Thursday, September 01, 2005


I know it's hard for certain folks out there to resist harping at the President, and pointing fingers at the state and local officials for how they're handling things, and picking out every minute issue involved here, but for once I wished they'd put those fine minds to figuring out how to actually do something for the people affected by this disaster.

Like posting some simple, practical ways we can help our neighbors, our states and our country recover: Jon Hansen's put up a list of disaster charity phone numbers, and Alison Kent's got a fund raising drive rolling to help writer Larissa Ione (info also over at Stephanie Tyler's blog.)

I'm contributing to Larissa's drive, and I'm going to get together with my quilt conservators group and see if we can make some signature quilts and auction them off to benefit the Red Cross. Our mothers and grandmothers did the same thing during the wars to raise money for the RC.

Unhappy news: My cousin in the Carolinas reported that she was forced to pay $6.60 per gallon for gas today. We're pretty sure she got gouged, but with the way prices are skyrocketing, we may all be paying that before things level out.

Keeping this in mind, tonight at the dinner table we talked about making some immediate, serious changes in our household fuel consumption. It's not the price we're worried about as much as the supply. Last year during our season in hurricane hell, our gas stations ran dry several times, once for two weeks straight. I think it's also a way to respond to this disaster directly -- if we could all cut back a little, we wouldn't need so much fuel.

Our electric bill averages about $90 a month, and we're going to try to knock it down to $75 or lower by keeping lights off, adjusting our water heater and A/C, and limiting our appliance usage. I'm also checking out sites like Conserving Electricity to see where else we can save energy.

We're very lucky in that my guy's company pays the bill for his work vehicle and the gasoline he uses to travel all over the region, but he's still going to plan out his trips so he takes the most direct route. I'll drive only our compact car, which gets twice the gas mileage of our truck, and see if my neighbors want to carpool on school and grocery store trips. No more leisurely drives down to the lake for me, and if I can't take care of three essential errands in one trip, I'll wait to go until I can. If you're interested in keeping your consumption down, check out these tips on How to Conserve Gas.

Anyone out there have any other positive tips, ideas, or know of any worthy fund raisers?


  1. I was going to leave a $6.60? That’s nothing: we pay XXX for ours, but then I went away and did the arithmetic (and currency conversion). We pay the equivalent of $6.32 for a gallon right now – mind you, I suppose we’ve been paying that for a long, long time, but it still bites.

    Got to think that someone’s getting mighty fat off all this.

  2. No energy conservation tips (I'll be checking yours out), but if anyone wants to send money, the United Methodist Church is already on-site, and 100% of your donation will go to the people who need it. They have a team in place all the time to respond to distasters, so they never have to use donation money for administratvie costs.

  3. Anonymous8:04 AM

    No doubt the mighty will profit, Stuart -- and yikes, I had no idea gasoline was so expensive over there.

    EJ, does the UMC have on online donation site?

    Holly Lisle may start a fund raiser; details are coming together over at her weblog.

  4. Anonymous8:11 AM

    Hi there!

    It's $6,48 a gallon at the moment here in Germany, but you have to keep in mind that you have to have a lot more gas in the US to get to a grocery store or where ever else, because everything (usually) is farther away than here.

    What I wanted to ask is, do you happen to know of any fund raising for hurricane victims that works via PayPal? Or does anyone else know of one? I don't have a credit card and won't get one soon, so that is the only way for me. When transferring money the fees are so high that there is hardly anything left.

    Jen Bremer


    "Truth Laid Bear" invites bloggers to join Blogging Awareness for Katrina Relief day, September 1. You can register your blog and choose a charity to suggest your readers contribute to. The project was featured on MSNBC news last night.

  6. Anonymous8:17 AM

    I would ask that people also remember the others in the area who need help and are often overlooked: the animals (livestock, pets, and even the New Orleans zoo/aquarium). The Humane Society, ASPCA, and Noah's Wish are all taking up donations and supplies. I don't know if it will be opened to the public, but the AZA (American Zoo and Aquarium Association) is also starting to compile a list of what Audubon is going to need. And (last one) the Texas State Aquarium is currently starting a food/clothing/etc. drive for the victims, if anyone is in that area.

    As to saving on fuel, I don't know if it's available everywhere, but our electric company allows you to have a percentage (I can't remember what it is - I'm sorry) of your electricity come from wind power. It has an additional cost ($7), but it does help.

  7. My husband's company is doing a donation drive to help those affected by the hurricane, so we're donating there, and one of our local grocery stores is matching whatever they come up with.

