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soooooooooooo

My life has been a whirlwind lately. 

In September 2010, my former boss approached me about starting a new publication for Griffin.  A month later, we produced THE PAPER, a bi-weekly, independently-published newspaper.  The turn-around time is absolutely crazy for only two people. 

Then, Melanie (that’s my former boss) found out that she was being offered a job for which she applied months before we started.  It was an offer neither one of us could/would have refused and an opportunity to “leave work at work” and actually have a life.  (Remember what I said about crazy turn-around time?  You can’t have much of a “personal” life when you’ve gotten only 14 hours of sleep over a 4-day period trying to get a paper out on time.)

So I’ve assumed the publisher position and am in the process of becoming a business owner.  I’ve changed the name from THE PAPER to THE GRIP: Griffin’s Regional Independent Press.  (For those of you who don’t know, younger Griffinites who feel that they can’t “escape” this town call Griffin “the grip.”  So it’s supposed to be one of those situations where a derogatory word is transformed into a positive thing.  Plus it’s just kind of funny and it fit.) 

Soooooooooo…… let’s return yet again to that turn around time that was “crazy” for two people.  Well, it’s absolutely insane for only one person.  But I’m optimistic because a TON of people have approached me and offered to write different articles. For that I couldn’t be more thankful.

The next/first issue of THE GRIP will be out January 20, if all goes well.  There have been a few snags when it came to getting my business licence.  The latest is that in order to use my home address (I have no use for renting an office space just for me…) for the physical address of the business, I would have to get a special exception to the residential zoning ordinance – even though it’s desktop publishing.  Sigh. 

After this latest snafu gets resolved (and it will), I hope to offer Griffin an alternative news source – one that uplifts instead of beats down the community.  I don’t mean that I’m going to fluff over the negative stuff; I’m just not going to report only on that stuff simply to push papers.  I want to focus on the stuff that’s going to help Griffin citizens become more involved in our community. 

I’ll try to be better about keeping this blog updated, but it’s gonna be hard.  If you really want to follow what I’m up to (and more importantly, get involved in the Griffin community) become a fan of THE GRIP on facebook and visit our website regularly – www.the-grip.net –  to see what I’m reporting on.  And make sure to offer your suggestions.  Don’t be one of those people who just sits back and complains about what’s going on (or not going on) in Griffin.  GET INVOLVED AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.  Start by telling me what you’d like to see in your local independent newspaper.  jessica@the-grip.net

Found in Asheville

I will go ahead and admit it before she calls me out… I blatantly stole this idea from my friend, Melanie.  She was talking about starting a “Found” blog and uploading pictures of random stuff she finds – a lonely shoe, a little note, discarded bank deposit slips. 

This “Found Blog” has come to mind a lot during my trip to Asheville, where there is much randomness to find.  Here are a few of the things my husband and I have found:

Who or what is VASH? Found on a railing in the Asheville City Park

Alien painting on plyboard covering defunct shop window

They parked a double-decker bus on a lot and turned it into a coffee shop - there was seating in the bus or you could sit in the shaded courtyard outside the bus to enjoy your beverage

 

I looked, but never found the actual "Hot Dog King"

There were many of these taped to buildings, poles and the inner rim of trash cans around the town. Others included "I like being the center of attention" and "I've taken over 400 hits of LSD." Nice.

Cat hanging from a lamp post

Cat climbing up a wall

Same cat from before, different angle

This is the closest my husband has ever been to an iron, large or small

Crazy bench, husband is checking it out

Hope

Love

It Pays to Bitch

So no one joined me on my anti-Atlanta Gas and Light crusade.  I had a few people who told me to “keep up the fight” and such, but no one was exactly putting on their rally hats.  And since Gas South had sent me to collections for a total amount of around $100, some of which was legitimately owed by me, I broke down and sent in a check for around $60 yesterday.  I still did not pay the AGL pass through fees for the month of August and the late fee associated with that charge, which made up for the difference.  I was hoping that Gas South would accept the partial payment and move on.

