miércoles, 20 de julio de 2016

Disney nixes happiest currency on Earth

Disney is no longer minting money.

At least one kind -- the company recently announced that it will no longer print and sell its beloved currency, Disney Dollars.

The bills, which feature iconic Disney (DIS) characters and are signed by treasurer Scrooge McDuck, are worth real U.S. dollars. They're like gift certificates and can still be used at Disney theme parks, resorts, hotels, restaurants and stores. But for many Disney die-hards, they're also collectibles
Typically Mickey Mouse was on the $1, Goofy was on the $5 and Minnie Mouse was on the $10.
The bills also featured princesses like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, villains like Cruella de Vil and Captain Hook; and characters like Dumbo, Simba, the 101 Dalmations and even Lilo from "Lilo and Stitch."

Disney stopped selling the bills on May 14, but many are listed on eBay (EBAY).

A special edition $50 bill from 2005 that marked Disneyland's 50th anniversary just sold for $495 on Wednesday, which works out to a gain of 890%. A $1 Mickey Mouse bill printed in 2009 recently sold for $12.95 (appreciating 1,195%), and a $1 Pirates of the Caribbean bill netted $14 (up 1,300%).
Related: 'Beauty and the Beast' trailer teases Emma Watson as Belle

The bills were put into circulation in 1987 and printed in limited quantities. Disney Dollars also had security features similar to those used on actual currency, and each even had a unique serial number.
The bills will no longer be available at any of the Disney parks worldwide.

Taken from: CNNMoney (New York)

martes, 14 de junio de 2016

Best cars for planet Earth - Smart ED

In this "green car" competition, the Smart Electric Drive has two big things going for it. The first big thing is that it's all electric. The second big thing is that, actually, it's really little. That makes it easy on energy. The Smart ED gets an amazing 107 MPGe, or Miles Per Gallon Equivalent. That's a measure of how efficiently a car uses power from any source other than gasoline. By comparison, a Tesla Model S, a much bigger, roomier car, gets 89 MPGe.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy recently put out its annual list of the "Greenest Cars" and the Smart ED was named number one. The list is based on fuel efficiency and emissions and, yes, the group does admit that, if you live in an area where your electricity comes from coal-powered plants, driving an electric car like this might not be the best thing you could do for the planet.

By the way, you won't find the Tesla Mode S in this gallery. Due to its size, which the ACEEE uses to estimate pollution caused by manufacturing, its "Green Score" was just outside the top 12.

Taken from: CNN

viernes, 18 de marzo de 2016

One More Child


India is a land of ancient civilization. India's social, economic, and cultural configurations are the products of a long process of regional expansion. Indian history begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization and the coming of the Aryans. These two phases are usually described as the pre-Vedic and Vedic age. Hinduism arose in the Vedic period. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world.

One More Child

This story took place in India. It is about a very rich woman, who was very sad because she had no children of her own.

One time she asked a friend, how she could get a child?. Her friend told her, to go to her poor neighbor's house, because there was a lady that had twelve children and don't have enough money to feed them all and maybe she will give one away.

The rich woman went with a bag of gold to the poor woman's little house. At the time she arrived the children were asking for food, because they were very hungry. They ate rice soup out of holes on the floor because they had no bowls.

The rich woman was surprised to hear the poor woman asking God for another child, so she could have another hole of rice water to eat from. At this time she understood a mother's love for her children . She put the bag of gold in the poor woman's hand and left the little house with no child.

lunes, 29 de febrero de 2016

7. At Yosemite, a Waterfall Turns Into a Firefall

Andrew McDonald, a student of High Sierra Workshops, took this photo at the falls, amid a sea of photographers.
For a few weeks in February if the conditions are just right, for about 10 minutes around sunset, one waterfall in Yosemite National Park looks more like its opposite — a firefall.

Visitors who flocked to the California park last week, many with cameras in tow, have not been disappointed by the glowing transformation of Horsetail Fall, which flows from El Capitan.

“In the over 20 years I have been photographing the firefall and leading workshops there in Yosemite, I have never seen a more spectacular one,” said Michael Mariant, a photographer from Morro Bay, Calif., who leads teaching trips to Yosemite.

The phenomenon occurs if there has been enough snow and rain in the Sierra Mountains to fuel the waterfall, if the skies are clear and if the setting sun strikes the water at an angle that creates the illusion of lava.
Mike Gauthier, the park’s chief of staff, said that he was not sure if it was definitely the best firefall ever. But it certainly trumps the firefall the last few years, when drought turned Horsetail Fall mostly dry.

This cascade of glowing water is a natural alternative to another, discontinued Yosemite firefall tradition.

In the 1870s, the owners of a hotel in the park started dumping embers from a cooling fire off a cliff. From Curry Village, a camping and lodging area below, this happened to look like a flowing fire, and spectators would gather to marvel at the sight. Mr. Gauthier said that it ended in 1968 because of changes in the way officials thought about national parks — as sites for enjoying the natural world, not places for artificial spectacle.

The current Horsetail Fall phenomenon, traditionally viewed from points east of El Capitan, is expected to last at least for a few more days, according to Mr. Gauthier, when the sun still sets at the golden angle.

