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Shreds of advice for paper towel problems

Wow. Who wants to deal with that soggy mess? (Courtesy of Andy Wiper)

Dear Action Line: What masochist invented the dispensers that require towels to be pulled out with wet hands? Unless they are already dry, the towels just shred when pulled by wet fingers. These worthless contraptions are all over town, including the public library. Is this a health and safety issue that should be investigated by the city, county and San Juan Basin Public Health? – Andy Wiper

Dear Andy: Did you feel as weird as Action Line when you pulled out your smartphone in a public restroom and took a photo? Fortunately, no one entered when Action Line was doing this.

To try to answer the first question, it appears that the first paper towel dispenser patent application might have been made in 1964, if that’s worth a wad of wet pulp to you. (And don’t quote Action Line on that one.)

Before getting on a roll, Action Line has more paper towel issues to pile on. How about when there’s a stack of paper towels/napkins for hand-drying? The last guy or gal who reached for them had wet hands, so at least the top two or three are still wet. That’s no fun.

Or how about those dispensers that just won’t let you pull out a paper towel, wet or dry, because the paper bunches up or catches on the sides? That’s annoying.

There are many types of paper towel dispensers. The one in Andy’s photo is not a typical model used by the city of Durango, said Levi Lloyd, the city’s director of operations. It’s one installed by the “rabble rousers” at the library.

Of course, there are fancier dispensers, like the expensive “airblades” that blow-dry your hands almost instantly, or the automatic ones that present a fresh towel upon waving your hand in front of it.

Sometimes you have a choice between blow dryer and paper towel. So many decisions! (Action Line)

“I can tell you the automatic dispensers are better but they are considerably more expensive and require a power source, further increasing the installation cost,” Lloyd said.

And, Action Line asks, does anyone really want the city to spend a ton of money on hand-drying equipment?

Now, on to the health issue.

Well, a dry towel is certainly preferable. But your biggest concern should be getting your hands clean.

“Remember, cleaning hands properly with soap and water is what gets them clean, not drying them,” said Chandler Griffin, communications director with San Juan Basin Public Health. “Drying is just … drying.

“However, it is recommended that the towel used for drying be clean. So, in this example it could be argued that paper towel may not be clean because someone has perhaps come into contact with it. I think we’d hope for a clean break by pulling down as the sign suggests – or an air dry when in doubt as the CDC advises: ‘Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.’”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention primer: cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html.

That settles it, because everyone reveres the CDC. Um, right?

Dear Action Line: I have seen many Tesla cars around Durango and no dealer. Why is there only one plate on a Tesla, and it’s on the back? Is it to get better mileage with the e-car? Or do they get some kind of break and have to buy only one? – Drive Shaft

Dear Mr. Shaft: Shaft? Can ya dig it? Right on!

Sorry, an unexpected ’70s flashback there.

Action Line’s crack research team (aka Googling) finds that the nearest Tesla dealer is in Santa Fe, if anyone needs to know.

There is no special dispensation for Teslas in the state of Colorado, said Derek Kuhn, communications manager with the Colorado Department of Revenue.

“Most Colorado motor vehicles are required to have two plates; there are exceptions, but not for Teslas,” Kuhn said.

If you’re curious, these require just one plate under state statute 42-3-201(1)(a)(I): motorcycle, “street rod” vehicle, trailer, a towed vehicle and special mobile machinery.

Teslas are special in many ways, and their owners undoubtedly are as well. A new Tesla comes with a front license plate holder that mounts with adhesive tape or requires some extra drilling in the nose cone, and who wants to do that to your brand-new, $100K, Model X Tesla? Plus, as most luxury car owners will likely tell you, it just doesn’t look that nice, and they might poignantly argue, “I just don’t wanna!”

Police generally prefer to have that second identifying plate on the front, and that’s probably the only argument keeping every state from going to one plate.

Twenty states do not require front license plates, and the number is slowly growing. If you want to own and legally drive a Tesla without one, you could try to register it in New Mexico or Arizona. But Action Line is not recommending that. We need your tax dollars here in Colorado, please.

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. So, who had a better voice, Isaac Hayes or Barry White? And were those really two different people?

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