Kids and Cords Don’t Mix

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October is National Window Covering Safety Month, and we’d like to remind you: Kids and cords don’t mix.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), corded window coverings are one of the top five hidden hazards in American homes. Children ages 14 months up to 9 years can become entangled in dangerous, dangling window blind cords in less than 60 seconds. That’s why we’re totally committed to kids safety.

The Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC), safety advocates, and government safety officials recommend that you only use cordless window products in homes with young children. Select Blinds is the only retailer to offer a cordless option on all of our window shades and blinds, with many products where cordless comes standard at no extra cost. (Check out our FREE cordless options here.) Cordless is the safest kind of lift system for environments with little ones (and fur babies, too). That’s why we’re proud that so many of our cordless lift systems have earned the Parents for Window Blind Safety (PFWBS) Lab Tested, Mom Approved™ Seal of Approval and are Certified Best for Kids by the Window Covering Manufacturers Association (WCMA).

Here are some tips to help protect children and pets from the dangers of unsightly and unsafe corded coverings.

  • Replace window blinds and corded shades with cordless products, or those where cords are inaccessible. If completely replacing corded window coverings is not an immediate option, the proper installation and use of safety components such as tensioners, cord cleats, breakaway tassels and inner cord stops are available to help make your current blinds and shades as safe as possible, until you’re able to upgrade to a cordless option.
  • When shopping for cordless window coverings, be sure to look for the Certified Best for Kids label and/or PFWBS Seal of Approval to easily identify products best suited for homes with young children. We make it easy at Select Blinds. Any time you select a corded feature, you’re prompted with this warning:
    Warning!
    Corded lift features are not covered under the PFWBS child safety program or deemed Best For Kids. Any accessible cords pose strangulation hazards to children and pets. Please choose cordless lift systems homes where children and pets will be present.
  • When window cords are present, check and double-check on a regular basis to make sure they’re out of sight and out of reach of little hands. Shorten or move them up and away, so that they’re inaccessible and can’t form dangerous loops. Then check again. Cords with safety tassels, breakaway cord consolidators and even cords tied up high in cleats have been involved in numerous accidents involving children.
  • Move all cribs, beds, furniture and toys away from walls with windows and window cords.
  • Join the #GoCordless Movement for Life at selectblinds.com.
  • If you have corded coverings and children in your home, enter our No Strings Attached contest for a chance to win a free cordless covering of your choice.

 

For more information on window cord safety, visit www.windowcoverings.org and Parents for Window Blind Safety.

When shopping for child-safe window coverings, look for the PFWBS Lab Tested, Mom Approved™ Seal of Approval and/or Certified Best for Kids label.

Calling All Pannapictagraphists!

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Photo courtesy of Kate Hubbard

Do you know what day it is? No, not Hump Day. It’s National Comic Book Day! (Seriously? Who comes up with these?) And a pannapictagraphist is a comic book collector, who takes collecting comic books very seriously. Think a typical scene in Stuart’s comic book store on “The Big Bang Theory.”

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GIF from Culture War Reporters

Thor may be hot, but comic book collecting is even hotter. Diamond Comic Distributors, the largest comic book distributors in North America, shipped material worth around $45.72 million in August, including comic books, graphic novels, trade paperbacks and magazines. Comic-Con conventions continue to top attendance records year over year, with more than 180,000 attending this year’s Comic-Con in New York alone.  Popular public Facebook groups like Comic Book Collecting, have hundreds of thousands of members. Tons of websites, including the Comic Book Collecting Association (a non-profit international organization made up of comic book enthusiasts who share an appreciation of the history, artistic merit and significance of the comic book medium as an important element of popular culture), ComiXology, ComicList and My Comic Shop are dedicated to detailed analysis and summaries of popular series, as well as weekly comic releases, and tips on collecting and selling comic books.  Obviously, the Big Bang Gang is on to something.

