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Published: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 @ 3:35 PM
— When it comes to holiday decorating, one big question that arises each year is whether real or artificial Christmas trees are the better choice.
There are pros and cons to both kinds of Christmas trees, and which is best for you is a personal decision. Here are some factors to consider when deciding between a real or artificial Christmas tree.
For better health, real tree: Birgitta Gatersleben, an environmental psychologist at the University of Surrey, told The Telegraph that households benefit from exposure to natural environments and there was “plenty of evidence” that real Christmas trees helped people recover more quickly from stress and mental fatigue.
“Evergreen plants seem alive when everything else appears dead," she noted. "It is the depth of color of real trees and the smell that really appeals to people, as well as the notion that something alive is coming indoors.”
For minimal mess, artificial tree: “No matter what you do, there’s going to be needles falling off a real tree,” Chal Landgren, a professor in the department of horticulture at Oregon State University, told Consumer Reports. Overwatering can also damage floors or carpets, or at least require frequent mopping or steam cleaning.
Of course, artificial trees also eventually require cleaning, according to SFGate, including some sponging down and vigorous shaking at the beginning of the season. The only time it might be more difficult to clean up after an artificial tree than a natural version: when the fake tree comes pre-wired with lights that are almost impossible to clean around, since you shouldn't get them wet.
For decreased risk of home fire, artificial tree: The National Fire Protection Association determined that the risk of a fire is three times greater with natural trees than artificial ones, reported CR, adding that total number of Christmas-tree-related fires is small and burning candles are the far more common culprit.
If you want to buy American, real tree: Using 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture stats, CR reported that U.S. farmers harvested 17.3 million Christmas trees for $305 million in sales, while U.S. Census Bureau stats indicated 97 percent of artificial trees that same year were imported from China.
For improved outdoor air quality, real tree: All trees, even those planted solely to cut for Christmas a few years later, are beneficial to the environment, according to Clean Air Gardening. "Trees are like the lungs of the planet," it said. "They breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. Additionally, they provide habitat for birds and other wildlife."
Trees also help to reduce ozone levels in urban areas, cut runoff and erosion by storing water and breaking the force of rain as it falls, and absorb sound and reduce noise pollution.
For decorations lasting more than a few weeks, artificial tree: According to Today's Home Owner, a cut tree will last just a month before you need to take it down. Even a month may be a stretch--that figure only applies to a freshly cut tree, kept well supplied with water. "If you’re buying a pre-cut tree, be sure to ask when it was harvested," noted THO. All natural Christmas trees start losing needles as they dry, though fir, spruce, and cypress generally typically keep their needles longer than pines.
For those who aren't so great with upkeep, artificial tree: A real tree can drink a gallon or more of water per day to start, according to THO, so to maintain one you'll need to be prepared to check the reservoir several times over the first few days and at least once a day after that, never letting the reservoir dry out.
If you value reusing, recycling or repurposing, real tree: If you're responsible and maybe a little creative, a live tree will never need to take up space in a landfill, according to Lowe's, which recommended looking for local recycling centers that will chip and shred trees for use as mulch or part of erosion barriers for lake and river shoreline management.
Note, though, if you're not going to recycle your tree, the fact that it could be recycled doesn't count as a plus. Instead, it will just go to the landfill once a year, versus the artificial tree, which should last many years before you have to toss and replace it.
Lowe's also suggested repurposing live trees after you take them down, using thin slices of the trunk as canvases for next year's ornaments or coasters, for example, or sinking the whole tree into a backyard pond as a refuge and feeding area for fish. You can also stand the tree or a few of its larger branches in the yard as an organic feeder and sanctuary for birds.
For allergy relief, it's a draw. If you have sneezing fits around Christmas trees, the cause is less likely to be the tree and more likely to be mold spores on the tree, according to CR. A fake Christmas tree that's been stored in the attic or basement can collect dust or mold, too.
After reviewing all the evidence, if you're still undecided or drawn to the same decision you've made in years past, don't fret, advised CR. "It really comes down to your holiday traditions and what works best for your family," it said. "And no one said you couldn’t purchase more than one!”
Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 4:24 AM
— Sunday is Earth Day 2018, and more than one billion people across the globe are expected to celebrate with environmentally friendly events.
But what exactly is Earth Day? Here's what you need to know:
1. When did Earth Day start?
The first Earth Day celebration took place 48 years ago, in 1970, after a devastating oil spill in America brought environmental issues to the forefront of public consciousness. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 22 million people across the country came out in support of environmental reform.
"That day left a permanent impact on the politics of America," Gaylord Nelson wrote in the April 1980 edition of the EPA Journal. "It forcibly thrust the issue of environmental quality and resources conservation into the political dialogue of the nation.
"It showed political and opinion leadership of the country that the people cared, that they were ready for political action, that the politicians had better get ready, too. In short, Earth Day launched the environmental decade with a bang."
Since then, celebrations have only grown. This year, organizers estimate more than one billion people in 192 countries will participate in events the world over. The day is celebrated each year on April 22.
2. Is there a theme for Earth Day 2018?
This year, organizers are focusing on curbing plastic pollution.
"Our goals include ending single-use plastics, promoting alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, promoting 100 percent recycling of plastics, corporate and government accountability and changing human behavior concerning plastics," the Earth Day Network, which partners with tens of thousands of organizations in 192 countries to organize Earth Day events, said on its website.
The organization also said it "will educate millions of people about the health and other risks associated with the use and disposal of plastics, including pollution of our oceans, water, and wildlife, and about the growing body of evidence that decomposing plastics are creating serious global problems."
3. How are people celebrating?
In Tokyo, thousands of people will attend beach cleanups, concerts, art exhibits, classes and other events coordinated by the Green Room Festival, according to the Earth Day Network. In India's Karnataka state, a "no plastic" event will feature workshops led by "organizations that are champions of environmental sustainability in fields including electric vehicles, solar power and zero-waste living," the network said. Cleanups also were scheduled in Palm Beach, Florida; New York; New Jersey and other locations across the United States and worldwide.
4. What are businesses doing?
Google marked Earth Day with a "video doodle" featuring primatologist Jane Goodall.
“It is so important in the world today that we feel hopeful and do our part to protect life on Earth," Goodall said. "I am hopeful that this Earth Day Google Doodle will live as a reminder for people across the globe that there is still so much in the world worth fighting for. So much that is beautiful, so many wonderful people working to reverse the harm, to help protect species and their environments. And there are so, so many young people, like those in JGI’s Roots & Shoots program, dedicated to making this a better world. With all of us working together, I am hopeful that it is not too late to turn things around, if we all do our part for this beautiful planet.”
Apple also joined in on the celebrations, announcing on April 19 that "for every device received at Apple stores and apple.com through the Apple GiveBack program from now through April 30, the company will make a donation to the nonprofit Conservation International."
In addition, Apple "debuted Daisy, a robot that can more efficiently disassemble iPhone to recover valuable materials," according to a company press release.
“At Apple, we’re constantly working toward smart solutions to address climate change and conserve our planet’s precious resources,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social Initiatives, said in a statement. “In recognition of Earth Day, we are making it as simple as possible for our customers to recycle devices and do something good for the planet through Apple GiveBack. We’re also thrilled to introduce Daisy to the world, as she represents what’s possible when innovation and conservation meet.”
5. How can I get involved?
Urge your local elected officials or businesses to make a substantial tree planting commitment by starting a letter-writing campaign or online petition.
Lead a recycling drive to collect as much plastic, metal, and glass as possible.
Pick up trash at a local park or beach.
Set up a screening of an environmentally themed movie. Consider supplementing the screening with a speaker who can lead a Q&A following the film.
Published: Saturday, March 31, 2018 @ 12:25 PM
— This year, April Fools’ Day is sharing the spotlight with Easter, but there are still plenty of pranks to be found.
Along with Easter greetings, companies have been hard at work creating their April Fools’ Day pranks.
Here is a roundup of the best of them.
Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 10:50 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 10:50 PM
— Christians believe Jesus was mocked publicly and crucified on a solemn Friday more than two thousand years ago. Today, the calamitous day is celebrated as Good Friday.
But what’s so good about that?
One answer is that at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, “good” may have referred to “holy” in Old English, a linguistic theory supported by many language experts.
