Tag Archives: power outage

No time to lose

Does anybody really know what time it is?

For a town known to be a center of power, much of our nation’s capital went without at the time of our nation’s birthday.

The Friday before Independence Day, el derecho huffed and puffed and took down trees, power lines, homes and cars in one big bad blow.

We lost power for four days. There isn’t much about this weather event that hasn’t already been said.

But, after losing power again yesterday, something struck me. Without juice, it’s hard to tell time.

We rely unduly on our mobile phones, our televisions, cable boxes, VCRs (yes, I still have two of those), stoves, microwaves. Even our electronic thermostats tell us what time it is. As a result, many people don’t even wear watches any more. I wear mine for adornment as much as I do for information–and only when I go out.

On a recent dark day, I walked about the house, upstairs and down, looking for the time. My cell phone was dead; even an analog landline was of no use since Ma Bell cut our time lines last year.

I remembered that we received six clocks—none electric—as wedding gifts 27 years ago. It was comforting to rediscover that some if not most of those are still around. Then I remembered the trusty timepiece my husband brought into our marriage, a relic from the 1950s, when his father sold shoes for a living.

As time slips away, so does our ability to tell it.

Does anybody really care?


Filed under Hearth and Home, Technology and Social Media

Friends in power

Here in the Washington area, we are recovering from something called a thundersnow.

After escaping the monster storms that have ripped through the East Coast this winter, we got our due Wednesday and Thursday, with thunder, lightning and six inches of the wettest, heaviest snow and ice we’ve seen in recent times. Many, if not most, people—Democrats and Republicans alike—lost their power.

Our little town outside the city experienced added drama following the collapse of our power substation. For a time, around 8:00  p.m., we had total daylight with flashes of bright red sky. I wondered why I was the only person on my street out shoveling until the eight-year-old next door came out and begged me to go inside. “You’ll get struck by lightning,” he repeated until I obeyed.

I adapted reasonably well to loss of electricity, heat and hot water. Then, my trusty iPhone, and my lifeline to the outside world, lost about 90 percent of its functionality.

Once the thunder died down, I realized just how quiet life is without power. I don’t listen to television or music while I’m working; there’s usually enough noise in my head. Otherwise, my home is filled with the sounds of music, television, ringtones and appliance buzzers. In the absence of these devices, the quiet became uncomfortable.

From time to time I took refuge in my car, enjoying the heated seats and charging my phone in hopes that it might come back to life in time to entertain me. But when I found myself sitting in the car, alone in the driveway, singing Copacabana—loudly—along with Barry Manilow, I realized that maybe quiet isn’t so bad.

Everyone will have a memory from Thundersnow 2011. Mine is one simply of neighbors who care enough to tell you to come in out of the storm and help you clear your driveway when your spouse is away, and people with power who invite you to spend a warm night. And Barry Manilow.

P.S.  Stolen from the person who hosted me last night (and the first half of my life):  “The federal government put out an advisory that only those with essential jobs should report to work. Joe Biden built a snowman.”


Filed under Family and Friends, Foibles and Faux Pas, Hearth and Home, Music, Technology and Social Media

Cyber schmyber

Another one for the “only you” category. Such as, Monica, only you would eat a dog biscuit at a gourmet show. Or, Monica, only you would lose your Internet on Cyber Monday.

Having never shopped online on Cyber Monday, I was all set to give it a try. Last night I decided to do my scouting and be prepared to start at midnight or at least in the dawn hours.  As soon as I set out on my recon, my Internet connection was broken. After several attempts to reset the modem and router and 31 minutes on hold with Comcast, I gave up. I’d start this morning anew. I awoke to see The Washington Post noting Comcast’s glitch as well. Seems the gitch could affect a fair amount of the east coast.

It is back up now, but I had put one item in my Amazon shopping cart this morning when the crew arrived to begin our long awaited central air installation and notified me that they’d be shutting off our power for a large part of the day.

What to do? Perhaps I’ll dash off to the mall, three days late for Black Friday, and return later to scrape up the Cyber dregs.

Gotta run from the blackout. Happy cyber shopping to the rest of you!

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Filed under Foibles and Faux Pas, Holidays, Rants and Raves, Technology and Social Media

Not the end of the world

You may have noticed that Word Nymph didn’t post yesterday.

Following 100 consecutive daily posts (except Sundays), the streak was broken yesterday by a series of outages here in the Washington, D.C., area.  The irony is that yesterday I had planned to send out a hello-world-I’m-here notice about the 100th post.  The one person who asked me yesterday, “hey, where’s my blog?” pointed out that one never says a word when one is on any kind of a streak.  Like a pitcher headed toward a perfect game, I learned that I was about to speak too soon about Word Nymph‘s streak.

I don’t know if our power and cable outages made national news–because I have no TV service.  Internet comes and goes, and it was reported this morning that it could be some time before power is restored to the region.  The Washington area takes enough heat about its drivers.  You can only imagine what happens at a dark intersection.  Most of us are aware that, by law, intersections without working traffic lights are to be treated as four-way stops but, in typical Washington fashion, there is wide interpretation.

Please accept my apologies for yesterday’s lapse.  Most readers are now thinking, there was a lapse?

I know I don’t owe anyone an explanation, but it’s just too good not to share. 

I’ll first say that my neighborhood didn’t lose power; we seldom do.  We’re a little unexplained oasis.  But we lost cable Sunday afternoon.  Around the region, trees snapped like matchsticks all over our county, taking power lines and, tragically, the life of a young boy who could not get out of the way in time.

Yesterday morning, determined to not break the Word Nymph streak, I set out to find Internet.  I first drove to the home of my aunt and uncle, to use their Internet and also pick up a bee removal suit my husband wanted to borrow.  I arrived at their house to find a note taped to their door: No power, no phone service, no cell service, back later.  I decided to try and find them to make sure they were all right.  Given the downed trees and power lines and dark intersections, driving was a challenge.  I drove to five places I thought they might be riding out the crisis–my aunt’s nail salon, her health club, Macy’s, the movie theater and Starbucks.  I planned Starbucks for last so I could settle in and use the wireless.  Everything was closed–including Starbucks. 

I went home, resigned to the unavailability of Internet and worried about my aunt and uncle, and went out back to clean up the storm debris.  As I was filling a large bag with broken limbs, I looked up to see another large bag being hurled toward me from over the six-foot fence.  I approached it cautiously, as I had been feeling all day that this might just be the end of the world.  I peeked inside and saw something wrapped in netting.  It was a bee removal suit.

I opened the gate to find my aunt and uncle.  I told them I had been worried sick and had looked everywhere I could think they might be.  I scolded them, “Where have you been?!” 

“Holy Cross Hospital,” my aunt said.  I hadn’t thought to try the hospital. 

“Are you all right?  What were you doing at the hospital?”

“Getting coffee.”


Filed under Family and Friends, Foibles and Faux Pas