Friday, July 13, 2012

My Day In Hell

It's time to gather the kiddies and the old people and the pets around the computer monitor, and settle in for a tale of nearly unparalleled awfulness and tribulation.  Yesterday was probably one of the worst days I've ever had to get through, and I'm still reeling from the head-spinning shock.  I'll keep the ugly details down to a minimum, since there is so much to slog through, but for now, suffice to say that day was a constant, dizzying stream of the truly wonderful and the truly awful.  So pour yourself a big ol' glass of battery acid, because it was definitely "one of those days."

Actually things started to get weird the previous day, Wednesday.  It started with an abandoned rabbit call at a run-down apartment building in north Phoenix.  It seems that some tenants moved out in the middle of the night and left their two rabbits to fend for themselves on a second-floor patio.  I'm not going to start on the kind of vile human detritus that would do that to a couple of rabbits they had as pets.  I guess for some people it's impossible to form an emotional bond with anything, and that is probably the worst punishment anyone could endure, living life without love and caring for anything other than your own worthless piece-of-shit existence.  Anyway, the people who called had no idea what to do and had no means of transporting them to the Humane Society, where they could be cared for.  So I said I would run a taxi service and take them.  The two bunnies were youngsters, one black and the other black and white, and were extremely friendly and sweet.  How someone could turn their backs on them and walk away without any concern for their welfare is so far beyond my comprehension I have no words.

After that was done, I got a call from one of our foster caregivers, Nancy, who was fostering Tilly and her four babies for Brambley Hedge.  It seems her home's air conditioning went out, something you definitely DON'T WANT to happen in Phoenix in July, and I had to get Tilly and her brood out.  I went to pick them up, and I also took in her 8-week-old kitten she is fostering.  The kitten is black with gold and green eyes, and just a bundle of limitless energy and play.  Little Krazy Kat thinks my pet doves are really fascinatng and particular my dove Lily, who has free range in the house.  Kitteh thinks Lily is the Best Thing Ever.  I haven't had a kitten in my house for a very long time and I had almost forgotten how much fun they can be.  Except when they wake up at 4am and won't stop meowing.  More on that later.

Late that evening around 11pm, when I was getting ready for bed, a monsoon storm kicked in outside and the rain started coming down and the wind started howling.  Monsoon storms can be violent and unpredictable, and this one was a doozy, with loud, crashing thunder and extreme lightning.  I was watching it out the front window when an enormous blast of lightning struck.  The entire sky turned a brilliant, emerald green for a split second, something I had never seen before, and it hit near a utility pole on the other side of my back fence, causing a power transformer to blow up.  There was a really loud explosion, and the entire block was plunged into blackness.  Losing all power is also something that you NEVER EVER want to deal with in the middle of summer.  When that happened, the first words out of my mouth were, "I am SO screwed."  I had no idea how true that would be.

So here I am in the sweltering darkness, unable to do much of anything.  I did go around and made sure the rabbits and the kitten were secured, and just had to wait it out.  I called the local electric company and they gave a restoration estimate of 3am.  It was too hot to stay in bed, so I tried laying on the ceramic tile floor in my bedroom.  It was the only way to stay cool, but sleep was impossible.  Around 1am the houses across the street got power back, but my side of the street is on a separate electrical grid, and we stayed in darkness.  Turns out, getting power back early wouldn't have made a bit of difference.

Three A.M. came around with no change, so I called the electric company and now they said 5am restoration.  Great, I thought, but really there was no choice.  I couldn't sleep and was starting to get headaches, backaches and leg cramps.  Bitch whine moan, I know, but you try sleeping on a hard floor for five hours and see how you feel.

Around 4am Kitteh woke up and did not know where she was, and started a constant meowing which continued until 7am.  I was starting to think I had died and gone to hell at some point.  Morning also brought a realization that my recycling bin, which I had placed out by the street for Thursday collection, had been knocked over and my trash had been blown up and down the whole street.

It began to get light outside and this long, horrendous night was coming to an end, but not before I noticed that the strong winds had ripped one of my garage doors nearly entirely off.  While I was fixing that, power was finally restored at 7:15am, and I thought I might be home free. But when I turned on the air conditioning - nothing.  It wouldn't start, almost like it had no power.  I ran back and forth desperately from the side of the house where the A/C unit was to my back patio where the circuit breakers were and could find nothing wrong.  I began to panic since I had over 20 rabbits in my house and the temperature was only going to go up from that point, and without a doubt my worst nightmare is having lots of bunnies in the house and no air conditioning.

