The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, October 24, 2005

“It's … it's headed right for us!”

WILMA IS MOVING TOWARD THE NORTHEAST NEAR 18 MPH...30 KM/HR. A
CONTINUED NORTHEASTWARD MOTION... WITH A GRADUAL INCREASE IN FORWARD
SPEED... IS EXPECTED TONIGHT AND MONDAY. ON THIS TRACK...THE CENTER
OF WILMA IS FORECAST TO MAKE LANDFALL ALONG THE SOUTHWESTERN COAST
OF THE FLORIDA PENINSULA EARLY MONDAY MORNING.  HOWEVER... WILMA IS
A LARGE HURRICANE AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS WILL REACH THE
FLORIDA PENINSULA WELL BEFORE THE EYE MAKES LANDFALL. THE EASTERN
PORTION OF THE EYEWALL... ACCOMPANIED BY THE STRONGEST WINDS...
WILL REACH THE SOUTHWESTERN COAST OF FLORIDA ABOUT 2 HOURS BEFORE
THE CENTER OF THE LARGE EYE MAKES LANDFALL.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 115 MPH...185 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. WILMA IS A CATEGORY THREE HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON
SCALE. LITTLE CHANGE IN STRENGTH IS EXPECTED UNTIL LANDFALL OCCURS
...AND WILMA WILL LIKELY MAKE LANDFALL AS A CATEGORY 3 HURRICANE.
SOME SLOW WEAKENING IS FORECAST AS WILMA CROSSES THE SOUTHERN
FLORIDA PENINSULA... BUT THE HURRICANE IS FORECAST TO STILL BE A
SIGNIFICANT CATEGORY TWO HURRICANE BY THE TIME THE CENTER REACHES
THE FLORIDA EAST COAST EARLY MONDAY AFTERNOON.

HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO  85 MILES...140 KM...
FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP
TO 230 MILES...370 KM. SUSTAINED TROPICAL STORM-FORCE WINDS ARE
OCCURRING OVER THE YUCATAN CHANNEL... WESTERN CUBA... AND THE LOWER
AND MIDDLE FLORIDA KEYS. THESE WINDS SHOULD REACH THE SOUTHWESTERN
FLORIDA COAST BY MIDNIGHT... WITH HURRICANE-FORCE WINDS REACHING
THE LOWER KEYS AND SOUTHWESTERN FLORIDA COAST BEFORE SUNRISE.

Hurricane WILMA Public Advisory

The eye of Hurricane Wilma is about 40 miles across. This is one huge storm. And the only thing that comes to mind is “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines.”


We survived

We survived Hurricane Wilma. Casa New Jersey weathered the storm nicely (if a bit leaky around two uncaucked windows). In fact, the only thing that took damage were trees and a small ding in my car—from what, I don't know.

We have no power at the moment. I'm at the office right now, making sure everything is running smoothly (Smirk picked me up on the way). Oh, and it's nice and cool now.

More on this (and pictures) once I have more time.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Survival, Day 1

There is no need to call to report your outage at this time.

FPL's first full day of restoration gets underway

I supose that if you have read the above, then there is no need to call about your power outage in the first place. But on the first day of restoring power, FPL still has two million customers without power, mainly due to down tramission lines (the huge powerlines running down the middle of the state that power substations).

We're still without power at Casa New Jersey, along with 663,500 other FPL customers. The only reason you're seeing this is because I'm at the data center, which has its own generator. I'm on one of the few Windows servers here, sharing it with P. The Office itself is without power and phone, making for (the most part) a quiet day here, other than the stray office worker asking if they can install a server or have critical people set up a workstation so they can work (three companies so far). The problem is that we're near capacity with the generator and have only two days worth of fuel and we're having to shutdown down non-critical machines. Smirk and J (the other partner in the data center) are off to North Florida on a quest for diesel fuel just in case FPL are unable to restore power to the office building in two days.

So, other than the severe lack of power, a severe shortage of open gas stations and a bazillion trees littering the streets of Boca Raton, things are pretty good.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Survival, Day 2

The serious lack of power is really annoying, and not just because I can't get my daily net fix …

Okay, it's because I can't get my daily net fix.

But when the official word from FPL is November 11th for 95% of customers in Palm Beach County, it's disheartening. Worse still, where we live, we don't have FPL, we have Lake Worth Power which probably just probably resells power from FPL. When I called (and their main number refered me to an 800 number, which when called, just transfered me back to their main number—sigh) they said anywhere from two to six weeks to have power restored. I don't have high hopes to have power back any time soon.

Hopefully the weather will remain nice and cool as it has been since Hurricane Wilma passed.