Taken from: NYT

viernes, 26 de febrero de 2016

6. Turning Your Pet Into a Therapy Dog


It did not take long for me to recognize the therapeutic potential of Max, the hypoallergenic 5-month-old Havanese puppy I adopted in March 2014. He neither barked nor growled and seemed to like everyone, especially the many children that come up and down our block.

When I asked if a crying child passing by would like to pet a puppy, the tears nearly always stopped as fluffy little Max approached, ready to be caressed.

So I signed us up for therapy dog training with the Good Dog Foundation, which met conveniently in my neighborhood. If we passed the six-week course, we would be certified to visit patients in hospitals and nursing homes, children in schools, and people in other venues that recognize the therapeutic potential of well-behaved animals.

Training involves a joint effort of dog and owner, usually in groups of four to eight pairs. The dog can be any size, any breed, but must be housebroken; nonaggressive; not fearful of strangers, loud or strange noises, wheelchairs or elevators, and able to learn basic commands like sit, lie down and leave it. Good temperament is critical; a dog that barks incessantly, nips or jumps on people uninvited would hardly be therapeutic.

During our first visit to patients at my local hospital, a woman who said she’d had a “terrible morning” invited Max onto her bed, showered him with affection and, crying with pleasure, thanked me profusely for bringing him around to cheer her up.

Moments later, on the pediatrics ward, a preverbal toddler hospitalized with croup spotted Max and came charging down the hall squealing with delight. The two met eye-to-eye; Max even appeared to smile, and she giggled as she patted his head.

I don’t know about Max, but I was hooked. I agreed to bring him for monthly patient visits, with a promise to do more if my schedule permitted, and I was able to do the required pre-visit bath.

A therapy dog need not be small and fluffy. A neighbor with a “mush” of a 90-pound American pit bull named Pootie has had similar experiences at the Veterans Affairs New York Harbor Healthcare System’s Brooklyn campus. During the first visit, one patient told him repeatedly, “You made my day.”

But while a hospital’s voluntary pet therapy program is designed to aid patients, in my experience the chronically stressed hospital staff benefits as much if not more from pet visits. “Can I pick him up?” is the typical request from hospital personnel I encounter, and some don’t even wait for me to say yes.

Therapy pets differ from service animals like those that guide the blind, detect impending health crises for people with epilepsy or diabetes, or stimulate learning for children with autism or cerebral palsy.

Pet therapy most often involves privately owned animals – usually dogs, but also cats, rabbits, even kangaroos, birds, fish and reptiles – that their owners take to facilities to enhance the well-being of temporary or permanent residents. Thus, in addition to relieving the monotony of a hospital stay or entertaining residents in a nursing home, Max might visit a school where young children wary of reading aloud will happily read to a dog that does not care about mistakes.

At my local hospital, therapy dogs often attend group sessions for psychiatry patients. Cynthia Chandler, a counseling professor at the University of North Texas and author of “Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling,” reports that visits by her dog Bailey increased patient participation in group therapy and improved hygiene and self-care among those with severe mental illness.

At Veterans Affairs hospitals, not only therapy dogs but also parrots have reduced anxiety and other symptoms among patients being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Valerie Abel, a psychologist who coordinates the pet therapy program at the Brooklyn Veterans Affairs hospital, said, “The presence of therapy dogs makes such a difference. Many ask when they’ll next be back. A big dog can put its head on patients’ beds and you can actually see them relax.”

Studies have shown that after just 20 minutes with a therapy dog, patients’ levels of stress hormones drop and levels of pain-reducing endorphins rise. Endorphins are the brain’s natural narcotic, the substance responsible for the runner’s high that helps injured athletes ignore pain.

In elderly patients with dementia, depression declines after they interact with a therapy animal. And researchers at the University of Southern Maine showed that therapy dog visits can calm agitation in patients with severe dementia.

In a controlled study of therapy dog visits among patients with heart disease, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found a significant reduction in anxiety levels and blood pressure in the heart and lungs in those who spent 12 minutes with a visiting animal, but no such effect occurred among comparable patients not visited by a dog.

Therapy dogs are often described as better than any medicine. They know instinctively when someone needs loving attention. Last winter, when I was felled by the flu (despite my annual shot), 1-year-old Max lay at the foot of my bed for hours on end, making none of his usual demands for attention and play.

In an intriguing pet therapy program, sometimes called pets behind bars, benefits accrue to both the animals and the humans with whom they interact. Shelter dogs considered unadoptable and living on “death row” are assigned to be cared for and trained by selected prison inmates, including convicted killers and rapists, many of whom have serious anger issues.

The inmates work to socialize the dogs, teaching them to trust people, behave appropriately and obey simple commands. In turn, violence and depression among the inmates is lessened; they learn compassionate behavior, gain a sense of purpose, and experience unconditional love from the dogs in their care.

At the completion of training, rehabilitated dogs are offered to people who want to give a shelter animal a permanent home. Through the Safe Harbor Prison Dog Program at Lansing Correctional Facility in Lansing, Kan., for example, some 1,200 dogs have been adopted as pets.

