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March 2010
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Energy Star or Energy Scam?

The Energy Star program was developed by the US government to certify products that use energy aka electricity to reduce energy usage in homes, businesses and government offices.

From monitors, printers, refrigerators, washers, dryers, and just about every other item that plugs into a wall socket. The theory is that ‘certification’ can help us all make choices to not only improve our lives with smaller electric bills, but to also reduce energy consumption. Some products are even available for tax deductions. Great Idea. A win for consumers and the planet.

Not So Fast.

The Congressional Accountability Office submitted over a dozen bogus products and got them ‘certified’ in an operation lasting 9 months. Like a gasoline powered alarm clock, or heat pumps that only existed on paper.

It’s not like we don’t have enough confusion in selecting and using products that are supposed to be saving us money, or are renewable or in some other reduce our impact on the world in which we live.

Here are a couple of sources for more information:

Daily Tech: Updated: GAO Discovers EnergyStar Program is Incredibly Flawed
NewYork Times: Audit Finds Vulnerability of EnergyStar Program

Here is the Congressional Report [PDF]

Internet, Gravity and Feed Corn

My Internet has been until recently always on. My Internet, TV, and Phone (in order of importance) all come from the same company. I have been having connectivity problems for some time, like the last year and a half. Part of the problem is a signal strength causing the TV to not get all of the channels. A few weeks ago the phone vanished. The repair folks came out and replaced the box outside. Got phone, started losing internet between 10 at night until 9-10 in the morning. For someone who is on the web late at night and starts up around 4 am, this was not a good thing.

In the last year every bit of cable and connections in the house has been replaced. I even went and bought a new modem. Getting the provider to recognize it on the network was an exercise of its own.

Here is a real problem as the provider only has techs between 9-7. Since my problem was between 10 at night until 9-10 in the morning you can begin to taste the insanity. So when they come during the day, it is on. sigh…. One of the most annoying parts of these adventures is the playbook mentality of the techs. Not their fault as the company seems to feel this is the one true way. Having has a parade of tech come through doing the same things over and over again, despite the length and breadth of conversations with the tech support folks, the techs show up doing the same damn things over and over again. I have mentioned to them repeatedly that the drop from the alley to the house was the culprit as the wire in the house was new and they could connect from the office to the connection point in the alley. By a process of elimination, whether by Sherlock Holmes or Occams Razor, replacing the drop should solve the problem.

But Nooooooo! The people on the phones can schedule service, but there is no place for notes such as conversations with customers and or more importantly a history of previous service calls. Hence the techs doing the same snoopy dance over and over. This is not a criticism of the techs, as they were all courteous, knowledgeable, and workman like. The problem is a management function like so many of these service industries are.

The business model is simple. Sign us up, provide a product, make money. The connectivity game is not nearly as competitive as folks would have you believe. There is infrastructure such as lines and connections to maintain. Although the mobile phone industry is being savaged by not maintaining the infrastructure to keep up with demand especially in the smart phone category. They are stuck in the modem sales mud hole. This is in the early days of the internet, ISP’s would sell 10 connections for every modem they had under the theory that this was over capacity. Back then you needed a dialer, telnet, and Archie and Veronica were your search tools and browsers fit on a 720K Floppy. Back then we didn’t surf the net. we dog paddled. We lived in the dancing bear universe. We were amazed that the bear danced and didn’t criticize the lack of form.

Providing service in case of connectivity product failure should not (which is of course my optimism, trying the glass half full meme) require a legion of techs who are doing the same snoopy dance, sent out in the field with inadequate information especially after the third service call.
During this period I fslipped off a ladder in the rain. Not far, but screwed up my back muscles something fierce. More on that later.
The second to last tech did call for a maintenance request, where they would ping my modem to see if it was on the network at 2 hour intervals.

Progress I thought… Silly me. They checked it during the day when I had connectivity and closed the ticket. sigh….
While I was hobbling around as I could not sit or lay down for any length of time and I walked around like a real old fart, the last tech showed up in the early morning while the connection was down. Finally the drop got replaced and everything is working great including me, which brings us to seed corn.
Being a remodeler one has a love hate relationship with gravity. Some times too much, some times not enough. It was raining and I was getting something off a short roof before it rusted. On the way down Gravity farted and I ended up on the ground. Do not use ladders in the rain. Full Stop.
Feed Corn
I got up, put things away and went to bed. The next morning it was a 20 minute slither to the bathroom 10 feet away. It went downhill from there. This is a bag of Feed Corn. Denim Cover filled with Feed Corn.

You put it in the microwave oven for 2-2 1/2 minutes and get about an hour of heat. Absolutely wonderful for strained muscles. Plus you don’t have to plug it in. So basically that is what I have been doing for the last month.
I did manage to watch the complete Buffy the Vampire Slayer
. A lot of those large companies resemble vampires and other monsters. If only I had a Slayers Strength and a few wooden stakes…..