Sunday, May 23, 2010

Power up

The hallways in the hospital have been dark tonight.  Air conditioners are turned warmer (or off).  The base stopped carrying the AFN (Air Force Network).  There was an initial request to reduce power consumption, followed by a second, more forceful message which basically said, "if you don't, we're gonna 'insert-punative-action-here'."  Just like anywhere else in the world, people are very slow to voluntarily reduce their power consumption.  If they weren't we would not be talking about global warming as much as we are.

The military, is a dictatorship, however, and punative actions happen regularly to meet demands.  Often the demands are mutually exclusive; for example, "double your output, and half your work force."  In this case, continued power consumption at the rate the base was using was not commensurate with the amount of fuel left to burn.  So, when everyone (not me, as I avoided doing my laundry and wore dirty clothes to save warming wash water and powering a dryer) ignored the warnings, the electricity nazis sprang into action.  Some Army battalion commanders just shut off the power, making surly infantrymen even more so.  Granted, that was an easy fix, albeit Draconian when the temperatures are over 110 degrees.  The kindler, gentler Air Force commanders have assigned squandron superintendents to reduce consumption, in a more nuanced fashion.  This explains why only the emergency lighting is turned on right now in the hospital.  It also explains why the hospital is 28 degrees Celsius.  This is ok when you are dressed in scrubs.  The fevering patients are not pleased, however.  [It is striking that everyone of the 200+ CPUs in the hospital are cooking all night, even though only about 20 need to stay on for the nightshift.  The hilarity of this was not lost on this author who was told by the "systems" people (see tomorrow's blog) that shutting down the CPUs was a bad idea as the network links would be irrevocably lost.  Why, you may ask, would a network connection be forever lost because the computers shut down and turn back on in the morning?  They couldn't explain this to me].

I digress.  Power has been spotty, except for mission-essential (weapons systems, hospital, planes), due to this shortage, but not bad overall.  Again, nothing to complain of in the scheme of things.   It does make one wonder why we don't have an overabudance of solar power given the abundance sun here, but I guess for the same reason Arizona isn't off the grid.

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