Monthly Archives: August 2016

California Residents Who Use Too Much Water Now Subject to Penalties from Government

Rusty burst pipe squirting water at high pressureA low-flush toilet can save households up to 18,000 gallons of water in a single year, but those in California are looking to save even more right now. In fact, water guzzling households are now subject to government penalties and potential public disclosure of names.

A new law signed late Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown requires every urban water supplier with more than 3,000 customers on their roster to put in place rules that define “excessive water use” starting January 1.

Once the legislation takes effect, water companies will be faced with two choices: impose tiered rates that charge a higher amount to those households that use more than the targeted goal, or set a fine for households that use more than a certain amount of water in any given billing period.

If companies choose the second option as their plan, then any household using above the set amount of water will have their names made public, according to the new legislation.

“Households that guzzle water — while their neighbors and most other Californians abide by mandatory reductions — will no longer be able to hide and persist in their excess,” said state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-Redwood City, who wrote the measure.

The new law will be put into immediate effect anytime California is in a drought emergency as declared by the governor.

In times like these, Californians are doing everything they can to ensure they use every drop of water nature affords them wisely.

Farmers have even started using drones as a more efficient method of tracking the water levels in their crop fields.

Equipped with state-of-the-art thermal cameras, drones will fly over fields in search of cool or soggy areas, which could indicate that a pest has chewed through an irrigation line or that there’s a leak somewhere.

An estimated 2,100 companies and individuals have permission from the federal government to fly drones over their land for farming.

California farmer Cannon Michael has found the drones incredibly useful on his farm.

“I’ve always been a big fan of technology,” said Michael. “I think it’s really the only way we’re going to stay in business.”

Thanks to technology, a farmer can order a commercial-grade drone online for $2,000 and typically receive it within a few days. After that, all they need to do is connect the drone to a smartphone and it could have countless benefits.

Regardless of career choice, though, the drought in California has been difficult for everyone.

Even though Northern California received some of the best rain this winter in the last five years, Southern California has been in a state of drought since January of 2014.

Tyson Foods Faces Big OSHA Fine for Workplace Violations

Image: Fkbowen

Image: Fkbowen

Tyson Foods, one of the largest meat processing companies in the world, faces a $263,000 fine after federal inspectors found more than 15 serious workplace safety violations this month.

The Labor Departments’ Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigated Tyson’s plant in Center, Texas, after an employee’s finger got caught in an unguarded conveyor belt on a chicken deboning machine and had to be amputated.

The inspection found two other repeated violations and 15 more, including open exposure to moving machine parts, a lack of personal protective equipment for workers, and a lack of training on the dangers of handling peracetic acid, which can cause respiratory illnesses and serious burns without proper safety equipment.

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has set standards for workplace safety equipment and materials. A lack of proper safety gear is associated with thousands of workplace injuries that occur every year.

“Tyson Foods must do much more to prevent disfiguring injuries like this one from happening,” said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. “As one of the nation’s largest food suppliers, it should set an example for workplace safety rather than drawing multiple citations from OSHA for ongoing safety failures.”

The organization also noted that Tyson has faced similar charges in other facilities, including a 2012 violation in Carthage, TX, and a 2013 citation in Albertville, Alabama.

There were also several slip-and-fall hazards at the Center plant due to a lack of drainage or recessed drains. Inspectors also observed a fire hazard from improperly stored compressed gas cylinders.

Tyson will have 15 business days from notice of the citations to comply, contest, or consult with OSHA about the reported violations. The company has since released a statement indicating their cooperation.

“We never want to see anyone hurt on the job, which is why we’re committed to continual improvement in our workplace safety efforts,” the company said.

Critical Protein Shows Promise as Potential Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease

Young woman  doctor holding a tablet pcWhile only seven percent of people ages 65 and older often forget what day it is, the rates of Alzheimer’s are in fact increasing as time goes on. However, new research has discovered that a critical protein may be the key to an effective treatment for the disease.

