Uber self-driving car kills pedestrian

It was inevitable that eventually, someone’s self-driving car would be in an accident involving a pedestrian…and a 49 year old woman in Tempe, AZ, pushing her bike across the street, was the first victim. While the car was one of Uber’s, it really could have happened to any of the tech companies. Details are still scarce as the investigation continues, but it’s safe to say that the car stored massive amounts of data that will make for a quick conclusion.

Cora – commercial drone taxi service, from Kitty Hawk

Startup Kitty Hawk unveiled their autonomous flying taxi, called Cora.  Designed to be a self-piloted, electric-powered, passenger-carrying drone service, the business model is hardly new, but their approach to the technology is. They’re combining a traditional aircraft with pusher prop and wings, with a multi-rotor (12, to be precise) drone-like configuration for vertical thrust, allowing true vertical takeoffs and landings.  No word on when you’ll be able to get a ride in one, but considering they have a flying prototype and financial backing from Larry Page, it’s a matter of getting the software right, and finding a way to certify this for use in the various countries (they’re starting out in New Zealand for precisely that reason, the country is more business-friendly for technologies like this).

As a quick side note…if you check out their website, note they did something clever with the scrolling..you scroll UP, not down like every other page on the internet.  Nice tie-in with their technology and slogan (“things are looking up”).

EverlyWell – hack your heath

I’m not happy if I don’t feel like my body is operating at peak efficiency…yet sometimes it’s hard to figure out why things seem off.  If you have the time and patience, scheduling a trip to the doctor is always the best option.  For a quick peek into the systems of your body, there are at-home tests you can do to test an amazing number of things.  The company I’ve been trying out is EverlyWell, and they offer a really large variety of tests, depending on what conditions you’re trying to debug:

  • Food sensitivity test
  • Food sensitivity+
  • Postmenopause test
  • Women’s fertility test
  • Perimenopause test
  • Metabolism test
  • Metabolism+
  • Thyroid test
  • Testosterone test
  • Breast Milk DHA test
  • DHA+
  • Men’s health test
  • Women’s health test
  • Vitamin D and Inflammation test
  • Vitamin D test
  • Cholesterol and lipids test
  • Heavy metals test
  • Sleep and stress test
  • HbA1c test
  • STD test
  • Ovarian reserve test

You get the idea!  These tests aren’t covered by most insurance companies, but depending on what you want to test and why, that may be the case anyway (or if you’re on a high deductible plan, it’s all out of pocket anyway, and you can at least use an HSA or FSA to pay for these).  It’s cheap, quick, and easy…well sort of easy…some tests DO require some drops of blood so you need to be able to handle that!  Just remember…whatever your results, don’t play internet doctor and go crazy over this…but DO use the results to determine if you need to schedule an appointment with a doctor to investigate further!

Get 10% off if you use this link.

REI dividends are here!

It’s dividend season, yay!  A time when we celebrate(?) how much money we’re spending on *stuff*.  Hopefully though, it’s at least stuff that has facilitated life experiences, which are the real treasure in life!  Last year I picked up a couple new kayaks, and a mountain bike for my kid, so my dividend this year is going towards a better backpacking tent.  I can’t wait for warmer weather!

The Instagramification of photos

Instagramification…ok, so I made that one up.  But…that’s what I want to talk about, making stuff up. My Instagram feed seems full of pictures that seem otherworldly…brilliant, vibrant colors, sureal lighting…if you use Instagram, I think you know what I mean!  I had a traditionalist mentality for a long time, but am now appreciating the beauty and artistic expression that results.

So my pondering these days is focused on…deception?  If I tweak my photos a ton, it’s obvuously unreal and art.  But if I do so only mildly, like the picture here…is that being deceptive?  I think it does a good job of expressing how the scene appeared to me…even if it’s not completely accurate.

btw follow me on Instagram as @espressomatt

My growing awareness of our diets’ impact on the environment

Last fall, I switched to a vegan diet briefly, before settling on pescatarian (a vegetarian diet, plus fish).  While I did this out of health concerns, this process has begun to open my eyes to the impact that animal-based foods have on our environment.  I’m still trying to figure out if there can be a balance, but do think it’d be better if I can get to a full vegan lifestyle.  Yeah…lifestyle.  Not just diet.  But that’s a ways off still.

So, what issues have been on my mind lately?  Well first, there was a great article in Outside Magazine about OR4, a wolf that played a large part in that species reintroduction into the wilds of Oregon.  The only real controversy regards the occasional wolf killing of livestock, sheep and cattle.  It’s rare, and farmers are financially compensated, but still, the bulk of objection to wolf reintroduction anywhere comes from that group.  It’s already been shown that wolves are beneficial to the health of the ecosystem in Yellowstone.  By having a meat-based diet and using animal products (wool), we’re indirectly having a negative impact on the health of the ecosystems we live in.

Another thing I’ve learned was just today, reading that over half (60%) of the lakes in New Zealand are deemed unsafe for humans to swim in…due to pollution from dairy farming.  Wow.  I have to assume that dairy production in the US has at least some similar effect, but I haven’t read anything about that yet, I need to learn more.

Of course, there’s the issue of methane produced by cows and its effect on global warming, too!

I’m realizing that to achieve my goal of protecting the environment to the greatest extent possible, I need to further reconsider my diet and not support industries that are directly harming it.  However, I don’t have a good sense right now of to what extent the production of plant-based foods negatively impacts the environment.  I know there are concerns about water usage (almonds, especially) and destruction of native habitat, but are there other issues I need to be more aware of?  The quest for knowledge continues.

Review: Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight with integrated solar panel

Goal Zero Torch 250 flashlightI love multi-function, high tech devices…so when I saw this new flashlight from Goal Zero, I had to pick one up and give it a try!  It features an internal, non-replaceable lithium-ion battery and multiple lighting and charging options.  At about $80 at Amazon, it’s hardly cheap…so is the cost justified?  Read on to find out…

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