#1 CAUSE OF BLACKOUTS

SCEMan

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Believe it or not, Mylar balloons were a big outage problem in our service territory. Not the biggest by far (windstorm tree impacts) but significant.
 

IMA SOL MAN

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The HEART of the USA.
Believe it or not, Mylar balloons were a big outage problem in our service territory. Not the biggest by far (windstorm tree impacts) but significant.
My CERT team (yes, redundant, I know) was given a safety presentation by the local power company (Evergy) and they spoke to this, and actually demonstrated how they interact with power lines. They rigged up a transmission line and with a hot stick, moved a Mylar balloon into it. :poof: Quite convincing! Ah, good times!:D
 
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TPA

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Some utilities are aware of the drunk driver issue...

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Re: city workers... I've found the workers in small towns which aren't unionized are pretty darn good people. Once a union gets involved, all bets are off. I say that having worked the same job for both private companies and unions.

Don't get me wrong, the union guys were VERY knowledgeable, BUT, it was clear the game was about hiring as many people as possible and milking it for as many hours as possible. One of the things which really bothered me were the 4 hours minimums. If the organization needed a change or quick fix, I was supposed to show up, do my job, then sit on my hands until the 4 hour timer elapsed. Even if what was needed took less than 60 seconds. BUT, I even if I was bored and had nothing to do, I wasn't allowed to work on other things which I saw needed to be done if someone else normally maintained that piece of equipment. I worked it out with management that we'd both look the other way when it came to the 4 hour minimum and I'd just keep a tally sheet. When I hit 3 hours cumulative, I'd make a mention of it and they'd put me in for a 4 hour session.
 

jtr1962

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One of the things which really bothered me were the 4 hours minimums. If the organization needed a change or quick fix, I was supposed to show up, do my job, then sit on my hands until the 4 hour timer elapsed. Even if what was needed took less than 60 seconds. BUT, I even if I was bored and had nothing to do, I wasn't allowed to work on other things which I saw needed to be done if someone else normally maintained that piece of equipment. I worked it out with management that we'd both look the other way when it came to the 4 hour minimum and I'd just keep a tally sheet. When I hit 3 hours cumulative, I'd make a mention of it and they'd put me in for a 4 hour session.
That never made much sense. If they want to bill for a minimum of 4 hours, I might get that. But once the job is done, it's done. The workers should be free to go to the next job, while still getting their 4 hours pay from the first job. After the second job, I assume they would be on O/T. Most likely then they get sent home unless there's O/T in the budget.

Advantages of doing it this way? You don't have workers sitting around for hours bored stiff. You get to the next job faster. And if you work fast, you might earn your full day's paying working well under 8 hours. You have an incentive to complete work as fast as possible, instead of stretching it just to kill time.
 

IMA SOL MAN

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During Desert Shield, the military here was getting prepped for Desert Storm. I was working for a defense contractor that was repainting the vehicles from Woodland Camo to Desert Camo. The first day, right after the orientation talk from the supervisor dude, as we started to head to work, one of the new hires like me, he must have been a former union guy, (Kansas is a right to work state, and this was not a union job) said to me to take my time and work slow, make the job last. I was so PO'ed at this guy! We were preparing to go to WAR, and this jerk wanted to slow the job down so he could make more money! It's true, war is a racket. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Is_a_Racket
 

jtr1962

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During Desert Shield, the military here was getting prepped for Desert Storm. I was working for a defense contractor that was repainting the vehicles from Woodland Camo to Desert Camo. The first day, right after the orientation talk from the supervisor dude, as we started to head to work, one of the new hires like me, he must have been a former union guy, (Kansas is a right to work state, and this was not a union job) said to me to take my time and work slow, make the job last. I was so PO'ed at this guy! We were preparing to go to WAR, and this jerk wanted to slow the job down so he could make more money! It's true, war is a racket. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Is_a_Racket
That's why I think more and more as I get older that we should pay people by the job, not per hour, other than for jobs where you just need a physical body there. In war especially, this makes sense. You work faster, you earn more, you get the stuff out faster. Or conversely, if you're limited to x pieces per day, the sooner you finish, the sooner you can go home.

Paying per hour is a scam. It's been worked both to the employer's advantage (i.e. make your workers rush while paying them the same per hour), and to the employee's advantage (the union example you mentioned where 2 hours of work is routinely stretched to fill an entire day).
 

