Are You A Bully Boss? 

There’s an old adage, “If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it.”

I’m updating that to, “If you have to ask if you’re a bully boss – you are.”

What brought this to mind was this letter sent to a work advice columnist:

130301-workplace-bullying-image2968251x croppedI don’t think I’m a work bully.  But my team is treating me like I am.  They don’t tell me what they really think when we discuss strategies at work and seem to avoid me a bit.  Overall, I’d say I don’t have many satisfying personal relationships at the office.  What should I do?

The columnist had some – I guess – OK advice:

It doesn’t matter that you just have a bad temper, or you had a hard childhood, or that your past bosses were difficult, so you don’t know better.  You are responsible…Don’t change because of the results you want to achieve.  Change because you want to be a better person.

My advice:

First, stop thinking of your colleagues as “my team.”  You, for whatever misguided reason, are their team leader, paid more than they are, have little or femaleno understanding of what each person does, and couldn’t do their jobs if your life depended on it.

Second, you don’t want your employees to tell you “what they really think,” because you’d run screaming from the room if they did.

Third, what do you mean by “personal relationships”?  Work is for work relationships.  If you’re looking for personal relationships, try an online site.  Losers.com sounds like a good place to start.

It’s gotten so bad that there’s actually an organization, the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), “dedicated to the eradication of workplace bullying.”  WBI founders state thatworkplace bullying institute “60.4 million Americans are affected” by workplace bullying…

And nobody bullies better than a Bully Boss.

So are you?  Let’s make it easy for you to find out.

Here’s a handy checklist of typical Bully Boss behavior.  See how many of these you can check off:

Final Effort fixed Final

Wow, look at all those checkmarks – you definitely are a…

scan0002 (2)

Welcome To…

Ah, California.

Land of sunny skies, surf and sand, and…

Sexual misconduct in its legislature:

Cal Legislators (2) Fixed

The skies, surf and sand are glorious – so much so that California is the most popular state for vacations.

The California Legislators, however…not so popular.

Especially since the above story broke earlier this month.

Just think…more than $1.8 million of our tax dollars were spent in 13 months money_02investigating sexual misconduct in our legislature.  That’s almost $141,000 per month.

And $141,000 is more than twice the annual median household income in California.

Spent every month from January 2018 to January 2019.

I’m betting more than a few Californians are not happy about this.

I’m betting more than a few could come up with better ways to spend $1.8 million+.

A number of current or former lawmakers faced allegations of misconduct during those 13 months and here are nine of them.  Keep in mind that these were not the only persons investigated for sexual misconduct; they are just the legislators on a list thoughtfully provided by The Sacramento Bee:

Matthew-Dababneh

Former Assemblyman
Matt Dababneh

Investigators substantiated allegations he followed a lobbyist into a bathroom and began masturbating in front of her at an event in Las Vegas in 2016.  The Democrat resigned but denies the allegations and sued the lobbyist for defamation.
Cristina Garcia-

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia

She was cleared of allegations she groped a former legislative staff member in 2014 but investigators found she used vulgar language in violation of the chamber’s sexual harassment policies.  The Democrat won re-election in 2018.
Devon Mathis

Assemblyman Devon Mathis

He was reprimanded for making sexual comments about other lawmakers, described by investigators as “locker room talk.”  The Republican won re-election in 2018.
Raul_Bocanegra_(2012)

Former Assemblyman
Raul Bocanegra

Investigators say he harassed several women while serving as an Assembly staff member about a decade ago.  In one case, he put a subordinate’s bracelet down his pants and asked her to retrieve it.  The Democrat resigned in late 2017 but maintained his innocence.
Sebastian_Ridley-Thomas

Former Assemblyman
Sebastian Ridley-Thomas

Investigators found he likely forcibly kissed a woman.  The Democrat denies the allegations but resigned in late 2017, citing health reasons.
Tony-Mendoza smaller_01

Former Senator Tony Mendoza

Investigators say he likely engaged in unwanted “flirtatious or sexually suggestive” behavior with six women, including four subordinates, a lobbyist and a young woman in a fellowship program.  The behavior included offering a 19-year-old intern alcohol in a hotel suite at a Democratic Party event.  The Democrat resigned in February 2018 but denied wrongdoing.
Bob-Herzberg-9

Senator Bob Hertzberg

Investigators found he gave people hugs that made them uncomfortable but concluded it wasn’t meant to be sexual.  The Democrat stayed in office.
John_Moorlach

Senator John Moorlach

Investigators say he gave a woman a “noogie,” but did not intend it to be sexual.  The Republican still is in office.
joel-Anderson-Headshot-848x0-c-default.jpg

Former Senator Joel Anderson

Investigators say he threatened to slap a lobbyist at a bar near the Capitol, which he denied, and rubbed her shoulders.  Anderson, a Republican, was termed out of office in 2018 and lost a bid for a seat on a state tax board.

