Earth Vacation

Nature Lovers Now Have 270,000 Acres of Land Open in California

Many people looking to get back into nature have a hard time finding places that are pristine, open, and ever so natural to unwind and just have a great time.

Nature lovers now have a new area in California to view breathtaking mountains, an abundance of wildlife, ancient old oak trees, fields and streams, along with so many hiking trails.  You might just discover your next excellent vacation spot without ever having to leave the country!

Tejon Ranch has donated a great deal of land so visitors can enjoy nature in the most wonderful way.  Tejon Ranch has been around since 1843 and the owner, Fitzgerald Beale, has partnered with an online travel company, Explore Ranches, to allow their members access to 270,000 acres of private land.

About Tejon Ranch:

The ranch is located 60 miles north of Los Angeles and 30 south of Bakersfield.  It is the largest, continual expansion in California offering 422 square miles of land. Tejon Ranch has joined other natural environments in the state, Mojave Desert, Sierra Nevada, San Joaquin Valley, and Coastal Range.  The spans of land is larger than New York City.

There are hundreds of miles of trails and roads to hike along, fields of grass, coniferous forests, ancient oak and Joshua trees, a huge diversity of wildlife, and many reservoirs and streams.

Their partnership with Explore Ranches allows visitors to choose their accommodation from 4 separate lodges that will hold 4 to 12 people at three different locations, including the Venado Cabin.

Located at the foot of the mountains, Venado Cabin offers incredible, endless views from the porch of the cabin.  You can see red-tailed hawks, an occasional condor, eagles, and deer roaming freely along the hillsides.

You can also enjoy a game of horseshoes with their private horseshoe pit.  For those who want to explore the ranch, there are miles of trails for hiking, going on driving tours, or biking.  Just below the cabin, there is an incredible fishing pond loaded with bass and bluegill and a massive meadow with huge oak trees.

If you want a really wonderful vacation away from your hectic lifestyle, visiting this property will give you access to so many activities including mountain biking, hiking, fishing, picnicking, and the incredible opportunity to take photos of wildlife and breathtaking landscapes. What an idyllic way to totally unwind!

Many people looking to get back into nature have a hard time finding places that are pristine, open, and ever so natural to unwind and just have a...

City Life

You Can Improve Your City by Growing Food: Try Guerrilla Grafting!

You might not know that you do not need a permit to make your city more attractive and abundant with food.  That said, there are gardens popping up in vacant lots that were created through guerrilla grafting but somehow fly under the radar of city ordinances.

Guerrilla grafting is one way of making your city more hospitable to their residents without relying on official guidelines.  All you really need,  take some cuttings from fruit-bearing plants, have a few very simple tools, and provide a little tender loving care.

Why Don’t Cities Plant Fruit Trees?

The reason many cities only plant non-fruit-bearing fruits, they are much easier to care for and no one has to spend a great deal of time cleaning up after these plants dropping their fruit on public places including sidewalks.

There does not seem to be a high-in-demand for people to harvest and distribute fruit nor does anyone have the time.  Adding to that, there are places like San Francisco (hold my tongue) that consider grafting as vandalism.

What many places don’t understand, planting and taking care of plants that produce fruit is quite critical for communities in need of fresh fruit such as low-income neighborhoods where these groceries are very hard to come by.

Many of the people in these neighborhoods do not have access to a car to make extra or special trips to the store and do not have the money to spend on healthy items like fruit.  These areas, unlike other neighborhoods, are prime for grafting.

Guerrilla Grafters founder, Tara Hui, was denied by city officials when she wanted to alleviate fruit foods shortage in the Bay Area.  She decided to take it on herself, she joined with fellow agricultural activists to transform their existing trees into fruit-bearing trees and collect data to prove this really does work.

The group only splices edible plants into areas where volunteers will monitor and maintain the trees to combat problems such as insects and other pests.

If you’d like to start something in your neighborhood, all you need are some fruit tree cuttings, a sharp knife, Ziploc bags, grafting tape, rubber bands, and other household items. Visit the Guerrilla Grafters website to get a manual that you can enlarge to read or download in English, German, or Spanish.  Happy Planting!

You might not know that you do not need a permit to make your city more attractive and abundant with food.  That said, there are gardens popping up...

City Life Tech News

Daimler & Bosch Driverless Parking Has Gotten a Thumbs Up

Without a doubt, we have come a very long way getting Artificial Intelligence-based self-driving systems.

As of date, Daimler & Bosch have received approval from the German regulators to operate their automated driverless parking facility without involving a human safety driver sitting behind the wheel.

This is the world’s first fully automated driverless SAE Level 4 parking function to be totally approved for everyday use.  The thumbs-up comes 4 years after the companies started working together on the technology end.

Bosch board member, Dr. Markus Heyn said this decision by authorities only shows that innovations like automated valet parking is now possible in Germany.

He believes that driverless parking and driving are the cornerstones for tomorrow’s automated mobility.  Automated parking shows just how far we have already come and the continued development path that lies ahead.

Look Ma No Hands!

Level 4 was designated by SAE which means the vehicle can handle all aspects of driving in certain conditions without human interference.

Until now, there have been several Level 4 tests and trials in the works but they all involved people behind the wheel of the vehicle as a backup.

Bosch is considered one of the largest automotive tech and hardware suppliers in the world and they handle the infrastructure aspect of the automated parking function.

It works in collaboration with Daimler’s vehicle technology on its Mercedes-Benz vehicles.  Users can easily access the independent valet service using their smartphone app.

Bosch and Daimler started developing their fully automated driverless parking back in 2015. Their initial partnership including car2go, the which is the car-sharing unit of Daimler.

They debuted their automated valet parking function back in 2017 at the parking garage of the Mercedes-Benz Museum.

Then in 2018, after intensive testing, museum visitors ere able to test the automated parking service with one very important warning, a human safety driver must always be behind the wheel.

Using their smartphone app, visitors could reserve vehicles from the facility.  Their vehicle would arrive independently to the designated pick up place in the garage.

When the visitor is finished with the vehicle, they could deliver it to the drop off area.  The vehicle would then drive itself back to its assigned spot, guided by the garage’s infrastructure and onboard sensors.

The pilot program was limited in scope and restricted by a safety driver, but it served a valuable purpose for Bosch and Daimler and even other companies hoping to use automated driving in Germany.

That said, Germany does not have an approval process for automated driving without a human driver.

From the beginning, Bosch and Daimler brought in authorities from Stuttgart and the state of  Baden-Württemberg’s transportation ministry as well as experts from the German certification authority TUV Rheinland.

You would think the group would assess the safety of Bosch & Daimler’s parking function but it also helped regulators come up with guidelines for testing and the approval benchmark that could be applied beyond the pilot project in a parking garage in Stuttgart.

Bosch & Daimler tested lighting ideas on the vehicle’s pilot project.  They used turquoise lighting to indicate that the vehicle was in automation mode and informed others passing by along with other road users, that the vehicle was driving itself.

This is not the only Bosch & Daimler project that is in the works.  In 2017, they partnered to bring fully automated vehicles to urban roads within the next 10 years.  Last year, they announced plans to have a pilot robotaxi service in San Jose, Calif.

They are planning on using automated Mercedes-Benz S Class vehicles during the second half of 2019. There will be a geofenced area in the San Carlos and Stevens Creek corridor which is between downtown and west San Jose.

The pilot will have an on-demand ride-hailing service app operated by Daimler Mobility Services.  All rides will be monitored by a safety driver.

Presently, Bosch is building a $1.1 billion facility designed to assemble semiconductors used in self-driving cars, smart homes, and smart city infrastructure.

The Dresden-based chip is expected to start manufacturing silicon, commercially, in 2021 and construction is expected to be finished in 2019.

Without a doubt, we have come a very long way getting Artificial Intelligence-based self-driving systems.

As of date, Daimler & Bosch have...

Category - Lifestyle

Cool Stories Humans Are Awesome Lifestyle

A Pop-Up Cabin That’s Actually Real? Check It Out!

Do you ever hear about people who have ‘pop-up homes’? You no doubt raise your eyebrows with slight uncertainty. And you aren’t the only one. The idea of a pop-up home is usually reserved for things like video games, where you can place a building with a tap of the finger. But in real-life? Usually, building a strong and sturdy home would take a fair bit more planning and good work!

That being said, we live in a wonderful and exciting world. A pop-up cabin is a term that you might draw derision at, but when you see it actually in place it all becomes a lot easier to understand. If you were able to have a “home” delivered that essentially gets put together in a day, would you do it?

Yes, that includes the plumbing, electrics, air conditioning, etc. – everything is there that you would expect to see. Well, thanks to Italian mastermind Renato Vidal, this is completely possible.

This is an interesting way to get the idea of a flat-pack home. It will come together in just six hours, apparently, and they come built ready to handle even the strongest of earthquakes. So, if you want to build your own home but don’t have the time or means, then a home like this might just be what you are looking for!

Everything comes ready to be enjoyed. It’s like buying some flat-pack furniture from a store: it all arrives ready to go and to be enjoyed. It’s a ridiculous experience, really. All you need to do is populate it with the furniture that you want, and you will be left with more or less a fully home that is built entirely to the way that you would have wanted!

Getting a flat-pack home

Want to know more about this? Then check out M.A.Di, the company behind it. They build up the cabins without any foundations and then they place it for you on some level ground. However, it’s recommended that you get a concrete foundation put in place for the home to sit on prior to it being delivered.

If this something you would be genuinely interested in, we’d recommend speaking to the team behind it before you make a purchase.

It is, though, one of the smartest ideas we have ever seen when it comes to building a home. They can even be packed up and moved. Now, when you choose to move to a new town or neighborhood, you could literally pack your home onto the back of a truck and drive away!

It’s a little like the episode of The Simpsons when Springfield essentially has to move on. It is, though, crucially, a high-quality, respectable build quality that isn’t some gimmick. These are solid, structurally impressive homes that you could easily live in if you were looking to move home.

If you are serious about buying a new property you can take with you, be sure to look at M.A.Di cabins.

Do you ever hear about people who have ‘pop-up homes’? You no doubt raise your eyebrows with slight uncertainty. And you aren’t the only one. The idea of a pop-up home is usually reserved for things like video games, where you can place a building with...

Health Lifestyle

Sore Back From Sitting? Try This Simple Solution

Are you like me, sitting in a chair most of the day? It’s quite sore, isn’t it?

For someone who is comfortably over the average height, too, living a quite sedentary life means having consistent back pain. It’s an irritant most of the time, but it can be a properly debilitating experience when it’s at its worst.

So, I have suffered from back pain since my late teenage years, and it has never gotten any better: well, until now. Now? I might have just found the perfect solution to a sore back that won’t go away.

If you are like me and you manage to spend most of the say slouched forward or leaning back in equal measures, you’ll have all manner of pains and aches in the body. Well, I want to help you understand that it does not have to be this way. In fact, all it takes is a very simple change to how you sit!

What can I do to help my back problems from sitting?

So, for me, the best thing I can recommend is simply sitting a bit straighter. I know, it’s not the most revolutionary idea in the world, but a change in how you sit is essential to reducing back strains. Often, we sit in a manner that means our neck, spine, and back – as well as our hips – are out of sync with one another. This leads to the strains and complications that we often end up facing for most of the afternoon.

So, the best way to sit is to avoid slouching forward or leaning too far back. Hunching over means putting excess pressure on the muscles that you are supposed to be keeping stable and supported. This forces needless pressure on the discs in the back, leading to the pain that you feel.

The best way to solve that, though, is to simply roll up a thick jumper, or even a pair of jumpers. Once you have it around 6” in thickness when rolled up, and now sit yourself as straight as you can. Basically, get the seating potion that you know you should take, but often find it hard to maintain.

Now, take your rolled-up object and shove it down between the back of your chair and down to where your belt would normally sit. This makes it easier for you to have no space to slouch into; it will force you to retain the position that you just took. As such, your back will remain much straighter.

The closer to where your spine meets the pelvis that you can get the jumper, the better. This will leave you to get the help that you need to avoid excess extensions on the back and should play a role in helping you to avoid the curve in your back becoming a source of needless, excess support.

This simple but effective tip – the simple rolling-up of a jumper – can be all that you need to turn poor posture into a perfect posture in a short space of time.

Are you like me, sitting in a chair most of the day? It’s quite sore, isn’t it?

For someone who is comfortably over the average height, too, living a quite sedentary life means having consistent back pain. It’s an irritant most of the time, but it can...

interesting Lifestyle

Why Do My Canned and Bottled Soda Taste So Different?

Do you ever buy a can of Coke, for example, and wonder why the canned stuff tastes so different to the stuff in the big, plastic bottles?

You aren’t alone. Most of us struggle with this from time to time, and it can be quite annoying when you cannot work out why the taste is so different. In a bid to help you out with that issue, we recommend that you take a look at why this unique difference in taste even exists. Most of the time, you would probably never guess why it exists!

