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After your lawn gets its last cut before winter, it will be time to put away spring and summer outdoor power equipment, like lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and trimmers. What’s next? Snow throwers, generators and other small engine equipment need to be readied for winter use. How and when you prepare your equipment for seasonal changes can save you time and money later, says the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).
With record-breaking sales of outdoor power equipment, homeowners are spending more time during the COVID-19 pandemic working or renovating their family yards. This means more people are using outdoor power equipment, and OPEI reminds everyone the importance of proper outdoor power equipment storage, maintenance and safe handling.
“During this very challenging pandemic, we’ve learned our outdoor spaces are more important than ever,” says Kris Kiser, President and CEO of OPEI and the TurfMutt Foundation, which encourages outdoor learning experiences, stewardship of our green spaces, and care for all living landscapes. “Our yards, parks and schoolyards are our safe space for connecting with friends and family, acting as outdoor classrooms and offices. Green space also contributes to the health and wellbeing of people, pets and wildlife, and having the right outdoor power equipment to take care of it is key. But preparation is everything — understanding how to store equipment and get it serviced, how to operate it safely, and how to ready your space to use that equipment.”
He adds, “Always follow your manufacturer’s guidelines, and remember to keep kids and dogs away from operating equipment at all times.”
Here are a few tips from OPEI to ensure your lawn mower and other spring equipment will be available for use when warmer temperatures return, and snow throwers and other winter equipment will be ready for use when the snow falls.
7 Handy Tips
1. Review owner’s manuals. Re-familiarize yourself with how to handle equipment safely. Lost manuals can be found online. Save a copy on your computer if possible, so it can be consulted when needed. Be familiar with your equipment, and all its features, including how to turn it off quickly and safely.
2. Service all equipment. Before storing spring and summer equipment, clean and service it or take it to a small engine repair shop. Drain and change engine oil and safely dispose the old oil. Service the air filter, and do other maintenance as directed by the owner’s manual. Check winter equipment and see if any maintenance and repairs are required.
3. Handle fuel properly. Unused fuel left in gas tanks over the winter can go stale and even damage equipment. Before storing equipment, add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank, then run the equipment to distribute it. Turn the engine off, allow the machine to cool, then restart and run until the gas tank is empty. For winter equipment, buy the recommended type of fuel no more than 30 days before use. Use fuel with no more than 10% ethanol in outdoor power equipment. Use a fuel stabilizer if recommended by the manufacturer. Get more information on safe fueling for outdoor power equipment at LookBeforeYouPump.com.
4. Charge the battery. Remove and fully charge batteries before storing. Don’t store batteries on metal shelves or allow them to touch metal objects. Store them on a plastic or wood shelf in a climate-controlled structure.
5. Shelter equipment from winter weather. Store spring and summer equipment in a clean and dry place such as a garage, barn or shed. Winter equipment should be kept away from the elements, but be easily available for use.
6. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Make space in the garage or basement before the weather changes, so there is room to store larger yard items. Clean up the yard of sticks, debris, dog and kid’s toys and other items that can damage or destroy equipment. Clear the paths used regularly in your yard, especially during the winter when snow can “hide” things.
7. Have the right weather appropriate extension cord for your generator. Keep heavy duty weather proof extension cords on hand to use with it. Ensure the length of the cord is necessary to operate the generator a safe distance from the house or building. Never operate a generator indoors, in a garage, breezeway or under an open window.
The last time I wrote an article about Indianapolis was back before I was living here. Sometimes you view a city differently as a tourist, so I decided to become a tourist again to explore my beautiful city.
Indianapolis is in my opinion one of the most underrated cities in the country. Its people, culture, and opportunities are some of the greatest strengths of the city, not to mention, a thriving LGBTQ culture. Pride is celebrated here throughout the year. You can walk through neighborhoods and see countless rainbow flags hanging proudly from homes and businesses all year round.
Indianapolis is a very gay city, especially when it comes to LGBTQ philanthropic organizations and community initiatives. There are numerous local charities here such as Indiana Youth Group, Trinity Haven, Gender Nexus, Damien Center, Trans Solutions and StepUp just to name a few. If you are looking to mingle with LGBTQ locals, you can definitely find a group that suits your interest.
