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Innovation

Das Boot-up and Tanking-up

Saturday 7PM Post-IKEOne or maybe two of those big bang-booms very early this morning was a very large branch about 30 feet long on a red oak tree coming down and bouncing off the central AC unit, a bedroom window cover of 1/2” plywood and finally the household input water line. Which as soon as it was hit, started spewing hundreds of gallons of water every minute into the backyard that was already super-saturated.
Written by Xwindowsjunkie , Contributor on

Saturday 7PM Post-IKE

One or maybe two of those big bang-booms very early this morning was a very large branch about 30 feet long on a red oak tree coming down and bouncing off the central AC unit, a bedroom window cover of 1/2” plywood and finally the household input water line. Which as soon as it was hit, started spewing hundreds of gallons of water every minute into the backyard that was already super-saturated. Unfortunately the sound of running water from a now disconnected pipe did not make any noise discernible above the wind howl, the sound of rain, leaves and branches hitting everything and the loud AC generator. I'm going to have an incredibly expensive water bill this next month.

Thinking operatically, I guess I tempted Wotan or Thor just a little too much with my comment about a “dry” hurricane. Unfortunately I have no clue how long the water ran totally unhindered into the yard. Of course this is all in hindsight when the water line event occurred I was totally oblivious.

Once it got light enough to see and the winds relented a little, I went out to do a quick survey of the house and yard. I discovered the fountain spewing on the side of the house. I looked at it for a minute trying to remember or figure out what I was seeing since it just looked mostly like a fog coming out of the mostly horizontal and very large tree branch.

Pushing around the branches to get closer with my pliers and turn off the water was not any fun at all. I finally got close enough to start turning the multi-turn input valve shut and it dawned on me that I was recreating an obligatory submarine movie scene. You know the one where a pipe fitting pops open and seawater comes spewing through the seam spraying everything. Somebody grabs a wrench or other tool and shuts it off. Crisis averted! I laughed so hard I dropped the pliers!

Sunday 2:35 AM

Power is still out. I've discovered that the local electrical utility company actually produces and web publishes a series of maps showing the areas where the power has been restored. The idea is to find areas with restored power and buy gasoline for the AC generator while waiting for my area to become one of the restored ones.

I figured out that assuming I use every Watt (5.5KW) that comes out of the generator for the length of a tankful of fuel (~ 5 gallons = 10 hours runtime), assuming gas is $3.50 a gallon, my cost per kilowatt-hour is 32 cents/kW-hour or about hundred times higher than normal. That ignores the transportation costs. I haven't figured out how to completely account for putting the 5 gallon plastic containers in the trunk of the car, driving to an open gas station that also has gas, filling them up and then driving home. My 10 year old Honda Accord has become a mini-tanker. All thoughts of “operating green” become secondary to having the room cool enough to sleep for a few hours.

Sunday 9:20PM

Well I guess my carbon “footprint” is now a size 22 double E wide. My daughter and I sat in my Honda, the mini-tanker, for an hour and a half with the motor running for 22 gallons of gasoline. My cost per KW-hour has pushed through my non-existent “moon-roof”. (Full moon tonight, maybe I can explain it all away with that observation, hmm.) 6+ gallons into the car and 15+ into the three 5 gallon plastic gasoline “jugs”. We creeped (def- past tense of to creep, a little Texican there) along at a literal walking pace for 3 blocks distance to the only gas station with gas and power to run the pumps in town just to be among the “lucky ones” to sleep cool tonight. We get back to the house around 8PM and discover that a neighborhood one block over has streetlights and obviously power in the houses! We caught a glimpse of a live monster sized LCD TV screen through the living room window in one house. No joy or monster screen TV at our house though.

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