Posts Tagged ‘electricity’

 

Ameen’s Big Adventure

Saturday, September 1st, 2007



This is the story of a very good day. I credit it all to Ameen, someone I hadn’t met until this afternoon.

Today really started yesterday, when I called my friend and fellow photographer, Steve. Saturday was going to be beautiful. I had some free time. Would he like to drive to Litchfield County to take some photos?

Steve was here at noon and by 12:30, with my car’s top down, we headed north.

Where were we going? I had no clue. I’d printed out two Google maps. They were wide shots of Litchfield County – Connecticut’s northwest corner. The maps were good enough to help find a road back home, but not specific enough to take us anywhere in particular.

We took Route 69 through Bethany and Prospect to I-84 in Waterbury, then up Route 8 to Winsted. We were in the country now. We continued northwest on Route 44 to North Canaan. Not one photo had been snapped!

That’s why I hit the brakes and turned into the parking lot when Steve caught sight of the Collin’s Diner. It was very retro and very photogenic.

The diner was tiny, sitting toward the back of a large, but mostly empty parking lot. The building itself had a glass brick foyer, enameled outer panels under the windows and sweeping curved lines where corners are usually found.

We took our cameras from the trunk and began shooting away. A minute later a man walked out of the restaurant and in our direction. He was short, but muscular, with a do rag on his head, a chain with charms around his neck and tattoos on every part of his body not covered by a Wesleyan University t-shirt and Dolce & Gabanna sunglasses.

We soon learned he was Ameen. The restaurant was his family’s business. And, he didn’t mind us taking pictures if we’d send him copies.

We continued to chat and within a few minutes he’d invited us inside to meet his mom and the rest of the family working there.

When we were ready to leave, I asked Ameen where we could go to take some good pictures? He said, “follow me.” For the next few hours we followed Ameen’s hybrid SUV through rural Northern Litchfield County.

Over the past few years, property in Litchfield has become very desirable to New Yorkers looking for a country place. To many people, that’s the new face of Litchfield County. But Ameen has spent a lifetime in these hills and he was going to take us to meet some locals and see things only locals know.

I can’t tell you exactly where we went, but the first stop was the side of a quiet country road where the view was expansive. The mountains in the distance were part of the Catskills in New York State. Between us and them were working lime rock quarries.

We continued uphill. Ameen must have really known the roads because my little sports car kept falling way behind his top heavy SUV. We stopped at Rustling Wind Farm.

Ameen knocked on the door to make sure it was OK for us to take pictures. He got a yes and a hug! As it turns out, at one point he lived in a little house on the property.

Rustling Meadow is the kind of countrified place once foreign to a city boy like me. Even now, it’s heartening to realize places like this really do still exist.

We walked through the upper field, past reminders that horses run here, and stopped to listen to the wind. There was no city noise – nothing mechanical. There was, however, the rotting exterior of a real outhouse!

Back in the car, we headed to the Munson’s. They are a family out of Litchfield County central casting – Karl and Laura are very attractive and earthy parents with two exquisitely beautiful children¹. As we drove up, mom and daughter were playing in the front yard. The younger son was up in a tree, sitting comfortably as if it were a living room chair.

It didn’t take more than a few seconds to notice a large, four panel solar array, mounted on a post. This single installation provides all their electricity! In fact, power lines from the local electric company don’t even come onto the property!

I’ve met people who were off the grid before – but they usually had to live spartan lives to make it happen. Not so the Munson’s, who store their solar bounty in an array of batteries and have enough for a few weeks of rainy days. There are a few concessions, like a gas powered refrigerator and fluorescent lights, but mostly you wouldn’t notice the difference… until the electric bill didn’t come.

The next thing I noticed was the stone. Karl is a stone mason, and there was what looked like a small stone home off to the side, with a bigger one in the process of being built.

Before there were any buildings, the Munsons lived in a yurt! Like I said, they were out of Litchfield County central casting. They could not have been friendlier or nicer, nor could their life seem more idyllic.

We headed out again, to our next stop at Wangum Lake, a reservoir for the local water company. Like so much else in Northern Connecticut, it is isolated, rural and beautifully pristine.

This was our last stop with Ameen, who was taking his sister out for her birthday. We said goodbye and headed south on Route 7, along the western bank of the Housatonic River. There was one more stop to make.

A few hundred feet off Route 7 in West Cornwall, Route 128 crosses the Housatonic via a covered bridge. There aren’t many of these left. It’s a one lane bridge running not quite the distance of a football field. Could there be anything more New England than this?

It was time to head home, a little over an hour away.

Connecticut never ceases to amaze me. It really is a beautiful state, with sharp contrasts between the shoreline and the hills in its northwest and northeastern corners. Today it was worthy of nearly 200 photographs from me alone. Steve and I had an excellent time.

There’s no doubt, we wouldn’t have seen half as much without Ameen. If you’re ever up in North Canaan, please stop by the Collin’s Diner and tell him we were raving about the hospitality. Next time, we’ll even try the food!

¹ – Both Munson children were incredibly photogenic. However, this being the 21st Century, I’m not going to post their photos online.

Bad Luck In The Studio

Monday, May 28th, 2007

Often, as our newscast begins, I’ll quickly tune the TV at my desk to see what the other stations are leading with. I can’t be the only one in TV to do that?

It’s idle curiosity. Most of the time we all have similar ledes¹. When we don’t, there’s usually a technical or structural reason that trumps the actual content.

Friday, while tuning, I came to WFSB – Channel 3 in Hartford. They were ‘in black.’

As I sat and wondered what was going on, a tape began to rewind on-the-air. I could pick out the specific digital format by the distinct square pixelated areas. Even the non-initiated could see it was Oprah, running backwards at breakneck speed.

WFSB’s news never did air Friday afternoon. A burst sewer pipe in the basement of their soon-to-be-abandoned building was threatening the electrical system. Everyone was ordered out as the smell of sewage and electricity began to permeate the building (Hey, I’ve got sources).

Last night it was WABC’s turn in New York. A bulb above their news set exploded, causing a curtain to catch fire!

Again, the building was evacuated as fire crews moved in to quickly douse the flames.

In neither case was anyone hurt. That’s a good thing. In neither case did the news get on-the-air. That’s troubling.

I remember reading, 15-20 years ago, about stations that had suffered misfortunes and mounted their newscast from the parking lot or other makeshift locations. I’m afraid those days are over.

As television equipment has become more sophisticated, it has also become less versatile. We can’t just pick up our videotapes and use a live truck, because we’re no longer using tapes. All our video is held in a few racks of computer servers.

Each and every part of what we show on-the-air is controlled by computers. When they communicate nicely, things are smooth as can be. When one system decides it won’t play well with others, it can stop the whole show.

All things considered, I’d rather have to tell the audience fire kept us from bringing them the news than blaming it on poop!

¹ – This alternate spelling “lede” has become more and more popular recently. I’m sure someone will cite longstanding tradition, but I never remember anyone using that spelling prior to the last four or five years.

Another Mention In Print

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

Wow – two print mentions in the past week. This time Joe Amarante of the New Haven Register called to ask about our lack of winter.

I’m not sure “alarmist crap” is be a phrase I’d use again for attribution. It was inelegant and crude. Unfortunately, it’s an accurate quote. Sometimes stuff just comes out.

I think writers, like Joe and Charlie Walsh at the Connecticut Post (who quoted me last week), have a distinct advantage over TV people. We need to haul our sorry butts to the scene of the crime. Newspaper people can just pick up the phone and interview a half dozen people in the time it takes us to drive to some far off little town.

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One Day – Two Destinations

Monday, October 16th, 2006
From Antelope – Zion

We started the morning in Kayenta, Arizona, just outside Monument Valley. I’m sure the people of the Monument Valley Region are very nice, but I wish Kayenta was more respectful of the natural beauty that surrounds it. There are no nice photos to be taken in Kayenta, because the scenery is interrupted at every vantage.

