Author - Brett Loewe

Traveling musician. And I write about it. Isn't that fun? And what do you do to be happy in life?

Earth Nature & Tech Science

Weird ‘Praying Monk’ Ice Daggers Host Life in an Extreme Environment

We first heard of nieves penitentes in scientific literature written by Charles Darwin back in the 1800s, but most of us have never heard of this strange term.

This is because nieves penitentes, strange blades of ice found in remote places, were discovered first in the Andes which are difficult and extreme and therefore, extremely hard to venture into, especially for an extended period of time for study.

However, a group of brave scientists made the trip into Chile’s Volcán Llullaillaco, recording their findings in the journal Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research. “This is a very remote area that’s difficult to access,” study co-author Steve Schmidt, from the University of Colorado Boulder, said in a statement.

“The entire back of one of our pickup trucks had to be filled with barrels of drinking water. It’s no trivial thing to go out there, and that’s one of the reasons these formations haven’t been studied much.”

Nieves penitentes are long blades of hardened snow and ice ranging anywhere from a few inches to 16 feet long. They are found in cold, dry regions about 13,000 feet, the most extreme, high-altitude environments on Earth.

Since UV radiation is high and humidity is low, the temperature changes drastically and the winds are extreme, making it difficult for life to exist.

These snow formations usually form pointed toward our sun, and they were named nieves penitentes – meaning “penitent snow” – because of their resemblance to praying monks wearing white robes.

Red Ice?

What the scientists found was astounding: the penitente fields, found at a height of over 16,000 feet, had red ice patches. This means that microscopic life exists! Further analysis showed that the patches held a community of snow algae closely related to that which has been found in other alpine and polar environments.

“In this environment penitentes provide both water and shelter from harsh winds, high UV radiation and thermal fluctuations, creating an oasis in an otherwise extreme landscape,” the team wrote.

This is the first time life has been recorded in these formations. Since they are believed to exist on other bodies within the solar system, including Pluto and Jupiter’s moon Europa, this could provide insight into extra-terrestrial life.

The scientists say its meaning is significant when we consider the search for alien life.”Intriguingly, recent planetary investigations have suggested the existence of penitente-like structures on other planetary bodies of our solar system,” the team concludes.

“Therefore, penitentes and the harsh environment that surrounds them provide a new terrestrial analog for astrobiological studies of life beyond Earth.”Lara Vimercati, lead author of the study, said in a statement:

“Snow algae have been commonly found throughout the cryosphere on both ice and snow patches, but our finding demonstrated their presence for the first time at the extreme elevation of a hyper-arid site.” They found nieves penitentes near the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth; moreover, it’s landscape is thought to be most similar to Mars.

These discoveries giving insight into life existing on such harsh environments help scientists understand what types of places it could show up in the rest of the solar system. Currently, researchers strongly believe that Jupiter’s moon could be harboring microscopic lifeforms in its subsurface, saline ocean since they’ve found thousands of species beneath Antarctica’s surface.”

Our study shows how no matter how challenging the environmental conditions, life finds a way when there is availability of liquid water,” Vimercati said. Schmidt added: “We’re generally interested in the adaptations of organisms to extreme environments. This could be a good place to look for upper limits of life.”

We first heard of nieves penitentes in scientific literature written by Charles Darwin back in the 1800s, but most of us have never heard of this strange term.

This is because nieves penitentes, strange blades of ice found in remote places, were discovered...

Fashion

How to Dry Clean at Home

In today’s age, everyone is wearing workout clothing in other places such as at the workplace or for a casual occasion.  Most workout clothes are made from materials that can be easily thrown in the washer and that’s it.

That said, we all have other clothes such as cashmere sweaters or silk pants with labels that clearly say “dry clean only”.  You know you cannot throw them in your washer without damaging them, so you pack them up and head off to your dry cleaner and spend a good chunk of change to get them cleaned.

After speaking with people in the know, we discovered you do not have to run off to your dry cleaner!  There are dry clean only items that can actually be had washed!

What you don’t know, that label that reads “dry clean only” is actually a way for the manufacturers to not be held accountable if the instructions are not followed to the “T”.  The sole purpose for these labels allows the manufacturers to place the blame on the dry cleaners if an item is damaged.

The DIY DryClean Experiment

Well, back in 2014, an experiment was conducted by taking a series of items with labels for dry cleaning, washed them, and then recorded the results.  It seems cashmere, silk, and polyester did really well but tailored suits or decorative detailed tops did not do well.

