I certainly hope your weekend was better than mine. The weather here in Silicon Valley is at peak levels over 100 degrees and the power in our neighborhood along with tens of thousands of others went out. Last I heard, there were about 60,000 customers affected though some of those "customers" may be large apartment complexes with hundreds of people. Power went out at about 3 PM Saturday and we might have it back up on Monday if we're lucky. In hind sight, I probably should have evacuated the house and gone to my Mothers house even if it is a bit of a drive.
I spent most of today hiding at the store with the family and then spent the afternoon looking for a relatively cheap gas generator. Lowes didn't have any of the smaller ones left since other people bought them up for the same predicament I was in, so I went to Costco which I should have checked first. They had the perfect one for my needs which put out 3000 watts and can run for 10 hours at half load. The muffler on it looked decent and it was EPA and CARB (California Air Resources Board) certified so I won't upset the neighbors and foul up my air too bad though it's still fairly loud.
Then I had to run back to Lowes for the portable gas tanks which was fortunately on the way home and I stopped by the gas station to fill up my two five gallon tanks at $3.12 a gallon. I spent the late afternoon assembling the generator which has horrible instructions (barely any) and I was lucky I had two old 10,000 BTU window Air Conditioner in my storage. There was no way I was going to be able to hook it up to the house wiring and I doubt my massive central air cooling system would even work on 3000 watts.
Using two long extension cords and some power splitters, I hooked up the following critical items to the generator:
- One of the window ACs in my master bedroom
- My refrigerator
- My DSL modem
- My Cisco Wireless router
- My Laptop
Since I've been softened by air-conditioned office life, my whole body is aching right now from all the work moving, assembling, and hooking up the AC and Generator in the heat. Fortunately the bedroom is cool so the kids are sleeping well and I'm able to get my Internet up so I can write up and post this blog. I'm just glad I'm not in IT any more with a severe power outage because I'd probably be baby sitting the data center all night long if I had managed to get an emergency generator going so that people can at least remote access in to do some work.
Oh and the next time someone tells you how wonderful pure electric cars are, just remember that if we had more than a few percent of all automobiles run on electricity we would bring down the whole electric grid. We barely have enough electricity to keep states like California running at all on a hot day. There are simply too many NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) in this state and plenty of SUV drivers with "no blood for oil" bumper stickers. Now when someone asks me why I try to spout the virtues of low power computing, people just might start listening.
Even more importantly, our country as a whole needs to rethink its energy policy and look at the energy debate with an open mind. Patrick Moore (the founder of Green Peace) along with a few other courageous environmentalists has eloquently stated his position on clean, safe, and abundant energy.