Lady Gaga’s Born this Way Foundation announces site for youth expression

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New Digital Platform Empowers Young People to Document Stories of Kindness in Their Communities

Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation has launched Channel Kindness, a new digital platform featuring stories of kindness as documented by young people from around the US. These youth reporters, ages 16 to 24, have been recruited to identify and document the acts of generosity, compassion, and acceptance that define their generation and shape their communities. This content – which will include videos, first person essays, interviews with youth leaders, and more – will serve as a counterbalance to a media landscape that often underrepresents or misrepresents today’s young people.

“Channel Kindness is a call to action for young people to make their voices heard. This is a diverse, passionate, and collaborative generation who are leveraging their creativity to solve problems in their communities,” said Lady Gaga, Co-Founder of Born This Way Foundation. “They understand our world will be stronger when we value one another and live with compassion. Channel Kindness will be a platform for youth to transform the narrative, highlighting the people who are changing the world one act of kindness at a time.”

Young people are often excluded from media coverage entirely or represented in a negative light. One study found that nearly half of stories about young people are about crime, with African American and Hispanic youth even more likely to be included in such coverage. Unsurprisingly, a survey of young people themselves found that 81% feel they are unfairly represented in the media.

“Young people want more than to be told to be active participants in their communities. They want practical resources and genuine opportunities to empower themselves and each other,” said Cynthia Germanotta, Born This Way Foundation President and Co-Founder. “Today’s young people are passionate about driving change in the world and we’re excited to launch Channel Kindness as a tool they can use to showcase that commitment and inspire everyone – regardless of age – to follow their example.”

An inaugural class of 50 Channel Kindness reporters were selected through a competitive application process and are receiving training and support to equip them to find, document, and share stories from their peers and communities. The content will be distributed on ChannelKindness.org as well as through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The program has been made possible with generous support from the Find Your Grind Foundation.

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Ski and shred in style, look cool, stay warm


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This year’s epic snow sports season is likely to go strong into late spring and even early summer months on the West Coast.

Some North American resorts have reported on high-snowfall years that their slopes stay open as late as the Fourth of July. So gear up in style for spring skiing and riding with these slick head-turning fashions and take advantage of some great near-the-end-of-season sales prices.

Pull on your big-boy/girl bibs

Bibs are back in a big way. The sister of the full-on zip-up onesie snowsuit of the 70s, ski bibs are rising up as the nouveau chic on the slopes. Not only do they look stylish and sassy, they are the far better choice for snow wear than traditional ski or snowboard pants. Bibs are perfect when you want a bit of extra warmth over a fleece pullover or under layer, but you don’t want to wear a vest. For aggressive riders and steers, the bibs come up high under the arms to prevent snow from getting in your waistband. They also stay up, so you don’t find yourself constantly tugging and adjusting your waist band, which is especially a hassle with gloves on.

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A hot and hip company, Trew, is leading the revival of bibs, with their high-performance bibs, that style spotters are seeing all over the best resorts this season, like the Trewth ($399) men’s bibs that set the standard for tit-to-toes coverage, or Trew’s already legendary women’s Chariot bibs ($399) that tackle the biggest complaint about bibs for women, with its “she pee” side zip (check it out here https://trewgear.com/trew/trew-updates/article/bathroom-break-in-your-bibs), that makes bathroom breaks easy and fast.

They also have beaucoup pockets for stuffing glasses, digital lift tickets, lip balm, wallets and other necessaries for the slopes. The styling of the Trew bibs, with bright colors and water repellent materials and fashionable bright colored zips and trims, will make you stand out in the snow. When it’s time to chill out in the lodge, you can roll them down to the waist, but they look pretty cool anyway you wear them.

Who wears the pants?

All that said about bibs, if you choose to go traditional, Trew has perfected snow pants, with the plentiful pocket design and fashion forward colors and trim, with an adjustable Velcro strip to keep the waistband snug. The pants for a little larger opening at the leg for heftier snowboard boots. For women, the Tempest ($349) features an adjustable waist, long legs, and three-dimensional articulated panel design that fits all shapes of physiques.  For guys, the Eagle ($349) pant is articulated and ventilated for sidecountry stash runs, with durability for long days hot-lapping your local mountain, and relaxed for comfort.

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As with all the Trew stormproof wear, their technologically advanced proprietary material, Dermizax®NX, is tops in breathability and toughness. The water-repellent membrane keeps you dry after fall, and next to the skin the material keeps you warm yet it is breathable, with ventilation openings.