Note – these items were not thrown into a washing machine with other items such as sportswear or socks.  They were washed by hand but before deciding to hand wash these items, you should perform a spot test first.

If you are a little trepidatious, test these items in an area that is inconspicuous to the eye and find out how the material reacts to water.  If you find the color is bleeding, the area you tested is shrinking or there’s puckering, you should take it to the dry cleaner.

Keep in mind, there are materials that should never be washed such as leather, suede, rayon, and polyamide fabrics unless the label clearly states the item can be washed.

Also, if you prefer to take these items to the dry cleaner but have no plans of going there every week, you can purchase a fabric freshener, like Fabreze, to keep the item fresh for a longer period of time.

In many cases items that require dry cleaning are usually more expensive to buy so it’s very understandable why you might prefer not to run the risk of washing these items and cause damage On the other hand, if you are willing to give it a shot, there are several really excellent products for hand-washing such as Woolite.

In today’s age, everyone is wearing workout clothing in other places such as at the workplace or for a casual occasion.  Most workout clothes are made from materials that can be easily thrown in the washer and that’s it.

That said, we all have...

Vacation

The Top 10 Destinations to Travel to This Summer, According to Airbnb

Summer Vacation. These two words fill us with the excitement of traveling, relaxing, seeing new places, meeting new people, and more.

Some of us envision a glass of rose by the sea while others of us long for something more foreign and adventurous, explorations in Asia or the mountains somewhere.

The world is an incredibly vast place, and there is no end to the places we could travel to.

If you’re having a hard time choosing where your summer getaway should be in 2019, Airbnb can help with their definitive ranking of this summer’s must-see summer travel destinations.

Airbnb used internal booking data to see which are the hottest and most desirable locations this summer, and the options are quite various. Some focus on nature, like Bragg Creek, Canada while others display the coast, like South Korea’s coastal city of Yeosu.

Two cities of China made their way on the list of top 10 destinations, and it also seems like Puerto Rico has become increasingly popular.

The number one destination was claimed by a commune in northern France right next to the Belgian border and on the Scheldt River – Valenciennes.

Time to Choose!

Those vacation days are almost upon us, so if you haven’t managed to land on a location for you this summer, let Airbnb’s top global destinations help! They are as follows:

  1. Valenciennes, France
  2. Changsha, China
  3. Matsudo, Japan
  4. Marigot, St. Martin
  5. Wuhan, China
  6. Dorado, Puerto Rico
  7. Vieques, Puerto Rico
  8. Río Grande, Puerto Rico
  9. Yeosu, South Korea
  10. Bragg Creek, Canada

Some of you are planning a trip for you and a significant other, and for most popular trips booked by couples, Airbnb has a whole other list.

You’ll be surprised at some of the destinations that trend the most, like Munising in Michigan, but others are headed to Argentina, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. We’ve listed below the top five locations for those booking for two:

  1. Nanterre, France
  2. Nanjing, China
  3. Williams, Arizona
  4. Courseulles-sur-Mer, France
  5. South Uist, Scotland

Summer Vacation. These two words fill us with the excitement of traveling, relaxing, seeing new places, meeting new people, and more.

Some of us envision a glass of rose by the sea while others of us long for something more foreign and adventurous...

Animals Cool Stories

25 Year Old Shark Tooth Removed From Man’s Leg

Florida resident Jeff Weakley was bitten by a shark near Florida’s Flagler Beach back in 1994 and had long since put the incident behind him until he suddenly noticed that he had developed a lump similar to a blister on the same foot.  He decided to pop the blister with some tweezers only to have a piece of shark tooth fall out.

According to scientists at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Mr Weakley had contacted them after the incident so they could run tests on the tooth to establish the species of shark it had once belonged to.

The Museum is currently running the Florida Program for Shark Research so it seemed was certainly the go-to lab for Mr Weakley.  He was, however, concerned that when they ran the tests it might come back as something like a mackerel tooth, which would be a lot less exciting.

Testing the Tooth for Shark DNA

Scientist Lei Yang took the tooth and removed the pulp to test for DNA.  It revealed that the tooth did indeed belong to a shark, specifically a Blacktip sharp.  Known scientifically as Carcharhinus limbatus, this is a medium-sized shark that is often found in waters similar to that around Flagler Beach.

The event was reported in Wilderness & Environmental Medicine where laboratory manager Lei Yang explained how the test had been performed using modern genome sequencing to obtain an unambiguous result.

