Border Patrol Agent’s Explosive Gender Reveal Party Goes Up In Flames
Oct20

Border Patrol Agent’s Explosive Gender Reveal Party Goes Up In Flames

Natural disasters and emergencies have been numerous in the past couple of years. The raw power of nature does what it will without regard for the best-laid schemes of mice and men. Though, sometimes, we’re responsible for the sparks that light the wildfires. It’s been a dry, hot summer in Arizona, again, and the west coast has been battling destructive wildfires for the entire season. Life Safety Code requires that workplaces, healthcare facilities, schools, and other occupied buildings have evacuation protocol that’s routinely practiced, but wildfires the magnitude of ones we’ve seen this past summer have disrupted even the best-laid plans. When a massive wildfire comes knocking, these emergency protocols are put to the test. One wildfire in particular had a very unlikely source, one that changed a man’s life before anyone could get control of the situation. Border Patrol Agent Dennis Dickey was going to have a baby. Naturally, he hosted a gender reveal party for friends and family. For the gender reveal, he had purchased Tannerite, which is an explosive substance activated by high-velocity projectiles, i.e. bullets. The idea was that when he shot the target, it would explode either blue or pink. Fun, right? “Dickey had placed Tannerite, a highly explosive substance, inside the target, intending for it to detonate when shot by a high-velocity firearm bullet,” said the U.S. attorney’s office in a later statement. When he shot the explosive target, it ended up starting a fire that was difficult to contain. In drought conditions, even walking on dry grass can cause lasting damage to the plant and its roots. Of course, Arizona is no stranger to dry, drought conditions, and even a single spark can cause a lasting, and deadly, blaze. Dickey called the authorities immediately, but the Arizona climate had been so dry that even with 800 firefighters working to contain the blaze, it still amassed more than $8 million in damage over a two-week span. Because he did not spark the blaze intentionally, the fire was not ruled arson. “Dickey fired shots at the Tannerite target, ultimately causing an explosion that started a fire that spread and resulted in damage to more than 45,000 acres of land managed by the State of Arizona, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and various private landholders,” said federal officials. In a moment that would change his life forever, he’s now looking at a plea deal that has him paying $100,000 up front and $120,000 more over 20 years. Along with those fines comes five years probation and being the face of a Forest Service PSA. In a statement, he said he feels horrible about the whole incident. Even though it was an accident,...

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Hit The Trails: A Beginner’s Guide To Hiking
Oct08

Hit The Trails: A Beginner’s Guide To Hiking

Getting into the great outdoors can be a challenge for city dwellers, and even for those who live well outside of urban sprawl. Hiking is a fantastic way to explore nature while getting in a great workout. On average, one mile of hiking burns over 500 calories. With all of the possible hiking destinations and gear that seems to accompany hiking, getting your foot out of the door and onto the trail can be daunting. If you’re a hiking beginner, use these tips before you start scaling mountains. Pick The Right Path The biggest mistake a new hiker could make is overestimating the length or difficulty of hike that they can handle. There’s no need to prove yourself with a miles-long hike over rocky terrain. Start with short, easy walks and work your way up. As you do shorter hikes, you’ll be able to gauge what you are physically capable of and build up to lengthy hikes. Key factors to consider are the type of terrain, distance, and elevation changes. You’ll want to do plenty of research about your hiking destination ahead of time and map out a route to follow your first time through. Wear Comfortable Layers As you hike throughout the day, temperatures will change and so will the amount of heat your body is generating. Your clothes should protect you from the elements while regulating your body temperature. They should be durable and comfortable, as you’re going to be moving in them for an extended period of time. By layering undergarments, a comfortable shirt and pants, and a waterproof jacket, you can shed layers as you need while being prepared for any weather conditions. Hike With A Partner When you’re apprehensive about doing anything new to you, having someone beside you makes it a bit easier. If you have friends who already hike, ask them to take you on an easier trek. They’ll probably be very eager to share their expertise and passion with you, while also introducing you to their favorite trails and gear. Going with a friend or family member who is also a beginner is another great way to hike, allowing you both to discover the joys of hiking together. If you can’t find anyone who is interested in hiking with you, many cities and towns have hiking clubs that regularly plan outings. There is so much to explore in nature, and with autumn just beginning many hiking trails have incredible views of the changing foliage. Choose your perfect trail, get some comfy clothing, find some friends to go with you, and you’ll be ready to hike in no...

