Wednesday, 18 November 2015

By on November 18th, 2015 in personal, relocation

08:56 – We’re still packing stuff up for the move. Yesterday, we started staging stuff for the trip up for the closing. We’re making piles of stuff to go into the Trooper that’ll give us what we need on closing day to stay at the new house overnight, including our dorm refrigerator, spare vacuum cleaner, trash bags and cleaning supplies, our air mattress and bedding, tool kit, clothing, drinks and munchies, etc. With less than two weeks until the closing, there’s a lot to get done.

I finished book three in Theresa Shaver’s Stranded series last night. As I mentioned earlier, the first book was a bit rough around the edges, but showed real potential. The second was better, and with the third Shaver is really coming into her stride as an author. I sent her email to let her know I’d mentioned her books on my blog and got the following response:

Wow, Bob! Thank you so much for plugging my Stranded Series!

There are so many amazing prepper/apocalyptic books out there that I LOVE written for adults that I decided to go with the soft touch of Young Adult. It was also my way of worming the idea of being prepared into young people so they might be aware of the basics. Who knows, it might help save some clueless sheeple if their kids have an idea of what’s happening!

There are a few swears in the books because let’s be honest, no matter how “pure” you think your teen might be, chances are they’ve dropped the Fbomb a few times lol. The 4 swears in the book are in extreme situations and I just can’t believe the teen would say “Holy Golly Gee!!” Just my thoughts but I have been called out on putting them in.

I recently reread the first 3 Stranded books for the first time since I published them and there were some cringe moments for me at the writing so I hope that means I’ve gotten better as a writer since then lol. 6 books in I sure hope I have! I’ve just started the fifth book in the series, Frozen. Let’s see how these kids manage a -30 to -40 Alberta winter with no heat!
As for prepping, I do try and keep most of what I have stored to myself but I’m not too worried about it as I will be “out of here” if IT ever happens. Thankfully, we have a decent fall back point if needed. I’m just not sure how I’ll transport all that duty free booze yet!

Thanks again,
Theresa Shaver

Which reminds me of an incident back in about 1962. My mother was driving us over to my grandmother’s house. My younger brother, Bill, who was 7 years old at the time, was in the passenger seat and I was in the back seat. Not far from my grandmother’s house, another driver ran a red light and almost rammed us. The interchange went something like this:

Mom: BILLY!!
Bill: I’m sorry, mommy. I thought that asshole was going to hit us.

I’ve never understood why most adults treat kids as almost a separate species, and a stupid one at that. I’ve always understood that infants are already as intelligent as they’re ever going to be. The CPU and RAM are already there; they lack only data on their hard drives. And young people are constantly gathering data, whether or not adults are aware of that. It’s what kids do. At least some of those data are things that adults would rather the young people not know yet, but they’re going to find out if they have any interest at all. In the era of the Internet, kids are inevitably going to learn more faster than our generation did. We had carefully stashed Playboy and Penthouse magazines. They have an entire world of hardcore porn just a click away.

64 Comments and discussion on "Wednesday, 18 November 2015"

  1. nick says:

    I don’t know if it is just an expression of a self reinforcing feedback loop, or if there is a puppet master behind the scenes pushing to get info out, and to bring awareness of and preparation for an EMP or solar event, BUT THERE SURE ARE A LOT OF ARTICLES about EMP lately.

    To add an interesting one, from Evaluation Engineering magazine:

    Short, footnoted, quotes knowledgeable people (who are partisans).

    Some pull quotes:

    “To my knowledge, there are only three electric utilities in the United States that have taken steps in hardening their operational control centers and substation control buildings. As you might imagine, existing facilities have legacy equipment and systems that were never intended to be EMP-protected. This condition makes these facilities tremendously vulnerable to EMP.”

    “Some proactive forward-thinking electric utilities have either instituted EMP protection programs or have at least begun to consider implementing protection. However, critical infrastructure segments such as financial, waste water, drinking water, transportation, food distribution, healthcare, and emergency services have not.”

    “For E1 pulses, most of the concern I have wouldn’t be for the high-voltage transmission network but rather with the control system—the low-voltage control system built with microelectronics.”

    “That a massive GMD event will occur in the future is certain while the probability of an E1 pulse occurring is less—unknown—but less. Still, the consequences of not protecting against E1, were such a pulse to occur, are huge. “

  2. Clayton W. says:

    Never had a device fail HEMP testing with nothing more than standard EMI/ESD protection circuits. There are some things that are sensitive, but it is NOT the bugaboo that people are making it out to be. Some things will fail, and the grid will likely go down, but it will be fore days probably, weeks at most. There just isn’t enough energy in an EMP event to do that much damage.

  3. nick says:


    is that freestanding devices, or devices connected to long wires?


