Friday, September 26, 2014

Tree talk - Boundary Trees - By Robert Fogg

Often we receive calls from people who are concerned about a neighbor's tree, and wondering what legal and ethical rights they have in the matter. I'm not a lawyer and I can't give legal advice. I only have the benefit of my experience working with the different scenarios for the past 30 years. Over the years, I've been directly or indirectly involved in numerous situations where, in the case of tree damage, insurance company policies have come into play about who pays for what. 
Naturally, I would encourage all property owners to work with and cooperate with their neighbor's in the name of safety and security for both parties. That's just a part of being a good neighbor. But, it's nice to have a few guidelines to go by in the process. While there are exceptions to every rule, here's what I've seen as standard practice:

To begin with, there is a common misconception regarding trees that are located directly on a property line, that a property owner can legally remove every-other-tree. That's not true, the consent of both property owners is required to remove the tree. What about limbs overhanging the property line? Think of the property line as a vertical invisible wall. In general, you can remove any limb, or part of a limb, that is on your side of the wall, as long as it doesn't cause damage to your neighbor's property. 

What if a neighbor's tree falls today, and damages your property? The courts and/or the insurance company, if either become involved, will likely declare that it was "an act of God" and it's your responsibility. What if you feel your neighbor has a hazardous tree or limb that is threatening your property? The first thing to do would be to get an arborists opinion to see if it really is an elevated threat. If it is, the neighborly thing to do would be to ask the neighbor to remove the threat, or at the very least, let you remove it. I've seen many cases where neighbors have split the cost to remove such a threat. In the rare case where the neighbor refuses to cooperate in taking care of an actual threat to your property, you will need to officially notify them, in some provable way, about your request that they remove the threat. This puts the responsibility back on them to take care of the threat or be liable if anything happens.

I've seen cases where, in severe weather, such as a hurricane, everyone's trees end up on everyone else's property. The question often comes up about who is responsible to pay the bill. The standard procedure, in these cases, is that each landowner will take care of the damage and cleanup on their own property, regardless of where the tree(s) came from. 

Hopefully, this information will help clarify some common property line tree issues so that neighboring property owners will be better educated about what is, or isn't, expected of them. Thanks for being a good neighbor.

Robert Fogg is general manager of Q-Team Tree Service in Naples and is also a licensed Arborist.

How to not sound like a jerk when sending emails - By David Pride

I’m a sensitive Suzy and I’ll admit it. I take things personally sometimes that shouldn’t be taken personally and my feelings get hurt if someone tells me I suck at something that I think I’m great at. I think the sensitivity comes from being a very passionate person who knows just one speed limit, 100 mph. Naturally, when you’re a person such as me you notice things that others may not. One thing I notice a lot is (inadvertently) rude email. You know, email that makes you and me sound like a big jerk and we don’t even realize it. Below are three ways you and I sound like a jerk when we rush to push “send.”
Entire email in the subject line. Let me translate this for you, “Hi David, I’m far too busy to click into the body of the email and write something that may take an additional five seconds and quite frankly you’re not worth the time and effort. Instead I have written this entire email in the subject line. Please follow my request immediately.”

One or two word emails that make no sense if they are not read immediately. This is a common offense.

No greeting, no ending – just instructions. To me this is you essentially telling me here’s what I need you to do, but I don’t have time to type, “Hi David” at the beginning or “Thanks” at the conclusion of the email. Imagine if you and I were at Starbucks getting a Pumpkin’ Spice Latte’ and we just sat down at our table by the window, would you start the conversation with, “We need to meet Friday to discuss why my employees hate me.” And then you get up and leave without saying goodbye. Naturally I would think this was pretty rude behavior and it would leave me confused as to why you treated me that way. But, if you started it with “Hi David, I need to talk with you about why all my employees hate me. Can we meet Friday? I’m in a real rush, I have to go photocopy my middle finger and paste it all over the break room.” At least you said, “Hi” and “Bye.”

Granted there are exceptions to every rule but hopefully these tips will help you from creating any rifts in the workplace. Being a jerk and accidentally sounding like a jerk are two different things. One you can control, the other…well, good luck.

