The lights that had gone out and then come back on on Saturday went out again around 8:30 p.m. and stayed out until this morning shortly after 8. Gas stations, automatic bank teller machines, supermarkets, telephones, the Internet ... and a thousand assumptions and resting places of daily life got a severe kick in the ass.
The cause of the outage was a 'freak' nor'easter that came across the East Coast and left many without power. The snowflakes accumulated on not-yet-denuded trees, broke branches that then fell on power lines and houses. Downtown streets were black. Police officers manned major intersections. Between 6 and 24 inches fell from the hills to the valleys. We got perhaps 8 inches. The car radio was full of Sunday come-to-Jesus exhortations and sports news ... everything but what I and others wanted to know. At one point, I grabbed my son and the two of us drove up to the fire station in the dark. I figured if anyone knew anything, fire and/or police personnel would. They were helpful, but damn near as dumb as I was. Four days of outage would be expected. Schools were closed. And the fire department had had to contend with three times as many calls as usual, mostly for downed trees and wires.
The whole thing shook up the mind.
Including a whimsical notion...
........................................TOP SECRET EYES ONLY.........................
TO: PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
FROM: DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
We have credible evidence that the recent blackout along the East Coast -- a blackout attributed to an early-winter storm -- is linked directly to Al Qaida and has thus created a much wider terrorist threat than this department is currently charged with averting.
A man later identified as Batholomew (NMI) O'Flaherty was heard (by bartender and longtime reliable source Merkedienst "Merky" Sawchuk) in the Four Shamrocks, a bar on N Street here in the capital, to say to a fellow patron that the storm was definitely the work of Al Qaida. O'Flaherty said Al Qaida had made a bargain with Mother Nature to take on the discomfort brought about by weather disturbances. Mother Nature was sick of getting bad-mouthed like some hapless dentist and agreed that Al Qaida, which already has a bad reputation, could hardly do worse by taking on the duties associated with being cursed by all and sundry.
This new link between Al Qaida and the depredations once attributed to Mother Nature (hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, floods, earthquakes, etc.) means that this department's earlier request for FY 2012 funding has been grossly underestimated. You will recall, perhaps, our earlier request: "The FY 2012 budget request for DHS is $57.0 billion in total funding, $47.4 billion in gross discretionary funding, and $43.2 billion in net discretionary funding."
Given the economic hard times that the country is facing, we felt that our earlier outline of funding needs was modest, but allowed us to carry on with our sacrosanct mission of keeping the nation safe while keeping the electorate in fear and willing to surrender its constitutional rights. But with the addition of Mother Nature to our list of potential terrorists, we feel grossly outmatched and would herewith suggest a doubling of our earlier request. The unpredictability of this new adversary makes our efforts extremely difficult, requiring as it does, an even wider vigilance and uncertainty of result.
We make this request to you because we are aware of the dysfunctionality of the current Congress. If the Congress cannot see its way clear to funding teachers, police officers, firefighters and the like, how sympathetic would it be to our modest, yet truly compelling, request?
Mother Nature is no joke. She is obviously a formidable terrorist threat. And we therefore ask you to consider our request as a matter of urgency.
The department that assures national security ... and election-assuring insecurity.