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Short Takes : River Valley edition : Tuesday, 25 February 2020 01:40 EST : a service of The Public Press
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Part of being sane, is
being a little bit crazy.
– Janet Long

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Letter to the Editor and Short Takes

     by Stephen Morris

Over the years it has been gratifying to watch the "green gospel" grow, spreading from the lunatic fringe to the boardrooms of big business, the White House, the U.S. Military, and now the nation's prison system. From Mark in the Jackson Correctional Institute in Malone, Florida:


Dear Editor:quiet zone

I've thoroughly enjoyed the copies of Green Living Journal you have provided. I got more useful information from you than 50 other publications. I am soon to be released. As a builder with 20 years experience, I am trying to obtain all the knowledge I can to move my practice to a more "green" orientation. If you know of any local Florida magazines that are as informative as yours, please send me their addresses.

Respectfully, An Earth Conscious Friend
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Sorry, no suggestions to offer, although if someone out there would like to start a Florida edition of Green Living Journal ... be in touch. -- SM


This just in from the Associated Press. Ever wonder what to do with those extra zucchini?

HELENA, Mont. — A Montana woman fended off a bear trying to muscle its way into her home yesterday by pelting the animal with a zucchini.

The woman, who declined to be identified, suffered minor scratches and one of her dogs was wounded after tussling with the 200-pound bear.

The attack happened just after midnight when the woman let her three dogs into the backyard, Missoula County Sheriff's Lieutenant Rich Maricelli said. Authorities believe the black bear was just 25 yards away, eating apples from a tree.

Before she knew what was happening, the bear was on top of the dogs, batting the collie back and forth, Maricelli said. The woman retreated into the house and tried to close the door, but the bear stuck its head and part of a shoulder in the doorway.

The woman held onto the door with her right hand. With her left, she reached behind and grabbed a 14-inch zucchini from the counter, Maricelli said.

She threw the vegetable. It struck the bear on the top of its head and the animal fled.


Idling Awareness & Reduction Tool Kit from Sierra Club

The Sierra Club chapters have joined together to fund the development of a comprehensive Idling Awareness & Reduction Tool Kit available at http://www.idlingtoolkit.com/

This informational effort is intended to promote energy conservation by vehicle drivers and town staffs that drive vehicles. The tool kit is based on existing idling programs including an actual Idling Awareness A Sierra Club official commented, "If one million people idle only one minute per day, the total amount of time needlessly idling is about 16,660 hours of idling per day. If we can encourage people to refrain from idling only one minute, it would save about 8,300 gallons of fuel and about 160,000 pounds or 80 tons of carbon emissions PER DAY."


Just Keep Walking

(Reuters) - Walking at least six miles a week may be one thing people can do to keep their brains from shrinking and fight off dementia, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

A study of nearly 300 people in Pittsburgh who kept track of how much they walked each week showed that those who walked at least six miles had less age-related brain shrinkage than people who walked less.

"Brain size shrinks in late adulthood, which can cause memory problems. Our results should encourage well-designed trials of physical exercise in older adults as a promising approach for preventing dementia and Alzheimer's disease," said Kirk Erickson of the University of Pittsburgh, whose study appears in the journal Neurology.


Stagecoach Awarded $1.2 Million to try ... horses?

(Source: The Stagecoach Spokes, organizational newsletter)

The Stagecoach, an organization that provides public transportation services in rural Vermont, has been awarded $1.2 million by the federal government to model a project demonstration based on the use of horsepower. As in real horses. According to Manager David Palmer the allocation has existed within the Defense Department budget for over a hundred years. "After the Civil Ware, the then Department of the Army wanted to see just how many troops could be moved using a single horse drawn conveyance."

In combination with this award, the Stagecoach has also submitted a grant request to the Department of Energy for methane converter bags to hang behind the horses."

Waitaminute ... waitaminute, although this newsletter only recently reached the Green Living editorial desk, the final paragraph reveals: "The original announcement date for this grant award was intended to be April 1, a date that should reveal something about 'all this bull.'" Whew!


Honors for Old Fashioned Milk Paint

The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company of Groton, Massachusetts has been voted one of the best paints in the SheKnows 2010 Parents' Choice Awards and received the Editor's Choice Award. According to SheKnows, the coveted award recognizes outstanding products and services in the parenting industry, based on functionality, quality, convenience and best bang for the consumer's buck.

