She works hard for the money.

I walk into the Castro Grocery and ask for batteries.

“What kind do you need?”


“How many?”  he asks and pulls out a cardboard box with batteries of different sizes rolling back and forth inside.  I walk the block back home with a single battery.  Which has to be so illegal, but I love it that there is somewhere that I can buy only exactly what I need.  Like a single battery.  Or, when we wanted to make white sauce, a single stick of butter.

The AAA battery goes in the indoor-outdoor thermometer that I bought for $16.04 at Radio Shack.  Radio Shack was having a sale on batteries—four packs for $7 but you have to buy all four packs to get the sale price.  I feel like this one battery will last the entire winter, but I’d end up having to move two years from now with at least three unopened packs of AAA batteries had I let the clerk lure me with his savings.  Savings in bulk—a hidden kind of waste.

Once installed—a push pin into the peeling dry wood of the back door frame—the thermometer indicates 39.4 degrees outdoors, 57 degrees indoors.  I think that means it’s ok to turn the heat on.  Though that delivery of heating oil still hasn’t charged to my credit card—$252 for 82 gallons, about 1/3 of the tank—which means I have an inflated sense of how little in the hole I am.  Better call those people.

I downloaded this program to keep track of my finances.  Working a job where I bill by the hour, I’ve become a little obsessed with the quantification of time and money.  The great thing about this is that not only I can see my net worth at a glance—and what a worth that is—but it lets me categorize purchases.  So with a calculator and a little masochism, I can choose a category—groceries, clothes, etc—and tell you that, for example, I’ve spent $120.80 at the liquor store since August, assuming I never paid in cash.

That number’s not nearly as bad as I expected it to be.



  1. Do you have an electronic thermostat? What about plasticing up all the windows? Also animals are always a good source of additional heat for the cold nights. Perhaps picking up a sub-zero sleeping bag for the really cold days. There is always a way to get by on less heat…at least when one is young.

    I’ve committed my household to not go above 58 degrees all winter. Fuck some heat, that’s what layers and blankets and sweaters and shit are for….and the cold builds character damn it!

    What program are you using to track you finances?

    PS Your aversion of AAA batteries clearly means you don’t have a safety blinky red light (or a sub par one) thing for riding a bike. Those come in handy for being visible and what not, and in a pinch make a usable is annoying flashlight.

  2. That’s the difference between you and me—about 5 degrees.

    I suppose the thermostat is somehow electronic, but I don’t trust it; it’s not digital. Unfortunately the kitty blanket is only good for feet or belly but not both at the same time. And, the kitty blanket wakes you up when he wants under the covers.

    I use a program called Balance, but it’s Mac only.

    And no, I don’t ride a bike. Winter seems like a stupid time to start.

  3. I never said Kitty blankets weren’t problem free.

    You gotta start slowly get yourself acclimatized to the cold. Pretty soon you won’t even notice how cold it is, and complain about how hot it is in places with “reasonable” heat. Also it helps me to look at it as a test of wills between me and the Gas company, sadly they are a huge corporate monolith so I don’t see them breaking anytime soon. But at least it keeps my out of debtor’s prison.

    In a slightly serious note, you might want to consider getting a digital thermostat. That way at least you can turn the heat down when nobody is home and have to nice and warm (or in my case less cold) when you get home. Just don’t throw out the old thermostat, that way when you move you can take yours with you.

    Weren’t you just riding a bike the other day….i swear I remember reading a post about it. If it wasn’t my job to look information up, and therefore something I’m increasingly adverse to doing, I would have looked. Anyways, you live in flat Philly you should start riding a bike.

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