We have to spend taxpayer money on state senators and assembly persons and staff persons who think…what?

I can’t tell you what they were thinking, but I can tell you what they (or their mouthpiece) were saying:

Quotes 2 (2) Fixed.jpg

Oh, I get it.  They’re the victims.

And…it gets worse.

In February 2018 the Los Angeles Times provided this helpful graphic summarizing allegations of sexual harassment by California legislators and staff by from 2006 to 2017:

LA Times Graphic cropped

The LA Times called it “the most detailed information, to date, of workplace sexual misconduct investigations at the Capitol in Sacramento and legislative district office across the state.”

But make no mistake.  See that spike in 2017?  While there may have been an increase in misconduct, that spike was also due to the increase in reported misconduct.

Remember 2017?  The year of the #MeToo movement?

And oh, how people talked.  Here are some (but far from all) of the allegations:

  • Sharing pornographic photos.metoo-nurse-ant
  • Sticking his hands in a women’s blouse at a nightclub.
  • Grabbing a woman’s buttocks and genitals.
  • Bawdy office banter, unwanted propositions, uninvited touching.
  • Sexually explicit talk in the workplace, including inappropriate conversation regarding anal sex with Capitol office staff.
  • Inappropriate bodily contact.

Faced with a tsunami of misconduct allegations – and the #MeToo movement – our politicians did what politicians do:

Spend more money.

Form a committee.

That committee eventually led to the formation of another committee, though in this case it’s called a “unit.”

Specifically, the “Workplace Conduct Unit,” or WCU:

WCU (2)

On January 18, 2019 Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins proudly announced the California Legislature’s “landmark independent Workplace Conduct Unit, along with a panel of legal experts to review cases,” beginning effective operation on February 1, 2019.

Atkins’ announcement clarifies that:

The Workplace Conduct Unit will:

  • Receive all reports alleging workplace conduct violations that affect protected groups in the Senate and the Assembly.
  • Assure independent and confidential investigation of allegations.
  • Summarize the evidence for the panel to review.

And then the Workplace Conduct Panel will:

  • Review investigations referred by the WCU, working in subgroups of three panelists.
  • Make recommendations to the relevant house, Assembly or Senate, consistent with the facts found by the panel.money

What Atkins’ announcement didn’t talk about was the cost of these units and panels and subgroups and stuff.

But the Associated Press did.

Remember that original $1,831,000 spent on sexual misconduct investigations from January 2018 to January 2019?

Our politicians also spent $1.5 million to get the Workplace Conduct Unit office up and running.

And the Workplace Conduct Unit has a proposed annual budget of $1.7 million.

Cost Final (2)

And some investigations could still be sent to outside lawyers.

cha-ching-smaller

And we taxpayers aren’t off the hook yet.

Because every time there’s a substantiated allegation of sexual misconduct and a settlement is paid…

We pay for that, too.

cha-ching-smaller

And nobody knows – and the Legislature mostly isn’t telling – what’s been paid out over who-knows-how-many years in settlements.

The Associated Press article did cite one instance of the Senate paying “a $350,000 unhappy and poor Asian woman holding  purse having problem with money flying away, over spending concept backgroundsettlement to an employee who said the chamber failed to accommodate her needs after she alleged an Assembly employee raped her.”

And an April 2018 article in the Sacramento Bee listed a $20,000 settlement in 1996; a $117,200 settlement in 1998; and a $117,000 settlement in 2001.

Rest assured, this is just a smattering.

It is possible that someday we taxpayers will be off the hook from paying for sexual misconduct settlements – in February, Assemblyman Steven Choi introduced a bill that would ban the use of taxpayer money on settlements:

CA Bill (2)

AB-1094 “would, in an action alleging conduct by a Member of the Legislature that constitutes sexual harassment, as defined, prohibit either house of the Legislature from paying any compromise or settlement of the action.”

logo (2)But there’s some irony in that, as we speak, we are paying California legislators to pass a bill that says we can stop paying for their sexual misconduct settlements.

And we’re still on the hook for at least $1.7 million a year for the Workplace Conduct Unit.

Perhaps legislative staff member Elyse Gore put it best when she said, “We have work to do…The best outcome is we create a culture in which this doesn’t happen in the first place.”

“Doesn’t happen in the first place.”

What a concept.

But in the meantime, for us taxpayers…

cha-ching-smaller

Book Review: What’s Fact And What’s Fiction?

book

Publication date:  January 2019

Review, short version:  One rose out of four.

Review, long version:

Based on my extensive though not-always-discerning reading, it seems that when authors write a novel about an actual person, they do one of two things:

  • Stick to the facts as much as possible, and use their imaginations for the rest.
  • Use their imaginations extensively, and include facts on occasion.

As I read That Churchill Woman by Stephanie Barron I kept wondering, “Did this happen or did the author make it up?”  I’ve decided the book is a mash-up of both.

cropped
An admirer said of Jennie, a noted beauty, that there was “more of the panther than of the woman in her look.”

The woman in That Churchill Woman is Jennie Jerome (1854-1921) daughter of wealthy American Leonard Jerome.  In 1874 she married Lord Randolph Spencer-Churchill, an English aristocrat and second surviving son of the Duke of Marlborough.

In doing this, Jennie initiated the trend of young American women from wealthy families marrying titled but somewhat impoverished – or very impoverished – European men.  The daughter attains the status of a title, the nobleman gets a large financial settlement, and everybody’s happy.

Almost never.

Jennie’s marriage entitled her to be called “Lady Randolph Churchill,” and her behavior during that marriage earned her the unflattering sobriquet, “That Churchill woman.”  Apparently Jennie had many lovers – possibly 200, according to one biographer.  Among the aristocratic class, extramarital affairs were frowned upon by some, but indulged in by many.

Or as Mrs. Patrick Campbell said at the time, “One is free to do as one pleases, as long as they don’t do it on the street and frighten the horses.”

One of Jennie’s lovers was Count Charles Kinsky, and this brings me my first example of my “How much is fact vs. fiction?” question.

Randolph had contracted syphilis prior to marrying Jennie, something Jennie learnedKinsky (2) only afterwards, but long before Kinsky became her lover.  On page 262 Kinsky bluntly asks, “Did he give you syphilis, Jennie?”  She assures Kinsky that Randolph “never touched me after that first time,” meaning the first time they had sex, during which she supposedly became pregnant with her first child, son Winston.

Yes, that Winston Churchill.

If it’s true that Lord Randolph and Jennie had sex just that one time, how do we account for her second son, John?  My research indicates that while there were some who believed John was fathered by one of Jennie’s lovers, Randolph’s life appears to show that he had no doubt about either sons’ paternity; on the contrary he went to a great deal of trouble to secure a good future for them.

Then there’s also John and Winston’s striking likeness to their father and each other:

Jennie and sons Randolph larger
The Churchills, left to right:  John, Jennie, Winston, Randolph.  Sadly, it appears that the Churchills never posed for a family portrait.

So which is it, Ms. Barron?  Jennie never had sex with Lord Randolph “after that first time,” or Lord Randolph was in truth, her second son’s father?

Here’s another fact-or-fiction question.  Barron portrays and Jennie and Kinsky as passionately in love over a long period of time, with Kinsky repeatedly begging her to leave Churchill and marry him.  After Jennie’s repeated refusals, Kinsky married a German countess.

Let’s do the numbers:

  • Randolph Churchill died in 1895.
  • Jennie remarried 1900, and divorced 1914.
  • Kinsky’s wife died in 1909.

So after the death of Kinsky’s wife in 1909, and Jennie’s divorce in 1914, she and KinskyFact_or_Fiction_1.png were free to marry.  If they were so madly in love – why didn’t they?

Fact or fiction?

Jennie married someone else in 1918, and Kinsky died in 1919.

Barron’s portrayal of Jennie is not flattering.  In her Acknowledgements Barron allows that most historians consider Jennie a “bad mother and wanton lightweight,” and much of this book reinforced that.

Like the scene that starts on page 115 and really summed up Jennie for me.  It was 1886 and 12-year-old Winston, who’s away at school, was deathly ill with pneumonia.  Jennie mother croppedbriefly visits him, then hurries back to London because she and Randolph are planning an elegant dinner for 24.  “There was no question of remaining there with Winston – a thousand details required her attention in London.”  Jennie tells Randolph, “Sick child or no, the dinner must go forward.”

jennie-churchillNo Mother Of The Year, here.