The population of patients with Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. is projected to swell to upwards of 13 million by the middle of the century, and researchers are doing all they can to devise a form of effective treatment for the disease.

Salvatore Oddo, a researcher at the Biodesign Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center (NDRC), has been studying the effects and inner workings of the devastating disease.

Oddo and a team of researchers recently examined p62 — a critical protein associated with tell-tale symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Their findings present an opportunity to delve deeper into the intricacies of the disease and potentially develop a form of treatment.

The protein p62 has already been associated with the accumulation of tau tangles within the brain, but Oddo and his colleagues have discovered that it has ties to the buildup of plaque and another critical protein, known as amyloid beta.

Their study actually demonstrates for the first time that p62 plays a role in the degradation or turnover of amyloid beta in living systems.

Not only does this give researchers a better insight into the disease itself, it presents an opportunity to develop a new form of treatment for Alzheimer’s patients.

Too often, Alzheimer’s claims the lives of loved ones. Not even famous basketball coach Pat Summitt was immune to the devastation of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Summitt, although passed, keeps her title of winningest college basketball coach of all-time to this day.

With a record of 1,098 wins and eight national titles in 38 seasons at Tennessee, hers is a large pair of shoes to fill.

In honor of her achievements and her legacy, the Tennessee Volunteers will be wearing commemorative stickers on their helmets during this season.

The sticker’s design will be Summitt’s signature “P” that could be seen on every one of her signatures, and will be revealed to the world during the Vol’s opening game of the season.

Cases like Summitt’s are rare, but no less devastating. Fortunately, research like Oddo’s will help provide treatments for the future.

“These exciting finding suggest that compounds aimed at increasing p62 may have beneficial effects for Alzheimer’s disease,” Oddo said.

How Web Designers Manipulate Our Perception of Time

loadingYour website’s design matters more than you might think. Almost half (46%) of Internet users say that their number one criterion in determining the credibility of a company is looking to its web design. The trouble is that you can’t just design a site that you think looks good. It requires more thought. For instance, did you know that it’s wise to keep 40% of your graphic space empty?

There are a number of factors to consider when developing an engaging website. One of the most important features of a well-designed site is usability. The modern consumer expects convenience and speed. If a website is slow to load, users won’t hesitate to go elsewhere.

Loading time can vary depending on the user’s browser, location, network, time of day, or type of device. With all of these variables stacked against you, loading speed is more or less out of your control. What you can control, however, is the perception of waiting time, and skilled web designers are getting better and better at doing just that.

“Our sense of time is surprisingly easy to manipulate whether it’s actual duration or the order in which things happen,” said Stanford neuroscientist David Eagleman.

Waiting for a webpage to load is stressful and frustrating. However, there are several things web designers can do to make that wait a lot more bearable.

“Uncertainty is a disease, and information is usually the cure, particularly with software,” said Steve Seow, author of Designing and Engineering Time.

Seow is talking about easing the user’s so-called “wait hate” with a guarantee that progress is being made. Even the use of a simple gradually filling circle to convey progress of a download can go a long way towards keeping frustration at bay.

Distractions are helpful as well. For the same reason, elevators have mirrors and traffic lights employ non-functioning crosswalk buttons. Using an image or animation works to distract users during long loading times. The distraction makes the time feel like it’s going by faster.

One researcher at Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute discovered that certain styles of progress bars can alter perceived wait times. He found that a visually augmented progress bar with backwards flowing ribbing actually made wait times seem 11% faster than they really were.

On the other hand, there are certain animations that have become synonymous with long wait times, such Apple’s spinning rainbow “wheel of doom.” The appearance of this animation provokes anger among users, making time feel even longer.

Eagleman noted that as humans, we are “constantly recalibrating our sense of time to various environmental cues, as well as our own expectations and tolerances.”

Fortunately, designers have become increasingly skilled at manipulating our perceptions.

