Are our NYC (and surrounding) area noders doing all right? Not that I expect them to answer for themselves, but...

At about 5PM Eastern time yesterday, a power failure in or around New York state caused a ripple effect that's blacked out entire cities from New York City as far as Cleveland, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan, plus a big chunk of Ontario. It seems to have only moved east and northeast of NYC, so places like Washington, D.C. are unaffected. This is described as the largest blackout that North America has ever seen, period.

Kind of fascinating from an engineering perspective, really. The analysis as I've heard it so far is that when the failure occurred at one point in upstate New York, it caused areas of the power grid to basically surge to meet the increased demand from neighboring areas. To protect themselves from damage caused by that surge of demand, those neighboring grids shut down automatically...and repeat as necessary. So strictly speaking, the blackouts happened because the grid did exactly what it was supposed to do.

This morning I expected to hear all sorts of bad news from the New York City area, but so far it seems like everything's going well. It's been a hot couple of days there, but I suppose that's better than a freezing one. Office workers in Manhattan put their post-9/11 training to use by evacuating their skyscrapers in a calm and orderly manner, police officers began regulating traffic as the subway system stood paralyzed, and people unable to commute home slept in offices, with friends, even outdoors.

I expected tales of massive and widespread looting all across the city. But after spending a whole night without power, it looks like 9/11 has honestly transformed New York City into a community we can be proud of.