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Proudly Serving the Puget Sound Area Since 1977

Spring 2013

Why Do We Celebrate April Fool’s Day?

 On April 1st all the comedians come out: practical jokes, hoaxes, tricks and other games are played by children and adults alike. Despite the persistence of this tradition, no one seems to know where or why it originated. Like that salt in your sugar, its origins are puzzling. Many have conjectured various histories about this day on which we glorify the fool. Let’s take a look.

One possible explanation involves confusion surrounding the introduction of a new calendar introduced in 16th century France. Until 1564, what’s known as the Julian calendar was largely accepted. This decreed that the New Year began around April. King Charles IX changed the calendar year to the one we use today, which begins on the 1st of January. The 4–month differential caused quite a stir, to say the least. Those who refused the change or remained ignorant of it became the butt of jokes. In our age of rapid global data transfer, we would expect to be informed within hours of such a large–scale change. Back then, the shifting of dates in the rural countryside where literacy was rare may not have been recognized by many folks for months, perhaps years. Thus, the April’s Fool emerged as the unfortunate person who celebrated New Year’s four months late. Or so the story goes. Other histories have drawn on similar holidays in ancient Rome and India. Hilaria, from which we get the word "hilarious," was a day of Roman festivities thrown in glory of the god, Attis. Today, it’s known less subtly as Roman Laughing Day. The Holi festival in India celebrates spring’s arrival, and people often play tricks on one another.

April Fools in the calendar sense is no longer possible, perhaps. But our gullibility may not have declined much.  Last April, there were a number of large–scale commercial hoaxes that seemed to trick the public, if only for a day. To name just a few:

  • The popular kids’ martial arts characters, The Power Rangers, managed to launch their own line of high–end perfume.
  • The popular film and camera manufacturer developed a way for customers to actually print their own live kittens.
  • The Canadian airline Westjet introduced a great new feature to keep their cabins quiet: child–free cabins!
  • Google’s latest technology development, the self–driving car, headed to Nascar.
  • The BBC reported that the Earth had finally exploded.

These are just some of the pranks to look out for this April Fool’s Day. 

Electrical Safety at Home

As a homeowner, you are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of all your home systems. Proper electrical maintenance is important not only for the...Ensuring that your home is free of electrical faults is part of the maintenance of your home, but knowing the rules of your electrical system and how it works can help to promote the electrical safety of your home. Every day we use various electrical appliances, and it’s easy to forget that electricity can be dangerous and pose a risk to the integrity of your home. Every year thousands suffer electricity–related accidents, from electrocution to fires produced by faulty wiring. But there are a few ways you can stay safe.

  1.  Use only approved equipment. The UL stamped on electrical devices is there for a reason. It means that Underwriters Laboratories have approved it. Use only certified electric appliances.
  2.  Don’t mix electricity with water. Keep all hairdryers, beard trimmers, and anything electrical away from water–filled sinks and tubs.
  3.  Avoid overloading outlets. Your outlet has been rated for a certain amount of electrical output. Attempting to overload it by plugging in too many devices is dangerous and can cause serious damage to your system.
  4.  Keep unused appliances stored away. Unplug and stow away unused electrical devices with their cords wrapped properly. It will not only clear some space in your kitchen or bathroom, but it also keeps your space hazard–free.
  5.  Give appliances that produce heat adequate clearance. Computer components, stereo equipment, clocks, and televisions should be given a few inches of clearance on all sides in order to allow for heat diffusion.
  6.  Keep heat sources clean. Try to avoid allowing curtains drape on radiators, and avoid placing socks and other garments on space heaters.
  7.  Install GFIs. Call your electrician to install GFI (ground fault interrupter) outlets in your home, especially in areas around water: pools, kitchens, bathrooms, unfinished basements, etc.
  8.  Match the light bulb to the fixture. Not all bulbs and fixtures are alike. Check out the manufacturer specifications of your various lamps and recessed fixtures and make sure that the light bulbs you put in them match their wattage recommendations.
  9.  Keep electrical cords out of a child’s reach. Remember to properly stow away cords so that they are out of reach for children.

With just a little extra effort and common sense, you can reduce the risks associated with the electrical system in your home and help prevent accidents before they happen.