Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lights on, lights off

Lights on

Last Saturday night we went to check out the LuxCity light show in what's left of our CBD.

Apparently, thousands of other people had exactly the same idea, and several human log jams formed throughout the night as we all tried to negotiate narrow half-blocked streets & vacant lots at the same time.
Some of the concepts seemed a little trickier to install/make work than perhaps the architecture students had anticipated.
One site was still desperately being worked on well into the evening, blocking access to the Gin&Tonic bar a friend of ours was running that night.
Large numbers of people found themselves at a dead-end and were forced to become human salmon, swimming against the tide, as more and more people tried to figure out where to go next.
I imagine it would've been quite the learning experience for all the students involved. Designs may look wonderful on paper, but turning that into a practical reality that involves demolition sites, light yet blustery winds, and hordes of keenly interested onlookers, is another thing altogether. However many of the installations were quite beautiful, brightening up the broken, dark heart of our city. 
For one night we were, once more, the 'city that shines'. 
On the other side of the fence however, it was a little more "Gloomy Sunday" than "Saturday Night Fever"...

Lights off

After heading home we stayed up to watch a disappointing draw between the All Blacks & Wallabies before heading towards bed. And that was when our house had a stroke.

I flicked a switch in the ensuite and pfutt... all the lights went out. But it wasn't quite all the lights. The hall light was still on, the lounge lights worked but nothing in our bedroom, my office or the kitchen. There was no obviously blown fuse in the switchboard and we were tired and puzzled. So, after finding an extension cord to keep the fridge/freezer running overnight, we once more headed towards bed.

In the morning (the middle day of a long weekend) we rang my step-father, a registered electrician, and asked if he could come round and check it out. "Sounds like a blown RCD", he says. And sure enough, it was... but the reason it 'blew' almost blows my mind.

It was defective. A screw wasn't seated properly in the unit which left the earth wire sitting loose, arcing & shorting until it burnt out. According to our on-site professional, this defect should have been obvious to the installer, and the fact that it was installed anyway left us incredibly vulnerable.

What if this had caused a fire? What if this carelessness had resulted in our barely-completed house going up in smoke, causing us to lose more than we ever did in any of the earthquakes? Our son's bed is on the other side of the wall that holds the switchboard... it just doesn't bear thinking about.

Why wasn't this fault picked up in subsequent inspections? Who checks what, and how closely do they look? We had an Electrical Certificate of Compliance issued in August... is it even worth the paper it's printed on?

So many questions floating around in the ether, most of which will probably never get answered. Thankfully, the patient has made a full recovery after the recent stroke and life carries on.

Still, the questions involved in this situation continue to terrify me... what if... what if... but it didn't, and that's the important thing, I guess.

Another lucky break in an unlucky town.

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