[NOW we're having beautiful weather …]

But we're doing fine so far. Wlofie was able to cobble up a make-shift stove with bricks and the inner rim of a wheel and the stainless carbon steel wok he has is incredibly versatile in what it can do (not only stir fry, but Wlofie was able to cook rice in the thing).

[Working the Wok on the makeshift stove] [Alternative Fuel Sources]

Wlofie is also amazed at the number of people trying to buy charcoal, when all around us is a huge amount of free fuel for the taking. Sure, the wood is still green, but it's usuable (if a bit smokey).

He also had the forsight to buy several lanterns for use as light. They work quite well.

[Let there be light]

I also kept myself occupied last night by playing around with coroutines on paper. Yes, even without power I'm a power geek.

Update on Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

Wlofie sent in the following corrections for this entry:

Carbon steel actually. Stainless would have burned the rice most likely. Stainless doesn't distribute the heat as well, nor handle the hear, nor in fact does seasoning because of the nonstick layer.

Heh, nor does stainless rust as much as non-cared for carbon still will LOL.

He also had the forsight to buy several lanterns for use as light. They work quite well.

Credit where credit is due ... I didn't buy, you did. I merely gave the recommendation.

I forgot I actually bought the lamps. Continuing:

BTW, I'm not amazed at coal buying ... just surprised people don't save the resources of wood as well (in addition to coal).

Shurgs.

Coal is a transported resource, the wood is just there ... and running coal until it's out and then wood ... well, by that time the wood is more than likely a little less ``sappy.''

Outta survival lecture and nitpicky mode.

Thanks and nice picture of my wok :-)

He also sent along these links:


Just passing through

During the first half of the storm:

[Thar she blows!] [What a blowhard]

Our biggest problem durring the first half of the storm were leaks around a few windows—one upstairs and one in the master bedroom. Other than that, nothing horrible happened to the house.

Durring the eye of the hurricane (yes yes, I know, we're not supposed to leave the house durring the eye):

[This was chopped and removed less than an hour after the hurricane] [Palm trees normally survive hurricanes]

And here's the bamboo in our backyard durring the eye of the storm:

[Bamboo before]

And after the second half of the storm:

[Bamboo after]

There aren't any pictures durring the second half of the storm since I elected at that point to just sleep through the rest. As it happened, the second half had less rain but the wind kicked it up a notch and more damage happened during the second half than the first, with Boca Raton (where I work) getting ravaged:

[This car (not mine) certainly got kicked] [Without traffic lights, how will civilization survive?] [Slalom course along Congress Ave] [Devestation at the Office I] [Devestation at the Office II] [Devestation at the Office III]

So that's just a little bit of what we went through.

And the season's not over yet!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Survival, Day 3

[They're lining up for free ice]

P and I are trading off days to conserve fuel and frankly, with the phone system down at the office (not that I'm complaining about that, but I'm sure our customers are) and the notice that support has been cut back due to Hurricane Wilma, it's been rather quiet in the office.

I've got a power cord running from the data center into the Office so I can use my workstation. I did use a Windows system in the data center on Monday, but given the power situtation, it's dark, noisy, cold and dude! Windows! And since it is cool outside, the temperature inside the office is rather nice. So no real complaints here.

I got into the office around 10 am (yearly yes, but hey, given that there's very little to do at night but sleep … ) and across the street was a line of cars stretching waaaaaaaay back all waiting for free ice.

The company that shares space in our data center has set up operations in the hall outside the data center, since that's still the only room with power and our Office can barely hold three people much less a dozen. It looks remarkably like a blogging conference out there, with temporary tables and everybody busily working away on laptops.

Smirk returned with over 200 gallons of diesel fuel for the generator so we're good as far as fuel goes, but the generator is being watched closely to prevent it from overheating. Smirk also got food for everyone here as he found an open McDonald's across the street from his house (even though his house is still without power).

So things are looking up.

Just wish the power would be restored.

[And the cars keep lining up]

Note: The line for free ice is only now clearning up, at 3:45 pm.


Boundless optimism

Found the following email in the support account today. I found it rather amusing.

Stay Safe During Hurricane Wilma

If you are up as early as I am preparing for Wilma … Good Morning!

First and foremost, let me please ask everyone to stay safe and take the necessary precautions to protect your family and property.

The Florida Power Team cares very much about you; we send our warmest wishes to you and your family during this time.

We are all looking for Wilma to blow through quickly so we may all get on with our outstanding, fantastic, passionate, loving, joyful, prosperous, challenging, balanced and fulfilling lives (obviously the list could go on)!

Nice to know someone is being optimistic about this.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Survival, Day 4

Non-office day today.

Earlier Wlofie asked if I liked eggs and could we do something with the dozen and a half we had socked away in the freezer temporary ice chest. I'm not a big egg fan but I do like the occastional omlette or sunny-side up, but not 18 eggs worth of omlette or sunny-side up.