We headed out of Kayenta, west through Northern Arizona toward Page, home of Antelope Canyon, our first destination of the day. As has been the case since Gallup, NM, we were on two lane blacktop with 65 mph speed limits.

This is an Interstate free zone!

From Antelope – Zion

From time-to-time I wanted to pass the car in front of me. That meant waiting for a clear spot, hoping Helaine would cover her eyes, running it up to 85 mph, and swinging into the oncoming lane.

There aren’t a whole bunch of places to do that in Connecticut. Actually, there aren’t a whole lot of places to do that anywhere. It’s a lost art. Thankfully, everyone keeps their headlights on day and night.

From Antelope – Zion

As we sped west, we passed through a bunch of little towns… actually, more like settlements of a few houses. The speed limit would drop to 55 mph for a hundred yards or so and then back to 65 mph. Next.

What kind of life do people have here? We were curious in an anthropological way. Is it a life to be loved, or do kids wait for the day they can escape?

From Antelope – Zion

Forty miles from Page, and driving parallel to its single track, electrified railroad, we got our first glimpse of the gigantic Navajo Generation Station. Two of its three stacks were blowing something white skyward.

I’m hoping it was steam, though I doubt it. There were separate cooling towers for that.

From Antelope – Zion

As we got closer, and the sheer size of the plant became apparent, Helaine started singing, “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong.”

Whatever I said about Kayenta goes doubly for Page. I know we need to generate electricity. I wish there was a less invasive way. After all, this huge power plant also needs huge transmission lines to take the power away.

We were in Page to visit Antelope Canyon. It is a slot canyon. Don’t worry, until recently I didn’t know what that meant either.

This area of the country gets little rain. What they do get isn’t spread through the seasons, but falls in brief deluges which often cause flash flooding.

From Antelope – Zion

Over the eons, a flooded stream, Antelope Wash, found its way to the Colorado River by boring through a hillside. That channel is the slot canyon we visited.

Because it’s carved through sandstone, the walls have smooth curves and a layered look. At certain times of the year (not now) sunlight streams through to the canyon floor as beams of light.

It was unlike anything Helaine or I had ever seen before – beautiful, mystical, spiritual.

From Antelope – Zion

We signed up for a tour at the entrance to the Navajo Park which contained the canyon. The operation of the tour company was rinky dink. However, our guide Carol was amazing.

She knew all about the canyon and, after all these tours, was a camera expert. She spent lots of time showing people where and how to get great shots, even with little point and shoot cameras.

Carol’s expertise will be felt when returning tourists look at their photos and find her masterpieces.

From Antelope – Zion
From Antelope – Zion
From Antelope – Zion
From Antelope – Zion
From Antelope – Zion

We left Antelope Canyon, headed over the Colorado River at Glen Canyon Dam and into Utah. I believe I’m entitled to another wife at this point.

The road settled into a low area flanked by white monolithic rocks, We were in Glen Canyon.

From Antelope – Zion

I know Grand Canyon is larger, deeper and more well known. However, you usually see The Grand Canyon from the top looking down. Here, we were in the middle of the broad flood plain. The rock faces towered over us. I have never felt smaller nor more inconsequential.

From Antelope – Zion

As with the trip to Page, the roads were good. From time-to-time we’d round a sharp bend or go down the side of a mountain steep enough to warrant a sign listing the grade (6% was our personal best).

Helaine isn’t comfortable with heights. This was not her ideal routing.

From Antelope – Zion

We made a left onto Route 9 in Mt. Carmel, Utah and headed into Zion National Park. Of all the scenery we’ve seen so far, this is the prettiest… the most awesome.

From Antelope – Zion

The park road is a narrow two lane affair – definitely not good for 65 mph! It is also the first ‘redtop’ road I’ve ever seen. I don’t know why it’s red. I’ll try and find out more tomorrow.

