I think I jinxed myself during the previous entry when I said I was “lucky”. My power went out exactly at 1:41am Thursday night due to the high winds probably knocking over some electric poles or damaging a transformer. I sat around waiting for the power to come back up, assuming it was an intermitten thing. I didn’t for 15 minutes, and my machine was about to hibernate when the UPS said there was 5 minutes left. I did find out that a 24″ LCD uses A LOT of power. Without my Dell 24″ FPW2405 LCD, I have about 25-30 minutes of backup time on the machine. With the LCD plugged in, it drops to 10-12 minutes.
Anyway, I went to bed early that night (before 2am) and set my cell phone to wake me up at 9:30, because I had a one on one at 10:30. Anyway, I woke up around 9 and the power was still out. The reason I woke up was probably a little of the chill + the fact I went to bed early. My car was in the garage so I thought I’d sleep a bit more and hope the power would come back on in those few hours.
I woke up at 2:30pm and the power was still out. I looked around my house. There wasn’t anything to do. I did have my laptop with 2 hours of battery life, but without the internet, there wasn’t much to do. I decided to go to work and see what’s up, hoping they at least have power. So I unlatched my garage. The unlatching was easy, just pull and tug. Lifting the garage didn’t require much strength either. It was trying to figure out how to relatch the garage doors that took a very long time. In the end, I just left it unlatched and locked the door between my garage and my house (this will come back later to haunt me).
The trip to work actually didn’t take that long. Despite all the traffic lights not working, I took 156th up and got to the office building in 25 minutes. I did see horrendous traffic going the other way. The freeways were calm, but the entrances were packed.
It was surreal. It was like dooms day or Armageddon where cities of people are without electricity. I don’t think Seattle was affected, though I haven’t confirmed yet, but many of the east side cities’ (Bellevue, Redmond, Bothell, Kirkland, etc) power grid were all affected. I believe even the airport had to be closed down for awhile (not sure for how long). The funny thing is with all these cars, all the gasoline stations were not running. If you wanted gas, you had to literally drive up to 40 miles away. Thank god my little Civic has good mileage.
Anyway, back to my story. I ended up at my office building and it was totally empty. I didn’t even bother stopping and drove away. Apparently as it turns out, there was an e-mail at 5 or 6am telling all Puget Sound area employees that there won’t be work, but unfortunately for me, I didn’t have email access. At this point I could go home and be bored to death, or I can drop by someone’s place. Derek became the lucky guy I dropped by, plus the fact I had a present for him. Took me about an hour to get from building 40 to 90 freeway. All the main roads were backed up (due to no traffic lights), so I tried some back road, but both Northrup (20th ave) and W Lake Sammamish were closed due to tree fallings. These were trees that were at least 2-3ft in diameter. So I ended up taking 148th ave all the way down and 3 blocks before the freeway entrance literally took 30 minutes (10 minutes / block; maybe more).
Once I got on the freeway, it was nice. Actually about halfway getting onto the freeway, the traffic lights turned on, but it didn’t really help much. I thought, maybe I’d have power back at my place, but decided I’d give it some more time. The remainder of the drive wasn’t bad at all. Traffic lights were not working, but traffic still moved at a fairly good pace. I got to Derek’s place and I think they got home not too long ago. They invited me in and they had many many candles lit. They also had a gas powered stove so that meant they could actually cook. I was actually planning to have cereal and milk since all my cooking equipment required electricity. We made hot cocoa with marshmallows and just sat around chatting next to the fireplace.
I had called Xyon earlier that day and apparently he got electricity back at 6am. Tekman apparently got his electricity back sometime in the afternoon too. Derek gave Tekman a call and he invited us over for pasta and games and to check out his new Sony 1080p projector. We also brought our cell phones and laptops to be charged. Wrexen had his Xbox 360 set up and playing Gears of Wars when we got there and it’s so pretty! We also got to see some other HD content and it’s really nice *drools*… Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting my TV this Christmas as the prices are still somewhat too high. Actually, if Costco had delivery or if the selections on Costco.com was more abundant, I would’ve dropped my 2k awhile back. We played some poker, some board games, and had this awesome Baked Ziti with Italian sausage that Angel made and these yummy garlic bread. Afterwards, Derek and I played a few rounds of Mario Kart – Double Dash.
On our way back, the Microsoft campus seems to be powered. Even that stretch of freeway had the lamps on. I was hoping we’d have power, but neither Derek nor I got power when we got home.
