Littering or Service?

Recently I received a little present at my doorstep: a brand-spankin’-new copy of the yellow pages.


Now, 15 years ago, this would have been rather useful. I would have been happy to receive the latest copy with all the updated contact info for the local business. However, in year 2013, I really don’t know what do with these pounds of paper. Maybe use it as a doorstop? Or keep around for next bonfire on the beach? I could also just ignore it and leave it there for a few weeks like some of my neighbors did..

I went for the “environmental” choice, and just dropped it into a recycle bin. What a waste of paper, and labor & energy to make it and distribute it.

Anyway, this got me thinking – could I report this as an instance of littering? Going by the book (or Wikipedia to be exact), “Litter consists of waste products that have been disposed improperly, without consent, in an inappropriate location.” Maybe I’m stretching the definition here.. but to me that pile of paper was no different than someone dumping a bag of garbage at my door..  In fact, the delivery man rang me, asking to be let into the apartment complex.. and I politely declined, stating that I do not need a phone book.

Anyway, I just wish marketers and the like stopped wasting paper on advertising (which the phone book really is) that just ends up in a trash can.

Gas Prices

I’ve been keeping track of my gas mileage for a while, and as part of that I’ve been noting the gas price paid as well. I figured it would be interesting to plot this data, and see what the pump gas price has been over the past few years.

What I’m showing is the price I paid at the pump on a given day. There is some “noise” in the data, as I didn’t keep the gas station constant, but the difference in markup among the stations I normally use shouldn’t be more than 10-20 cents, so the overall trend can still be observed.

It is tempting to draw a straight line through the last 40 months or so, and assume that prices will keep rising at about 50 cents per year. Of course, this is ignoring that significant dip you see in second half of 2008…

While most of us dread high gas prices, there is some silver lining to it. Back in 2008, the relatively sudden spike actually resulted in reduced traffic congestion on the LA freeways! Less traffic and less resulting emissions are a good thing.

Interesting Smart Meter Legal Issue

With any new technology, there are always new and interesting legal issues, and the Smart Grid is no different.

I was reading an article about the Ojai council wanting to ban the smart meters in the city. What I found interesting is the ban part. In my previous reading on this topic, it was usually  about folks wanting to opt-out of the Smart Meter program. The latter issue was essentially settled by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) which recently ruled that customer may opt out, however that they’d have to pay an initial fee of $75, and another $10 per month to keep their old meter.

First issue is whether the City has any legal standing to enforce such a ban in first place, as this is a matter regulated by the State of California through the CPUC. Maybe this is a clear-cut issue one way or the other, but I’m not a lawyer so it’s an open question to me. For example, I know that a city cannot ban a utility from putting transmission wires in, so there are definitely areas where a city has it’s hands tied.

Second issue is the impact on folks that are happy to have the smart meters installed, and are looking forward to having more energy usage information at their fingertips. Not only would they be prevented from having the new meters, but they would likely be forced to pay extra fees for not having something that they actually do want! I can see a lawsuit or a recall campaign if this were to happen!

I’m actually really puzzled by this ban, especially since the CPUC has come up with what seems like a fair compromise…

Berj for Judge

A former colleague of mine, Berj Parseghian, is running for Judge, and I figured I should write a note endorsing him. I’m just excited that someone I know as a very intelligent and reasonable person is interested in a public office of such importance.

How often do you hear people complaining about various injustices in our society? We’ve all heard stories of criminals and thieves getting away with it, or even worse, stories of innocent folks behind bars. Well, many of us just complain or lament about it – but a few try and do something to change it.

Thinking about it, actually man folks out there don’t even vote, let alone run for an office! So folks, do your civic duty: register to vote, get informed, and vote in the upcoming elections.