Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why I hate the end of daylight savings

Changing the clocks back by one hour is a cruel joke on parents with small children. I apologize for the profanity in this photo but it's pretty much exactly how I feel at this moment. Having a one-year-old wake up at 4:30 for six days straight just takes all the fun out of that promised extra hour of sleep that people without kids get to enjoy every fall.

It wasn't just my child. Facebook friends from all over the world lamented with me, their kids getting up, like mine, three hours early. You'd think a 6:30 AM wake up would simply go to 5:30 AM, but no. Something in their little brains was thrown way way off and they were all getting up, ready to play, sometime between 3:45 AM and 4:30 AM.

This past Saturday we had our first 6:00 AM wake up, which was the biggest gift ever to parents who had been sleeping an average of 5 hours a night. "Why don't you go to bed earlier?" you might ask. Well, it can sometimes take an hour or so to clean up the mess that that very same one-year-old creates during the day. By the time the toys and books are picked up, the sippy cups washed and the bananas scraped off the kitchen floor it's usually at least 8:30 PM and this parent needs another hour or more of mental downtime before my brain is calm enough to fall asleep.

So if you haven't seen me online much lately you know why. This is one of the first times in the past seven days I haven't napped while my child is napping. I should be but my to-do list has doubled in length since daylight savings time ended.

If you also have a small child and have been walking around like a zombie for the past ten days I know exactly how you feel. It really is a cruel trick played on us. And on top of that it gets dark by 5:00 PM so we can't even go to the playground after dinner. Just not fair. Who's with me to keep daylight savings time all year? It's dark when the kids are getting up anyway so what's one more hour of darkness? Sounds like a plan to me!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The most excellent news! Mass. DEP rescinds safe yield decision!

A very very big thank you to all of you who signed the petition to alert Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to the idiotic decision of MassDEP setting safe yield water withdrawal levels at a point where many of Massachusetts' rivers could get pumped dry. Initially I thought Gov. Patrick was behind this horrible decision, but when I heard the whole story apparently he was very upset and was able to take action to reverse it.

Just yesterday Mass DEP posted this on their website:

MassDEP suspends the safe yield interpretation and determinations that were announced in October 2009. MassDEP clarifies and explains that its interpretation of the term safe yield under the Water Management Act includes environmental protection factors, including ecological health of river systems, as well as hydrologic factors. MassDEP will work with stakeholders to quickly develop interim safe yield determinations based on this interpretation that will be used in WMA permitting on a short term basis."

Basically that legal jibberish means that they have to determine safe yield based on many factors
including environmental ones, which they claimed last month were no longer a factor. In the Water Managment Act they themselves wrote, which was upheld in court a few years ago, environmental factors were listed in their safe yield policy. So they were caught red-faced to say the least.

What will happen in the meantime? According to the Ipswich River Watershed website

DEP will re-determine the safe yields of all the river basins in Massachusetts within a year, and will include aquatic habitat protection factors in the evaluation. DEP will also work with the other state agencies and stakeholders to develop a sustainable allocation methodology that will include standards for more effective protection of ecological values"

I will keep you updated, but again a big thanks for reading, signing and your concern. The governor received a record number of signatures on this issue.
This means fish won't die and the recovering herring run will be allowed to recover. And, hopefully this will mean that next summer the river that flows a few feet from my house will look like this:

and not like this:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Drive smart = save gas = save planet

I've been meaning to write a post about how considerate and careful driving can actually save the planet. Yes, it actually can. You know those idiots who have to gun the gas to go one block and then slam on the breaks? They are burning quite a lot of unnecessary fuel. I was stuck in a car last spring with a woman who did this just from one side of my small town to the other. She must have hit 45 miles an hour in the busy downtown area where the speed limit is 25, and she didn't get me home any faster. Not to mention I find driving like that very disrespectful to the passenger. Especially when that passenger is me.

I recommend visiting fueleconomy.gov for some very helpful tips on how to save gas that go beyond the obvious making sure your tires are properly inflated. To save you time and sum up the site the rules are pretty simple:
  • Drive sensibly: Our government reminds you that "Aggressive driving - speeding, rapid acceleration and braking wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town." I believe it. I love when I see a Prius speeding and weaving down the highway. That is the truest form of hypocrisy I can think of.
  • Remove excess weight: This is one I am always guilty of. The back of my car currently contains a jogging stroller, a 22 pound SCUBA weight belt I've been too lazy to take out, a beach chair, various beach toys and a 1 gallon jug of windshield washer fluid. I estimate that's about 40 pounds of unnecessary weight.
  • Don't idle: There are actually laws about this which you can check by state here. In Massachusetts you can't idle for more than 5 minutes or you will be fined not less than $100.
  • Don't speed: This graph says it all. As tempting as it is to fly down the interstate at 80 miles an hour it is actually extremely inefficient. Highest fuel economy is around 55 and drops fast after 65 miles an hour.
I hope I have convinced you to take a deep breathe and calmly depress your accelerator the next time you take off after a green light. You'll be doing our planet a favor. A big thanks to Small at Reduce Footprints for reminding me that I've been meaning to write about this for some time now. Sensible driving and taking care of your car is the theme of this week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge.