By Tim Smith If you’re anything like me, you live and breathe online, Tweeting your interesting thoughts, Instagramming your dinner, posting photos of your kid on Facebook. We’re living in a world where we have so much more than we’ve ever had right at our fingertips. So controlling your home with smartphone apps and automated systems is a no-brainer — this technology makes life easier and takes the headache out of many common tasks from vacuuming to flipping on light switches.
By Joe Flint / The Wall Street Journal You’ve heard of couch potatoes. Here come crib potatoes
In the ultracompetitive children’s-TV market, most networks don’t target viewers any younger than four years old. One channel is now testing that boundary.
BabyFirstTV, which is making its way into more U.S. homes after cutting deals with pay-TV distributors including Time Warner Cable,is aiming its programming at children as young as six months.
The channel, owned by closely held BFTV LLC, carries mostly animation programs that focus on rudimentary skills including counting, vocabulary and differentiating shapes and colors.
The notion of targeting infants is controversial. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children under the age of two, arguing that children learn best by interacting with people. But that may be wishful thinking. A Kaiser Family Foundation study found most babies are watching some television.
“What is important is what we put our kids in front of and we think we are offering the cleanest, safest alternative,” said Sharon Rechter,who co-founded BabyFirst with her husband Guy Oranim.
Building a TV channel when more U.S. consumers are “cutting the cord,” or dropping pay-TV service, will be challenging. And BabyFirst faces fierce competition in the wider children’s-TV market, a crowded field that includes Walt Disney Co.’s Disney Channel and Disney XD, Viacom Inc.’s Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. and ComcastCorp.’s Sprout. Amazon.com Inc. and Netflix Inc., as well, are courting little ones with their streaming services.
In 2014, advertisers spent $1.2 billion on kids channels, according to Kantar Media. Pressure from watchdog groups and regulators has led some companies including snack food and candy manufacturers to steer clear, but other sectors have stepped up including packaged-goods manufacturers hoping to sell to the parents watching with their kids.
BabyFirst’s advertisers include Honest Co., which makes organic products such as shampoo, and ABC Mouse, an educational website.
“It really is trying to speak to a mom when she is engaged with the programming she is watching,” said Darcy Bowe, a vice president and director of Starcom USA, a media-buying firm.
Some marketers say they are waiting for the channel’s Nielsen ratings before they move ahead with advertising deals. “We’ve seen some good proposals from them, and certainly think the model has merit. However, measurement remains an issue,” said Sharon Cullen, a managing director at media agency OMD.
Ms. Rechter said research by Kantar Media determined the average daily viewership is 108 minutes and that one out of every three mothers is a viewer.
One positive for BabyFirst is that expenses are low, compared with most TV channels. Much of the content is visual, with little dialogue, and the programming doesn’t require much dubbing to work in international markets.
Mr. Oranim and Ms. Rechter said the annual operating expenses for BabyFirstTV are less than what it costs to make one episode of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” which costs about $7.5 million.
BabyFirst expects to make a profit in the fourth quarter of this year, but declined to provide further details on its finances.
Distributors of BabyFirst say the channel’s popularity is growing. “It’s a good service that has very loyal fans,” said Dan York, chief content officer at DirecTV.
BabyFirst’s programming is mostly low-cost animation made in Israel where both Ms. Rechter and Mr. Oranim have ties. Shows such as “Baby U” and “Rainbow Horse” typically run between three and seven minutes.
Ari Brown, an Austin, Texas, pediatrician and lead author of the AAP’s television policy, described BabyFirst as “Muzak for babies.” Though she isn’t in favor of children under two watching TV, Dr. Brown said BabyFirst won’t make a tyke an “ax murderer.”
BabyFirst relies on a network of about 500 mothers as a sounding board. Autumn McCall of Downey, Calif., credits BabyFirst with helping her daughter Violet learn the alphabet and numbers.
“I know there is a lot of criticism about babies and young kids watching TV, but I think in moderation and with parent supervision it can be a great benefit,” she said.
How BabyFirst figures out what will intrigue a toddler isn’t always the most scientific process. Sometimes it just comes down to what’s more compelling—content or candy.
Earlier this year, Ms. McCall’s daughter Violet, who is now two, took part in a test for a mobile app in development—the apps are aimed at keeping babies and parents engaged in BabyFirst content away from the TV. This app teaches matching skills and features Harry the Bunny, one of the channel’s characters.
To see how engaged Violet was in the app, BabyFirst educational director Todd Eller offered a lollipop in exchange for the iPad. Violet took hold of the lollipop for a second but ultimately stuck with the game.
“It’s a real big win,” said Ms. Rechter of Violet’s choice. “Typically, nine out of 10 choose the lollipop” when BabyFirst is testing new games.
A few minutes after BabyFirst was done with Violet, an 18-month old boy tried to take a bite out of the iPad.
