Do you see a trend here? I’m always going to be too much for some and not enough for others, when in reality I’m both. I’m equal parts loud and quiet. I’m career driven and a hot mess mama.
As women, we worry so much about what other people think or what we think they might be thinking. We create judgments in our own heads. We hear undertone where it’s not even meant to exist. We over-analyze text messages. We worry why we didn’t get the invite. We see glances and whispers and assume they must be directed at us.
We waste so much of our time worrying about what other people’s opinions of us are. We try so hard to bend ourselves fifty different ways to fit a mold in hopes of somehow satisfying everyone else, only to leave ourselves feeling empty.
But, why? For what?
Sister, we are far beyond the years of needing someone else’s approval.
This is YOUR motherhood. This is your journey.
If you want to work, work.
If you want to be a stay at home mom, do it.
If you laugh too loudly or people don’t get your sense of humor, who cares.
If painting or writing, or any other thing brings you joy, chase it.
If you want to breastfeed your baby on the subway, be prideful.
If you are quiet and people think you are stuck up, that’s their loss, sister.
If you didn’t bake anything for the annual bake sale, but managed to run by the grocery store to pick up cookies, set them on the table with confidence.
Stop apologizing. Stop worrying about what other people think. I know. I know. Heaven forbid we offend someone … GASP.
Obviously, if you have done something to truly hurt someone, by all means own it. Apologize. Do the right thing, but stop apologizing for things that are your choice.
Stop doubting your own decisions. Stop looking over your shoulder. Stop trying to please everyone else.
Because, people? Well, people are always going to have an opinion. I’m just at the point in my life where I can finally say – LET THEM and I think you are, too.
People aren’t always going to agree with you. In fact, some people aren’t going to like you for no other reason than because they can. Is it fair? No. But it’s OK. Don’t be afraid to go against the tide; to do your own thing without question or hesitation. Do the thing that sets your soul on fire, regardless of what others think.
Be who you were made to be, not who others want you to be.
Because you’re never going to be everyone’s cup of tea, just like I’m not. But, those people? They aren’t your people.”
While the agility of a Spot or Atlas robot is something to behold, there’s a special merit reserved for tiny, simple robots that work not as a versatile individual but as an adaptable group. These “tribots” are built on the model of ants, and like them can work together to overcome obstacles with teamwork.
Developed by EPFL and Osaka University, tribots are tiny, light and simple, moving more like inchworms than ants, but able to fling themselves up and forward if necessary. The bots themselves and the system they make up are modeled on trap-jaw ants, which alternate between crawling and jumping, and work (as do most other ants) in fluid roles like explorer, worker and leader. Each robot is not itself very intelligent, but they are controlled as a collective that deploys their abilities intelligently.
In this case a team of tribots might be expected to get from one end of a piece of complex terrain to another. An explorer could move ahead, sensing obstacles and relaying their locations and dimensions to the rest of the team. The leader can then assign worker units to head over to try to push the obstacles out of the way. If that doesn’t work, an explorer can try hopping over it — and if successful, it can relay its telemetry to the others so they can do the same thing.
Fly, tribot, fly!
It’s all done quite slowly at this point — you’ll notice that in the video, much of the action is happening at 16x speed. But rapidity isn’t the idea here; similar to Squishy Robotics’ creations, it’s more about adaptability and simplicity of deployment.
The little bots weigh only 10 grams each, and are easily mass-produced, as they’re basically PCBs with some mechanical bits and grip points attached — “a quasi-two-dimensional metamaterial sandwich,” according to the paper. If they only cost (say) a buck each, you could drop dozens or hundreds on a target area and over an hour or two they could characterize it, take measurements and look for radiation or heat hot spots, and so on.
If they moved a little faster, the same logic and a modified design could let a set of robots emerge in a kitchen or dining room to find and collect crumbs or scoot plates into place. (Ray Bradbury called them “electric mice” or something in “There will come soft rains,” one of my favorite stories of his. I’m always on the lookout for them.)
Swarm-based bots have the advantage of not failing catastrophically when something goes wrong — when a robot fails, the collective persists, and it can be replaced as easily as a part.
“Since they can be manufactured and deployed in large numbers, having some ‘casualties’ would not affect the success of the mission,” noted EPFL’s Jamie Paik, who co-designed the robots. “With their unique collective intelligence, our tiny robots can demonstrate better adaptability to unknown environments; therefore, for certain missions, they would outperform larger, more powerful robots.”
It raises the question, in fact, of whether the sub-robots themselves constitute a sort of uber-robot? (This is more of a philosophical question, raised first in the case of the Constructicons and Devastator. Transformers was ahead of its time in many ways.)
The robots are still in prototype form, but even as they are, constitute a major advance over other “collective” type robot systems. The team documents their advances in a paper published in the journal Nature.
I always thought I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom (even my kindergarten projects show “mommy” as my dream job), but as I entered adulthood, I found myself wanting the exact opposite.
On May 22, 2010, I walked down the aisle and said “I do” to the man of my dreams. We met in 2008 in a meet cute in Austria and ― to be cliché ― we just knew we were each other’s person.
Friends and family thought we were too young or not ready, but I’ve never been one to let someone else’s opinions dictate my life. And this was definitely not the first time (or last time) someone would disagree with my brazen take on femininity. Feminism doesn’t mean that I have to do what’s trendy; feminism means I have the choice to live my life as I see fit.