The recipe is, according to the manufacturers and the ingredient lists on the back, identical. So, what is there such a clear and obvious difference in the taste? It’s hard to deny.

One of the main reasons why is that a can of soda often tastes milder and less ‘juicy’ – which some people prefer – due to the polymers in aluminum soaking it up. However, by the same token, if that makes you think that sounds dodgy, it’s believed that the acetaldehyde in the plastic can adjust the flavor of your juice, too.

How should I drink my soda, then?

Glass bottles, then, are where to go if you want something that is as close to the ‘real’ taste as is possible. However, one thing to note is that if you think canned soda tastes quite metallic, you are likely to be more sensitive to metals than the average person.

Therefore, it’s not so much that the soda tastes of metal, but that you’ve noted a heightened sensitivity to the taste of metal as soon as your lips touch the can.

So, keep this in mind the next time you buy a soda. The best way to get something close to the real thing is to buy it from a glass bottle. Then, find the best way to store it. Putting it in the fridge makes it extremely cold, but the coolness can actually limit how much the taste manages to come out from the drink: something near freezing cold will just taste fizzy and cold!

Always be sure to take the time to look at what kind of soda you prefer. We all have our own choice when it comes to the kind of bottle/can we like to drink from. Find yours, and enjoy it!

Do you ever buy a can of Coke, for example, and wonder why the canned stuff tastes so different to the stuff in the big, plastic bottles?

You aren’t alone. Most of us struggle with this from time to time, and it can be quite annoying when you cannot work...

Animals Vacation

How to Do Wildlife Tourism Right

Nearly all travelers love the thrill of getting up close and personal with animals – and the wilder they are, the better. However, what they often don’t consider is how these animals are treated in order to make animal encounters, such as elephant rides and photo ops with tigers, a reality.

The ethics of wildlife experiences is one of the many controversial issues covered in National Geographic magazine’s feature story “Suffering unseen: The dark truth behind wildlife tourism.”

It’s not easy to figure out how to humanely observe animals, but one way you can assess the way a facility treats its animals is by referring to the standards recognized internationally in the “five freedoms” which were inspired by the U.K. in 1965. Here are some tips for how to go about viewing wildlife on your next venture.

Do your research

Research ahead of time to discover what facilities seem to care for their animals ethically. Just because a zoo has a high rating on TripAdvisor doesn’t mean that it’s humane. Read reviews to see if the animals have been well-fed and have access to clean water at all times.

Scan the space

When you’re at the facility, keep your eyes open and look around you to see what the space provides. Do the animals seem comfortable and happy? Are their environments appropriate? Do they have ample space, somewhere to get away from the crowds, and a comfortable resting area?

Watch out for buzzwords like “sanctuary” and “rescue,” especially if a facility is making these sorts of claims while also offering extensive interaction to large volumes of people. Most likely, it’s not true!

Look for red flags

Some things will be hard not to notice, like visibly injured animals or ones that have been cajoled into participating in entertaining activities that could be potentially harmful. Any time an animal that is meant to be wild is giving rides to the tourist is chained, or anything else unnatural to it, it’s just not right. Also, simply observe whether or not their enclosures are kept up and cleaned.

Tread lightly

Do your part in treating the animals with dignity. Large crowds and unnatural noises cause them distress, so be cautious and considerate while you are around them, especially those ones that have experienced some sort of trauma.

Keep it wild

Do your best to encourage and participate in experiences that take place in an animal’s natural environment.

It takes each of us to change the industry of global wildlife tourism. Every one of us that makes a conscious decision to only support facilities that treat their animals ethically helps to transform the industry for the better.

Nearly all travelers love the thrill of getting up close and personal with animals – and the wilder they are, the better. However, what they often don’t consider is how these animals are treated in order to make animal encounters, such as elephant rides...

City Life Science

Women Think Better in Warmer Rooms, Study Suggests

While the study hasn’t been completely conclusive, recent findings have suggested that women think better in warmer rooms while men work better in lower temperatures ones.

Such findings may cause workplaces to think more deeply about their room temperatures and the effect it has on employees’ productivity.

The study occurred in Berlin where 542 students were recruited by researchers to take math, cognition, and verbal tests. Forty percent of the participants were female. First, the tests were taken in a room kept at 61.14 F, but then they were taken in another room at 90.63 F.

Overall, the women performed better on math and verbal tests in the warmer room while the men did better on those tests in the colder room. However, the cognitive tests were unaffected by temperature.

Warmer is better for everyone

“Our findings suggest that gender-mixed workplaces may be able to increase productivity by setting the thermostat higher than current standards,” the authors wrote.

Study co-author Agne Kajackaite, head of the Ethics and Behavioral Economics research group at WZB Berlin Social Science Center, told Newsweek: “There have been many studies showing that women prefer higher indoor temperatures than men. However, nobody looked at the effect of these differences in comfort on performance.

“We show that the battle for the thermostat is not just about comfort. It is much more—in our experiment, women’s cognitive functioning is the best at high temperatures, whereas men’s [is] at low temperatures. Importantly, the positive effect of increased temperatures on women’s performance is much stronger than the negative effect on men.”

Kajackaite continued: “This is just the first study looking at the effects of temperature on cognitive performance by gender. We ran the experiment with a homogeneous sample at a German university. More research looking at different groups—age, educational background, country—and different cognitive tasks is needed.”

Wouter Van Marken Lichtenbelt, a professor of ecological energetics and health at Maastricht University who has also published research on body temperature, told Newsweek that the study was written as if men had an opposite response to that of women, but “there is not one statistically significant effect observed in the data of the men.”

Wei Luo, a Ph.D. student at Maastricht University working with van Marken Lichtenbelt, confessed that the methods used were not wholly sufficient as the order of the different tests was fixed and the participants could have simply been tired. “This makes comparison between tests difficult,” said LuoHe.

The paper also lacked any information concerning participants’ clothes or the length of the tests, said van Marken Lichtenbelt, and this information could have had a significant impact on the results.

However, the results still strongly suggest that offices would be more productive if they slightly increased their room temperatures, agreed Van Marken Lichtenbelt, who also did a study in 2015 that found that exposures to temperatures outside our comfort zone could affect things like diabetes and obesity.

While the study hasn’t been completely conclusive, recent findings have suggested that women think better in warmer rooms while men work better in lower temperatures ones.

Such findings may cause workplaces to think more deeply about their room...

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...

Fashion Inspiring Stories

High School Junior Makes Dream Prom Dress for Date

When it comes to our High School prom, we all know how big and important it makes us feel. For a lot of kids, it’s one of those nights that they look back on with lifelong affection. Sadly, like most events we go to as teens and kids, our proms are often places where a lot of judgments about people are made.

How expensive your suit/dress is becoming a major part of the argument for a lot of people. Sadly, we live in a society where we rate how ‘cool’ someone is based on how much their parents can afford to spend on a dress.

However, Parker Smith wasn’t one for putting up with such nonsense. This kid, who must go down as one of the most awesome kids in his generation, decided that he wanted to do something special.

Despite having no sewing skills whatsoever, he learned the art and created the dream prom dress for his prom date. She and her family couldn’t afford to buy her the dream gown she wanted, and so Mr. Smith stepped up to the plate – and then some.

His partner for the evening, Addi Rust, couldn’t afford the dream gown that she wanted. So when she asked Parker to make the dress for her – mostly as a joke – he decided to set about doing so. Judging by the photos, he has done an absolutely amazing job on the sewing job.

He would make parts of the dress more than once in a bid to perfect the style and shape of the design. Of course, Mr. Smith didn’t do this all on his own: like any smart boy, he got help from his beloved grandmother to help him make sure it was just right!

A prom dream come true

A beautiful blue ball gown came into being, then, and Addi was able to head off to prom looking absolutely fantastic – while being at prom date with one of the best up-and-coming young sewers in the community, from the looks of things!

He kept adding more and more to it, eventually creating an endearing and creative dress that perfectly achieved the aim: making Addi very happy on her big evening. Addi knew what it was going to look like throughout the process, as Parker kept her up-to-date on the entire process.

She even praised him on social media for his amazing attention to detail, and for creating a wonderful prom dress that, clearly, made her very happy indeed. Remember girls, if you’re going to get a prom date, make sure it’s a guy who has the skills and the self-belief to create an outfit for you!

Playing right up to his role as Prince Charing, he even played the role of slipping on a white heel onto her fool – a proper Cinderella story that we can all enjoy!

When it comes to our High School prom, we all know how big and important it makes us feel. For a lot of kids, it’s one of those nights that they look back on with lifelong affection. Sadly, like most events we go to as teens and kids, our proms are often...

City Life Earth

Could We Put AC Units To Better Environmental Use?

When you feel the heat of the sun beating down on you and your home, the last thing you want to do is just sit and sweat. Rather than perspire until we expire, most of us do what you would be expected: you put on the AC unit.

But, rising energy costs and rising worries about the impact of such hardware on the environment leaves us with both financial and moral considerations. However, despite being vilified by some, air conditions could play a more active, meaningful role in turning around atmospheric carbon dioxide: some believe we could use it as a source of fuel.

This problem has been one that is spoken about on a regular basis. Excess carbon dioxide in the air is not a good thing. It can be used for numerous things, such as for pumping into a greenhouse to feed plants or feed the growth of trees. However, we could also find other uses for it – including the potential for turning atmospheric carbon dioxide into a fuel.

The ideas been going around for some time and could be delivered in the near future. Analytical scientists have started to argue that using AC units that can pull in the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into fuel could be a goer. These would be hugely useful for solving excess carbon dioxide in the air, and for dealing with rising energy bills.

This would be a much more effective alternative to using things like fossil fuels to help power our lifestyles. For many, it would be the perfect antidote to both stabilizing the cost of living and in making a more conscious effort to help the environment.

Is this going to be possible?

Sadly, for now, it’s more theory than a possibility. It’s still something that is being worked on. Thankfully, major names such a Climeworks, Siemens AG and various other firms, such as Green Energy, are getting involved in correcting this issue.

More resources are going into the creation of this kind of green tech, which could go a long way to making sure we have more of an opportunity to stop such needles wastage moving forward.

According to researchers on the project, the aim would be to create a system that is going to separately capture the CO2 from the air and then isolate the hydrogen from the water. This would then be used to produce the fuels needed.

The challenge, then, is creating a system that can do all of this at once. While it’s apparently not difficult to do in theory, the practice is seemingly a fair bit tougher.

It’ll be interesting, then, to see what comes next. If these were able to be created, then we could be producing enough fuel to help run many cities, according to research in the Nature Communications journal.

With the need for more renewable forms of fuel that can also cut down on our production of carbon, this could be a fantastic solution to turn the tide in the battle for a healthier planet.

When you feel the heat of the sun beating down on you and your home, the last thing you want to do is just sit and sweat. Rather than perspire until we expire, most of us do what you would be expected: you put on the AC unit.

But, rising energy costs and...

Health Lifestyle

Study Suggests Diet Soda Can Cause Weight Gain

A recent study published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, presents new evidence which suggests that children who drink diet soda are consuming 200 extra calories each day.  The study suggests that opting for the low-calorie option in an attempt to lose weight can actually cause weight gain.

The scientists compared teens who consumed diet soda to those that drank water.    A surprising finding was that those drinking diet soda were still receiving the same total dietary intake of calories as those drinking the regular sugary version.

Water is the best choice

The study, which took place at the George Washington University, was headed by Dr. Allison Sylvetsky.  The findings recommend water as the best option and confirms that the results of the study challenge the commonly accepted opinion that low-calorie or diet drinks were useful in weight management.

Dr. Syletsky’s team have conducted may studies on drinks over the years, and have found that as well as low-calorie sweeteners in drinks, children and young adults also eat these sweeteners in other food and drinks.  In fact, during the period between 1999 and 2012 their consumption in this age group leapt by a massive 200%.

Despite the growing popularity of low-calorie sweeteners, there is still no concrete knowledge as to how this affects a child’s calorie intake, and there is no guarantee that the sweeteners contribute to weight loss.

Diet drinks don’t reduce calorie intake

Between 2011 and 2016 Dr. Sylvetsky and her team examined the dietary records of 7,026 children and teens who had been enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.  In the survey, the participants self-reported everything they ate and dank within a 24-hour period.

The research was focused on those who were drinking sodas – either with low-calorie sweeteners or regular sugar.  The team compared those drinking the soda with water drinkers and discovered that those having diet drinks were consuming extra calories and they were taking in more sugar from other types of food and drink.

Accounting for body weight, the researchers compared the results for soda drinkers and water drinkers and found that:

  • Those children who consumed diet sodas increased their daily intake by 196 additional calories.
  • Drinking regular soda (sugar-based) led to an intake of an extra 312 calories each day.
  • Drinking both the diet and regular versions of drinks resulted in an additional 450 calories being consumed each day.

Weight gain can kill

The findings of Dr. Sylvetsky and her team are important because of the health effects of weight gain.

