The near-zero °F weather hasn’t been all that dangerous because I never get far from the house for long enough to get hurt. I went to check the mail twice just to make sure it didn’t run (hasn’t for 3 days so far), and that’s all the time I spent outside. So far we had one extended power outage caused by lack of natural gas to the co-op generator that hasn’t happened again. We still have good water pressure and safe water to drink, and the water heater is still online.
In other news as of today Mrs. the Poet has been married to me 43 years. Yeah I know, I don’t know how she did it either. I am NOT the easiest person to live with, but neither am I the worst person to live with. I have my problems, and so does Mrs. the Poet. We manage to not kill each other somehow and are still together in spite of all the people betting against us. How that happened I’m not really sure, but I think it means we were made for each other. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m glad it did.
Back to the weather and the problems caused by it, the causes have been isolated. Basically it comes down to a system designed to run on the ragged edge because profits, which when the Spam hit the fan basically fell apart because there was no reserve capacity for abnormal conditions like there would be if it was regulated by people who put reliability over profits. The system has enough capacity to handle the load if the weather is above freezing, but as the temperatures dropped near or below 0°F the equipment wasn’t built to take it and went offline. The controls at natural gas wellheads literally froze up and wouldn’t allow more gas to flow in spite of demand. The wind turbines were not equipped with deicing equipment and froze up and couldn’t turn at full speed, because it was cheaper to not equip them, and nobody to force them to install the equipment. This is why electrical power systems need to be regulated because making the system work in good weather is not good enough, making the system work in really hot weather isn’t good enough because it gets hot every summer, but the system has to be built for when weather gets really bad once in a blue moon. And the last time it got this cold was winter of 1989-90.
There are only 2 ways to fix this. Either make everybody build to the standard that will work at -10°F, or pay operators to be emergency capacity and have wind turbines that will work at -40°F and wells that still work at -40°F just to make sure they will work in spite of anything that comes down from Canada on the jet stream. Personally I think making everyone build to the same standard works better than paying some to build to be ready for anything. If you can’t (won’t) build to standards that exceed record bad weather then you don’t get paid as much for your electricity when the weather is good. If you build for all weather then your turbine gets a bonus to keep it that way when weather is good. This recognizes that building and maintaining systems that only get used once or twice a decade is an added expense and compensating operators that build to that standard. Since TX is so afraid of “regulations”, make them “incentives” instead. I don’t know what way would be best to do it, whether paying more per KWatt/hour, or by paying a flat rate per month for fully winterized systems. The only other way to do it and be fair is to require winterized systems for every provider.
And in case you wonder about that tag.The Flintstone Happy anniversary song full clip How Barney manages to sing and play piano with his head facing the wrong direction I’ll never understand beyond “cartoon logic”.
I’m taking advantage of having internet while I can, as we had a 13 hour blackout of everything except cell phone service. Basically from 0800 to 2100 here at Casa de El Poeta there was no electricity which means anything that requires line current to work, didn’t. That includes cable, internet, and because we have VOIP no phone service either.
Basically Texas lost a bunch of their generating capacity because deregulation and the free market don’t actually take care of everything. Since nobody made them install deicing equipment on the wind turbines, the wind turbines froze over and stopped generating electricity. Since nobody made the well operators prepare for extended near-zero conditions, there wasn’t any natural gas to run the natural gas powered generators. And other things down the line, kinda like when I was denied disability because they only looked at my case one issue at a time, nobody paying attention to the fact that stuff I could still do with one problem I couldn’t do because I had multiple problems, and even though I could do some things for short periods of time I couldn’t do them day in and day out because of other problems.
So I spent as long as I could under the covers where it was warm because I put a lot of blankets on the bed. Basically I would be warm still if the house got below freezing, which I know because in my Gran’s house the back bedroom was too far away from the wood stove to get much if any heat and I did the quilts and blankets the same as we did back then. On the really cold nights a glass of water on the nightstand would freeze in the back bedroom. But we didn’t, so everything was good until we had to get out of bed and stick our bare feet on the freezing floor.
As soon as we got power back I made some microwave noodles so I had something hot to eat. Mrs. the Poet had a chicken lunch meat sandwich because she just wanted food and cold or hot didn’t matter and she made the same sandwich for lunch. Now I’m dealing with a headache because not eating earlier but it’s going away because I’m eating now. And I mentioned it was cold in the house, but not really that cold because it was still above 50° when the power came back on, so we’re all good now at 64°F
I’m going to do other things because it’s looking like we have power for the near future.
There was an arctic front moving through yesterday and last night, meaning my arthritis decided to immobilize my fingers until I acclimated to the change in weather. That’s my excuse for not posting, and I’m sticking to it.
Seriously though, this cold front really messed me up. The overcast days preceding the FROPA prevented my resets from working and my sleep schedule was basically 2 hour naps 4 or 5 times during the day, until the front finally came through. And my brain was basically running on minimum power until I finally got reset. That is doubleplus ungood for everything except basic life support like eating, maintaining hydration, washing hands after using the bathroom, and putting clothes on. Composing a blog post just required too many processor cycles to work, or “too many spoons” for followers of that paradigm. I’m still running on a processor cycle deficit, meaning each sentence has required several attempts to match a subject to as predicate. I’m basically running just above “See Spot. See Spot chase the ball.” levels right now, but I am running at a literate level again. Yesterday I was processing at “Consume web comics” level. Today I’m at writing about consuming web comics level, which I assure you is at least a step or two up.
