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Today in Tech

Podcast: The M2 MacBook Air reviews are in

Join Macworld executive editor Michael Simon and Computerworld executive editor Ken Mingis as they break down the pros and cons of Apple's latest laptop.

Sun, 10 Jul 2022 22:25:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Alabama adjusts required score on teacher certification test (copy)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — In an effort to get more teachers in classrooms, Alabama school board officials on Tuesday voted to temporarily lower the minimum passing score on the educator certification test.

The temporary measure will implement a sliding scale that will allow higher grades to compensate for a lower score on the Praxis certification test, news outlets reported. It would also set up a waiver system in areas with critical shortages, so lower-scoring graduates could teach temporarily. They must eventually pass the test to earn a permanent certificate.

The temporary measure was approved as the state tries to combat a teacher shortage. Alabama lawmakers this spring approved the largest pay raises in a generation in an effort to keep experienced teachers in the classroom.

People are also reading…

“We have superintendents right now that have jobs posted, and those jobs have no applicants. no applicants at all,” Superintendent Eric Mackey told WSFA.

The change will be in place for two years.

“For two years, we will look at those students who score between the regular cut score and minus one standard error of measure, so about five points below. If those students score in that range, and they have a higher than normal GPA, then we can go ahead and give them a teaching certificate,” Mackey told the station.

In areas experiencing a critical shortage of educators, graduates who scored two standard error measures below the required Praxis score could be hired on a temporary basis and given an opportunity to retake the test. If they don’t eventually score higher, they will not get a teaching certificate.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Sat, 16 Jul 2022 23:00:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : What Is General Relativity? Inside Einstein's Unbreakable Theory of Space and Time

More than a century ago, Albert Einstein conjured the hypothesis of all hypotheses -- an idea so extraordinary that it would relentlessly echo through the vast directory of human thought.

It would alter the fundamental tenets of science, inspire the most mind-bending technology, help capture the glory of black holes, motivate authors to write prodigious novels, and stimulate directors to turn deeply metaphysical ideas into film

It was a concept that would test the limits of our imagination and a puzzle that would force us to rethink the notion of time. 

In 1916, Einstein announced his holy grail theory of general relativity.

The condensed version

Basically, Einstein realized that space is much more than the "space" we live in and that time transcends the clocks we've invented. Rather, he theorized, the two are physically entangled. 

Space is like a canvas on which our past, present and future are woven -- and it can fold, twist and ripple like silk. There's no beginning or end to this fabric of space and time, or as he called it, spacetime. 

We can't exactly see the spacetime continuum because it's part of a realm imperceptible to human eyes: the fourth dimension. But we can deduce its existence, as we can feel its effects. One of those effects you're no doubt familiar with -- gravity. But there are other effects too, like time moving slower depending on where you are in the universe and space-borne magnifying glass phenomena dubbed gravitational lensing. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. It's no problem if pretty much all of that flew over your head. 

Albert Einstein.

Orren Jack Turner

Regardless of when your indoctrination to general relativity camp was -- even if it was five seconds ago due to my jam-packed intro -- I'd bet you thought it sounded bizarre. I mean, it involves premises like the fourth dimension and an invisible fabric. It projects weird outcomes like wormholes and nonlinearity. 

You wouldn't be alone in your skepticism. General relativity was once dismissed as delusion, "totally impractical and absurd." Yet, it remains one of the most elegant theories concerning our universe. 

So much so that it's often considered an unbreakable truth. 

Welcome to the fourth dimension

As three-dimensional beings, we tend to think about the universe in intuitive terms.

A one-dimensional object makes sense to us. That's a line. Two dimensions are also easy to understand. Pac-Man. And three dimensions -- tulips, Tic Tacs and iPhones -- are all comprehensible. But when we get to the four-dimensional universe, our intuition disappears. 

In 3D, we have an X axis for length, Y for width and Z for depth. In 4D, there's a fourth axis: Time.

Zooey Liao/CNET

But trying to think about 4D space, for us, would be like Pac-Man trying to understand 3D space. That would hurt his brain because there isn't a Z axis for Pac-Man like there isn't a time axis for us. Technically, Pac-Man's view of everything would be a giant line, similar to that of characters in the novel Flatland

However, Pac-Man's difficulty with perceiving 3D space doesn't mean 3D space can't exist. We're living in it. In fact, he's living in it. 

Likewise, 4D space exists whether or not our minds can enter it. We even call on the time axis unknowingly when we ask someone to meet us in a coffee shop at 2 p.m., for instance. We give X, Y, Z and time coordinates.

