Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Notice from Lexington Fire Department

Open Burning of Brush - Rules and Regulations for 2014
The open burning of brush is allowed only from January 15th, 2014 to May 1st, 2014)

Open Burning is allowed for the burning of brush, cane and forestry debris and only with a permit with the following conditions met at all times:
  • A Permit shall be applied for and received prior to any burning.
  • No grass, hay, leaves, stumps, construction material, tires, paper or rubbish shall be burned at any time.  No land site or clearing  debris may be burned.
  • All open fires must be located not less than 75 feet from any building or structure (including wooden, plastic or vinyl fences)
  • Accelerants such as gasoline, propane, or any other volatile gas or liquid used to star a fire are prohibited.
  • Burning is allowed only between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM, with all fires ignited prior to 2 Pm and extinguished by 4 PM.
  • All fires must be attended to by a person 18 years of age or older, accompanied with a charged garden hose, or other acceptable means of extinguishment.
  • Open burning may be conducted during periods of good atmospheric ventilation and without causing a nuisance.  If at any time the National Weather Service or the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation declare a "Red Flag Warning" or " High Fire Danger", burning is suspended until which time the warning or danger is lifted.
  • The fire department shift commander will determine existing predicted weather conditions prior to 9 AM each day.On the day you wish to burn, call 781-862-0272 ext. 300 after 9AM.  A recording will inform you if burning is allowed that day.  Following the message you will be asked to record your permit number.
  • Any permit granted under 527 CMR 10.22 may be revoked at any time.  Whoever violates any provision of this Permit shall be subject to a fine of $100 for the first offense, $500 for the 2nd offense and $1000 for any subsequent offense Reference M.G.L. c. 148a.
  • Apply for an Open Burning Brush Permit here and follow the directions.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Lexington Day of service planned for MLK Day

Sam Zales is hoping to change Martin Luther King Jr. Day from a "day of listening to a day of doing" in Lexington by encouraging volunteerism and service in honor of the slain civil rights leader.

For 20 years Lexington has commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day by marching down Massachusetts Avenue from the Battle Green to the Cary Memorial Building to replicate the famous 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom led by King. This year there will still be the march and the annual keynote speakers, but in addition Zales is organizing a day of service where volunteers help those in the community who need aid the most.

The first MLK Day of Service is presented by the Lexington commUNITY group, which has organized the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in town for the last two decades.

"This is an important holiday for me," said Zales, a commUNITY organizer for the past decade. "My grandmother was civil rights activist, and I want to continue the focus of helping people who are less well-off."

More than 120 people have volunteered to help at organizations in Lexington and surrounding communities during the first Lexington MLK Day of Service on Monday, Jan. 20. Those interested in participatin can register in advance or can simply meet on the Battle Green at 11 a.m.

There are four opportunities for organized volunteering.

Some volunteers will go to the Waltham YMCA, which will open its doors to homeless and low-income families, treating them to a day of sports, games and food. Other volunteers will make Valentine’s Day cards for veterans, hospitalized children and the homeless or the volunteers will have lunch with residents at one of the senior citizens' complexes in Lexington.

"Martin Luther King has a special place in YMCA history," said Waltham YMCA Executive Director Jack Fucci. "Before he was a pastor or held the March on Washington he was a kid at the Y. We believe some of the character building traits of the Y are really important and we want to expose as many families to the Y and give them their special day."

Usually organized the Sunday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, this year the ceremony and day of service will be on the Monday federal holiday. Zales said he’s glad this year’s festivities are on the actual day of remembrance as students will be out of school and more families can participate in the activities.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

How to Insulate Your Lexington Crawl Space

Take a look under your Lexington house. Damp, dangling insulation is a sure sign of outdated or shoddy installation. If your house was built before energy-conserving building codes were standardized in 1990, you may find no insulation at all. The U.S. Dept. of Energy currently recommends insulation with an R-value of at least R-9 in floors.

Where winter temperatures are extreme,  insulating the walls and sealing off the crawl space entirely is your best bet.

Here’s what it takes to do it right.
Support: Fiberglass batts should be unfaced and installed so they make contact with the underside of the subfloor. Wood lath placed every 18 inches or a crisscross webbing of wire provide the best batt support. Avoid stay rods (aka tension rods). They compress the fiberglass, lessening its insulation value, and can pop loose.
Ventilate: An insulation contractor can calculate the ventilation your crawl space needs and will cut in new vents as required.
Seal the subfloor: Holes for electrical wiring and plumbing should be sealed with spray foam insulation.
Insulate plumbing pipes and HVAC ducts to prevent heat loss and freezing.
Closed-cell spray foam combines thermal and moisture protection, but at $5 per square foot, it's too pricey for most budgets. However, it might be your only alternative for filling the webbing between truss-type joists.
Avoid open-cell spray insulation -- it soaks up moisture like a sponge.

Enclosing your crawl space: The cold climate choice

In a cold climate, the most efficient technique is to insulate the walls of your crawl space and close it off from the elements by sealing all air leaks. That way, plumbing pipes and HVAC ducts are protected from freezing temps, helping to conserve energy.

The best method is to insulate crawlspace walls with rigid insulation. At about $5 per square foot for professional installation, including materials, it comes at a cost but offers a permanent solution. You can do the job yourself for about half the cost, but it’s a challenging, time-consuming DIY project.

A thorough job also includes:
  • Nixing the vents: Simply closing the vents in your foundation won’t do the job. Vents must be removed and the holes sealed.
  • Insulating the rim joist: Use closed-cell spray foam to insulate the rim (aka band or perimeter) joists — the joist that rests on top of your foundation walls.
  • Insulating the foundation: Glue rigid foam insulation board to the inside of foundation walls, using waterproof construction adhesive, and seal all seams with waterproof tape. A 4-by-8-foot sheet of 2-inch-thick expanded polystyrene insulation (R-value 7.7) is $26. A double layer is recommended.
  • Add a vapor barrier: Whether the floor of your crawl space is bare earth, gravel, or concrete, it is going to exude moisture. A 6-mil polyethylene plastic vapor barrier covering the ground keeps the wet at bay.
  • Get rid of moisture: Moist household air is bound to cause condensation in the crawl space. In addition, any slight plumbing leak can build up over time. A dehumidifier or sump pump eliminates the moisture that mold loves.

With crawl space sealed off from cold and moisture, your crawl space can be linked to your household HVAC system via vents. That way, warm air is circulating under your floors, warming them up and helping to keep you toasty. There's no need to cool off your crawl space in summer, however; close vents when your air conditioning is running.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

20 Ways to Lose Weight After the Holidays

Guilty of overeating during the holidays? Here are 20 simple ways to beat weight gain.
1. Drink water. People often mistake thirst for hunger, so next time you feel like noshing, reach for water first. Drinking also helps you feel full. Some experts suggest sipping water (or iced tea) just before you sit down to a meal. Continue drinking as you eat to add volume and weight to your meal.

2. Set realistic goals. One or two pounds a week maximum is doable. Top weight-loss programs advocate stopping after the first 10 pounds and maintaining that loss for about six months before trying to lose any more.

3. Build in splurges. If you allow yourself to eat whatever you want for 2 meals out of every 21, you won’t inflict enough damage to subvert your weight loss. And you’ll feel less deprived.

4. Count to 10. Studies suggest that the average craving lasts only about 10 minutes. So before caving in to your urge, set your mental timer for a 10-minute time-out. Use the time to tackle an item on your to-do list; choose one that will give you a sense of accomplishment — and get you out of the kitchen.

5. Eat more often. People who have kept their weight off for more than a few years tend to eat an average of five times a day. Light, frequent meals curb your appetite, boost your energy, improve your mood and even speed your metabolism, since the process of digestion itself burns calories.

6. Make weekly resolutions. Don’t try to overhaul your diet overnight. If you make too many changes at once, chances are you’ll get frustrated and throw in the towel. Instead, make one change, such as eating at least one piece of fruit daily, every week.

