The Locally Owned Voice of the Capital Region

Comments by mhartley

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Posted on December 3 at 5:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Jack Troeger, a reader from Ames, Iowa, writes: "Thank you for writing such an illuminating and inspirational essay about a topic so many of us love -- the night sky. It captures the essence of what we humans feel about starlight."

He continues: “The issue of light pollution / dark skies is becoming more and more prominent as more and more people (finally) are awakening to notice the loss of darkness in their lives, both because of the death of the Milky Way and because of many health issues.”

Also known as "Stargeezer Jack," Troeger has a website about the importance of preserving the night sky. You can check it out at

From: Savoring the dark

Posted on May 30 at 2:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you. The article has been corrected.

From: ESYO to end season with a first – playing at Zankel Center

Posted on May 2 at 2:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you. The review has been corrected.

From: Musical ‘Les Misérables’ is a feast for both eyes and ears

Posted on September 6 at 11:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)

A reader shares this tip about ridding bats from your house:

I wanted to make a comment regarding the suggestion to attach a screen to the side of the house in order to prohibit the bats from returning to roosting inside the rafters. This should only be done late in the summer and early autumn. If it's done any earlier than that, the babies are still roosting inside the house during the night - they don't fly right away. Preventing the mother bat to be able to return to her roost would cause her baby to die a horrible death inside one's house.

Thank you for this article - bats get enough bad press, it's good to see something positive about them.

From: Bats get a bad rap

Posted on April 6 at 11:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

And another reader offers these suggestions:

We use canvas tote bags in our household and they do become soiled or torn after many uses. I remember to wash them hang them in the sun to dry and deodorize.

We still accumulate plastic bags and I save them up and return them to recycle containers at the supermarkets.

Some warehouse stores and ALDI do not provide bags. When I go to Aldi, I bring my extra plastic bags and leave them on the a counter where customer bags their own groceries. Shoppers will spot them as they come through the line and be relieved that they do not have to pay for a bag.

Remember the "REUSE" factor of the recycling equation. Have a torn bag? Double it up with another bag to make both stronger.

Two years ago we became a dog owner for the first time in our lives. Many parks have dispensers containing plastic bags to pick up your dog's deposits. Is there a way you can provide pet owners with these plastic bags? Once, I had a pet owner allowing their dog to make multiple deposits on my front lawn. So, in the area where the dog liked to deposit, I surrounded the perimeter with plastic bags laid out in a nice circle and weighted down with stones. The next time that owner walked the dog and the dog returned to its dumping ground, the owner could not avoid the plastic bags. Education, education, education.

You mention other plastic that comes with produce as well. The strawberry containers can be re-used to hold hobby items, spools of thread, crayons, legos, binder clips, or other items that you need to corral at home into one container with some visibility.

Did you ever go somewhere and buy a drawer organizer? Instead, use the plastic trays that cookies and produce comes in as drawer compartments or organizers. If it wears out or gets soied, no biggie, you can discard it or recycle it knowing that you did re-purpose it.

The trays that meat comes wrapped on can be washed and recycled or used as project trays. If you are doing a painting or gluing project or some other tasks, having a few of these plastic trays around can be handy. Even if you are doing a project with nails or screws or straight pins in sewing, the tray can be a convenient surface to hold those items.

Also, the strawberry containers can be used to house certain items in school lunches like cupcakes or fruit that you want to protect from crushing.

Styrofoam and plastic containers can be using as packing material lining the inside of boxes if you need to ship something by UPS that is fragile. REUSE.

Using your imagination can provide many REUSE options. Families with children who do crafts often use Styrofoam egg containers to compartmentalize
materials for sorting items used in crafting or kids' rock collections, marbles, etc.

From: Overrun with plastic bags

Posted on April 5 at 11:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

A reader comments:

Re: the scourge of plastic bags at the grocery store, to me the obvious solution is to use them as trash bags. If I'm going to put my trash in bags, I may as well use bags I get for free and that have already been used once.
Perhaps this is more practical for a single person than a family of four, but I like the T-shirt bags in the kitchen because they force me to take the
trash out more frequently, before it starts to smell. Also, I have a small trash can in the bathroom that fits the produce bags very handily.