A Comic Awakening

The comic book collection bug, however, wasn’t always such a big business or a big deal. Although comic books have been published for more than a century (beginning with the Platinum Age of comics from 1897-1937), the notion of comics as collectible art was celebrated by a disperse community of individual collectors. Even during the Golden Age of comics (1938-55, which featured the first appearance of Superman [Action Comics #1 in June 1938] and the first appearance of Batman [Detective Comics #27 in May 1939]), before the late 1960s, virtually no specialized comic stores existed. A few collector-based retail establishments had taken root, most notably Pop Hollinger’s retail and mail order shop for new and used comics. But it wasn’t until the Bronze Age of comics (1970-79) when Denver, Colorado-based retailer Chuck Rozanski acquired the high-value “Mile High Collection” — 16,000 comic books dating from 1937 to 1955 — in 1977 and slowly began releasing select editions into the marketplace.

During the late 1970s to early 1980s major comic publishers like Marvel and DC Comics began publishing material that was intended for sale in specialist shops only. When Marvel tested the new comics specialty market with the title Dazzler in 1981, the comic sold an astounding (at the time) 400,000 copies. Thereafter, comics publishers have been targeting more and more of their titles to collector audiences, with features such as limited editions, the use of high quality paper, or the inclusion of novelty items.

The Big Boom

From roughly 1985 through 1993, comic book speculation reached its highest peaks. This boom period began with the publication of titles like Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. With the subsequent success of the movie Batman in 1989 and again in 1992 with “The Death of Superman” story line, the mainstream press began focusing on the burgeoning niche market and its potential for making money. Features appeared in newspapers, magazines and television shows detailing how rare, high-demand comics such as Action Comics #1 and Incredible Hulk #181 (the first appearances of Superman and Wolverine, respectively) had sold for thousands of dollars, with Superman #1 breaking the $1 million mark.

Turns out we have a few serious collectors here at Select Blinds who were kind enough to share some of their fantastic collections with us. To them and all pannapictagraphists, happy National Comic Book Day!

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The Amazing Collection of Ryan Hicks, one of our front-end developers here at Select Blinds. If you’re as impressed as we are, Ryan runs a comic collecting Facebook community/company in his free time. Connect with him at Collectors Choice Comics to talk comics or comic grading.

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Holy Pannapictagraphists, Batman! Check out Ryan’s top Wolverine books (from left to right): • Wolverine #1 from his first series, signed by the entire creative team including the creator of Wolverine himself. There are only 2 known 9.8 copies signed by all these guys in existence. • Incredible Hulk #180: This book is the first cameo of Wolverine on the last page. • Incredible Hulk #181: One of the most famous comic books of all time, first full appearance of Wolverine signed by the entire creative team. (This books is one of my prized possessions.) • Incredible Hulk #182: Second full appearance of Wolverine.

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And his collection of First Appearance books (from left to right, top to bottom): • Amazing Spider-Man #14: First appearance of the Green Goblin. • Amazing Spider-Man #129: First appearance of the Punisher (signed by entire creative team). • Uncanny X-men #266: First appearance of Gambit (signed by entire creative team). • Fantastic Four #52: First appearance of Black Panther (signed by Stan Lee and artist Joe Sinnott). • New Mutants #87: First appearance of Cable (signed by entire creative team). • New Mutants #98: First appearance of Deadpool (signed by Deadpool creators Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza). • Tomb of Dracula #10: First appearance of Blade (signed by writer Marv Wolfman). • Amazing Spider-Man #194: First appearance of Black Cat (signed by writer Marv Wolfman). • Incredible Hulk #181: First appearance of Wolverine (signed by entire creative team). • Iron Man #1: Not first appearance but first Iron Man in his own title (signed by Stan Lee). • Amazing Spider-Man #252: First appearance of Black Suit which later turns into Venom (signed by Stan Lee, artist Ron Frenz and writer Tom Defalco). • Star Wars #1: First Star Wars in a comic book (signed by inker Tom Palmer and writer Roy Thomas).

