August 15, 2003


Thursday the 14th I'm nuking a discounted Turkey Tetrazinni, and am about to once again plunge into cleaning up  scans for a CDROM project. The lights flicker and go out. The TT is inedibly cold mush. My UPS starts beeping.

I check my buzzer/intercom, it's dead so I know it's the entire building. After about 15 minutes I hook my Mac up to the UPS so I can log on and check the net for info. That's when I discover that the "replace battery every 3 years" warning really is there for a technical reason, not just to sell more batteries. The computer gets only half way thru bootup when the UPS quits. So I decide it's a good time for a nap.

Dusk comes, still no power, so I call a friend, who informs me that it's the whole northeast that's down.

I dig out some shabbos candles, make a tinfoil reflector, and sit down with some 1950's Sci Fi magazines. Later, I open the fridge just long enough to grab some sandwich fixins, and I'm thankfull for the foot of frost in my freezer. Mrs. Swanson will be happy for days.

It's 3 am, I'm watching the news again, and really can't sleep. The <a name="man"> says that if you live in Manhatten you should go outside to look at the stars. Sounds like a good idea, so I get dressed and go out. There's an emergancy lighting unit a block or two up York, so I start walking.

Park Avenue is dark, with just a few floors of the PanAm/Met Life building lit up. I walk a couple of blocks in the middle of the street, it's erilly quiet, seems like a scene out of Vannilla Sky. I turn and head over to 5th, wanting to see what's going on with the Zoo.

Every bench along the park was occupied. The crickets seemed as loud as they are in the country. On a wildlife related note, radio's John Gambling decribed seeing racoons playing in the middle of the street by Riverside park. I can just imagine the scene with the vexed racoon mom "just what did I tell you boys about playing in the street?" "but moooommm, there's no cars, we only went out in the dark......"

At 57th and 5th there was a con-ed crew's worklights providing some illumination, but for the most part, FAO Schwartz and the Plaza hotel and the length of 5th Ave was dark, with just moonlight to see by. As I was standing on the island in the street intersection, turning around to soak in the ambiance, most of the Hotel's window lights came on, and a few blocks of 5th was illuminated as usual. Damn, I walk all this way at 4 am to experiance a darkened, empty midtown, and the freaking lights have to come on now??? Fortunatly for me, the power was only restored to about 54th street, so when I got to St. Pats it was dark again.
I do have kudos to someone in NYPD, because at around 56th there was a cop who was offering passerbys bottled water. Good planning.

Rockerfeller Center by the Atlas was very dark, I could just see his head outlined, so if he had shrugged i couldn't tell. The area where the xmas tree resides did have lots of activity. The area is now filled with the aircraft and rockets for the Centenial of Flight exhibit. There was a tent set up with monitors, I assume for the Today show. I walked down the side street (49th?) to get a closer look at the Redstone rocket replica. It seems kinda too small to be able to get into orbit (maybe it's the sub-orbital version), in anycase, it puts some perspective into the X-prize efforts. On the opposite side of 49th is a tent with a GE jet engine on display. Framed by the dark towers of Rockerfeller center, the entrance sports GE's  slogan "Imagine the Power". Good advice, since GE manufactures many of the generators and power plants which had failed to give us the power.

I get to Broadway and it looks like a disaster movie, with police tape surrounding the white sheet covered bodies strewned over the sidewalk infront of the doubletree hotel. Some people did have a few chairs placed together as a bed, but most were sleeping on the ground.

Around the 45th street area you could'nt tell there was a blackout, with the dozens of newscrews lighting up the area.
Walking past the Marriot i saw the roadway that goes under the hotel also covered with sleeping people.

After walking around a bit more, I took a bus up to 57th and while waiting for the crosstown, picked up the morning NY Post, which must have been printed using their own power. Went home, went to sleep, and had power when I woke up.