Well, yes, I was having some problems.

It seems that Mom (Mother Nature to you heathens) decided to give us a gift
of rare beauty - a covering of ice on every tree in North Carolina.  How
many trees is that you ask?  Well, about two hundred years ago, a squirrel
could travel from the ocean to Tennessee without touching the ground.  (Of
course, today, In CA or Washington DC, that could also happen from second
hand smoke of a certain type, but that's not what I meant!)  There are still
gazillions of trees here, many right in my own 1/2 acre yard.

As an example, I picked up a twig with a radius of about 3/16 or an inch
with a coating of ice on it one inch+ in diameter!  Multiply that by the
thousands of linear feet of twigs on a single tree, and you'll understand
why my driveway was littered with very large branches off of three ~100 year
old trees, and why so many power lines were grounded by falling trees.  This
happened last Wednesday evening.  By Thursday evening there were over one
million customers (millions of people and businesses) without power.  By
Friday morning there were 1 1/2 million customers out.  Our power went out
three times due to newly fallen trees.  As of this evening (Monday) there
are still over 600,000 customers without power.  Most of them are expected
to be back up by Wednesday night.

One great thing about living in a small town (about 25,000) is that you get
some pretty good service.  All of our power was restored fairly quickly
(ours within 12 hours of the initial outage, everyone within one day, and
the later repeat outages were repaired within a few hours) while those who
live in Raleigh (400,000+) had much slower response times due to their size.
When our store was broken into when we were in Raleigh, it took two hours
for the police to respond.  Here in Apex, the response time is one to three
minutes.  When my son's bicycle was stolen, we reported in and had the bike
back within an hour.

I did receive a nice complement during this problem.  The local hardware
store owner and his manager told my wife that I really did like toys (power
tools, chain saws, etc.), but at least I actually USED them!  Yep, my chain
saw saw quite a bit of action, both in my yard and my neighbors' yards (how
much chain could a chain saw saw if a chain saw could saw chain?).

Some people went a bit wacko.  The husband of a young sister who works in
our store works for CPL, the "local" power company.  A crew was out doing
repairs when an irate man came and yelled at them to get off their
collective duffs (perhaps not the exact terminology he used) and get his
power back on NOW!  He told them they were working too slowly. One of the
workers replied that he had been working for 38 hours and was doing his
best.  The man responded that was the worker's problem, not his, and he
wanted his power on right now.  I didn't hear how the "conversation" ended,
but what a jerk!  I think he would have done better by bringing the men
something to eat and drink and thanking them for their efforts, and then
pointing out where he lived.  But that would never occur to a jerk.
Personally, we offered our true feeling of gratitude for the men who came
out in the freezing cold to restore our power.  We talked and joked with
them, helped where we could, and thanked them as they left.  We exhibited
truly selfish behavior! :-)

Deciding we had not had enough, we (my older son [not yet an elder son
because he is just a Priest], one other YM [a Canadian citizen none the
less], and myself) went on our planned camping trip to Linville Gorge in
Pisgah National Forest in western NC.  We were scouting out a trail we had
not traversed before in preparation for a 3 day trip (an expansion of our
annual Freeze Out) Dec 26-28.  Out there, it had primarily snowed, and there
was 3-6 inches of snow on the trail.  It also wasn't all that cold,
bottoming out at 21F, and rising into the 30's on the trail.  The trail was
rather rough going, being that we averaged only about 1 mph.  There is
something about trying to get over ice covered rocks above a few hundred
foot cliff that tends to slow you down a bit.  But we seemed to have
survived, and have out GPS coordinates for the YM scouts to try to locate
while they take the hike.  We will be mixing a bit of the old technology
(use only a topo map and a compass to identify exactly where you are at all
times) and the new (using GPS coordinates to locate where, etc.) to help the
boys acquire some truly useful skills.  You never know - it might even work!

Gotta love them thar NC ice storms.  It turns out that there were more power
outages from this storm than from any of the hurricanes we have had
(although the outages from those storms lasted longer).  I think that this
was due to the size of this storm, covering a significant portion of  the
state.  In some areas there is so much damage that they are having to
completely rebuild the power system.   We were lucky in that we had just
completed the reroofing of our home, including the installation of ice
shield under the shingles, a few days before the storm hit.  We had the
original 100 year old tin roof on the house, and although it was very
quaint, no one had been able to stop the leaks we had in the 2+ years we've
lived here.  Now I can finally repair/replace the wallboard we installed
when I renovated the house the first time.  The downside is that my excuse
for not doing so is gone.  :-(

Anyway, Father has been very kind and generous to us, and we'll try to show
our gratitude by (1) working harder to build Zion and (2) being kinder to
Canadians! :-)

Jon

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