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    What you need to know about Clean Air Action Day! – WZZM13.com - June 27, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Program Manager, Amy Haack, explains the importance of Clean Air Action Day and how to help with the cause.

    GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. A Clean Air Action Day is called when certain air pollutants are forecast to reach unhealthy levels. On these days, the public is asked to take voluntary actions like deferring lawn mowing and limiting car usage to reduce emissions and protect their health.

    However, there has been a name change to the cause. It went from Ozone Action to Clean Air Action. Here is why:

    Beginning in 2009, the program has grown and evolved to announce Action Days when ground level ozone, fine particulate matter, or both, are expected to reach or exceed the unhealthy for sensitive groups threshold.

    Since it is possible to have unhealthy levels of fine particulate matter throughout the year, the Clean Air Action program is now year-round. Although they have been fortunate enough to not have to call a Clean Action Day, yet in regards to fine particulate matter.

    For those that may not know, here is a break down of what is ozone, ground-level ozone, and fine particulate matter and what causes a Clean Air Action to be called.

    Ozone is a colorless gas that is the major component of smog that lingers at the Earths surface. In the upper atmosphere (stratosphere), however, ozone is beneficial, protecting us from the suns harmful rays.

    Ozone is formed in the lower atmosphere as a result of chemical reactions in the presence of certain weather conditions.

    High temperatures, minimal cloud cover, and southwest winds are prime conditions for ground-level ozone formation in West Michigan. Sources of pollutants that react in these conditions include vehicles, factories, landfills, industrial chemicals, and numerous small sources such as gas stations, farms, lawn equipment, etc.

    Particulate matter includes small drops of liquid or bits of dust, metals, or other materials in the air. It can come from a variety of sources, including incinerators, wood stoves, industry, motor vehicles, and even forest fires and construction sites. Its levels are usually highest in the summer and winter, making it a year-round issue in West Michigan.

    Ground-level ozone and fine particulate matterare health problems.

    Ground-level ozone and particulate matter are particularly problems for people with respiratory illnesses, children, the elderly, and those who are active outdoors.

    Even for healthy people engaged in moderate outdoor activity, breathing air laden with ozone and particulate matter can create temporary health problems, such as coughing and shortness of breath.

    Air pollution is a definite health problem.

    There are numerous monitoring stations throughout the state. Some of these are in larger cities and some are in rural areas. The stations monitor the air and measure the presence of ozone and particulate matter.

    However, many of the pollutants that form ozone in our air come from other areas.

    Scientific studies have proven that large cities to the south and west of our region are a prime contributor to our problem. Hopefully, the voluntary actions of many citizens and organizations will be successful in keeping our air as clean as possible.

    Cars, equipment, and industries in West Michigan are NOT pollution free. While the pollution we emit may not be the primary sources of our problem, it does contribute to some degree. Our efforts to reduce local emissions on Clean Air Action Days will serve dual purposes.

    First, local actions will send the message that West Michigan can work together to solve its own problems and the communities in our region and take pride in the beauty of their natural resources and know how to maintain them.

    Second, the efforts that we take locally may constitute the differences between going over the federal standard and almost going over the standard in a given measuring period. It may not make a huge difference in the haziness of the air, but it can make all the difference in the world when it comes to remaining in compliance with the clean air standards.

    The Clean Air Action Program is only one of the efforts going on in West Michigan.

    Businesses and industries have been working for years with improved technology to reduce emissions from their operations. Automobile emissions technology has also improved dramatically.

    Over the past several decades, there have been major reductions in overall vehicle emissions. This is quite an improvement in technology. New equipment in many industries has been designed with air quality in mind.

    There are many no-cost voluntary actions that individuals can take on designated Clean Air Action days. Consider some of these.

    There are many ways to be aware of Clean Air Action Days. Heres a few:

    Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this.Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.

    If you would like more information about advertising with 13 ON YOUR SIDE, please contact Jeff Olsen at jolsen@wzzm13.com.

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    What you need to know about Clean Air Action Day! - WZZM13.com

    Health & wellness: Take care to avoid common summer health hazards – Dayton Daily News - June 27, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Summer is a great time to be outside and enjoy the weather. Awareness of summer health hazards can help you prevent potential injuries and discomfort.

    Here are ways you can protect yourself and others and enjoy the summer fun:

    Lawn mower injuries

    Before mowing, remove debris from the lawn, such as rocks, sticks or other potential flying object hazards.

    Always wear protective eye wear, hearing protection and closed toe shoes while operating the mower.

    If the lawn slopes, mow across the slope with the walk-behind rotary mower, never up and down. With a riding lawn mower, drive up and down the slope, not across it, to avoid tipping over.

    Save extra on plant-based meat options for July 4 holiday

    Do not allow children to play in the vicinity of an operating mower, and never allow young children to ride with an adult on a mower.

