Fire Safety Checklist: Preventing Fires in Your Home Office

You have achieved the ultimate dream: working from home. Your office space is set up, you have all the needed supplies and you're ready to get to work. But wait just a minute-is your office actually safe?Unlike a large office building, you don't have an Occupational Health and Safety Department to analyze your office space, ensuring that all safety procedures are implemented. The safety of your office-and your home-is completely in your own hands.Corporations have safety measures in place for a reason; there are numerous workplace hazards that can put lives and valuable information at peril, fire being one of them. And unlike an office building, you probably don't have the extra safety precautions in place, like sprinkler systems and exit signs.I know you have lots of important work to do, and deadlines are looming, but let's take a moment to act like our own health and safety department by going over this home office fire safety checklist.1. Be aware of electrical hazards.Electronics and cords are enemy No. 1 of fire safety, and a modern office is full of them. Loose or frayed wires, faulty electronics and overloaded plugs are all common fire hazards that often go unchecked.Ensure all your electrical cords and plugs are in good condition, and toss anything that looks loose, worn or frayed.Do not use an extension cord to service more than one appliance at a time. Extension cords are meant to act as temporary measures and are not to be used for long periods of time for any device.Use power strips for light loads such as computers, printers and cell phones, but be sure to unplug the strip or flip the switch to off when not in use.Buy a strip that has an internal circuit breaker to prevent overloading and overheating.Never run cords under rugs or carpets.Ensure light bulbs do not exceed the recommended light fixture wattage.If you must use a space heater in your office, then use a radiator-type heater with a tip-over switch (not a coil space heater), and keep them clear from all papers, curtains, clothing, chairs and rugs.(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push();2. Organize and store your papers properly.Do you have piles of paper everywhere? This clutter may be more dangerous than you think.Keep all those valuable documents safe by replacing paper or cardboard file boxes with metal or fireproof ones.Clean up all office clutter and store all papers away from heaters, light fixtures and other heat-generating appliances such as copiers and coffee makers.Create an organized desk space that contains the bare working necessities.Allow for air space around all sides of heat-generating appliances such as computers, copiers, printers and chargers.3. Check out your chargers.It seems our phones and computers are always charging, but how safe are phone and computer chargers and what are some common fire hazards we are risking every day by using them improperly?Don't charge your phone or computer overnight or for long periods of time unattended.Create a charging station that is safely away from all combustibles such as wood, paper and cardboard.Do not leave phones and computers unattended near or on flammable materials such as beds, couches, curtains and pillows.Always use the authentic cables and chargers that came with the devices. Do not purchase cheaper, non-brand cables and chargers as they are not always built with the correct wattage or amp rating that your device requires.Always buy directly from the manufacturer and beware of cheap counterfeits as they are not always built with safety in mind.4. Follow a yearly office safety maintenance plan.Prevention is paramount when it comes to fire safety. When you are your own boss, you're also taking on every office role-including the role of the health and safety department, so be sure to conduct yearly office inspections.Install a smoke detector in your office space. It's best if all your home detectors are interconnected so if one goes off, they all go off. Update the batteries yearly and test it monthly.Buy a fire extinguisher for your home office and perform monthly maintenance inspections on it.Create an office safety checklist that covers all aspects of office safety, allowing you to easily remember what needs to be inspected.Have a fire exit strategy in place and practice it often.Running your own home office comes with a lot of responsibilities, but your biggest job is to protect the safety of your home, loved ones and belongings. By following these simple fire prevention tips, you can get back to enjoying the satisfaction that comes with working from home.amzn_assoc_placement = "adunit0";amzn_assoc_enable_interest_ads = "true";amzn_assoc_tracking_id = "powerhomebizguid";amzn_assoc_ad_mode = "auto";amzn_assoc_ad_type = "smart";amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon";amzn_assoc_region = "US";amzn_assoc_textlinks = "";amzn_assoc_linkid = "45a2327acccb8a67913d4c186adefb04";amzn_assoc_emphasize_categories = "1000,133140011";amzn_assoc_fallback_mode = "type":"search","value":"Office Fire Safety";amzn_assoc_default_category = "Books"; 10 Common Home Office MistakesHow to Make Your Home Office as Safe as PossibleHiding the Tangle of Cords On Your Desk: 3 Containment StrategiesHow to Use Natural Light To Your Advantage in Your Home OfficeHow to Protect Your Home Office from Disasters

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Fire Causes $75,000 Damage to Cambridge Townhouse ...
