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All Pinzur, All The Time

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Game Over, Wilma! Game Over!

We came home this afternoon to find our power restored. I have had a hot shower, confirmed the Tivo survived intact and now plan to celebrate with multiple alcoholic beverages.

Thank you and goodnight.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Day 5: I Smell

Today's picture is the cover of Miami New Times, our local weekly paper:

For the record, I have showered almost every day... but ice-cold showers don't seem to get you as soapy-fresh as a nice, hot one.

We had an electricity development last night which was either excellent or tragic: most of the other buildings on our block got power back. That probably means one of two things:

1. Now that our grid is on, they'll come repair the downed lines in front of our building quickly because they don't want live lines on the ground. Result: power sometime today or tomorrow.

2. Now that our gird is on, they'll move on to restoring other full grids and not come back to repair downed lines until all the grids are on. Result: power sometime around Thanksgiving.

Lady Pinz's office still doesn't have power. It's driving her crazy being home all day, but at least she's not burning any gas. I'm down to about a half tank - the Miami Herald never sleeps, folks, and I've been here every day. The lines at most gas stations between downtown Miami (where I work) and our suburb are three to five hours long, so no way I'm getting involved in that. The newspaper has managed to bring in some gas every now and then, so I'm hoping to get some today. We're also hoping that electricity will be plentiful enough in Miami-Dade by this weekend that the lines will subside.

Which brings me to a question... at the risk of channelling Pup: What the fuck are you thinking, people?
If you didn't fill up with gas before the storm, you're an idiot.
If you've been driving around since the storm just to see the chaos, you're an idiot.
If you're burning 10 gallons to wait in line at a gas station that's limiting purchases to 7 gallons, you're an idiot.

Just stop. Leave the gas to people who have jobs to do.

Of course, it's also possible I'm just getting cranky.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Hours of (No) Power

Post-Wilma Day 2, and not much has changed.

It's been a number of years since South Florida took a direct hit like this, and it's been strange to live out the cliches that we've seen develop in all the other hurricanes of the last few years.

Most of our friends weathered the storm OK - we've only heard a few really bad stories. One couple in the west Broward suburbs, some of our best friends, lost about half their roof. They managed to cover it with a tarp, and luckily it hasn't rained since the storm ended, but it's going to be very hard to find a roofer for the next few months. Another couple - one of Lady Pinz's coworkers and her boyfriend - lost many of the windows in their house and took in a ton of water. One of my friends at the newspaper may have had pretty severe damage to her elderly mother's house in Boca. She went up there this morning to see how bad it is and start digging her out.

It's really hard to hear your friends go through this stuff and not be able to do much of anything. Supplies are hard to find (as are people who know how to use them) and it's risky to travel very far until more gas stations start to come online.

There have been very few fatalities - seven, at last count - so people have largely been taking the huge damage in stride. Condos and neighborhoods really do end up bonding a lot during these times. Everyone from our building has been meeting up every evening on the pool deck to grill whatever food is left in the Frigidaire and pool supplies of beer and wine. We've gotten to know our neighbors better in the last 48 hours than in the previous 14 months we've lived in the building.

The weather has been blissfully cool - 70s during the day, high 50s at night - so we've been able to sleep comfortably with the windows open, even without A/C. Not sure how much longer that's going to last, though, because the weather is supposed to get back to normal Florida levels by the weekend.

We have only the vaguest idea when we'll get power back. The power company said the majority of South Florida should have power back by Nov. 7, 95 percent by Nov. 14 and the rest by Nov. 21. My gut tells me we'd normally be in the first group because our block is all condos and they try to restore to large groups of people first. But we have a lot of downed lines on our street, so I'm thinking we may not get it back 'til that second group.

Frankly, if we don't get it back by Nov. 5, it doesn't much matter - Lady Pinz and I leave on a long-awaited cruise on the morning of the 6th and don't get back for a week. We've got enough food, water and wine to get through that time.

People are definitely getting back on the roads today, and that's not a good thing. Drivers have been surprisingly polite about treating broken lights (read: all lights) as four-way stops, but tempers are starting to get short. The few gas stations that have power also have lines more than a mile long, and we've heard about some fights breaking out.

