Saturday, September 07, 2013

We have power

At least for now, as I write this, this minute. To be on the safe side I’m saving this document every few words, because you never know. Not here. Not where I live.  Not in the natural disaster site otherwise known as paradise.

This began Thursday. Well, actually it began a few days before Thursday when the thermometer went above 85. Seven people run their air conditioner in Los Angeles and half the city goes out. I love LA, but the moment weather conditions aren’t ideal the entire county is crippled. Local newscasters actually break in with bulletins when there are “trace” amounts of rain. One inch of rain in any 48 hour period results in STORM WATCH coverage. Because we get so little rain in the summer, the freeways get slick with oil and so the first eight drops of the fall results in massive ten car pile-ups.

Somehow a half an inch completely floods the San Fernando Valley. Channel 5’s Eric Spillman is always reporting knee deep in water from the corner of Ventura Blvd. and White Oak. Why not just run the same report from the last five years and let poor Eric stay in the news van? 

When the temperature plummets down to 40 there are frost warnings. Once people can see their breath schools close.  We're ill prepared for any calamity more serious than Costco closing two checkout lines. 

And whenever there’s a heat wave there are power outages. You’d think Southern California would recognize by now that it gets hot every year but apparently not. Last summer I was in Dallas with the Mariners. It was something like the 40th straight day of 100+ temperatures. Every light was on. They ran the air conditioning full blast in Cowboy Stadium with not so much as a flicker in all of Texas. Los Angeles goes three days when you don’t need a sweater and we have rolling blackouts.

So Thursday afternoon at about 4:00 our power went out. We called the Department of Water & Power and got a recorded message. Several communities were experiencing problems – including ours – and service was due to be back at 4:06 Friday morning. (How can they determine to the minute when it’ll be back?)

Friday morning the power was back, but then at about 5:00 in the afternoon we had a brownout. This is where the power company decreases the voltage they send to your house. So in our case, lights went on dimly, the TV and cable worked, but there wasn’t enough juice to power computers and certainly not for air conditioners. Does your microwave beep when it doesn’t get enough voltage? Does your landline beep for the same reason? Ours did. Our house was a thousand degrees and sounded like NORAD during amber alerts.

The good news was the construction nimrods next door couldn’t run their jackhammers.  If it didn't mean living like a tribe in SURVIVOR I'd keep the electricity off just to spare us the noise from these home improvement specialists.

Then the power went out completely again. It came back later that night and since you’re reading this, it stayed on for at least a half hour.

Now, all of this is just a minor inconvenience certainly. It’s amazing how untethered we have become when we can’t tweet. And my heart goes out to all of you who had real misery, who were without power for weeks following disasters such as Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Katrina. This is not so much a rant about the hardships I’ve had to endure – like I said, it was an annoyance at best. Everyone’s power goes off from time to time. And it’s not like I missed COVERT AFFAIRS. But it points out yet again, how this goofy city is forever overwhelmed by even the slightest adversity.

No wonder people laugh at us. We apply for Federal Relief Aid when there is humidity.

35 comments:

Great Big Radio Guy said...

Walla Walla has had nothing but 95+ degree days since someone mentioned "Hey. It's summer, isn't it?" The only outage was two nights ago when a generating station got whacked in a severe lightning storm. Power was out for five hours. Tops. That's the one thing that always puzzled me about L.A. - how the utilities were managed worse than Jamaica.

ODJennings said...

I would feel sorry for you except for the fact that Californians have a vile habit of never missing a chance to mention that "it's 75 and Sunny here today" whenever anyone in the rest of the country is buried in 3 feet of snow.

It is getting better though. 30 years ago you all felt the need to bore us to death by babbling about how you can pick oranges right off the tree in your backyard, but I guess air pollution and the thinning ozone layer has put an end to that nonsense.

craig m said...

And don't forget, your Sharknado preparedness is woefully poor.

emily said...

Forget it, Jake; it's Chinatown...