TPA

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Paying "per the job" results in more jobs magically appearing. See also the US healthcare industry. I don't know why they call it that since there's no care about your health there.
 

jtr1962

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Paying "per the job" results in more jobs magically appearing. See also the US healthcare industry. I don't know why they call it that since there's no care about your health there.
I just mean strictly when it comes to paying employees. You give an employee a set of tasks they need to do in order to get paid. How, when, and where they do those tasks is up to them, so long as they're completed satisfactorily, and on time.

I think a better name for the US healthcare industry would be "the milk people who are ill until they die industry". Cheap cures or interventions never seem to be very popular. Instead, we use treatments which largely don't work, like cancer treatments, but for which we can get 5, 6, even 7 figures from sick, desperate people. Then there's the entire custodial care industry, which basically extracts the life savings of people within a matter of months.
 

Monocrom

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I don't trust government but ours is still the best one on planet earth because of the ability to vote the bums out.
Perhaps on a local level. Even then, not likely. You have politicians who have made what was once in the very beginning of America's existence as a free country, considered to be the equivalent of obligated Jury Duty for 2 to 4 years; into Lifelong careers! With some even dying while in office. Many preferred serving in the Senate initially at America's start because that only took them away from their massive money-making farms, and other businesses for only 2 years. They didn't want to go bankrupt serving as politicians!

The bums don't get voted out of office because they heavily support all sorts of Entitlement programs, get massive funding for those programs, then they sure as hell make sure their constituents are aware of that fact. Thus, they never get voted out because unfortunately the brain-dead, lazy excuses for Humanity in America have the very same voting privileges as the hard-working, educated members of society. Thus it becomes a numbers game. With the former horribly outnumbering the latter by a massive percentage.

Staying on-topic:
A fascinating short documentary on the massive Blackout in New York of 2003. Personally, I was visiting my best friend and his then girlfriend (now wife) for the weekend when the Blackout hit. Our area Upstate was without power for numerous hours. But later that night, while out dining at a restaurant open to the public (obviously they had a working generator), we realized the power was back on when she decided to check using her cellphone. When their land-line rang, we knew we were good! Ironically, I couldn't leave as New York city itself was STILL without power for a few days afterwards. I took the train to get Upstate. So couldn't get home. Even if I had been able to rent or borrow a car, last thing you want to do is drive from a place with power and open roads, to one without power where the roads might be shut down for safety reasons.

I knew the neighbors in my building would look after my mother. Plus, her physical condition was better back then. And, we had a better group of neighbors living in the Co-op than we do now. Now, everyone is just out for themselves. I can definitely say, I didn't lose my job. The Blackout was that massive back then. Nearly every business shut their doors until power came back up.


EDIT: Typo in the link.
 
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dml24

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I'm laughing as I read this. Everyone's concerns here seem so quaint. At my temporary condo, I've seen 46 power outages in the past year. Most have only been a few minutes, with a few lasting more than an hour or two. Comcast has had ~50 days of cumulative downtime in the same period. Such is life after a Cat 5 hurricane, except Comcast...their reliability sucks even in the absence of a hurricane.

As I posted elsewhere, because of Hurricane Ian, we went 105 days without utility power at my home. We managed to get jerry-rigged generator power to our home's breaker panel and some parts of the building after ~50 days. It's been a full year and still no phone/TV/internet. Today marks the one year anniversary of Hurricane Ian hitting SW FL, including my home, which is still standing, but still uninhabitable. ::sigh::

To their credit, most of the Florida power companies did an absolutely tremendous job with this hurricane. 65% of people with outages were restored within the first 24 hours after the storm. FP&L had completely rebuilt the transmission lines on Fort Myers Beach, from scratch, within 15 days. People whose homes were originally fed directly from overhead lines were the first to get power back. The underground drops would take much longer, and government red tape prevented many from reconnecting for quite awhile. Granted, some of us were in no shape to receive utility power.

Now, there are some Florida utilities which deserve the golden :poop: award. Lee County Electric Co-Op gets the golden :poop: award for their response to Hurricane Ian. 5 days after the storm, they still had ZERO customers with power. Lots of (dumb) reasons for this: First, they shut down their grid before the storm arrived and kept it shut off for 48 hours before bothering to do anything. Second, they never hardened their grid. Old, rotten wooden poles which snapped under the wind load. Third, they insisted on using their own staff and resources to rebuild their grid, despite there being a ton of 3rd parties in town who were willing to help, including other co-ops, especially since FPL was wrapping up their recovery and these guys were now free agents. LCEC refused. Eventually the governor and other government officials put serious pressure on them and they reluctantly accepted help from outside agencies and the lights started to slowly come back on.