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Set of action figure comic variants produced by Marvel, hand-drawn to look like action figures of their respective actors/actresses. This entire collection is graded 9.8 (except for 2), and the top two rows are all signed by their original Star Wars cast member.

comic-book-display

Some of Ryan’s favorite original sketches. These are all one of a kind and all hand drawn: • Doctor Strange by original Dr. Strange artist Frank Brunner. • Bishop by creator of Bishop, Whilce Portacio. • Back to the Future homage with Archer and Lana by Archer Lead Character Designer, Sam Ellis; also signed by Back to the Future movie writer/producer Bob Gale. • Spider-Man/Venom/Carnage by Venom artist Sam De La Rosa. • Thanos by Andy Carreon. • Wolverine vs SabreTooth by Izik Bell. • Ant-Man knocking out Hulkbuster by original Ant-Man and Iron Man artist, Bob Layton. • Rocket and Groot by John Beatty. • The Joker by George Perez.

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One of the comic-related displays at Ryan’s house.

Wearing White After Labor Day? Why Not?

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Growing up in the Northeast, the cardinal rule about not wearing white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day was strictly enforced, with the possible exception of wearing white gloves and white patent leather shoes (the horror!) for Easter if it was late enough in April.

Now – thank goodness – anything goes when it comes to wearing white. And while my grandmother would roll over in her grave, I, for one am grateful that the rule has been relaxed (especially since I now live in Arizona, where we’re still seeing triple-digit temps in mid-September!). Faced with several more weeks of white-worthy temps, I got to wondering how this “rule” got started.

It appears that after Labor Day was declared a national holiday in 1894, the ban on wearing white was the practical culmination of the natural change of seasons along with standards devised by old-money society matrons that trickled down to middle-America via the fashion industry. Here’s how.

In pre-AC America, residents in large, trend-setting northern cities donned cooler white and light-colored cottons to help ward off the stifling summer heat that set in after Memorial Day. Those who could afford to escaped the city and headed for cooler ocean or mountain climes, packing their summer seersucker and white-themed “resort wear” with them. When cooler temps returned after Labor Day, summer wear was packed away and folks started bundling up in heavier attire more suited to weathering the winter.

This natural phenomena did not go unnoticed by the dowagers of decent society, who decided that since Labor Day was the end of the summer social season, fashion sense dictated it should also be the official end of wearing white. This was done not so much to assert their fashion-forward sensibilities, but rather as a guise to weed out and ostracize the nouveau riche from their old-monied circle. Wearing white after Labor Day made social climbers who didn’t know the insider’s rules an instant target, and subsequently were quickly snubbed and shunned by polite society.

wearing-white-historical

Enter the fashion industry’s role in spreading the rule to the masses without money. Summer white-themed fashion spreads were featured in the pages of New York-based magazines like VogueHarper’s Bazaar and Cosmopolitan by Memorial Day, followed by fall fashions that were all the rage on their pages just before swimsuit season was over. So by the 1950s, the message to middle-class America was clear: white clothing was divine come Memorial Day but definitely de rigueur after Labor Day.

It’s interesting to note, however, that whatever its origin, the Labor Day rule has always faced challenges, even in the ivory towers of high-fashion. As far back as the 1920s, legendary designer and fashionista Coco Chanel made white a year-round statement.

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“It was a permanent part of her wardrobe,” says Bronwyn Cosgrave, author of The Complete History of Costume & Fashion: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day. And the trend continues to be embraced by today’s fashion élites.

“Fashion rules are meant to be broken by those who can pull it off,” continues Cosgrave, adding white “looks really fresh when people aren’t expecting it.”

Even the Emily Post Institute notes:

“Of course you can wear white after Labor Day, and it makes perfect sense to do so in climates where September’s temperatures are hardly fall-like. It’s more about fabric choice today than color. Even in the dead of winter in northern New England the fashionable wear white wools, cashmeres, jeans and down-filled parkas. The true interpretation is wear what’s appropriate—for the weather, the season, or the occasion.”

Know where else white is always in season and style? On your windows. Check out some of these iconic looks.

 

10 Tips for Safe, Secure, Happier Online Shopping

In the wake and uncertainty of the Equifax hack, you can still shop assured on selectblinds.com! The IT pros here at SelectBlinds.com want to make you happy by reminding you that:

We hope you’ve taken steps to find out if you were impacted by the Equifax breach, and to protect your identity and information going forward. In the meantime, here are 10 tips to make your online shopping experience easier, and how to keep your identity and financial information safer.

