Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Big Night Outage

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  • Moz, in reply to BenWilson,

    I'm pretty much surprised by anyone who doesn't have a car charger these days.

    I don't have a car to charge, though, so I'm not sure what good a charger for one would do. Especially in a power cut.

    I do have a 100W solar panel on my sleepout and 12V battery that runs lights and fans and the controller gizmo has USB outlets. Plus enough bike lights and torches to power a small scout troop. That stuff isn't the problem, it's cooking. I have a gas ring and regulator, I should probably pay for one of those "swap a cylinder" things and leave it in the shed just in case.

    That's where a bigger solar setup with a bigger battery would come in. In a storm having to open windows in order to run a cooker doesn't seem like much fun. Although in a decent storm my shed would probably lift off and relocate (it's polystyrene with a thin layer of steel, basically an oversize chilly bin).

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1129 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    @ben yeah I just run alligator clips to a car cigarette lighter. It's mounted in the side of a wooden box for stability. Then that usb plug and you're sorted. You could probably charge 4 devices at once if you had to.

    I also bought a relatively cheap solar recharger and I'm completely independent.

    For cooking we use a marine stove. Runs on alcohol. So if things really go pete tong you can use the medicinal spirits to heat water for tea.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    woo hoo - as of yesterday we can have BBQs again in Dunedin, they've been banned all summer, must have something to do with the 2 inches of white stuff in the back yard

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2590 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Moz,

    I don’t have a car to charge, though

    That’s always even more surprising, TBH. :-)

    I also bought a relatively cheap solar recharger and I’m completely independent.

    So long as a bright sun is shining :-).

    I got all survivalist for a bit when the Chch quakes happened, so I’ve got like about 10 cooking options: 2 gas bbqs, one little portable one, two woodfired charcoal cookers, several disposal tinfoil versions, a whole bunch of hand made meth and wood stoves from tin and aluminium cans. I have a grab backpack with tent, sleeping bags, cooking gear, various other amenities and a grab box with water, toilet paper, medical equipment, milk powder, all in the shed in case the house is fucked. Lots of torches and batteries and so on. Then there’s the van which can actually convert entirely into a big bed, or seat 8 people, with working heater.

    I’m ready in case we have to get out of Dodge, pronto. Well, OK, I don’t have any guns.

    ETA: Oh and of course the car has multiple charger adapters, including one multi adapter for every kind of phone ever made, although TBH that was less about survivalism and more about getting a good Uber rating.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10576 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to BenWilson,

    I don't have organised go-bags and stuff, I just have a set of systems that work together so that I always have a month or so worth of food and water available. Plus my "camping box" of all the stuff I need to go cycle touring. Being single means that within an hour I can be out of the house and on the road on my bike if I need to. But I'm also more than 50km from the nearest edge of the city, so fleeing isn't going to be easy. Not having a car actually makes fleeing much easier, I can cycle through traffic jams for the most part.

    But if I stay home I can live for a month on what I have, I'll just be very low on camping gas cylinders by the end of it. Having a 10kg LPG cylinder would make it much easier. And I'm well set up to prey on the local feral pest population, so I could probably keep eating fresh meat for quite a while :)

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1129 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    A proper boy scout charges the battery before night time.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    ETA: Oh and of course the car has multiple charger adapters, including one multi adapter for every kind of phone ever made, although TBH that was less about survivalism and more about getting a good Uber rating.

    Very well, then. I am moved by your story and I shall not seek to ruin your life by awarding a mere four stars.

    But yeah – I forgot that one in the post. The USB port in our cheap car stereo seems to charge all the things too. We were not going to run out of devices.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Gareth,

    One thing I’ve learned: cook with gas. I’ve always insisted on having a gas hob and electric oven. You can live without the oven for a long time if you’ve got a kettle-style barbecue/BGEgg/pizza oven, and, well, you’re cookin’ with gas…

    It drives me nuts that the nice F&P gas hob we bought a year before we renovated won't work without electricity, it really does.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    seek to ruin your life by awarding a mere four stars.

    Oh no, Brer Brown, not the 4 stars! Anything but the 4 stars!! You can chunder all over me, make me listen to wub wub, even make me put on talkback radio while we wait in the KFC drive through queue....

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10576 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But yeah – I forgot that one in the post. The USB port in our cheap car stereo seems to charge all the things too. We were not going to run out of devices.

    My wife was house sitting in Kingsland at a place that had no off grid USB ports. So my mum went round with batteries from Avondale.

    I was rescue coordination, based here in Wellington.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4043 posts Report Reply

  • Dinah Dunavan,

    A quick web search for beer can stoves will help prepare for the next power outage. Super simple to make and use.

    Dunedin • Since Jun 2008 • 186 posts Report Reply

  • Dinah Dunavan,

    Or if you don't drink but you do have a cat, you can make a stove out if a tiny cat food tin.