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3 Simple Tips For Creating An Eco-Friendly Garage
Oct30

3 Simple Tips For Creating An Eco-Friendly Garage

When it comes to eco-friendly home improvement, the garage is typically one of the last areas people think of. However, many homeowners would be surprised at just how easy it is to make a few eco-friendly replacements and watch your garage turn into the stylish and sustainable workspace you’ve always dreamed of. Here are just a few starting steps for transforming your garage into an eco-friendly space. Organize Recycling (And Stick To A Set Routine) Before you can make real changes to your garage, you should give it a thorough cleaning and get your recycling materials organized. If your garage is piled high to the ceiling with clutter and other unnecessary items, remember that cleaning it out isn’t an impossible feat, and there’s an easy way to clear it out so you don’t have to do the entire job in one day. To make cleaning your garage a more manageable endeavor, mark each task with an estimated time — 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour. Each day do only one thing. Within 30 days, your whole garage will be uncluttered and clean. Don’t forget to donate any unwanted items before throwing them in the trash! Once your garage is clear, you may have the room to set up a small personal recycling center. This is easier than most homeowners think and can be accomplished with minimal time and materials. Experts say delegating a biodegradable trash bag for aluminum cans and a place for paper and junk mail is enough to get the ball rolling and form a new recycling habit. Today, the world makes and consumes about 600 billion pounds of plastic yearly, and the market is still growing about 5% a year. Any effort you can take to dispose of plastic properly makes a difference in turning the Earth into a healthier and more sustainable planet. Use The Right Project Materials During any garage renovation projects, it’s important to use materials that are sustainable. For example, hi-lo screws have a reduced minor diameter and therefore displace less plastic material and minimize stress. These screws have a double lead high and low thread with the high thread having a 30 degree thread form that further minimizes material displacement while providing positive thread engagement. In the same realm, using fasteners such as the aforementioned microscrews and wooden pegs reduce environmental impact. Plastic sticky tabs may be useful, but they just don’t hold up — literally — to the strength of metal, nor are they environmentally friendly. Keep Capacity In Mind Finally, it’s important to evaluate the size of your garage and think about the capacity of projects it can...

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Hurricane Erika Was NBD for Central Florida, Where Natural Disasters Are a Way of Life
Sep18

Hurricane Erika Was NBD for Central Florida, Where Natural Disasters Are a Way of Life

As yet another tropical storm leaves its mark on the Central Florida area, homeowners are left making repairs and cleaning up debris in some of the nation’s most natural-disaster-prone areas. Hurricane Erika had dissipated into “remnants of a tropical depression” after moving past the Gulf of Mexico, the Orlando Sentinel said, but that Central Florida residents should still prepare for storm damage. The National Weather Service warned that Erika was expected to pick up speed again around Monday, August 31, and would be heading up the west coast of Florida. With hurricane cleanup efforts underway by September 1, it didn’t come as a surprise to most homeowners that multiple counties were rated “high” or “very high” by RealtyTrac for natural-disaster activity. The Orlando metro area was ranked “high” for natural-disaster activity, and Lake County was ranked “very high.” As the Orlando Sentinel reported, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) rated Orange, Seminole, Lake, and Osceola counties to be at a “very high” risk area for hurricane wreckage. In addition to hurricanes, Florida counties also have a high risk of wildfires; the USDA Forest Service and the Fire Modeling Institute also placed Lake County at a high risk for wildfire activity. With its high risk for both hurricanes and wildfires, Lake County is considered one of the most disaster-prone regions in the country; the Orlando Sentinel reported that only 14% of counties across the country present this same risk. Of course, for residents of Central Florida, this isn’t exactly news and it’s hardly a reason to move away from the Orlando metro area. In fact, most residents state that they were well-aware of the storm risks before purchasing a home in the area; instead of choosing to live elsewhere, homeowners simply purchase extensive homeowner’s insurance plans and make repairs to mitigate floor and roof damage resulting from flooding. All in all, Central Florida residents don’t seem too bothered by the recent weather patterns. “I don’t think {potential homeowners] give [hurricanes] a lot of thought,” said Mount Dora real estate agent Tammy King. “A lot of them are just looking to get out of the cold and the snow and I don’t think they really care about...

