Monday, October 16, 2006


[note: Hawaiian local time is three hours behind Pacific time]
[there's never a bad time for an obligatory Iron Maiden reference]
[I used the post title before I'd realized it was upgraded to a 6.7-magnitude quake]

My power situation...
power off: Sunday, 7:20a
power on: Sunday, 9:30p
power off: Sunday, 9:35p
power on: Monday, 4:53p
combined power-off time: approximately 33 hours, 28 minutes

As Steven Jackson got eight yards on 2nd-and-12 on the first possession of the game, the earth shook in Hawaii. The last play of Seahawks/Rams that I saw (it was televised to Hawaii) was the false start against Chris Spencer on 3rd-and-5 on the Seahawks' first possession.

Then the power went out. I figured it was a shallow localized quake, much like a 3-pointer we had over here a month or two ago that rattled a bit. This one rattled just a bit more, I thought, but I didn't think it'd be any more than a 4. I guess the sad thing is that when I know it's an earthquake, all I do is say "hey, that's an earthquake" to myself instead of ducking and covering like we're all taught back home.

Thus, I sat for the next hour waiting for the power to come back so I could resume watching the Seahawks and Rams. I waited and waited until finally I realized I should probably go make some phone calls. Seeing as to how my place is in a cellphone dead zone, I had to take the car over the hill to get some reception. Without knowing their hours, I went downhill to Monterey Bay Canners, a restaurant by the Pearlridge mall that usually has some sports on their many televisions. The parking lot was deserted, which told me all I needed to know, but it was doubly moot anyway since they didn't open on Sundays until late afternoon, and I was out at mid-morning.

It was at this point that I learned via a local emergency alert radio station that virtually the entire state had lost electricity. I'll add that it had rained very hard in the wee hours of the morning and continued raining somewhat hard throughout the rest of the morning. Taking the conditions into account, the normal public advisories were relayed -- stay off the roads unless you absolutely have to use them, and if you do, treat all intersections with dead traffic lights as four-way stops, turn off most of your breakers so you don't lose appliances to power surges, etc. At this point, everyone watching any 24-hour cable news channel (i.e., anyone outside Hawaii) probably knew more about the aftermath of the earthquake than we did here. I drove over to a mom's friend's house to see how they were doing.

At that house, I called my parents to let them know I was safe, and I called Jeremy (you may know him from this very blog) to ask him if Seattle had won, and he relayed the score and the fact that Josh Brown hit the 54-yard field goal to win it, which was the brightest spot of the day for me. A couple hours later, I heard power was being restored to Pearl City and Aiea, the latter of which is sort of where I live. Hopeful, I headed home.

The power was still out. I drove back down toward Pearlridge because I knew the power was on. The mall itself was open, though very little inside it was open. The adjacent Denny's, Chili's, and Circuit City were open. Any nearby restaurant had incredibly long lines.

So where did I go, knowing my power was out? I went to Best Buy. Why? I searched and searched and found a little HD LCD screen that was the only one in the place hooked up to live ESPNHD feed. I did walk out of there with season one of Most Extreme Elimination Challenge on DVD and a Norm Macdonald comedy album, so I wasn't completely freeloading. That doesn't mean I didn't watch about 40 minutes of the NFL Blitz on SportsCenter though. I saw the highlights and was jubilant. I got my fill and headed home. So, to summarize, the power was out, so I went to Best Buy to watch football highlights and buy crap that I wouldn't be able to use at home until the electricity returned.

I drove away from the Pearlridge area and found that it was dark. I drove on an overpass above the H-1 freeway, and the power was on, which gave some hope. The power followed that road until it dead-ended into my road. I looked further uphill, and it was dark. I drove further up the hill, and everything else was dark sans two apartment complexes that had power, possibly on emergency generators or something, but everything else was dark. Surprise! My place was still in the dark.

With the night upon me, the entire neighborhood was dark. The power came on at 9:30p, and I started getting back into the swing of things, trying to catch up on everything I'd missed throughout the day. Five minutes or so later, the power went back out again. It didn't came back quickly, and I slept. I still had my cellphone with an alarm and found out how to set the alarm on my wristwatch, so I was able to get up at my normal Monday time. I got up at 4:40a and the power was still out. With nothing to do and no means to cook breakfast, I decided I'd head to McDonald's or something, and then to work. I drove to the crest of my hill, and the street lights were on, somewhat of a line of power demarcation that laughed and mocked at me as everyone down the hill from there had power, and a couple hundred other people and I didn't. Anyway, I went to work to take my mind off not having power at home, so it was ironic when our building at work didn't have power either, but we still put together a full shift of work with a shorthanded crew.

I kept calling home throughout the day because I knew from the five minutes of power the night before that one of the breakers I hadn't turned off was the circuit my phone was on, so I knew if I called home and got rings, I knew the power would have come back. My shift at work came and went, and I called home many times and got "call failed" on the ol' cellphone. After I got some gasoline (much shorter lines than the day before) I drove home, and I drove past my house and headed a little further down the road before turning around, and before I turned back, I saw a Hawaiian Electric Company (aka HECO, pronounced "HEE-koh") manlift operating on a nearby road. Thus, I was hopeful about the power situation. I got home and the power was still out. This was about 3:50p or so today (Monday). My thinking at that point was to drive down to Pearlridge, eat a Chicken Cordon Bleu combo at Arby's, and keep trying to call back to the house. After about my fourth try, I got rings, headed home, turned on my usual media outlets, and typed this. I still might not open my refrigerator until tomorrow (I didn't have any perishable foods...yay!).

So there's my past two days for you all. I'd like to thank the Seahawks for winning because it would have really put a damper on everything if they didn't. I'd also like to thank the house I'm living in for not sliding down the hill (knock on wood) as a result of the driving rains followed by the earthquake. It was also great that there were no deaths or major injuries as a result of the earthquake.

As a guy with a geology degree, I was surprised that a 6.6 quake was possible in the middle of an oceanic plate away from any sort of plate boundary and with rock of low silica content, but as usual, I was horribly wrong. Just because Hawaii can't get a 9-pointer from a subducting boundary doesn't mean a major earthquake isn't still possible.

If you got this far, I hope you had a nice read. Life will go on as usual here in Hawaii.

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