Monday, January 28, 2008

Live Blogging the Diva Cup*

9:52 am -- making bowl of cereal, feel weird "pop" as Diva Cup unfolds fully into position
8:43 am -- ahh, that's better; twist Diva Cup to make sure it is positioned properly and move on!
8:42:30 am -- try to stand up, realize I've positioned it wrong, yow; sit back down
8:42 am -- insert Diva Cup
8:41 am -- remove Diva Cup from its protective and cute drawstring bag
8:37 am -- fish Diva Cup out of underwear drawer
8:32 am -- Spotting getting worse, realize Aunt Flo has arrived

*Okay, I didn't really live blog the Diva Cup (I don't actually think that would be possible, even given modern technology). I've always wanted to say "live blogging" about something.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Drive With

After posting about the drunk driver who killed a cyclist and then laughed about it to a friend on the jailhouse phone, I feel like I should post this. I found this on the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation's website, and it is the perfect, in-your-face response to this type of senselessness.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Need-a-Bag? Project Update January

Note: Need-a-Bag? is a project to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply resusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. Need-a-Bag? also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

Today was probably the rainiest day we've ever had on a Need-a-Bag? day at the farmer's market. After watching the weather yesterday, I was under the impression that it would start raining after 1pm, when Need-a-Bag? and The Great Air Potato Roundup were all wrapped up. Boy, was I wrong. It started raining as soon as DG picked me up this morning, and it followed us all the way to the farmer's market. Looking at the prospect of some soggy bags, we didn't even bother to get the drop box or any of the signage from the shed (which the kind people at the Farmer's market have been kind enough to let us use to store stuff). So, we put all of the bags, as you can see from the photo, in one big corral under the tent where they keep the wagons. One gentleman did come over with some bags he had used the week before, so that was nice.

Update #1: Erika of the Citrus has become a Need-a-Bag? associate and ally. She kindly offered to gather the bags at the end of the market day and stash them in the shed. This has saved the other two Need-a-Bag? associates (me and DG) from having to drive back out and collect the stuff. She has also included a plug for the Need-a-Bag? Project in each of her emails to local shoppers who receive updates on the market and the oh-so-sweet-and-tasty citrus she and her father sell. There is a special place in heaven for people who support sustainable projects and she is on the fast-track.

Update #2: After mulling over the mechanics of making a tote bag mascot costume, I realized that we wouldn't have to pay a king's ransom on foam sheeting because I have some foam sheeting that my mom-in-law gave me to make seat cushions for our patio set. Comfortable butts, or a Totey the Tote Bag costume? Hmm. The second option definitely has more humor value and is therefore the obvious choice.

DG nixed the idea of buying new covering for the costume and finally brought me around to the idea that the fixings for Totey should be reclaimed items. And she's right -- if we're trying to promote sustainable practices, we should start with a sustainable costume.

9th Annual Great Air Potato Round-Up

The air potato is an invasive plant, which tends to overtake and choke out everything in its path. The name comes from the large, tuberous "fruits" on the vine that look...just like potatoes! Only, these potatoes are toxic, as we were made aware during our briefing before running into the wet, soggy woods to collect.

Before the event, we huddled under an overhang by the school with other participants. It is a "rain or shine" event, and it was definitely going to be the former of the two, and cold to boot. DJ sat on the ground with his little bucket, giving the old man and me a chance to convene.

"This sucks," I said to the old man.
"You want to get out of here?"
"Totally. Let's get breakfast somewhere."

But, when we broached the subject to DJ (as in, "hey, buddy, you want to go somewhere and get warm with some pancakes?") he was adamant that we follow through. Dang it. I would have taken more pictures but it was just too rainy.

After running to the car to put away the camera, grab umbrellas, and get DJ's mittens we trooped over to the starting area, where they provided buckets and gloves if you didn't bring your own. The site leader showed us what air potatoes and their vines look like, and also told us we had the option of collecting trash, as well. Then we were released into the cold, damp, rainy forest to collect air potatoes.
It was more fun than I expected. And we all had fun -- DJ had a blast tromping through the forest collecting air potatoes. He and the old man went one way and I sort of bivouacked at the base of a couple of trails with our umbrellas and collecting buckets. Then I would walk around to various spots nearby and collect. There were a lot of people so competition for the big air potatoes was stiff. And I was little protective of our haul. I had one bucket of air potatoes we had collected lovingly covered with an umbrella. And anytime I saw someone close to our area I would run over like, "what do you think you're doing with our air potatoes, huh?" Those air potatoes were mine, dang it!

