Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Generating Interest

The other day, after another fruitless attempt to get through some school system red tape, i came home to the electricity off and the generator running.

Not so unusual, especially in this neighborhood, unfortunately.  The usual hoopla followed, call the electric company, report the outage, get on the list for a text message back when the electricity comes back on (because sometimes it is supposedly on but not for us, and they have to be alerted to that).

What became unusual was the generator kicked off, but the electricity wasn't back on.  A moment later, the generator came back on, so i went out and checked the oil and looked for any lights that signal trouble.  Nothing.

Then it shut off again.  The electricity still wasn't restored, and the generator isn't supposed to shut off unless the electricity is fully restored.

At that point, i went out and manually shut the switch so the generator wouldn't come back on, because i realized something was really wrong.

A call to the generator people wasn't very comforting when i was told it could be up to two weeks before they got to me.  Ugh.

Thank heaven, a few hours later, the nice lady called back, a cancellation had come up and i was on the list for the following day.

Mick showed up over an hour early, unusual for such work, and i told him what had happened.

We discussed how it could have been the electric company repair that caused the malfunction, because sometimes they turn the electricity on and off several times in one repair, but somehow i didn't think so.

Mick checked the outdoor unit, putting it through it's paces.

"I'm going to simulate the two things that will shut it down like that, low oil pressure or overheating,"            
 he said, "and we will see what happens."

Both of those things checked out.  If it registers low oil, it shuts down and won't restart.  If it registers overheated, it shuts down until it cools off, then comes back on.  The oil level was also exactly where it should be.

"Now for the big test," he said.  "I need to come in and simulate a power outage from the breaker boxes." 

As is standard, i asked him if he was allergic to cats.

"Nope!  Cats, dogs, and kids all love me.  It's the adults I tend to have trouble with!" he laughed.

Well, i don't seem to be having trouble with you, i noted.  You seem competent and capable.

"Yeah, well, that would be the 24 years as a staff Sergeant in the army." he noted.  "I got good at instilling confidence in my men in battle."

Thank you for your service, i said.  Were you trained as an electrician for the military?

"Nope. When a congressman serves one term, he gets full retirement and benefits for life.  When I got out after 24 years, i got 50% and some benefits, and I had to learn a trade so I could support myself.  And I was the one out getting shot at!"

It certainly does seem backwards, i noted.

That's when the test with the indoor equipment went wrong.  As the electricity for the house went off completely, i was so glad i had shut down the A/C and the computers for the time being.

"This isn't right.  It's supposed to go right back to full power," he said, groping for a flashlight.  Once he had it, he flipped the switch that should go automatically, and power was restored.

"Let's try it again," he said, but it was the same result.

"Okay, let's look at the fuses," he said.  All three fuses, two in the box and one in the generator outdoors, and still the same result.

"Well, I'm the senior tech, and I'm going to figure this out!" he said.  A few tests and calls later, he had it pinpointed to a board that's gone bad in the generator itself.

"The part is at the shop," Mick told me.  "I can come back early next week to install it."

Meanwhile, i noted, if he electricity goes off, we have no back up.

"Well, yes, you can.  Let me teach you how to do it manually.  

"If your electricity goes off, come out here and flip this switch," he said.  "It will kick on and run the way it usually does.  Then, once you know for sure electricity is restored ... do you get the alerts?" he asked.

Yes, i said, and not only that, but the whole house isn't on the generator.  So i can go to a room that's not on it, and if the lights come on, that means it's on but the generator area is down.  That happened before.

"What did you do then?" he asked.

Well, the guy who installed it taught me to use the rubberized tool you had when you were in there and flip the yellow switch, i told him.

"Exactly," he confirmed.  "When you know the electricity is back on, go outside, manually turn the generator off, then come in and flip that switch.  Make sure you use the rubberized tool or you will be electrocuted!"

Yes, Sergeant! i told him, and i wasn't being flippant, as he knew.

Until early next week, the generator is switched off, to be used manually only, and i'm just glad it can be fixed.

What will be interesting is the price tag, which i won't know until then.  Ouch!