What’s your biggest email pet peeve?

You know what really grinds my gears? - By Jeffrey J. Thivierge

You know what really grinds my gears…?

Unsolicited advice.

A few weeks ago, I was minding my own business, enjoying my favorite beverage when I was given some unsolicited advice. “Hey man… don’t you know that stuff is poison?”

I’ll bet you think I’m a hardcore coffee guy. Or maybe you think I indulge in beer or some other alcoholic beverage. 

Nope. I hate coffee and rarely indulge in alcohol.

My drug of choice is Pepsi Max. 

For those that don’t understand what Pepsi Max is, it’s a caffeine laced diet cola. The magic word “diet” would clue in some people in to the probability that it contains an artificial sweetener, like aspartame. If you are so inclined to think that, you would be correct.

Now, I’m a reasonably educated man. I like to think that I keep up on the news. I’ve read about how harmful and/or evil aspartame supposedly can be to the human body. It causes tumors the size of the human head on lab rats and it causes bunny rabbits to spontaneously combust. It may even be the second leading cause of global warming (next to George W. Bush, of course). And don’t get me started on the stuff that I see about aspartame on the Facebook.

Unless you’ve lived under a rock, you probably know how bad any kind of soda is for the human body. (For those emerging from caves this week…let me be the first to tell you that soda is bad for you.)
My problem isn’t with soda. It’s with the advice. 

To take the time out of your day to “inform” me that diet soda is bad for me is absurd. My response to people that do that offer this “advice” is to question whether or not they have ever smoked a cigarette, had too much to drink, neglected to brush their teeth after eating, or had unprotected sex. All of these are terrible acts that could also have horrible side effects on the human body.

The point here is that nobody is perfect. We’ve all done something that is less than healthy to our bodies. If I went through the trouble of pointing out the bad habits of everybody that I meet, my finger would get sore from pointing so much. If you’re one of those people that feels the need to point out the shortcomings of others…Well, good for you. Apparently you have beaten the odds and are perfect. You’ve never eaten red meat, jaywalked, had fried chicken, driven too fast, or not washed your hands for a full 30 seconds after using a public restroom.

If you are one of the many flawed individuals that walks the planet, just enjoy your life and not nitpick my indulgence of the world’s most perfect beverage...Pepsi Max.

Gardening is fantastic - By Robert Almstrom

If you are a gardener or even if you are not, you know that plant life comes into life in the spring after a dormant winters rest, and that is when the most of us start our gardens. To some of us we like to garden year round, and also keep plants inside, especially flower plants. Others that love their outside gardens may go to the extent of cold frames, hoop houses, green houses and sometimes even heated green houses to extend the season. You can even use cold frames inside your unheated green houses and harvest year round certain vegetables. 
I will try and keep this interesting and try to keep it in the right perspective for those of us that want the best from an organic garden. In the olden days when I was a kid about four or five years old, my siblings and I worked with our parents using shovels, hoes, and rakes, to dig to cultivate our gardens. We were a working team, and it was enjoyable. Dad would say “Okay, today we are going to play a game and it’s called ‘dig the garden’.” I can’t remember how large the plot was, maybe 80-feet by 40-feet. We planted potatoes, and all kinds of vegetables. It was tough. Dad would dig the sod and us kids would beat and shake out the sod and save the worms for fishing. Well anyway, in those days you just add some manure to the soil from cows, sheep, pigs, chickens. Whatever grass and grain fed farm animals you had around and the gardens grew great as long as you received the proper amount of rain. The manure was spread in the fall or early spring and turned under as you worked the soil, preferably several weeks prior to planting. There wasn’t any need in those days to add other amenities because the proof was in the pudding, the plants looked and tasted good, and filled the void. What more could you ask for? Well okay, that’s good, but let’s put things in a little better perspective. In those days you weren’t all that close to town or a city that supplied amenities for the soil. They were known, and people then were just as smart then as now, but small farmers just were not going to add amenities unless maybe it was lime. “The proof is in the pudding.”

