CHAOSTOCOSMOS

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Lightening does strike twice

Well almost, because a few years ago, my telephone line was hit by lightening that "fried" my then modem. [1] That lit up the night sky brighter than the light show for a Stones concert, as the blue spark travelled at speed down the wire and into the back of my computer. It was only by pure luck that I reacted, threw myself back across the room and away from it, in time.

This time, lightening hit the electrical pylon, not 25 meters from the house in the early hours of Saturday morning, which is only inches from the phone cable that runs up the hill past it. Reckon that metal pylon attracts lightening?

It's very rare for a storm to wake me up, but this one did at 5.30 on Saturday morning, because it was so loud and, because the rolling thunder shook this house (with it's half meter thick walls). By the tiny interval between thunder claps, I knew the storm was close overhead too and just seconds after the first that woke me and a millisecond before the next boom, was a tremendous explosion as lightening hit something I knew had to be very close by.

Power went off in this house at that instant, but when I looked outside, it was still on in the valley below. Nevertheless, there wasn't much I could do at 5.30 a.m., so I went back to bed. At 8.30 a.m. the power was still off and was also off in the entire valley (and various other areas apparently.)

Went outside to inspect, then phoned the electricity company and explained what I had seen and heard: that lightening must have hit the pylon.

Around 12.30 I rang UNELCO again, as after 7 hours, we were still without power and neither had I seen any technicians anywhere in the area.

Shortly afterwards, two blokes in a van turned up (coincidentally), took one look at it and announced casually that lightening had hit the pylon.

No, really? Don't you just love experts?

But these bright sparks weren't the repair guys. Now we had to wait for someone else to repair whatever had been hit and, of course, there were a lot of repairs needed after the storm and, no, they couldn't give me any idea at all how long it would be before they would turn up, let alone how long it would take to repair ... I decided I'd had enough then. This house only has small windows facing north, so even in daylight, it's impossible to see indoors without artificial lighting. Therefore there was absolutely nothing whatsoever I could do here; I was cold, damp and couldn't even make a decent cup of coffee.

When I went to catch the 2 o'clock bus the power was still off anyway.

It was a bad storm, but it wasn't that bad, compared to some we've had in recent years. To be left without power for 9+ hours, after something really only a bit worse than what is becoming "routine bad weather", is unacceptable.

As an expat immigrant, sure I accept sacrifices, but I didn't move to the "third world".

And on an island that relies on tourism this is downright 'effin criminal.

There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that this would not - could not - happen if cables were put under ground. And there wouldn't be a lot of these repairs needed and time and money wasted after every storm. Yet these ugly overhead cable spaghettis are still being installed, even in tourist areas.
Speaking to a neighbour, who has lived and worked in Germany, later at the bus station in Buenavista (he was also "escaping" to Puerto de la Cruz to look at the carnaval parade for something to do and to get warm), he compared the situations and opines too that the antiquated systems here are to blame.

What concerns us, is that we will be underground before the cables are!

And if lightening can strike twice in the same place already, lets hope that it isn't in the too near future.

[1] If you think the electricity company's response is slow, it took more than 4 years before Telefonica would even come out to look at the phone cable that was damaged and suffering badly from crackling noise on the line (they blamed everything else; my phone, my computer, cheap calls with a competitor), despite me telling them that I had seen it hit by lightening.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Once a day and twice on Fridays

The other day, I explained how nicotine patches had triggered chest pains and breathlessness when walking up hills after I stopped smoking in September and, which got added to many other symptoms that I've been dealing for at least a decade - dealing with alone, I might add, since I have no diagnosis for reasons that make an epic saga in themselves. (With self-diagnosis, I've taken great care to follow Mark Twain's advice: "Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.")

In the meantime, my reaction to this development has been to "take things easy". Well, relatively easy, but I live alone, so taking things too easy would mean no chores would get done and I might starve to death (I might anyway.) Frankly, I feel like I'm walking on eggshells the whole time, but I do also realize that I have to maintain a careful balance between being idle and completely ceasing up and, doing too much and completely disabling myself in the process.

One of the ways I avoid being totally idle is because of Holly dawg, who needs her daily walks. She's also now at least 13 years old and, despite otherwise being strong and puppy-like still, has unfortunately become rather incontinent.

Yes, it could happen to any of us and I probably drool more than she does!

(It's also causing lots of additional laundry.) Anyway, to avoid too many "accidents" and keep her as comfortable as possible, I take her out at least hourly, if not more frequently. On the one hand, this does nothing to help my concentration or get any work done: on the other, the exercise - especially taken in small, frequent doses - probably hasn't harmed either of us.

Every morning, like clockwork, "we" also have a performance of #2s.

Except Fridays.

A Bridge Too Far
A Bridge Too Far. It's at the end of my "driveway"
and is the only way in and out of the house. I cross my
fingers every time I go over it! :)




Our refuse collectors come early on Saturday mornings and, in winter, they may come while it's still dark. Well, apart from that it's too early for me, no matter what the season.

Also, I live 100 to 150 meters from the road (where the refuse is collected), across land that is an alternately dusty or muddy paddock, over a Barry Bucknell built concrete bridge with no railings (that spans a barranco) and, then down a very steep hill.

And it's unlit: no street lamps and very little other "light pollution."

So I always take the trash down on Friday afternoons.

Thank goodness that is DOWN hill when I'm hauling that trash, but this is probably one of the hardest challenges I face each week. And, yes the irony that I PAY for refuse "collection" and yet I have to struggle to "deliver" it that far to them, does indeed rankle quite a bit.

Anyhow, I take the Holly dog with me (virtually everywhere, as a guard dog), partly to "multi-task" one of her necessary walks along with the job of dumping the trash and, because she can help pull me back up the hill afterwards!

And every Friday on that trip, Holly dumps some extra trash of her own.

Does she associate the "dumping" action? Does she know what day of the week it is? I really don't know, because she eats the same each day, but I've tested: I've taken her down there on any other day of the week and she doesn't go!

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