Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Power and other failures

On Thursday last -- Altadena’s first full day without heat, light, telephone, internet -- I think we all expected power to return at any moment. Rather than wring my hands and fuss with the light switches, I decided to leave town. As they say, a watched pot never boils.

Driving down the tree-littered streets, we all seemed to be on our best behavior. Take, for instance, the out-of-service 4-way traffic signals. Everyone stopped and waited patiently, waving the other driver through.

“After you.”

“No, please, after you. I insist.”

I returned at 8 p.m. to a dark house. Apparently the pot hadn't really cared whether I watched it or not.

On the second day without heat, light, telephone, Internet, I, as well as other neighbors, found there were only three local activities at our disposal – raking leaves, asking if anyone had heard anything, and going toe-to-toe on indoor temperature. "Your house is 50 degrees? Why, that’s practically a sauna. My house is 38." "38 degrees? Paradise. Ours is..."

More on Patch.


  1. Don't ya just love when the power goes out? The back and forth at the intersection- its cute at first, then it gets annoying... Even tho those trees can be destructive, its one thing that sets that area apart from others....

  2. 38 degrees! Crikey, that is uncomfortable. More proof of global warming.

    They're big on that at the college, you know. One biology textbook listed the lobby against expansion of one National Park as "anti-environmentalists". Hmm, I don't know who is right in that regard.

    Speaking with another student as we rebelliously broke rules, inhaling some evil tobacco in the parking lot - smoking has been banned on campus, although some monies from funds from tobacco company settlements is combined in the operating funds - he mentioned the adamancy with which one instructor schooled we children on the presence of global warming. After some research, he produced a paper comparing Mars mean temperatures with that of the earth. They were identical. Damn those Martians, anyway!

  3. PS: Just wish I was Al Gore. He'll make millions, poised as he with his corporate holdings to take advantage of a Cap and Trade taxation bill. Selling and buying puffs of invisible gas. Genius!

  4. yuck.

    why did i say that?

    i secretly love when shit like that happens.

    then i pretend i'm in a movie.

    god, i'm so pathetic.


  5. You're right. Blackouts are only fun and exciting the first few hours. Thank goodness you're power is back on.

  6. Fun for awhile... but usually it lasts longer than it is fun. How long will the politeness last?

  7. Ah, the fun of a power outage! The house is dark, we muster room to room. We know the power is out but we reach out and flip the light switch anyway in Pavlovian fashion. A generator would solve this power crisis.

  8. Bandit, we've always had cold and snow up in the hills. Doubting global warming is like belonging to the Flat Earth Society. Of course you can do so if you choose, but why?

    Kalei, yes it's trees that did us in this time.

    Hi Amy. When there's nothing you can do about it, might as well like it.

    It was really the cold that was getting to us, Amy. The enforced internet break was probably not such a bad thing.

    Brenda, after the link you'd see manners fade by day two and disappear entirely by day 3.

  9. Such a drag . . . my parents have "partial power" - some nice idea SCE cooked up. It seems like Altadena gets forgotten up there sometimes.

  10. Apart from the cold (brrrrrr), wasn't the quiet and the beautiful night sky without any light pollution something to behold? For me that's my favorite part after a hurricane, the peace. I hope you and all the critters are OK. = 8 )

  11. We've never been without power for as long as folk in Altadena, Parts of Pasadena, and Temple City, but the short times we've experienced were among my least favorite times. I am from SoCal and being chilled to the bone is not something I like.
    The City Manager shared the info on this link - http://www.ci.pasadena.ca.us/EkContent.aspx?theme=Navy&id=8589935728&bid=2970&style=news
    Wouldn't help anyone feel less frustrated or cold, but it sure does paint a picture.

  12. I think people are very very nice following a disaster in the hopes the universe will notice and reward their efforts. When that fails to happen, they get downright nasty.

  13. drag about the missing $3.75

  14. The texture in your photo is wonderful, and it's great in B&W. You write so well, too.

  15. Rob, so true. And I kept opening the door to a refrigerator I had stripped clean.

    Bec, really? We weren't offered the partial power option. Like, half light half dark? Luke warm?

    Paula, I meant to look this up and you'll probably tell me I'm using this word incorrectly, but one night I woke up to no sound at all and said, "It's preternaturally silent." Of course, once I said that, it no longer was.

    Miss M, you're too kind. But you can afford to be -- you live in god's country.

  16. Is there an Owl in that old tree?

  17. Hi Karin, I hope that the heat, light, telephone and Internet are now ok!

  18. it was fun reading through the comments. you never know what conversations a blog post can inspire.

    the 'one upping' of house temperatures reminds me of a stand up i saw once (Brian Regan) about how one should never tell a "two wisdom teeth story." Case in point:

    person A: "so i got two wisdom teeth pulled.."

    person B: "...that ain't nothin'. i got four pulled..."

    person C: "...i got SEVEN pulled. they were all impacted and curled around my pharynx and came out of my nostrils. no anesthesia, the dentist ripped all of them out at once. i was eating corn on the cob that afternoon."

    person D: [pause] "i walked on the moon."

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  20. Yes Sonia, thank you. And I'm scheduling a fireplace cleaning to be ready for the next emergency.

    Alex, that's great. I was reminded of this:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1a1wHxTyo

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  22. We were camped out on top of a mountain while this was all going on. The wind was amazing up there also. We returned home to a big mess, but everything still worked. Sorry you had to suffer mother nature's wrath...
    Remember when our SoCal weather was always mild? Or mostly mild anyway...

  23. "Apparently the pot hadn't really cared whether I watched it or not."--Nice! And I bet that tree falling in the forest doesn't care whether it's heard . . .

    I like the competitive misery bit too--so human, yet so pathetic, annoying, tiresome.

    I feel for you all in SoCal. Inconvenience and discomfort are no friends of mine.

  24. When we moved into our new home in Mammoth, we bought a portable generator...seems there's a high probability of the power going out in our neck of the woods and our pellet stove needs electricity to run...you think 38 degrees is cold??? Heh, heh...that's nothin'!!!

  25. It is fun reading the comments.

    38 degrees sure feels cold to me! Reminds me why I didn't move to Vermont.