Saturday, September 22, 2018

My Experience Cleaning Up the Environment

One of the things I am most passionate about is cleaning up the environment, specifically litter clean up. In this article I will cover how I got started, how my efforts progressed, and what I do now to help clean up the environment.

As I kid, I don't recall having any particular interest in the environment or cleaning up. It wasn't until I got older and moved out to my own place that I started taking an interest in the subject. I have always been a pretty clean and organized person so this characteristic may have played a part in how I got started.

One day I decided to take a walk on the bike path near my house. As I was walking, my attention was drawn to a significant amount of garbage scattered alongside the path. I thought to myself, “This does not look good.” Seeing the litter along the path gave a bad impression of the environment and ultimately of those around there who made it like that.

I was pretty disappointed in these findings considering this was my local path and it is where I lived. So I decided to do something about it. The next day I went back out to the same path, but this time I brought a bag along with and picked up garbage along the way.

I was surprised at how much there was! I filled an entire bag in less than half a mile. There was still more to do, but it would have to wait. The next day, I went out again, this time bringing a couple more bags and did the same thing. I covered a good amount of the path and made it look good as new. Little did I know, this was the start of something that would become a big part of my life.

I continued to take maintain the path by cleaning it up at least once a week, but this was just the beginning. Next I started to clean up around the neighborhood where I live as well. Every so often I would walk around the local area picking up any garbage that was on the ground.

It got to be a habit where every time I would go out or come home, I would look around for stuff to pick up. I started to venture out further and would clean up the nearby streets whenever I saw something that was out of place.

Even when going out to stores, I would do the same thing by looking for any garbage in the parking lot to pick up on the way into the store. Often times I would see paper such as advertisements or receipts left in the carts in the store. In the past, like most people I would take a cart next to it that did not have any garbage, but now I actually look for the one that has garbage and take that one so I can clean it up. It just takes a few extra seconds to swing by a trash can and drop off the papers.

Sometimes I will notice a lot of garbage in the parking lots, too much to clean up for someone who is just going in to shop. In cases like this, I will leave feedback for the store to let them know about the condition of the lot. Usually the managers appreciate customers taking the time to let them know about things like this so they can improve their store and improve the customer experience.

You might think that picking up garbage is dirty and do not want to do it because of this, but there are ways to clean up that are safe and sanitary. One of the things I invested in was a grabber which is a reaching tool that has a handle at one end and a claw at the other. It makes it very easy to pick up garbage on the ground without touching it.

Also if you do not have a grabber, a pair of gloves is a good solution to help protect your hands. Even if you do not have a grabber or gloves, most things you find on the ground are not as dirty as you might think. Most things are ok to pick up as long as you are careful and use common sense. Just make sure to wash your hands afterward.

After getting a good handle on the clean up situation locally, I started to venture out and got in touch with the community. I volunteered to do clean ups at the local forest preserve. I also participate in the clean up days that are organized by the park district. These can be good opportunities to meet others with similar interests such as cleaning up the environment.

Sometimes you may see an area that needs attention but maybe you are not able to clean it up, for example if it is private land. In situations like this, there are still things that can be done. If there is an area of land in your community that needs attention, you can contact your village or city to let them know about it. They will be able to check on it and take the appropriate action to see that it is cleaned up.

At times, you might feel like you are the only one who cares, but in fact there are many people out there who feel the same way and want to help clean up the environment. Just by getting out there, not only are you making a positive change, but you are also setting an example for others to follow. Often people will see your efforts and become inspired to get involved as well. In my experience, people are very appreciative when they see you cleaning up. I have received many “Thank you's” when I have been out cleaning up.

Some people live in areas that are heavily littered and they think there is just too much and figure they will not be able to make a difference. It might be a little overwhelming at first, but it does not have to be done all at once. Clean up efforts take persistence to make a difference over time. Do a little bit each day or whenever you have a chance. If you stay on top of it and continue to maintain an area, it will become much cleaner than it was.