  4. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I agree with Clayton, except I think he’s underestimating recovery time from an EMP. No, the localized damage won’t be anything close to as severe as PA novels have it. The problem is that we have extraordinarily complex systems, all of which depend on JIT deliveries. Complexity means fragility and unreliability. With our Rube Goldberg distribution and other critical systems, even a small failure will quickly cascade. If a particular complex system has 100 parts, even one failure disables the other 99.

    That said, what really scares me is a Carrington-class CME. The energy dissipated by a huge CME versus an EMP is like a thermonuclear bomb compared to a BIC lighter. Even a CME that was billions of times smaller than Carrington took down most of a Canadian province in 1989. Granted, we would have at least several hours notice of such a CME impacting the planet, which would allow us to unplug a lot of stuff, but long transmission lines would likely suffer severe damage, as well as the thousands of transformers that couldn’t be disconnected in time.

  5. Dave says:

    I hope Bob is right about having notice and being able to disconnect things. I think I would get some crazy looks in my house if I told my wife that a solar flare was about to hit the earth, and I decided to turn off every breaker in the panel and unplug all our expensive electronic devices.

  6. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Oh, you’ll see/read about it on the news. Of course, a potentially catastrophic CME occurred back in 2012 and missed the planet by only a week, and hardly anyone outside the scientific and prepper communities noticed. If there’s an X40 or X50 class CME that really will hit us, the news won’t be talking about anything else.

  7. JimL says:

    I’ll be okay with funny looks. I get them all the time now. I’ll also be okay with everything that survives because we’re as ready as we can be.

  8. JimL says:

    Then I see a headline like this:
    “Deadly Northwest Storm Brings 119 MPH Gusts, Leaves More Than 1 Million Powerless”
    and I think that prepping isn’t such a bad idea.

  9. nick says:

    Never a bad idea to prep, unless it becomes a mental or emotional issue.


  10. Dave says:

    When it comes to EMP events I am reminded of a story in college from thirty years ago. It doesn’t relate to EMP directly but to how engineers understand things. The professor was at that time very old. When he was much younger, during or just after WW II, he was on a team investigating what happened when you massively overload circuit breakers used in ships. So they wired up an experiment in an empty room, locked the doors and proceeded to massively overload the circuit breaker. After the first test they concluded that they made one error. They didn’t bolt the rather large breaker box to the floor. By examining the bends in the copper bus bars feeding power into the electrical box, they concluded that when you massively overload a large circuit breaker, an electrical box weighing hundreds of pounds jumps four feet in the air.

    Until that day, I hadn’t realized that it wasn’t necessary to wind wires into coils for EMF to be significant.

  11. Clayton W. says:

    I believe it was 6 foot unshielded cables. Way longer than 1 wavelength

  12. Dave says:

    Oh, you’ll see/read about it on the news. Of course, a potentially catastrophic CME occurred back in 2012 and missed the planet by only a week, and hardly anyone outside the scientific and prepper communities noticed.

    What about the CME that happened earlier this year and missed the earth by a day? Also If I remember correctly, Carrington noticed the flare one day before it hit earth, and the effects lasted about 24 hours. If another Carrington event were to happen we would have less than 24 hours to notify everyone what was happening and shut everything off. Every hour we spend notifying people is an hour we don’t have to shut things down. A 48 hour shutdown of the whole US electrical grid would be a very big disaster. (I’m assuming 12 hours to shut everything down, leave it off for 24 hours and then 12 hours to restart.) How much unrest would there be in major cities after two nights without electricity? All the frozen and refrigerated food would have to be replaced. Not just in homes, but grocery stores and warehouses as well.

  13. Roy Harvey says:

    The CPU and RAM are already there; they lack only data on their hard drives.

    You left out the most important component, without which the CPU, RAM and data are nothing. Educating the young establishes their software, and if not done carefully no amount of debugging will fix the problems that result.

  14. Clayton W. says:

    I bet it will take WAY more than 12 hours to turn everything on again. It’s a chicken an egg problem: The grid is interconnected, and supply has to meet demand on a cycle by cycle basis. When one small section goes down, it monitors the remainder that is up and synchronizes to it as that section is restores. If the grid is completely down, who starts first? And how do you communicate it? I bet it is weeks until the system is back up and reliable. And that assumes not great amount of damage to the cable plant.

    Telephone system is down, too. And it will also have to re-synchronize. Turned all the atomic clocks off that synchronizes the phone system? Another 12+ hours to power them back up and then to calibrate and synchronize them to… Oh, are the GPS satellites still up and synchronized? How do you know? The ground stations are likely down, and rely on the grid except for relatively short term disruptions.

    Oh, RF comms are down, too, because of the energy dumped into the ionosphere. Might have some local comms with Hams, but nothing long ranged.