“Him we’re not getting,” Ms. Rechter said.
Write to Joe Flint at email@example.com
Amazon Gets Experimental Airworthiness Certificate
The certificate allows Amazon Prime Air to test drones outdoors. Amazon is looking to use drones to deliver packages in 30 minutes. The drone will have to be in the pilot's sight, during daylight and only go up to 400 feet or below.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued an experimental airworthiness certificate to an Amazon Logistics, Inc. unmanned aircraft (UAS) design that the company will use for research and development and crew training. The FAA typically issues experimental certificates to manufacturers and technology developers to operate a UAS that does not have a type certificate.
Under the provisions of the certificate, all flight operations must be conducted at 400 feet or below during daylight hours in visual meteorological conditions. The UAS must always remain within visual line-of-sight of the pilot and observer. The pilot actually flying the aircraft must have at least a private pilot’s certificate and current medical certification.
The certificate also requires Amazon to provide monthly data to the FAA. The company must report the number of flights conducted, pilot duty time per flight, unusual hardware or software malfunctions, any deviations from air traffic controllers’ instructions, and any unintended loss of communication links. The FAA includes these reporting requirements in all UAS experimental airworthiness certificates.
As posted by Aldo Svaldi of The Denver Post _______________
A new year is bringing no relief to renters across the metro area, two separate reports show.
Metro Denver rents, including both homes and apartments, rose at triple the U.S. annual rate in January, according to a report Friday from Zillow.
The Zillow Rent Index for Denver showed a 10.2 percent jump in monthly rents to $1,827 between January and January 2014.
That was the third highest rent increase of 35 major metro area that Zillow tracks after San Francisco, up 14.9 percent, and nearby San Jose, up 13.4 percent.
"Since 2000, rents have grown roughly twice as fast as wages, and you don't have to be an economist to understand why that is hugely problematic," noted Stan Humphries, chief economist with Zillow.
Rising rents combined with flat incomes are making it much more difficult for renters, who represent a third of U.S. households, to save the money needed for down payments to buy a home.
"The rental market used to be and should remain a stepping-stone to homeownership. But given how widespread rental affordability problems have become, the rental market could be acting more like a barrier to buying," Humphries said.
A report from Apartment List in San Francisco, which is more focused on apartments, also found Denver rent increases at triple the U.S. average in January.
Rents on two-bedroom apartments across metro Denver, not including Boulder, are up 9.5 percent on an annual basis versus a 2.9 percent gain for the U.S.
Centennial had the biggest rent increase of any suburb at 14.1 percent, which pushed the average two-bedroom rents there to $1,310 a month.
LoDo is the most expensive neighborhood with rents on a two-bedroom of $2,920 a month, double the city of Denver average.
Broomfield remained the most expensive suburban apartment market with an average rent on a two-bedroom of $1,480. But rental increases there were moderating — up only 2.2 percent on the year.
Aurora still had the cheapest apartments in the metro area at $850 a month, but rents rose 12.8 percent year-over-year, the fastest among the large cities in Apartment List's universe.
That was the fastest pace among the larger-population cities that Apartment List tracks. Rents continue to rise despite a robust supply of new apartments hitting the market. Many of those apartments, however, are being built on the high-end, which in itself could be pushing up rents.
Aldo Svaldi: 303-954-1410, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/aldosvald
40 West Arts is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization focused on delivering direct, positive impact to help catalyze the resurgence of the West Colfax Corridor—the historic heart of Lakewood—through the energy of arts and culture and the inspiration of creative enterprises. Who We Are: We are artists, neighbors, business owners and students who believe the Arts enrich our lives and have come together at the intersection of the arts, historic neighborhoods, new light rail stations, a famous avenue, and a vibrant Arts college. Working with local entrepreneurs, civic leaders, and a passionate group of volunteers, we will continue to work toward manifesting a shared vision of energizing our community through the work, creativity and fun of an arts district.
Our Purpose: The overarching purpose of 40 West Arts is to give artists and creative enterprises a community-based resource for furthering their creativity and moving their entrepreneurial efforts forward. 40 West Arts provides artists and other creatives:
- A connection to a state-designated creative district
- A forum for social and professional dialogue with creative peers
- Galleries and other venues to show and sell their work
- A conduit to “Call for Artists” revenue opportunities
- Resources and services to help expand their creativity and their business
40 West Art's mission supports the advancement of individual artists and creative entrepreneurs as well as business and property owners in an historic corridor—and it helps to energize an entire community and contribute to a state-wide initiative to stimulate the economy through arts and culture activities. The Broader Context: 40 West Arts is contributing to the renaissance along West Colfax. The West Colfax story is as vivid and varied as any in the country. It comes with its own lore—and a history rich in character and creativity. As the historic heart of Lakewood, West Colfax has seen both high and low times. Now, West Colfax is re-emerging from decades of economic challenges, and artists are the vanguard rallying behind both traditional and creative enterprises—and 40 West Arts is positioned to help support and sustain this effort. The renaissance is happening—right before our eyes.