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Nature Is Good For Your Sleep, Study Says
Sep07

Nature Is Good For Your Sleep, Study Says

After a long day of hiking — the most popular of all camping activities — have you ever noticed that you slept better? Although it may be that you’ve tuckered yourself out, a new study published in the journal Preventive Medicine suggests that people age 65 or older get better sleep when they’re in a more natural environment. “Studies show that inadequate sleep is associated with declines in mental and physical health, reduced cognitive function, and increased obesity,” explained Diana Grigsby-Toussaint, a member of the division of nutritional science at the University of Illinois in Chicago. “This new study shows that exposure to a natural environment may help people get the sleep they need.” Grigsby-Toussaint worked with two other University of Illinois researchers and several scientists from the New York University School of Medicine. They used data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tool, to find out if there as a link between declared days of insufficient sleep and access to green spaces. They also used a USDA index to measure the hours of sunlight in different geographical regions, an integral part in the regulation of the circadian rhythm, and temperature. In response to being questioned on the quality of their sleep in the last month, the most common answer given from a total of 255,171 representative American adults was that participants had slept poorly for less than a week. However, across the entire sample, individuals who reported 21 to 29 days of insufficient sleep consistently had lower odds of having access to green, natural spaces in comparison to individuals who reported having less than one week of insufficient sleep. In other words, the people who didn’t sleep well were also less likely to live in an environment where nature was more present. The study’s results are a huge help for those who may have trouble sleeping, particularly seniors. Communities with retired residents, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes should also take note of the study, and try to incorporate more green spaces as a way to improve their inhabitants’...

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Massive Sewage Spill Contaminates Famed Waikiki Beach
Aug29

Massive Sewage Spill Contaminates Famed Waikiki Beach

World-famous Waikiki Beach and surrounding areas of Honolulu’s coastline remained closed Aug. 26 after heavy rainstorms caused 500,000 gallons of sewage to spill out from manholes and into storm sewers leading to the ocean. “All I can do is apologize to the public,” Lori Kahikina, director of environmental services for Honolulu, said at a news conference. “This is unheard of. It’s unprecedented.” Rainstorms, combined with worn-out sewer systems, are common culprits when it comes to sewage backing up into homes — one of the reasons home sewer connections need to be replaced every 40 years or so. But the city supposedly has systems in place to prevent overflow. Tourists were warned to stay away from the water, since it could be contaminated with pathogens and therefore constitute a serious risk of illness or infection — though not all complied. Local news station KHON reported Aug. 25 that a communication breakdown may have contributed to the spill; apparently, one of the pumping stations located at Ala Moana, a short stretch down the coast from Waikiki, was offline at the time of the spill. City Councilman Trevor Ozawa, who represents the district, told the station that he hadn’t coordinated with the Department of Design and Construction to ensure the pump was in working order. “We were all aware that the rain was coming … but we didn’t look at some of the glaring obvious things that we could have done,” Ozawa admitted. The closures — unfortunately timed in the middle of the busiest season for the island — have had a serious impact on Waikiki businesses, many of which rely on tourists wanting to try ocean-based activities (though it’s possible businesses in other areas of the island may benefit from the displaced tourists). Dave Carvalho, owner of Big Wave Dave surfing school, told local TV broadcast Hawaii News Now that they’ve been informing tourists of the situation but allowing them to make their own choices as to the risk. The brown-water warning did, however, delay prominent events scheduled as part of Duke’s OceanFest, an ocean sports festival timed around the birthday of surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku. Aug. 24 marked the 125th anniversary of his birth, and the festival was slated to involve more than 2,500 athletes and thousands more spectators. The city has promised to lift warnings as soon as water testing has been...

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