As someone who has gone through many snow pants due to rivets popping, zippers tearing off we’re getting stuck, and seems tearing open, Trew has impressed me with its durability, looking and wearing like new for an entire season.

Top it off

For spring shredding, pair bibs with a lightweight water-repellent cold breaker like Trew’s Stella ($190) women’s fly freeride shell that has set the standard for the industry with its tailored-to-flatter, articulated-to-shred, and built-to-last design.

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Layer up

Underneath it all, Trew’s women’s lightweight Nuyard Merino ¼ Zip (sale priced $109) is ultimate hi-tech baselayer, woven with NuYarn merino, a  warmer, softer, better thermal-regulating and more mobile wool than its traditional merino brethren.  For warmer days, the Merino Sweater ¼ Zip (sale priced $55) keeps out the chill and regulates as you move, and it looks sharp and stylish for hitting the lodge apres ski.

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Hot mitts

Serius Heat Touch Torche component gloves ($394.99) may be the first gloves you have to read a manual to use, but hands down you will be wearing the smartest gloves on the mountain with these on your mitts. These three-in-one gloves have a battery-heated component glove that slips inside an insulated shell. They can be worn together or separately and with or without the heating batteries. The heat can dial down for spring skiing or up when you are at the top of the peak and the temps drop. Charge the batteries for about three hours, insert the batteries into the wrist cuff and press the button to the desired heat level.  What’s even smarter, and you can swipe away on your smart phone screen while wearing these gloves.

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Pack it up

Nothing’s more of a drag on your travels than hauling a bulky duffle around stuffed with all your gear.  You don’t have to lighten your load and leave stuff behind, instead get rolling with the massively spacious Eagle Creek ORV Trunk 36 ($419) or ORV Trunk 30 ($359).  This bag fits all your winter adventure gear plus the kitchen sink, with lots of pockets and compartments to keep wet stuff separate from dry and all your gear easily accessible. Some extra bells and whistles include an Equipment Keeper Porter Key with bottle opener, exterior and interior compression straps, and an external pocket for easy grab items. All that and a waterproof boot bin, to boot.

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Serius heated gloves are seriously warm, and smart

DSC_1377Serius thermal gloves are the first gloves for which I’ve had to read a instruction manual. That said, the instructions were pretty simple. Charge the batteries for about three hours, insert the batteries into the wrist cuff and press the button to the desired heat level. Oh yeah, and don’t forget, you can swipe away on your smart phone screen while wearing these gloves.

Within 30 seconds, the gloves were toasty inside, and on cold mountain tops these are a hand saver. After all, cold hands is a major reason that I have to head back to the lodge earlier than I wanted to.

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The gloves are attractive, and of course they will work with or without the batteries to stay warm, but the battery-powered system is what makes these gloves truly unique.

The gloves come with an interior liner, which could work alone and may be an option for less frigid days. When you truly need the extra warmth, the liner gloves slip into the exterior glove, which has a metallic like lining inside.

When put together, it is rather snug fit, and you must be careful when tucking in the cables that are used to charge the batteries and to connect them to the heating mechanism with in the glove, because if the cables are not tucked in correctly on the outer side of the battery, you will feel the hard plastic connectors, about the size of a small AC adapter connector, pressing into your wrist, which could be uncomfortable.

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One other design issue is that once the temperature selection is made on the inner glove, and the outer glove is slipped on over it, it’s possible if you’re not careful to hit the button on the outside and change the setting unintentionally. Also, because once the outer glove is on you cannot see the setting, you would have to remove the outer glove to check it.

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Lastly, the care and laundering of these gloves is a bit different from others, whereas you can toss most gloves into the dryer you cannot do that with these, which should be wiped off if dirty and let dry naturally if wet. If you have any other questions, there’s always the manual, which you can access on your smartphone, wearing your gloves of course.

Snack food with less junk

If your kids are always saying “nothing sounds good” when it comes to food, add a little fun to their snacking experience with these treats, that might even be good for them.

Super veggie pizza

Do your kids claim they are allergic to vegetables?  Good luck getting them to each that spinach ice cream; but you can sneak in some vitamin-rich cauliflower without even an argument when its served up in their favorite kid food – pizza!  CAULIPOWER is a gluten-free, delicious and nutritious ready-to-cook cauliflower crust pizza that will have them asking for more cauliflower please. Available in four tasty varieties – three-cheese pizza, veggie pizza, margherita pizza and plain crust. Available at Whole Foods or on Amazon.

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Care for some chocolate, honey?

