ARTIST.... Hours Quiet
TITLE....... Beyond the Neon Sky
STYLE...... Synthpop, Darkwave, Indiepop, New Wave
|Cache||When you're a band with as much success as Switchfoot, it can be difficult to cram everything - in this case, 22 years, 11 albums and a string of hits - into one succinct concert. Two hours isn't nearly enough time to deep-dive into such a catalog of music and memories.
The temps have rapidly dropped this week as October rolled in and with around 12 hours daylight and sunset it`s time to get the bike lights charged and fitted onto the two winter bikes...
With both older Surly Pugsleys kitted with lights, full frame bags for waterproofs, and extra clothes the black/orange Pug is ready as usual for the beach...
And the Alfine IGH 29+ Pug (aka a KramPug) is ready for trails - this bike will be getting used more now for mid week nightrides from home around the newly surfaced all weather trails made this year around the local Estates woods, going to be great for mud free winter cycling this year!...
Still time for daylight rides after work and we have had a week of extreme high/low tides which you may have noticed with the last half dozen blog posts,
Tuesday would see a 5.7 meter high tide around 5pm and there would be no beach to cycle at Broadsands along to North Berwick as it was swallowed up by the waves...
Stunning light once again on the coast...
Into town and had to take the road along to the harbour..
Did get some sand to cycle along the east beach!...
Some film catching the lovely light, Song is `Satelite Anthan Icarus` by Boards of Canada
High Tide Cycle at North Berwick. Oct 2019 from coastkid71 on Vimeo.
Driving home and another Autumn site, thousands of Pink footed geese grazing in a stubble field...
Hope to get more pics and film of the scene of them arriving in Aberlady Bay at sunset soon...
Art and sport don’t always play nice, but the strange pastime of ‘Strava art’ – where runners and cyclists create images on maps – is a clear exception.
Art and sport don’t always play nice, but the strange pastime of ‘Strava art’ – where runners and cyclists create images on maps – is a clear exception.
The practice involves using fitness tracker apps that plot your exercise course using GPS (Strava is one, but there are others) to draw pictures, using the map as your canvas and your body as the pencil.
While his early pieces (some of which took 13 hours to create) look like they were completed with a severe case of the shakes, Taylor is getting smoother and sharper as he develops his strange, mobile craft.
Others have used the form to draw giant top-hatted turkeys over San Francisco, profess their love for cheap American beer, propose to their partners, or just assert that they rule. Seems like a great way to discover the unexplored passages of your city, if nothing else.
Related: you should probably abstain from creating your own GPS art (or using Strava at all) if you're currently stationed in a secret military base.
|Cache||Some people are surprised to find out Pismo beach has beavers. Not me. They’ve been bemoaning and complaining about them for years. The very most beaver-friendly ranger of the bunch offers a talk entitled “Beavers: Adorable Wildlife or Destructive Pests?” Um, can I pick neither? Well, it looks like they have decided to make a little lemonade with their lemons. Discover the beaver’s physical adaptations, their role in our country’s westward expansion, why they were hunted, and their local history. Search for evidence of their activities during a short walk. Dress for wind/weather with comfortable shoes. Bring insect repellent and water: binoculars a plus. Meet at Oceano Dunes Visitor Center, Guiton Hall meeting room, Oceano Campground, 555 Pier Ave, Oceano. Moderate walk, 0.5 miles, 2 hours Gee that sounds fascinating. Dress up in a beaver coat and put on goggles while a ranger tells you about their adaptions. Then tells you how they were all killed for their fur and not native to California anyway. Can we take a hike to see some of the damage they caused too? Look Timmy, this culvert was flooded by beavers and we had to rip the dam out with a back hoe! And look, this beautiful tree was eaten by those destructive monsters! Sigh. Beaver education ain’t what it used to be! I found this lovely image on reddit the other day, it has a strange gaming community origin but I think we should just pause to enjoy its wistful beauty: posted by Demiansky. Song of the Eons is the game. The creator notes: Ancient legends recount High Beaver civilizations damming rivers as great as the Nile or the Ganges, resulting in Beaver Lakes capable of supporting a continent’s worth of population in great beaver cities the size of the Aral Sea. Read more…|
|Cache||Bush gives Saddam 48 hours to flee Iraq US President Bush on Monday gave Saddam Hussein a 48-hour deadline to flee Iraq or face a US-led invasion, saying American forces will wage war at a time of our choosing. 美国总统布什于2003年3月17日晚8点（北京|
After a week and a half, the carriage dispute between Dish Network and Fox has come to an end. On Sunday, hours before the start of another NFL season, Dish announced that they had reached a long-term carriage agreement with Fox, encompassing the Fox-owned local broadcast networks, FS1, FS2, and BTN. Here’s the full (brief) Read more...