The University of Florida’s Naylor Lab has a DNA library of around 70% of all known sharks and similar species in the world and the Blacktip is one of the most abundant found in the Gulf of Mexico.  Since they are so plentiful it is not uncommon for the Blacktip to be implicated in shark bite cases around Florida.

Mr Yang had some sympathy with Mr Weakley’s need to find out which shark had been the one to bite him.  For his own part Mr Weakley said that this was confirmation of his initial belief that the shark had been a Blackfin.

That being the case, he still spent time in the ocean and the bite had never put him off swimming in the area.  He likened it to being bitten by a dog, he was unlucky, but it was just a fact of life that sharks are present in the local area.

The team of scientists were lucky to be able to use the DNA in the tooth because it had been inside Mr Weakley’s body for around a quarter of a century, during which time it had undoubtedly come under fire from his own immune system.

Mr Yang was keen to point out that determining a species in the case of bites could be instrumental in understanding behavior and then implementing strategies that could help prevent future incidents.  Each species is different in their life span, history and behavior so understanding the sharks is key to preventing more bites.

Florida resident Jeff Weakley was bitten by a shark near Florida’s Flagler Beach back in 1994 and had long since put the incident behind him until he suddenly noticed that he had developed a lump similar to a blister on the same foot.  He decided to pop...

Cool Stories Earth Humans Are Awesome

Find Out How LEGO Has Managed To Run On 100% Renewable Energy

Not only has LEGO earned a place in the Guinness World Book of Records but achieved their goal running renewable energy a good 3 years before their initial plan.

LEGO was launched on August 10, 9132 in Billund Denmark and is the leading manufacturer of a children’s toy famously known as LEGO Building Bricks!  They completed their wind farm off the coast of Ireland which uses 258 megawatts of energy.  They constructed an enormous life-sized wind turbine made out of LEGOs to honor the occasion.

LEGO CEO, Bali Padda, said they worked very hard to leave a positive impact on the planet and they are very excited about the inauguration of the Burbo Bank Extension wind farm. This is not the first time LEGO has been involved in renewable energy.

They own approximately one-third of the German-based Borkum Riggrund I offshore wind farm and 25% of the newly-minted Burbo Bank.

The CEO said they plan to continue investing in renewable energy to help form a better future for the builders of tomorrow.  Back to the Guinness World Record, they achieved their place by historically building the largest LEGO brick turbine.

It was constructed out of more than 146,000 LEGO bricks and it took their team over 600 hours to complete, transport, and reassemble the masterpiece at the  Liverpool ONE shopping center in England.

After reassembly, the structure was measured by officials using a measuring tape and a hydraulic crane.  If you want to see this massive, magnificent LEGO wind turbine, it’s been moved to the LEGOLAND Winsor Resort in England.

It’s About The Children:

LEGO said they have gone to great lengths to promote renewable energy because it’s about the next generation being taught about the value of sustainable power.  They know their role models are children and plan to continue taking action for reducing the environmental impact as a company.

They continue looking for ways to inspire children from all over the world by engaging them in environmental and social issues.

In 2018, LEGO released its first sustainable set of plant-based bricks made from sugar cane.  A few months later, they introduced their LEGO Creator Expert toy which is a miniature version that functions as a wind turbine for children.

This amazing company with its incredible vision is well on its way to provide 100% environmentally-friendly packaging and merchandise by 2030!

Way To Go LEGO!

Not only has LEGO earned a place in the Guinness World Book of Records but achieved their goal running renewable energy a good 3 years before their initial plan.

LEGO was launched on August 10, 9132 in Billund Denmark and is the leading manufacturer of a...

Cool Stories Humans Are Awesome

Creative Repairman Perfectly Fixes Household Goods Using Instant Noodles

Here’s an Idea:

You can fix anything, apparently, with Ramen Noodles!

I’m not sure how this actually holds up but the basis is valid – it’s a filler (noodles) mixed with glue. What could possibly go wrong?

Here’s an Idea:
You can fix anything, apparently, with Ramen Noodles!
I’m not sure how this actually holds up but the basis is valid – it’s a filler (noodles) mixed with glue. What could possibly go wrong?

Cool Stories

A House That Looks Like a Floating Island

Located in Greece above the Santorini Hills sits this incredible home.  Inside, it is a modern residence but from a distance it looks like a slice of land is levitating above the ground.

There is a living garden on the roof and because the lower levels are designed in the earth-like striations the house gives an almost mirage-like appearance in the landscape.

This house, created by Kapsimalis Architects sits in a vineyard overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and Fira, the capital of the island.  It completes its integration with the local landscape with a design reminiscent of the local caves.