1. Make sure your computer is secure. If your computer isn’t protected from malware (malicious software), you’re just inviting hackers to steal your financial information, passwords and everything else you store on your computer or do online. A simple Google search for “computer security software” is all it takes to find a program to meet your needs.

You also want to make sure your computer’s firewall is on. If you use a wireless network, it needs to be encrypted, so hackers can’t access your information.

2. Never shop from a computer on a public network. This may seem like a no-brainer, but public networks are not as secure as your own, so you risk others seeing your information. Avoid making any financial transactions (shopping, banking, etc.) on a public network to help keep your information and identity safe.

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Need more speed to check out faster on shopping sites? Consider getting a faster internet plan, or downloading more memory.

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3. Check the site’s URL. To tell if a site is secure, look for the little padlock icon in your browser’s URL bar. You can also tell if the site is secure by looking for an “s” in the URL address: https://. Non-secure sites and pages begin with http.

4. Shop with trusted e-retailers you know. If you’re a fan of a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer whose reputation is, literally, on (the) line, chances are you can trust their web site. Visiting a new site? Read the reviews. At selectblinds.com, we’re super proud of the fact that we’re the highest rated, most reviewed online blinds retailer, so you can be sure we’re not going to jeopardize that by putting our customers’ information in jeopardy.

On the flip side, beware of “shady,” suspicious sites advertising ‘too good to be true’ offers; as the saying goes, they usually are. Disreputable online retailers often use the old “bait and switch” scam to lure customers by running a ridiculously low price promotion and then, when you go to add the item to your cart – surprise! – it’s “out of stock,” so they try to sell you something else.

5. Only use credit cards, rather than debit cards. Credit cards represent an extension of credit, while debit cards draw directly from your bank account. Hackers can do much more damage to your finances with your debit card info than with your credit card number. Also, Consumer Reports recommends using just one credit card, or a payment service like PayPal, for all your online purchases. This way, if a hacker does get your account information, you only have one credit card company or service to deal with.

6. Beware of extra charges. Shipping, of course, is the biggie, so be sure to check the fine print on what qualifies for “free shipping” (not everything does, like most over-sized items). And before checking out, read the retailer’s return policies thoroughly. Many charge restocking fees for returns – some up to 25% or more. But typically a fee of 15% of the price you paid for the returned item is standard for specially packaged products, like electronics.

7. Don’t use a site that asks for more information than necessary to complete the sale. Providing basic information including your name, billing and shipping address, phone number, email address and method of payment is part and parcel of online shopping. But if a site requests other information, click delete! NEVER supply your bank account information, social security information, or driver’s license number. Some companies ask questions about your interests for marketing purposes, but these and any on-site questionnaires should always be optional.

8. Check the site’s privacy policy. Does the retailer resell, rent, or share your information? Check the policy to understand how exposed your information may become, or how it may be used. Many sites (like selectblinds.com) clearly state that they do not share, sell, or rent consumers’ information; others say they own your info and can use it however they choose. Shop with companies that respect your privacy.

9. Create a unique password for each site. Most e-commerce sites give you the option to create your own account.  This makes sense for e-retailers you shop from frequently (but not necessary or recommended if you’re a one-time buyer), so you’ll need to create a strong, unique password. Be sure to follow the site’s prompts for creating a password that meets their security requirements (number of characters, cap/lowercase letters, special symbols, etc.).

10. Always check the company’s shipping terms. Ever found a great price on something online, only to get to check out and see the shipping charge is as much or more than the item itself? It happens. Exorbitant shipping fees, especially on small orders, can turn a shopping bargain into an expensive mistake, so read your options carefully. Look to see if order tracking and insurance is provided. Understand what carriers the retailer uses and how packages are delivered (direct to your door, drop off at curb, by appointment, signature required, etc.), and be particularly cautious if the item won’t be shipped within 10 days.

Happy IT Professionals Day! Today’s tips brought to you by the madcap members of our incredible IT Team, who are always inventing ways to better protect your information and privacy on selectblinds.com!