    Food poisoning

    Hot temperatures in the summer allow bacteria to develop faster in food with no refrigeration. Foods or food products with dairy, eggs, mayonnaise or meat can become hosts to the types of bacteria that can lead to food poisoning.

    To prevent food poisoning, follow the U.S. Department of Agricultures advice to:

    Clean: Wash your hands as well as the surfaces where youll be preparing foods.

    Separate: Wrap raw meat securely and keep it stored away from other food items.

    Cook: Bring along a meat thermometer. Grilling meat browns it very fast on the outside, but that doesnt mean its safe on the inside. Steaks should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees, ground beef and pork to 160 degrees, and poultry to 165 degrees.

    Chill: Keep everything refrigerated as long as possible. Store perishable picnic items in an insulated cooler packed with ice, and follow the last in, first out rule whatever youre going to eat first should go at the top of the cooler.

    Dont keep any foods at room temperature longer than 2 hours-or 1 hour if its warmer than 90 degrees.

    Sun damage

    Sun protection is an important precaution to guard against skin cancer and reduce signs of aging. To help protect your skin and eyes from the damaging effects of UV rays:

    Use sunscreen -Choose a sunscreen that has sun-protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.

    Stay in the shade between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays to reduce the risk of cataracts.

    Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every 2 hours while outdoors.

    Wear clothing to protect exposed skin, and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, ears and neck.

    Insect bites

    Mosquito bites can be annoying, but they can also cause serious viral diseases, such as West Nile, Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue. To protect yourself from mosquito bites:

    Mosquito-proof your home by using screens on windows and doors. Repair or replace all torn screens in your home. Close windows and doors, then use air conditioning when available.

    Drain water where mosquitoes grow. Mosquitoes can grow in containers that hold water for more than a week such as pop cans, buckets, bottles and discarded tires. Fill holes that hold water with gravel or dirt.

    Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks to create a barrier between you and mosquitoes.

    Apply insect repellent on exposed skin when you go outdoors. Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellants containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

    Heat illness & dehydration

    Anyone exposed to high temperatures for a sustained period of time is at risk for heat-related illness and dehydration. Prevention is the best way to avoid heat-related illness. When it is hot outside, remember to:

    Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible.

    Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated will help your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature.

    Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Wearing excess clothing or clothing that fits tightly wont allow your body to cool properly.

    Take it easy during the hottest part of the day.

    Poison ivy

    Poison ivy contains the plant oil urushiol, which can cause severe skin rash when any part of the leaves, stem or root is touched. Learn how to identify poison ivy in order to avoid exposure.

    The old saying Leaves of three, let it be is a reminder of the consistent leaf characteristic of this plant.

    One leaf centered on longer stalk, and two leaves to each side attached to the stalk.

    Each leaf has three glossy leaflets, with smooth or toothed edges.

    Wash garden tools and gloves regularly. It is possible to pick up the rash from plant oil that may have stuck to clothing, pets, and other items that have come in contact with poison ivy.

    For more information on summer health hazards, visit USAFwellness.com or contact your local Civilian Health Promotion Services team. Comprehensive information on summer health hazards can be found on the Centers fo Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov.

    Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

    Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.

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    Health & wellness: Take care to avoid common summer health hazards - Dayton Daily News

    In The Green: Tips To Keep Your Lawn Healthy In The Heat – DiscoverMooseJaw.com - June 27, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The hot weather that we are getting can take a toll on us, and it can also take a toll on our lawns.

    According to City of Moose Jaw Parks Gardener Sarah Regent, most of the lawns in the area are cool-season grasses that thrive in lower temperatures. Once the mercury hits the 30s, the grass can go into a summer dormancy.

    Regent said the best thing we can do to help our lawn in the heat is to be gentle with it.

    So that means doing things that arent as stressful to it. A really easy one to do is mow when it is cooler out, ideally in the evening, and make sure you are mowing only when your grass is dry, she said.

    Other tips she gave include only mowing about a third of the grasss height off. She said taking off more can be stressful to the grass and removing a lot of its photosynthetic areas.

    Tearing of grass isnt good for the lawn either. Regina said keeping a shape mower blade is important because a cleaner cut is easier for the grass to heal.

    When it comes to watering, Regent said it depends on the goals and landscaping.

    Generally you want to water deeply less often, so you are looking at once or twice a week. You want to make sure those run to roughly the equivalent of an inch per week. Thats a pretty good rule of thumb if we arent really getting any rain, she said.

    She added holding to that rule will help keep the roots growing down as watering every day and every other day can encourage the roots to stay shallow.

    Some of the warning signs that your lawn needs water are brown spots, especially in higher spots. Even before that, Regent said that the green colour of the grass will start to fade and turn blueish. A thirsty lawn will also not spring back up if it is stepped on.

