Roses forum: Power outage

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Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Oct 24, 2010 7:05 PM CST

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How did my life become so dependent on electricity? We've had torrents of rain for the last two days and the power was out when I woke up today. It stayed out from about 10:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon, and I was completely lost. I don't use a typewriter for my work anymore, so my job depends wholly on the computer and so do most of my leisure pursuits. The well runs on electricity, so there was no water. It's impossible to clean the house without a vacuum cleaner and water. I couldn't go out in the garden because it was raining and soggy. I used to be able to talk on the phone during a power outage, but now all of the phones are plugged into electrical outlets for one reason or another and they don't work during a power outage. I read a couple of books, but reading for pleasure is not much of a pleasure when you're wondering in the back of your mind whether the lights will ever come back on.
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Farmer Roses Raises cows Garden Ideas: Level 2
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porkpal
Oct 24, 2010 8:32 PM CST
What a day! I'm glad they got you back up and running.
Porkpal
Name: Toni
Denver Metro (Zone 5a)
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
Charter ATP Member Irises Salvias Xeriscape Birds I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Colorado Enjoys or suffers cold winters Cat Lover
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Skiekitty
Oct 24, 2010 8:43 PM CST
LOL! I know *100%* what you mean! When I was 16, we lived in the middle of frickin' NO WHERE. And I mean NO. WHERE. Like, nowheresville. Anyways, on Dec 22nd, we lost electricity (we lived about 25 miles from the town where the electricity came from, and there'd been some pretty bad snows, plus extreme cold where trees were exploding from the cold.. I think it was going down to about -22 at night that particular night we lost power). We had an electric well too, but luckily we had propane heaters & a propane stove. Lost power. One of my jobs was to go across the street to the nearby creek w/a 5 gallon bucket, break the ice off the creek, get a bucketful of BUTT-KICKING!! cold-assed water, and lug it up the small hill and back across the street to our house so we could at least flush the toilets. For bathing on the 2nd & 3rd day, I went out into our field (have 5 acres, 3 of which are flat) with Mom's canning pots (50+ quart canning bath pots) and scooped up virgin snow so we could melt it on the stove & give ourselves sponge baths. Luckily we weren't that dependant on electricity (other than water).. this was WAAAAAAAY before computers were all the rage (late 80s), so wasn't dependant on that. Even our phone was a regular analog dial phone (with the big round dial-thingie, not even push button touchtone), but didn't matter as I wasn't allowed to call anyone anyways. Read probably 6-8 books in those 4 days. Got electricity back about 10 minutes before midnight, Christmas Eve/Christmas day. Best damned Christmas present I ever got.

I can feel for you. A few months ago this past spring we lost electricity due to a moron driving into a transformer. We were out of power for about 4-6 hours. Thank goodness I have a charger for my phone in my car, so at least I wasn't suffering from the shakes of not having email/internet!!
Roses are one of my passions! Just opened, my Etsy shop (to fund my rose hobby)! http://www.etsy.com/shop/TweetsnTreats
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Oct 24, 2010 8:57 PM CST

Moderator

It's just amazing how many things I don't have that would get me over the outage bump. I don't have a cell phone or a car (with a charger in it). I used to do my work on a typewriter, but even that was electric after 1960 or so. My old gas stove had a pilot light, but the new one needs electricity to light, so I wouldn't be able to heat the "butt-kicking cold-assed" water even if I had a nearby creek. I couldn't even build a bonfire to heat water because it's raining. Hideous!
Name: aka GardenQuilts
Pocono Mountains, PA
Andi
Oct 25, 2010 12:05 PM CST
I understand, Zuzu, The power and phones go out here all of the time. I lived all over the world, but never had problems like this. Living in this town is like living in a third world country You may want to get a water cooler that takes some filters or at least fill some extra bottles of water from time to time, just in case. I have a PUR water cooler and like it a lot. Also, make sure you have a phone that doesn't take electricity. Sometimes the phones are still on when the power goes out. A cell phone may not help. When the power goes out here, the cell phones have trouble getting a signal, but I live in the mountains. One Christmas, we had an ice storm and the poser went out. I had to finish Christmas dinner on the bbq. The worst part is that I know it will. Dead/dying/fallen trees are overhanging the power lines throughout the county. The power companies do no preventative maintenance, they wait for outages - unless town governments or companies complain. For example, the trees near the hospital and university are no where near the power lines. Guess where I want to move....

