Image by Lyn Millett via FlickrTechnology Thursday
Like everyone else in the DC Metro region, I've been snowed in for days. The place I work follows the federal government's lead when deciding whether to close due to the weather, and since FedGov's been shut down for 4 days, so has my office. And, while I've been trying to get a bit of work down anyway, the weather, the uncertain childcare situation, and the logistics of digging out, prepping for possible power outages, and coping with pretty severe cabin fever have not made that very successful. So far we've been fortunate in that our power has stayed on--except for one flicker for yesterday morning.
We were all sleeping in a bit, as we knew that my son's school/daycare was closed for the day. (Another way we've been fortunate is that they've been open for at least a little while two of the five days that most of the other schools in the area have been closed.) At one point I said to my husband that we should probably get the coffee made and the hot water for the oatmeal started in case the power went out.
So I was doing all of the coffee prep except for the bean-grinding when all of a sudden the power flickered out. And stayed out. I groaned loudly enough to be heard upstairs (we have a small house, it wasn't that loud, really): "Ohhhhh noooooo." Then about 10 seconds later the power came back on, and I hollered back up the stairs: "I am grinding the beans, NOW NOW NOW!" Given our nutty schedules, lack of sleep, and general state of overwhelm, coffee is as much of an essential in my life these days as it was back when I was in grad school. We're both fans of mild breakfast-style coffees and I'm a native New Englander, so we've even signed up to have Dunkin' Donuts
By the time my husband came downstairs with the toddler a few minutes later he observed a spray of coffee beans across the counter as I'd rushed to get them ground and the coffee brewed before the power went out again! It tasted fine, though.
The power stayed on for the rest of the day. Phew. Which meant that we were both using all sorts of technology to keep ourselves apprised of what was going on with the storms and with various local services, in addition to using the miracle of the Internet to keep up (a bit) with work. My Twitter stream, once again, proved itself invaluable.
Most critical to keeping up with local weather and related news was the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang (on Twitter and with a blog), who turned out to be quite accurate regarding both of the storms that we were pummeled with. Both my local county government and public school system are on Twitter and were updating with their status (and links to additional information, of course.) Numerous friends are on Twitter or Facebook and so I kept up with their travails through quick bursty status updates. I know at least two who ended up checking in to hotels because of long-lasting power outages. Not much I could do for them besides send my own bursty status update out into the ether wishing them luck, though.
One friend of mine used Google Maps and county GIS information in order to pinpoint where the fire hydrants in his neighborhood were to help figure out which piles of snow to start digging out. The power companies now make maps available online of outages and other information as a helpful resource. Not helpful if you don't have power, but as far as I know the cellular networks were up, so if you had a smartphone you might still be able to find some information.
We're hopeful that the worst of the storms are over and that the digging out can begin. But there was an ominous National Weather Service map image over at the Capital Weather Gang blog yesterday that hinted at the possibility of heavy snow in the D.C. area on Monday. I like snow -- I'm from Maine, these amounts of snow don't phase me. But the lack of infrastructure to cope with this much snow--which is completely rational given how rare it is--is really incapacitating the entire region. So I hope the forecast for Monday changes and that we get a few more days of digging and melting before any more of the white stuff arrives.