Monthly Archives: November 2016

Flowers, Puppies, and Grandpas Oh My! The Wedding Trend That Keeps on Changing

Even though the Knot’s 2014 Real Weddings Study shows that 15% of brides choose to get married in June, and 14% choose October, it is a guarantee that any bride and groom will incorporate flowers into their special day no matter the season.

However, there have been some new trends concerning flowers in the world of weddings nationwide. Long ago are the days where big, white bouquets were carried by brides and flower petals strewn across the aisle by young flower girls. Now, wedding flowers can be reused for recreational use, and surprisingly, flowers are the reason behind lawsuits.

The U.S. florist industry employs over 90,000 people nationwide every year. However, any bride or groom would be hard-pressed to find a florist as unique as Bec Koop, who owns floral shop Buds & Blossoms. With the tagline “straight from your bouquet to your bowl,” it’s no secret that Koop’s businesses is unlike any other floral shop in the nation.

Lollylah Photography

Lollylah Photography

This Denver-based florist specializes in pot infused weddings and started her company after noticing that few venues catered to cannabis enthusiasts, even though the state of Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use. She was already running a successful florist business and was working at a medical marijuana dispensary. So back in 2014, she and her colleagues started the business with a 35-page business plan and only $1,500.

Buds & Blossoms took off from there. Services include a “bud bar,” which is like a wine bar but with pot, yoga brunches, bachelorette parties, and wine and food pairings. Koop does require her clients to supply their own marijuana, as Colorado rules firmly state she must use a special license to sell to her customers.

“My clients personally purchase the cannabis, they gift it to me, and I incorporate it into the different packages,” Koop explains to CNBC.

Bridal bouquets cost anywhere from $75 to $250, plus the cost of the pot. Koop explains that this hefty fee is because the marijuana plant is extremely delicate. It takes a lot of extra work to keep the plant looking fresh.

Koop explains that she is having more fun with Buds & Blossoms than she ever thought she would. One of her favorite stories to tell prospective clients is about the success she had introducing a grandmother at a wedding to marijuana for her first time.

“Within about an hour, she was out dancing harder than I’ve ever seen a grandma dance. She totally had a blast and came up to us afterward and asked where she could get some more.”

Considering the fact that more than 47,000 people died due to fatal drug overdoses in 2014 alone, many states are looking to legalize the drug marijuana in hopes of cutting down fatalities. And it looks like Koop’s bouquets are just a small part of the puzzle.

Another bride also chose to utilize her flowers in a unique way as well. Instead of having a pint-sized flower girl, she asked her grandfather to be the one to litter her aisle with flower petals.

Jennifer Briskin wanted to involve as much family as she could on her special day, so she gave her grandfather a handkerchief with “Papa, would you be my flower grandpa? Love, Jen” in embroidered stitching.

Stanley said yes! He was so excited that he even practiced tossing flower petals out of a Halloween candy bucket in the shape of a pumpkin.

“He got cold feet and wanted it to be perfect,” said Briskin to Today. “We all told him, ‘Listen, even two-year-olds can do it. So can you!”

Even though Stanley threw flowers on guests rather than down the aisle, he was surely the hit of the entire day.

While a flower girl — or grandpa! — can be touching, some brides are choosing to forgo flowers altogether. Instead, they’re choosing adorable puppies to replace the traditional bouquets.

Kathryn and Bradly Ziemer are dog lovers, and have supported Secondhand Hound, an organization that rescues puppies from high-kill shelters for years. Knowing that Secondhand Hound is known for its “puppy parties” in their community to promote adopting, the Ziemers contacted them with their idea of puppies in place of peonies at their ceremony.

In exchange, Secondhand Hound brought 13 newborn puppies to the wedding

, all named after Pokemon characters.

However, not all wedding flowers bring great memories for the couple getting married. Early last year in Richland, Washington, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers refused to sell wedding flowers to a gay couple for their wedding. This discrimination case has reached such notoriety that it is currently awaiting review at the state Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, one of the florist’s attorneys is now looking to unseat the judge who ruled against her. Challenger Alicia Berry argued that the flower shop owner, Barronelle Stutzman, had the First Amendment right not to be forced to sell flowers for Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed’s wedding, as it violated her Christian belief that gay marriage is wrong. Judge Alex Ekstrom ruled in February 2015 that Stutzman’s religious beliefs could not be used to justify treating customers any differently.

Berry is now running against Ekstrom in this year’s upcoming election and is looking to unseat Ekstrom simply because she believes she is better qualified.