CAMBRIDGE - A fire in a Cambridge townhouse Wednesday morning is suspected to have occurred because of an extension cord and a covered space heater, says the Cambridge fire platoon chief.Three adults in the rental unit on Elgin Street North were unhurt in the 7:22 a.m. fire. The fire was contained to a second-floor bedroom. Damage is estimated at about $75,000.Platoon Chief Martin Mills said the person living in the rental unit was using hydro from another unit across the laneway at the Max Saltsman Co-operative Housing Inc. complex.The extension cord could be seen going from the bedroom window to the other unit, about 30 metres away. It is believed that the hydro had been cut off from the unit where the fire occurred for about a month.Mills said the extension cord in the upper floor bedroom was covered in tape and the space heater was covered with clothes."We know the origin was in the bedroom," he said.Mills said the space heater was buried under clothing and furniture."This time of the year, everyone is using extension cords and people tuck them under the carpet but they release heat," he said. "If using extension cords keep the clear and away from combustibles." Also, extension cords are meant to be used temporarily, he added.The extensions cords, covered in painter's tape, could be seen on the front lawn.Fire prevention officer Eric Robinson said that when fire crews arrived on the scene they hit the extension cord that was hanging from tree limbs as it went from one unit to the other.Robinson said it was unclear how many people lived in the rental unit. Firefighters were able to quickly contain the fire to the bedroom within 10 minutes but there was smoke damage to the rest of the unit.Neighbouring units were not damaged.Mike Watson, a friend of the woman who lived in the unit, said he was walking by the complex just after 7 a.m. People were yelling fire and he went in to help.He tried to grab a garden hose but it was frozen."I was filling up buckets of water from the kitchen and taking it upstairs," he said."It was hard to see. It was really smoky. We were choking," said Watson, who had black soot on his face from the fire.Grand River Transit arrived to keep residents warm while they were temporarily evacuated from their units. The woman from the unit where the fire occurred is being assisted by Canadian Red Cross.Mills said the woman will not be able to return to the unit because of the damage.Twitter: @MonteiroRecord
How to Remove & Restretch a Canvas Painting
There are circumstances that necessitate removing paintings from their stretcher frames and re-stretching them later. Usually such circumstances involve transporting paintings, especially if the art is over-sized or it is part of a traveling exhibition. Removing existing paintings and re-stretching them is hard on the edges of the canvas and on the painted surface. The biggest dangers are a tearing of the edges and cracked paint. However paintings conservator James Bernstein suggests that these problems can be avoided if the proper steps are taken in the proper order, and the right tools are used.Remove an existing painting by pulling out the staples holding the canvas to its stretcher frame. Use needle nose pliers and grip the long edge of the staple and pull straight out without twisting, otherwise the canvas edge tears or the canvas weave pulls apart, leaving large holes.Roll the painting, if there is a delay between removing the painting and re-stretching it, face side out by laying the painting flat and using a broom stick or curtain rod to start the roll to avoid crinkling the canvas edge. Store the painting in a heavy-duty cardboard tube. Hang the tube on a wire strung through the tube to keep the weight of the canvas roll from bearing in on itself.Place the rolled painting in the location where it will be re-stretched at least 24 hours before re-stretching to give the canvas and the paint layers on the surface time to acclimate to the location's climactic conditions.Unroll the painting, lay it face down on a flat surface, and place the assembled stretcher frame on the back, adjusting its placement as needed for proper hanging.Heat the painting just a little by turning on a small space heater in the room or by using a hair blow dryer on low and waving it over the back of the painting to give flexibility to the layers of paint and primer on the canvas.Fold one edge of the canvas over its stretcher bar, and lay a strip of scrap canvas along the line where the staples will secure the canvas to the stretcher frame to keep the staples from making direct contact with the painting.Load the staple gun with staples no longer than 3/8 of an inch to avoid damage should the painting need to be removed from the stretcher frame again in the future.Shoot one staple into the canvas in the center of the stretcher bar through both the scrap and painting canvas. Shoot additional staples into both layers of canvas, securing them to the stretcher bar, working back and forth on either side of the first staple until the first side is completely secure.Fold the opposite edge of the painting over its stretcher bar, and stand the painting up so that the stapled, secured edge is against the floor and the opposite edge is straight up.Grip the folded over edge of the canvas to be secured to the stretcher bar in the center with the canvas-stretching pliers and gently pull until the canvas is pulled taut. Staple the canvas edge in the center, and repeat the process working back and forth on either side of the first staple until the edge is completely secured to the stretcher bar.Repeat the above process for the remaining two sides of the canvas.
