Posts tagged with "Texas"

Kyles fall short in attempt to set Guinness World Record for largest same-name gathering

May 23, 2024

Not enough Kyles came through on Saturday, May 18, to set a world record in a Central Texas town competing for the largest same-name gathering, reports The Dallas Morning News.

The City of Kyle—about 20 miles south of Austin—had asked for people with the same first name to show up in its latest bid to set a Guinness World Record. But the Kyles fell short by more than 1,600.

The city counted 706 Kyles—less than half of last year’s turnout—in its fifth attempt, city spokesperson Alison Kelly said.

Last year, nearly 1,500 Kyles from across the country descended on the town—its largest gathering of people named Kyle thus far. The record for a same-name gathering actually belongs to the town of Kupres, Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a gathering of 2,325 people named Ivan in 2017.

Research contact: @dmnews

America’s 100 most obese cities revealed—and the top ten have something in common

March 18, 2024

A new report has determined that America’s ten most overweight cities are bottom-heavy—located entirely in the South, that is, reports the New York Post.

Researchers from WalletHub analyzed obesity statistics nationwide42% of Americans struggle with their weight—along with additional factors like health consciousness and diet to create the findings, which determined the country’s 100 most obese locales.

A small city on the southern tip of Texas near Mexico, has been ranked the most obese in the United States, followed by nine other southerly burgs (see below):

  1.  McAllen, Texas
  2. Jackson, Mississippi
  3. Shreveport, Louisiana
  4. Mobile, Alabama
  5. Little Rock, Arkansas
  6. Knoxville, Tennessee
  7. Memphis, Tennessee
  8. Lafayette, Louisiana
  9. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  10. Chattanooga, Tennessee

The first entries on the list from the Northeast were Scranton, Pennsylvania, at 44; Providence, Rhode Island, at 47; and Hartford, Connecticut, at 56. Meanwhile,

New York City, wound up in the latter half of the rundown, coming in at 88.

In the New England states, New Haven ,Connecticut, landed at 68; while Springfield, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine, were 73 and 75, respectively. Bridgeport, Connecticut, ranked 80th; with Worcester, Massachusetts, following close by at 86.

As for major cities nationwide, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was 13; New Orleans, Louisiana, 17; Dallas, Texas, 25; Detroit, Michigan, 34; Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio, 42 and 46, respectively; and Charlotte, North Carolina, closed out the top 50.

Major metros that dot the list’s latter half include Las Vegas, Nevada, at 57; Baltimore, Maryland at 63; Los Angeles, 74; Washington, D.C., 82; Chicago, 84; and Boston, 98;

As far as dieting and exercise are concerned, residents may not be as heedless in Seattle: The Pacific Northwest outpost eked out the last-place finish at 100.

Research contact: @nypost

NYC mom’s best life: ‘My house managers do the grunt work so I can enjoy my family’

March 15, 2024

It takes a village to raise a family. And mom Izzy Anaya of Manhattan’s Upper West Side is anything but short on support, reports the New York Post.

Rather than becoming burdened by the daily demands of juggling her three homes, her two sons, and a lifestyle content creation career, the unflappable mama simply delegates the more menial must-dos to her staff of hired helping hands—and it’s more than just housekeeping.

I have two house [managers] who do everything like take my kids to after-school activities, grocery shop, cook dinner, open my Amazon boxes, fold laundry, and stand in line at the post office for me,” Anaya, 44, told the Post of her round-the-clock personal assistants, Phoebe, 23, and Sean, 29. 

“I run my house,” the stay-at-home wife of a well-to-do businessman insisted. “But having them on call 24/7 to take care of the minutia makes my life less stressful.”

Overworked and overwhelmed mothers like her are saying so long to stress and hello to house managers “for the sake of their sanities.”

It’s a trendy new form of a domestic helper, which sees the once-distinct roles of housekeeper, nanny, and gofer combined into a singular post held by one dutiful doer.

Nearly 23,000 men and women work as do-all aids for families in need nationwide, per Zippia, an online recruitment service. But the experts found that house managers are in the highest demand in New York City.

Christel Hyden, founder of Marigold Life Works—a personal assistant and house management service in northern New Jersey and New York City—says she and her staff of 12 are happy to take big and small tasks off of a busy mommy’s plates.

