Monthly Archives: June 2008

Saving Gas Money

While each vehicle performs differently, a rule of thumb for maximizing fuel economy is to keep highway speed to 60 miles per hour or less.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exceeding 60 miles per hour severely hurts the fuel economy of most vehicles.  The agency says: “each 5 miles per hour you drive over 60 miles per hour is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon of gas.” 

Several tips on saving fuel appear at fueleconomy.gov.

Are Airline Passengers Nothing But Freight?

Fuel costs, almost tripling since 2000, now account for as much as 40 per cent of operating expenses at some carriers, according to the Air Transport Association (ATA).  The ATA notes that airlines are cutting costs and raising revenue in ways that “were once unthinkable.”  For example, US Airways has eliminated snacks, Delta Air Lines is charging $25 for telephone reservations, and just this week, American Airlines became the first US company to charge $15 for the first checked bag.  In addition, Singapore Airlines is going to eliminate unnecessary quantities of water in order to save weight.

Since December, 2007, eight companies have stopped flying, largely because of fuel costs, and airlines may report combined losses of $6.1 billion this year, according to Bloomberg.com.  To save money, airlines are grounding a portion of their fleet, using lighter-weight crockery in First and Business Class, flying slower, and washing planes more frequently (to cut down on wind-resistant dirt).  Weighing passengers might be the next move – after all, Southwest Airlines asks passengers to buy a second seat if their girth prevents the armrest from being able to be lowered.

We’ve already all noticed that airplane interiors are largely dirty, as they aren’t cleaned between flights – only trash is collected and tossed.  I bring antibacterial wipes and clean off every surface where I sit, including the handrests and controls for video and audio.  It’s just a suggestion, but you might want to consider doing the same when you fly.

China and the Value of Children

China has a population control policy of one child per couple.  To encourage families to comply, population planning authorities have regularly been giving parents in rural areas amounts ranging from $8 to $17 annually for 18 years, and $144 after the parents reach 60.  Because so many children  died in the recent Sichuan earthquake, the Chinese government has decided to drop the 60 year old age requirement and will compensate the families now.

China has a limited pension and health care system, so parents expect to have a heavy financial dependence on their offspring during their elder years.  For the families whose sole children died, this support is now gone, although the government has permitted these families to adopt.

Recently, there were angry marches in which parents protested the shoddy school buildings in which their children died.  In some cases, the schools were the only buildings to completely collapse, according to Mei Fong, a journalist from Chengdu, China.

According to some news reports, the government is considering extra compensation after authorities have concluded investigations to decide the extent of negligence in the collapse of the school buildings following the quake.

Fathers DO Matter

This is from one of my listeners (whose name is not given in order to protect her privacy):

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about egg donations, surrogacy, and intentional single mothers, and I don’t know if you were aware that it had gone this far!  Don’t get me wrong, egg donation put me through school with no debt.  Over the past 4 years, I have donated my eggs to 4 different families, going through a total of 7 different surgeries in order to do so.  I know that at least 3 of these donations resulted in the birth of a child that was a miracle and a dream come true for the parents of these children, and I am grateful to have taken part in this dream.

Recently, my agency contacted me again.  They had another donation for me.  I was thrilled because my husband and I are planning on starting our own family, and we were going to start trying in the next few months.  The donation would end in $10,000 in our pockets, which I thought would be a nice little nest egg or college account for the child we are planning.  Well, the agency sent over the contracts for me to sign, and luckily, I read them thoroughly.  The recipient was not the expected married couple with unfortunate infertility problems, but a single woman who, after having conquered the corporate world, realized it was too late to get married and make a baby on her own!  My heart sunk.  How could I intentionally give life to a child knowing it would not have a father?

Then the thought crept in:  this woman is going to do it anyway, so I might as well be the one to profit from it, right?  As I was talking to my husband about my concerns, I realized, ‘How can I donate part of myself to this woman and still expect my husband to believe that I think he is an asset to raising our children? How can I force another baby to grow up in daycare with no masculine influence, and still show my husband that he is a hero for wanting me to stay home with our kids while he supports us?’  I couldn’t.