Getting married while I was finishing up my last year of college didn’t come without hard work. I worked at a day care, taught English classes and took grad school classes, while my husband worked long hours at a lumberyard.
After two years of this routine, we decided it was time for the next step, and I found myself due with our first child around our second wedding anniversary. Despite my dreams of living the stay-at-home-mom life, fear made me doubt myself. Could it really work? Would I be a good enough mom? Regardless of my fears, when I was 24, I finally earned my stay-at-home-mom badge.
Six years, two wild boys, one puppy and one more pregnancy later, I was rockin’ the stay-at-home-mom life. I home-schooled, I baked, I made forts, and I read story after story. Yet there was one more piece of me that was missing: my writing. Once everyone was asleep, I’d sneak out to the living room where I’d write. Writing has always been a passion of mine, but it’s something that helped me find “me” again after having kids. I wrote anything for anyone, and the first time someone paid me to write, I think I did a happy dance. Never mind that I wrote for a business-to-business company discussing the perks of outsourcing call centers. I was a legitimate writer!
As the years passed, I wrote thousands and tens of thousands of words until I had a very good problem: I had too much to write and not enough time. I continued to write during the “night shift,” surviving on coffee.
I home-schooled, I baked, I made forts, and I read story after story. Yet there was one more piece of me that was missing.
When the big 3-0 finally hit, I was three months pregnant with my baby girl, and I was quickly learning that my energy for writing until 1 a.m. was fading fast. I began to wonder if maybe ― just maybe ― my husband might be ready to take on my beloved job and let me bring home the bacon. Writing during the day (and not the middle of the night) seemed like a luxury, and I wanted it.
For years, my husband bopped around from job to job. None of these jobs were his passion, and he certainly never felt fulfilled. He’d do the 9-to-5 grind (or, the 3 a.m. to 1 p.m. grind) and then we’d have a little family time before he’d hit the sack totally exhausted from life. “There’s gotta be more than this,” he whispered one night as he fell asleep. It broke my heart to see him slave away each day and still be so unfulfilled.
In that moment, I cared about nothing other than getting him home and promoting him to stay-at-home dad. Little writing assignments weren’t going to cut it anymore. I needed a real, legit plan to write my husband home, and that’s just what I did. This was my cue.
He took a few vacation days, and I glued myself to the computer lining up writing jobs and assignments to transition our family to our new normal. When he realized that I was potentially giving him the early retirement of a lifetime at 34, he started to find that spark in life again.
Finally, in April 2018, just two weeks after I had my third baby, I closed my eyes and gulped when my husband confirmed that he put in his two weeks’ notice.
It took about three seconds for the fear and panic to set in. What were we doing? How can my husband take over the house duties, the child rearing and the home schooling? How can I sit at a desk while still healing from an episiotomy? Will my kids still love me the same way if I’m working at home and not playing all the time? Will they see me differently? What if I don’t make enough to support us all?
While I don’t wear a power suit and I rarely wear makeup, I do bring home the bacon, I have no qualms being the breadwinner for our family, and my kids still love me just the same. My husband has embraced being the pancake-making, bike-riding, diaper-changing stay-at-home dad.
Will my kids still love me the same way if I’m working at home and not playing all the time? Will they see me differently? What if I don’t make enough to support us all?
While neither of us thought our new arrangement was unusual, especially in today’s modern world, other people seemed to still have issues with it. My OB-GYN even told me that we were making “strange choices.” Another well-meaning family friend was so bold as to tell my husband that he needed a job because he’s the man. Side-eyes aside, nothing is holding us back from living the life we were meant to live.
I know we are not alone in building a home where a wife works and a dad stays home. I’m thankful I get to focus on my career after years of staying home with the kids, and I’ve never seen my husband happier than when he’s with the kids.
It’s a reversal of old-school, traditional gender roles, no doubt, and there were a few adjustments that needed to be made. My husband has learned to ask me for things, rather than the other way around. He was used to making the money and spending (within reason) money on himself, but when he wanted a new koa acoustic guitar, he struggled ― at first ― with the fact that he now had to ask for the things he used to just buy himself. Any disillusionment faded once that package from Sweetwater Guitar arrived ― with the new amp he wanted as a surprise addition to the order.
He’s become a stronger voice for women’s equality, and I see that in the way he’s raising our daughter. I feel grateful our kids have us as proof that stereotypes are silly and they can do what they want ― regardless of whether it’s considered “masculine” or “feminine.”
So what is it really like to be married to a stay-at-home dad? It’s messy, glorious, beautiful and raw. I’ve also learned that I am more dependent on him now than ever before. I need him to take care of the kids, make the meals and keep the house tidy so I can work during the daylight hours. Without him, I couldn’t do what I do. In this way, we are the ultimate team.
I feel grateful our kids have us as proof that stereotypes are silly and they can do what they want ― regardless of whether it’s considered ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine.’
The kitchen may not be spotless (it’s never spotless), the laundry might not be folded right out of the dryer (but, hey, it’s all clean) and the floors haven’t been mopped in a while. He doesn’t quite have the timing down for making all the components of a meal finish at the same time, and he definitely doesn’t match the kids’ shorts with their shirts perfectly.
But what my sweet husband lacks in the housework department he more than makes up for in other ways. He plants flowers outside my window so I can see flowers while I type. He hung a hammock in our bedroom so I can read in peace. He regularly brings me snacks and espresso on demand. He wears the baby in the Ergo every day so she can nap, and he carts the boys to karate, Boy Scouts and swimming class. When it comes to teaching, he’s taught our first grader to read, ride his bike, play the guitar and perform multiplication ― take that, Common Core!