The post Dish announces long-term carriage agreement with Fox appeared first on Awful Announcing.
Companies promoted it. Celebrities touted it. Everyday people paid attention, and then spent hours in the sun, trying to get the perfect suntan.
Urinary tract infections are common. In fact, over 50 percent of women and about 12 percent of men will experience at least one UTI in their lifetime, the Urology Care Foundation reports. And about a third of women will seek treatment for one by the age of 24. (For the purpose of this article, the experts we spoke to and the statistics we cited referred to people with female sex organs as "women" and people with male sex organs as "men.") A recurrent UTI, also called "recurrent cystitis," is classified as two or more UTIs within six months, or three in a year. Read up on recurrent UTIs specifically here.
UTIs happen more frequently in women than in men because the female urethra is shorter and it's easier for bacteria to travel from the outside into the bladder, Ricardo Soares, MD, urologist at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, told POPSUGAR. (The CDC notes that infections can affect several parts of the urinary tract, but they most commonly affect the bladder). Dr. Soares said that if bacteria is found in your urine but you aren't experiencing symptoms, this is referred to as asymptomatic bacteriuria and isn't the same as a UTI. "It only requires treatment in certain situations, such as in pregnant women and in patients who are going to have a urological procedure," he said.
On the other hand, he stressed that if you're having symptoms but urine tests show there's no bacteria, this is also not an infection. "The symptoms might be caused by a different problem such as an overactive bladder, [which is] very common in post-menopausal women," he said. Vannita Simma-Chiang, MD, assistant professor of urology at Mount Sinai, told POPSUGAR that other conditions that might have similar symptoms as UTIs are interstitial cystitis (or painful bladder syndrome), yeast infections, and vaginitis. In terms of yeast infections, though, you'd most likely experience vaginal discharge that isn't typical with a UTI, she said (discharge is also common with vaginitis). Let's get into what UTI symptoms actually are.
Symptoms of a UTI
According to the CDC, you're more at risk of getting a UTI if, for instance, you are sexually active, you've had a UTI before, or are going through menopause (you lose the hormonal support of estrogen after menopause, Dr. Simma-Chiang noted). Here are the most common symptoms:
Dr. Simma-Chiang wanted to note that some people have come to her with completely different symptoms such as a stomachache or simply feeling ill. Some can also experience fever, but Dr. Soares said this could be an indication that the infection has spread to your kidneys.
How to Prevent a UTI
You've probably heard companies (or your friends!) touting the positive effects of cranberry. Both Dr. Simma-Chiang and Dr. Soares said that cranberry pills aren't guaranteed to help prevent UTIs because there's no significant evidence. There are small studies that suggest the active ingredient, PACs, may prevent UTIs, though "we're not quite sure whether or not that active ingredient is actually present in cranberry pills or if it gets digested," Dr. Simma-Chiang said. She added that she's perfectly fine with her patients taking these pills if they seem to be working. (Note: cranberry pills aren't regulated by the FDA.) Read more about cranberry juice specifically here.
Dr. Soares said good genital hygiene can help prevent UTIs because "most infections travel from the anal area up into the urethra." Drinking water is good as well since increased urination acts as a cleanser for the bladder, he said. In people who have recurrent UTIs, a regular low dose of antibiotics can prevent infection, he explained. For those with female sex organs who have recurrent UTIs most closely linked to sex, they can try to prevent those infections by using protection or taking one dose of antibiotics after sex. "In post-menopausal women, use of vaginal, not oral, estrogen provides good results," Dr. Soares said (since, like mentioned before, these people have a decline of estrogen, which can negatively impact the immune system).