So as you read this, remember that everything we're about to discuss regarding general relativity lives in 4D. Fortunately, even though we can't mentally picture the fourth dimension, we can mathematically calculate it. 

The elevator experiment

You've probably heard the age-old adage that Isaac Newton was sitting underneath an apple tree when a delicious fruit fell onto his head, and voila, he discovered the mysterious force of gravity pulling stuff down to Earth.

Einstein had a (very) different take. 

Einstein's 1916 article published in Annalen der Physik on "The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity."

Hebrew University

In a nutshell, Einstein realized gravity isn't quite as mysterious as it's chalked up to be. It's a lot like a regular old force we are used to. We use it nearly everyday -- driving to work, running around, or perhaps kicking a soccer ball. It's called acceleration. 

Einstein's famous elevator thought experiment helps illustrate this connection.

Imagine a nonmoving elevator on Earth and an accelerating one somewhere in space, traveling upward with a force exactly equivalent to the force of gravity (9.8 meters/second^2). If there weren't any windows on these elevators, how could you tell if you were in the space one or the Earth one? 

Well, Einstein said, you couldn't. 

Modifying that a little, what if you had to figure out if you were in a non-windowed elevator that wasn't moving in space and one on Earth that was falling, so you were experiencing weightlessness? Could you then? Nope. 

Weightlessness on Earth in the presence of gravity feels just like weightlessness in space in what we'd normally consider zero-gravity. 

This is called the equivalence principle.

So, the only plausible explanation for "gravity," Einstein said, is it isn't what we think it is. And, whatever it really is, probably has something to do with acceleration. 

Then, after a little (no, a lot) more thinking, he concluded that gravity is not a force at all. It's the product of objects interacting, while accelerating in different directions. OK, let's back up a little bit so our brains don't explode. 

Here's one way to think of Einstein's conjecture: Things aren't pulling things down; things are holding things up. 

You're falling right now

If a ball were rolling toward a cliff, Newton would say the ball was about to stop moving in a straight line because gravity would pull it down. To Newton, the ball would soon fall off the cliff because of an elusive gravity force.

Einstein, on the other hand, would say the ball has always been falling -- it's just that we only notice such "falling" when it passes the edge of the cliff because that's when nothing will be pushing, or accelerating, up on it anymore. Bear with me. Here's an analogy.

Imagine holding a glass of water. The glass, in a way, is constantly stopping the water from falling to the ground. You probably wouldn't say the glass is exerting an invisible force on the water to pull it down, right? It's the same idea. General relativity just takes it a step further. 


You're falling right now. You just can't tell because the chair you're sitting in is stopping you from reaching the ground. The floor of your room is stopping you and your chair from reaching the Earth. And the literal Earth is stopping you, your chair and your floor from "falling" through space. 

Everything is always in a constant, natural free fall, Einstein realized, yet sometimes that free fall is interrupted. And such interruption, to us, feels like the force of gravity. 

It's all... wait for it... relative.

OK, you might still be on that bit about Earth stopping you from falling through space. If Earth weren't there, wouldn't we be floating around like astronauts on the International Space Station?

This brings us to part two of general relativity: The oceanlike fabric of spacetime sort of redefines the notion of falling. Brace yourself, things are about to get trippy. The next thought experiment might seem unrelated to what we've just discussed, but trust me, it'll come together.

The gravity trampoline

Picture a trampoline.

If we put a bowling ball into this trampoline, it'd roll to the middle and make the stretchy material warp inward. Now imagine putting a marble onto this curved fabric. It'd roll down the curve and stick to one side of the bowling ball. The trampoline is the fabric of spacetime, the bowling ball is Earth, and the marble is you. And once again, I'm scaling the fabric of spacetime down by dimensions because we can't really conceptualize the fourth.

Anyway, according to Einstein, anything in the universe with mass warps spacetime sort of like the bowling ball warps the trampoline. Black holes warp it a whole lot, Earth warps it somewhat, the moon warps it a bit and even you warp it a teeny tiny amount. The more massive the object, the greater the warp. And the greater the warp, the stronger the "gravity." 

Now imagine that each grid-line in this image is a cable line that has a car, within which some item is traveling. 

Zooey Liao/CNET

This item is always "falling" along the line. If Earth were removed from this picture, the cable line would be straight, so the item would move in the direction we consider "forward." But there's Earth, denting the cable line inward and bringing the object on that line along with it.

So, if space didn't have any objects, Einstein said, a sole item in the cosmos would theoretically continue falling freely along an unwarped trajectory. But the universe is filled with objects. So spacetime is completely warped. And everything "falls" along those warps. Even ISS astronauts are falling freely, because they're following some sort of gravitational warp. 