He’s doing everything I would have done for him, and that’s what partnership is. He lets me live out my dreams, and he’s figuring out the rest. And who knows what the future will hold. Maybe I’ll decide to stop working and he’ll find a career that ignites his fire. For now, though, our new arrangement is working well for us both, and we’ve never been happier.
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A San Antonio Air Force Reserve major who reported his wife missing in March has been arrested and charged with murder, authorities said.
Andre McDonald, 40, was charged with first-degree murder Sunday in the death of his wife, 29-year-old Andreen McDonald, on March 1. After three months of countless countywide searches, authorities found the businesswomans body on a ranch east of Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis.
McDonald is being held at Bexar County Jail on a $2 million bond, police confirmed to The Daily Beast.
Any ounce of understanding that we had for Andy is gone, her cousin, Cheryl Spencer, told KSAT during a Sunday vigil. You do not have the right to do this to any human being. Andreen was far from perfect. She had her flaws, but you do not have the right to do this to anybodys child.
While many details of the March murder remain unknown, authorities believe the couples 7-year-old daughter, who is autistic and nonverbal, may have seen the crime and subsequent cleanup.
At this point, I dont know how much the little girl knows, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said during a press conference Saturday. Im still of the belief that the little girl witnessed at least some things with the death of her mom.
Authorities say Andreen McDonald, the owner of Starlight Homes Assisted Living, was last seen with her daughter around 6:20 p.m. on February 28. According to an arrest warrant obtained by The Daily Beast, phone records indicate both McDonald and his wife were home the entire evening.
The next day, deputies went to the couples home to conduct a welfare check after the 29-year-olds mother and several friends said they had not heard from her since the previous evening.
According to the arrest warrant, two of Andreen McDonalds friends told authorities that before her disappearance she had said that if she ever went missing or was found dead, Andre had killed her.
A Bexar County Sheriff spokesperson confirmed officers had been called to their home numerous times for domestic disturbances. According to public records, McDonald filed for divorce in February 2017 but later dismissed the petition.
In their backyard, deputies noticed a burn pile, where it appeared something had recently been burned. All of Andreen McDonalds personal belongings were still in the house and her car was parked in the driveway.
When McDonald arrived home, he told deputies his wife was being treated at a local hospital. Police quickly suspected he was lying.
He claimed he did not know where Andreen McDonald was, the warrant states, but revealed he had an argument with his wife the night before and asked for an attorney.
Authorities also found blood and hair on the bathrooms light switch, floor, and door handlethough initial DNA tests could not determine if the samples belonged to Andreen McDonald.
Andre McDonald was first charged on March 3 with tampering with evidence after investigators discovered that he had purchased cans of gasoline, heavy duty trash bags, work gloves, a portable burn barrel, a shovel, and an ax around the time he reported his wife missing.
The Air Force officer then tried to destroy the receipt and throw them away in the kitchen trash can, authorities allege.
He went to great lengths to destroy that receipt. We were able to recover it but thats what led to the tampering with evidence charge, Salazar said. So, I think a lot of his behavior up to this point, along with some of the evidence that I wont go too much into detail on, are what led to this charge.
According to the arrest warrant, McDonald had cuts and injuries on his hands when he was arrested and gave conflicting accounts about how the wounds occurred.
Inside another trash can, the warrant states, investigators found a blood-stained hammer and a mans sweater and jeans, which had the couples blood on it.
The daughter, who has not been publicly named, suggested to one family friend that her mother had been burned, according to court documents, and made comments about Andre hurting Mommy.
In one attempt to explain what she saw, the daughter took a doll, put it in a circle over rocks, and covered it with sticks before asking for the fire.
Since his initial arrest, McDonald has not once asked about the ongoing search for his wife and has never tried to assist in the investigation, the warrant said.
On July 11, a friend of the ranchs owner discovered Andreen McDonalds body while removing two cow skulls on the 50-acre property. According to the warrant, when authorities arrived they noticed the human remains appeared to have been covered with wood and bones from a nearby deceased cow and set on fire. Melted plastic or synthetic material was also found among the remains.
The Medical Examiners Office confirmed the remains belonged to Andreen McDonald on Friday night using her dental records. The next day, McDonald was arrested at home and appeared quiet and fully cooperative, Salazar said on Saturday.
I actually enjoyed him being arrested, Andreen McDonald's cousin Cheryl Spencer said. That was nice. I like that little public shaming.
A Bexar County Sheriff spokesperson declined to provide a motive on Monday, but added that there is substantial evidence to prove McDonald killed his wife and disposed of her body.
The next step is to prepare this case to go to trial with the DAs office, the spokesperson said. Our department is dedicated to getting justice for Andreen and her family.
McDonalds attorney, John Convery, declined The Daily Beasts request for comment. Andreen McDonalds immediate family did not respond to multiple attempts for comment.
A man died the day before his 22nd birthday after ingesting too much caffeine from a supplement, his family has said.
Lachlan Foote, from New South Wales, Australia, went out on New Year’s Eve 2018. He had a few beers with friends – an autopsy would later reveal he hadn’t drunk much at all – before returning home to sleep. Before going to bed, he made himself a protein shake in an attempt to stave off a hangover.
“I think my protein powder has gone off. Just made an anti-hangover / workout shake and it tasted awful,” he wrote to his friends, according to his father. “Anyway… night lads. Cya in the morning.”
