Shaken, Not Stirred

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Gerald Andersen

Gerald Andersen
Location
Califon, New Jersey, United States
Birthday
January 06
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"I grow old...I grow old. I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled." T.S. Eliot

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NOVEMBER 12, 2012 5:04PM

Powerless Lessons

Rate: 9 Flag
Eleven days after our date with Sandy, the electricity, heat and light have returned to our humble home. Being in the cold and dark, while not a catastrophic experience by the standards set by the monster storm, was an uncomfortable one. Here are some things I have learned that may stand you in good stead if you are ever similarly afflicted:
. Guys, get over it. There is always someone who has a bigger generator. I, of course, don't have one. I guess this speaks volumes. Relax, the annoying neighbor with the biggest, loudest generator whose house is lit up like a Royal Caribbean liner will not declare himself War Lord of the block until the 25th day of the outage.
. After the sixth day when asked by your spouse why we don't have a generator, the excuse "Because I don't want to stand in the gas line" takes on a selfish ring.
. It takes a full tea kettle ten minutes to boil on a covered Weber gas grill turned up to the highest setting.
. Don't grab the metal handle with your bare hand because this will result in injury and a dented kettle.
. A dented kettle still takes ten minutes to come to a full boil.
. Don't dry your towels on the hood of said grill while boiling your water. Some snarky neighbor is sure to ask if you have resorted to burning your towels for fuel.
. You don't have to put things in the refrigerator, if the temperature in the kitchen is 45 degrees. 
. The previous lesson is useless because your wife will throw everything in the refrigerator out. The pickles, Hon? Really? Aren't they...well...pickled? The ketchup went too, although it is has been scientifically proved that ketchup is immortal.
. A cold shower at home is better that a hot shower at the Y. If being naked in a men's locker room with naked children other than your own makes you feel like a participant in the Penn State athletic program, stick with the cold shower.
. Unless you eat Ramon noodles, don't buy a cabinetful of them when stocking up for the storm because you will always find something you would rather eat, even the dreaded rice cakes your wife loaded up on. 
. Andersen's First Law of Thermodynamics: the temperature outside will always go up thirty degrees as soon as the heat comes back on.
. Head band flashlights are the greatest invention since the collapse of the infrastructure. We used ours for reading, navigating the house, taking the garbage out, and a host of other activities. However, leaving them on during intimate tete-a-tetes can cause migranes. Mine even had a red flashing setting that I used to alert my wife that I was feeling peevish.
. Having no internet did not materially affect my ability to access Open Salon because I couldn't get on even when I had it.
. The most annoying neighbors will always get their power back first and stop by to see how you are doing and to cheer you with how much they enjoyed their roast beef dinner and hot shower last night.
. It is possible to charge your iPad on your car charger, but you have to drive as far as Baltimore to accomplish it.
. If you awaken in the middle of the night and can see nothing because there is no light, can hear nothing because all the sounds of modern life have gone away, don't panic. You have not died, it is just sensory deprivation.
. Beware the spousal meltdown. Our's occurred on the tenth night of the outage. I knew I was in trouble when as we drove through town after dark on our way back from visiting a relative in the hospital, we noticed all the lights in town were on. "Please, God, let our's be on too....please, God, let our's be on too," my wife murmured over and over while rocking side to side. Of course, our house was dark. Our next door neighbor was gleaming like a beacon of righteousness, and we and the ten or so houses beyond were as black as guilt and sin. When we got in to our frigid,dark house, she sat in her chair with her coat on, wrapped in a comforter and wearing the hood from my down coat. Suddenly, she started stamping her feet and shouting: "I can't take it anymore!! Why don't we have a generator?"

I didn't have an answer. 

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Pickle, Ketchup - what's this world coming to! Oh, so very funny Jer - but NOT! Every one is a Gem...if THAT'S any consolation!
Head Band Flashlight - if you dared look at yourself in the Mirror - you woulda guessed: Aliens! R
there is no answer to that question that i sure as hell
would not
make her complicit.
i mean, wtf, right? a woman is capable of foreseeing
the future and making purchases with the money
almost, and actually in some pockets,
better than
a man can.

this food spoilage stuff is something only women know about.
as a man, i take the risk of eating questionable chicken.
and no terrible baccillus has dared offend me.

the charging of our devices is a growth industry.
i say, u and i buy some damn power & outlets and cords.
in a swanky neighborhood.
i dont want to screw the bottom 67 or 53 or 47 percent.
just the rich.
there is no answer to that question that i sure as hell
would not
not
make her complicit in.
i mean, wtf, right? a woman is capable of foreseeing
the future and making purchases with the money
almost, and actually in some pockets,
better than
a man can.

this food spoilage stuff is something only women know about.
as a man, i take the risk of eating questionable chicken.
and no terrible baccillus has dared offend me.

the charging of our devices is a growth industry.
i say, u and i buy some damn power & outlets and cords.
in a swanky neighborhood.
i dont want to screw the bottom 67 or 53 or 47 percent.
just the rich.
there is no answer to that question that i sure as hell
would not
not
make her complicit in.
i mean, wtf, right? a woman is capable of foreseeing
the future and making purchases with the money
almost, and actually in some pockets,
better than
a man can.

this food spoilage stuff is something only women know about.
as a man, i take the risk of eating questionable chicken.
and no terrible baccillus has dared offend me.

the charging of our devices is a growth industry.
i say, u and i buy some damn power & outlets and cords.
in a swanky neighborhood.
i dont want to screw the bottom 67 or 53 or 47 percent.
just the rich.
Why just a generator? Why not solar panels or perhaps a windmill? R&R ;-)
When you go to buy your generator ( and you WILL) check the wattage of all the things in your house that you'll want to run off that generator, then double it. If you figure that you'll need 3,500 watts get a 7,000w generator. Trust me..... if YOU don't find more things to plug into it, you wife will. Guaranteed.

