Electricity Back!!

Hooray! The power is back as of 6:00 p.m. Television! Computer! Air conditioning! Refrigeration! Water from my well for a shower! Beer waiting for the fridge to chill it down!

Life is good. Or better than it was, anyway.

I finally got to read my e-mail for the last 5-1/2 days. Thank you to all of my friends who e-mailed me with their kind words of concern. I do appreciate it, even if I couldn't read it at the time you sent it.

Saturday at the Library

Still no power. This morning's paper says that FPL promises that everyone in Lee County east of I-75 will have their power back no later than November 10th. I suspect that mine will be back a lot sooner than that, but every day this becomes more frustrating. I'm not really having any problems meeting my basic needs, but I'm really, really bored. No television. No computer. Nothing but my books. And you can only read for so long before you want to do something else. I don't feel like doing anything particularly active, because I don't want to get sweaty or dirty.

Yesterday, I scrounged some water from the neighbors across the street to fill my toilet tanks. I spent most of the day sitting out in front of my house in the shade, reading Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy, which I got at the library the other day. I'm into the second book. Lots of time to read, while it's light out. I also have my flashlight, a fancy deluxe model with both incandescent and fluorescent lights as well as red and yellow flashers. The fluorescent light is perfect for reading in the dark, and there's lots of dark this time of year, even at this latitude.

Nights are currently about 12 hours and 40 minutes long. You can't really sleep that long. I've been going to sleep at dusk and waking up around 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. and then trying to get back to sleep amid the roar of the generators. Tonight is "fall-back" night, so tomorrow, the sun will rise around 6:40 a.m. and set around 6:00 p.m. And tomorrow night, I'll have to go back to work, with however much rest I manage to get. Hopefully the power comes back today or tomorrow, or things are really going to suck even worse.

I haven't really had much appetite lately. Yesterday I had an Angus burger with bacon and cheese from Burger King, and a brownie in the late afternoon. This morning, I dined on S'Mores Pop Tarts. I've been drinking lots of water, although it hasn't yet become hot enough to worry about dehydration.

That could change by the middle of next week, with temperatures predicted to climb into the mid-80s. It's supposed to get up to 82 today. You worry a lot more about the temperatures when you don't have electricity, because there's no way to cool or heat the house. The ambient temperature is what you get. I battled the possible oncoming heat by opening the windows and getting the house as cool as possible overnight. It was down into the low 60s overnight, so I figured that the cooler it was in the house this morning, the more pleasant it will be in the middle of the afternoon.

One silver lining to the dark cloud: No mosquitos, at least so far. I've been able to leave my windows open, even the ones whose screens were destroyed by Knucksie the cat, without being attacked by the little bloodsuckers. Also, as soon as I arrived home with my new cell phone, I found that my landline phone was working again. I'll be able to go online as soon as my power comes back.

I keep telling myself that this is only a series of temporary inconveniences, that no matter how unpleasant it may seem now, there are other people who are worse off. It's true, of course, but it doesn't really make me feel any better. I want my power back!


This Sucks

Still no power as of this morning. No phone either; it was back on Wednesday afternoon, when I got home, but then went out and never came back. I decided that I would have to get a cell phone. I'd never really needed one before, but now I do.

I started this morning by going to my workplace and taking a shower in the locker room. After that, I went to the Mall to get a cell phone. Now that I've accomplished that, I just have to get it up to a full charge. I'm using the 12v adapter in my car to charge it up. Then I can start calling roofers about trying to get my shingles fixed.

After leaving the Mall, I stopped off at my insurance agent to give them my new cell phone number. Hopefully I'll hear from the claims adjuster soon. I'm not going to wait on looking for shingle repairs, though. I suspect I may be in for a long wait, courtesy of my non-working landline phone. The good news is that the rainy season appears to be over, and I didn't take any water damage even after losing all of those shingles. The bad news is that the federal tarp program doesn't apply to Lee County, so I am on my own.

Please, please, dear God, let my electricity come back on soon! It's gotten progressively warmer each day. The first two days were nice and cool, yesterday was warm. In a couple more days, I'm going to really start missing my air conditioning if it isn't back by then.