Jennie, as portrayed by Stephanie Barron, was lovely and possibly loyal; selfish and shallow; artistic, impulsive, and in Barron’s words, “a profoundly modern woman who lived and died by her own choices, without regrets – a century before that was either forgivable or commonplace.”

“Without regrets.”  Fact – or fiction?

But…

It is worth remembering that that woman was the mother of that Winston Churchill.

So somewhere along the way, she must have done something right.

WINSTON CHURCHILL
Jennie’s oldest son, Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister who guided England through the darkest days of World War II – especially when Great Britain effectively stood alone against the forces of the Reich, which had overrun the rest of Europe.  Time.com called Churchill’s “V for Victory” “one of those unlikely strokes of genius that, while by their very nature symbolic…serve to unite and inspire millions.”

Restaurant Review: Don’t, Or Do?

Restaurant:  Jeune et Jolie25967489

Opened:  December 2018

Where:  Carlsbad, CA

When and What:  Saturday Brunch

Review, short version:  DON’T, unless you like ear-splitting noise and over-priced faux French food.

Review, long version:

My qualifications to be a restaurant reviewer are the same as my qualifications to be an astronaut:zero cropped cropped

Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.

But…haven’t you ever eaten at a restaurant that annoyed you so much that you just had to tell somebody about it?

Well, I’m annoyed, and you are the somebody I’m telling.

I’ll start by mentioning an online blurb about Jeune et Jolie that uses the word “unpretentious.”

And a fawning review in the San Diego Union-Tribune that also used the word “unpretentious.”

Because “pretentious” (or prétentieux, as the French would say) is exactly what I thought after I was seated and looked at the brunch menu:

Menu Cropped (2) with lines

OeufPommes PureeLardon?

Oh, c’mon!  This is Carlsbad, not the Côte d’Azur.

And Beignets.  I know what those are – I’ve had them in New Orleans, where they were invented.

They look like this: Not this:
beignets IMG_20190316_152039221_HDR cropped

And how about “limited”?  Though to call the brunch menu “limited” would be like calling the Grand Canyon a “sinkhole.”

I know the theory of “less is more,” and I wasn’t expecting Richard Walker’s Pancake House “with more than 100 items made from scratch daily!”

But the entire brunch offering fit on one side of a maybe 7” x 7” card, with plenty of white space between the items:

Menu Larger (2)

The only one that appealed to my dining companion was the aforementioned beignets, “jam, cream.”

I guess that comma is more français than “and.”

lyonnaise-still-superJumbo
No egg yolk yuck on my salad, s’il vous plaît.

And the beignets were $8, not $6.

I opted for the Salad Lyonaisse, “frisée, poached egg, lardon, green goddess.”

Now, I know adding an egg to an entrée – from burgers to pizza to soup – is très de rigueur, but I passed on seeing a drippy, gooey yolk on my frisée.

And the frisée was fine.  There wasn’t much bacon – excusez-moi, lardon – and the green goddess was more oily than goddessy.

And though the Union-Tribune reviewer sounded enamored of the restaurant’s “adding awhimsy cropped touch of whimsy to the plating,” I reach the bottom of the salad bowl without a touch of whimsy in sight.

One of the attractions at Jeune et Julie – again, according to the reviewer – is the “full open kitchen smack in the heart of the room.”  And I get that attraction – watching a well-run, professional restaurant kitchen is like watching a thoroughly rehearsed play, or Fred and Ginger dancing.

And Jeune et Jolie’s kitchen may have been exactly that – but I couldn’t see it.  We were seated at one of these tables:

sd-jeune-et-jolie-restaurant-arlsbad-20181220-009

And since I was in the chair, my back was to the kitchen.  So, though I was five feet away and could hear the kitchen, I couldn’t see it unless I turned my back on my companion.

Likewise for most of the 90-seat restaurant; more booths along that same wall, most of kitchen view blocked by the bar.  The bar seating – yes, on high bar stools, but only some with a kitchen view.  Patio seating, no kitchen view at all, though an up-close view of the street.

So if diners can’t see the kitchen – what was the point?

Speaking of my dining companion, I could speak of him…hand to ear cropped

But not to him.

It was so noisy that conversation was next to impossible.  The restaurant wasn’t full, but between the taped music, the people, and the crying, whining children (more about them in a minute), this is not the place for any meaningful dialogue except,

“Wha (inaudible) -ay?”
“I (inaudible) -oo.”