7. Start with 10%. People who start by focusing on achieving just 10% of their long-range weight-loss goal may have the best chance of ultimate success. Losing those first pounds yields the biggest health gains, too, since belly fat is usually the first to come off and is the most dangerous.

8. Spike your meals with salsa. This spicy condiment can stand in for mayo to deliver plenty of flavor without the fat. Mix it with a bit of low-fat yogurt to make tuna salad. Spread it on a veggie burger, or serve it with chicken or fish.

9. Take one-third off. When you eat dinner out, reduce the temptation to clean your plate by setting aside one-third of your meal. Ask the server for a doggie bag, and take it home for lunch the next day. Try serving yourself one-third less at home too. This simple tactic could subtract more than 500 calories a day.

10. Go easy on the alcohol. Remember that alcohol is a source of calories. A 12-ounce beer has 150 calories; a 3.5-ounce glass of wine, 85. A margarita packs a bigger caloric punch. Even worse offenders are creamy cocktails, such as brandy alexanders and mudslides — equivalent to drinking a rich dessert. The bottom line: If you’re trying to lose weight, stick with water.

11. Write notes to yourself. To help you stay on track, post notes to yourself on the fridge and the pantry. Put up a little stop sign or make tags with questions like “Do you want this food enough to wear it?” and “Are the calories worth the consequences?”

12. Stay away from sodas. Soft drinks are a major source of empty calories in the American diet. We drink twice as much soda as milk and nearly six times more soda than fruit juice. But fluids don’t satisfy your appetite as well as solids. A study at Purdue University found that when people were fed 450 calories daily as jelly beans or as soda, the soda drinkers gained a significant amount of weight, but the jelly-bean eaters compensated for the extra calories by cutting back on other food. So if you crave something sweet, you’re better off chewing it than gulping it. If you’re truly thirsty, reach for water or unsweetened iced tea instead of soda.

13. Don’t just eat — dine. Eating on the run or in front of the tube invites mindless munching. Instead, set the table every time you eat. Make a conscious choice to sit down and savor every bite. Placing a portion of chips on your best china helps focus your attention so you don’t eat the whole bag.

14. Up your protein (a little). Research suggests that protein prolongs the feeling of fullness better than carbohydrates or fats do. Studies in Scotland, Denmark, Sweden and England found that people who ate a high-protein breakfast or lunch were less hungry at their next meal. Protein also requires a few more calories to digest. Just don’t go overboard. Stick to low-fat protein sources like low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese, low-fat soy drinks or snacks, or thinly sliced turkey breast.

15. Learn how to measure. It’s easy to misjudge portion sizes. Pull out the measuring spoons and cups, especially for full-fat salad dressings, dairy foods and mayo.

16. Make smart substitutions. Look for nutritious low-calorie alternatives to sugary, high-fat treats. Try

frozen grapes instead of candy. Use air-popped popcorn instead of oil-popped. Dip fresh strawberries in fat-free fudge sauce for a sensuous chocolaty treat.

17. Have a “party plan.” When attending a party, offer to bring a plate. Arriving armed with chopped fresh veggies and a low-fat dip — or any other low-calorie snack — ensures that you’ll have something to snack on without feeling guilty.

18. Think positively. Experts note that low self-esteem is a major cause of overeating. Train yourself to focus on your best points rather than your weak spots. Buy clothes that fit and flatter you at your current weight. Update your hairstyle and get a makeup consultation so you feel attractive today.

19. Give yourself a break. No one says you have to reach your goal without making mistakes along the way. Tell yourself you can succeed in losing weight by taking things one step at a time and starting fresh whenever you slip up. If you overeat one night, just get back on track in the morning by focusing on what’s worked for you in the past.

20. Relax! Some people binge when they’re stressed. A Yale University study found that women who secreted the most cortisol (a hormone released during stress) ate the most high-fat food after stress. The combination of cortisol and insulin prompts the body to store fat in preparation for possible starvation — just what you don’t need. If stress has a stronghold on your life, try learning yoga, meditation, or simple breathing exercises.