The New Normal


To bring you out-of-staters up to date, PG&E, who provides gas and electricity to most of Northern California, has taken to cutting power to areas in which weather conditions are likely to become conducive to fires. That means dry and high winds, the kind of weather my town experienced in October.

Early in October it was announced that most of Kensington would be cut for probably a couple of days plus as much as five more as the utility brought the system back up piece by piece. My house was clearly in the area expected to go dark. As it turned out, only the east (uphill) side of my town lost power. I'm a block west of this dividing line, but we didn't know exactly where the outage would cover nor exactly when. It all depended on the minute to minute assessment of wind direction and speed. It was a full day after the initial expected shut-off date arrived before the blackout, and like I said, I never did lose my electricity. Those who did were out for only less than a day.

There was a second curtailment announced for Kensington this last Saturday. This time I was affected and was out for nearly two full days, my longest outage since moving to California in 1980 (and I don't remember any in Michigan lasting that long.) I was rather surprised how prepared I wasn't. My lights went out at about 9:30 Saturday night.

On the plus side, I had a fully functioning flashlight and knew where it was. Not so with a battery-operated radio. My car had a fairly full tank of gas, but only because I happened to have refilled it just a couple of days before. There were lots of restaurants open, so I was able to eat out for not only the three breakfasts (which I generally do anyway) but also for two dinners. I really can't bank on that if blackouts become more widespread. Same with open grocery stores, good for fruit, good for me anyway.

Using a local CERT manual as my guide, I threw together a "Go Bag" when I heard that Crockett (about 10 miles northeast of me) was under an evacuation watch. This was getting way serious. I started grabbing things like my checkbook, my passport, things I'd need to do my taxes, energy bars, a 4-gallon water jug that I'd bought earlier that day.

I'd managed to find some ice and put it in my cooler, opening my refrigerator for the first time since the previous day. Funny how

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little it holds when ice is added. I figured I might want to address that as well as the radio.

When my power was restored on Monday afternoon, I decided that I needed to do better. As the saying goes, this is the new normal. I have an earthquake box outside and a review of it as a too low priority on my to-do lists when it made them at all. Today I accomplished that feat. In addition to the many cobwebs, I found that the emergency food and drinking water packets I had purchased as part of the supply packages I'd bought when I set up the quake box had expired nearly five years ago. I'd added some tuna fish tins, which had been stamped "best by Jan, 2010." Oh, and I found a battery-operated radio. 

I have lots of work to do. Being ready for earthquakes is hard enough, but to add fires is another thing altogether. I actually wondered if living in California is worth the bother. But there's danger everywhere. We need to prepare for hurricanes in the southeast, tornados in the Midwest, and deathly cold in the north. And of course, the biggest disaster of all, elections in 2020. How do I prepare for that?

My house at midnight during the blackout.

Blue buttons indicate new content in or since most recent monthly update.


10/31/19 - Monthly update started.

10/07/19 - Monthly update finally completed.

09/01/19 - Monthly update finished. 5 Towns visited

08/26/19 - Who Is Shin? introduced. My post-retirement                              resume. Me in a nutshell.

08/12/19 - Monthly update finished. Big stuff!

07/10/19 - Monthly update finished.

06/09/19 - Added the 7 Book Challenge to the Scholar section.                    Revised the main Scholar page to reflect my current                    status.

06/05/19 - Monthly update completed. Buttons color coded.

05/28/19 - Monthly update started. Should be minimal but                            significant.

05/21/19 - Added 8 towns to the 53 Town Pledge.

05/06/19 - Monthly update completed, including the "scholar"                      section which I forgot about until today!