Power Still Out

The good news is that Lehigh Acres at least has power. I, however, still do not. I'm back at the library. From the window of my house, I could see the branch on the power line that is preventing my power from being restored. It's such a simple thing. If that branch hadn't caught on the power line, my power would have been back from Tuesday afternoon on. Unfortunately, the blasted thing is still there.

After I left the library yesterday, I went to Wendy's for lunch. Yup, hot food is right down the road, just not available at home. Water is the real problem, however. I no longer have anything coming out of the tap, so all I have to wash with is the bottled water now. Both of my toilets have full cisterns, and I have about 5 gallons of tap water in a big jug to refill one more time. After that, I'll have to go to the neighbors who have a generator and beg some water from them.

I also may have to go back to my workplace while I'm still on vacation, just to make use of the shower in the men's locker room. It's closer than going to my dad's place, and easier to access. I'm also going to have to get a loud windup alarm clock so that I'll be ready to go to work on Sunday night if the power isn't back on before then.

Laundry also will be becoming problematic. I washed everything I normally wear before the storm hit, so everything was clean. It'll only be a couple more days until I have to look for a laundromat in Lehigh or else go visit my dad so I can wash clothes. Dad's farther away but it wouldn't cost me anything. Tradeoffs to consider.

I spent this morning dismembering tree branches from my back yard and placing the chopped up bits beside the street. I worked to the point of sweating, which I didn't really want to do until I had the power back on and could shower, but I had to get those branches ready for pickup because I have no earthly idea of when they'll be coming by to get them. Better to have them there drying by the side of the road and there to pick up than to miss the opportunity.

When I got home yesterday with my Wendy's burger and fries, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my phone was working. I managed to call my insurance agent and start the claims process. Unfortunately, when I checked the phone this morning, it was dead again.

This officially is the Worst. Vacation. Ever.


Blogging From the Library

I hope you all weren't too worried about me. I am fine. The north side of my roof lost a lot of shingles, my power is still out and so is my telephone. But other than that, I'm okay.

Here's what happened: On Monday, I called my dad around 8 a.m. and while I was talking with him, my power went out. About 15 minutes later, the winds really started howling in from the north. The back side of the storm was hitting our area, and it was interacting with a cold front coming down from the north which intensified the winds. I estimate that we were seeing gusts of 80-90 mph or more. It was a bit scary, and it shredded the shingles from the north side of my roof. From all the ones I picked up in the back yard after the storm, I'm surprised that there were any left. Apparently, however, there was a double-layer of shingles. I don't see any plywood showing from the front of the house.

Anyway, the storm shrieked out its fury for about three hours, and we were still getting strong gusts in the early afternoon. I called my dad back around 1 p.m. to let him know that I was okay, other than losing power. Then, I went outside to see the damage. I spent the next hour or so picking up shingles and branches from trees across the street and in my neighbor's yard. Oh, and lots and lots of fronds from my palm tree, at least fifteen or more, which were on the side of the house and out back. When I checked the phone again, it was dead.

The power remained out overnight Monday and all day Tuesday. Then, yesterday afternoon at 5:10, it came back on... for 15 minutes. Hooray! Then it went out again. Loud curses. I heard fire trucks coming, and it turned out that a branch had been on one of the power lines down the street and started a fire. Most of the surrounding area now has power again, but we don't in my neighborhood. I'm just hoping that it's something that they can fix relatively easily, and that we haven't been pushed to the end of the line.

The good news is that the weather has been very pleasant, with lows in the 50s and highs only in the 70s. Usually, we suffer in the heat and humidity after a hurricane, but this one is unique in that regard. I've never seen a strong cold front push in behind a Category 3 hurricane before. The temperature gradient of the air was something like 77 in Fort Myers and 57 in Tampa when the strongest winds came through, and that difference accounts for the wind damage. Lots of street signs and even whole trees were blown down in my area, and we weren't the most severely damaged.

Also, because I'm still on vacation, I don't have to worry about going in to work until Sunday night. I'd better have electricity back before then or I won't have a trustworthy alarm clock to wake me up.

