Friday, November 18, 2016

Working From My Smartphone: Water and Power

As part of the continuing effort to live within my means, I decided that when SDGE (San Diego Gas and Electric) turned off my power this time, I would just keep it off and spend the money otherwise sent to them to continue to build up my “no power” infrastructure and see how it went. This is going to be much more detail than most of you will be interested in, so feel free to skip to the end.

The power went off the Wednesday morning after Trump was elected. At the end of 9 days, I called SDGE and made a deal. Here is what I learned in these 9 days.

1. No Power Infrastructure

I bought a $20 solar water shower, and spent at least as much money installing it. But it is installed, and the next time that the gas and power goes off (but the water stays on), I will have warm showers at least some of the time. The rest of the time I will have cold water “towel” showers.

I bought a $40 propane camping stove, and I have now built a place for it. It does just what I need. As the reviews say, it pretty much has two settings: full off and full on. I have to stay there and watch it when I cook, as otherwise it will blast whatever is being cooked into charcoal. I have to wear gloves or I will burn the shit out of myself. But it works fine and I can have hot food when the power is off. I plan to continue to use it even when the power is on to see how this affects my lifestyle and energy bills.

I bought a second, larger ice chest for $40 and split my food between the two chests. I try to keep things out of the water, this means an internal strainer for the fruits/vegetables and a container for things like cheese. With two ice chests, I need to spend $4-$8 every 3 days or so to keep things cool. They also require maintenance every few days basically to drain the water.

I bought a $15 external battery for my smartphone. It makes all the difference in terms of smartphone usage especially at night.

I bought a $20 power inverter for my car and used it to charge my laptop. It also depleted my battery and I needed to rejoin AAA to get a charge. This costs $70 these days. No more charging my laptop from my car and no more charging my phone from the car unless the engine is running.

I bought $10 in batteries and would need to do that about every other week. I bought two very cheap “miners” headset LED flashlights and they are my preferred go to lighting solution.

I either go to the Escondido Library if it is open to charge my devices, or on days or times when it is closed, I go to Starbucks and pay $5 for something and use their facilities. In both cases there is unsecured WIFI that I can use. The nearest 24 hour cafe is an hour away in San Diego.

I was able to turn my smartphone into a tethered hotspot. However, I also needed to increase my data plan from $40 a month to $60 and it may go up from there.

2. Productivity

My producitivity went to hell. A lot of my writing and work has to happen when I think about it, not when I have managed to get to the library and to Starbucks. I have severe insomnia and I need to be able to work from home and without a charged laptop I can not do that.

3. Mental State

I am severely challenged to end this situation (unemployment, living in isolation) and I need to be productive to do so. The despair caused by living in a dark house and not getting work done was and is dangerous. Furthermore, it greatly increased my requirements for medication way beyond the normal and that is not sustainable.

4. SDGE Cooperation

One more time, SDGE was helpful in making a deal to get the power on. I have reduced my monthly nut to under $50/month for gas and electric, the problem has always been the back bill.

Another time I will discuss how I got my bill down as far as I have.

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