Thursday, August 23, 2007

FAR Future: Episode 7

Hooray, we got some rain today! First in nearly a month. I hope it’s not this dry five years from now…



Thursday, August 23, 2012
Headin’ Out


I’ve noticed that the power seems to be getting a little more reliable… that is, it’s more likely to be up when it’s scheduled to be up. Maybe people have finally gotten smart and turned off their air conditioners. Most of us, those without serious health problems anyway, are getting used to the heat. I thought it would hit Mrs. Fetched harder than it has — but then again, she was born here and they didn’t have luxuries like air conditioning when she was younger. Au contraire, if anything it’s done her some good. She spends a lot of time outside anyway; if she’s not dealing with the chickens she’s working on our garden through the day. She’s sweated off a lot of weight and seems to have more energy. The weight loss is really helping her knee, and she’s actually doing a little bicycling. Yup, you can change your ways in your 50s…

Or the reason that power is getting more reliable could be that the big desert cities are emptying out — Phoenix, Tucson, Vegas, Reno, etc. Not to mention most of Florida. I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to live in those places without air conditioning during the summer. I saw an article last month where a lot of people in Flagstaff were facing foreclosure, then all the Scottsdale people came up and started buying up property at a premium price. Suddenly, those fortunate souls had their mortgages (and the rest of their bills) paid off, with enough left over to start over elsewhere. That last part was kind of important, because they had to go find somewhere else to live… preferably where they could find work. So there’s been a lot of migration lately.

Naturally, most of the migration this summer has been north. The Great Lakes region has lots of water, while so many places out west are drying up, so things have really been booming up that way. My dad gets calls from real estate agents at least two or three times a week, wanting to know if he wants to sell his lake house. He responses have gotten… shall we say, somewhat sharper as time goes on. There used to be a hydro plant on the river where I grew up; I think they’re talking about re-commissioning it to feed the new businesses coming in. Talk about a godsend… with the auto industry all but dead (idiots couldn’t let go of their freeking high-margin SUVs), new business are coming in, and old businesses are staying plenty busy. The unemployment rate isn’t great, but (for a change) no worse than the national average.

The resorts up north are really cleaning up. One of the Atlanta companies rented a dozen cabins in northern Wisconsin for the entire summer, and moved their executive team en masse to cooler climes. Of course, the employees doing the real work are sweltering in near-sweatshop conditions while the bosses drink beer around a campfire and do what they call “strategic planning.” Translated into English, that probably means “figuring out how to skim a few million more off the top and make the grunts pay for it.” Of course, the only reason we heard about it at all was because some employees were being investigated for swiping not-so-surplus equipment; when the reporters started snooping around, they got an earful. Heck, I don’t blame the employees in that case.

The question came up at the last town hall meeting at work, about rumors that the company was going to move into facilities north of Boston that we used to use, and never were able to get rid of. The answer sounded pretty reasonable: the power situation there wasn’t any better than it was here, but expenses there were higher, so it wouldn’t do any good to move. Another question got a double-take: “Given the fuel situation, do you see any problem getting shipments out of our factory in China? And is the factory having power problems?” I’ve never seen the execs go into a huddle like that in a town hall — ever. They finally admitted that both were likely, but they couldn’t talk further about it (which probably means they haven’t given it much thought). Our sales are good… with so many people telecommuting these days, they almost have to be. But if we can’t get the gadgets built — or shipped to where they need to go — we’re going to have A Problem.

But I digress. Down south, tourism is not doing nearly as well. The Gulf Coast usually gets plenty of traffic, but nobody wants to make reservations now that we’re getting into the ugly half of hurricane season. People are waiting until the last minute, then calling around to find a vacancy for the next week. They usually don’t have too much trouble, and can usually get “special rates” anyway. If you’re employed (so you have money for a vacation), and aren’t tied to a specific place, you can get a lot of vacation for your money along the Gulf this year. The running joke is that it costs more to drive to the Redneck Riviera than it does to stay there for a week. Mom says if I can get down to Florida this winter, we could probably stay in one of the condos for the cost of the utilities. If they don’t get clobbered by a hurricane first. I’m thinking we might have to pass, depending on fuel availability. If I could get 20 gallons all at once, I could put two 5-gallon cans in the trunk and get there without having to worry about a fuel stop — if the fumes didn’t get to us. And we didn’t get waylaid. I’ve heard that Amtrak is planning an Atlanta-Gainesville (FL) schedule, with legs from there to Tampa-Fort Myers and Orlando-Miami. That would probably be the way to go, if they actually do it.

The first of the permanent three-day weekends starts tomorrow. Remember to stay in bed Monday morning — no sense in wasting gas!

continued…

10 comments:

  1. Hiya FAR.

    I'm glad I stopped by before I got ready for bed.

    As usual the FAR Future episode sounds so close to the way I picture it also, that it's uncanny. I've always heard about SF writers that were lauded as prophetic of future events. I'm beginning to believe you're falling into that category.

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  2. Bravo -- I really like the little touches. Like Mrs Fetched losing weight. And it costing more to GET to vacation than to stay there.

    And I'm still impressed that you stay in your own voice. It makes it VERY real.

    Thanks FAR, for sharing it with us.

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  3. Thanks, guys.

    FM, I'm not sure that extrapolating current fuel trends for a few years qualifies as "prophetic" but hey, I'll take it. :-)

    KB, I kind of fell into writing the story as myself. I can't really think of why I did it, but it seems to be working so far!

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  4. Thanks Far Fetched, for inviting me to you're wonderful blog! I've read you're entire scenario and more. I just love your style, and I'll bet you're the luckiest man on Georgia Planet to have Mrs. Fetched as you're better half! ha! (Even if she did run away from the tractor!) ha! I could'nt ask for better Sunday morning reading! At least I was'nt folding Sunday morning bullitens! ha!

