Tuesday, July 10, 2007

FAR Future: Episode 1

I got some positive comments about the FAR Manor: 2058 series — I thank you all. As I told Kansas this morning, my creativity has been on the ebb this week… but I woke up this morning knowing how to proceed with this particular series of stories.

Of course, FAR Manor: 2058 was a series of three different visions of what the world might be like on or near my 100th birthday in November 2058. This new series, “FAR Future,” is actually set in a near future of growing energy shortages. Here at the beginning, five years from now, I look toward Happy Landings as an endpoint… but who knows where it will actually lead?




Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Blackouts or Whiteins?


Those “four hours per day, max” rolling blackouts they started last month didn’t last long. Mrs. Fetched was on the phone (when it worked) to the power company when it jumped to six hours.

“Oh, just a few glitches,” they reassured her. “We’ll have it taken care of this week.” Riiiiiiiiiiiight.

The power company people should have known what was going to happen, and probably did: as soon as their juice came up in the afternoon, everyone turned on the A/C full blast, trying to cool their houses down right away. Instant overload. The power stays up just a few minutes at a time, and everyone’s mad. I’ve been hearing stories about kids throwing rocks at power trucks when they roll out to replace fried transformers, and some “gangs” have chased off the workers and siphoned their fuel (but somehow, ahem it’s not making the news). Of course, all the neighborhood kids are inside… um, reading. Yeah, that’s it. Our kids know better than to throw rocks at power trucks and steal their fuel, sure.

I put in for a telecommuting exemption, hoping to at least shift our downtime into the evening. I figured even if they cut off FAR Manor for the first and last two hours of the day, the laptop battery would last long enough for me to finish up with a little cushion. It worked for a little while — even with the power flickering all day and crashing the router (until I got a new battery for the UPS). But four hours quickly became six, six became eight, then 10, and now… well heck, you know as well as I do: you can’t count on having more than a few minutes of power at any time from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (and not even afterwards if a transformer blew between you & the sub-station). If it gets any worse, we’ll have to stop calling them blackouts and call the power-up times whiteins. :-P

I yanked a car battery (like we’re driving anything much anyway) and wired it up to run the router and laptop; that gives me enough juice to stay online and working through the day. That windmill I put up isn’t much good through the summer; the air gets still and so does the prop (then thunderstorms try to tear it apart). At least there’s reliable power through the night; I can charge up everything once people’s houses cool off.

The other thing that everyone knows about: tempers are rising with the heat. Like I said, utility workers aren’t the most popular folks on Planet Georgia (or anywhere else), especially since people got a look at their electric bills for last month (when we still had power most of the time). Here at FAR Manor, Mrs. Fetched and I decided it’s really not worth trying to run the A/C at all (too bad most people haven’t figured that out, we might get more reliable power through the day). I work at home three days a week now, and I’ve been spending a lot of it on the porch or in the shade outside. I use a little muffin fan (hooked to the battery) to give me a little breeze inside, and use the thunderstorms as a chance to take a break and cool off. I keep telling Mrs. Fetched that we ought to hike down to the creek after I finish working for the day, but she says it’s too far to walk (and neither one of us wants to waste gas). I’ve gone alone a couple of times, but it’s not much fun being there myself. She spends a lot of time at the chicken houses, so not having A/C isn’t hurting her. What hurts me is when I go to the office on Mondays and Fridays; they don’t run the A/C a lot, but they do enough to keep it comfortable… then I have to stay home and roast the rest of the week. But with gas running $8/gal, when you can find it…

The in-laws reverted to the old days pretty quickly; they just spend a lot of time out on the porch instead of watching TV. Of course, their chicken houses get priority electric service… and the poultry company subsidizes the diesel fuel to run that generator when the power goes out anyway. Not wonderful for me, but at least people can get their roast chicken.

Hope everyone’s coping with the blackouts at least as well. Six or eight more weeks, and we’ll start cooling off. Six or eight more, and we’ll be wishing it was hot again.

continued…

13 comments:

  1. Yowsa!

    I started to write to ask why I hadn't heard about these blackouts. I was seriously worried for you guys.