    And there may be really widespread damage to the cable plant. The year Florida got hit with all the hurricanes, we were grabbing transformers from as far away as Minnesota because there aren’t that many spares. Coils of wire don’t fail very often, so there is no need to tie up shareholders assets in spare parts for a 500 year event, right?

    A Carrington class event really scares me. It generated enough energy to set buildings on fire from telegraph lines. I can’t imagine what will happen with our interconnected grid.

  15. nick says:

    Well, there is some stuff you really can’t intentionally shut off either, like hospitals, surgi-centers, care homes.

    Also chip foundries, power plants, waste treatment and drinking water treatment. Pipeline compressor and pumping stations. 911 centers.

    Data centers. Mae East and Mae West.

    Backups, provided locally would be less susceptible, having shorter connections, but most facilities have very limited backup fuel and limited circuits available in the buildings.

    They might stay connected as long as possible, switch to local either just before or just after, but who has made those plans? Who can authorize killing patients? Some will undoubtedly die.

    No, I think that even with warning, most people would stay connected.


    And how big an air gap would be needed? is the <1" in my main breaker panel sufficient?


  16. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “A Carrington class event really scares me. It generated enough energy to set buildings on fire from telegraph lines. I can’t imagine what will happen with our interconnected grid.”

    Yup, and what’s really scary is that the available evidence indicates that we’re hit by a CME of that intensity every 100 to 150 years and have been for millions of years. It’s just that no one noticed until Carrington in 1859 because nothing that’s affected by such an event yet existed. It’s not a question of if we’ll be hit, it’s a question of when. And that when is likely to be pretty soon, even on a human timescale. It could happen this afternoon, or it might not happen for 10 years, or a hundred, but it’s going to happen.

    When it does, if I’m still around, I’m sure I’ll be pissed at myself for not getting more of the items on my to-do list completed, but I’ll be as ready as I realistically can be. That’s one of the reasons why I want to be surrounded by a community of people who can do useful things rather than being surrounded by the FSA and office drones.

  17. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “And how big an air gap would be needed? is the <1" in my main breaker panel sufficient?"

    Depends a lot on what you're connected to. It doesn't really take that much voltage to spark over a 1" gap. If I learned that a huge CME was on the way, the first thing I'd do is accidentally cut the utility power line at my drop.

  18. Dave says:

    I bet it will take WAY more than 12 hours to turn everything on again. It’s a chicken an egg problem: The grid is interconnected, and supply has to meet demand on a cycle by cycle basis.

    I wouldn’t be surprised at it taking much more than 12 hours to restore the grid to normal operation. I was pointing out what a very optimistic 48 hour shutdown would do to our modern civilization. Can you imagine how many elderly people would die if the grid outage happened in either hot or cold extreme weather? I think a lot of people would be pissed off by a 48 hour shutdown of the grid because they don’t understand what not shutting it down would mean.

    Even with the breakers off, I am wondering if the power spikes from a Carrington Event would be powerful enough to jump over the air gaps in open breakers.

  19. Dave says:

    Depends a lot on what you’re connected to. It doesn’t really take that much voltage to spark over a 1″ gap. If I learned that a huge CME was on the way, the first thing I’d do is accidentally cut the utility power line at my drop.

    I think I’d be inclined to accidentally pop the meter instead. Which means I should ask my cousin who works for an electric company how to do that. Phrased of course as wondering how people steal electric meters without frying themselves. Don’t want him to think I’m a crazy prepper unless he’s also a crazy prepper.

  20. Rick H says:

    My area (Olympic Penninsula) still recovering from power problems. Big windstorm yesterday (gusts to 50mpy), trees into power lines (main supply ones, AFAIK). So power out yesterday at 5pm, back on at 330am in my area (I live in a smaller residential area, so get power back on faster than others – the last storm in Sept had some people in rural areas out for several days).

    I was more prepared this time. I have two LED camping lanterns that put out good light (great units). All devices (laptops/cells) were fully charges, and I have backup phone battery charger things). Plus I had a large supply of FLASHLIGHTS! and lots of spare batteries for same. And I knew where everything was. I just grabbed one flashlight and went to the storage room to get the LED lanterns along with some LED headlamps (picked up cheaply from Harbor Frieght).

    For the first few hours of the outage, was able to keep up with the local utility tweets. Then the ATT towers appeared to fail. Had 1-2 bars on the phone, but no connectivity. So was unable to determine status.

    Power was out in much of the OP. Hospitals/grocery stores/etc had no power. Food was OK here, didn’t need to cook anything (cold cereal/milk). Kept the refrigerator door closed, so things stayed cold. (Checked frozen meats when power restores; they were still fully hard-frozen.)

    Food/water was OK. Municipal water didn’t fail. Have some bottled water stored here (not enough for long-term, but OK for 72-hour). Since we are on muni water/sewer, not worried about those during power-out events.

