Jan 19 2011

recycle your electronics for good [day 238]

I saw this recycling box at the local camera shop.  No, I wasn’t shopping, I had to go there for work.  I was surprised to see the red dot that says, “10% of proceeds will go to charity”.  10%?  There are a lot of collection boxes where all of the proceeds go to charity.  I know there’s some cost involved with the recycling or repurposing of electronics, but this is clearly a retail profit center.  I’m not against retailers making money, but if you have a choice of 10% or 100% of proceeds going to help people, wouldn’t you rather choose 100%?

The really important thing here is that these electronics don’t end up in a landfill.  Most of them contain toxic materials that pollute our drinking water and our environment.  As long as the dumb phones, VCR’s, camcorders, old cameras and old computers stay out of the trash, I can live with a little bit of retailer pocket padding.  If you have a choice of 10% or 100% though, go for the 100%.


Nov 29 2010

paint it… black? [day 187]

I’ve written a little tune to the 1966 Rolling Stones song “Paint It Black”.  This story started with me wanting to paint my front door…

I see a blue door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I hear the the canvas calling from the kitchen wall
I have to turn my head while the color calls

I see a line of cans and none are painted black
With brushes and ideas both always coming back
I see people turn their heads and quickly look my way
Like a new born baby it just happens ev’ry day

I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my blue door and it has been painted black
Maybe then the paint will fade, not an artist saint
It’s not easy facin’ up when your whole world is paint

No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue
I could not foresee this thing happening to you

If I look hard enough into the settin’ sun
My love for paint still with me before the mornin’ comes

I see a blue door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I hear the the canvas calling from the bedroom wall
I have to turn my head while the color calls

Hmm, hmm, hmm,…

I wanna see it painted, painted colors
Black as night, color highlight
I wanna see the sun blended from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted colors
Yeah!

I’m a paint hoarder.  Yes, I’m publicly admitting this.  I wanted to paint my front door yesterday, as I’m tired of the bright blue with the orange bricks.  I wanted a dark gray color, but with my challenge, I needed to use the paint I had.

Now I have a lot of paint, so no problem, right?  Wrong…

Of my 100+ gallons, that I do use on occasion, 90% of them are bad, either molded or dried up.  In efforts to still use some of the paint, I added some water to the latex ones that were too thick.  Some of the paints were good, but I didn’t have enough.  Honestly, I wanted to buy some paint yesterday.  I didn’t, but here’s what happened.   Continue reading


Aug 12 2010

green & clean plan [day 77]

I guess you could call it shopping.  I shopped around for renewable energy plans and solar energy systems over the past two weeks.  Here’s what I found.

My utility provider is Stream Energy.  My one year contract was up last month, so I decided to shop around.  Price was not my driving factor, it’s renewable energy.  Not partial, but 100% renewable.  After comparing the hundreds of providers on powertochoose.org, I found that Stream has a 100% renewable plan.  Since I was already with them, switching was easy to do.

Does your provider offer a renewable energy plan? If so, consider switching.  If you’re a current customer, and in a contract, in most cases they will switch you to a different plan with no penalties.

Now the CoServ thing…

I’m still at a loss of how an area that has been deregulated can have a power company like CoServ where people don’t get to choose.  Their prices are higher (during peak times) and people with this company are stuck with them.  I talked to several people that have CoServ, some like it, some don’t and some just don’t care.  So CoServ calls themselves a co-op, and I guess that stands for ‘no choice’.  Here’s some dialogue I found on the web about this issue:

Customer #1: Electricity has been deregulated in Texas. For some reason, co-ops like Coserv do not have to comply with this law. This seems not only unfair to me but also somehow illegal. Can the city do something to help out its citizens/taxpayers?

City official: I apologize for your frustrations with CoServ Electric. The City does not have jurisdiction over which utility companies opt in or out of deregulation and it is not illegal for them to not be involved in deregulation. Your first action should be to file a formal written complaint with CoServ and send copy to the City to my attention. The next step is to file a formal written complaint with the Public Utility Commission who oversees electricity in Texas. To file a complaint with the PUC you can access their website here. The following information is from the website www.powertochoose.org.

Electric cooperatives and city-owned utilities may decide whether their customers will have a choice of Retail Electric Providers. Customers should contact their electric cooperative for more information.

The City does not oversee or control which electric provider the developer contracts with. However, if the subdivision is not a gated community, and the City accepts the subdivision phase it becomes public right of way. Once there is public right of way established any other utility can operate in the right of ways.

Customer #2: I live in an area of Frisco that is co-op. Thus, I do not have a choice of utility providers.  Will this issue change in the near future? If not, is there a legal course that I could follow to obtain the “freedom to choose”?   It would seem that there would be legal grounds for me to have the same rights as other citizens of Frisco have when choosing a utility provider.

City official: You are correct that CoServ Electric is organized and recognized by the State of Texas as a co-op utility company. Several years ago when the Texas Legislature deregulated retail electric, they specifically allowed co-ops to make the choice to “opt-in” to deregulation, or continue doing business as they always have – that being controlled by an elected Board of Directors. While the City of Frisco has taken the position that all utility customers in Frisco should have the same ability to access competition, the Legislature has not yet made any changes to the law.

The City of Frisco has no jurisdiction or authority over whether or not COServ opts into deregulation. It is an issue that would need to come from the CoServ Board of Directors. Additionally, Texas Legislature could change the law to force co-ops into deregulation by a certain date.

Okay, so what I’m hearing here is that with the right legal jargon, fancy wording, typical politics and ridiculous laws, you can pretty much do whatever you want to? Seriously?  You’re free to choose… but not everywhere.   I could spend all day on this, but it’s not the point, just a frustration.  I welcome any comments on this.  I think everyone should have a right to choose, not just real estate developers and the public that happens to not fall under the co-op.  I have the freedom to shop for power, shouldn’t everyone?