Sunday, November 23, 2008

Old buddy

Buddy is sleeping at his food bowl because he's not sure when he will find it again. He spends a lot of time this way. He's been blind for two years, and deaf for one, but we think doggy dementia is here to stay. After the cataracts left him blind, he knew his way around the house and yard pretty good. Lately, though, he can't find the food bowl or even the door to go out.
Since he can't find the door to scratch, he barks, and I let him out. Sometimes we would do this three or four times a night. Then after he got out, he would wander around wondering why he was in the yard. My friend Anita suggested that maybe he was not asking to go out, but barking because he's lost and lonely. I fixed him a bed beside ours in a laundry basket. He's sleeping through the night.
He looks forward to his walks, a little shorter now. His tail never stops wagging. And he's looking forward to his next meal.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The rest of the Story

The continuing drama of trying to get a refund of my $1670.00 from the power company has come to an end. The money is in my account, where it has been for a week or so. I never thought to look there. The company had told me that they had already deposited the payment into their bank, so they would order a check to be sent to us. Every day we wait for the mail, but no check. Today I sent off another strong letter, then made another phone call to "customer service." (What a name.)

Today I got really upset with them when they wanted to put me in touch with their check-writing company. I told them they could track it themselves, because it was their choice to farm out the job of writing checks to some off-shore shady outfit. I told him that we were weak from hunger and could not afford the long-distance charges to call their off-shore company. I told him we needed medicines and would not have a Happy Thanksgiving and I hoped he wouldn't either. I told him they hadn't answered my letters and they need not bother, just to stuff the response where the sun don't shine.

Then, on a hunch, I opened the window on my on-line account, and the money was transfered back a week ago. Now, I was impressed that the customer service rep was able to do that so soon after my threats. I just don't understand how he got the bank to pre-date the deposit to make me think it had been there for a week.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Do Sweat the Small Stuff

One of the smallest things I can see is a decimal point. It is way too tiny to cause so much trouble. I was paying bills online, and one of them hopped around a bit. Instead of paying Progress Energy, (the electric company) $167.00, they actually got $1670.00. And they won't give it back.
I caught the mistake the next day, October 15th, over a month ago, and called them up. Yes, there it was, the polite lady from customer service agreed. She promised that they would order a check back to me right away. Of course I believed her, but I transferred money from savings just in case her version of right away was not the same as mine. After a strong letter and two more phone calls, all that has come in the mail is an overdue bill, including a finance charge. So they have not returned my money or used some of it to pay the bill. One more call.
This time she told me that the refund check had been ordered October 23rd from the company that actually writes their checks. That company takes several weeks to write the checks because they need to verify that there is money in the account. This strains the imagination, to think that Progress Energy's finances are so questionable that their check-writing company has to run an audit before cutting a check. And I know they have at least $1670.00.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Daylight Savings Time Hoax

I always hated it, and now I know why. I always thought it was silly, without any data to support my instinct. I was right. . .according to the National bureau for Economic Research.
The history of Daylight Saving Time (DST) has been long and controversial. Throughout its implementation during World Wars I and II, the oil embargo of the 1970s, consistent practice today, and recent extensions, the primary rationale for DST has always been to promote energy conservation. Nevertheless, there is surprisingly little evidence that DST actually saves energy. This paper takes advantage of a natural experiment in the state of Indiana to provide the first empirical estimates of DST effects on electricity consumption in the United States since the mid-1970s. Focusing on residential electricity demand, we conduct the first-ever study that uses micro-data on households to estimate an overall DST effect.
The dataset consists of more than 7 million observations on monthly billing data for the vast majority of households in southern Indiana for three years. Our main finding is that—contrary to the policy's intent—DST increases residential electricity demand. Estimates of the overall increase are approximately 1 percent, but we find that the effect is not constant throughout the DST period. DST causes the greatest increase in electricity consumption in the fall, when estimates range between 2 and 4 percent. These findings are consistent with simulation results that point to a tradeoff between reducing demand for lighting and increasing demand for heating and cooling. We estimate a cost of increased electricity bills to Indiana households of $9 million per year. We also estimate social costs of increased pollution emissions that range from $1.7 to $5.5 million per year. Finally, we argue that the effect is likely to be even stronger in other regions of the United States.