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Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 5:26 PM
— If you are dreaming of a lovely, needle-free Christmas tree, you are in luck.
Gone are the days of stiff, flimsy, plastic trees. Artificial trees are now more realistic than ever before, and they are growing in popularity.
In fact, about 80 percent of homes will opt for an artificial tree compared to only 20 percent of Americans going for a real, live tree, according to the American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA).
So how do you find the most authentic tree and get the most bang for your buck? Here are seven tips for buying a quality faux tree from Jen Sypeck, an Atlanta based trend expert and product development consultant with more than 20 years of experience working with Home Depot, Home Decorators Collection and Pottery Barn.
Ask yourself: does the tree look realistic?
Does the tree look full? Look at both the tips and branches. If you are looking at a tree in a store, note that sometimes the trees might not be fully fluffed. So if you find a tree that is not to your fullness liking, play around with a few branches to see if, with a little care, you are able to achieve the full look you are going for. Needles made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) look more realistic than those made from plastic, while needles made from PE (polyethylene) are even more life-like.
Making an investment. Just as fake trees can be found in all sizes, they can also be found in all price ranges. The quality of the tree and additional accents will affect the pricing. And there is a vast range depending on size, features and quality. Example, a 7 feet tall, prelighted PVC tree can range from $99-$1,500. Regardless of budget there is a faux tree out there for you. Depending on your budget, try to invest in the “showcase” tree in the house. In other words, if you are setting up multiple trees throughout your house and need to scale back the budget, spend less on the trees not front and center.
Determine your style. Going with a faux tree gives you lots of options. Are you looking for a traditional just-cut-from-the-farm tree, a snow swept tree, or a glamorous, bold metallic tree, there is a tree to fit your personal decorating style.
Determine the size. You need to consider the clearance for a comfortable walkway in the room where tree will be set up. In addition to the walkway clearance, you also need to be aware of the ceiling height. (Sypeck likes to have at least a 1 foot of space between the top of a tree and the ceiling, and if you have a tree topper you’ll need to factor that into height equation as well) The good news is sky is the limit with faux trees — they come in all shapes and sizes.
To prelight or not? It’s a yes for Sypeck. The time during the holidays is precious and seems to always be on the fast forward mode so any chance to simplify and get some time back, she says go for it. Technology has even made its mark on trees. If you want to go back and forth each year on white lights and multi-color lights, don’t fret, there are now trees that have dual lights so you don’t even have to choose one over the other.
If you choose a prelighted fake tree, look for one that is labeled “continuous on” or “with burn-out protection.” This means that if a single bulb on the strand burns out, the rest of the lights stay on.
Other things to consider…
Check the wires. Sypeck always wants wires from the lights and the trunk to be hidden (invisible) making it one of her top considerations on her faux tree buying checklist.
Will it hold the ornaments?
Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 10:50 PM
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A federal judge ruled Tuesday on what evidence will and will not be allowed in the Noor Salman trial.
Salman is the wife of Omar Mateen, who authorities have said killed 49 people and injured more than 100 at the Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016. Mateen was killed by police the night of the shooting.
Prosecutors believe Salman knew about the planned attack, came up with a cover story and did nothing to stop the shooting.
Salman faces charges of aiding a former terrorist organization and obstruction of justice.
Judge Paul Byron ruled evidence that involves police body-camera video and surveillance video from inside the nightclub will be allowed in court.
The surveillance video shows Mateen walking around the club with a gun.
The evidence also included cellphone video inside a restroom where Mateen fired at several victims and survivors. In the video, multiple rounds of rapid gunfire can be heard.
Body-camera video from officers showed law enforcement outside of the club giving medical attention to gunshot victims.
Byron ruled last week that a terrorism expert will be allowed to testify about Mateen’s Facebook posts on the Islamic State group.
Salman’s trial is set to begin March 1.
Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 11:42 PM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-based Bank of America has eliminated a free checking account popular with lower-income customers.
The bank is now requiring customers to keep more money in their accounts to avoid a $12 monthly fee.
A national petition on change.org has more than 52,000 signatures from people begging the bank not to end its free checking accounts.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the bank switched its e-banking customers into the new accounts this month.
E-checking, which launched in 2010, had a monthly fee of $8.95, but customers could avoid the fee by using online banking and not using a teller.
Now, those customers will have to pay a $12 monthly fee unless they maintain a minimum daily balance of at least $1,500 or make a direct deposit of $250 or more.
