in gymnastics from Dr. Nassar.
Power was out for hundreds of thousands of people and some went nuts trying to keep themselves stimulated without all the electronic devices. My old neighborhood, where mom lived is still without power I saw today. That's week and I'm sure the spring is reeking havoc. Suckers.
My plan for the house had been to fix all of the problems before mom sold it, retaining wall for the creek, run the spring round the house, borrow money to make money, get her the premium price, but the assholes in my family ripped off mom with smiling suggestions to sell it as is and spite me. Now, who knows where the chips will fall.
Bbut the evil lawyer who insinuated himself into families to make friends with boys and pervert them, who befriended my brother and stayed friends with him to the end, a real shit there, Burghal, so creepy with all his casual touching and squeezing all the time, his inside jokes to the chosen, has died. He came on to me once, sidled up to me on the sofa and told me what a strong boy I was, so kind and caring, as he put his delicate, soft, little hand on my shoulder and squeezed. I laughed at him and said, "Them's that take cakes the Farsi man bakes makes dreadful mistakes."
He pulled away and looked puzzled, his Harvard-educated brain searching for a connection. "I know that's Kipling, but I don't get the connection."
"No, you did get it."        
Stone-Eater Added Mar 8, 2018 - 2:57pm
We didn't have power for 2 weeks straight in Cameroon. So no sweat ;-)
mark henry smith Added Mar 9, 2018 - 11:43am
Stone, if you know the routine, it's nothing. It's all of those stuck people who can't imagine any other routine who go crazy. You skirt between cultures. You understand that adaptability is the ultimate bargaining chip with life.
Be well.