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Archive for August 18th, 2003

Blackout 2003

August 18, 2003

So yeah, I was a part of the big blackout, and I didn’t even get a lousy t-shirt. I was at home online with my laptop when the power went out late Thursday afternoon, and because the battery took over, I didn’t lose my connection and therefore was able to almost immediately post in the petty bitching thread over at The Usual Suspects about how evidently all my neighbors had cranked their A/C to cope with the heat and humidity and thus knocked out our electricity, which meant I couldn’t work on my quilt project or watch DVD’s and how if the power stayed out I’d have to sleep in the basement with the spiders because the bedroom upstairs would be unbearably hot. Of course, no sooner had I finished typing that out on the board than I saw a thread had been started about how power was out in New York and Toronto, too. As later posts piled up with reports of outages in Ottawa and Cleveland and on and on, I felt bad about blaming my neighbors. Sorry, neighbors.

Mr. Karen arrived home to tell me of the traffic tie ups he’d had to deal with on his drive from the office– right, no stop lights; I hadn’t though about that. I hadn’t thought about much, actually, other than how long the laptop battery would last, but Mr. Karen shines in situations like this and soon had all the proper unplugging and cooler loading and flashlight gathering completed (I helped, really I did, once I knew what needed doing). We dined on the things that would spoil sooner rather than later; well, the ones that didn’t require cooking, anyway. After the sun went down, we played a couple games of Yahtzee by the light of the battery-powered camp lantern before retiring to the family room to sleep; it actually stayed cool enough on the first floor to sleep there rather than in arachnid central.

Friday morning, Mr. Karen dug up an old faux Walkman we weren’t even sure we still had; it had an AM radio we could listen to for news, of which there wasn’t much. Pretty much the story was sit tight, be patient, don’t use the water any more than absolutely necessary and certainly don’t drink it. We sat tight and heard reports of power restored to the south and west of us. Mr. Karen, being a handy guy, assembled a solar oven in the back yard from bits and pieces of our cookware and mirrors and other large reflective surfaces he found in the basement, but the weather didn’t cooperate.

Our power flickered on briefly around 11 Friday morning, but immediately went off again. When there was no further sign of it for the next half hour, Mr. Karen headed out into the great wide world to search for ice to replace our original supply. While he was gone, the power came back on and stayed on. Not bad, being down only 20 hours in the biggest blackout in North American history. It’s a good thing, too, as there was no ice to be had anywhere. What there were were huge lines at the gas stations in the areas that had power. Can you say “panic buying”? I knew you could.

Because DTE Energy was asking people to conserve power as it came back on, we didn’t turn the A/C on for six or seven hours. It was during that time that I finally went down to the basement to commune with the spiders, because they had the only remaining cool spot in the house. By now, other than still being under orders to boil water for drinking and cooking, things are back to normal. We’ve even been able to not use the A/C in the house at all for the past couple days because the weather has cooled down a little bit from the hot humid conditions we had late last week.


A year ago, I was thinking about getting old. Actually, I was thinking about that this morning, too, when I tweaked my back in the shower. It’s still stiff now. At least I managed to dress myself and continue on with my day without sustaining further injury.

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