30. Do-It-Yourself

Many kinds of insulation can be used for the home. Kinds that are easily installed make good do-it-yourself tasks. These kinds include batts, blankets and loose fill. Avoid plastic foam. It is best installed by a contractor who has special tools for the job.

Batts and blankets are made of glass fiber or rock wool. Batts come in packs of four-foot lengths or eight-foot lengths. Blankets come in rolls. Both are sold in widths of 15 or 23 inches to fit normal spaces in house frames. Both come in thicknesses of 1 to 7 inches. Both batts and blankets are sold with or without vapor barriers.

To insulate an attic floor, lay batts or blankets between the joists. Batts and blankets can be bought with a vapor barrier on one side. To install, place the barrier face down so that, when it is in place, you no longer see it.

To insulate the floor above a basement, push batts or blankets between the floor joists from below. Be sure that the vapor barrier is facing up, towards the house. To support the insulation, lace wire back and forth between nails spaced two feet apart. Or you may tack chicken wire to the joists.

Instead of batts or blankets, you may insulate with loose fill. It is made from glass fiber, rock wool, cellulose, perlite or vermiculite. Loose fill tends to settle after a while. Yet, cellulose, which is made from recycled newspaper, makes an excellent insulator. It must, however, be treated to become fire resistant. Use the loose fill to fill in the spaces between the joists. You will have to put in your own vapor barrier. A plastic sheet may be stapled or tacked down before the loose fill is poured.

Your home may already have some insulation. Even so, you may wish to add some more. In that case here are a few hints. Do not put insulation on top of lighting fixtures for the floor below. Keep insulation at least three inches away from such fixtures. Do not cover eave vents with insulation. Be sure that there is enough space in the attic to let moisture out.

A well-insulated home saves you money. It keeps your home cooler in the summer. It also keeps the house warmer in the winter. Don’t be afraid to insulate your home yourself. It’s really not a difficult job!

29. A Pest Problem

Pesticides are chemicals that kill. They can reduce or stop the growth of pests. Pests include insects, fish, rats, mice, fungi, weeds and other harmful animals or plants. Pests are bad because they spoil food. They spoil clothing, household furnishings and buildings. They injure, kill and spread disease to people. Pests can also harm helpful animals and plants.

Helpful animals and plants are those that people like and make sue of. Or they are ones that are important to a healthy world. These include living things that give us food, such as crops and cattle. It also includes plants used as decoration and cats and dogs kept as pets. Also in this group are the animals and plants found in nature that people enjoy or ones that are needed to keep a smooth and even balance. So, to protect plants and animals from harm, we use pesticides.

Pesticides are helpful. However, they can be harmful, too. Pesticides can be misused. They can be used without following the right directions. When this happens, they do a great amount of harm to the very animals and plants that we want to protect. Pesticides can poison. The deadly effects of these poisons can last a long time. The remains of some pesticides last for many years. They harm and kill long after they were first used.

The message is clear. Pesticides are useful. They protect us and our useful plants and animals. But if not used in the right way, pesticides can harm us and the animals and plants we want to protect. You can never be too careful when using pesticides.

Guard yourself and others from pesticides. It is not safe for children to use pesticides. In some cases, it is against the law for youngsters to use pesticides. Pest control is a job for grownups.

Teach your child well. Children should be able to know a pesticide by the label on thee package. They should be taught not to touch or use empty pesticide jars or cans. Spilled pesticides on the outside of the package can be unsafe. They can poison someone.

Sometimes people are poisoned by a pesticide. If this happens, follow the directions on the label which tell you what to do.

Ways to control pests without using pesticides need to be found and tested. Perhaps someday in the future we will learn to control pests without using pesticides.

28. A Useful Gun Indeed

Paint sprayers are very useful for large surfaces. A spray gun is faster than a brush or a roller. Some paint may be wasted through over spraying. Even so, the time and effort you save more than make up for the extra paint. It takes a little time at first to learn how to spray. Once you have learned, it takes no time at all to produce a thick and even cost of paint.

Spraying is a good way to cover surfaces that are rough and uneven. Things that are hard to paint with a brush or roller are quickly done with a sprayer. A spray gun can be used for any cost except the prime cost. The surface to be sprayed must be clean and free of dust. Paint that is sprayed will not stick if a film of dust is present.

