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‘Green’ Halloween

first_imgBy Aaron LancasterUniversity of GeorgiaThinking “green” on the orange-and-black holiday isn’t always ourfirst notion. But Halloween doesn’t have to be a parade ofplastic decorations headed for crowded landfills. It can remindus of easy ways we can reduce waste year-round.Community costumes. Rather thanbuy a costume your child (or you)will wear once and throw away, make one out of clothes youalready have. Thrift stores and yard sales often have low-costclothing and items suitable for costumes, too. And after theholiday, donate usable clothes and accessories to day carecenters, schools or community theaters.Bag it. Decorate paper grocerysacks with nontoxic paint tocreate your own trick-or-treat bags. Or use canvas bags,pillowcases or reusable buckets to collect goodies year afteryear.Bio decor. Nature intended forapples to be eaten. But you cantransform any you didn’t eat into spooky shrunken heads for yourholiday decor. All you need are some apples, whole cloves, a fewgrains of rice, a cup of lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of salt.Peel the apples, and coat them with the lemon juice and salt toprevent them from browning. Then carefully carve a face into thefruit with a peeler or knife. Insert cloves into the carved eyesocket to make beady eyes. Rice creates the teeth.Put the apples somewhere dry and warm for one to two weeks, andwatch them shrink and distort. If time is short, put them in anoven at a very low temperature.Reduce, Reuse, Redecorate. ReuseHalloween decorations from yearto year. Properly storing decorations not only reduces waste andsaves money, but also preserves the personal value steeped inthese items.Keep it simple. Choose Halloweentreats that use the least amountof packaging or useable items like pencils, pens, small toys orcoins.Teach your children well. Candywrappers often litterneighborhoods after Halloween. Litter is ugly. It’s costly toclean up, too, and could cause ecologically important creaturesto die needlessly after mistakenly eating plastic and other trash.Enjoy the season. Walk, ride abike or use public transportationto Halloween parties or trick-or-treating. If you have to drive,carpool to help reduce traffic and air pollution.Eco-Lanterns. Use rechargeablebatteries to power flashlights,lanterns and decorations to reduce the amount of harmfulmaterials you throw away. They will save money in the long run.Even better are hand-crank and magnetic flashlights, which don’tneed batteries at all. You can order them from catalogs.Discarded batteries produce most of the heavy metals found inhousehold trash. Lead, arsenic, zinc, cadmium, copper and mercurycan be harmful to humans and wildlife.Great Pumpkin. Pumpkin seeds fromjack-o’-lanterns create a tastysnack for two- and four-legged critters alike. Carefully washpumpkin seeds to remove the clinging, fibrous pumpkin tissue. Setthem outside in a sunny place to feed wildlife.For humans, dry pumpkin seed treats in the sun, a dehydrator (1to 2 hours at 115-120 degrees Fahrenheit) or an oven (on “warm”for 3 to 4 hours). Stir them often to avoid scorching them.Once the seeds are dry, toss them with oil, salt and otherseasonings. Roast them in a preheated oven at 250 degrees for 10to 15 minutes.Hollowed-out pumpkins filled with ears of Indian corn, seeds,apple cores and skins and cleaned pumpkin seeds make a festivefeast for wildlife.After Halloween. Recycle pumpkins,shrunken apple heads, strawused for scarecrows, hay bales and any other organic material incompost piles.Compost improves the texture and quality of poor soils whilereducing waste. Backyard bins are much more efficient thanbagging leaves for collection.Contact your county Extension Service to learn more aboutcomposting. Or check the on-line publication at www.ces.uga.edu/pubcd/c816-w.html.(Aaron Lancaster is a Bibb County Extension agent with theUniversity of Georgia College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences.)last_img read more

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Irish electricity fund retains DB after long-running dispute

first_imgThe union added that as a result of the agreement, a threatened strike would no longer go ahead.In a separate note, the union also summarised the Commission’s decision, noting that the general employees’ pension fund would once again be regarded as a DB scheme.The note added: “Whenever deficits arise in the scheme the established practice is that the parties engage with each other to agree arrangements to deal with such deficits.“The parties are fully agreed that should deficits arise in the scheme at any time in the future they will engage together in line with normal practice to seek agreement in relation to that matter.ESB did not reply to a request for comment, but following the announcement that the Commission would intervene, chief executive Pat O’Doherty said the company would do everything it could to avert a strike and resolve the situation. The Irish utility ESB has settled a dispute with unions over one of its pension schemes, accepting a settlement under which it will recognise the fund as a defined benefit (DB) arrangement.The Electricity Supply Board previously reclassified the ESB General Employees’ Superannuation Scheme from a DB to a defined contribution (DC) arrangement to “address the actuarial deficit arising on this scheme”, the company said in its most recent annual report.The Labour Relations Commission was asked to mediate in the dispute, with both parties coming to agreement over the weekend.In a statement, the ESB Group of Unions said: “The resolution is on the basis of the union mandate to protect the ESB Pension Scheme as a defined benefit pension scheme and to maintain existing agreements being fully met.last_img read more