Scooter Schechtman said...

OD Jenners' "you all" comment tipped me off. Expect a lot of Cali-hatin. But this isn't the National Review. No one should be hating California except those of us in Oregon. Man, I hate you all...

Kata said...

One time here on Long Island, the power went off in the middle of December on my block. I think it was due to the large number of Christmas lights everyone has on the front lawn. My heart goes out to LA, though.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Where I come from, summers usually tend to be anywhere from 90 to 115 day after day, not fun at all. This past summer, however, has been unusually mild, and pretty much was stuck in the mid 80s, which was quite a relief... 80s is still pretty warm for me, but I'll take it over 90s and 100s anyday.

I'm just still counting down to when it drops down into the 50s and 40s for the highs (yeah, I'm with you Ken, I love sweaters).

Mitch said...

I live in New Orleans. Part of me wants to sympathize and say, "Oh, how awful for you." However, another part of me wants to say, "Oh, for pete's sake, stop whining. You want to hear about weather-related problems? I'll tell you about weather-related problems. Some of us went nearly a week without electricity after last year's hurricane. And that hurricane was a relatively minor affair."

I understand, though, that the problems affecting you, personally, always take precedence.

And in response to the inevitable question "why do you continue to live there?" I can only answer that it's home.

Ken Levine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric J said...

Between the last snow fall of Spring and the first snow fall of Winter, everyone in the snow belt forgets how to drive in it. We have different problems here in So Cal than the rest of the country, but they aren't a lot smarter about handling theirs than we are handling ours. It's just different. We're all prettier here, though.

Ken Levine said...

Mitch,

I address that specifically. Please read the whole post first before taking shots. Thanks. And I too love New Orleans.

Anonymous said...

I love New Orleans, but--hurricanes, hell--the fact that you people who live down there can tolerate the godawful humidity that moves in around May and just sits there, suffocating everybody and everything, until October amazes me.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Try not to think too much about the fact that the main water pipe bringing water to LA goes over the San Andreas fault.

wg

Pamela Jaye said...

ODJennings said...

"I would feel sorry for you except for the fact that Californians have a vile habit of never missing a chance to mention that "it's 75 and Sunny here today" whenever anyone in the rest of the country is buried in 3 feet of snow."

Not just Californians. When my parents moved to Florida, it's all I ever heard.

After moving down here myself, half our street lost power for four days after Frances. Half our office (seriously! some outlets worked, some didn't, the AC was out and there were extension cords everywhere) lost power for 4 days due to a kamikaze squirrel while the power crews were off fixing the damage from some other hurricane, later the same month.

I used to wonder about Ritchie Shydner's jokes about Canyon Man! needing a Jeep Cherokee Four by Four! when there was (some tiny amount of) rain and you had to take a (something percent) grade. Makes more sense now.

What would happen if you all didn't get shipments of gasoline?

Pamela Jaye said...

Ritch Shydner.
Darn you, autocorrect!

Jeffro said...

Let's face it, every place isn't perfect and has it's drawbacks, and we all make compromise when choosing a place to live. If there was one place in this country—and the world for that matter—that is truly a paradise, we'd all be living there.

VP81955 said...

I plan to relocate to Los Angeles in the near future, and looking at some of the temperatures, it more and more looks like the Metroplex (Dallas-Fort Worth), only with an occasional ocean breeze. (I currently reside in central Virginia, where it was less humid than normal this past summer, and the biggest threat to our power comes from a wind storm called a derecho (a word which looks as if it would rhyme with "Jericho," but instead actually rhymes with "pistachio." Go fig). They don't hit very often, but when they do, you're out of power and parked cars are at the mercy of falling trees.

Paul Duca said...

Are these issues connected to the wildfires up north reaching the main power grids?

Cap'n Bob said...

A backup generator is a must, especially for people who need power for health reasons.

R's Woman said...