According to Slate, the Oxford English Dictionary notes the Wednesday before Easter was once called “Good Wednesday.” Today, it’s more commonly known as Holy Wednesday.
And Anatoly Liberman, a University of Minnesota professor who studies the origins of English words, told Slate if we consider the alternative names for Good Friday, such as “Sacred Friday” (romance languages) or “Passion Friday” (Russian), this theory makes a lot of sense.
Another possible reason for its moniker — a theory supported by both linguists and historical evidence — refers to the holiday’s ties to Easter Sunday, which celebrates the resurrection of Christ.
Because Jesus couldn’t have been resurrected without dying, the day of his death is, in a sense, “good.”
“That terrible Friday has been called Good Friday because it led to the Resurrection of Jesus and his victory over death and sin and the celebration of Easter, the very pinnacle of Christian celebrations,” the Huffington Post reported.
A third answer, some believe, is that the “good” in Good Friday was derived from "God” or “God’s Friday” — the way the term “goodbye” comes from a contraction of the phrase “God Be With You.”
Still, not everyone refers to this day as Good Friday. For example,
The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions that, in the Greek Church, the holiday is known as "the Holy and Great Friday." In German, it's referred to as "Sorrowful Friday."
And as aforementioned, “Sacred Friday” and “Passion Friday” are also used.
In addition, because the holiday is also commemorated with a long fast, Good Friday was also referred to as “Long Friday” by the Anglo-Saxons.
Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 @ 12:40 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 @ 12:40 PM
Today marks the Ides of March, which may vaguely remind you of a high school English class. Here are some things to know about the 15th day of the month.
Day marks the assassination of Julius Caesar
Most famously on this date, some 2,060 years ago, Roman dictator Julius Caesar died in an assassination by senators at the Curia of Pompey.
Tensions had been simmering between senators and Caesar before his death, fueled by Caesar's continued consolidation of power. However, Caesar considered the senators his allies. Just a few years before his death, Caesar was named “dictator in perpetuity,” a move that further strained relations.
According to historians, sixty senators planned and participated in the conspiracy to kill Caesar in 44 B.C.
Death marked a turning point in Roman history
Caesar was popular with the lower class people of Rome, who saw his death as an unwelcome decision made by the aristocratic class. With Caesar no longer leading, potential leaders waged war to fill the power vacuum.
The civil wars eventually culminated in the end of the Roman Republic and beginning of the Roman Empire.
'Beware the Ides of March' made famous by Shakespeare
In case you really did forget your high school English class, it's worth noting the phrase “Beware the Ides of March” was immortalized by William Shakespeare in his tragic masterpiece “Julius Caesar.”
In the play, a soothsayer warns Caesar to be careful on March 15, although the ruler ignores the mystic with tragic consequences.
Famous line based on historical events
It may come as a surprise to know the well-known phrase was actually inspired by real events.
According to Greek historian Plutarch, a seer really did warn Caesar that he would be at the very least injured by the Ides of March.
Caesar did not heed the warning.
On the day of his death, he saw the oracle and joked that he had made it to the Ides of March, to which the seer responded the day had not yet ended.
So why is it called the "Ides of March?"
The Romans kept track of days on its calendar by dividing each month up into three separate points marking the beginning, middle and end of the month. You may have guessed it but the Ides fall in the middle of the month, on the 15th of March, May, July and October and the 13th for the rest of the year.
The Ides were sacred and marked a monthly sacrifice to the Roman god Jupiter. Various other religious observances also took place on the Ides of March.
Other famous events on this day
1972: Forty-four years ago (yes, that number is right) Francis Ford Coppola's three-hour crime epic "The Godfather" first played in theaters. Before "Jaws" came along in 1976, the film was the highest-grossing film ever made. It went on to win three Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture.
1917: Czar Nicholas II was forced by the revolting Russian people to abdicate the throne after ruling the country for more than 20 years. The February Revolution -- so named because Russia used the Julian calendar at the time -- broke out just four days before the czar abdicated his throne.
1767: Our seventh president, Andrew Jackson, was born on this day somewhere between the Carolinas near the end of the colonial era. His exact place of birth is disputed.