The bigger problem is for people who didn't stockpile water and food: FEMA. Everyone's favorite disaster agency is coming under fire again down here. All kinds of silly administrative things have messed up distribution of water, ice and meals-ready-to-eat, according to stories coming into the newsroom and over radio. Trucks were filled with supplies but had no gas. Trucks got to distribution points but weren't allowed to unload because there was no FEMA official on site to supervise. Wilma hit 48 hours ago, but some of the sites still haven't opened.

We both filled our tanks before the storm, but I still have to come to work every day. I can probably get through the beginning of next week, and by that time there should be enough gas stations open.

Inexplicably, the generator at our condo is still running. It only powers the hallways lights and a few outlets in the lobby, but that's a lot more than most people have, and we're sharing the juice to charge phones and computers and run a few coffee pots. At first, I thought it was some kind of early Hannukkah miracle - the generator with enough gas for a few hours runs for days. This morning, someone speculated that our generator must run off natural gas. No one knows for sure, but that seems the most logical explanation to me - I don't think a generator in a small condo building would hold enough gas to run for 48 hours.

So, that's the situation as we find it this morning. The Herald is back at full power and publishing a full paper, even though many of our largest bureaus are unusable, so the newsroom is full and bustling and spectacular. Thankfully, we have lots of coffee.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Wilma Redux

We actually weathered the storm pretty well - much better than some of the buildings nearby. We had a little damage to the roof, but nothing major. Our condo is fine, albeit without electricity for the foreseeable future. The worst of it hit us between 7 a.m. and noon today - not terribly much rain, but ridiculous winds. Transformers started exploding on our block around 7 a.m. and we lost power for good about an hour later. But we're well stocked with water and food and wine, so we're very zen about the whole thing.

If you need to find us, use the home number because cell service is practically nonexistant and we can only get email as long as my laptop has some juice.

I drove around for a few hours after the storm passed to do some reporting for the Herald, monitoring the neighborhoods of Northeast Dade and Southeast Broward counties near our building. The worst was just a few blocks east of us along the ocean in Hallandale - a 250-foot construction crane snapped near the Diplomat hotel, dropping across all six lanes of A1A.

A few condo buildings were decimated - all the glass blown out, leaving lobbies and gyms and some condo units swamped. In a few buildings, the winds picked up cars and dropped them on top of other cars, and a few other buildings had the walls and railings of balconies sheared clean away. There are lots of downed trees and, therefore, lots of downed power lines. Some side streets are flooded out, and many more are entirely blocked by uprooted trees. In the building across the street from us, in fact, an uprooted tree crushed a car, and I saw many more of those situations at other buildings. Other parking lots had whole lines of cars whose windshields were sucked out.

We don't have too much news about the rest of the city, just what I've gathered from my colleagues at the Herald. Much of South Florida is without power. A number of high-rises in Miami and Fort Lauderdale had all their glass shattered. All the hospitals are running on generators. The airports are shut down entirely. The Herald has some backup power, but not enough to run the presses - we're publishing out of the Sun-Sentinal's pressroom tonight.

I expect to be back at the Herald newsroom tomorrow for most of the day. We doubt that Lady Pinz's office will have power for at least a day or two.

Mostly, though, we're just very thankful to be safe and to hear hardly any reports of casualties. It's turning into a lovely evening here, so we're bringing a bottle of wine down to to watch the sunset.

Hope those of you in South Florida are doing OK.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


My birthday is Friday.
My birthday party - just a few friends getting together on the waterfront pool deck at our condo - is Saturday.
This is the track for Hurricane Wilma as of 8 a.m. today:

If you're not familiar with Florida geography, our building is pretty much right under that dot labeled "2 a.m. Sunday."

If you're not familiar with hurricanes, the weather turns to crap about 12 hours before the eye arrives.

Now, the five-day forecasts are subject to a lot of error - the eye could actually end up anywhere in that Cone of Despair - but this officially sucks.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Comment Whores

For some reason, I can't seem to delete the sudden flood of spam in comments. So all three of you who read this blog will need to deal with the little verification thing-a-ma-bob now. The terrorists have won.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Free Blogger Poker Tourney

I like poker. I especially like free poker with prizes. Hence:

Poker Championship

I have registered to play in the
Online Poker Blogger Championship!

This event is powered by PokerStars.

Registration code: 1424138

It's happening Oct. 23. All the cool kids are doing it.

Well, all the cool kids who have blogs. So... none of the cool kids. But a lot of the rest of us are doing it.