And the old man enjoyed himself, too. We had fun making up air potato songs based on popular songs -- like, to the tune of "Private Eyes" we sang "Air Potato Eyes, they're watching you (clap, clap) they see your every move..." and also "I'm looking over an air potato vine clump that I overlooked before..." Okay, I said they were popular songs, just not when they were popular.

DJ definitely gets an "A" for heroic effort. He collected a ton of trash and air potatoes, and he hauled his own bag of trash all the way to the starting site by himself. When one of the Boy Scouts there offered to carry it for him he declined the offer.

Collecting air potatoes is kind of addictive. I did not realize that I had an OCD related to collecting air potatoes. I couldn't stop. Even as I was leaving the forest to get back to the starting site I was still stooping to pick up an errant air potato.

After the collection (we were out there for about 2 hrs) we went to Morningside Nature Park for the after-celebration. They had music, various little giveaways and, of course, the free t-shirt. That alone was worth the effort. The logo (see above) was done by one of the Nature Operations people, and they've named the Dr. Suessian character "The Great Apru."

Everyone got a bag with a bagel and cream cheese and a granola bar, and you got a nice looking apple and a soft drink or water. I was hungry by that time and was thinking more of a b-b-q type set up, but c'mon -- a free t-shirt! Then they had a raffle for passes to bowling and the rock climbing wall, and some nice native trees. Poor DJ really wanted to win the bowling passes but alas, it wasn't to be.

All in all, we had a great time. DJ thought there should be games for kids, and so he and I talked about helping to organize some for the after-celebration next year. And I think we might actually do it, too.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Drunk Driver Kills Cyclist, Laughs About It To Friend

These are the types of stories that completely sadden and frustrate me. Here is a young woman in such suffering that she decides that it is okay to laugh about killing a cyclist while driving drunk because her friend congratulates her for doing it. There is some kind of impairment, mentally or morally, that comes from that type of response.

Here is the MSNBC article and video about the incident.

Here is a very good thread on Reddit about the issue.

Here is a full length article about the incident and information about the victim in the Arizona Daily Star.

*Update: Just wanted to reference that I originally got the tip about this from the Bicycle Austin Email Discussion List. Credit where credit is due, I say!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Buy Sustainability, Get A Free T-Shirt!

DJ and I met the old man on campus Friday for lunch. The old man and I wanted to go to the Arredondo Room where they have a couple of entrees to choose from and a salad bar for a nice, tidy little price, but DJ demanded Chik-fil-a. So, while the old man and DJ waited on that line at the little food court at the HUB, I went to Quiznos for a tuna sub. While waiting to place my order, I noticed they were selling refillable cups through Gator Food Service and UF's Office of Sustainability. For $1.99 you get a cup with the beverage of your choice, and then future beverage refills are $1.09. The thing that made me purchase it (besides rationalizing to myself that I would give it to the old man so he could drink fountain soft drinks instead of buying plastic bottles from the snack shack by his office), was the fact that for the price of the cup and beverage, they also threw in a free Gator t-shirt.

Now, I'm not a big Gator fan and there is an annoying Pepsi logo on the back, but c'mon! A free t-shirt!

And, the best thing about this cup? The straw also doubles as a whistle! DJ discovered this oddity as we walked back to the old man's office. It plays a lovely, melodious, flute-like sound and can be played blowing air in or out. It was a big hit at the play date we attended after lunch.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Post About Local Eggs

I was out of eggs last week and mentioned such to DG, who graciously replied that she had 3 dozen eggs and would give me one dozen. How does one lithe girl gobble down 3 dozen eggs or, rather, how did she come into possession of that many eggs? Well, she has an egg connection at the agriculture college on campus. A nice lady she knows collects eggs from her chickens and sells them to DG. I am unsure of their financial arrangement but DG has been very happy with it.

I made scrambled eggs for the fam last Sunday using the kindly proffered dozen. The old man and DJ were astonished. "Why do the eggs suddenly taste so great," the old man wondered as he shoveled another forkful in his maw. DJ demanded more. "Crud," I remember thinking, "this is why local eggs are so great." The yolks were these beautiful, deep yellow-orange color and they were so, so, tasty. Too tasty.