Also once it is clean, it can help deter others from littering as well. When an area has a lot of garbage around, people will think that is just how it is and may think it doesn't matter if they throw something else on the ground because there is already a bunch of other stuff there. On the other hand, when an area is very clean, people will realize this is not the place to throw garbage and will instead look for a proper place to dispose of it.

There are online groups where people discuss the topic of litter and clean up where you can get inspiration and share your efforts with others. Even some apps are starting to pop up to help track data about litter in efforts to help promote a cleaner environment.

Cleaning up is something just about anyone can do. Every little bit helps so if you have been thinking about getting involved, now is the time! If you have already begun to help clean up the environment, thank you! Your efforts are appreciated! We only have one Earth. Let's make sure we take care of it!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tip for fixing a squeaky door if you have already oiled the hinges

Recently I had a door that was squeaking every time it was opened. Squeaky doors tend to bother me so I wanted to fix it as soon as possible. First I tried oiling the hinges and moving parts such as around the door closer at the top. It was still squeaking but I figured maybe the oil had to work its way in a bit to stop the squeak.

After a few days it was still squeaking so I went ahead and oiled it some more. Still it continued to make the squeak. So finally I got up close to it and opened and closed the door a few times slowly to really pinpoint exactly where the squeak was happening. Then I noticed it. The noise was not coming from the hinge or the door closer. It was coming from the door itself!

The top corner of the door was rubbing against the top of the door frame which was making the noise. I could also tell because there were wear marks on that part of the door frame where the door was rubbing. So I got some oil and applied it to the part where the door was rubbing and sure enough, it fixed the squeak!

So if you have a door that is squeaking and you have already tried oiling all the hinges and moving parts, check to see if the door itself is rubbing against any part of the frame. If it is, there is a good chance that is where the squeak is coming from. Hope this helps!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Should you sweat the small stuff or only worry about the big picture?

One popular phase you may have heard is “Don't sweat the small stuff.”, meaning don't worry about little things that aren't really that important. It can be a good piece of advice, but why is it that we sweat the small stuff in the first place?

The answer may be that we live in the small stuff, so that is why we are so focused on it. We are concerned with things that are close to us like ourselves, our home, our family, our neighborhood etc. When little things happen to us in our little bubble it seems like a big deal because we are only thinking about what is in our space.

It's hard to keep in mind that there is a lot more going on out there and there are more important issues going on outside of our space. To look at the bigger picture, you can think about how large the country is or how large the world is and then think about how the issue that is bothering you fits into the big picture. Often you may find that it is really not a big deal and may not really matter at all when you consider how small it is compared to everything else going on.

One phrase I came up with is “Remember the Universe.” It is a similar concept to “Don't sweat the small stuff.” It means, keep the big picture in mind and realize that the little things that we might think are so important at the time are really not a big deal when you realize how insignificant it is compared to the universe. The universe is huge, almost too big to comprehend. We think our planet is huge but in reality it is merely a spec of dust within the universe.

When you remember this scale, you realize that everything that is going on around us in our everyday life is not as big or important as it might seem.

So the question is, if we live within the small stuff, should we consider it to be important since that is what we live in? Even though the world is a much bigger place than most of us will ever experience, should we take it into consideration when thinking about what is going on locally?

Because we tend to live in a bubble, it is natural to sweat the small stuff because that is the stuff that affects us the most. In comparison to the big picture, these things may not be a big deal, but we don't live in the big picture, we live within the small stuff.

On the other hand, when little things around you are getting you down, it is a good idea to take a step back and consider their importance in the big picture. Often this can make you realize that the problem is not as significant as you thought it was.

Considering both perspectives, there is value to each. While it is ok to worry about the things that are close to us and affect us most, it is also a good idea to “remember the universe” and keep the big picture in mind.

Blog Update - Comments Not Getting Published

I just recently noticed that notifications to moderate comments have not been coming through so there are some comments from readers over the past few months that were not published. I am currently going through all of them to make sure they get published. Thank you for your patience on these comments.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

How To Keep Your Car Clean

If you drive your vehicle on a regular basis, inevitably it will start to get dirty over time both inside and out. Here is some advice on how to keep your car clean.