Dr. Simma-Chiang recommended peeing after sex and also stressed the importance of a strong immune system overall. "I always remind patients that there's organisms everywhere," she said. "We catch colds all the time, and I hope people can think of urinary tract infections as something similar." So, she said, to make sure your immune system is as strong as it can be, get enough sleep, eat a well-balanced diet, exercise, and stay properly hydrated. She said that constipation, too, can affect the way your bladder empties. "Urine is left behind and you can get a UTI," Dr. Simma-Chiang explained. Make sure you're passing regular bowel movements and focusing on your gut health.
How to Treat a UTI
Ultimately, even if you do end up getting a UTI, know that it's treatable. If you want to treat your UTI at home, Dr. Simma-Chiang suggests drinking a lot of water to flush out the infection. A doctor will typically treat a UTI with oral antibiotics (as little as one dose). But, if it's what Dr. Soares described as a "complicated UTI" - meaning it's harder to get rid of because it's occurring in someone with male sex organs or in someone who has diabetes or some sort of functional abnormality of their urinary tract - it may require intravenous antibiotics in the hospital. These, he said, can be changed to oral antibiotics once the person has had no fever for over 48 hours and lab results show there's an improvement; then they'll be able to finish treatment at home. "UTI in a man is, by definition, considered complicated and therefore requires a seven-day course of antibiotics," he explained. So, it's less likely to occur in those with male sex organs, but more difficult to treat.
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With collaborative robots proliferating, we wanted to know who’s using these robots and what tasks they’re doing. Design News caught up with Walter Vahey, executive vice-president at Teradyne, a company that helps manufacturers gear up their automation. Vahey sees a real change in the companies that are deploying robotics. For years robots were tools only for the largest manufacturers. They required expensive care and feeding in the form of integrators and programming. Now, collaborative robots require configuration rather than programming, and they can be quickly switched from task to task.
Vahey talked about robot companies such as Universal Robots (UR) which produces robot arms, and MiR, a company that produces collaborative mobile robots. He explained how they’re putting robotics in the hands of smaller manufacturers that previously could not afford advanced automation. The difference is that these robots are less expensive, they can be set up for production without programming, and they can be quickly reconfigured to change tasks.
We asked Vahey what’s different about collaborative robots and what he’s seeing in robot adoption among smaller manufacturers.
Design News: Tell us about the new robots and how they’re getting deployed.
Walter Vahey: Companies such as Universal Robots and MiR are pioneering the robot space. They’re bringing automation to a broad class of users and democratizing automation. For small companies, the task at hand is to figure out how to fulfill their orders. It’s particularly challenging to manufacturers. In a tight labor market, manufacturers are facing more competition, growing demand, and higher expectations in quality.
Manufacturer can plug UR or MiR robots in very quickly. Everything is easy, from the specs up front to ordering to quickly arranging and training the robot. There’s no programming, and the robots have the flexibility to do a variety of applications. Every customer is dealing with labor challenges, so now they’re deploying collaborative robots to fulfill demand with high quality.
The whole paradigm has shifted now that you have a broader range of robot applications. You can easily and quickly bring in automation, plug it in ,and get product moving in hours or days rather than months. That’s what’s driving the growth at UR and MiR.
The Issue of Change Management
Design News: Is change management a hurdle?. Does the robot cause workforce disruption?
Walter Vahey: We really haven’t seen that as an issue. The overwhelming need to improve and fulfill demand at a higher quality level helps the manufacturers deploy. It outweighs other challenges. We help with the deployment, and the manufacturers are making the change easily.
We grew up as a supplier of electronic test equipment. Since 2015, we’ve entered the industrial automation market with a focus on the emerging collaborative robot space. We see that as a way to change the equation for manufacturers, making it faster and easier to deploy automation.
Design News: What about return on investment? Robotics can be a considerable investment for a small company/
Walter Vahey: The customers today are looking for relatively short ROI, and we’re seeing it from 6 months to a year. That’s a no brainer for manufacturers. They’re ready to jump in.
