Friday, June 25, 2010

Losing Power


Small tornadoes touched down in Bridgeport and Easton, CT on Thursday, June 24, 2010, knocking out power for us natives for about a day. People tend to think tornadoes don't happen in the Northeast but they do.  Yours truly was working on a video project on system and poof, everything went dark. As always, one of the first things we put out are the kerosene lanterns. Reliable, long burning and giving off a friendly glow, they came through as they always do even though they smoke a little and kerosene is somewhat messy to store (We use them for camping.) but this short riff centers on the impact of losing power and how quickly the 18th century beckons.

As per example, this is a short list of what goes down at our house.

  • Computers
  • Monitors
  • Lights
  • Well pump
  • Septic pump station
  • Sump pump
  • Fridge
  • Furnace
  • Ceiling fans
  • Shower
  • Toilets
  • Sinks
  • Washing machine
  • Dryer
  • Air conditioner
  • Garage power door
  • TV
  • Cable box
  • Dehumidifier
  • Clocks
  • Stove 
  • etc., etc. etc.
Needless to say, the house is not 18th century but the level of energy used in a blackout is, something most telling as to showing just how vulnerable and dependent on intense power as modernity truly is. As stated before in BRT, most complex systems are inherently fragile when redundancy is not built into the environment. (One car can and does totally stop traffic on I95 in ways that boggle the mind.) The web and biological life are robust but the power grid, when hit by severe weather is not, a notion I always keep in mind whenever the lights go out. :)
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