But if you're still scratching your head, American physicist John Wheeler once perfectly explained general relativity in 12 words: "Spacetime tells matter how to move; matter tells spacetime how to curve."

There you have it. That's general relativity. But the madness doesn't stop here. 

Consequences of general relativity are arguably even more bizarre than the theory itself. Don't forget, the spacetime grid is made out of, well, time.

Time is an illusion  

In Christopher Nolan's 2014 film Interstellar, something really weird happens when Matthew McConaughey's character, Cooper, visits a planet orbiting close to a black hole. 

"Seven years per hour here," he said, before exiting his spacecraft. This simply meant that for every hour on this planet, seven years will pass by on Earth -- and sure enough, when Cooper gets back to Earth after exploring for a couple of hours, decades have gone by. 

All that drama was a product of none other than general relativity. Or more specifically, time dilation. 


Paramount Pictures

This aspect of general relativity treads into a greater idea Einstein also came up with, called special relativity. We won't go too deeply into special relativity, but what you need to know is that it says light always travels at a constant speed. No matter what. 

Light on a train moving at 40 miles per hour will travel at the same speed as light on an airplane moving at 500 miles per hour, and both of those will travel at the same speed as light coming from a star on the other side of the galaxy. As you can imagine, when you take into account the spacetime continuum, this leads to some weird stuff.

Think about the trampoline again. No bowling ball. Say it'd take 10 seconds to roll a marble to the other side. OK, add the bowling ball. The trampoline is now stretched out. Rolling a marble across this warped trampoline would take, maybe, 12 seconds to account for the new area. 

With this analogy, you might see how heavier objects create a more massive curve, and therefore greater "area" for an object to travel across. But remember the light rule? Light must always travel at a constant speed, so it can't be affected by the warps.

From left to right: The moon warping spacetime, the Earth warping spacetime, the sun warping spacetime and a black hole absolutely smashing spacetime down to a single point: singularity.

Zooey Liao/CNET

But obviously, light traveling through a spacetime warp is crossing a longer distance than light traveling through empty space. So, if not speed, what changes? Well, after fiddling with relativity equations, you get the answer to be... time.

Time gets altered to account for the speed of light's constancy.

In short, time moves slower as a gravitational field in spacetime gets stronger. Yes, really. Even though it's an incredibly minuscule difference, we have proof of this. After a six-month journey, astronauts on the ISS aged 0.007 seconds slower than they would've if planted on Earth. This is also why we have atomic clocks that can account for time dilation impacting GPS satellites, for instance.

And with regard to Cooper, someone on Earth would observe time moving slower for him while he's on the black-hole-planet -- such that only one hour passes for every seven years on Earth. There are a few other ways that time dilation occurs due to general relativity, but this one gives you the general gist.

Wormholes and black holes 

Ready for some Star Trek-style thoughts?

What would happen if we folded the trampoline in half, like a piece of paper? Theoretically, you'd be able to punch a hole through the fabric. Hmm. Unfold the trampoline, and you'd see two holes quite far away from each other. Fold it back, and they touch. That's a wormhole.

While the trampoline is folded, a marble wouldn't need to travel from one side to the other. it could potentially just punch through to the other side in less than a second.  

Some experts argue that the fabric of spacetime could, theoretically, "fold" like that, especially near a super warped area such as regions around black holes. And if that's true, maybe we can travel across the universe in an instant. 

Zooey Liao/CNET

OK, before you get excited, though, we have no evidence for such a "fold." This is just speculation. But on the bright side, there are some crazy spacetime-warp consequences we do have evidence of.

We've gone over the fact that black holes are a big player in the general relativity game, but let's zoom in to the voids for a moment.

Because these leviathans are among the most gravitationally strong objects in the universe -- some have masses equal to billions of times that of our sun -- they don't just warp spacetime. They twist it and turn it so strongly that the fabric nearly shatters. And around here, time doesn't just slow. It stops.

But even as little 3D humans, we can watch the show.

In 2016, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, or LIGO, detected a binary black hole system, or two black holes orbiting each other. The voids' spiral sent genuine ripples through the fabric of spacetime, like the way dropping a rock in a pond would send ripples across the water. Exactly as Einstein predicted decades ago. This was the first direct proof that spacetime is indeed a moldable sheet.

Since then, scientists have even managed to take two photographs of black holes in the universe, and both of these images show what warped spacetime near these abysses really looks like. There's a ring of photons around each one that literally follow the black hole-induced warp-lines.

A side-by-side of the M87* black hole, imaged in 2019, and SgrA*, imaged this year.