We work hard to make deployment less of an issue. We have an application builder, and we use it to prepare for deployment. The new user may have a pick-and-place operation. They choose the gripper, and we guide them to partners who make it easy to deploy.
The application builder helps the customer pick the gripper. The whole object is to get the customer deployed rapidly so the automation doesn’t sit. With MiR, the robot comes in, and we find an easy application for the mobile device. We take the robot around the plant and map it. We’ve work to guide customers through an application quickly and make the robot productive as soon as possible.
There are hundreds of partners that work with UR and MiR, providing grippers and end effectors. We have a system that customers can plug into. Customer can look at grippers from a wide range of companies. We’re not working just on the robot deployment. We work to get the whole system deployed so they can quickly get the ROI.
What Tasks Are the Robots Taking On?
Design News: Who in the plant is using the robots, and what tasks are involved?
Walter Vahey: There is a range of users. To be effective at training a robot and configuring it, the people best suited for it are the ones most aware of the task. To get the robot to be effective you have to know the task. By and large, the person who has been doing that task is best suited to train the robot. That person can then train other robots. Nobody’s better suited to do it than the people who know what needs to be done.
The tasks are broad set of applications. We automate virtually any task and any material movement. It’s not quite that simple, but it’s close. With UR, we’re doing machine learning, grinding, packing, pick-and-place, repetitive tasks, welding. It’s a very broad set of applications. In materials it’s also very broad. Parts going from a warehouse to a work cell, and then from the work cell to another work cell, up to a 1000-kilo payload. We’re moving robots into warehousing and logistics space, even large pieces of metal. The robots are well suited for long runs of pallets of materials.
Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 19 years, 17 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.
Alex Wong/GettyIf President Donald Trump is thinking a deal with his friend Kim Jong Un might distract from his troubles at home, he'd better think again. The abrupt end of “working-level” negotiations between U.S. and North Korean officials in Stockholm over the weekend proves yet again that talking isn’t working. “Kim thought he could sucker us because of the president's statements and because our alliances are in trouble and because he believed Trump wanted a foreign policy success,” said David Maxwell, retired special forces colonel and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “We have to keep pushing Kim to really conduct negotiations, but the minute we give in to giving him concessions, he has won and we have lost.”While Trump Shrugs, North Korea’s Building Better MissilesIf the firing of the hawkish John Bolton as Trump’s national security adviser “helped Kim think he could get what he wants,” said Maxwell, the North Koreans at Stockholm yet again confirmed that Kim is not about to give up his precious nukes. The nuclear program was initiated by his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, perpetuated by his father, Kim Jong Il, and is now the centerpiece of Kim’s defense policy.North Korea’s foreign ministry left no doubt about the failure of the talks. “We have no intention to hold such sickening negotiations as what happened this time,” said the statement, throwing cold water over the session in Stockholm, which had lasted eight hours and thirty minutes. The U.S. negotiator, Stephen Biegun, had tried in vain to present ideas that the Americans should have known would be unacceptable. A North Korean official identified only as a spokesperson, possibly First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, who is a key figure in talks with the U.S., sarcastically mimicked Washington’s demand for “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.” The U.S., said the spokesperson, must take “a substantial step to make complete and irreversible withdrawal of the hostile policy toward the DPRK," i.e., the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.The statement wound up with a threat intended to catch the attention of Trump as he contemplates maybe a third summit with Kim–his fourth if you count their impromptu meeting on the North-South line at Panmunjom at the end of June.Better watch out, was the message. If the U.S. “again fingers [points] at the old scenario,” said the spokesperson, “the dealings between the DPRK and the U.S. may immediately come to an end.” Indeed, the statement concluded, “the fate of the future DPRK-U.S. dialogue depends on the U.S. attitude, and the end of this year is its deadline.”The Americans for their part seemed to think another round of talks would be just the thing to head off that looming deadline lest Kim inspire a crisis similar to that of two years ago when tests of nuclear warheads and long-range missiles were the norm. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said the U.S. was accepting Sweden’s invitation to meet again in two weeks, but North Korea was having none of it.