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Eating Practice – Hurricane Sandy Edition

Posted Nov 03 2012 8:49am

November 1, 2012.

5 million people are without power in the Northeast. My family and I are included in this.

Compared to many others, we are fortunate beyond belief. There are trees down all over the place, and most people in the area don’t have power  - but there are stores that do have power and are being restocked, so we won’t starve. My wife and I filled up on gas before the storm, so even though they are saying there will be gas shortages for a week, we might be Ok. It is cold, surely – most people don’t keep their houses at 58 degrees, but we’re surviving. The contents of the fridge have been either thrown away or placed in an ice chest. I have an inverter attached to my car that provides Internet and is keeping my wife working remotely and allowing the kids to satisfy their Internet Jones.

None of us smell to good at the moment, but that is kept in check somewhat by the cold weather.

The diet – what diet? The largest recorded hurricane on record does tend to bollix up things both large and small – and one of the smallest things I can think of is my diet – so I haven’t. I’ve had pasta and cake and whatever else was getting cleaned up out of the fridge for a few days, but I thought the start of a month – hurricane or no – would be a good time to get back on track.

I feel somewhat odd about this – it is in a way inappropriate. There is a cartoon in very bad taste that shows a reporter talking to Mrs. Lincoln after the president was shot saying: ‘so what did you think of the play?’

Perhaps this is somewhat akin to that – though I mean no offense. Many people are cold and suffering, but in the aftermath of anything that occurs to us, on an individual level or not, we need to begin to rebuild – the little things as well as the big.

So the eating practice starts today, with the house latticed in power cords recharging devices while we freeze.

As we cleaned out the fridge today, I had maybe 2 pieces of bacon. I also had some stir-fried broccoli my wife made last night – at least until I bit my tongue so bad it put me off eating for a while.

I had also gone out early and scored an actual Dunkin Donuts coffee with cream! I was out trying to find gas and maybe some firewood. Our fireplace is more for show than anything, but it still feels good to warm your toes near a fire though it warming the house is absurd.

About 3 pm, I decided to weigh myself: 198.4. I did this quick because it was damn cold, but I thought I would need a reference weight to start the month – and maybe after 3 days of this, I am getting used to the cold.

The stores open are surreal. Everything seems normal – except for a few select parts of the store: water, Spam, and firewood, and D batteries. People seem to be of either two types: taking things in stride with a we’re-all-in-this-together humor, or about to blow a gasket. I saw a man who wanted a spot get out of his car and shout at a woman in a car behind him in a pose so martial and intense that it looked like the prelude to a full-blown physical attack: “BACK THE FUCK UP!”

This was a person at the end of his wits – not about the space, of course, but about everything. The woman in the car made her own gestures of anger, but pulled back – no point in a confrontation when there were plenty of spaces in the lot.

I had gone to buy ice and this was the third store I had gone to. The others were emptied out. They had ice. I didn’t know what I am doing –  just saw ice and figured that I could fill my dead fridge with it and turn it into a cooler of sorts. I bought 8 bags and was quite the sight. One woman who only had a 2 liter bottle of cheap vodka in a cart said: “That’s a lot of ice!”

I replied back: “That’s a lot of vodka.” We both laughed. On my way to the register a man said “The Ice Man Cometh.” I replied: “I’m going to turn my icebox into an icebox.” Stupid stuff, but some people lose their shit and scream over parking spaces while others make dopey comments – I’ll take the latter any day.

I had also picked up some carbon monoxide detectors. Not too far from me someone died and 7 others were sickened by fumes from a generator and I know that if wood doesn’t burn properly, you can have CO build up. We’ve never used the fireplace to this extent and I thought it prudent not to kill my family and set one up.

November 2, 2012 196.4

I need to continue this from another device because the other one isn’t working right now. It is curious the mix of whiz-bang technology and a primitiveness I’ve never experienced  I am reading ‘A Christmas Carol’ to my kids off the Kindle Peperwhite in the evenings because it glows. A great device for blackouts if you like to read, but I doubt Amazon thought it a selling point. In the book, these is so much talk of the cold! While some of the words and phrasing of the book might be tough for the kids, the talk of the cold is clear, understandable, and something they can relate to.