I checked my land line phone and it too, was dead, no dial tone, just silence.  I thought well, due to the violent storm maybe there was a phone outage.  My cell phone still worked and I ended up calling BHRR friend and supporter Galen Boal, who runs an air conditioning repair business, and he very graciously came over at 8am and fixed my A/C and got it running.  He said he did it for the bunnies and would take no payment.  I can't express how thankful I am to Galen for his willingness to help and the donation of his time and expertise to keep the bunnies (and me) comfortable and cool.

So, with the A/C blasting lovely cool air throughout the house, I thought well, I may be out of the woods NOW.  Oh, that would hardly be the case...

I went to my desktop computer and turned it on to log in and check email, and the flat screen monitor would not turn on.  After a bit of checking I determine the power supply transformer was dead.  How odd, I thought.  So I went to my laptop but could not get to the Internet.  After a lot more checking I discovered that my wireless network and my broadband router were both fried.  Kaput.  Screwed.  I realized another of my nightmares had come true - a power surge.

When the lightning hit last night, it created a massive electromagnetic field for a split second.  Most of my electronic equipment runs on some sort of transformer, and since transformers are mostly big coils of copper wire, a current burst was induced and stuff got fried.  In fact that's what was wrong with my air conditioning, a 24-volt transformer in the main unit got toasted.  Luckily it was easily replaced, but my other equipment was out of luck.  Also luckily my HDTV, refrigerator and other big-ticket electronics were surge-protected, but I still lost a lot of electrical components, and I am still finding things that were destroyed by the surge.  Even the dimmer switch on the overhead light above my kitchen table was ruined.  A dimmer switch?  Really?

In the midst of all this I still had to pick up a bunny coming to our shelter from the Humane Society of Yuma at 11am.  A little gray Holland Lop, it had been kept in a cage with another, unneutered male rabbit who attacked and beat up the smaller rabbit without mercy.  Their idiot owner finally wised up and separated them, and dumped the smaller injured bunny off at the Humane Society, and from there to us.  Poor little guy, named Giblet, has numerous scars and bite marks all over his head and body, and some big lumpy scar tissue around his eye, but somehow, almost magically, Giblet is still very sweet, friendly and trusting.  It never fails to amaze me how resilient and accepting rabbits are to even the most horrendous, painful treatments.  His photo is below.

Later that afternoon my trusty laptop computer decided it was a good day to die, and did just that.  I got a dreaded Blue Screen of Death and then it would not boot up.  This laptop was at least 5 years old and pretty much had my life on it.  Luckily I did a major data backup last week when it was starting to act up, but I didn't expect it to die.  I think the hard drive is shot.  I definitely have gotten my money's worth from that computer, using it nearly every day for hours and hours, but still, I am going to lose so much stuff in terms of pictures and documents, it is so not fair.  It's in the repair shop right now and may there's something that can be done to save it, but I am not optimistic.  Damn.

By early evening I had just about had it.  I was running on adrenaline from no sleep the night before, and it was like being wired on speed.  I literally could not stop moving, my brain was stuck on overdrive and I had no appetite, even though I had not eaten at all that day.  I pushed myself to get the rabbits their salads and dinner, took a shower and crawled into bed, grateful that this singularly awful, horrible day was finally over.

This day really sucked but somehow, in the grand scheme of things, it could have been much worse.  All my rabbits were fine, I was okay other than being completely exhausted mentally and physically, and no one lost their life or got injured.  But still, so many bad, depressing, costly and unnecessary things happened and I lost so much from the power surge, it really is going to take time and a lot of money to get back to somewhere near where things used to be.  There's something about the beginning of July being the time that some really bad things happen to me.  Last year on July 6th was my automobile accident where my car was totaled, this year it was the Storm from Hell and the horrific aftermath.  Sometimes life really sucks, but as with everything, you find a way to get through it.


  1. That all stinks Stephen. I am happy to hear a friend fixed your AC for free though. We never forget those that helped us out when things get bad. 2 summers ago my AC went out and it was 8 days before they fixed it. My compressor was under warranty and I had to wait for them order one. Nobody gave a damn that we were sweltering except the rescue. They loaned me their backup window units.

  2. Thanks, Christina. As I said, the day was a weird potpourri of bad, ugly things and moments of gratitude (getting the A/C fixed) and joy (the kitten and the new bunny from Yuma). It was a roller-coaster ride of a day, and I hope that's the last one for a long time.:-) I'm glad you had good people to assist you in your hour of need, too.