Monday, October 18, 2010

Inventions that BLOW!

Brace yourself.  ‘Tis the season for me to go off!
Ask my family:  What’s Mommy’s biggest pet peeve?
Answer:  Leaf Blowers!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am sometimes too logical for my own good.  But in this case, a little logic is needed.  In my opinion, leaf blowers are almost the most insane invention ever to take hold. They follow closely behind the world’s stupidest ideas: bottled water and “disposable” plastic bags.  See what I mean?  Just the thought of leaf blowers makes me all crazy and nasty. Sorry. I’ll try to stick to the facts:

Average Rake
Average Leaf Blower
Less than 2 pounds
6-12 pounds



$80-$420 plus gas


Swing 1 lb back and forth until all leaves or clippings are in a pile.

Swing 10 lbs back and forth until all leaves or clippings are in a pile.

Noise Pollution

None.  J

70-75 dB (see below for how ridiculous this is.)

Air Pollution

None.  J

Equal to 80 cars! (I think we can all see how ridiculous  this is.)

Is it me, or is it nuts to pay hundreds of dollars for a piece of carbon-pollution-generating equipment that makes a job more difficult and far more annoying? Like so many of the seemingly small or unimportant choices we make every day, this one is simply silly if you just stop to think about it.

Not to mention, leaf raking is good, old fashioned, family fun. Who would want to miss this?

4 Reasons Not to Use a Leaf Blower
1. They pollute the air. 
 A single gas-powered leaf blower can emit as much pollution in a year as 80 cars.
2. They're noisy.
A normal decibel level, considered acceptable in residential areas, is about 60 decibels (60dB). Every increase in decibels means noise that is 10 times louder. Leaf-blowers usually generate about 70-75 dB. According to the U.S. EPA this level of noise actually degrades quality of life by interfering with communication and sleep, leads to reduced accuracy of work and increased levels of aggravation, which can linger hours after exposure.
3. They worsen allergies and asthma and irritate the lungs. Because they operate at such high velocities, leaf blowers stir up the mold, allergens, and dust particles that otherwise have been tamped down with rain and decomposition.
4. They waste gas. Rakes and even electric-lawn blowers offer a petroleum-free alternative.
Note to self (and readers):  Add this website to list of favorites. 

Baby Step of the week: Quit the leaf blower habit. 
It’s not quite as foolish as smoking, but it’s pretty darn stupid.

A baby step you don’t even have to take:  If you have people who take care of your yard, you don’t even have to take this baby step, just ask them to make the change.  Tell them that you want to be a good neighbor and don’t want to annoy others with the noise; tell them you want to save their company money in gas and equipment; tell them your kid has asthma and the leaf blowers make it worse; tell them you care about the planet. Really, who can argue with that?  Say whatever makes you comfortable. Just say it.

Ask your gardeners, your spouse and even your neighbors to can the leaf blowers starting today. Or ask yourself: why not? 


Monday, October 4, 2010

This is War!

When cancer declares war on one of our people, our people declare war on cancer.  Cancer declared war on Susan G. Komen.  She lost her battle, but she started a war.

Yesterday, I participated in my first Race for the Cure ®.  I wasn’t ready. I was ready to walk the 5k, no problem. But I wasn’t prepared to walk behind a beautiful girl no older than 13. She walked with a friend. Silently. That alone was shocking.  Yet, without saying a word, the girl told me her story.  On her back was a sign that said:

I race in memory of

My Mom.
I love you and I miss you so much.

No, I wasn’t prepared for that. When I read that sign, the only thing that kept me from collapsing in tears was the river of pink and white t-shirts I saw walking in front of me, next to me, behind me.  50,000 “mothers” (people who act with kindness and affection) showed up to let that kid know we care.

Every woman diagnosed with breast cancer is some mother’s child.  Far too often, a woman diagnosed with breast cancer is some child’s mother. 

In 1980: Most people were embarrassed to say the word breast out loud. Insurance companies wouldn’t pay for breast reconstruction. Far too many mothers and daughters were losing their lives to breast cancer.  But one young mother promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything she could to help breast cancer patients.

Lucky for us, that young mother, Nancy Brinker, is a genius. She didn’t reach out to doctors or CEOs or congress.  She gathered a group of women who gathered more women who put a pink ribbon on breast cancer and changed everything.  They –we - our people - the “mothers” of the world - the people who act with kindness and affection – we changed everything.

We made the term breast cancer a household word not an embarrassing secret.  We popularized mammograms and self-exams. We made bald a badge of courage. We raised $1.5 BILLION! We forced insurance companies to pay for reconstruction. Heck, they’ve even come up with a procedure in which belly fat is used to create the new breasts!

I didn’t do that. Nancy Brinker didn’t do that. Our people did that. Together:  one conversation, one pink product purchase, and one self-exam at a time.

There are two kinds of signs that racers wear at Race for the Cure ®.  One is “in memory of” the loved ones that lost their battles. The other is “in celebration of” the survivors who lived to fight another day. My sign said:

I race in CELEBRATION of
My mother.

I thank you, my people, for that.

You have power beyond measure.  Use it wisely.