This is in the local paper. I would like for all who takes a different stand to email the author and/or editor. Sunday, December 1, 2002 Leaf blower is not on my want list By Kristin Harty -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I never know what to get my Dad for Christmas, but here is one thing I won't be getting him this year: a leaf blower. For one thing, he already has one. For another, I am morally opposed to all leaf blowers ever created -- gas-powered, electric-powered, pedal-propelled, I don't care. Yes, I am taking a stand on one of the lawn and garden industry's most sensitive issues. I am urging all rational, peace-loving Grant Countians to refrain from purchasing leaf blowers this holiday season. Don't buy one for your dad. Don't buy one for your brother. And for heaven's sake, don't buy one for yourself. All you leaf-blower owners out there, just put it in idle for a minute, take out your earplugs and hear me out. What's that you say? You can't hear me? Point made. Leaf blowers are too loud. Listen, this isn't a novel argument. Dozens of towns in California -- Santa Monica, Laguna Beach, Verdas Estates and Claremont, for example -- have banned leaf blowers because of their obnoxious decibel output. Granted, they are pretty progressive out on that West Coast. But even Midwestern towns are starting to follow suit. Winnetka, Ill., for example, has an ordinance that restricts the use of leaf blowers in residential neighborhoods. Marion doesn't have any kind of leaf blower ordinance, according to the city clerk's office. And the police department, which routinely gets complaints from residents about loud car stereos and idling semi-trucks, couldn't dig up any loud-leaf-blower complaints last week. So let me be the first to publicly express my disdain. For several reasons, upon which I will elaborate below, I encourage holiday shoppers to purchase alternate gifts. Buy a sweater. Buy socks. Anything but a leaf blower. Reason No. 1: I decided to take a nap on my couch last Saturday afternoon -- closed the shades, snuggled up with myself under the afghan. Did not set the alarm clock. You get the picture. When one of my neighbors cranked up a leaf blower and got to work blowing leaves across his yard to the curb. Yes, I know that is not a complete sentence. Which is precisely my point. The irritating and persistent buzz-hum of the leaf-blower continues to resonate in my brain, rendering me at odd moments incapable of composing coherent sentences. In addition to being a personal problem, this is a job hazard. I'd rather have a Britney Spears song stuck in my head all day than echoes of the inhuman scream of a leaf blower. And that's saying a lot. But, I can already hear my neighbors retorting, she has a lawn full of leaves -- unblown -- cluttering up the neighborhood True enough. I need to go buy a rake. But here is my point: My leaves are just sitting there, quietly, bothering no one. Oh sure, they may look a little untidy, but they're not keeping any of my neighbors from taking a nap. Reason No. 2: In addition to being loud, leaf blowers can be kind of expensive. Joey Owens, an OPE specialist -- that's outdoor power equipment specialist -- at Lowe's Home Improvement Center said leaf blowers at his store cost anywhere from around $40 to around $400. I found one advertised on the Internet -- a Solo52 CC Backpack Gas Air Blower -- for $449.95. A good, sturdy rake, on the other hand, costs approximately $10. Owens, who doesn't own a leaf blower but has used one and likes it, said the item is pretty popular among customers at Lowe's. "They're definitely easier to use than a rake," Owens said. "It's a lot easier on your back." And faster than raking. Commercial landscapers who have big jobs to do and want to save manpower money use that argument a lot. But I hereby reject it on the grounds that leaf blowers are too loud and annoying. Reason No. 3: Raking leaves is a good old-fashioned fall activity that is good for the heart and soul. Enough said. Reason No. 4: There are plenty of other interesting and unusual gifts to buy people like my Dad for the holidays. Raymond Carver, the late, great short-story writer, has an excellent collection called Would You Please Be Quiet, Please? for example. Good for reading just before a Saturday afternoon nap. And a man in Menomonee Falls, Wis., recently invented a utensil he calls the popcorn fork. Held like a pencil, it is designed to circumvent the dreaded butter finger syndrome. (Go to www.popcornfork.com) Another freakish and unnecessary invention, perhaps. But at least it doesn't make any noise. Kristin Harty is a Chronicle-Tribune staff writer. If you have items for the Business page, contact her at 1-765-671-2257, e-mail her at email@example.com, send a fax to 1-765-668-4256 or mail to Chronicle-Tribune, P.O. Box 309, Marion, Ind. 46952.