“The U.S. is spreading a completely ungrounded story that both sides are open to meet after two weeks,” said the North Korean spokesperson, but “it is not likely at all that it can produce a proposal commensurate to the expectations of the DPRK and to the concerns of the world in just fortnight [sic].”The statement decried the U.S. failure to come up with what the North Koreans call “a new calculation method,” dismissing out of hand the litany of proposals that Biegun had put on the table.The exact nature of that “calculation method” was not clear, but presumably it calls for prolonging the moratorium on testing nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles in exchange for relief from sanctions. The North might even suspend its aging nuclear complex at Yongbyon while fabricating warheads elsewhere in a step-by-step process immune from serious inspections and would surely press for an “end-of-war” declaration under which the U.S. would have to withdraw most of its 28,500 troops from South Korea.“The fundamental problem with Trump’s North Korea efforts—they can’t be called an actual policy—is that North Korea has not even considered giving up its nuclear weapons,” said David Straub, retired senior U.S. diplomat in Seoul and Washington. “As long as that’s the case, no amount of Trump sucking up to Kim will make a real difference, and Trump backed off maximum pressure long ago.”To veteran U.S. diplomats, Trump’s grasp on reality is far from clear. “As with many of his other policies, Trump is engaged in fantasy,” said Straub, “but because he engages in fantasy, who can predict how he will now respond?” Straub asks if Trump “is mad at Pompeo and his negotiating team and will order even more gifts and concessions?”Evans Revere, who once headed the North Korean desk at the State Department and was number two U.S. diplomat in Seoul, sees the outcome at Stockholm as “a very predictable collapse.” The North Korean strategy, said Revere, “appears to have been to take advantage of the U.S. fixation on working-level talks, use the testing of increasingly capable ballistic missiles to pressure Washington, and to issue threats about an end-of-year deadline to ensure the United States team came to the table with a more generous, flexible, and creative offer than the one Trump made in Hanoi.”Trump, Revere believes, “backed off maximum pressure long ago.”Under the circumstances, the U.S. was in no mood to articulate publicly its proposals at Stockholm. “The U.S. brought creative ideas and had good discussions with its DPRK counterparts,” said Ortagus at the State Department, citing but not explaining “a number of new initiatives that would allow us to make progress.”Clearly the North Koreans saw all that stuff as diplo-speak for an elaborate ruse to get them to give up their nukes while the North has flaunted its military prowess in short-range missile tests.Trump has said such tests are not in violation of any understanding reached with Kim at their first summit in Singapore last year, but North Korea most recently has aroused concerns by test-firing a short-range missile from an under-water platform. North Korea’s party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, called the prototype for a submarine-launched ballistic missile a “time bomb” and “most fearful dagger” pointed at its enemies. In theory, a submarine might be able to launch such a missile, tipped with a nuclear warhead, while submerged undetected off the U.S. west coast.In fact, the North Koreans in Stockholm seemed to have gained a measure of revenge for the humiliation of the second Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi at the end of February when Trump walked out without reaching so much as a meaningless statement with Kim similar to the one that ended the Singapore summit.Donald Trump Enters the Eccentric Dictator Phase of His PresidencyThat denouement, which the North Koreans blamed on Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, resulted in the dismissal of the top North Korean advisers surrounding Kim, notably Kim Yong Chol, the North’s former intelligence chief, whom Pompeo had seen in Pyongyang, New York, and Washington. Trump, after his 45-minute closed-door meeting with Kim on the North-South line at Panmunjom on June 30, said Kim had agreed on working-level talks to bring about a real deal on the basis of their summit in Singapore. “The Kim regime may misperceive from Singapore that it can throw negotiators under the bus, rush into another summit, and extract greater concessions from Trump,” said Leif-Eric Easley, professor of international relations at Ewha University in Seoul, “but a lesson from Hanoi is that if the North Koreans want sanctions relief, they’re going to have to do the work at the working level.” This time, however, the new North Korean negotiator, Kim Myong Gil, a veteran diplomat who had negotiated with Americans in talks in the '90s and then as ambassador to the United Nations, was taking no chances. The meeting, he said, had “not fulfilled our expectations and broke down.” Presumably, on orders from Pyongyang, he was not going to concede anything in return for whatever concessions the Americans might offer. Instead, he staged a walkout of his own.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
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Weeks before I headed to Mammoth Cave National Park for a weekend trip, and a day after I’d booked several guided cave tours, I encircled my chest with a tape measure. I was relieved to confirm I’d be an OK fit – quite literally, if just barely – for the Wild Cave Tour, the longest, most intensive cave tour offered at the Kentucky park.