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    In The Green: Tips To Keep Your Lawn Healthy In The Heat - DiscoverMooseJaw.com

    Guest columnist John Root: A week to celebrate the beauty of pollinators – Amherst Bulletin - June 27, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Many of us think of insects as those pesky bugs, and there is no shortage of products that promise to eliminate them from our midst.

    However, insects are vital lynchpins in terrestrial ecosystems, and we really cant live without them. They recycle nutrients, and birds and other wildlife depend on them for food. Pollinators also fertilize 75% all flowering plants (including 30% of food crops), ensuring fruit set as well as providing for genetic diversity.

    Populations of all insects have been plummeting in recent decades, jeopardizing our survival as well as our entire ecosystem. Causes of their rapid decline include widespread use of systemic pesticides, loss of habitat, climate disruption and light pollution. At the current rate of population collapse, insects will be functionally gone by the end of the century unless we take meaningful action.

    For these reasons, the Amherst Town Council passed a pollinator resolution on June 15 committing the town to minimizing pesticide use and managing town-owned land for pollinator habitat. Also, National Pollinator Week, initiated by Pollinator Partnership (pollinator.org), is June 22-28, and nows a good time as ever to learn how to protect their lives and ours!

    So how can you be a pollinator champion?

    Make your lawn bee-friendly. Mow every other week or less often at a height of three or four inches to allow clover, violets, thyme, dandelions and other lawn flowers to bloom, and then watch with pride as hungry native bees, honeybees and other pollinators feast on your offerings.

    Replace unused lawn with pollinator plants to enhance wildlife habitat. Carpets of close-cropped grass are food deserts for wildlife and lawns. Sheet mulching (smothering your lawn with an organic barrier such as cardboard or several thicknesses of newspaper and covering that with mulch) is an easy, no-dig way to eliminate grass or other unwanted vegetation to create a blank slate.

    Planting a variety of flowering trees and shrubs, creating wildflower meadows and pollinator gardens, establishing flowering groundcovers, and even mowing just once a year are all ways to welcome wildlife.

    Use a planting calendar to ensure that several different plant species will be in bloom from spring through fall so that pollinators are supplied with pollen and nectar for their entire life spans.

    Consider reducing your lawn area by at least 25% to welcome beneficial wildlife youll be glad you did!

    Welcome caterpillars with native plantings. Butterfly and moth larvae need to eat a lot before they pupate, but are often not be able to digest the leaves of non-native plants. Plant a variety of native trees, shrubs and forbs so that their nutritional needs can be met.

    Provide shelter and places for insects to raise their young. Leave fallen leaves and other dead plant matter until the spring for insect habitat. Instead of mulching all of your beds, provide bare patches of ground for tunneling native bees and make a bee hotel with Japanese knotweed stems or other hollow stalks for cavity-nesting mason bees and leafcutter bees.

    Provide water. Pollinators get thirsty, too! Make sure your water source has a shallow or sloping side so that they can easily approach the water without drowning.

    Post a pollinator habitat sign. Pollinator habitat can look unkempt, especially in winter when there are no colorful flowers to admire. Proclaiming to the world what youre doing to help our hard-working pollinators will educate and inspire others to emulate your efforts.

    Landscaping for nature is a richly rewarding adventure for people of all ages, allowing us to closely observe a variety of organisms and marvel at their beauty and complexity. For beginning gardeners, there is no shortage of ways to learn. In addition to books and the internet, you can get answers to your gardening questions from garden centers, master gardeners, and university extension services.

    Neighbors can also be a great source of advice, as well as free perennials. Youll have a chance to be generous with information and plants yourself in no time by availing yourself of these resources.

    Lists of area landscaping professionals, nurseries offering organically grown seeds and plants, and information about creating and maintaining pollinator gardens can be found at the Western Mass Pollinator Networks website, wmassbees.org. WMPN also offers Wild for Pollinator garden signs at a sliding scale to proclaim that your land is providing essential wildlife habitat. Contact us if you would like to participate in our regional campaign to protect and promote pollinators.

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    Guest columnist John Root: A week to celebrate the beauty of pollinators - Amherst Bulletin

    The 10 Best Lawn Care Services in Secaucus, NJ (with Free … - May 24, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Keeping a lawn lush and green requires consistent mowing, weeding, watering, fertilizing and more. If your lawn is particularly large, it may make sense to hire a full-service lawn care provider. Whether you take a DIY approach or bring in the experts, maintaining your lawn requires a range of tasks.

    Plan to mow the lawn often, allowing it stay longer than may seem convenient longer grass is healthier grass. The general rule is to cut off no more than a third of the grass blade. This helps prevent damage to the lawn as well as keeping weeds from taking root. Its also important to remove any weeds, then prevent new ones from growing. In spring, consider spraying a pre-emergent herbicide on your lawn to prevent crabgrass and other types of weeds from sprouting from seed. During other seasons, broadleaf weeds like dandelions can be pulled by hand or sprayed with weed killers. The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning, allowing the sun to help dry the grass. Make sure to thoroughly soak the lawn so that the water penetrates several inches into the ground.

