Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Mimsy Were the Technocrats: As long as we keep talking about it, it’s technology.

Dark Thursday’s iPad goes far

Jerry Stratton, September 10, 2011

First reporters on Dark Thursday power outage: The first reports of the power outage came from local channel 10 and the North County Times.; San Diego; news

Kudos to channel 10 news and North County Times for getting a report out about the outage during the outage.

What did I do on dark Thursday? I browsed the web on my iPad and made fun of SDG&E’s twitter feed. I also did the standard stuff: sat out by the pool with my neighbors playing Texas Hold ’Em and drinking Rebel Yell whiskey.

Our workplace has had power issues in the past, so I didn’t really think much of it when the power went out at 3:40 and came back on again a few minutes later. Turns out the power coming back on was our backup generator, but I didn’t realize that until I got on the road. It was time for me to leave anyway, so I got on my bike and headed out. And discovered that the traffic lights were out throughout Linda Vista, Mission Valley, and Hillcrest. Fortunately, I’d left almost immediately after the power went out, so tempers had not yet flared and traffic was only beginning to back up around Hotel Circle.

It being a somewhat warm day1 and the sun having beaten down on the tops of our apartment all day, my neighbors were congregating outside until the power came back on to power their fans and air conditioners. I pulled my iPad out and checked for a network connection. Got it, and saw that while most of the news services hadn’t yet picked up on it, the ones that had picked up on it were reporting that the outage went as far east as Arizona, down into Mexico, and up into Orange County!

At this point, we realized that the power wasn’t coming back on any time soon. Some of my neighbors had already started defrosting for dinner, so we, like much of San Diego, started our blackout barbecue of random foods and, later, played cards.

And every once in a while I’d read from SDG&E’s twitter feed for a good laugh.

An event happened between AZ and CA.

Think of the system as linked by springs.

If you have a personal family emergency plan, please activate it now.

Rebel Yell Poker: No phones, no lights, no motorcars? Time for a little Texas Hold ’Em and whiskey.; San Diego; game; whiskey; whisky, bourbon, scotch

No phone? No lights? No motorcars? Not a single luxury? Well, not true. Poker chips, Pabst, and Rebel Yell constitute luxury under the right circumstances.

Activating my “emergency plan” wasn’t much, but I did discover a few things I’m glad I had. Bottled water is, of course, a good thing to have on hand. It lasts a long time and is useful outside of emergencies, which means it was still good. I do think I’m going to keep two packages on hand instead of one from now on.

The Mini Maglite LED flashlight I bought for automotive emergencies turned out to be pretty awesome, too. I have a big D-cell Maglite for general use around the apartment, but the little Mini-Maglite was easy to keep in my shirt pocket and theoretically lasts so long I had no worries about the batteries dying. They claim over 30 hours on low, and low was more than bright enough.2

Books, on the other hand, never run out of battery power, and I got a little reading done before dinner was ready and the card game started.

The iPad, however, was a real workhorse. Besides giving me Internet access to read news reports and follow SDG&E’s updates, I also was able to use iSSH to log in to the office network and send out campus updates3 as well as monitor our home page to watch the emergency notification bar across the middle of the page.

I was also able to Skype out to let my out-of-state friends know I was all right. IM+ kept me in touch with a colleague who had stayed at the office until the power came back on. One very nice thing about both Skype and IM+ is that notifications alert me if I’m in another app—such as iSSH or Twitter or Safari—and a text message comes through.

I don’t know if it worked, because I didn’t drive around, but the Google Maps traffic overlay claimed to tell me which surface streets were heavily backed up.

In response to Esmerelda and me: road trip with iPad: My friends call it my girlfriend, because I trust its directions more than theirs. And because it’s right, baby.

  1. The temperature was nothing special for San Diego in the summer, regardless of what SDG&E tweeted. It was only the high eighties. In fact, this has been a relatively mild summer: usually we see good stretches of high eighties through July and August.

  2. The batteries I’m using are the same ones that I got when I bought the flashlight about a year ago.

  3. Updates that most people probably didn’t get until the power came back on, mind you.