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August 15, 2003

We’re back! Power came on at 8 AM in our section of Brooklyn. However, Panix, our ISP for email, still seems to be down, so if you’ve sent us anything it may be a while before we see it.

Power to the Flatiron Building went poof at 4:09 yesterday. We wound up walking home, hiking out of Manhattan in the 90-degree heat in the company of thousands of others. As luck would have it, my brother Benjamin from Portland, Oregon has been in northern New Jersey on a job for several days, and he was scheduled to drive his rented van over to Brooklyn and stay with us last night. He made it, a couple of hours late, and we wandered the pitch-dark streets of Park Slope in search of food and drink. We finally found a take-out Chinese place on Flatbush that was cooking in the dark over gas—one person would cook while the other held a flashlight over his head, looking for all the world, as Teresa observed, like Mad Max Does Chinese.

Laden with take-out containers of black-bean chicken and orange-flavor beef, we trudged home home, grabbed bowls and cutlery out of our dark apartment, and sat in Benjamin’s blessedly air-conditioned van, eating Chinese food and listening to blackout updates on 1010 WIN (“You Give Us 22 Minutes, We Give You the World”). The rich full life. [09:04 AM]

Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on We're back!:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 09:26 AM:

The reason I said it looked like Mad Max does Chinese Takeout was that aside from the one big flashlight the guy was pointing at the main fry cook, they were operating by the light of a half-dozen improvised lamps made by putting a little wodge of fabric or paper towel, soaked in what I suspect was oil out of the fryer, in repurposed tin cans. They burned with a four-to-six-inch torch-like flame -- smoky as hell, but a very effective improvised light.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 10:03 AM:

David called about 8:30AM from Tor. One cannot call in. They have some very bad phone service going out -- I had to speak very slowly and repeat words three times to be understood. David, Jim Minz, Jim's wife, and a guy named Gavin from production spent the night in the Tor offices. David had me try the MetroNorth web site to see if trains were running. I could not get the MetroNorth web site to load. He was going to try to get the car service to drive him home. I suspect that won't work.

David Greenbaum ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 10:07 AM:

Hooray! Power came back up at 9 am here in Queens, connectivity at 9:30 am.

I walked home up Queens Boulevard from Long Island City - traffic jams like nobodies business. I remembered fondly those days when there were traffic lights on Queens Boulevard, on an ordinary day a mere Boulevard of Death - I was stuck on the northern side of the Boulevard, and had to walk practically back to Woodhaven to cross south.

Did my frantic phone calling, found everybody who needed to be found (cell phones were completely dysfunctional) and shmoozed up the Bukharian greengrocer while the night fell.

Then, moonlight on the rowhouse rooftops, and WCBS on the portaradio, powered off the UPS.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 10:37 AM:

I feel something almost like survivor's guilt. Our section of Jersey City had power nearly all day, though it would flicker sometimes. We left the air conditioners off (I finally switched 'em back on around 10 in the evening, after the rest of Jersey City lit back up), but we had lights and refrigeration and a fan.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 10:59 AM:

The Command Post has good blog coverage of blackout info.

Paul ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 11:17 AM:

Ah, yes, 1010 WINS. "All news, all the time" Fond memories of the AM radio station back when I lived in NY. (On Staten Island, of all places)

I used to think that if the world were to end, there would be good old 1010, laconically detailing the events as they unfolded.

I also recall in Spider Robinson's NIGHT OF POWER that one indication to the protagonists that the takeover had happened was that 1010 had begun broadcasting soul music instead of the news...


Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 11:20 AM:

I'm at my mother's after walking home from Madison and 53rd last night. Power came back here too at 8 am. Check my blog for the gory details, and my LiveJournal for irresponsible speculation.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 11:30 AM:

You guys certainly know how to turn an urban emergency into a good time!

Sounds like the only thing missing was the Jim Beam....

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 11:37 AM:

I live and work in Hoboken, so I didn't have trouble getting home, thank $DEITY. I did have to listen to the party going all night in the projects, which are within earshot of my seldom-open windows.

Power came back on at ~7:20 this morning. I must have a good refrigerator; my icecubes didn't even melt. More than I can say for myself, but I made no attempt to climb into the freezer.

I dutifully went to my office building, but they were dark. They used their emergency power yesterday to get everyone out safely; I don't know if that was why there was no one there, or if the company just closed for the day (since most people who work there don't live 15 footminutes away).

