How Did They Ever Get By….

A couple of events have happened this last week that caused me to consider the question, “how did they ever get by…?” The “they” are our parents, grandparents, the pioneers, etc. The first event was our microwave oven decided to stop heating our food. We tried everything, even banging on it, but it was dead (a theme that would soon be appropriate). Our meal was already out of the bag and in the bowl what do we do now? Since there is a kitchen in our clubhouse here at the Woods I had the idea to go and use the microwave there. Normally the clubhouse would be empty but that night there was a large group of people meeting there. They were a “death and dying” hospice group (I told you the theme was appropriate) and I had walked in on their meeting. They looked at me with my bowl in my hands and I looked at them, smiled and walked into the kitchen. I tried to be quiet but kept banging the glass bowl on things. Went out the back door when I was done. Wikipedia states that, “Percy Spencer invented the first microwave oven after World War II from radar technology developed during the war. Named the “Radarange”, it was first sold in 1947. Raytheon later licensed its patents for a home-use microwave oven that was first introduced by Tappan in 1955, but these units were still too large and expensive for general home use. The countertop microwave oven was first introduced in 1967 by the Amana Corporation, which was acquired in 1965 by Raytheon.” So the tabletop microwave oven is 46 years old. I don’t remember when I first used one but I can’t get by without one now. How will I fix my breakfast in the morning and still get out of the house to catch my bus. Needless to say there was a new microwave in our kitchen the next day. There are people (in the developed world) who don’t know a life without a microwave. I guess the same can be said for computers and smartphones. My first computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80 which was introduced in 1977. You imputed data with an audiocassette player. What would we do without computers now? How did “they” get by?

The second event concerns water. It was discovered that the major water turnoff valve here at the Woods was leaking badly.

The fix would be a major event. The best case scenario was that the water would have to be turned off for at least 8 hours. The worst case would be for 24 hours. What would we do? The Woods water supply is a large storage tank supplied by a well. There are 109 homes on the property and a 24 unit assisted living facility. There would be no drinking water or toilet flushing water available from the system. The fire protection sprinklers in the assisted living facility would be out as well as the fire hydrants in the park. The local fire department uses our hydrants to fill their tankers if needed. Because of the assisted living facility we are very regulated by the State of California. The fire department was alerted. The insurance company had to be alerted. For some reason Wells Fargo had to be alerted. The Woods administration worked out a plan. They would treat the shutoff as a disaster drill with an Incident Command (IC) Team System in place. I was invited to be part of the team. They brought in porta-potties, tons of bottled water and pastries for the day. Members of the team would have to shutoff water to each house to prevent debris from getting into the house’s water system. 

My first job after turnoff was to deliver “human waste” bags to the people who had requested them. I won’t write much about that job. Most of the day I was doing fire watch and checking on the frail members of this senior community. Continuing with my “green” theme I used my bike to ride around the park (in my team vest). Everyone thought that was a great idea. The work went well and was finished on time. A new valve was installed along with 3 smaller valves.

The water line was flushed out. Then the water was turned on at each house. People were notified that their water was back on and to flush out their water lines at their house. The fire department (as well as the insurance company and bank) were notified. The IC Team had a debriefing to see what went well and what didn’t. Everyone survived. BUT, because of regulations we were still on a 72 hour notice to boil our drinking water until the bacteria tests came back clean. That ended Friday evening. The water was good to go. How did they ever get by in the old days? I guess my question should be, is life more simple now or is it more complicated?   



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