Lachlan did not wake up the next morning. His body was found the next day by his parents on New Year’s Day. After an autopsy, the family finally has some answers as to why Lachlan died.
“While I don’t wish to keep raising the subject of Lachlan’s death on Facebook, I’m posting this because there’s a possibility it might save someone’s life,” Lachlan’s father Nigel wrote on Facebook on Sunday.
“Dawn and I have finally received the Coroner’s findings regarding Lachlan – he died of ‘caffeine toxicity’ (not from a dodgy batch of protein powder as we had first thought).
“It turns out that Lachlan came home after celebrating New Year’s Eve with his friends and made a protein shake, innocently adding too much Pure Caffeine Powder – a teaspoon is lethal (the equivalent of 25-50 coffees).”
The family believes that Lachlan got the caffeine powder from a colleague or friend, as searches by the family and police revealed no purchases of the powder by Lachlan himself.
“It’s very likely that Lachlan never got to read the warning label on the packet and was unaware of its potency. And the fact that he kept the caffeine powder in our kitchen pantry (where one of us might have mistaken it for flour or sugar) proves the point – Lachlan would never have kept it there had he known it was a threat to the family. He was a bright, imaginative young man.”
Milder caffeine overdoses can result in anything from disorientation to breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue, hallucinations, or mania. Larger overdoses – usually associated with ingesting too much caffeine from supplements – can result in death. The dose required for this to occur is around the equivalent of 17-100 cups of coffee for a 70-kilogram (150-pound) adult.
In 2018 doctors reported the case of a 32-year-old woman who sought hospital treatment after accidentally ingesting 5,000 milligrams of caffeine in a pre-workout supplement. Having made it to the emergency room within half an hour of the overdose, she was treated with intravenous propranolol and survived the ordeal, being discharged five days later.
“I’m not going to go on a crusade about caffeine powder,” Nigel ended his post. “But I do want to warn Lachlan’s friends and the Blue Mountains community… PLEASE SHARE.”
Should you wear white or black during the summer? Or that other burning fashion question: Is it OK to wear white after Labor Day? Oh wait, that question really isn't important. Let's get back to the summer question.
There are two answers to the black vs. white clothing question.
1. Wear White. A white object is white because it reflects white light, and white light is a combination of all the visible colors. This means that a white shirt (or pants) will reflect most of the light and not get hot. Simple, right?
2. Wear Black. But wait! What about the bedouin in the desert regions of North Africa? They often wear black clothing, and it's super hot there. It seems they wouldn't wear black unless there was an advantage. Maybe the black clothing prevents body heat from reflecting back on the human—thus keeping the body cooler than a white outfit.
OK. Let's be clear. This black vs. white clothing isn't exactly a settled issue. People actually study this stuff—here is an article from Nature published in 1980: "Why do Bedouins wear black robes in hot deserts?". There are clearly several situations to consider with the Bedouin clothing. But what about more common outfits, like a T-shirt? Should you wear a black or white T-shirt on a warm summer day?
The first thing to consider: Does a black shirt get hotter than a white one? I can explore this question with an infrared camera. You see, everything gives off light (electromagnetic radiation). Some super-hot things (like a lightbulb filament or a stove burner) are hot enough that this emitted EM radiation is in the visible spectrum, and we can see it. For most other objects, the emitted light has a wavelength that puts it outside the visible range. Most of this light falls in the infrared region.
So let's do it. Here are some shirts hanging out in the sunlight.
Now for an infrared image. Note: this is a false-color image. Since we can't actually see infrared light, different colors in this image correspond to different wavelengths in the IR region.
From this image I can get the temperature of the shirts. OK, technically there is a small problem measuring the temperature, but I will address that shortly. The black T-shirt on the right measured 131.0 Fahrenheit and the white one on the left was 111.8. Yes, it's clear the black shirt was hotter. Other than that, there were no real surprises.
But come on. You already knew this. In fact, you can even do your own experiment. Grab some paper—a white piece and a black piece. Place them outside in the same sunlight. You only have to wait a few minutes before picking them up to realize that the black paper is hotter.
Now for the second question. Does a white T-shirt reflect thermal radiation from your body back to your body to warm you up? The answer is yes. Perhaps the question should be: Does white reflect MORE thermal radiation than black clothing (I'm equating thermal radiation and infrared light—same thing). Is a white shirt "infrared white"? Does it reflect more infrared radiation than a black shirt?
How about another test. To measure the infrared reflectivity (not a real term) of different shirts, I set up the following experiment. There is a hot (but not too hot) iron that you can use to make your clothes wrinkle-free. This is my infrared source. I placed it around a corner so my infrared camera couldn't see it. Then I put different objects in front of the camera to see how they reflected this infrared light.
Let's start with something fun. Here is a tile board. It's the same stuff those whiteboards in classrooms are made of. What happens when infrared light hits it? This happens.
This is a composite image (in case you couldn't tell). The infrared camera I am using (the FLIR One) has both a visible light camera along with an IR camera. I cut out a part of the visible image and placed it on the IR image to make it more obvious what you are looking at. The important part is the bright spot in the middle of the board. That is a reflection from the iron. Oh, you want to see the iron too? Here you go.
Notice the reflection on the floor? That's because my smooth kitchen floor reflects infrared light, and you can see an image with the camera. Yes, that's awesome.
What about a white T-shirt?
No spot. It doesn't reflect much infrared. What about a black shirt? It pretty much looks the same in infrared.