“Literally anything that our clients don’t want to do, don’t have time to do, or need a friend’s help, we’re there,” Hyden, 49, a single mom of two teens, told the Post.

In October 2021, she ditched a full-time career in public health to launch the neighborly endeavor. For $28 an hour, Hyden and her team handle duties such as dog-sitting, babysitting, house-sitting, supermarket runs, housekeeping and the occasional kid birthday party drop-off. 

“I know what it’s like to have little kids, work, be enrolled in graduate school — moms can’t always do it all and they need a little extra help,” she said. “And I’m glad to provide people with the support I would have wanted when my kids were younger.”

Anaya told the Post that her support staff—Sean, whom she hired via Care.com, and Phoebe, who joined the job through a family reference, both in September 2021—minimize her hustle and bustle of Big Apple parenting.

My sons, Simon and Maximilian, are 9 and don’t need a nanny because they can take care of themselves,” she said. “But when it comes to getting them up, dressed, fed and out the door for a birthday party or a sports activity, having Sean take care of those things has been amazing.

“While he’s running around with the boys, Phoebe’s taking care of the little errands for me like food shopping, closet organizing — literally everything,” added Anaya.

She pays her accommodating aides around $30 an hour, and typically calls for their services between one to three days in a given week.“I couldn’t live without them,” said Anaya. “They have 100% helped me avoid mom burnout.”

And maintaining good mental health is crucial to the well-being of any mother and child. “Parenting is a complex, stressful activity that is highly susceptible to parenting burnout,” warned study authors of a February report from Shandong University in China. “Parental burnout can not only give rise to suicidal and escape ideations, but also may lead to external problems such as substance and behavioral addictions and sleep disorders.”

Researchers went on to note that kids of overtaxed moms and dads experience increased levels of anxiety and loneliness, aggressive behavior, and depression. Parental burnout can also exacerbate spousal conflict, causing one or both partners to feel less satisfied in a marriage, per the findings.

Onyi Azih, 36, a married mother of two from Houston, Texasfelt like she was “drowning” as a wife, mom and full-time health care professional in the months after the pandemic.

“I was the main breadwinner because my husband lost his job during COVID. I was taking care of the kids, squeezing in everyday tasks for myself, the family, and our house,” Azih, a psychiatric physician assistant, told The Post. “I have ADHD, so that made things even more difficult.

“My mental health was struggling, I was constantly nagging my husband and I wasn’t as present for my kids as I wanted to be,” she said.

Nearing her wits’ end in late 2022, Azih turned to local Facebook mommy groups to find house manager Kayla, 24, who’s delightfully lightened her daily load.

“My anxiety has reduced and I’m not as high-strung since hiring her,” said Azih, who pays Kayla $25 an hour for sporadically helping out in a given week.

“My husband and I can do date nights; I’m at peace knowing the laundry is done, food is in the fridge and that makeup brushes have been cleaned because of Kayla,” she explained.

“I don’t feel like I’m drowning anymore.”

Research contact: @nypost

This Texas building has self-cooling walls

September 6, 2023

When Houston hit 109 degrees in late August—tying an all-time temperature record for the city—26 of the previous 27 days also had been over 100 degrees. As the hot city gets even hotter because of climate change, it also keeps using more energy for air conditioning, reports Fast Company.

But in the suburb of Conroe, one new building is pioneering a strategy to stay cooler: “self-cooling” concrete walls with a scalloped shape that helps repel heat. The deep grooves in the corrugated pattern give more surface area for heat to move away from the wall.

“In a way, the wall is working a bit like a very large radiator,” says Phu Hoang, founding director of the architecture studio, Modu, which worked on the design with a climate-focused engineering firm called Transsolar. In tests, Hoang and cofounder Rachely Rotem discovered that the patterned material could stay as much as 18 degrees cooler than a flat wall.

The newly-completed building, a 14,000-square-foot commercial space that will soon house retail stores and medical offices, also has white walls to reflect sunlight,—another design choice that keeps the interior cooler. Since white paint can sometimes look dirtier, the architects chose a type of paint that repels dirt. “You get the environmental performance without the associated maintenance,” says Hoang.