The road dipped and curved and hugged the side of steep mountains. As treacherous as the road is, there are two places which must be worse, because two tunnels are bored through mountainsides.

From Antelope – Zion

At the second tunnel there was construction, which set us back twenty minutes. It also allowed us twenty minutes to soak in the scenery.

From Antelope – Zion

We’re staying in Springdale, Utah tonight. Everything that was wrong with Kayenta and Page is absent here. This is a spectacular little town, with shops, restaurants, galleries and a free shuttle bus system!

I’ve only been here a few hours, but I’m loving Zion National Park and Springdale.

Tomorrow we’re going to take the shuttle to the park for a little exploring before hopping in the car and heading southwest to Las Vegas.

From Antelope – Zion
From Antelope – Zion
From Antelope – Zion

Friday Is For Photos

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

It’s good to have an understanding wife. She is often willing to tag along when she knows there’s something I want to do. I’d like to think I indulge her on an equal basis. Who’s keeping score?

Today, she had to return something at the Outlet Center in Clinton, and I went along – taking my camera with me.

If you would have told me taking photos could become such an obsession, I’d have poo poo’ed you… until it happened to me.

Is this what crack is all about? I just can’t stop.

We headed west from Clinton along US Route 1. Through most of Connecticut, Route 1 is known as the Post Road or Boston Post Road. This is how the mail moved up the East Coast before Interstates and the Internet and anything else with ‘inter’ in it.

As we passed through the center of Clinton, we saw a 12 foot tall tractor trailer stuck under an 11″ 10′ bridge! Part of the trailer’s roof was peeled back like a sardine can. Not big news, but I phoned the station just in case.

Is Connecticut shoreline, from Clinton to Madison, Guilford and Branford has a very New England feel – much more so than where I live. There are many old homes – some actually historic, dating back to the Revolution. The roadway itself meanders along tidal marshes and estuaries and is canopied by tall trees.

We made a few turns, drove by homes we once considered buying (they both look very small now), mistakenly turned back to the east and headed under what has to be the world’s most dangerous underpass in Guilford. After a u-turn we were back on track.

I finally, we were at our destination, the town dock in the Stony Creek section of Branford. Just offshore are a small sprinkling of tiny islands, commonly known as the Thimble Islands.

Many of the Thimbles are little more than rocks protruding out of the water at high tide. Others are large enough for one house. A few are large enough for multiple dwellings.

When Steffie was a baby, we were invited out to a party on Governors Island. The home we visited was more of a cottage. Though it had telephone service and running water, there was no electricity.

Jane Pauley and Garry Trudeau lived in the house next door. I tried to be adult about it, but c’mon… it was Jane Pauley and Garry Trudeau! How cool is that?

I took some shots, trying out the new monopod¹ I bought on EBay. A monopod is like a tripod after a double amputation. It helps steady the camera, but you can’t leave it to stand by itself.

I tried some panoramas – less than successful – and then shot away at the water and islands.

This is going to sound strange, but the colors of nature are off this time of year! With so many trees in bloom, they take on an unnatural shade and produce an unexpectedly high luminance.

Helaine needed to be home in time to watch the Daytime Emmy Awards, so I had time for one more photo stop. We drove over the Quinnipiac River Bridge, into New Haven and up to the top of East Rock.

At 359 feet above sea level, East Rock provides a great view of New Haven and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, much of the view isn’t that scenic.

New Haven’s harbor, which is deep and well protected is a ‘working harbor.’ So industry, enabled by shipping, has grown up on the waterfront.

Where there isn’t industry, there’s I-95. At New Haven, I-95 runs right along the Sound. It’s a shame, I suppose, but a little too late to change that.

Again, I wasn’t particularly successful with my panoramas, but I did manage to shoot off a few dozen more shots – some of which aren’t terribly bad.

On the way down we stopped at an overlook which pointed north, toward where we live. Usually, I think of East Rock’s unobstructed view across Long Island Sound (and today, Long Island itself was easily visible), but the view to the north can be very pretty and in many ways more ‘New England’ than what you’d see from ground level.

