20071129

save some energy, save some green

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average American household spends $1,900 each year on energy costs. About half of that covers heating and cooling; the rest goes to lighting, appliances and home electronics. With that in mind, here are some big things—and smaller things—that you can do to make your energy dollar go farther:

The Small Things—



Seal up your home. Patch up and caulk any holes to the outside or your attic. Add weather strips to your exterior doors, as well as doors to the basement and attic. Consider adding insulation to your attic, and to your water heater and the pipes leading from it. Close the flue damper in your fireplace whenever it's not in use.


Maintain your furnace. Have a professional check and clean your furnace each fall to achieve maximum efficiency and safety. And remember to change the filter regularly (check the manufacturer's recommendations).


Turn down the thermostat. This is probably the easiest advice to follow. Set your thermostat between 66 and 68° during the day; even lower at night. The EPA indicates you'll lower your energy bills 5% for every degree lower you set the thermostat for the duration of the winter. Even better, buy a programmable thermostat. They cost between $30 and $100, depending on the features you desire, but they can save you $150 each year.


Replace your five most frequently used light bulbs. Get new ENERGY STAR bulbs, such as compact fluorescent ones, and save more than $60 each year in energy costs.


Power down computers and electronics when not in use. Some of these even use power when turned off—be sure to activate your computer's power management features to completely power it down when idle. Also unplug all chargers and power adapters when electronic items finish charging. Consider unplugging other electronics when they're not in use for a long period for time—microwaves and DVD players, for instance, use power even when they're not "on."

The Big Things—



Replace your windows. Depending on how many windows you replace, this could cost you $10,000 upfront. But windows are a major source of heat loss in wintertime, and upgrading to energy-efficient, double-pane windows can make a big difference in your heating bill, and make your house feel more comfortable.


Replace old appliances. If your furnace or boiler is more than 15 years old, consider a new one with an ENERGY STAR rating.

Do both of these and you might save up to 30% on your yearly energy bill, or $600 on average.

Follow these tips and you just might see some nice savings by spring! For more information, check out ENERGY STAR's Money Saving Tips, Bankrate.com, and The Motley Fool's website.

20071127

Opportunity for some college pick'em action

Here is your chance to show your worth on the fantasy field of play.

Just a little college football pick'em for the remainder of the NCAA football season.

You have been invited to join rdh537's Private Group in Yahoo! Sports College Football Pick'em.

In order to join the group, just go to College Football Pick'em, click the "Sign Up" button (or "Create or Join Group" if you are a returning user). From there, follow the path to join an existing private group and when prompted, enter the following information...

Group ID#: 41117
Password: justice4all

The commissioner of this group has sent the following note:
--------------------------------------------------------

--------------------------------------------------------

We will send you a confirmation with further details once you have completed the registration process.

-- College Football Pick'em Commissioner
http://football.fantasysports.yahoo.com/college

20071123

When upset...

When upset, don't pour the blame on something else. Instead of asking why is this happening to me? Ask yourself how can I improve this situation?

20071120

Last minute Turkey Day tips

As Turkey Day quickly approaches I wanted to offer but a few suggestions to improve the holiday, for everyone.

When preparing a meal consider purchasing goods from a local farmer's market. See the map below for locations in and around the Phoenix area and visit this Eat Well Guide for locations nationwide.


View Larger Map

If you choose to deep fry your gobbler I would recommend using an electric fryer, not a propane one. Just a suggestion.

Try not to buy anything on the legendary Black Friday. Friday is Buy Nothing Day. Avoid the consumer driven capitalist aspect of society and just relax. Maybe watch some football, spend time with the family, who knows.

Traditionally this time of year is a time to give to others that may not have as much as you do. Considering the current shortages that some food banks are facing this may be an opportunity for you to donate time, money, or food. If you are daring enough you could even drive around with some warm / hot food and just give it away to the homeless people wandering around. Just an idea.

Real Simple offers 40 ways to simplify thanksgiving. Check it out.

Ultimate Guide to Cooking a Thanksgiving Turkey.

I hope you find these holiday suggestions useful.

20071118

What is the most pressing concern for the US?

Barry Bonds and his alleged steroid use.

Bonds has been indicted.  This, is the most important thing our government can deal with right now?  Not, the rate of imprisonment?  The lack of access to health care for a majority of the nation?  What about the obstacles for a college education that many of our young people face?

No.  Barry Bonds and his alleged use of some performance enhancing drugs.  Shouldn't the MLB be policing it's own members?

For more on this please read: Indicted!

20071107

Road to Guantanamo

Watch this movie. Seriously.

Register for Classes

Register for Classes

Its that time again, read this how to article for some helpful tips.

20071106

Hack College

If you are a student, go to this site. Everyday and read.

Hell yes! I got set up with some cool videos, some cool revenue, and some wicked cool study techniques.