Hey Great Big Radio Guy!!! Be kind to Jamaica! Our utilities are run so much better now! Rare to experience in a Jamaican city/town what Ken and Californians experienced. We're better than CA!

Mike said...

With the war on coal and new power plants as well as pushing wind and solar power, this is the end result.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

Respect, R's Woman! Hey, Lucia's water system was in place before New York had one. And yes...the blackouts Jamaica had in the 90s and 00s never lasted more than a few moments. And unlike L.A., they were unintentional.

We hope to see how improved the system is there as soon as possible. We miss it there.

Anonymous said...

On Channel 4 in the UK tomorrow they have a program on covering what might happen in a blackout:
http://www.channel4.com/programmes/blackout
No idea if it's good or not.

R's Woman said...

@Great Big Radio Guy... Come back soon! 90s and 00s are ancient history! So much better now. Respect!

Johnny Walker said...

Glad to hear you're doing ok, but I worry for the weak and the elderly (not to mention everyone's pets) in extreme weather conditions. Hope there were no fatalities out there.

RCP said...

No fun to be without electricity - especially in the city during a heat wave. One summer while I was living in NYC, temperatures reached into the low 100s and I knew it was time to invest in an air conditioner when my poor cat starting climbing into the refrigerator to lay on the bottom shelf - I'd leave the door slightly ajar and give her 3 minutes at a time of cooling comfort. It can indeed be dangerous to those in frail health.

ODJennings: You can still pick oranges off the trees in Sunny California - I just picked one recently. Granted, it wasn't in my backyard but on a neighbor's tree (which is why I picked it in the dead of night.)

Anonymous said...

California is happy to schedule rolling blackouts to conserve energy use, except for the wealthier areas of course. But fracking is out of the question.

Anonymous said...

The reason Texas has power to spare is that they have at least one coal fired power plant for ever 100 Texans. Texas Stadium probably has its own coal power plant in the basement.

Rebecca said...

Ken, I don't think Mitch was taking pot shots. Looked to me like he was saying he understood. That second to last line wasn't directed at "you", it was more of an "us". He wasn't being nasty or sarcastic, he was saying that a problem always seems much worse when we are the ones confronting it. How do I know that?

See that last line? He knows people in LA and ppl in La get the same question, with all the problems, "Why do you live there?" And he knows your answer is the same as his, because its home.

It's so easy to miscommunication even when talking face to face. Writing with a time and space delay really throws a wrench in things. But I'm pretty sure Mitch read the whole column before commenting. I'm from New Orleans, too, and I've lived in Los Angeles, as well. Definitely problems in both, just really very different ones.;)

McAlvie said...

Ha - don't live in LA, but I'm glad to see that you Angelenos can laugh at yourselves.

chuckcd said...

I moved to California from Michigan and I have always laughed at people in this state for their "thin skin" and complaints about the weather.

I do not enjoy 90+ degree days I admit, but we don't have any REAL weather.

California is one of the worst run states in the country, and Los Angeles one of the worst run cities in the state.

Our 4 seasons: Earthquakes, Mudslides, Blackouts and Brush Fires.
(so no one should move here from other states!)

Dale said...

Unsure if anyone will read this...if so, I am curious re' skin cancer in California. Here in Australia one can burn very quickly in the sun. Especially during light cloud cover which results in a grey sky. Is it similar there, or is a five minute burn rare?

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Dale: Very rare in California. There's that hole in the ozone layer in Australia; means more UV gets through.

wg

Dale said...

Thank you Wendy.

Bill Boutwell said...

Ken, If you want to add some intrigue check and see how many power generating plants throughout California will be permanently closed over the next decade with NO REPLACEMENT facilities planned. I Believe the number is around 35. I spent some time in the midwest as a child and power outages were fairly common, some in the rural areas lived without electricity altogether. We would be better served to not expect 500 batteries to save us vs. learning to live with the lights off. #1 challenge will be buying (food, gas etc.) with no access to credit/debit cards.