Kids love chocolate.  Kids love honey.  But who would have thought these two flavors would taste incredible together? MANUKA did. The New Zealand company known for its potent and pure honey combined these two delicious flavors by wrapping rich dark 99-percent-cocoa chocolate around honey and adding a touch of mint or ginger.  The result is a scrumptious gluten-free, no-preservative, no-artificial-colors treat that will definitely help the medicine go down – in fact, with its anti-bacterial properties that boost the immune system, you might not need any medicine.  Available at https://www.shoppri.com/

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Squeeze in breakfast

No time for breakfast? Grab some morning time nutrition on the go with Munk Pack ready-to-eat Oatmeal Fruit Squeezes, full of whole grains and real fruit bites, and certified gluten-free, non-GMO, kosher and vegan. In a spouted pouch, these palm-size pouches are ideal for a quick healthy breakfast, or as an on-the-go snack for outdoor activities or travel. Each serving has only 90-100 calories and 3-4g of fiber and nothing artificial. Available in Maple Pear Quinoa, Peach Chai Vanilla, Raspberry Coconut, Blueberry Acai Flax, Apple Quinoa Cinnamon.  Buy at Wegmans, Raley’s, Publix, Whole Food sand select grocers nationwide.

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Have a ball, er…drink

Sugary juices are the culprit in many an unpleasant trip to the dentist, so give kids a healthier, flavorful option that is not full of sugar. AquaBall, the flavored water in a ball-shaped bottle designed to fit perfectly in kids’ hands and car cup holders, is the only zero calories, sugar-free and preservative-free children’s beverage on the market. Packaging includes Disney and Marvel characters that make drinking up cool for kids.  Available in Berry Frost, Fruit Punch, Grape, Strawberry Lemonade.  Available at grocery stores nationwide.

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Mother Nature’s Candy

Candy happens.  Stop trying to fight it by offering carrot sticks.  If they are going to eat candy, at least let it be lower sugar, organic candy, like YumEarth, makers of vegan, gluten free, Non-GMO treats with no high fructose corn syrup and free of the top 8 allergens.  Varieties include candy drops, lollipops, gummies, sour beans and chewy fruit snacks. Available at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Wegmans and other select grocery stores or online at www.yummyearth.com

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Go green and pure for spring cleaning with these two new, effective products

1709_960_fb (1)As someone who endeavors to eliminate toxic chemicals from my home environment, I am always eager to try out new green and chemical-free products. I recently had the opportunity to sample two up-and-coming brands, Green Grab and PHur, and here is what I found.

Getting on my green

Grab Green brand, or GG as it is abbreviated, makes a full line of cleaning products, including dishwashing detergent pods, degreasers, liquid hand soap, air fresheners, laundry detergent — and something interesting I had never tried — cookware and bakeware cleaner pods.

Starting with the most interesting and unique product, the cleaner pods are made to get the cooked-on nasty mess off the bottom of stainless steel and enameled cookware and glass and aluminum bakeware. It is not recommended for copper or Teflon.

It just so happened as I was trying out these products I had made hot chocolate for my son, and I had deposits on a sauce pan that I scrubbed and scrubbed and could not get clean. I followed the directions and tossed the pod into the cookware and added hot water and then used a utensil to swish around and dissolve the pod. I let this sit for about 10 minutes. Then I used the same scouring pad as before, but this time the hard crust on the bottom of the pan and the ring around the side came off.  It worked great.

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On to the laundry detergent, the Stoneworks laundry pods truly worked to deeply clean my clothes, eliminate odors, remove stains and soften the fabrics, and they worked with my HE washer, which is important because often these pods do not dissolve in these types of washers. As a bonus the packaging is environmentally friendly, printed on Kraft paper using water-based inks.

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All GG products I tried have pretty heavy fragrance, and while the fragrances are very pleasant, such as tangerine with lemongrass or rose petal or vetiver — the last of which I was unfamiliar with but learned is a blend of grass, patchouli and black currant essential oil’s. The scents are strong, so those sensitive to perfumes may find them overwhelming. To be fair though, after the product is used, i.e., after the laundry is done, the scents were not overly evident.

All of green grab products are made from naturally derived ingredients, non-toxic formulas, and are phosphate chlorine and dye free. In the three-in-one laundry detergent pods, I was pleased to see the product fulfilled on its promise to make clothes bright, and it did this without optical brighteners or chlorine.

