A wing and a prayer
Wednesday February 17th 2010, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Life

Our city has a reverse-911 system, and so, this morning, the robo-calls began.

Treat all intersections as a four-way stop. And avoid driving!

I got up, wondered, got in the shower anyway, planning to make it very brief just in case, and–Richard knocked on the bathroom door: It’s the city (another robo-call), to say, Don’t take showers!

Rinsing as fast as I can!

And it made me think once again how much water is my insulin.  Since the colectomy I can’t absorb a lot of it anymore and I have to constantly replace what the body is resisting.  Come to think of it, we hadn’t replaced the emergency water in the outside earthquake-preparedness containers in years. Ick.

No ‘Net here.  Even the landline didn’t work, except for the 25-year-old AT&T desktop that drew its power from the phone line.  The ones with the recharging bases kept telling incoming callers the line was busy, while the cell phones were iffy.  Ham radios won the day–John had his on, monitoring in case the Red Cross should need him.  Meantime, the city called Richard in to help run the emergency communications center. He’d gotten his ham license after his aunt’s house had been a half mile from the Loma Prieta epicenter in ’89.

(Okay, the funny part of his coming in is that they had everybody wear these vivid yellow vests so everybody would know who was who/doing what.  When he got home, I tried his on–it fit me. Note that I am 15″ shorter and a whole lot smaller around than he is.  Yeah, oops.)

Michelle had to take the car into work, because she sure couldn’t work from home today, but at least the traffic lights worked most of the way in that direction. I wrapped up with my knitting in much-needed blankets created by the hands of my wonderful friends; John curled up with a good old-fashioned book.

And every now and then, we opened the fridge.

Backing up a bit–last fall, our friend Ken sent an email: there was a grand opening special that included this type of generator at this price. Richard looked it up, went, wow, that’s better than I ever expected to get for that much, and we snagged the last one.  It had bothered him a long time that we didn’t have one, and now we finally would.

So now we’ve tried it out.  It was far quieter than I’d expected.  The fridge and freezer were good to go.

It was the dumb little things that kept tripping me up; I wanted a mug of hot cocoa fiercely in that cold, to the point even of debating moving the big microwave out of the kitchen and wrestling it into the middle of the family room floor where the cord could reach the generator’s plug-in.  (The generator itself was safely outside.)  Maybe John could strong-arm it for me?  But it seemed like a really bad idea all around and we voted against it.  Don’t overload that thing.  He admitted he’d checked out the Starbucks when he’d gone for gas to power the thing, but they were closed down–no hot chocolate there, and you just didn’t want to be on the road for dumb stuff.

And then, like I say, the car went (carefully) off with Michelle anyway.

One commentator I read allowed as how everybody in town had taken the day off to enjoy the warm California sun, and I thought, ?! Where are you typing THAT from!?  Okay, granted, compared to, say, DC’s snowmaggedon, but, it was in the low 50’s this morning.

But all of this is just noise, and stupid noise at that, compared to what others are going through that they’ll never be able to turn on the lights again and have it just be over with.  To the folks at Tesla Motors, makers of my dream electric car, and your families–our whole city grieves with you in your losses.

And marvels at the skill and care of that pilot in landing on that crowded street with only one wing left, in such a way that despite all the people present in that neighborhood, somehow nobody on the ground was hurt.  You knew you couldn’t save yourselves, but you did everything you could and so you saved everybody else.

11 Comments so far
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Gosh, I didn’t know you were so affected. Prayers for the loved ones of those who died, and glad that you are better prepared in emergencies. Buy a couple of cases of the coast guard water packets – they last for years.

Comment by Renee 02.18.10 @ 12:34 am

How very scary. Thank G-d no one on the ground was injured.

Comment by Henya 02.18.10 @ 1:56 am

As soon as I heard Palo Alto on the news, I thought of you and got up to see what had happened.

Comment by Sherry in Idaho 02.18.10 @ 6:19 am

Ralph told me about the plane crash, but no details. A small plane crashed on the other side of McLean when I was in high school, and it sounded like it had hit our house, the noise was so loud. That is very scary. But it sounds like the pilot did a brilliant job of setting down his plane with minimal loss of life–landing the body of the plane on a street, not a house. I’m sure he was glad to have that report to give to his Maker.

Comment by LauraN 02.18.10 @ 7:14 am

Cold is cold. It’s all relative. And power? We’re all very accustomed to being plugged in…

Amazing that no one on the ground was killed. What a blessing!

Comment by Channon 02.18.10 @ 7:15 am

I was at a doctor’s office yesterday when I saw the news. And kept thinking of you!! Palo Alto — I have a friend there! yes I felt very bad for the people that crashed. And glad that no one on the ground was killed.

Comment by karin maag-tanchak 02.18.10 @ 9:12 am

I saw the headline, and it felt like half a world away–until I found out it was in your backyard. How frightening and sad but as others suggested, an even larger tragedy was avoided.

Comment by LynnM 02.18.10 @ 9:45 am

I didn’t know about the crash until I saw this morning’s paper. Knowing where you live, and where East Palo Alto is, I didn’t think you were in any immediate danger. But being without power and water is an awful convenience. Thank heaven for your generator!

On t’other hand, here’s a bit of humor –

A farmer wonders how many sheep he has out to pasture, so he asks his sheep dog to count. The dog counts, and then says, “Forty”. “Huh,” says the farmer, “I only had 38 to begin with.” “I know,” says the dog, “but I rounded them up.”

Comment by Don Meyer 02.18.10 @ 10:59 am

I am so glad you and yours are safe, and I am so sorry for the passengers who were not.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 02.18.10 @ 10:59 am

I’m glad you and yours are fine, and so sorry about those who lost their lives. It is amazing that no one on the ground was hurt.

I bought my generator after Ike a year ago. We were without power for weeks. Some unsolicited advice about generators, based on what I learned from that experience:

Carbon monoxide detector. Generator safely outside is all well and good, but carbon monoxide is nasty, sneaky stuff. The $20 bucks for the detector is well worth the peace of mind (of course you windows were probably closed and mine were opened, but that detector is still the most important thing in my mind.

Extension cords. Lots of heavy duty extension cords. We also got some of those power strips that have on/off switches. That way we could plug in several things in one room (a lamp and a fan, for example) or we could turn everything in that room off to use the power elsewhere.

You are right to not overuse the generator, but the owner’s manual tells you how much power it can generate. And my manual also told me how much power a typical appliance uses. Table lamp so much, medium size fan, so much. Given size fridge, so much. Room air conditioner–as much as we wanted to use it in that Houston heat–wrong voltage or whatever.

So you add up what you want to use and see if you can do it all at once. If not, you use those switches to isolate the stuff you don’t want to use right away. (If you are like me, you walk into a dark room and turn on the light, no matter what your intentions are.)

The fridge and the freezer do not need power all the time. If you leave the door closed, they hold the cold for hours. So you can turn them off for a while if you need the power for something else.

Also, and this is probably in your manual too, unplug the generator before you stop it or restart it. It can send a power surge that can damage your stuff.

I hope neither one of us ever needs these tips again!

Comment by Julia 02.18.10 @ 7:12 pm

I had no idea about this crash, just heard about it now–so sad to hear about the loss of life. Sorry to hear how it affected you, but it seems like it was very lucky that no one was killed on the ground! Thank goodness we can survive without electricity if necessary. Water is harder, but gosh, this sounds like it was a scary situation. (and maybe a reminder to refresh your water supplies every few months!)

Comment by Joanne 02.19.10 @ 12:59 pm

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