Today is:

American Quilter's Society Quilt Exposition -- Grand Rapids, MI, US (their largest show; through Saturday)

Anniversary Day -- Tristan da Cunha

Assumption Eve -- France; Holy See

Crayfish Premier -- Sweden (crayfish may be sold and served in restaurants, the day after the season opens)

Day of Peace between Horus and Set -- Ancient Egyptian Calendar (date approximate)

Faradda di li candareri (Descent of the Candlesticks) -- Sassari, Sardinia (beginning of the celebration of the Assumption)

Festival for Fortuna Equestris -- Ancient Roman Calendar

Independence Day -- Pakistan(1947)

International Nagging Day -- ignore this one if you have any sense, the founder was smart enough to leave no trace

International Tango Festival and World Championship -- Buenos Aires, Argentina (through the 27th)

La Torta dei Fieschi -- Lavagna, Italy (this city on the Italian Riviera comes to life with dance and music every year to commemorate the wedding, on this day in 1230, of Bianca de Bianchi and Count Opizzo Fiechi, as he had invited everyone in town to share the 30ft. high cake he had made for the occasion)

Liberty Tree Day -- Massachusetts, US

Mantoro Lantern Lighting -- Kasuga Taisha, Japan (through tomorrow; 3,000 lanterns light the shrine, and the main hall is open for visitors, with Bugaku and Kagura performed in the apple garden)

National Creamsicle Day

National Financial Awareness Day -- can't find the history on who started this for which country, but it's wise to become financially literate no matter where you live

National Navajo Code Talkers Day -- Navajo Nation; US

Oued Ed-Dahab Day -- Morocco; Western Sahara (celebrating the recovery of this area from Spanish occupation in 1979)

Pramuka Day -- Indonesia (Scouting Day)

St. Maximillian Kolbe's Day (Patron of families, imprisoned people, journalists, political prisoners, prisoners, recovering drug addicts, the pro-life movement; against drug addictions)

St. Werenfrid's Day (Patron of vegetable gardeners; Arnheim, Netherlands; Elst, Netherlands; Westervoort, Netherlands; against gout and stiff joints)

Wiffle Ball Day -- the wiffle ball was introduced this day in 1953

Anniversary Today

V-J Day

Birthdays Today

Halle Berry, 1966
Earvin "Magic" Johnson, 1959
Gary Larson, 1950
Danielle, Steel, 1947
Susan Saint James, 1946
Steve Martin, 1945
Lynne Cheney, 1941
David Crosby, 1941
Alice Ghostley, 1926
Russell Baker, 1925
John Ringling North, 1903
Doc Holiday, 1851
H.C. Oersted, 1777
Emperor Hanazono of Japan, 1297

Today in History

The young Emperor Antoku and three sacred treasures are taken by Taira no Munemori and the Taira clan, fleeing to western Japan to escape pursuit by the Minamoto clan, 1183
Kublai Khan's invading fleet disappears in a a typhoon near Japan, 1281
Three years after Gutenberg, the oldest known exactly dated printed book is published, 1457
Queen Elizabeth I refuses sovereignty of the Netherlands, 1585
Great Britain annexes Tristan da Cunha (remotest occupied island), 1816
Second Seminole War ends, with the Seminoles forced from Florida to Oklahoma, 1842
Oregon Territory created, 1848
Magazine "Field and Stream" begins publication, 1873
Construction of Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany, is completed, 1880
Japan issues its first patent, for rust-proof paint, 1885
A recording of English composer Arthur Sullivan's The Lost Chord, one of the first recordings of music ever made, is played during a press conference introducing Thomas Edison's phonograph in London, 1888
France begins requiring motor vehicle registration, 1893
The first claimed powered flight, by Gustave Whitehead in his Number 21, 1901
Mt. Rushmore project first proposed, 1925
United States Social Security Act passes, creating a government pension system for the retired, 1935
British troops are deployed in Northern Ireland, 1969
Longest game in softball history begins, as The Gager's Diner team takes on the Bend'n Elbow Tavern; the game was played to raise money for a new softball field in Monticello, NY, went to 365 innings over two days, and the Gagers won 491-467, 1976
Lech Walesa leads strikes at the Gdansk, Poland shipyards, 1980
Widescale power blackout in the northeast United States and Canada, 2003
As a sponsored event of the IOC, the 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games, first ever Youth Olympics for athletes age 14-18, officially starts in Singapore, 2010


  1. I did not know that having a back-up generator can be so complicated. I also did not know that some people live with erratic electricity so calmly!

  2. We have a portable generator, but our power here rarely goes off. We are lucky I guess.

    Have a terrific day. ☺

  3. Ouch is right! But I bet you anything the generator is malfunction in protest over congresspeople's lifetime benefits. I know I'm about to have a meltdown over here myself about it. O_O

  4. Well, i'm sure glad you didn't have to wait 2 weeks to get it fixed! But ivdon't blame you for dreading the price tag. Maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised? I hope! :)

  5. Tabor, the whole house, wired in versions are very complex, requiring lots of maintenance, and around here, the electricity goes out so often we just don't think that much about it any more.

    Sandee, you are blessed, it must be the part of the country where you live.

    Josie, i hate the idea; they don't seem much like public servants any more.

    Mary, the part is close to $300 alone, so it's won't be cheap, but i appreciate the hopeful thoughts, maybe the labor won't run a huge amount.