Tuesday, November 01, 2011
The No Power Diaries: The First 72 Hours
Approx. 3:30 p.m.: After a noon-ish pizza run, I watched the first set of college football games with increasing boredom. Finally, around 3:30, I decide that I'm bored enough to run to Best Buy and pick up "Captain America" on Blu-ray. I figure I can watch that, relax a little, then watch the Towson-Delaware game streaming on the Internet. I end up walking around Best Buy for awhile -- a LONG while -- and leave with four movies and a case for my new iPhone 4S.
4:45 p.m.: I arrive home after the extended Best Buy trip to discover the power is out. Now, I've lived in my condo for more than six years, and until Hurricane Irene this summer, I'd never had an extended power outage. So even after the Irene outage (which lasted about 36 hours), I wasn't anticipating any extended time without power. However, considering it took me 25 minutes to drive home from Best Buy (normally a 10 minute drive) and by this point the snow was coming down really hard, I realize I could be in for a long night. I pull out my work iPhone -- which has a reasonably full battery charge -- and open up the WatchESPN app to catch some college football.
5:30 p.m.: I realize just how dark it's getting, so I light candles. Lots of candles. And I have plenty more in storage. I guess this is sort of a positive, but I'd really like it if I didn't have to use the candles again.
7:00 p.m.: At this point I switch from watching college football to listening to it. I throw open an app called "Radio" and tune in to WNST to listen to Towson-Delaware. Switching to audio only and turning off the screen conserves some battery life.
8:00 p.m.: We're over three hours without power, so I decide to take the ice cream that's in my freezer and... put it in a bag of ice. There wasn't much left in the carton, so eating it probably would have been the smart choice here. I was still optimistic that power would come on before the night was out, so I kept the ice cream on ice. I did prepare a fine dinner of... a bowl of Cheerios.
Approx. 9:30 p.m.: iPhone #1 dies. This is the first point in the night when I realize I've really made no long-term power outage contingencies whatsoever. I've got one dead iPhone, a second one at about 70% battery life (which is decreasing as I continue to stream the Towson game) and an iPad with about 55% battery life but no 3G Data Plan.
10:15 p.m.: Towson loses. I'm now angry both because Towson lost to Delaware and I wasted the battery life of multiple iPhones listening to the game. At this point I slip into bed, which is freezing, and read about a third of "Marked", the first "House of Night" novel before going to sleep. Yes, I'm reading a novel that's written for a teenage female audience. I don't care. It's awesome.
8:30 a.m.: A cold night of sleep is interrupted by the sound of snow plows cleaning the parking lots at my condo complex. I wake up to discover about eight inches of snow burying my car -- and remember, it'd been snowing for about five hours already when I parked it for good -- which, just plain sucks. Remember, Sunday morning is still October 30th. And we got hit with a full-fledged blizzard. I clean off my car and move it to the back lot, then sit there in the car with the engine running to heat up, charge my iPhone and read some tweets. This was the first time I saw the phrase "expect to be without power for at least a week" and I remember thinking "FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU..."
9:45 a.m.: I finally move my car back to its parking space, and consider going out for a quick breakfast run. Then I think "OK, so I get some hot breakfast and then what? Come back to my cold condo and sit here with no TV and no Internet and freeze all day?" Then, a better idea hits me: I'll go to work! I know we have an on-site generator (actually, really a small power plant), and TV, so I can watch football, get a hot meal and stay warm. Oh, and get some work done too (no, seriously, I really wanted to get some work done, since Saturday had been a complete loss).
10:45 a.m.: After a brief, cold shower, and some rounding up of some electronics I want to charge, I head out to work. The drive to the highway is fun with no traffic lights working and downed trees in the streets, but the highway itself is perfectly clear.
11:30 a.m.: I decide to stop at Stop & Shop to get some essentials for the day -- and days -- ahead, but they've got a big sign posted on the door: CASH ONLY. I have 10 bucks in my wallet, so I settle for soda and chips and get out of there, avoiding the 50-person line at Dunkin' Donuts and the at-least-twice-as-long line at the gas pumps.
11:45 a.m.: After some more road-tree avoidance, I finally pull into work, where I quickly discover that many, many people had the same idea. Some people even brought their entire families. I head up to my desk and settle in for a long day, but one WITH power.
2:30 p.m.: It's about halftime of the 1pm NFL games, so I head over to the cafeteria to get a hot meal. There are still plenty of people there just relaxing with their families, but there are also plenty of people on their normal Sunday lunch break. The conversations among everyone all go the same: "Do you have power?" "No." "Me neither." "That sucks."