The 40 West Arts mission supports the advancement of individual artists and creative entrepreneurs as well as business and property owners in an historic corridor—and it helps to energize an entire community and contribute to a state-wide initiative to stimulate the economy through arts and culture activities.
Brandwatch Report's that Denverites are the Happiest in the Nation.
The Twitter Happiness Report: A Study on Positive and Negative Emotions Expressed on Twitter
The perfect song, snow days, heartbreaks, unexpected disappointment and mozzarella sticks: Twitter is where we go to express how we feel.
In the following report, Brandwatch examines happiness by listening to conversations around the best and worst of days. As the capabilities of online monitoring technologies and the volume of socialdata expand each year, the opportunities and stature of social media researchalso continue to grow.
Leaders in listening, analyzing and understanding online conversations, we’re well positioned to use our technology – specifically Brandwatch Analytics – to explore the possibilities of social media research.
In this report, we begin to identify the nuances behind the way people share their moods, specifically examining how we express happiness and sadness online.
Dissecting the data revealed some fascinating insights into the factors that affect how positively people describe their days and lives
The insights shed light on the factors that affect our moods, specifically outlining:
How reported happiness differs by city, state and nation. How males and females discuss the quality of their days and lives online
How our expressions of happiness change throughout the week
Yesterday morning around 4 a.m. my phone began to buzz frantically. Normally, if I get a 4 a.m. phone call it’s from an employee calling in sick, but it’s not enough buzzing to awake me. However, this particular morning was different. I had received many text messages, phone calls and Facebook messages, telling me to check out the Backstreet Boys Facebook page. I am a dedicated fan of the Backstreet Boys. My love affair with them started 22 years ago, and is still as strong as ever.
The frantic phone calls and text messages were to tell me that the Backstreet Boys had posted my tattoo to their official Facebook page, with 11 million followers. 24+ hours later and a whirlwind of messages and comments the post went viral with over 16,000 likes, over 600 comments and almost 400 re-shares, there are many lessons to learn from my experience.
Six years ago in Las Vegas I was dared to get an “I Love (in a heart shape) Backstreet Boys” tattoo. Four years ago I was rushed into emergency surgery, and upon recovery decided to be bold with the tattoo and add their portraits and signatures.
The idea originally popped into my head about 16 years ago in Las Vegas, while waiting for their concert to begin. During this time my sister and I had our Dad driving us through the west coast to follow the “Black and Blue” tour. The idea at that time was to have Kevin, Nick, Howie, Brian and AJ’s faces tattooed on my body. I sometimes get random spurts of ideas and then they are gone. This idea, however, stuck with me long after.
Going back to six years ago I found myself once again in Las Vegas during their “This is Us” tour. I had such a fantastic trip with some amazing memories that once again I threw out the idea of a tattoo, but this time the concept was smaller in proportions. However, this time I had a fiancé that dared me to get the tattoo, and me being not one to back down from a dare went through with a tattoo of a heart, and the logo of the band.
Fast forward to 2011. I was rushed into emergency surgery where I was left lifeless on an operating room table. After that experience I told myself that I would not live my life with regrets, and therefore finished my tattoo with the portraits of the Backstreet Boys along with their autographs. Go big or go home!
Be consistent. Be out there. Be persistent.
Over the past 22 years, I have been to over 50 of their concerts, and have been involved in every major piece of history that involves the Backstreet Boys. Consistency is important especially when it involves events that are cumbersome for most people. The cruise, the star event on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the 20th Anniversary party in Hollywood, and after parties are more than the average experience. For example, the cruises are hard to attend. Not only are they more expensive than a concert, but there is also travel costs to consider, and the amount of cabins available to the ratio of fans is tough. It is a blessing to be on the cruises, but being persistent about these events are key. Every opportunity I have to show the tattoo I do, and my fiancé is always willing to pull down my shirt to show people. I have had many people ask to take pictures of it, which I always welcome. The more exposure of the tattoo the better. These folks will then post it to their social media pages, and therefore their friends will see it too.
After I got the tattoo, I was worried that the band would think I was creepy and stalkerish (which I am not). Over Labor Day Weekend 2013, I sat down for three days thru, and wrote a book “The Girl With the Backstreet Boys Tattoo” to explain why I got the tattoo, and how influential the band, their lyrics and Backstreet friends have been in my life. To order a copy of the book visit –www.thegirlwiththebackstreetboystattoo.com.
