All I Want For Christmas Is ...

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - December 23, 2009
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Jane and Leroy Brown

My current favorite Christmas song starts out:

I don’t want a lot for Christmas

There is just one thing I need

I don’t care about the presents

Underneath the Christmas tree ...

I love the season for what it is, a time to reflect and be happy, bake cookies and have your loved ones all under one roof for feasting and partying. Presents are fun, but unnecessary. This year I have a very short list.


 

Here’s what I want under my (LED-lighted) tree:

First, the end to Furlough Fridays.

Unfortunately we ended last week on a sour note, with the state and HSTA breaking off talks. The standoff leaves our children stranded in furlough hell until sometime next year.

A reader e-mailed her frustration, mostly at the governor, but she also pointed out we all need to think outside the box to solve this very pressing problem. She offered a few suggestions on helping to ease the situation:

“When school sports programs were in jeopardy, public and private benefactors stepped forward with the donations to save them. Why wouldn’t they step forward now to save something as vital as education? Instead of Save our Sports, why not support Saving Our Students? Saving Our School Days?

“Why waste millions of dollars on a public rail system that few people will have the need to use as unemployment skyrockets? Is enduring a little less traffic on the roads in 10 years worth sacrificing our kids’ education right now?

“If our school days can’t be saved, why not turn a negative situation into a positive one? Besides childcare, the biggest problem with Furlough Fridays is the loss of classroom instruction.

“Why not turn those ‘lost Fridays’ into teachable moments that help our students gain life skills? For a tax break, our Island businesses can provide internship opportunities for seventh-through 12th-grade students. Community and non-profit organizations can help to facilitate volunteer opportunities for students to earn school credit for community service.


“In both instances, our kids would be gaining skills and providing community services while rounding out their education and becoming better people.” - Danielle Dean, Ewa Beach

Good points, Danielle. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

Here’s another thing I’d like in my Christmas stocking: more e-mails like this one from reader Jane Brown of Hawaii Kai:

“Was thinking about you this weekend as we finished decorating our pontoon boat for this upcoming Saturday’s Hawaii Kai Festival of Lights Parade. This year we decided to throw away the thousands of bulbs that burn mega power and buy all LEDS.

“We added up all the new boxes of bulbs we put on our boat this weekend and were amazed to find out that the 2,140 bulbs on our boat are only a mere 183 watts!”

I was intrigued. So I called Jane to find out more. She tells me she and her husband Leroy (bad, bad Leroy Brown), like so many of us, have had to rethink their energy habits.

“We’ve been really conscious of our electric bill ever sine the price of electricity went up a few years ago,” Jane says.

The Browns have a 1,500-square-foot townhouse and they were paying a whopping $700 a month on their electricity bill. So they took action.

“We changed all our bulbs in the house. We put a timer on our water heater, turned off the air conditioner and started using fans ...”

It worked. They managed to lower their electricity bill by about $300 a month.

But they continued to light up their award-winning boat the conventional way.

“I’ve been in the boat parade since 2002,” Jane says, “and I’ve won in my category several times.”

For those of you who haven’t seen it, apparently these boats are an amazing display, all done up like parade floats with thousands of lights. Jane and her husband had been renting a 3,500-watt generator and decided to buy their own. They thought 2,000 watts would give them enough power to keep their boat alight. They were wrong.

“We loaded the lights on and totally blew the generator. It was in the middle of the marina and it short-circuited the generator and left us in dark. We limped to the dock. We were devastated that year. It takes weeks to decorate the boat.”

This year the Browns decided to spend the extra money on LEDS.

“When we added up the boxes we were floored by the small amount of watts these bulbs produced.”

They went from needing more than 3,000 watts to barely pulling 200 watts. They don’t even need the generator.

Jane says the LED bulbs were costly up front - they paid around $400 for them. But she thinks they’re worth it and hopes eventually companies will step up and make them affordable for everyone.

“If everybody changed their bulbs, think how much electricity we’d save!”

Now that is the ultimate gift to our island and to our planet. Thanks, Jane.

Merry Christmas and love to you all!

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