Two dozen architectural fins also help shade windows. In front of each store, there’s a pocket garden with plants that can provide more shade; some plants, like jasmine, will grow onto the fins.

“We are trying to find solutions for the social dependency on air conditioning,” says Rotem. Since air conditioners pump heat outside, as AC use grows, it’s literally making cities hotter. And the massive amount of electricity used by air conditioners is contributing to climate change, leading to more extreme heat. Air conditioners are responsible for nearly 2 billion tons of CO2 emissions annually, or more than the airline industry. By the middle of the century, global air conditioner use is expected to roughly triple.

The shift to renewable energy will help reduce the carbon footprint of AC, but it’s still key to cut energy use from cooling both because it’s expensive for consumers and because it’s straining the grid at a time when there’s also growing demand from electric cars, induction stoves, and other parts of the broader energy transition.

Passive design can help, and can be adapted for any location. In Modu’s other projects, “we always have passive energy design strategies that we incorporate with the overall idea of reducing energy use,” says Hoang.

In the new development in Texas, tenants haven’t moved in and the HVAC system isn’t running, which means there’s isn’t data yet on energy savings. But owner Anh Gip says the difference is already noticeable. “In Texas right now, we’re in triple digit heat,” she says. “I haven’t run the air conditioning at all. But when I walk inside the building, it feels cooler.”

Research contact: @FastCompany

‘Ice Ice Baby’: The hottest new home amenity

June 5, 2023

Most mornings after Stephen Garten wakes up at his home in Austin, Texas, he goes into his backyard and starts pacing, preparing himself for what’s next, reports The Wall Street Journal.

“It’s brutal,” says Garten, 37, the founder and CEO of social impact company Charity Charge. “It’s a real challenge every day.”

He’s talking about lowering himself into a 66-inch-long and 24-inch-wide stainless steel tub clad in customized zebrawood and submerging himself up to his neck in water that he sets at 39 degrees Fahrenheit, with water circulating at 1,400 gallons a minute. “It’s like being in a river,” he says of the flow rate produced by this particular vessel, a Blue Cube cold plunge.

It’s an experience that Garten typically tolerates for less than two minutes at a time, once or twice a day. And it comes at a price of $19,000. Blue Cube, based in Redmond, Oregon, makes cold plunge units that cost between around $18,000 and $29,000.

“Cold plunging has made a profound difference in my life,” Garten says. He says it has brought him health benefits including stress management.

Previously the domain of athletes, bathing in cold water or ice has become a mainstream wellness trend nationwide. The practice goes by many terms, like cold plunging, ice bathing and cold-immersion therapy. Water temperature below 59 degrees Fahrenheit is generally considered cold immersion. People who swear by it say they have experienced wide-ranging health benefits, like reduced anxiety, alleviated joint and muscle pain and boosted energy and focus.

But while many people are experimenting with do-it-yourself methods—like taking cold showers or filling kiddie pools, horse troughs, and unplugged chest freezers with cold water or ice—some enthusiasts have leveled-up their at-home cold plunging setups with sophisticated receptacles priced at tens of thousands of dollars and up.

Developers, meanwhile, are adding cold plunges to amenity-rich luxury complexes like 53 West 53 in New York City and Cipriani Residences Miami,—betting that cold immersion is here to stay.

“Ice bathing seems like a trend, but people have been doing this for thousands of years,” says Jonathan Coon, co-founder of Austin Capital Partners, which is the developer of Four Seasons Private Residences Lake Austin, 20 minutes from downtown Austin, slated to open in 2026.

In addition to 188 residential units starting at $4.1 million, the Lake Austin property on 145 acres will have 76,000 square feet of indoor wellness and sports facilities—including a 12,000-square-foot orangery, 82-foot swimming pool, sauna, steam room; and, of course, cold and hot thermal baths.

Amenities covering 100,000 square feet is a key reason that Onyx W.D. Johnson and Cristian Santangelo bought a $2.2 million two-bedroom, 1,123-square-foot apartment in New York’s One Manhattan Square, an 80-story building located on the Lower East Side. Facilities include a spa with a tranquility garden, 75-foot saltwater swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, steam room, and hammam (steam bath) with a cold plunge set between 55 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit. The couple moved into the apartment in May 2021.