As far as town size dictating outages, at least in these parts that's not a factor. The smaller utilities often do better. In New Smyrna Beach, we lost power for 3 hours because of Hurricane Ian. Even with the wind still howling, the local crews were still working.
No internet or phone stii? Is Star Link available in Florida? Better than cable for you.
 

TPA

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Staying on-topic:
A fascinating short documentary on the massive Blackout in New York of 2003.
<snip>
Even if I had been able to rent or borrow a car, last thing you want to do is drive from a place with power and open roads, to one without power where the roads might be shut down for safety reasons.

I knew the neighbors in my building would look after my mother. Plus, her physical condition was better back then. And, we had a better group of neighbors living in the Co-op than we do now. Now, everyone is just out for themselves. I can definitely say, I didn't lose my job. The Blackout was that massive back then. Nearly every business shut their doors until power came back up.

In Florida, they rarely shut the roads down. Sure, if the bridge is completely washed out they'll block it off, but lack of power, severe weather, or objects in the road? It's your own judgement call there. One of my cars had been driven in an EF0 tornado, over power lines, multiple tropical storms, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, Tampa Bay, and a few rivers. The car had frameless doors, so driving in heavy wind-driven rains meant you were getting a bit wet.

I will say, at least in the smaller towns and cities of Florida, people do come together to help each other. The worse the hurricane, the better people come together. Fort Myers Beach after Cat 4 Hurricane Charley (2004) turned into a large party / family reunion of sorts. Power was out for 5 or so days IIRC. The fishing boats have large icemakers on board, so ice from those was being taken to the various restaurants' walk-in coolers. Most of the restaurants use propane for cooking, so were giving out free meals to everyone. The only looting I saw then were two guys who came over from Miami and were trying to scrap aluminium from the building next to me. The National Guard boys "weren't having that", to put it politely. I'm not going to comment on what they did, but let's just say it brought a big smile to my face and the two guys were eventually dragged off to jail by the local sheriff's officers eventually. I'm not sure I'd want to ride out a major hurricane in someplace like Tampa or Miami due to the people there.
Fast forward 18 years later to Hurricane Ian (2022) and people again came together to help each other, despite this being a much worse storm. Amazing the difference between a compact Cat 4 and large Cat 5 hurricane makes. Like before, looting was minimal, and caused by outsiders. This time a bit more 'outside' as 80% of the looters caught were in the country illegally, per the local sheriff's press conferences. Tons of stories of people coming together and helping each other to get through this. I'm still amazed at all of the people who came in from out of town to help. I spoke with volunteers from as far away as Washington State. I'm on the road often because of my job, and I've made friends with people in various cities. Irony of ironies, I met people I knew from other cities, volunteering to help clean up down here.

Lots of great people came to help. and they looked like normal people. People with big diesel trucks, wearing blue jeans, normal-colored hair, no fishing tackle in their noses. SJWs, "influencers", electric cars, and other scourges of the earth were noticeably absent.
 

TPA

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No internet or phone stii? Is Star Link available in Florida? Better than cable for you.
Nope. Nothing yet. One whole year (9/28/2022 was the hurricane) and Centurylink hasn't lifted one finger to restore service on the island. Their phone cans are still tipped over on the side of the road, full of sand.

Comcast has their main trunk lines on the island working, but branch lines are still hit-or-miss. In the case of my building they still need to pull a new wire underground from the street.

Starlink would be nice, but I'm on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The roof is another 8 floors above me. Oh yeah, still waiting for the roof to be replaced. I'm now being told the roof will be replaced in November...it was supposed to be replaced in June/July.

Going through a Cat 5 hurricane is the easy part. Salvaging what's left and rebuilding, especially dealing with insurance cos and gov't regs, is the nightmare.
 

TPA

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Update: Comcast was at the building last week and replaced all of the cable taps and re-terminated all of the cables. No idea if there's signal on there yet, but at least it's one step closer. At the same time, my T-Mobile fixed 5G hotspot has been pretty darn good. Sure, speed is variable, but 90% of the time it's faster than anything Comcast offers.
 

PewPewPew

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Dothan, AL.
Whenever I've had an internet outage, I'm always waiting on hold with the pre-recorded voice and elevator music telling me that "a lot of problems can be solved faster with blahblahblah automated help at our website".

Um...I'm on the phone waiting to talk to someone, because....there's no internet....

The irony is not lost on me.
 
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