light 1019
When the batteries all fail, at least I’ll still have my million tea lights.

Last night on my way home my new $80 bike light crapped out just about at the midpoint of my ride, right as it was starting to get really dark. I’m going to assume/hope it’s the battery(ies — probably 10 of them, as heavy as it is on my helmet), but it’s still annoying, because I believe I have used this light a total of five times now for a trip that’s perhaps 20-25 minutes in duration.

Once home I looked for the battery compartment, and all I can find is an end of the light with four teeny tiny screws, and I believe they’re the new screw head that’s all in fashion now, neither slot nor phillips but some eight-point starburst thingy-majig that’s all the rage with contractors. So it’s going back to my bike shop for assistance.

Since I was at the midpoint of my ride and it was getting dark — plus I had nearly been run over even with my light on by a fellow cyclist who was bundled to the eyes and clearly not looking at anything but the road immediately in front of him — I pulled over and fished in my backpack for a little flashlight.

It didn’t turn on either, prompting me to remove my helmet to see if the flashing red light in the back was still on or if I’d entered some sort of weird dead electrical zone. (Electricity and I are having our issues, aren’t we?)

Then I fished in my jacket pocket for my penlight, which did emit a bit of light that I’m not sure was of any use. I couldn’t see by it, but the primary point was to alert others to my presence, and this pathetic little point of white was going to have to do the trick.

By the time I got into Riverwalk, where there are no street lights, I was really wishing my expensive new bike light was illuminating the way as I navigated a dirt road littered with sticks and branches blown from the trees. Good thing ours is the first house.

I remembered as I was emptying my backpack that I actually had at least one more flashlight on me, in my fanny pack that serves as my purse, but it often functions intermittently and probably wouldn’t have lit my way any better than my penlight.

But this, dear reader, is why it’s important to keep so many flashlights on hand. And multiples of everything else, as I discovered this morning while emptying a box in the mudroom to see if my bike-riding winter gloves might be in it.

I laid out and matched up 100 pairs of gloves and mittens, plus one mitten left over — but not a one of these was my expensive winter bike-riding gloves. Of 100 pairs of hand coverings, there really wasn’t anything warm enough to serve for bike-riding purposes. But we do have lots of lined and unlined work gloves, should you need any.

And scarves, and neck gaiters, along with the winter boots Oz will never wear although he should, because he gets lots of snow caught between his toes and it drives him crazy. But not Lynn’s hiking boots, which she was looking for yesterday morning when it snowed (she finally found her slippers, by the way, a few days after she bought a new pair — they were in a tub under a bed)). And three Yak Trax, so one and a half of us can keep from slipping on the ice.

Then I moved on to Day Three of the Atmos Rebate Program. When paying our natural gas bill the other day I noticed, for the first time, a little paragraph on the bill offering rebates for energy efficiency. I looked up the program, and for one greedy moment thought we would be coming into thousands of dollars, because Atmos is offering $300 a crack for energy-efficient boilers, crawl-space insulation, ceiling insulation, all kinds of stuff. But then it said something about one rebate per household, so I reigned in my greed but decided it would still be nice to get $300 off our many thousands of dollars boiler.

I did also read that the rebate must be requested within 60 days of installation, and on Tuesday we were on about Day 65, but it seemed worth a try anyway.

I can’t actually find a bill from Dusty, who includes the bills from the subcontractors, that mentions the boiler by name or price, just a very large bill from the plumber for “boiler installation.” But this may not matter, because Atmos is completely incommunicado.

First I tried filling out their on-line form, but got no further than my account number, which I am told is “inactive or invalid.” (Atmos did not have this same reaction when I paid my bill on-line; there they seemed quite happy to take money for this account.)

I double-, triple- and quadruple-checked my account number, but no matter how carefully I typed it, the internet didn’t like it. So yesterday morning I tried calling their energy rebate number at about 7:30 a.m., only to be told it was “after hours.” I didn’t have a chance to try again yesterday, so this morning, at 8:42, which seemed like a reasonable business hour to me, I tried again and got the same message.

This time I took the option of leaving a message, although when the robo-voice told me to leave my name and number after the beep, I instead got a non-beep tone and the robo-voice started its instructions over again. I waited for her to finish, then tried leaving a message after the non-beep, except that I probably confused them when I needed to make a correction, assuming it was recording at all.

I don’t think we’re getting $300.

Today I will dig for a different bike light, something that will light my way home and maybe keep me from getting run over, and perhaps at lunch I will see if it might be a “business hour” for the rebate people or robots at Atmos. I hear it doesn’t hurt to try, but all of this seems painful to me.

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