HACK COLLEGE

Target caves, but makes the right choice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT:
Valerie Holford, (301) 926-1298
Mike Schade, CHEJ, 212-964-3680

TARGET TO SYSTEMATICALLY REDUCE USE OF TOXIC PVC IN INFANT PRODUCTS, CHILDREN’S TOYS, SHOWER CURTAINS, PACKAGING

Target Joins Wave of Other Retailers & Companies Moving Away from PVC, a Major Source of Exposure to Lead, Phthalates and Dioxins

After a national campaign by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) and a coalition of health and environmental organizations, Target has agreed to systematically reduce its use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, commonly known as vinyl. The company is reducing PVC found in many of its owned brand products including infant products, children’s toys, shower curtains, packaging and fashion accessories. PVC commonly contains toxic additives such as lead and phthalates and is often made in China.

Target, the fifth largest U.S. retailer with $59 billion in revenues a year, is joining a growing list of dozens of companies including Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Nike, and Apple that are eliminating or reducing its PVC products and packaging. Wal-Mart just reached its two-year deadline to eliminate PVC from the packaging of its private brand products.

Recent reports indicate that the world stock of PVC in use contains 3.2 million tons of lead. Previous testing has detected lead in a broad range of PVC consumer products including toys, lunchboxes, baby bibs, jewelry, garden hoses, mini blinds, Christmas trees, and electronics. In September, Clean Water Action Alliance of Massachusetts tested over 50 toys and found that one in five was contaminated with lead. Ten of the 11 leaded toys were made out of vinyl. Wal-Mart has recalled PVC baby bibs and lunchboxes containing lead, and more recently Toys R Us recalled PVC baby bibs containing lead.

Over ninety percent of phthalates, reproductive toxicants commonly found in children’s toys, are used in the manufacture of PVC. Last month California joined the European Union and fourteen countries in banning the use of phthalates in children’s and infant’s products. Legislation to establish a national ban in the U.S. was just introduced in Congress and six other states including NY introduced similar bills over the past year.

  • Target has told CHEJ it is committed to systematically reducing PVC beginning with their owned brands. In addition to addressing their owned brands, they are collaborating with a variety of vendors and will also work with other suppliers whose products are sold at Target. The company is taking the following steps in their owned brands:
  • Eliminating PVC from a number of infant products and toys. Target children’s eating utensils and lunchboxes are now PVC-free. Target baby bibs will be PVC-free by January 2008. The company is phasing out phthalates in most of their toys by Fall 2008. They are also eliminating phthalates in baby changing tables by January 2008.
  • Replacing many PVC/Vinyl shower curtains with a safer PVC-free plastic, ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA). Target expects 88% of its shower curtains to be PVC free by this coming spring. Researchers at the EPA have reported that a new vinyl shower curtain, “can cause elevated indoor air toxics concentrations…for more than a month.” Customers have repeatedly complained on Target’s website about strong chemical odors being released from vinyl shower curtains purchased at Target.
  • Target will be 96% PVC-free in their placemat and table linen categories by Spring 2008.
  • Target soft-sided coolers are now PVC-free.
  • Reducing PVC in packaging. Target is reducing PVC packaging in the company’s Target brand dinnerware, travel accessories, toys and sporting goods. For food packaging, Target has a requirement in place to avoid the use of PVC when possible. In the media category (clamshells/blisters in electronics), Target is replacing the PVC clamshell with a modified paperboard/plastic packaging. For instance, iPod carrying cases sold at Target are being packaged in PVC-free packaging. The company is also asking their vendors to reduce the amount of packaging on their products and use materials that are easily recyclable.
  • Target has engaged their merchandiser buyers through the development and distribution of a new Sustainable Products Guide, which includes a specific section on issues surrounding PVC.

“Since millions of toxic toys were recalled, parents are now looking for safer products for their children. Companies should ensure that customers are not rolling the dice with their families’ health in the check out aisle. Target is doing the right thing by moving away from PVC and switching to safer alternatives,” said Lois Gibbs, Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. Gibbs founded CHEJ after winning the nation’s first community relocation of 900 families due to a leaking toxic waste dump in Love Canal, New York.

Over the course of the campaign, CHEJ and partner organizations held over 230 press conferences, protests, and flyering events at Target stores across the country. Two events featured a 25-foot rubber ducky outside stores in CA and NY. CHEJ’s online humorous animated video “Sam Suds” was seen over 50,000 times in the first month it was released.

On the day of Target’s 2007 annual shareholder meeting, CHEJ ran an advertisement in USA Today calling on the company to “stop ducking the truth about the dangers of PVC” and organized a protest with Ohio Citizen Action outside of Target’s shareholder meeting in Cleveland. Representatives of CHEJ, the Sierra Club, and Ohio Citizen Action attended the shareholder meeting, addressing the CEO and senior executives during the Q&A session. Petitions signed by over 10,000 Target customers were delivered to the CEO inside. To date, Target has been contacted by over 40,000 customers and concerned individuals about PVC.
Target’s mainstream investors have also expressed their concerns about PVC. A coalition of 16 institutional investors, coordinated by the As You Sow Foundation, sent Target a letter about the legal, financial, and reputational risks associated with their sale of PVC products and packaging. “We congratulate Target for taking these important steps in reducing the use of PVC”, said Michael Passoff, associate director of As You Sow. “These efforts will help protect both consumer health and shareholder value.”