    Lawn care also requires feeding; look for a mixture of fast- and slow-release fertilizers that include nitrogen. Some lawns also benefit from aeration, which creates small holes to let air, water and nutrients penetrate the grass roots. Although most homeowners can manage these tasks on their own, a full-service lawn care company can handle them on a regular schedule, taking the guesswork out of maintaining a beautiful lawn.

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    The 10 Best Lawn Care Services in Secaucus, NJ (with Free ...

    Plowz and Mowz offers free lawn service to healthcare workers – WBNG-TV - May 24, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    (WBNG) -- Throughout this pandemic, the community has stepping in to help those on the front lines, whether it's buying them lunch or making mask donations.

    Now another service is becoming free to healthcare workers...lawn mowing.

    Plowz & Mowz is an app based out of Syracuse that made its way to Binghamton this past winter.

    It offers landscaping services in the area, ranging from snow plowing to lawn mowing, meant to make life a little bit easier.

    "Our mission has always been to help people and we wanted to take it a step further with healthcare workers," said co-founder Wills Mahoney.

    Now because of the pandemic, the app is offering a free lawn mow to healthcare workers as a way to say thank you.

    "We know they're working 12 plus hours, crazy shifts, and the last thing they probably want to do is mow their lawns. So we said, 'Hey, let's give them a free lawn mow,'" said Mahoney.

    Healthcare workers say it's a small gesture that means a lot.

    "It takes like two hours plus to just mow and then all the extra stuff and that's time we could spend with our family. So it's nice to have someone else come to do that and it's convenient to find it on an app," said nurse Jamie Turcotte. "I've never had so much support in my life. Everyone is always like, 'Thank you so much, nurses are great.' Everything like that but the outpouring support from the community has been amazing."

    The app is not only helping healthcare workers, it's helping the small businesses it partners with.

    "Every landscaping company right now is taking a hit during this time, so to be able to get them more work, we're paying for it 100 percent, I'm sure it means a lot to them," said Mahoney.

    Lawn Works Landscaping out of Vestal provides services through Plowz & Mowz.

    "They've definitely helped me grow, pick up more accounts in the community," said Lawn Works owner Justin Scheddin.

    His business is also happy to help a greater cause.

    "It's just another lawn, you know, and we do the same quality work as we would for anyone else and it feels really good to give back to our community," said Scheddin.

    If you're a healthcare worker looking to take advantage of the offer, all you have to do is enter the code "HERO" in the coupon field at checkout on the Plowz & Mowz app.

    You can also visit the Plowz & Mowz website by clicking here.

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    Plowz and Mowz offers free lawn service to healthcare workers - WBNG-TV

    Unperspective: Are You Still Pushing A Hand Mower? – IT Jungle - May 24, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    May 18, 2020Trevor Perry

    Driving on the freeway the other day, a small Fiat 500 zipped around me and pulled into the left lane, right behind a Ford F450 dualie. A tiny car, with a driver vaping with one hand, following this huge truck at 70 mph, without consideration for any possible traffic situation, other drivers on the road, or even their own life.

    Driving is a phenomenon where the operator, being surrounded by a large box of metal and often a lot of plastic, feels invincible and invulnerable. This comfort zone is completely artificial an invention of the drivers mind. There is no safety in a vehicle, and there is no safety in driving like a crazy person right up the rear end of the vehicle in front.

    This is human nature, and you can see it everywhere every day. . . if you look. For most of us, its impossible to see it from inside that invented bubble of safety.

    Todays story is an allegory. This has become a common practice in the world of motivational, inspirational, and educational books, so I am taking this opportunity to dabble.

    Once upon a time, people decided that their yards would look great if they had something ornamental. They planted shrubs and lots of green grass. Green everywhere. Then, the green grass grew and it started to look tatty. Someone had the great idea that they could clip the tops of the green grass and it would look neat and presentable.

    They spent a lot of time trimming the green grass in their yards, until someone invented a contraption they dubbed a hand mower. By pushing the entire apparatus, the wheels would cause its blades to rotate fast. Pushing this around the yard would trim the tops of the green grass, thus ensuring the neighborhood HOA would not send a notice or levy a fine.

    And there, the story ends.

    Actually, not for everyone. Enterprising people decided that they could complete the job more efficiently and faster if they added an engine to the contraption. The motorized push mower meant that more yards could be mowed in a shorter time.

    However, there were people who loved their hand mowers. They had become quite skilled at mowing their green grass with this easy-to-use garden tool. They stuck with their hand mower, and loudly proclaimed their resistance to the complexity of the motorized lawn mower. One had to use gasoline to power this new-fangled thing which cost money! And the effort of pulling a rope to start the engine itself was an effort that was simply unnecessary.