At present, the figures for American children state that 1 in 3 is overweight or diagnosed as obese.  Weight gain is a key factor for increased risk of type II diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and other health issues.

The data suggests that there is a link between drinking low-calorie drinks and consuming more calories and sugar throughout the day.  They are skeptical about claims that diet drinks help in weight loss.

Experts continue to give advice to parents with organizations like The American Heart Association advising against long term consumption of these low-calorie drinks.  Dr. Sylvestky confirms that this is good advice.  Children, teens, and adults drink should drink more water and add whole grains, fruit and vegetables to their diet.

A good alternative to diet sodas, she suggests, is to add some 100% fruit juice to some sparkling water.

A recent study published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, presents new evidence which suggests that children who drink diet soda are consuming 200 extra calories each day.  The study suggests that opting for the low-calorie option in an attempt to lose...

Entertainment Lifestyle

Violent ‘Fortnite’ Made Me the World’s Meanest Mom and I’m Fine with It

If you know anything about the recent trending game “Fortnite Battle Royale,” you’d probably say I’m the meanest mom in the world for banning it in my house.

It’s amazing how popular the game has become. Over 200 million are registered as users, making it even more popular than porn. Some might say, “Wouldn’t you rather your son be playing a video game than watching porn?” But I think I’d prefer to go with neither!

I know all the pros of the game and have wrestled with them, too. It’s social; it’s a great way for sons to bond with dads; its only cartoon violence – etc.

But I have my reasons for not allowing my kid to play it, and here are seven of them.

Reasons Are:

The alarming weapons roster. I know the violence is bloodless, but those weapons are pretty real and pretty scary. From shotguns to semi-automatic sniper rifles to pistols and more, it certainly makes guns seem more like toys rather than a dangerous weapon – a fact that we are trying to instill in our son. Letting him play around with one like this certainly sends a confusing message.

It’s cartoon violence. And along those lines, I’d almost rather my kid being seeing the horrific results of violence they’ve inflicted rather than it seeming inconsequential and bloodless. If they can’t handle blood, guts, victims screaming, and heartbroken families, then they’re not ready to be playing around with this stuff either.

The do-or-die premise. If you aren’t already familiar with the game, one hundred wannabe-killers are dropped on an island, and the point is to be the last man standing. Research is still being done on how violent entertainment impacts kids, and the findings have been conflicting, but I seriously doubt letting your child regularly identify with a murdering machine is beneficial.

It’s costing me money. I remember the good old days when we’d cut grass and clean to earn pennies for the bike we were saving up to purchase. Now, money is being wasted on “Fortnite” extras. Epic Games has made over $2.4 billion from “Fortnite” — an otherwise free game — in 2018, according to Nielsen’s SuperData! Money from my wallet sure isn’t going towards this!

It’s interfering with school.  Twenty-seven percent of teens surveyed by Common Sense Media in 2018 reported playing “Fortnite” in class. It’s not helping them get somewhere in life, that’s for sure.

It’s killing IRL playdates. My son used to invite friends over to play outside or to build a fort – or even to play Wii. Now, playdates consist of hanging out online playing “Fortnite.” If that were occasional, it wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s shouldn’t replace in-person interaction.

It’s like kid crack. Much research has concluded that video games flood our brains with dopamine, a happy chemical that floods in when you do something like winning a poker game, eat chocolate, or shoot heroin. Games like “Fortnite” are intentionally designed to do this, delivering small rewards that cause your brain pleasure and make it come back for more – again and again, and again.

Honestly, there are times I feel badly for my son, especially when everyone else is doing it. All his friends talk about it just about 24/7, so am I his worst enemy? There’s still a lot I allow, like FIFA 19. How mean of a mom am I, really? I decided to ask a leading national expert in video game research.

“Older adults tend to freak out about any youth trend. The data do not support that there’s any epidemic of game addiction,” says Chris Ferguson, a psychology professor at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla. “You’re thinking about this and looking for data. That certainly doesn’t make you the worst mom ever. I’m sure your son doesn’t really think so either!”

Let’s hope he’s thanking me when he grows up!

If you know anything about the recent trending game “Fortnite Battle Royale,” you’d probably say I’m the meanest mom in the world for banning it in my house.

It’s amazing how popular the game has become. Over 200 million are registered as users...