When you use a sprayer, special care must be taken to prepare the paint. Stir or strain the paint to remove any lumps. Thin the paint carefully. Be sure there aren’t any lumps and the paint is not too thick. Thick paint will clog the gun. Thin paint will sag and run after it is sprayed. Follow the instructions on the can. Use the type and amount of thinner that is shown.

Before you begin, ask your paint dealer to show you how the sprayer works. He will be able to give you some useful pointers. Adjust the gun so that the width of the spray is the same size as the surface to be covered. A narrow spray is best for small surfaces. A wide spray should be used for things like walls or table tops.

Hold the spray gun about eight inches from the surface to be painted. Start to spray while the gun is slightly beyond the surface. This assures a smooth, even flow when you reach the area to be coated. Move the sprayer parallel to the surface. Move the sprayer evenly back and forth across the area. Spray the corners and edges first.

Cover everything close to the work with drop cloths or newspapers. The “bounceback” from the sprayer may spread several feet from the work surface. Be careful not to breathe in the paint dust. Use a mask if needed. When spraying, the tip of the spray gun may become clogged. Use a broom straw to clean it. Never use wire or a nail.

27. Probing with a Purpose

NASA’s space science program is yielding a wealth of knowledge. In the summer of 1977, NASA launched two Voyager probes. They are now on their endless journey into space. On their way, the probes will explore the planets. The probes will pass Jupiter, Saturn and maybe Uranus. The crafts will then whirl through space. They may travel for millions of years.

The Voyager program is a big help of NASA. It gives NASA a close look at the planets. From the Voyager’s flight, new facts can be gathered. The questions of the beginning and workings of the solar system may now soon be answered.

Studying the planets is only one part of a carefully planned space science program. NASA is also studying Earth, its moon and its atmosphere. Studying our sun and the starts of our galaxy are other goals of the program. In life research, we hope to gain knowledge of the effect that space has on living things. The well-known tools of this great project are the deep-space probes and the satellites. Less well known is the use of rockets, special aircraft and even balloons. Such things like radio telescopes are also used in the study.

The purpose behind this probing and searching is the same as that of all research – to help mankind. In space science, the benefits may not be seen right away. Still, they are valuable to the future of us all.

Today’s scientists may not be able to find a use for some of the knowledge gained in the space science program. Still, what we learn today may be useful tomorrow. As we learn more and more about our world, pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together. Scientists of tomorrow may find uses for this knowledge that will benefit future generations.

All of the goals of NASA’s space science program share a common end. They all want to learn more about Earth. Only be exploring other bodies in the skies can we answer some of the questions we have about Earth. The things we have learned about other planets have helped us to know our own planet better. It is important to understand the forces that control Earth. With that understanding we may be able to manage those forces. This control would help mankind. It will help improve our lives. It will give our children a better world in which to live.

26. A Measure in Metrics

What do metric measures mean to you? They should means a lot. In 1972 Congress talked about changing from the English system of measure to the metric. Some countries have already made the switch. As the use of metric measures increases, you will see a change in your nearby food store. You will see metric units used for weight, volume and length.

Right now, the number of different units you meet in a day’s shopping is puzzling. Weights are shown is ounces and pounds. Liquids are measured in gallons, quarts, pints and fluid ounces. Dry measures are shown in bushels, pecks, dry quarts and pints. However, all of that will be made easier under the metric system. With metric units, weight will be shown only in grams or kilograms. Volume will be shown only in liters or kiloliters. Length will be measured in meters, centimeters or millimeters only. Clearly, metric is much less confusing and will be much easier to use when shopping than the English system.

Some of the most common measurements made in the home are those that take place in cooking and baking. The practice that will be most often followed in metric recipes should not differ from our current practice. Metric “cup and spoon” measures are only slightly larger than the cup and spoon measures we are used to. They can be interchanged. It is only those few ingredients that are now measured by weight (pounds and ounces) that will change a lot in the metric system. To change a recipe to metric, just remember that a pound is about 450 grams and an ounce is about 28 grams.

Sales people in hardware, paint and fabric stores will feel the change to metric. A customer may want to buy lumber or paint or wallpaper. He may give the clerk his measurements in English units. The clerk in turn will have to change the units to metric. At least figuring in metric is not at all difficult. Again, it is easier to use then the English system.

