A Certain Sense of Powerlessness

By James Turner
December 13, 2008

If you haven't been keeping up with the news coming out of the North Eastern US over the last few days, we've had a little bit of weather. That is to say, we had about an inch of ice cover everything it could on Thursday night, and gravity being what it is, a lot of trees and power poles decided this would be a good time to lie down and take a little rest.

The end result is that half the state of NH woke up Friday morning to a severe electron deficiency. Some places may not get power back for a week. We didn't lose power at our house, but only because of the 12kW generator sitting on the other side of the barn with a 250 gallon LP tank hooked up to it. You see, we remember the ice storm of 1998 (1/10th the size of this one, in terms of households without power), when we lost power for 3 1/2 days. We remember the storm last year that knocked power out to our house for 36 hours and froze our pipes. We got sick of losing power whenever a sparrow passed gas onto the utility lines. So we spent the bucks to put in an auto-starting generator and a fuel source that can run it for 5 or more days non-stop. Not cheap, but at times like this, it sure pays off.

Unfortunately, that didn't help with the fact that the same trees took out our FIOS service and Comcast cable, so we've been severely info-deprived here for the past few days. I had a brand new Mac Pro, and no internet to use it with! And my wife, finishing the first semester of her Masters, had to drive to UNH Manchester to get WiFi to do a take-home final that had to be done online. I have an iPhone, so I had some contact with the outside world, but I finally had to break down today and buy an AT&T USB dongle and data service so I can get some work done.

The old joke goes that we're only an idiot driving a backhoe away from the Stone Age. Mother nature just proved, yet again, that you don't even need an idiot.


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