“We Will Never Forget”

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Like December 7, 1941, September 11, 2001 will always be “a date which will live in infamy.” This day of remembrance has been designated Patriot Day in honor of those whose lives were tragically lost in the loss of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and in a lonely field in Pennsylvania on 9/11. Sixteen years past and the images and memories of that day are still vivid. Everyone has their own story to share about”where were you when the towers went down?”

I thought it would be interesting to share another story. This one’s about the history of the steel used to build the Twin Towers and how now those beams, as well as thousands of other artifacts from Ground Zero, have become part of memorials throughout the country and the world to ensure that we, indeed, will never forget.

Earlier this year I was visiting my granddaughter in Wellington, FL, and while on a walk came upon that city’s Patriot Memorial. Only 10, my granddaughter had little understanding of what happened on 9/11, so as we walked through the site, I told her my story of that day while learning more myself about the striking piece of steel there piercing the bright  blue sky.

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Here, in part, is the inscription on the plaque:

“This three-story section of steel was a part of the New York city skyline — a window panel in the World Trade Center’s South Tower that spanned the 69th to 71st floors. The steel was found seven stories below the impact zone. Only 18 people at or above the impact zone survived. … This column and other World Trade Center artifacts were relocated to New Jersey for analysis and further study. Despite fire damage, engineers were able to identify this panel, known as C-46, due to a white stenciled marking dating back to the Tower’s construction. …On December 2, 2010, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey entrusted the artifact to Wellington for the creation of the Patriot Memorial, ensuring that the memory of the September 11th tragedy will never be forgotten.”

Looking again at these pictures today, I did a little more research on the steel beams from the Towers and how they’ve found their way to similar memorials around the globe. In a fascinating article on PBS.org, I learned that more than 2,600 artifacts — among them, 1,944 pieces of steel — were collected from Ground Zero. Along with the rusted pieces of twisted steel, damaged emergency vehicles, seared signs, tattered clothing and other relics were housed inside Hangar 17 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York under the purview of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, where they were kept as evidence during the investigation of the 9/11 attacks. When the government’s investigation was completed in 2010, the Port Authority initiated an artifact give-away program. Between then and August 2016, when the program ended, the items were given out to 1,585 fire and police departments, museums, municipalities and organizations to remember the nearly 3,000 people who died that day.

9/11 artifacts have been used in every type of memorial, from small to large. According to Amy Passiak, who served as an archivist and project manager for the program, the smallest pieces were about 6 inches and largest up to 36 feet in length. Many of the larger pieces were part of a “cutting program” to facilitate and meet the demand of organizations who applied to the program. There is even a 9/11 Memorial Registry you can check to see where organizations have registered their memorials. I encourage you to see if there’s one in your community.

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The Patriot Memorial in Wellington, FL, includes an eternal flame atop a fountain framed by glass walls etched with the names of the 2,996 lost on 9/11.

Donating to Hurricane Relief Orgs: How You Can Help

Photo courtesy of USA Today

It’s a time of unprecedented need. As Houston, southeast Texas and Louisiana continue to recover from #HurricaneHarvey, Florida is facing a direct hit from #HurricaneIrma. Our thoughts and prayers are with family, friends and everyone in Irma’s path this weekend.  Also want to send out a big “THANK YOU!” to all of the  first response teams, rescue workers, military, law enforcement and volunteers, who are at the ready to assist those in need. They’re all going to need our help, so as Florida prepares, you can, too.

While the urge to donate clothes and other supplies is natural, the best way to contribute during times of disaster, charities and philanthropy experts say, is to donate money. And donating directly through a website gets money to a charity faster than a text donation, even though the text might seem easier. As we saw in the aftermath of Harvey and other disasters, while appreciated, material donations can cause unintended logistical complications for assisting agencies. To make sure any donation you make gets to where and those who need it, check out Charity Navigator first. Charity Navigator is a nonprofit that evaluates charities using a numbers-based rating system to ensure that organizations distribute donations they receive as they have promised to.

“We send out a list to organizations that we know will be in the area and they fill out a disaster response survey,” Sara Nason, the company’s communications manager, told ABC News. Charity Navigator requires that organizations must publicly say they have a planned response, along with a specific designation for relief efforts and how they are going to use the money.

According to ABC News, as of Friday morning, 15 charities have been approved by Charity Navigator as highly-rated organizations that will allocate funds to Hurricane Irma relief and provide assistance to the communities affected:

Catholic Relief Services

American Red Cross

Direct Relief

Hope for Haiti

Heart to Heart International

– Save the Children

DonorsChoose.org

Water Mission

– Oxfam America

GlobalGiving

Americares

MedShare

– UNICEF USA

International Relief Teams

Samaritan’s Purse

In addition to broader based relief organizations, think, too, about donating to those who need special assistance, including support for people with disabilities, the homeless, the elderly, displaced children, and animals. Local food banks can also use financial donations to  ensure they can provide needed food and water in affected areas.

Another way to help is following your social media feeds to see where the greatest needs are in your area. We all heard and read about the amazing — and immediate — impact the posts of so many individuals made, and how those connections made such a huge difference in helping those in need following Harvey.

Donations and assistance are still needed, too, for those recovering from #HurricaneHarvey. The following are just a few of the many sites you can donate to (Charity Navigator approved):

Samaritans Purse: https://goo.gl/itXSTm

American Red Cross: https://goo.gl/sD6C6T

Save the Children: https://goo.gl/jRRKsU

Be safe, be smart, and thank you for anything you can do to help!

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Biggest Labor Day Sale EVER!

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It’s here!!! Beat the holiday weekend traffic and start shopping our Biggest Labor Day Sale Ever, today through Monday, for your best-ever savings on EVERYTHING on our site!!!

So what are you waiting for? Enjoy the fruit of our labors and six days of savings this long holiday weekend! Start clicking and filling your cart now!

Share to Win and Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor!

Share and win a $250 Visa gift card!

Why limit the fruits of your labor to just one day? We’re getting psyched up for our biggest Labor Day sales event ever! Our goal? To break the internet! So start celebrating with us early on Wednesday, August 30, and help us do it! Get clicking on great deals through the entire weekend. But why wait? Try some samples now (we’ll ship ’em to you free tomorrow!) to save time — and money! We’ll be running some unbelievable daily deals, too, so you can compound your savings on gorgeous new window treatments for your entire home.

Get your friends and family psyched up, too! Click on one of the social buttons in the image above and then add the hashtag #selectblindslaborday before you post, pin, share, or tweet, and you’ll automatically be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a $250 gift card!

You labor hard for your money all year, so make it work even harder for you next weekend. Relax, shop and save online with SelectBlinds.com. You’ve earned it!

A Total Eclipse of the Sun

people watching solar eclipse outlined by sun

All I really, really, really want to see is a total eclipse of the sun.

Like this lyric in the same-titled song by Einsturzende Neubauten, everyone in the U.S., and in North and parts of South America, Africa and Europe, is going to get that chance on August 21. This awe-inspiring cosmic event will be the first total solar eclipse visible in the contiguous U.S. since 1979 and the first one coast to coast since 1918. The Great American Eclipse (which even has its own website) has captured the fascination and imagination of celestial celebrants here and around the globe, causing a sensation on Twitter and other social – and mainstream – media. Even if you aren’t in the path of totality (arcing from Oregon to South Carolina), you’ll see a partial eclipse.

What makes this eclipse such a big deal? The key word is total. When the moon passes in front of the sun on Tuesday, the two will be in perfect alignment. And for a couple of brief minutes, the day turns into twilight or total darkness as the moon totally blocks all but the atmosphere, or corona, around the sun.

Unless you’re asleep, it’s going to be hard to miss, not that you’d want to. NASA will be live-streaming the event from across – and well above (as in the International Space Station) – the country. The total eclipse will take about four hours. If you plan on watching with your own eyes, you literally could be blinded by the light and not even realize it until it’s too late, so it’s a must to wear protective eclipse glasses to prevent damaging ultra-violet (UV) rays from burning your retinas. Here’s what NASA recommends: man wearing eclipse glasses

“When watching a partial eclipse, you must wear eclipse glasses at all times if you want to face the sun, or use an alternate indirect method. This also applies during a total eclipse up until the time when the sun is completely and totally blocked. During the short time when the moon completely obscures the sun – known as the period of totality – it is safe to look directly at the star, but it’s crucial that you know when to take off and put back on your glasses.”

