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  August 28, 2004


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Saturday, August 28, 2004

It's All About Power

It's 3:30 AM and I'm downstairs drinking coffee and typing on the computer. Re-occurring dreams about my parents and their now sold house woke me up and have me trying to shake off "that feeling". "That feeling" is the emotion I feel at this time of night when dreams take on an extra importance. For me, dreams have more impact at this hour although, those feelings usually go away when the sun comes up. In Southern California at this time of year, sunrise is 6:21 AM.

During the day my thoughts are usually about what I need to do to prepare for the new house. What I need to put in order to get ready for the county inspector who will be looking for violations and discrepancies.

My focus this week has been on digging the trench for the new power line. The previous owner used aluminum wire which he buried without conduit. What the fire didn't get, the gophers did. When the insulation on underground aluminum wire is damaged, moisture gets in and the aluminum tends to oxidize. Some sections of this wire are nothing but bloated lengths of powder. (Not sure what shape the gopher is in)

Unlike the previous owner who didn't worry about building permits, my work will have to pass inspection by the county. Buried power lines must be in conduit and at least 18" deep. That's 18 inches to the top of the conduit and the inspector will be walking the trench to make sure I haven't cut any corners.

"Technically" this work should be done by a licensed electrician but over the years I've picked up enough knowledge to do it myself. The inspectors realize that people in the back country have to do a lot of their own work and they usually just look for code violations without asking too many questions. The bid I got from the contractor for this job was $45 per foot. The trench is about 100' and I'll be darned if I'll pay to have someone do something that I used to do for the Physical Plant as a matter of course.

In a couple of weeks the electric company will install a new transformer on the closest power pole and run a line above ground to a new pole a 100' into our property. My responsibility begins there and I'll be installing the electric meter and breaker panel and running the wire underground the last 100' to the construction site. Not too technical and my material cost is $200 plus $1,200 to SDG&E for the new transformer and power pole. Not bad compared to the $4,500 the contractor wanted.

(OK, now it's 4AM. Wonder what's on TV. Never mind, here comes the cat.)


Catherine at the house site using a magnet to pick up nails

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