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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Real or Artificial? The Debate over Christmas Trees

Which tree should you buy?

Artificial tree lovers perpetuate the argument that once-living 
trees contribute to deforestation. Tree farmers, in turn, point out that the first artificial tree was made by a toilet brush manufacturer, thus making artificial trees nothing but big green toilet 

Now, the Farmington Hills Fire Department isn't about to tell you which tree to buy,
 since that is a personal decision. But there are more than a few factors to consider when buying 
a tree or before you set up the one you've already bought.

Here are some facts about both trees that you may find helpful in making 
your decision:

Artificial Trees

Pros: Many are very durable lasting 6-10 years.

 They're easy to set up.  Some models are like an umbrella -- open it right up, and you're done.
 Some models come with the lights already installed in the branches.

 No maintenance. Water isn't required, and you never get that "Charlie Brown tree" look.  Most of these trees look perfect.

Cons: Many models are initially expensive, costing over a $100 dollars and up. Although, 
if you continue to use it for many years, it could save money.

 Eighty-five percent are made in China – no supporting of local business here.

 Most are made from PVC (polyvinylchloride), which is not bio-
degradable. Branches are made from lead, which is a toxic metal that can cause
 damage to the brain and nervous system. Most end up in a landfill.

 With artificial trees, there is no natural scent, and as you will soon see, they are the worst choice with regards to fire safety.

Real Tree


 Environmentally friendly. As many as 45 million trees were planted last year in 
North America, providing great habitat for wildlife, removing dust and pollen from 

the air, and producing oxygen. Real trees can be recycled, and when decomposed,
 provide nutrients to back into the earth. 

They smell natural and great.

 Because they are grown in all counties of the state, real trees help local businesses and farmers.

 If properly maintained, they are the best choice with regards to fire safety

. You can make getting your tree a family tradition and cut your own



 Depending on the type and size, real trees can cost $20-$200

. Trees need to be watered daily, or needles start to fall, and the tree can present a


The definitive safety test

In 2004, the Farmington Hills Fire Department conducted a test of various Christmas trees to determine how they would fare in a house fire. The artificial tree, which was advertised as "flame retardant," did 
resist flames for a few seconds, but once ignited, was engulfed in flames in under a minute. It filled
 the room with thick black, toxic smoke and hydrogen chloride gas. Even with a smoke alarm to
 give you an early warning, members of a household would be seriously challenged to get out 

A "live" Christmas tree which was not maintained and allowed to dry, also ignited after about 
a minute. It, too, produced smoke, but not nearly as thick or black as the artificial tree. A family 
would have to have an escape plan in place, and react quickly to escape their home safely.

The "live" Christmas tree, which was maintained and watered daily, would not ignite. The boxes
 around the tree ignited, but the tree itself would not burn. Early warning from a working smoke
 alarm may notify a family long before the fire was able to grow, allowing for a quick, safe and
 easy escape from the home.

From a fire safety standpoint, it was obvious that the Christmas tree providing families with the
 best chance to escape a fire was the "live", well maintained tree.

Regardless of what you buy, always have working smoke alarms in your home. One should be
 provided for each level. Also purchase a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is known
 as the "silent killer", as it is odorless, colorless and tasteless.

Have an escape plan. Go over it
 and practice it with each member of the family. Know where to go outside and dial 911 once safely 
there. Never go back inside for any reason.

Have a safe and Happy Holiday season!

Lieutenant Denny Hughes is a fire and safety educator with the Farmington Hills Fire 

Everblades Christmas Decoration Jerseys

Greg Wyshynski, otherwise known as Puck Daddy, questioned whether the jerseys the Blades wore last weekend - a lime-green, red and blue concoction with palm trees, Christmas decorations and the words 'Happy Holidays' - were the worst a hockey team donned in 2010. His description suggested he believed they were.

"Please do not adjust the contrast on your screen: The ECHL's Florida Everblades wore these adventures in color ... losing the game and their dignity."

The Florida Everblades' specialty holiday uniforms didn't put a popular Yahoo! Sports hockey blog in the Christmas spirit.

