lots of close lightning
Thursday, September 3 2015
For the third day in a row, I cut a piece off the same ancient fallen tree and then added various extraneous pieces to create a backpack load. In today's case, the load came to 136.6 pounds, nearly all of which went into the third tranche in the woodshed.
A little before 5:00pm, a violent electrical storm came blowing through. I'd been sitting at my computer and could hear it rumbling in the distance, but when it hit, there were a surprising number of very close lightning strikes. This house is high above the Esopus Valley on the edge of an escarpment, and it's surprising we don't get close lightning more often. For one of the strikes, I heard a loud pop before the thunder, and I wondered if perhaps something in the house had exploded. But then there was another strike, followed a second later by a loss of power throughout the house. Without much else to do, I proceeded with reading The Martian, which I was about 60% of the way through.
Eventually the storm moved on, and I could do things outdoors. There had been a little hail and some (but not too much) wind, and the stems of a couple of the spindly Sunflowers in the garden had folded and fallen, so I used twisty ties to resurrect them.
Down in the basement, I had a bunch of drywall to dispose of, so I decided to use it for fill near the greenhouse. Using garden shears, I cleared a path from the sliding doors to the basement main guestroom to the greenhouse and then carried all the drywall to a new disposal spot immediately to its north. Since the bluestone and shale of this area is poor in calcium, the calcium sulfate in that drywall is going to be like a cold glass of water in the desert to the local biology.
The power normally would have come on within a couple hours of failing, but for some reason tonight, the power stayed off. Eventually at around 10:30pm (very early for us), Gretchen and I went to bed. But I tossed and turned and never fell asleep and, ultimately, a little before midnight, the power came back on after having been out for about seven hours.
So I got up and took a bath, staying in the tub until I'd read the rest of The Martian (the first novel I've finished since reading a trashy pulp novel called Confessions of a Shopaholic in Costa Rica back in 2008). I found The Martian strange as a novel, uncommonly rich in technical details of the sort I write in my online journal (can Gus Mueller survive in rural Hurley, NY using only the five figure checks sent by his inlaws?) and poor in the kinds of musings normal humans have about life, love, society, and spirituality. This no doubt reflects the personality of the writer, a software developer who might reside (as I do) in the part of the Asperger spectrum where normal human concerns just aren't as interesting. It's pure science fiction, and the science seems unusually well-researched and sound, with one possible exception: where did the sunlight come from to grow those potatoes? The Hab (the living structure where most of the potatoes are grown) is presented as a dome made of carbon fiber canvas mixed with resin that is, we learn, completely impervious to radio waves. Such a structure should be too dark inside for almost any plants, particularly on Mars, where the sun is (at best) only half as strong as it is on Earth.
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