I started this post prior to losing power Monday night. In the middle of writing it, the power went out … and it stayed out until late Thursday night. We had no heat or electric; because we are on a well and septic system, we had no water. We had no internet and no phones either, since I had insisted we get rid of our landline a few years ago (Oops!). We, however, were among the lucky ones. We had no property damage, and the two trees that came down fell as perfectly as if I had actually planned the fall.
Unfortunately, much of my community remains without power, and it may yet be another week or more before everyone sees the lights go on. (That’s why you will currently see a few dozen people camped out in our synagogue recharging iPhones and iPads at any given time. Some are members of the congregation. Others are people who simply heard we have power had opened the doors to anyone who is cold and in need of a recharge.)
There were a few items that came in especially handy over the last few days, and I thought I might run them down in my first “I’m baaaaaack!” post.
First up, the JOBY Gorilla Torch Flare125.
The lights went out, and as Elana put out candles I realized no one had claimed the Joby Gorilla Torch Flare 125 that we had offered as a giveaway item a few weeks ago.
I broke it out and got it ready; during the week it served us quite well, and I would often hear Elana say “Dan, where’s Joby?” Yes, it now has its own name.
What’s impressive about this particular flashlight is its ability to offer a number of levels of intensity. Add in the flexible magnetic tripod, and you have a flashlight that you can position on a flat surface or hang from anything metal. That ability came in rather handy when we returned to our pitch black house each night. (Why oh why couldn’t Sandy have visited when the moon was full?)
It is a terrific item to keep around, and I highly recommend having one or more.
Keeping cell phones and tablets charged was, and for many remains, a huge issue; luckily, the MyCharge backup battery came to the rescue.
I was lucky enough to get one of these 6000 mAh batteries at CES last year. It worked phenomenally well. Where this battery unquestionably stands out is in its built-in connectivity. The battery has a mini-USB, a micro-USB, a 30-pin dock connector and a full USB connector.
The battery can charge multiple devices at once. In my case that meant I could plug in my iPad using the 30-Pin connector, my iPhone 5 with a cable plugged into the full USB cable, and an additional device using the microUSB connection.
It worked like a champ, and it is at the top of my “Must Have” Gear list.
When I was in a place with power, the Belkin Multi-Plug Surge protector Carly recommended in our newsletter some months ago came in handy. This one device let me plug in two USB cables and three tablet adapters at the same time. It was not only convenient, but it also meant I could leave other plugs free for anyone else who needed to charge.
The power being out meant my AT&T microCell didn’t work. That meant we had little to no cellular connectivity. I pulled out the Wilson Electronics Sleek Cell Signal Booster (read the review) and set it up in one of our cars for those times when I REALLY needed to check email or make a call. It was, in fact, the only way I was able to get reception from home this week and with a congregation that was impacted as much or worse than I was I desperately needed to be in touch as much as possible. Thanks Wilson Electronics!!
It was cold, really cold at night. Two garments came in handy. First up was the iTouch touch-screen gloves I was sent for review last week.
These knit gloves have a special material on the thumb and index finger that lets you use a touchscreen device without taking off your gloves. The gloves are comfortable and, while you do need to press hard on the screen to activate it, they do work.
My biggest issue with the gloves is the large iTouch logo on the back of each of them. As I have noted previously, I have no issue with a company adding their logo to a product. But when the logo screams out like a billboard, I’m not a fan… and likely not to use the product.
The other garment that stood out for me was the Tilley Winter Hat I had purchased years ago and still love. The wool hat is warm in and of itself, but what makes it noteworthy is hidden… until you need it.
A built-in earmuff and forehead warmer flip down when you need some additional warmth. They may not look very fashionable, but they truly work; when you are cold, that’s all that matters. Finally, the hat has a hidden pocket inside the top portion where you can stow some cash or a card or two. Any don’t worry about the hat blowing off… it even has a strap to hold it on your head.
The final item that came in quite handy was the Skooba Laptop/Tablet Weekender Because we were conserving gas, and we still are since it is scarce in our area, one trip into the office per day was (and still is) all I was going to make. As a result, whenever we left we took a packed back of gear and clothing with us. The Tablet Weekender was perfect. The outside pockets too my laptop and my tablet along with the chargers I needed while clothing filled the voluminous interior space.
Oh, and there was one additional item that I appreciated more than I can express… the Libratone Zipp speaker we reviewed.
The Zipp packs a battery. That means it worked for more than a few hours despite the power being out. And its AirPlay functionality wouldn’t work once the internet was, and continues to be, dead, its AirDirect functionality meant we could stream high-quality music from our iOS devices despite having no power. It was a marvellous luxury in the midst of extraordinary times. You can read the full review, here.
Having the right gear undoubtedly helped over the last few days, and my list of “craved” gear is growing. It already includes a landline (read Carly’s post), a generator and a few more external batteries. Do you have any Emergency Gear you would recommend? If so, please let us know in the comments below.