Monday, November 19, 2007

Boycotting "The Golden Compass?" Our family will be!

The Golden Compass

You may already know about this, but I just learned about a kids movie coming out in December starring Nicole Kidman.  It's called The Golden Compass, and while it will be a watered down version, it is based on a series of children's books about killing God (It is the anti-Narnia).

It is written by Phillip Pullman, a proud atheist who belongs to secular Humanist societies.

Please follow this link, and then pass it on.  From what I understand, the hope is to get a lot of kids to see the movie - which  won't seem too bad - and then get the parents to buy the books for their kids  for Christmas.  The quotes from the author sum it all up.

The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy.

Please pass on to everyone you know.

We need to be sure to spread the word about this movie!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Saving Money at the Pump

Easy Ways to Conserve Gas
  • Take It Easy - aggressive driving ruins efficiency as much as anything. Revving the engine, quick acceleration, and high speed travel reduce your MPG a lot faster than you may realize. When applicable, use your cruise control to help keep the RPMs level.
  • Timing is Everything - Stop-and-go traffic, crowded roads, and looking for a parking space are all fuel-burners. Try running your errands outside of rush hours and peak shopping times. With the amount of stores that are open late or 24-hours, you can find most of what you need later or earlier than peak times. Not only can you save time getting there and parking, but it is often cooler at these times so you don't have to run the air conditioner. Try parking as soon as you get into the parking lot (instead of driving around, looking or waiting for the perfect parking spot—that probably doesn't exist anyway!) and walking the distance.

  • Race ya! – when stopped at traffic lights, do not "punch it" when it turns green; rather, come up to speed gradually, especially if you are just "racing" to another red light. Try to time your stops so that you are still rolling ever so slightly or only just stopped when that next light does turn green—it takes more gas to start from a complete stop than it does from a rolling stop.

  • Don't be a "Gas-Brake-Gas" driver—when it's time to slow down, simply take your foot off the gas and let the car coast slower (unless you're about to hit somebody!), especially if you see a red light ahead or traffic slowing down. Give the car in front of you some space, and then you won't have to hit your brakes, either.

  • Use common sense – if you drive a standard transmission, keep your foot on the brake at red lights, instead of "bouncing" or using the gas pedal to keep you from rolling backwards. No "creeping" either—it's hard on the brakes and hard on the transmission, not to mention your fuel economy.
  • Proper Maintenance - Inexpensive do-it-yourself maintenance such as replacing your air-filter and properly inflating your tires, and using only the necessary octane can make a big impact. In addition, using the proper weight of oil and performing scheduled tune-ups can make noticeable improvements as well as keeping the oil topped off at all times.
  • If you have more than one car, use the more efficient one - Sure it is a little harder to squeeze the groceries into that small trunk rather than the back of the SUV, but this may help you afford to get that filet rather than chopped liver (unless of course you like chopped liver).
  • Lighten the load - the weight that an engine has to push directly affects the fuel efficiency. Take all unnecessary items out of your vehicle (you should probably keep the spare tire and related tools). In addition, although most people like going for rides, try to only take those that need to go.
  • Reduce your trips -
    - On the way home stop and pick up what you need so you don't have to go back out later. Use lists so you don't forget anything. Make do with what you have when you do forget something. Call the kids before you leave the store, because they're waiting until you get home to tell you that there's a bake sale at school, and they need you to make 8,000 cookies tonight.
    - Not to support any one type of business, but try to buy what you need at a single location rather than driving to multiple stores (as long as you don't have to drive too much further to get there).
    - Clean out the fridge and cupboard rather than going out for a meal.
    - Order delivery. Sure someone is using gas, but the driver will usually be delivering to multiple people thus having a more efficient trip.
  • "Carpooling, it's not just for work anymore" -
    - Go grocery shopping with your neighbor.
    - Split the dropping off and picking up of the kids with the other parents.
    - Get together with friends and family at each other's homes. This way only some, not everyone, will be traveling.
  • Buy a Locking Gas Cap – Reports from several automotive parts stores report whenever a spike in gas prices occurs they see a run on keyed gas caps. Many of the people purchasing them tell the clerks the same story, "I went out in the morning and my tank had been drained".
  • No Joy-Riding -
    - Remind the kids that driving is a privilege and not a right. The same bike that got them around when they were fifteen probably just needs some air in the tires (and I bet they forgot how much fun it is to pop wheelies).
    - This could be a good time to rebuild the carburetor on your classic weekend driver.
  • Explore More Activities at Home -
    - Pay-per-view or home movies vs. the video store or theater.
    - Yard / Housework: finally clean out that attic / basement or weed that flower bed that keeps bothering you. Just quit procrastinating, already!
    - Athletic Activities: play catch, soccer, bike riding, hiking, jogging, walking, meditation, etc.
    - Misc.: board games, darts, reading, family talk hour, call old friends, write letters (REAL LETTERS!!), hobbies, etc.
  • Explore More Activities Close to Home -
    - A Little League, high school, or youth organization game can be as much fun and a lot cheaper than taking a road trip or driving into the city for a college or professional game.
    - Explore the nature in the parks in your community rather than driving to the larger parks.
    - The local thrift stores can be more interesting than some museums.
    - Community Service - You could perform some roadside beautification (a.k.a. picking up trash) and give smug looks to all those passing motorist who are wasting gas. Or DON'T—ya' snob!