Among the health effects of phthalates, found in many PVC products, are premature birth delivery, early puberty in girls, impaired sperm quality and sperm damage in men, genital defects and reduced testosterone production in boys.

“Study after study have found that chemicals in vinyl can cause health problems in children and adults," said Dr. Peter Orris, Professor and Chief of Service at the University of Illinois Medical Center Chicago. "While using PVC products, people may be exposed toxic additives like phthalates and lead and when incinerated, PVC is a major contributor to dioxin.”

The hazards of PVC are not limited to its use by consumers: it creates toxic pollution during its manufacture, harming workers and community members near PVC plants such as in Mossville, Louisiana. When thrown away, toxic additives like lead and phthalates can leach into the ground and nearby drinking water sources. When burned in incinerators, PVC produces dioxins and furans, chemicals that can cause cancer and are considered to be among the most toxic environmental contaminants known to man. PVC packaging can not be effectively recycled, and can contaminate an entire batch of 100,000 recyclable bottles.

In October 2005, Wal-Mart announced plans to phase out PVC packaging in its private brands by October 2007. Wal-Mart also stopped selling PVC lunch boxes and baby bibs over concerns that those products may contain lead. The company also supports an industry-wide standard to remove PVC from all products intended for kids, and is exploring PVC free materials for its buildings. Wal-Mart stated in a 2007 press kit that, “more and more studies show that PVC has toxins that can pose long-term health and environmental risks.”

Target Corporation has approximately 1,500 stores in 47 states.

###

The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) is a national nonprofit organization that provides organizing and technical assistance to grassroots community organizations nationwide. CHEJ was founded in 1981 by grassroots leader Lois Gibbs and was instrumental in establishing some of the first national policies critical to protecting community health, such as the Superfund Program and Right-to-Know. CHEJ’s PVC Consumer Campaign works with grassroots community, regional, statewide, and national environmental health and justice organizations from around the United States. The campaign is focused on preventing harm by shifting decision makers from producing, using and disposing of PVC consumer products and packaging and substituting it with materials that are safe for workers, communities, children and adults.

Planned Parenthood

No, I'm not talking about that awesome organization but I'm actually talking about planning for parenthood.

Oh yes, here are some words of wisdom that came to me as a result of some children that I recently encountered.

The decision to have a child should be a DECISION. No excuses for unexpected pregnancies, excluding some unfortunate experiences.

This decision should be well thought out. Many things to consider include having enough money. Education is a very important tool for a person to do well in life. I am no expert but I would expect the cost of a college degree in the United States to exceed $109K within a few years.

Another thing to consider is whether or not you as parents are physically well enough to have a child. Do you have any vitamin deficiencies, toxicities, and are you physically active? Plan it out and get healthy.

NO DRUGS OR ALCOHOL. Seriously.

I've seen way too many children that are at a disadvantage because of their parents horrible habits. So, stop being selfish and start planning this out. It shouldn't take college graduate to figure all of this stuff out.

For more information about the organization Planned Parenthood, visit the link.

20071103

Arizona Police Show Restraint

Arizona Department of Public Safety and Arizona State University Police Officers showed some restraint while dispersing the enthusiastic crowd at the end of the ASU and CAL football game.

Students rushed the field after the Sun Devil's victory to encounter stadium security and armed law enforcement. Security and police officers had no choice but to yield to the overwhelming number of people attempting to enter the field.

Bravo to these officers for not using the force they probably would have gotten away with.
Here are some pictures highlighting their restraint.
Students are shown here attempting to force the gates open while security resists.Students have by now entered the field and are being slowly removed out the south exits. Security and officers have formed lines.Stadium staff is being hassled for doing their job. Walking around with field access passes does not grant immunity.
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Now playing: Liquid Cheese - Wander
via FoxyTunes

20071102

Houseplants to cheaply clean up your air

You probably know that houseplants enhance the beauty of your surroundings, but did you know that many actually clean pollutants out of the air? Basically, these plants work as nature's air filters by adding oxygen and humidity to your indoor environment.

Visit this Lowes page for more info.

20071101

ASU Fire


Just an update.

Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Phoenix fire crews were all present to deal with the blaze.

Arizona State Memorial Union on Fire


This is late breaking, literally. This fire started at about 12:30 - 12:50 Arizona time.

The second floor of Arizona State University's Tempe Memorial Union, erupted in flames today.

2 alarm fire.

Pictures will be linked after I find some.

Here are some local news links reporting the story.

NBC 12

AZFamily

In case anyone cares, I am fine.

Bee Movie

Fantastic!

Bee Movie is funny, informational, and maybe even heartwarming.

Here is a trailer:


The movie commented on the importance of the bee to the world's agricultural system. For more information on that please visit this article by alternet.