third-world hellhole

It tastes like burning!

This is the star commonly known as “the sun”, which passed a mere three inches above the decrepit shithole I call home earlier this afternoon.
At 4:46 this afternoon, the power went out in the building where I work. Thankfully, I was alerted to this situation by three uninterruptible power supplies shrieking incessantly and directly into my left ear. Without their vigilant warning, I might not have noticed that, you know, all the lights had gone out, and the AC was off, and my assistant was breaking out flashlights while everyone wandered around sort of muttering “what the fuck is this?” I might have missed that, but not the piercing beep every 5 seconds from each UPS (offset from each other and apparently random intervals, so that the overall effect is that of some horrible flock of carnivorous birds shrieking and shrieking and shrieking…).

As it turns out, it wasn’t just the power in my building. It was….wait for it….a ROLLING BLACKOUT. Check this out:

Near Record Heat Triggering Power Outages
LAST UPDATE: 4/17/2006 7:56:17 PM
Posted By: CyberBob
This story is available on your cell phone at

The record heat has over-taxed San Antonio’s energy generating capacity, and rolling outages are taking place – not only here, but over a large portion of Texas. Pockets of San Antonio experienced 15-minute outages as CPS Energy scrambled to find enough capacity to serve the entire city.

I hope you’re ready, because this is the really good part:

Officials with The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the agency that oversees the power grid in the state said there was not sufficient generating capacity in the region to reliably serve the public’s electricity demand. ERCOT officials had urged residents to reduce their use of electricity to the lowest level possible. Officials with ERCOT said residents should:

  • Set thermostats at 78° or higher in the summer.
  • Avoid using any electric lighting, appliances or equipment unless absolutely necessary for health or safety.
  • Don’t open refrigerators and freezers more than necessary.

ERCOT is the corporation that administers a portion of Texas’ power grid serving approximately 85 percent of the state’s electric load, including San Antonio.

That first bullet point is a real howler. Not only the “set thermostats at 78 degrees or higher” part (although as far as I’m concerned, they might as well just say “remove your air conditioner”, because that’s fucking HOT), but also the “in the summer” part. “Summer” in south Texas runs from around mid-March to around mid-November, and if you think I’m setting my thermostat to 80 fucking degrees for three-quarters of the year, then you’ve obviously spent the afternoon huffing glue.

Also, the story isn’t really clear on the time-frame for the rest of the advice from the good folks at EPCOT or whatever. Are they telling us to avoid the use of electric lights except when absolutely necessary for health and safety…all summer? Or just today?

Here’s what worries me about today’s little exercise in distributed mandatory conservation. Yes, today was pretty hot. We broke 100, and it’s a little early in the year for that. But…really, folks, this is south Texas. It’s only a little early. What is ERPORT going to do in June? Or in August and September, the deep dog days of summer? Tell us to hook our computers up to potato batteries?  And who are these grid-controlling choads, anyway? Last time I checked, I got my electric bill from City Public Service, and that bill never fails to come packaged with a cheery newsletter assuring me that at CPS, they’re out on the ragged frontiers of renewable energy development in order to assure an energy-abundant future for all the people of south Texas. Which is, of course, a complete load — they just spent a big pile of public money on some natural gas power-plant because they felt sure that the earth is actually a brittle stone balloon filled with natural gas, and that this gas would be cheap and plentiful forever.   That was about a month before natural gas prices started their long rise. Oh, and they put up some very future-looking windmills out in the Hill Country somewhere. The windmills look great on television, but the dead birds…not so much.

Anyway, it’s all bullshit and we all know it, but as an American who pays his utility bill on time, I was sort of hoping that they might keep the lights on for a few more years.


19 Responses to “third-world hellhole”

  1. almostinfamous Says:

    you gots ta break a few potential eggs to build a potential energy source

  2. teh l4m3 Says:

    Record heat??? My feet have been cold all day, and I’m almost out of firewood…

  3. jexter Says:

    “If your feet are cold, put a hat on.”

  4. jexter Says:

    Sorry, that was supposed to be:

    Ted says “If your feet are cold, put a hat on!”

    (But even so, how many more clues do you need?)

  5. Pinko Punko Says:

    What’s hotter, 78 degrees or the sun when the power goes out. Indeed, mothermuncher, indeed.

    All kidding aside, Cali say eat it Texas cobags after what Enron did to this state.

    Grumble grumble.

    That said, holy crap- if the rolling blackouts start in April- wtf???

  6. almostinfamous Says:

    yeah.. what the hell?

    you’re not in india with them damn ‘skeeters!

    very interesting post coming up!

  7. blue girl Says:

    I would be soooooooo crabby if I lived in heat like that. My dad moved to Denton about 10 years ago and he just can’t take it.

    Do you ever get used to that kind of heat, Res? Does it make you crabby?

    p.s. I love the word “mothermuncher!”

  8. Res Publica Says:

    Some people get used to it, but I think 100 degrees is always really hot for everyone. It’s not for no reason that the first air-conditioned office building was in San Antonio.
    The flip side is that our winters are gorgeous. We might have a few cold snaps where it will freeze, but it’s mostly daytime highs around 70. I grew up in Kansas, but there’s no way I could handle a midwestern winter any more. I can stand ice and snow for about 5 minutes.

    Blue – Everything makes me crabby. I’d have thought you’d know that by now.

    AIF – we have plenty of skeeters, trust me. Mean ones. Viscious, brutal ones that will leave you a dessicated husk of a man.

  9. Brando Says:

    So, to conserve lights and AC, are the Spurs going to play their playoff games outside at the playground?

  10. Res Publica Says:

    Yeah right. They’ll probably black out all the residential neighborhoods to keep the juice flowing to the arena formerly known as the SBC Center.

  11. mdhatter Says:

    I don’t have an AC. It’s a power hog. Granted, summer is shorter up here in the north, but July through September can bring brutally humid heat. 90, but with a dew point of 88.

  12. Pinko Punko Says:

    oh, md, I know the boston summer- try the third floor walk up. hey, it’s so cool down on the second floor. Wah wah.

  13. Robust McManlyPants Says:

    if you think I’m setting my thermostat to 80 fucking degrees for three-quarters of the year, then you’ve obviously spent the afternoon huffing glue.

    I’d just like to note, as someone who’s obviously spent the afternoon huffing glue, that my thermostat is set to 74 at home and in the office it’s set to 72. 78 is fucking crazy talk.

  14. jennifer Says:

    Hey Res, feel free to move back to Kansas. We don’t have winters anymore. It snowed once this year in Lawrence. I think the average temp in February was something like 62, and last week it was in the 90’s. I can’t even imagine how fucking hot it’s going to be by July.

  15. Adorable Girlfriend Says:

    Jennifer, does it feel like your not in Kansas anymore?


  16. Chuckles Says:

    Or even, does it feel like you’re not in Kansas anymore?

  17. Adorable Girlfriend Says:

    I love the Grammar and Spelling Nazis. They are great for those of us who have little time, little sleep and no spell check function, who blog in our busy lives at work.

    Kuddos to Chuckwagon for being a little, little person who can point out one of the major faux pas of AG.

  18. jennifer Says:

    No, it still feels like Kansas. The weather is just like the stale frosting on a moldy cupcake.

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