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Consumer Diary: Portable Generator and Significant FDA Recalls

The heavy generator had a large exhausts pipe connected to it that had to come off so the generator could be hauled away. Photo credit: Harlan Levy

Consumer columnist and West Hartford resident Harlan Levy has more than 20 years of experience writing stories about everyday experiences that anyone could encounter.

By Harlan Levy

This column is in part a paean to woman power.

A few months ago, after the East Coast and New England suffered an unusually severe spate of storms – a foot of snow in late January and widespread flooding before Christmas – I had to acknowledge how climate change could wreak havoc on our street and that I had to do something preventive.

So I decided to make easily accessible my Generac portable generator, which has been sitting idle in our garage for several years.

First we put out a bid for an electrician who could connect the generator with a long cable to our electrical panel in our basement. We figured we could house the unit in the outdoor shed where a defunct gas-powered and electricity-connected heavy-duty generator has sat useless for two decades.

This is the shed that houses our long-dead electrical gas-powered generator connected to a cement floor. Photo credit: Harlan Levy

The electrician we chose, Anthony McNair, owner of East Hartford-based McNair Electric, disconnected the electric connection last week after I summoned Connecticut Natural Gas to disconnect the gas.

Then we put out a bid for an outfit to get the old generator out of the shed and dispose of it. We got four bids – from $135 to $400. We chose the low bidder, College Hunks, which sent four beefy guys to check out the hulk in the shed.

They looked it over and asked me what I wanted to do about a heavy thick exhaust pipe that was connected to the old appliance.

I hadn’t noticed this pipe, and I asked them to try to dislodge it. They tried but couldn’t and left, telling us they’d come back when we got it  off.

I looked at it and couldn’t budge it. Then I contacted our usual handyman, who said he’d do it.

My wife said she would do it. I was dubious. But she proceeded to find a hacksaw in the garage and attack the pipe with determination. When it didn’t give one bit, she shook it violently, and being old and rusty its coils began to open like an accordion. She sawed an open coil almost all the way through, then shook it back and forth again until it snapped. “Did it!” she called triumphantly, returning to the house.

We then called the junk haulers, who were amazed she’d done it.

The electrician was also impressed, texting her “💪.”

“Brawn AND brains,” she texted back. “Bitches get things done!”


Significant recalls

The Food and Drug Administration’s January product recalls are worth mentioning, because in these particular cases the consequences can affect me and you:

  • Jan. 18 recall of Whitley’s Peanut Factory Deluxe Nut Mix for containing undeclared peanuts, milk, soy, wheat, and sesame.
  • Jan. 17 recall of Big Island Candies brownie assortment for containing undeclared peanuts.

NOTE: These ingredients can be lethal: On Jan. 23 the state Department of Consumer Protection issued a recall of Stew Leonard’s Florentine cookies made by Cookies United after a Connecticut woman, 25, with a severe peanut allergy died on Jan. 11 from eating the cookies in an unlabeled package sold at either one his Newington or Danbury markets.

Also noteworthy:

  • Jan. 24 recall of Robitussin cough syrup for “microbial contamination.” I happen to have a large bottle of the cough syrup.
  • Jan. 20 FDA recall of Al Amir Fresh Foods hummus dip and tzatziki cucumber yogurt for undeclared sesame and milk.
  • Jan. 19 recall of Lian Sheng dried tangerine plums and dried plums for containing undeclared allergens, sulfites.
  • And on Jan. 17 the agency recalled BrightFarms spinach and salad kits for containing the bacterium listeria monocytogenes, which causes an infection “with flu-like symptoms, fever, chills, muscle aches, and diarrhea or upset stomach. You also may have a stiff neck, headache, confusion, or loss of balance. Symptoms may appear as late as two months after you ate something with listeria,” the FDA said. You definitely don’t want to get that!

And now you know.

P.S. I’ve had my experiences with bacteria and viruses: In December a week after a brief Covid attack I came down with Rebound Covid (never heard of that before it flattened me). Then, to kick off the new year, my wife and I came down with food poisoning after a birthday dinner out. Then we suffered through the Norovirus stomach disaster, tough, totally dominating, exhausting, and draining.

So consumers: Wear your nifty KN95 masks every time you enter a building. See all the oblivious customers almost 100% mask-free. And know: Noro and Covid are coming for you … if you don’t protect yourselves!

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