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‘Catnipped’

first_imgI get a fuzzy warm and cuddly feeling that somewhere over the Vegas rainbow the folks who have an aptitude for wagering and whose close circle of friends include characters with names like “Vinnie” and “Alfonso” are beginning to take close notice of Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in a real and grateful sort of way. If you don’t believe me, check this out. The proof is the points scored or not scored. Although the Steelers were favored to maul the Jaguars by 13 points Sunday, Pittsburgh hit the “Big Cats” with a tranquilizer dart just in the nick of time to escape with a 17-13 victory. In week three the Black and Gold traveled to Indy to face the Peyton Manning-less Colts. Dem dere Stillers were favored to win by 10+ points, but guess what? They got kicked in the face by the Colts but escaped the corral with a 23-20 win. Even in a losing effort in the season opener in B-more the Steelers couldn’t beat the betting line. The “Dirty Birds” were favored by 1+ points in some circles and by as many as 3+ points in others. H’mm the hideous “monster from the point spread lagoon” surfaced again as the Ravens won 35-7. It seems as if Pittsburgh cannot beat the point spread even in a losing effort. The only game they beat the spread was when they clipped the wings of the Seattle Seahawks 24-0 in week 2 beating a 15 ½ points spread, yippe.In the nail biter against Jacksonville, the Steelers scored all their points in the first half. The “men of steel” did not score nary a point after that. Whatever defensive adjustments Jaguars head coach Jack Del-Rio made at halftime made him appear to be Dick LeBeau-ish because the boys from the “Sunshine State” pitched a shutout for the final 30 minutes. I suspect the play calling of the Steelers may have aided the “Jags” defense in making the game closer than it ever should have been. Just keep going long boys.I know it sounds redundant but the “schizophrenic elements” of the Steelers play calling seems to be once again battling with conventional wisdom. Wide receiver Emmauel Sanders was questioned as to why the Steelers threw a lot of short passes in the decisive win against the Titans handily defeating Tennessee but decided on running deeper routes against Jacksonville. What, did newly re-signed offensive lineman Max Starks bring a miraculous cure all to the O-line? Sanders said, “I don’t know. In the game plan that Bruce Arians came up with, he saw something in their defense that showed that we could get behind them. And he was correct. We just have to connect on those balls.” Oh come, oh come Emmanuel. If he was correct, you guys would have connected.Oh and please check this out. It was pointed out to Steelers resident Olympic track and field sprinter/wide receiver Mike Wallace that after the Steelers had a 17-0 lead that it looked as if he went deep many more times. Wallace was then asked was that just to try to drive a stake through their [the Jaguars] hearts? Were the Steelers playing the “Transylvanians,” or the Jaguars? Anyway, Wallace’s comments mirrored those of his colleague, Mr. Sanders. “We were taking what the defense was giving us,” he said. “It’s not like we weren’t open deep. We just didn’t connect. Me and [Emmanuel] had three [potential] touchdowns. We just have to connect. It was a windy day today.” Yep, sure was.Well conventional wisdom should tell you that if ya have one week where short passes usher you into the end zone on five occasions you don’t throw long balls up into the stratosphere if you suspect that the wind is going to be a factor. Why would a team give you the long ball when those pass plays are going to cause the most damage? Also, teams are going to attack your weak areas and Jacksonville knew the Achilles heel of the Steelers is their offensive line, so why wouldn’t the Jaguars want to force the Steelers to throw short and run the ball? The Jaguars also sacked Big Ben three times, so it was not a cakewalk for the Steelers and Big Ben was 12-23 for a measly 200 yards.I write about this next subject at least every couple of years.When an NFL playoff game is staged in Pittsburgh, the city county and region stands to profit millions of dollars in unsolicited revenue. If the Steelers don’t make the postseason, we all lose because the Rivers Casino will have a few less folk spinning the “roulette wheel” and there will be fewer hot dogs sold as well. One of these weekends, I am going to take a trip to Vegas, not to play craps, blackjack, roulette or any other of the suspect games of the house. As long as the Steelers are playing and treating the point spread like an unwanted orphan, I “garontee” that I will not come home with empty pockets.(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: [email protected] or 412-583-6741. He can also be heard on the “Odd Couple” sports show as the NFL/AFC North analyst Wednesdays from 11-11:30AM on WCWA 1230AM, Fox Sports Toledo, Ohio.)last_img read more