The Cool House: Powerless

Monday, December 17, 2007


Yesterday the power went out a couple of times. In this house there are always consequences from a power outage and even though we have surge protectors, there's always stuff to fix when it eventually comes back on.
We are pretty much wireless here, at least the computers are wireless and the phones are VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol or telephone via the internets), so if the power is out they don't work. That means if your neighbor phones to ask if you've got power as his just went out, you don't get the message until the power comes back on. Now you can set the phones to transfer the calls to the cellphones, which is very useful IF you have cell phone service in the house. We don't, so without power we are cut off, and we have to reboot the Airport before we can get to the internets again.
Then, while my lovely iMac will automatically save documents when it loses power, Steven's laptop running XP, won't. But it will tell you the file you were working on doesn't exist, or is corrupt or numerous other versions of "I refuse to cooperate with you". When you have to be finished with a very important proposal by the end of the day this will cause much screaming, swearing and kicking of furniture when the power comes back on and you discover the whole weekend's work has apparently disappeared.
Then there's the TV. When the comes back in the volume has been reset, so it sounds like it's being transmitted through a cotton wool muffler. That's an easy fix, though, requiring only that we press the volume button on the cable box to max. And I have to reset the clocks on the appliances: washing machine, oven and microwave, too. All expected, if slightly annoying.
But there is always a kicker. A little something you never imagined would be affected by the outage. A little surprise to deal with. Yesterday it was the alarm system. When the power went out the loudspeaker, the one that scares the entire neighborhood whenever I overheat anything in the kitchen by booming "FIRE, FIRE, VACATE THE PREMISES IMMEDIATELY", started to vibrate like a drum. Of course this is hard-wired, you can't just take out the batteries, and the wires were soldered together. I'm sure this is a very secure system but when the humming and shaking are driving you crazy there's only one solution and it involved a chair, a torch and a pair of wire cutters. A little drastic maybe, but we were desperate.
So today I have to fix the loudspeaker, and I have to work out why the system tells me three of the door sensors have been compromised and the medical emergency button, too.

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