In a related program, veterans back from service in Iraq and Afghanistan are giving basic obedience training to shelter dogs, a project that helps the vets readjust to being home and offers the dogs a chance to gain a home of their own.

Before signing up for therapy dog training, you’d be wise to find out first what the program involves and its cost and what will be required of you by the facilities you hope to visit. I’ve had to provide annual documentation of Max’s vaccinations and freedom from intestinal parasites, which typically requires a visit to the vet. I too had to show I was immune to multiple infectious diseases and free of H.I.V., and the hospital had to test me for drug abuse.

Still, the rewards Max and I have accrued as hospital volunteers more than compensate for these requirements.

Taken from: NYT

lunes, 22 de febrero de 2016

5. MasterCard launching selfie payments

Smile for your MasterCard authentication selfie!

MasterCard wants to ditch the old-fashioned password and use selfies to approve online purchases.

The company announced it is launching new mobile technologies that will allow customers to authenticate their online purchases using selfies or fingerprints.

The technology will be rolled out by big banks in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and some European countries over the next few months.

People from around the world will be regularly using this authentication technology within five years, said Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise security solutions at MasterCard (MA).

Bhalla said that using facial and fingerprint scans for purchases is safer than typed passwords since many customers foolishly use easy-to-guess codes.

Customers who want to try selfie authentication will have to download a special MasterCard app that will allow them to take a photo each time they make an online purchase. Their face (or fingerprint) will be scanned to prove that they -- not hackers or thieves -- are making a purchase.

The scan will verify that it's a legitimate selfie -- instead of a previously taken photo -- by requiring users to blink when they take their own photo.

The fingerprint authentication can be used on new smartphones, including the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S.

MasterCard said it's also working on other ways to authenticate purchases, including monitoring a customer's heartbeat. Iris scans and voice recognition are also being explored.

MasterCard is not alone in introducing new technology to replace typed passwords.

HSBC (HSBC) announced last week that millions of account holders would soon be able to use their voice and fingerprints to access their money.

People who use HSBC's phone banking services will be able to register their voice with the company instead of using a regular password. Special voice biometrics technology will analyze a customer's voice when they call the bank. Even if customers get a cold, the technology should still work.

Customers with the latest iPhones -- which already boast fingerprint login technology -- will be able to access their accounts on their mobile phones using their fingerprint.

CNNMoney (London)
First published February 22, 2016: 12:45 PM ET
Extract from CCN

jueves, 26 de noviembre de 2015

4. Celebrating Thanksgiving, Latino-style

By Tracy López

Published November 18, 2011

Fox News Latino

The United States is defined by many things – but the tradition of mixing cultures has been part of its foundation from the moment European explorers set foot in the "New World" – a world which was not new to the indigenous people who had lived here for centuries. 

There is no way to romanticize the process of this originally forced mixing of cultures, although school text books try their best. Whether it was the Spanish converting native peoples to Catholicism or British colonists forcing African slaves to take on Anglo names – the history is often tragic and unpleasant.

As more and more immigrants from around the world came to call the United States home, this country became known as a "melting pot." While generations ago many immigrants did attempt to shed their language and traditions – or were forced to melt or blend in – thankfully, today that isn't quite the case. More modern analogies compare the United States to salad, stew, stir fry and even sandwiches, rather than a "melting pot" – with the point being that each culture, while harmonizing with the others – is still distinguishable and unique.

The fast growing Latino population in the United States means that the American stew of tradition and culture continue to mix – sometimes in fascinating ways, and one of the best times of the year to observe it is during holidays such as Thanksgiving.

In Latin America, Thanksgiving is not traditionally celebrated, but in the United States, most Latinos recognize the day along with everyone else and the foods that grace tables across the country are just as diverse as Americans themselves. While some of my Latina friends say they prefer a "gringo" Thanksgiving, many have put a Latin twist on their holiday spread. Here are some of the dishes that will be served at some of my friends' houses this year when their families gather to give thanks:

"…alongside the pumpkin pie, I also serve pumpkin flan." - Maura Hernandez 

"…when I am cooking the Thanksgiving meal, my turkey is glazed in guava and port, my pie is a pumpkin flan with gingersnap crust and while I do potatoes, my preference is for the mojo-soaked yuca of my childhood." –  Carrie Ferguson Weir 

"The way we mix our cultures together in America is by using the American tradition of the turkey but having the Spanish stuffing: arroz con garbanzos, cebollitas, alcaparras, uvas, y olivas, mezclado con comino, aji, y paprika. [Rice with chickpeas, onions, capers, grapes, and olives, mixed with cumin, aji and paprika.] We are Colombian, and this Spanish stuffing is always the favorite part of the American holiday." – Alexandra Rosas 

"We serve Tamales, Champurado, Pan Dulce, Queso Fresco y Chocolate Abuelita with traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I'm also sure my sister-in-law will bring her delicious homemade salsas frescas." – Eva Smith 

"I serve pumpkin margaritas, lots of them!" - Vianney Rodriguez 

"We have our turkey con arroz." – Yolanda Machado 

As you can see, the American melting pot no longer exists. These days you could say we're more like pico de gallo, which incidentally tastes really good on Thanksgiving turkey.

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