Lightning Strikes Internet Twice

Last Wednesday evening, a big thunderstorm passed over Bethesda. I mean very big, and I mean right over. I mean that a deafening crash of thunder was accompanied by power going off for a second or so.

Then most electrical stuff came back to life. But internet service was conspicuous by its absence. The kids were horrified to be deprived of streaming TV shows. We don’t have TV as such, but with internet and wireless, the amount of TV content available is staggering.

6084075796_b8a072cabd_bIt turned out that our fioS box was fried. So lightning can strike twice. Or rather, it can strike our internet service twice, without having to strike the same location. A storm knocked out our internet service at our previous house; the photo shows where the cable came into the house, and the lightning’s attempt to come in as well.

Verizon has now replaced the fried internet box, and the damaged wireless router. A few other things were also fried by last week’s storm: a desktop PC; a couple of LED lamps; a USB hub, attached to a laptop (but not the laptop itself); and either a printer or the cable connecting it to the laptop (haven’t had time to check it yet).

But we can relax now, since a third internet-destroying storm cannot possibly strike us…

Re-Dependence Day

The strong and sudden (but not unexpected) storm of Friday June 29 damaged trees, power lines, and hence electricity supply.

A tree fell right across the road opposite our house in Bethesda, but a lane was cleared by a midnight(ish) chainsaw. I assume that the people wielding the chainsaw really needed to get somewhere. The image in this post doesn’t show that tree (another one does), but it’s my best photo of the storm and its effects.

We were without power for a little under five days. So yes, that means that it came back on Independence Day. It feels like re-dependence day, since we are so dependent on electricity, and take it so much for granted. A few reactions to the power cut:

  • We reacted to it in different ways. My daughter (Maddie, 8) saw the bright side of not having electricity for the fridge: perhaps we’d have to eat out more.
  • The iPad (iPad 2) held its charge very well.
  • I really missed the internet, and not just for its fun side. I keep my main to-do list on 37signals‘ Backpack, which is great when its assumption that the internet is always there holds true.
  • There are many tall trees round here. That’s great, trees are wonderful, but they are not good neighbors for power lines. We missed the air conditioning during the heatwave (definitions vary, but we met all of the definitions provided at Wikipedia),but it would have been even worse without the shade provided by the tall trees. Then again, that shade means that we wouldn’t get as much out of solar panels on the roof as the temperatures would suggest.
  • If the people who used a chainsaw outside our house at midnight are reading this, you are forgiven. You probably needed to get somewhere, and the fallen tree was blocking the only way out.

How do you feel about dependence on electricity? Are you in fact dependent on it? Do you take a steady supply of electricity for granted? (I did, for most of my life, until I moved to Maryland.)

Cable Cut Fever

The race is on for the 2008 Spoilsport of the Year award. Wired Ryan, in an article about “cable cut fever,” quotes Spoilsport Stefan. “Cable cuts happen on average once every three days… There are 25 large ships that do nothing but fix cable cuts and bends.”

Let’s have a look at these ships, shall we? They include the RenĂ© Descartes, registered in… Kerguelen? No doubt that ship’s motto is “I fix, therefore there’s spam.”

Luckily, Ryan also presents more imaginative accounts of the cable cuts.

Professional terrorist fear monger Annie Jacobsen says Middle Eastern governments are lying about the real reason for the cuts. 9/11 truthers suggested the cuts came in preparation for a U.S. government-faked terrorist attack on the Super Bowl. Bloggers have suggested that the cuts are cover for the NSA installing taps on the lines using the U.S.S. Jimmy Carter.

Sometimes, I’m proud to be a blogger. And let’s salute those who leave comments: there are some great ones following Ryan’s article.