Posted by Steve on Mon, 03/19/2007 - 12:33pm

I was surprised at 8:45am this morning when the Con Ed truck pulled up just as I was walking out the door with the pooches.

If you read my last post, I lost one leg of power to my house yesterday. The electrician I called pronounced one of the feed cables from the street DOA. He called Con Ed to report it. He also left me with a number to call if I didn't hear from Con Ed soon "in the next two weeks".

But did I hear him correctly? Did he say "two weeks" or the contactor unit of flex-time called t'weeks? Yeah, I know they sound the same but that will only lead to false expectations. "Two weeks" is exactly 14 days; "t'weeks" is, well, Klingon for something. It doesn't literally translate to anything meaningful, let alone time.

T'weeks lives in a different temporal reality from that of terrestrial time. Let's use it in a sentence.

"When will that part arrive?"

"When can your guys get started?"

See how easy it is to say?

As effortless a word as it may be, it encapsulates surprisingly complex temporal concepts. T'weeks is based on quantum mechanics. It's like those sub-atomic particles that behave differently depending on whether or not they're being observed. For instance, the lumber delivery you ordered for tomorrow will show up today because you weren't paying attention, and neither was the crew of reluctant friends you'd roped into helping offload the truck. But the plumber you called to fix the clogged house trap won't be here until next Tuesday because you made the mistake of observing your backed-up toilets.

A sharp reader might wonder if there's a similar arbitrary time unit called t'day. Yes! But it's usually used in the context of returning a phone call or cutting a check.

Anyway, at the risk of speaking of the devil, props to Con Ed for showing up so quickly. The Con Ed guys chopped the ice off the man hole cover, jumped in and found the wire break. It was in an old (1930s, they said) #6 lead-sheathed wire that apparently shorted against the underground steel conduit because of snow melt.

The bad news is that they couldn't fix it today. There wasn't enough good wire to splice and the other two wires were in terrible shape too. In fact, I wonder if this was the cause of my X10/Insteon home automation problems. An arcing feeder could generate lots of noise in the powerline.

They're going to have to pull three new wires to my breaker box. They offered to run a temporary wire through my garage to get my 220v working again. I thought about it and decided that, no, that would probably give Con Ed an excuse to drop the priority for the permanent repair.

The good news is that I have an appointment for 9am, April 2 when they will pull three new #2/0 wires to my panel junction. Guess what that is? Exactly t'weeks!

So why is this good news? Because that's the most expensive part of converting a house to 200 amp service and Con Ed will be doing it for free! My neighbor paid three grand to have those wires pulled to power his central A/C. And he waited three months for it.

I don't actually need more than the 100A service I've currently got. But looking at my ever-increasing gas bill and what I think will inevitably be a shift towards all-electric homes in the next 15 years I want to have 200A service available here.


Posted by John Albin on

I'm going through this exercise at the day job in which I'm supposed to impose a project management methodology on several different areas. Do you know how to change the units of measure in MS Project from hours/days/months/years to t'days/t'weaks? Also, what are the next units up? s'months? t'years?

All of this puts me in mind of the 3 great truths of IT project management:
1. Printers don't
2. Computers are not labor saving devices
3. The project will be done in six months (at all time scales, regardless of current project status).

Posted by Steve on

Isn't MS Project built on the T'weaks hyperspace engine? The cool thing about Project is that you can dynamically adjust "t'weaks" from minutes to infinity any time you want.

I'll never forget what a valuable tool Project was when I was on one project. No matter how much terrestrial time I estimated my tech group would take to complete an assignment, MS Project in the hands of a skilled and motivated manager could be made to reassure me that I would finish it by next Friday. Or else.

Better'n Red Bull, I tell ya!

Posted by Kathy (not verified) on

I have a very poorly insulated 1200 sq ft townhouse heated by natural gas in northern NJ. My husband's circulation is very poor, so our place is NOT cold - thermostat is set at 71. I also use gas for cooking, hot water & the clothes dryer. I do at least one load of laundry per day, on a bad day 4 loads. On average I do 10 loads of laundry per week. My gas bill was $625 in 2005 & $746 in 2006. Are your rates so much higher in NYC?

Posted by Steve on

How are you managing that? I just got my Keyspan bill. $592 for the last 58 days of service, or over $10/day for gas service.

It's just me here and I take five-minute showers and do maybe two loads of laundry/week. Because the house has a southern exposure the thermostat is set at 67/day and 58/night. And I rarely cook.

One of the reasons I'm thrilled about getting 200amp service here is so I can install an electric on-demand water heater. The gas ones require an expensive stainless flue liner.

Posted by Kathy (not verified) on

I am not trying to conserve. One bedroom window is cracked open all winter and the therm is set to 62° at night, 71° during the day. I reran the numbers this morning and they are correct. I did buy a new furnace/ac & a new 40 gal gas hot water heater in June 2005 and was told that my bills would go down. My electric cost was $1,705 in 2005 and $1,825 in 2006, much higher than most of my neighbors but my refrig/freezer has two compressors & I also have a stand alone freezer, both use a lot of electricity.

OH, I almost forgot, I did do something to conserve energy yesterday. I bought a 7 yr spiral light bulb! I bought it because it's for a ceiling fixture that requires a ladder to change and I am not very steady on a ladder.

Posted by Steve on

This is mostly a comment about the gas prices in NYC.

I use CFLs all over my house too. I even bought the dimmable ones for the entryway and upstairs sconce.

That's an interesting forecast. Granted, all-electric living is the most trouble-free for the homeowner (your most recent experience excepted), but where are all those megawatts going to come from and at what price? Con Ed will also tell you that even if all that power was generated, NY metro doesn't have a distribution system that could bring it into the city.

If everyone would just put aside their irrational fears we could have nuclear power plants in the five boroughs or close off-shore. And we could easily save 30% of our demand through conventional and relatively-painless conservation. THAT would be heaven... in 25 years.

Posted by Steve on

At the current inflation of consumer gas prices I think 15 years is probably optimistic. My monthly gas bill is already higher than my electric bill.

I think it's inevitable that we're going to have to revisit nuclear for power generation. The Chinese are using much safer pebble bed reactors so the technology marches on even if we're not using it. As for what to do with nuclear waste, I don't want to minimize the problem but look at where fossil fuel waste is currently going: into the atmosphere where it's allegedly a major cause of global warming. So the question is, which are people most worried about? Pick one.

That said, unlike gas, electricity doesn't have to come from the same source. There are new generations of solar panels, fuel cells, hyper-efficient batteries, etc coming to market which can all contribute. All we need is the focus and the will to move them to the main stage. I have a flat roof and plenty of room for battery storage. I could probably generate most of my own electric power if the technology wasn't so expensive now.

Ramping up NYC's power distribution infrastructure wouldn't be cheap but it's doable.

Funny, after you originally posted this, I thought of it a few days later when I was faced with another of this planet's time anomaly's: "teh-meenah", which is the universal time in which either a single order of spring rolls or enough chinese food to feed a small army will be ready for pickup.