Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The noise hustled Weekly founder-CEO Bradley Zeve inside the building’s second story from the roof, where he was sweeping puddles of rain to prevent leaks.
The loud sound would be kinda fun to hear—like fireworks—if we didn’t know the chaos it would bring with it. From the last storied storm to hit the Peninsula, we understood that the bomb-like thud was a nearby transformer blowing—and that the servers, network and Internet we depend on to publish the paper on Tuesday nights were tied to it.
Thankfully only the upstairs editorial department went dark. We all began to reshuffle our systems downstairs. We were crowded, but functional—think interdepartmental retreat with less relaxing timetables. A resilient group exchanged shrugs, raised eyebrows, wry grins.
“Ah, another deadline day,” at least four staffers said. Now we were totally dark. The controlled chaos ticked up a touch.
Several of us scrambled over to the small generator we’d test-run unsuccessfully on an anticipatory Monday. Design Director Karen Loutzenheiser, production intern Kenny Allison, Zeve and I tinkered with amateur resuscitation techniques.
No dice. Then this from Zeve: “We can try the Mercedes mechanic across the street.”
Meanwhile, I read an edited chunk of the cover story to Weekly vet Stuart Thornton over the phone because I couldn’t send the proofs his way—while he watched sewers explode in downtown Monterey. An intern and I took to our laptops, which we’d have to drive home to recharge should they run out of juice, swapping flash drives as we went. Fact-checking calls got harder to complete. “All circuits are busy,” chirped the robot voice on my cell phone.
Across the street, Honest Engines' Nick Nguyen set aside his customer call and for $20 got the little engine chugging like a Benz.
“There’s more money in fixing generators than Mercedes,” Nguyen joked the next day.
After a flurry of power strips and a tangle of extension cords were taped to our recycled rubber floor, we had a pair of lamps, nine mini Macs, a server and a printer running with relatively reliability off the loud 5,000-watt generator that squatted in one of our atriums.
Our team, and the building, shrunk to as far as the cords would reach. Our production-day pizza arrived successfully. On a laptop, intern Greg Tomascheski programmed a rainy-day play list including Guns ‘N Roses “November Rain” and Creedence Clearwater’s “Who Stopped the Rain.”
The wet night dripped past 9:30pm. When the power came on, we were well on our way to a complete paper. Zeve, meanwhile, had retreated to chainsaw chunks from a cherry tree that had fallen on his house. As he later said, “All in a day’s work.”