Kynn Bartlett ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 11:59 AM:

"You Give Us 22 Minutes, We Give You the World"

Huh, that's the slogan for our Los Angeles station 980, KFWB, too. I wonder if they're affiliated, or if that's just something they all hit on, or if I'm missing something else.

--Kynn

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 12:03 PM:

Anyone know anything about the Tor situation? I haven't heard from David since 8:30 this morning. I presume he's still at Tor.

Randy Paul ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 02:09 PM:

Well I mised the excitement, except I4m stuck here in Brazil. We were supposed to leave tonight from Belo Horizonte connecting with a flight to New York from Se3o Paulo. The flight to New York was canceled and by the time I was able to get us on another flight, I can4t leave until Sunday night and I have to travel for work on Wednesday. Things could be worse, but I4m still peeved.

Randy Paul ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 02:11 PM:

Kynn,

They were both owned by Westinghouse and through the various mergers are now owned by Infinity.

Chuck Nolan ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 02:38 PM:

Kynn, add KYW in Philadelphia and KDKA in Pittsburgh to that. They use those slogans, etc. also.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 03:39 PM:

David is home. He got a rare Metro North train to Tarrytown and I just picked him up.

Copeland ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 03:56 PM:

I'm glad everyone made it home safe and sound. When I saw the video on the news of people abandoning their cars on the freeway, it was like a shot from some End-Of-The-World flic.

Arthur D. Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 05:15 PM:

The power came back on in Yonkers at 8 AM, and all seems well. We were safe at home.

I am old enough to remember when 1010 WINS New York was Alan Freed.

Frustrated Sigh ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 05:53 PM:

Wait a second, in the middle of an energy crisis you sat in an air-conditioned van to eat and listen to the radio? I hope the approximate cup of gasoline burned every six minutes by an idling engine was worth your comfort. Let me reiterate this juxtaposition: energy failure/gross consumption. Yet again: energy failure/gross consumption. Way to go.

Claire ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 06:12 PM:

Sorry to post this for the non-Tor folk, but I will post this here because panix is gone for me. This is the first time my phone has started to work and I am grabbing it now. FYI, several Tor folk walked all the way up the east side. I got Ben; we're safe. Melissa is safe home, so is Constance. Power came on here around six and I have to say I feel positively medieval. Got the kid out this AM and we shored up on dried meat, aged cheddar cheese, fresh and dried fruit. Give me some mead and I'm set. You'all be safe, OK?

Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 06:17 PM:

I hope the approximate cup of gasoline burned every six minutes by an idling engine was worth your comfort.

Heat prostration-- a noble sacrifice on behalf of mother earth! Yea verily, an anonymous internet fucktard says so!

Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 06:31 PM:

Whoa. Calm down, FS. You must have been watching too much cable news. This is not an (ooh, scary sound effects) *** energy crisis ***. It is a perfectly ordinary power outage. Some big surge briefly overloaded some component of the transmission network, other components shut down in self-protection, it's taking a while to bring things back up. You don't want the surge caused by bringing generators back online to shut down other generators again, so the job has to be done gradually. While the system is coming back online, people affected are, perforce, using a great deal less energy than they would normally. Other than that, nothing is different, energy-wise, from the day before yesterday.

Granted, the effects were way more widespread this time than they ought to have been, but that is a design question, and has precisely zero to do with people sitting in a car with the engine idling, using up gasoline.

Would you have had the same knee-jerk reaction if Patrick had said that they decided to drive off to, oh say, someplace scenic in Pennsylvania with his brother, just for fun? I doubt it. But a pleasure trip would have used more gas.

Beth ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 06:55 PM:

I'm glad I checked in here. Kathryn, I'm glad David got home! I hope Jim and Sondi did too. You guys do know that one of the couches in Tom's office is a fold-out bed?

And glad that Melissa got home too! How'd she do it?

Panix still isn't up, so I'm not getting any email either. I'll survive. I hope everyone has power by tomorrow!

Mike Kozlowski ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 08:28 PM:

I feel like such an honorary New Yorker now. Not only do I get to share in the blackout (my part of Detroit just came up a few hours ago), but I'm also not getting email because Panix is down.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 08:47 PM:

Scott: Indeed, speaking personally, anonymous internet fucktards are always the very first people from whom I take environmental and ethical advice.