That’s a Dealbreaker: Millennials Dating by Credit Scores

There are many common questions people like to ask in the early stages of a new romantic relationship. They might want to know more about their prospective partner’s hobbies, pets, family, or life goals. But many Millennials are asking a new and much more direct question: “What’s your credit score?”

Last week, the New York Post ran a profile on women whose list of dealbreakers includes a credit report below 650. Among them is 22-year-old Martina Paillant, who said she routinely pops the credit question by the fourth date.

“I was raised in a family of professionals who keep their finances in check and taught me how to handle my money,” Paillant said. “I have no student loans and I can already take care of myself financially. I need a man who can take care of himself, too.”

Unfortunately, Paillant may have a hard time finding people her age in the same situation.

“Millennials are the most indebted generation in American history,” said personal finance expert Lynnette Khalfani-Cox. But that doesn’t mean the question is unreasonable.

“Marriage and relationships are not just an emotional, personal bond, they’re also to a large extent a financial commitment,” Khalfani-Cox explained. “It’s completely appropriate when dating to have a good understanding of your partner’s credit health.”

Credit reports are also influential factors in long-term relationship goals, such as buying a home. Most mortgage lenders, for example, require a minimum score of 680, while Federal Housing Administration loans require a minimum of 620.

Couples with higher credit reports tend to last longer, too. According to a study from the Federal Reserve Board last year, couples with credit scores below 600 are more than three times as likely to divorce than average score couples.

There is, of course, a dating site for that. Website matches potential partners by their credit history, which perhaps is the secret to a happy marriage, after all.

“A person with a high credit score shows they’re trustworthy, responsible, and reliable with their finances,” Khalfani-Cox said — which could make a good credit score the modern equivalent of being tall, dark, and handsome.

Amber Heard to Donate All $7 Million From Her Recent Divorce Settlement

Amber-HeardAmber Heard and former husband Johnny Depp officially called it quits in May, but their divorce proceedings ended earlier this week. The couple settled for a whopping $7 million, all of which Heard plans to donate.

Surprisingly enough, this sum isn’t unheard of. According to the documentary Divorce Corp, the divorce industry costs divorcing couples and taxpayers a staggering $50 billion. For context, credit card fraud only costs the U.S. about $8 billion annually.

However, what’s more surprising is that Heard is donating her settlement money.

Previously thought to have alleged domestic abuse for monetary gain in the divorce, Heard has effectively silenced all who may have previously thought that with her donation announcement.

In June, People reported that Heard withdrew her request for temporary spousal support from Depp. When asked for comment, Heard reported that she felt asking for financial assistance from Depp was being “used against me to distract and divert the public away from the very serious real issue of domestic violence.”

Since Heard’s announcement, some have stepped forth to offer continued supports, while others doubt her claims.

However, Heard does have a successful career, although her resume is considerably smaller than Depp’s.

Heard is worth approximately $9 billion, and as a successful actress, she has been able to create a life just as comfortable as her former husband’s.

Divorce can devastate finances, but both parties, in this case, appear to have undergone the process without any major scathing.

Heard’s claims of domestic violence are still claims, but some have said that refusing to acknowledge those claims is only making it more difficult for other victims of domestic violence to come forward.

According to the CDC, nearly 50% of all women and men in the U.S. will experience psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Though it may seem difficult to believe that an esteemed actor like Depp could be abusive as a partner, countless domestic violence advocates are urging individuals not to discount Heard’s claims.

She hasn’t specified which charity will receive the $7 Million, but regardless, the selfless act has millions in awe.

Physical Therapy and Prosthetics Aren’t Just for Humans Anymore

eagleApproximately 46 million households in the United States own a dog, and while an injury may have once impaired a beloved family pet for life, there are new alternatives available to pet owners everywhere.

It may sound odd, but pets across the country are going through physical therapy to help them recover from various illnesses and injuries.

Once considered a treatment strictly for humans, countless veterinarians are encouraging pet owners to look into the practice.

