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Mailbag: Ice Storm Stories, More

Doug wrote his column on Monday from the front lines of a bad New England ice storm -- and he wasn't alone:

Similar to yourself, I live in Southern New Hampshire, just outside of Portsmouth. We were without power for two days, but I was able to hook up a portable generator to do the following: 1) get the refrigerator working, 2) get the heat working (it's gas -- just needed to get it started) and 3) get the wireless Verizon modem working. For some reason, even though my Comcast cable was down, the Verizon FIOS fiber was not broken.

This is one of those occasions where my wife was glad I'm a geek! We were able to stream videos and catch up on the news even though we were confined to a couple of rooms.

You must be near us in Nashua. We're still on generator but we're OK. Add one to the geek factor: I rigged up my neighbor with a 2,000-watt inverter I bought so he's got mini-power -- enough to heat a portion of the house and get them hot water (by hooking it to the car battery and using the car's alternator).

Our dead-end street is an island of eight "powerless" homes surrounded by houses with power that are taunting us with Christmas lights!

I just read your blurb about your powerless marooning in a sea of ice. As a Marlborough, Mass. native, we were spared the worst, but our hearts go out to those inconvenienced (and worse). We got ice here but only half as much as you did, meaning our power was only out for about 12 hours. There is something to be said for underground utilities and living near intersections on the grid!

Just wanted to let you know to be ready as the weather we have is headed your way. Out here on the Central Plains (Central Iowa) the high for today is 3. On Sunday, the temperature dropped over 40 degrees in a matter of a few hours and the winds were 30 mph or greater. We were at 50 in the morning and -3 this morning. Hope you get heat at home soon.

About 15 years ago in Lanesboro, Mass., we had 30-below-zero for more than a solid week. The last night of the 30-below weather, the power line on Route 7 snapped at 2 in the morning. The loss of power caused all the hot water heater lines to freeze in our house in the middle of the night. That was not pretty. The whole community was affected.

Ice storms are not pretty. Even here in Virginia Beach, we had that same problem about seven years ago. We lost so many trees around the house. It was like a maze trying to get through it with a chainsaw. Which, thank God, I had at the time.

Glad to hear you're weathering the winter. That's the reason I left Minnesota for the California Bay Area.

And Google recently unveiled its "Native Client" to speed up Web browsers and improve security. Kevin wonders if there's something else about the name that he's missing:

I noticed that Google is abbreviating the Native Client as NaCl. That happens to be the chemical shorthand for sodium chloride (aka, table salt). Is that just a coincidence? If it was intentional, I'm missing the clever reference.

More reader letters coming your way tomorrow, in 2008's last Redmond Report! Meanwhile, send us your thoughts by writing your comment below or e-mailing Doug at [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on December 17, 2008