EHT Collaboration

Not so impractical, not so absurd

Even aside from such concrete, visual proof of spacetime, mathematically speaking, experts have tried time and time again to find a flaw in Einstein's general relativity equations. And time and time again, they've failed. 

General relativity appears to be so immutable and crucial for our universe that even cosmic phenomena as gravitationally extreme as neutron stars -- so dense that a teaspoon of one would equal the weight of Mount Everest -- seem to abide by its laws. 

Animation of gravitational waves produced by a fast binary orbit.


The idea of gravitational lensing, which is a magnifying effect of warped spacetime near highly massive galaxy clusters, has become practice among astronomers looking at faraway stars and galaxies.

A once "totally impractical and absurd" hypothesis has turned out to be one of the most fundamental truths of our generation.

General relativity states there's a fourth dimension that crochets together space and time, deeming linearity an illusion for our 3D minds, producing the far-fetched possibility of wormholes and creating a foundation for gravitational waves reverberating throughout the cosmos. 

And, for now at least, it's airtight.

Fri, 01 Jul 2022 06:40:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Old Course that stands test of time at modern British Open

Tiger Woods is among the few who can appreciate how the Old Course played in the old days.

His first time playing St. Andrews for the British Open as a pro was in 2000, and on his final day of practice, Woods ripped a driver in relatively benign conditions to the front of green on the 352-yard ninth hole.

Then, swing coach Butch Harmon pulled out a replica of the gutta-percha golf ball from more than a century ago. Woods ripped another driver and then a five-iron just over the back.

Such is the mystique of St. Andrews, particularly the Old Course.

“Even with advancements in technology, this golf course still stands the test of time,” Woods said. “It’s still very difficult, and it’s obviously weather dependent. You get winds like we did today, it’s a hell of a test.”

Amid so much celebration of history this week at St. Andrews, there are rumblings that the Old Course could be exposed as being obsolete. It already uses parts of three other courses to stretch it out to 7,313 yards. And while it’s a par 72 with only two par fives, at least four of the par fours might be reachable off the tee considering how crusty the links are this year.

And the fearsome wind, which along with the bunkers is the great defense of the Old Course, is forecast to be a little more than a wee breeze.

Rory McIlroy still rues a three-foot birdie putt he missed on the 17th hole in the opening round in 2010. He had to settle for a 63. And then the wind arrived, and he shot 80.

Jordan Spieth, who missed the playoff by one shot in 2015 in his St. Andrews debut, raised concerns last week when he said the British Open could be little more than a “wedge contest” if the wind goes on holiday.

The reason it stands up to the modern game? “Because of the weather,” he said. But then he quickly added, “I don’t think it stands the test of time if it’s benign.”

He thought back to the last time, in 2015, when Zach Johnson won the three-man playoff after they finished at 15-under par. That was a Monday finish because of wind delays.

“If the conditions are calm for four days — which I don’t think happens over here — I think that with today’s technology, it becomes a shootout.”

Wed, 13 Jul 2022 13:13:00 -0500 en-US text/html
Killexams : Psychology Today Sat, 16 Jul 2022 12:00:00 -0500 en-US text/html Killexams : Pandemic-paused IRS return preparer visits could resume by video

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended in a report Thursday, and the IRS agreed, that the Service should test the feasibility of holding videoconference visits with tax return preparers it flags as posing a high risk for submitting erroneous refundable credit claims, to replace in-person visits the Service has suspended since 2020.

The GAO's management report released Thursday grew out of its ongoing audit of what it calls the IRS's Refundable Credits Return Preparer Strategy but which it noted goes by a variety of titles within the IRS. In general, the effort has entailed visits and letters to selected preparers, with the goal of increasing their understanding of, and compliance with, the credits and other benefits and the preparers' own due-diligence requirements regarding them. The IRS selects the preparers "using automated filters and algorithms" and may also audit the preparers' clients, the GAO said.

In 2011 and 2012, the visits and letters program was more prominent in the IRS's own materials and discussion within the tax community; since then, the program has continued, but with little fanfare.

The GAO report indicated that between fiscal 2017 and 2020, the IRS selected between 141 and 227 preparers each year for what the report called "knock-and-talk visits" and between 725 and 968 in-person "due diligence visits," but none in either category during fiscal 2021 or 2022, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The IRS did increase its due-diligence contacts by letter, however, to more than 350 annually in 2021 and 2022. IRS officials told the GAO they were uncertain when in-person visits might resume.

Although the in-person visits were time-consuming, expensive, and not always feasible for reaching preparers in remote locations, the GAO said they offered a good return on investment, an estimated annual $118 million in revenue saved, against an administrative average cost of $3.3 million per year.