“When we fail to protect the foundational right of freedom of conscience, we lose out on that first great freedom the Constitution was created for,” Berry explains in one of her radio ads.

Of the six incumbent judges up for election on the Benton-Franklin Superior Court Bench, Ekstrom is the only one with an opponent.

Who knew flowers could be so controversial?

Brighton Zeuner Proves Age is Just a Number as She Takes Professional Skateboarding by Storm

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In the U.S. alone, there are roughly 6.8 million bones broken annually, many of which are sports-related. One sport that often results in fractures is skateboarding.

Brighton Zeuner, a 12-year-old from Encinitas, CA, hasn’t broken any broken bones, but she <emhas broken some barriers. Zeuner is the youngest female athlete ever to be invited to compete in the X-Games, and the fourth youngest competitor overall.

Standing at just 4’8″ with a mouth full of braces, Zeuner certainly looks younger than her competitors, but she’s proven herself worthy of her place among them on multiple occasions.

At 11 years old, she placed fourth in the women’s skateboard park behind Kisa Nakamura, 16; Lizzie Armanto, 23; and Jordyn Barratt, 17.

Before Zeuner started competing against these women, they were her role models. Now, they are her peers.

“I feel like they kind of treat me like a younger sister,” said Zeuner. “We skate together and I love hanging out with them.”

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The skater got her start when she would go watch her brother Jack at the local skate park, but she quickly became bored with simply watching.

Zeuner’s Christmas wish that year was a board of her own. Since then, she’s risen to the top as one of the best female skaters in the world.

“She’s insane,” said her brother, Jack. “She’ll learn a new trick every other day.”

Zeuner, who won the 2016 Vans Park Series World Championship at Malmö, Sweden this past August, skates on the ramp in her backyard every day before school, and goes to her local park in the afternoons. She is homeschooled twice per week to manage her schedule, which usually revolves around what competition she has coming up. But she says that her training isn’t forced.

“I just have fun and work on new stuff,” she said.

While skateboarding has been mostly a male-dominated sport, the park that Zeuner goes to is filled with mostly girls, which she loves.

Women of all ages are revolutionizing the sport, and changing how most people view it. While it can be dangerous, that should not deter anyone, regardless of gender.

Skateboarding will be an Olympic sport in the upcoming 2020 games in Tokyo, and Zeuner has her sights set on the Olympic stage.

“It’s a huge deal for skateboarding as a sport,” she says, as skateboarding has never before appeared in an international competition larger than the X-Games. An Olympic-worthy status asserts its legitimacy, which is exciting for all skaters.

Nintendo Switch World Premier Gives Viewers a Taste of the Future of Gaming

nintendoThe print industry might still be eight times bigger than the video game industry, but the world premier of Nintendo’s newest console may have just changed the game.

In a short teaser video released last week, Nintendo wowed millions of viewers with a look at their next console: the Nintendo Switch. In addition to providing a quality gaming experience at home, the new system also allows players to take their gaming out of the house and on the road.

At home, the Nintendo Switch rests in a dock that connects the system to a television. However, by simply lifting the system out of its dock, it will transition into a portable mode that lets you take your game just about anywhere you want to.

The system also comes with two controllers that can either be used separately from the console for a more Wii-like experience, or attached to the sides of the portable system for a handheld game.

The 127-year-old company has managed to amaze audiences, but the next six months could determine what the future will really be like for the gaming mogul.

Games like Pokemon Go, a fortunate cover over the quiet failure of the Wii U, have brought in surprising amounts of revenue for the company. However, they also raise the question of whether or not Nintendo will abandon traditional console development for smartphone games in the future.

“Nintendo is a very proud, very old, very conservative Japanese company,” said Serkan Toto, CEO of Japanese consultancy Kantan Games.

Toto explained that change will most likely come slow to the company, but that the Nintendo Switch will be a step in the right direction.

While consumers cheered the Nintendo switch announcement, investors weren’t as impressed.

Despite a 6.6% drop in Nintendo shares, the Nintendo Switch reveal is one of the biggest moments the company has had in recent years.

With the Nintendo Classic Mini NES release just a few weeks away, the company has successfully built hype for both of its newest releases.

However, the company hasn’t yet released a price for the Nintendo Switch. A few companies have placed estimates at approximately $300, but were quickly shot down, as no concrete information has been provided from the company yet.

Still, gamers around the world have expressed excitement about the forthcoming console.

