The Great Toronto Ice Storm of 2013


Update: Monday, December 23/2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013
Merry Christmas. Ho, ho, ho. Or is that ha, ha, ha? Never mind a white Christmas; it looks like we're going to have a black Christmas or at least a dark one.

From central Canada to the Atlantic Provinces, a major ice storm has left many without power and hydro companies are saying it may take up to 72 hours to get everybody plugged back in. And no wonder. Stroll around the streets and you see a thick coating of ice on everything. Branches have cracked off of trees and in cases, brought down power lines. Pictures are being posted online of hapless homeowners who have had their castles invaded by toppling trees. You can see a few crushed cars to boot.

My (funny) story
My power went off last night and as of this writing, 6pm, it is still off. An apartment is kind of dark and cold without power. Not the most hospitable of places.

But, am I the luckiest guy on the planet?

I live four blocks from where I work. Great for commuting; just a ten minute walk.

For some inexplicable reason, the 17-story building has power. Everything north for about ten blocks is out and everything south for about a kilometre including my apartment building is out. What's a guy to do? Well, move into his office, of course. I brought everything out of the refrigerator and the freezer and brought it to work. The lunchroom has a frig with a freezer and a microwave oven. And the company offers free coffee from one of those fancy single brew machines. I've got power, lights, and a functioning Internet connection. Heck, I've even got a four thousand dollar high speed printer and scanner if I need it. Tonight I am going to cook myself dinner at the office and catch up on this past week's episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Ice storm? Shmice storm. Yes, I had to get out of bed, get dressed, then walk four blocks to get a cup of coffee but I did end up with my morning coffee. (Do not speak to me until I've had at least a half a cup.)

I'm guessing the majority of people without power are cautiously trying not to set their places on fire or are scurrying around looking for as many batteries as they can find. Me? I'm toughing it out at the office. Yes, yes, I work here and who the heck wants to spend their weekend at their place of employment but it sure beats sitting at home in the darkness without the Internet. Please, dear Lord, take anything but my Internet! Hell, you don't expect me to occupy myself with something like (Gasp!) reading a book?

If it's true that it may take up to 72 hours for power to be restored, I can't help thinking of the Northeast blackout of 2003. I live in a big city and as to be expected in any metropolitan centre, there is a lot of ambient light, so much so that you can only see some of the stars. The only time I saw the Milky Way was went I left civilisation behind to rough it at a cottage. Imagine my wonderment when I went out for as walk in 2003 and could see the Milky Way downtown. It was truly amazing. It almost made up for the widespread looting. Ha ha. I made that up. Actually, there were a lot of stories of people helping one another out during the blackout. I remember videos of citizens taking it upon themselves to play traffic cop at an intersection. See? When we work together we can bring order to the chaos.

Today is laundry day and unfortunately, without power, I will have to contend with that later. (A Christmas day gift? Power and ability to do laundry?) I do have power here at the office so my Internet addiction can continue unabated. Addiction? Ah, I can be hyperbolic at times for effect. It is my connection to the outside world: email, blogging, research, and TV. Yes, I don't own a television set and I don't pay for cable.

Update: Monday: December 23/2013 at 9am
I have now been out of power for 36 hours. While I spent the entire day at the office yesterday, I did go home at midnight to sleep. There is no hot water, no heat, and no lights obviously. I always shower before going to bed and was considering taking a "cold shower", but opted out.

FYI: Cold Shower
This is where you go under the nozzle just enough to get yourself wet then you turn off the water. You soap yourself down then turn the water back on to rinse yourself off. Since this is cold water, you do your best to not spend any unnecessary time under the nozzle. It's cold!!!

I'm back at my desk at work. This morning's news reports state that crews are out doing their best but apparently it's quite a mess. It's not just a question of getting power back on, it's that downed trees have to be removed to get the lines back up. The CEO of Toronto Hydro came out and said that some people may not get their power back until after Christmas. I look out my office window and I can see where my apartment building is. Great swaths of houses are dark. What to do tonight? Sleep at the office? Heck, when do I get a shower?


I brazenly stole the above photo I found in Google image search. But, credit where credit is due: Photo by joannabananaface.

Above, I wrote "ice storm shmice storm" and forever curious, I found an entry on this construction of derision.

Wikipedia: Shm-reduplication
Shm-reduplication is a form of reduplication in which the original word or its first syllable (the base) is repeated with the copy (the reduplicant) beginning with shm- (sometimes schm-), pronounced /ʃm/. The construction is generally used to indicate irony, derision or skepticism with respect to comments about the discussed object:

He's just a baby!

"Baby-shmaby". He's already 5 years old!

CBC – Dec 22/2013
Ice, snow storm hits Central and Atlantic Canada
The top priority is restoring power to the two hospitals and the city's water system, all of which are running on back-up power. Crews will then focus on outages that are affecting a large number of customers before moving on to smaller outages.

Wikipedia: Northeast blackout of 2003
The Northeast blackout of 2003 was a widespread power outage that occurred throughout parts of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States and the Canadian province of Ontario on Thursday, August 14, 2003, just before 4:10 p.m. EDT.

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