  • Fill up your car or truck in the morning when the temperature is still cool. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground; and the colder the ground, the denser the gasoline. When it gets warmer gasoline expands, so if you're filling up in the afternoon or in the evening, what should be a gallon is not exactly a gallon. In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and temperature of the fuel (gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products) are significant. Every truckload that we load is temperature-compensated so that the indicated gallon age is actually the amount pumped. A one-degree rise in temperature is a big deal for businesses, but service stations don't have temperature compensation at their pumps.

  • If a tanker truck is filling the station's tank at the time you want to buy gas, do not fill up; most likely dirt and sludge in the tank is being stirred up when gas is being delivered, and you might be transferring that dirt from the bottom of their tank into your car's tank.

  • Fill up when your gas tank is half-full (or half-empty), because the more gas you have in your tank the less air there is and gasoline evaporates rapidly, especially when it's warm. (Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating 'roof' membrane to act as a barrier between the gas and the atmosphere, thereby minimizing evaporation.)

  • If you look at the trigger you'll see that it has three delivery settings: slow, medium and high. When you're filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to the high setting. You should be pumping at the slow setting, thereby minimizing vapors created while you are pumping. Hoses at the pump are corrugated; the corrugations act as a return path for vapor recovery from gas that already has been metered. If you are pumping at the high setting, the agitated gasoline contains more vapors, which is being sucked back into the underground tank so you're getting less gas for your money. Hope this will help ease your 'pain at the pump'.

~ Some of these tips were derived from and some from, some from an email I must have gotten 43 times already by some guy that has worked on a pipeline for 31 years, and the rest I made up myself based on my own personal knowledge of the industry. ~

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Things I have learned since becoming a mother:

(and this isn't the same list that has been circulating in emails for a couple of years that talks about a queen-sized waterbed contains enough water to flood a ranch-style home with 2 inches of water, and flushed flashlights illuminate the toilet bowl.)
  • I now understand why Dad took away all my toys when I couldn't/wouldn't keep my room clean. We're mostly past the toys stage, and full-blown into the clothing stage: it's called a hamper, Sweetie!
  • Kids claim (falsely, I fervently believe) that they can distinguish between clean and dirty laundry, no matter how interspersed the two may be
  • Old cats pee on everything. Except kitty litter.
  • Old cats barf a lot. Especially on white carpet. White carpet isn't white after cats barf on it. Now it's leopard-print!
  • City kids have no idea what a growing tomato, broccoli, cucumber, or pepper plant looks like. Imagine explaining to them where the seeds come from!
  • Mice like garages. Especially garages where dog food gets dropped a lot.
  • Mice scare the daylights out of Moms when opening a box that was stored in the garage and there he is, peering at you just as frightened of you as you are of him. Maybe more so.
  • Parent-teacher conferences are never scheduled at a good time for the parent.
  • "huh" and "I dunno" are the first words teenagers learn. Older siblings and peers can be pivotal in helping them learn these words while still tweens.
  • Once-A-Month-Cooking gives one much more energy throughout the rest of the month to pursue such hobbies as baking cookies, giving homework help, and haircuts.
  • Once-A-Month-Cooking is best performed with help. Useful help is good, but yet oh-so-hard to find.
  • Potatoes don't freeze well for once a month cooking. Still not sure how they do it for commercially-sold French-fries and hash browns, and probably don't want to know!
  • Celery doesn't freeze well after being cooked, and can ruin an otherwise great quadruple batch of split pea soup
  • Teenagers are an excellent example of why some of God's creatures eat their young.
  • No matter how much it makes sense to eat them, we still love them—even more so when they're being most edible.
  • Parents are human, and humans generally don't eat their children, unless they want to be locked away for years.
  • Teenagers will lead parents to question if they will be locked away for years if, rather than eating them, they chain up their teenagers in the basement until they turn 21. They contemplate doing so anyway, and and wonder if they have enough fingers and toes to count the years.
  • Parenting is a thankless job, unless and until one starts thanking one's own parents
On that note: I LOVE MY PARENTS (all of 'em!), and I forgive them for any real or mostly imagined faults (especially my part of imagining!) in their parenting of me—thank you for loving me enough to discipline me when I needed it, not that it was very often, cuz we all know what an angel I was and still am! I like to think I turned out okay, and I hate to think that they ever may have wondered how I would make it in the world.
I also understand if they still wonder…
(and just in case you were wondering, we absolutely DO love the kids!)
If Hillary is the answer, it must have been a stupid question. -unknown

Friday, November 2, 2007

Sleep, anyone?

Imagine, in your best snobby, rich-kid, brat-pack from the 80's movie voice, some snotty kid (more on that thought later) querying, "Tennis, Buffy?"