Make sure you get glasses that are safe for directly viewing the sun. Your regular sunglasses are NOT enough to protect your eyes during a solar eclipse. Check this list from the American Astronomical Society of Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers. Any eclipse products should indicate they are compliant with ISO 12312-2. The ISO logo will be on the glasses or on the box they come in. There are a lot of non-compliant glasses out there, so buyer beware.

Speaking of protection from UV rays, is your home safe from the sun? Solar and exterior solar shades on your windows can help reduce the sun’s glare and prevent furniture, carpeting and more from fading.

Here are some other fun facts and tips for enjoying The Great American Eclipse next week:

The New York Times has a great page with tips on everything eclipse 2017, from how-to-watch safety do’s and don’ts, to how to be a citizen scientist.

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Postal Service released a first-of-its-kind stamp to commemorate the occasion. Touch the stamp with your finger and watch as the blacked-out sun turns into the moon. The trick? Find out here.

usps solar eclipse stamp

Create your own eclipse-inspired playlist to listen to while you watch. Just Google “eclipse playlist” for a variety of celestial selections to suit any musical taste.

If you get a little hungry while you’re watching and you’re lucky enough to have a Krispy Kreme nearby, get a first-time-ever chocolate glazed doughnut in honor of the eclipse.

If you’re planning on driving for a better view of the eclipse (an estimated 200 million people live within a day’s drive of the path of totality), better start packing now. While eclipses are no longer believed to be harbingers of doom, it is expected to be a traffic apocalypse. And most hotels directly in the eclipse’s path have been sold out for years.

Another fact that makes this total eclipse more significant is that in a few hundreds of millions of years, the moon will have moved too far away from the Earth to ever again completely cover the sun. In other words, total eclipses are destined to become history. But we still have time. Mark your calendar for the next total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, which will be visible from Texas to Maine.

Have fun and see you on the dark side of the moon!

 

Everybody, In the Pool!

Summer’s in full swing, and here in Arizona (where Select Blinds is based) we practically live in our pools to survive daily 110◦+ temperatures. So that pretty much makes us experts on pool parties.  Here are some ideas for great family-friendly pool games (or easily adaptable adult versions) to play to ensure your next party is a splashing success. For more ideas, get inspired on Pinterest, Google, or at your local pool store.

DIY Dive-Ins

Wet T-Shirt Contest: O.K., get your mind out of the pool filter and divide everyone into two teams in two lines at the edge of one end of the pool. Give the first person in each line an extra-large t-shirt to put on, then ready-set-go! The first two people must swim across the pool and back, then pass the wet shirt to the next ones in line who swim across and back, and so on. It’s a race to the finish to see which team wins.

Chicken Noodle Fight: The classic chicken fight is still a family favorite, but instead of using your hands, the team member on their partner’s shoulders uses a sponge tube to fend off their foe on the other team. Last one left standing wins.

Floating Battleship: Bring the popular board game to life by making your own or buying one of the many online versions available. (Try the popular battleship pong version for 21+ parties.)

Squirt Gun Races: String lines across the pool and push plastic cups across them using squirt guns.

Available Online or at Your Local Pool Store

Virtually any type of game you can play out of the water you can play in it. Look for the aquatic versions of your favorite sport and dive in! Float these ideas at your next party:

  • Floating golf
  • Water basketball
  • Water volleyball
  • Floating cornhole and tic-tac-toe
  • Floating casino

 

Pool Party Décor

Greet your guests with this cool arch easily constructed with beach balls and swim rings. Keep the party going at night by tossing glow sticks in the pool. And to shield you from too much fun in the sun, hang exterior solar shades. They’re a great option for patios, sun rooms and even gazebos because they’re weather and UV-resistant.