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Last night, while attempting unsuccessfully to acquire sleepytimes, I heard a loud bang. This was quickly followed by the fomf of the power going out, and a short while later by the beeping of battery backups now without power.

Naturally, the first thing I did was go to shut down my computers. My first hint that this was more than a nearby transformer blowing is that my internet was out. My end is, naturally, well powered, but apparently my ISP does not provide battery power at their end, and their end was also without power.

Computers safely shut down, I wandered outside to see how widespread the problem was. The neighbors were without power. The streetlights, without power. I look up and down the street, and the neighboring blocks are, you guessed it, without power.

This can only mean one thing: something at the nearby substation blew.

So, naturally, I wander in the direction of the substation. On my way, I run into a police patrol. They don't stop me, but they pause briefly as they drive by to think about it. It's been maybe ten minutes, and they're already patrolling the neighborhood—a pretty impressive response time, though it seems weird that they'd respond to that at all.

A little bit later, I see some firetrucks. Nothing was on fire, so I have no idea what they were responding to, but okay. I guess they're out for the power outage as well? Well, that or they're breaking into the auto-parts store. I can't really tell.

The power company isn't at the substation yet, but that's not surprising: in all likelihood, some poor lineman has to wake up first.

So I wander around the neighborhood, to explore it in its unlit, silent glory. And it was awesome! No streetlights burning bright (the city has been slowly replacing the yellow lamps with bright blue LEDs, and if the yellow ones weren't bad enough the blue LEDs are awful). The usual ever-present hum of air conditioners was gone. And in spite of the streetlights being out, there was plenty of light to see by—though the moon being only a day or two off from full certainly helped with that.

Still no power company at the substation. But I do notice something: the nearby stoplight is blinking red. It was affected by the power loss, and has degraded itself to a four-way stop. Fascinating!

I turn around to head home, and am struck with an idea. So I wander several blocks over to the retail shops, and explore an unlit street, full of shops lit only by their emergency lights. Once in a while, I'll pass a building emitting the slow beep beep beep of a battery backup. Interestingly, the collision repair shop has plenty of lights on, and emits the unmistakable hum of a generator. I can only assume it kicked on automatically, since few people would be around so early to start it.

I head home, with a quick detour to the substation, where a pickup is just arriving. A few hours later, we finally got power again.

Losing power confirmed something I've long thought: getting rid of streetlights would be awesome! Particularly on the residential streets, where they're just not needed. Particularly that freshly installed bright blue LED two houses down that casts the glow of cheap office lighting across the entire gorram block.

It also confirms that several hours without A/C is several hours too many. Ugh.

And that my ISP needs to get on the ball, and make sure internet continues to function during a power outage. You're a phone company, making sure things continue to work should be second nature!

Blue LEDs

Date: 2016-Aug-10, Wednesday 17:49 (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
You're correct that they're technically blue, but they only start that way. Eventually they get a shitty phosphor coating on top of them to convert most of the energy to white, but they still retain a big ol' blue spike in their output spectra.

What's really sad about this is (as I've written before (http://sparksnotes.info/?p=974)) is that it doesn't have to be this way, it's just that in the rush to save money with the lowest-cost solution right now municipalities are picking, well, the crappy-phosphor-converted LED lights instead of opting for a better coating. Better coatings would likely make people a lot happier and probably help with safety (increased color rendering makes things easier to see) and make the light more aesthetically pleasing. Too bad they're basically locking themselves into terrible light for the next twenty years. Ugh.

I don't disagree with you about streetlights being largely unnecessary in their present form, but I can appreciate having some minimal walking-about light. Maybe it's time to reduce the height of the poles to bring them much closer to road height - no need to have them towering above the roadway on residential streets - and reduce the brightness by an order of magnitude. And improve the phosphor to more closely approximate incandescent or halogen output, which most people prefer.

Re: Blue LEDs

Date: 2016-Aug-10, Wednesday 17:50 (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm amused that Dreamwidth allows you to solve the posting CAPTCHA in numerals or the answer for the math problem written as plain English. Also apparently it doesn't allow links.

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