The children.  Perhaps it’s the restaurant’s name, based on the two owners’ young daughters, that prompts parents to think, “This must be a great place for kids – like Chuck E. Cheese!”

baby croppedThroughout our meal there were at least a half-dozen small children, newborn to three-year-olds, making their presence known.

Now, the median annual income in Carlsbad is around $100,000, so I’m pretty sure these parents could afford a babysitter.  Instead, they chose to schlepp their young children and all their accoutrements, including strollers – one of which nearly blocked the front door – to this already small, noisy restaurant.

They certainly added to the ambiance – in the worst possible way.  If the place had been packed – merde!

glassBack to our table.  My companion and I like to share a bottle of wine with a meal, usually a mid-priced chardonnay.  We don’t feel that an expensive wine equals a great wine.

Well, the low-end was a $50 Scribe chardonnay, which I call pricey, and it wasn’t nearly as good as $25-$35 chardonnays we’ve had elsewhere.  The reviewer said, “There’s a 70-bottle program of mostly French wines,” which makes sense, since everybody knows there are no local wines to be had in California.

And speaking of pricey, the reviewer (who was there for dinner, not brunch) mentioned a dinner item:

Sourdough baguettes cropped
$9 for bread?  Sérieusement?

“The restaurant’s bread pricing, which at $9 for a small baguette and single brioche roll may be the most expensive bread service in San Diego.  A month after opening, the price was pared down a dollar from $10, but it still needs rethinking.”

You think?

The reviewer summed up her experience by comparing the restaurant to her many dining experiences in France:  “Jeune et Jolie captures both the nation’s classic flavors as well as the its joie de vivre.”

I would have enjoyed a bit more joie de vivre and a lot less of the…

pretentious cropped.jpg

Thanks To SDG&E, Dinnertime In San Diego May Become Our…

The Scenario:

It’s dinnertime and you’re sitting at the table.

dinner wine is good but no cooking till after 9pm
Wine is fine, but no cooking till after 9pm!

You may be by yourself, or with some combination of Significant Other, children, family members and/or friends.

You’ve lit candles on the table; otherwise your home is in complete darkness…

And it’s hot as hell in the house…

And nobody’s cooking…

And nobody’s eating…

san diego croppedBecause…

We’re in San Diego and it’s between 4pm and 9pm.

And sometime in March, San Diego, “America’s Finest City,” may become “America’s Darkest City.”

Because 4-9pm will be “on-peak” electricity time, which means using electricity during this time costs the on-peak – highest – rate.

You’ll wait until after 9pm and then turn on the A/C and lights, make dinner, and eat sometime around 10pm.  Your dinner guests, if any, have given up and will stop at McDonald’s on their way home. The kids, if any, will do their homework till midnight.sdg&e logo cropped

This evening of heat, hunger, darkness and disappointment was brought to you by…

San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E).

In an attempt to be fair – which, when it comes to SDG&E, I rarely attempt – I can’t blame this entirely on SDG&E.

SDG&E is one of the three investor-owned utilities (IOU) in California – the other two are Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), and Southern California Edison (SCE).  These three have about 20 million customers.

All three IOU have been directed by California Legislature and California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to move customers from a tiered billing system to a time-of-use (TOU) format.

Hence, time of use = peak time = 4-9pm = most expensive electricity.

scan0003And it isn’t just California; utilities – investor-owned and otherwise – all over the country are considering, or already transitioning to, TOU formats.

What is time-of-use, TOU?

The simplest definition I can find is, “When you most need to use electricity, you’re screwed.”  Sure, it’s cheaper to do my laundry at 10am, but I’m at work at 10am.  It’s cheaper to leave off the lights, but I tend to fall over furniture when I do that.

So, no – a TOU format wasn’t another one of SDG&E’s bad ideas, like the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) which they had to shut down in 2013.  SONGS is now home to 3.5 million gallons of nuclear waste, just waiting for an earthquake to shake, rattle and roll out that waste all over San Diego and Los Angeles and into the Pacific Ocean.no never cropped

Not that we have earthquakes in California.

And time-of-use pricing actually has some proponents; the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), for one, said TOU pricing,

“…If done right, is a low-cost strategy to help meet California’s climate and clean energy goals.  This innovative tool can help the state rely more on clean energy and less on fossil fuels, at the same time delaying the need for new infrastructure and reducing costs and harmful emissions.”

But therein lies the rub:  that “if done right” phrase.

Because I’d define “done right” as “a simple, straightforward, and clear.”  And SDG&E’s plan – the roll-out begins in March and continues into 2020 – is anything but.

