Power Mad

October 19, 2007

Winter is here. For some people winter comes with a date on a calendar. For some people winter comes with the first snow.

For us, winter comes with the first windstorm and the first power outage and the first head cold.

Last year our power went out nine times. The first outage last year came in November. This year the first outage came in October. This may be a harbinger of things to come.

We have a generator. We never have gotten it to work in a useful way. It apparently has irreconcilable differences with our refrigerator. It also had irreconcilable differences with the stereo, as it murdered the stereo. It may even have irreconcilable differences with the zucchini. If they went to battle, the struggle might be something like the battle between Godzilla vs. Mothra.

However, we doubt the zucchini will survive winter, while the generator just laughs at winter as it laughs at us. It is a multi-tasking generator. It fails at many tasks equally well.

We do have a lot of wood for our wood stove ready in the basement. We do have a lot of water stored in the basement. We have a lot of food stored in the basement. We have flashlights and portable radios. We have lots of batteries. If are forced to resort to eating the batteries, we even have a flashlight and a portable radio which can be wound up.

We have kindly and competent neighbors with a generator that works as it should, though they had to do battle with the hardware store that sold it to them before it was persuaded to work.

We could survive a disaster such as Katrina if the disaster lasted no more than three days. If it lasted more than three days, we would walk or perhaps crawl the quarter mile or so to the Kindly Neighbors and throw ourselves on their doorstep and plead for help.

After the power went off nine times last year the entire community on the island decided to focus on the problem. As with the aftermath to Katrina, the first step in solving a problem is to exercise the fingers by pointing them.

Citizens pointed out that the telephone lines are buried underground while the power lines hang in the air so trees can fall on them.

“How come the telephone company was so much smarter than you?” angry citizens asked. “When they put in phone lines, they put them under the ground. Why didn’t you put the power lines under the ground?”

The power company explained that putting electric lines underground is much more complicated than putting telephone lines underground.

The power company also provides helpful tips about what to do when there is a power outage. They say, “If you see a power line on the ground, don’t touch it.”

After they listened to angry citizens for a while, they said, “Here are some power lines on the ground. Go ahead and touch them. If power is not working, call us. You will be able to tell us exactly where the downed power line is by pointing with your very strong fingers and that will save us a lot of time in finding the downed lines. On the other hand, if the power is working, what’s your problem?”

However, the power company has been sending crews out during the summer trimming tree branches very aggressively. Citizens have been complaining about how the beautiful trees along the roads have been mutilated. I suspect these are some of the same citizens who complained about their power going out last winter when tree limbs fell on power lines.

Obviously, it would make a lot of sense to put the power lines underground, even though it wasn’t done in the first place. This would cost a lot of money.

The power company said, “If you [the citizens] will pay for it [by raising taxes] we will put power lines underground, though you need to understand if something goes wrong with a power line under the ground it will take longer to restore power and you will complain even more in the future.

“Also, you need to understand that power comes from lines and power stations off the island, and when they stop working, it won’t matter if your lines are underground.”

The citizens said, “You are a big private company that makes a lot of money. You spend some of that money to put the power lines underground. And stop making so many excuses.”

I don’t know if the general fitness and health of the people on our island is above the national average, but we may have some of the strongest fingers in our country. Except for the citizens of new Orleans, that is.

I have been working on my stock portfolio. Usually, I buy a stock and hope the price of the stock will increase. For example, I bought stock in a gasoline company. Every time the price of gasoline goes up at the pump, I am comforted by the knowledge that a tiny portion of the huge and obscene profits the gasoline company makes goes to me as a stock dividend. Although the gasoline company profit is obscene, by the time it gets to me, it is much cleaner. I believe this is known as money laundering.

There is an obscure procedure in the stock market known as shorting. Although I don’t really understand the details of how to short a stock, the basic concept is that instead of betting (excuse me, investing) that the price of a stock will go up, the gambler (excuse me, investor) bets that the price of a stock will go down.

I think I will study shorting with great intensity until I understand it. Then I will short the stock of our power company.

As the power goes out this winter, I will sit in the dark and cold next the wood stove and examine my brokerage statement by the light of my windup flashlight and see if it brings me any comfort and consolation. Then I will cuddle my wife for comfort and consolation.

And maybe call my daughter on the telephone that will probably work because of its underground lines and talk to Random Granddaughter.

4 Responses to “Power Mad”

  1. I am now imagining your posts as surreal paintings of storms, zucchinis, and pointing fingers. This has brought me great amusement. Isn’t it funny how people argue?

  2. heathenly Says:

    Here in Arizona, we’re unclear as to when winter starts.

  3. Perhaps someday you will be able to invest in a generator with fewer psychiatric difficulties.

  4. modestypress Says:


    On a clear day, you can see forever.


    If my wife felt the same way about her original husband, there would be a new model husband at the kitchen table.

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