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Power Returns

November 10, 2012 Leave a comment

During our trip to New York last week, we wanted to get from Manhattan out to Long Island. Between gas shortages, tunnel closures, power outages, non-working traffic lights, uncertain commuter train schedules, and blocked roads, we weren’t sure how good an idea this was. But the Hertz outlet four blocks down the street from us had cars. From there, we could hop on the FDR Drive, go over the Triborough Bridge, and be on the island. Plus, at the end, we could return our car as is, not worrying about 3+ hour waits to refill the gas tank. So off we went.

It was Sunday morning. Traffic was light. Soon we were over the bridge into Queens, past LaGuardia, onto the Long Island Expressway, and headed east. There were few signs of the storm from the road itself. As we passed from Queens into Nassau County, we could see a caravan of orange trucks filling the middle lane of the expressway ahead. Maybe a dozen long, all from Asplundh, which I’ve long known as a tree service company, but only now learn is specifically focused on clearing lines for power companies.

Since 1928 the Asplundh Tree Expert Co. has been dedicated to safe, efficient and innovative line clearance services to the utility industry. Reliable, uninterrupted power is an important service provided by the world’s electrical utilities and Asplundh has the expertise to help keep the power flowing. …

As a full-service utility contractor Asplundh performs tree pruning and removals, right-of-way clearing and maintenance, vegetation management with herbicides and emergency storm work and logistical support.

A few miles later, we pulled off the expressway onto local roads. Heading down one, we understood the purpose of the caravans. On this heavily wooded road, another caravan of Asplundh trucks was spread out over a stretch of about a half mile, turning the two-lane road into an alternation of one- and two-lane stretches, with wood chips and debris all over as they removed giant branches and downed trees.

Soon we were at our family home. The yard had taken a beating. Above, you can see a tree down in the front yard. Fortunately, it fell toward the street. To the back, a tree fell toward and partly onto a corner of the house, pulling power lines with it. More than that, the pressure on the lines split a telephone pole. The lower third stuck up from the ground. The upper two-thirds fell to the ground, along with a transformer, as pictured below.

In late afternoon, as we left the house, we could hear a crew working a little farther down the line. Soon they came to the house and discovered the downed transformer. That was six afternoons ago. Two days later they had a new pole and transformer up. Only this afternoon was power restored, six days after they began work in the neighborhood, twelve days after Sandy came through.

Our drive back into Manhattan was uneventful. The Asplundh caravan was gone, the road we passed them on now clear. Traffic lights were still out, with a detour in place at the big intersection of the main north-south road and the east-west Long Island Expressway service road in order to manage traffic flow. (The north-south road is some 7 lanes wide. A simple stop-and-go pattern wasn’t going to work well. Westbound traffic was forced to turn north, with the option a few hundred yards later of turning back south in order to get across the intersection.) Once through the detour, we entered the Expressway, headed back into Queens, over the Triborough, and onto FDR Drive to go south along the East River. I should have gotten off at 96th, but instead got greedy and stayed on, aiming for an exit closer to Hertz, only to encounter our only traffic of the trip. One mile and 15 minutes later, we exited, drove up 1st Avenue, down 2nd, and into Hertz. Easy trip.

Northern Nassau County got hit pretty hard, but we knew we hadn’t seen anything near the worst of it. We are thankful for all the crews from around the country who have been working tirelessly to clear roads and restore power.

Categories: House, Travel, Weather

Soulless

November 10, 2012 Leave a comment

We got home from New York a little past 8:30 Tuesday night. Gail went straight for the TV to watch election results. I eventually joined her, and we would stay up until 11:00, long enough to hear Obama’s remarks. But by then, 2:00 am New York time, I was losing focus. Some minutes earlier, when Romney finally conceded, I was paying closer attention. To my surprise, I felt no sympathy for his personal pain. Instead, it was all I could do to resist jeering him. Or maybe I didn’t resist. Gail will remember.

This has nothing to do with his political or policy positions (whatever they are) and everything to do with his moral emptiness. Heck, I felt sympathy for that scary and evil human being Richard Nixon as I watched him make his famous farewell remarks to the White House staff that unforgettable morning of August 9, 1974. But Romney? No sympathy at all.

Can he really be worse than Nixon? Well, Nixon may have been evil, but in the pursuit of recognizable goals, goals he stated clearly enough. He may have hungered for power, but to use for specific aims. What on earth did Romney want to achieve? Why did he want to be president? And why was he convinced that he deserved to be?

Gary Wills reflected on Romney at the New York Review of Books blog yesterday. He captured Romney’s emptiness well, contrasting Romney with other defeated presidential candidates going back to Goldwater. They led honorable lives before and after their defeats. Romney? Here is Wills’ conclusion:

Many losing candidates became elder statesmen of their parties. What lessons will Romney have to teach his party? The art of crawling uselessly? How to contemn 47 percent of Americans less privileged and beautiful than his family? How to repudiate the past while damaging the future? It is said that he will write a book. Really? Does he want to relive a five-year-long experience of degradation? What can be worse than to sell your soul and find it not valuable enough to get anything for it? His friends can only hope he is too morally obtuse to realize that crushing truth. Losing elections is one thing. But the greater loss, the real loss, is the loss of honor.

Categories: Politics