Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Idiocy of Carbon Offsets

Warning: This post is way off topic from my normal focus, and it's sort of political, but I can't help myself, so please forgive me! Carbon offsets are in the media more and more these days. While I can see the use of them at the government/large company level, I really have a problem with how they are being thrown out as some kind of solution to global warming. Al Gore may be feeling good about being "carbon neutral", but I guarantee he's pumping a whole lot more CO into the environment than I ever will. Private jets will do that for you. Why do I have such a problem with this concept? Because at its base level, this is really just a way for people to feel good about doing nothing. You pay someone else money to generate clean energy or some other environmentally sensitive project (whether the money is actually used to directly lower CO emissions in the amount you assume it will is, of course, not at all possible to determine), then get to feel good about driving your SUV to work by yourself everyday. Please. You'd be doing the environment a whole lot more good by actually trading that SUV in for a small car. Or by buying less stuff and recycling more. Something proactive, rather than a feel-good gesture that puts the onus on someone else to do more for our environment. I recently read an article about some college students who are starting up a website to sell things with some kind of carbon offset premium. Um, no thanks. I have no intention of throwing money away on something that may or may not be accomplishing what it is supposed to do. I'd rather keep using our reusable cleaning rags and conserving our energy usage. These are things that actually make a difference, rather than just make give me a warm, cozy feeling inside that somewhere, somehow, something might be done about this whole global warming thing we're all so worried about.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

MGI Bill Changes Coming?

I read something this Sunday in our newspaper that had me pretty excited. There are a couple competing bills being pushed in the House right now that would expand the Montgomery GI Bill quite a bit. Both reintroduce a living stipend, something that was once a core benefit after WWII, and increase the tuition amount, although one is definitely more generous than the other. Other changes include making GI bill funds ineligible to be counted as income for Federal financial aid purposes and increasing the window to use such benefits after service to 15 years from the current 10. It looks pretty good that at least one of these bills will pass. Several higher-ups worry this will hurt retention, not help it. Frankly, I think they are right. When I heard these changes, it got me excited. My first thought was, yay, here's another option for us if we decide to get out! Oliver still has to finish his schooling; it's been pretty tough for him to find the time to do it while on active duty, which was the original plan. With all these changes, we could conceivably consider sending him to school full time, while I worked a part time job. With both boys in school, we could probably juggle it so there was no child care needed, either. Who knows what we will do, or if it will end up being good enough to push us in that direction, but it's something to think about. If anyone wants to read the article themselves, here it is.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Traveling with Kids

Ok, I have decided it's time to swallow my fear and just do it. Yes, it's time to get on a plane with my two kids by myself. I do find it a trifle pathetic that I haven't pushed myself to do this yet, especially since it wouldn't have been too bad to do it with only one. But, I waited too long to try it, and here I am packing a couple of 'em. A set of circumstances have encouraged me greatly to go visit a college friend I haven't seen in, hmm, eight years? (Eesh, has it really been that long??) The flight is short, so hopefully that will make it easier. Hopefully. And, if all goes well, maybe I can even talk myself into doing this cross-country to visit my in-laws. Let's not think too much about that.... So, finally, we come to the purpose of this post: anyone have any good traveling tips that could help me out? Specifically, how to survive the airport with a nursing baby and recently potty-trained toddler who will still probably need a stroller if I have any hope of making my flight in time. (He gets so distracted!) And, secondly, any advice on what baby backpack to buy? I've been wanting one for a long time now. I bought a Maya Wrap for Oscar on the idea that I would sling it to avoid buying a double stroller that would be useless very quickly. I had a convertible Snugli sling for Wyatt and absolutely LOVED it, but it's only good to about 12 lbs, so I wanted something I could use a little longer. Supposedly, this would last until toddlerhood. Unfortunately, the hype about slings conceals the fact that they are not so easy to use. I've watched the DVD over and over, and still can't put it on comfortably. You really should have a friend who knows how to use them (and I don't), and probably a baby who didn't put on the pounds like Oscar did. (Wyatt was three months old before he hit 12 lbs - Oscar wasn't even two months when he passed that milestone.) I've never been able to get it to fit comfortably; it digs into my side or my shoulder depending on how I'm carrying him. There's no way I'm using it for a long-term situation. So, I want a backpack. I've loved them ever since I carried my three year old niece in one on a hike when I was in college. However, I don't want to make the mistake I did with the sling and buy something that turns out to be a waste of money because it doesn't work very well. I've got my eye on a Macpac. It's a little pricey, but I love that it's adjustable (there's almost a foot difference in height between Oliver and I) and there isn't a huge frame on it, like most I've seen. Has anyone used one of these? I'm going to have to order online, so I don't want to make a mistake! P.S. I haven't forgotten about the housing issue (I wish!), but that's gonna be a long-winded post so I'll get to it later.