At 6:22 this morning my truck was idling in hopes that enough warmth would follow to melt the layer of ice coating all available glass. I had a shovel in my hand, trying to clear the driveway so I could head on outward to work.

The lights flickered three times, and poof. The sudden, unexpected darkness.

You may have heard about the winter storms in midwest. I am one of 268,000 Columbus, Ohio residents without power. With temperatures headed for below zero. Perfect timing, but then it is always wise to remember that wherever we are, and whatever we do, Murphy is with us. I walked outside and discovered that limbs had shed handily from the trees that led me to purchase ReBiltmore, my rather modest sub-sub-manse. Two were resting on my power lines, and the porcelain clevis that supported it had snapped like the tree branches.

Well, that's fixed. Being an electrician has at least prepared me for small problems like this one. I did what I could, set a couple faucets dripping to prevent further freezing and headed over to visit Lucy-S and Braunbeck, who do have electricity, heat and an outstanding DVD collection.

We logged onto American Electric Power's website listing power outages. They had updates on the outages at 4, 6 and 10 AM, with nothing else after that. I was one of the select 283,000 people who did not have to expend electric power to cool my beer. Braunbeck's sister might have to wait 72 hours before here family has heat. Three hours later (five minutes ago) I logged back on and the total without service was only 148,000. The 10:00 AM outages had all disappeared.

Could it be that electric service had been restored to the those people, who would have included myself? I called a nearby restaurant where the manager is manning the phones assuring everyone that pizza will not be made tonight. Something about the ovens still needing juice.

It seems like spin. Having 283,000 people without juice might be bad publicity. Sort of like suicide bombings in Iraq. I do have sympathy for what the linemen are trying to do. I make my living pulling wires and turning on lights. They probably have lines down everywhere in the freezing rain, and have to get rid of all of them in a given area before power can be restored. Their estimate of "well into tomorrow" seems prudent.

But the way to respond to large outages is not simply to roll back the last total, rather it is to add new totals as lights come back on. You don't subtract data, you add it. This either represents spin, or laziness on the part of the web managers. Of course, an energy company would never spin a problem, would they?

Update by 11:30 the power was back on and my house was warm again, my cats happy. Large splotches of Columbus were still blacked out and every mile of freeway had at least one van, SUV or truck wrong side up. Today is a good day to go nowhere. Many thanks to Lucy-S and Braunbeck for taking me in out of the cold, feeding me and showing me fine movies. Friendship rocks.