Friday, February 16, 2007

Electric Cake

The ice storm

Well, we survived the Ice Storm of ’07. This one wasn’t much as ice storms go — the Storm of ’94, which was almost exactly thirteen years ago, was devastating beyond description. We lost about seven acres of pine trees from that one, felled as if by a scythe. This one only did a little damage here and there, but for some reason it knocked out electric power for a lot of people in our part of Virginia.

The photo at the top illustrates the futility of all human effort. Two big branches came down from the pine tree and pwned the wheelbarrow. You can’t see them, but four or five of Dymphna’s azalea bushes are under those branches, too.

The ice storm

A pine tree fell down into the yard from the area where pine trees always fall into the yard — at least the fourth one to fall through the forsythia bush and land in this spot. They seem to send out a new suicide tree after each storm, just waiting for the next one.

And before one of you wags asks the obvious question: no, that’s not Schloss Bodissey in the background.

It’s the gardener’s quarters.
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The ice storm

I had to cut my way past this tree to get up the driveway. There was another one down further along, but I could drive through the field to get around it.

Three days with no internet! And reading by candlelight is a bitch. But I managed to get through two collections of Elmore Leonard westerns and half of Mark Steyn’s latest book, so the time wasn’t completely wasted.

It’s a good thing that the power came back on in the middle of the night last night — the temperature was about 14°F (-10°C) when I got up this morning. Our house was warm enough with no electricity, thanks to the Carbon Monoxide Special, but the pump in the pump house would surely have frozen.

Ah, but to wake up this morning to a warm house, electric lights, and a hot shower — life doesn’t get any better than that.

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Here’s a little reminder that the government isn’t the only form of obnoxious and inhuman bureaucracy. Late yesterday afternoon it became evident that not everyone was going to get their power restored. The temperature hadn’t gone above freezing all day long, and the wind was blowing hard. It was all set to be a mean night.

Our electric company is CVEC, the Central Virginia Electric Co-operative — or as Dymphna and I often call it, the FCVEC, the F***ing Central Virginia Electric Co-operative. The CVEC is not a big concern — just one of those little rural leftovers, like a miniature version of the TVA. The Co-op is notorious for having sudden and mysterious twenty-minute outages on a cloudless warm day without a breeze stirring — no warning, no explanation, just BLAM! No power. Dymphna and I like to say that happens when the chain on their bicycle breaks. It used to play hell with my programming back in the days before UPS.

So what did the FCVEC tell people yesterday as sunset approached?

“We recommend that if your power is not restored by 5 PM, you and your family should relocate to a motel.”

Right. That’s just what Granny Medicaid in her trailer needs to hear. She’ll just jump in the Beamer, boogie on down to the nearby Best Western, and plonk down her Platinum Visa for the desk clerk.

The last list I saw yesterday had 286 customers still listed as without power, just on our local substation. There aren’t 286 motel beds within forty miles of here. I guess the FCVEC expects people to double up a little bit here and there. Three to a bed and six on the floor, people.

To hell with your dogs and your water pipes. Let ’em freeze!

That’s the Co-op version of “Let Them Eat Cake.”

It seems that we buy our electricity from Marie Antoinette.

I’ll be catching up on email for a while — 700 or so were waiting for me this morning. And we’ve got to go over the mountain to a funeral this afternoon, so not much will happen here at the Gates today.

We’ll be back to our regular jihad-blogging schedule as soon as possible. In the meantime, you may entertain yourselves with this amusing Norwegian video (with English subtitles) about the earliest known instance of Tech Support. Hat tip: Wally Ballou.


Fellow Peacekeeper said...

We have this kind of weather often, without so much trouple. Maybe your powercompanie need to stop cutting corners. But I can understand if they dont, if it only happens every teen years..

Ha! Sounds like the Riga city council roads department. First snow every autumn catches them by surprise, completely unprepared. Chaos results. Fools. Every bloody year, same bloody debacle, only the date changes. Some bloody bastard is pocketing my taxes.

Kirk Parker said...

Your power company's unexplained mid-day clear weather power outages reminds me of some 3rd-world power companies I've known...

X said...

Colour me impressed. All it takes over here to send people creaming for the government teat is a couple of inches of the white stuff (which, according to the BBC, was everywhere? when in reality it fell in parts of the south where the BBC people live - and almost nowhere else).

I used to have to put up with stuff like this when I was a kid. I'm too soft to put up with it now. I'd go nuts. Then I'd light a fire. :)

Redneck Texan said...

Propane and Propane Accessories

Papa Ray said...

Until I was thirteen,the only heat we had in the house was a stove like this
(besides the kitchen stove).

It burned wood or coal, and did the job well. It was my chore to bring in the wood (or coal when we could afford it).

A stove like this is mfg. now, that can burn LP or even an electric one (which I wouldn't recommend unless you have a generator.)

There is nothing like popping pop corn on an old wood stove and reading a good book warmed by the wood that you have cut.

I know, but you have to take into account my age. I have forgotten freezing my buns and hands off chopping wood and only remember the good things.

Thats one good thing about getting older.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Morgenholz said...

Lovely place you have there, Baron.

Back here in Ohio, we had a good 12 hours without power during the height of that mess. But a woodstove and a few oil lanterns can turn a disaster into a party. The kids loved it!! (Although I was a bit perturbed when the power company decided to clear their lines in front of the house..and leave about 50 limbs laying in my yard.)

Wally Ballou said...

Redneck Texan - I'll bet B and D don't even know who Hank Hill is.

Baron Bodissey said...

Too right, Wally. Speaking for myself, that is.

I'll have to ask the Baroness later this morning, as soon as she's receiving visitors.

Engineer-Poet said...

Glad to see the ice didn't keep you down for long.

There's a fellow on The Oil Drum who has a Stirling engine generator which runs off his wood stove.  This gives him electricity whenever he burns wood for heat.  If we had such things available as commercial products, it would be a whole lot easier to make it through ice storms.