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Saving Gas the Low-Tech Way

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As the price of gasoline creeps inexorable skyward, politicians and moguls seem increasingly stumped as to what to do about it. The most pro-active (sounding) solution floated recently is the summer-long Clinton-McCain gas tax holiday, at best a controversial idea. Less talked about are the low-tech solutions echoed by ecogeeks and envirowonks, which sound practically Depression-era in their approach compared to election-year bandaid solutions. They may sound so simple they're stupid, but it's hard to argue with the numbers.

Skip the French Fries

Unless you're driving a biodiesel vehicle, you don't want fries with that -- in fact, the super-sizing of Americans' waistlines since 1960 has cost the nation a fortune in gas money. A new study from the University of Illinois found that Americans weigh an average of 24 lbs more per person than they did in the 60s, and a heavier ride needs more gas to push it around. The extra gas required, multiplied by the three trillion miles Americans drive every year, equals about one billion gallons of gas expended since 1960.

Slow Down!

Truckers are leading the way on this one -- according to US News, some trucking companies are cranking back their fleets' speed limiters in response to $4/gallon diesel. The results are impressive: by setting the maximum speed of their trucks at 62mph versus 65mph, Con-Way Freight, one of the nation's largest trucking firms with 8,500 rigs, estimates it will save more than three million gallons of gas per year. Don't expect a national 65mph speed limit anytime soon, though -- after all, it was Congress who repealed the 70s-era 55mph speed limit, designed to reduce fuel consumption during that generation's gas crisis.

Quit Buying So Much of It

As the price of gasoline skyrockets, the laws of supply and demand come sharply into play -- eventually demand drops, just as it did in 2007. In response to pain at the pump, Americans actually drove ten billion fewer miles in 2007 than they did in 2006, at a savings of about 500 million gallons of gas. As prices climb further, expect to see savings climb, as well.

Bring a Friend

Carpooling is up the last few years, but it hasn't exactly caught on like wildfire. According to a study from Edison, SoCal's power utility, if every one-passenger car trip became a two-person carpool, we'd save eight billion gallons (and $24-ish billion) per year. So start making friends, people.

Of course, there are high-tech ways to ease the gas crunch too, like building more intelligent traffic lights, developing alternative fuels and increasing vehicle gas mileage standards. But those things require politicians and initiatives and money and bureaucrats; on the other hand, you can driver slow and carpool with little fear of a filibuster.

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Let Alexa Help You Brine a Turkey This Thanksgiving
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There’s a reason most of us only cook turkey once a year: The bird is notoriously easy to overcook. You could rely on gravy and cranberry sauce to salvage your dried-out turkey this Thanksgiving, or you could follow cooking advice from the experts.

Brining a turkey is the best way to guarantee it retains its moisture after hours in the oven. The process is also time-consuming, so do yourself a favor this year and let Alexa be your sous chef.

“Morton Brine Time” is a new skill from the cloud-based home assistant. If you own an Amazon Echo you can download it for free by going online or by asking Alexa to enable it. Once it’s set up, start asking Alexa for brining tips and step-by-step recipes customized to the size of your turkey. Two recipes were developed by Richard Blais, the celebrity chef and restaurateur best known for his Top Chef win and Food Network appearances.

Whether you go for a wet brine (soaking your turkey in water, salt, sugar, and spices) or a dry one (just salt and spices), the process isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. And the knowledge that your bird will come out succulent and juicy will definitely take some stress out of the holiday.

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Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
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Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.


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The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.


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In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.


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