Thursday, August 01, 2013

Power's Out -- First time in years!

More accurately, power "was" out -- for a minute.

My guess is that someone flipped the wrong switch. The local utility's website, at the time, said that some adjacent areas had customers without power. On my way home, there were some traffic lights out. Interestingly, other lights a block away were doing fine.

First Time in Years
The last time a power outage happened at home, it was the big blackout of 2003 or something. I was still in high school then and it was "the" thing to talk about when everyone got back from summer break. That outage only lasted 16 hours for my area. We got lucky.

Actually, we've been lucky for a while. For some reason, when everyone in adjacent areas a few blocks away have outages, my neighbourhood is usually unaffected. Today was not really an exception. Either someone needed to unplug something for a second, or someone flipped the wrong switch. Otherwise, I have no idea why the power would only go out for a minute. Since the power already went out, I'm not touching any wood. The luck's already gone and I'm typing this on my laptop.

The funny thing I realized was that I was the only one in the house with a flashlight readily available. It was even found in the dark. And a few weeks back, I bought a bunch of candles. I was kind of excited about having the opportunity to use those. Oh well...

Traffic lights out? How to drive?
Unforunately, the biggest highlight of this power outage was an incident at a signalized intersection. Using the four-way stop principle when signals are out, I stupidly "asserted" my right-of-way as a pedestrian after checking left and right. Cross traffic was all stopped and the straight/opposite traffic was minimal since it was a side-street. That didn't stop a great driver I didn't pay much attention to from almost plowing into me. He was making a left-turn from the other side of the street as I stepped out -- busy area, "need to" assert your presence or someone else will. Lucky that I did bother to check left, right, and forward again. Seems like I learned something from being nearly run over on regular days with fully working lights. This happened in a yield for pedestrians at pretty much all times area. Nothing beats the feeling of being almost run over by a minivan. Lesson learned.

Recent power outages
As I write about this, I'm remembering that I did experience a power outage more recently than a decade ago. The one I'm thinking about was only a few years back in my workplace's neighbourhood. It was a big one and city wide. That was a terribly great day. Everyone got dismissed a few hours early, but I stuck around for an hour with a friend to avoid the traffic chaos caused by a mass exodus from a suburban office. To avoid the lack of traffic lights, I jumped on the freeway system and got home in record time.

On the flipside
I own quite an expensive collection of sensitive electronics that don't like major power fluctuations. This probably includes the ones caused when the power goes out and comes back on again. After a bout of paranoia, I blew nearly $200 on higher quality surge protectors. I'm more confident mentally that my stuff is protected now -- probably a false sense of security. However, now that my protection equipment is expensive, I find myself cringing at the thought of having to replace that equipment if it does its job. No solace to be found anywhere for the paranoid and cheap.

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