Videoconferencing could allow the visits to resume at least virtually and perhaps to some extent remedy the administrative problems of in-person visits, the GAO said.

"Videoconference visits may also give [the] IRS an alternative method to conduct more education-oriented KTVs [knock-and-talk visits] when in-person visits are either impossible or impractical, while still providing a face-to-face element to help promote preparer education and compliance with due diligence requirements," the GAO stated in the report.

The GAO noted that, in other operational areas, the IRS has successfully increased its use of videoconferencing with taxpayers and practitioners during the pandemic, including in examinations and appeals. Limitations to its use for the preparer contacts, however, could include reviewing documents preparers provide, which IRS officials told the GAO could not be shared via video alone.

Even so, the GAO recommended, the IRS should pilot-test and evaluate videoconferencing for its education and compliance visits with preparers and, if it determines the benefits outweigh the costs, implement use of the technology. The IRS agreed to do so.

— To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Paul Bonner at

Fri, 15 Jul 2022 23:58:00 -0500 text/html
Killexams : The solution to pandemic stress: Enter the dragon boat

“Tell me,” said my aunt-in-law, appraising me through her rimmed glasses, “how is work these days?”

In a word, exhausting. I had been leading our Washington, D.C., staff coverage of the Jan. 6 insurrection, the inauguration of President Biden, a worldwide pandemic and the ongoing election challenge by the outgoing President Trump. While up late editing one night, I couldn’t immediately decide whether to put the “a” or “o” in U.S. Capitol.

I rattled off the list of terrible things: A staffer got trapped in the Capitol during the insurrection, I had to get bulletproof gear for my reporters covering the inauguration, and all that came along with being a pioneering new boss.

The week of the 2020 presidential election, I had been promoted to Washington bureau chief for The Times, the first person of color to have that job and only the second woman since The Times began operating an office in Washington since at least the 1940s.

The challenges, and responsibilities, were not lost on me.

My aunt listened as we enjoyed a round of margaritas, turned pink with a splash of pomegranate juice, at her lakeside house in Georgia. It was the Fourth of July holiday and a long overdue break from the news.

She looked into her glass tumbler and with a breathless Southern accent said: “I think you should get back to dragon-boating.”

The DC Dragon Boat Club stretch before practice.

Kimbriell Kelly, center, and the DC Dragon Boat Club stretch before practice.

(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

It struck me that in not addressing the problem, she had, in fact, addressed the problem through the wisdom that might have been assumed from the white hairs framing her face.

Like so many of us during the pandemic, I didn’t have a work problem. I had a life problem.

The solution would be dragon boats. And they would send me on an improbable quest.

Dragon boats are long, narrow watercraft powered by paddlers, typically seating 20, but sometimes 10. It’s an ancient Chinese sport, and teammates told me it’s the oldest team sport on record, though I was never able to confirm that.

A drummer helps keep the pace and a steerer keeps the boat on course. And, yes, the bow features the head of a dragon.

When my aunt planted that seed, it had been years since I had diligently trained in a dragon boat. I had stopped when I was 40 after dragon-boat team drama, which included one memorable competition in Florida, where a race ended with one inebriated teammate huddled over a toilet.

Work had also gotten busy and a friend complained that my excitement for dragon-boating on social media left the impression I was doing more boating than working.

So I quit.

But now here I was, six years later, in the middle of a pandemic, an insurrection and in desperate need of doing more to bring me peace.

I returned from the vacation — ironically, Independence Day — and dragged myself to the dock, just a few blocks from my house. Just to watch. It was Aug. 23, 2021, and a 20-person dragon boat cruised by, trailing a small wake as it headed toward the orange sunset.

Coach Troy Pham, left in red, chats with Vu Deo during practice.

Coach Troy Pham, left in red, chats with Vu Deo during practice.

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

I didn’t recognize anyone. All of my friends had gone, moved to New Jersey, Ohio and Southern California. Another to Germany. One had even started a successful dragon-boat club in Pennsylvania. The only person I recognized was the coach standing at the bow shouting commands that carried on the wind toward me.

I noticed one of the paddlers wearing a team racing jersey, and I began reminiscing about the time that I had been proud to wear my jersey on race day, American flag on one shoulder and the performance fit hugging my back and arm muscles. Now all of my uniforms were packed in plastic containers beneath my bed. They had the names of teams I had competed with: The First Ladies. UMUC. Volksdragon. And the team that I won the most medals with, The Dead Presidents. (Such is Washington humor.)

