Another transformative experience in Berkeley

For years I worked in a Berkeley building that frequently lost electrical power, often as a result of an exploding transformer behind the building.  These weren’t little brown outs or power failures that lasted a few minutes, but lengthy bouts of being plunged into darkness (in the staircases and interior realms of the “old” library) and airlessness (in the sealed, HVAC-dependent “new” building).  I’ve lived in a wide variety of climes and economies, but Berkeley holds my personal record for most time spent unelectrified.

This morning, given the heat (the Bay Area also has had temps in the high 90’s the past several days), we were up by 6.  Bob and I were sitting in the back yard, gathering whatever breeze trickled our way, doing a poor job of sorting through the newspaper.  An enormous crash split the quiet: truck? earthquake?  No, transformer.  Berkeley’s good-bye sally.

I went out exploring to see how far afield the blackout (well, it’s bright, solstice, of course, so that word is unsuitable) stretches and, for once, it reaches north, rather than south and toward the library.  I was careful to step around the sidewalk covers above other transformers, remembering how poor Yvette P had her eyebrows singed on the way to work a couple years ago when the usual transformer-to-blame blew just as she was about to step across it.

it being Saturday, PG&E took a couple hours to put in an appearance, giving me enough time to work up a good case of guilty feelings over how electrically dependent I am.  But now the crispy transformer’s apparently been replaced; it appears only a couple drivers forgot that no traffic light indicates a four-way stop (the second bang–not as big–that we heard was that collision over at Cedar and MLK); and everyone–Bob, David Goines, even me–has returned to the work that requires juice.

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