Saving Electricity

How to
Save Electricity

Everything you wanna know. Shows you exactly how much you can save.

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How to
Buy a House

Step-by-step guide for first-time homebuyers.
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The Military Budget as Cookies

This excellent animation from TrueMajority shows in graphic detail (using Oreo cookies) how ridiculously, large the military budget is, and how we could solve many domestic problems with a modest 12% cut. A must-see. (watch it now)

How to Not Get
Hit by Cars

An illustrated guide for bicyclists. Might save your life.

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Light Rail answers many of our needs
by Ken Hoffman, Houston Chroncle, June 14, 2000

Two blocks from my house, there is a bus stop on the corner of Bellaire Boulevard and West Point, across from the Palace Bowl, home of the best greasy hamburgers in Houston.
 
This bus stop has a bench, a shelter, garbage can, the whole thing. There's always a couple of ladies sitting on the bench.
 
I see buses stop there all the time. Yet I have no idea where they go. I don't know how much it costs to ride a bus. There's just no way I'll ride one.
 
Like most Houstonians, I would rather sit in traffic, listen to the same 10 songs on the oldies station, get all upset, be late for my appointment and pay $5 for parking.
 
Now a train, that's another story.
 
If we had trains running around Houston, I'd be on them.
 
It's called "rail bias." People who simply won't ride a bus will take the train. Trains are more comfortable. They don't go bumpety-bump like buses do. They don't get stuck in traffic because trains have their own lanes.
 
The seats are clean and comfy, and the windows are big and bright. The people seem nicer. You don't have to worry about the person sitting across the aisle.
 
Frankly, he's a little worried about you.
 
Recently I went around the country visiting cities that have light rail. In each town, I rolled out of bed and pretended I had a job and things to do -- much like I do here.
 
I spoke with public transit officials and regular people on the train. I hopped on and off. I ate dinner. I checked out the sights. Light rail got me where I wanted to go, on time and in one piece. It's easy. You know exactly where you're going because you can look down and see the tracks.
 
Light rail means more development, more restaurants and loft apartments. It means people can come back downtown at night.
 
Light rail means business.
 
Trains also mean fewer traffic jams, less air pollution, fewer parking nightmares and fewer drunken drivers on the road.
 
Do we have those problems in Houston? Do we ever.
 
Houston is beginning the process of getting light rail. The plan in motion starts with a 7-mile route from the Astrodome through the Medical Center, up Main Street to downtown. It will cost $300 million.
 
There are critics of this plan. The price tag is a heart-stopper. I have serious questions, too.
 
But the answer always comes back: It's a start, and everything has to start somewhere.
 
For starters, this route will get 1,200 bus trips per day off downtown streets. That's less pollution and less traffic.
 
It will jump-start restaurant and business development along Main Street.
 
I hear the argument that they (you know, they) want to put the train on Main Street so property owners and restaurants will get rich. I'm naive on business matters, but I don't see a problem here.
 
I want restaurant owners and businessmen to make obscene amounts of money in Houston. If the lasagna tastes good, the guy who owns the joint deserves to make a profit.
 
As for the shortsightedness of a train on Main Street, in all the cities I visited, the first route was a shorty through downtown.
 
Metro's hope is that, once the Main Street line is up and running, Houstonians will realize the benefits of light rail. Then Metro will present voters with the Big Picture, including traffic studies that discuss where to put more tracks.
 
I don't need traffic studies. I have two eyes.
 
We need trains on the Southwest Freeway from Sugar Land, through the Galleria and Greenway Plaza, to downtown.
 
We need trains on the Katy Freeway from Katy to downtown.
 
We need trains on I-45 from The Woodlands all the way to Galveston.
 
This is where people live. This is where the traffic doesn't move.
 
How much is this going to cost?
 
Not as much as it will if we wait 20 years.
 
You know that $300 million rail line Metro is talking about now? If we had built it 10 years ago, it would have cost only $150 million.
 
In Dallas, someone told me that fixing a traffic problem by widening freeways is like treating obesity by letting out your belt a few more notches.
 
I hate it when Dallas makes more sense than we do.
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