I started hoarding them. We still have two, having just eaten two for breakfast mere moments ago. Those last two are mine! "Mommy," my son will say, "may I have the last two eggs in the fridge?" (He might use "can" instead of "may" but we're still working on that) I will have to say, "Eggs? I'm sorry, honey, we have no more eggs."

Yes, I will lie to my lovely child in order to enjoy the last two chicken-fresh eggs. Actually, they're not too fresh, anymore, since I've been hoarding them, but the devil's in the details, no?

Got this neat-o picture of a chicken and egg from the Odette Sculpture Park site of Windsor, Ontario

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Lawn Happening Thoughts

Well, yesterday we had the lawn happening as scheduled. It went pretty well and it was nice to meet people in our community. A couple of people who stopped by remembered us from the last time we had a lawn happening. One lady told me that she had gotten a bunch of fabric from the last one and detailed the clothing she had made for her grandchildren. That was very gratifying to hear and I was thankful to her for the news that something I had given away was put to good use.

At the end we still had a bunch of cinnamon rolls but no coffee and about two Honda Fit-sized loads to bring to the thrift store. I'd say about a half went to people who stopped by, and about 5% ended up back in our house because DJ was having a hard time parting with some of the items, and of course hadn't seen the items brought over by DG and Erika of the Citrus. Everything went smoothly, thanks in large part to the old man's diligence in these things. DG and my Sparky friend came by and we all had fun enjoying the company of our fellow Hogtownians.

Lightening of loads is something we'll be seeing a lot more of, I think. I heard a story about the singer/songwriter, Issa, on a recent piece for All Things Considered that talks about her reverting to a simpler, more troubadour-like personae:
She carries around a small backpack that contains most of her belongings.

"My clothes, I didn't want to look like I was a backpacker and wearing mountain co-op stuff, so I wear really elegant expensive boots and shoes, but only one pair and one beautiful suit," Issa says. "It's a different way of doing things."

Like Radiohead, Issa lets people decide how much they want to pay for songs. Letting people hear the music is more important than the payment for this art.

Okay, that was a bit of digression, but I call attention to it because it says something about how far we've come from this ideal of just trusting people to make the right decisions. Like having a Lawn Happening -- sure, there are going to be people who might be greedheads and snatch up as much of whatever they can haul into their car, but really, what difference does it make? It's their burden, now, not ours. But there really wasn't any of that yesterday and it was more how I had envisioned it -- people stopping by, seeing something that they liked or needed, and taking it along with them. Thank goodness a couple of people came by to pick up the two hulking pieces of exercise equipment our mechanic had given us and were taking up a lot of space in our front room. Our living room looks like a living room again for the first time in five months. That's way more important to me than having a Nordic Trac and an exercise bike. And Wanda, our long-time mannequin companion, found a good home.

Ultimately, though, I don't know if I'm going to do another one. Even without the pricing and sorting you have to do with a garage sale, it was still a lot of work, and it was hardest on DJ because he couldn't quite wrap his brain around the concept. It's hard to let go, especially for a 5-year old (honestly, I didn't realize he wanted to watch "Kingdom of the Seahorse" again).

Hall of Presidents

NOTE: This was recorded earlier and I am printing it here now even though it really doesn't relate to environmental living.

Hall of Presidents is probably one of my favorite Disney attractions, next to Haunted Mansion and Carousel of Progress. See, there is "reality" and "Disney Reality™" and my money's on the latter when it comes to our system and execution of government.

So, whenever I'm feeling a little down about how things are going in our country, I like to go to Hall of Presidents and dwell in an America I can cotton to, one where an animatronic Abe Lincoln reassures us that the system works.

The movie intro is amazing but the roll call of the presidents is what gets me. This year we had a particular mission: The old man has been sporting a "Lemmie," just because he threatened to grow some crazy facial hair configuration for the break. After dissauding him from shaving only one side of his face for two weeks (and/or cultivating a neck beard [eww.]) the old man finally decided on a "Lemmie," so named after the facial stylings of Motorhead's frontman. The Lemmie has grown prodigiously in the last 2 wks and it seems a shame he should shave it when work again resumes.

The point I was going to make is that there is only one U.S. president who sports the same facial hair, Chester A. Arthur, so we silently cheered and made Heavy Metal hands when his name was called. We did not make a spectacle of ourselves, unlike the five people in back who clapped and cheered audibly for our current president.

By the end of the show I looked over and saw that DJ had fallen asleep. What? My own son, the one who wrote on his list of things he was thankful for on Thanksgiving, "Thomas Jefferson?" No son of mine would fall asleep during HOP! No really, he was pretty exhausted and, frankly, so were we. We had also missed the fireworks, but HOP was so worth it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Lawn Happening!

I've wanted to blog about this for awhile, but thought it best to wait until I actually have one. Essentially, a lawn happening is a yard sale where you don't sell anything, you just give it away. It's a great way to clear out your junk, generate some awesome karma, and eliminate the middle man of thrift stores. It's also a fabulous reason to make and serve little cinnamon rolls and coffee.

This is not a new idea. Culture Jammers have talked about this redistribution of stuff in Adbusters Magazine for years. It's a great idea, not because it "shocks" people in reevaluating their place in the consumer culture but because it makes economic sense.

Back in the day, the old man and I would have yard sales and we did all right. We'd make enough to have a nice lunch somewhere, have a little walking around money, and maybe rent some videos. But when you stop and think about it, it's a big expenditure of time and energy to get a yard sale together. You have to sort stuff and price it and there is an expectation that you'll have everything organized and ready to go at 7am or whenever you decide to open for business.

A lawn happening eliminates so much of the pain-in-the-butt-ery that accompanies the yard sale enterprise. You go through all your closets and other dark corners of your house, throw all your junk (and, let's be honest, a lot of the stuff you put in a garage sale is really junk) into a big pile, and then spread it out on sheets and tarpaulins the day of the sale and people can pick through it at their leisure. When it's all free you don't have to sort anything, I say! And, all that energy saved can be used for making cinnamon rolls and coffee to serve at your happening.

Our Lawn Happening is happening this Saturday from 7-11am. Hopefully, we can get our house cleared out enough to actually have a small potluck afterwards!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Carbon Offset Programs

Started this post on 12/20/07 so can't berate myself too much for not getting hopping on this sooner. Finally finished A Consumer's Guide to Retail Offset Providers, a handy guide but a bit of a slog to get through. I appreciated that the consulting firm who wrote the report, Trexler Climate + Energy Services, Inc., was very upfront about their corporate sponsors (Clif Bar, Interface, and Stonyfield Farm) and their related activities regarding some of the offset providers featured in the report. Overall, the report appeared very balanced with regards to the pros and cons of purchasing carbon offsets as an individual.

Basically, while the report gave a very concise overview of the issues involved in purchasing carbon offsets, the authors could not say with any certainty that buying carbon offsets as an individual would make an impact. As the report states on page 4:
Consumers often do not find the information they need to make effective choices among retail offset suppliers. In the absence of a clear quality standard for offsets, a reliable provider certification process, or effective disclosure and verification protocols, the retail offsets market remains a "consumer beware" market.
It was helpful, however, in defining the issues for the lay person and the glossary of terms found on pages vii and viii were incredibly valuable. They posed that these questions can be asked to a prospective offset provider:

  • Do your offsets result from specific emissions reduction or sequestration projects?
  • Do you use an objective standard to ensure the additionality and quality of the offsets you sell?
  • Can you show me that the projects in your portfolio would not have happened without the GHG [Greenhouse Gas] offset market?
  • Have your offsets been validated against a particular third-party standard by a credible source?
  • Are you selling offsets that will accrue in the future? If so, how long into the future, and can you explain why you need to "forward sell" the offsets?
  • Can you demonstrate that your offsets are not being sold to multiple buyers?
  • What are you doing to educate your buyers about global warming and the need for global warming policy?
"Additionality" as defined in the provided glossary refers to whether the emission reduction occurs because of the offset market and efforts specifically designed to create the reduction, or if the reduction occurs because of "business-as-usual" practices; essentially, if the reductions occur as a result of practices that would have caused them to happen anyway, then they are considered "business-as-usual," or "baseline" emissions. Additionality would occur because of special projects initiated for the specific purpose of reducing emissions outside of normal efforts taken to reduce emissions. The three things I saw, based on the inset box on Page 3 (Box 3), that seemed crucial to making the distinction were:

  • Permanence: The offsets would not be subject to potential reversal in the future (as can occur with carbon sequestration projects where the trees might die by fire or pest infestation).
  • Ownership: Ownership of the reductions would be clear, making it less likely that the same offsets might be claimed and sold multiple times.
  • Registration: The offsets would be registered to provide a paper trail and to reduce the possibility that the same offsets might be sold multiple times.
The issue of offsets being sold multiple times was a recurring topic in the report, as was the issue of future benefit offsets, those offsets being sold as an offset for a project that had yet to see fruition. As the report further states on pages 3-4, "To really neutralize the emissions of your travel and lifestyle, there needs to be a clear conceptual link between the fact that you're purchasing offsets and the generation of those offsets."

Lack of clear information on the providers' websites was also noted as a problem. Ultimately, of the 30 retail offset providers evaluated for the report, about 3/4 had a cumulative score of less than 5.0 (on a 1-10 scale, 1o being the highest possible score), and about 1/3 had scores below 3.0. On page 15 they give the reasons for these low scores as:
  • A basic lack of information and transparency
  • A lack of attention to offset quality
  • Insufficient information about the projects used to generate offsets
  • Lack of effort in educating the public about global warming
I got the sense that, while for corporations and large manufacturing concerns the benefits of offset were more readily apparent and beneficial, for individual buyers it was more of a gamble. Personally, I would be wary of any provider until some third-party certification is standardized and followed.

Finally, the report emphasizes that the individual purchaser of carbon offsets, beyond the questions they pose as a starting point to ask providers, is to ask these questions of yourself:
  • What steps have you taken to reduce your own emissions? If the opportunity to go carbon neutral by spending a few dollars online becomes an excuse to not think about what else you can do at home or elsewhere, or lets you feel that it is acceptable to emit more emissions than you might otherwise, then buying offsets may have a negative result.
  • In choosing a retail offsets provider, have you paid attention to the quality of the offsets you are purchasing, sot that you can credibly claim that you are carbon neutral?
  • Is going carbon neutral the beginning of your global warming mitigation journey, or the end? The opportunity to go carbon neutral at an individual level should not become an excuse to avoid thinking about the larger problem of global warming policy. Addressing global warming will require much more than individuals and businesses going carbon neutral.
  • What are you doing to leverage your efforts to go carbon neutral? Rewarding with your dollars companies offering carbon neutral products and services? Using your carbon neutrality as a platform to push for global warming policy by your elected representatives? Without public policy, individuals' carbon neutrality cannot solve the problem. Indeed, a key contribution of the retail offsets market may be to promote public understanding and ultimately public policy.
That last bullet point, I think, brings the whole issue into focus. Carbon offsets and their purchase by individuals may only be symbolic at this point, but education and a push to change public perception and policy about global warming should be the ultimate goal of this activity.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Just a quick update

Just wanted to acknowledge that I received the info packet from Kim at Environmental Initiatives yesterday and will start tearing into it as soon as I finish "A Consumer's Guide to Retail Offset Providers," a pretty decent overview of what to look for in a carbon offset provider. Will be reporting on both pretty soon.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Environmental Initiatives at Disney Responds

Got a phone call this afternoon from a nice lady at Environmental Initiatives at Disney in Orlando, who apologized for not getting in touch sooner because of delays in the mail system they have at Disney. Having to bring the mail from the mainland to Tom Sawyer Island requires the use of a raft, so inevitably things can slow down in receiving news, such as that of our arrival. As I mentioned in the original post, it was not much notice and "The Hammock" factor also came into play.

It was a very pleasant conversation, and she just seemed like a super person who was enthusiastic to send all sorts of information about what they're doing to keep it real at Disney, environmentally. I look forward to receiving said packet of information.

She stated they were doing a major revamp of all of the resorts to be more energy efficient. I did notice that the bulbs in our room were CFL's. She also said they do things like have housekeeping recycle plastic bottles, cans, and papers. I am so glad we tipped our housekeeper well for her troubles, especially since she has to recycle our crap in addition to cleaning up after us.

Another thing they do at Disney, and I had kind of forgotten this until our current visit, is that they will refrain from changing your towels unless you throw them on the floor (ostensibly to indicate your done-ness with said item). So, if you hang your towels to dry after showering during your visit, you can save energy and the housekeeper's time. They also state in their room literature that they change the sheets every four days during an individual visit, unless otherwise directed.