The guided tour at the UNESCO World Heritage site involved more than five hours of hiking in massive caverns, shimmying up and down twisted passageways, clambering over boulders and belly crawling through exceedingly tight sections of rock that wouldn’t give an inch.
“Chest or hip measurement must not exceed 42 inches; if you are larger, you may not physically pass through the crawlspaces,” the National Park Service advised in no uncertain terms. I’d previously visited Mammoth, which features the world’s longest known cave system. Just walking into the massive cave was wowing. But I wanted to go farther – just as the cave does.
The park offers a number of cave tours for kids and adults of all ages, abilities and interests. Whether you feel at home in tight places or worry about claustrophobia, the cave is big enough (and definitely, in places, small enough) to accommodate different appetites for adventure or leisure exploration.
An accessibility tour allows visitors to use an elevator entrance to see Mammoth Cave’s grandeur without steps. The tours vary in length, duration and physical difficulty and – like the park guides who lead many of them – tell parts of the cave’s story.
Besides covering some serious ground underground, I wanted to learn more about the cave’s origins. How did its 412 miles of passageways and counting – with more discovered all the time – come to be?
That led me to the 2 1/2-hour River Styx Tour on the first morning of my August visit, which culminated in seeing the namesake underground river in the depths of the cave by lantern light.
That Saturday afternoon, I took the two-hour Gothic Avenue Tour, which shed light (in relative subterranean darkness) on the early roots of cave exploration, exploitation – including the mining of saltpeter for gunpowder during the War of 1812 – and tourism.
The Wild Cave Tour I saved for last on Sunday.
As our large group for the River Styx Tour approached Mammoth Cave’s historic entrance, I could feel the chill draft coming up. It contrasted with the summer heat as water – which has shaped so much of this hidden world – drizzled down in front of the earthbound black hole.
While many elements converged over millions of years to create this one-of-a-kind place, an intricate network of streams and rivers above and below ground is integral to the development of Mammoth Cave.
The River Styx is an example of a subterranean river that is actively creating new passages within Mammoth Cave. “Exploration is continuing – we have not found the end of the cave yet,” our guide, Chelsea Ballard, told the group.
Another highlight of the tour, Mammoth Dome – a vertical shaft rising around 200 feet up through which we took spiral stairs – showcases the continuing erosion. Pit or dome formations created by rapidly moving water are a much younger feature than the cave passageways formed by the underground river system, Ballard explained.
The River Styx Tour also passes through a narrow, short, winding passageway called Fat Man’s Misery. (Many cave features have names, some of which change over time.) As we went through, the passage looked like some unseen hand had taken a giant spoon and scooped out rock, as you might scoop bites from a cantaloupe.
I’m a latecomer to Mammoth Cave, as is everyone else who visits it these days. As I descended into the historic entrance again for the Gothic Avenue Tour, I was reminded that I was following in the footsteps of its first explorers, Native Americans who entered the cave millennia ago without the aid of concrete steps or any other infrastructure.
The mummified remains of some of these earliest explorers, estimated to be 4,000 to 5,000 years old, drew many tourists to Mammoth Cave in the early 1800s after commercial saltpeter mining ended there.
“Travelers in the area would make side trips to Mammoth Cave to see the geological wonder,” said guide Dave Spence, who led this tour. “But mostly, the fame of Mammoth Cave spread as visitors became witness to the artifacts and human remains from (the) earliest prehistoric explorers.”
We saw the names of early explorers, of cave owners – from when it was privately held, well before it became a national park in 1941 – and of tourists written in candle smoke on the ceilings. Such was the nature of early visitation, predating the leave-no-trace ethic and modern efforts to balance tourism, which still has an impact, and preservation.