Johnson and Santangelo quivered at the idea of cold plunging until they started seeing other people dipping and discussing the health benefits. “We decided to give it a try,” Johnson says.

Now cold plunging is part of their wellness regimen. Johnson, 50, who runs a management consulting firm, uses the hot pool, steam room, and sauna; and then cold plunges for 45 seconds to a minute. He says this routine speeds up his training recovery time, helps him think clearer and improves his alertness and mood.

John Thorbahn bought a four-bedroom, 5,500-square-foot single-family home in Hingham, Massachusetts, south of Boston, in March 2020 for $1.6 million. He owns a cold plunge from Phoenix-based company Morozko Forge, founded in 2018. Morozko Forge’s entry-level unit costs $12,850; its upgraded version costs $19,900.

Morozko Forge’s ice baths make ice. While the stainless steel tub is filled with cold water, an ice slab starts building at the tank’s bottom. At about 1-inch thick, the ice detaches and floats to the water’s surface. The ice can be broken up with an implement like a rubber mallet if needed.

Thorbahn, 63, who is the managing director at consulting company NFP, ice bathes most days for two to three minutes at 33 to 34 degrees Fahrenheit. His wife, Jana Thorbahn, 59, ice bathes, too. “The older you get, the more you want to live longer,” says Thorbahn, whose home also has a gym, sauna, red light therapy room, and hot tub. “You start investing in protocols to help you be healthy.”

While many cold plungers have developed their own ice bathing rituals, choosing everything from their preferred water temperatures to time limits, Susanna Søberg, a Danish Ph.D., metabolic scientist, and founder of the Soeberg Institute, is one of the world’s experts on the health benefits of cold immersion, which she has been studying for nine years.

In 2021, Søberg published research on cold exposure and hot exposure, which is called “contrast therapy” if the cold and hot exposures are performed in succession. Studying Danish winter swimmers, Søberg identified that a short plunge in cold, moving water combined with sauna use shifts the body’s nervous system and creates physiological changes, like boosting metabolism, lowering inflammation and releasing neurotransmitters that improve cognitive performance and mental health. “You are activating your whole body system,” Søberg says.

In a field that hasn’t been widely studied by the medical community, Søberg has developed what she says is the only scientifically backed cold immersion protocol for reducing stress using contrast therapy and breathing: 11 total minutes of cold immersion combined with 57 total minutes of heat, across two to three days a week. The goal of her method is to expose the body to the smallest amount of healthy stress needed to reap health benefits. “Staying in cold water or heat longer may not be beneficial or necessary,” she says.

Søberg says cold immersion carries the rare risk of cold water shock that can cause confusion or fainting, but the risk increases if a person does hyperventilating breathwork before or during cold water immersion. She also says cold plunging might not be good for people with heart disease or high blood pressure. Søberg advocates for cold plunging with others, and practicing slow, nasal breathing in the water.

Contrast therapy is why Sausalito, California-based company Yardzen says most of its cold plunge projects involve saunas. Yardzen is an online landscape and home-exterior design company that works with homeowners. The company’s co-founder and CEO Allison Messner says wellness yards—encompassing everything from cold plunges to saunas to meditation spaces to forest bathing—are among Yardzen’s top 2023 trends.

“Peak luxury is having both a cold plunge and a sauna in your yard so you can experience cold and hot therapy,” Messner says.

Tobias Lawry, 51, and his wife, Christine Lawry, 50, live in a three-bedroom 1963 Midcentury Modern house in Dana Point, California They purchased it in October 2018. Between July 2021 and October 2022, they worked with architect Chris Light, designer Frank Berry, and builder Crawford Custom Homes to renovate their 3,000-square-foot house to honor its original period intention while modernizing it. This included turning a bedroom into a wellness room, which opens into a backyard with a pool, sauna, and Blue Cube cold plunge.

The Lawrys, who run an estate-management and concierge services company called LPM, keep their Blue Cube at 47 degrees Fahrenheit. They typically cold plunge in the evening and on weekend mornings.

Stephen Garten in Austin also has a tricked-out wellness yard: In addition to his Blue Cube, he has a barrel sauna from Almost Heaven Saunas, which are manufactured in West Virginia and start around $7,500. He also has a stock tank pool from Cowboy Pools, an Austin-based company that has pool packages starting around $2,000.

