January 10, 2011

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AAA Watch

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Washington Watch

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AAA Watch
It's Not Always Sunny in California

Lapsed Members of AAA SoCal Can't Renew Extended Towing Coverage Without Probation

Like a number of other AAA regional clubs, the Automobile Club of Southern California requires that new members maintain a basic membership without usage for at least 12 months before they're allowed to upgrade to a membership with longer towing coverage.

It's not our policy, but we get it. Tows are expensive, and it's hard to keep membership rates reasonable if you're signing people up just to tow them for dozens of miles right away.

Once you'd done your time, however, we'd have thought that you would have won AAA's trust. Apparently not so: let your Plus membership in the SoCal Automobile Club lapse and you're back on probation, regardless of how long you've been a member.

Complete Story
In The News
5 Great Ways to Find Roadside Assistance

by Constance Gustke, Foxbusiness.com

"Affinity clubs have a full menu of benefits...

Take the Better World Club. Its basic roadside assistance program costs $56...[and] Members get extra perks like eco-travel services and discounts on hybrid car rentals."

Complete Story
Member Alert
Baby It's Cold Outside

So Be Careful When You Drive Out to Get Me That Hot Chocolate

For many of our members (hey, Northeast!), winter means snow and ice, which in turn mean difficult driving conditions. We can't, however, let that stop you from exchanging our Christmas presents.

Keep in mind: We'll always work as hard as we can to help, but your best options for help in a blizzard are the police or other emergency responders.

For helpful tips on general winter driving, check out this list put together by our friends at Car Talk. Complete Story
Top Story
100% of BWC Staff Surveyed Agree That You Should Take Our Membership Survey

Sure, We Only Asked our President -- but Still, Numbers Don't Lie

We love hearing from our members. You know, thank you cards, thank you gifts, award nominations...any token of appreciation, really. We also understand that our members are exciting and busy people who can't always remember to visit the website to send us an email with their feedback. So, we've drawn up a survey to let you get it all out in one place.

In addition to providing our members with an easy opportunity to comment on their experiences with our services, our survey is designed to collect data on how our customers feel about the environmental and social responsibility issues that relate to the Club's operating mission. After all, open communication is essential to maintaining a healthy relationship. We hope you know that we're listening. Your needs are important. Once we have our results, we're excited to use them in planning and developing new membership services and online features.

The survey shouldn't take any more than 15 minutes to complete, and we know that all of our non-businesspeople members still resent not being able to respond to our last survey in November. So what's 15 minutes, right? Now's your chance to let us know what you think!

The current survey is, however, only to be completed by Better World Club members, present or past. If you're not a member and really can't wait to get in on the question answering fun, there's no better time to join! And do it soon, because we won't be collecting data after January 24th, 2011.

Thanks for your help! We're sure you'll like the future even better.

Take our membership survey now!

Complete Story

Read Last Issue's Top Story:

- Better World Club Helps Fight Global Warming...er...Weirding

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CarShare Vermont gives you easy access to a network of vehicles that you can use whenever you want (it helps if you're in Vermont) for as long as you like. You pay based on how much you drive, which saves you money and helps the environment. Whether you have errands to run, need a car for work, or want to get out of town for the weekend, CarShare Vermont can get you there (and with the peace of mind of roadside assistance coverage from Better World Club). It's really that simple!

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Washington Watch
With the Senate Debating Filibuster Rules We're Wondering: Do We Need to Break up California to Fix Democracy?

This article, by BWC President Mitch Rofsky, originally appeared in the Huffington Post

Many Democrats are recognizing that the federal government is broken and are lining up to "fix" the Senate filibuster. Some want to reduce the cloture requirement to 55 Senators. Others want to do away with the filibuster entirely.

There's only one problem: many Democratic Senators are reluctant to change the rule.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), for instance, favors the filibuster, which he used to protect Oregon's "Death With Dignity" law when it was under attack by a Republican Congress.

Unfortunately, this reflects an even bigger problem. The fact is the federal government isn't "broken" because of the filibuster rules. It's broken because of its two Senators per State structure, regardless of population, that is built into the U.S. Constitution.

The filibuster aggravates this problem, of course. But, the filibuster just highlights that the Senate that made sense in 1787 no longer does. After all, the impact of the Senate's structure is much different than was anticipated more than two centuries ago. Complete Story

Link to Huffington Post article.
TravelCool Website of the Month
You Don't Need Bill Ayers to Tell You Which Way the Wind Blows...

But This Weather Underground Can Help You Prepare for Your Next Trip

All that rain in sunny California and then that huge blizzard in New York? We've been having some strange weather lately. And whether that's the result of global warming ( weirding?) or not, it's nice to know what to expect from the weather at your destination before a trip.

Weather Underground is a comprehensive website that combines your run of the mill meteorology with blogs, photos and videos, trip planning, and activity recommendations. Plus, the Weather Underground's interactive, searchable WunderMap provides real time information from radar and weather stations across the world. Rain at your destination? Snowed in at the airport? You could spend your whole vacation playing with the map!

Complete Story

Be sure to take a peek at our ' Bodacious Page of Travel Links and Resources.' Our travel links page sports a crazy HUGE number of links, so if you're planning some travel this is a great resource.

Do You Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is?
Detroit 2011: Toyota Prius C Concept is higher efficiency in a smaller package


The family of Prius vehicles will continue to grow in the coming years. Toyota gave us a preview of what to expect by showing the Prius C Concept at the Detroit Auto Show a car that will come to life in the first half of 2012. Toyota promises that it will be the most fuel-efficient hybrid (that doesn't need a plug) and will be the most "value-oriented hybrid" in the United States. You've been warned, Honda Insight.

Complete Story

Solar thermal industry set to boom

by Todd Woody, Grist.org

The rapidly growing photovoltaic industry has spawned thousands of jobs for people who design, make, and install rooftop solar arrays for homes and businesses. But the smaller solar thermal business is also set to boom in the United States, according to a new government report.

Employment in the solar thermal collector industry jumped 22 percent in 2009 from the previous year, said the report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The number of solar thermal companies increased by 19 percent. It's still a small industry, with revenues in 2009 reaching $96.7 million, a 19 percent spike from the previous year. At the same time, total shipments of solar thermal products fell nearly 19 percent.

Complete Story

Can Geothermal Energy Pick Up Real Steam?

by David LaGesse for National Geographic News

Steam rising from a valley just north of San Francisco reminded early explorers of the gates of hell. Others saw the potential healing powers of the naturally heated water, and still others realized the steam could drive turbines to generate electricity.

It's been 50 years since power plants began running off the pools of steam that sit under California's Mayacamas Mountains. The pioneering plants in the area known as The Geysers highlighted the promise of geothermal energy, internal heat from the Earth with vastly greater energy potential than that of fossil fuels. But geothermal, virtually free of carbon emissions and more reliable than intermittent wind and solar energy, still provides only a small slice of the world's energy.

"There's a window of opportunity where geothermal can play a part in our energy future, and we risk missing it," says David Blackwell, a geophysicist at Southern Methodist University.

Complete Story


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