8:30 p.m.: I finish up the last bit of work I have to do on a Sunday (normal work, that I normally would have done from home if my home had power and Internet access), and head to the gas station, looking to fill up since I'm down to about 1/10th of a tank.
8:35 p.m.: Oooh, there's a line at the gas station. FUN!
8:55 p.m.: OK, only one more car in front of me before I get to the pump. This isn't so bad. Just let this guy fill up his tank and... what the what?! WHY DO YOU HAVE 10 SEPARATE FIVE-GALLON CONTAINERS THAT YOU'RE ALSO FILLING UP. I JUST WANT GAS FOR MY CAR. GO DIE IN A FIRE.
9:15 p.m.: After waiting behind the Gas Hoarder, I finally get to fill up my tank. I head home, hoping the power is back on.
10:15 p.m.: It's not back on. I light some candles, read some more "Marked" and go to sleep.
8:20 a.m.: I wake up a solid 10 minutes before my alarm is set to go off. Well, really I "get out of bed" 10 minutes before my alarm is set to go off. I woke up about an hour earlier, and just refused to get out of bed because it was SO DAMN COLD. Still no power. Still no hot water. By this point, the morning shower has gone from cold to "OH GOD WHY AM I IN ANTARCTICA?", but I power through and head off to work, this time adding my personal laptop to the device charging pile.
9:20 a.m.: I arrive at work and head to the cafeteria, hoping to get a hot meal, but the line at the grill is way too long (though not as long as the line at the in-cafeteria Starbucks), so I settle for some cereal and head back to my desk.
11:00 a.m.: After our morning meeting, I set up my computer at my desk and get to charging it. At this point, I realize there's a bunch of automated stuff running on my computer that requires my external iTunes hard drive: an 8-terabyte monstrosity I call "The Turk" (a "Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles" reference that itself is a reference to a chess machine). Which is sitting at home. With no power. I make a mental note to bring that in to work tomorrow if I still have no power, then just get to work.
Noon: While I'm working, I take the opportunity to catch up on TV I've missed without power and cable. I honestly hadn't seen anything since watching Community and Parks & Rec on Thursday night, which meant I had to catch up on "Vampire Diaries", the season premieres of "Chuck and "Grimm", and the Sunday ABC lineup of "Once Upon a Time", "Desperate Housewives" and "Pan Am". I only made it through the first four throughout the day, before finally calling it a night.
4 p.m.: I start exchanging texts with my parents, who aren't at home -- where there's still no power or cable -- but do claim to have heat and hot water there. They tell me they won't be home on Monday night, but if I have the key, I can get in. I check CL&P's outage listing, and Manchester is actually down to just above 80% out, which gives me hope that maybe my power came back on.
9 p.m.: I leave work, planning to stop at my parents' house to see if I can get in. When I get there, I figure out that I have exactly half the keys I need. For both the back door and the side door, I have the top key, but not the bottom key. Which means another night of sleeping in the cold, unless my power came back on.
9:30 p.m.: It didn't. I get home and, using my iPhone's LED as a flashlight, I pack a bag for the next day. iTunes drive goes in first, followed by clothes for the next few days. I light a few candles, head to bed, finish off "Marked" (which I really liked, and I really want to get the next book in the series, but I don't know if any physical bookstores in the area even have power... stupid blizzard) then go to sleep in the cold... again.
8:10 a.m.: Again, I wake up before my alarm goes off. This time I get out of bed pretty much immediately so I can take my exciting morning freezing cold shower! Yay! (Note: I might be delusional by this point due to lack of heat). Once again, I consider stopping somewhere before getting to work to get breakfast, but again settle for the cafeteria, where I get a bagel, a hash brown and some bacon. BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS!
10:30 a.m. After our morning meeting, I get the iTunes drive and personal computer set up. Everything's all charging and happy and I can continue to catch up on TV (as well as transferring the digital copies of the Blu-rays I bought on Saturday to my computer, and then my iPad for potential viewing.
11:00 a.m. I learn that CL&P has posted its first estimates for power restoration. Well, partial estimates. And Manchester isn't even on the list.
Noon It just gets worse and worse. Manchester, after dipping below 80% outage, is now all the way back up to 84%. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU...
4:45 p.m. At this point, it's been 72 hours since I first learned I didn't have power, and it's unlikely I'll have power any time in the next 72 hours. Thanks to my parents having heat and hot water, it's really just a matter of inconvenience at this point. I've got multiple video games sitting at home that I can't play (most notably NBA 2K12, where I'm in an online association that continues to advance without me) and I still have to physically check my home every day to pick up the mail and confirm that I still have no power, but the longer this goes on, the more frustrating it will be.