Friday, September 9, 2011

They forget to mention this part of Orange County life
on TV: Thursday's blackout affected San Diego, Mexico and
south OC  (image via Los Angeles Times)
With the media frenzy that accompanied yesterday's blackout, I didn't pay it much attention, partly because I was lucky enough not to be affected, but partly because it seems like we have blackouts every summer.

This one, as we've all heard a million times by now, was a lot larger than the usual ones: the Orange County Register reported that up to 5 million people were affected across California in San Diego and south Orange County, as well as west Arizona and Baja California and mainland Mexico. It's magnitude was large enough that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is now investigating what happened. For now, it's being reported that a 500-kilovolt line tripped out of service, which cut the flow of power among the utility connections.

Mission Viejo turned into a parking lot as a result of
Thursday's blackout (image via Los Angeles Times)
I saw the backed up traffic and dark cities on TV, but when I looked over the images in the Los Angeles Times, I was struck with the refugee-like existence people were temporarily in. It started me thinking about how vulnerable we are in an instant, how easy it is to be rendered helpless when our gas stations close down and the refrigerators stop working.

No, this isn't Lord of the Rings - these dudes are using a
car battery for the lamp as they make their way to the few
open bars in Pacific Beach (image via Los Angeles Times)
 Also, in light of all the 9/11 commemorations going on, it's another reminder that we never know what's going to happen to us from one day to the next, so the best we can do is be prepared for worst case scenarios. No matter how unfathomable they actually end up being.

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