He was inspired to create a backyard oasis where he and his fiancée, Katie Snyder, can have friends over. “It’s wellness,” Garten says, “but it’s entertainment too.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Two women see their signatures printed on U.S. currency for the first time

December 12, 2022

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen traveled to Texas on Thursday, December 8, to mark an important and historic milestone—touring the Fort Worth Bureau of Engraving and Printing facility to observe firsthand the printing of $1 and $5 bills with her signature for the first time, reports CNN.

Yellen became the latest Treasury secretary to sign U.S. currency and the first woman Treasury secretary to have her signature on a U.S. banknote. U.S. Treasurer Lynn Malerba also signed the note, marking the first time the signatures of two women are featured on U.S. currency—and the first time a Native American’s signature has appeared on U.S. currency.

Its been tradition for more than a century that both the U.S. treasurer and the Treasury secretary sign currency to make the bills legal tender. And despite Yellen being in her role since January 2021, it’s taken until now because of the delayed appointment of a new treasurer. In June, President Joe Biden appointed Malerba to the post.

Yellen and Malerba viewed the official engraving plates of sheets of dollars, using magnifying glasses to see their signatures. Yellen was then shown how to engrave a number into a conduction plate that will be used to produce the currency. She even got to push a button to print sheets of new bills.

Yellen said in remarks after her tour that she was “truly honored” by the banknotes, which will be delivered to the Federal Reserve this month and begin to circulate to Americans’ wallets “starting in the new year.”

“You would think this would be a straightforward process. But the founding fathers did not account for what seems to be a common attribute for Treasury secretaries—namely, terrible handwriting,” Yellen joked.

“I will admit I spent some quality time practicing my signature before submitting it,” she added.

The newly printed bills feature the signatures of “Lynn Roberge Malerba” and “Janet L. Yellen,” both written in clear, legible script.

The Fort Worth facility is one of just two places where paper currency is printed in the United States, a Treasury official told CNN, and it prints more than half of new bills every year. The new bills are only being printed at this facility as of now, the official noted; but will begin to be printed at a second facility, in Washington, D.C., eventually.

Research contact: @CNN

Commuting by bike is booming in five U.S. cities

January 28, 2022

In 2019, just 0.5% of U.S. commuters rode a bike to work—the smallest share of any mode. But tiny shifts can make a big difference. Data-driven bike plans, safety improvements, and supportive political leadership have helped boost bike commute rates in several cities nationwide in recent years, according to a new report from the League of American Bicyclists, reports Bloomberg.

In Benchmarking Bike Networks, the country’s largest bicycling advocacy organization takes stock of the best infrastructure and policy practices for getting more people pedaling.

The report spotlights Boston; Chicago; Austin, Texas; Oakland, California; and Missoula, Montana—cities of diverse size and geography where bike commute shares are more than twice the national average and have increased over the last decade.

Ken McLeod, the league’s policy director, hopes they can serve as models for other communities. “Benchmarking shows what really good communities are doing and what others can do so that we’re all pushing towards the same goal of safe bike networks that are accessible to everyone,” he said.

Consistent across the five cities was how long local officials have been planning for better cycling facilities—updating their proposals regularly. In Oakland, a suite of improvements focused on a “ladder” of two parallel streets and seven connecting streets on either side of the MacArthur BART station—especially after a 2007 bike plan showed how many more residents lived a short bike ride away from the station versus a short walk.

With a targeted approach, the number of bike lanes and dedicated bike lanes has soared across Oakland, often replacing shared lane marking —also known as sharrows—following best safety practices for high-traffic streets, McLeod said.

The report also identifies street repavement cycles as an efficient way to stripe lanes and add protections. Austin’s faster-than-average repaving schedule, where streets are resurfaced every 10 years rather than the usual 20, has helped to build bike lanes at breakneck speed; the city recently passed the halfway point on building a planned 400+ mile cycling network, marking a 34% increase in miles since 2014.

Political support also played a powerful role in that rollout, with Austin voters approving bond measures in 2016 and 2019 that supplied dedicated funds for biking and walking improvements.