Mirrored Earth

The look is created using tow levels: one mirrored, and one earthen.  The living area sits in the mirrored lower floor, along with the kitchen, bathroom and master bedroom.  The area has an almost subterranean feel because of the earthen level sitting above.

On this level you find an office and an attic and, of course, a terrace from which you can overlook the spectacular view.  The views are not limited to the upper level though, the architects cleverly used one-way mirroring to give stunning lower level views similarly impressive views across the local scenery.

The architects were heavily influenced by the diversity of the landscape and used that to inspire the design of the home.  They wanted the home to become integral to the scenery using specific materials combined with a mirrored level to fully assimilate the property into the natural environment.

The mixture of traditional aesthetics and modern, futuristic design has created a unique and outstanding dwelling.

The architects have created a number of other similar homes including hotels within hills, concrete homes and adaptations of Greek ruins.  All of their structures use the region’s natural shapes, textures and traditional architecture as a backdrop for their unique designs.

Located in Greece above the Santorini Hills sits this incredible home.  Inside, it is a modern residence but from a distance it looks like a slice of land is levitating above the ground.

There is a living garden on the roof and because the lower levels are...

Cool Stories Entertainment Entertainment News

Batman is 80!

Art Exhibition Showcases the Caped Crusader’s 80th year as Comic Book Icon

Long before the movies, video games, cartoons a music videos the Caped Crusader made his mark as a comic book hero.  Batman, alongside Superman, was the star of DC comics.  Looking back on our hero you can see a rich history and if that’s something you’d love to immerse yourself in then get yourself along to one of three new exhibitions of Batman Art.

The New York-based Society of Illustrators is opening three exhibitions devoted to the savior of Gotham City. Each of the exhibitions will showcase literally hundreds of Batman images across several themes.  The opening reception takes place on June 21st.

Illustrating Batman

The main exhibit, entitled “Illustrating Batman: Eighty Years of Comics and Pop Culture,”  will showcase the comic book hero as seen in the work of Jim Lee, Bob Kane, Frank Miller and Neal Adams featured alongside commercials, toys and essays.

Designer Chip Kidd has provided a personal collection entitled “Batman Collected: Chip Kidd’s Batman Obsession” You can, however, also see some pieces from Bruce Timm and Alex Ross in the mix.

If you are a fan of anime you really need to go and check out the exhibition of Bat-Manga by Jiro Kuwata.  For a 1960s manga feel buy a ticket to “Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan”

If this has whetted your appetite for more Batman get yourself over to the Society of Illustrators in New York and grab a ticket.

Art Exhibition Showcases the Caped Crusader’s 80th year as Comic Book Icon

Long before the movies, video games, cartoons a music videos the Caped Crusader made his mark as a comic book hero.  Batman, alongside Superman, was the star of DC comics. ...

editorial

Hilarious Pet Owner Revenge Signs

A dog is a man’s best friend. Well, that’s true when the man is in the house. But when the man is out… all hell breaks loose. On one hand, they are dogs, and they do not know ALL the house rules. To them, if a doll is on the floor (or very close to it), it means that it was left there for them. You can’t expect them to understand that you can’t go around the house and dog-proofing it.

Any case, take a look at these revenge notes made by the owners of these very cute and sorry dogs.

Couldn’t Bear The Thought

One of the not so great parts of having pups is there tendency to chew anything and everything in their path.

This guys dog decided an antique stuffed panda looked to delicious to handle and chew the face off! For revenge the owner made him wear the panda site! It may not have worked, but it made a cute photo!

It’s funny as it’s cute, read more:

A dog is a man’s best friend. Well, that’s true when the man is in the house. But when the man is out… all hell breaks loose. On one hand, they are dogs, and they do not know ALL the house rules. To them, if a doll is on the floor (or very...

Health Inspiring Stories Lifestyle

3 Ways to Avoid Burnout When You’re Trying To ‘Do It All’

There are certain times in life that call for us to be constantly busy, struggling to balance all the things on our plate all at once. While it cannot be avoided, burnout can! It’s the times that you feel you haven’t a minute to spare to take care of yourself that it’s more important than ever that you do.

Maybe you’re running your kids around while simultaneously juggling everything at home in addition to working a part-time job. The only rest is when your head hits the pillow for those few sweet hours late at night before you’re back at it early the next morning. Your kids and loved ones need you, so what can you do?

