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  • Out of the hands of babes... a power outage

    I had a rough Saturday trying to deal with a client emergency, on the phone most of the day.



    So, Sunday, I took advantage of a nice lull to take a cat nap. I must have been asleep longer than I thought. I awoke to the kind of quiet you almost never hear around my beachy neighborhood on a weekend -- even in October.



    When I sat down at my computer I noticed the screen was dark and not displaying the 'starfield' screen saver as usual. I whipped the mouse around to wake up the machine but nada. I noticed the LED on the keyboard was off and looked over at the digital alarm clock, which was dark. A check of the breaker box outside showed all breakers in on position -- and the continuing ghostly quiet confirmed my surmise that the power was out for the whole 'hood.





    I made a quick survey of my battery powered devices, both my phone and my Google Nexus 7 were charged up. But, of course, the Nexus 7, being a WiFi only device, was a little island of ones and zeros in a sea of non-interconnectivity. I thought briefly of turning on the hotspot function on my phone -- but I'm on the pay-for-what-you-eat Ting network and I've seen how fast an HTML5-enabled newsmagazine site can eat up your data by throwing a video advert at you unbidden when all you wanted to do was read a text article.



    I strolled out to the street, saw some neighbors reading in their front yard (not much in the way of backyards here) and confirmed the power was out all over the neighborhood. Another neighbor walking his dog by said there was an Edison (power company) truck a few blocks down. The first neighbors said the Edison website said power would be back up about 5 pm, an hour or so away.



    I decided to play some acoustic guitar and did, after dropping by my elderly neighbor to let her know the scoop on the power, which did come on about 5:15 pm. (Allowing me to finish watching the Law & Order rerun on Netflix I'd fallen asleep to. A much needed sense of resolution. )





    So, this a.m. my elderly neighbor calls and tells me her niece (who lives on the block where the electrical repairs were going on) had earlier on Sunday been walking her dog past a big kid's party going on on the block and saw a 'metalicized' balloon drifting up toward the power lines, bump into two cables, causing a big zap-like explosion, dropping the two now broken, live power cables near her feet. Of course, she knew better than to go near them and Edison was quickly called.







    Now, I'd heard warnings about these kids' party balloons that have become so popular over the last couple decades but, somehow, the description of the wires dropping like a couple of electric eels at the feet of this gal and her dog kind of freaked me out. Add that to the stories about them messing with aircraft navigation, choking sea life (when they eventually drop in the ocean) and the rest of it...



    It's a shame, but I'm definitely beginning to see why so many people want to make those balloons illegal.
    .

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  • #2
    A recent power outage kind of 'woke me up' recently....



    Only 45 minutes...but being unplugged that long, I found myself 'bored'...wandering a around...looking for something to do...it also made me appreciate how dependent I was on others to provide power......what recourse did I have? You can't build a fire in your living room.



    I ponder the people that went without power for WEEKs in New England during some very heavy ice storms in the middle of winter. My only guess is that everyone smart has a generator in their homes now...
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    • #3
      My elderly neighbor mentioned those long outages 'back east' (I'm in the greater LA region) and said she'd considered getting some sort of generator. Just in case.



      Longest I think I've been without power was maybe a day and a half.



      Although I was without a telephone/dial-up connection for 8 or 9 days in the early 90s after a nasty batch of storms created a big phone outage and repair backlog. A repairman had been scheduled to come out about 3 days in but I stayed home all day, had a note on the door saying, 'Knock loud!' but he never came. Although he CLAIMED he did to his bosses. But there was no door hanger, no note, no nada. And, of course, I was there all day waiting for him with my big ears cranked all the way up. I ended up having to wait almost another week. I was not happy. (And that led me to get a cell phone not too long after. $40+tax-fees/mo for 20 minutes airtime. Such a deal. )
      .

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      • #4






        Quote Originally Posted by blue2blue
        View Post

        My elderly neighbor mentioned those long outages 'back east' (I'm in the greater LA region) and said she'd considered getting some sort of generator. Just in case.




        Some outages, like the big one in Quebec, have been caused by solar flares. Interesting coincidence: I'm finishing up the video for my new song, "When the Grid Goes Down," and will be posting it on my YouTube channel later tonight or tomorrow. I'm sure you'll relate








        Longest I think I've been without power was maybe a day and a half.



        For me, 13 days after a hurricane in Florida. That sucked.
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        • #5






          Quote Originally Posted by blue2blue
          View Post

          My elderly neighbor mentioned those long outages 'back east' (I'm in the greater LA region) and said she'd considered getting some sort of generator. Just in case.