Cool Stories Lifestyle

Unfold Your Getaway: Canoe for City Dwellers Packs Down to a Suitcase

For those who live in a big city, canoes are just things you associate with getaways or, at the very least, an expensive rental at a nearby body of water. People who live in suburbia barely have room to store them, much less those of us who live in apartment buildings.

Imagine trying to lug a massive canoe up your narrow staircase or trying to fit it in your overhead storage space – not possible!

But Ghent-based designer Otto Van De Steene found the solution one day while he was fiddling around with an origami canoe. It made him think: could this be replicated in a real-life canoe? Steene has proved that it can with the ‘ONAK,’ a portable canoe that folds down to the size of a suitcase.

Steene had seen numerous other models that just didn’t measure up at outdoor recreation stores. “You have the canoes that have really good performance on the water – they’re fast, but they’re quite heavy and take an hour to assemble. Nothing to do in an evening after work.”

Trial and Error

One that was recently released was the Oru folding kayak which had the potential to be successful, but the plastic construction didn’t lend itself to durability. Steene tried making his out of a custom-made polypropylene for his own design, as it’s lighter and stiffer, improving the boat’s performance.

With its honeycomb-core composite material, it’s ten times as strong as standard polypropylene, making it highly durable and fully recyclable.“By making hundreds of paper models and fifteen real prototypes, we also refined the design of our patent pending hull.

This was a huge challenge due to the limitations of origami. We opted for a narrow and fast canoe design that keeps its momentum very well, while still being delightfully easy and stable to maneuver for beginners.

”The process of assembling or packing up the portable canoe takes about ten minutes. The size is a bit bigger than the Oru – 47”x15.7”x10” as a roller case, expanding to 183” long by 33.5” wide –, but the fact that it’s on wheels makes it more conducive to transporting from place to place.

It can also carry about 440 pounds with enough room for two adults, a child, and gear.

The Okak has met its goal after just a couple days left on its Kickstarter campaign, but if you back the project in time, you can still get a pretty good price. Once it hits the market, it will sell for about $1450 with two paddles.

For those who live in a big city, canoes are just things you associate with getaways or, at the very least, an expensive rental at a nearby body of water. People who live in suburbia barely have room to store them, much less those of us who live in apartment...

Fashion Lifestyle Tech News

UK Using Smart Billboards to Secretly Ad-target Shoppers

Many shopping centers in the UK have adopted a new kind of ad technique that involves surveillance cameras in shopping center billboards. These cameras are used to spy on you in order to show you the “correct” advertisement. The new technology has the ability to identify your age, gender, and even mood.

The smart boards detect how long certain customers look at advertisements and then change what they display depending on who is walking past.

So far, The Sunday Times has happened upon 50 of these screens in the UK; several of them can be found at Westfield shopping center in Shepherd’s Bush, London.

Apparently, companies utilizing this equipment don’t legally need to inform their shoppers that they are being filmed because the system complies with the UK’s data protection laws. Since no individually identifying information is being collected or stored, no laws are being broken.

First Company to Try This

One of the first companies to try this system out is Ocean Outdoor. The LookOut system is found in multiple tracking billboards throughout the UK.

Tim Bleakley, the company’s chief executive, told The Sunday Times: “We pioneered a facial detection technology which identifies the characteristics of the face to allow you to talk to advertisers about mood, gender, emotion and those kinds of things. We can measure the level of happiness or sadness. We can measure the dwell time.”

Bleakley told of how satisfied the supermarket executives of Waitrose were when they sprayed fake snow into the store and saw how evidently ‘customer happiness levels’ rose.

The cameras installed into the billboards spend every hour analyzing the shoppers to see what kind of people shopped and when they shopped. At times, shoppers are even inserted into adverts, a feature called ‘interactive advertising.’ One promotional video from Ocean Outdoor implied that the technology can determine how many ‘affluent’ people are in the area.

One of the billboards at Canary Wharf stated that 49 percent of people walking past that day were “affluent” and earned “over £100,000 ($129,000).”

The technology of Ocean Outdoor can be used on roadside billboards to figure the price of passing cars and advertise expensive things to those it thinks have lots of money.

Quividi is a French firm that also sells the facial detection technology and says that it collects and processes images of people in milliseconds but then deletes them forever once their basic profile information has been taken. Determining someone’s gender can be done with 90 percent accuracy within a five-year age bracket.

Many shopping centers in the UK have adopted a new kind of ad technique that involves surveillance cameras in shopping center billboards. These cameras are used to spy on you in order to show you the “correct” advertisement. The new technology has the...