drcpunk: (Default)
( Aug. 17th, 2003 01:35 pm)
I was at work when the power went out, along with two of my researchers -- most of my researchers leave at 3:45.

So, about 4:10 or so, everything went out, and the emergencies lights went on. I said, "Fuck", feeling a bit embarassed afterwards, cuz, like, supervisors are supposed to be professional. But, in retrospect, I don't think it was an overreaction.

I went upstairs, confirming that, yes, this was building wide. Now, we'd had something similar over a year ago, during a storm. Lights were flickering, not out, and phones and computers were working, as were desk lights, but this was within my paramaters of, well, normal. I asked my boss if I should send the researchers home. She was undecided, but when I said that they'd normally be leaving in, say, 10-15 minutes, she asked what was being done about the lights, and did we actually have emergency lighting down there? I confirmed the second, and checked on the first. When I reported that Con Ed was being called, she said to go ahead and send people home, as nothing would happen in 10-15 minutes. I reminded her I'd be out on Friday, and went downstairs.

After confirming that the researchers really hadn't planned to stay longer than that, I sent them home and brought down the one computer that hadn't gone out on its own in my department. Then, I pushed a couple of papers around on my desk so people might find one or two things that might come up, took my stuff, and left. It was a bit eerie, what with the emergency lights, but no big deal.

Now, I live four blocks or so from where I work. Okay, they're long blocks, but there's only four of them. And I noticed that the traffic lights seemed to be out. Hm. I waved to one of the researchers who'd just left and was at a bus station, headed home, seeing more dead traffic lights and people outside, one or two talking about the power outage.

So, I was annoyed, but not surprised to confirm my power was out. Then, the phone rang. This was Beth, who was going to come over to keep me company while I did laundry. I told her I'd lost power. She told me the extent of this blackout.

This is when I started to panic, though the fact that DC hadn't been hit made me calmer, since it was an indication that this was probably natural. I managed to call [livejournal.com profile] mnemex in Mexico, I think because of benevolent divine intervention. He'd heard what was up, but had been unable to make his phone reach me. So, I had him on one phone and Beth on another, and we were trying to figure out if it's possible to walk across the 59th street bridge or if the Roosevelt Island tram would still have power or what.

We all got off the phone, and Beth called her folks, while I checked with [livejournal.com profile] womzilla about rides. This would have been possible, in theory, but at best, massively inconvenient. I tried my folks, with no luck, but wasn't really worried there.

Beth got back to me, saying that she would likely walk home, and that, while I was welcome to meet her in Manhattan or to go to her parents' in Brooklyn, the consensus was that I should hunker down. After dealing with the resulting quarter hour or so of me panicking, she convinced me to go out and buy batteries and a battery operated radio and ice and maybe a few other things.

Well, civilization was still there, which was nice, albeit really surly NYC style. The cars at the intersection of 48th, Greenpoint, and Queens Boulevard were not being polite to pedestrians, so I decided against crossing Queens Boulevard. Rite Aid was closed. A lot of small stores -- 99cents places -- were jammed. The supermarket had a line, and then decided not to let people in.

By now, I was calm enough to head home anyway, and I passed a place which had walkmans, as far as I could tell, but was deserted. There was sort of an abstract temptation to loot or at least grab something and leave money, but it wasn't really strong or visceral, so I checked the place next door. It did cell phones, but the woman pointed me to the place across the street for batteries.

My sound system takes 8 Ds, but they had none. I got 10 AAs, which I knew my walkman took, if it worked, and my flashlight took. I stopped at another place, getting bread, some jerky, canned viennese sausage, cranberry juice, a 7-day candle, and ice.

Gonna stop here for now, as I'm hungry, but as it turned out, I could get the walkman working. This calmed me down a lot.
Okay, so I had a bunch of batteries, and at first I thought I had the 8 Ds I needed, though that would mean I only had one decent flashlight, the one that had AAs. As I talked to various folks on the phone, I gradually realized that I actually had 4, 2 for each of the flashlights [livejournal.com profile] mnemex had insisted on buying a week or so ago, and the rest were Cs.