I got home a little after 1am and sat around playing with my fireplace. My fireplace turns out to have fake wood which I thought was real when I moved in. I’ve been following a particular pattern where I only screw up one room: my computer room. I guess I screw up the kitchen too, but I clean that up daily. The living room and the dining room are usually never touched. The fireplace is in the living room. The upstairs are only used for sleeping and showering, but having the temperature drop to 50°F made me decide to try out my fireplace. At first I thought I had to buy new wood every time it gets used up, but it appears that these wood don’t actually catch on fire. It also doesn’t really warm up the room either, guess it’s all going out the chimney. The glass pane in front of the fireplace does get hot, but I only get warm standing right next too it. Oh yah, it turns out I had hot water too. My heat furnace didn’t turn on, though Derek explained to me that was because the fan that pushes the hot air is probably electric. Interestingly enough, even though my thermostat said “Heat On” because it fell below my set temperature of 55°F, the furnace was smart enough to not turn on because there’s no electricity. I was worry when I opened my door into my garage, it would smell of natural gas (or whatever the substance they use to give it that smell).
I went to bed and woke up this morning and found out it was 45°F and I was freezing. Took a nice hot shower and gave Derek a call. I was heading into work to use the internet there, since I assumed the power was back. I took the long way (520 freeway) to get to work to avoid the unpowered traffic lights, however it took me just as long to exit the freeway than the entire freeway trip itself. When I got to building 40, I was once again disappointed. The power hadn’t been restored for that building, so I met up with Derek and we went around searching for a gasoline station that didn’t have a 45min wait. We drove around Bellevue for half an hour or so, trying to find gas stations, and to be honest, I saw more of Bellevue today then I have ever with my whole year here combined. We actually found Bellevue H.S. which was on the top of this hill! We actually ended up all the way in Bothell and still couldn’t find a gas station that had gas. We ended up picking up Tekman in his PJs and he took us to an Arco which was also packed with cars, but at least it didn’t wrap around the entire block (which the Chevron in Bellevue did). That totally reminded me of the comics and pictures of when the middle east stopped shipping oil to us and people waited for hours in line to get gasoline.
Afterwards, Derek, Shanna and I had dinner at
Boneyard Fishbone Bonefish Grill and it was yummy. They had a ballet to catch. Apparently when they told me they were going into the city for the ballet, and had to dress nice, and Derek needed to shower and shave, I thought Ballet was either a club or a restaurant. Turns out ballet referred to the Nutcracker ballet. We parted our ways and I drove home to test my luck.
As I was driving home, the street lamps were all on. I was crossing my finger the whole way. About 5 minutes to my house, a street lamp was off and I was like ‘boo’. Then the following street lamp was on and I was like ‘yay’. The street lamps continued to be on until 2 BLOCKS FROM MY HOUSE!?!?! And then it was total darkness. I felt like kicking something. On the other hand, I was hoping they’d be close to fixing my place.
I got home, turned on the heater, pushed my couch close to the fireplace, started paying music from my iPod Nano through my Shure E4C-n, and began writing this blog entry. 2 paragraphs in, I get bored and started playing Free Cell.
After a couple games, that’s when I looked out the window and saw the mail kiosk and was like, did I pick up mail today? Then it hits me, I WAS ABLE TO SEE THE KIOSK!!! The light was on. I turn around and look towards my computer room, the lamp was on and so was my computer!!! Yippee!!! The power came back on at 7:04pm exactly (looked at my alarm clock and saw how much time has passed since it was powered). 12 minutes had actually passed before I noticed it. First thing I do? I log into my computer, sign on AIM, and announce it to the world. Well, really just 2 people, but yay!
So this is me being stupid. Since the power was back on, the first thing… well, the second thing that came into my head was to fix the garage. I had told Derek about my garage door situation, and he tells me that the garage will latch back onto the “traveler” (as the manual calls it) when you open the garage door your next time. Of course that required power, so I wasn’t able to fix it till now. The garage doors snapped back in just like Derek said they would. I was like awesome, turned around and tried to open the door. MY JAW DROPS.
As I mentioned how locking the door into the garage would haunt me later, the door was locked! I felt my pockets, NOTHING. At least I was dressed warmly with a sweater. I tried the door again. No luck. I wondered if I was smart enough to hide a spare key somewhere. No go. I even checked my car’s glove box and underneath all the paint cans. I went around to the front door and was hoping I’d been stupid enough to leave that unlock (which sometimes I do), but nope, I was smart this time. I jumped onto my back balcony and tried the sliding door. Nope, also looked. I walked around my house several times and thought really hardly. Looks like I need a locksmith. Derek mentioned he knew how to pick locks, but he’s probably still in the middle of Nutcrackers and a door was between me and my computer.
