Monday, September 10, 2012

Sparks were flying...

Saturday morning at the Woodruff House was spent experimenting with electricity.  I didn't do anything crazy like fly a kite in a storm, I just ran on our treadmill at alternating speeds while Tyson randomly cut the power.  If I survived the unexpected jolt induced by the yank of the cord, then we tried it again at a faster speed.  We did this until I was running too quickly to stop unexpectedly without smashing my face on the treadmill display.  This sounds a bit insane I'm sure, but I had to know how fast I could run on our treadmill while experiencing an unexpected power outage.....These random outages happen daily and without warning.

Tyson relieved that he is the one pulling the cord rather than running on the death trap!
In  fact, several times per day (anywhere between 5 and 30 times), the electricity goes out.   We are blessed to be on a back-up system that kicks in almost immediately during an outage so we only have a second or two in darkness.  When it powers back up you can resume cooking, reading or watching your show with only a moment's interruption.  No big deal, right?!!  Well, I've discovered that it is a big deal when a few seconds without power can mean slamming into the treadmill display.  Yep, That's my biggest fear here in Nigeria!  Knocking out my teeth while running during a power outage and being forced to have dental work performed in an outdoor clinic.  Yes, that is more concerning than food quality, gas shortages, and political unrest....have you ever seen an outdoor dental clinic?

The past few weeks I've been too anxious about the "worst-case-scenario" described above, to do anything other than walk on our treadmill, until Tyson agreed to perform this experiment with me.  He was sweet enough to go along with it, knowing it would ease my mind (and hopefully show me how badly I was over-reacting). 

The theme of my outdoor dental clinic! 
I was hoping to find that when the power was cut, the treadmill belt would slow down giving me a few steps to catch myself.  This was not the case.  When the power was cut, the belt screeched to a halt abruptly, propelling me forcefully forward.  It took all the balance, agility and luck I possessed to maintain an upright position.
Realizing my defeat, I continued walking on the treadmill as I announce to Tyson that I would no longer  be using it to run.  "You're being irrational!" He teased. "Just use common sense and you shouldn't have any problem running on the treadmill on a day like today with clear weather and sunshine.!"  I responded that the weather had nothing to do with the electrical situation here.  This was Nigeria, and the electricity did whatever it wanted!!  Tyson shook his head and walked away just as the power flickered, and I screeched to a halt barely catching myself.  We both had a good laugh about it, and if I were any less of a perfect wife I would have said, "I told you so!"
In anticipation of the electrical situation in Nigeria, we shipped over  4 huge (and quite costly) machines called Uninterrupted Power Sources. They are better than generators because they keep the electricity going without any hesitation. We bought the machines for the sole purpose of keeping important things like computers, treadmills etc running during an outage.  Unfortunately, they don't work here. Every time we plug one in, it alarms that the house has faulty wiring and isn't grounded.  I'm no electrician, but I'm pretty sure that isn't good.
Electrical outages are so common place here, that no one even seems to notice.  While at a grocery store the other day, the entire place went dark.  My kids and I were the only ones who seemed to mind. They shrieked and huddled close to me while everyone else continued to shop by the light of their cell phones...or lighters (that's safe!).  The people in line were halted because the cash registers no longer worked, but everyone waited patiently for minutes until the power was restored and business could carry on as usual. It was a total non-issue and no one seemed put-out or inconvenienced at all by the situation. 

While at this grocery store, I spent some time doing a little browsing.  I'd been warned about the frozen food section and I wanted to see it for myself....  Picture what the inside of your freezer would look like if it was left open and then randomly unplugged up to 30 times per day at varying intervals.  I'm making you salivate for leathery pork-chops, freezer-burned veggies and drippy Popsicles aren't I?  Seriously, it was horrific! I wonder what the health department would have said about the pool of defrosted Turkey blood dripping through the side of the cooler.  Next time I'm near the freezer department I will take a picture of the forsaken frozen meats so everyone can enjoy the image that is forever (Freezer)burned in my mind.   That is, if I can keep my gag-reflex under control long enough to get my camera out. 
The rest of the frozen section looked fine, but the damage can't be thouroughly assessed through a package.  Things like ice-cream have to be taken home before a complete inspection can be done.  By then, it could be too late!

The yellow price tag above says N3699.00.  That means the Blue Bunny Ice-cream is roughly $23.15. The Price  of Ben and Jerry's was a Kidney!  I hope the freezer burn is worth it!

What the Frozen Food lacks, the bananas more than compensate for!!



  1. Wow, talk about an adrenaline rush during your treadmill workout. I had a machine at the gym sputter on me about a month ago, and it scared the HECK out of me. I wonder what that does for training -- gives a whole new meaning to the term "muscle confusion", doesn't it? Maybe it'll be a hit diet here in the States in a few months! "Running Roulette!"

  2. Wow. Get used to power walking or running around the complex.

  3. Glad you didn't knock out your teeth!! Having little to no internet has been annoying, but power outages definitely tops that!

  4. Any chance you could have an electrician look at your home wiring? Adding grounding to your system is as easy as attaching the ground wire to a steel rod running into the ground (that's why it's called grounding). Even here is the US where the power is on 99% of the time, I would not run some devices without a UPS to protect them from those short outages. We hope you are enjoying your adventures!

  5. Fluffy, I called someone to come take a look, no one ever came. Your note is a good reminder to try again. I didn't realize it could be solved so easily! I'm going to get back on it! Better yet, why don't you come on by. You and Tyson can attach the wire to the steel rod, and Kathy and I will chat and eat cookies!

  6. Wow, even running on a treadmill is more exciting in Africa! Probably not the kind of excitement you're looking for though. I hope the weather stays nice for all of those outdoor runs.