Monday, August 20, 2012

A Cautionary Tale...

The third trimester is underway so I am becoming less and less mobile. This is good news for my TBR pile, great news for my WIP and not so awesome news for my exercise regime. The good news is that I have plenty to keep me occupied, including certain electronics….
The hub standing in a little slice of lake heaven last week....
Is it just me – or is the power cord on every laptop the first thing to go? Three out of my last five laptops have had problems with the power cord. This one is no exception. In fact, this is my second power cord for this computer. It’s lasted a year. The hub has done all he can to rig it so the computer is still getting a charge and thankfully the cord itself isn’t so misshapen that there’s a risk of frying the computer itself with a bad surge (that, too, I’ve experienced before). For a device that is supposed to be portable, though, it sure does seem to have a lot of issues.

This is me hopping off my box to tell a cautionary electronics tale. A little over a week ago before the hub and I took a trip to the family lakehouse, we were dozing very early one morning when a small thunderstorm passed over our area. The storm cell was a minor one; nothing near the crazy, wet weather we’ve experienced here throughout July and August on the Gulf Coast. So we’re dozing…we’re dozing…I hear thunder rumbling in the distance and think that if it gets closer I should get up and unplug my computer. No sooner had that thought left my head then KAPOW! Out of nowhere, a lightning bolt hit very close to our house. There was no delay between the blinding flash of white light and the unbelievable noise. Added to it, the fire alarms started to go off. The dogs started to go bonkers. The hub and I bolt out of bed. He says, “That hit something in the backyard.” It takes forever to get the fire alarms to cease. The ceilings in our house are pretty high. Even he, at six feet tall, had to have a stool to reach each one.

By this time, we realize that the lights in the garage don’t work. The garage is on the opposite side of the house as the backyard where we thought the bolt hit. I walk back toward the bedroom to grab a flashlight and start to smell something a little…well, off. I soon discover that none of the lights in the guest section of our house are working. Even worse, the strange smell was coming from the bedroom closest to ours. Anyone who has ever experienced a close lightning strike knows exactly what ozone smells like. The closest thing I know to compare it to is the offensive, rubbery smell of the white smoke that pours out a vacuum when the motor is caught and the belt keeps spinning. It’s pretty unsettling, particularly when it begins to permeate your entire house and won’t seem to go away. It’s at this point that the hub realizes that the lightning didn’t hit something in the backyard – it hit our house, right above the wall that separates the master bedroom and the guest bedroom where the worst of the ozone smell was coming from.

The rain is gone now. The lights are working throughout the house again. He’s starting to dress for work. At this point, it occurs to us to check the electronics throughout the house that were plugged in. The garage door was my main concern because my parents’ house had a similar experience years ago when I was still living at home and I remember the garage door having to be replaced…along with half of the electronics in the house. Thankfully, the garage door was working just fine as was most of the electronics that had been left plugged in overnight…but unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for the two devices plugged into the phone line on the side of the house closest to the strike – our DSL box in my office and the hub’s Xbox, which we use as a DVD player in the master bedroom. Ouch.

The roof of our house the morning after the storm....
Before the hub left for work, he took a stroll out back with the dogs to check to see that everything in the yard was okay…and this is when he discovered the gaping hole in the roof over our bedroom where the lightning hit the house. The bolt ripped through a whole patch of shingles and the plywood underneath, and there was officially no mistaking that it hit the house directly. Thankfully, the hub took off work to patch it up before another storm blew through.

I tell you this story, Cozies, because if you live in the stormy south like we do, it’s good to back-up your hard drive. My computer could have very easily been plugged into the DSL as it was an hour or so before we went to bed the night before the strike. I wouldn’t just have lost an expensive piece of office equipment; I would have lost months of work. So if you’re reading this, do me a favor. Take five minutes out of your schedule today and back up your hard drives. Also? A surge protector is a really good thing to invest in, but we couldn’t protect those items plugged into the phone line. The Xbox was covered by an extended warranty, but it’s interesting to note that when we did take it back to the store, neither the Xbox itself or its power cable worked. So the bolt came through the phone line, took out the DSL, traveled through the DSL cable, fried the Xbox and its power cable.

Another chilling side note? A mere week before this happened to us, a house in a neighborhood just down the road from ours was struck by lightning and burned to the ground within minutes. Lesson learned? Be mindful, Cozies. I’d hate for any of you to have a similar or worse experience this storm season….

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