About three weeks ago my fiancé and I attended the world premiere of the movie “Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of: The Backstreet Boys” documentary in Hollywood, California. Once again I was proudly displaying the tattoo for all to see. Many people again ask to take pictures of it. The guys are fantastic with the fans, and recognize the core group of people at these major events. We had a few days to spend in Hollywood. As luck, fate, the moon and the stars aligning would have it, we were at the Backstreet Boys star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame taking pictures when Brian Littrell and his family were just visiting the star. It is very rare to get a full 10 minutes to talk to your idol, but Robert (my fiancé) and I did. I showed Brian my tattoo (this being at least the third or fourth time), and the expression on his face was priceless. It even came down to him asking to take a picture of the tattoo with his cell phone. I had my cellphone out as well, and got an amazing picture with Brian pointing to himself on my tattoo. This just doesn’t happen. It was pure luck! I believe that this meeting with Brian is what prompted the post on the official Facebook page.
Be Thick Skinned
I’m not talking about literally being thick skinned here. A tattoo is a tattoo, and yes they hurt! What I mean by this is to be bold, while not letting other people’s negative comments or suggestions get in the way. I’ve learned over the years that people will always have an opinion. These opinions, good or bad, are no reason to stop promoting, stop sharing, or stop engaging in what you are passionate about.
At the end of the day, I did not get my tattoo to appease anyone. I got it because when I’m 80 years old, I want to look over my shoulder and remember all the good times with the band, with friends who share a similar interest, memories of the tour, and the lyrics and the meaning it holds for me.
Over the years I have had the opportunities to learn areas of business that I normally would not get to experience. About two years ago I helped publish a book and from that learned the steps necessary to publish and promote the book. I love to be social. I love to connect with fans not only on a technology basis but everyday interaction. It is why I go out of my way to comment and like other people's posts and accept friend connections. My career has given me many opportunities to explore new technologies and learn more of an interactive CRM program and market using campaigns. By using these ideals at work I have used these ideals in my personal experiences with friends on social media. When my book was published I used these ideas as a way to promote my own personal book which gives me a sense of accomplishment seeing the post of the tattoo. I feel like the hard work was rewarded.
If you love outdoor adventure, ever-more-extreme sports, and that wonderful feeling of rushing adrenaline, Christmas has come early! The Banff Mountain World Film Festival has just released their new trailer for the 2014/2015 world tour. Every year, the submissions keep reaching higher levels as passionate filmmakers come together to share the stories of the world's top outdoor athletes perform in that almost-magical flow state. Check it out!
Schedule For Showings here in Colorado:
For information about venues, tickets and films to be shown, please contact the host organizations listed below.
March 3, 4, 2015 Ute Mountaineer 970-925-2849
February 21, 2015 Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) 970-453-6422 www.boec.org
March 6, 7, 2015 Crested Butte Search & Rescue 970-275-0691 email@example.com
February 26, 27, 2015 Colorado Mountain Club
March 14, 2015 Rocky Mountain Wild & San Juan Citizens Alliance 970-259-3583
There are few things in this world that need protection as much as a newborn child, and, for the most part, their care and protection fall to the parents. But what happens when the parents themselves need help and protection? Each year 4,000 babies are born to teen moms with 67% of those moms living below the poverty line. Life for these moms isn't easy, with less than 1% of them will ever graduate from college and fewer than half will earn their high school diploma. In Colorado, a single mother must work over 80 hours per week at minimum wage in order to meet the basic needs for her and her child. Luckily for them, there are organizations out there who dedicate themselves to helping and caring for these struggling mothers and their children. Hope House of Colorado is one of these organizations. Through residential programs, GED help and career resources, Hope House strives to be a positive force for change in the lives of teen mothers. Through Hope House's efforts teen mothers are provided resources to drastically improve their lives and the lives of their children. and thats not all. What really helps set Hope House apart is the amount of support and love that they are able to share. They provide a safe and caring environment to help support those who need it most, mothers and their children.
Hope House of Colorado
Dr. Robert Ballard, famous for discovering the wreckage of the RMS Titanic, set up The Ocean Exploration Trust in 2008 in order to continue seeking out new discoveries in the fields of geology, biology, maritime history, archaeology, and chemistry. Ballard and his crew of modern-day explorers are pushing the boundaries of ocean engineering, technology, education, and communications. Many of their international expeditions are launched from aboard Exploration Vessel Nautilus, a 64-meter research vessel.
“I grew up wanting to be Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” - Robert Ballard, Founder of the Ocean Exploration Trust
Along with conducting scientific research, Captain Nemo and his crew are also offering their expeditions to curious, on-shore explorers via live video, audio, and data feeds. They also bring educators and students of all ages aboard during E/V Nautilus expeditions, offering hands-on experience in ocean exploration, research, and communications. Captain Nemo and his crew are working hard to be role models for the next generation of scientists, engineers, and educators.
To help spread the passion of ocean exploration, Jim Salestrom - an Emmy Award winning songwriter - wrote "Nautilus" while sailing onboard as a member of the Corps of Exploration. Captain Nemo's talented crew recently put together a music video to go along with the song.