The northerly view also presents one of the few remaining unobstructed views of Sleeping Giant Mountain, where you can actually visualize the giant!

I’m not sure if any of today’s photos will make it to the printer. Still, I’m glad I tried. And, it was very nice spending the day with Helaine.



¹ – The monopod is very cool and it comes in a cloth carry case with strap. However, think about the shape of a monopod. There’s the ‘head’ at the top for the camera and then it slims to a cylinder for the rest of the unit.

In its sack, it looks like I’m carrying a short rifle.

Nixing The Noise

Thursday, March 9th, 2006

One of the biggest problems with PCs is the noise. My newest computer is no exception.

As soon as I fired it up, I head the whine and whir. They were tough to dismiss. I buttoned up the case, but there was little change. Some of the problem was fixable. Some, I’m resigned to endure.

I mentioned yesterday, the speed throttling ‘pot’ had been left of the CPU cooler. Turning down that fan made a difference – and the CPU temperature has not climbed.

Right now the CPU, motherboard and power supply all check in between 32° and 34° Celsius (89° – 93° Fahrenheit). I think the CPU can easily hand 60° Celsius. I have no clue about the power supply or motherboard, though I assume they’ve got less leeway.

I should add, computers are incredible heat producers. The faster they get, the more heat they produce. And, of course, heat means electricity. This has become a big problem for the proprietors of ‘server farms,’ which need to be cooled ferociously.

If I placed my hand over the fan grate on the back of the case also quieted the machine. That fan was spinning at around 3,000 rpm. As it turns out, in my box of never to be thrown out computer parts, was another speed controlling pot.

Listening carefully, I throttling that fan back until most of its noise was gone. It is now spinning at 2,000 rpm. That’s 1/3 lower in speed, but light years in noise.

Still the computer has a definite whir. I think the problem is the hard drives. Most PCs have one. This PC has five!

The Devil made me do it.

Actually, I had the drives hanging around from older projects. They seemed too young and virile to be filed away somewhere. Today, they could probably be replaced by a single drive – and sometime in the future that’s what I’ll do. Just not now. You have to draw the cash line somewhere.

Oh – last night while throwing in the last of the additions, I did notice some errors in my thinking. What I assumed was ‘just’ a disk controller turned out to be a RAID controller.

I didn’t plan for my two 60 Gb drives to become a RAID¹, but I had little choice if I wanted to use them.

Also, my TV card may only support 320×240 resolution – 25% of the pixels I’d get with the 640×480 I assumed it was capable of. I bought it cheap, online. Maybe I just didn’t peruse the specs properly.

I think it’s time to stop writing technical stuff for a while.

¹ – It stands for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives, and in my configuration two drives look like one. Since half the data is written to each, getting over some mechanical imitations, they are faster than single drives. Other types of RAID are used to create two copies of all data, for safety purposes.

The Meisels Go Home To New Orleans

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

Back when Hurricane Katrina was threatening the Gulf Coast, I did my best to get Ruth Meisel out. The day she drove to safety up north was the last time she saw her home, until yesterday.

With her two adult children in tow, Ruth Meisel returned to New Orleans to see what could be salvaged and tie up loose ends. She will be among the tens, maybe hundreds of thousands, who will leave their homes and move elsewhere.

New Orleans is being abandoned, wholesale.

I asked her son, my friend, Farrell to type some of his thoughts so I could put them here in the blog. I’ll sprinkle a few of his photos here, though the best way to see them is in this slideshow.

Clean up goes on. 80% of the city was affected. Some parts of the city have begun to function, albeit at half speed. This area is still without electricity and is deemed unsafe. It’s expected that electricity won’t be restored in New Orleans East for six to nine months. My mother returned for the first time since the hurricane and subsequent floods, to survey the damage and see if anything could be saved. She’s suited up and ready to go inside. In the background, my sister, Cheri, ready to suit up, as well.

It’s nice… no, it’s amazing to see Ruth smiling.

