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ice cream - half price

The power went out just after 4. We had a bit of a brown out as warning, so I managed to save my work before everything shut down. A group of us congregated in open areas and chatted before uptimately deciding that we might as well go home.

Traffic was a mess, even for my short drive home. This probably had more to do with construction-related road closures and everybody trying to get out at once than the stop lights being out. That certainly wasn't helping, though. I had to get around a couple smashed up cars before I made it out of there.

I'd found out at work from people phoning family that the lights were out from London to Toronto to Peterborough. The radio said Windsor to Ottawa to New York. When I got out of the car, the old lady who lives next door saw me and yelled down "My power's out!" like I could do something about it.

The power's out everywhere," I said. "The radio said as far as New York."

"Oh my, it's happened again. It's gotta be those terrorists."

I shrugged. "I don't know if I trust them, but that's what they said. We'll see, I guess."

I phoned home. My mom was, of course, worried, but was glad that everyone had reported in safe. I reassured her that I wasn't going out driving again tonight.

I went for a walk, instead.

The fire alarm in the building was making sure everybody knew it didn't have power. It was driving me insane and I had to get out. I also had a vague notion that 'd head over to Radio Shack at the mall and see if they'd sell me one of those wind-up radios. I was running my radio off my cheap UPS, but it was beeping. Its beeping wasn't nearly as annoying as the fire alarm, but it wasn't helping either. So I turned it off. When I tried to turn it back on again, it sounded three beeps but didn't turn on. I'm sure the engineer who designed it considered this a feature. I'm also sure he's an idiot.

I didn't think anything would be open, but I figured it was worthwhile finding out. I only had $25 in cash anyway. I suppose, then, that it was just as well everything was closed.

I thought I'd stop by the convenience store and paybe pick up some ice. It was past 9, so I suppose they could be forgiven for being closed. They had a sign on the door, written in magic marker on cardboard: ICE CREAM—HALF PRICE.

By the time I'd gotten back home, the fire alarm (and emergency lighting) were dead and impromptu block parties had broken out. Somebody even had fireworks.

I never thought I'd be able to see the Milky Way from my balcony.

I did a bit of stargazing. Before the just-past-full moon rose, it was absolutely breath-taking. The moonrise itself, with Mars nearby, was pretty special too.

I lit a couple candles and one of my oil lamps and played Lunar Legends on the GBA for a while. John phoned around 11 and let me know how he was getting along. He'd left a message that a bunch of people were getting together for a barbecue or something, but it's probably too late now.

I'm writing this with a pen in my old journal from university. It seemed the most appropriate place to tell the story. The party is winding down outside and I think it's probably time for bed. I'm still planning on going to work tomorrow, even if the power's still out. Maybe I'll bring a book.


matt writes:

Welcome back! :-)

We ended up with power before you, so when I checked the page last night, it was sadly unavailable.
(Bill was out too. I'll have to find out how things went down his way.)

Anyhow, should run... chat... you know... :-)

Submitted 2003-08-15 11:41:41

tinkerer writes:

I hope you got to see a few meteorites, too, as it was peak time for the Perseids. :> (or would that be meteors? I always forget...)

Now for the 68 cent question...will this incident finally convince the powers-that-be to invest a little more of their profits into the infrastructure of our society, instead of into their own pockets and projects???

Nah, probably not. *Sigh*

Submitted 2003-08-16 15:13:08

flying squirrel writes:

I caught a few out of the corner of my eye, but no, not really, unfortunately.

The powers that be around believe that creating crises like this one are good for their image. It's pretty boring, after all, when everything just works. When everything's falling apart, they can swoop down and enact their sweeping, ideological changes and everyone will congratulate them for their heroic genius. That's the idea anyway. I'm not really sure what they're thinking. After 8 years, it can only be their sweeping, ideological changes than can be to blame. In short, they're idiots. I think people may finally have noticed that. I just hope they remember come voting day.

Submitted 2003-08-17 05:16:10

SideKick writes:

Doing alright here. Power was a little unstable Friday so I kept all the servers off.
But the weekend was clear and we haven't had any problems yet.
BUT, I am at work today even though all the government workers are not. I think that I should be at home, but work things differently.
I think I'll go throw a breaker or something...