    Our company did the same thing for 911 :)

  8. Oh, and as for saving fuel, we're putting up new storm windows which are more efficient, using the fireplace and lowering the thermostat (we keep it down to 60 when we're at work), and I'm staying here at work most days at lunch time now. I used to go out and drive around for a break, but now I'm staying here. (

  9. Anonymous8:42 AM

    Robin, it looks like the Truth Laid Bear site is down. May be that people wanting to help overwhelmed the server.

    Andi, thanks for the reminder that people aren't the only ones suffering and in need.

    Jen, you can make PayPal donations to the Red Cross here -- also, please note in comments that your donation is for 2005 Hurricane Relief.

    Trace, I'm going to start taking more walks so I don't get cabin fever. I know you probably walk Tasha already. :)

  10. I think you're right-Truth Laid Bear must have been crashed by well-meaning bloggers. It was working earlier this morning and had 685 bloggers registered (as compared to 150 or so last night!)

  11. Stuart beat me to the calculation... thank heavens.

    Are you using low energy light bulbs? Remember to switch your TV, DVD, computer, monitor etc OFF instead of leaving them on standby. Some of them use almost as much electricity on standby as they do on and active.

    Any appliances with an electric element are the real culprits for gobbling up the leccy. Ovens, heaters, fridges, freezers.

    Don't overload your fridge or freezer (does EVERYTHING in there really need to be refridgerated?) and tweak the dial so they're not working so hard. Keeping the thermostat on the heating a little lower is another obvious one - no-one who owns a jumper should be turning the heating up because they're cold in a t-shirt.

    I could go on *g* but you'll probably get all this from energy conservation sites.

    We're pretty good in our house except for the windows. We should have double glazing to be truly energy efficient, but the thought of ripping out Georgian glass and sashes and replacing with UPVC makes me retch. And in any case our house needs to breathe as it has a stream running through the cellar when it rains....

    Sorry. Talking way too much today.

  12. Hey, I'm multitasking: fretting, getting PO'd and donating. Of course the donating is the only thing that might actually make a difference, although fretting=prayers.

    The thruthlaidbear site is up again. Over 700 blogs--I submitted yesterday and mine isn't up yet.

  13. Anonymous9:26 AM

    We're busy getting estimates to replace our furnace. I won't say we were inspired by the need to conserve energy -- we're just afraid the old one will quit -- but the new one will almost certainly be more fuel efficient than our old-as-the-house converted coal burner.

    Especially those of you who live in sunny climates might want to look at solar energy. There are new solar cell designs out that are much less expensive and more aesthetic, and rising gas prices are really shifting the cost equation. I'm in the midst of a research study on photovoltaics, so should have some information up on my site in the next few months.

  14. Anonymous9:30 AM

    On anna lucia's comment: Fridges and freezers are more efficient when full. A block of frozen hamburger is easier to keep cold than circulating air. Don't overload, but don't underload, either. Remember that having a full fridge saves trips to the grocery store.

  15. Anonymous10:13 AM

    Thanks, PBW.

    I will get to it right now.
    Hearing so many bad things about the region on TV is overwhelming. I know millions/billions of Dollars are needed and feel bad that I cannot give that much, but I know every donation helps. It just seems so ridiculous compared to what is needed right now.

    Thanks again for the link.

    Jen Bremer

  16. It might be a fraught with problems idea, but here's a guy setting up a connection between the homeless and people who can offer space.

  17. Anonymous11:04 AM

    I got these tips from the news (what UPS does) When planning trips look at a map and try to plan a circle so that you don't backtrack. Try not to make left turns you usually have to sit and wait more (use more gas) when making turns across traffic rather then with traffic

  18. Depends on where you live, but we've found that our fireplace saves us money on heating. In the last couple of years, thanks to a brutal drought, many of the pinon trees in the Santa Fe area and beyond died. The result? Loads of free/cheap firewood.

    Thanks to the poster--Andi?--for mentioning the Humane Society, et. al. As I mentioned on my blog, even if you don't like animals, it's important to remember that roaming/stray animals can be a public health hazard. So taking care of critters benefits people.

  19. Anonymous11:29 AM

    This "tip" might not be helpful immediately, but doing this has gone a long way for us (I'm not sure if the pun's intended or not). We decided last fall to buy a hybrid car, which gets as much as 60 mpg when my husband's driving on the highway. I get much poorer mileage, which leads to a tip that can be used right way- ease up on that right foot. Jack-rabbit starts, less-than-gradual stops, and speeding even makes the little cars guzzle gas.

