Friday, November 27, 2015
  Brrrrr. That was cold.

The storm that was beginning in previous entry lasted all day 11/17, peaking between 4 PM and 7 PM.

11/17 4:52 PM Power off.

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My neighborhood DIDN'T get the worst of this storm, which was mainly focused southward. You can see it coming in the map in previous entry, and you can see a clearer picture of the pattern in the gust maps at Cliff Mass's blog. The deepest pressure gradient was centered around Tekoa, and extended into the south part of Spokane. Northside got a few MPH less, which made a difference in the wind-force parabola.

South of the river got thoroughly squashed this time.

Last July's storm focused DIRECTLY on my area with 20 or 30 trees down and 8 squashed houses. This time I saw 3 trees down and one partly damaged house. (Incidentally, that same house was partly damaged on the OTHER side by the July storm. Now BOTH of his trees are gone, so he's safe from further damage.)

No obvious damage to my house. Roof looks OK. Back door is hard to open, indicating that the storm might have 'pushed' those walls more than usual. Door has been similarly hard to open before, and later recovered. Need to check that out after things calm down. Nothing seems to be broken or popped. Fence fixed in 2011 held up fine. The trees I cut down in 2011 are still absent, so they couldn't cause any damage.

THE ONLY GOOD PINE TREE IS AN ABSENT PINE TREE. A nonexistent pine tree can't squash you or burn you. Pine trees may be part of Nature, but they're a part that DOES NOT BELONG anywhere near houses.

This storm carried a lot of dust but not much rain. The dust coated the windows.

= = = = =

Observations on temperature:

I normally maintain 65.

First day, walls and floors and air held heat pretty well. 55, which is tolerable.

Second day, 51.

After that, asymptote at 44-47, which is pretty much the default soil temp and the default crawl space temp. Not tolerable.

Shivering seems to be a delta-dependent thing. Obviously you need as many blankets as possible over the body, but that doesn't stop shivering. Found a trick that works for me: Control the delta T at nasal air inlet. I sleep facing sideways, so the pillow already warms one side of the head. Pull up blankets and sheets to cover the upward side of the head, then arrange sheet (no blanket) just under the nose to form a sort of heat exchanger. Outgoing air warms the 'filter', and you draw incoming air through the warmed 'filter'. When you don't feel sharp cold coming into your nose, you will be able to damp down the shivers and get to sleep. For a while anyway.

Lesson to remember: Now that heat has returned, I'm fine. A considerable amount of shivering is not harmful!

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Things that worked:

Sun! Using front door and windows for 'passive solar' added 5 degrees to living room for three hours on clear days. Mainly the sun helped to warm my body. Spent those hours standing or sitting in front of the door like an old cat, reading the same TR Pearson novels that reliably pull me through other disasters like jury service.

Candles. Already had 4 long ones, didn't fully use them up. Bought a couple of smelly ones when stores were out of good ones. (This picture captures the atmosphere of the week nicely.)

One observation on big smelly candle: After it burns for a while it falls into a firm flashing rhythm. Thought the pool of liquid was responsible, so I cut a notch in the side to let the liquid out. The flashing stopped BEFORE any liquid flowed out. Hypothesis: The flashing is some kind of relaxation oscillator, resonating with the shape of the crater. When the crater is opened, no osc.

LED Clip lights. Already had three of them, normally illuminating computer keyboard and electronic work. Mounted one on a high shelf in kitchen, one on main table in LR, one in bath. Left them on for safety. Good task-focused illumination.

Old Sanyo radio. Found it in a dumpster 30 years ago. Serves beautifully every time it's needed.

Propane stove. Best helper of all. Uses gas sparingly, heats pans quickly. I had 3 bottles of propane left from previous preparation after 1996 icestorm. Two bottles were half used, third was full. Tied the stove to one of the half-full ones. In the middle of this week, bought 2 new bottles at WalMart. Should have bought more, because WalMart was out the next day. Got through 7 days of fairly normal cooking on the original part bottle; ran out on the 8th day. Had one remaining new bottle. Made it!

Coffeemaker in 'manual' mode. Put grounds in filter, fill glass pot with proper amount of water, transfer to metal pan, put glass pot back where it belongs, boil water in metal pan, pour into filter. Tricky part is keeping the pour centered, avoiding 'peeling back' the filter. Probably would work better with a teapot as both boiler and pourer, but this method was working so I didn't bother. Disaster is no time for idle experimentation.

= = = = =

Things that didn't work:

Refrigerator. An old non-auto-defrost fridge holds its cool for a day or so. This auto-defrost gets WARMER than room temp in a few hours, and starts stinking. I had to break out of my recent mostly from-scratch diet and fall back to eating from cans. Survivable but not ideal. Scratch requires refrigeration.

Coleman 'Sportcat' alleged heater. Maybe it works in a tent, but it's no better than candles in a regular room. Doesn't add even one degree. It warms hands, and warms the inside of shoes before putting them on, but candles do those tasks equally well plus light. Wasted two precious bottles of propane before I realized how useless it is.

This crank-powered light. Even when fully cranked the LEDs with reflector don't illuminate anything. It holds charge for many hours, which makes it OK for a safety 'marker beacon', but useless as a real light.

= = = = =

Endpoint 6:31pm 11/25
Power finally came back! Eight days plus two hours. I had exhausted all supplies of patience and hope and energy, made a strong prayer and vow: I will swallow all my bitching about external factors like radio stations and Avista. A few minutes later, LIGHT!

I'll stick to the vow. I had a whole bunch of bitching in mind, but it disappears. When superstition pays, I obey!

After I determined that the LIGHT was not a hallucination from desperation, I spent the next couple hours merging back into normal bedtime routine, reactivating electrical stuff, and sort of leaping and squeaking like a dog who really didn't expect Master to return.

Water heater took 45 mins to reach normal. At first it was making a sound that I'd never heard before. After about 10 minutes the unusual sound clicked off and the usual hiss clicked on. Is there a separate 'starter' element?

Baseboard heaters took 2 hrs to reach 55, which is tolerable. Will gradually get back to 65.

... Next morning, after finally reaching 65 with a boost from the sun: Aaaaah. Pure comfort.

Oddly, the house seemed to prefer being cold. When the air above the floor was the same temp as the crawl space below, the old floors were unusually quiet. Now the usual clunks and creaks are back. It's all about delta T!

Moral: Preparedness pays. I was fully prepared for about 6 days; 8 days stretched my material and mental abilities but worked out in the end.

Resolution: After the web gets reconnected I need to order a few things for better preparation next time. Mainly a real propane room heater, and a WHOLE FUCKING BUNCH of propane bottles. Maybe a tent-like thing for bed, and maybe a camp shower.

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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