Michael R Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 08:49 PM:

Well, here at 2nd Ave & 14th St in manhattan we just got out power back about an hour ago. Over 27 hours without power. The list, written out by candlelight, of things to not be such a dumbshit about next time: (1) have some effing cash in the house, asshole... *sheesh*... take the ATMs away and we are lost... (2) have enough double-A batteries in the house such that you don't have to rummage through the remotes and long-unused Walkmen to find some juice... (3) when you stock up on canned food for emergencies after 9/11? don't eat up all the god-damned canned food over time as the notion of An Emergency fades into the remote, unremembered past... (4) Find some way, *any* way to make yourself a hot cup of coffee in the morning. I walked for an hour this morning until I found a place with a huge thermos they were selling coffee out of.

I *did* manage to actually have some candles in the house, but no working flashlight.

I was *really* getting ticked at about 6pm tonight. I was beginning to think my block would be the last place in Northeastern North America that would get its power back. It wasn't. Last I looked, much of everything south of 14th and east of B'way was out. But it could be up by now.

Where the hell is panix? I can't even resolve the hostname. I don't mind not having the email so much, but there's a corporate web client out on the West Coast that *really* needs its page on the panix webservers...

Well, at

Sandra McDonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 08:59 PM:

Patrick and Teresa, I was thinking of you yesterday, glad to see everything's well.

And yes, let's just say I'm immensely glad that Boston's not on the same grid. Though it does make me wonder about the status of all those Y2K supplies supposedly still stocked around the house. I should at least find the batteries.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 09:10 PM:

Michael -

panix has fallen off the DNS tables; I'd presume that their servers are in a part of New York that is still without power, since falling off DNS generally takes 24 hours.

Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 09:36 PM:

Gradon:

Yeah, they very well could be out of power still. I walked by their offices today and that neighborhood was out. I may go out for a walk later. But I think they fell off the DNS tables well before 24 hours. I had some battery power in my laptop plus dial-in on another provider yesterday evening and I couldn't resolve them then. So, I dunno'... I thought they had emergency backup power, so I assumed they were cut-off from the net by some other means. Beats me. Guess we'll find out.

Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 09:38 PM:

Oops. "Graydon". Guess I forgot how to type in the last 24 hours. And I'm not even drunk, though I wouldn't mind being.

Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2003, 09:43 PM:

Ah! It is 9:42pm and I just got the panix webpage back. Not sure about email yet, but She seems to be back on the net.

Jane Yolen ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2003, 04:23 AM:

Of course, Patrick, the email I sent to you bounced. All it said was that I hope you two were okay. I had heard (via Jonathan via Heidi) that you'd walked home.

You should rather be in Scotland where, under a lovely blue sky and summer sun, it's remained constantly in the low to mid 70s. Except with a housefull, I'd have to put you on the floor! Much less adventure--but much more fun.

All in all, though, it sounds as if New Yorkers managed this crises with aplomb.

Jane

Jane

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2003, 07:46 AM:

>Of course, Patrick, the email I sent to you bounced.

Panix is back up, but David's blackout email seems to be awol. Also, Looking at the Spam folder, I notice he got very little (or maybe no) spam during the blackout.

In contrast, my panix blackout email seems to be much more plentiful.

Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2003, 09:12 AM:

"Frustrated Sigh" would probably have posted a longer comment, but that he had to take a break from pedalling his foot-powered generator to go forage for roots and berries.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2003, 09:56 AM:

I love the phrase Anonymous Internet Fucktard. We should just call them AIFs. And just among us, since these folks pop in and have no idea what our traditions are (oooeee I sound oldfartish!) we can use any phrase with the same initials to indicate to each other, but not to them, that we have a suspected Anonymous Internet Fucktard on our hands.

Examples: "Hmm, looks like All Is Funny again." "That guy is presenting an Awfully Intricate Fantasy, don't you think?" "Yeah JustARegularJoe doesn't realize we're Actually Infinitely Friendly." Invent your own examples; it's a game.

OK, forget it. Just me in a slightly...in a mood of some sort.

Free-associating a little bit, it occurs to me that FS, in addition to standing for Frustrated Sigh, also stands for one more thing...hint: the first word is a present participle, and the last syllable is 'head'.

India ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2003, 10:56 AM:

Shows you the kind of publishing house I work for: instead of going home, we sat on our loading dock drinking until sundown, whereupon we went in search of food. Shakespeare and Co.'s warehouse staff was doing the same. I spent the night at my parents' house in NoHo and walked home to full power in Carroll Gardens on Friday morning. Yesss.

