The Generator works

even when I try to turn it off!

Just after midnight, it’s cold and a little windy but nothing different than the rest of our weather for the last dozen winters, and then: power outage for more than 30 seconds, then the standby generator comes on, and the house electricity is back.

15 minutes go by, still riding the generator, probably, and looking out the windows gives me second thoughts: everyone around us has electricity. Everyone. But the generator runs on.

Doubt is my constant companion, add mechanical systems and electricity and my doubt is exponential. I reason that the transfer switch (automatically shunts power from the mains to the generator and back again) has malfunctioned. Only real answer given that all others have power.

So, off comes the front panel of the transfer switch (it’s cold and windy), I get the wrench to manually switch off gen power back to mains, and: the switch fights back. Doesn’t matter how hard I push, no go, no switching off the generator. Fortunately I eschewed killing the generator manually, and I got on line and submitted a power outage entry to Oncor.

Less than 30 minutes later I got a call from a lineman with Oncor outside my house asking what the problem was. (I don’t blame him, the house looked normal with the gen on). I explained, and he went to investigate. After a few minutes: “Your meter is blank, and all your neighbors have power, so one of the legs of your electrical service is bad”. Much rejoicing on my part, because the generator/switch isn’t malfunctioning, it’s running like it should, and there’s a lineman here who has a diagnosis that fits, and a plan to fix it!

James the Oncor lineman spent 20 minutes in a bucket surrounded by high power lines fixing the wiring to my home in bad weather (‘the feed wires were small and one burned off, I added much bigger ones’), and the moment he re-engaged the transformer the generator slowed then stopped, like it should.

To recap: my home was the only one affected, the gen worked, even when I tried to shut it down, and life is back to normal.

Life is good, and Oncor linemen are terrific. (My wife gave him coffee and warm cookies, hope that doesn’t get him in trouble). Thanks, James!

Tesla’s Waco Supercharger

Visited this the second week of February, 2014.

8 stations, all empty when I was there:
Waco supercharging stations

Parking was marked as ’60 minute’; is this at all the superchargers?
Tesla 60 minute parking
If that’s not the norm, I suspect it’s because there’s a hotel immediately behind the supercharger, and there’s some concern someone would plug-in and then turn-in.

It’s at the Collin Street Bakery which was clean, had nice bathrooms, many food choices, and cheap coffee. Also, fruitcakes.
Collin Street Bakery

Free WiFi at this one, done in a low-tech fashion:
Collin Street free wifi

Not a bad location!

Grandpa’s little dentist

photo

I have a blog?

It was pointed out to me (very politely) that I’ve left the blog fallow for more than a month. That’s a first, and hopefully a last.

I have some excuses, and while they’re stronger than ‘the dog ate my homework’ they are still excuses, and I owe the nine of you better. Mea Culpa.

Something I didn’t talk about after the Christmas Cruise was the disappointment of the missing travelers: my folks, for their first cruise. Not quite a total tragedy, but not good. We’d planned ahead, bought the recommended trip insurance from AAA Travel, and we were going to spend a day in Miami before boarding so flight disruptions couldn’t screw up our cruise. Every plan has a flaw: it doesn’t matter spending a day of there are no flights/they’re overbooked when yours is cancelled. That’s what happened to my folks. Oh, the airline did reschedule them for a flight 30 hours later, which would have taken off after the boat shoved off, so they couldn’t come.

Well, there’s always tomorrow, and we have trip insurance, right? The folks got their money back from the airline. The trip insurance company has decided to play the ‘not covered’ card, so we’re appealing through AAA as they recommended this insurance vendor. I’m not going to mention their name on the off chance they do the right thing (eventually), but there’s a bus waiting for them should they reject the AAA appeal.

The Global Warming Winter of 2013/14 has been harshly cold here in Texas, and we have had two days of 70 degree weather back to back, so hopefully that means the CO2 has ganged up to help us out.

I work in a highly functional and generally well regarded ER seeing a little over 100K a year, and January 11th we got to move into our new construction ED. Longer and wider than a football field, 89 rooms (many, many of which can hold two patients in a pinch), it’s so pretty and so big all of us are just now recovering from the shock. We’ve had more than a hundred patients in the ED at one time several times in the new place, and while the staff and docs were humming, and: not crowded! In the legacy ED, we’d have patients on gurneys very literally next to all of us, having to turn sideways to get through the spaces, etc. It’s so nice we aren’t sure we deserve it.

The downside of new construction in an existing hospital footprint means long walks from the hospital to the ED (like, 100 yards down a million dollar bridge). Consultants like the space, but don’t like the walk, especially several times a day. Time will make things better, or at least more normal.

In other news, I’ve briefly mentioned (probably) that I have a man lift, which means a mechanical bucket on an hydraulic set of arms. It all works well when it does; add a squirrel and a winter and there’s wire damage; rather a lot of wire damage, like at least 8 wire bundles eaten through and others denuded of their insulation. The eviction was brief and had I known the damage would have been quite a bit more terminal, and now the lift’s gone to the Land of the Fixer, my father the mechanic. (I’m aware that in modern movies ‘Mechanic’ often means killer or brute, but in my world and my experience it means a guy whose hands and mind can create anything and destruction is secondary to creation, which seems right). In my life Dad has made me and my brother understand mechanics, work and the life it presents.

I have a Tesla Model S car. It’s the closest thing to driving a UFO you can imagine, as it’s all electric and the torque seems limitless and unending. Get one now.

I intend it won’t be more than a month before my next post. Apologies, and live well.