At this time, my neighbor (one of the two that helped me with my car in the snow situation and one that I also baked cookies for) was working on fixing his garage door. I walked over to say hi and I helped him with his garage door. Then I told him my story. Unfortunately he was not a locksmith, nor knew any. I asked if I could borrow his phone to call, and he was kind enough to let me into his house and and we Googled for locksmiths in Bellevue, WA. Pretty much picked the first one and called and he said he could be here in 20-30 minutes. I was like sweet. I was actually contemplating on calling multiple locksmiths to quote their prices, but given that this was an emergency plus the fact that I’m borrowing my neighbors phone and house, I decided to not bother. If I had my cell phone and a phone book, I would’ve definitely done some shopping. Do remember, this was a Saturday night. I met his wife and mother-in-law earlier (gave cookies to the mom and bumped into the wife when I was confirming the blackout), but I met their cute little daughter for the first time. They let me stay in their house while we waited for the locksmith, watched some Finding Nemo and even gave me a cookie (dunkers).
The locksmith showed up and apparently, and I thanked my kind neighbors and went out to meet him. He asked if I had any ID, but I told him it was in the house. He asked if anyone could confirm that I lived here and I said my neighbors could. I asked if he wanted me to ask them to come out, and he goes well, I did see you walk out of there, so that’s fine. He said deadbolts are practically impossible to unlock, so he tried the door in my garage. He said these types of locks usually takes 15 seconds (or was it 3 seconds?) for him to unlock, but there’s a pin that he couldn’t pick. He then tried some other tools which include a flat sheet of metal and a bent screw driver and he wiggled it for a good 5 minutes and then asked me if I was sure there wasn’t any other lock on this door. I confirmed and he said, “Don’t worry, there hasn’t been a door I have been unable to unlock. Worse case scenario, I bring out the drill.” I was like okay… I can always break a window and get back into my house too… Of course I thought that in my head. He then busted out with these air pouches and used the flat metal and wiggled it some more and the door finally busted open. I had to bring down my driver’s license and a credit card statement (since my driver’s license doesn’t reflect this address) and to confirm I do live here. He was actually quite thorough. Initially, I just brought down and packing slip from one of my internet orders, but he said he needed to see a credit card statement or a utility bill so I went back up to search for one. Since most of my statements were online only, it took a few minutes for me to actually one one.
I went back down with my Capital One statement (apparently they don’t think my email address exists and keeps sending me statements with a note that tells me emails they’re sending are being rejected). But that’s another story for anther day. I go back down, he confirms I live here and tells me he’ll give me a discount since I’m paying in cash. $120 for the work and $55 for the service call. I knew I was going to pay and $175 was actually near the higher end of my estimate, but oh well, emergency is emergency. Thank god I had gone to the ATM before coming home. I was down to $1 and all my banks around here were closed (no electricity). After dinner at Bonefish Grill, there was actually a Bank of America in that same mall and I withdrew $300 and I was even thinking, how long $300 was going to last me. Welp, over half is gone now. Haha. $175 for a lesson. I need to figure out where to hide a spare key now. I’m actually thinking of dropping it off at my neighbors, but I’m not sure if they’ll feel comfortable with it.
I’m finally back in my house and then I remember… THE FRIDGE! I opened the fridge for the 1st time since the blackout and was surprised there wasn’t any smell. As a warning for those with ice cube makers, apparently there are holes and water was starting to freeze everywhere. There was even a puddle at the bottom. I thought the ice was going to keep the freezer cold, but it made a bigger mess than I had anticipated. And being trapped outside for 45 mins meant it had 45 mins of trying to get frozen. I threw away pot-stickers which were gooey and my frozen bbq wings, which I think was okay, but I didn’t want to deal with it. I kept the mushroom risotto and the asparagus risotto. I actually had to get up and walk over to the fridge to figure out what the name of that green veggie that Ryan likes was. I knew it began with an ‘a’ and it was on the tip of my tongue, but I finally gave up and walked over. The vanilla ice cream was also all gooey. I also threw away my eggs (I think they actually started to change in color) and my pumpkin pie which looked funky and some veggies that have been there for weeks. I’m actually keeping the milk as it tastes fine and smells fine.
And that’s been the chaos for the past 2 days.