          Longest I think I've been without power was maybe a day and a half.




          In Los Angeles, we don't usually have the extreme weather, falling trees, etc. that a lot of other places have, so we don't get a lot of power outages, and when we do, they're usually not long. There's exceptions, of course, like some of the very strong winds in Pasadena knocking out electricity for over a week and that kind of thing, but generally speaking, we are pretty lucky. I can't remember the longest I've been without power in my house, but I'm guessing it was a couple of days. I can't remember how long I was without electricity during the Northridge Earthquake, maybe it was a little longer? Can't remember.
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          • #6
            Northridge did some serious damage, without question. 57 killed and over 8700 injured. $20B in property losses.



            According to the crowd-source of all truth and knowledge: "The peak ground velocity in this earthquake at the Rinaldi Receiving station was 183 cm/s[4] (6.59 km/h or 4.09 mph), the fastest peak ground velocity ever recorded."
            .

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            • #7
              The story about the balloon bringing down power lines sounds a little far fetched. I'd think that the balloon would make a better fuse than the power line, but stranger things have happened.



              We had a semi-tornado this summer that took down a lot of large trees in the neighborhood, along with power lines. I think I was without power about 3-1/2 days. I have a gas stove so I could still cook, but there's only so much reading I could do by candle light. The local Safeway got power back in a day, and they have free WiFi, so I was able to take a computer over there and catch up on my forum browsing, but other than that, I was pretty bored.
              --
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              • #8






                Quote Originally Posted by MikeRivers
                View Post

                The story about the balloon bringing down power lines sounds a little far fetched. I'd think that the balloon would make a better fuse than the power line, but stranger things have happened.



                We had a semi-tornado this summer that took down a lot of large trees in the neighborhood, along with power lines. I think I was without power about 3-1/2 days. I have a gas stove so I could still cook, but there's only so much reading I could do by candle light. The local Safeway got power back in a day, and they have free WiFi, so I was able to take a computer over there and catch up on my forum browsing, but other than that, I was pretty bored.




                Actually, I've seen a number of warnings about just that issue from Southern California Edison, our power company.



                And this was the report of someone who observed the incident fairly up close (although received second hand from her mother).



                Let me see if I can find a news article on it in one of the local cyberpapers...



                Good ol' Google News: http://longbeach-ca.patch.com/articl...-belmont-shore

                According to the workers, sometime around or before 4 p.m., the metallic baloons wrapped around the electric wires, sparking a brief fire that severed two of three active lines (the other two are not live).



                The fire caused live wires to be dangling, and emergency crews addressed those first, the Edison managers said.



                They offered this advice regarding a future situation one might encounter, as did Edison news bureau manager Dan Chung:



                1. Never touch live wires. From a distance, report them swiftly via 9-1-1.



                2. If you are in your car and a live wire drops on your car--as might have happened Sunday but did not--stay in your car. The tires will protect you. Wait until a fire official tells you it is safe to exit.


                With regard to reading by candlelight... I always thought that was pretty cool when I was a kid.



                But if it's too dim, you could light a fire in the fireplace and use a well-polished shovel to reflect and condense the light on your book -- just like Honest Abe.
                .

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                • #9
                  I've seen plenty of those shiny balloons floating the the Chesapeake Bay; along with regular balloons. But we wouldn't want to ruin some kiddies party, now would we. Or some big event where they release thousands of them; where the heck do they think those things are going to wind up anyway??? Makes little sense to me.



                  As to them 'interfering with aircraft'. I attended a Roger Waters show a couple years ago where he had the giant inflatable Pink Floyd pig. It was being flown around the inside portion of the venue by remote control, then proceeded outdoors to the lawn seating area. It then escaped. This left it floating into the stratosphere right above the Delaware River, which is the approach for planes landing at the Phila. International Airport. I can just see some passenger finishing off the last of their cocktail and seeing a giant pink pig go by the window; "I swear I'll never drink again". I'm rather certain no pilot would be willing to report it.
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                  • #10






                    Quote Originally Posted by sailorman
                    View Post

                    I've seen plenty of those shiny balloons floating the the Chesapeake Bay; along with regular balloons. But we wouldn't want to ruin some kiddies party, now would we. Or some big event where they release thousands of them; where the heck do they think those things are going to wind up anyway??? Makes little sense to me.



