August 31st, 2013

#3955: Rain!

So--

Yesterday, I see by rereading the previous post, I forgot to mention that I actually made two trips to the DMV. See, I rode out there, and got pre-screened, and as I was walking from there to the place where I'd wait to get a license plate sticker, I realized something important: The insurance card for the Jeep in my wallet is not the current one. So rather than wait to be called, only to be told I needed a current insurance card, I simply walked out the other door, put my kit back on, and rode home to get the current one.

Hell yes I rode the motorcycle. It was only in the mid-90s yesterday, and my previous experience with riding in hot weather had been a positive one, so WTH. Besides, with the holiday weekend upon us, gas in the Fungal Vale has risen to $4.009 per gallon (from about $3.739) and the Jeep still only gets a maximum of 15 MPG in city driving.

I rode the bike home, got the new card, rode back, and faced a longer pre-screening line. (This is when I heard the thing about kids partying too much, and a bit later saw the bureaucratic stupidity over the line.)

The problem that I have here is that the license plates expire in the same month that the insurance is up for renewal, and I can never remember to put the new card in my wallet. My insurance underwriter sends out bills and such stupidly far in advance--months!--so I can't just take the card out and replace it when the renewal comes, because it's typically six weeks or more before it'll even be valid. Like, it's late June, and the card doesn't become valid until mid-August. Argh etc.

"Carry 'em both," you say. Yes, that's the smart thing to do, and I have done it on occasion when it occurs to me, but this time around it did not. Argh etc.

Anyway, I got home from that and came into a deliciously cool house, and sat around in my underwear for a little while to cool off. I got involved with stuff, and the next thing I know it's 7:30 and looking a lot darker outside than it ought to, which is when I had a gander and saw it was raining. So I went outside, put the motorcycle away, dried it off, and then put the two big contractor trash bags of trash into the garbage toter, nearly filling it.

See: generally speaking you can't just put bagged trash out by the curb. The whole reason for switching the town to these toters is to make collecting trash on a particular route a one-man job. Instead of having a guy drive the truck and two guys hang off the back to throw in the bags, they have one guy driving and operating the gigantic robot hand that grabs toters and empties them into the truck. It's efficient, but the robot hand will just shred bags, so they must be in some kind of hard container.

And Thursday night, I was out of containers. The big bags were too big to fit into the remaining can, and anyway I was reserving that --

Whoops. Raining now, bright flash, nearly instantaneous BANG, power is out. *sigh*

#3956: 5.5 hours later

The bunker is one of several houses on a stub. I'm not sure how the stub is wired, but we have wires in front of our house and behind our house, and if the fuse goes on the pole in the front yard we lose power. We also lose power if anything happens to the transformer on the pole behind our neighbor's house.

I believe it's a U-shape. The wires go up the street, then come down the easement between peoples' back yards to terminate at the pole in the SE corner of the back yard, where it splits into service for three houses.

Or is it four? One of the things I would really, really like to do is to track the power lines and make a drawing of what goes where, because I'm curious about it, but people get strange ideas when they see a middle-aged man tromping through their yards with a clipboard. (Maybe if I put on a hard hat....) Anyway, the information is not vital to me, but I do wonder about the power distribution network of my neighborhood from time to time.

Anyway--

Mrs. Fungus and I were saying goodbye for the day, when FLASHCRACK a lightning bolt hit something nearby and knocked the power right the hell out. Scared the crap right out of us both. I checked the breaker box downstairs to make sure everything was okay, but circuit breakers generally are not affected by lightning strikes. They have hardware on the power poles to deal with that, grounding wires and special fuses that open when lightning strikes, rather than send a few thousand amps through the system. If the lightning gets as far as the circuit breakers in a house, it's pretty much "game over"--and you know it because of the light show and hellacious noise--but I wanted to be sure.

So lightning struck, that surge fuse opened, and the power went off immediately. My computer's UPS and the UPS for the modem and routers were both beeping. I saw Mrs. Fungus off, finished off the previous post, and shut everything down.

Then I set to notifying ComEd that the power was off. My first thought was "cell phone" but apparently my cell phone was incapable of navigating their automated reporting system, because as soon as I pressed one for the "To report an outage, dangerous condition, lines in roadway, or other power-related problem, press one" option, the phone call ended and my phone reported, "CALL FAILED". *sigh*

I was going to move the cordless base into the computer room, in order to plug it into a UPS and make the call that way--but then realized it would be simpler just to get an extension cord from the garage and run it in there. Then I was able to call ComEd and successfully navigate their automated system and report the outage. Apparently there were eight other houses affected by this particular outage.

Their database must be pretty nifty for an automated system to know who's connected to what line. That's neat.

...anyway, there was nothing else that I could do. It was raining, there was no power--so I took a nap. The power came back on about 3:30-ish. Whee!

And so, here we are.