Two Weeks of Age of Conan Free

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The statistics show you’re more than likely one of the people who ditched the online world of Age of Conan. In other words, a lot of people quit. Well, Funcom wants to bring you back to your usual hacking grounds with an offer of two weeks free if you dive back in.

Now, there’s a chance they’re offering this to make more money off you. See, the game is due to expand in August, so the entire thing could be some form of dirty, sneaky trick to pull MMO fans away from other games (or game considering the popularity of WoW), but what corporation would do things that way?

Oh, all of them? In that case yes, they’re acting like drug dealers who offer the first hit for free. Not that we’d know anything about that either…

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Clean and green. (Green Seal certifies environmentally safe cleaning products)

Restaurants & Institutions April 1, 1997 | Rousseau, Rita There’s no more mundane (yet essential) part of the foodservice business than scrubbing and sanitizing floors, counters and tabletops. Cleaning products are probably one purchase you take for granted, without puzzling much over the relative cleaning efficiency or environmental friendliness of one versus another.

Well, guess what: Somebody has spent countless hours pondering those very issues.

Seal of approval Green Seal, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, certifies and grants a seal of approval (see illustration) to products that meet its environmental standards. While Green Seal’s experts scrutinize many products (they’ve been looking at heat pumps recently), cleaning agents are a priority. see here ammonia and bleach

“We don’t just look at one particular aspect, but at many: whether the product is biodegradable; whether it’s low in toxicity; how it’s packaged; how it’s used; how it performs.” explains Mark Petruzzi, Green Seal’s director of certification.

Green Seal currently lists 14 brands of general-purpose cleaners that meet its environmental standards. All are nontoxic to humans and aquatic life; are biodegradable; contain little or no phosphates or phosphonates; work best with cold water (to save energy); and are ecologically packaged (as concentrates in recycled, recyclable and refillable containers).

Perhaps more important to operators, they clean as well as commonly used cleaning agents. Increasingly, they are available from distributors or in bulk lots from the manufacturers. site ammonia and bleach

Green Seal has forged alliances with the entertainment industry (through the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) and the hotel industry (through the American Hotel and Motel Association). Other operations making environmental issues a part of product decisions include city and state governments, school districts, universities, B&I operations, and even a sports venue (the San Francisco Giants’ 3Com Park). Most are adhering to a green-purchasing policy of the parent institution.

If you’d like more information on Green Seal or the products it certifies, call (202) 331-7337.

Old and new Surface-cleaning products are hardly the greatest toxic threat to the people who use them or to the environment. But they’re not entirely benign, either. Here’s a primer on some cleaning and disinfecting alternatives, old and new.

Petrochemical compounds aren’t a problem when they get to the end user, but they can be in manufacture. Ingredients such as dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, glycol ethers and ethoxylated alcohols can release toxins during production, so those who care may want to read ingredient labels to avoid them.

Phosphate detergents are now generally recognized as water pollutants. They are also highly alkaline and can cause skin and eye irritations. While the phosphate content of many cleaning products has been reduced or eliminated in recent years, phosphates remain a primary ingredient in automatic dishwashing powders.

Predating phosphates and petrochemicals, good old-fashioned ammonia and bleach can irritate skin, eyes and lungs and are not recommended for people with respiratory problems. They shouldn’t be mixed with other chemicals, and certainly not with each other; doing so produces noxious fumes.

While food-safety experts often recommend cheap, widely available bleach as a top-rated sanitizing agent, its reputation has been sullied in some quarters. Radical environmentalists claim that sodium hypochlorite, the active ingredient in bleach, may be a culprit (along with other chlorine compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons) in the thinning of our planet’s protective ozone layer. The Environmental Protection Agency says no–the compound’s molecules can’t reach the upper atmosphere.

The simplest way to improve a cleaning product’s effectiveness, say experts, is to leave it on long enough to work before rinsing. Read labels for product directions, and train your staff accordingly. And make sure everyone uses a clean sponge or dishcloth; when wet, both are great environments for growing bacteria.

Rousseau, Rita