The bad news is that I have a 2% hurricane deductible on my homeowner's insurance, which means that most of the cost of fixing my roof is probably going to come out of my own pocket. Also, because I don't have electricity, my well isn't working. I've got plenty of bottled water to drink (more on that in a second), but water for washing and flushing the toilet is more problematic. I have two large containers filled with water to flush the toilet, and there is still water in the hot water heater, although it's cold. I found that out when I took a spit-bath out of a couple of bowls with a wash cloth, then used a couple more bowlfuls to wash my hair. The cold water was most unpleasantly bracing, but I'm clean again to some extent; I'll be glad when the power comes back on and I can take a hot shower, after the hot water heater warms up.

I had about six or seven gallons of bottled water available for myself, plus another couple of gallons of tap water that I'd run into bottles for the animals. This morning, I read that FEMA and the National Guard were handing out water, ice and other stuff in Lehigh Acres, so I swung by there. They gave me two 24-packs of bottled water (1/2 liter each) and a bag of ice. They didn't have any MRE's, which is too bad. I've got stuff to eat, so I won't starve, but I could have used more. Best of all, there was no line at all. I was in and out in less than a minute. I didn't even have to get out of my car! I just popped the trunk lid and the soldiers put the water in my trunk, and then the Lehigh Acres Fire Department fireman put the ice in afterward and closed it up. I won't go thirsty.

The temperatures are supposed to start creeping up, though, with low 80s expected over the next three days or so. Please, PLEASE let my power come back soon.

Also, one more observation: You have NO idea how long a night actually is until you don't have electricity. I've woken up around 1 or 2 a.m. both of the last two nights. Last night, I woke up in time to listen to the last couple of innings of the World Series game. Then, I listened to the radio for the rest of the night. It really sucks not being able to play on my computer. I've done a lot of reading the last couple of days. Right now, I'm working on Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." Fun, fun, fun, until sunset. Then, I'm in the dark again, unless I want to read by flashlight.


7:30 Update

The electricity went out for a second around 6:50 and then came right back on. I barely had time to reach for my flashlight. Had another flicker about five minutes ago, but again, it came back on. Don't know how much longer my luck will hold.

I heard a thump on the roof about 15 minutes ago. Probably a frond coming off the palm tree in front of my house; they're fairly heavy. Still getting lots of northerly winds and rain. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed at this point.

I'll give my dad a call around 8 a.m. to see how he's doing.

Winds Picking Up

Just had a pretty good gust, probably around 60 mph or more, but it's subsided now. Power continues to go out around the region. They just showed Fort Myers Beach, where the power is now out, and the NBC affiliate mentioned earlier that power is out in parts of Estero. All of that is southwest of me.

6 a.m.

Well, I'm living on borrowed time now for power. I figured that it would already be out by now. As I'm sure you've already deduced, the presence or lack of electricity becomes an obsession for anyone who's lost power for any length of time in the past. My power was out for less than 24 hours after Charley, but that was bad enough. I still fully expect it to go out sometime this morning.

The winds are starting to pick up outside. As of 5:45, winds were 38 mph gusting to 50. However, it tends to come and go.

Latest Forecast Update

The weather.com site's forecast numbers are looking worse:

6 a.m.: ENE 59 mph
7 a.m.: NE 62 mph
8 a.m.: N 65 mph
9 a.m.: N 65 mph
10 a.m.: NNW 65 mph
11 a.m.: NW 65 mph
12 p.m.: NW 53 mph
1 p.m.: NW 42 mph
2 p.m.: NW 30 mph
3 p.m.: NW 27 mph
4 p.m.: NW 23 mph
5 p.m.: NW 20 mph

Squalls all morning, mostly sunny by late afternoon, temperatures falling into the 50s overnight.

If that's the worst I get, I'll be happy. That's not even Category 1.

Still Here, For the Moment

The eyewall is coming ashore in Collier County. Fox News Channel has some crazy guy still hanging out in Everglades City where they're expecting a huge storm surge. I never have understood why the networks insist on sticking reporters out in the streets in howling wind and pouring rain to report on hurricanes. Hey, we get it, guys. It's very windy and wet. You may think we're impressed by your bravery, but all we really see is someone who doesn't have enough sense to come in out of the rain.