The change over to metric is coming. It should not scare you. It is an easy and simple system to use. For most people, the knowledge of metric units that they learn as customers will help them. Slowly they will get used to using the new system. Who knows, maybe some day the English system will be completely forgotten.

25. Busy Little Creatures

Most homeowners know that termites can hurt the wood in their homes. Over the years, these insects have caused great damage over much of the United States. If termites are found in the home, there is no cause for panic. They can be controlled.

Underground termites live in large groups called colonies. The workers and soldiers spend their entire lives underground or completely buried in wood. Thus, they are rarely seen. Termites need high humidity in order to live. They keep their nests humid by using moisture from the soil. But, sometimes there is enough moisture in the wood itself. Because underground termites do not like dry air, they remain buried. So, the damage they cause goes unnoticed.

Winged termites inside a house are almost a sure sign of trouble. They are easy to spot. They have yellow-brown to black bodies. Their two pairs of wings are of equal size. Winged ants have two pairs of unequal sized wings. Also, termites have thick waistlines; ants have hourglass figures.

Once they nest, the termites shed their wings. Wings are often found be neath doors or windows. Because the winged termites are drawn to light, their wings may be found around light fixtures. If you find wings inside the house, you can guess that termites have moved in.

Damage to wood cannot be seen unless the outside of the wood is stripped away. When it is, many paths are found in the wood. Workers may usually be seen when a piece of damaged wood is studied. Both the workers and soldiers are wingless and grayish white in color. The workers feed on the wood while the soldiers guard the colony. The two forms look alike, but the soldiers have larger heads and jaws.

The only sure way to stop termite attacks or to get rid of them is to cut off their source of moisture. Without moisture, a colony will die. Keep in mind that termites can attack dry wood. They can do this by bringing in their own moisture from the soil.

In some places termites are common. Homeowners can make sure they are safe from attack by calling a pest control company. This kind of company first checks the house. It then does whatever is needed to kill the termites. The cost of this treatment depends on the amount of work to be done. But it is better to be safe than sorry.

24. A Gallon Saved

There are more than 100 million cars in the United States. A typical car gets less than 15 miles from each gallon of gas. It travels about 10,000 miles each year. In that time, it uses about 650 gallons of gas. In all, autos use up some 70 billion gallons of gas a year. That comes out to be four and a half million barrels a day.

The importance of saving gas, then, cannot be stressed too much. Let’s say, for instance, that the fuel used by each car could be cut back just 15 percent. This could be done by making fewer trips each day. It could be done by keeping autos in better shape. It could be done through better driving habits. If it were done, our nation’s use of fuel would fall by nearly two-thirds of a million barrels per day.

We can all help to save gas. One way is to ride the buses, or to walk to work. We could ride mopeds or bicycles. Another way is to share a ride. We could join carpools. About one-third of all private cars are used for going to and from work.

Go shopping with a neighbor from time to time. If two people use a car instead of one, everyone saves. Driving stress would be less, too, with fewer cars on the road. The savings on gas around the nation would come to more than one-half million barrels a day.

Another way to save is by cutting out useless trips. Can you find one driving trip per week that could be handled by telephone? Can you combine trips? If each car took one less 10 mile trip a week, we could save three-and-a-half billion gallons of gas a year. This comes to nearly 5 percent of the total passenger car demand for gas.

The way people drive decides how much fuel they save. Careful drivers may get 20 percent more miles per gallon than normal drivers. They could get 50 percent more miles per gallon than normal drivers. They could get 50 percent more miles per gallon than wasteful drivers. Careful drivers obey the 55 mile per hour speed limit. They get to their desired speed quickly and keep a steady pace.

If just one gallon of gas were saved each week for each auto in the country, we could all save about five-and-a-half billion gallons a year.

23. Exploring the Unknown

The Kennedy Space Center is busy once again. The Florida spaceport had been quiet for about three years. Before then it had been the launch site for the moon flights and manned missions. Now it is getting ready for a new chapter of space history.

The new age of space flight will start with the first flight of NASA’s Space Shuttle. The shuttle has a system that can be reused. This will greatly reduce costs. The shuttle will also make it easier for man to reach outer space. It will give NASA a new tool to help man explore space.

The new shuttle will be rocket-launched like all spacecraft. But there is now a difference. Its two boosters can be recovered and reused. Also, the manned part of the shuttle acts like a piloted craft in space. It will return to earth, Landing like an airplane.