I was eating an early lunch today when my phone rang.  Lately I’ve been nervous to answer any unrecognized numbers because of the collections agency calling me.  I’ve heard stories about what you say to these collections agencies can be used against you and be binding legal agreements and stuff like that.  But this was a local number and I decided to answer it.  It was a very nice woman from Gas South saying that they had been contacted by Atlanta Gas and Light (AGL) regarding some concerns I had with my account and Gas South had been told to wave the $24.05 plus ALL late fees associated with my account!  As soon as they receive the check I sent yesterday, the money will be applied to the account and they will send me a refund check.

I still haven’t received any answers regarding the questions posed to AGL, however.  I would still like to see what they had to say.

But the lesson learned is an old cliché –  don’t just roll over and accept injustice.  Take a stand for what you believe is right.

Screwed Over

To all of my readers, followers, and people who happen upon this blog in random ways:  I know it really sucks to not post for a while and then come back with some heavy negativity.  But, I am very tired of people trying to screw me and many others out of money.  And I’m tired of just sitting back and doing nothing about it.  So I am attempting to cause a stir with the only voice I have right now – this blog.  In that spirit, please forward this link or verbiage to anyone and everyone you think is also sick and tired of being screwed out of their hard-earned money.  Let’s go viral and send a message to providers such as Gas South and Atlanta Gas and Light that we will no longer quietly sit by and allow them to rake in profits at our expense.

The following is a letter to Atlanta Gas and Light that explains the story and the questions I would like to have them answer.  By the way, have you heard that though six years ago, Atlanta Gas and Light (AGL) “acquired some gas utilities on the East Coast and created efficiencies that cut the Georgia utility’s costs” yet they did not pass these savings on to their customers?  They continued to charge their customers the same amount as always in order to pull a profit.  And if that isn’t enough, they just asked the Public Service Commission to approve a rate increase!  Specifically, a $54 MILLION rate increase – which includes $3.2 million to cover “executive performance bonuses.”  This is bullshit.  Sorry for the language, but it seems appropriate in this situation.    You can find this information and the quotes I pulled on the AJC website: http://www.ajc.com/business/phantom-costs-bonuses-part-612820.html

Also, a quick note about “pass through fees” – a quick definition is a fee that AGL charges all natural gas companies, which they then pass down to their customers.  You can find a description of what AGL says they use the pass-through fees for here: http://www.scanaenergy.com/en/faq/manage-my-energy-costs/what-is-the-agl-pass-through-charge-on-my-bill.htm 

Without further ado, the letter:

To Whom It May Concern:
 
I would like for someone to comment upon the fact that following the termination of my account with Gas South while I lived at the residence of 136 Milner Avenue, Griffin, Georgia, 30224,  I received three bills:  the first for the previous month’s gas consumption in the amount of $35.37 (with the gas charges being at $9.86 and AGL pass through fees totaling a whopping $17.25); the second for the gas consumption from that point until the date of termination in the amount of $3.23; and a third, with no gas charges totaling $24.05, merely an AGL pass-through fee for the month of August in the amount of $16.54 along with Gas South’s customer service fee plus taxes.  I terminated my account with Gas South on July 21, 2010.  I had no gas service at the residence of 136 Milner Avenue for the month of August.
 
When I called Gas South to dispute the AGL pass through fee for the month of August, they informed me that their hands were tied, and they could not waive the fee.  Since I canceled my service a mere two days after AGL had checked the meters, I was stuck paying the pass-through fee for the entire month of August.  No where does it appear on Gas South’s bills that these fees will apply for the following month even if you terminate service past a certain date.  This is highway robbery.  Any other utility company offers pro-rates on services provided for partial months. 
 
Furthermore, AGL’s “pass-through” fees are an outrage!  You are charging gas providers more for using your pipes than for the gas that flows through them.  These fees are then passed along to the gas provider’s customers.  I will not quietly pay my bill and no longer ask questions.  What exactly do you mean when you say that AGL uses the pass through fee for “an Environmental Recovery Fee (ERF): A fee that covers expenses related to AGL’s cleanup of former manufactured gas plant sites” or “Customer Education Fee: A fee to cover the costs for AGL to provide non-biased consumer education pertaining to natural gas deregulation.”  I want REAL answers to these questions.  I have a blog with many readers and I plan to post not only this letter, but also your answer to this letter.
 