Here’s my read. She could be distressed with what she’s about to see, or she could be happy to see she raised her children right, and they are accompanying and supporting her. She chose the latter.

My mother knew from earlier reports and a prior visit by my sister, that things didn’t look so good. She’s been very optimistic and hopeful, looking forward and giving us much encouragement. My mother’s house survived the storm on the outside, but the inside looked and smelled awful and was a total disaster. Entering the front door we were greeted by a living room chair that wasn’t there when my mother left in August. That gives you an idea of how we were greeted.

From the marks on the wall it looks like 4-5 feet of water made it into the house. From the ‘bunny suits’ the Meisel’s wore, you can assume it wasn’t spring water.

Nearly everything was ruined.

One of the things that struck Farrell when we spoke on the phone was the proliferation of signs advertising Katrina related services. There are also markings, scrawled on homes with spray paint.

This house has been FEMA’d. FEMA is not an acronym here. It’s a four-letter word. BTW, so is Bush.
One of the city’s synagogues, Beth Israel, an Orthodox house of worship…Also one of the city’s oldest, which used to be in the historic uptown area until the late 1960s. Also on Canal Blvd, note the watermarks. Reportedly, the head Rabbi fled town, leaving the Torah scrolls to flood and be rescued from religious volunteers. The Rabbi has since been fired. My sister spotted prayer books and prayer shawls on the ground in front of the now-deserted synagogue….a sin in the Jewish religion.

Here’s how Farrell ended his note, and I’ll leave it pretty much intact:

As I visit here, for the first time in several years, 3 months after the devastation that has been chronicled worldwide, I have now discovered: A Missing City. Parts of the city and neighboring parish (Jefferson) we have seen are beginning to function, but it’s slow and without spirit.

In our many conversations with New Orleanians and Jeffersonians, one hears a great deal of anger leveled at Government. I could only find one person with a nice thing to say about President Bush. I asked why? The waitress at the seafood restaurant said it was the Louisiana Governor’s fault for not letting Bush send FEMA and the troops in. I then asked, out of curiosity, did she know that Bush was on a fundraising trip in California for three days before he did a “fly-over”, VP Cheney was buying a vacation house and the Secretary of State was shopping in Manhattan, while her home state, Alabama, was flooded. The waitress hadn’t heard that.

A newspaper stand owner or manager clearly vented his anger towards Bush, but didn’t spare either the local, regional and state governments, but felt, the US Government let Louisiana down.

Most of the Greater New Orleans area, (Orleans and neighboring parishes), as it’s known, with some 1 million people once living there, don’t have electricity, a home, assistance from FEMA, insurance companies, and they feel forgotten just three months after the hurricane and floods.. As is the case with crises the world over, once the cameras leave, the sense of urgency goes with the camera crews.

The stores and shops that are open are operating for limited hours due to two factors: limited shoppers and limited staff.

It’s quite unusual to be driving in one part of the area, say neighboring Metairie, where the shops and malls have reopened, only to continue on Interstate 10 to downtown New Orleans, and pass through darkness because whole areas have no power.

There were some signs of life downtown and in the French Quarter. The beautiful St. Charles Avenue historic areas seemed to be untouched and lit, yet, just a few blocks away, one would have thought we could have been in a war zone.

Rumors of price gouging exist. Household stores are reportedly charging double for goods consumers can buy in the middle of the state or in Mississippi for less. Gasoline is 30 cents a gallon more expensive than in the center of Mississippi or Louisiana reportedly.

Residents feel abandoned now. From the newspaper shop owner to restaurateur, residents don’t feel the city of N.O. census will approach even half of it’s close to 461,000 registered residents.

Employers are looking for employees. Potential employees are looking for housing, assistance from FEMA and the insurance companies, and those are the few, who have returned.

The Times-Picayune reported today that the New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin, rumored to be in Washington on business, actually wasn’t there on business, but took his family on vacation to Jamaica. While I’m sure he’s deserving of a break, there are several hundred thousand to one million people, who’d love to take that break, if only they could get some help from the various government agencies so they could get on with their lives and rebuild. And I haven’t even begun to discuss the levee system.