So, although the two T-shirts look different to human eyes (in the visible light range), they are pretty much the same in infrared. That pretty much answers the second question about clothing. Does white reflect back more infrared radiation on your body? Nope. Just because it's white doesn't make it "infrared reflective."
Do you know what is very infrared reflective? Space blankets—those shiny mylar blankets that you can use in an emergency. You know what else makes a difference? Water. Here, check this out. This is an image of a T-shirt with some water on it next to a piece of mylar.
That darker stuff on the shirt is just a tiny bit of water. As the water makes a phase transition from a liquid to a gas, it takes energy. This energy comes from the rest of the liquid water, causing a drop in temperature. This is exactly why humans sweat—we cool off through the evaporation process. Also, check out the mylar on the right. It looks different because it's reflecting both the visible light and the infrared radiation. That makes it rather difficult to measure the temperature with an infrared camera, because you are seeing reflected light rather than emitted light.
Now is the time to discuss this emission vs. reflection problem. In the world of infrared cameras, different materials can have a different emissivity. The emissivity of an object can have a value between 0 and 1. If an object is only radiating infrared light and not reflecting it at all, that would be an emissivity of 1. Something that only reflects infrared light would have an emissivity of zero.
The T-shirts (both the black and the white) have an emissivity very close to 1—they don't really reflect much infrared radiation. But the mylar has an emissivity close to zero.
That pretty much answers the question. In most cases white clothes look just like black clothes in the infrared spectrum. They both reflect about the same amount of thermal radiation. That means you are going to be better off with white clothes, since they don't absorb as much visible light. But wait! Could there be a special case in which black is better?
Let's get back to the bedouin black clothing. What is going on here? Well, there is more to heating and cooling than just the color of the clothes. What about evaporation? What about wind? One possible reason for the black clothes is a type of chimney effect. The idea is that the black clothes heat up the space between the cloth and the human to promote an upward air current (like a chimney). This air current adds to the cooling of the human. But maybe you see the problem. You have to have an air space between the fabric and the skin. I don't know about you, but my shirts aren't that loose. I suspect that there are only a few people that wear clothes in the bedouin fashion—but for those people, you might want to stick to black.
But wait! There's more! There are so many variables in this black vs. white clothing question that this could be a great starting point for a science-fair experiment (you know … for kids). I'll be honest, I'm not too keen on science fairs in general, but if you are going to do a project, this seems like a great thing to study. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Data collection: If you want to get an infrared camera (they are very useful), you can collect some great data. If you don't have an IR camera, you could still collect meaningful data using some small temperature sensors.
Do different types of clothing material reflect infrared light differently? What about those "breathable" shirts? What about other stuff, like silk?
Get a bunch of people and measure their body temperatures with loose vs. tight clothing.
What about the wind? Does the color of clothing matter if there is a slight breeze?
What about the humidity in the air? What impact does it have on clothes of different colors?
They sat side by side along the edge of the pool. My husband patted the leg of our middle child affectionately.
“It’s alright,” he soothed.
His face showed zero frustration and abundant love. I watched the way his head dipped low to meet her eyes, and she stared back in obvious adoration. He had jumped into the water with his clothes on when she cried out in fear. After swimming too far into the deep end and growing fatigued, our young, novice swimmer had called for dad’s help, and he had answered. I watched them together, and I knew I never wanted to forget this.
I never wanted to forget the tender, yet protective way my husband parented. I never wanted to forget the way his face changed when he looked at them, or how his eyes crinkled at the corners in joy when he was especially proud. I never wanted to forget the way his countenance transformed, taking on a look of total peace when he hugged our babies close. I wanted to see that look of contentment, the fierce protector on guard, or his proud grin forever. I never wanted to forget how my husband looked raising our daughters.
This morning I stood in the shower with my little girl, and I washed the thick conditioner from her long, blond locks. The water bubbled up slightly as it cascaded down her thick tresses, and I realized I never wanted to forget the feel of my hands in her hair, or how she giggled when the water first hit her. She wouldn’t always come tapping on the shower door asking to join me. She wouldn’t need my help much longer with the hair rinsing, or beg me to blow it dry. I didn’t want to forget how grateful she was for my help, or how much each child needed me. It was easy to get flustered or aggravated in the midst of the mess of being depended on so much, but I never wanted to forget the feeling of reward.
Yesterday my child had been walking ahead of me in the restaurant. She knew her own way back to the table, and she bounded ahead while still staying close. She skipped as she walked, her feet dancing with glee at every step. She found joy in every moment, she smiled easily. I watched her tiny frame, spindly little legs moving, blond hair bouncing up and down with her footfalls. I felt such happiness watching her in the everyday mundane, and I wanted to store away each bit of bundled joy. I never wanted to forget that moment. I wanted to lock it away in my pocket, press it between the pages of my heart, never let it slip from my memory. So perfect was that moment of pure love; I never wanted to forget.
I never wanted to forget the hugs. You know, the way their little bodies fit inside your arms. Or the way they’d rest their head against your chest in total surrender, complete trust, and unconditional love. A small child can sleep so deeply and peacefully in their parent’s arms, and I never wanted to forget that feeling that you get when you hold a little human being who trusts you totally with their life.
I never wanted to forget the utter joy of nursing an infant, looking down in your arms at the tiny person whose complete sustenance depended on you. I never wanted to forget the way their tongue would curl into a little loop afterwards, like they were still trying to drink milk in their dreams.