Do you have a gas (propane) BBQ? If so you can pick up, at your hardware store or on line, an infra-red heater that screws onto any average propane tank. An average 20 lb tank is good - at low setting - for about 8 hours. You need to have ventilation if you're going to use it indoors, but don't go nuts about it. You don't need a door half-open. A window open about 1/4 inch is more than plenty.

Pick a room and live in it. Put your camp stove in there and live there. Hang a blanket on both the inside and the outside of the doorway to that room. Having two blankets with an air space in between gives pretty good insulation. When you go through that doorway - like to the bathroom - stand between the blankets so that the one behind you closes before you open the outer one.

If the room you select is not drafty then you'll only need to run the heater about 7 minutes of every half hour.

Only heat what water you need. If you and the wife are going to have a cup of tea, then pour 2-1/4 cups of water into the kettle. Why heat more? If water is a problem try to keep your consumption of salt, in the foods you eat, to a minimum if your consumption of liquids is at a minimum.

There's lots more but who can remember it all just reading it like this.

Best to you survivors!...........Sky
.
I asked the electric company about a generator once- they said I would need a special outlet installed in the line that feeds power into my house to plug the generator in so that I could get power from it, at my expense. They never did come by to give me a quote. So far, I haven't needed the generator.
Hilarious and tragic all at once.
Feel for you, a natural survivor. You have a good touch on the ironic aspects of trudging through the storm's aftermath. Have to sense that this is how it probably was for the people who had headed out west over 150 years ago, with all of the rages of weather and challenges most of us comfortable people have no concept of.
Hope you and family are well. Enjoyed hearing your take on it.
R>>>>>>>
I wasn't laughing at your plight--just your lessons. I hope the rice cakes were the flavored ones.
@just phyllis,

I have a 7000w generator "hard wired" into my house. Any electrician can install an additional electrical panel - similar to the one you already have - and connect it into the house wiring. (I can make no sense of what those guys from your power company told you)

The new panel has a "switch-over" switch, so that you can change where you draw electric current from, This means that when your power goes out, you fire up the generator, then go to the new electric panel and flip that switch.

At that point no electricity will be drawn from the outside source - only from the generator. When the outside source of power is back on, you can flip that switch the other way so that you will be drawing power from outside again instead of from your generator. Then you shut down your generator.

If you look at your electric panel, you will see a number of 'breakers' in there. They act like fuses and open when you overload the circuit which that breaker is serving, thus cutting off power to that circuit.

Your house will have a number of different circuits. There may be one for each room, a double one for the stove (if it's electric), and another double one for the hot-water heater. There might be one for the furnace, probably 2 or 3 for the kitchen outlets so that you can use more than one appliance at the same time.

When you get your "generator panel" installed, your electrician will ask you what circuits you want to include. The more you want to include, the bigger your generator must be so that it can carry all those circuits. Most people just include the bare essentials; you don't need the circuit for the guest room, or the laundry room, or the second bathroom, or the porch, etc., during an emergency.

Now..... I have all this because we get power outages here where I live quite often. If you do not have many power outages where you live, and only need a generator once in a blue moon, then you don't need to get it "hard-wired" into your house at all. This will save you about$1,200 for a switch-over panel and electricians' fees.

Every generator comes with receptacles for you to plug in a couple of extension cords. In an emergency you can just plug in a few cords (heavy duty) and then plug in a lamp, your computer and your phone, and a heater to the other end of those cords. For that purpose, you only need a small generator of about 2000 watts output.

When you go to buy a generator take note of the "peak output" (usually the one that the generator is rated at) AND at the regular output. A generator that is "rated" at 2500w usually ONLY does that for a very short time (minutes). Its regular output will be about 2000w. You should only be concerned with the regular output.

Hope that helps. Any questions ..... send me a PM.

;-)
.
Impressive good disposition despite the aftermath of rough weather, the red flashing signal of the headband flashlight is an undeniable technical accomplishment and sign of endurance and Jersey grit. Seriously, hope all goes well, looks like the generator is a good idea with winter coming.
Very amusing. I hope your sense of humor outlasts the power outage.

I have a generator hard-wired into my system, which my late husband insisted upon after we have extensive outages due to an ice storm some years ago, but I've never had to use it. By now I'd have to get my handyman neighbor to show me how to get it going...

We're all too dependent on the grid. We all should get solar panels. Dunno about propane, but I think kerosene heaters are safe (suffocation-wise) indoors.

During the ice-storm here, I was in Florida, but my daughter rode it out quite comfortably, having a wood stove and a supply of candles (note - candles are DANGEROUS).

Um, just checked on Google and kerosene heaters produce CO too, so also need that window cracked open a tad.

(Haha, looks like the Canadians are particularly up on how to cope - when the power goes out here, it's usually when it's 30 below outside, and it's no longer just an inconvenience.)
I forgot to mention a MUST about having a generator. You MUST start it up regularly (about once a month) and let it run for about 10 to 20 minutes. This is essential! If you don't do this, your generator may not start when you need it!

If your generator has an electric starter, it will need a battery for that starter ..... Generators usually DO NOT come with that battery included. In a pinch, you can use the one in your lawnmower or motorcycle. Those batteries can die when left unused for any length of time. Any good hardware store can sell you a small automatic battery charger. You leave it hooked up during normal times and it keeps that battery charged up properly for when you need to start it. mine cost about $35.00.
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