let the vacation countdown begin ...

Today I booked a night at our favorite on-the-way-to-Michigan hotel: the Comfort Inn in Warren, Ohio. If all goes well and things continue improving and Murphy doesn’t show up to kick my ass again, we’ll be there on August 19. Twenty days and counting ... We even ordered vacation duds (well, some new t-shirts and stuff—Casa Flamingo doesn’t have a dress code, thank goodness), Greenies enough so the dog won’t go into withdrawal, We are so looking forward seeing Mom and Dad we’d leave tomorrow if it were possible.

Tonight, at 8:35 p.m., the electricity went out. All of Strawberry Hill went dark, at least as far as we could tell. The lights and tv flickered a couple of times, then black. Which triggered the fire alarms at the school next door—two firetrucks responded. I didn’t mind too much at first. Then it lasted—we rarely have blackouts that last more than 10 or 15 minutes—and lasted. When we realized it was going to be a while, we decided to go to Stew Leonard’s and get our weekly trip there out of the way (we usually go a lot later on Monday evening). Hoping the lights would be back on when we got back so I could see Hell’s Kitchen.

Ah damn, no lights, no Chef Ramsey and I was looking forward to it all day. I’ll have to watch the rerun next Monday.

I called the Norwalk police—the general number—to see what the story was with the power outage. In every town, city, hamlet, whatever, that I’ve lived in, from New York City, Detroit, and Phoenix to Roscoe, New York and Westport, Conn., I’ve always been able to get information on the current disaster or emergency: hurricanes, blizzards, sand storms, floods, heat, power outages. Even if it’s just “Sorry, ma’am, we don’t have any information yet.” Especially with the demise of local radio, the police have been a source of information—I discovered that back in my days as a reporter for my college newspaper and a reporter for a small community paper in Manhattan.

So are the Norwalk police a source of information? Hell no. “Why are you bothering me?” asked the woman answering the phone “front desk.” She switched me to dispatch, where the guy answering the transferred call (why to dispatch, I don’t know) was even ruder. Call your power company, I was told. I asked if they have the phone number since I couldn’t find my phone book in the dark. They don’t even have that information.

Every time we’ve dealt with the Norwalk PD, they’ve been rude. When that idiot rear-ended me as I was turning into my driveway, at town hearings, at association meetings, when we had to call several times to get them to dispatch someone to stop the 3 a.m. street grinding in front of our house. Just rude. I watched them in the ER at Norwalk Hospital in May—they were rude to staff and rude to victims. I have never seen anything like it. The chief, Harry Rilling, was just plain nasty at the association meeting we went to last fall about the traffic on Strawberry Hill. He spouted such patronizing bullshit to all of us taxpaying citizens that I just wanted to go punch him in the nose.

So if the police chief is a nasty piece of work, there’s no way the rank and file would act any differently. It’s so bad at the Norwalk PD that a former captain, who is now a chief at a town in Massachusetts, went on record on News 12 and for the Norwalk Hour talking about how awful they are: “‘If you could walk the halls invisibly, it would be very easy to hear the unrest, the apathy and the discord that resounds throughout that building,’ Cashin said ... ” I don’t know why the Norwalk PD has such a shitty attitude. And I don’t know why the mayor never says anything about it. Time for a new mayor, maybe?

I did finally get the CL&P phone number and called. They didn’t state the cause of the outage, but assured us that most outages last about two hours. We’re convinced the outage is the result of CL&P cutting a cable or something as they dig up the Post Road to put the transmission lines underground. And lo and behold, exactly two hours after the lights went out, they came back on.

The power outage reinforced how ill prepared we are for anything that might last a while—a bad hurricane hit, a flu pandemic ... we did fine tonight, short-term stuff is easy since Stanley is pretty careful about flashlights and batteries. Strawberry ice cream for dinner (it was too hot to move without a fan going). Playing with the radio to try to find a local station (what a joke). I’ve been thinking a little about disaster survival since I glanced through a bird flu wiki a couple of weeks ago and realized we’d be lucky to get through two weeks if we had to. I’m no longer under any illusion that something Bad won’t happen here. I’m still working on this.

And now for something completely different. The first photo is Slink, on his back in the window behind Stanley’s stretch of the desk. He manages to wreak havoc even when he’s stretched out in a window. The next one is of Twitch, who either is trying to suck fresh air from under the bottom of the door or didn’t notice that his nice, hot patch of sunshine moved. Click the pics to enlarge.

black cat in the window: Slink, July 30, 2007

Sunshine goes away today: Twitch the cat, July 15, 2007

One more digression: we’ve been watching John from Cincinnati—and I can’t figure out why. I don’t like any of the characters and can tolerate only three of time (Butch Yost, Kai, and the character played by Pablo Guzman), the show makes no sense that I can discern, there are very few surfing scenes ... Stanley says we watch it just to see if anything happens, or what it all means. I’m not sure I want to give it any more time. We stopped watching Meadowlands because we realized that we didn’t just not like the characters, all of them, but we actually disliked them and we do not care what happens. It’s too grim to tolerate watching it—the payoff isn’t worth it. But we loved Damages and State of Mind and I think I’ll get in to Mad Men. Maybe. Summer tv isn’t as barren as it used to be (yes, I’m a tv junkie—so what?)

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