They flickered on and off a couple of times, then stayed off. It’s the first time in a long time that I’d had to use my computer’s UPS’s. I’ve got two in use, a great big one and one of the two that are about half its size. They give me 10 minutes of battery time to save whatever I might be working on and shut down my ‘puters in an orderly fashion. The power went off at about 1:45 a.m. and stayed off until just before 5 a.m.
Having worked from home and worked night shifts for so many years, and having two computers for most of that time, I am not unprepared for a power outage. In addition to the UPS’s, I’ve got one of those little 6-inch long Maglite flashlights in my office, one in the drawer of my nightstand in my bedroom and another one on my keychain, a big lantern style flashlight in the dining area and another one in my office, and an 11-inch Maglite in a drawer in the kitchen. I’ve also got candles and candle holders, and I have two oil lamps that stay on a dresser in the living room where I keep napkins, table cloths, placemats and such. While my computers were shutting down, I got the little Maglite in my office and went and got the big lantern style flashlight from the dining room.
Now, because I have ATT U-verse, when the power cuts out, I don’t have “land line” phone service, because my phone, internet and TV all come through the modem in my office, and when the electricity goes off, so does everything else. Fortunately, I also have a cellphone, which I keep under my pillow, unless it’s in my pocket and I’m heading out the front door. I went and got it and clipped it to the neck of my caftan.
Every time I use my Kindle Fire, I use it plugged into the wall outlet, so it always has a full charge in it. So I lit a lamp and a couple of candles, got my Kindle Fire, and ensconced myself in the living room to read. (It has a lighted screen so you can read in the dark.) While all this was going on, we were having a thunderstorm and a right good little rain, which is never unappreciated out here.
Allow me to digress. For at least 80 years we had two competing power companies in town, the city-owned utility (LP&L) and a larger corporation (SPS) that served areas of northwestern Texas (including my town) and eastern New Mexico. This meant the city had their generators, transformer stations and power lines, and SPS had theirs. If you changed your electricity from one company to the other, a lineman came out to your house and physically disconnected your household power line from one company’s grid and connected it to the other. My dad started working for SPS in the 1960’s, and worked for them until he retired. After I left home, I always used SPS because my dad worked for them. However, about 10 years ago, SPS was bought by Xcel Energy, an even larger corporation, so I took my electricity from them. Then in 2010, Xcel sold all it’s assets in our town — generating stations, transformer stations, 685 miles of power lines and 24,000 customers, — to LP&L.
Even though LP&L is now the only game in town, there’s still two duplicate power grids in the city, and those who were on the SPS/Xcel grid when it officially became the property of LP&L stayed on that grid. So, since unit A of my duplex was on LP&L at that time, and I was on SPS/Xcel, when a former SPS/Xcel transformer up the street blew a fuse during the thunder storm, my lights went out and theirs didn’t. Yeah, I know.
By about 2:30, between not having any air conditioning or ceiling fans, and having an oil lamp and two candles burning, it was starting to get a little warm, so I opened the front and back doors, raised the sliding glass panels on the storm doors to get some cross ventilation, and read on. By my battery powered clock, I can see it’s now sneaking up on 4 o’clock and I am still without power. So I got the lantern flashlight and did the Florence Nightingale thing, went into the office and hunted up my LP&L bill. After trying three different phone numbers, I finally got the right number to call to report a power outage (they are not clearly labeled). The lady said they had linemen out working on it, and that she’d dispatch a bucket truck to come see what the problem was. Then about 4:30, she called me back and said there was a lineman trying to get in a side gate, and could I go let him in. On goes the lantern flashlight, and yrs. trly. traipses out to the front walk. No truck in front of the house. Then it’s out to the back yard. No truck out there either. I call her back and while I’m standing at the back door telling her there are no trucks or linemen that I can find, here come a pair of bucket trucks up the alley. One goes up the nearest pole on one side of the house, and the other goes up the pole on the other side. About 20 minutes later, the blown fuse was replaced, power came back on, and there is joy in Mudville once again.
While I was sitting in the living room reading by the light of my Kindle, with no other source of light except an oil lamp and two candles, I was struck by how quiet it was. And how dark — the yard light in the back yard was off. After such an eventful night, I believe I’ll finish my Dos Equis and hit the hay.