    Wife and I did have a discussion on generators for the fridge/freezer, and my CPAP (didn’t sleep well until power came back on). Thinking of that Honda one. With that on the back porch, some gas (a couple-three 2 1/2 gal containers), and some heavy duty extension cords (got them already), I could power the fridge/freezer, and charge any devices.

    House stayed warm enough. Newer house, double-insulated windows. Have a propane fireplace, but not much heat from that (part of that is because it is in the living room that has high-two story ceilings). But temp only got down to about 62F, with outside temps around 33F. And we have plenty of blankets.

    But since the cell phone network was down, had no way to get status reports. I do have an battery AM/FM radio, but didn’t get it out.

    So was thinking of what kind of scanner (battery powered, small, portable) might be useful to keep track of the outside world? Is there information available via scanner that would be useful, or not worth the effort? Not thinking of two-way communication at the moment, just a ‘read-only’ process.

    There is a local FM station that is noted by the county emergency ops guys. Didn’t try it out last night; it will be on the list of things to try next time. (We do get a good wind storm a couple-three times a year around here.)

    Any ideas on scanners (models/cost/features), and if they are ‘worth it’ for power outage events? (Not thinking of SHTF events.) What info could I expect to get via a scanner? Anything useful?

    So, survived this event OK. Other than the above issues, which were minor. And the fact that I missed NCIS, but I can catch that episode ‘on-demand’.

  21. nick says:

    Short answer is yes, some useful info is available on scanner, depending on your area.

    You probably don’t need a new or expensive digital voice scanner.

    You should get a ‘trunk tracker’ if you live anywhere there is trunked radio, but even in those areas, you can still hear the traffic, just won’t get a label on who’s talking.

    From experience, it’s hard to follow more than one agency at a time on the scanner. Things are busy during an event. You may find that listening on the business freqs (tow trucks), and local support agencies, esp local Dept of Power and Water gives better results. Cops generally don’t talk much on the radio anymore in big cities. They do it all over data with in car pcs. They know people are listening. Comms are terse, and you rarely hear the disposition of a call.

    So a cheaper analog scanner might be fine in your location (see for details about your location) or a slightly less cheap trunk tracker analog. One with a built in library is helpful, otherwise, software and a subscription to radioreference is recommended.

    If there are hams on local repeaters, or a skywarn network locally, that can provide easily monitored info too.


  22. nick says:

    sorry if that is disjointed, I’ve got a bunch of stuff to do still this afternoon. Search here for my more thorough comments on scanning after our last big storm in Houston.


    if search is working, nick + scanner + storm should find it.


    is the thread I think I meant.

  23. pcb_duffer says:

    One post-hurricane problem we have here in Florida (and I’m sure anywhere else where the power outages are widespread) is instantaneous load. The power companies ask everyone to turn off their A/C, but a large % don’t do so. So when a neighborhood is re-connected, there is a huge demand as everyone tries to bring their house down to abnormally cool temperatures, and the system upstream have been known to fail as a result.

  24. Dave says:

    @Rick H

    I have checked for my area at and found that our electric co-op uses 5 frequencies to communicate. They are using NXDN digital, so I’m not sure what equipment I would need to monitor that. I’m thinking of getting a Pofung UV-82 to monitor other local communications. I am assuming I would need a more expensive digital scanner to monitor digital communications, but I’m not sure. The local hospital has a DMR radio frequency listed, I’m assuming that would require a digital scanner as well. I figure the best thing is to try it and see.

  25. DadCooks says:

    Here in the Southeast corner of WA State we had 116mph winds up on Rattlesnake Mountain. My anemometer won’t go above 80mph even though scale goes to 150mph, it spent a lot of time essentially pegged. The Government Contractors out on the Hanford Reservation got sent home early yesterday and the swing shift was delayed 2 hours.

    Lots of localized power outages (our’s stayed on, as usual, we are in a best part of the system). People who had trampolines found them flying all over the place, many photos of them on roofs this morning. At my daughters work there are people who park in a wooded area where they are not supposed to park. Well several trees came down and squashed at least 6 cars that my daughter could see from her office window.

    The shingles on my garden shed peeled off when a mighty gust hit. Cheap shingles. I have hurricane rated shingles on the house, so the company that put those on the house will be out to put them on the shed. Considering that most of the cost is labor, the greater cost of good shingles is a small part of the bill.

  26. nick says:

    “Considering that most of the cost is labor, the greater cost of good shingles is a small part of the bill.”

    Make sure they are using the code approved nailing schedule too.


  27. paul says:

    Pulling the electric meter is not a big deal. Snip the wire seal and the cover swings forward and slides off. It’s not hinged, it just tucks under a lip. The meter itself has four prongs about 1/2 inch wide and 1/8 thick. The gap between the hot from the pole terminals to the house side is about four inches and there is a plastic divider between the two sides.

