Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hug the People and Animals You Love

Two heartbreaks in four days is almost too much to take. I hope the next several days are good days.

The two heartbreaks involve two of my interests/passions -- auto racing and wildlife.

On Sunday we watched the last Indy Car race of the season, but 12 miles into the race, there was a horrific crash, the worst crash I've seen in the 25 years I've been watching racing. If you watched the network news on Monday, all three networks led with the story. There were fifteen cars involved in the crash, several of them on fire, a few flying through the air, and many mangled beyond recognition. I'm so used to seeing these car crashes when the end result is the driver or drivers getting out of the car and walking away. But this one was different; I knew right away that serious injuries were involved. But I held out hope that no one had been killed. Two hours later, my hopes were dashed when they announced that one of the drivers, Dan Wheldon, had died of "unsurvivable injuries." He won the Indy 500 in May, but he wasn't just a great driver. He was a great guy, one of the "nice guys" in auto racing. Some of those guys are arrogant jerks and some are nice guys; he was the latter. He was only 33 and was married with two little boys who are much too young to ever remember him (the older one is only two years old). Sunday was a sad day.

Then today I heard about the tragedy in Ohio, the nutcase who let his wild animals loose before he committed suicide. Authorities say they tried to tranquilize one of the tigers, but the 300-pound tiger "freaked out" so they decided the only choice was to kill the animals because they were so dangerous. They killed 18 tigers, 17 lions, six black bears, two grizzly bears, three mountain lions, two wolves and a baboon. They were able to save and transport to the Columbus Zoo one grizzly bear, two monkeys, and three leopards. It's heartbreaking, just heartbreaking to think of all the animals that died. I understand that authorities did what they had to do to protect all the humans nearby. It was getting dark and the animals were aggressive and were panicky at being out of their familiar cages. It wasn't a good situation at all. I'm not mad at authorities. I'm mad that Ohio doesn't have laws restricting the ownership of exotic animals to people/facilities who know how to care for them. I'm mad at the nutcase who acquired all these animals, didn't take care of them when he was alive, and set them free right before he killed himself.

But mostly I'm sad.

Hug the people you love. Hug the animals you love.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

First Snow

Q. Where were you when the lights went out?

A. In the dark.

Taos got its first snow last night, only a couple of inches, but it was wet, heavy snow that wreaked havoc.

I worked at the hotel last night, and a few minutes after 11:00 p.m., just after I started, the electricity went out. The building that houses the lobby, offices, and restaurant has soome kind of back-up power source. Some lights worked, but others didn't; the computer at the front desk worked, but the outlet the server is plugged into didn't, so I wasn't able to do any of the computerized Night Audit stuff. I couldn't even check in a guest who arrived around midnight. I told him we had no electricity, but he wanted to stay anyway; it was late (and snowing). The credit card machine was still working (how convenient), so I was able to charge him, and he filled out a paper registration card instead of me putting the information into the system.

Electricity was "spotty" in town, with some places having no power and others having full power. I kept calling the electric company's "Emergency Line" but of course kept getting a busy signal. I finally got through at 1:00 a.m. and told the woman where I was. She said they had a crew working close by, so maybe we would have power back on soon, but she didn't know when. "Keep your fingers crossed," she told me.

The TV still worked, and I was watching an episode of Frasier, when in the middle of the show, at 1:45, we lost all the power. The remaining lights, the TV, everything. (I'll never know what happened with the black market caviar Frasier got involved with.)

So Brian, the security guard, and I sat in total darkness, augmented with a couple of flashlights, and talked about football (one of our favorite topics of discussion) and various other stuff. As the total darkness continued and the snow continued, we stepped outside a few times to listen to the silence.

Finally at 3:25, full power came back on. we were skeptical that it would stay on, but after about 5 minutes, we figured it was on for good. I began the process of getting the server and other computer back up and running. I didn't get very far, because 7 mintes later ... you guessed it, the electricity went off again. It wasn't the total power failure; we had the limited power, but that's how it stayed for the rest of the time I was there. When I left at 7:00 a.m., we still had limited power in the lobby and restaurant and there was no power in the rooms where the guests were staying. I got a few phone calls during the night and in the morning from guests letting me know they had no electricity. I explained that it was a town-wide situation and not limited to just their room.

This afternoon I checked the Taos News website to see if they had anything on the power outage (they don't post much news on the weekends unless it's something really big). Click here for the story.

Of course they haven't updated it since 10:30 this morning, so I don't know what I'll find when I go in to work tonight. I hope I find full power.

We never lost power at home, but it's supposed to get down to 22 tonight, so we have a nice fire going in the fireplace.