Once a year, the Southern Newspapers have a convention in Florida. We usually go to try and get new ideas for a better paper for you.

This year, we decided to go by train. There is a good train from Raleigh that we could take at night and get off the next morning right after breakfast. I love to ride the train, so this should have been fun.

Then Hal decided it might be a good idea to drive this year. So ... he canceled the train tickets.

Wednesday night, Mr. Nixon told us that the speed limit would be cut to 50 miles an hour! Americans are so spoiled — and I am an American — that the idea of driving to Florida at 50 miles an hour seemed impossible.

So ... all the reservations on the train are sold out. Now we gotta’ go to Miami by plane, rent a car and drive back to Boca Raton. Great planning, wasn’t it?

Anyway, it is different to go and see how the other half lives. The “beautiful people” wouldn’t dare to go “off” season like this, but it is fun ‘cause all the fancy shops have great sales before the season starts.

For instance, their old leftover clothes, with prices like $1,500 for a little basic black dress, will be reduced to $800! I can’t wait to pick up a few bargains ... will let you know about them when we get back, empty-handed.

For everyday ecology and helping in the national energy crisis, here a few tips from a Kentucky newspaper.

Good insulation can reduce the cost of house heating as much as 45 percent annually. Storm windows can cut the heating bill by another 20 percent. Water heaters are another major source of energy.

Showers use five gallons hot water compared to 10 gallons for a bath. Run your dishwasher only when full, and the same should apply to your washer and dryer.

A self-cleaning oven uses quite a bit of extra energy. A leaky faucet that drips once per second uses 24 gallons of hot water per day, or $44 a year!

Turn out lights in rooms not occupied. Keep your thermostat as low as possible. (Most of us keep our house too hot for good health, anyway.)

Did you ever see anyone so full of information? It is necessary for all of us to do our bit in this crisis because it could get so much worse if we do not all join in the effort.

We ARE spoiled, and some people will not do their part because they think no one will know, but the majority of us will do all we can because Americans always do in a national emergency.