We also get frequent boil water advisories and don't have mail delivery. If I had only known in advance, I wouldn't have moved here. I moved here following an auto accident and still don't drive, so phone/internet outages are a BIG problem. (Same for you, I am sure). The area is inhabited by people who have lived here all of their lives. Most don't use computers, are never seen with a book or newspaper, and have never been to either New York City or Philadelphia even though each is 1-2 hours away, depending on traffic. Of course, they complain when the store is out of beer or the cable goes out. I am shocked at how many people are missing teeth. A friend was hiring secretaries and had numerous applicants with high school diplomas (legitimate ones, she checked) who couldn't read and have never used a computer. I admit it would be hard to use a computer without reading, but how do you expect to get a job as a secretary in a law firm without either skill? Unfortunately, these people seem to work elsewhere and vote for the mayors, etc. IThe "things have always been this way and it was good enough for my parents" attitude reigns supreme.

It is changing as people move/retire here from urban areas, but slowly. It is an odd part of the universe which I regret entering and am working to exit. Again, hard to do when you don't drive. I have to be sure that I send in all work early, just in case. Same with online coursework. Don't get me started on the postal delivery. I sent so many things "return receipt" that I should get a discount. Each month, I have to make sure that all my bills arrive so that I don't accidentally forget one. (I estimate about 10% of my mail gets lost.) People outside this area don't understand "the power was down/the phones aren't working/I sent it last week". It is 2010.

I started going to chamber of commerce meetings in town -the only ones I can walk to. They were ringing their hands about businesses leaving town and the difficulty attracting new business. I gave them an earful. They obviously never considered utilities a problem. The good-for-nothing-I-am-helping-his-first-challenge-in-years-get-elected mayor had the balls to say "why don't you call the electric company sweetie", exact words. I said, " I already have, honeybunch, and written to them and the utilities commision, but they would be more likely to do something with a letter from the mayor. I'll even write the letter for you to sign, or better yet, draw up a petition from the entire town council" Yes, 2010 in Delaware Water Gap, PA, the town that time forgot.

In the meantime, a day with phone/power/running water that doesn't need to be boiled first is a good day!

A friend who used to work/commute to NYC and recently retired is running for mayor. This is the first time in a long time that someone else ran. I would love for someone "not from here" to win. I am not sure if the problem in town is corruption or stupidity or both but she is neither.

Sorry for the rant. Today is Monday, follow up day. I had track the mail and call the UPS guy AGAIN to pick up the modem damaged in the storm in MAY that took until July to be fixed so that the phone company will take the charge off my bill. Today, I feel like I am the only person in the state trying to get things done. Perhaps the only person, period, because I keep talking to machines. Good thing I checked, I didn't receive my electric bill, yet, so I checked it online and notified the post office and requested a duplicate bill from the electric company. I am hoping that filling out lost mail forms will get the attention of the main office so I am keeping track of things that don't arrive. Getting to be a long list. I even had to contact the postal police when prescriptions went missing, twice in a row. One of my prescriptions was on a "controlled substance" list. Aren't they all controlled? Yikes.

I'll try to calm down now, until next Monday.

Time to go outside and plug in the leaf blower. (Love that electricity). I'll take my frustrations out on the black walnut leaves.
Name: Steve
Prescott, AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: Southwest Gardening Roses
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Steve812
Oct 25, 2010 12:26 PM CST
I know what you mean. Not having power is totally debilitating. Same for other utilities, though perhaps not always quite as much. (( Composed while Andi was writing the above response ..))