What is clear that if you come home from work and do the normal things – fix dinner, throw in a load of laundry, put on some lights, watch TV – you’ll pay the highest charge for electricity.

Or, you can sit in a hot, dark house and wait for the time to pass.

Your choice.

Einstein laughing cropped
Ask me anything!  I’m happy to help!

Hence, The Scenario, above.

Based on many hours on SDG&E’s website, the following is my take on the new time-of-use plan, with this heads-up:  To make sense this you’ll either have to:

  1. Ask Albert Einstein, or
  2. Be Albert Einstein.

First, SDG&E doesn’t have a time-of-use plan – it has five of them:

SDG&E Plans no amounts (2)

  1. Standard (DR)
  2. Time of Use (TOU-DR2)
  3. Time of Use (TOU-DR1)
  4. Time of Use Plus (TOU-DR-P)
  5. Time of Use (TOU DR)

I requested my options and got the five plans and the cost differences:

SDG&E with number 2

Let’s take a closer look at my per-year savings:

TOU-DR1:     $13 per year.
TOU-DR2:     $11 per year.
TOU-DR:        $6 per year.

Impressive (not).

Now I wanted to look at the particulars of each plan and – oh, joy! – SDG&E narrowed it down to four:

Side-by-side (2)

From now on I’ll mostly be talking about these plans that apply to me.

I see that my TOU-DR1 and TOU-DR have three time period plans; my TOU-DR2 has two time periods:

My Time Periods (2)

I also stumbled across a graph for TOU Plus:

TOU Plus (2)

Now, “TOU Plus” doesn’t match any of the acronyms in the numbered items above, so more confusion.  But unlike Standard (DR), TOU-DR1, TOU-DR2 and TOU-DR, TOU Plus does include Reduce Your Use, which you can read about here:

Reduce Your Use (2)

Ready for more?

The Standard (DR) plan has something called “higher usage charge”:

High Usage Charge (2)

TOU-DR1, TOU-DR2 and TOU-DR are not subject to the higher usage charge.

Then there’s something called your “baseline allowance,” which does apply to DR, TOU-DR1, TOU-DR2 and TOU-DR:

Cost Tiers (2)

Here’s the formula, which depends on where you live and either summer or winter:

Baseline Allowance (2)

And here’s a handy graph showing “How Time of Use and Baseline Work Together”:

Time of Use and Baseline (2)

And if you can figure all that out, you either asked Einstein or are Einstein.

Going back to those time periods in TOU-DR1, TOU-DR2 and TOU-DR, they have names:

  1. On-Peak
  2. Off-Peak
  3. Super Off-Peak

SDG&E’s website adds, “Energy costs are lower during the off-peak and super off-peak (TOU-DR1 only) time periods and highest only during the on-peak period.”

But, wait – in my “Compare Plans” image, it says TOU-DR also has “Three time period plan:  on-peak, off-peak, and super-off peak”:

Side-by-side (2) with arrows.jpg

I’m so confused.

But help is on the way!  Because SDG&E cares about us (not), they’ve started airing a commercial starring “Whendell,” a talking watch:

Whendell

Whendell whispers, “Soon I’ll be sharing SDG&E’s new energy pricing plans with you.  They’re all about when you use energy.  And who better to talk about when than me?”

Whendell.  Clever (not).

Well, let’s try applying what we’ve learned so far to a real-life situation.

This handy graph, provided by our newspaper, shows a TOU plan with three time periods:  on-peak, off-peak and super off-peak.  Is it TOU-DR1 or TOU-DR?

Let’s go with TOU-DR1:

Union Trib graphic (2)

Now let’s say I’m going to make some toast.  Using this graph and the other information I’ve fumbled through, we can figure out the cost per kilowatt hour (kh) for using the toaster.

Note:  SDG&E has established that summer is June 1-October 31; winter is November 1-May 31.

Reminder:  We’re talking about TOU-DR1; TOU-DR2 does not have super off-peak rates.

And – oh, joy, again! – according to the newspaper’s graphic, TOU-DR1 has an extra super off-peak rate time:  Monday-Friday in March and April, during which 10am-2pm is also super off-peak.

Ready?  It’s toast time!

My table scan (2)

If I’m on plan TOU-DR1 and I make my toast on a weekend in winter at 3am which is super off-peak time, it’s 22ȼ per kh.

If I fire up my toaster on a Tuesday in summer at noon which is off-peak time, it’s 21ȼ per kh.

And if I give in to my craving for toast in summer on a holiday at 5pm which is on-peak time, it’s 44ȼ per kh.