The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company has produced genuine, all natural milk paint since 1974. Milk paint is one of the earliest known paints and is well known for its durability and velvety appearance. It is also one of the "greenest" paints available, being 100% biodegradable with zero VOC's. Their original formula is best suited for bare wood and other porous surfaces, but they have recently introduced a new line of milk paint especially for walls and other nonporous surfaces, called SafePaint. It is safe enough even for pregnant women to use.

The Milk Paint Company's President, Anne Thibeau said "We are excited to have been honored with the readers' votes and the Editor's Choice Award for our paint, and hope that more parents will now see milk paint as a natural alternative to the chemically based paints in the marketplace."

More information at milkpaint.com .


Energy tips:

Thanks to TheDailyGreen .com for suggesting these


Stop Drafts

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts can waste 5% to 30% of your energy use. Start simple and adopt that old Great Depression fixture -- the draft snake, which you can easily make yourself. Just place a rolled bath towel under a drafty door, or make a more attractive DIY draft snake with googly eyes, felt tongues and the like. You can use any scraps of fabric -- even neckties -- and fill with sand or kitty litter for heft.


Change Your Furnace Filter

Yes it's easy to forget, but it's important to replace or clean furnace filters once a month during the heating season. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy demand. Here's a worry-saving tip: mark a monthly check on your calendar.

Better, consider switching to a permanent filter, which will reduce waste and hassle. Did you know that disposable fiberglass filters trap a measly 10 to 40% of debris? Electostatic filters trap around 88%, and are much better at controlling the bacteria, mold, viruses and pollen that cause illness and irritation. They cost $50 to $1,000 or more. Another good choice is a genuine HEPA filter (like the one pictured), which can remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles. HEPA filters are based on Department of Energy standards. But avoid "HEPA-like" filters, which can be vastly less effective.

If your entire furnace is in need of replacement, it will cost a lot more -- but replacing an inefficient burner for a modern machine will save you every month through the heating season. Be sure to take advantage of federal tax credits for new furnaces, which can cover 30% of the cost, up to $1,500.


Run Ceiling Fans in Reverse

Most people think of fans only when they want to be cool, but many ceiling units come with a handy switch that reverses the direction of the blades. Counterclockwise rotation produces cooling breezes while switching to clockwise makes it warmer: air pooled near the ceiling is circulated back into the living space - cutting your heating costs as much as 10%!


Turn Down Your Water Heater

While many conventional water heaters are set to 140 degrees F by installers, most households don't need that much steam, and end up paying for it -- in dollars and the occasional scalding burn. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees F (or lower) would reduce your water heating costs by 6% to 10%.


Tune up Your Furnace

You probably already know that cars need periodic tune-ups in order to run their best. Well the same is true for heating equipment. Keeping your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted will reduce energy use, saving up to 5% of heating costs.

The good news is many utilities offer free annual checkups by qualified technicians -- but you often have to call early, as HVAC crews get backed up once heating season starts. Some furnace manufacturers and dealers also offer free or discounted inspections.

If your entire furnace is in need of replacement, it will cost a lot more -- but replacing an inefficient burner for a modern machine will save you every month through the heating season. Be sure to take advantage of federal tax credits for new furnaces, which can cover 30% of the cost, up to $1,500.


Plug Those Leaks

Simple leaks can sap home energy efficiency by 5% to 30% a year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That means it pays to seal up gaps with caulking and weatherstripping.


Take a close look at places where two different building materials meet, such as corners, around chimneys, where pipes or wires exit and along the foundation. Use the incense test: carefully (avoiding drapes and other flammables) move a lit stick along walls; where the smoke wavers, you have air sneaking in. And heating or cooling sneaking out.

In another method, have someone on the outside blow a hair dryer around each window while you hold a lighted candle inside. If the candle flickers or goes out, you need to caulk or weather strip around the frame.

Low-income households can qualify for an average of $6,500 worth of weatherization improvements to their homes through government programs administered by each state. Find out about your state's program by contacting local energy agencies.


Bundle Up!

Make like Jimmy Carter and dress warmer for winter, even inside. Gone are the days (for most of us at least) when we can afford to lounge around in our underwear while it's frosty outside. Remember what we said about each degree on the thermostat costing you money?


Roughly speaking, a light long-sleeved sweater is worth about 2 degrees in added warmth, while a heavy sweater (even the ugliest of ugly sweaters) adds about 4 degrees. So cozy up and start saving.

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River Valley editor: Stephen Morris
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