Two winters ago we had 80-90 mph winds that knocked out power in lots of places in AZ. Ours went out completely for eight hours one night. Fortunately we could turn on the gas stove and heat the house with it, even though it's a sizable house. (One of the advantages of a Viking Range... ) The total outage was repaired, then half the power went out. We called the power company daily, told them half our power was out. And they said "We already fixed your power. It's your breaker." Finally on the fifth day they sent someone out at 10:30 pm.

"Yup," he said. "You don't have power. And it's not your breaker. It's the power meter. One of the lugs isn't making contact. We can have it fixed in a coupla days, but in the mean time we have to turn off all the power to your house. Safety issue."

"Sorry," we said. "We need to do something else. It took you guys four days to show up. So,
1) Power meter will be installed tomorrow morning.
2) What power we have will remain on until then.
Otherwise, we move to a hotel for the duration and back-charge you for the cost of the stay. If leaving the power on now is a safety problem, it was for the preceding five days when you guys didn't show up."

So he left the power on, and the next day they fixed it.

We keep an old land-line phone plugged into the wall. While we've replaced all the newfangled wireless phones four times with the best-rated phones we can find, that old tank just keeps going and going. One of those expensive but reliable products of a regulated telephone era.

My impression is that electrical power has gotten more and more unreliable since deregulation a couple decades back. During my first twenty years of life I don't recall ever losing power. Ever. Even during four years in Zambia. The city-owned utility in Austin may have been a little pricey, but it never failed to deliver power in the decade I lived there.

Reliability doesn't have to be this bad. It's this bad because of choices we've made. Sometimes, when it comes to utilities, I wish we could elect to spent a little more and get the reliability levels of the mid-twentieth century (excluding those several monumental brown-outs of the sixties, of course).

Name: aka GardenQuilts
Pocono Mountains, PA
Andi
Oct 25, 2010 12:49 PM CST
That is what the bf says about phone companies. However, what do you think our phone bills would be if the phone companies were not deregulated? Would places like this even have internet coverage? I think that the biggest problem is the "next bonus check" mentality of most companies.

You can switch carriers and write a letter return receipt to the CEO about why you are leaving naming the people who didn't fulfill their jobs and copy the appropriate government agency, the town mayor, and a possibly a senator. I did that when I switched phone companies. I got a call back asking me to reconsider. I told him that if the new company doesn't work out, I would consider returning. Otherwise....

He probably thought that I was a major pain, but if more people did this, companies would realize that they have a problem. There are so many people between the problem and the boss that nothing gets done.

There are several electric coops here. I don't know anyone who switched to them, but I am tempted.
Name: aka GardenQuilts
Pocono Mountains, PA
Andi
Oct 25, 2010 12:52 PM CST
I waited for maintenance to finish mowing the lawn before going outside. This way I can blow the grass clippings and the leaves at the same time. They may eventually get to the leaves, but I want them away from my heater before I turn the heat on.
Name: Toni
Denver Metro (Zone 5a)
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
Charter ATP Member Irises Salvias Xeriscape Birds I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Colorado Enjoys or suffers cold winters Cat Lover
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Skiekitty
Oct 25, 2010 1:51 PM CST
Andi - Where you live now sounds very similar to where I lived as a teenager (google map the zipcode 88354). And I agree, this has been a Monday from Hell!!!!!

*hug!!!!!!!!* I can sympathize.. we've been in those types of shoes before. Only reason why I had a few suitors when we moved to glorious Weed, New Mexico when I was 14 is because I was fresh blood.. everyone else was so inbred that it wasn't hard to find someone willing to date me, if only I was willing to be a broodsow for them.
Roses are one of my passions! Just opened, my Etsy shop (to fund my rose hobby)! http://www.etsy.com/shop/TweetsnTreats
Name: Steve
Prescott, AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: Southwest Gardening Roses
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Steve812
Oct 25, 2010 3:49 PM CST
Andi - Good for you for standing your ground. I think that if just a small percentage of people actually pushed back on institutions when they fail, the world could be a better place.

