There’s nothing quite like an electrical disaster to ruin a good buzz. The latest entries on this space have been written with an optimistic smile and the reader may have surmised that positive energy was beginning to flow my direction. Recent events offered much excitement and plenty else was visible on the horizon to look forward to…

…Until Wednesday afternoon when a story crossed my twitters about an underground explosion in Long Beach. There was an electrical fire that caused manholes to shoot into the sky as if propelled by geysers. Certain districts of downtown were closed to traffic and stop lights blinked causing confusion to drivers and pedestrians alike. It didn’t occur to me until I turned off the 710 freeway that I was likely sans power in my ancient high-rise. I entered the darkened foyer greeted by the high-pitched alarm noise and quickly realized I would be without electricity and hot water for the night. I took a walk along the beach to 8th Place and back down Ocean to Pine to scout the neighborhood. All of the restaurants and shops in Shoreline Village were dark with handwritten CLOSED notes on the front door to notify potential hungry patrons. Most of Pine Avenue was also shuttered, though some taverns remained open by romantic candlelight serving whatever was cold to disgruntled, thirsty guests. So much for laundry night.

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Thursday morning began with the rude awakening that power had not yet been restored. My phone was on 8% battery and the hallway to the bathroom was more challenging than usual. There was no hot water so there was no long morning greeting in the shower. So much for shaving my lazy, disheveled beard. I navigated the work day, stayed at the office longer than anticipated, and contemplated how much patience I had for another solemn night in the shoe box. I could just stay and rid the fridge of all the spoiled items inside. I wish I had followed mom’s advice and eaten all of those vegetables. Instead, produce, meats, and cheeses were summarily discarded.

After calling a handful of hotels outside of the affected area and debating how much a hot shower and cold bed were worth to me, I committed to the idea of booking a room in Huntington Beach. It was more than I intended to spend, but it was better than the alternative and offered a brief staycation. I packed a bag with enough underpants to get me through one evening away and a casual Friday at the office.

The last time I stayed at Hotel Huntington Beach was under different circumstances. I visited last October to view various apartments and sign a lease before my transfer to the West Coast. After seeing a handful of properties both Friday and Saturday and returning to my room empty-handed, a full melt down commenced. Was I going to me homeless? Would I live in an extended stay motel? Sleep on the couch in the office or in my car? Meet a random roommate on Craigslist? Thankfully those concerns where alleviated when I signed my lease paperwork on the day the movers packed up my Arlington Heights condo.

Back to present time, where I strolled around the nearby development deciding where to eat. I bellied up to the Solita bar and quickly ordered a (strong) margarita. And another. And an healthy helping of tacos. All the while I monitored various social media outlets to determine how long downtown Long Beach would remain without power.

Enjoying a cocktail or two helps to stimulate the mind for evening wishing and thinking what could have been acted upon or what should have been different. I have become more open-minded since moving, more willing to try new things, more able to convey my thoughts. There remains an element of being somewhat unsure of this California life and how exactly my Midwestern values translate to the West Coast. At home I was easily able to devise a plan for a night out together. It didn’t ALWAYS have to include dinner or drinks. Perhaps we could include a morning walk along the lake, or an afternoon at the museum, or an evening at the ballpark. Let’s drive aimlessly to Milwaukee to a brewery or venture to a foreign neighborhood for exposure to different culture. Instead, since moving here, I am at the mercy of another’s suggestions and my creativity and assertiveness is curbed and not ideal. I hope I will soon be at the point where I am no longer the “new kid in town” and have more to offer. I want to reach the point where I am a confident companion rather than an unsure sidekick.

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.

Tesla gained experience in telephony and electrical engineering before immigrating to the United States in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison in New York City. He soon struck out on his own with financial backers, setting up laboratories and companies to develop a range of electrical devices. His patented AC induction motor and transformer were licensed by George Westinghouse, who also hired Tesla for a short time as a consultant. His work in the formative years of electric power development was involved in a corporate alternating current/direct current “War of Currents” as well as various patent battles.

Tesla went on to pursue his ideas of wireless lighting and electricity distribution in his high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments in New York and Colorado Springs, and made early pronouncements on the possibility of wireless communication with his devices. He tried to put these ideas to practical use in his ill-fated attempt at intercontinental wireless transmission, which was his unfinished Wardenclyffe Tower project. In his lab he also conducted a range of experiments with mechanical oscillators/generators, electrical discharge tubes, and early X-ray imaging. He also built a wireless controlled boat, one of the first ever exhibited.

Tesla was renowned for his achievements and showmanship, eventually earning him a reputation in popular culture as an archetypal “mad scientist”. His patents earned him a considerable amount of money, much of which was used to finance his own projects with varying degrees of success. He lived most of his life in a series of New York hotels, through his retirement. He died on 7 January 1943. His work fell into relative obscurity after his death, but in 1960 the General Conference on Weights and Measures named the SI unit of magnetic flux density the tesla in his honor. Tesla has experienced a resurgence in interest in popular culture since the 1990s.



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