Saturday, November 5, 2011

Power Up

It has been a rough week here in the northeastern US thanks to Snowtober, or the Hallow-easter.  Snow before Halloween, what's up with that.  Didn't care much that Trick or Treating was postponed since I didn't buy any candy, but I never get any kids anyway. The heavy snow caused downed trees, tree limbs and power lines snapped off, which shut down everything.  Power outages have lasted anywhere from several hours to days, with varying levels of inconvenience  Mine was out for 3 1/2 days, bad enough but not as awful as being without for 6 or 7 days.  Still, 3 days of cold, powerless, flushless captivity can get the best of anyone.  The generator was handy for running a little heater since our pellet stove was on the fritz, but is was mainly boredom and cold.  I spent hours in my car driving around to nowhere in particular.

The building where I work has quite a nice shower available for use in the evenings and was quickly dubbed "the spa".  The main topic under discussion at any gathering was, of course, power and the lack thereof. 
Early in the week, the questions were ordered thus:
1.  "Do you have power?" 2.  "Do you have a generator?".  3.  "Do you have heat?
Mid week:
1. "Did you lose power?"  2.  "When did you get it back?"  3.  "Do you have a generator?"
Late in the week:
1.  "Still no power?"  2.  "When are you buying a generator?"
After day 7 without power:
"You must be really pissed".

Ah, the generator.  A household must that never crossed my mind to procure before I moved to the Frozen Tundra.  When it comes to generators, there is an order of supremacy. First, there are the "haves" and the "have-nots".  People without generators are the have-nots, pitiful souls at the mercy of the elements, doomed to move to a hotel or worse, the in laws.  Those with the foresight and just plain good old Yankee common sense and Boy Scout-level of preparedness...well, obviously those are the haves.  As in having heat, water and flush toilets, a fridge, some lights, a way to charge the cell phone, DVD's for the kiddies who can't read or otherwise haven't the first clue on how to entertain themselves, and maybe even....the Internet".
(cue Angelic choir and Heavenly light).

It is not enough simply to OWN a generator,but rather how big it is and how it is utilized.  There is Generator Envy, the bigger and more powerful the better.   It is a guy thing.  Like cars, which I don't care about.

The top of the line, Whole House generator (again, cue Angelic choir and Heavenly light) apparently requires only an insignificant flick of a switch and presto!  You have power without skipping a beat.  It is pretty pricey, the top dog for generator supremacy. 

Many people go for the less expensive option, the portable, gasoline powered generator in order to plug a few extension cords.  It works just fine. The problem with a gas-powered generator, we discovered, is that in a widespread power outage GAS IS INACCESSIBLE BECAUSE IT REQUIRES POWER TO PUMP GAS.

There are alternative fuel sources like natural gas.  Mr. Ednurseasauras had already scheduled an electrician to install a transfer switch in the basement so that 6 or 7 different electrical...things... could be run off the generator without using 20 extension cords.  Unfortunately, it was scheduled for the day after we got our power back, but hey, we are all set if it happens again.  That, and the 40 gallons of gas he plans to have just in case. 

Of course, turning on the generator with this new set up could be dicey.  When the electrician left, Mr. Ednursesauras wanted to show me how to run it....just in case.
Me: "Nah, I don't want to learn right now"
Mr. EdN: "It's easy"
Me: "Yeah, right that's what you said about turning off the generator.  As I recall, you also said that about the snow blower"

I am envisioning two sets of launch codes, confirmation codes, a variety of pre-launch procedures and checklists,and simultaneous turning of identical keys to get the generator started.  After confirming, of course, that the power outage is genuine and not simply a drill.