Friday, May 16, 2008

Reel Mowers

I have three lawn mowers in my possession, all of them being of the "push" variety. Of the three, two are non-powered, "reel" type mowers, like the kind that our granddads used to use (or our dads, depending on how old you are).

I picked up a copy of the Daily Hampshire Gazette's weekly magazine, "Hampshire Life," where I saw a story that caught my eye because of my ownership of said reel mowers. It was about a guy by the name of Jim Ricci who collects old reel-type lawn mowers, as well as other models. He also collects promotional materials, literature, and other lawn mowing artifacts as he pursues his long-time ambition of writing a book about old mowers. This issue's story marks the fourth story Hampshire Life has has written about Ricci's hobby since he started up his collection back in the mid-1990s. He now owns several hundred mowers, plus other landscaping equipment he has come across.

It's an interesting story, a good read, and you can check it out yourselves in the May 16th hardcopy issue of Hampshire Life. If you're reading this post after that week's issue has gone out, you're shit outta luck. Either that or subscribe to the online edition of the Gazette, or wait and hope Google caches the story. Whatever.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Deserves Got Nothing To Do With It

A health care panel examining emergency measures in the event of a pandemic disaster has drawn up a list of those who should not be treated. The study assumes meager resources, a strained health care system, and patients who - even if they did receive treatment - would not live long anyway.

Check out the story HERE.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Light Bulb? Incandescent, Please

With news last year that the Federal Government is going to be banning incandescent bulbs by 2014, environmentalist-mined folks from across the nation held hands and rejoiced.

The world will be saved!

The incandescent bulb has been decried as some dirty, wasteful, nasty thing. It even gets political, as some Liberals use it to describe their conservative countrymen: "Republicans are, like, so incandescent..."

So the incandescent bulb is something to be scorned. Reviled, even.

Poor incandescent bulb.

But I still like you! And after reading the latest news about the proper disposal of our new, "energy efficient" compact fluorescent bulbs, I'm learning to love you all over again.

There's this from MSNBC News: "Compact fluorescent light bulbs, long touted by environmentalists as a more efficient and longer-lasting alternative to the incandescent bulbs that have lighted homes for more than a century, are running into resistance from waste industry officials and some environmental scientists, who warn that the bulbs' poisonous innards pose a bigger threat to health and the environment than previously thought."

Yes, it appears that our new-and-improved little bulbs are rather nasty things in their own right. That's because, like all fluorescent bulbs, they have mercury in them, and one must be very, very careful in their disposal. Proponents of the new bulbs downplay the presence of mercury in them, like this article found online: "A power plant emits about 10 mg of mercury to produce the electricity needed to run an incandescent bulb, compared to only 2.4 mg of mercury to run a CF bulb for the same amount of time."

Yes, that's all well and good. But the mercury in a power plant is in a power plant, not surrounding me in my living room.

If you break an incandescent bulb, you just sweep up the tiny shards of glass and toss it in the trash. Not so with the new energy efficient bulbs. Breaking one of those constitutes a environmental hazard. Below is the twelve-step cleanup process recommended by the EPA:

Before Clean-up: Ventilate the Room
1.) Have people and pets leave the room, and don't let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
2.) Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
3.) Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.

A.] Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces
4.) Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
5.) Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
6.) Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the glass jar or plastic bag.
7.) Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.

B.] Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug
4.) Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
5.) Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
6.) If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.
7.) Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag.

Disposal of Clean-up Materials
8.) Immediately place all cleanup materials outside the building in a trash container or outdoor protected area for the next normal trash.
9.) Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials.
10.) Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states prohibit such trash disposal and require that broken and unbroken mercury-containing bulbs be taken to a local recycling center.

Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rug: Ventilate the Room During and After Vacuuming
11.) The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window prior to vacuuming.
12.) Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.

Then there is the disposal standard that applies to all energy efficient bulbs, broken or not [from an online article]: "Recycling burned-out CFs is the best option. To find out if there are recycling options near you, call 1-800-CLEAN-UP for an automated hotline or visit (At the top of the home page, enter your zip code and press "go." Click on the "Household Hazardous Waste" link, then the "fluorescent bulbs" link. This page will identify the nearest mercury recycling or disposal facilities near you. If the page contains no specific information on CFs, go back and click on the link for "Mercury Containing Items.")

"Or contact your local government agency in charge of household hazard waste (start with your sanitation department) to see if recycling is an option in your area."

Man, I just want to toss out my used up bulbs, not make an ordeal out of it. Which is exactly what most folks are going to end up doing, anyway. So after 2014 - indeed, starting nowadays - our landfills are going to be loading up with improperly discarded compact fluorescent bulbs.

Just like the ones that will be sitting in my trash cans.

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