We're also supposed to get 4-8 inches of rain today, maybe more in some spots, and most of Florida is under a tornado watch. There have been several reported already in various parts of the state. A couple of hours ago, the weather guy on Fox News Channel said that if a hurricane warning was issued, people should go to an interior room of their homes, or even better, to a basement. I laughed at that last part; we don't HAVE basements in Florida, because the water tables are usually too high. This ain't Kansas, that's for sure.

Weatherman Sez

Just watched the weather guy on the local station who drew a couple of parallel lines showing the path that the eyewall is going to take. It's very, very wide and it covers all of Collier County (to my south), as well as most of Lee County (where I live) south of the Caloosahatchee River, all of Hendry County (to my east) and much of coastal Monroe County south of Collier. It looks like I'll be hit by the far northern edge of the eyewall. Of course, the windspeeds aren't uniform throughout the hurricane; most of the really nasty weather is in the southeast quadrant of the storm, the part that's been battering Key West already, but I still could see 100-mph winds here for a while. Yuck.

Fox News reports power outages in the Keys and parts of southwest Florida. I don't know how much longer my electricity will be on. If (when) it goes out, I'll take some notes and then write about it here when the power comes back on.

Meanwhile, since the power IS still on, it's time for a hot meal. Might not see another one for a while.

Wilma Getting Stronger

Winds are now up to 120 mph. Not good. The local TV reporters continue their message of hurricane force winds coming for the entire area, but the 3:00 a.m. hour-by-hour forecast from weather.com still shows winds in the mid-50 mph range for a few hours starting around 5 a.m. I'm wondering if that's just their prediction for sustained winds. That seems a little more likely, with occasional hurricane gusts from storms cells as the hurricane passes to the southeast.

I suspect that I won't know what the top winds actually were until well after the storm. I fully expect power to go out once the wind starts really blowing, and at that point, I'll have to rely on the radio and the newspaper for news until the power comes back on. I'm fairly certain that there won't be a newspaper today, but I wouldn't be surprised to see one on Tuesday. When Hurricane Charley hit last year, they actually had a paper in my driveway the next morning, which surprised me.

Right now, I have light wind and rain. I've lost DirecTV's satellite signal three times for short quick bursts of rain, but it came back each time.

Who to Believe?

The weather.com site's hour-by-hour list for this morning shows several hours of 50+ mph winds, but not hurricane force winds. That data came from a 1:00 a.m. run. On the other hand, the guys on TV are saying that Wilma's windfield is so wide that all of Lee County can count on 85-90 mph winds. I hope they're the ones who are wrong.

I'm not going to get the worst of it here, though, either way. Looks like that will be southern Collier county will bear the brunt of it, especially the storm surge. And whoever is in the path of it as it crosses the state is going to feel it as well, especially in the heavily-populated East Coast.

Looks like some heavy rains coming in now, because I just lost the satellite connection for DirecTV. Guess I'll flip it over to the local channels now.


Hurricane Warning

Well, here we go. The forecast has improved for where I live, with weather.com's hour-by-hour predictions for the wind speed now maxing out at 62 mph at 11 a.m. tomorrow. The timeline seems to have slowed down a bit, since earlier in the day the prediction was a peak of 76 mph at 8 a.m. At this point, the radar images show the storm moving on a northeasterly track with Naples square in the bullseye. I've read on a couple of different websites that because the storm is picking up speed (now moving at 15 mph and still accelerating), there will be a significant difference in the strength of the winds on the north side of the track and the south side. The north side subtracts the forward wind speed and the south side adds it on, so it obviously makes quite a difference.

Even if we don't get sustained hurricane force winds here, we'll still probably lose power for a while. I'm prepared for that. I've got all my supplies laid in and I don't have to go anywhere any time soon, so I'll just sit tight after the storm passes until the power comes back on.

The forecast for the next few days is for much cooler weather than normal, since the storm will be sucking cold air down from the north. We're talking about highs in the low 70s and lows in the 50s. Ironically, the problem may not be a lack of air conditiong but a lack of heat, if the power stays off. I'll just bundle up in the long-sleeve shirts and sweaters I don't normally get to wear.