As Hurricane Sandy Hit N.J., Barrier Island Holdout Was 'pretty Scared'
LONG BEACH ISLAND - As residents and business owners start to make their way back to Long Beach Island today, a small cadre of people has already gotten a head start on the cleanup from Hurricane Sandy.They are the ones who have spent the past two weeks living in the shadows - 1,500 or so of the island's 10.000 year-round residents who defied orders to evacuate and stayed behind while the barrier island was on lockdown.Like a secret network, some of them kept in touch on Facebook but kept their movements to a minimum so they wouldn't anger local law enforcement and be forced to leave - or get arrested.Now that Gov. Chris Christie has lifted a mandatory evacuation order for all towns on the 18-mile island except Holgate, these folks can once again move about freely and try to put back their lives back on track."What doesn't kill us makes us stronger," said Jack Bushko, watersports instructor at Island Surf & Sail in the Brant Beach section of Long Beach Township. "I was pretty scared. I saw a lot of stuff I didn't want to see."As long as these people weren't out on the streets after the 6 p.m. curfew and kept their generator-powered lights off at night, local police and national guardsmen generally didn't bother them, they said.The worst part, they said, was being without water. No showers. No flushing of toilets. No creature comforts. And even when water was restored, gas wasn't, so hot showers were not an option. • Gov Christie: Rebuilding Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy could take years• Gov. Christie announces Long Beach Island will reopen to residents"We enforced the evacuation order as far as we could," Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph Mancini said. "We cannot go in and drag people out of their homes."Harvey Cedars Mayor Jonathan Oldham said that because past storms didn't live up to the hype they were given, people felt justified in staying."People become immune to the dangers of living on a barrier island," Oldham said.During the storm, those who stayed behind became a potential liability. First responders turned back from helping at one house because they felt it was too dangerous for them, Oldham said.Bushko, who rode out the storm in his apartment above the store, said he remained in town so he could keep an eye on the shop and be ready to clean up as soon as possible.Dressed in a wool cap, green sweats and rubber boots and sporting a week's worth of facial hair, Bushko, 55, looked like a grizzled mariner by Friday.Having lived on the island full time since he was 21, he knows many of the cops and firemen. There was an unspoken agreement that if he didn't make trouble, they wouldn't force him to leave.Friends of his who evacuated let him raid their refrigerators. He took hamburgers and salmon, which he cooked on a propane gas grill, and treated himself to their wine and beer.Other friends snuck over in boats to bring him gas for his generator before last Thursday's crackdown by marine police. He hitched rides with emergency personnel to the mainland to donation drop-off sites where he got clothes - his were ruined in 2 feet of water - bottled water and MREs.With no heat, he sat in front of his fireplace burning logs he collected from outside other houses in town.It was somewhat comforting to hear police cars and National Guard vehicles drive by.But he still slept with a 14-inch knife - just in case."It brings you back to a basic human level where you have to survive," he said. "Some nights, it felt like daybreak wasn't coming for forever."Tom Lewis of Ship Bottom said he stayed behind while his wife went to the mainland. He said he knew he'd have a lot to clean at the Watersports of LBI Marina in Brant Beach, where he works."The wife wasn't too happy about it," he said.Lewis spent Friday with other employees, moving boats that had floated off their blocks.Before most people even got a chance to clean out their homes, Frank McGrann, who owns a power washing business and works for Comcast, was taking delivery Friday of $5,000 worth of new appliances in his Brant Beach home to replace a washer, dryer, refrigerator and stove ruined in the storm.After five days on the island without the basic necessities, he and his wife, Susan, left last Friday, but they're getting ready to move back in tomorrow.They were stocked with plenty of food, he said, and kept warm with a space heater powered by a generator."I wasn't leaving because I've been here through the '62 storm and other storms," he said. "Thank God we were here to save our stuff."Mancini said he suspects 90 percent of the holdouts will obey the next mandatory evacuation order."After 10 days of not taking a shower, none of them want to be there," he said. "I don't know why they stayed, but I'll bet they won't the next time."
