Thursday, October 9, 2008

You know it's bad when the printer is smoking

We had an exciting day yesterday at the office. I was working on a project with the Program Manager when we heard a strange humming noise and looked up. It seemed to be coming from the phone switchboard. Suddenly, the switchboard started crackling and popping loudly. It sounded like it was going to explode. I briefly considered ducking for cover. Then, with one last loud BANG, all the power went out.

At first I thought, "Oh crap, we are so getting kicked out of this office." You see, we are in a priveleged position - technically, my team is employed by an NGO (that's non-governmental organization for those of you not in the development loop), but because our project is jointly run with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry has provided us with government offices to use. For a moment I thought all our fancy NGO technology had burned out the rest of the office.

But then I heard a lot of commotion in the hall. Everyone was going around to see the damage. It turns out the office equipment throughout the building had gone through the same demon possession. Our printer was smoking. The surge protection unit had left scorch marks on the floor.

Apparently a few power wires had gotten knocked loose and let out a major power surge, blowing most of the electronics in the building. My laptop was spared, but the power cable is fried, so I'm running on borrowed battery time here. The power is still out at my office so I am working from a colleague's office.

The electric company came out yesterday and said they couldn't do anything about it. Even though they supply the power that killed our appliances, they did not, as it so happens, erect the power poles and string the lines. The Malawi government did that (which probably explains the shoddy workmanship). So it could be weeks before they correct the problem. And then, of course, there is all that equipment to replace. It will be an interesting month.

I'll be away next week anyway - I'm helping to facilitate a national nutrition training - so probably won't post again until around the 20th. Think of Milo on the 15th - he will be 6 months old!


Tina said...

OMG...this sounds like what happened when I was in the Bahamas!!