Odds & Ends
A woman is suing the City of Santa Monica for $1.7 billion, saying she’s allergic to its new parking meters. The high-tech meters use WiFi to transmit credit card information, and resident Denise Barton says they’re ruining her health—causing ringing in her ears, ear infections and tightness on the left side of her neck. According to the Santa Monica Daily Press, in addition to her nearly $2 billion request, Barton is asking for $1.7 million for every month that the smart meters are up and running. “I know it seems a little big,” she told the newspaper, “but they can’t do things that affect people’s health without their consent.” Barton, a local activist “known amongst city council regulars for her detailed reports during public comment periods,” says her symptoms appeared right after the meters were installed in April. A report on KTLA News, however, says the city didn’t start to install the wireless meters until the middle of May. So far, medical researchers have not been able to prove that cell phones or WiFi signals cause adverse health effects.
A Los Angeles restaurant has come up with what could be the idea of the year—offering a discount to diners who voluntarily give up their cell phones. Mark Gold, owner of Eva Restaurant told KPC radio, “it's really not about people disrupting other guests. Eva is home, and we want to create that environment of home, and we want people to connect again. It's about two people sitting together and just connecting, without the distraction of a phone.” Diners who turn their phones over to waitstaff for the duration of the meal are offered a 5 percent discount on their meals. Gold says a little less than half of his customers take advantage of the offer.
A 27-year-old drunk gave new meaning to the word “trashed” when he fell asleep in a garbage bin outside a club and was compacted twice—but survived to tell the tale. Justin Gilpatrick stumbled out of a Portland bar called Club 205 in the early morning hours of Friday, Aug. 10. Gilpatrick opted to sleep off his drunk in the club’s cardboard recycling bin. Unfortunately, the next morning was recycling day. “He knows he’s too drunk to drive, so he decides not to—which is a great decision. Followed by a really bad decision—going to sleep in a Dumpster that gets dumped into a truck,” Sgt. Pete Simpson of the Portland Police told KGW Channel 8 News. A Waste Management truck picked up the bin and its contents around 3:45 a.m. Gilpatrick was stuck in the back of the vehicle for about a quarter of a mile. The driver compacted his load twice during that time. Since the truck was relatively empty, Gilpatrick was not killed. Eventually, the driver heard Gilpatrick screaming and stopped his vehicle. Gilpatrick was treated for minor injuries at an area hospital and released. “I have not had a drink in years, and the one time I do, this i[s] what happens. I will never drink again,” Gilpatrick wrote on his Facebook page the next day.
A homeowner in Hartford was reimbursed for $10,500 by Connecticut Light & Power after it was determined the woman had spent the last 25 years paying for two streetlights in her neighborhood. Grace Edwards told the Hartford Courant she discovered the billing error—amounting to about $20 extra dollars a month—after a prospective buyer for the house asked for a history of utility charges. The bills included electricity for a “9500 Lumen HP Sodium” and a “6300 Lumen HP Sodium”—neither of which are exactly household items. The electric company removed the charges but initially refused to pay back Ms. Edwards for the past charges. “I called CL&P, wrote letters, did it all, but they were unresponsive to any kind of reimbursement,” she was quoted as saying in the New Haven Register. “I really thought I was going to have to sue CL&P.” The company relented, however, when the state’s Office of Consumer Counsel stepped in. “We have reimbursed her in the amount that she was incorrectly billed plus interest and will be using this case as a learning experience to identify process and customer service improvements to be sure this doesn't happen again in the future,” said CL&P spokesperson Mitch Gross.