While the current cold snap isn't record-breaking, it does represent the most extreme temperatures in recent memory and, if nothing else, providing new fodder for discussion. To wit:
- How embarrassing is it that the Great State of Texas is having to rely on Mexico for electricity to bridge the supply gap, thanks to about 10% of our power plants being offline, apparently caught unprepared for the bitter cold. On the other hand, it's a nice change from the usual exports of drugs and violence.
- So far, we've experienced only one of the "rolling blackouts," during a 30-minute spell yesterday morning. It occurred before sunrise, but after we were out of bed, and the absolute darkness that we rarely experience was, frankly, a little bit thrilling. It was a reminder of how much artificial light exists even after we've turned out the lights...small night lights, LED clock faces, glowing on/off buttons on various electronic devices, etc. But it wasn't just the darkness that muted the senses. When all power goes off, so does all artificial sound, at least in our house. Frankly, we could probably do with some of that sensory deprivation at bit more often. I'd rather it happen when it's warmer than 8° though.
- OK, I need to amend something in that previous paragraph. We didn't have absolute quiet when the power went off thanks to the insistent and irritating alarms from the four uninterruptible power supplies that protect most of our computer and home theater equipment. That's a design feature; they're battery powered and the whole point is to let you know when there's been a complete power failure (as if you wouldn't figure that out anyway). So, I had to crawl under desks and reach into pitch black cabinets to silence the alarms.
- The rolling blackout didn't cause any damage, but we may not come through the cold spell unscathed. One of water lines from our reverse osmosis unit is frozen and the obvious worry is that when it finally thaws (perhaps tomorrow afternoon?), we'll find out the hard way that it's cracked. Because of the way the line is routed through the walls and attic, I can't get to it to check it, or to try to thaw it out. So, we've got that to look forward to.
- Despite the name of this here blog-like thing, fire ants are not my favorite critters. One of the silver linings for the brutal cold is that it may decimate the fire ant population, and that would be a very good thing. Fire ants are warm weather insects, although they seem to have adapted as they've expanded their territory out of the Deep South. Only time will tell if they've burrowed deep enough this winter to survive extended near-zero temperatures. I was visiting with our exterminator yesterday, and he admitted that he didn't know how it would turn out, but was hopeful that it would at least knock back the population.
- The cold weather is also playing hob with car electronics. The "check tire pressure" indicator light now burns continuously on my Ridgeline, even though the tire it says is out of bounds actually has the highest pressure of the four. I have no idea how to reset the fool thing. I may have to invest in one of those automotive diagnostic kits that allows your iPhone to interface with the car's onboard computer.
Update: I should have googled before posting. Turns out that the tire pressure monitoring system on the Ridgeline resets automatically when the tires are inflated to 29 psi. I had added air, but only to 28 psi.
- In closing, let me just observe that ducks are either really macho, or really well insulated.