Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Horrid Day - First World Problems? ;)

Today is turning out to be quite a bad day. Having held off for several weeks, the contractors responsible for digging up the pavements outside houses here in Christchurch finally got around to digging up our side of the street this week (having done the opposite side about 3 months ago, and the street behind us over the last 2 weeks). Why it had to be this week, and actually today that they got to this point it's hard to say...

On Monday they started marking out things and concrete cutting (after taking their little digger for a bit of a joyride around the block, causing "more-than-mild-quake" shaking as it slowly shuddered from one place to another. Yesterday morning, they were at it from 8am, turning much of the pavement into a giant mound of regurgitated earth - like a giant gopher or something had had a digging frenzy.

This morning, they were back at it again (having successfully blocked off the rubbish truck from being able to collect anything from this side of the street, with their cones, barriers, and heavy machinery that they just left lying around parked the wrong way), pounding the earth with the digger - boom, boom, boom (accompanied with the requisite mild-quake-like ground shaking, and the clackety clackety of the bucket), followed by the sound of shovels scooping clump after clump of earth. Apart from being a bit of a rude awakening, this was mere "nuisance" territory.

Things took a turn for the worst around 11:30, when suddenly the power cut out. Fortunately I work with a plugged-in laptop these days (and since the quakes, you really wouldn't want to be using a desktop tower, unless it's easily maneuverable and comes with it's own private UPS - there really is the risk that the power just cuts out while you're in the middle of something!), so I had some time to close down/hold off doing anything power intensive and to start investigating the cause of the problem.

It soon transpired that it wasn't just the power supply to the computer, but the whole house had lost electricity. With digging still going on outside about 1 driveway down, the culprits were pretty obvious! When I got out there to inquire, it turned out that the next door neighbour (i.e. the one whose house the digger was in front of) had also lost power. It quickly transpired that, no, it was not a planned outage (and if it had been, I'd have been demanding answers on why there was no prior notification). In fact, these guys were oblivious to the fact that anything had happened, and were continuing to dig as we discussed the problem. Eventually, their supervisor came, and started tracking down the story - apparently the house on the other side still had its power, so, after a bit more pestering from us, he called stop work to the digger and digging, and called the power faults people (i.e. Orion).

About 30 minutes later, the guy from Orion finally arrives, and starts trying to figure out what's going on. (I gather at this point that the contractors told him that they thought it was a particular spot where they'd broken stuff; this later turned out to be a fluke though). Finally, they sign off on some paperwork, and disappear - but not before I manage to quiz him on how long it should take to resolve the problem: "at least 4 hours" was the reply, along with something about them needing to get some other guys in to have a dig around, find the broken cable, and then replace and join it all up.

Now, 4 hours on any average day may not be such a big deal. But today was going to be 28 deg C (i.e. relatively HOT; it was already something like 25 deg C at the time). And, as you know, a fridge without power on a hot day is not in a very good thing to have... especially a fridge full of goodies...

Only about an hour later did more workers start to show up. But, it soon transpires that the previous place they were looking was a a non-issue, and that they would have to start searching the entire street's cables... Gah!


At this point, I headed off back to my uni office to hopefully get some work done with a bit more peace and quiet, working internet, and not being slowly oven-roasted by the sun. But lo and behold, it turns out that there are yet more hard hats outside pounding the pavement with their diggers and trucks. To add misery to the mix, the Orientation week festivities seem to have started up, meaning the big party tent + soundsystem were all set up and were starting to blast loud noise back around campus... a low, rumbling bass-ey throbbing growl that rattles everything in its path. Aarrrggghhhh! Enough with the noise already


As at the time of writing (approaching 6pm), they still haven't fixed the problem yet. I suspect they don't even really know where the problem is! Thanks alot for nothing folks!  

EDIT: Finally, just before 7, some hard working folk from Connetics finally got everything sorted, turning the power on just as we were about to head off for dinner. That is, they were literally lying right outside our gate, fixing the fuses in the blackbox outside. Finally!

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