    Instead of typing all of the above, it would have been easier to say “go to the hardware store and look”. But maybe the stuff isn’t for sale where you are.

    Fun stuff., anyway. 🙂

  28. DadCooks says:

    “Make sure they are using the code approved nailing schedule too.”

    Good point @nick. This company has done work for me before and is rated highly in this area. But I do know that things change over time and when the roofing crews are having to deal with the aftermath of a windstorm they may be using some “contract” help. Seeing as they have a lifetime guarantee on their work, I do have some comfort.

    Now to go find that code book I have here somewhere. Trust but verify.

  29. Lynn says:

    Just two miles away from my office building, we’ve got another 12 ft gator, “Huge alligator named ‘Chubbs’ caught on Houston-area golf course”:

    I guess when Brazos Bend State Park, about ten miles south of here, got flooded this summer, some of the 35,000 alligators left.

    Stay out of those golf course ponds!

  30. OFD says:

    Some years ago there was a pic on the net of some golfer who’d gone MIA on one of them courses and they opened up some big-ass gator named “Ol’ Moss” and said missing golfer was inside, all folded up and partially digested.

    We have some wotta hazards on golf courses up this way but nuttin’ like dat. Y’all can keep it, between that stuff and venomous reptiles, bugs, heat, tornadoes, hurricanes, and swarms of crimmigrants, fuggedaboutit!

  31. nick says:


    on the flip side is a vibrant economy, reasonable housing costs, no state income tax, refund of our state sales tax (when they remember), cheap energy, central time zone, gun culture, and strong resistance to feds restricting liberty.


  32. OFD says:

    Yeah, Mrs. OFD loves the peeps in TX and has gigs there regularly; she was stranded in Austin with a half-dozen of her staff during the week of 9/11 and they were treated like royalty. Never to be forgotten. My memories are less pleasant, mainly involving hazardous training chit when I was with Uncle. Several times. Which included beating the brush ahead of us for venomous reptiles, whereupon I saw a coral snake and several rattlers over time. Just a foretaste of all them critters over in SEA, only instead of rattlers and corals, we had cobras and kraits. I’ll take my chances here with a pissed-off moose or black bear.

  33. As regards: “If I learned that a huge CME was on the way, the first thing I’d do is accidentally cut the utility power line at my drop.”

    Why on earth would you do that? This isn’t an EMP, where a blast of high-frequency energy would be coming in off the lines. The power might fail, but that’s pretty much it. You’re at the end of the line; there are no large electrical loops hundreds of miles across that run through your house, as was presumably the case for those telegraph buildings that caught fire in the Carrington event.

  34. medium wave says:

    Vanderbilt Hate Crime Turns Out To Be Blind Girl’s Dog’s Poop

    If this were a discrimination poker game, this blind chick just went all in. She’s basically saying. “I see (well, maybe not really) your blackness, PC bros, and I raise you blindness.”

    Game. Over.

    You cannot make this stuff up!

  35. OFD says:

    Ol’ Lewis Carroll must be laffing himself into a spastic boneyard fit every day when he hears about these stories; Alice was in a world of utter rationality, reason, and total normality compared to the crap that passes for academia, media and gummint these days. The Jabberwocky can’t even get up off the damn floor he’s laffing so hard.

    I did acid over a hundred times back in the day and my gnarliest trip was like unto a math and engineering paper compared to these nutball cretins.

    Then I see that the Euro ass-hats extraordinaire are doubling down on even stricter gun laws after the event in Paris; I guess this is on the lefty egghead theory that if something doesn’t work, why, keep trying the same solution, only more of it. This will surely give weighty pause to all those hadji murderers champing at the bit to blast some more infidels to Kingdom Come.

    And our very own Dear Leader tells us that mass shootings like we have here don’t happen in other countries and furthermore he intends to pass as much anti-gun stuff as he can in his last year, after which Cankles will no doubt double down on THAT.

    They’re obviously just BEGGING for another civil war.

  36. nick says:

    I had a fraternity brother who had already graduated tell me to enjoy the hell out of my time at school. As he put it, Nowhere else in life will you find so many good looking women who want to get drunk and have sex with you.

    I guess that isn’t happening for some folks on campus these days, and maybe that’s causing all this anxiety and fainting spells…

    “grief”, oh good grief.


  37. OFD says:

    And it begins anew….

    These are just a few guys that attracted LE attention; what about the other hundreds of thousands? They’ll outnumber American Jews pretty soon. Won’t THAT be special! How many are hadji scum getting ready to run some capers here in North Murka? How many more remain silent or cheer their efforts? And who exactly are our own citizens in government, media and academia egging them on, or at least supporting them and apologizing for them constantly, no matter what atrocities they commit? Shouldn’t we stand the latter up against firing squad walls?