5 Essential Products to Help Weather a Winter Storm
"Never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today." That notion, attributed to Thomas Jefferson, is doubly true if tomorrow's forecast calls for a winter storm. As winter rages on, each bad storm brings with it a new round of panic, as folks flood home-improvement centers in search of generators, flashlights, and just about anything else that can help you weather prolonged cold spells and periodic power outages.Unfortunately, the eve of a bad winter storm is a terrible time to shop for cold-climate essentials-inventory tends to be scarce, tensions are high, and you're liable to grab the first items you find and rush home. So when there's a break in the weather, take the chance to track down these essential products tested by Consumer Reports. GeneratorIf you live in an area prone to power outages, consider a stationary generator, which is generally more expensive but can run on on your home's natural-gas supply or on propanefor five to 13 days on a 250-gallon tank.Opt for a licensed electrician, who should connect it to your home's electrical panel using a transfer switch.In our tests, the Kohler 14 RESAL, $3,700, delivered reliable, surge-free power, and was exceptionally easy to use. It's also relatively quiet.For lighter power needs, consider a portable, gasoline-powered model like the Generac RS7000E, $900. It'll run note to 15 hours on its 7½-gallon tank, but you'll need to store fuel for longer outages. Shop Generators on Amazon Snow BlowerIf the allure of easily removing snow from your driveway hasn't motivated you to buy a snow blower, try thinking of it as a safety tool. In a serious winter storm, you'll be glad you've got a snow blower, which can easily clear a path to your car, not to mention make it possible to pull out of your driveway once the plows have passed.To tackle the aftermath of most snowstorms, the two-stage Troy-Bilt Arctic Storm 30, $1,500, makes quick work of snow packed 16 inches high. If you live in a climate with even more serious snowfall, consider a three-stage blower like the Cub Cadet 3X 30" HD, $1,650, which can handle 18 inches of snow or more in a single pass.Shop Snow Blowers on Amazon Space HeaterIf the power goes out and you're relying on a generator, a space heater will let you hunker down in a single room and stay warm while using considerably less energy than an electric heat pump or furnace, both of which heat your whole house. If you heat your home with gas or propane or another heating source, skip the space heater in favor of your furnace. And if you rely on propane, heating oil, or wood pellets and a bad storm makes the roads impassable but doesn't knock out the power, use the heater to stay warm and toasty while you wait for your next delivery.The Dyson AM09, $450, gets top marks (at a top price) for heating a small space, while the far less expensiveLifesmart ZCHT1001US, $90, did a nice job heating larger rooms. Shop Space Heaters on Amazon Chain SawHeavy snow and ice can down branches long after a storm has passed. That's one of the struggles faced by utility workers as they attempt to restore power after a storm. So take a hint from them and buy and use a chain saw before a winter storm hits. Not only will you get to choose from top-performing models, but by being proactive and trimming precarious limbs before a storm, you'll also minimize damage to your home during snowfall and avoid the tedious yard cleanup after.If you've got only a few trees or live on a smaller lot, a battery-powered model like the Ego CS1401, $250, should provide all the power you need. If you've got an outdoor outlet, a corded electric model like the Stihl MS 170 C-BQ, $300, will work nicely and doesn't require charging. For heavily wooded lots with more mature trees, consider the gas-powered Echo CS-590-20, $365, which has a 20-inch bar for downing larger limbs.Shop Chain Saws on Amazon Smoke & CO Alarms and Fire ExtinguishersAll three are safety essentials, but the unusual risks posed by weathering a winter storm power outage make them even more important. Burning candles for light, operating a generator, or using a space heater can all increase the chances you'll need one of these life-saving devices.For smoke and fire detection, the Kidde Pl9010, $200, excelled at detecting smoke and smoldering fires, while the First Alert One Link SCO501CN, $70, is a top pick for detecting carbon monoxide.Ourfire extinguisher buying guideprovides essential information on choosing between models. (We don't test fire extinguishers at this time.)Shop Fire Extinguishers on Amazon More from Consumer Reports:Top pick tires for 2016Best used cars for $25,000 and less7 best mattresses for couplesConsumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright 2006-2017 Consumers Union of U.S.