In addition to the obvious underground attraction, Mammoth Cave features more than 80 miles of trails traversing 53,000 acres of hardwoods, bluffs and hills bisected by the Green River and bypassing sinkholes and cave entrances. So not only is there plenty to do, but you also get a glimpse from aboveground of the forces at work below.
The popular Cedar Sink Trail, for example, snakes through the wooded hills and passes a deep depression in an area pockmarked by sinkholes – a site where water from an underground river system ever so briefly sees the light of day.
I got a view of the geologic handiwork underground on the Wild Cave Tour. As I was worming my way through a narrow passage called Bare Hole that Sunday morning with 11 other park visitors, I took stock of the chest measurement I’d taken and found I had little wiggle room.
To call it an army crawl would be spatially generous; this section doesn’t allow one to raise up that high even. It’s a test nearly right out of the gate, and I calmed myself to take it – shimmying, my boots kicking hollow rock as I squeezed with the other visitors through the tightest section: 9 1/2 inches from floor to ceiling.
We all passed through in good spirits, and later I felt loose enough to laugh with the others through another tight squeeze, called No Name, that gets down to about eight inches. (I guess “Really Tight Squeeze” was taken.) We had to turn our helmeted heads and boots sideways to get through the most cramped segment.
Our park guides – Jenna Hammond, who was shorter and relished the tight squeezes, and the taller Jacob Bolton, who spidered his way up climbs with ease – kept the group on track. As Hammond pointed out, a highlight of the Wild Cave Tour is seeing parts of the cave that most people never get to. “You get to really experience it in such a unique way,” she said.
Between the tight spots, we came out into a corridor called Grand Avenue that cars could drive through. This, of course, isn’t an actual road, but it’s big enough to accommodate one. The area is going to be rehabbed to better accommodate future visitation.
In one space as awing as any I saw on my underground weekend, the 14 of us walked into a veritable canyon with a natural vaulted ceiling. Our wonderment seemed to match the fittingly named Cathedral Domes’ dimensions: 150 feet up and 140 feet long.
In Mammoth Cave, there are far fewer stalactites, stalagmites and other dripstone formations – in technical speak, speleothems – compared with caves such as Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, which I’d visited with my brothers in the spring.
Yet Mammoth Cave includes its flourishes, such as Frozen Niagara, where we ended the Wild Cave Tour. There the massive (everything seems bigger in Mammoth Cave) dripstone takes on the appearance of ancient falls stopped in their tracks eons ago.
But before we got to that final crescendo, it became clear even passageways that seemed barren could turn corners to wonders such as Cathedral Domes.
There, in quiet reflection, we turned off our headlamps to experience the capped chasm in total darkness and quiet – except for the sound of water, which never ceases its work in the cave, falling gently nearby. It was difficult to imagine as we sat there briefly, in silent reverence, that there could be anything like this exact place in the world.
And, in fact, with Mammoth Cave, there’s not.
With the amount of controversy surrounding it, “Joker” feels more like an idea and less like an actual movie. Could it possibly stand up to the mythology that has sprung up around it, stoked by breathless film-festival hype, pre-emptive misanthropic adoration, gun-control activists demanding action and some foot-in-mouth interviews by writer/director Todd Phillips?
It absolutely does not live up to its undeserved hype, for better or worse. And while that might be surprising, it also has to be expected. So what exactly is “Joker”? It’s a great trailer. It’s two consecutive hours of Joaquin Phoenix dancing, gracefully and gruesomely writhing his emaciated frame.
It’s a riff (or a complete ripoff) of “The King of Comedy” down to Robert De Niro cast as late-night talk-show host Murray Franklin. It’s a ’70s look book sprinkled with the broadest, most obvious comic book mythology and a series of wildly hit-or-miss music cues (Gary Glitter, really?).
It’s a virtuosic actor destroying his body to make the undercooked script seem like something more than it is. “Joker” is cloaked in the kind of prestige that tricks you into thinking there’s something more meaningful there: moody cinematography, bursts of extreme violence, an actor who doesn’t so much as perform but psychically channel a character.