A few months back I went on a 21-day sugar detox and was curious as to how it would affect my diabetes and blood sugar levels. I will preface this follow up by saying that without completely divulging my health status, high cholesterol and high blood pressure along with diabetes runs in my family. While I’m the recipient of those genetic traits, over the years I’ve done everything within my power to slow the progression. Banana Icecream
I’ve read tons of literature on managing diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. And while there was attention given to fruits and vegetables, the common thread seemed to involve heavy emphasis on whole grains, low/no fat foods, and calorie counting. Over the years I followed that mantra and yet my symptoms still gradually worsened. Stomach issues plagued me since childhood. I’ve always had a little paunch I affectionately call my Buddha belly. I worked out three to four times a week without losing a pound. Things seemed rather hopeless, and I resigned myself to just having to endure poor health and a possible short lifespan. The South Beach Diet came out, which introduced a new concept of eliminating all grains and sugar (except for artificial sweeteners) for the first week, but keeping things low fat, then slowly reintroducing grains during weeks two and three. I successfully completed all three weeks but didn’t lose any weight, and was always hungry.
Prior to embarking on the sugar detox, I already started cutting out grains mainly to curb my carb consumption. The side benefit was I had fewer stomach issues. The 21-Day Detox really was my introduction to the paleo lifestyle. Much like the South Beach Diet in that it’s low in carbs, there is a big exception. Instead of emphasizing low/no fat, and the heavy use of artificial sweeteners, I enjoy liberal amounts of fat in the form of nuts and meats, and some dairy like butter and heavy cream. (Die hard paleo enthusiasts would scoff at my use of dairy). The only allowed sweets came in the form of fruit, while honey and stevia are acceptable post sugar detox.
Adopting this lifestyle has been successful in several ways. One success is my recent blood work. My A1C went down from 7.2 to 6.7, my blood pressure is normal, as is my total cholesterol, which went down a whopping 109 points. All of this occurred by eliminating grains and sugar while enjoying foods like bacon, meats, fish, poultry, whole eggs, nuts and unlimited veggies. Contrary to popular belief, fat is our friend! It satiates, and more importantly, fat is flavor! The real culprits are refined carbs in the form of sugar and grains. My pallet has become more sensitive. I can taste the natural sugars in things like whole milk! The caveat to these changes is my body is sensitive all fast foods and convenient frozen meals, which means I spend a lot of time preparing many meals from scratch. Planning is essential. However, it’s a small price to pay considering the benefits of delicious real food and great health results outweigh this small inconvenience.
Here is a terrific recipe to introduce anyone interested in a grain free lifestyle.
Grain free/gluten free muffins made from almond flour
2 ½ cups blanched almond flour (regular almond flour/meal will work just fine)
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda or arrowroot powder
2 large eggs
¼ cup melted or softened coconut oil or unsalted butter (use full fat! No using fake stuff for this recipe)
1 or 2 ripe bananas, or 2/3-1 cup of other kind of fruit like peaches or plum or even mangos (yes mangos!)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350. In a small saucepan, add coconut oil or unsalted butter with fruit of choice and other wet ingredients except the egg and mix until just combined and the oil/butter is melted. If using diced apples, I’d sauté the mix until the apples are softened. (I usually add cinnamon and nutmeg whenever using apples to give the “apple pie” flavor.) Just be sure your mixture is cool enough so that you don’t get scrambled eggs when you’re ready to add the eggs. Once it’s cool enough, add all wet ingredients in either blender or food processor and mix only until the eggs are nicely incorporated.
In a large mixing bowl, mix in all remaining dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix until well combined. It should look like thick cake batter. Scoop into a lined 1 dozen muffin tin and bake for 20-30 minutes, when the tops are golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
You can turn these into “cupcakes” by simply adding frosting of your choice. The nice thing about these muffins is, because they’re made from almond flour, you can reheat them for about 30 seconds in a microwave without them turning into hockey pucks! Enjoy!
Between touring and touristing, as a musician, travel is my lot, and I value it for the great experiences. Recently, with my wife, Pam, I visited the Shetland Islands, north of Scotland, which are very much a part of Great Britain. We flew to the beautiful city of Edinburgh, then headed up to Grantown on Spey to stay with dear friends Frank and Debbie Strang. We flew from Inverness to Lerwick on the Mainland Island where further adventures ensued.
I did an interview with BBC, which was broadcast all over Scotland. and then we visited High Level Music where I played with store owner Brian Nicholson-he was brilliant on lead guitar, kinda like Albert Lea’s little brother. Then we took a tour of Mareel Theater. Linda Anderson showed the new performing arts center and as she went to college at Vanderbilt in Nashville and knows everyone there, included many folks I have only heard of. What a fun time.