    Then, with the efficiency and speed of lawn mowing, more green grass was planted. Yards became larger, lawns were growing in acreage, and more lawn mowing was needed. Motorized lawn mowers became ride-on machines, lawn mowing implements to be used with larger tractors were added to the arsenal.

    There were still people who loved their hand mowers. They had become quite skilled at mowing their green grass with this easy-to-use garden tool. They stuck with their hand mower, and loudly proclaimed their resistance to the complexity of the motorized lawn mower, the ride-on lawn mower, the lawn mowing implements.

    As time rolled on, more people learned how to use motorized lawn mowers. New employees at yard maintenance companies never learned how to use a hand mower. On the occasion when they would see a hand mower, theyd politely ask. Responses varied from laughter to reminiscing. There were even some people who had lovingly restored hand mowers and displayed them in museums for nostalgia.

    There were still people who loved their hand mowers. They had become quite skilled at mowing their green grass with this easy-to-use garden tool. They stuck with their hand mower, and loudly proclaimed their resistance. . . .

    One small lawn maintenance company offered their personal hand mowing services. They kept wondering why their business was declining after all, just look at all those lawns out there in the neighborhood! They claimed they provided great service. They claimed their tools were easy and simple to use. They argued that all those extra things one needed to manage a motorized lawn mower were unnecessary to the business of lawn mowing.

    They noticed that one of their competitors had managed to take most of their customer base. Sure, there were a few retired home owners who loved watching the hand mowing experience, but their business was suffering. They hatched a plan.

    One day, they recruited fellow hand mowing experts from across the world to join them in a protest against these horrific modern implements. They came together where the new motorized mowing equipment was being used and started to raise their voices. They screamed loudly that hand mowing was easy. They argued that no one needed those new-fangled laser thingies. They protested that home residents just loved their hand-mown green grass. They mocked the apparel worn by the operators of the motorized equipment. They laughed as one at those people who dared to speak up and promote the efficiency and speed of the modern lawn mower.

    This community of hand lawn mowers had become quite small over time, so even their raised voices were not very loud at all. But, they really felt good about themselves. They had stood up for the green grass and its hand manicure. They were proud. They were defiant. They celebrate together while the world looked on, confused and saddened by their behavior.

    Surely, if theyd like to keep their business, the upskilling to motorized lawn mowing would be a logical step? But no, hand mowing is so super amazing and . . . hmmmm. Easy! Yes, easy!

    Not that it is hard to learn how to use a motorized lawn mower. But the fear of having to learn something new means the hand mowing geniuses feel justified in rejecting anything that is outside their comfort zone. They are driving a Fiat 500 without consideration for any possible business situation, other lawn mowers, or even their own lawn mowing career.

    And there, youd think the story ends.

    One of the vocal hand mowing geniuses was let go from their job. The business did not need so many hand mowing experts now that the business had shrunk significantly. This genius made loud pronouncements about their availability and lots of noise about how amazing hand mowing is. They recruited like-minded geniuses to gather and mock the motorized lawn mowing process, because hand mowing is so, so easy.

    No business in lawn mowing has room for such a genius in a bottle. Theyd probably be able to upskill lawn mowers to motorized equipment, but the hassle of attempting that with such a closed-minded proponent of hand mowing is a daunting task. And younger, more eager prospective lawn mowers are open and have initiative.

    Surely, the story ends now?

    One day, a house who was a customer of the hand mowing boutique was sold. The new owner performed a review of all the expenses for the upkeep of the property. Clearly, the cost of hand mowing was low per hour, but the huge number of hours needed meant it was not cost-effective. They decided that it was time for a change.

    They asked the hand mowing company for advice, and the only offer was a plea to keep servicing the lawn with hand mowing because, after all, it is easy.

    The new owner did not bother with looking at the motorized lawn mowing services, and the hand mowers neglected to mention this was a possibility. The new owner had a better idea! They had learned this from their last house and from all the houses in their previous neighborhoods.

    Why did they need a lawn at all? They ripped out all the green grass and replaced it with concrete. Now, it may not be as beautiful, or as good for nature, or as fun to play in, but it looks more clean, sparse, and should do the job.

    Eventually, when all the lawns are replaced by concrete, lawn mowing wont be needed. An entire world of lawns will be gone. And who is to blame? Hand mowing experts. They are a lover of green grass and will continue to loudly proclaim their affinity and allegiance, while their business dries up and their industry disappears.

    The lesson of this allegory is simple. The world moves along while your comfort zone stays in place. Challenge yourself to step up to an ever-changing and fast-evolving world. Your lack of speed and buckets of fear will be barriers to your own evolution. Your small comfort zone will shrink, and from the outside, youll be seen as a failure as you slowly become one.