To Michael R Weholt's list of things to not be such a dumbshit about next time, I add: (5) as soon as cell numbers become portable, switch to anything but T-Mobile. Everybody on the block had service except me and a guy who also has T-Mobile. (6) Make sure there's at least one analog phone at home and at the office, and make sure you know where it is (i.e., not buried in the same evil closet with the flashlight). (7) Make sure you know how to check your cellphone's voicemail from another phone. (8) When you find a restaurant that's still serving but they say it's cash-only, add up the cash at the table and ask the price of the wine before you order two bottles.

Glad everbody's coming back online.

Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2003, 11:09 AM:

FYI, the power finally came back on my block, 22nd St between 6th & 7th /aka/ 2 blocks west of TOR, at almost exactly 9 PM last night (Friday).

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan (From an Apple Store in NYC) ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2003, 05:21 PM:

Talk about being honorary Newyorkers! Five days in town and I get to brag about having been in a blackout. I was taking a shower about two blocks from Times Square and at first I thought it was my fault the light had gone out. I had a far less traumatic experience than most people around me: I had a nice comfortable bed within walking distance, cash, water and four Granny Smith apples, and a radio with fresh batteries. I ate the best lamb gyro of my life in the Rockfeller Center and saw Vega disappear beyond the Time-Life building. All in all, fun.

Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2003, 11:18 PM:

I was just thinking that "The Anonymous Internet Fucktards" would be a great band name. Or perhaps a Movement.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2003, 11:25 PM:

I am genuinely pleased that New York managed to put on a good show for the excellent Anna Feruglio Dal Dan.

Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2003, 04:11 AM:

...and saw Vega disappear beyond the Time-Life building.

There's another possibility for the "whom to blame?" rumor pile. Clearly, the blackout was orchestrated by militant astronomers.

janeyolen ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2003, 04:48 AM:

Nope, it now turns out that the blackout was orchestrated by OHIOANS! Now that's really hard to believe.

Jane

jane ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2003, 04:49 AM:

Nope, it now turns out that the blackout was orchestrated by OHIOANS! Now that's really hard to believe.

Jane

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2003, 01:26 PM:

Hey, knock it off! One of my favorite bloggers is an anonymous Internet fucktard.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2003, 02:00 PM:

Well, two out of three. A and I, surely, but never F in my experience.

I'm all for Internet anonymity when there's a perfectly decent reason for it. By being anonymous, Real Live Preacher is able to tell us things about the life of a minister which he otherwise couldn't discuss, which would be a loss to us all. On the other hand, a lot of people use Internet anonymity, as Teresa has observed, "as a way to try and collect on moral debts that aren't owed to them."

John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2003, 03:12 PM:

Long ago on Usenet, I started using the term "cuckoo" for folks who (often, though not always, under pseuds) showed up out of nowhere to post rants, and then disappeared into the Void-O-Tron. The reference was, of course, to the egg-posting bird, though I am given to understand that it has other connotations. (Of course, those would weaken its use as an inside reference.)

The discamelating straw, not that anyone asked, was a character who left four enormously long posts on the absolute supremacy of the Authorized Version of 1611 (or "King James") over all other Bibles everywhere. It was obvious to this writer that it was ideal and perfect, because it was, quote, "the Author's Version." Somewhere, John Wesley was asking his namesake for the loan of a six-gun.

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2003, 05:08 PM:

Patrick, you and I both know that lots of bloggers are anonymous. I singled out RLP for a reason. Fucktard I said, and fucktard I meant.

(Sometimes, though, I think people go over the top in responding to the anonymity of drive-by trolls. It's as if, after four gunmen in a twenty-year-old Buick unload their AK-47s into the restaurant storefront before driving away, the eyewitnesses took special umbrage over the fact that the perpetrators wore ski masks.)

Charles Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2003, 08:32 PM:

Well, if the conversation goes on much longer in this vein, I'll have to consider starting up Anonymous Internet Fucktards Anonymous. We could kick the organization off in grand style with a meeting in Cambridge in October, priced at $700 a head to pay for the caviar-freighted buffet tables at the swank receptions manned by dozens of staffers on loan from the Department of Redundancy Department...

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2003, 02:19 AM:

I just wanted to say that "discamelating" deserves to be a word more than at least 40% of the words that already are.

Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2003, 04:44 AM:

Sometimes, though, I think people go over the top in responding to the anonymity of drive-by trolls.