Blades public relations director Kevin Reiter said the club was led to believe the uniforms would be darker green. The team auctioned off the jerseys following Saturday's game, raising more than $12,000 for the Deb Kelsey Foundation, which helps underprivileged children play hockey.

While the jerseys made money for a good cause, there certainly were mixed reviews.

"We talked to a lot of people and most of the fans thought they were horrendous," long-time Blades fan Butch Goble said. "But my wife Michelle thought they were cute."

Goble's response when his wife got one in the auction? "Your money, dear. Not from my money, your money."

Everblades coach Greg Poss, who read Wyshynski's blog, admitted his players weren't that excited about wearing the jerseys.

"Well, they're definitely original," he said. "I wasn't quite sure what to make of them. It's definitely something I haven't seen before."

"Funky is a good word," added Everblades forward Drew Larman. "We were kind of joking when we saw them. It was, 'What, are you serious?'"

See the jerseys here -  bilde

(c) /


Provide your best pal with their own Christmas present.... Why not give them a new dog treat jar this Christmas??

Gourmet Dog Treats as a reward?

There are many choices when it comes to rewarding your dog with a treat for obeying your commands, and these treats make a big difference in your dog's attitude towards you in learning new tricks, and why wouldn't they? To get anything in life you have to give something back and dogs are no different, you help them and they'll help you. Simple.

But what are the best rewards and treats to give your dog in times of good behavior? Well for starters you won't be short of treats to try, the markets as it is now is full to the brim of all the fancy rewards and treats you could ever think of.

One of the favourite for dog owners is to treat their dog to homemade treats from recipes that can be found across the internet in many places, some of my favourites and personal recommendations are listed in the products page of along with other tips on dog training there.

Consumer products are also a good choice when rewarding your dog; these include chewing toys which can be very rewarding for puppies and dogs alike. Saving one of their favourite toys for when they behave well makes everything more exciting for your dog and causes them to want to perform more for this reward.

If a chew toy is not to your dogs liking then they may instead enjoy a tug toy, tug toys are good for your dog's teeth the same as chew toys are and it enhances the relationship between you and your dog as you play with them. Be careful while using these toys as some dogs may think of this game as good behaviour and will start tugging on trousers or other annoying or destructive things.

The last toys I am going to talk about are the throwing toys; these are good to calm your dog down when they are over active or if you just want to reward your dog with quality playing time for their good behavior. These toys range from a simple tennis ball to special durable dog Frisbees and help you to react with your dog wile also training playing the 'fetch' game.

There are lots more dog toys available, probably at your local pet shop. It is a good idea to keep in mind what textures and current toys your dog likes to play with or chew before making your choice but as long as your dog enjoys it, it can be used as a good reward and training method.

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Friday, 10 December 2010

Should I buy an artificial Christmas tree or a real one


With less than three weeks left to go before Christmas, people who haven't bought already are looking around forChristmas trees to take home.

I guess we are used to living in times of abundance because, when I was a kid,a Christmas tree was a real live fir tree, grown in some nursery or forest specifically so it could be sawn or chopped down in time to be sold for a Yuletide decoration. I would go out with my dad to buy a tree and bring it home, and then we'd bring it home triumphantly on top of the car and install it in a corner of the living room. There, my parents and I would get out the boxes of Christmas decorations and lights, stored from the year before, and we would spend an hour or so festooning the tree with all the fancy bits and bobs that turn it into a Christmas tree.

There were the strands of colored lights that were draped all over the tree. When I was very small each of these lights was a screw-in type that could be replaced if a bulb went dead. Grandpa told me that in his day, they still used little candles in clip-on holders to decorate the tree. But they were much too dangerous and could easily set fire to the tree and burn the whole house down. Modern Christmas tree lightsare so much more civilized, they are made from tiny colored LED lights or even colored strands of fiber-optics. Much easier to set up and take down, and infinitely safer for the family home!