    It would be, in earlier years, like ass-hats in those aforementioned institutions welcoming hundreds of thousands of new Nazi refugees or Soviet communists. Can you even imagine such a thing? Yet here we are.

  38. OFD says:

    “I guess that isn’t happening for some folks on campus these days…”

    Hey, take a look at most of the clowns who are always bitching about stuff on those campuses….would anything human do the wild thing with them? Look at the beasts we have in gummint and the universities and media who are constantly nagging the rest of us. Clearly they’d be challenged to mate with mollusks.

  39. pcb_duffer says:

    Lynn, your local newspaper should make up its mind. Was the gator in the pond “huge” or only 12′ / 600#?

  40. OFD says:

    The rural folk around here are scratching their heads and getting a mite annoyed at this imbecilic nonsense/reverse racism:

  41. brad says:

    We’ve had a long, dry autumn here, not even a first frost yet, but it’s all coming to an end this weekend. Massive storms forecast, horizontal rain, then a temperature crash. I’ve got to make a last round tomorrow, to make sure everything is battened down. Also, haul in another cubic meter of wood for the stove.

    The attacks in Paris are causing the Germans to re-think their position vis-a-vis migrants. Merkel is still wanting to hold the doors open. Somehow, she’s really strange – she has been a very intelligent leader (really!), so I don’t understand why is she so blind on this one issue. Maybe it has something to do with her personal background.

  42. nick says:

    Or maybe the puppet masters are more persuasive than common sense.


  43. Clayton W. says:

    Why on earth would you do that? This isn’t an EMP, where a blast of high-frequency energy would be coming in off the lines. The power might fail, but that’s pretty much it. You’re at the end of the line; there are no large electrical loops hundreds of miles across that run through your house, as was presumably the case for those telegraph buildings that caught fire in the Carrington event.

    Please tell me this is sarcasm? Right?

    Today we have tens of thousands of miles of wiring in giant loops that terminate in all the buildings. It will be high voltage because of the speed of the magnetic field and it will be high current because of the length of time the field is passing through the power and phone wires.

  44. dkreck says:

    Self identify as white? My DNA did it for me.

  45. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Exactly. We won’t have an ordinary phone line connected to the house, and the Internet service is FTTP, but that electric power drop is regular copper.

  46. OFD says:

    “Self identify as white? My DNA did it for me.”

    Another micro-aggression.

    See, the deal is, you can be anything you wanna be; “whiteness,” like “sex,” is simply a social construct. And since whiteness is evil, you wanna either find a way outta that, like that idiot wench did as a NAACP operator, or continuously grovel and apologize as you make yourself scarce and move over, so the Officially Aggrieved Minorities can take charge.

    That’s how silly these bastards are; a scientific explanation of DNA and genetics magically becomes “privilege.”

    I guess privilege built Western civilization and the modern industrial society that makes their constant whining and demands possible.

  47. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I think I’ll start self-identifying as the pope so all those RC members out there will have to do what I tell ’em.

  48. OFD says:

    Be my guest; you’d likely be an improvement over the current guy. Incidentally, not many RC members out here seem to do what the Pope tells them. A priest told me over thirty years ago when I was still an Episcopalian/Anglican that the Vatican considers the American Catholic Church a renegade church. Whatever that means.

  49. nick says:

    Perhaps I should assume my rightful place as their supreme ruler and overlord?

    Since that’s how I self identify, I guess they’ll have to acknowledge my belief in my superiority and grovel at my feet. Any degrading thing I require them to do should be no problem, since they must respect my belief in my supreme-ness.

    Hmmm, so many degrading things…..


  50. OFD says:

    Go for it, dude!

    Oh wait–see, it doesn’t work from our end. That’s non-negotiable. Only Officially Aggrieved Minorities have been oppressed and now it’s payback time!

    And I see in the Drudge nooz and elsewhere that we’re picking up, or let’s put it this way: the government and media are SAYING, we’re intercepting illegal Syrian refugees on the southern border now. I’ve mentioned this sort of caper for years on various online boards and generally been ignored and blown off, when it seems so bloody obvious. How many thousands or tens of thousands have already crossed that border? What are they doing? Who are they? Where are they? Does anyone know or care? Are they just happy little fummamuckers in the Land of the Big PX and just trying to get through each day like the rest of us and good riddance to their shit-hole homelands? Or are they cooking up some new stuff for us, presumably at their favorite targets of NYC and Mordor? I guess we’ll find out, or not, depending on what the government and its media pets deign to tell us.