I had been introduced to dragon-boating and the DC Dragon Boat Club by a friend when I moved to Washington in 2012. Soon I was leaving work to get to weeknight practices, and arriving early for weekend ones.

A friend made the U.S. national team competing in Hungary and suggested I make the trip in a few weeks to watch.

When I finally ended up in the town of Szeged after backpacking around Europe, I sat in the stands and watched as the dragon-boaters raced in the 90-plus-degree heat. I remember hearing the different languages spoken around me and feeling disconnected until I heard a familiar song, the U.S. national anthem, and watched an excited crew walk across the medal stand.

One day, I thought, that could be me.

When I was competing, we were the best in the Eastern region, racking up a championship title in 2014 at the Eastern Regional Dragon Boat Assn. But that’s as far as I had gotten.

Kelly, center, and the DC Dragon Boat Club practice in the Washington Channel.

Kelly, center, and the DC Dragon Boat Club practice in the Washington Channel.

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Such memories came over me the August day I had watched my former team practice. I walked home and found news was waiting for me: After nearly 20 years at war, the U.S. was pulling troops out of Afghanistan.

Our Washington office was responsible for providing updates from the White House, Defense Department and State Department.

I began to question whether my life would ever slow down. But I remembered what my aunt had said.

The next weekend, on Aug. 28, I went back to the dock. This time, I dressed to get in the boat.

Column One

A showcase for compelling storytelling from the Los Angeles Times.

I had been away so long that I couldn’t remember what I needed to bring; I grabbed my old paddle and sunglasses and wore a white sun visor and jersey. I took selfies at 9:05 a.m. as I walked down the street, smiling along the way. I texted them to my husband as proof that I had gone.

As I arrived at the dock, I caught a glimpse of my shadow in the wooden planks and took an artistic photo. I could make out the contours of two buns on each side of my head and the paddle almost as long as my body, which people often mistook for a guitar.

By the end of practice, someone had taken a picture of me. I was hunched over in the boat, gasping for air. I had forgotten the most basic thing, to bring water. The sun glistened against my brown skin. I also had forgotten sunblock.

But I had made it. I texted a selfie to my husband, sister-in-law and, of course, aunt.

Back at work, the president was at Camp David and had told reporters that the Taliban was unlikely to take Afghanistan. But the situation quickly unraveled and the U.S. scrambled to get the Americans and troops out of the country.

The DC Dragon Boat Club practices in the Washington Channel.

Steerer Josh Rubinstein guides the team during practice.

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

As the tension rose, I headed to the water. On Sept. 4, I sent another text: “I got to dragon boat four times this week!”

My aunt responded: “So glad you are back into this sport!!! It suits you so well!!!”

I replied: “Me, too! Thanks for the push.”

A heart emoji emerged.

I had returned so late in the season that there were only a couple of major races left, among them the Nationals, the biggest stage our local team had ever competed on. And I wasn’t going to be part of it. I cried. I didn’t initially know why; it wasn’t like I had tried to make the team. I sat with that feeling, trying to identify it.

I thought about six years’ worth of dragon-boating potential that I had cast aside. And for what? Yes, I had won a Pulitzer. And been named a Pulitzer finalist for another project. But that was all work. What had I done outside of work for happiness?

Instead of sulking, I decided I could support the team when its races were livestreamed on Oct. 2. I knew that my teammates might like getting screenshots of themselves crossing the finish line. That I could do.

They medaled, earning a seat at the Club Crew World Championships in 2022 to compete against teams from around the globe, including Hungary, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, India, Britain and Canada.

The team stretches before practice.

Kenny Nguyen and the team stretch before practice.

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

The DC Dragon Boat Club practices in the Washington Channel.

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

After returning to Washington, our coaches announced that for the Worlds, they were going to seat a new crew through tryouts. While it would be tough for women to make the boat, it was announced there might be room for one or two.

I grabbed a file folder and in large black permanent marker wrote “Make the seat.” I bought what I called my “Dragon-boat journal” and logged my workouts. I entered my water time and weight training in a Google spreadsheet maintained by the coaches. I purchased workout shorts by the batch.

I treated myself to a special gift: custom red, white and blue water shoes with the name of the World competition and 2022 embroidered on the straps.

I had seven months to prepare for tryouts.

On Oct. 30 and at 9:19 a.m. I asked my husband to take a photo to document the start. I wore a fluorescent pink tank top that read: “Dragon Boat: Do you have the backbone for it?”

I signed up for two “dragon boat camps” the following spring. I watched YouTube videos to correct my weightlifting form.