We then took 2 ferry boat rides and car rides,which I partially slept through, to arrive on the most northern island of Unst. (The Island Above All Others) Frank Strang was in the RAF (Royal Air Force) and had known about an air force base that was closing on Unst called Saxa Vord. After much deliberation he and Debbie bought the base (which had been remodeled into a very nice resort.) They promoted me in a concert at Baltasound Hall for Friday night August 24th, where I was surprised to have Brian Nicholson play with me for the entire show. It was a packed house with 300, or so, folks from the island cheering both me and Jennifer McCarthy, a school teacher with a great voice.
After, Pam and I toured the island on our own. We drove to the top of the treeless mountains to see firths (fiords), an incredible lighthouse called Muckel Flugga and the the outcrop of a small island called the Outcast, which is the northern most point of the United Kingdom. The history of the island is amazing for it’s crops-sheep-and the wee ponies they call Shetlands. They were not bred that small but survived the harsh conditions and worked pulling plows and working in the coal mines carrying more weight than any other horse per it’s size. They have been on the islands for 2000 years. Dating back to the Bronze Age, they are friendly and come right up especially if you have carrots which we always have from Charlie’s market. We learned all this from eleven-year old Emily Strang, an up and coming guitar player/ singer / dancer like her older brother Thomas. The Shetland ponies each have their own passport and computer chip as they are protected. They have incredible coats as it rains a lot there.
We met a group of locals that act as a cross between the Chamber of Commerce-Kiwanis Club-Welcome Wagon but dress as Vikings (The vikings used to raid the Shetlands and even the dialect has been affected by the close proximity to Norway.) These modern day Vikings take their role seriously and stayed the entire evening for the Open Mic night at the officer’s Club at Saxa Vord. They managed to raise the roof for the many talented young and old performers who signed up and do their thing- They are an infectious lot and make everybody laugh.
The number of talented musicians in the Shetland Islands is above the norm and they are very much in tune and in touch with the modern music we hear everywhere as well as holding tight the traditional fiddle music of the Shetland Reel and the country music of the US through a famous musician named Thomas Frasier.
We had a great time staying a very nice three bedroom town home. There are 30 of these plus beds for another 100 people and incredible grounds to camp. All this plus a micro brewery called Vahalla and Great Britain’s most Northern distillery that makes Shetland Reel Gin. I wrote a commercial for the gin and they unveiled the first cases at a tasting while we were there.
There is a full football (soccer) pitch made with Astro Turf next to the lodging perfect for a Bird Air tent structure (similar to Denver’s teepee looking airport) and also a full blown airplane hangar not too far away for the major Shetland Music Festival next August 2015. I will be helping Frank produce this with a wide range of diverse styles that combine some folks from the US with lots of talent from the Shetlands. We are hoping for a grand turnout and want you to think about joining us for the first one! (think Fred at Telluride circa 1977) The Shetland Islands have a wonderful Folk Festival in the Spring (May) and we want to promote that, as well as Mareel and all things cultural there. Our friends Mollie and Tim O’Brien have played there and Mollie is headed back with Rich Moore next year - we are going to ask if she’d like to do two trips-she’s wonderful! I hope you’ll tune in to 710 KNUS on Saturdays 1:00 to hear the ICOSA Radio program. It is insightful and it’s wonderful to be a part of this new broadcast as their music contributor.
Tweets can get you in trouble, if you're Cee Lo Green or any other doofus making idiotic comments... but they can also be a valuable source of information. Who knew that a 140 character social media app would become, not only a first hand reporting medium, but a useful tool for piecing together the aftermath of a natural disaster.
According to a study by the University of Colorado Boulder, hashtags, and GPS locations attached to pictures sent on Twitter, detailed the scope of damage to the area's infrastructure. What they found on Twitter feeds, helped rescuers and engineers determine where to focus their efforts. And by studying what they learned in the 2013 flood, they can map out a system for effective reconnaissance after future natural disasters.
As people tweeted vivid, detailed images of damaged bridges and washed out roads, it was one of the sources of timely information. "After the fact, we compared those tweets to the damage reported by engineering reconnaissance teams and they were all well correlated." explained Shideh Dashiti, an assistant professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering at CU-Boulder and author of the study.
This is critical because engineering reconnaissance crews generally have a narrow window to investigate within the time it's safe to enter a damaged area, and when clean up efforts eliminate the evidence of weakened infrastructure. Those investigations are crucial to to allow for proper repairs, and determine the remaining life of a bridge structure.
So, although the practice of tweeting can seem banal or narcissistic, the practice of posting those pictures provides invaluable evidence, which can ultimately save lives. As we are learning in other cases, Twitter as the first draft of history provides evidence that can answer questions that would otherwise be left unanswered.
The cost of dining out is going to get higher, and we have natural disasters to blame for it. First up, a loss that got everyone's attention, followed by more devastation that only made it into agriculture news.