See?  Easy peasy!but cropped

But…and of course, there’s a “but.”

Remember when we talked about “baseline allowance”?  All this changes if I exceed my baseline allowance.  When I do that, then with our TOU-DR1 option, making my toast during the summer and during the on-peak rate time, the cost goes from 44ȼ to 65ȼ per kilowatt hour.

Whew!  That’s some pricey toast!

Now let’s do a quick recap of what I’ve learned but don’t comprehend so far:

  • Five plan options: DR, TOU-DR2, TOU-DR1, TOU-DR-P, TOU-DR; where TOU-Plus fits into this is unknown.
  • Five plan options for me, three with annual savings ranging from $6 to $13, the last being almost enough to buy a large, three-topping pizza.seeing_stars_cropped
  • A veritable alphabet of acronyms: EDF, SDG&E, CPUC, IOU, PG&E, TOU, SONGS, SCE.
  • Lots of new terminology, including:
    • High usage charge
    • Baseline allowance
    • Reduce Your Use
    • Time periods:
      • On-peak
      • Off-peak
      • Super off-peak

One last note.  The four plans I reviewed – DR, TOU-DR1, TOU-DR2 AND TOU-DR – all have something called “1 Year No Risk Pricing.”  That means over the course of the first year, customers can switch to a different plan at no cost.

Probably because it will take us a year to figure out what this all means.

And just when we’ve finally gotten it right – surprise!

SD Trib Headline CCA (2)

In late February the San Diego City Council voted to move one step closer to that “alternative to SDG&E,” something called “Community Choice Aggregation” (CCA).  This system allows “any city, county or combination to form an entity to take over the responsibility for purchasing power for their community.”

If San Diego goes ahead with CCA (likely) and pulls other local cities into the program (also likely), and CCA goes into effect 2021 (iffy), everything above about DRs and TOUs and Super Off-Peak and all the rest is out the window because SDG&E customers will have a choice between staying with SDG&E, or signing up for CCA.

If one chooses CCA there will be all sorts of new things to compare and figure out and commit to, and all I can say is…

Ask Einstein.

einstein1
No, no, please!  No more questions!

Update:

The day after I looked at my plan options on SDG&E’s website, I looked again – and the savings had changed:  The savings on two of the three plans were less the second time I looked:

My Plans twice (2) Fixed

How did that happen?  How did I lose money before I even chose a plan?  If I look tomorrow, will it change again?

OK, forget Einstein.

I’ll ask Whendell.

Whendell (2)

STOP! Before You Plan Your Vacation – This Could This Be Your Next…

Forget tropical beaches, European castles and Disneyland.

I’m going to show you your next vacation destination.

With this caveat:

I’m not a roughing-it kind of person, so I may be a tad biased.

And my idea of the Great Outdoors is what I can see from my living room window. woman window cropped
But awhile back I was reading Sunset Magazine and glanced at an article, The West’s Best Cabins. sunset
Not because I’m interested in cabins, the “West’s Best” or otherwise, but because I was in the mood for a good laugh, and I found it: LOL
Steep Ravine cabins, located in a state park… SR Cabins_01 cropped larger
on the coast north of San Francisco. Map (2) with arrow
Sunset assured me that I would love Steep Ravine. You'll love Steep Ravine
Clearly, they didn’t know with whom they were dealing. Woman-couch-potato
And I can assure you that getting anywhere with the word “steep” in it is not on my Bucket List. Steep_02 larger
But if you’re a camper, once you arrive at Steep Ravine Cabins – and isn’t that an inviting landscape – Scenery
the park thoughtfully provides you with a wheel barrow to carry your stuff… Wheel Barrow larger cropped larger
to your rustic cabin.  “Rustic” means… cabin
…no electricity.  No water.  No bathroom. No Electricity (2)
That means no stove, no fridge, and no ice for Happy Hour. No stove fridge happy hour (2)
There’s also no cell phone service.  But there are mountain lions that would like to invite you to dinner. mountain lion cropped
Inside your cabin, instead of beds there are sleeping platforms. Bed
There are windows in the cabin, but if you want any privacy, bring sheets to cover the windows. sheets on window cropped larger
Inside there’s a place to hang clothes – but bring your own hangars. hangers pile
Inside are also mice; according to one visitor, “I caught 14 before I finally gave up and stopped setting traps, many mice
and stuck some earplugs in my ears so I wouldn’t hear them. hands over ears
I found droppings each morning.” mouse droppings
To compensate, there’s that view out the windows, if you bring your own squeegee to clean the windows. squeege cropped
Of course, if you know the coast of Northern California, you know that most of the time your view looks like this. fog_05 larger
Outside your cabin there is “space for chairs by the barbecue” – but bring your own chairs. barbecue cropped larger
Outside are also two unisex bathrooms Outside bathroom
with no shower, no hot water, and no electricity. outdoor bathroom (2)
That makes using the bathroom in the middle of the night – and who doesn’t? – a particular adventure. flashlight004zk4
Watch out for those mice! mice_02
So, while I’m inclined to agree with the visitors who said… Sucks (2)
I’d say the California State Parks system attempted the absurd and achieved the impossible: state parks icon
They took over some crappy, old cabins… cabins_01 cropped cropped
in a lousy location… danger
with no amenities, not even a squeegee, Multi images (2)
and somehow convinced people it was a cool place to go. You'll love Steep Ravine
Today you’ll pay $100 per night for a Steep Ravine Cabin. 100
And there’s a waiting list of six months. six months