    Living is a phenomenon where the operator, being surrounded by a comfort zone of their own creation, feels invincible and invulnerable. This comfort zone is completely artificial an invention of ones mind. There is no safety in this invented bubble, and there is no safety in acting like a crazy person ignoring or mocking every other person who is evolving beyond oneself.

    And for crying out loud, stop screaming how amazing you are at hand mowing. Your small world does not offer you a view of the mockery you are making of yourself.

    Unperspective: To Which Side Do You Belong?

    Unperspective: Are We There Yet?

    Unperspective: Get Over Yourself

    Unperspective: In Your Face

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    Unperspective: Are You Still Pushing A Hand Mower? - IT Jungle

    [Letter] Best public policies are thought-through and consistent – LebTown - May 24, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    2 min read307 views and 18 shares Posted May 21, 2020

    This column was submitted to LebTown. Read our submission policy here.

    Dear Editor:

    Here is what led to the current fight between the Republican-led General Assembly and our Democratic Governor as to which businesses can re-open.

    The first reason is obvious. Businesses classified as life-sustaining got a lifeline. Those who were shut down did not. Independent of medical judgement as to which businesses would aid the spread of coronavirus, there are business winners and losers. Rural Pennsylvania took the brunt of business closures. Closing an auto dealer, a gardening center or a small mom and pop store is a big deal to a rural community. Farmers took a big hit when closing restaurants led to dumping of milk, eggs, and vegetables.

    The criteria by which basic shut-down or waiver decisions were made was and still is clothed in darkness. How did they make their decisions? For example, why were realtors closed in Pennsylvania and not in any other state? Why were the big box stores allowed to keep their retail sales of non-food items going while traditional department stores like Pa.-owned Boscovs were forced to shutter their doors? Why were coal mining and gun shops first declared to be non-essential and then suddenly re-classified as life-sustaining? Why is a small mom and pop store in rural PA who may have fewer than 20 customers a day and can easily employ CDC guidelines, forced to remain closed and now faces bankruptcy?

    Landscaping retail companies were closed but while going to the store, I saw landscape and lawn mowing services busy at work. How did some of them get waivers and others not? Until they were finally shut down, big box stores gardening/lawn care departments were doing a brisk business, but the independents were closed. I reviewed the list of firms which received waivers released by the Governor and counted almost 40 firms in a single county whose company names reflected construction activity. How were they spared the axe?

    In other words, the process seemed arbitrary with some businesses saved financially and others not. Who made those decisions? Who knows? When methodology for these decisions is hidden, people will see exceptions to the supposed rules and wonder if the decision is political. We saw a backlash even from members of the Governors own political party given bipartisan votes in the House to reopen certain types of businesses.

    In defense of the Governor, he had to do something quickly and quick decisions simply had to be made. However, the best public policy is one that is thought-through and where everyone believes that there are consistent criteria for making these decisions.

    Here is the real tragedy. Lack of transparency has made people even more skeptical of our government at a time when people must trust that officials have everyones best interest at heart. Credibility is at the heart of our democratic system. In Pennsylvanias case, that was lost.

    Sincerely,Wayne Campbell

    Wayne Campbell is the President of the Pennsylvania State Grange. The Pennsylvania State Grange was founded in 1873 to be an advocate for rural communities, farmers, businesses, and families.

    Read all of LebTowns COVID-19 coverage here.

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    [Letter] Best public policies are thought-through and consistent - LebTown

    Syracuse-Based Company is Offering Free Lawn Services to Healthcare Workers – WICZ - May 24, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    SOUTHERN TIER, N.Y. -

    The Syracuse-based Plowz and Mowz lawn mowing company is offering a discount code as a thank you to health care professionals and front-line workers for their hard work amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

    CEO and co-founder of the company, Wills Mahoney, says this campaign means a lot to him, as his own twin sister is a first-responder.

    Plowz and Mowz is one of the largest on-demand lawn mowing companies in the country, servicing 55 markets nationwide. Since the beginning of their campaign, the company has already done over 5,000 lawns for healthcare workers.

    Our missions always been to help people, and you know we were seeing nurses and healthcare workers working around the clock, 12+ hours, and we said the last thing they probably want to do is mow their lawn when they get home. So we set out to offer free lawn mows," Mahoney said.

    For the frontline workers in need an extra hand in their outdoor chores, all they need to do is visit the company website, and use the discount code HERO to save up to $60 on their services.

    The discount campaign will continue for at least another week, but customers can schedule their lawn care services for a later date if needed.