  51. Nope, not sarcasm at all, just an understanding of the issue. With electromagnetic induction, what determines how much current flows through a loop is the area of the loop. (Well, strictly speaking it’s an integral over the area of the loop of the change in magnetic flux through the loop, but for this discussion “the area of the loop” is good enough.) The modern power grid has loops that are hundreds of miles across, and have areas of thousands of square miles. That’s why it’s affected. Likewise for those old telegraph offices: they weren’t just at the end of a grid that has large loops, they were in the middle of loops. You’d have one long line going off to, say, an office in Chicago, and another long line going off to an office in Dayton. And there’d also be a line straight from the Chicago office to the Dayton office. Take those three lines together, and they form a large loop; add a large solar event, which shifts the Earth’s magnetic field, and you get induction into that loop.

    Of course there were breaks in the loop: the line going to Chicago wasn’t normally electrically connected to the line going to Dayton. But they naturally ran wires next to each other as they went through buildings, providing a place where they could arc over to each other and start a fire. With loops encompassing thousands of square miles, there was plenty of voltage to drive that arcing-over. So this telegraph building catching fire business shouldn’t be thought of as great balls of fire coming down the line; it’s more that they put out this really big magloop antenna with spark gaps in just the right places to set fire to their buildings or shock their operators. (Note that accounts of the event speak of telegraph operators being “shocked”, not “incinerated”.)

    But those voltages were still nothing by the power grid’s standards; the power grid routinely deals with voltages and currents that really can incinerate people. The weakness of the power grid is that the induced voltages from a solar storm are DC, while the power grid is built to handle AC. When you put enough DC through a transformer it saturates the core, making the transformer overheat and die. The higher the voltage, the smaller the current needed to deliver a given power, so the large transformers that handle tens of megawatts of power often have current limits of something like a hundred amps. Add, say, fifty amps of DC to that, and they’ve got a problem. But this is an Achilles heel of what otherwise is a very robust system; and they do know about this and have sensors to detect the overload and shut down.

    In any case, the symptoms from the end user perspective are just those of a loss of power after the transformer dies. With induction, the induced current goes around the loop; if you have a loop with a branch sticking off it, no current goes through that branch. Even your local substation isn’t going to have their transformers affected, since those aren’t in the middle of any huge loop; they just take power from one direction and deliver it in others. The affected transformers are ones in “the grid” proper — and yes, they’re often huge custom jobs which take on the order of a year to build and deliver. Since so much depends on them, it’s quite proper to be worrying about them, but that worry should not extend to disconnecting your own electrical feed for fear of great balls of fire coming down the line.

  52. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I’m not concerned about fireballs coming down the line or my house burning down. I’m concerned about surges damaging connected equipment. That kind of thing can happen even in routine power failures when the power is brought back up. You’re talking about a simplified theoretical system; I’m talking about the real world, which is anything but simple.

  53. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Incidentally, I’m not talking theoretical. I had a friend whose home suffered considerable damage after a major blackout. When the power came back up, it blew several of his breakers. Not tripped, blew. He had to replace them, and ended up replacing all of the breakers because he had no idea how much damage had been done to the ones that still appeared to work. And that was with a staged restoration of power under controlled conditions.

  54. Dave says:

    In a past period of underemployment, I worked in a call center and had a call from a guy who called because he needed a replacement for an electronic device damaged by lightning. I asked if he was sure because our warranty didn’t cover lightning damage. He said he was absolutely sure because he found the pump from his well was laying in the back yard and had scorch marks. As I recall he also had cover plates fly off outlets and switches.

  55. Dave says:

    Thirty years ago there was a transformer fire at the factory where I worked as a college co-op student. I was away at college at the time, but evidently it was quite the local news story. The only reason the factory avoided significant downtime was that the city where it was located was in the process of installing a new transformer. Since the factory was the town’s largest employer, the city was happy to make a deal where the factory got the city’s transformer and bought a new transformer for the city. So even a single transformer replacement is a big deal. I’m sure that shortened months of downtime into days.

    The fire was 30 years ago today. Since I was at college, I only know this because it made the newspaper 30 years ago tomorrow. I only know that because a newspaper in a town 20 minutes away from the factory has put their old articles online.

  56. Miles_Teg says:

    OFD wrote:

    “A priest told me over thirty years ago when I was still an Episcopalian/Anglican that the Vatican considers the American Catholic Church a renegade church. Whatever that means.”

    So, both the Anglicans and the Kathlicks consider you a renegade…

  57. Lynn says:

    Exactly. We won’t have an ordinary phone line connected to the house, and the Internet service is FTTP, but that electric power drop is regular copper.

    Probably not unless you have a really old house. Most residential electric drops in the last 40 years have used aluminum wire.

  58. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Whatever. The point is that it’s conductive.

  59. nick says:

    I don’t know that a loop is required.