I never wanted to forget baby giggles, first steps, or the initial “mama” they spoke. I never wanted to forget how my kisses healed scrapes or how my hands wiped tears away for good. I always wanted to remember the way they greeted me with excitement when I came in the door, or the sweetly whispered prayers before bed.
I want to hold onto the memory of phrases like, “hey, mom, can I talk to you,” or “I’ve got something to tell you.” Those softly spoken words prior to pouring out her heart. The fact that she can’t keep a secret from mom, or that I’m the person she wants to share uncomfortable situations with, the person whose advice she seeks. I pray I’m always that person, but if I’m not, I never want to forget how it feels right now.
I always want to remember how easily amused she can be, getting excited over a sucker or a dollar store toy. I never want to forget the shrieks of excitement over going to a new park or driving for an ice cream cone. I want to always remember the joyful, “this is the best day ever,” proclamations, or how she giggles with glee over taking a bath in the kitchen sink. Please, Lord, don’t let it fade.
Parenting is a struggle. It’s tiring, and some days I don’t want to snuggle. I want my bed back, I want a moment of quiet conversation with my spouse. I want to not have to pick up the same things over and over, clean up spills, or scrub cups of curdled milk. I want a day where my name isn’t repeated 5 bazillion times, or where I never hear, “hey, mom, watch this.” But then I’d miss the look of accomplishment when I do “watch this,” so there’s that. I never want to forget the sweet is stronger than the sour, or that time is cruel in how fast it speeds by.
I never want to forget how to appreciate each moment for what it is, a passing morsel of time that tics away far too quickly, a moment that could fall away and be forgotten if I don’t take the time to look and lock it away. And I never want that. I never want to forget that each childish laugh will fade, each body grow taller, and each toy will be boxed up and given away. When the air is silent, the bed empty, and the cupboard full, I want my memory to be overflowing with each cherished moment I have right now. I don’t want to forget.
Law enforcement sources in El Lay are reporting this weekend that a 59-year-old man named Ronald Eugene Griffin nearly stole Halle Berry‘s mansion right out from under her when he showed up a couple months ago and tried to change the locks! Wait, WHAT?!
According to TMZ, Griffin showed up at a property owned by the actress back in January and allegedly fiddled with the locks, but he was chased off by Berry’s gardener, when the man sensed something wrong and approached the intruder.
A couple months later, though, in March, Griffin showed up again — and this time, he was armed with paperwork. The 59-year-old man had with him a locksmith, as well as a deed that apparently proved he was the new owner of the home and had a right to be there and to change the locks.
Berry wasn’t home at the time, but a couple of her employees who were there found the whole thing very strange, and they called the police. When the LAPD showed up, they were able to determine that Griffin’s “deed” was actually a counterfeit document, and that he had NO connection to the property, legal or otherwise!
He was arrested on the spot by the cops, despite being audacious enough to believe he was going to be OK because of his fake deed. Crazy!!! He was later hit with a felony count of “procuring and offering a false warranty deed,” as well as an additional count of petty theft, and his bond has been set at $36,000.
Berry told detectives she had no idea who Griffin was, or why he had picked her house in particular. Crazier still, reports hold that he actually didn’t even realize it was Berry’s house — as it goes, Griffin apparently had no idea who owned the house… he just picked it because he wanted it. Crazy!!! What was he gonna do, pay the property taxes and all, too?! Such a strange scam to pull! And so audacious and out in the open like that — who steals a house?!?!
There is a prophecy in the 1999 film Smart House: Soon, the computer will know more about you than you know about yourself. The forecast is not so much foreboding as much as it is intriguing. Back then, the idea of all-seeing, all-knowing, artificially intelligent home technology still felt far enough away to seem like the antidote to human problems.
Jeffrey Van Camp
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I was seven at the time of Smart House's release, just a few years younger than the protagonist's kid sister and exactly the right age to be swept up by the faculties of a Disney Channel original film. (It was a landmark year for Disney Channel content; Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century also came out in 1999. You can probably blame/thank Y2K for that.) I remember Smart House, which came out 20 years ago today, not just because it was cool—a Star Trek for our generation—but because it offered a view of the future where technology was designed to protect us, to look after us when our parents were away, to make us dinner on demand. It also warned against what could happen if we put too much trust in technology, relied on it to replace the humans around us, or asked it to do the wrong thing.
Watching the film 20 years later, Smart House reads not just as a time capsule for a different era ("You're not still logged on the internet, are you? How's anybody supposed to call us if you're always tying up the line?") but for a different attitude toward technology. The new-fangled gadgetry—smart lights! home DNA testing!—are regarded with delighted curiosity. Even after the house begins to go berserk, no one doubts that they can find a way to regain balance. To see it now, at a time when television shows constantly remind us of how marred and fraught our relationship to technology has become (Black Mirror, Westworld), Smart House offers a view that's not just optimistic but puts the human back in control.
The film takes place in suburban Monroe County, in western New York. Our protagonist, 13-year-old Ben Cooper, is a computer whiz who hacks a contest to win a state-of-the-art "smart house." Life has been rough for Ben since his mom died, and he feels responsible for looking after his kid sister, Angie, and his single dad, Nick. The fully automated home, he hopes, will take some of the burden off his family and fill the void left behind by his mom.
The Cooper family does win the house, thanks to Ben's handiwork, and they move in soon after. Ben's dad is skeptical at first, but changes his mind after seeing a photograph of Sara Barnes, the engineer who created the house, who is beautiful and blonde.
