All About Electricity

This entry was published at least two years ago (originally posted on July 3, 2008). Since that time the information may have become outdated or my beliefs may have changed (in general, assume a more open and liberal current viewpoint). A fuller disclaimer is available.

So last night, about 5:30pm, as I’m working in Aperture, the power dies. Odd. Just us? Nope, the hallway lights were out too, so it was at least our whole building. I had to drop off the rent check anyway, so I grabbed it and wandered over to the manger’s office. On the way, I peeked in the front door of one of the other buildings and saw that their hallway lights were on, so it looked like it was just our building that had lost power.

When I got to the office, the on-site manager was trying to get a call in to City Light to let them know, but couldn’t get a chance, as her phone kept ringing with calls from people across the complex. These buildings are so old that they’re apparently wired semi-randomly across two city circuits, so while our entire building was out, the other buildings were half-out — one had power in the halls but not in the apartments, the one with the manager’s office had power in the office, but none in the halls, and so on. Prairie and I had actually run into this a couple years back in our original apartment here, when we lost power in half of our apartment. Weird stuff.

In any case, since they were calling City Light to figure out what was going on, I wandered back to the apartment and puttered around for a bit. I cleaned off my desk, went through my desk drawers and filled a garbage bag with old crap that I don’t need to move. Since the apartment was starting to get pretty muggy (no power means no fans), I wandered out to the pool to take a dip and cool off while waiting for the power to come back. After a while, though I was nicely waterlogged, nothing else had changed, so I got out and went to ask the managers if they had any word. “The only word you’ll get is when the power comes on,” they told me. “Is City Light even around?” I asked. “Around here? Naah. I think they’re poking around down in Lake City somewhere.” Great. Not encouraging.

Since the day was getting on, and Prairie normally e-mails me to let me know when she’s leaving work, I figured it’d be a good idea to let her know what was going on. I originally planned on walking down to the Panera at the Northgate Mall to use their WiFi, but then remembered that there was a Starbucks in the QFC a few blocks closer. I walked down there and stood outside to see if I could pick up a signal on my iPod, but while I couldn’t see one for Starbucks, there was an open network called ‘ampm’. Really? I tried to connect, but the signal was too weak. Curious, I went across the street to the AM/PM gas station, tried again…and connected! So, I sat my butt down underneath their sign, e-mailed Prairie, sent a note to update Twitter, LJ, and all other such things, and marveled at AM/PM having free open-access WiFi. Just in case you need to check your e-mail while you’re filling your tank, I guess. Weird. Weird, but very appreciated. On the walk home, I got caught in a thundershower — I’d been hearing occasional rumbles echoing across the sky, but just happened to be out when the rain started coming down. Big ol’ fat raindrops, too, so I as soaked as when I got out of the pool by the time I got home.

When Prairie came home, there still wasn’t power. We dug out our flashlights so they’d be ready when the evening got too dark to see and headed out to eat at Claire’s Pantry in Lake City (short review: good food, hit-and-miss service). When we got home, there were four City Light trucks in various places around our house, with at least one parked next to an open manhole cover, so it was obvious that they still hadn’t figured out what was going on. So, we lit a bunch of candles, each grabbed a book and a piece of chocolate fudge cake that we’d picked up on the way home, and had a very nice evening of dessert and reading by candlelight, listening as the thunder rolled across the sky from time to time. A bit before eleven, we decided it was time to crash. I put my book down, grabbed a flashlight, leaned over, blew out a candle…and the fan next to me spun up, the refrigerator motor kicked in, and the light in the office turned on. Just in time for bed!

What’s fascinating me is that the thunderstorm that started yesterday afternoon is still going on. I had to get up to use the restroom about forty minutes ago, and when I laid back down, there was a good sized thunderclap. A few moments later, I caught a flash of light through my eyelids, and just a few seconds later, another thunderclap hit — this one loud enough to wake Prairie up, too. She went back to sleep, but when the third thunderclap hit a few moments later, I realized that I was a bit too awake to get back to sleep (growing up in Anchorage, thunderstorms are a very rare event, so I get pretty exited by them). So here I am — it’s 6:15 in the morning, and I’m awake and blogging. Rain’s coming down outside the window, and the thunder is still coming in every couple minutes. Pretty cool.

I just hope I can get a nap before I head off to work this afternoon. ;)