Well, if guilt was radiation, I'd be glowing blue right about now. I'm probably more sensitive about this sort of thing than I should be; my chief online hangout of the past few years (www.rpg.net) used to have quite a problem with anonymous, mouthy reprobates. Somehow, it's worse when they type and punctuate properly, because then you know that you're dealing with a calculating coward rather than a relatively innocent twit.

Anyhow, "fucktard" became the RPG.net aphorism of choice for anonymous trolls. Although it was originally applied to (and identified with) a neo-Nazi troll, it soon showed up all over the place. It's like the WD-40 of internet obscenities96 an omni-cuss for all occasions.

Jay C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2003, 11:53 AM:

And to the list of things to add to the "emergency" stash: don't forget WATER! - maybe a gallon bottle or 2 put away in back of a closet: After I finally got home in the blackout, I found that my 160 or so neighbors in my building had left me only about 2 gallons of vile, rust-laden sludge. Fortunately, I had a few bottles of Perrier, and some ice-melt to drink (and even more luckily, a terrace drain for "No.1")/ If you are home early enough to fill the tub, great: otherwise, keep a little back.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2003, 01:13 PM:

I watched most the post-GBOO03 coverage* from a Las Vegas hotel room. It rained there over the weekend, briefly resulting in a combination of desert heat and monsoon humidity. In other words, New York summer weather.

Walking in those conditions was awful; walking in it w/o being able to duck into casinos whose A/C was set to "flash freeze an elephant" was unimaginable. Life in the North West has gotten me soft, I guess.

Dinner in an air-conditioned van in those conditions doesn't sound all that decadent.

* Aside from Fox and CNN, my home town crowd came off very well indeed.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2003, 01:13 PM:

For planning purposes, absolute flat minimum, minimum, this will keep you alive but you won't want to be, water is 2 litres per healthy person per day.

Four is better. So plan on a gallon a day per person and remind yourself that this is not a lot; it is, in the kind of heat we were having during the blackout, rather close to the desireable minimum.

So, five 2 litre pop bottles of water per person is two days plus wastage. This gets to be a lot of pop bottles if you're serious about this and are trying to have five days water stored.

cheem ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2003, 01:51 PM:

Don't forget that those plastic pop bottles decay over time, so you have to do a lot of cycling. Either that or use glass bottles/jars.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2003, 02:13 PM:

The correct amount of water is: Take your weight in pounds. Divide this number in half. Get that number of fluid ounces of water.

So, for a 180 pound adult, you need to have 90 oz./day of water on hand, or about 2.6 liters.

Note: soda, beer, juice, coffee etc. are not the equivalent.

Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2003, 02:23 PM:

cheem, how quickly do PET bottles decay? I once created a fair-sized stash at the back of my garage (outside, partially exposed to the elements). As I recall, the bottles held up for quite a few years, though the water probably wasn't potable by the end. This was back when 2-liter bottles mostly had metal caps, as well as external reinforcement (a sort of opaque plastic cup on the bottom), so perhaps the excess strength has been optimized out of the bottle design since then. I suspect not, since storing plain water puts a lot less stress on the bottle than storing carbonated beverages.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2003, 02:35 PM:

If you are planning on keeping the water for a very extended period, you need to sanitize them and boil the water first. Cycling is a good idea. So is keeping a lot of ice in your freezer (which provides icemelt to drink and also keeps food from spoiling for longer).

Our water never went off during the blackout. But I live in the city, in a building that wasn't even finished when I bought the apartment I live in, so all is modern (if shabby).

And to keep WELL hydrated, the calculation I got worked out to right around a gallon a day for me (I weigh about 200). Minimum to sustain life short-term is not sufficient to maintain healthy kidneys long-term.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2003, 03:03 PM:

A better thumb rule!

Thank you.

Trying to put it into metric makes my brain recoil, just now, but it is just a ratio, so this ought to be possible.

Jay C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2003, 09:19 AM:

How about a simple mnemonic couplet:

A gallon a day
Keeps the Reaper away.

Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2003, 10:26 AM:

Beth--

I walked uptown and out over the 59th Street Bridge, just like 2 years ago. But much slower, lol, because it was so damn hot! (and because I wasn't scared; the kid was safe, which was a great relief, on her way home from camp at the usual time and dropped off at my mother's, her accustomed arrival point, about 10 minutes late).