I trained on vacation, including at the lake house, crossing the hilly property with dumbbells in my hands and a kettlebell stuffed into a duffle bag on my back. I planked on the lake shore and did box jumps onto the deck steps.

One day, my aunt grabbed a dumbbell and jerked her elbow back with force. Is this how you do it? she asked.

But then came a surprise email from the coaches: There would be a paddle test the morning after we returned from the Thanksgiving vacation, the first of several to eliminate candidates.

The DC Dragon Boat Club practices in the Washington Channel.

(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

I panicked. While I had been diligently working out, I had also been vacationing for nearly three weeks with my aunt, the kind of relative you greet at their vehicle because they arrive with groceries and home-cooked meals to unload. A pecan pie. Fresh biscuits. Salty ham with red-eye gravy. I had gained 10 pounds.

I also had not taken a paddle test in six years. Imagine a rowing machine, but with a paddle attached, pulling as hard on it as you can for three minutes. I emailed my coach to try to get out of it, saying I would not return to D.C. until late Saturday:

“I just saw that there is testing first thing Sunday morning. I signed up, but am wondering if there is another day or time I can do this considering I’ll be getting back so late on Saturday.”

He responded: “No worries if you can’t make it tomorrow. I understand if you will be tired.”

I had a lot of time to think on that nine-hour ride home from Georgia. That email represented my first real test, and I had failed. If I was going to take this task of getting to Worlds seriously, I had to be committed. I decided to do the test.

I arrived at the gym early and grudgingly hopped on the scale for the weigh-in. At 9:16 a.m., I walked past other hopefuls to the rowing machine — I hadn’t had a test in years — and grabbed the paddle. My teammates began laughing and told me I was holding it wrong.

I was embarrassed and laughed along with them, telling the crowd, “Whew, I’m done!”

“That’s too funny,” the head coach said.

The DC Dragon Boat Club practices in the Washington Channel.

(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

Another coach told me not to worry, that this was just a baseline test.

Afterward, when back at home, I took to my journal and wrote down what things I needed to do for the next time, among them “cut 10 lbs.”

But more important, I realized that I had to change my lifestyle.

I redesigned my home gym, installing horse stall mats, and bought a squat rack. I signed up for a New Year’s Day rowing-machine half-marathon. I calibrated my watch to track my sleep.

Then there was diet. A high-protein diet replaced simple carbs. I gave up alcohol — even the pink margaritas.

In all, I would train more than 135 hours.

By the next test I was posting scores that matched at least one of the men. On future tests, some of my scores were better.

Spring arrived and while attending the dragon-boat camps in Georgia and Florida, I ended up scoring among the top 10 women.

The DC Dragon Boat Club practices in the Washington Channel.

(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

The coaches announced that we’d be getting on the water to do the final test on May 2. Two weeks later, the team would be announced. But in early April I tested positive for COVID-19.

I was likely exposed at a dinner related to work. The dinner had made news as a super-spreader event in Washington that also infected members of Congress and Biden’s Cabinet.

Club rules prevented teammates from returning to practice until they had a negative test. Who could predict when I could return? I had very mild symptoms, so I continued to work out at home.

The next day a package was waiting for me on my doorstep. It was my custom-made red, white and blue water shoes. I burst into tears.

I began researching ways to clear my lungs. I drank hot lemon water, munched on raw garlic. I took midday naps to try to heal faster. Each day I tested, each day the same verdict: positive.

Then on Friday, April 15, I set the microwave timer for 15 minutes and waited for the results. Into my cellphone I recorded my thoughts: “Today I tested, and after eight days, I finally tested negative! I’m excited! I just went online and booked a flight to dragon-boat camp — it starts on Sunday.”

I tossed the test in a plastic food storage bag and dated it so that I’d always remember.

The next day, I headed to my first practice on the water since COVID and left my house at 5:40 a.m. wearing my new water shoes. I typed a memo on my phone: “First day back: Played the tune from Rocky in my head as I put my red, white and blue bandana on at 5:15 a.m. Realized it’s the first early morning practice I’ve had in six years.”

Two weeks later, on the afternoon of May 8, an email arrived in my inbox as I returned from a trip to Chicago: “We (Karen, Troy, & myself), want to congratulate you on making the DC Dragon Boat Club roster for the upcoming Club Crew World Championships (CCWC) in July.”

I couldn’t wait to share the news and texted my aunt. She quickly replied: “I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU, AND HAVE I TOLD YOU HOW PROUD I AM OF YOU!!!!???”

“Your love and support means the world to me!!!”

Next week the Club Crew World Championships will begin in Sarasota, Fla. I will be there, with my team, wearing my red, white and blue shoes. And when I next see my aunt, I will thank her for the inspiration — every family needs someone like her, no? — and perhaps have a piece of pecan pie.

