Thursday, February 25 2010
Gretchen made crepes for brunch because Jenny was still here. Our houseguest was in no hurry to return to Willow, where there was still neither electricity nor internet. But then, as we were eating, the woodstove blower died and the smoke alarms began death-tweeting. (I'd recently installed AC-only smoke detectors to replace the long-absent AC/DC detectors, which had complained too often about dead batteries.) Our power had died again. A wet snow had been falling, but I'd assumed all the marginal trees that could fall on power lines had already fallen. Evidently that assumption is never true.
I have a number of old car batteries that still hold 12 volt charges (I'd actually recharged Gretchen's cellphone with one of these yesterday), and this afternoon I wondered if I could use one to briefly start up my computer so I could retrieve a telephone number. The plan was to hook the car battery up to an old uninterruptable power supply, a device that contains a fairly robust inverter (a component that converts low voltage DC to household AC). The battery inside the UPS was almost certainly both dead and unchargeable, but I knew the car battery (which could hold much more energy than a stock UPS battery) was charged and would probably work fairly well at household temperature (it had been removed from one of the Honda Civics after failing to start the car on a cold winter morning). So, using improvised connectors, I hooked up the car battery to the UPS and plugged in my computer and its array of four LCD monitors. But something wasn't working, because all that happened when I turned on the UPS was a loud annoying beep for which Gretchen, far off in the living room, wanted an explanation. But then the whole experiment proved unnecessary because the power came back on. So I put the battery and UPS away along the west side of the laboratory, in the long linear storage place where the ceiling meets the floor. I probably won't think about them again until the next power outage. That's the thing about uninterruptable power supplies. (I've never felt a compelling need for them in my computer work, and the two I have I got for free — and probably don't work).
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