    You really nailed the tone of Planet Georgia.

    I can't tell you how relieved I was when I realized (at an embarrassingly advanced point) that it was a story. A Fictional Story.

    And you did it very well. Really.

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  2. Wow! I got caught up in it too and was outraged for you ... LOL ... And then I read katieb's comment and wondered what she meant ... fiction. Nicely done FAR.

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  3. Wonderful writing as usual FAR. You've really got to connect all these stories together someday.

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  4. solar:

    So you don't think that batteries will have a longer life in 50 years?

    In 50 years you shouldn't have to worry about power outages, I'm sure there will be nuclear power plants in every town by then.

    Heat won't be a problem because they will find out how wrong they were on global warming and we will have the huge ice freeze they predicted back in the 70's.

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  5. Oops, I left this comment in the wrong thread. Slow down, Nancy, slow down.

    Far, your brown-out stories are a revelation to people like me who've never had the experience. Yikes!!

    Has this happened in other summers (sorry if you've already explained, and I missed that)?

    Is it related to the drought (in some way other than high temperatures)?

    Since I do a lot of writing on my laptop in libraries, I have to ask. . .do libraries get their power shut down, too?

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  6. Hey everyone — thanks for the nice comments.

    Oops, maybe I should have made the date stand out a little more! Sorry about those of you who thought it was already happening — now I know how Orson Welles must have felt. ;-) Back in the 80s, there was a TV movie called "Special Report" that "covered" a group of domestic terrorists who had a nuke in Charleston harbor; despite the occasional "this is fiction" scrolls across the bottom, some people were freaking out and jamming phone lines to TV stations.

    FM, connecting the stories is the plan. You could say I posted the last one first, and now I'm working my way forward from the beginning. Eventually, I might shift it from a blog post-style to traditional narrative, or (as the Internet gets harder to access) just move to diary entries.

    Solar, this particular post is five years forward (2012, not 2058). No doubt technology will help a lot — it's amazing how much battery technology has improved in the last five years — but the thing is: our gadgets are doing more, so they're drawing more power, so the hold-up times aren't much longer than they used to be. Worse in some cases: those old Radio Shack Model 100 lap-slabs could go 14 hours on a handful of AA alkalines. My new cellphone does a ton more than my first one — but that old Nokia could go 4-5 days between recharges, I have to top this one off every day or two.

    Nancy, I've been through some extended blackouts (5-1/2 days, 9 days) during the winter — ice storms are rare on this planet, but can get ugly. All in all, I think I'd rather be without power in the summer.

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  7. lol!! I should have read the comments first!

    Well, far, I guess you never have to wonder if you write fiction well enough for readers to believe every word of it. :)

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  8. Hey Boran.

    "Getting" anyone wasn't my intent. Really! At least everyone will know when I post the next one. :-)

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  9. LOL, I fell into the same snare that KB and Olivia did, until toward the end, and then I went back and paid attention to the date at the top! Very convincingly done, FAR! Well at least I wasn't alone, lol.

    Looking forward to more installments when you get back and rolling on the project again!

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  10. Far, I am much impressed with your ability to yank a car battery and wire it up to run the router and laptop. I keep wondering what home skills that I don't possess would be worth acquiring in the next twenty years or so. I somewhow don't think subject-verb agreement will be in high demand on the wooded acre.

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  11. Just another resident of planet Georgia here who stumbled across your blog.
    Great series btw, I'm really enjoying it.

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  12. I don't usually grok The New York Post as a source, but it quotes the Financial Times, which I cannot access:

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/08102008/business/lost_sovereignity_123879.htm

    I ponder whether the Cheney mob, which is currently feathering nests in the oil-rich countries of the Middle East, is not now simply buying up US real estate through catspaws in places like Bahrain and Qatar. What was once a set of Missouri or Oregon or Alabama subdivisions will be fenced off, property of the Abu Dhabi Real Estate Corporation, No Trespassing, Violators Will Be Shot. No, you can't live there.

    When I read it I immediately thought of you, Far Manorman.

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