THE OLD SIGN PHILOSOPHER, THOUGHT FOR THE DAY!

CHEER UP......THE WORST IS YET TO COME

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OAK DESIGNATED THE U.S. NATIONAL TREE

President Bush signed a bill naming the oak as the official U.S. national tree. The generic "oak" was selected, rather than choosing one of its 600 species. Nat'l. Arbor Day Foundation conducted an unofficial, online survey in 2001 and oak received the most votes as the public's top choice for a national tree. Second was redwood, which had 81,000 votes to oak's 101,000.

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GARDENING TOOLS FOR THE MIND OR GREENSCAPE GARDEN'S FAVORITE REFERENCE BOOKS.

A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants by Christopher Brickell and Judith D. Zuk.

This book is a weighty tome whose dusk jacket advertises, "more than 15,000 plants and 6,000 photographs". It is the plant reference books of reference books. You only buy this book if you are (or aspire to be) a true gardening geek, and even then you do your best to get it at a great deal through "American Nurseryman Publishing at 800-621-5727. This book has an awesome front section with a visual glossary of terms and general botanical information, and then a thousand pages of listings with all the scientific information and even descriptions of common cultivars.

The Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses: How to Grow and Use over 250 Beautiful and Versatile Plants. By John Greenlee.

This all inclusive book on ornamental grasses describes a wide variety of grasses but also sedges and rushes. Take care to observe hardiness zones, as many of these will not survive the St. Louis winters. However, the scientific information, color photos and descriptions, suggestions for landscape uses, and cultural information including propagation, pests and climate problems, will make you crave things you never knew existed.

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SPRING IS LESS THAN ONE WEEK AWAY. HAVE YOU SERVICED YOUR LAWN MOWER OR SHARPENED ITS BLADES?

A dull blade on your rotary mower not only delivers a ragged cut but also wastes fuel and makes the engine work harder.

To remove the blade, first run your mower dry so when you tip it up on its side, you won't be leaking gasoline out of the tank. Pull the spark plug wire off and tuck it out of the way to prevent any possibility of the engine kicking over when you turn the blade. Now tip the mower up on its side and remove the nut that holds the blade on the drive shaft. This job is a lot easier if you use a block of wood to keep the blade from turning when you put pressure on the wrench.

Once you have the blade off, inspect it carefully. If you find any cracks in it, discard it and buy a new blade. If it is sound, put it in the vise with one cutting edge facing up, and file that edge as you would any single bevel blade. Then turn the blade over and file the cutting edge on the other end. If there are deep nicks in the edge, don't attempt to file them out. The blade will be grossly imbalanced if you remove a lot of metal at one end and not at the other. You can use a narrow round file to smooth and round out the nicks.

Before reinstalling the blade, make sure it is still perfectly balanced. The balance point is dead center in the drive shaft hole. Lay the blade on a dowel or screwdriver shaft, with the drive shaft hole centered right on your balance point. If one end of the blade drags, remove metal from the heavy end until it is balanced. This balancing act is important to eliminate nasty vibrations that can wreck the oil seals in your mower.

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ARE YOU TIRED OF HEARING CERTAIN PHRASES LIKE "YOU'RE FIRED!" WELL HERE'S A LIST OF BANISHED WORDS.

It all began on New Year's Day 1976 when Lake Superior State University published the first tongue in cheek Banishment List as a publicity ploy for the school. Since that day, the list of "Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use, and General Uselessness" has become an annual phenomenon. Over the years, thousands of words and phrases have been nominated for inclusion (or exclusion, depending on how you look at it). From At This Point in Time to Yuh know, this site really takes it to the next level.