And it is absolutely despicable that for the last six years you have charged people for costs that AGL no longer incurred in order to turn a profit.  You offer a service to communities My husband and I sit at home and wonder how we’re going to pay bills, especially bills from a company for a month in which we DID NOT HAVE SERVICE!  Bills that, when I try to call Gas South and get them to waive the fee, they say “Our hands are tied” basically because AGL SCREWS us and therefore we HAVE to SCREW you to pass the cost on down; when I try to dispute the amount owed, I get sent to collections and $30 gets tacked on to the total.  

The most important questions I want answered:  Why do you think it is legitimate to increase your rates though your costs are going due to recent mergers and acquisitions?  Why can you not pro-rate two days worth of “pass-through” fees? 
Sincerely,
Jessica Gregory

If this outrages you as much as it does me, or even makes you the teensiest bit angry, take the time to write a letter and let AGL know that you won’t stand for this either.  Send your emails to: aglcustomercare@aglresources.com for now.  I’ll see what kind of response I get and we’ll go up the chain.  I also plan to send a letter to the Public Services Commission, whose mission is to: “exercise its authority and influence to ensure that consumers receive safe, reliable and reasonably priced telecommunications, transportation, electric and natural gas services from financially viable and technically competent companies.”  Their website is http://www.psc.state.ga.us/index.asp.  They can be reached at: (404) 656-4501 or gapsc@psc.state.ga.us

Also, there will be a meeting for the public to voice their opinion on the rate increases proposed by both Atanta Gas and Light as well as Georgia Power.  The information can be found on the homepage of the Public Service Commission, which is the link I included above.  If you live in or around Rome, be sure to attend and LET ATLANTA, GAS AND LIGHT AND GEORGIA POWER KNOW THAT IT IS NOT ALRIGHT TO MAKE A PROFIT FROM PROVIDING THEIR CUSTOMERS WITH A SERVICE!  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

My First Lino

I finally got over myself last night!  Lino block carving is definitely something to get the hang of.  Here’s a few things I learned on my first go of it.

 

 

 

 

 

1.  Be very, very careful.  I cut myself.  Twice.

Ouch!

2.  “Ink” is different from “paint” – it’s much thicker.

3. It takes a lot more ink than you think it would.

First, Second and Third Tries. Just right the first time, not enough the second and too much ink on the third try.

4. Don’t press too hard with the carving tool, it will dig too deep and make it hard to keep a clean line.

5.  I probably do need that press that I put back on the Hobby Lobby shelf so that the ink will be distributed evenly.

6.  Lino block carving is a great and easy medium for suggesting textures.

6.  I like the folk art look of outlining the shapes in the picture but I think I’ll like better the clean look of one image in the center with negative space all around.

I will be trying again soon!  Stay crafty, my friends.  (Most interesting man in the world)

This is Just To Say

Though I spent over a day’s worth of salary on new crafting supplies and even found inspiration for cheap crafts, (NewDressADay and BookHourCrafts) all has been quiet in my crafting room lately. 

My mind has been on the still completely-intact lino blocks so much that my dreams have circled around potential subjects,  but I cannot bring myself to make that first exciting dig with the carver. 

This happens to me whenever I buy a new journal.  I think to myself:  I love this journal.  This is a special journal.  Should I reserve it for only certain things?  Like inspirational quotes?  Favorite recipes? I always wind up “defiling” my “special” journals with stuff like to-do or grocery lists. 

I’m not sure if your mind works as tangently as mine does, but writing grocery lists in a journal made me think of the time in class where the prof asked if we thought William Carlos Williams’ poem, “This is Just to Say” (thanks Lily for helping me to remember the title) was really a poem, or just a regular ol’ note. What do you think?

This is Just To Say
I have eaten
…the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

Also, speaking of grocery lists, I am tired of eating the same old stuff every week.  I peer into the freezer and see all the tinfoil shimmering like Christmas – but Santa Claus is bringing the same damn gifts once per week – chicken breasts, cubed steak, ground beef, and ribs. (Which, continuing with the Christmas theme, are like the heinous sweater Grandma makes you and you don’t want to wear but your mother makes you.  We had tons and tons of ribs in our freezer; we didn’t want to waste them but didn’t want to eat them either.) 