Not Looking Good

While Wilma does the Mexican hat dance on Cozumel and Cancun, those of us in Florida are watching and waiting. It doesn't look good. Monday looks like it's going to be rather unpleasant. If the latest forecast models are correct, it will hit somewhere around Naples and then cut diagonally northeast across the state toward Lake Okeechobee. The intensity and exact landfall part are the crucial factors. I'm far enough inland that I don't have to worry about storm surge, although some wind damage seems quite possible. The north side of the storm's track should be the weak side, with wind speeds 25-30 mph less than on the south side. The only good news is that the storm probably won't be more than a Category 2 (and more likely a 1) when it hits Florida, and that it should be moving across the state at a pretty good clip, so we won't get the kind of rainfall that the Yucatan peninsula is going to get of the next couple of days. I'm guessing that the power will probably go out over much of the area. Hopefully it won't be out for too long. At least the temperatures are supposed to be cool in the days after the storm hits, so we won't be suffering in the 90-degree heat as happened after Hurricane Charley last year.

I've got my supplies laid in, I have a flashlight and a portable radio with extra batteries for both. I'll use up my frozen stuff over the next couple of days and clear out the freezer. If the storm misses us, then I'll go shopping on Tuesday. If not, well I've got non-perishables and bottled water, and I'll get in line for the MREs and ice with everyone else if I have to.


Plans Changed

Given that Hurricane Wilma is now a Category 5 hurricane packing 175 mile per hour winds and the lowest pressure ever recorded for an Atlantic basin hurricane, and that the projected track brings it over the Florida peninsula uncomfortably close to where I live on Saturday night, my mom and I decided that discretion is the better part of valor and she won't be flying in tomorrow. She's going to try to reschedule for flight plans to come down on Monday, assuming that we don't get a direct hit on Saturday night. So either my mom and I will be having a nice time next week, or I'll be surviving in the ruins. I sure as hell hope it's not the latter.

I'm getting really, REALLY tired of hurricane season.



I'm feeling lazy, which explains the lack of recent blogging. My mom's coming down from Michigan later in the week for a few days. We're going to do the touristy stuff here in Florida. I've got a few things in mind, but I'll see what she'd like to do while she is down here. Hopefully the latest tropical storm (Wilma) will stay far away from Florida.

The weather is beautiful this morning; the temperatures actually fell into the upper 60s overnight. Delightfully cool, compared to the lows in the mid-to-upper 70s that we had last week. It was too darned muggy. This actually feels like fall, at least as close as it gets to fall here in the southern part of the Sunshine State.

I'm a couple of hours away from playoff baseball in my computer baseball league. My team dropped the first two games of the best-of-seven series at home, which means we've dug a deep hole for ourselves. Hopefully we'll have better luck on the road. We'd better, or the series may not make it back to my park. So far, it's been very disappointing.


Random Thoughts

Yeah, slacking again.

There was a front page article this morning in my local newspaper about how the entangled bodies of a 13-foot-long Burmese python and a 6-foot-long alligator were found in the Everglades the other day. The python had tried to eat the alligator, but its stomach exploded. The tail and hind legs of the alligator were protruding from the snake's stomach. Yes, there was a picture. No, you probably don't want to see it, especially if you've eaten anything recently.

One more night and then it's time for a three-day weekend. We all like three-day weekends. They're a good thing.

Did you hear that Piglet (of Winnie the Pooh fame) has been banned in Britain?

Muslims win toy pigs ban

NOVELTY pig calendars and toys have been banned from a council office — in case they offend Muslim staff.

Workers in the benefits department at Dudley Council, West Midlands, were told to remove or cover up all pig-related items, including toys, porcelain figures, calendars and even a tissue box featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet.

Bosses acted after a Muslim complained about pig-shaped stress relievers delivered to the council in the run-up to the Islamic festival of Ramadan.

Muslims are barred from eating pork in the Koran and consider pigs unclean.

Councillor Mahbubur Rahman, a practising Muslim, backed the ban. He said: “It’s a tolerance of people’s beliefs.”

So the Muslims are promulgating intolerance in the name of "tolerance." Charming.

My reaction: "If you don't like toy pigs, there are boats and planes leaving for Muslim countries every day. Don't let the door hit you where Allah split you on the way out."