Monday, August 25, 2008

3 ovens, all in a row

Wish I'd had my camera with me this afternoon. I went downstairs to catch my ride to the school to pick up Honor, and there in the courtyard, was a bunch of ovens, all lined up like some sort of unexplainable work of modern art. Dead art. And I knew the explanation.

Flashback to last Friday. We'd spent the day lazing about the house. I wasn't feeling all that wonderful because of clogged sinuses and eye-popping headaches. The lights started doing this dim, BRIGHT, flicker, dim dim dim, normal BRIGHT flicker (etc.) action. Well, we are actually used to seeing some of this type of lightshow, but it wasn't stopping. When electronics went off, we were leaving them turned off. No, we did not immediately jump up, run wildly about the house, and unplug things - the surging usually stops.... usually...

Eventually we went to bed. The power went out. The generator went off. And stayed off. What?!?! I have to say, that's a first for us here! Pretty darn good really, for as long as we've been here. We've been spoiled.

On with the story - We share our home with one of these guys:
Robosapien V2
He can be quite an independent guy, if freed from the top of the dresser and powered on, and is a chatterbox as well. One of the things he will comment about is, sometimes, when he loses track of whatever had his attention, he'll stop and say "It's quiet, too quiet." (Other times he'll just wander off and spout something silly like "I am not the bot you are looking for." or "Here kitty, kitty...") (Anyway...) I have to say that when the power goes out, and stays out, it's quiet. Too quiet. Cairo is supposed to be noisy ALL the time. Even Maadi. Having it so quiet... not even completely silent, but ... unnaturally ...too.. quiet... It was eerie! We had a hard time trying to sleep. We gave it a shot though.

Until the banging on the door at 3am. A neighbor had come home to smoking and sparking, toxic-fuming, electrical shorts. Several neighbors apparently. They were waking everyone to check electronics. We unplugged what we hadn't already. Most of our stuff is on transformers or has other surge protection. A bit later, some other neighbors came by and suggested we open the windows, wake the whole family, and evac to the courtyard. We asked if there was a real fire or just circuits blowing. No fire. We let the kids sleep, but kept an eye on the situation... we figured that by this time (generator off and apartments searched) any risk was past. Eventually we were told to make sure the main circuit breaker to our apartment was off, and we could go back to bed - they'd be working until they got it fixed and come by apartment by apartment to check later. It was nearly 5am before I could finally sleep. It wasn't the heat. It was actually cool enough to sleep. But the silence kept me distracted.. that and the robotic voice repeating in my head, "It's quiet. Too quiet."

About ?9am? on Saturday - I never looked at the clock - someone stopped by, turned our main back on. We spent the rest of the day with more funky light shows and other electronics-related trouble and mayhem - like the water going off and on (water systems need power), and no elevators, which made hauling groceries a chore. Good thing we have strong kids! The ACs kept going in and out as well - guess they are on a separate system which was also acting flaky, but different than the lights(?), and the power supply to the major appliances was acting up too, enough so we just turned those breakers off. We lost a couple small transformers - one to our router, leaving us webless for a bit (it gave Brad a good excuse to go to the computer store). We also had bulbs weakened and blowing out - but, we buy bulbs in bulk anyway and were (are still!) able to replace them.

Facilities personnel checked our oven when they reset our main. Guess the ovens were the major culprit/victims in the weekend's chaos. Ours was fine - probably because we'd requested a tougher circuit breaker long ago. We'd gotten tired of how easily the old one flipped because it wasn't set up with a breaker of the right capacity. It had been a huge pain - we couldn't use the AC, the oven, and more than 2 burners without the breaker flipping. Less if the oven was set over 350F! How can you entertain with that? The new breaker might have saved us more than the headaches we were having back then... OUR stove wasn't in the appliance funeral procession downstairs today! (whew!)


Lynda said...

"Heat, drought and pestilence..."

That was super funny and very clever... wish I had thought of it! A friend (a 7 year veteran of Cairo) says that you think you will feel brighter when you return, when in actual fact the cant is reset back to zero... scary stuff those sparks!

Cairo Mama said...

Wild! So glad there wasn't major damage where you had to evacuate.

Cairo Mama said...

Wild! So glad there wasn't major damage where you had to evacuate.

Simple Answer said...

What a crazy, non-relaxing weekend. Glad you still have your stove in tact. Who knows how long it will take to replace them?

Christine said...

It amazes me what happens in other countires. Sounds like something that would happen in Russia or Ukraine too.