    And please make those donations to recovery! Blood, money, blood and money--whatever you can do.

  20. When you fill your tank, do so in the morning hours when it's cooler. In the late afternoon heat, gas molecules expand. I forget what news program passed on that tip.

    Combine trips. Car pool. Walk when you can. Like you, PBW, I adjust A/C and water heater levels. I don't need my house to feel like a fridge. I usually only have a light on in whatever room I'm working.

    I'm keeping a link to the Red Cross on my blog each day. Money is the most necessary thing right now to purchase food, water and other supplies for the people in need.

  21. Anonymous2:24 PM

    Thank you. All of this helps us. Especially the gas coonservation efforts.

  22. I was in a movie theater once and there was an ad that said actually unplugging things when not in use (tv, computer) reduced electric use. I guess they still pull a little electricity when they're not on.

  23. Anonymous7:46 PM

    The UMC donation page is at They have an online donation link, and an excellent site that shows you how to put together a "flood bucket" or "health kit" - about $48 and $12 worth of goods, respectively - that you can mail to the distribution center in Baldwin, LA, for immediate distribution. These kits are an excellent way for kids and other folks who are on a budget (like me) to help out.

    - Sharon

  24. I've been posting info on my weblog about ways people can help. I'm off to post a link to this thread and a link to information about quick training to be Red Cross Volunteers. I can't get the link to work in the comments here. But the gist of it is that locally (San Jose, CA) the Red Cross is doing quickie training for people who can take a little time off and go to the site and help. You can check with your local Red Cross and see if any of them are providing similar programs, if you can give some time to the relief effort.

  25. Thanks for posting the link to help Larissa - she and her family are so grateful for the support and prayers coming in from everyone.

  26. Sorry, Katherine, I should have been clearer about that. Don't overload, but don't under fill, either.

  27. Anonymous11:34 AM, sponsor of the International Quilt Festival, is collecting donations of quilts and other clean bedding for the Hurricane Katrina refugees now arriving in Houston. Details at their site.

  28. Anonymous12:37 PM

    Thanks to everyone posting the helpful links -- Katherine, I've passed the e-mail along to thirty-five other quilters, and estimate that between us we have at least 100 quilts we can donate immediately.

  29. Anonymous11:01 PM

    Mary Stella had a great idea over on her weblog -- if you have material goods you'd like to donate but there is nowhere to send it right now, have a yard/garage sale and donate the proceeds to the RC.

  30. Anonymous10:01 AM

    Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert at Lincoln Center, NY, September 17th at 7pm: Hosted by Bill Cosby and featuring Wynton Marsalis, Peter Cincotti, Elvis Costello, Paquito D'Rivera, Abbey Lincoln, Diana Krall, Jon Hendricks and many more.

  31. Anonymous3:14 PM

    Spare change: Most of us have bottles, bowls or other collections of coins somewhere in our homes. Instead of letting those pennies rust, why not donate the money to Katrina Relief? You can find donation boxes and jars at places like grocery stores and churches; often you'll see police and fire fighters collecting at street corners.

  32. I don't have cash but I found some kids books we had separated out for a yardsale and did some research on book donations. Thought you all might be interested in these alternatives.

    From: Louisiana Library Association []
    Subject: Re: Book Donations

    Thanks for your caring. The Greater Baton Rouge area shelters need help,
    here's a message about them:

    Hi All,

    Below is a list of Greater BR shelters, other than at LSU, requesting books as well as other supplies. Please help if you can.

    Antioch Family Church
    7148 Antioch Road
    Baton Rouge LA 70817
    Contact: Margaret Chair

    Revival Temple
    28521 South Road
    Walker LA 70785
    Contact: Mary

    First Baptist Church
    529 Convention Street
    Baton Rouge LA 70821
    Contact: Robin Melancon

    Full Supply List:
    Pillows, towels, sheets, cots, air mattresses, dry and canned goods (all shelters have water and electricity), pepto bismol, milk of magnesium, orajel, eye drops, children?s medicines (colds, aspirin, vitamins), cribs and baby mattresses, playpens, diapers, baby bath tubs, baby washclothes and towels, baby soap, baby sheets, baby blankets, baby wipes, sleeping bags, blankets, soap, shampoo, tampons, pads, toothpaste, games/books, coloring books and crayons, paper plates/cups, napkins, cleaning supplies, plastic forks and spoons, med to extra large flip flops, baby/children/adult clothes


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