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(ran HP, HC, HL edition)

AN ILL-WIND? A public service or an attempt to cash in on fears? _ you decide. In a release on "Disaster Equipment Selection and Safety in Preparation for Effects of El Nino," Homelite/John Deere Products says: "Results of natural disasters can be tragic, especially if you are not adequately prepared. . . . Generators, pumps and chain saws are three pieces of equipment that will help prepare you in the event of such occurrences. It pays to have the equipment on hand in advance due to shortages that frequently occur in the wake of natural disasters . . ."

CALLING A SLUM A SLUM: Driving past dilapidated rental homes in the future, you may see big signs with the names and telephone numbers of the owners. Frustrated about the failure of fines and penalties and inspired by a successful program in Framingham, Mass., 150 municipalities are considering taking a page from Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter.

A GROWING MARKET: More of you are buying garden products by mail. The most popular products ordered, a Gallup survey for the Mail-order Gardening Association found, were bulbs (by 12.7 percent of gardening households), seeds (10.4 percent) and live plants/nursery stock (8.6 percent).

LEAVE LEAVES: Save raking chores by chopping fallen leaves with a lawn mower. The resulting confetti will break down soon, but mow frequently to prevent a build-up of material, Susanne Brunhart of the Montgomery County, Md., master recycler program tells the Washington Post.

MAKING SPACE:Growing up in a family of four, the topic of personal space "never came up," furniture and design company founder Victoria MacKenzie-Childs tells Self. "When I needed to be quiet with my own thoughts, I would climb a tree, take a long walk or daydream."

SUBURBAN FLIGHT? Well, that might be putting it a bit strongly. But after four decades of decline, American cities are experiencing a surge of reverse migration, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Most of the new urban pioneers are single professionals and empty-nesters trading a lawn for a loft.

_ Philadelphia Inquirer