So I guess I’ll unplug the TV next?

A while ago, I was having a lot of electrical issues at my apartment. The lights would flicker constantly and went completely off several times, for several minutes at a time. When watching TV the screen image would dance around, and the set would shut itself off. The battery on my laptop died completely, just would not hold a charge, after there was huge power surge that popped my circuit breaker and left my apartment reeking of ozone.

I started unplugging my laptop before going to work, and told my landlady that we needed an electrician very soon. When the electrician came and fixed everything, he informed landlady that my meter must be broken as it was hardly moving. She told me this, and told me that I should probably report it, but when I thought about it, I wondered “why would my meter be moving much? The only things that were running in my apartment at that time were the fridge and my alarm clock– certainly they can’t use that much power.

So I’ve continued to unplug my computer both when I’m at work and when I go to sleep resulting in a $5 decrease in my monthly bill. I’ve started subbing in energy efficient lightbulbs whenever the others burn out, I turn off all of my fans when I leave the house, and read by daylight when I’m at home. Now that National Grid announced a 22% rate hike, I’ve started unplugging the TV and DVD player whenever I’m not using them. Frankly, there’s not much else I can shut off/unplug and I just got my electric bill yesterday, which was shocking.

For a girl who’s meter moves so slowly someone thought it was broken– my monthly charge for just electric was $53.85– an increase of almost $20. I can’t imagine what’s going to happen this winter when I can’t afford the natural gas to heat my place and rely instead on space heaters. I guess I’ll just limit myself to only one room.

July 18, 2008 Posted by | by theagirl, frugality | , , , , | 3 Comments

The Rich Keep Geeting Richer…

Car being towed

Car being towed

This morning I woke up and they were towing cars on my street, again. In Providence, parking on city streets overnight is illegal. We are the only municipality nationwide with such a ban, and it is a major issue for many (most!) residents. Now, I am fortunate enough to have a parking spot but a very large number of my neighbors simply have nowhere to park. The (ridiculous, unnecessary, cruel) on-street parking ban forces many residents with nowhere else to park to just risk it. Usually, cops are understanding and give people parking on a Providence street in front of their own house about four tickets a month max.

Now, lately, National Grid has been doing construction on our street at about 7am on some mornings. This construction is an awfully sore point with me: National Grid just passed a huge rate increase, they will be charging Rhode Islanders about 21% more monthly for electric now. Poor senior citizens will inevitably freeze to death and die in Winter, as utility prices average easily 30 dollars more a month. The day after their big windfall, they started ruining my mornings. They are putting in more power lines or something, merely to taunt me.

The construction workers leave large, loud, bulldozer type things running idly outside my window around 7am for an hour, while they sit and smoke cigarettes and try to see my boobs as I get out of bed, laughing about how it is “only going to get worse.” (They really said that!) A cop is there to protect them as they try to see my boobs, and to tow all of the cars of my hardworking and unfortunate neighbors. The real problem with this situation is we get absolutely no notice. We park our cars on the streets at night, and then in the morning they put out NO PARKING TOW ZONE signs on our street about 20 minutes before they tow our cars away. Sometimes they knock on doors, sometimes they don’t. The signs have no dates or times on them in the spaces clearly intended for such things. So this morning I decided I would do something about it. First I went outside and asked the construction workers to please not leave their large trucks running loudly and empty outside my window. I am paying for that wasted gas, I should not also have to be woken up by them, flaunting their wastefulness. Next, I approached the tow cop. I explained to him my roommate had been towed after parking outside her own house. I explained we were given no notice at all before the towing began. We were parked on our own street, and they took our cars away with no notice or explanation. He said “well aren’t these signs notice” and I replied “Sir these signs went up this morning, and there is no date or time frame on them… what do you expect us to do, guess?” The cop, I could tell, felt bad. He is a working man too, and he said “well, that is a valid argument, if they can take the time to put up these signs, they can certainly take an extra minute to fill them out properly” and proceeded to tow my neighbors cars. Regardless of whether they start doing things the right way, I felt vindicated that I at least got the cop to admit wrong doing. I got on my bike, glaring at the wasteful construction men, and rode downtown to catch the bus, which was overfull with similarly frustrated citizens.

The gap between the rich and the poor is the largest it has been since the Gilded Age. My neighbors are not wealthy people, and the million dollars, and wasted emotional energy it takes to get your car out of hock I can see as being the breaking point for some of them. I was trying, in my little rant to my buddy, the copper, to simply bring a little fairness to a system that seems to be working against other West Enders at every stop. The rate increase happened, we can’t change that. They will soon be reducing bus service on RIPTA, truly forcing many of us who work or go to school past seven P.M. to drive. That is if we still have jobs, considering the R.I. state budget cut millions and millions of dollars from the student budget at URI (where I work, and I am writing this from a selfish perspective). And the rich keep getting richer. The same fell swoop that took away URI art galleries, student budgets, and library services, gave a tax cut to people making over a quarter million dollars a year. Why has there not been more backlash? What twisted, corrupt, evil logic, was Carcieri employing there? How much more can they squeeze us before we just pop like sad little worker balloons?

July 16, 2008 Posted by | by jennatalia, news, seriously? | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments