Endorsed by ... a vacant lot

Friday, April 21, 2006

Ten items or less

* The 2006 primary election is less than three weeks away and the political signs can be seen everywhere. Small placards, just-smaller-than-a-billboard posters, yards are filling up with signs and creating havoc as the mowing season revs into gear.

While I'll glance at the signs, especially those yards supporting every candidate in every race (if they can't make up their mind in their yard, what is that owner going to do in the voting booth?), I take special notice of those signs displayed where obviously no one lives.

A person has to wonder about the support of a candidate by the placement of his or her signs. Some people may vote for a candidate because they see a friend has thrown their support behind this candidate as represented by the sign in the front yard. On the other hand, animosity between neighbors may cause a candidate to lose a few votes.

But what about those candidates who haven't gained recognition, good or bad, either way?

While it may more difficult for some state-wide candidates to drum up support in every community, I wonder about their staff's line of thought as they hand out support signs.

Does a candidate's staff member drive through a town, see an abandoned yard and figure no one will mind he places a sign in the yard? Never mind that the grass is growing so tall that the bottom half of the sign is obscured.

Vacant lots are often the recipient of numerous political signs, because there's no one to object.

I'm neither recommending nor condemning any particular candidate, but look for those signs that you just know were planted in the ground because no one would bother to take them down. Or mow around them for that matter.

* Perhaps you have been avoiding it, riding on fumes. Maybe you've dug the bicycle out of the garage and battled the winds on the way to work instead of emptying your wallet.

Or maybe you've bitten the bullet and filled up your vehicle with gas. It wasn't so long ago that gas stations were trying to figure out how they were going to fit the wider "2" into the place normally reserved for the long-standing"1" on their gas signs. Fortunately for gas station owners, the "3" is about the same width as the "2" so there is one less worry when gas prices inevitably hit the $3 mark. I think the "4" is actually thinner, so they will have even less to worry about if and when that day arrives.

And while many people are down-sizing their vehicles or switching to hybrids, my family took this opportune time in history to switch up to a gas-guzzler. One of those vehicles that you don't know how bad the gas mileage is and don't want to know.

Personally, I'm on the installment plan when it comes to putting in gas. I can't bear to fill up the vehicle all at once, for fear of a heart attack.

Instead, I just put in $25 each day, hoping that the dial reaches up to the full mark one of these days.

* In a futile attempt to conserve gas, I have tried consolidating errands. One problem: This requires planning ahead and taking everything along, such as clothes for the dry cleaner, books for the library, coupons for the grocery store.

On this last item, I've also tried to limit the number of plastic bags coming into my house by taking along my own bags to the stores.

I've actually purchased several cloth bags to haul my groceries home, thus eliminating the need for plastic bags from the stores. It's not that I'm trying to save the stores money or save the environment by reusing bags.

Rather, it's my growing resentment toward the bags as they continue to multiply in my basement, in my kitchen, in my laundry room.

While the plastic bags are handy to have around, a person can only store so many of the bags before they take over. I've been gathering them recently for recycling or reuse by someone else. Yet, every time I think they are rounded up ... a few more can be found hiding behind the washer or under the sink. If I didn't know better, I would think they were reproducing.

In a vain attempt to limit the number of plastic bags in my house, I try to remember to take my reusable bags to the store. More often than not, they remain hanging on the hook in the kitchen, just taking up space.

The question then arises: Waste gas going back to get them or bring another batch of those plastic bags into my house?

With gas nearing record levels, the bags will likely continue to multiply.

-- Ronda Graff doesn't have any political signs in her yard ... the weeds would just cover them up anyway.

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