So I suggested Deviled Eggs. Hard boil, cut lengthwise, scoop out the now cooked yoke, mix with mayonnaise and dill, scoop the mixture back into the cut eggs, dust with paprika, eat. It's the only form of egg that I can just keep on eating and with our crew, it didn't last the night.

The kids are going through batteries like you wouldn't believe, what with their various variations on the Game Boy and what not. I found one of their units in the mailbox—apparently they were too lazy to actually take the thing inside while they rode their bicycles.

I'm still working on co-routines to keep myself occupied, keeping the midnight oil burning (in this case, literally—kerosene lamp right on my deskd) as I work through an implementation. It's an interesting concept, a routine that is almost, but not entirely like, a thread but where multiple calls result in the co-routine picking up where it left off and not starting over again. Once we get power back I'll write up a longer entry explaining what I've been working on (since my notes are on my desk at home, and right now I'm at work writing up the past few days).

On Monday night, after Hurricane Wilma blew past, the sky was clear and for the first time since I can remember, the night sky was ablaze with stars, and even the faint Milky Way could be seen stretching across the sky. It was a beautiful sight and one that was repeated Tuesday night. But since Wednesday, the stars are slowly being washed out with the dawn of civilization as power is slowly restored to South Florida.

[Dawn of Civilization]

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Survival, Day 5

For a change of pace, we all got out of the house.

Spring, Wlofie and The Kids went to Negiyo (she to work, they to hang out someplace with power and more importantly, Internet) and I elected to hang out in the office.

Net fix, you see.

Only I didn't get much of a fix.

About an hour later, Smirk and I went out in search of food and petrol and that alone took the better part of two hours. And back at the office, Mark was looking to hang out, so the three of us spent hours talking about various topics, including generators, Negiyo and war stories from FAU. By the time Mark left, it was time to pick up Spring & Co. from Negiyo.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Survival, Day 6

Still without power.

Sent more bottles out into the open sea, but still, no replies nor ships in sight.

Beginning to hate the taste of coconut.

Spent night with family and friends playing D&D. Fun was had by all.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Survival, Day 7

Got the office machines up and running, then answered the remaining support tickets, and have spent the rest of the day surfing the Internet and really beinging to hate Lake Worth Power. You can tell the border between Lake Worth Power and FPL because on the FPL side it's all lit nice and bright, and on the Lake Worth Power side it's still North Korea.

Sigh.

For Hallow'een this year, Spring (dressed as a drag queen) is taking The Kids (Death and an unemployed Jawa) to the Mall for Trick-or-Treating.


Two hurricanes and three lefts

One hurricane knocks a tree down.

Another one knocks it back up.

(links via Sean Tevis)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Survival, Day 8

The weater is warming up (Boo! Hiss!). It's also overcast and raining today (Boo! Hiss!).

We're still without power and it's hard to see ever growing glow of civilization and wonder when are we going to get power? Why have you forsaken us? Smirk though, still has no power, and yet has to endure the Vegasequse glare of power from the next street over.

The Kids got bucketfulls of smack candy from Trick-or-Treating last night at the Mall, so we have a week or so of dealing with sugar fueled kids.

Did I mention we still have no power?

Also, it's National Novel Writing Month but given the events of the past week, and the fact that we're still without power at Casa New Jersey, I don't think I'll be signing up for it this year (not like I ever finished the previous years I signed up).

Other than that … not much else to report.


Hacks

Oh, I did receive email from an old friend of mine, Bill Lefler, someone I've known since middle school (the only friend I've known longer is Hoade). He wasn't hit so hard this year from Hurricane Wilma, but he did get hit from last year's Four Horsemen of the Hurricanes.

He related this story from last year:

We were out for about a week and and half last year and because we're on a well we had no water flow either. The water in the kiddie pool that we were bathing in was getting kind of nasty by the time my father-in-law showed up with a generator.

Then I decided to contribute to the injury stats by trying to cut my leg off with the chainsaw. I felt like a complete doofus at the emergency room because all they were getting were chainsaw and saw injuries from people not used to doing the that kind of work. It took me a few years of chainsaw experience to get to an injury like that dammit!

What happened is that I let myself get overtired cutting up all the limbs. I was cutting and stepping over the cut branches and had let up on the saw trigger so that it was going from full speed to stop and brought the saw down just when I was stepping forward over a branch. By the way, I was wearing shorts.

I felt the saw hit my leg and I remember a thought process something like this …

“Something just hit my leg.”

“That was the chainsaw hitting my leg.”

“I just hit my leg with the chainsaw.”

“My leg doesn't hurt … so I guess the chain was stopped.”