    Read this article:
    Syracuse-Based Company is Offering Free Lawn Services to Healthcare Workers - WICZ

    The Signs of the Big Bend Are a Sign of the Times – Texas Monthly - May 24, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    This time last year, which seems like a long time ago, I found myself at the automotive shop. Things seemed kind of tense. There arent many places to get vehicles inspected in the Big Bend, which puts pressure on the few existing spots to do lots of them. Inspections cost a flat $7 statewide. I imagine that the volume of inspections could consistently pull a mechanic from concentrating on more lucrative or in-depth jobs. A business owner might become kind of testy about that situation. Maybe thats the reason behind all the signs.

    There were eight signs, at my furtive count. One was handwritten and inside the office: Do not touch anything on this desk. The others were mounted on the exterior of the building. They were printed on metal and retained idiosyncrasies. Reading them, I thought about someones reasons for opening an auto shop. That persons probably good with engines, a natural problem solver who appreciates the satisfaction of making a fine machine run sweet. Heres someone who just wants to work on cars. Too bad people get in the way.

    Reserved parking . . . unauthorized vehicles towed away

    Now more than ever Texans are connecting over shared stories. Enjoy your unlimited access to our site. To have TexasMonthly magazine delivered to your home, becomeasubscriber today.

    Customer are required to wait in waiting room, if you choose to wait here, while your vehicle is being serviced. No Exceptions.

    Be Considerate. It is greatly appreciated when your children accompany you here, that you keep them respectful of our business and possessions.

    Warning. Customers becoming irate and/or violent will warrant us contacting the Police.

    Work performed here will be paid for in full before you are allowed to take your vehicle.

    Keep Out. Customers are not permitted to enter shop area.

    Minimum computer diagnostics charge is $32.50

    I had rebelled and sat outside, though meekly, and out of the way. It occurred to me that there was a lot going on at this place that I didnt know anything about. I should holster my curiosity about whatever past arguments had necessitated visits by police. I should censor my questions about what had been ruined on the desk and by whom. Just then, a red vehicle pulled up, the sort of angular, sporty, kit-made car you dont see too often, and parked in the driveway where parking is not allowed. A slender woman with maroon-dyed hair, form-fitting jeans, and Jackie Onassis sunglasses climbed out. A mans voice called out from inside the service bay.

    Now, you caint park there.

    I know, sweetie, I just gotta ask you a question, she replied, and strode into the bay where customers cannot go.

    They talked inaudibly a few moments and she edged back outside.

    Hows he doin? the voice asked. She turned to face him.

    Hes decided that hes not going to be here much longer.

    Well, I know.

    Her mouth turned upside down. Her chin puckered. Hes giving everything away. I mean, he gave me this for my birthday, and she gestured at the odd car.

    Yup.

    Hes giving it all away, giving all of it away. And with that, she got back in the vehicle, reversed, and drove off.

    Oh, those signs, I thought. Theyre trying to impose order, but people dont listen. People are going to do what people dopark where they want, walk where they want. Put a Slurpee on the desk. Let their toddler paw the gumball machine. Theyre going to get sick, give everything away, and die. The signs wont keep the chaos outside the garage doors, not really, regardless of how much structure is in place and how many rules are given. A mechanic in coveralls stuck his head outside the bay. Maam, he said to me. Trucks ready.

    The Diesel Fried Chicken sign that once topped a tire shop in Van Horn.

    Michael Roch

    Signs are put there so that youll pay attention, and sometimes I have done just that, so much so that I remember them years later. As a child riding in the back seat of my parents car, driving past the Park Cities Baptist Church, in Dallas, reliably produced a delicious dread in me, for the clock face in the churchs impressive steeple read Night Cometh. That progression of time and the insolence and frailty of us silly people were not lost on me. A reckoning will happen, whether it takes place after church or in the auto shop.

    Mostly I recall the signs that were funny. Some years back, we rolled past a church in Cleburne where the weeks homily outside read A dusty bible leads to a dirty mind. At least, I thought it was funny at the time. Maybe it isnt. Not long ago a sign appeared on the chain-link fence of one of Marfas cemeteries: Enter at Your Own Risk. It cracked me up when I initially saw it this spring, but the inexorable march of COVID-19 has redrawn the boundaries of context. It will be funny again someday. I hope.

    Still, some pleasure remains. Occasionally Ive encountered signs that are an enduring mystery. In Marfa, theres an adobe ruin with a strident message in red spray paint: KEEP OUT SNAKES. Ive never been sure whether the sign intends to warn people of snakes or whether it cautions snakes to steer clear. Either way, Ive seen neither snakes nor people there, so I guess its working. About twenty years ago, when I was a reporter at the Big Bend Sentinel newspaper, I took an ad for a woman in town who had left a very unhappy marriage in Houston for a new life in Marfa, where shed found a wealth of supportive friends. Cellphones werent yet common. She didnt want her former husband to be able to reach her any longer, but she did want to hear from her pals, so she bought a large display ad in the paper, which is a sort of sign: This is Elizabeth. My new unlisted phone number is, followed by the number itself. Makes perfect sense, right?