    As for your sceniaro, I like it very much...Gee, why do the rolling blackouts have to happen so quickly, 2012? Not that I'm disagreeing!

    I sure hope if these rolling blackouts occur, it only happens at Planet Georgia, as up north here we are relying on CONTINOUS electrical power. There must not be any interuption what so ever during the winter months..Let me explain, from my household to yours.

    If the power should go out during January, Feburary or March, for even half a day or less, you can call this not black-out, or white-on, but "die-off".

    You see millions and millions of us rely on continious power to keep the water flowing through frozen ground,(any interution of this flow and it would freeze up in a matter of hours..) and for those that heat with propane or natural gas, well, those units are useless without power to operate the blower. I would like you to think about this........Even JMG had to be informed of this situation over this past winter on BNB,(Bull not Bull.com.)

    You see, I've been studing what the effect of natural resouce depletion might mean for the Planet USA, for that matter the Planet, for 35 years...

    As far as your thoughts about gaining energy at Planet Georgia as the cities of Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson and Reno empty out, you may be correct in a way, it's a very long way from the source. The entire North American electrical grid is interconnected. I might suggest goggling up "power outage" from Wilkipedia and read the entire article.

    Surely the "die-off" has already begun as third world countries are loosing "energy". Experiencing the brown outs and rolling blackouts as predicted. Perhaps you're right on spot to predict the "signaling of the die-off" of this country in 2012? If so, you're not alone, you have lots of company. I just don't know, nor do I have any idea when this might happen. I'm not entirely convienced at this point that brown outs or rolling black outs would be a feasible option, if, it can even be achieved.......

    Perhaps, you may want to know more about me...you can go to l.a.t.o.c. and look under, "The Black Knight", as much as I dispise that site....

    This past winter personalities that I believe were JMG, Sharon,(the jewish farmer) and myself had a lively debate about the future over at BNB. It's a shame most of this is not viewable by the public. This is where I delievered,"The Royal Flush in Spades", my super fast crash sceniaro, backed by scienticfic data. However, if you were to go back to March's archieves, you can find these personalities conveying thoughts back and forth to each other, that lead up to the new forum, that is not available, at this point. There's a tremendous amount of other comments to skip over on a site this large....or I would not have came about presenting my scenario......

    Again, thanks for inviting me to your site...

    Thanks, yooper.

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  5. Hey yooper, thanks for coming by. I went to Michigan Tech, spent 5 winters in Houghton, so I know what winters are like up that way (and I remember UP Power being a bit of a running joke back then). I picked 2012 because (IIRC) that's when some are predicting natural gas shortages — as you know, a lot of spare electrical capacity depends on NG.

    Even here, I have to deal with frozen pipes on occasion. The one time we had an honest-to-God blizzard (you don't see 18 inches of snow, 40mph wind too often here), we were out of power & water for 9-1/2 days. Fortunately, we had a gas stove & a fireplace, and we melted snow for water.

    It might be a good idea to figure out how people lived in the north before electricity, just so you can cope....

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  6. Hey farfetched!

    My family has lived here for over 150 years, so I might have a good idea of how to cope with life without power...Any suggestions about 99% of my neighbors that don't?

    Thanks, yooper

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  7. Hey yooper. I figured that lots of people still had wood stoves around -- they do in this area. I almost bought a little one, but wasn't sure it was fire-worthy & wouldn't want to find out the hard way.

    If people have given up on having a backup heat source, in upper Michigan no less... man. I don't know what could convince them, unless you get a UP-wide outage like we got once (1981?) that lasted most of an evening and into the night. The cafeteria was always ready for outages. A minute after the lights went out, they'd have lanterns out and burning.

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  8. .

    Yooper, many people here in the NC mountains appreciate the brownouts, now that people are being so rapidly jailed for overconsumption of energy. Although the prez's revolutionary concept of pre-emptive prison sentences is one we support, it can be sure tough on the children around the holidays

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  9. Hello, greeenminute. Jailed for energy overconsumption? I have never heard of such a thing, could you elaborate? Pre-emptive prison sentence's, one you support?

    farfetched, yup, lots of people do heat with wood,(or supplement with it), however, there are many, many more that do not or cannot. I was in Houston, Tx. during the outage of 81. Suppose, those Huskies kinda curled-up in their beds and went back to sleep, eh?

    Sure like you idea of a community cannery, I have never thought of this before. I think, the nearest commerical cannery to our location would be at Eagle River Wisconsin, over 200 miles away. Of course, there not much that grows in the acidic sandy soil here...cranberries, blueberries, raspberries... We do have a substainable amount of wood here though, and even if everyone began heating their homes with wood, the forest would Continue to grow.

    We have a very large woodstove,(pipe and what have you), ready to go, if an entruption should happen. Homes have probably gotten much larger than perhaps since the seventies, many would require two or move woodstoves to heat the homes of today.

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  10. Hey guys.

    Yooper, I think Green was trying to stay in the story context. :-)

    Curled up and went to sleep? You kidding? We had a candlelight parade!

    The county cannery is very real, and unfortunately one of the very few still operating — and that it's still going is largely because of my mother-in-law. There was one in Allegan County MI (where I grew up) when I was younger, but I think it's gone. Seems like they used to be pretty common back when, but canning has gone out of style these days. One of the premises of FAR Future is that as energy consumption drops, we'll again take up a lot of the things that we've left behind.

    Good idea about the wood stove. We can heat FAR Manor in the (much milder here) winters with a fireplace (when "someone" forgets to order gas), but we close off all but the living room & the downstairs bedrooms. We'll leave the kitchen open to the living room if we're cooking, too.

    ReplyDelete

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