“Nintendo Switch allows gamers the freedom to play however they like,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, President and COO, Nintendo of America. “It gives game developers new abilities to bring their creative visions to life by opening up the concept of gaming without boundaries.”

U.S. Supreme Court Hears a Case About a Girl and Her Dog

Approximately 46.3 million American households own dogs, but for some families, these animals are much more than just a pet. For Ehlena Fry, for example, a 12-year-old Michigan girl who has cerebral palsy, her dog Wonder actually allowed her to lead an independent life.

Though Wonder the Goldendoodle has since retired as a service dog, he waited with Fry outside the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this week, while Fry’s parents and representatives from her former school battled over the details of a discrimination lawsuit that began when Napoleon Community Schools refused to allow Wonder to accompany Ehlena to school, appointing her a human aide instead.

The case hinges on a number of technicalities. The school argues that the Frys should have filed with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act before suing the school directly. But the Frys contend that their grievances are not about Ehlena’s education — which would have been equally adequate with canine or human aide alike — but about the physical, emotional, and social distress she suffered as a result of the school’s refusal to allow Wonder inside its walls.

“What we have said is the injury my client experienced is not a denial of education, but, for example, the humiliation that she experienced when she was forced to go to the toilet with the stall door open and four adults watching her because defendants did not trust her to use her dog to transfer to the toilet bowl,” explained the Frys’ attorney, Samuel Bagenstos.

Several justices appeared sympathetic to the Frys’ case, though others expressed concern that a ruling in their favor might set a precedent for excessive discriminatory lawsuits made without exhausting other administrative avenues. In turn, that could both tie up court systems and give plaintiffs in disability cases an unfair advantage.

Ehlena and Wonder, however, seemed optimistic as they waited outside the proceedings.

“I think we will win,” Ehlena said.

An Uber Self-Driving Truck Just Made its Debut by Transporting 50,000 Cans of Beer

Assortment of beer glasses on a wooden tableThe U.S. produces approximately 224 million hectoliters of beer annually, making it the second leading country in the world for beer production. Production processes stay mostly the same over the years, but beer transportation just got a crazy technological update.

Drivers on Colorado’s interstate 25 may have thought it was a clever Halloween prank when they saw the empty cab of an Otto 18-wheeler filled with a beer delivery, but the truth is that the truck was the first ever self-driving vehicle to complete a commercial shipment.

Using Uber’s self-driving technology, the freight truck travelled 120 miles from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs while its driver sat in the sleeper cab.

The driver was behind the wheel until the truck reached the highway, but after that it was smooth sailing for the automated freighter.

This past summer, Uber bought Otto — which doesn’t build the trucks themselves, but the technology that drives them — for $680 million. They then partnered with Anheuser-Busch for its first delivery using automated vehicles.

The delivery is only the first of many big leaps for Uber. The company’s new “Uber Freight” marketplace simply builds upon its recent acquisition of Otto as well as its already-existing ride-hailing app.

“It is a challenging, interesting, nuanced business, and it is going to be intense getting into it, but that’s exciting to me,” said Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

He said the first product from the new Uber Freight service will be a marketplace that connects shippers with trucks, much like the company’s app connects passengers with drivers.

Many people have been asking about the trucking jobs Uber would potentially be taking away with its new freight service. Both Uber and Anheuser-Busch have clarified that savings would primarily come from reduced fuel costs and more efficient deliveries.

In addition, recent data from The American Trucking Association estimates that the industry is short some 48,000 drivers currently.

Rather than taking jobs away from potential drivers, automated driving technology may just take away a part of the heavy burden placed on an already overstretched workforce.

Not only that, but tired drivers wouldn’t need to worry about highway driving, as the automated technology could handle the long stretches on interstates.

The average driver spends more than 20 hours every week driving, but the individuals who drive freight trucks are behind the wheel for much longer on most jobs.

Otto president and co-founder Lior Ron — who left tech giant Google just eight months before starting the autonomous truck tech company — has repeatedly assured those concerned about the human trucking jobs.

“The future is really those drivers becoming more of a copilot to the technology, doing all the driving on city streets manually, then taking off onto the highway, where the technology can help drive those long and very cumbersome miles,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg.

However, that doesn’t mean all truckers are behind the new, automated vehicles. In fact, drivers interviewed for a New York Times piece were very concerned with the technology, citing safety issues and the nature of the job.

Uber plans to move forward with their freight marketplace regardless, but the company may still have a lot of minds to change before this method of transporting beer — or any other commodity — becomes a commonplace sight on the nation’s highways.