Jessica Wassman said her boyfriend just learned about Bank of America’s plan to end its e-checking accounts and transfer those customers to core checking accounts.
"It did seem a little unfair,” Wassman said. “If you don't make a certain amount of money, you get penalized for it. It was a little insulting. The cost of living is going up, but poverty is still big and people can't afford simple things.”
Economist John Connaughton said checking accounts cost banks money and, with the economy improving, said customers can expect higher bank fees.
Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 9:01 PM
Cincinnati, Ohio — Ohio authorities are searching for a man with distinctive tattoos covering his face and neck, who is accused of climbing through an unlocked window at a Cincinnati home and assaulting a woman.
Michael Mann, 34, is wanted for aggravated burglary and domestic violence.
According to police reports, Mann entered the woman's Cincinnati home and slapped and choked her. Police said he has a history of domestic violence and drug charges.
The latest incident involving Mann and the victim, who he has a child with, happened on Jan. 9.
Police are asking for the public’s help in finding the suspect.
Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 1:23 PM
— Years of research and a particularly strong winter storm has led a reporter in Alabama to what is likely the remains of the last ship to carry slave cargo from Africa to the United States.
Writer Ben Raines of al.com reported Tuesday that what is left of the slave ship Clotilda, “lies partially buried in mud alongside an island in the lower Mobile-Tensaw Delta, a few miles north of the city of Mobile. The hull is tipped to the port side, which appears almost completely buried in mud. The entire length of the starboard side, however, is almost fully exposed.”
You can see footage from the site of The Clotilda's wreckage, as well as hear archaeologists discuss the authenticity of the discovery here.— AL.com (@aldotcom) January 23, 2018
This is a major historical and genealogical development. Read the full story here: https://t.co/x7gwzWvPg2 pic.twitter.com/SkuKkXqyVU
The ship’s remains were discovered by Raines when the “Bomb Cyclone” winter system hit the eastern half of the country earlier this month. A confluence of strong systems created the storm that caused the tide in Mobile Bay to be especially low, Raines pointed out. The lower than normal tide better exposed what was left of the ship.
In the story, Raines says he documented the wreck with historical documents and photos – the remains rest in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, accessible only by boat – and took his findings to a team of archaeologists from the University of West Florida in Pensacola, Fla.
The archaeologists agreed that Raines had probably found what was left of the Clotilda.
In the summer of 1860, the Clotilda brought 110 men, women and children from Africa to Alabama in violation of U.S. laws that banned international slave trade. The ship’s trans-Atlantic journey was the last recorded trip bringing human cargo from an African nation to the United States.
The expedition was financed by Timothy Meaher, a wealthy Mobile businessman who made a bet that he could sneak slaves into the country past forts on either side of the entrance to Mobile Bay, “under the officers’ noses.”
Meaher was able to hire a ship and captain to bring the slaves to Mobile, but fearing that he would be caught and punished for the stunt, Meaher arranged for the ship to be burned after he had the slaves unloaded.
Those 110 slaves who were brought over on the Clotilda were freed five years later at the end of the Civil War. They asked Meaher to pay for their return to Africa. He refused, and the group went on to petition the U.S. government for the money. When the government refused, the group took up residence near Mobile, creating the community of Africatown.
The town, according to historian Sylvianne Diouf in her book “Dreams of Africa in Alabama,” was run under traditional African law and used African farming and education methods. The last survivor of the Clotilda trip, Cudjoe Kazoola Lewis , died in 1935, though descendants of the slaves brought over on the ship still live in the area.
The story of the Clotilda was recently resurrected in an episode of the PBS series “Finding Your Roots,” hosted by historian Henry Gates. In a December episode, Roots front man and drummer Questlove – whose given name is Ahmir Thompson – finds out that his great, great, great grandfather, Charles Lewis, was one of the slaves brought to America on the Clotilda’s trip.
The charred remains of The Last Slave Ship (#TheClotilda) have been found. In short a bet was made to see if 110 Africans could be transported from West Africa to the US illegally (!!!) One of those 110 was my (& @Donn_T’s) GreatGreatGreat Grandfather https://t.co/pBAXfI1cMM— Questlove Gomez (@questlove) January 23, 2018
Gates tells Questlove that Meaher chose the more than 100 slaves from a group of 4,000 to be brought to Alabama. Lewis was one of those chosen.
"Think about the odds, man," Gates said.