Families Eat Pie Without Whipped Topping This Christmas Due to Nationwide Shortage of Nitrous Oxide
Dec27

Families Eat Pie Without Whipped Topping This Christmas Due to Nationwide Shortage of Nitrous Oxide

This year, Christmas feasts across the country were missing one of the single most important parts of any holiday dessert spread — Reddi-wip. Thanks to a nationwide shortage of nitrous oxide, manufacturers of aerosol whipped creams announced earlier this year that they would not be able to keep up with the demand come the holiday season. Nitrous oxide is a critical ingredient in any can of whipped cream. While it is more commonly known as “laughing gas” for its use as a relaxing agent and pain reliever while patients are getting their teeth pulled, it also acts as a propellant to push the cream out of the can and a preservative to keep the food product from going bad. On August 28, the Airgas nitrous oxide plant in Florida experienced a fatal explosion that killed one facility worker. The incident is still under investigation, but according to a spokesperson, in meantime the company’s nitrous oxide supply has been severely limited. State officials believe that the explosion was the result of an accident on the plant’s loading dock, where two semi-trucks were holding nitrous oxide. Jon Moore, communications coordinator at the Office of Chief Financial Officer, reported that he couldn’t confirm if the blast happened during the transfer process. Each year, approximately 16,000 chemical spills occur out of trucks, trains, and storage tanks, typically during the transfer of materials. Shortly after the incident, in a written statement, Airgas reported that one of its employees was killed, though it did not release the individual’s name. “We have learned that one associate has died as a result of the incident,” the statement said. “We are deeply saddened by the loss of a member of our Airgas family. Our sincere condolences and thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of this associate.” Sadly, injuries and fatalities like this one are all too common in plants and facilities where the proper safety precautions are not in place. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were nearly three million non-fatal work injuries and 4,821 fatal work injuries in 2014. In 2015, the number of fatal injuries increased slightly to 4,836. Reddi-wip, a household brand of the popular dessert topping, relied on Airgas for its nitrous oxide supply. Company spokesperson Lanie Friedman encouraged consumers to stock up on their Reddi-wip supply early this year. “It’s in stores now, but we’re encouraging people to buy it early,” Friedman said. “There will be a shortage if people buy at the typical levels during the holidays.” As many as 90% of American households regularly indulge in a sweet, frozen treat, and may become disappointed in...

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Japanese Teen Scales World’s Highest Mountains
Dec27

Japanese Teen Scales World’s Highest Mountains

Nearly every explorer dreams of scaling Mount Everest. However, few ever reach the top. Not only has Japanese climber Marin Minamiya reached the top of that summit, but she’s also conquered six of the world’s other highest mountains — all before her 20th birthday. Now, the teenager has set her sights on completing the “Explorer’s Grand Slam” with a visit to the North Pole. Minamiya considers her accomplishments merely a hobby, albeit a healthy one. A person weighing 155 pounds carries 10 to 20 extra pounds while hiking or climbing, which means that he or she will burn 528 calories in an hour. But Minamiya’s treks are much more extensive; her very first climb was scaling Aconcagua, South America’s highest peak. She bested the 22,838-foot mountain in 2015, and has only gone on to higher altitudes since. Her adventures have allowed the teen to travel the world in a way most people could never conceive. Minamiya has stood atop Antarctica’s Vinson Massif, Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro, Australia’s Mount Kosciuszko, Alaska’s Denali (also known as Mount McKinley), Russia’s Mount Elbrus, and of course, Mount Everest, which is situated between Nepal and China. While Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, the 19-year-old says that tackling it was not her toughest challenge. Instead, Minamiya says that her experience at Elbrus was actually the hardest. “It is supposedly one of the easiest mountains of the ‘Seven Summits,” she said. “However, this was in winter … I had one week to climb this mountain and the weather was absolutely terrible, the mountain conditions were terrifying, the whole mountain was frozen — it looked like an ice skating rink.” But despite the dangers, Minamiya refused to yield. “I just don’t give up and I feel that every mountain has taught me new lessons and [has] made me a much stronger person,” says the teen. Given her age, Minamiya’s accomplishments seem all the more staggering. She’s the youngest Japanese national to ever climb Mount Everest, and if she completes the “Explorer’s Grand Slam,” she’ll be one of only 51 people ever to do so. She needs only to visit the North Pole in order to complete the challenge. Minamiya’s gender plays a part in how astounding her feats are considered to be, too. Mountain climbing has oft been considered to be a male-dominated endeavor. However, evidence in Scotland suggests that women are starting to catch up. Some experts speculate that younger generations of climbers are more open to female involvement. Neil Reid of Mountaineering Scotland says that “it’s pretty fair to say that mountain climbing and hill-walking have traditionally been perceived as male-dominated activities,...

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Amazon and Google Battle It Out This Holiday Season Over Gift Popularity
Dec05

Amazon and Google Battle It Out This Holiday Season Over Gift Popularity

The battle between Amazon and Google over the most popular gift this holiday season continues. In the past, the two most popular gifts might’ve been certain types of bicycles or video game consoles. But now, the most popular gifts revolve around a much more modern idea of having a smart home. People are hoping for the newest device this year to improve their home’s smart compatibilities and connect their appliances and accessories to the Internet. Wholly 93% of Internet experiences begin with a search engine and this holiday season, shoppers are typing in two popular products. Amazon Echo and Google Home have WiFi speakers and answer user-asked questions. They are physical products consisting of search engine algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI), and high-quality speakers. “There’s clearly some overlap between the Echo and Google Home,” said Craig Johnson, president of Consumer Growth Partners. “I’m not convinced people have room for both devices in their lives.” According to Forbes, Amazon spent months focusing less on the sound quality of their device but on something more important to the 21st-century user: third-party app compatibility. The Amazon Echo, up from 135 “skills,” (third-party apps) has reached over 3,000 including Uber, Fitbit, Domino’s, NPR, CNN, and many more. Google Home, however, has only reached one third-party app (Uber). “Google on paper is much better positioned to do something like this than Amazon,” said Jan Dawson, founder of Jackdaw Research. But Amazon is currently leading the audio race, despite the question of their audio quality. The Providence Journal reports that Amazon has increased its advertising of the Echo and less expensive Echo Dot by placing ads on its home website, increased online marketing, and bought TV ad campaigns. Although Amazon seems to be winning the holiday race this year, the war is far from over. Google, as well as other tech companies, have plenty of time, money, and resources to continue to develop revolutionary...

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