In Kiron, Iowa, Pop. 229, the Meaning of a Life, a Death and Another Cup of Coffee
KIRON, Iowa - Russell Paulson had already heard by the time he arrived at the Quik Mart for his afternoon coffee. Walt Miller had died."Died last night, huh?" someone was saying as Russell pulled up a chair."Yeah, last night," another man said.Russell listened; he had known Walt. At the age of 80, he knew almost everyone in Kiron, a town of 229 people, one of whom is U.S. Rep. Steve King, who has a house on the edge of town. Russell knew King, too, knew that he was the sort of person always stirring controversy, often by raging against what he called "cultural suicide by demographic transformation." More recently, King had said that "we can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies," a comment embraced by prominent white supremacists and widely condemned around the country as demonizing Latino and other non-European immigrants. There was little controversy across King's district, though, a swath of rural America made up of tiny towns with tiny, aging white populations that routinely elected King with more than 70percent of the vote. In Kiron, people brushed it off as King being King, a man they all knew, expressing a plain truth they all understood: The white population was shrinking, and towns like theirs were vanishing, with the few exceptions being places such as Denison, a pork-processing town 20 minutes down the highway where population growth was being driven by immigrants from Mexico and Central America.Kiron, meanwhile, was losing steam. According to the most recent census figures, the population included nine Mexicans; the other 220 were all white, and their numbers were decreasing by 10 or so each year, and now, on a Wednesday, by one."Oh, Walt Miller? He did pass?" Dwain Swensen, 67, said, sipping his coffee."What'd he have, pancreatic cancer or something?" said Ron Streck, 70."Liver," said Herman Kohnekamp, also 70. "I think that's what it was, wasn't it, Russell?""I knew he passed but didn't know any details," Russell said.It was a quiet afternoon, the ritual 3 p.m. coffee in a place where, as one regular put it, "you can figure out Steve King by understanding all of us." Every day but Sunday, the bell on the front door rang as they arrived. The wood-paneled backroom was waiting. The Bunn-o-Matic and the Styrofoam cups. The space heater humming. The clock with the squinting Merit cigarette man on one wall, the calendar on the other, the cracked blinds dangling over the window where the view through the slats was a sea of farm fields, and on a hill in the distance, a stand of evergreens where the cemetery was. Now the bell on the front door rang again, and Russell looked up."Oh," Ron said under his breath, seeing who it was. "Here comes trouble."It was Kevin Lloyd, 52, who came in occasionally, and had been in the day before, all riled up about the latest Steve King situation, waving his hands and going on about how people had misunderstood what he'd meant about "other peoples' babies.""If you're American, you got to take care of America!" he had said then. "I love that people want to come here from Mexico, from Ukraine, from the Middle East, but they need to come here legally."Dwain, Ron, a woman named Jane Gronau and Russell had been there, sipping their coffees, as Kevin had continued that he had no idea why people would call King a "white supremacist," or, for that matter, why people would call President Trump racist. "Now, is Barack Hussein Obama a Muslim? In my opinion, yes," he had said, and that had brought him to the other thing he figured King meant about babies. He had meant Muslim babies of the Muslims that Obama had allowed into the country."And here, I'm going to quote a great president, Abe Lincoln," he had said. "He said the fall of America will come from the inside. Well, if you're allowing all these children in, and if they hate America, how long is it going to be before we're not the United States of America anymore?"Jane had nodded: "If you study the number of Muslims, there are going to be so many here, and they're going to have so many kids, they're going to be able to take over that way."Dwain had nodded: "They say 'freedom of religion' but if you're Muslim, and you become Christian, you're ousted. Sometimes, they kill 'em.""They behead 'em," Kevin had said into a quiet Iowa afternoon."I think what King was trying to get across is, look: We can only grow so many hogs, so much beans and so much corn," Kevin had said. "If we let everybody in, we're going to be without a food source. And what happens when that's gone? Then we're all in trouble."Chaos, beheadings, starvation, the death of one America and the rise of another - that was the trouble Kevin had raised the day before, and now he was back, interrupting the conversation about Walt Miller."What are you up to, Mr. Paulson?" he said to Russell."Just listening and learning," Russell said, looking at the floor, holding his coffee. "Every once in a while, I learn something here. Every once in a while, I learn something about myself.""So how old was Walt?" Ron continued."Mid-60s, I'd say," said Herman."Died last night," Ron said again."Last night," Herman said again.After a while, Russell asked, "I wasn't sure if he was home?""Yeah, he was at home," Herman said, and Russell was quiet the rest of the afternoon.The next day, Russell had his morning coffee and got into his car.He stopped by the bank where he'd been going since the 1940s."Hi, Russell," the one teller said to her one customer.He got back into his car and drove one block to the edge of town, turned onto the two-lane highway, then one long gravel road after another, straight lines stretching out into still-fallow fields."Some