As mentioned last week, the power system at my alma mater, Southern Tech University, left a lot to be desired. This was particularly true at Greenwood, the aging dorm that I lived in from my sophomore to my senior years. Around my sophomore year I decided that to help beef up my networking skills I would have two computers instead of one. With some help from my friends, my two computers became three computers pretty quickly as I needed a file server so that I didn’t have to worry about one computer being screwed up by the other goofing up. As long as no applications were running on the fileserver, it remained reliable, but running any application on Windows 95 and Windows 98 presented risks. It’s easy to take for granted how stable Windows has become since Windows 2000.

In our dorm we also had a fridge and a microwave. My roommate also had a computer. This proved to be more than the room could handle, no matter how evenly we tried to distribute the technology. Worse yet, whenever a short would occur it would take out the whole wing of the dorm. Outages weren’t constant, but they weren’t infrequent, either. The further into the semester we got, the more frequent they started to become, however. It got to the point that we would cross our fingers whenever we’d put something in the microwave. For some reason, it was the microwave beeping that seemed to be what pushed it over the edge. It didn’t matter whether it was beeping because it was done or beeping because we told it to stop.

There started to become incidents when we’d come home and the power would be off without the assistence of microwave. Then I started coming home and the power would be on, but my computers would be unplugged. Apparently the electrical team decided that my computers were part of the problem. Fair enough, but they also spoiled a lot of food by unplugging our fridge. So I took the hint and simply stopped turning on all of my computers. Except when I was working on networky things, I could just use the fileserver.

Then one day I came home and every last appliance in our room (right down to our alarm clocks) was unplugged. We also had a “warning” slipped under our door that we had caused the power to go out and if it happened again they reserved the right to impose a fine on us. They specifically cited my computer set-up as the chief culprit. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I informed them that my computers were off at the time and asked what we could do to start using less power. They said that as long as it was just a couple computers, a fridge, and a microwave we should be fine.

We weren’t fine. The next week I came home and everything was unplugged again. Another warning on our door about the excessive power usage. My roommate and I just shrugged. We’d done all we could. The power went out again and this time we got a $50 fine. Not only were my extra computers not on, I had actually unplugged them from the surge protector. Naturally, they didn’t check that.

It’s SoTech’s policy not to graduate anyone that has any outstanding fines. Nor would we be allowed to enroll in classes. This concerned Hubert and I because he was supposed to graduate and I still had a couple credits to pick up that fall so I would need to enroll in classes. We decided to petition the fine. The first “hearing” was set while we were still living on campus. We decided to delay the hearing until that summer. Hearings didn’t happen over the summer so it was pushed back to that fall. Neither of us were living on campus that fall. He had already graduated and for me they must have simply forgotten about it because I did end up getting my degree.

So technically I still owe Southern Tech $50. That’s okay, though, because they owe me $125 or so. Or rather the state does. The Delosa State Treasurer’s office has my name on a database of people the state owes money to. My guess is that it’s uncollected paychecks from columns I used to write for the Daily Packer. I kept procrastinating those piddly $6-8 checks until they’d get turned over to the university’s burser’s office and then over to the state. It added up after a while, I guess. If you’re curious as to why I haven’t collected the paycheck, it’s because I can’t prove that I lived at the address they failed to enter into the system in the first place (my address reads “NULL, DA 00000”).

Shoddy paperwork by the university giveth and shoddy paperwork by the university taketh away.

Category: School

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One Response to Power Outrage

  1. Webmaster says:

    You know, I remember how regular power outages were for us – they came without warning, and the electrical maintenance staff admitted to us that most of the breakers in the building need replacing for age.

    Most people don’t realize that a circuit breaker, while superior to a fuse in that it’s multiple-usage, has flaws; they deteriorate with age (as electricity flows through them) and they deteriorate with use; every time they’re tripped, it takes a little less current to get them to trip again.

    Greenwood hall (and most of SoTech’s campus really) desperately needed a replacement of ALL its breakers; they pushed them well beyond the recommended time frame, being willing to let them die and willing to risk the damage it could have caused other components.

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