                    As to them 'interfering with aircraft'. I attended a Roger Waters show a couple years ago where he had the giant inflatable Pink Floyd pig. It was being flown around the inside portion of the venue by remote control, then proceeded outdoors to the lawn seating area. It then escaped. This left it floating into the stratosphere right above the Delaware River, which is the approach for planes landing at the Phila. International Airport. I can just see some passenger finishing off the last of their cocktail and seeing a giant pink pig go by the window; "I swear I'll never drink again". I'm rather certain no pilot would be willing to report it.




                    That's hilarious... but just a tad scary. I don't think sucking a big pink balloon into a jet engine would make for a smooth flight. (Although if it was truly in the stratosphere, it wouldn't be in the way of the airport approach (which would be lower altitudes). But it could still cause problems. Hopefully hilarious not scary ones, though.



                    Yeah, the metallicized Mylar party balloons are the subject of a number of warnings I've seen, mostly related to killing sea life from ingestion (tears up their insides or blocks their alimentary) and from the aforementioned power line issue.
                    .

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                    • #11






                      Quote Originally Posted by sailorman
                      View Post

                      I've seen plenty of those shiny balloons floating the the Chesapeake Bay; along with regular balloons. But we wouldn't want to ruin some kiddies party, now would we. Or some big event where they release thousands of them; where the heck do they think those things are going to wind up anyway??? Makes little sense to me.



                      As to them 'interfering with aircraft'. I attended a Roger Waters show a couple years ago where he had the giant inflatable Pink Floyd pig. It was being flown around the inside portion of the venue by remote control, then proceeded outdoors to the lawn seating area. It then escaped. This left it floating into the stratosphere right above the Delaware River, which is the approach for planes landing at the Phila. International Airport. I can just see some passenger finishing off the last of their cocktail and seeing a giant pink pig go by the window; "I swear I'll never drink again". I'm rather certain no pilot would be willing to report it.




                      That's hilarious... but just a tad scary. I don't think sucking a big pink balloon into a jet engine would make for a smooth flight. (Although if it was truly in the stratosphere, it wouldn't be in the way of the airport approach (which would be lower altitudes). But it could still cause problems. Hopefully hilarious not scary ones, though.



                      Yeah, the metallicized Mylar party balloons are the subject of a number of warnings I've seen, mostly related to killing sea life from ingestion (tears up their insides or blocks their alimentary) and from the aforementioned power line issue.
                      .

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                      • #12
                        That pig was actually visible to the naked eye, at night, for quite awhile as it floated away over the river. I remember thinking there was a potential disaster in the making. Maybe a flight crew would see it in their landing lights? Don't know; and I'm sure they're not looking for flying pigs I don't know if it made it to the stratosphere or not, or if they ever found it.
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                        • #13






                          Quote Originally Posted by blue2blue
                          View Post

                          According to the workers, sometime around or before 4 p.m., the metallic baloons wrapped around the electric wires, sparking a brief fire that severed two of three active lines (the other two are not live).




                          I wonder what actually happened. Does anyone have a metallic balloon and an ohm meter and can you measure the conductivity over the surface? I suppose that if everything that could go wrong does, a partially deflated balloon could find itself wrapped between a couple of insulators, cause a spark and ignite the mylar, which might burn hot enough to melt the wires. But I don't know if mylar burns, and I assume they fill those balloons with helium which doesn't burn. Or do they use hydrogen? And it takes a lot of heat to melt wire. And usually when there's a short, the first thing that goes is a circuit breaker on the pole.



                          It's a good story, and it doesn't hurt to warn people about what could happen, but I'm remain skeptical until I see a scientific reconstruction of what really happened. Somebody probably has a better explanation.
                          --
                          "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
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                          • #14
                            My area has a long history of outages. The last one was the end of June for three days during a heat wave. I've given up on Pepco staying on top of these events and scheduled a generator installation. I have health issues and have no choice but the cost kills my budget for some time to come. You just don't realize how dependent you are on electricity till it's off for a few days.

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                            • #15






                              Quote Originally Posted by Sillypeoples
                              View Post

                              A recent power outage kind of 'woke me up' recently....



                              Only 45 minutes...but being unplugged that long, I found myself 'bored'...wandering a around...looking for something to do...it also made me appreciate how dependent I was on others to provide power......what recourse did I have? You can't build a fire in your living room.



                              I ponder the people that went without power for WEEKs in New England during some very heavy ice storms in the middle of winter. My only guess is that everyone smart has a generator in their homes now...




                              We spent a combined total of nearly three weeks without power last year here in CT... it was bad. Apparently there's a chance of a big storm/hurricane here next week... I'm starting the preparations today. Lamp oil and kerosene are at the top of the list... consider that.
                              Silk City Music Factory: A Connecticut Recording Studio

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