We can see that space travel will no longer need highly trained astronauts. Along with its crew of three, the shuttle will hold up to four scientists. All of them can work without having to wear any spacial spacesuits. They can test and study the heavens from space. They will be able to send back to earth reports about weather and other conditions the can be seen from the craft. Remember, they will have a bird’s eye view of earth.

The shuttle will allow the in space repair of other spacecraft. It will also be able to bring space craft back to earth for work that cannot be done in space.

Some space jobs were once impossible or too expensive. But now with the help of the shuttle they can be done. The shuttle opens the door to some new ideas. Space cities can now be built. The building blocks for such cities will be delivered by the shuttle. Many power space stations will be built, too. These stations will be able to turn the sun’s energy into electricity that can be used back on Earth.

Economy is the key to the shuttle. Since it can be reused, costly one shot launchings can be a thing of the past. Satellites already in space can be kept there longer. Their lifespans will be longer because they can now be easily repaired. The shuttle will not need the expensive sea recovery that was used during past space flights. The savings to the space program could well be over a billion dollars a year!

22. Think about it.

Escaping a fire is a serious matter. Knowing what to do before a fire breaks out can save a life. For example, people should know the safety measures to take before opening a gall door during a fire. Also, make sure everyone knows how to unlock doors that may be in the escape path. At times, a key is needed to unlock a door from the inside. So, keep the key in the lock. Or, you can put the key on a key-ring and put it where it can be found easily.

If you live in an apartment, know that ways you can use to get out. Show everyone in the family these ways. Stress the importance of using stairways or fire escapes, not elevators.

From most homes and the lower floor of apartment buildings, escape through windows is possible. Learn the best way of leaving by a window with thee least chance of serious injury.

In a home fire, windows are often the only way to escape. The second floor window sill is usually not more than 13 feet from the ground. An average person, hanging by the fingertips, will have a drop of about six feet to the ground. Often, a second floor window opens onto a porch roof or balcony. From there, it is possible to drop to the ground or await rescue.

Windows are also useful when you’re waiting for help. Often you’ll be able to stay in the room for several minutes if you keep the door closed and the window open. Keep your head low in the window to be sure you get fresh air rather than smoke that may have leaked into the room.

On a second or third floor, the best windows for escape are those which open onto a roof or balcony. From the roof or balcony, a person can either drop to the ground or await rescue. Dropping onto cement walks or pavement might end in injury. Bushes, soft earth and grass can help to break a fall. A rope ladder should be considered when the drop is too great.

In a town where the fire department acts quickly, it may be best to wait for rescue. Close the doors and wait by an open window for help. Shout for help. Be sure to close the door before opening a window. Otherwise, smoke and fire may be drawn into the room by the draft.

21. Look Around You.

The environment is everything about you. It can be living, like a forest. It can be non-living, like a rock mountain. An environment can be natural or manmade.

There are many kinds of environments. There are cities, small towns and farms. There are oceans, lakes, deserts and forests. Each of these has its own mixture of living things and non-living things. Even man-made environments, such as cities, have both living and non-living things. An environment may have such living things as birds, fish and plants. It has such non-living things as air, soil and water.

Many animals and plants are found in only one kind of environment. Man, however, can be found in almost all environments. He can even visit places where he needs special things to live, such as the moon.

No living thing can live alone. Every living thing depends upon other things in its environment. When something changes, it has an effect on something else. If a non-living thing like water becomes hard to find, plants will be affected. If plants die out, the animals who eat plants will be affected.

Weather, such as temperature, wind and rain, can change an environment. People can change an environment, too. Some things that people do cause no change or only a small change in the environment. For instance, people can walk through the woods and just look. People can cut down only a few trees from a large area and still not change the environment very much.

On the other hand, some things that people do cause a lot of change. They can change a while environment by cutting down a forest.

Not all changes are bad. If we cut down a forest to build houses, plant crops or make paper, this may not be bad. But what if we cut down all trees in all forests to do these things? What if we didn’t save some and replace others? What effect would this have on other living and non-living things in our environment?

It is clear that people have the power to change an environment. What they do has an affect on all the living and non-living things there. This is why it is important to think about the change before we make them. When people make wise choices, the environment stays healthy. Let’s all work together to keep it clean and healthy.