Submitted 2003-08-18 03:24:33

flying squirrel writes:

I got Friday off, which was nice. I didn't think I could push for a four day weekend, even if Ernie said they weren't allowed to be mean to me if I did.

Probably just as well. I've got lots to do before Friday (I thought about coming in on the weekend, but didn't).

Submitted 2003-08-18 04:18:03

tinkerer writes:

Warning, this will probably be a bit of a rant...

Yes, Squirrel, the people in charge are *idiots*. Today there was an article in the paper about the power outage, and some bigwig made a comment about making improvements and that the rate payer would ultimately assume the majority of the burden. After all, he added, it is the "rate payers who will ultimately profit."

REALLY? And tell us, please, just who has been profiting up until now? There was far more than one power company involved, and each of those companies handle how many hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars each year? And where does that money go? Oh, you say, to lots of things, like (ahem) investors? And how much does each CEO earn? Several million a year? And just how much of that wonderful profit actually went back into maintaining the physical structures that the power grid was made of? Oh, well, I see... these brilliant CEOs worth their millions didn't see fit to make sure their golden goose was healthy, they only cared how many eggs it could be induced to lay for them and the voting stock holders. Because the rate payers haven't exactly been tossing out chicken feed to light and heat their homes, now, have they? And business won't necessarily cut back, they'll just raise their own rates. But of course, some overpaid creep will keep all burdens firmly managed back into those "profiting" rate payers' hands.

And congress just sits around yapping about everything except the obvious point.

Really, Squirrel, next time you get to the polls you should vote for the guy who will firmly separate Canadian and American interests and projects. Because on *this* side of the border, there are too many jerks happily sitting on their hands--one in the back pocket and one in the front, neither visible, and *you* guess what those hands are doing... And why should you go down with us?


On a brighter note, my office has gone totally tweaked these past few weeks, but hey! as of tonite I'm on vacation and don't have to deal with it! hee hee ;>

Submitted 2003-08-18 18:07:58

flying squirrel writes:

One thing I really don't understand about the push to privatize and deregulate essential services like power generation and distribution is that the "competitive" markets that will be created will inevitably be, at best, oligopolistic or, more likely, a series of local monopolies. These aren't competitive markets. We don't *want* competitive markets. Society can't afford to see these firms go bankrupt (hence "essential"). In true competitive markets, though, you *need* to have firms going under all the time. That's just a fact of life.

If you have monopolies, you *have to* regulate. Anti-trust laws have been around for over a century. Monopolies can't be trusted. With anything.

Small, local monopolies are the worst. Big monopolies at least can be subject to public scrutiny. Local monopolies stay safely under the radar, perpetrating all sorts of badness, just because they can. You make more money that way.

Competitive markets have checks and balances built in to prevent these things. If you're making a profit, for example, people will notice and enter the market to take some of that profit away from you. But what does it mean to enter the power generation market? Is somebody going to build a nuclear generator over night? Of course not. If, by some miracle, they manage to get millions of dollars and build a generator, they're fighting a monopolist. They've been building up profits for years. The monopolist can just price the new competitor out of the market.

I'm not saying that publically-owned, regulated utilities companies are perfect. They're inefficient, bureaucratic and incapable of innovation. But at least they work. It's just too bad people don't know how to run them. They'd rather just give up and chuck them out with the bath water, hoping some generous soul will pick them up off the street and give them a home.

Actually, I don't really mind the fact that energy prices will be going up. (I say this with the smugness of someone who doesn't pay the utility bill). Energy prices, like gasoline prices, don't reflect their true cost to society. If prices go up, there's more incentive to look for alternatives and efficiencies. I don't like the fact that people barely eking out a living now might not be able to afford to keep the lights on. But then I'm one of those (bizarrely capitalist) socialist weirdos who believes in tax-based income redistribution for stuff like this. So what do I know?

