dglenn: Photo of clouds shaped like an eye and arched eyebrow (sky-eye)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 12:58am on 2011-08-28

"Hurricane Irene already has people fleeing their homes, stocking up on supplies -- and from the looks of it, falling victim to mondegreens, those goofy misheard song lyrics that have plagued mankind since before rock met roll." -- Diane Mapes

I keep meaning to post more often, more thinkystuff. But I guess it takes stuff in the earthquake / hurricane class to shake me into writing, lately.

I got home briefly to check my house for earthquake signs and unload some of the Pennsic stuff from the van. A couple of new (small) cracks in some plaster, a mic stand knocked over (I was worried that the stands and stuff leaning near the front door would fall in such a way as to prevent my opening the door -- the mic stand fell the other direction, fortunately), and my colour enlarger broke. Thing is, the baseplate of the enlarger is what broke, and it's clear that it was previously weakend by water damage (it had been on the floor of the basement). So this means my basement has been getting wet, and I'll have to deal with that sometime soon. Urk. I think the enlarger will be okay bolted to a new Flat Piece O' Something ... but I barely know what to do with the black-and-white enlargers yet anyhow.

There's still some stuff in the car because I wasn't feeling quite fit enough to haul the heaviest box into the house. I also left the marine battery and inverter in the car on purpose -- my last deep cycle battery went bad after one use followed by one year of storage. This time I figure I'll keep it in the car, attached to the car's electrical system via the cigarette lighter, so its charge will be constantly topped up (yeah, I know, one of the big things about lead acid batteries is supposed to be that they hold their charge well) and maybe if it doesn't just sit for a year, it'll still work next Pennsic. And the inverter might as well stay in the car anyhow.

I'm riding out the hurricane at Mom's house in Bowie (which is where I've been sleeping anyhow, where Perrine is where there's a well stocked 'fridge ...). My house and Mom's house are both on hills, so flooding isn't a concern (during hurricane Agnes, the parking lot of the elementary school got impressively flooded, as did some other locations around Bowie and Crofton, but it came nowhere near this house, which is up a "see how fast you can go down it on your bike" hill from there. So not worried about flooding. Ponding in the yard is expected, but there's no basement to flood ... Also not worried much about wind, after looking at forecast wind speeds for here. There are a couple of trees that could be trouble, but I think the weakest all got culled during Snowpocalypse, and what's standing will stay standing. We've heard some branches (or something) fall on the roof, but nothing that sounded especially large. City water stayed good during Agnes and Gloria, so I'm not expecting any trouble on that front, either, and we dodn't bother stashing gallons of water just in case (though yes, we know we really should have -- plan for the worst).

That leaves electrical outages. I hadn't carted back the Pennsic box with candles in it yet, so I pulled out a bunch of candles and matches and a propane lantern and set them were they'd be easy to find in the dark, and made sure flashlights were handy. Not much else to do than that, really, except hope the power would stay on until the end of the movie I wanted to record, and get restored before the stuff in the freezer could warm up (or, of course, not go out at all).

Sometime after 21:30, when I was out on Mom's front porch enjoying feeling comfortable outdoors for a change (lately when the temperature has gone down to something reasonable, the air has been still and the humidity absurd), I saw a greenish-blue flash in the clouds, then a little while later, three brilliant blue flashes. I was on the phone to Sheepie at the time, and she suggested coming indoors and looking on the web to see whether there were tornadoes nearby. As far as I could tell, there were not (I think the closest report showing at the time was Sussex) ... but just after that, around 21:50, the power went out. It came back on in just part of the house for nearly a minute, then failed again.

So much for the movie. Oh well.

After a while, the itch in my curiosity bump got to be too big to ignore, so I hauled the battery and inverter in from the car to find out whether Comcast's local Internet service was still working. Fortunately, all the bits I needed to plug in were already hooked to one power strip, so I only had to unplug that from the wall and stick it on the inverter, and rest the plain-old-not-WiFi-Ethernet-settings on my Powerbook (I don't dare try to power Mom's iMac from my just-big-enough-for-the-Powerbook inverter), and ... oh, look! Internet! Yay. I won't be able to surf from bed later (WiFi takes more power, and the WiFi router doesn't really reach the bedroom very well -- telling Mom's computer to act as a WiFi access point works a whole lot better), but I can check in, write this, and download a bunch of stuff to read in bed (though I still don't plan to use the computer much, because I don't want to have to get up in the wee hours to plug it into the inverter to recharge, and I don't want to lug the battery to the other end of the house).

Yay Internet.

Fortunately I'd already printed out the sheet music I wanted to go over tonight.

Anyhow, there's the situation: no real danger unless a tree decides to surprise us, no real hardship likely beyond having to limit computer use. The house is reasonably cool though the humidity has been climbing since the power went out, but hey, if I were at my own house I wouldn't have AC in the first place anyhow. My house is probably mostly fine as well, except that the basement will be wet. There's food here to snack on without opening the 'fridge much, and even food to make meals of that doesn't really need to be cooked first. (I took the cheddar out when the electricity failed, reasoning that letting that get to room temperature or higher isn't really a problem -- at Pennsic, my cheese just gets a little slippery but it doesn't get mouldy in the time it takes me to use it up -- and this way it's accessible without letting warm air in to bother anything else in the 'fridge.) If the power comes back on any time before 22:30 tomorrow today (just noticed it's after midnight), then the whole matter is No Big Deal. Longer than that and it's an inconvenience (I don't think I've seen this week's episode of MI-5 (small aka Spooks) yet), but still not hardship. If the power stays off longer than the refrigerator can keep its cool, then it's something to complain about (but given what I was hearing about outages in the area hours before Bowie went dark, it won't be a surprise). And as long as there's no problem with the roads at that point, we won't go hungry. (I haven't seen a lot of big debris flying or falling, just twigs and two smallish branches, so far, so unless there's flooding I don't anticipate Big Problems road-wise, either.

Just before the end of the previous paragraph, the Internet connection failed. While Comcast tech support was explaining that they had an outage in the area and would start trying to fix it after the hurricane had passed (they said Everything should be fixed by 06:00), it suddenly came back on. (He said that 60% of customer devices in this area were offline. I explained that the electricity was off, so yeah, most cable boxes and cablemodems in the area are off, and I might be the only one awake and trying to use the 'net, to notice the Comcast problem.) Crossing my fingers and hoping it stays up long enough to get this entry posted.

I hope everyone in areas harder hit is doing okay, and similarly for people getting what we're getting but situated on lower ground. Good luck, all! I also hope my brother who refused the evacuation order in Ocean City is okay -- he at least had the sense to stay in a big, concrete hotel tonight instead of his trailer.

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