Wow, this wife and mother thing has its challenges! Like the challenge to get up in the morning and get myself ready, and crack the whip to get princess #2 moving so we can get out the door in time that she's not late for school and I'm not late for work... On the weeks that she's here, I take an alternate route to work so I can drop her off, and although I've left the house almost 30 minutes earlier, battling traffic at that beautiful high school (who failed to plan for TURN LANES and TRAFFIC CONTROL??? Sheesh, people! Did you not realize that your several thousand chilluns would be driving to school at the same time their thousands of parents are trying to get to work?), and then battling down one of those roads--you know, the kind with enough lights to make the traffic move so slowly that only two cars can get through on each cycle? It's amazing I get to work at all, some days. But, the Lord has blessed me with some outSTANDing sunrises! Particularly because of the unfortunate fires in Cali these past weeks, the atmosphere has enough junk in it that even when there aren't any clouds for painting, the sky itself is shaded the most unusual and beautiful hues.

Challenges... yeah, that's where I was going (how cool that I got sidetracked by beautiful blessings?). The challenge to get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour. Princess #3 has been an amazing help in this department, as has our family's decision (read: solely my decision, and the rest of them had no choice in the matter) to start Once a Month Cooking. (Go Google it--it's a ton of work up front, but a lot less later) #3 and I gotta work on the final directions--I often forget that she hasn't spent as much time in the kitchen as I have, and directions like "dump the bag into the bowl and put it in the oven on 400" don't get translated into "dump the bag, smash the contents down so there's not a mountain sticking out the top and getting burned and oven-dried beyond reasonable limits of human consumption and pools of liquid surrounding aforementioned mountain like a bubbling moat." Challenges communicating: "Can I go trick or treating with Sally (names always changed to protect the guilty)" actually means "will you come home early from work, help me put the final touches on my costume, and then take me over there--oh, and pick me up when we're done, and no, I didn't study for my 2 tests that I have on Friday like you told me I had to do or I couldn't go with Sally..."

Or how about the challenge of trying to make gravy for the potroast (which has been cooking all day, the mere smell of which has set the tummy monster into a fit of rage) while trying to answer the door for trick-or-treaters? I swear, every time I dumped some of the slurry in, the doorbell would ring. Well, at least it got to cook long enough that the gravy didn't taste like flour. (Again, back to the blessing... Hmm, I guess I'm still a raging "good attitudist"!)

Or, the challenge of getting the hubby home in time to have dinner before the clock tells me that it's tomorrow? I tell you what, he had worked almost 60 hours between Sunday and Wednesday, and not a day off in sight. I do like to see him live and in person every once in a while (I have his picture on my desk for those days when I can't wait to see him--which would only be days that end in "y"), and because he isn't the best at making time for meals while at the store, I like to have something ready for him to eat when he gets home. We then sit at the table and unwind him from the day, and I catch him up on the latest Princess Antics. Occasionally, one or more of the Princesses will stay up so they can see him before bed--oh, and then be so tired that the alarm gets shut off in the morning and DW gets a call saying someone overslept and just woke up and whoops, school started 45 minutes ago and oh, do you think that's a problem to oversleep on the day after All Saint's Day Eve? (Just in case you're wondering, YES, it's a problem. No more trick-or-treating for you, ever. Just kidding. I DO love you, Princess #3! I guess it shows, since I surprised you with the finishing touches for your costume and only reminded me that "you owe me bigtime" about 8 times!)

Then there's the challenge of sleep. Sleep, that blessed state in which one's body is refreshed, rejuvenated, and revived to do it all again another day. That state which has effectively eluded me for far too long. Thanks be to cats, who complain loudly throughout the night that they need food, and such tasty morsels have to be doled out in tiny portions because Old Man Wulfie will barf because he eats too fast and his old tummy can't take it anymore. Or Little Chunk will just starve to death (NOT!) if she doesn't get some food right now. And if it's not food, it's snuggle. As in, snuggle NOW! Oh, were you sleeping? Well, all the better, that means she has a captive audience. I have kicked the cats in my sleep before--would it be wrong if I pretended to sleep and gave them the boot? Hey, they'll never know that I wasn't sleeping... Not that it's all the cats' fault--somehow, I'm just waking up for no apparent reason in the middle of the night. How can a person be so tired and still have such a hard time sleeping?

So, back to Buffy. Sleep, Buffy? Oh, Buffy rhymes with fluffy. As in pillow. Pillow-top bed. Comfy. Calling my name. Now. Gonna go try to snag some of those elusive Z's. Slap-happy? Delirious? Can barely type? Choose "D," all of the above.

Drifting off, thinking, "I can't wait to review this post tomorrow and see what I really wrote." Should be entertaining! Stick THAT in your snobby-voice pipe and smoke it! Gosh, I love those old 80's movies, the really stupid ones with John Cusack in them. I'll probably have a dream where some kid is screaming "two dollars" all night long. Ahh. Dreams. Okay, NITEY-NITE!