I let the agency know:  I will not be available to do this donation, as I believe a child deserves both a mother and a father.  And I hope that my “passing” on the opportunity will make the potential “mother” reconsider her options and buy a puppy.  I may have lost ten thousand dollars, but as my husband said, I still have my morals, and that’s worth more to our children than a college account.

Medal of Honor Awarded To a 19 Year Old Hero

President Bush presented the Medal of Honor to the parents of Specialist Ross McGinnis.  Spc. McGinnis, at 19, is the youngest of the five servicemen who have received the Medal of Honor for valor during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

His training called for him to warn his comrades that a grenade fell inside their Humvee, then jump from the gun turret to escape.  Instead, Spc. McGinnis jumped INTO the vehicle, deliberately placing his body between the grenade and the rest of his crew, thus losing his life while saving all of them.

Of the five servicemen who have received the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan, three died absorbing grenade blasts to protect their comrades.  What can you say that would be adequate to describe this courageous sacrifice?  Bless you, thank you, and Hoo-ah!  These are the role models our schools should teach about when issues of character and bravery are discussed.

Kids and Their Cell Phones

According to the Associated Press (5/27/08) Japanese youngsters are getting so addicted to Internet-linking cell phones that the government is starting a program warning parents and schools to limit their use among children.  The government is worried about how elementary and junior high school students are getting drawn into cyberspace crimes, spending long hours exchanging mobile email, and suffering other negative effects of cell phone overuse.  The government is also asking Japanese manufacturers to develop cell phones with only the “talk” function and GPS.

Some youngsters are spending hours at night on email with their friends.  One fad is the “30 minute rule,” in which a child who doesn’t respond to email within 30 minutes gets targeted for bullying the next day.  Other children have sent in their own snapshots to a website and then ended up getting threatened for money.

The cell phone craze in America is tightly connected to the growing “disconnect” between children and their busy, busy parents who feel some false sense of security while not supervising their children simply because the phone has a GPS locator.  Parents should not, as a matter of course, be giving cell phones with Internet access to children – it is just too tempting to abuse, and it puts them at risk. 

Make Dinner Every Night

Today, I’m turning my blog over to Lisa, a listener who wrote me the following email:

I called [your radio show] today to ask you about making dinner for my husband every night, and how I could get him to take a part in it.  Your response was “make dinner every night.”  When I got off the phone, I thought:  ‘I don’t want to make dinner every night.’

I was one of those women [who] swore I would never not agree with you.  Boy, it’s a little harder when you are the one getting advice!  I have to admit, I was a bit ticked.  I called you so you could tell me to have him make dinner, not for me to still be “stuck” with the responsibility.

As I sit here typing, I am laughing at myself.  Silly, silly me!  I had an epiphany.  My epiphany came from you saying ‘We CHOOSE every day what we do,’ and I thought ‘Okay, then I will CHOOSE to do dinner every night’ as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to my hubby, who has always worked so hard to provide me a home, a safe place, and a caring heart.  This wasn’t an acceptance of defeat [like] I had lost some battle.

What I had accomplished was CHOOSING my marriage.  Not to pat myself on the back or to receive accolades for making dinner every night, but to CHOOSE the role of serving and loving my hubby in this area (i.e., food).  Sometimes, roles are fun, adventurous, sexy and admired, and sometimes, those roles are the ‘make the dinner late, dust the house and clean the toilets when I’m so tired’ kind of roles.

I got really excited [about making] a fabulous meal, knowing that even without a ‘thank you,’ I would be CHOOSING to do this for him.  I didn’t need a thank you, because I was seeing it as an accountability point.  I chose my marriage, I chose to be a wife, I choose to work full time, I choose, I choose, I choose.  The one thing I wasn’t choosing was being accountable for those choices.  With choices come responsibility.

Countless friends and family have shown me the ‘don’t take that path’ way of being married.  I don’t want to give 50% — I want to give 150% so that no woman will take that role away from me.  I want to create a place that will be the only home he’ll ever come home to, the only lips he’ll ever kiss, the only laundromat he’ll ever take his clothes to….and while I’m at it, I might as well make some darn good dinners, even if it’s spaghetti with red sauce every night!

Thank you again for who you inspire women to become!

Thankfully,

Lisa