i'll get right on that cropped fixed

Pssst! Want To Appear On…

Now you, too, can be featured on the highly esteemed CBS This Morning and CBS Evening News – on the same day!

Just answer these three questions:

  1. Are you narcissistic?
  2. Are you stupid?
  3. Are you a whiner?

If you can answer “Yes!” to all three questions – get ready for your close-up!

Actually, it’s been multiple close-ups; this story was covered not just by CBS, but by NPR, CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, AP, U.S. News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, People, Washington Post, USA Today, and The Guardian, to name more than a few.

Leanne cropped
Leanne No-Last-Name

And yes, The Guardian is a British daily newspaper, so, girl – you’ve gone international!

The story I’m referring to involves “Leanne,” who asked that her last name not be revealed for reasons that will soon become obvious.

And the coverage I’m quoting is mostly from the March 11 CBS This Morning and CBS Evening News for the reason that I was too lazy to change the TV station.

It appears that last Saturday, Leanne No-Last-Name was at the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium and Safari Park near Phoenix.  Note the word “Wildlife” – it’s relevant.

Leanne was strolling past a big cat enclosure containing a black jaguar like this one:

jaguar_01

Impressive, yes?

Well, rather than just pulling out her phone and taking a few pictures, apparently Leanne thought the jaguar would look even more impressive if she was also in the picture.

Narciss (2)

In other words, if Leanne got up close and personal with a wild animal, and took a selfie.

So, according to CBS This Morning, she crossed this concrete barrier:

Barrier (2)

The barrier that was put there to protect humans from the wild animals.  You see, Leanne, it’s called the “Wildlife Zoo” because wild animals live there.

Stupid (2)

The jaguar reached through the fence and grabbed Leanne’s arm, and here’s where the media got creative.  Depending on who’s telling the story, she was:

  • Severely scratched (or)
  • Clawed (or)
  • Gashed (or)
  • Mauled (but whatever, she was…)
  • Attacked (and)
  • Injured (and her)
  • Arm was ripped open (or she got)
  • Minor arm injuries (but either way, Leanne got…)
  • Lacerations

This led to a rescue by some bystanders, while another bystander shot video of Leanne on the ground:

Leanne on groud

And recorded her groaning, “It hurts.  It hurts.”

Whiner (2)

Leanne later told CBS News she’s grateful to her rescuers but “unhappy” their video was made public.

And I’d agree, Leanne, this probably wasn’t the best angle for your close-up:

Leanne butt cropped

But she was not so “unhappy” that she declined doing another video, this one with the CBS Evening News:

Leanne and hand (2)

In the interview Leanne said, “I was in the wrong for leaning over the barrier.”

Note, Leanne says, “leaning over the barrier”

But the zoo, “citing witness accounts, has said the woman crossed over a barrier.”

This is a three-foot barrier which does meet federal guidelines, so unless Leanne has excessively long arms – I’d say yup, she crossed it.

“But I do think,” Leanne whined, “that maybe the zoo should look into moving their fence back.”

Whiner Double (2)

Gosh, Leanne.  I do think that maybe you should have looked into moving your selfie-taking self back outside the barrier.

good idea not croppedAnd gosh, Leanne.  Wildlife World hosts about 500,000 visitors annually, but it was you who thought crossing that barrier for a selfie with a wild animal was a good idea.

Perhaps Gayle King put it best on CBS This Morning when she said, “At least she knows it was a bonehead move…”

CBS Gayle (2)

Definition (2)