Got the photo from The Tom Sawyer's Island Appreciation Page

Eating at Disney

Eating during our brief respite while in the Disney compound alternated between being frustrating and being reasonably tolerable. When you're considering doing the individual things that you like to do in a meager attempt to "green it up" at Disney, keep in mind you will, at times, be thwarted.

Case and point: The morning of our arrival, we decided to have a quick breakfast at the resort cafeteria. I brought in my cup and, as we went through the cashier, I said, "I've brought my own cup for coffee." The nice gentleman tallying our meal said, "I'm sorry, we can't let you fill your own cup, but you can buy one of the refillable cups we have for your coffee." They call these plastic mugs "bottomless cups" which you may fill as often as you like during your stay.

"Okay," I said, "how much are the cups?"


"Well, could I just use a soft drink cup for my coffee, instead?"

"No, because you might burn yourself."

See, they give you this flimsy styrofoam cup for your coffee, but the soft drink cups are paper and about the same thickness. I was just kind of stymied by that point and gave up, accepting the styro cup rather than go without another shot of coffee before magic time.

We got bagels and the way you can get around using a ton of plastic utensils is to either share implements, like a knife for cream cheese, or just get finger-type foods.

We had lunch at Pecos Bill's and did their burger bar, which is such an awesome idea. DJ got a kid's meal with a little burger, little fries, and a cookie and juice. It's a great deal, but the only drawback is that it's served in a black, type-5 plastic container shaped to look like Mickey's head. It has one big, head depression for the burger, an ear depression for a cup with fries, and a second ear depression for the drink cup. As you can see from this crude representation of the plate, it's stylish and sleek, but plastic. I guess my question to the folks at Disney who decide this stuff would be, "If Dixie is providing the oval plates and baskets made from paper, why not have them design and manufacture a paper plate that looks like the plastic one?"

I guess the answer would be, as with all things Disney, that it's cheaper for them to produce plastic plates rather than paper ones in the shape of Mickey's head. Of all the attempts at green-ness I saw at Disney during our visit, this just seemed counter-intuitive.

Another interesting feature was the recycling bin I saw near the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. One side was for trash, and the other side had two holes for recycling cans and plastic bottles. Again, another lovely drawing:
Honestly, I noted this before we left the park to check into our room, and by the time we got back it was too dark to look for others, and we were racing against the clock to visit as much stuff as possible before DJ had a meltdown and passed out -- or, the old man and I had a meltdown and passed out, whichever came first.

Back from Disney

Hello, just got back from the house of mouse. Had a splendid time, regardless of the fact that we were either getting over something or just on the threshold of being ill with yet another affliction. For instance, I am now enjoying the lovely stomach bug that was the old man's privilege to host for about 2 days. It started for me this morning and I am now quarantined until it blows over -- which bites because we have family in town and I've been anxious to catch up!

Oh well. Anyway, we did the Disney trip, even in the throes of ill health and exhaustion, the latter brought on by leaving the house at dark 0'clock and, for once, finding ourselves twiddling our thumbs a bit once we got on Disney soil. There are pluses and minuses to leaving in a frenzy at 5:30am; the pluses are you get to ride a bunch of stuff before the real throngs arrive, and by the time you're ready for a break is just about the time the party at the MK really gets swinging; the minuses, of course, include being so exhausted by 9 pm that you're seeing hidden mickeys when you close your eyes.

People warned us that New Year's Day at the MK would be crazy busy but, really, when isn't Disney busy? Here's a tip: They seem to give a lot of good tips and information at Carousel of Progress (one of my favorite attractions, by the way, next to Hall of Presidents), before the attraction begins. For instance, we learned that NYD would see 20k less people, actually, than the last 5 days. Also, we learned that we could use Fast Passes after the time period they were good for, all the way up to midnight. And, to top it all off, it was supposed to get into the 30's that night (and it got a lot colder, believe me) so the crowds would definitely thin out after the fireworks. Carousel of Progress is a very informative attraction especially when, during the 40's-era segment, what's-his-name said probably my favorite line of all time, something to the effect that, "in the future, people will learn Greek and Latin by watching television!" And, they will also find out if they're smarter than a 5th grader.

Photo from