    Billboards are among the signs Texans most commonly encounter. While legislation prohibits these signs in certain rural areas, about 35,000 billboards dot the states urban areas.

    I, and everyone I know, routinely scan the local grocery store bulletin board for vital information. The board is prominently located at the stores entrance, and its often so packed with various notices that the array must be rearranged to fit in anything new. In normal times, these signs are intriguing for their range: a Christian concert coming up, a cheerleader bake sale on Saturday, lawn mowing services. You can tell much from the handwriting. The seller of chiweenie puppies has the scratchy hand of an older person with arthritis and composed their sign with a ballpoint pen on a stray index card. Very common sensey, this person.

    A previous incarnation of this grocery used to post a note at each cash register listing all those folks who had written a check with insufficient funds. Often, the names on those lists were visible to both the cashiers and the customers in line. Its the mark of a small town that, chances were, you knew some folks on that list or perhaps, in a pre-ATM, check-heavy era, an ill-timed dance between the end of the month and the end of your money meant your name mightve been there too. No judgment, especially these days. It happens.

    Most signs do not turn out to be permanently relevant. Marfas local watering hole used to be called Lucys Tavern, and Lucy had rules. The signs in her bar read No dogs and No spitting, and breakers of these commandments risked being permanently eighty-sixed from the place. Its amusing that in the current chapter of this bar, now called the Lost Horse Saloon, dogs commonly outnumber human patrons, and spittoons are at the ready for your spitting pleasure.

    My favorite sign of all time was anchored atop a tire shop in Van Horn. It was the symbol of being close to home because it sat at the turnoff from Interstate 10 toward Marfa. This sign was simple, black block letters on a white background. DIESEL FRIED CHICKEN. Im unaware of a time in which the tire shop ever sold fried chicken. Having visited their bathroom many years ago on the way back from a softball tournament, I can attest that it was no place youd want to eat chicken, even if it were fried in diesel.

    Earlier this year, on a visit to New York City, I walked with my husband and an old Marfa friend through SoHo, dense with brunch-goers. A sidewalk table with photos for sale stopped us cold. All the images were of the Diesel Fried Chicken sign, or of the Prada Marfa art installation, which is poorly named, since its actually located outside Valentine. Hey, we told the sidewalk seller. This is where we live, but the fried chicken signs not there anymore. He was not impressed. He didnt even think it was a weird coincidence that we knew this sign so well. My buddy bought it, he said breezily. Hes putting it in a bar in Austin. Oh, rats. I had liked it where it was.

    Signs, of course, dont have to contain language to convey information. Javelinas coming into town at night indicate wintertime, the bristly, piggy beasts lured from the grassland to Marfa lawns by windfall acorns and pecans. Vultures are a harbinger in this country. Seeing them kettle overhead in March means theyve returned from their winter vacation in Mexico and spring is almost here. Some things we know in an old way. Its easy to forget that the instincts to see and to know lie sleeping inside. But theyre present. When my friend Tigie was sick for the last time, eight years ago, a change in her cough and something about the way her eyes gazed at me told me something big was coming. And it came.

    Lately I awaken with a bellyful of leaden dread. To push away those awful signsthe masks, the emptied schoolyard and streetsI look outward and try to remember to breathe. There is some normalcy, and for that Im grateful. The black-chinned hummingbird buzzes at the feeder. The peach trees boughs are populated with tight green fruit. My red mare sighs and smacks her lips. With breath, theres optimism.

    The most interesting signs, arguably, are these totems that carry meaning so weighty that they vibrate within the chest. Once, about a decade ago, five of us were hiking in Big Bend National Park. Snowfall began halfway up the Lost Mine Trail, transforming the familiar into the unfamiliar. Stipa grass grew hoary and bearded with snowflakes and icy crystals. Snow filled the pockets between the agaves spiny points. Greens turned greener. The shadows deepened. The park held few visitors that January day; we had seen no other hikers. The snow intensified the beauty around us, the isolation, our rare good fortune to be there together. For all we knew, we were alone for mile upon undulating, craggy, snowy mile.

    Our giddiness couldnt stave off the chill, however, and the snow fell big-flaked and wet, a hazy curtain. We turned and stomped intently back down the mountain. Twenty paces on, we saw them: a mountain lions rounded prints, a long line of them, coming up the trail where wed been not a half-minute before. The tracks were as wide as the span of a mans hand and so fresh the snow had not started to fill the cups of the lions paws. Its tail had faintly brushed the snow. We gawped at one another, at the impenetrable woods. Several moments passed. There was no bird chatter, no sound at all. And I thought: This is how awe feels. This is being alive.

    This article originally appeared in the June 2020 issue of Texas Monthlywith the headline A Consideration of Signs. Subscribe today.

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    The Signs of the Big Bend Are a Sign of the Times - Texas Monthly

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