Exterior Wash
I recommend an automatic wash for convenience. There are many different kinds of washes and some do better than others. When given the option of different wash options, I recommend the basic. After exiting the wash, I recommend parking and then using a clean rag to wipe down the car and do a little detailing.

Even the best exterior washes will not get everything and often they will leave water or soap suds on the car so wiping it down afterward will help with these issues. I recommend starting with the windows, mirrors, and lights, then the main body of the car, then inside the door sills and trunk, and finally the wheels. The wheels tend to attract the most dirt and are most difficult to clean.

Also, you may want to open the hood and do a little cleaning around the engine every so often. Make sure the car is turned off first and take extra caution because the engine can be hot. Also be careful about cleaning around hoses and wires so you do not knock anything loose. Remove any leaves or twigs that may have gotten into the engine area or the vents.

If it has been a while since you did a good cleaning, it can seem like a lot of work, but the more often you do a wash, the easier it will get. I recommend trying to wash it about once a week or so. I try to keep an eye on the weather forecast and wash it when there are going to be several clear days ahead.

Interior Clean
First remove anything that you don't need, especially if there is any garbage. Once everything is out of the way, you can do a vacuum of the floors, seats, and trunk. Take the floor mats out to clean under them as well.

I also recommend taking a dusting cloth or a damp cloth to wipe down the dashboard as well as the seats and any flat surfaces within the interior. Also wipe down parts such as the steering wheel and shifter which tend to get dirty from normal use over time.

The inside of the windows can also develop a film or cloudiness over time. Use a glass cleaner and a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe down the insides of the windows.

Once the inside is clean you can put your things back in if there is anything that needs to be stored in the car. Ideally, there should not be too many items visible in the car. Make use of storage areas such as the glove compartment, arm rest, or under the seats if you need to keep anything in the car. Over time, keep the car organized. If you bring something into the car, make sure to take it out when you are done or when you back home.

For the trunk, a box or container can help to keep everything organized and secure so there is open space for other things when needed.

Other Tips:
Avoid eating in the car. It can be tempting, but try to avoid eating in the car as it can lead to spills and crumbs that can be hard to clean up.

If you have a garage, keeping the car in the garage can help keep it clean especially in harsh weather such as snow and rain.

Make sure your shoes are clean before you get in. If they are dirty or snowy, try to shake them off as much as possible before getting in. Make sure you have good floor mats to help protect the inside floor and be sure to vacuum the mats on a regular basis.

The use of a seat cover can help protect the seat from wear and dirt. It does not have to be anything fancy, for example a t-shirt can be used as a seat cover to help protect the material.

Following these tips can help keep your car clean all year round. It can also make driving more enjoyable and help keep up the value of your vehicle!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Effect of Sunlight and Weather on Mood

It is amazing how much sunlight and weather can affect how we feel. For example when the weather is nice and sunny, people tend to be in a good mood and tend to be more happy. On the other hand, if it is dark and cloudy or it is cold and windy, it can make you feel more down or less happy.

It's interesting that something as simple as this can make such a big difference on how we feel. If you think about the sunlight for example, the only difference between a nice sunny day and a dark cloudy day is the clouds in between the Sun and the Earth. Everything else is the same but this change in the amount of light we are getting from the Sun is causing the change in mood.

Things like wind and rain can affect how we feel as well. When the weather is calm and there is no wind, it is easy to relax and feel at ease. On the other hand, when there are 30 mph winds and you can hear the wind outside, or there is a thunderstorm with heavy rain, it can make you feel more stressed out just because things are not calm outside.

Temperature can also play a part in how we feel. If it is very hot you may feel more tired, while if it is very cold, you may feel more alert.

With all this effect on mood being influenced by the weather, where you live can make a big difference on how you feel based on the type of weather that is common in your city. This is definitely something to consider when deciding if you would like to move to another city or location.

You can think about how these different kinds of weather affect you and then research the average weather and climate of different location to find the ideal place to live. Of course there are many other factors to consider, but weather can be one of the most important when it comes to happiness and well-being.