Something else that has been impaired by the local weather was the NASCAR Cup race that was supposed to run on Sunday. It’s now Tuesday and they still haven’t been able to finish running the race, because the rain and the cold weather have prevented track drying from being completed. When it’s so cold and wet jet engine exhaust won’t dry the pavement, it’s too cold and wet to race on an oval track. And looking at that sentence tells me I’m still only barely exceeding “See Spot run” because I still have several thousand words in my functional vocabulary. That sentence was about as primitive a construction as English can get, and yesterday I couldn’t even write that good. That is a slightly frightening thought.
Well, I still am only writing at grade school levels, I really don’t have anything important to write about beyond what I already wrote, and I’m boring myself reading my own writing. That seems like a good reason to stop writing and hit “Publish”.
Due to a combination of bad weather and finances we are going to miss the State Fair of Texas this year. It has been cold and rainy the past two days, to the point I’m actually wearing a shirt in the house, and all the AC units still working are now shut down. I even slept under a blanket for the first time in ages, April or May at least. The office temp has warmed up to about 64°F.
One of the reasons I go to the Fair is to look at the cars, both for ideas for the T-bucket, TGS2, or Sprint-T, and because we are also looking to change our car-free status some day. Mrs. the Poet is having more and more trouble getting around, so at some point we are either going to have to buy a car, or get a subscription to Lyft or Uber or something. The other reason we go to the Fair is to try the food. You know, some of that deep-fried badness that tastes so good and is so bad for your arteries. But Mrs. the Poet can’t walk so good and especially with the weather turning colder her mobility is even more restricted. So with the forecast calling for an 80% chance of rain, and temps in the low 60s or high 50s F it’s pretty much a no-go this year because getting to the food takes lots of walking. There is discount food on Senior Day, but to actually get a meal you have to go to several vendors, because the cheap drink is one place, the cheap dessert in another, and the award-winning main dish is all the way over on the other end of the food area that’s about a quarter-mile away, leading to miles of walking between the car show and the food chase. So, no Fair this year. And because of the rain we have been having there has been a lost of flooding, both from rising streams as well as flash floods because the soil is completely saturated and there’s no place for the water to go except into the streets and storm drains that are already backing up because of rising streams and rivers.
On other fronts, I’m doing beans and rice again tomorrow because I need to help the food budget and that’s about the cheapest big meal I can make. The ingredients cost about $3 including spices, and because I’m using a slow cooker I’m not using much electricity either. And I really like the end result after the 8-9 hour process. And I had better like it because the recipe I’m using now makes enough food for 2½ dinners, or 2 dinners and a side or light lunch. So if I don’t like what I fix I’m seriously out of luck. When Mrs. the Poet is out of town that goes double because that means 5 meals in total from that one batch of cookery. Now if I chose cheaper ingredients it would be even cheaper, because brown rice is expensive compared to white, and there are less expensive varieties of beans I could use, but it wouldn’t taste as good and as many meals as I get from one batch of beans I need it to taste as good as I can make it.
Getting back to the Sprint-T for a few words, the deal with the transmission on the EJ20 Subaru engine might be a few pounds heavier than other possible combinations, but the cost of the combination is less than the cost of a rebuilt T5 transmission alone for the RWD conversion of the Subaru, not to mention tons less work because I don’t have to make a new bellhousing that connects the Subaru engine to a Borg-Warner (now made by Tremec) transmission. The transmission is one of the few things on the Sprint-T that weight is less of a concern than cost or ease of installation, because it sits in the middle of the car front-to-rear and just has a negative effect on the power-to-weight ratio and doesn’t affect things like polar moment or balance.
I’m sure by now you know I have taken a few knocks along the way, some harder than others. Well the weather has been going through some drastic changes as we have passed the Equinox. And as the weather changes my old injuries are complaining painfully. My left knee and right hip are making the most noise, with the left hip and calf also making their grievances known, and both feet occasionally throwing their $0.02 into the conversation. And yesterday everybody was talking at once, with the metaphorical cacophony lasting into the afternoon today, in spite of the fact that the weather is worse today than yesterday. I still hurt but it’s subsided to a level I can sit down at a desk or table and get some writing (typing on the computer) done.
I’m periodically reminded all those injuries happened and I’m stupid for doing the things I was doing when I got injured. Everybody knows what I did to make all the parts on my left leg hurt, that event is the precipitating cause for this blog in all of its many permutations. The other injuries are more obscure. The right hip was from chi gong class, something I was doing to try to maintain flexibility so I could ride my bike better that ended up making it so I couldn’t get on the bike at all. Both knees are from a series of mishaps starting when I was about 16 that as was discovered later tore my cruciate ligaments, but not all the way through, resulting in floppy knees that caused cartilage damage and arthritis as I got older. My feet are repetitive and cumulative stress from all that walking on concrete and pavement I did, tens of thousands of miles over the years. I also used to run until my knees forced me to quit that. That was the point I started riding my bike again.
So I spent most of the day yesterday and into the afternoon today in bed trying to not move or roll over on the old injuries so they would not hurt as bad. Fortunately I had both phones charged up for doing the internet things I need to do that don’t involve massive amounts of typing, so it wasn’t completely wasted time. There were lots of things I should have been doing but didn’t because I can’t or won’t do them on a phone, but everything that could be done on the phone was done. And everything I needed to say today has been typed into the computer to broadcast over the internets, so I thin we are probably done for today. I did think about building the Sprint-T again but it is all stuff that would be technobabble straight outta Star Trek to most of my loyal readers and basically would be a rehash of stuff I wrote earlier in excruciating detail, concerning tuning for unleaded regular and E85. It’s not a secret but if I told you you might want to kill yourself 😈 Seriously, unless you’re doing this stuff it’s boring as Hell to read about, and even if you are doing it it is not exactly riveting reading.