Along the same lines, culture change led by top decision-makers laid important groundwork in nearly every city. In 2015, Missoula’s city council adopted a 30-year growth plan that highlighted needed infrastructure improvements to support its sustainability, affordability and safety objectives. That process led to a citywide goal of tripling the share of commuters who bike, walk, and take transit by 2045, which then guided the creation of a more ambitious bike plan.

“Knowing that policy makers had wanted the mode share to look different in 30 years, it enabled the staff and advocates to push harder,” McLeod said.

Helpful as these examples may be as cities adapt to pandemic-era commuting, they come with a significant caveat: Because the U.S. Census Bureau didn’t release biking and walking commute data from its tumultuous 2020 survey, the report doesn’t capture COVID-19’s effects on cycling—which were complicated, given that overall commuting plummeted at the same time as interest in recreational cycling surged.

While analytics companies have tracked both trends, the lack of standardization from year to year prevents a fair comparison.

This ties into a broader problem that disadvantages the cycling community, McLeod said: The federal government doesn’t routinely collect data on bike facilities the way it does for highways and bridges—making a national assessment of cycling conditions all but impossible. That’s also true for pedestrian networks. McLeod pointed to how data collection and mapping of deteriorating bridges informed President Joe Biden’s recent announcement of a $27.5 billion investment in those spans over the next five years.

“The lack of biking and walking network data means we can’t use similar messaging or provide accurate estimates of needs for bicycle and pedestrian networks,” McLeod said. “I hope this report helps us move towards

Research contact: @Bloomberg

Samsung to create 2,000 jobs in Texas with $17 billion chip factory

November 25, 2021

Samsung is planning to build a $17 billion semiconductor manufacturing facility in Texas as part of efforts to tackle a global shortage of chips, reports CNN.

Announcing its largest-ever investment in the United States, the South Korean electronics giant said on Tuesday, November 23, that the factory would create 2,000 high-tech jobs directly, and thousands more in the local economy once it is in full operation. The facility is expected to begin operations in the second half of 2024.

“With greater manufacturing capacity, we will be able to better serve the needs of our customers and contribute to the stability of the global semiconductor supply chain,” Kinam Kim, CEO of Samsung Electronics, said in a statement.

The company said that it chose the City of Taylor in Texas for its new plant based on multiple factors, including its proximity to Samsung’s current manufacturing site in Austin, the local semiconductor ecosystem, and government support.

The Taylor site will span more than 5 million square meters (or 1.2 million acres) and is expected to serve as a key location for Samsung’s global semiconductor manufacturing capacity, along with its latest new production line in Pyeongtaek, South Korea.

Samsung’s announcement comes at a time when the Biden Administration has been pushing semiconductor production and research in the United States.

Although the current worldwide shortage of computer chips is primarily driven by the impact of the pandemic, extreme weather events that have hampered production and other factors, the United States has been lagging behind other producers for years.

Indeed, America’s share of worldwide semiconductor manufacturing dropped to just 12% last year, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). That’s down from 37% in 1990. The trade group blamed “substantial” subsidies offered by foreign governments that place the United States at a “competitive disadvantage.”

Asian countries, including Taiwan and South Korea dominate the industry. Samsung and other South Korean manufacturers are spending huge amounts of money to shore up their production in the decade ahead.

In May, Samsung said that it would invest 38 trillion Korean won (US$34 billion) on production of logic chips, the brains that power computers. That brings its total spend on the business to 171 trillion won (US$151 billion) over the next decade, including commitments announced in 2019.

Research contact: @CNN

Creepy crawlies: If you live here, prepare to see thousands of tarantulas

August 6, 2021

Catching an unexpected glimpse of a daddy longlegs spider in your home can make even folks who’d barely call themselves arachnophobes jump. A wolf spider sighting outdoors can frighten even the most intrepid explorers. And encountering a hairy tarantula can cause virtually anyone to freeze up.

Unfortunately for folks of one particular area of the United States, there’s about to be an influx of not just a few or a few hundred, but thousands of tarantulas in the very near future, Best Life reports.

Starting in August, Colorado—particularly the southeastern part of the state—will see a sudden uptick in its tarantula population.