We like things big in Indy. The city is home to the largest children’s museum in the world as well as the largest sports venue in the world, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the annual Indy 500 is run.
The Circle City boasts some wonderful LGBTQ bars and restaurants including English Ivy’s, Greg’s Our Place, Downtown Olly’s, FortyFive Degrees, Metro, Tini, and the newest drag bar, Almost Famous.
Animal lovers should head to the Indianapolis Zoo, home to the Indianapolis Prize, the most prestigious preservation and conservation award in the world. This May, the new Kangaroo Crossing exhibit will open in the current MISTery Park area, which has been home to the Zoo’s sloths since 2019. Construction is now under way to completely transform the space with beautiful new plantings, creating a backdrop for red kangaroos that will offer a feeling of Australia in Indianapolis. Kangaroo Crossing will offer visitors a chance to walk into a large open area to mingle with the roos without barriers.
One of the many gems of Indy is the Eiteljorg Museum which will present a thought-provoking exhibition of Andy Warhol’s late-career artwork that explores his interest in Western icons and his merging of the mythic West with contemporary art and popular culture. The exhibition will be on display from March 12 to Aug. 7, 2022. The traveling exhibition, Warhol's West, presents a range of his Western imagery, including prints of Geronimo, General Custer, Annie Oakley, and John Wayne. Also in 2022, the Eiteljorg Museum will celebrate its 30th annual Indian Market and Festival on June 25-26, where more than 100 Native American artists will display and sell their beautiful art.
Speaking of museums, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is not just for children. In fact, they host numerous adult-only events throughout the year. This March, they will be debuting Dinosphere, an immersive experience where guest will experience the sights, sounds, and smells of dinosaurs who roamed the Earth during the Cretaceous Period 65-75 million years ago. Visitors will be transported back in time under the cover of a former Cinedome that vibrantly changes from dawn to dusk and features thunderstorms to overnight meteor showers.
Significant dinosaur specimens will occupy the space, include Bucky the teenage T. rex which became the first dinosaur discovered to have a wish bone linking its relationship to birds.
Also located at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is a tribute to Ryan White, the young man who died of AIDS in 1990. Ryan garnered international fame for his heartwarming story and was befriended by everyone from Michael Jackson to Elton John. A replica of his room is located in the museum and his mother Jeanne White-Ginder visits the museum numerous times per year to tell Ryan’s story.
After a long day of sightseeing, head to the Conrad Indianapolis, perfectly situated in the heart of downtown. Everything you need is about a 5–10-minute walk from the property, including dozens of restaurants, boutiques, museums, and entertainment options, as well as Gainbridge Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers and Lucas Oil Stadium where you can watch the Colts take the field.
Ryan White: The Power of Children - Live Actors at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis youtu.be
Conrad Indianapolis youtu.be
One of my favorite features of the Conrad is the lobby. The elegant, yet inviting space is welcoming and functional. A grand Dale Chihuly chandelier hangs from the center of the lobby, with other art prominently displayed throughout. Guests can also access the hotel’s two dining options: The Capital Grille and Tastings Wine Bar & Bistro, as well as Long-Sharp Gallery which specializes in works on paper, multiples, and drawings by modern and contemporary masters including Picasso, Miró, Haring and Lichtenstein.
I stayed in the Pop Suite, a magnificent room paying homage to some of the greatest pop artists of all time including Andy Warhol, William John Kennedy and of course, Robert Indiana. Located on a private floor, the Pop Suite features a dining room table, fireplace, wet bar, soaking tub, and spacious living area complete with remote controlled lighting. The furnishings in the room are modern yet comfortable, and the shower is spacious enough to have a party in.
Spend the next day strolling along popular Massachusetts Avenue (or Mass Ave as we call it), where you can visit dozens of locally owned boutiques and restaurants. Towards the north end of the street is the new Bottleworks district which features The Garage Food Hall, Living Room Theatre and Pins Mechanical in addition to a beautiful art deco hotel.
Pan-seared Scallops at Harry & Izzy'sJoey Amato
For dinner, head to Harry & Izzy’s, one of Indy’s most popular restaurants. The establishment is related to St. Elmo’s. Begin your meal with their famous shrimp cocktail. But be careful when using the cocktail sauce. It packs quite the kick. It’s fun to watch people try it for the first time. Also highly recommended are the Crab Beignets made with lump crab meat, mascarpone, chives and accompanied by a remoulade for dipping. Harry & Izzy’s as well as St. Elmo’s are known for their steaks, however I chose to order the Pan-Seared Scallops served on a bed of edamame, roasted corn, rainbow carrots and pancetta. The scallops were cooked to perfection and the vegetables were equally as delicious.