    Dunedin • Since Jun 2008 • 186 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Attachment

    Yesterday's Tremain

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2590 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Woodburner with cooktop, gives heat, cooking and even some light. And I see one of the Ultra-Low Emission Burners (ULEBs) has two USB charging ports.

    Living in an actively earthquaking area, gas makes me nervous, but we’ve caved and bought a double-burner camping stove for cooking outside (lighting the woodburner to cook with or heat water on hot summer days was not the best). Adequate drinkable water seems the key with simply-prepped or ready-made food and coffee and the means to assemble. Make sure the food is things you like, not just baked beans, because it’s no fun eating things you dislike when you’re stressed, scared and need a lot of energy.

    ‘So then we went to the cafe and had a coffee’ wasn’t my disaster experience – more ‘so then we were trapped at home by the broken bridges and roads’. For others there was no home because it was gone. . It’s impossible to plan for every scenario, and for a long time I went spare trying to foresee all doomy possibilities.

    However coffee! Friend gave me one of these … https://m.catchoftheday.co.nz/product/wacaco-minipresso-gr-portable-espresso-machine-464352/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIlbCYgqK92gIVUyQrCh3U0grIEAQYASABEgIRpvD_BwE&offer_id=10095961

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2893 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Hebe,

    ‘So then we went to the cafe and had a coffee’ wasn’t my disaster experience – more ‘so then we were trapped at home by the broken bridges and roads’.

    Yes, I'm not calling the storm a disaster, even though there are still people without power. It's not really in coooeee of a disaster, which is good, since it was a category 2 storm. Any stronger and it would have been called a hurricane quite legitimately.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10576 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to BenWilson,

    It wasn’t a disaster, but it’s an inadvertent rehearsal for one. an opporunity to learn like hell, for everyone.
    And it will be pretty much a disaster for those who have lost roofs and other calamities.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2893 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Hebe,

    Yes, if we consider the first quake in Chch to have been a forewarning, we just got forewarned.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10576 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to BenWilson,

    consider the first quake in Chch to have been a forewarning

    7.1 is a pretty dramatic first warning, especially if it's warning about a 6.2 to follow. Or have I got that wrong the round way?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1129 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It drives me nuts that the nice F&P gas hob we bought a year before we renovated won't work without electricity, it really does.

    Um, if the gas comes out, you can light it with a match. You may not be able to use the little piezo-electric starter, but you can still light it. I have an F&P Elba hob I put in when I moved here last year (to the gas-fitter's disgust, I might add - he didn't think much of the brand, but then he was an Aussie so YMMV) and I tested it after I read your comment. Worked fine.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2909 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Moz,

    7.1 is a pretty dramatic first warning, especially if it's warning about a 6.2 to follow. Or have I got that wrong the round way?

    Nope, you're correct. February 2011 was technically an aftershock from September 2010.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Moz,

    It was more about the effect of the 7.1: it hit Christchurch city, and we sure felt it, but it was centred out at Greendale and fortunately given the magnitude and shallow depth the damage to people and buildings was much more limited.

    Many of us regarded that shake as a fortunate escape, for Christchurch when we saw how many of the unreinforced old brick buildings were badly damaged. (It seems incredible now that demolishing the old insurance firm building in Manchester Street caused much protest.)
    It was clear we had dodged a bullet. Of course five months later that all changed.

    When February 22 hit Christchurch had had a rehearsal, and it saved many of us. We had emergency kits, we had the local well piped to the street, we knew the drill, and the emergency services and CDEM and government had much more concrete plans how to respond.

    It was even down to the level of my partner and I having a clear emergency plan and having scoped potentially dangerous buildings on his routes around town during his working day: not spending much time in the cafe across the road from his work may well have saved his life when that building crumbled at lunchtime.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2893 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Attachment

    Classic Tinderbox but an old file and an old bit of steel to strike a spark, along with a bit of charred cotton fabric will do the job.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4043 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Attachment

    My emergency outdoor cooking, which must be worth at least one star point for preparations nerd of disaster.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4043 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to steven crawford,

    My emergency outdoor cooking, which must be worth at least one star point for preparations nerd of disaster.

    That'd be choice to hold onto in a tsunami, bro.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2909 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    ...not going to run out of devices.

    It's more that we are caught in de vices,
    those jaws have big teeth
    they clamp with proprietary 'screws'....

    beer can stoves

    Neat! These looked ingenious, some more doable than others...

    And then there is always the trusty Thermette©

    I'm hoping to unearth my old Whole Earth Catalogs (and the NZ Whole Earth Catalogues) from my 'Pyramid of Banana Boxes' some day soon - they had some 'great access to tools' - the encyclopedic internet of their day (including the potato-powered radio) - That Stewart Brand was always WELL ahead of the curve and on into The Long Now!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7771 posts Report Reply

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