Once I was in Queens, there were buses. This was fun, because no buses were stopping at actual bus stops, so getting on one was a little like playing Tag. Suddenly an MTA dispatcher (blue vest, ID, flashlight) appeared along Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside. She made a NYC bus, labeled "subway shuttle" stop. It filled instantly. She said, "Wait here, I'll get another one in a couple of minutes." And Voila! NYers obediently lined up--instant "official" bus stop. It was wonderful and funny to see--give us a little organization and we are happy folk.

Anyway, while I was standing there, an SUV pulled up and a man began talking to the driver and then opened the passenger door and got in, followed by a couple of other people. I put my native-NYer training to good use, pushed through the line of people waiting for the bus, and got the very last seat in the car. This nice man, who had been trying to get into Manhattan to pick up his sister, was turned back by police and decided to help some total strangers. He gave 6 people rides and dropped them off with care (considering it was dark by then). He left me all of 2 blocks from my mother's, and though I had to cross the renowned Boulevard of Death in the dark, I went with a group and we crossed with much waving of arms in the hopes that people would see us and not kill us.

Was greeted by my daughter with a death-grip hug ("I wasn't scared mommy," she said) and my mother with a candle.

No biggie.

Next day, despite two bottles of water consumed on the way, I had some symptoms of dehydration and heat exhaustion. Nothing major and I was fine by Saturday.

Took 5 hours to go the just-under-8-miles. But I walked less of it than I did on September 11th, and in better shoes.

Jeff Crook ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2003, 10:55 AM:

Those huge bottles of cheap-ass wine make good water storage bottles... if you don't live in a seismic zone, like I do. Our most likely disaster would likely destroy any water supply stored in glass bottles. Actually, the best thing to do (if you regularly drink bottled water) is to buy up a huge supply of bottled water all at one, then drink out of it and replace it normally, so that you always have several gallons of relatively fresh bottled water on hand.

Other good things to have - a butane burner and several cans of butane. I got mine at the Chinese market. Comes in handy if you have an electric stove.

A manual can opener. Don't end up like Sylvester with a cabinet full of cans of kitty food and no way to open them. (Learned this after an ice storm.)

Analog phone - I bought mine from a hotel supply, it even has a little red light on top. When Memphis got nailed by the big storm in July, our entire phone system at work went down, and they realized that there wasn't a single analog phone in the building. Add to that the cell phone service became extremely spotty.

Candles are good, but I prefer a nice big bottle of lamp oil. As Teresa noted, you can make a lamp out of nearly anything, but they do sell a simple stopper-and-wick that can be used to turn nearly any bottle into a lamp. And it burns a hell of a lot longer that candles.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2003, 11:19 AM:

I wonder if all those people who stockpiled duct tape found any use for it in the blackout.

cheem ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2003, 11:32 AM:

Sadly, I have no idea how long it takes for plastic water bottles to go bad. It depends on storage conditions... I've seen sealed bottles in cool dark crawlspaces stay fresh for months. I've also seen bottles go bad after a week (moral is don't carry water bottles in your backpack for too long).

As for lamp oil... doesn't lamp oil tend to come in large plastic bottles these days? Not what I'd want to convert into a lamp. Cruddy bottles deform in hot water, for crying out loud.

Seth Ellis ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2003, 11:42 AM:

I wonder if all those people who stockpiled duct tape found any use for it in the blackout.

On those long boring evenings without TV, you can always amuse yourself taping all the furniture to the ceiling.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2003, 01:00 PM:

One of the booths in Portland's weekly craft* fair** sells wallets made of duct tape. And I seem to remember seeing instructions on making these on the web.

I imagine a body could while away many a blacked out hour turning out wallets.

For extra credit: Use duct tape and plastic sheeting to make an escape ladder.


* Stash boxes, elephant ears, home-made chili sauce, dog raincoats.

** How can you not like an assemblage of booths and bohemians at a place called _Skidmore Fountain?_ I mean, dang! _Skidmore_. _Fountain._

Jeff Crook ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2003, 01:05 PM:

doesn't lamp oil tend to come in large plastic bottles these days?

It comes by the gallon jug or the quart bottle. I don't recommend using them for lamps, as they are plastic, as you say. But an empty fifth of bourbon or wine bottle makes an excellent lamp.

patrick timony ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2003, 11:34 PM:

Just wanted to see my name on a real webpage. Wow, I still can't believe they let people like me say stuff on the real Web.