My evening meal was pan-fried chicken. I was going to have it barbecued on the grill but the grill wasn’t working (yet another technology fail) so the pan became the backup plan. Despite our fridge not being on since Monday, the chicken was still hard as a rock so I had to thaw it in some water heated on the stove. This actually worked better than I expected, and the chicken was nicely cooked with Caribbean spices. My wife proclaimed loudly that this was the best meal she had in a while – maybe to cheer up the kids – maybe not.

I had some of the chicken, but not an awful lot – I actually realized after sundown that I really hadn’t eat much the entire day. I finished up the evening with maybe 5 squares of the Lindt chocolate and went to bed.

The kids were watching The Dick Van Dyke show on their computers, desperate for moving pictures. When I told them I was going to turn the Internet off, they grumbled a bit, but they are beginning to get used to things and didn’t continue.

I figured out that if you sleep with the clothes you intend to wear in the bed with you, tucked under the covers, they will NOT be freezing cold the next morning, which I guess is one of those things you never hope to have to learn.

As I woke up on this morning I wonder if the cold has something to do with my weight maintenance. I had read that cold helps with metabolism, but I figured this was NOT going to be some method I would try for weight loss – but with no choice, perhaps it DOES help. I am apparently also quite active, but I don’t know what I am doing. Stuck in the house during a power outage does not seem to be a high activity lifestyle but I did get in 10k steps yesterday – the first day I had used the fitbit in a while.

I suppose I could blame days of being cold and tired and endlessly trying to brain my way through solutions to problems I never encountered before, but I ran down my car battery from the inverter. No problem, I said – I’ll jump it with cables from the wife’s car, then we’ll be back in business. I did this, gave it 15 minutes, then went to put the inverter back on – except I put the wrong cable on the wrong terminal. A simple spark and my inverter – the gizmo that kept me connected to the world and powered my sump – was dead as a doornail.

As there was no chance of finding an inverter within 500 miles, I took this one apart to see 3 fuses soldered in to the device – all had blown. It was a long time since I had soldered electronics, but I could do it. All I needed was my soldering iron…that you plugged in. Fuck.

The fuses were standard issue auto fuses so I thought if I could get a brazing torch I might be able to melt the solder, get them out, replace them and solder them back in place with the torch. This sent me on a wild goose chance to the auto parts store, then Lowes, then home with a battery-operated soldering iron that wasn’t strong enough, then back to Lowes for the torch, then home where I had some fuses that might work, a torch, and a I’ll-figure-this-out-somehow approach – when the lights came back on.

The kids and I screamed and hugged and danced around for a minute – then the kids immediately went to turn the TV on. I heard the heat start up, and I called my wife, who had gone to Starbucks to try to work using their wifi and also because she was totally and completely disgusted with me for blowing up the inverter in the first place.

She came home and we began to rebuild our pre-Sandy lives. We had a number of the neighborhood kids over – all girls. I tried to work, drowning out the high-pitched squeals with music and headphones. My first meal of the day was leftover chicken with mayonnaise. I gave the mayo a good sniff before I ate it. It seemed Ok.

We took showers. What a wonderful concept – showers. I told my wife: “It’s awesome. You stand under warm water and use this soap-stuff to get the crud off of you. You gotta try it – it felt so good.”

In the evening we were invited to a friend’s house where we had a sort of French/Swiss method of dining called ‘Raclette’. You buy meat and cheese and melt the cheese in little trays and pour it over the meats. The closest analog I can think of is a cheese fondue. I had plenty of this, and enjoyed the company as well. They know I don’t drink at present and graciously indulged my lack of indulgence by giving me some zero calorie Propel water while they drank wine. I often feel a social pariah of sorts when I don’t drink – like I am making some moral statement about other people – which I am most certainly not. I think they understand this, and there seems to be little care and no mention of it.

I skipped the desserts, though they were not going to waste – there were 7 kids at the get-together that dug right in.

Coming home I did pig on some leftover dumplings my wife made in the afternoon. It was Ok, though. The house was warm. The lights were on. I was far luckier than millions of people still without power.

I counted my blessings and went to bed. The diet can wait.

November 3, 2012

I’m 198.4. I have some catching up to do, but I can do it warm. I did not make my little ‘goals’ book for last week.

This week I hope to find that space one needs to set goals and achieve them.

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