If you are looking for a fun and relatively inexpensive city to visit this year, give Indy a chance, and drop me a message while you’re in town. I’d be happy to show you around.
To book your Indianapolis gaycation, visit www.Orbitz.com/pride
Whether you enjoy working, playing, or getting married in your own backyard, a recent survey shows more Americans than ever say that precious outdoor space is vital of late.
More than three quarters of Americans who have a yard (76%) say the family yard space is one of the most important parts of their home, according to a new poll commissioned by the TurfMutt Foundation and conducted online by The Harris Poll.
Nearly three quarters of Americans overall (72%) say a spacious yard would be at the top of their wish list if they were looking for a new home. That desire reflects a cultural shift in how Americans view their yards. Even more so, they’re willing to invest in their yards, and are using them more for everyday activities, including as work-from-home office space.
“What we are seeing with Americans is greater reliance on the backyard as an extension of the home. It’s not just a place that looks pretty – it’s a place to live and do daily activities such as working, dining and relaxing,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation. “They’ve discovered that ‘backyarding’ is a better way to live and there’s no turning back. They are also willing to hire professionals and invest money into yard improvements.”
People are enjoying extra time outside, too. Nearly a quarter of Americans who have a yard (24%) are spending more time in their yards now than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
And they are really enjoying the extra time outside. Over 3 in 5 Americans who have a yard (63%) say they have enjoyed doing more activities in their yard since the pandemic began. Younger adults (68% age 18-54 vs. 52% age 65+) and parents of kids under 18 (73% vs. 58% who are not parents of kids under 18) are more apt to feel this way.
Who’s spending all that time outside?
• Older millennials - 32% of adults ages 35-44 who have a yard are the spending more time in their yard now compared to pre-pandemic.
• Parents - 30% of those with a yard who are parents of kids under 18 are spending more time out in their yard now compared to pre-pandemic and are more likely than those without kids under 18 to say they are doing so (21%).
How Americans use their yard has likely changed. For one, the outdoor office trend is here to stay with many Americans using their yards as makeshift offices for their jobs.
• Nearly 2 in 5 Americans who have a yard (58%) say they have spent time doing work for their job in their yard during the pandemic.
• Men are more likely to use their yards while doing work for their jobs, with 63% of men compared to 53% of women with yards saying they worked outdoors in their yard during the pandemic.
• Among those with a yard, parents of kids under 18 are also more likely (71%) than their counterparts without kids under 18 (52%) to have used the yard to get work done during the pandemic.
The yard has also become a place to de-stress, with more than two thirds of Americans who have a yard (69%) saying doing yard work, such as mowing, trimming or planting, is one of the ways they like to de-stress these days. This is especially true among parents of kids under 18 as they are more likely than their counterparts without kids under 18 to cite this (76% vs. 65%).
A vast majority of Americans who have a yard (84%) plan to invest in their yard in 2022, including:
• 67% say they’ll purchase plants/trees/flowers/vegetables to plant themselves
• 39% report they will purchase items to maintain or improve their grassy areas
• 23 % say they will install or update hardscaping themselves.
And the outlook looks bright for the landscaping industry. About a third (33%) of those with a yard plan to hire a professional to do landscaping or hardscaping in 2022. Other yard improvements planned for 2022 include installing a fence (19%) or a shed (15%) and adding a swimming pool (10%). Among those with a yard:
• Adults ages 18-44 are more likely than those ages 45+ to say they plan to invest in their yard in 2022 by hiring a professional to do landscaping or hardscaping, 43% compared to 26% of those age 45+.
• Nearly a third of those ages 18-44 (31%) will install or update hardscaping themselves, 27% will install a fence, 21% will install a shed and 18% plan to put in a swimming pool.