I use reusable bags at the grocery store as often as I can, but always end up with some T-shirt bags anyway because I forget or want the meat wrapped
separately. But by using them as trash bags I never have leftover grocery bags to recycle or throw away. And I don't have to buy trash bags!

My mom does this too, and said she will be bummed if they outlaw plastic bags in grocery stores because then she'll have to buy trash bags.

From: Overrun with plastic bags

Posted on January 9 at 1:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A reader writes:

I always enjoy your articles very much and thought I'd respond.

I've always been thrifty and conservative in using the world's resources so I was delighted to see that you and your family do all the holiday practices that I, too, have been doing for years. Below are some comments about your suggestions.

1) Sometimes the peanuts are made from potato or another vegetable flour and can be dissolved to nothing with a little water. (Test with your tongue!) If they aren't, I use them in the bottom of my large containers when I plant the annuals to lighten the carrying load.

2) I also use the Sunday comics to wrap all birthday gifts.

3) I saved wrapping paper for my entire life until about 10 years ago when I made fabric holiday gift bags. After Christmas one year I bought many many yards of holiday printed fabric that was on sale at Wal-Mart and Joanne's for $1-$2/yard. I laid it out open and cut all different size bags from the yardage---not wasting any. All had one fold and two seams with a length of ribbon or some form of tie sewn into the seam several inches from the top opening so the bags can be tied like Santa's sack. If you're clever in the layout, you can use the selvedge edge at the top openings. My husband loved them be/c like most men, he wasn't much of a "wrapper". It's a one-time expense and effort but I haven't bought Xmas paper since. No ribbons needed (4). Or boxes (5). I even save the gift tags (7) from year to year unless they're worn out. The grandkids love this be/c they're so easy to get into.

6) We used to do the same with the tree as a bird habitat and some years we'd stick it into the ice on the lake so that when spring came and the ice melted it would sink and become much need fish habitat.

8) I am the leftover queen...

9) & 10) At the recycle center in our town (formerly the town dump) we have a large indoor area set up with rows of shelves for everyone to display their no-longer needed items. Sometimes I have things taken from me before I can even put them on the shelves! We call it our Saturday shopping at the Town Mall. My husband would always return with more things than we were getting rid of be/c "you never know" when you can use a wha-tcha-ma-call-it.

Hope this brings a nod and smile.

From: Dealing with holiday trash

Posted on November 8 at 1:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A reader, Annie B. from Schenectady, suggested that avoiding fireproof pajamas is a bad idea:

Dear Ms. Hartley,
I read your column with enjoyment and agreement until the section on avoiding fireproof fabric in pj's in favor of pure cotton.
Some years ago, I spent a summer in the fire testing lab of the National Bureau of Standards, and watched in horror as untreated cotton pj fabric burned instantly in the presence of any flame, even a tiny candle, and even took fire near but not in contact with an electric burner set to the stove's medium!
Gauzy or flannel fabrics caught frequently without any contact at all in moderate heat situations. A spark from a cigarette or even a static spark set them off. A light bulb burning out can cause a fire of this type!
100% cotton fabrics were the worst, tho some synthetics melt and make a bad situation worse.
So let's get suggestion would be to buy treated 100% cotton pjs, and use it for only 30/40 washes, and then either re-treat the pjs or toss them! The very slight possible risk from the fire retardant chemical bears no resemblance to the incredible sure risk of burning pajamas.
Don't take my word for it, ask any fire chief or better still, an emergency room doctor.
I hope you will reconsider for a future column.

From: When old beats new

Posted on April 21 at 1:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Time for the rag bin!

From: Clothes sharing

Posted on April 13 at 2:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ann Oliveri, the director of Save the Frogs’ Happy Kids Festival, e-mailed to let readers know about a free webinar for 7-11 year olds on Wednesday, April 21.

For more information:

“Much to be done!” she says.

From: Listening to frogs

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