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Living In The 18th Century


Or at least living like we were in it.

We had a storm last Friday. The weather guessers were hyping the crap out of it as they hype the crap out of every storm. “Storm of Historic Proportions”, sounds scary, but this was at least the third one we’ve had this winter. At least the third one that we were told would be of “Historic Proportions”. The other two were snow storms of no particular importance. I think the worst one dropped about eight inches of snow on us. Which mostly melted away the next day. During January. I spent about two hours doing all of the snow clearing, but that was mostly because it was a tad windy and I was working at night.

To be clear, working at night on the snow clearing, as I’m retired from working nights, weekends, holidays, and generally when I don’t feel like. Which is more and more of the time, but that’s a post for another time. Well, maybe.

The other storm of “Historic Proportions” dropped about three inches of snow. I went out with my snow blower and cleared the berm at the end of the driveway and left the rest for Mother Gaia to clear away.

Oh, there’s a special place in Hell for whoever decided to hype this crap by giving snow storms names. It’s TV inspired BS, pure and simple. Weather forecasting has become nothing buy hyping the latest cloudy day.

But, I digress.

So, instead of the expected two plus feet of snow we were supposed to get, we got wind and rain. And rain and wind. I spent most of the day inside because the weather sucked outside. Some of the coastal areas of the region got some pretty decent flooding, but that’s what happens when there is a high wind storm that coincides with high tide and a full moon. Maybe we should rethink paying to rebuild houses and other structures that get flooded every five or ten years or so.

All went well until about 7:30PM, when the lights started to flicker a bit. Then they flickered a bit more. Then they went out. My first thought was that a transformer had tripped and it would be reset in an hour or so.

Mrs. EMS Artifact and I broke out our flashlights, put on our sweatshirts, and figured we’d just wait it out. I used the handy dandy app on my Smart Phone to report the outage. After making sure that it wasn’t just us. No such luck, the whole world was dark. At least what I could see of it.

The app has a nice feature where you can look at all of the outages and see what the power company is doing to fix them. Since it was still raining and windy, they weren’t doing a whole lot. It was actually windy, rainy, and dark.

Since it wasn’t all that cold and the house is reasonably well insulated, we just stayed at home and went to sleep. Very annoying not having the conveniences of modern living. We couldn’t cook anything and we didn’t open the refrigerator either.

I woke up the next morning and texted a friend. He still had power and invited me over for breakfast. Mrs. EMS Artifact is a late sleeper, so I went over and had breakfast with my friend. Then I went home and obsessively checked the status of the outages. Which was not good. Turns out that I and about 200,000 of my closest friends were without power. Not all were serviced by my company, but they were all using all of their crews and crews from as far south as Tennessee and as far north as Quebec.

Mrs. EMS Artifact was now up and hungry. So, I took her out for breakfast. Which meant I had two breakfast. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it’s not going to help my diet efforts.

Then my friend’s wife called. She wanted us to come over for dinner and stay overnight in their guest room. Which seemed like a good idea. We gather stuff, including food, made sure the cats were fed and left. We figured that the cats were going to be okay since they had fur coats.

After dinner and before bed I drove back to the house for a few minutes, checked to see that all was secure, and fed the cats. A few buildings down on  the main street had lights, but that didn’t extend up to our area. The app told me that power would be restored by Midnight Tuesday, but that no crew had been assigned to the area.


Sunday morning was more of the same, only with an invitation from another friend and her husband to come spend the day with them. Since I’ve known my friend since she was born and her Dad is my oldest friend, this was an easy decision. One small detour to help her Dad put a section of fence back up (temporarily) and we had a lovely day with actual hot food.

Which brought us to late afternoon and it was back to our other friends’ place for dinner. After dinner my other friend called to say that he had power back. Since he lives in the same outage “zone” as do we, we figured we’d have power or at least have it shortly.

So, we packed up our stuff and went home. To a dark home. Apparently half the zone was restored, but we were in the “other” half. The app now told us that we’d have power by midnight Sunday, but I was a bit dubious since it was almost 9:00PM and there was nothing going on.

So, we again sat in the dark and read. Well, we had nice LED lights, so it wasn’t completely dark. The cats were happy to see us, although they seemed a bit perplexed by the strange quiet. Being cats, the darkness didn’t seem to bother them.

Another check of the app and now the expected restoration time was pushed back to late Monday afternoon. Hmmm.

After a couple of hours of this, I finished the book and decided to go for a ride. I wanted to see if I could find a crew that was working on the problem. Or at least someone to ask about the progress.

Lest you think I was going to harangue anyone, keep in mind that I spent a number of years being harangued by  people who didn’t like how I was doing my job. Most of them were drunk, but nonetheless I work at being nice to people that are probably workign to fix my problem.

About five minutes away from the house I found a power company supervisor parked at the side of the road. He had a nice power company van with lovely amber blinky lights. He was parked in front of a tree and some wires. The tree was IN the wires, which is not where the tree should have been. The tree should have been safely rooted in the ground.

This was not a small so it’s location in a tree was a problem. Specifically, it was the problem that caused my area not to have any power.

I confirmed that with the supervisor.  Who also told me that he called this in because apparently the survey crew for this area had missed the tree in the wires. Which seeemed odd since this was on a main road and there is a rehab hospital on the road. The supervisor shared my skepticism about the Midnight return of power since it was now 10:00PM and he didn’t know when the tree crew or the power crew would show up.

His best guess was early morning, but other than that he couldn’t really say. I looked at the tree and the wireds and said to myself that it would be maybe 4:00AM if all went well.

I don’t really recall when all went well in situations like this. A life in EMS turned me into a pessimist and a believer that Murphy was terminally optimistic.

Back home I went and gave the Mrs. the news. The app now said that we’d have power back by Noon. Nothing left to do by put on about five layers of clothes and four layers of blankets. Or maybe the other way around.

About 3:30AM something woke me up. “Something” being the creaking of the baseboard radiators. Which meant they were expanding because there was hot water flowing through the pipes. Which meant that the boiler was working. That meant that we had power back.

The dark ages were over!

We went back to sleep and this morning all was more or less back to normal.

The lovely Mrs. EMS Artifact informed me that I am buying generator as we are getting to old for this living like a pioneer stuff.

So, my mission over the next few weeks is to figure out a plan and get a generator. I’m not horribly upset by this because she’s right. People who lived during the 18th Century didn’t know about electricity, electric lights, central heat, or all of the other accoutrements of modern life. You generally don’t miss what you never had, but once i you have it, you sure do miss it when it goes away.


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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.


  1. I hear ya, brother! I loves me my light switches. We only lost power for a couple hours due a dead tree falling on the lines on ‘the road’.
    I am less optimistic about this weeks storm, however. But, the genny is sitting in its little house outside, waiting to be of service…

    • We’re now supposed to get a mixed rain/snow event with some wind. Not nearly as much wind as last week, so if whatever is on the trees doesn’t turn to ice, we should retain power.

      I looked at my circuit breaker box last night. I don’t know if I can actually do an Interlock since there are no slots left for the generator circuit breaker. I’ll have to do some more investigation. It won’t change the plan, but it might add to the cost a bit.

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