• Parents of kids under 18 (73%) are more likely than their counterparts (63%) to say they plan to invest in their yard in 2022 by purchasing plants, trees, flowers, or vegetables to plant themselves. Parents of kids under 18 are also more likely than those without kids under 18 to purchase items to maintain or improve grassy areas on the lawn (44% vs. 36%), and more likely to hire a professional to do landscaping or hardscaping (47% vs. 26%).
Given the unprecedented return to the outdoors, the available outdoor power equipment also has kept in step with products for every need and individual scenario, says the TurfMutt Foundation, and powered in a variety of ways including battery/electric, gasoline, propane, solar and hybrids.
“What we are seeing with Americans is greater reliance on the backyard as an extension of the home. It’s not just a place that looks pretty – it’s a place to live and do daily activities such as working, dining and relaxing,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation.
TurfMutt was created by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) TurfMutt Foundation and has reached more than 70 million children, educators and families since 2009. Through classroom materials developed with Scholastic, TurfMutt teaches students and teachers how to “save the planet, one yard at a time.” TurfMutt is an official USGBC® Education Partner and part of their global LEARNING LAB. TurfMutt is an education resource at the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Green Apple, the Center for Green Schools, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project, Climate Change Live, Petfinder and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2017, the TurfMutt animated video series won the coveted Cynopsis Kids Imagination Award for Best Interstitial Series. TurfMutt’s personal, home habitat is featured in the 2017-2020Wildlife Habitat Council calendars. More information is available at www.TurfMutt.com.
I’ve been told on occasion I clean up well. That usually means a person is so surprised to see me wearing a dress shirt and/or tie they have no control over projectile vomiting that nonsense phrase in my direction. What does that even mean? Is it an implication that I go through life “unclean” most of the time? Does it assert that I forgo washing my shorts and t-shirts regularly, in favor of simply pulling them out of the pile and Febreze-ing them for re-wear? Does it I suggest that I don’t regularly shower in favor of having B.O.?
Wait — do I have B.O.? You guys would tell me, right?
I’ve decided to just file this with “Things White People Say” and move on. (Send your letters of complaint to Mary, P.O. Box Calm Down, Snowflake, AZ.)
Over the last decade, my policy has been to wear a tie to job interviews and funerals. And I haven’t been to any funerals. My hesitation to “clean up” is not because I don’t like looking sharp — a word my father used to use and I’ve come to accept as a perfectly fine descriptive word but I also have started using the word “slacks” so that may tell you something. Rather, I don’t like getting dressed up. Perhaps if Rosie from The Jetsons could drop-kick me into a suit every morning, I wouldn’t mind walking around looking like I am someone who lives to work rather than works to live.
So, bypassing the process would make a difference … temporarily. However, after two hours of being dressed up, I will undoubtedly be thinking about when I can get out of this clown suit. I mean, that’s plenty of time for enough people to see how nice I can look and maybe even capture a few pictures for posterity (or, perhaps a better word would be proof).
I’ve been lucky enough that for my entire professional career I’ve had the luxury of being able to wear whatever I want to the office. (I understand this policy can be a slippery slope. For example; I once worked at a place that had to include “No Chaps” in the dress code section of its employee handbook. Now, why do you suppose they put that in there?) I’m not one to push that envelope too far, although the flip-flop of my flip-flops as I ascended the stairs at Echo when I worked here full-time was a signal to everyone that I was approaching.
Let’s just say, I like to be comfortable. A lot of folks advise you should dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. That’s why I always dress like a lottery winner. And, honestly, I think all of us should.
It’s certainly not my place to tell people they shouldn’t wear a suit to work every day. But how many people stop to ask themselves why they are doing it? Does it make them more effective? Does it recharge Kevin’s brain so he can crunch those numbers better, or provide
Steve with the inspiration to draw sketches of houses?
The simplest answer is that it is “professional.” But what is dressing professionally, other than what society has deemed as such? People adhere to that notion of dressing like a Stepford employee because that’s what their father did, and his father and his father. Some of the most unprofessional people I’ve met were wearing Armani, and some of the most professional were wearing Adidas.
My work-attire choices may have cost me in the past, sure. There’s no question it is the main reason I never became a lawyer or a captain of industry.
Still, I think our country would be much more chill (a word I am using to counterbalance “sharp” and “slacks”) if we all just did business in casual attire.
I understand many of you won’t or can’t join me in this, but I’ll still be dressing like I’m always headed to a BBQ.