of the roads have been abandoned," he said. "Because there's not as many people living out here, the roads just disappeared."He knew the roads better than anyone. His own family's roots in the area stretched back to the 19th century, when the U.S. government was aggressively removing Native American tribes to make way for one of the largest immigration waves in American history. The Swedes came, the Germans came, the farms, the towns and generations of babies, one of whom was Russell Elmer Paulson, born in 1937. He was raised on his mother's family farm in rural Kiron and never left other than a stint in the Army, and one in Dubuque."It wasn't for me," he said, driving along.He and his wife, Glenda, inherited land when Russell's parents died and lived on it until they retired and moved into town. Russell's work had been farming and insurance adjusting. His culture was being a Methodist and a Mason and listening to polka, though most of that had fallen away. The church he and Glenda had gone to "died for lack of people and money," he said. There were hardly any Masons left. Polka was not enjoying a revival. His kids had left for jobs in other areas. Glenda had died last year."See that ridge? That's the old railroad bed," he said now, driving along, squinting through his gold-rimmed glasses."My aunt bought this," he said, passing a stand of trees where farmhouses had been."Walt would go there," he said, pointing out a repair shop where Walt Miller had coffee, and soon he turned onto a narrow dirt road leading to the farm where he and Glenda had lived, a collection of storage buildings where Russell now kept his old tractors, and one he used as an office, where he went these days to work crossword puzzles or just sit and think."Commune with God and the birds," he said. "Well, not too many birds now."He glanced around at the old buildings, now shuttered and locked, though someone had broken into one of them recently."They stole a bunch of tools and such," Russell said, pulling back onto the gravel road. "No need to get all worked up about it."He had a huge bag of peppermint Life Savers on the console, and he unwrapped one and put it in his mouth. He passed a rotting barn and a bird on a stretch of barbed wire, and after a while, a gray house with a huge American flag."This is Steve King's house here," he said, looking at it.He had known King a long time and saw no reason to be bothered by something or other he said. He supported King - "I have no reason in the world to dislike the man" - but wasn't one to rant about politics. He had no computer, no smartphone. His television had no cable. He watched a half-hour of national news, a half-hour of local, followed by "Wheel of Fortune" and Lawrence Welk. He ate chicken tenders and food he described as "American.""He's just kind of one of us," Russell said of King, driving on past a field where a church had burned down, and the home of a man who'd died last year. It began to rain."When it comes down like it's doing now, it's just wonderful," he said.He drove past fields and more fields until he came to another stand of trees on a hill."This is the cemetery," he said, pulling in.He drove slowly past the headstones. "A lot of these people I knew," he said and began reading names."Larson.""Lind.""Gustafson.""Paulson - this would be my folks right here," he said, and then he noticed the time, almost 3 p.m.He headed back to town, pulling onto Main Street where a wooden sign said, "Kiron, Blessed with the Best."After King had made his comment about babies, some out-of-town protest group had put up another sign below that one that said, "White Supremacist."The sign didn't make any sense to Russell, and, after it was removed, his main worry was that the protesters might have damaged the town sign, which had started to rot a few years ago.Russell had taken on the job of maintaining it. He had trimmed the tree branches that had grown through the wood. He had taken down "Blessed with the Best" and repainted each of the letters. He went to a lumberyard and had a new K, I, R, O, and N made, painting each letter several times and spraying them with wood preservative. One year, he and Glenda had planted a bed of petunias and geraniums."I don't think we will ever have a better display of flowers," he said now, and soon he was pulling up to the Quik Mart for the afternoon coffee. As he walked inside, he saw a funeral notice on the front door with a photo of a smiling man in gold-rimmed glasses."Oh," Russell said, pausing for a moment. "There's Walt."He glanced at the funeral information for Walt Miller, poured his fourth coffee of the day, and sat down in the backroom. Dwain and Charlie Harm were already there, but they weren't talking. A car swooshed by. An eighteen-wheeler swooshed by. Charlie tapped his nails on the table.The next day, the bell rang as the door with the funeral notice swung open, and it was Dwain, then Bob James, then Herman, then Russell. The Merit cigarette clock showed a few minutes after 3 p.m. Russell got the coffee pot and poured. The bell rang again, and it was a man named Glen Ballantine."Time for plowing?" Herman asked the 84-year-old farmer."Two weeks," Glen said, sitting down.Bob was reading the paper. Russell was sipping his coffee, looking out the window."Got the visitation tonight," Herman said.He didn't have to mention Walt Miller's name because they all knew what he meant.They went back to talking about plowing, and Glen was saying how different farming was now than when he was a young man, which for some reason reminded him of one of his first jobs, digging graves."For 18 bucks," he said."You dug a regular grave for 18 bucks?" said Dwain."Oh yeah, and we had to fill 'em back up again," said Glen."I helped