In keeping with the companies policy of full transparency, Grab Green dedicates half of the back of its packaging to listing the natural ingredients and explaining what they do, four instance, “Sodium carbonate peroxide — cleans, remove stains and brightens.”

The secret agent of disinfecting

The next product I tested was a new one with a new concept in cleaning. The PHur system kit is based on the science of PH, which involves an eco-friendly water + salt + science formula that the inventors painstakingly tested over several years and have now registered the product as a proven disinfectant with the EPA on both Federal and State levels.

The PHur System Kit includes cleaning water, disinfectant, an on-the-go disinfectant, and a microfiber fiber cloth.

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The kit involves a simple three-step cleaning process, which includes spraying on the cleaning water and agitating the surface to be cleaned with a microfiber cloth, then spraying the surface with disinfecting water.  No rinsing or wiping required. The last step is walking away and letting the system do its job.

I recently had an unfortunate opportunity to try out the system when a stopped-up toilet caused a foul mess in my bathroom. My handyman plunged and unclogged the toilet but he splashed sewage water on the floors and wall. As the bathroom has polished wood floors, I did not want to use any chemicals that would strip the finish, and as the bathroom is small and enclosed with no window and a fairly ineffectual exhaust fan, I did not want to spray a bunch of fumey chemicals in the room.

I applied the water and disinfectant as directed, and I am pleased to say the lingering odor in the room is gone and the floor and toilet looks clean and shiny. I admit though I cheated on step three, which is walk away. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving the mist on my wood floor, so I wiped it up with the cloth.

Both the Green Grab and PHur system are products I would recommend. They work as promised, and they give the peace of mind of cleaning without leaving behind poisonous chemicals.

Grab Green products are sold in major retail stores, on the www.grabgreenhome.com site, on Amazon.com and through several other online retailers. A sample bundle of products runs $11.25 plus $6.99 for shipping and handling. The PHur starter kit is $30.95 and can be ordered online at https://phurwater.com/.

It’s what’s eating at me on Pi Day

pi shirtWhat’s Pi Day all About?

When my son was a kindergartner I first heard about Pi Day.  The kids at his school competed to recite the most numerals of the Pi formula from memory, spelling bee style, with students as young as six showing some amazing recall abilities of up to 30 digits without flubbing.Just like any good holiday or observance, the marketers have gotten a hold of it to make it into a commercial event. As a blogger, this week I was bombarded with dozens of pitches from bakeries, pizza parlors, frozen pie and pizza companies, Pi day merchandisers for T-shirts, mugs and the like, and even LACTAID got into it, promoting dairy-free pie recipes (and LACTAID tablets for the lactose intolerant who can’t avoid dairy) for Pi Day.Before we lose the meaning of Pi Day, and it becomes a national day of eating pies and buying stuff, here’s the true meaning of Pi Day, in case anyone wants to use the occasion to learn about Pi on March 14, when Pi Day was founded in 1988 by a physicist at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, who decided that he and his colleagues should celebrate the day and promote learning science and math.LEARN ABOUT PI

Pi (π) is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Pi is a constant number, meaning that for all circles of any size, Pi will be the same.The diameter of a circle is the distance from edge to edge, measuring straight through the center. The circumference of a circle is the distance around.

HISTORY OF PI

By measuring circular objects, it has always turned out that a circle is a little more than 3 times its width around. In the Old Testament of the Bible (1 Kings 7:23), a circular pool is referred to as being 30 cubits around, and 10 cubits across. The mathematician Archimedes used polygons with many sides to approximate circles and determined that Pi was approximately 22/7. The symbol (Greek letter “π”) was first used in 1706 by William Jones. A ‘p’ was chosen for ‘perimeter’ of circles, and the use of π became popular after it was adopted by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1737. In recent years, Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits past its decimal. Only 39 digits past the decimal are needed to accurately calculate the spherical volume of our entire universe, but because of Pi’s infinite & patternless nature, it’s a fun challenge to memorize, and to computationally calculate more and more digits.Learn More on Wikipedia

GEOMETRY

The number pi is extremely useful when solving geometry problems involving circles. Here are some examples:

The area of a circle.A = πr2Where ‘r’ is the radius (distance from the center to the edge of the circle). Also, this formula is the origin of the joke “Pies aren’t square, they’re round!”
The volume of a cylinder.V = πr2hTo find the volume of a rectangular prism, you calculate length × width × height. In that case, length × width is the area of one side (the base), which is then multiplied by the height of the prism. Similarly, to find the volume of a cylinder, you calculate the area of the base (the area of the circle), then multiply that by the height (h) of the cylinder.

