Saving Electricity

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

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How to
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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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Tracking the facts about light rail
by Ken Hoffman, Houston Chroncle, June 5, 2000

SAN DIEGO -- I don't know much about light rail, its potential impact on a city like Houston, how federal funding works or what's going through U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's mind.
But, probably like you, I wonder: Does light rail work, is it clean, and does it get you where you want to go? And how come Dallas has it and we don't?
So last week I visited five cities that have light rail: San Diego, Denver, Cleveland, Portland, Ore., and that city north of us on Interstate 45. I spent one day in each city, riding the train and checking out the town.
I was a typical tourist. I practically wore white Bermuda shorts, black socks and sunglasses, with a camera dangling around my neck.
I started in San Diego, which has the biggest, and maybe the best, light rail system in the United States. The two main routes, the Blue Line and Orange Line, loop around downtown, heading north and south along a 46-mile path.
Trains take you to most of San Diego's popular attractions, like the Gaslamp Quarter and Old Town, two historical districts that used to be dumps but now are packed with trendy restaurants, clubs and theaters. I discovered that happens a lot when a city gets light rail.
You can take a train to Little Italy for lunch (try the Polpettone Italiano sandwich at Cafe Zucchero), then to Qualcomm Stadium, home of the San Diego Padres.
The first portion of the rail route, a 16-mile stretch from downtown to the U.S.-Mexico border, was built in 1981 using -- listen up, Congressman DeLay -- no federal money.
San Diego wanted to build its light rail system fast and get it done. So city officials decided not to waste time chasing federal money and all the strings that come attached.
The 16-mile route has since almost doubled to Mission Valley north of downtown. The train's official title is the Blue Line, but most people call it the Tijuana Trolley, in honor of the anything-goes Mexican border town sitting at the end of the line.
The Tijuana Trolley is the most popular route in San Diego's light rail system. Officials don't like to say the Tijuana Trolley turns a profit, but they do admit it brings in more money than it costs to operate the line. Huh?
The train has multiple personalities, depending on the time of day.
During morning rush hour, it's a commuter line, bringing workers from wildly overpriced homes in the suburbs to their jobs in San Diego. Later, it becomes a school bus, getting students to class on time. Then it's a tour guide, taking visitors to Old Town, the ballpark, Seaport Village and many other attractions.
All night long, the trolley is a rolling designated driver, taking partygoers to free-wheelin' Tijuana, where it's always happy hour, you can buy lots of things you don't need but can't live without, and you can visit doctors who use cash registers.
The streets are lined with touts. "You want to see a doctor ... dentist? I can take you there now."
Tijuana is like the Medical Center in Houston, except the doctors carry change for a $20.
You never know. You could be sipping two-for-one margaritas at 9 p.m. at Iguanas-Ranas Bar Grill and Rock 'n' Roll on Revolucion Avenue, and suddenly it makes perfect sense:
"Hey, while I'm here, I might as well get a root canal."
Each night, the Tijuana Trolley brings back thousands of U.S. tourists safe and sound, except maybe for a hangover and no idea why they bought a 5-foot purple pinata shaped like Tinky Winky the Teletubby.
A Quick Trip ticket costs $1.50, good for two hours anywhere the trolley goes. An all-day pass, called the Day Tripper, costs $5. There are many discount plans for seniors, students and military personnel.
The trolley ride is smooth and quiet. The cars are immaculate. Signs warn against loud music, littering, eating, drinking and putting your feet on the seats. I didn't see one scrap of paper on the floor. I checked under the seats for chewing gum and boogers. Clean as a whistle.
The trolley has many obvious benefits. Each electric trolley replaces about 80 carbon monoxide-burping cars and trucks on the road. Fewer cars means less air pollution, less traffic congestion, fewer parking nightmares and, certainly in the case of the 3 a.m. train from Tijuana, fewer drunken drivers on the road.
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