dig one once," said Russell. "You know, manually. Only one. I don't know what I got paid. But. That's a long way down to the bottom of that.""If there was frost in the first foot, you got $1 more," said Glen."What'd you use to get through the frost?" asked Bob."Pickax and sledgehammer," said Glen. "And when we'd fill 'em, we'd fill 'em in 14 scoops. We were just little kids, more or less.""We had more dirt than we needed," Russell said. "And had to -""Had to haul that away," said Glen, finishing his sentence."Had to put that on the pickup," said Russell, and they went on talking like that until Herman got up to leave. It was after 3:30 p.m."Funeral home starts, what, at 4?" Herman said."Four till 7, it says on there," Russell said.The funeral home was in Denison, and the sun was going down as Russell turned onto the two-lane highway toward one of the only towns in Steve King's district that was growing, and which appeared in the distance as a cluster of lights and rising steam from the pork-processing plant.Russell turned by the Walmart, bustling on a Friday payday, and turned again into a neighborhood where Latino kids were playing in a yard. Up a hill, he parked in front of the funeral home, where people were still streaming in near 7 p.m.Russell made his way through the receiving line, his hat off, comb lines visible in his gray hair. He shook hands with Walt's family, who thanked him for coming, and inched forward until he reached the open casket.He stood there a moment. He looked at Walt. He looked at the light-blue satin lining and the farm scene etched into it. A man stood next to Russell."Went fast," he said of Walt, who had passed away soon after his diagnosis. "That's what you hope for.""I do," said Russell, still looking at Walt, and soon, he headed back to Kiron.The funeral was the next day at Zion Lutheran Church in Denison, and more people came from Kiron and other vanishing towns like Odebolt and Ida Grove. They sat in jeans and dresses and suits on the wooden pews of a church founded in 1872, and read about Walt in the program, where it was said that "farming and fixing equipment and household items were his favorite things to do," and soon the church bells began ringing.The pews creaked as everyone stood and watched the pallbearers roll in the coffin draped in a white cloth with a red cross, and a procession of dozens of family members that included exactly one baby, a girl with a black ribbon around her head."Your world has changed," the pastor began.When it was over, people got back into their cars and drove 20 minutes up the highway to the cemetery in Kiron, a long procession of headlights passing through fields and more fields, then turning right, then heading up the hill to the stand of evergreens, and afterward, at 3 p.m., the bell on the Quik Mart door began ringing.It rang for Herman, who arrived with a loaf of homemade bread. It rang for Dwain, for Bob, and for Charlie, who shuffled into the backroom and said, "Buried a nice guy this morning."It rang for Russell, who poured his coffee, walked back into the wood-paneled room, and pulled up a chair."Strawberries come to life this time of year, Russell?" Dwain asked."I don't know," Russell said.They talked about the frost, and when spring might arrive."Well, I better get moving," Charlie said and headed out."I got things to do, too," Russell said, but then he didn't leave, not yet.He got up and sat where Charlie had been, closer to the window."Well, I gotta go," Herman said."See you, Herman," Russell said."Bye, Herman," Dwain said, and now there were just the three of them left.Dwain cleared his throat. A car passed by. The space heater hummed. Bob finished his coffee. Russell swallowed the last of his."You want more coffee, Mr. Bob?" Russell asked."Do you?" said Bob."Yeah," Russell decided, and walked over to get the coffee pot.He poured some into Bob's cup. He poured some into Dwain's cup. He filled his own and sat down again. He tapped his thumb on the table. Eventually he stood up and walked toward the door, where Walt's funeral notice no longer was."See ya, Russell," said Dwain."See ya, Russell," said Bob."I hope so," Russell said.
12 Killed in New York City Apartment Fire
Twelve people were killed and four more were seriously injured and fighting for their lives late Thursday in a fast-moving fire at an apartment building on a frigid night in the Bronx, according to New York City's mayor.The victims included a child around a year old, Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a briefing outside the building."We may lose others as well," he said.Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro called the fire, "historic in its magnitude," because of the number of lives lost."Our hearts go out to every person who lost a loved one here and everyone who is fighting for their lives," he said.The blaze broke out at a five-story building, a block from the grounds of the Bronx Zoo.The fire began on the first floor just before 7 p.m. and quickly ripped through much of the building, officials said.Neighborhood resident Robert Gonzalez, who has a friend who lives in the building, said she got out on a fire escape as another resident fled with five children."When I got here, she was crying," Mr. Gonzalez said.Windows on some upper floors were smashed and blackened."The smoke was crazy, people screaming, 'Get out!," a witness, Jamal Flicker, told the New York Post. "I heard a woman yelling, 'We're trapped, help!"According to city records, the building had no elevator. Fire escapes were visible on the facade of the building.One of the deadliest fires in recent city memory happened elsewhere in the Bronx in 2007. Nine children and one adult died in a blaze sparked by a space heater.
