They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me
dr_phil_physics

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Into The Technological Stone Age (Again)

Spent part of two days trying to contact our Indianapolis friends at their Michigan cottage. We had one cell phone call from Cole -- actually we had several, but those only lasted long enough to make a connection then dead air and dialtone -- and this time, too, we were interrupted due to a dropped signal before we had arranged a time or what to bring. Repeated attempts to call him back got nowhere, so I left a voicemail on his cell. When we finally showed up yesterday afternoon, Cole was wandering over to a neighboring cottage to try to call over there.

I suppose some people would pay extra to be incommunicado...

Last night, while we were there, one of Cole's relatives at another cottage stopped by to say that there was a message from someone in Indianapolis. Another relative had offered to let him use/try their OnStar system on their car, but I brought out my Motorola V60i cell phone -- it's Alltel, not Sprint or Verizon, so we thought maybe a third carrier would be the charm. It worked, enough, though it dropped the digital signal and went to an analog because it was stronger.

Timing Is Everything

Part of our gathering was the Annual Let's Watch the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions -- which now total three films and six DVD disks. They'd only brought up the first two, so we brought The Return of the King, having done our "pre-lab" the previous two nights with The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. Actually, they'd only done three disks so far, so we "had" to see The Battle for Helm's Deep a second time. Whatta shame.

Things got much more exciting on the last disk for LOTR:ROTK -- just before Gollum jumps Sam and Frodo on the sides of Mount Doom, so just before the climax, the combination TV/DVD/VCR player suddenly started freezing up. Then it would play on, freeze again. Then die.

We removed the disk, but really there wasn't anything on the surface to degrade the performance, and it had played well before. We'd reload and it would play a few more minutes, then jam again. It got to be funny, because the freeze-ups would occur at EVERY ultimate line of dialogue and every great visual. We finally ended up doing one little skip -- did I mention that this player had no FastForward option, only SkipForward? -- so we didn't actually see the ring melt.

Obviously the Ring of Power and the Dark Lord Sauron were pissed off at losing and didn't want us to watch.

The last glitch happened just as Sam arrived at home to Rosie. Hilarious. We were running with the English subtitles on, which is fun to learn what background dialogue is going on, and was useful as we held conversations. Anyway, it would extract one or two frames at a time, so subtitles would pop on, before Sam's mouth began to move... the Endless But Beautiful Credits of course played flawlessly.

Their five-year-old son knows every line of dialogue in all three Extended Editions and proudly pointed out Peter Jackson taking an arrow as a crew member of the lead Black Ship. One wonders what will happen in school to a kid who knows the difference between Minas Morgul and Minas Tirith. ("I'm sorry, your son was threatening another child on the playground to lock them up in Minas Morgul -- and we weren't sure if that was a terrorist threat." "That's my boy!")

Hot Out

It was 92degF and humid during the day. Hot and steamy when we left the lakeshore at midnight. At home, the digital thermometer was reporting the outside as still 82degF at 1:00am. Forecast said it'd be 75degF in the morning. We kept the windows closed and the AC on for the night. No lovely 55degF outside air for sleeping weather... (grin). It's August in Michigan.

3:40am

... and I am just getting into bed. It's much later than I wanted to be since I actually needed to get up and take a vehicle in to Chevy today for maintenance, but I was watching a National Geographic channel show on the team which looked for (and found) Mallory's body on Everest. Anyway, I was surprised to see the bedroom window was wet on the outside, which meant the promised rains finally came. Flashes of white in the distance meant the expected thunderstorms had arrived, too. A big crack overhead -- and the AC unit dies.

There's some gear in the bedroom on a small UPS powerstrip -- since a UPS has an internal battery, the clock display is still on. A quick look run around the house, and I gathered up a couple of LED flashlights, very bright and long-lasting, and verified that all the neighbors as far as I can see are completely dark, too. The switch on the lone window AC unit was turned from High AC to High Fan, so we won't drop the compressor onto the line when the system first tries to come back up. You're welcome, Consumers Energy. I turned off the small UPS powerstrip in the bedroom, because its beeping reminder that Oh, the power is off! can't be turned off separately. Guess sleeping isn't an issue for office equipment designers...

I closed the door to the bedroom, because it is still cooler and drier than the rest of the upstairs and we might as well keep it that way, and try to get some sleep.

In The Morning

How widespread is the power outage? Will Chevy even be open six-and-a-half miles away? I don't want to open the refrigerator, so should I have a banana and dry cereal for breakfast? If I head out without, will McDonald's be open and working to grab an Egg McMuffin? Did I pull the four-door Blazer far enough forward in the garage that I can squeeze between the rear-mounted spare tire and the garage door, to get in between the vehicles and reach the manual release string for the door opening mechanism? If not, can I push the Blazer forward (or open the side door for ventilation and briefly drive the Blazer forward a foot or two) to make clearance>? And is there room for the ladder in case the string pops off the release catch? And will I remember to look for which hole gets the string's attachment point before I yank on it and it pops off?

Ambient water pressure means there's maybe one or two flushes for each toilet, before we have to go to Plan B.

The neighbor's generator is running outside -- we can hear it even with the windows shut, as there are no other ambient noises in the house right now. Just buying a Honda generator from a hardware store isn't going to help our situation. With the power out, we've a refrigerator and a freezer to protect, and then there's the well, which runs on 220 volts. An extension cord isn't going to cut it. (grin)

At around 8:30am, just about five hours after the power went out, the AC's fan unit popped on. Several digital clocks show unusual times. We are back in the twenty-first century, and I grab a banana, a Coke and a cherry Dannon yogurt from the 'fridge and toss it in an insulated lunch bag, and drive off to Chevy -- where I type this up.

Time To Reconsider

Maybe I should call Crystal Flash, our LP gas supplier, and find out exactly how much one of those 220 VAC LP-powered external generators will cost to install. And worry later about how one will get over to the mains disconnect switch if the power is out and it is hard to get around the Blazers in the garage. Maybe that automatic power up switch isn't so crazy, even if it would use up LP when we weren't around...

And we were just talking about power failures with our friends, and we hadn't had any which last more than a few minutes in some time -- whereas when the power goes out at the lakeshore cottage, it tends to stay off for days. Happy vacation... better eat the ice cream now.

There's got to be an answer...

Meanwhile

It's not a fuse or burned out washer pump motor on the wiper/washer problems on the 1994 S-10 Blazer -- it's the "washer control computer". Didn't know there was one. Oh well, I once installed an aftermarket intermittent wiper control on a 1979 Suburban, and when it failed, it took out the whole damned wiper/washer controls -- and we found ourselves driving through downtown Atlanta on the freeway with no wipers. Thank goodness for Rain-X.

Dr. Phil
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