Xess Alexa-enabled smart home hub giveaway

The next generation of smart devices is here, to make your life easier, and more fun!

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The joke among tech geeks at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, the annual massive showcase of new gadgets, was “Does it work with Alexa?”

Indeed, Alexa will soon be commanding the market – or rather we will be commanding Alexa – and the innovators at the helm are the ones finding new and exciting ways to incorporate the voice controlled app into our homes and lives.

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One of the most anticipated incarnations of this technology is TCL’s Xess, pronounced “excess,” the next generation of Amazon Alexa enabled devices, in the form of a tablet. Similar to Amazon’s Echo and its offshoots Dot and Tap, and Google Home, the device uses the Alexa wake word, or it can be programmed with the user’s chosen word, to turn respond to voice commands. In addition to following voice commands, the Xess 17.3-inch touch screen responds to hand gestures, which can control functions like scrolling, taking pictures and other tasks.

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Xess also comes with a home security camera that can remotely monitor a room on 1/3 of the screen or on the full-screen, to keep an eye on kids, pets, or an area of a home.  Tapping on the camera icon can activate a video recording or capture still photos.

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Using Alexa app on Xess I am able to turn lights on and off and dim them, and I can also raise or lower the room temperature of my Honeywell Lyric thermostat.  I can also listen to my New York Times or NPR news briefs, get the weather or traffic report, find my phone with a tracker, ask Alexa to tell me a joke, and even be inspired by a daily motivational quote or guided in meditation or lulled to sleep by various skills I have enabled for those purposes.

My favorite companion for Alexa is the Lutron app, which works with Lutron’s Caseta wireless lamp plug-ins and remote controls as well as other peripherals, such as Sonos.  At this time Xess and Echo and its offshoots are not Alexa-enabled to use voice commands to control Sonos, but using the Lutron app I can play music on Sonos using scenes.

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Using programmed scenes on the Lutron app, which I can assign custom names and icons on the Lutron app, I can set lighting and music to match a desired mood or activity, such as dimmed lamps and mellow music for nighttime, or pop music and bright lights for my workout, which I can activate with the commands, “Alexa, turn on Sonos Chill-Out,” or “Alexa, turn on Sonos for Workout.”

Another terrific aspect of using the Lutron Caseta wireless platform is that the plug-in lamp dimmer acts as a range extender, which relays the wireless signal between smart devices, giving me an extra 30 feet for spacing devices.

At this time Xess is not integrated to use voice commands to play music from Amazon Music or read Audible books from Amazon and the like, but you can use these services on Xess just as you would on any tablet by selecting their apps on the screen and using the tablet interface.

One big difference between Xess and Echo/Tap/Dot and Google Home is that Xess can be controlled by hand gestures, such as an open hand to stop playback, a swipe motion to move screens or turn pages, a countdown with fingers for photos, and a shushing finger-in-front-of-the-mouth gesture to mute Xess.

Whereas the speaker-style Alexa enable devices are designed to be discreet, tucked away on a shelf or residing unnoticed on a countertop, the Xess is made to see-and-be-seen.

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The Xess is basically a portable mini flat screen TV. It features a retractable carry handle and an adjustable stand, so it can be set down on any flat surface and set a variety of angles. It comes loaded with a couple very useful apps, such as Kitchen Stories, a step-by-step cooking demo app loaded with recipes, making it a great chef’s assistant.  It also has a pop out hub for connecting USB devices, headphones and inserting memory cards.

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As an Alexa addict, I love having two dimensions in which to interact with the Alexa app. I still love my Echo, for its awesome seven-speaker sound capabilities, but Xess offers another dimension with its visual capabilities, plus it features JBL built-in audio for decent sound; and besides, when I am not using it to control my smart home, it’s a carry-anywhere oversized tablet, for homework, online shopping, or streaming video, like this great video series of Xess how-to videos:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnby6EE00VpVsaAP8pPR39Kgvddasgers.

If you would like a chance to own a Xess, compliments of TCL, valued at $499, please follow these easy steps to be entered into a random drawing, to be held April 6, 2017.

  • Like TCL’s Facebook page and on Twitter using the hashtag: #TCLXess.
  • Like this blog’s Facebook page and Follow us on Twitter
  • Post a comment on this post stating what feature(s) of the TCL Xess would get the most use in your home.

Extra chance:  Tweet and share this story on Facebook for one extra entry!

The recipient of the Xess giveaway will be notified by Twitter and Facebook. Good luck!