But this is all window dressing, smoke and mirrors to distract from the story being painfully thin and told with all the nuance of a sledgehammer. This thing wouldn’t pass muster in paneled newsprint, and, aside from a few soap opera-style reveals, you’ve heard it all before.
There is one thing Phillips and co-writer Scott Silver do accomplish effectively, and it’s the crux on which the perceived controversy hangs. They manage to build empathy for Batman’s most popular villain, the Joker, aka Arthur Fleck (Phoenix).
Arthur is a clown who lives with his mother (Frances Conroy) in the outer boroughs of Gotham struggling with mental illness and a strange condition that causes him to laugh in times of distress. He dreams of a career in standup comedy, but he doesn’t get jokes. Rather, Arthur is the butt of jokes, which escalate violently in troubled Gotham.
When he finally steps into his power as a murderous chaos clown, empathy is what he demands through his violent actions, pushed to his limit by a broken mental health system, a civil society roiled by unrest and a lack of the attention and love he wants.
There is an aspect of the execution Phillips badly flubs, and it just might be the film’s death knell. “Joker” is resoundingly one note throughout the majority of its running time, Phillips mistaking “unrelentingly grim” for “profound,” which just renders the film punishingly dull.
It could be by design: The brutal boredom makes you crave the sweet release of chaos; in the last few minutes, where Joker acolytes riot in the streets, things finally perk up. That’s because “Joker” puts us on that queasy roller-coaster ride with Arthur himself.
The empathy Phillips, Silver and Phoenix create for Arthur and his actions will be a sticking point for many who don’t want to look that grease-painted visage in the face, a representation of mental illness and poverty and structural failure pushed to the brink.
That empathy might be the most radical part of “Joker,” but it’s not that radical at all. This “Joker” is all setup with no punchline.
|Cache||I love music! I'm always listening to something and I can happily spend countless hours making playlists or finding new artists to enjoy. If you feel the same, get ready for a list of awesome finds to elevate your music-listening experience!
|Cache||Flora, a cute little restaurant in downtown Oakland, has been open for approximately four hours, so of course it has already been declared DEAD AND PASSE AND LAME by a snide local hipster who has better taste in restaurants than you, because you live on the wrong side of the Caldecott Tunnel and work in an office and are probably wearing Dockers.|
Kevin Cook, food writer at Novometro.com, hasn't actually been to Flora, but he has read another writer's blog about when she went to Flora earlier this afternoon, and he has already had it up to here with the restaurant, which he vows to never visit again, or ever, since he's never actually been in the first place.
Based on seven pictures and a 193-word review, Cook declared, in the comments of course, the following:
I will never understand why a place like flora attracts anyone. I don’t care how new the kitchen staff is–making a decent vinaigrette shouldn’t take any practice or time for a professional. Tuna melt? Come on, this place sounds like an upscale togos for the walnut creet office worker lunch crowd.To recap: Kevin Cook does not understand why Flora does not throw in the towel and shut down and admit it's over, already, since it has managed to ruin its reputation in the four hours it has been open by making a bad vinaigrette and, uh, serving sandwiches, to people who work in offices. And possibly live in Walnut Creek. Ew.
This is the glorious future of food criticism, which shows why reviews printed on dead trees by so-called professionals who secretly love sandwiches and Contra Costa County and cubicles are now obsolete forever, oh holy god I want John Birdsall back they laid him off I didn't want to tell you but there it is The End.
(Seriously, the East Bay Express laid off Birdsall and six other staffers, including Kara Platoni.)
A Better Oakland: Flora opens tonight! (Updated with pictures)
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|Cache||NJ-New Providence, Quality Inspector Location : New Providence NJ US 07974 Job Type : Direct Reference Code : 19975-AS1 Compensation : 17.00 - 20.00 USD/HOUR Start Date : 10/07/2019 Hours : Full Time Required Years of Experience : 3 Required Education : High School Diploma / GED Travel : No Relocation : No Job Industry : Engineering Job Description : Permanent position for a Quality Inspector for manufacturing of co|