Chewy, a dog who has suffered through cancer and a back surgery, makes use of the service frequently nowadays. He runs on an enclosed underwater treadmill as part of his rehabilitation.

“He’s going through chemo, but he can’t go on walks. This lets him exercise without putting stress on his muscles,” owner Amanda Santowski said.

In another situation, Coach, a 14-year-old dog who injured his ACL is undergoing acoustic compression therapy to relieve the pain.

“It’s been a game-changer for him,” says owner Laurie Hunken, who already employs other types of therapies for her pet.

However, physical therapy isn’t the only alternative for pets who have undergone dramatic change as a result of injuries.

Many animals are now receiving 3D printed prosthetic limbs to help them cope with injuries or disabilities.

“We give many animals a second chance. Without these prosthetics, most would have been euthanized because there was nobody to care for them,” said Paolo Miamoto, a member of Animal Avengers.

Miamoto, a dentist who specializes in 3-D facial and dental reconstructions, is perhaps best known for his work in giving Vitoria the goose her beak back.

The dentist-turned-savior is part of a group called Animal Avengers, which consists of an all-volunteer crew of veterinarians, 3-D computer modeling experts, and Miamoto that create custom prosthetics for wild and domestic animals using 3-D printers.

When Vitoria was brought to him, she was missing most of her beak. The first prosthetic fitting didn’t quite work out, but through several designs and perseverance, Miamoto and his team equipped her with a functional prosthetic beak.

Some professionals participate in animal rehabilitation because of a call to save teh earth, or simply to help wild animals and other pet owners, but for Dr. Lindsay Seilheimer, the mission is personal.

“That’s how I came to love rehab, because my own dog is an orthopedic disaster,” she said.

Penny got through an amputation and two leg surgeries with similar therapy. More dog owners are discovering the benefits.

These treatments are available for dogs and cats but aren’t always covered by pet insurance. Individually, they cost about as much as a regular visit to the veterinarian, which means it’s a growing alternative treatment for pets everywhere.

Prisoner Lodges Cell Phone Up Pelvis, Caught on X-Ray

Vector illustration of a man lock up in prisonTypically, cell phone users carry their mobile devices in their pockets, their bags, and their hands. This technology can be addicting, and one prisoner in England went to great lengths to bring his cell phone behind bars with him.

Stephen Cavanagh had just been admitted into Manchester’s Strangeways prison in the United Kingdom, and had recently placed his cell phone up near his bladder to smuggle it into jail.

However, he soon started experiencing intense stomach pains. Prison doctors thought he could have gallstones, so they decided to X-ray him. In a moment of forgetfulness, Cavanagh forgot to remove the incriminating object before heading to the doctor.

What they found soon blew them away. An x-ray of his pelvic region showed “a very clear picture of a mobile phone with the keypad, screen, and speaker” according to Digital Trends.

However, Cavanagh refused to believe the doctors when they told him what they found. He was confident his secret was still safe, until prison correction officers had to show him the x-ray that gave him away.

So, the prisoner was taken to segregation to eject the phone from his system, and he then had to immediately flush the phone down the toilet. After the entire ordeal, a quick swipe from a security wand proved nothing metallic remained in his system.

As a gift for his efforts, Cavanagh was given an extra six months to his sentence.

This isn’t the first time doctors have found random objects inside the human body. A diamond ring was found inside a cocker spaniel, and small scissors were in a person’s throat. Sewing needles, a drill bit, and a television remote were also among objects that have been accidentally lodged in patients bodies.

Overall, a 3D x-ray is meant to see even the smallest of foreign objects inside your body. With these types of X-rays, they can see the inside of a casting can be seen to find a defect, crack, void, hole, or even porosity. Moreover, the measurement of this porosity is easily determined with the percent porosity in the part.

Former NYC Mayor Giuliani Seems to Forget 9/11 Ever Happened

464px-Rudy_GiulianiRudy Giuliani appears to have forgotten the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 ever happened.