What Ontario needs is those nifty buffer thingies that saved Quebec from the black out. And then build a bunch of new power plants so that we can make a tidy profit selling power to the US in times like these.

Submitted 2003-08-19 06:02:36

tinkerer writes:


But, Squirrel, don't kid yourself. If Ontario builds a bunch of power plants, who do you think will pay for them? You and your neighbors, of course. BUT...unless you buy stock in them, you will never see one penny of "profit", and don't think your own rates will be very low, either. I know, because here in the NW we supply a lot of power to other places, and although our rates may be slightly lower than, say, California, the company has still doubled our rates over the past decade. After all, we've got to pay market rates, y'know. (And funny how once they start selling to areas with less power, the "market rates" go up. heh)

The buffer thingy would be good, though. Write a letter and tell 'em to get it. *That* would be worth higher rates, I imagine.


Submitted 2003-08-19 16:59:40

Silent Al <slco10@yahoo.com> writes:

it must have been amazing to experience that total darkness all around. Your entry makes the entire disaster almost seem like a vacation away from the normal day-to-day chaos.
I mean, when was the last time you remember being about to see the Milky Way like that? I only wish the terrorists would visit Seattle...

Submitted 2003-08-19 17:00:44

tinkerer writes:

oh, and I'm all for alternatives. Always have been. But you'll have a devil of a time getting all of the -->insert unmentionably nasty name<-- SUV fans off the road regardless of what you charge 'em. Me, I'm averaging 40mpg these days (that new Japanese engine is working *great*!). And then I park my dinky little car in the ice rink lot (it's hockey camp this week) and can barely find it again, surrounded as it is by dozens of Explorers and Tahoes and Suburbans and 4x4 double cabs, etc. It's enough to make me wanna puke, that so many people just can't live without two tons of steel in their control...

Submitted 2003-08-19 17:12:15

1 writes:

Move to the Portland area and you'll be looking forward to getting rid of that CRX as much as I am.

Submitted 2003-08-19 19:22:45

1 writes:

I guess that should read

as much as I am looking forward to getting rid of mine.

P.S. I told you that Kurt Sauer was going to make an impact in the pros. Also, the Chiefs will usually fall short until they get a real GM or owner.

Submitted 2003-08-19 19:41:04

tinkerer writes:

Is Portland bad for CRXs? The few times I've been through there it seemed to me that traffic was hideously obnoxious. Ergo, all the more reason to keep a car that can slide through miniscule spaces in the blink of an eye. ;>

As for Sauer, didn't Portland play Kurt's brother? Hm, I wonder what ever happened to him? As for Speltzy and Bobby, *shrug*, they were around during good years, why shouldn't they be around for the bad? I just wish they'd hire a decent coach...

Submitted 2003-08-20 09:46:57

1 writes:

They're great cars for the traffic, or I should say great cars period, but the police in this area go out of their way to harass you. They'll follow you for miles waiting for you to do something wrong, pull you over for not doing anything wrong, and definitely not give you a break if you do do something wrong.

The Chiefs had one good year, ergo... And anyway, they had a good coach who was able to lead a team to game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals and yet while he was with the Chiefs they managed what, 1 Memorial cup appearance and that was because they were the home team.

Submitted 2003-08-20 09:57:29

tinkerer writes:

Then we must differ in our outlook. To me a good team is one that develops its players well, and if they get to the finals that is just a bonus. If a "good team" was dependent on wins & losses, just look at the Devils...at least, you might if they were not putting you to sleep! But hey, they win, right? They have cups, right? zzzzzzz Nope, Major Junior is developmental hockey--a bit different than pro--and we've had plenty of years where you could see the talent develop and be satisfied by what the kids accomplished. Just not lately. *Sigh*

Submitted 2003-08-20 11:46:46

1 writes:

So if you put it that way then they must be extraordinary. I mean they developed Bure, actually I think Russia did that, Whitney, Falloon, Gilchrest, and Sauer I can't really think of any others since Kidd and Labarbera were both developed by other teams.

Yes, it is their job to develop talent, but it is also their job to showcase that talent...

Submitted 2003-08-20 13:07:27

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