Beth called as I came in. I asked what I was supposed to do with the ice, which I dumped in the bathroom sink, and she said I was supposed to use it to cool down. She told me to fill everything, including the tub, with water, and unplug everything. I told her to call me when she got home. I called [livejournal.com profile] womzilla to let him know I'd be staying home, and would probably not panic until morning, if things weren't back to normal. He suggested I forgo the panic part, pointing out that it really wouldn't help. He also confirmed that I didn't have to unplug the fridge.

I called Lee Gold, and left a message, and I called Spike Jones, giving him and Mary the same message -- as I was no longer getting through to [livejournal.com profile] mnemex, I wanted someone to send him email saying I'd be staying put and Beth was going home. Spike confirmed that he'd do this.

Somewhere in there, I showered, grabbed an ibuprofen, and ate lots. I killed the lamb dish [livejournal.com profile] mnemex had left over for me, and ate much of an old chicken dish. I ditched the taramasolata after one whiff -- I've gotten sick on bad taramasolata before, and it's just no fun. I ate a beef jerky. I kept pouring water and water with a bit of sekanjubin in it into me. At some point, I sucked on a piece of sea salt, a largish grain.

I got my walkman working, still convinced that it had to be one my mother gave to me to play tapes on when the radio died. But the radio was working. I called Beth's folks, whom, Beth had said, didn't have a battery powered radio, to report the gist of what I'd heard. Her mother said she'd have Beth call me when she got home. This Beth did, after about 2 1/2 hours of walking.

By now, I think, I had candles burning. I got off the phone with her, and at some point, reached my parents. They have one landline that's a landline, which is why they hadn't heard me earlier. The neighbors came by. One said, "Hey, she's got light! We have beer!" Having just taken ibuprofen, and not being a huge beer person, especially in the heat, I turned that down, but handed them one of the big flashlights, which still left me with another big one, and a small, but reasonably powerful one.

My father called to tell me he'd gotten a spiffy new computer, and yes, he'd powered it down safely and unplugged it. [livejournal.com profile] mnemex's father called on the other phone to check up on us. He'd had an 11 floor walk up.

Lee Gold called to check up on me and chatted for a while, which helped calm me down further. Then, I tunneled through brie and through nicely soupy ice cream. The ice in the sink was kinda totalled, making a bit of a mess when I tried to put it in the freezer. I mopped up and dumped the bag in a smaller pot, figuring it'd turn to water.

Beth called me, and we chatted, then got off for a bit to do a few things. One of these, on my end, at some point, was to beam my data from my lovely, sexy Tungsten-C to my old, reliable, AAA battery operated IIIx which I have kept for exactly this reason. Backlight was pretty decent.

Beth called back, as this avoided me calling and waking her parents. I moved the 7 day candle into the bathroom sink, following her advice about sinks and Lee's about the usefulness of light in bathrooms, and blew out the shabbas candle. I moved everything into the bedroom, and we chatted until we got cut off by someone pushing some button or other. Beth says she tried to call back, but got a busy signal. I dozed a bit, then woke up sticky, called, but hung up after two rings, not wanting to wake anyone asleep. I listened to a bit of news. Eventually, I put a cold, wet towel on top of me for a few minutes, then returned it, and fell asleep on and off.

I woke again about 6 am, and found that flipping on a switch gained me power. Huzzah! Now, I'd heard that we weren't to blast all airconditioners, but I needed some real sleep. So, I settled for keeping everything that was unplugged unplugged, except for the bedroom ac, which I turned to lower than usual, and I barricaded myself in, and dozed. I woke up to make calls and got woken up by calls.

I called Beth's folks, learning she'd cabbed in to work, as Fox News was up and running. I listened to the radio enough to know that the trains weren't running. I called the cornea specialist I'd been going to see, learning that the office was closed (big surprise) and left a message. I called another person I'd been going to see, and reached someone who agreed to pass on a message. I called work, getting the message that work was closed for the day. I'd expected this. I called a couple of my researchers, only reaching one, but he agreed to contact someone else who could contact someone else. And, since we had a snow day last year, most of my department probably knew to call first.