Phases like these are what I like to call “soldiering.” Let me be clear, however, that soldiering is not a negative thing. It shows strength and momentum, self-discipline to get done what needs to be done and love for those you do it for. Sometimes, it’s sacrificing what you want for the sake of others, putting yourself second. All this is okay.

Soldiering isn’t a phase that’s meant to last forever. You can only press on with such energy for so long, so know that an end is in sight and that you can carry on until then. And at the end, you can pause to look back at all your hard work has accomplished.

If this is a stage you’ve found yourself in before or are in right now, here are three things to keep in mind to keep from burning out.

  1. Acknowledge that you are soldiering.

Soldiering becomes much more manageable when you acknowledge that’s the state you are in. When you have life on autopilot, you miss out on what goes on day-to-day; you’re not fully present to those around you. But when you’re able to acknowledge to yourself and those around you that you are doing what needs to be done, clarity comes, and you’re able to think through the outcome – the reason you’re in this phase of soldiering to begin with.

  1. Practice self-awareness.

We often avoid self-awareness more than we practice it; sometimes, taking a close look at yourself is just plain scary – we’d rather go on, blissful and ignorant to what is really going on within us. So, self-awareness rarely comes naturally.

But when you habitually make yourself do it, you notice more your behaviours, your reactions, why you feel the way you do. You have insight to see why your environment or your hectic schedule affects you the way it does, both physically and emotionally.

As you look within and understand yourself better, you can make more informed and conscious decisions and impact the quality of your life and relationships positively – both during your soldiering phase as well as when your pace slows.

  1. Take time for self-care.

Yes, it’s appropriate to put others first, to be selfless, but if we don’t take time to care for ourselves, we end up having little to give others. We often feel guilty doing things for ourselves or feel that it shouldn’t be a priority during busy times, but self-care is crucial.

During times like these, you become so energy-depleted and so emotionally drained. There’s no way to continue on if you don’t intentionally replenish and restore these! Take time to grab your favorite meal, read a novel, take a nature walk, or whatever it is that allows your mind and body to rest and recuperate. Just a few moments doing something restorative gives you the energy to tackle each new day afresh!

This season of soldiering won’t last forever, but while it does, utilize these tips to give you strength and help you cope!

There are certain times in life that call for us to be constantly busy, struggling to balance all the things on our plate all at once. While it cannot be avoided, burnout can! It’s the times that you feel you haven’t a minute to spare to take care of...

editorial

Facebook Bans Alex Jones

For years, Facebook has been under-fire for seemingly preferring one particular political narrative over another. Seen as a more liberally-leaning site, a lot of the time you can easily find stories about Facebook banning the accounts of big-name social media commentators.

They’ve gone for people such as Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos. These incendiary media characters have huge followings on their own pages, but now appear to have done enough to get themselves kicked off of Facebook, as well as from other sites such as Twitter and YouTube.

Indeed, Facebook has now seemingly ‘permanently’ banned some of these big name right-wingers, such as Alex Jones, Laura Loomer, and several other big hot shots of the right. However, they’ve also banned the likes of Paul Joseph Watson and Louis Farrakhan.

This is quite an interesting move from Facebook, as it used to try and it paints itself as a more apolitical media network. By taking a side like this, they’ve no doubt opened up an interesting can of worms about what comes next.

According to Facebook, these people are “dangerous” and thus should not be part of their social media network. According to a Facebook representative in an official statement, they said via The Washington Post: “We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,

“The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.”

Facebook silencing those on the right?

While a company is free to have its own regulations and choices as to who can and cannot use its platform, Facebook has come under fire for suppressing the right for people to use their platform to spread right-wing leaning political messages and ideologies.

In the past, Facebook has already barred the likes of Jones and Loomer, as well as other people on the right, for their views. Their views range from various different popular conspiracies, such as the Sandy Hook massacre being staged, to various conspiracies about presidential elections and various other similar claims.

Over the years, these figures have grown in profile in various media circles, and have built large followings across social media.

One immediate supporter of one of the banned, Mr. Farrakhan, was Snoop Dogg. The famous rapper, who is part of the Nation of Islam, said:

“Facebook and Instagram just banned Minister Louis Farrakhan. I wanna know for what? All he ever do was tell the truth, but y’all gonna ban him?” Snoop Dogg said in the first short clip. “I stand with him, I’m with him. Ban me motherf****r. Ban me.”

For years, Facebook has been under-fire for seemingly preferring one particular political narrative over another. Seen as a more liberally-leaning site, a lot of the time you can easily find stories about Facebook banning the accounts of big-name social media...