Free Markets, Free People

Blackout diary

You may have heard that, at about 15:38 Pacific time yesterday, an APS worker outside of Yuma, AZ, accidentally tripped a fault that shut off power to parts of Arizona, California, and Baja California in Mexico. So, one guy, apparently, can shut down power to 3 states in 2 countries. That really fills me with confidence about the robustness of the electrical grid.

Anyway, I was one of the 6 million people who lost power during this horrific crisis. In an instant, we were thrown into the stone age by the loss of modern technology, living in a world lit only by fire. I kept a diary of this  frightening experience. Below are my diary notes, written contemporaneously during the collapse. I append it here so that historians can know how it really was.

1538: Crap! I just lost all electrical power at my house! So much for liveblogging tonight. My netbook and 4G modem work though.

1550: Can’t get to the SDG&E web site, or through on the phone. Odd.

1605: Liveblogging president’s jobs speech. Streaming video from White House via 4G modem on my netbook with its tiny screen. Inconvenient. Like being a settler in a covered wagon. Will the power ever come back?

1724: I’m learning how people lived in Oldy Days without electricity. This sucks. Why do these things always happen to me?

1745: Power outages throughout San Diego County, reports of outages in Mexico, AZ, NM. Millions without power. Trolleys dead. Massive traffic.

1840: Went out on my motorcycle for a pack of smokes. Stores closed, smokes hard to acquire. Had to go to 2 stores to find them. Civilization is breaking down. Loading my rifles now.

1930: Darkness is falling. Dinner time approaching. Must resist cannibalistic urges.

2018: So, ONE GUY can cut off power to three states in two countries? One guy? Seriously?

2100: SDG&E says, "If you have a personal family emergency plan, activate it now." My personal family emergency plan is to kill my neighbors for their food. Too soon? Or do they already suspect my plans?

2140: No power for 6 hours. Veneer of civilization crumbling away. Typing on a netbook via 4G in candlelight like some sort of animal.

2230: 7 hours without power. My white wines are perilously close to room temperature. We’re just living like wild beasts now.

2316: Must go to bed and try to sleep now. All windows are open to try to cool the house. Temperature must be approaching 80°. May start sweating at any minute. Physical torture affecting my thought processes.

2330: With the candles out, it’s pitch black. Strange noises outside the windows. What was once civilization may now be infested by wolves and mountain lions. Or possums.

2340: Must try to sleep. Thank God for the protection offered by my four large dogs. If I am alive in the morning, it is thanks to them.

0230: Am awoken by lights, television. Air conditioning back on, so I have to get up and close all the windows. That sucks, ’cause I have to be up at 0700. Will this horror never end!?

0231: Oh, wait…

Some may try to trivialize this blackout in the future. But now you know how it really was.

Dale Franks
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17 Responses to Blackout diary

  • There is a BIG market in South Texas for generator sets to power your home.
    Hurricanes will do that for you.  I had a tree fall on my meter drop in the last hurricane here (thousands of trees fell in my area).
    I had the entry panel rebuilt the next day (yeah, I am handy), but it took MONTHS to get the drop restored.  I had to go into town and rent an apartment, which sucked.  Makes you appreciate the small stuff.

    • I live in North Harris county, and the problem right now is wild fires. The air quality is horrible and we have to keep the kids at my school in during recess.

  • “The horror…the horror…”

  • 2100…LMAO

  • You shouldn’t have telegraphed that your plan is to kill your neighbors for your food. Now they’ll probably know to enact countermeasures next time this happens

  • Where, we have water, water everywhere.   It’s 5 feet or so below Agnes (1972), but they are turning off the electricity, water, and gas.

  • 2140: No power for 6 hours. Veneer of civilization crumbling away. Typing on a netbook via 4G in candlelight like some sort of animal.
    2001: A Space Oddity…
    Monkey touches monolith moment…

  • Very *#&@# funny!

  • You know what’s really awesome, Dale?

    Having power.  Having power RULES.  🙂

  • We have been having the same problems lately with rolling blackouts and such, as well as the threat of hurricanes.  I just ordered a propane generator, 7000 watts, it will be enough for power if I don’t try to run the main air conditioner or too many appliances at once.
    I like the propane because it will keep for years.

  • You mean the “government, centrally planned” grid, don’t you?

  • I spent the first couple of hours of the blackout adamantly defending a six pack of wheat ale from the ever rising temperature inside my fridge.

  • That was really, really good.  Enjoyed the heck out of it.  Needed the laugh.  Well done!

  • LOL.
    A chilling tale, Dale, and one that rocked me to my core. I hope you don’t require too much therapy to get right with the world after this brutal trauma. It sounds like the only thing worse than reading a Scott Erb post is losing your power.

  • Had a real blackout in the Midwest & Northeast 5 years ago.  It might be all fun and games if the power outage last more than 6 hours.  It took out the water and the landlines.  Water become non-potable almost right away because water pipes don’t like change and release debris when it does happen.  The toilets stopped working after the first few hours, fortunately I was able filled some empty jugs to flush a handful of time.  Sort of interesting to have to be judicious about flushing a toilet.  Cell towers worked for about 20 hrs before whatever backup they worked on quit.  Gas was whatever was in your tank when the power went out because the stations couldn’t pump it.  I basically had enough to make it outside the blackout area which was about 1/2 hour drive for me, luckily.
    As long as you don’t lose your water its probably ok, but if you lose your water, it will be less than a day before it really really sucks. 

  • I read it.  Now I can’t unread it.  Seared into me consciousness.  Won’t be able to sleep tonight.  Makes me forget the 19 days – yeah that’s right I said it 19 days – that we were without power after Hurricane Ivan.
    It was a funny post though and well done.