I once had an engineering job in a manufacturing company where, if the power went off for five seconds, a whole day's worth of production was ruined. Power would go off six, eight, or fifteen times in a summer. Call the power company and they'd say "If the power is off less than five seconds it doesn't count." That was Detroit in the 1980's. MFG companies have been fleeing ever since.

It's hard to know whether deregulation makes things less expensive. In the airline industry I think it did - but I loathe air travel now. I'm not so sure deregulation made wireline service less expensive. I know that it was after deregulation that I began to think my phone bills were out of control. In my second microeconomics class in college we studied oligopoly theory which can explain why regulated monopolies could actually offer goods and services for less than unregulated companies can. I'm sure telephony technology is further along for deregulation; but I'm also pretty sure that wireline services are overpriced. The reason companies try to get us to repeat the mantra that "deregulation is good" is not because they expect it to decrease their profits!

Name: aka GardenQuilts
Pocono Mountains, PA
Andi
Oct 25, 2010 3:49 PM CST
Oh my goodness, skiekitty, that would be even more difficult. Weed, New Mexico. Sounds like a reality show.

I get so frustrated. The simplest things are such an ordeal. I make sure that the incompetent fools that are making my I life miserable get it back in spades.

I go in to the city all of the time for work and cultural activities, so I have contact with civilization. I just can't imagine thinking that life in this town is "normal." When I moved here, I thought I would be able to drive again soon. I am still not driving. This is not the type of place you want to live if you don't drive. Especially if you are single. Single is fine. It is the not driving part that gets on my nerves.

I can take a bus to NYC, no problem. There is a local bus, kind of. It is not reliable. I have gotten stranded a couple of times because the driver skipped part of his route thinking "no one was there." (That particular driver got fired, wonder why, I bet some important people got some incriminating letters.) The police drove me home. Then all of the neighbors wondered why I was picked up by the police. I let them wonder.
Name: Toni
Denver Metro (Zone 5a)
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
Charter ATP Member Irises Salvias Xeriscape Birds I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Colorado Enjoys or suffers cold winters Cat Lover
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Skiekitty
Oct 25, 2010 4:03 PM CST
Andi - Not trying to laugh at someone's misfortune, but that sounds totally AWESOME! that you were driven home by the police! Plus, I have always had a thing for guys in uniform... Lovey dubby Lovey dubby Lovey dubby But going from Hicksville USA to NYC and back again.. I dunno if I'd want to go back to Nowheresville in comparison! However, much easier to plant things that aren't 100% paved over.
Roses are one of my passions! Just opened, my Etsy shop (to fund my rose hobby)! http://www.etsy.com/shop/TweetsnTreats
Name: aka GardenQuilts
Pocono Mountains, PA
Andi
Oct 25, 2010 4:20 PM CST
I am a chemical engineer. I worked as a project manager for a pharmaceutical company. They had their own small power generation plant on site because a power shutdown would cost millions. They also saved money generating their own power and steam. That is probably why this situation is so aggravating. I agree that more people should complain, in writing about problems. FYI, if you google a company, the main site has the CEO's name and the headquarters address. A letter sent "return receipt" addressed to the CEO and copied to government or other important people will get his/her attention.

I am recovering from a serious auto accident. I am doing some free lance writing and design work from home. I am also taking some classes online. A growing number of people work from home. Several of us were at the chamber of commerce meeting.

I am not sure if deregulation was a good idea or not. Unfortunately, there is no accountability now. The government agencies that are supposedly regulating the deregulated industries don't seem to be doing their job either. I have more problems in this particular town than friends who live 15 minutes away. The utility problems in town could be fixed if more residents and the town government tried to fix them. Ironically, with the exception of the water, the repairs wouldn't cost the town anything and might increase tax revenue and property values.

Forgot to turn my b*(&ch filter on today. Sorry.
Name: aka GardenQuilts
Pocono Mountains, PA
Andi
Oct 25, 2010 4:30 PM CST
It is much cheaper to live here. Taxes are much lower. So is crime. I would like to continue to live in this area, but not in this town. Some of my neighbors commute into the city every day. Many homes in this are are weekend/vacation homes. It is an unusual area, in transition.

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