The other kinds of Christmas decorations would be the fragile colored balls, made of very thin glass. These were clipped with springy wire to the tips of the branches of the little fir tree.

The final touch was to place a star or an angel on the very top of the tree, and thus turn it into a real Christmas tree… a Christmas tree just waiting for all the family's gift-wrapped presents to be placed on the floor underneath the tree.

That's the kind of Christmas tree I remember from when I was a kid, and the ind of Christmas tree that I and my wife would assemble each Christmas when our own children, who were boy and girl twins, were little and still believed in Santa Claus. There was one change though, my wife and I used an artificial Christmas tree that was stored away at the top of a cupboard until it was that time of year again.

So when you go out looking for just the right Christmas tree to bring back to your home, you will find a wide variety of tree types to choose from.

You can still opt for a real live Christmas tree, but they drop pine needles all over the floor. I would urge you to go with a modest-sized artificial Christmas tree of some kind. These range in size from trees a couple of feet tall to trees that are high enough to reach your ceiling. Take your pick, choose whatever color you want too, because the tree doesn't have to be green any more. It can be red or white. It can have built-in LED lights or fiber optics.

Take it home, and I hope your tree brings you and your loved ones all the good cheer and togetherness that Christmas-time is all about. Because, when you boil it all down to the core of things, whether you are religious or if you are not, Christmas is all about love.

©  David Harvey

Kick Off the Holiday Season With Your Pets

One of the first major events of the holiday season is picking out your Christmas tree.  If you aren't going for a half christmas tree and going to the  Christmas Tree farm to pick out your fresh tree why not take your pooch along.  Tthere are several great spots where you can pick out your tree with your pet. As these farms have  over 100 acres of Christmas trees to choose from. In most of them, your pet is more than welcome to sniff around those 100 acres with you, picking out the perfect holiday tree.

Stop dreaming of a white Christmas

I've just read an article where you can have snow, with the pull of a spray gun trigger.  This is from Brevan County in Florida but I'm certian will apply elsewhere even if you just need a top up to the natyral stuff.

If you were hoping for a white Christmas in Brevard County, the chances weren't good -- until now.

Spencer Services, a pest control company, will spray artificial snow on your lawn this year, giving the impression of frostiness.

"You can walk on it. It doesn't come off on your shoes or anything," manager Roy Powell of Spencer Services said. "It doesn't wash off. It grows out and it will last from two to four cuttings. As the grass grows, you cut it and it slowly disappears."

The artificial snow actually is biodegradable acrylic latex turf paint, which also is used to mark lines on athletic fields. The liquid is applied with the company's pest control sprayer, which has been cleaned.

"There's no residue of any (pest control) chemicals," said Spencer salesman Chuck Hoot, who has marketed the product by delivering fliers to homes with elaborate Christmas decorations.

"There's a lot of neighborhoods where people really get involved with Christmas and see who could outdo who," Hoot said. "Most people want to know whether it will it grow out or whether it will hurt the grass."

Americans spent an estimated $16 billion on Christmas decorations in 2006, according to Unity Marketing. And while the figure likely will be down this year, the estimate is still in the billions.

And Brevard residents are lining up to spend $150 to $200 to have their lawns given an artificial frosting. The company charges $100 per 1,000 square feet, which is slightly larger than 30 feet by 30 feet.

Making The Xmas Dolar go further

Australians cutting mates form Xmas list to save after interest rate rises

CONSUMERS are dumping mates from their Christmas gift lists to stretch their dollars further, according to research.

Only a third of Aussies will put a present under the tree for their pals this year - half the number of last year - a survey has found, reported the Herald Sun.

Australian National Retailers Association boss Margy Osmond said friends were being bumped towards the bottom of the pressie pile as consumers cut any spending considered unnecessary.

The industry is steeling itself for a potentially dismal festive season as cautious consumers reeling from recent interest rate rises concentrate on saving money and buying only bargains.

Experts predict only modest sales growth at what is traditionally the bumper time of year.

The ANRA and American Express study of 1000 people found the lion's share of gifts will flow to immediate family and children.


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