In a recent event supporting Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Ohio, Giuliani blamed President Obama for the Islamic-backed terror attacks that happened within our nation in the past eight years.

As reported on CNN, Giuliani said “Before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack inside the United States. They all started when (Hillary) Clinton and Obama got into office.”

However, Giuliani was mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001, including 9/11 when the World Trade Center’s twin towers were attacked. Members of the radical Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda hijacked commercial airlines off the east coast, and flew them into buildings in New York City, Washington D.C., and rural Pennsylvania.

At the end of the day, almost 3,000 Americans perished in the attacks.

So, why did Giuliani forget this important day in American history during his speech?

Well, he says he was misunderstood. Just seconds before the remark, Giuliani referred to the attacks twice while promoting the foreign affairs experience of vice presidential candidate Mike Pence. He recalled how Pence visited New York City days after the attack while he was serving as a congressman for Indiana.

ABCNews reports Giuliani adding,

“[Pence was] a member of the Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Committee during the time of Sept. 11, when we went through the worst foreign attack in our history since the War of 1812. Mike Pence understands [the threat of terrorism] from his time both on the Foreign Affairs Committee, from his very, very timely visit, which I remember, to ground zero. When we were in desperate need of help, he was there.”

Giuliani claims he used “abbreviated language” in order to save time during the speech. His comments received immediate backlash on social media and caused many to compare his remarks to Donald Trump’s comments in February, which questioned President George Bush’s connection to 9/11.

Nevertheless, Giuliani’s thoughts on terror attacks struck a nerve within the American people. Just in the past year alone, there have been numerous radical Islamic terrorist attacks throughout the world, most notably the three in France that led to the deaths of American tourists. This fear has led to declining tourism rates on a global stage, as 48% of Americans surveyed by the U.S. Travel Insurance Association said they are more concerned now than in the past about traveling abroad.

Elon Musk Buys Out Solar City, Promises to Engineer Functional Solar Roofing

solar shingleAsphalt shingles can need replacing every 12 to 20 years or so, but Elon Musk is promising solar roofing that may not require replacement as frequently.

“It’s not something on the roof — it is the roof,” Musk told a group of Wall Street analysts during a call last week. “Which is a quite difficult engineering challenge and not something that is available anywhere else.”

Despite Musk’s claims, the fact is that solar roofs have been around for more than a decade, although it’s true that they pose somewhat of an engineering challenge.

Most of the reason for the challenge is that nobody has been able to produce photovoltaic construction materials that are cheaper than installing a roof and putting solar panels on it and more efficient at generating electricity than traditional solar panels.

Not only that, but solar panels and roofs are designed to do two very different things.

While solar panels are designed specifically to generate electricity and absorb as much sunlight as possible to do so, roofs are designed to protect a home from the elements.

Unfortunately, even the best roofs sometimes can’t stand up to the severe weather that’s been plaguing the U.S. this summer.

Louisiana, in particular, is suffering from severe weather this week.

Louisiana has been hit by a seemingly unending torrent of rainfall since last week, with at least six people dead and thousands of homes damaged by record-setting floods.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said officials “won’t know the death toll for sure for several more days.”

President Obama has even declared a state of disaster for the state, freeing up federal aid to support recovery efforts in affected areas.

“It’s not over,” Edwards warned. “The water’s going to rise in many areas. It’s no time to let the guard down.”

Approximately 20,000 people have been rescued from the rising flood waters, and nearly 12,000 remain in shelters as of Sunday night.

“Everybody is just tired and nervous and wanting to see what kind of damage they have to their home,” said Rachel Fitzpatrick, a Louisiana resident.

If Elon Musk wants to create solar roofing, the materials they engineer need to be able to withstand Louisiana-level deluges like the one plaguing vast areas of the state.

However, Tesla’s solar roofing is only an announcement at this stage and is not available for purchase. Solar City claims that its solar shingles could last upwards of 30 years when they become available for purchase.