As I write this at 2am Central Standard Time, I was trying to think, after only two days here, how could I best describe what I have seen and heard? The word that comes to mind is “abyss.”

New Orleans, which had once been described as the “city that care forgot,” from an old Mardi Gras tale, has become the bottomless gulf or pit. There are only a handful of truly unique cities in the U.S. with some history and character. When tourists think of those cities, New Orleans had always been in the same company with San Francisco, Boston, New York, Savannah, and perhaps one or two other cities or towns.

It would not be an exaggeration to suggest, if there is no sense of urgency, New Orleans could drop off that list in my lifetime.

Please, look at the pictures. It is so sad… so tragic.

I Didn’t Know I Was This Nice

Saturday, October 1st, 2005

My friend Farrell’s mom, Ruth, has been interviewed again about her escape from New Orleans.

Every time she tells the story, I become a bigger hero. It’s now the “Legend of Geoff Fox.”

Seriously, this was a call anyone with info would make to the parent of a close friend. I am glad Ruth escaped New Orleans unscathed. I’m glad she listened to her family and friends, because I know in her heart she very much wanted to stay.

The story from the Valley Gazette continues at the jump.

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Katrina Comes Calling

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

I woke up and turned on the computer. The Miami radar showed Katrina closer than I expected. I think people in Florida are surprised it’s this close this soon. A friend in South Florida says the Hurricane Center’s personnel are on TV ‘tap dancing’.

I called my folks. “Put down the hurricane shutters,” I said. Hours later, the shutters were still up.

None of the neighbors had theirs down, my mom told me.

The shutters are down now. The wind is beginning to blow. The heaviest rain and wind are still to come.

Most likely they will not need the shutters, just as most likely I won’t need my seat belt on the drive home tonight.

They are currently with phone service but without electricity. The no electricity thing is the part they didn’t want to go through again.

Powerless

Monday, May 2nd, 2005

The strangest thing happened at work this afternoon. The power went out.

Actually, that’s an oversimplification. Though most of our lights stayed on, all our computer screens went dark (as did the computers driving them). In the days of film or videotape that might not have been as awful. Today, everything is on a computer. Everything – even stuff you wouldn’t expect, like video.

Our engineers started scrambling. They knew part of the station was powerless, but they didn’t know why or where the problem was.

Throughout the building there was the incessant chirping of Nextel as engineer called engineer, hoping for some insight or a sign that would lead to a fix.

Where Nextels weren’t chirping, UPS (uninterruptable power supplies) were. Their batteries were quickly draining and they were signaling their own death.

I started to think, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone, what would we do? How would we, or could we, do the news with only limited electricity?

There have been stations in hurricane and tornado areas that broadcast from their parking lot using a ‘live truck’ as a mobile control room. Is that even possible anymore when all the video is on a hard drive somewhere?

Someone asked me if I had any magnetic Suns! I’ve been doing the weather for over 20 years. That era totally predates me.

I watched a production person move through the studio holding a gigantic electrical strip… like an extension cord on steroids.

Our master control operators managed to reroute our feed around the television station, going from Springfield, MA to Mad Mare Mountain in Hamden. We were back. Somehow, with part of our electricity on, another engineer figured out a way to get a camera on live for a news brief. There would be no video from stories, but at least we’d have a live on-air presence.

Soon all the computers returned. I’m not sure what the problem was, but it was fixed.

Back in the weather area I had a dozen or so PCs to bring back to life. Some of them needed to be fired in sequence to bring up the networks that interconnected them.

One by one they came back to life. Little by little the entire building picked up where it had left off. By the time we got on the air at 5:00 PM, it was impossible to know we had been dead in the water less than an hour earlier.

If this was some sort of test – we passed. I just don’t want to have to go through it again… though I’d like to play around with magnetic Suns and Magic Markers.