Mom called me to check in. Chris Murray called me from Japan to see if I was all right. He said that he'd consulted his panel of experts on my question about changing money for TorCon, and that I should do it in the airport.

[livejournal.com profile] mnemex called me or I called him -- I forget which. We talked and agreed that we should touch base once a day.

Lee called me to check in, and told me about the time she spent a summer in NYC, in unairconditioned Columbia dorms. There was, she said, no difference between day and night in terms of temperature, and she looked out to see something like this: Time: Midnight. Temperature: 99 degrees. Humidity: 99 percent.

Her mother had told her that, to sleep, she should wet a towel with cold water, lay it on the matress, then get on herself. I said I sort of did that, except the towel was on top and I didn't want to soak the sheet. Lee pointed out that this was irrelevant -- the goal was to stay cool. I told her about Chris' advice for changing money, and she suggested getting some Canadian travelers' checks here, as credit cards for things like hotels might add surcharges.

I talked to Beth, I think, and I took a nap.

After the nap, it was around 4 or so, and I know I talked to Beth then. She was going to head home around 6ish. I decided I'd go online briefly, shut everything down, grab dinner, preferably at a restaurant, and then call her back to see if I should get to her folks' home. Her folks didn't think it was silly, like it would have been the previous night, and I would be saving electricity, as me not at home means the ac and lights are out.

I confirmed that a nearby Japanese restaurant was open for business. I ate a lot, brought cooked eel and half a handroll of yummy spicy stuff home, along with lots of batteries and things. By now, the idea of spending another night alone didn't seem that bad, and I was sleepy and full, and I had a midnight snack in the fridge. Beth figured this made sense.

I called [livejournal.com profile] bugsybanana, and we talked. I called [livejournal.com profile] agrumer, and then I called her back again, passing on messages between the two, as, for some reason, they hadn't been able to reach each other. Bad timing on her part, and something odd about calling NYC from NJ just then on his, I think -- the phone lines were a bit weird. I'd called [livejournal.com profile] bigscary a couple of times, to confirm GC was at his place and to say that I'd not be able to make it.

I played a huge bunch of phone tag with [livejournal.com profile] acrobatty, and spoke to Eugene Reynolds. Beth called back, a bit depressed about making a bit of a mess with water, and we chatted for a couple of hourse. Then, I got some sleep.

Saturday, I got in touch with Beth, who was doing errands, and was willing to come to Queens and crash, or to meet me in the city, as the trains were now working, but not both. I'd heard from [livejournal.com profile] agrumer about the party [livejournal.com profile] bigscary was having for [livejournal.com profile] negativeq, and called him to confirm it was open to us. I did my laundry at a crowded, but not impossibly so, laudramat.

Beth and I agreed to meet at the 86th street Barnes and Noble, catch dinner, go to the party, and then crash at her folks'. [livejournal.com profile] mnemex called me to touch base and asked if he should pick me up anything. I checked in with my folks to let them know I'd be away from home. I turned off lights and ac, and headed for the city, arriving outside Barnes and Nobles about the same time Beth did. We were probably on the same train.

We ate at Yu-Ka, which has a great all you can eat deal, and went to the party, meeting [livejournal.com profile] bigscary en route on a liquor run. The party was loud by my standards, but not by those of people who do Loud parties with music, and I got my people fix in, having been without. I worked on my A&E zine and drank lemonade. People played some kind of combat game, and something weird in real time, called Animal Crossing, which just isn't my style.

Beth and I punked out around midnight, far from the last to leave, but not the first either, and dropped by her place, then crashed at her folks'. The next day, which is today, we went to the city, did a bit of shopping, and ate at the east side Saigon Grill. It was quite good, and had us inside during the downpour. [livejournal.com profile] mnemex called to check in, as promised. Then, Beth and I did dessert at a dinner, and found it was less expensive than we'd guessed. Tiramisu and black forest cake.

We got back on the trains and went home. En route, I called [livejournal.com profile] acrobatty and we chatted till I reached my house. Yep, new paradigm: "Okay, I'm home now. Gotta get off the phone."

I should probably plug the tv back in. Or not. All I really need is the weather, and I can do that via radio, computer, or sticking my head outside.

Thus endeth the saga.
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