These Are the 5 Best Amazon Deals You Can Find Right Now
- Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. However, our picks and opinions are independent from USA Today's newsroom and any business incentives.There's nothing quite like getting a good deal, and I'm not talking about finding something on sale that you weren't already shopping for. No, I'm talking about when you find a deep discount on something you've wanted to buy for a while but have been waiting for the right moment. When your white whale finally drops in price and you're there to take advantage of it, you feel like the GOAT of shopping.But finding those amazing prices on awesome products can be tough when sites like Amazon are constantly beating you over the head with all of their "sales." You know the ones I'm talking about: The $1 discounts on obviously low-quality products from brands you've never heard of (and probably will never hear of again), the "major sales" that are actually just the prices you'll find every day, the sales that actually are good on products that actually are not worth it.More: The 20 best things you can get for under $50Every day, our team of product experts puts our knowledge and experience to work filtering out all the garbage "deals" and bringing you the top sales, deals, and offers you can get right now on things you'll actually be happy you bought. So, without further ado...1. The best TV at its second best price in time for the Super BowlIf your TV is starting to lose its luster or you just want to upgrade to 4K before the Super Bowl, you're in luck. There are all sorts of TVs on sale right now, as this is the time brands are clearing out their inventories to get ready for the new models.It's the best time to score a deal, and of all the options out there, we recommend the LG C8 above the others. It's got an amazing picture quality thanks to the OLED screen and 4K picture, and it (like pretty much all new TVs these days) has a great smart platform built in so you don't need a streaming device to start binging Netflix.The 55-inch C8 originally retailed for $2,500 and has been hovering around $1,900 for the past few months, but right now it's only $1,700, marking the second lowest price we've ever seen (and the best price Amazon's ever had).Get the LG C8 55-inch OLED TV for $1,696.99 (Save $200)2. The best space heater is discounted at the perfect timeIf you're looking for a way to keep your home warmer without raising your heating bill along with the thermostat, a space heater is a great solution, and our favorite is on sale right now. This is the best space heater we've ever tested because, as our reviewer said, "it "does it all."Not only did it raise the room temperature of a 1350-cubic-foot room 6 degrees in one hour, but its slim, light design makes it a great fit in any home. It typically costs $90, but right now you can get it for just over $75, a bargain considering how expensive traditional heating can be.Get the Delonghi HMP1500 Panel Heater for $76.64 (save $13.35)3. These Lightning cables won't fray after a monthIt's 2019. If you're still using a charging cable that's frayed and requires at least five minutes of fiddling to actually juice up your phone, it's time to upgrade. Anker's Powerline charging cables are among the best. We love the braided nylon cover that stands up to tugging, knots, desk chair wheels, and anything else that might cross its path.Right now, you can get 3- or 6-foot cables in red, white, or black (or gold in 6-foot only) for $5 off with the coupon codes listed below. Whether you're replacing an old one or just want more charging options around your home or office, this is the deal you've been waiting for. Just make sure you use the right code for the right cable!4. The tax software you need anyway is on sale right nowWhether you prefer TurboTax or H&R Block, it's all discounted on Amazon right now. You can get a physical disc or a digital download, and both services have great perks like free live support (TurboTax is via phone and H&R Block has live chat). When we tested them, we found that TurboTax had a more intuitive interface. Both have the ability to upload the previous year's taxes regardless of which software you used in 2018.5. A top-shelf Sonos soundbar is at its lowest priceSonos is one of the leading names in home audio, and they recently released a new product to their lineup-the Beam soundbar. Despite being so new, the $400 Beam is actually already on sale for $50 off, the same discount they offered on Black Friday.This slim, sleek soundbar connects to your TV wirelessly to cut down on cord clutter. It's also Alexa-enabled, so if you have a Fire TV or Fire TV Stick, you can ask Alexa to start playing Jack Ryan. And if you're an Apple user, you'll be happy to know the Beam, like all other Sonos speakers, is AirPlay-enabled, making it super easy to find your favorite playlist on your phone and fill your home with music. You can choose black or white for the perfect fit with your decor.Get the Sonos Beam Soundbar for $349 (Save $50)The product experts atReviewedhave all your shopping needs covered this holiday season. Follow Reviewed onFacebook,Twitter, andInstagram.Prices are accurate at the time this article waspublished,but may change over time.
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