In the early morning hours, on Sunday August 24th, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake in the San Francisco area didn't result in human loss, but wine reserves took a severe hit. Napa Valley was the epicenter of the August 25th earthquake, home to nearly 500 vineyards in the area. The impact of an earthquake would be felt in the wine reserves, thousands of barrels and bottles of wine were destroyed. Many of the buildings that sustained damage were those that had been retrofitted to withstand earthquakes.
Wineries are reporting $15,000 to $20,000 losses to their inventory. One vineyard claims its water tank came untethered, which could result in further crop loss in the midst of current drought conditions.
It's estimated that Napa Valley alone could submit millions of dollars in loss claims, counting wine losses alone.
Likewise, beef prices are rising, about 6 - 7 percent due to the devastating loss of cattle in a South Dakota storm last October. Today, ground beef has reached a record high of $3.55 a pound up 56 percent from 2010. CNN Money reports that price increases in February resulted in the biggest month-over-month rise in more than a decade, but they don't seem to connect it to the loss of cattle only months before.
In case you missed it, and it seems like everyone outside of agricultural circles did, South Dakota cattle ranchers took a catastrophic hit to their livelihoods when a sneaky freak storm took them by surprise in early October.
It was seasonably warm one minute, and the next their cattle were caught in a blizzard. The cattle, in their summer coats, and still in summer pasture were soaked by the rain, then frozen in the bitter cold wind. Fall roundup was still two weeks away, when ranchers would bring them in for closer observation and more navigable terrain. As it was, the cattle became disoriented in the snow, and unreachable by ranchers. The storm resulted in the deaths of 40 - 50 percent of most herds, primarily heifers due to calve in the in the spring.
An estimated 60,000 to 80,000 head of cattle were lost, and it is expected to take at least five years to recover the generations of beef cattle that can feed America. I wouldn't expect the price of steak to level out any time soon.
So if you're planning to go out for a juicy steak and a nice bottle of wine any time in the next couple of years, be prepared for the expense. Consider it a worthwhile contribution to the beef growers and vineyards who work so hard to put it on your table.
Today at 11am Mountain Time, Instagram is releasing Hyperlapse, a remarkable new app that empowers users to create fantastic tracking shots and time-lapse videos. Yesterday, this would have required $10,000 or more in professional production gear. Now, with the use of a clever algorithm, it's available on smartphones for free.
Instead of intensively processing the raw video to artificially model the camera's movement, the app makes use of smartphones' built-in gyroscope to measure the phone's movements directly. As WIRED reports, the concept of Hyperlapse may be too complex for average Instagram users, so the company decided to release it as an entirely separate app rather than a feature on the core Instagram app. “We didn’t want to create a special use that would just be hidden,” says Mike Krieger, Instagram’s co-founder and CTO.
Of all the commodities to be impacted by high prices and export issues, why chocolate? It's a tragedy against the sweet life-blood of ... of... oh, just give me chocolate. Chocolate prices are increasing about seven to eight percent in the United States, due to commodity, transportation and manufacturing costs. Blame in part on the high cost of cocoa beans which has gone up 18% this year alone. M&M/MARS and Hershey's have responded by recently increasing their wholesale prices.
Other contributing factors are low yields in cocoa growing regions, combined with increased demand, strangely, because the American palate has shifted from what I call, "watered down milk-chocolate" to rich dark chocolate combinations. The change in tastes can be attributed to health studies in the past ten years, reporting that dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants which gives chocolate gluttons more reason to consume the sweet, tasty goodness with wild abandon.
High prices are not a great obstacle for U.S. sales, as Americans are notoriously willing to pay for such luxuries. None of that changes the fact that cocoa yields in regions like the Ivory Coast are very sensitive to changing weather patterns. Possible climate change could impact crops to the point of a significant loss of yield over the coming years, at which point we will be forced to find a substitute for heaven on earth.
Prices are likely to be impacted further as efforts to reduce the slave trade related to the harvesting of cocoa, gain more ground, which may result in fair compensation for cocoa farmers. To see more about the laborious process of harvesting cocoa, and the small proportion of income the farmers receive from the process, watch this revealing video. It's worth the full five minutes, and will cause you to appreciate chocolate all the more.
And for an example of the critical influence of chocolate in various cultures, watch my favorite SNL skit.
"Music does bring people together... No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same." - John Denver
Whereever you travel, through whatever country, people can always connect through the shared experience of enjoying music. Everyday more and more people turn to online streaming services for their jams, creating a nexus point of musical diversity used the world over. There are already ways to make online music a more communal experience, but this newest one is something else entirely.
"Even though listening to music can be a very private experience, I wanted to see how often this experience is shared.” - Kyle McDonald
Spotify, one of the largest music streaming services, recently unveiled a map, that shows when any two people around the world are listening to the same song at the same time (within 1/10th of a second of each other). The map, named Serendipity, jumps from song to song showing the location of each of the listeners worldwide, and what they're listening to. It also gives you the option to pause, stop and listen for a while. This project, based on real-time data was created by Spotify's first artist-in-residence, Kyle McDonald. About the project, McDonald says “In person, it’s easy to see the features we share, or when we share stories in online discussions. But we’re also connected in more ephemeral ways, and we can extract these relationships with new tools. Even though listening to music can be a very private experience, I wanted to see how often this experience is shared.”