The DC Dragon Boat Club practices in the Washington Channel.

(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

Thu, 14 Jul 2022 01:25:00 -0500 en-US text/html
Killexams : Earth Day 2022: Electronics Companies Step Up Green Efforts

Earth Day is a day when we are reminded about the need to engage in good practices both at work and at home to protect our environment.  For the electronics industry, these efforts have largely been promoting recycling in its workplaces, moving to less environmentally-risky materials and processes, and announcing initiatives to become more carbon-neutral. Electronics companies have made strides to make their products more environmentally friendly, such as eliminating the use of lead in many components and switching to mass soldering processes that emit fewer hazardous gases. 

But these decisions are not made lightly, as companies must consider tradeoffs in performance, cost, as well as changes to production processes and supply-chain practices.

Lowering the Carbon Footprint

For large, profitable companies, environmental responsibility is not just good for the environment, but also good for their business as they want to project a positive image among shareholders that are concerned about factors other than stock prices.

Intel recently made one of the stronger statements showing environmental consciousness. The semiconductor giant pledged to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its global operations by 2040.

To achieve this goal, Intel has some interim, stepping-stone goals. According to a statement on its website, the company seeking to achieve 100% renewable electricity use across its global operations by 2030. Intel added it would invest $300 million in energy conversation measures at its facilities to save the equivalent of 4 billion cumulative kilowatt-hours of energy.

In other moves, Intel said its new factories and other facilities would meet U.S. Green Building Council LEED program standards, covering locations in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. The company will also launch an R&D initiative to identify greener chemicals with lower global warming potential, and will develop new abatement equipment.

Recycling Materials

Apple said in a statement Tuesday it was making progress on using recycled materials in its consumer electronics products. More specifically, Apple said that in 2021 that 59% of its products used recycled aluminum, with many products using all recycled aluminum in their enclosures. Apple added that in 2021 its products contained 45% recycled rare earth elements, 30% recycled tin, and 13% recycled cobalt. Apple also started using certified recycled gold in its iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 products. 

Overall, Apple said that nearly 20% of the material in its products in 2021 was recycled.

Apple also announced a number of promotions related to Earth Day 2022. Apple said it would donate $1 to the World Wildlife Fund if customers used Apple Pay. The company will also show the environmental innovations behind iPhone 13 through an immersive augmented reality experience on Snapchat. It will also show curated collections of environmentally-related content on its various video and audio platforms.

Reducing 5G Emissions

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a year-round goal for many tech companies. With 5G becoming popular, there’s also the issue of emissions from the base stations that will be sending out 5G signals.

Japan-based Fujitsu announced at the Mobile World Congress in February a software virtualized radio access network (vRAN) with 5G support that the company said can reduce CO2 emissions by 50%, compared to conventional base stations. The vRAN uses dynamic resource allocation technology that reduces excess resources and power consumption, by making it possible to adjust the computing resources of servers needed for operations, according to the usage status of base stations.

By linking the RAN intelligent control unit (RIC), and SMO (Service Management and Orchestration), which orchestrates and manages the entire network, with this technology, the vRAN can estimate mobile phone users' movements and application usage to optimize allocation of resources.   

Recycling Lives On

Recycling is, of course, an ongoing means of helping to save the environment, though Earth Day serves as a reminder to engage in the practice. Big box electronics chains such as Best Buy recycle used electronics. Apple’s consumer electronics rival Samsung has an ongoing partnership with uBreakiFix by Asurion to recycle on or unused electronics. The companies are encouraging consumers to drop off consumer electronics devices at any uBreakiFix or Asurion Tech Repair & Solutions store. The stores will collect the devices and route them to a Samsung-authorized recycling partner, where they will be turned into raw commodities for future reuse.

Thu, 07 Jul 2022 12:00:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Be the first to know No result found, try new keyword!For 41 days in June and July 1897, members of the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps rode from Missoula, Montana across five states to St. Louis to test the ... some had gone on practice rides the ... Sun, 17 Jul 2022 01:01:00 -0500 en text/html Killexams : Autonomous Vehicles Emerging as Avenue of Specialization in Big Law

As digital transformation hits the transportation industry, Big Law lawyers are jostling for work at the intersection of automation and the automotive sector.

Though driverless technology remains nascent and few states have adopted legal frameworks to test vehicles on the road, lawyers are optimistic that advancements in technology, coupled with more understanding from regulators, will fuel demand for legal expertise.

Fri, 08 Jul 2022 12:43:00 -0500 en text/html
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