Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Buried alive!

We've got TONS of snow here! Yesterday afternoon a snow-laden branch broke off of a tree outside the college house and fell nearly on the man van. Zach, Chip, and I went out to move it out of the neighbor's driveway. Just as we got it into the yard, there was a crack and a snap above us! A branch snapped right off of the other tree were now under. I didn't see it, only heard the shouted warning- I tried to run out from under the tree but slipped and fell on the snow, then hands-and-knees crawled away from the tree and the still-unseen falling branch. Once in the clear I turned and saw the sizable branch laying where Zach had been standing- fortunately, Zach is quick on his feet and got out of the way with time to spare. It scared me, though- the branch could have just as easily have been the one above me.

That night I was over at Flic and Amanda's place last night playing sweet Wii games like Wii Sports Resort, which somebody needs to donate to the ministry. Zach and I left pretty late, around 1AM- and as we walked out the door, the lights went out! Power outage. Ephraim has short outages and flickers pretty frequently, and usually power comes back on within a few minutes. Not so this time. Power was out for a few hours at least. When I drove over, I'd cleared 4-5" of snow off the Camry, and now it had 8" or so on it, just from the few hours I was Wiiing. We went drifting in the Race Camry and didn't get arrested. It was kind of eerie to be drifting around a corner and the whole town is completely dark and unlit. No lights on main street, nothing. Cool, though.

When we got back, we naturally returned to a dark house. I'd left my lighter over at the Thompsons during the week or so I lived there (while my floor was getting done). So, no candles. Fortunately, I am an engineering student. More than that, I am certified and Applied and Practical Nerdery. By this time the power had been out for 30-40 minutes, so who knew when it would come back on again. The first order of business is light, which was provided by a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and a reading lamp, which thankfully has a very long cord:

Of course I could have used the flash to take a decent picture, but then you wouldn't have gotten the idea.

I didn't want my cell phone to be dead the next day if this power outage was for reals, so I rigged my car charger up to an SLA (Sealed Lead Acid [battery]).
I know, scotch tape is not appropriate for electrical use. Just call it Field Expedient Electrical Tape.

It's silly, I know- but the power outage got me thinking, lying there in bed. What if the light don't come on tomorrow? Am I prepared for that? As the maintenance guy for Trigrace, is the cafe ready for that? We're prepared for short term 'blips' of power with a UPS on the computer system, but the furnace doesn't work without power. Neither do the fridges. (Although I just put the potato soup out on the back porch.) The fireplaces in this house have long since been decommissioned. I don't know why this next thought came into my head, but what if the sun didn't come up tomorrow? What if this insignificant power outage was to be how the end times begin for me? Am I ready for that spiritually? Could I handle what that might bring mentally and physically? Sobering. 

Well, the sun did come up this morning, and so did the power, at least for a little while. I was awoken by a call from Chip soliciting help with snow removal. I saw also a text from him earlier saying only "HELP", which probably would have been disconcerting had I not received the call first. Anyway, I prepared myself for the cold, including my waterproof over-socks (read: walmart bags). When I got outside, boy howdy was there snow!

Dadgum. We had a fun time clearing it all. That's not sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek either. We had the proper tools (read: Dingo) and no time crunch. I didn't have to actually manually shovel much because I spent half my time on chainsaw duty. It was mildly disheartening to watch snow continue to fall and accumulate on the surfaces you'd just cleared, but with a lot more of this still to come, we couldn't afford not to clear it. To my great satisfaction, Jamie made breakfast for us (on her gas stove, no power needed). Everyone had a good laugh that I'd freaked myself out wondering if the sun was going to come up this morning. 

Side note: I offered to charge Chip's cell phone from my SLA the same way I did mine. I saw it took the same connector as my phone so I left his car charger there and figured I could just plug it into mine. Well, not so, because the software engineers at VZW are a bunch of jerkfaces. Turns out you can't use any charger but the ones they sell you. I got a screen on the phone saying "UNAUTHORIZED CHARGER" when I tried to use mine. Come on, VZW, five volts is FIVE VOLTS. I went back and got his likely-overpriced VZW car charger and it worked great. Doesn't matter too much, though, 'cos power came back on before it finished.

We always try to help out our neighbors with snow whenever we are able. We had the Dingo taking care of most of our heavy snow, so we could afford to go to a few other houses and clear snow. I spotted a branch fallen across the driveway of our two-doors-down neighbors and grabbed Chip's chainsaw to take care of it. It was still attached quite a ways up, so I was only really able to chop up the lower parts of the branch for easy removal. I discovered halfway through the nobody lives there (it's a history site- Brigham Young or someone stayed the night there once) so I left the chopped pieces for the city to clear. I also cut up a branch that'd fallen next to the LDS missionaries' driveway

Looking farther down the street I spied another downed branch across the sidewalk and walked down to take care of it. Turns out it was also leaning against a police cruiser, but precariously held aloft by a still-attached branch. I carefully cut on the side I wanted it to fall towards and was able to get it all down. The guy who lived in the house next door came out, and it turned out he actually was the officer to whom the cruiser belonged. He was surprised to find out I wasn't a city worker, and was thankful to have his cruiser freed. I discovered that he is also the owner of the possibly-race-prepped-but-at-least-dope-looking Impreza that I see parked on the street there. I left the chopped up bits of tree there for the city again. The guy said his landlord was crazy about firewood so maybe he'll end up with it. He and a young lady that also lives there snapped some pics of the process and kindly sent one to me:

Because of this, I assume that I'm now Totally In with the police in Ephraim, which means I can commit crimes like crazy and get away with it. I'm pretty sure that would only ever apply to snow drifting in the Race Camry, which I'm pretty sure isn't illegal anyway. It's just turning with gusto. 

I returned and we cleared snow some more. I manned the snowblower for a while, which has a ritzy electrically-adjustable snow chute. Fancy. Our old one growing back in MA had a steel rod and a leadscrew.  I hacked up some more trees on our property and finally figured out how the bar lock on a Stihl 034 chainsaw works. 

That's all, you can stop reading now.

P.S. FORGET YOU, SNOWSTORM! You totally ruined any chance of seeing the lunar eclipse last night.


  1. awesome! you guys are so great to help us all!

    btw- officer jackman may (or may not) have drifted in his patrol car before so no worries about the race camry :)

  2. WOW! This is what I missed. I got lots and lots of rain in Henderson. When people told me there was a lot of snow, I didn't picture that. Thanks for sharing and for helping with the fallen branches. Thanks to all who helped too!