Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll reflects on NANNY STATE NONSENSE that hits close to home. She writes:

To channel the late and much-maligned Senator Joe McCarthy, “I hold in my hand, a special mailing from Xcel Energy, the spelling-challenged Minnesota utility company formerly known as Northern States Power, informing me of what an electricity-guzzling wastrel I am.”

For it would seem that I have used 8% more energy than my neighbors! There is a colorful bar graph with Green (but, of course) representing the Good Efficient Neighbors, Grey for All Neighbors, and a long Blue Line of Shame representing ME, the Bad Grrrll, up an unconscionable 8%.

Why they should not be delighted that I am using so much of their product remains a mystery, virtually unique among purveyors of products. I await a similar letter from Ben and Jerry informing me that I have bought 8% more Cherry Garcia and Chubby Hubby Ice Cream than my most lactose-intolerant neighbors and asking me to please try to use less.

I am old enough to remember when NSP’s little jingle went, “Electricity is penny cheap, from NSP to YOU!!” I guess in ridiculous Minnesota winters, with utility bills hovering around $300 a month at least, that slogan was laid to rest. That’s a LOT of pennies. 30,000 of them if I can still do math. (Scott: please check the math. I was a Sociology major…)

Let us also set aside for a moment the bullying, intrusive nature of the whole enterprise, possibly plunging the more unhinged miscreants into a shame spiral at a minimum. Suicide at worst. Not everyone has my default attitude to authority which can be summed up in two words, the last of which is “you.”

They do have helpful suggestions for conserving energy on the back of the letter. Great ideas like “unplug electronics and other devices.” Yes, you read that right. Not just turn them off, shut down your ‘puter, but actually unplug your television, DVR, game consoles and computers. Every dang night. They further suggest that if you forget to unplug all your stuff, you should try leaving this letter near your door. Yeah, that’s gonna happen. Doing this every night – presumably resetting your clocks every morning – 12:00-12:00-12:00 –can save “up to” (weasel phrase) FIFTY DOLLARS A YEAR!!

It makes me so furious to be hectored like this, that it makes me want to turn ON my blender and my mixer and a hair dryer, if I owned one, and run them all night. (In Arizona, your hair dries on your way from the shower to the closet to select an outfit.)

If I want to squander a dollar a week, I will. I worked hard for many decades and I have no intention of unplugging and replugging 365 days in a row in order to save enough for one decent dinner out. (Truth to tell, in our DLV, it is nearly impossible to spend that on a dinner for two, unless you order drinks, appetizers, three entrees and dessert. And coffee.)

Which brings us to my final point: what in the name of all that’s Holy did this LETTER cost to send out? The research, the graphics, the ink, the murder of the trees, the human labor, the horses slaughtered for the glue for the envelopes?

Finally, in a nod to the “Everyone Gets a Trophy” philosophy that defines Minnesota, the letter tells me that “In 2015 you used 13% less energy than in 2014.” Woo-hoo! Then back off, nosy eco-freaks.

Actually, the credit for that reduction belongs to our son. Because, of course, we don’t even live there.

Our Minnesota house is now occupied by our son except when business or elder care calls one or both of us back from Arizona. I happen to know that he sets the thermostat to about 65 in the winter, so all those lauded neighbors that are allegedly more energy-efficient than he is are the ones who go away for the winter and set their thermostats just high enough to keep the pipes from freezing. If you eliminate the snowbirds, I bet he wins walkin’ away. My heart swells with pride.

P.S. To all the dear commenters who sent condolences last week, please know that they sustain me still. I have printed them out, put them in a special file, and will go to that well when I need to be lifted up. I have also shared them with my father and siblings. Anyone who thinks that those kinds of brief, heartfelt sentiments do not mean much to the recipients are mistaken. Thank you one and all.


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