The sudden influx of thousands of tarantulas, which typically begins between late August and September, according to the Colorado State University College of Agricultural Sciences (via The Gazette), is part of the arachnids’ annual migration.

For the Aphonopelma vogelae tarantula, more frequently found in the southwestern portions of the state, migration peaks in October.

But take heart: While seeing thousands of tarantulas descend on your area may be disconcerting, their presence is typically short-lived.

According to the Colorado State University College of Agricultural Sciences, following their migration, the tarantulas are active for a short period of time, but “all normally perish within a couple of months.”

And you won’t be the only one watching where you walk and sit. The Colorado-based tarantula migration isn’t the only major shift in habitats these furry arachnids may be making this year, however.

According to Christopher Vitek, PhD, an associate professor of biology at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley during their mating season between March and October, tarantulas frequently emerge from their usual habitats in states including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.

While tarantulas are unlikely to do harm to most humans, it’s wise to give them a wide berth if you encounter one in the wild.

“Their venom is of no medical significance, and contrary to popular belief, nobody has ever died from such a bite; most people compare the bite to that of a bee sting and experience no lasting ill-effects other than mild to moderate pain and slight swelling at the site of the bite,” Brent Hendrixson, PhD, chair of biology at Millsaps College, recently told Best Life.

Hendrixson says that if you do find a tarantula somewhere it shouldn’t be—inside your home, for example—and don’t feel comfortable picking it up, gently coax it into a jar with a soft-ended object like a paintbrush and remove it from the premises.

Research contact: @bestlife

Could ‘Pig Royalty’ be the new Kardashians? Inside reality TV’s wild new show

March 22, 2021

The final season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians began on March 18—but don’t despair: There’s a new reality show that viewers will go “hog-wild” over, The Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon reports.

The Kardashians spent 14 years transforming the genre—but as their swan-song season unfolds and they plan their next moves, viewers’ can easily shift their focus to a new class of possible reality-TV royalty. Specifically, Pig Royalty.

Fallon rhapsodizes about the new series: “Am I trolling by suggesting that the new Discovery+ series about competition pig showing in Texas might be the successor to one in which the only wrangling a family of millionaires in Calabasas has to do is of their glam squads?” he asks, then answers, “Of course. But that’s not to distract from the point that Pig Royaltywhich premieres March 23 on both the streaming service and the Discovery Channel—is an addictive delight, and certainly a descendant of the kind of television that the Kardashians have wrought.”

According to a description of the new show by Discover, audiences will enter the extreme world of pig show competitions and follow the rivalry between two unforgettable families: the Baleros, who have reigned supreme for years; and the Rihns, who want to take them down and become the next great pig dynasty. The two families traverse Texas, competing for the ultimate prizes: money; scholarships; big, shiny belt buckles that “crown” you the winner—and all the bragging rights that go with them. Don’t let the southern smiles and hospitality fool you: The stakes are high and family legacies are on the line.

The Daily Beast’s Fallon says the real, home-grown pig handlers will pull you in and leave you asking for more, noting, “The rivalries between the show’s two main competing families, there’s something Shakespearean… and Mean Girls-esque… and, when it comes to three catty sisters with their hair teased up to be closer to Jesus, yes, some definite Kardashian vibes, too. ”

“The smell of pig shit is one of a kind,” Jody Rihn, matriarch of the Rihn family and owner of one of the show’s two main teams, narrates in the pilot. “It’s not like cow shit. It’s not like dog shit. It’s got it’s own distinct smell that is awful. I don’t care how many times you wash it, the smell doesn’t go away. But it smells like money to us.”

There are tens of thousands of dollars at stake in each competition. One of the Rihn girls made $30,000 her senior year of high school from showing pigs, which she put toward college. McKayla Balero, of the rival Balero family, earned $65,000. Suddenly, the high stakes make sense.

And, oh yes, there are whispers of “juicing” pig feed to gain advantage. One of the Balero sisters is accused of sleeping with a judge.

But what the show really owes the Kardashians is the strength of the family bond that pulses through the series, Fallon says. “These are people who have likely been schooled on decades of reality TV, and they know how to give a good sound bite and drum up drama and scandal. But they also form a heartwarming, uniting front against the pressures of a surprisingly high-octane world. Sooie, bring on the pig drama.”

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