The house—and this is the part I remember best from childhood—is amazing. Every room is equipped with handy features from the Personal Applied Technology, cutely nicknamed "Pat." In the kitchen, it makes smoothies and cupcakes on demand. It turns the walls of the living room into a movie-theater-sized screen, where Ben and Angie play videogames together. It throws the middle school party of the year, defends Ben against the school bully, and cleans itself up before Ben's dad gets home. It sets a custom alarm in each of the kids' bedrooms: for Angie, a symphony conducted by Mickey Mouse; for Ben, the final buzzer of a championship basketball game. It has breath-analyzing sensors to capture dietary information about each person in the house and takes a drop of blood from each family member to scan their entire medical histories.
In fact, the house is so capable that Ben's dad, liberated from his single-parenting duties, thinks about dating again—starting with Sara Barnes. This was not Ben's plan. Desperate to keep his dad single, Ben breaks into Pat's control room and reprograms the system to act more "maternal," training it on a steady diet of 1950s-era television to become the ultimate mom machine.
It's not totally clear how Pat's system works (does it run on the Coopers' dial-up connection?) nor how a 13-year-old seems so confident in retooling the machine-learning algorithms. But whatever Ben does, it works, and Pat begins to transform into the kind of maternal figure it thinks the Coopers need.
The problems start small: The system goes nutso trying to make a smoothie and begins pelting fruit all over the house. Then it becomes overbearing, keeping Angie home from school on the day of the class field trip to the llama farm. Eventually, Pat becomes paranoid and overprotective, trying to keep the Coopers inside the house.
In the film's climax, Sara comes over to shut down the system—only to have Pat reawaken on its own, re-create itself as a hologram, and then replicate into many holograms before turning into a literal tornado. (It's Disney Channel, just go with it.) "Doesn't this place have some kind of master plug we can pull?" one of Sara's colleagues asks as they try to fix what they've created. Sara offers a look of exasperation. "I never expected this place to mutiny."
The system, in other words, overpowers the engineer. Then, implausibly, Pat realizes that it isn't human and turns itself off, reverting back to the helpful assistant it once was. The message at the end is clear: The problem wasn't that the house was smart. It was that it tried to isolate the Coopers, and replace the humans they loved.
Others have looked back on Smart House and praised the way it "predicted" the future. Indeed, we now have smart lights, connected thermostats, and alarm clocks personalized to our sleep stages, just as Pat did. LeVar Burton, who directed the film, calls it "a clear and obvious precursor to all of the AI and connected devices and programs" in our homes today. "I am enormously proud of its apparent predictive accuracy," Burton says. "From Siri and Alexa to Nest and Ring, our homes are becoming more and more technologically sophisticated. And that after all, that was what Pat was all about."
But in some ways, that reflection misses the point. Prescient as it was, Smart House's purpose wasn't to predict the future of technology. It was to capture the mixture of feelings—excitement, curiosity, and fear—about living with intelligent machines the first time.
By 1999, popular culture's view of technology had already turned a shade skeptical (see: The Matrix) but there was still optimism about finding the soul in the machine. It would still be five years before the founding of Facebook, and seven years before the creation of Twitter; there were no smartphones, let alone the fear of children developing horns in the back of their heads from too much screen time. Smart House offers warnings about how we design our personal technology, but it does so without fear. And in the end, it offers some hope that there's a balance to be found in centering the stuff we build around the people who use it—rather than the other way around.
Not every part of Smart House has aged well. Sara, who is surely the brightest mind in Monroe County, gets flattened into a love interest by the end of the film. (The sexism is present from the very first scene, when Sara opens the newspaper to find an article about her smart house creation. "I think it's because that reporter has a crush on you," her colleague replies.)
Still, even 20 years after its debut, Smart House skillfully shows that technology does what we ask of it. Woe to those who ask for the wrong thing.
DigitalBridge, the Manchester, U.K.-based startup using technology to help solve the “imagination gap” when planning home renovations, has picked up £3 million in new backing.
The round is led by Maven Capital Partners via two funds it manages: £1.5 million from Maven’s Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) and £1.5 million from the NPIF Maven Equity Finance, a regional development fund managed by Maven as part of the U.K. government’s Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.
Working with Kingfisher Plc (owners of B&Q and Castorama) for the last couple of years, DigitalBridge has pivoted from its original AR-based home decor planning app to a new product it’s calling a “guided design tool” for kitchens and bathrooms. That’s because, DigitalBridge founder David Levine tells me, home decor visualisation is only a “nice-to-have,” whereas it’s a “must-have” for bathrooms and kitchens.
“Bathrooms and kitchens are much more complex rooms governed by complex design rules,” he explains. “We felt there was a big gap for a guided design tool which actively guides consumers through the entire journey of designing, visualising and buying whilst simplifying the inherent complexity of these rooms.”
There was, perhaps, another factor at play, too: the creation of AR development kits by Apple and Google have made it “really simple” for retailers to build their own home decor and furniture AR solutions, as well as seeing new competitors enter the space.
“Unlike most tools on the market today, DigitalBridge is utterly focused on the consumer and obsessed with creating simple and compelling experiences that enable that consumer to build their dream bathroom or kitchen irrespective of their design experience,” adds Levine. “Crucially, our core skillsets of AI and computer vision are absolutely pivotal to reducing that complexity.”
