Sunday, March 30, 2014

Janny is 3

Janny turned 3 a couple weeks ago!  To celebrate her birthday, we invited a few friends (plus Grandpa and Grandma S) over to eat snacks and have cake.  Janny blew out all 3 candles on her first try!  I can't remember who initially came up with the idea, but we are starting birthday parties at 10am and go to about noon.  That way, no one (read mom and dad) is tired yet.

Scene:  a toy is in mommy and daddy's room.  Dusk.  
Clara:  Mommy, could you turn on the light?
Mommy:  It's not dark.  Plus you can turn on the light yourself.
Janny:  Clara, I will help you.
Clara and Janny walk into the room together and get the toy.

 Today was glorious.  60 degrees and sunny.  We ate popsicles outside.  I think we earned it.
Janny can ride Clara's pink bike (today with an umbrella).  Clara is zooming around on the pedal-free bike.  I might have to start perusing craigslist for another kid bike.  Hopefully, Clara can get up to speed on a real kid bike without training wheels while Janny cruises around on a different bike with them.  Clara tried to crush my spirits recently by stating that she doesn't like riding bikes (I don't believe her, but words hurt).

TCBC basketball ended unceremoniously last week.  In the first round of the playoffs we rematched the team that beat us in the finals last year (CCC).  The teams had a couple of key changes from last year:  our superstar moved away, and they picked up a 6'6" skilled guy to go along with their 2 other huge guys.  We played well, giving them a bit of a scare with about 10 minutes left.  Then we stopped making shots, and they pulled away.  Overall, the season was a success.  We won every game that we should have and were mostly competitive is other games.  Upcoming.... softball.

In other church news, our small group now has 18 adults and 17 children (and sometimes a grandchild), 11 of them under 6.  Though we rarely we have everyone at a meeting, we are planning to split into 2 groups.  

It's interesting to see the number of young families continuing to increase at church.  Ideally, we want to maintain age diversity in our group but family's with older/grown children are scarce.  In fact, more young families want to join a group like ours because they want to know people who aren't drowning in child rearing (I can't say if the reverse is true.  I hope it is!).  This can lead to a Yogi Berra-ism; nobody goes there anymore because it's too crowded.  We need to step up our recruiting!

Finally, we'll conclude with Janny's prayer.  Repeating this may not grant you untold wealth and fame, or even nice sweaters.  But it might.
    Pray for everything
    Pray for goats
    Pray for everything
    Pray for God
    In Jesus name, amen!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Personal CO2 emissions .... but why

Our church recently hosted a climate change talk by ol' friend and fellow U of Ill alum Katharine Hayhoe Farley.  Her talk was referenced in the sermon on Sunday, which surely was the first time ever in our pulpit.  You could say that our church is a little late taking an interest in the topic, but our church never mentions political issues (save abortion about once per year).

Moving on, these mentions have led to some discussions in our small group and, I'm sure, other groups of people in the church.

First, I was interested to check on my family's CO2 emissions (the standard method of determining our impact on the climate).  So here are the major contributors (from, but other calculators seemed to give the same results):

Chad, Jill and kids rough estimation of CO2 annual emissions (lb CO2/year)
Driving (one car, ~29 mpg, 6000 miles per year)                                 4000
Flying (one trip per year, 4 people to the West)                                   5500
home electricity ( around 500 kWh/month, assuming coal-generated)  12000
home natural gas (around 880 therms/year)                                         12000

So where could we cut back?  We might be able to drive less per year, but that would require visiting family in Tennessee and Michigan less often.  We don't drive much in town, but I suppose I could always ride my bike to basketball and softball games.  We could avoid driving to local state parks.  That's a bummer list.

As for flying, we could tell my family that we refuse to visit them because the impact on the climate is too great.  I suspect that they would be upset, but they would be willing to visit us more often. However, if they did, the net effect of our choice would be nullified.  [We could take the train or drive out there (would it take 4 days each way?)]  

At home, we could switch to LED lights and solar water heating.  I have hopes to do these, but not soon.  We could get PV, but I'm not rich.

Let's see, what did I leave out?  Water (must be pumped, treated, and treated after use).  Food growing, transporting, and cooking (minus our contribution already counted).

What about work?  I work in the same cubicle every day.  For this to happen, my company needs to send salespeople to customers, lead developers to technical conferences, the CEO to CEO-things (most recently SXSW).  Someone needs to make and power our servers, heat/cool/power our office, etc, etc.

What is my share of our military CO2 emissions?  Police emissions?  Hospitals?  Infrastructure construction?

Probably someone has calculated all of these things, but by this point I'm losing interest.  I really don't care how we're doing compared to other families of 4 in our income bracket, age group, location, etc. etc.  I've gotten reasonably close to my minimum for the near term.  

My creativity for becoming part of a solution is admittedly tiny.  I'll list a few ideas, but if you have more please share.  

1.  Join a movement.  Any suggestions?
2.  Raise awareness among friends and family (does this blog count?).  Help when possible
3.  Become very poor.

4.  Buy carbon offsets a la Al Gore (note:  never.  This is a joke.  Really.)
5.  Develop the CO2-to-oil-anator (note:  thermodynamics matter)
6.  Develop fusion reactor (note:  cost matters)