There is a better way

Test the soil. Get a soil test kit and follow the directions. Be sure to use clean tools and bucket for taking the samples. You may use Clorox and water to sterilize your tools and bucket. A couple of bottle caps to about one-third water in your bucket. Wash thoroughly. Wear rubber gloves for protection. Rinse thoroughly with clean water. I like to use my trowel and scrape off the top half-inch of soil, then dig down approximately three inches. You will do this in evenly spaced spots in your garden. With all the trowel spots in your bucket, thoroughly mix them all together. You have a box that came with the kit, and you now can fill this and send it in to be analyzed. In approximately two to six weeks depending when you take the sample, you can expect your results to come back. There will be lots of valuable information on your returned report. Be sure you understand this report and follow their recommendations as closely as you can.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Mend-A-Body continues to slim down Windham Eagle Staff

Kelly Mank
Week 5 - Down 11.5
11.5 pounds down. I feel great. Down a size and a half... can’t wait to be down two sizes. As I said, the first couple weeks were pretty hard for me as it is not simply changing my home eating habits, but changing how I think of food and how I plan what I'm eating. For example, when I want chocolate I want it right then and there... I don't want to have to think about where to find a healthy chocolate and then wait days until I can get it. So, I found a low carb chocolate company... ordered $100 in chocolate (I know that sounds crazy) but when I want it, I have it, and its only one net carb... oh yeah, and delicious. The purpose for me to share this is that even with the new way of thinking, with my crazy life, it is working. I’m enjoying it, and feeling great. As I was sitting at Star Nails getting my nails done yesterday I met the nicest woman who was also trying to lose weight. She shared with me that she has set a goal to lose four pounds (I think that is what it was) and she is rewarding herself by doing something for herself, getting her nails done again. I thought about this a lot and I love the idea of rewarding myself, so, for every five pounds I lose I am going to get a massage. I am saving so much money with planning my meals and eating healthier that I can afford this and I deserve this.

Niels Mank
 Week 5 loss: 27

It has been five weeks and I am down 27 pounds. I have lost a shirt size, find my jackets fitting more loosely, and have had to tighten my pants belt. I am eating healthier than I ever have and not feeling hungry. I am finding many substitutions for the poor eating habits I once had. If I have learned anything from this process it’s that Mend-A-Body is not a diet but a way of teaching you about your poor choices and what you could have that would be a healthy alternative. I never knew I could eat certain foods at certain times and it would promote healthy living. Some of the simplest things that I have been taught in the past five weeks seem so simple but nobody ever educated me on them. I have been shown so many new recipes that now I can help my entire family eat for better overall health. I am so happy that I found Mend-A-Body and will forever be grateful for the education they have given me. I now understand carbs, protein, sugar, fiber, and all the other nutrition labels that I never even looked at before on my food. I am excited to see what the next couple of weeks bring.

Michelle Libby
Week 5 down 25.

Michelle holding the weight she's lost thus far.
Dieting is hard. Let’s face it, it’s not easy living a healthy lifestyle. The grocery store seems like a landmine field, we are confronted with delicious treats at every outing, party and event. I admit, at times I am weak. I just want to sneak a little of the brownies my mom made or have a few M&Ms because I’m craving chocolate. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t fall off the cart, but getting run over by said cart is a bad plan. 

This week, we started getting coached on our own. The more personalized plan comes into play. I, unlike Kelly and Niels, do cook at home and have always done that. I love making casseroles and pasta. This however doesn’t enter into my new life plan. I’ve had to attempt to come up with quick, easy and healthy solutions for dinner which before I would boil up pasta and toss it in a bowl. Preparation seems to be the key. 

Tonight I’ll be getting a call, my second this week, from a new coach who has been where I am. She’s nationally known and understands that success doesn’t happen overnight. Mend-A-Body also has encouraged me to write down everything I’m eating to check my carb consumption and my fiber.
I’m at the tweaking point in my plan. I’ve cut out the bread, soda and most of the junk I used to eat. Now I need help to fine tune what I’m eating to get the number on the scale plummeting. I’ve lost 25 pounds and at least 4 inches from my waist. I can feel the difference, but I can’t see it. I like the reality of this program and will keep up with it.