Archive for July, 2012

[Disclaimer: This is NOT official medical, legal or any-other-al advice and I’m not any kind of expert. See full disclaimer below.]

By the way, a great tool for getting into annoying plastic packaging is tin snips.

What to do when a compact fluorescent bulb breaks? CFLs contain mercury and other bad stuff, and I’d heard everything from “It’s no big deal” to “Evacuate and quarantine immediately!” When one fell out of a light fixture and broke on my front porch, I called a hazardous waste cleaning company to ask advice. Actually I was hoping I could slide somebody $50 to break out their hazmat suit and come sweep the porch, but this particular company doesn’t handle cleanups that small.

Advice, however, they did give me. It sounded so practical I thought I’d share it, combined with some EPA tips. So, when a CFL bulb breaks:

Get the hell away from it. The moment it first breaks is when the mercury vapor is most concentrated. Don’t suck it in, and don’t let anybody else breathe it, either.

Air out the place and keep people and critters away while you do. Turn off the heat/AC, open up the windows and stick a fan in there. The EPA says to give it 5-10 minutes; others say 15 or longer.

Check the bulb maker’s website for tips (bulb types change over time). Or call 211 for advice.

Prepare for cleanup. You want to avoid getting cut by phosphor-coated glass and use disposable tools where possible. The guy I was talking to said if he mopped the area, he would throw away the mop; the EPA seems a little more relaxed about this.

      • DON’T vacuum first. Get as much glass up as you can other ways.
      • Personally, I want some kind of hand covering — nitrile gloves or plastic bags, maybe.
      • Cardboard/stiff paper helps you scoop glass shards into a…
      • … solid plastic container that’s sealable. (Not a bag, which the glass can shred.)
      • Duct tape helps pick tiny pieces out of carpet or off a hard surface.
      • Damp paper towels also help on hard surfaces.
      • A strong HEPA-filter vacuum is best, and a disposable filter helps too. When done, take the vac outside, plug it in and run it in the fresh air for a little bit.
      • Dump your tape, paper towels, cardboard, filter, etc. into the sealable container and, er, seal it.

Call 211 to find out how to dispose of it.

I’ll refrain from naming the company I talked to because I didn’t decide to blog this until after we got off the phone, so they were not speaking for publication. But it was great to chat with an expert about this for a few minutes, and it yielded tips I hadn’t heard before. Happy mopping, y’all.

Full disclaimer: This is NOT official medical, legal or other advice, and I am just an ordinary mook of a homeowner. When it comes to your own and your family’s safety, take whatever actions you think best.


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Here is U2 launching into the song they believed might actually spark violence if it were misunderstood:

And here is a John Wayne movie’s anachronistic but stirring delivery of an actual rebel song:

Back in the heyday of MTV, when I was a budding little pre-teen U2 fan, I heard Bono say something that lodged in my memory: “This song is not a rebel song.” He said it as he introduced “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” and it was clear from his phrasing that the words meant something additional that I didn’t understand. Taken at face value, of course, with the lyrics of the song itself, the message was clear: “No more.” I’d say many Americans who did not know what Bloody Sunday was the first time they heard the song had learned that piece of recent history by the second or third time they heard it. (In July 2012 — forty years later — Northern Ireland police have opened a new murder investigation of the event.)

But it wasn’t till this year that I learned what was behind the extra weight Bono gave to the words “rebel song.” And I learned it because of a John Wayne movie, of all things.

Director John Ford of course is known for classic westerns, particularly the “cavalry trilogy” of Wayne films: “Fort Apache,” “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon” and “Rio Grande.” He was also what you might call a devout American Irishman, a son of Irish immigrants, and made “Rio Grande” purely so that Republic Pictures would let him cart his stock company over to County Mayo to film “The Quiet Man.” Wayne played former Union officer and Shenandoah Valley veteran Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke, who is ordered by Gen. Philip Sheridan to lead a cavalry raid from Fort Stark across the river into Mexico.

As in his other films, Ford chose music carefully: sometimes songs true to the historical period shown (“The Girl I Left Behind Me”), sometimes anachronistic songs that nonetheless fit seamlessly (“She Wore A Yellow Ribbon”). In “Rio Grande,” two emotional moments come as the regimental singers perform “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen” and “Down by the Glenside (The Bold Fenian Men).”

“Kathleen” was written in 1875, but “Down by the Glenside” fits less well into the chronology, as the film is set in 1879. (Although it was 1873 when Gen. Philip Sheridan ordered former Union officer and Shenandoah Valley veteran Col. Ranald Mackenzie to lead the 4th Cavalry in a raid from Fort Clark across the Rio Grande.)

My dad noted, as we re-watched the movie recently, that the song was a specific reference to Irish history. We set to Googling, and learned it was written in or about 1916 by Peadar Kearney, who fought in the Easter 1916 uprising and had earlier written “The Soldier’s Song” (“Amhrán na bhFiann”), which is now Ireland’s national anthem.

And we also learned Kearney’s ballads were part of the body of Irish music called rebel songs. Though the tradition was familiar to us — centuries of history in which the oppressed Irish used music to transmit culture and calls to arms, up through the modern “Troubles” to the present day — the term was not, to me at least. Finally, then, I knew why those words were so freighted when Bono called them out to the crowd at Red Rocks.

In fact, as I might have learned in 1983 had the Internet been suitably developed, that was how Bono introduced “Sunday” during most of U2’s “War” tour. At the song’s first performance in Northern Ireland, Dec. 20, 1982, the band were so wary of its reception that Bono added a promise that if the crowd didn’t like the song, they’d never play it there again. Happily, they did like it, and another piercing song carried its piece of Irish history out into the world.

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