“I better take a look at my leg to make sure it's ok.” Takes a look at leg in question. “That doesn't look good.”

“Is that what the inside of my leg looks like?”

“Oh crap. I better do something about that leg.”

It was very strange as there was really no pain at all and it wasn't really bleeding, but I had had cut my leg right above the knee about three inches wide and about an inch deep.

To top this all off nobody was home but me and the kids and they were over at the house (luckily outside) several hundred feet away. I called the kids and pinched my leg together to keep everything inside while I hobbled to the barn. I had one of them go get the neighbor and another go get the phone and a washcloth. I was sitting on a chair in the barn when the phone and neighbor arrived (I just wanted an adult there in case I keeled over, but like I said there was really very little bleeding and no pain). Amusingly, one of the kids asked me if was feeling dizzy. “No,” I said. “Well, I am,” he replied.

Anyway, the oldest [kid] called [my wife] (I was still holding my leg closed) and told her that I had cut my leg with the chainsaw. “I'm all right,” I called to the phone several times as he didn't offer her any further explanation. “Tis only a flesh wound,” I added.

I think she set the land-speed record getting home to take me to the emergency room. Incidentally, she had been in the middle of a hair cut which I'm sure made us quite an interesting couple showing up to the hospital.

I got a nice ego boost at the emergency waiting room when I sat down beside some eight year olds holding still holding my own leg shut. “Whoa …” they exclaimed when they found out that I'd chainsawed myself. But in their head I'm sure they were finishing the thought. “… what a doofus!”

Other than that, his family is doing well, and they're in the process of adapoting two girls from Liberia. They were planning on vacationing down here in the Keys, but as Bill relates:

We heard news from the condo on [Key] Marathon. Apparently they had an eight foot surge go through which flattened the condos not on stilts (ours was), did the same for the office, and somehow burned down the clubhouse. (What kind of water-reactive chemical were they storing in there?)

So, I guess they need to rebuild and get occupancy permits again, so that kills our vacation next week.

My guess is that they were storing sodium. But as to why, I don't know.


This wouldn't be so bad …

It's been raining all day today.

Which means that the likelyhood of power being restored to Casa New Jersey today has been reduced to about a thousandfold.

And the phone here at The Company has been ringing off the hook, only there's this annoying “beep … beep” at the other end. Not sure what that is, but it's getting about as annoying as the lack of power (okay, I'll shut up about that now).

I've also concluded that while I'm not going to participate in this years National Novel Writing Month, I should however, set the goal of actually writing about my trip to Las Vegas back in July. I have the layout I want to use. And the notes. And the pictures. But none of the actual text. I started to write it, back in late July, early August, but I was approaching the material in a voice not my own and it really showed (awful … just awful stuff).

So screw it. Write it the way I write (and lately, I'm not very enamored with the way I write) and get the thing done this month.

Just as soon as I get power back.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Survival, Day 9 (or: The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades)

The sky is cloudless. The weather is nice. I was able to get gas with no wait last night. And there's Good News™ about the power situation. But first, I must backtrack a bit.

Back when we lived in The Facility in the Middle of Nowhere, we met Bubba (his real name is Rob, but to keep him straight from Rob the ex-roommate, we'll call him Bubba—he doesn't mind), a nice fellow that still hangs around even though both of us moved away from The Complex. He comes by at least once a week now, at least for the weekly D&D game I hold on Sunday.

Well, this past Sunday, Bubba called Lake Worth Power and posing as the Mayor of Boca Raton, berated Lake Worth Power for their tardiness in restoring power to his friends' house. They told him that power would be restored by Tuesday.

An amusing stunt, but I would only believe it when I see it.

Well, Tuesday (while I was at work) FPL stopped by (note, it was FPL and not Lake Worth Power) Casa New Jersey and told Spring & Co. that they would be coming by tomorrow (which is, today) to restore our power. Hmmmm.

Another small digression: the street we live on is rather short, perhaps a half mile in total length, with a major road bisecting our street in half (we live at the south end of the street).

Well, as I was leaving for work this morning, I saw a power truck (that I took to be FPL, although I couldn't make out which power company it really was) at the far north end of the street.

So it's likely that we'll be getting power today, but no later than tomorrow.

Also, I just received the follow email from Spring:

The Lake Worth Power dude came to our place about noon or so and went up in the bucket truck. He then proceeded up the street, upstream in the power supply. He projects we'll have power tonight.

He also lamented that LWP are not as beloved as FPL and are not able to score the good free food like the big guys can. We offered him blueberry muffins and coffee, but he said he just ate.

Things are definitely looking up …


O frabjous day!

Just got the news: We have the power!

Woot!

Obligatory Picture

[It's the most wonderful time of the year!]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

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