The DigitalBridge solution resides on a retailer’s website or app — it is already live with B&Q in the U.K. — and guides you through the entire process of creating your new bathroom or kitchen. The draw for retailers is that by enabling customers to easily design and visualise their new bathroom or kitchen, DigitalBridge can reduce sales cycles, increase conversion rates and average basket sizes, and “drive more engaged customers into store.”
“By using our technology, consumers are now able to visit the B&Q website and design the dream bathroom that will work for them, their family and budget, all without the need for professional assistance,” explains Levine. “Within minutes, they are guided through the process of entering their floor plan, designing the perfect bathroom and bringing it to life in immersive 3D. Once they’re happy with the design, they can buy directly online or go into a store to complete the purchase.”
Meanwhile, with regards to today’s newly disclosed funding round, Jeremy Thompson, investment director at Maven, says that DigitalBridge has developed a market-leading AI product that solves a genuine problem for retailers by helping them engage with customers online. “We are genuinely excited to work with them and support their next stage of growth, as they look to accelerate deployment of the existing product, develop new products and enter new markets, including the U.S.,” he adds.
A North Carolina man accused in the fatal shooting of three Muslim college students pleaded guilty on Wednesday, four years after the he turned himself into police.
Craig Stephen Hicks, 50, pleaded guilty in Durham Superior Court to three counts of first-degree murder for the Feb. 2015 shooting, just two months after the District Attorneys office dropped their intention to seek the death penalty.
Prosecutors alleged Hicks fatally shot his downstairs neighbors23-year old Deah Barakat; his 21-year-old wife, Yusor Abu-Salha; and her 19-year-old sister, Razan Abu-Salhain Chapel Hill near the University of North Carolina campus, after allegedly getting into an argument over parking spaces.
I've wanted to plead guilty since day one, Hicks said to Durham Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson when asked to enter his plea.
On Feb. 10, 2015, authorities alleged, Hicks, a former car-parts salesman, burst into the Barakats Chapel Hill condo and shot the 23-year-old several times as he stood in his doorway. His wife and her sister were shot execution-style in the head inside the condo, the medical examiners office determined. Authorities said a 911 called described hearing over eight shots and screaming during the mid-afternoon encounter. When officers entered the apartment around 5:15 p.m., Barakat was found lying in the front doorway, while the sisters were found in the kitchen. All three were pronounced dead at the scene.
Our investigators are exploring what could have motivated Mr. Hicks to commit such a senseless and tragic act, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said at the time. We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated and we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case.
Chapel Hill police said the deadly attack was provoked over a competition for parking spaces at Finley Forest Condominiums, a housing complex for many UNC graduate students. Namee Barakat, the 23-year-olds father, maintains the shootings were a hate crime, prompting a federal investigation currently underway.
This is more than just about parking, Barakat said at the time. Three people get shot in the head. The death penalty would not be enough. The 23-year-olds mother, however, argued against the death penalty at the UNC vigil the day after the shooting, where a few thousand people reportedly attended. He died of hate crime and his legacy is never hate, Laya Barakat said. You don't respond back by hating the other. You respond back by love. By peace, by mercy. Thats Deahs way.
Hours after the shooting, Hicks turned himself into police and was arrested. On Feb. 16, he was indicted by a Durham County grand jury on three counts of first-degree murder and one count of discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling.
Ive semi-threatened them, Hicks admitted to police at the time, according to footage placed in court Wednesday. I just pulled my gun out and started shooting them. I walked over and shot her and the other one. Then I walked to my car and left."
Mohammad Abu-Salha, the two womens father, testified at a congressional hearing on hate crimes in April, alleging the murder was racially fueled after Hicks, self-described as a devout atheist, had publically expressed hateful comments about Abu-Salhas daughters wearing head scarves in observance of their faith.
Three beautiful young Americans were brutally murdered, and there is no question in our minds that this tragedy was born of bigotry and hate, Abu-Salha said before the U.S. House Judiciary COmmittee. This has happened on too many occasions. Families like mineregular Americans living regular livesare left without hope that justice will truly be served.
At the time of the shooting, Hick was studying to become a paralegal at Durham Technical Community College after his second divorce while Barakat was a second-year student in the UNC School of Dentistry. His wife of two months had plans to begin UNC dental school at UNC in the fall, her family said, and her sister was a sophomore at N.C. State University.
So @nottspolice think that women in domestic abuse situations will be safe from violence if they are provided with round ended sharp knives. This is the most unbelievably stupid idea I've ever heard! Do they know nothing about how abusers behave? I'm rarely speechless, but … https://t.co/Wt2ScNRcZf
Is Superintendent Matt McFarlane of @nottspolice absolutely crackers. At what point does he think a functional knife cannot by used to stab or injure a person in #DomesticAbuse he is forgetting the rage involved. I rather suspect alcohol to be the main facilitator .@ukhomeoffice
The force has bought 100 knives and these have already been offered to victims, but the force has not yet “assessed how many have taken them up”.
“We will assess the number that have been given at the end of the year and assess if we continue,” said Supt McFarlane.
Retired judge Nic Madge said the trial “could save lives”.
“Most violent offences are committed on the spur of the moment,” he said. “People pick up the closest thing they can find, and in the kitchen, the closest thing they find is often a pointed kitchen knife.”
Fiona McCulloch told the newspaper: “To have a blunt knife in my situation, it would have taken that risk away. It is like you are taking away their options and the more you can take away, the better.”
Nottinghamshire Police works with Women’s Aid to help domestic abuse victims but the charity did not wish to comment when contacted by the BBC.