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Power Outtage Last Night

Last night, at around 8:47 PM, Nomi and I had just finished watching the season three finale and season four premiere of Stargate SG-1 on DVD --

--when the power went out.

This has happened before often enough for us to keep a variety of flashlights scattered about the apartment. We got the flashlights, and I went outside to see what was going on.

It turned out not to be only our apartment, or even just our building. The four buildings that form our complex had lost power, as had a few other buildings in the area. Our next door neighbors in the other building had not lost power, so we knew that this wasn't a major blackout. But I have to admit that I was relieved that it wasn't just our apartment, because that meant that someone else would take care of fixing it.

I called NSTAR's toll-free number to report the outage, and discovered to my frustration that it was no longer possible to speak with a human being, as the whole reporting of power outages is now handled by a voice mail system. There's something more comforting about knowing that a human being has actually listened to your request for service. I used their voice mail system to report the outage, and put in a request that they call with updates, but only between 8 AM and 9 PM so they wouldn't wake us. As it is, I had no way of knowing that NSTAR was actually working on the problem, which irked me throughout the night.

The hot, humid, sweaty night.

The air conditioner had been running in the bedroom, so it remained cool in there for about an hour afterwards. But once the heat filtered into the bedroom, there was no escape. I grew up with air conditioning, and I have little tolerance for heat. We read for a while, but no matter how I positioned myself, I simply could not get comfortable. I kept wishing for a large, battery-powered fan.

Somehow I managed to get to sleep, but then at about midnight the phone rang. Nomi picked it up. It was a recording from NSTAR, telling us that the power would be restored by 2:30 AM. Never mind the fact that I had pushed the buttons on the voice mail limiting such calls to hours we'd actually be awake...

I drifted off to sleep again.

At some point around 6 AM, I woke up in a groggy state and realized that the power was back on. I told Nomi, who already knew. In fact, bless her heart, she had gotten out of bed at 4:50 AM, when the power came back, and turned on the air conditioner. (That was my clue that the power was back.) I slept for about another half an hour.

This morning, after I got to work, I called NSTAR's business line and spoke with a very nice woman named Robin. She's going to get back to me later today with the details of what happened, but it sounds like a transformer went out due to an overload. (I did my best not to be irate towards her, and I think that helped.) We did find out that we're on circuit 3617, so next time I have to call NSTAR, I can tell them that -- assuming we reach a human being.

This incident reminds me of Friday, August 10, 2001, when many parts of Brookline, Brighton, and Allston lost power. We didn't get it back until the next morning, and I had a miserable night trying to sleep. In November 2001, Brookline Town Meeting referred to a Moderator's Committee a motion to investigate whether the town could form its own municipal power company. In the end, the town chose not to do so, but if power outages continue to happen, maybe we'll take it up again.


Wow. I lived through both the 1999 (or was it 2000?) brown-out of upper Manhattan, and the blackout of August 2003.

To keep cool when you don't have a fan or A/C, I learned this trick from my then-roommate's great-grandmother, who lived through the Chicago heat wave of the 1910s.

Take a towel or bedsheet and soak it in the tub. Squeeze out as much water as possible and sleep under the towel/sheet, and repeat the process as often as necessary (maybe 1 or 2 more times through the night, tops). It absoluetly works. That was the only way I survived the brown-out and black-out without turning into a useless pile of ecch.
I will have to try this towel trick next time. Thanks for the suggestions.
Ack! Sorry to hear you guys were without power; it's so hard to sleep in the terrible heat and humidity without air conditioning or fans. I'm really hoping we don't lose power here. Actually, I should check in with Beulah, make sure there's a cooling center near her if anything happens.
If it makes you feel any better, out here in the sticks we lose power on a weekly basis throughout the winter and at least monthly in the summer. Because we have such a low population density, we're at the bottom of the 'to be fixed' list -- after all the area dairy farms are back on line, they'll get to us.

The wet sheet trick absolutely works, and we've discovered that you can get great battery powered fans at the dollar store. Often these are labeled with the logos of particularly unsucessful sports teams, but I imagine that you could paint them if that bothered you.

Also, real goods has some great solar powered fans, although they are far more pricey (and not much use at night unless you've charged them ahead of time)
We too were frustrated by our inability to get a human being on the line, or to get an update on the power situation after the first time we called. Grr.
Our lights flickered last night around 12:30, but thankfully it stabilized...

This incident reminds me of Friday, August 10, 2001, when many parts of Brookline, Brighton, and Allston lost power. We didn't get it back until the next morning
If this is the Friday I'm thinking of, power didn't come back until the next evening, just before Shabbos ended. It was a week before our engagement party, my mom had 3 freezers full of frozen desserts, and she was rather on edge, as you can imagine...
It's probably the same Friday. My understanding is that power was restored to different areas at different times. If I recall correctly, ours kicked back in sometime around 10:30 AM the next day.
Ah. That could be. It might have taken a while longer to get power back on the hill.
Glad the power wasn't off long. The power is actually still out in Queens. Crazy.

December 2016

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