So, while bumming around this blog about cheap, healthy eating, I came across a weekly menu planner that inspired me to go ahead and plan out our menu this week and maybe this would cut down on my grocery costs.  I don’t think I’m the only one that somehow gets carried away in the grocery store, but I have an acute problem – I’d rather grocery shop than clothing shop.  (There just may be some cause and effect in that relationship, too…)

Anyhoo – I’m very excited about this week’s menu, especially since last night’s dinner was a recipe I dreamed up and turned out delicious.  So just in case you’re in need of a little dinner inspiration, too, I will share.  If this bores you, simply look to the next blog. 

Monday – Asiago cheese and spinach chicken sausage (My MIL buys this for us at Sam’s) stir fried with cabbage, spring onions and yellow onions served over couscous.  I was going to add bacon to this mixture but I forgot.  Though Adam was extremely disappointed, it was still delicious. 

Tuesday – Breakfast casserole –  Adam begs for breakfast for dinner all the time, but I don’t really care for breakfast even during breakfast time.  I do love breakfast casserole, though, so this is a great compromise.

Wednesday – Macaroni Grill’s chicken piccata – This is one of those “just add meat” meals-in-a-box.  And it’s delicious and simple.  It only takes 30 minutes to cook and you just throw a salad together while the chicken browns and you’ve spent $10 (if you buy your chicken when it’s on sale.  Cut your own breasts into strips – it’s cheaper than buying pre-cut “tenders” and the result is the same).  Though we’re tired of the same-ol’ same ol’, this is definitely a keeper.

Thursday – burgers.  I normally don’t like hamburgers, but I’ve been craving a home-made one lately.  Plus, something tells me that a hamburger cooked on the Big Green Egg just may change my mind about hamburgers…meat is so juicy instead of dried out cooked on this thing!

Friday – Ingles has a special on salmon this week, and our friend Ellen gave us a cedar plank long ago that we haven’t used yet.  We’re going to do cedar-planked salmon with wild rice and probably a fresh veggie from our CSA which should be arriving on this day.  We’ll be getting our chevre add-on in our CSA, too, which means I’ll probably whip up a little fresh bruschetta-type hor d’oeuvre with fresh basil from the garden and tomato from the CSA box.  YUM.

Saturday – I’ve never made this before, but I want to try my hand at eggplant parmesan.  I got a recipe from the same blog mentioned above, “Cheap Healthy Good.”

Sunday – Homemade pizza!  Well, semi-homemade.  I plan to buy ready-made dough, either the Pillsbury kind or the Digiorno already-baked kind and add fresh veggies to mine and pepperoni, sausage, bacon and hamburger meat to Adam’s. 

I bid you “Good Eats” (Alton Brown) and “Goodday” (Fez).

So Much to Craft, So Little Time

From Moo-Moo to MAH-velous

Social networking, Etsy, and blogs have really sucked up a lot of my time these days because I keep finding such cool stuff!  Much of it has inspired me to try my hand at whatever it is, and to that end I spent .32¢ short of $100 (!) at Hobby Lobby yesterday, mostly on lino block printing supplies.  If you’re not familiar with lino block printing, you can find a short YouTube video of it here. My inspiration for that comes from Fawne of Moment of Stars.  I haven’t broken out the carving tool just yet,  but I did use a little ready-made stamp in the shape of a baby chick I bought.  I’m planning on home-making some invitations for a baby shower I’m hosting.  I don’t like the way they look just yet, but I’ll post pictures when I do.

Today’s lightening bolt of inspiration came from Marisa, whose blog I stumbled upon through facebook or some other social media I’ve been cruising. Her blog is called New Dress A Day, and you guess it, she’s challenged herself to make one new dress per day for a year.  Now, this part alone isn’t all that inspirational – it’s the budget and materials she uses that inspires me.  With only a budget of $365 ($1 per dress!) she frequents thrift stores and goodwill shops and buys some of the most heinous moo-moos (don’t act like you don’t know what a moo-moo is; but just in case, urban dictionary’s definition:  A rectangular cloth with crude stiching worn by morbidly obese persons) and turns them into chic, vintage-inspired outfits.  I just may have to try my hand at this, too!  Christian Women’s Center, here I come! (And this time my husband won’t get mad at the amount of money I spent on this crafty project!)

 Happy Crafting!