    I’ve measured induced currents in adjacent conductors, straight line, point to point, no loops required.


    (and there is the skyhook concept, which nasa even tested, just moving a wire thru a magnetic field induces a current to flow (space tether.) (oh, and a north south pipeline has an induced current in it, it was on Worlds Toughest Fixes.)

  60. Ray Thompson says:

    So even a single transformer replacement is a big deal.

    Had a transformer fail at one of my prior jobs. Big data center, battery UPS but no generator so we had to shut down. The transformer had blown a hole in the side, no fire or dramatics, just melted interior where the cooling oil no longer cooled the coils. Popped the breaker on the pole.

    City transformer so they had to replace. Fairly good size as it was big iron data center with lots of power consumption and cooling required. The city had no transformer in stock and had get a transformer from Nashville, about three hours away. Transformer arrived in four hours and two hours to install. Mainly because the low voltage (still 240V) side buss bars were higher in the case and the city had to make buss bar extensions to attach the cables.

    When they re energized the circuit the line there was a blue spark about six inches long (it was now 4:00 AM). Asked the line man if that always happened. His response “Yeh, when you miss.”.

  61. When you measure induced currents in adjacent conductors, that isn’t just the magnetic field operating, but also electric fields: there is some capacitance between the conductors, and that lets signals sneak across. But also, normally in that circumstance you have a ground return, and the current going out the conductor and back over the ground return does constitute a loop. Not a large loop, so it wouldn’t noticeably pick up the sorts of slow fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field being discussed here, but enough of a loop to pick up magnetic fields created by high frequency signals in the next conductor over (and, as per reciprocity, to create magnetic fields detectable by the next conductor over). That’s why the last generation of ATA ribbon cables, before they moved to SATA, added a ground conductor between each two signal wires: it makes the loops smaller-area and puts them where their magnetic fields don’t overlap as much. (Well, that’s not the only reason; it also turns signal-to-signal capacitance into signal-to-ground capacitance, giving you some shielding of the electrical fields too).

    Now, generally, yes, you don’t need a loop to pick up electromagnetic fields. But when it’s just magnetic fields changing slowly, you need a loop to get serious currents induced. Higher frequencies get picked up and radiated much more easily; as the frequencies get higher and higher, you have to work harder and harder to stop everything from being an antenna. EMP has a very wide range of frequencies, so you have to worry about everything picking it up; but of the E1, E2, and E3 components of EMP, space weather only gives you the E3 part, the slowest.

    As for long north-south pipelines, there are lots of other things electrically connected to that sort of equipment which could form a loop.

    Anyway, if you’re worried about the sort of surges that normally happen when the power goes on or off, that’s well and good (I have a whole house surge protector installed too, and that’s just the first line of defense), but those are much more common than Carrington events, so it should be ordinary events that justify them, not rare space weather. By the way, John De Armond has an interesting tip for such things, which is to get the sort of whole house surge protector that sits under the power meter: when they encounter a surge that they can’t handle, they physically explode and blow the meter off the wall, and so protect your house even then. (That’s not actually the sort of protector that I have, but perhaps I should look into it again, though commonly one has to rent that sort from the power company.)

  62. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Well, I’m not an EE let alone an astrophysicist, so I will be taking what reasonable precautions I can. I note that people who appear to be qualified to speak authoritatively apparently disagree about the likely results, sometimes by orders of magnitude. The truth is, I don’t believe anyone knows what would happen. There are too many variables and too few data.

  63. In matters like this there’s no substitute for knowing the basic physics; it’s the only way to distinguish the real experts from the people who just have credentials. Of course it doesn’t hurt to read stuff like this

    with a jaundiced eye. “disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket” sounds like death to civilization, but the context reveals that they’re just talking about a power outage (of unspecified duration), at the end of which all those “disabled” devices would be re-enabled. Also, notice the units involved: nanotesla. (Fifty of them for an ordinary storm; 600 for the March 1989 storm; an estimated 800 to 1750 for the Carrington event.) A nanotesla is a mighty small magnetic field; even with hundreds of them, that’s why it takes loops measured in miles to encompass enough flux change to cause problems. Also, at least according to those figures, the Carrington event was at most three times as strong as the 1989 storm, and might have only been a little stronger.

    They also throw around a figure of $2 trillion in damage, but if you actually look at the NAS report they reference (a free download), it doesn’t really substantiate that figure; it sounds like it might be just one guy’s wild-ass guess. He makes reference to transformers “at risk”, but at how much risk? All that it takes to protect them is to turn them off — disconnect them — and the grid has lots of automatic disconnect switches whose purpose is to protect equipment. Indeed, another section of the report talks about wanting to prevent unnecessary breaker trips due to imperfect measurement of induced currents; the concern there is not about permanent damage but about the desire to keep the grid running through the storm.

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