If you want to get connected with others through music,
“To abstain from enjoyment which is in our power, or to seek distant rather than immediate results, are among the most painful exertions of the human will” -
Nassau William Senior
Have you ever put off finishing a project until the last second? Or wondered why you're bad at saving your money for retirement? Chances are that you have, and it may have to do with a disconnect from "your future self." The disconnect comes from this unconscious belief that the person you are today is a separate entity from the person you are in the future. The future you wants to retire at 55, but today you wants to take a trip to Hawaii. The future you should be a successful CEO, but the present you doesn't want to work past 5:00. We have these notions on how we want the future to be, and a lot of times we are incapable of reconciling our present actions with our future wants.
What does this mean? Keith Chen , an economics professor at UCLA, proposes a rather interesting idea. As a native English-speaking Chinese person he often wondered at the differences between the two languages, and in particular the difference in their future tenses. Upon doing a some further research, he realized that this difference in tenses was visible across the board in many languages. Where in English one say "it will rain tomorrow" in German one would say "Morgen regnet es" which translates literally to "It rains tomorrow." This way requires that English speakers make an inherent distinction between the present and the future, in a way that German does not. This leads us to distinguish the two by saying that English has a strong future-tense while German has a weak-future tense, and it is believed that this difference could be what causes the present-future disconnect.
This may seem a little far fetched, but the effects of language on perception are well known. Keith takes this idea and applies it to economics. He believes that the separation of present-self from future-self affects us not only on a personal scale, but influences the amount of money that whole countries save. Not only does this apply to savings, it correlates to the amount of risk that citizens take in their daily lives. For example, those countries with a stronger future tense are statistically more likely to engage in impulse buying, smoking and engaging in unprotected sex. Hopefully by knowing this information, an individual can act more consciously in the way they make their decisions and we can all do a better job of preparing for our future. The full TED talk by Professor Chen can be seen below.
Much has been made of the new nutrition requirements associated with the National School Lunch Program which has been in place for two years now. A search of stories and blog posts show musings and manifestos from parents and teachers who have seen pounds upon pounds of food thrown out by students who are required to take certain portions (fruits or vegetables) but won't eat it. Some school officials have pointed to the problem as a source of extreme and unnecessary waste.
The underlying problem may be nutrition requirements so specific, that cafeteria kitchens can only meet them with bland, tasteless food results. Which, no matter how you slice it, does no good at all.
It's unclear whether that's the reason one Colorado school district is opting out of the national program, regardless of the financial incentive to participate. Weeks before the start of the 2014-2015 school year, the Douglas County School District's board approved a decision to allow the districts nine high schools to drop out of the program. Students who qualify for free or reduced cost school lunches can still participate in the program, but the school district will not be reimbursed by the federal government.
The district's figures show that about 6 percent of their students qualify, and the loss in reimbursement would about to $167,000.
"We're prepared to absorb those costs," said Brent Craig, the district's director of nutrition services. "We're unique in that way. If I was managing a district with a higher number of free or reduced lunch students, I couldn't do it."
Delving deeper, the decision seems to be the result of examining what goes into meeting the NSLP requirements. In one case, the district's chef managed to get a variation of pizza to the recommended 350 calories, but only by replacing the natural cheese with modified food starch, yet it exceeded the maximum allowance of 480 mg sodium. Students didn't like the pizza, but another option, healthier than commercial pizza was well-liked. And that's what the school district would prefer investing their resources in, and ultimately feed to students.
On July 4, 2008, I broke both feet in a freak accident that confined me in a wheelchair for six weeks. To say that was a humbling experience is an understatement. I got to experience first hand what millions of physically disabled (like my brother) contend with on a daily basis which included dealing with inconsiderate people who steal handicapped parking spaces, being stared at as I struggled, or just being treated less than human due to my “difference”. Losing a bit of my independence was also increasingly frustrating. I could go on and on but I digress. I actually want to focus on my mode of transportation, the wheelchair. While my rental wheelchair was relatively lightweight and the appropriate size for me, it still had its limits, which would soon test mine. Bald, non-inflatable tires made it nearly impossible to traverse smooth slopes without slipping. Although it was lightweight, it still required upper body strength to propel myself anywhere which was quite exhausting. I can’t complain too much, after all it was a rental. Thankfully new technology and design innovations are continuing to improve the quality of life for the disabled. Here are just some of those creations in place today.
I’m particularly interested in these modified Segways. They appear to be able to traverse a variety of terrain. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYSBaHV7gGo