Friday, September 09, 2011

September 8, 2011

An Uneventful Day.
  • Our water was shut off for seven hours for routine maintenance.
  • Twenty minutes after water was restored the power went off.
  • About an hour later I found out the scope of the outage was from Arizona to the Pacific Ocean, from miles inside of Mexico to Orange County. In total over four million people are affected. This is going to take a while.
  • The temperature at the time was 106 degrees F.
  • Only a few radio stations are operational. The best source for information is, unfortunately, a right-wing, all-talk, Clear Channel station. Their announcers think the darkness is creepy and scary. 
  • Almost everyone else thinks it's kind of neat. People were sitting outside by candlelight and moonlight just talking and gazing at stars that haven't been visible in Southern California for a generation. 
  • About 4:30 this morning my power was restored.
What happened, apparently, is that some guy in Arizona was swapping out a component at an electric utility and tripped a circuit breaker. That tripped other circuit breakers which ended up shutting down the power link between San Diego and Arizona. That shutdown caused a surge that triggered an automatic shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear power plant. That triggered an overload on the power link between San Diego and Los Angeles so it shut down too. It's the Domino Theory of modern American electric transmission.

The only problem was that because of the blackout I was not able to watch President Obama's jobs speech because I was so going to watch that instead of the exciting football game I also missed.

As disasters go, losing power for a few hours is way, way, way, way better than a massive, all consuming brush fire.

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