4 dead, several injured in shooting at Waffle House near Nashville

first_imgiStock/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) —  Four people are dead and four others injured after a shooting at a Waffle House in Tennessee early Sunday morning.Nashville police said six people were shot, including the four who died, and two others were also injured in the incident at about 3:30 a.m. local time on Sunday in Antioch, Tennessee.Two of those who died were fatally shot outside the restaurant, and one inside, police said. A fourth person died at the hospital.Vanderbilt Hospital has two patients who were shot in the incident.Antioch is a suburban neighborhood about 12 miles southeast of downtown Nashville.Police said the suspect was wearing only a green jacket and was otherwise nude at the time of the shooting. A patron managed to wrestle away the rifle being used by the suspect, police said.Nashville police also announced that they are searching for a person of interest in the shooting whom they identified as Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, Ill. A tweet from the police said the vehicle that the gunman arrived in at the Waffle House was registered to Reinking.There were 35 officers from three precincts responding to the shooting, police said.Pat Warner, director of public relations and external affairs for Waffle House, called it a “very troubling” situation.“We are sending our corporate team from Atlanta and heading to Nashville now,” Warner said. “Our thoughts are with those affected.”“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident,” Waffle House said later in a statement. “Right now, our first thoughts are with the victims and their families, and we will be there for them in this most difficult time. We are still gathering the details, and so we do not have much information to share … This is a very sad day for the Waffle House family.”Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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10 years after he disappeared, Iowa man is found dead at vacant store where he used to work: Police

first_imgaijohn784/iStock(COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa) — Ten years after an Iowa man mysteriously disappeared, his body was discovered wedged behind a cooler in a vacant grocery store where he used to work, police said.In 2009, Larry Ely Murillo-Moncada was a 25-year-old working at a No Frills Supermarket store in Council Bluffs,Iowa, said Council Bluffs police officials.On Nov. 28, 2009, Murillo-Moncada’s parents reported him missing, telling authorities that their son “became upset and ran out of their home,” said police.He was never seen alive again.A decade later, on Jan. 24, 2019, crews were removing shelving and coolers at the now-vacant grocery store and discovered a body, said police.Last week Council Bluffs police learned from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation that the body was identified as Murillo-Moncada, police officials announced Monday.Investigators believe Murillo-Moncada left home, went to the grocery store, climbed on the coolers, and then fell into a roughly 18-inch gap between the back of the cooler and the wall and became trapped, said police.The death has been classified as accidental, police said. His autopsy indicates no signs of trauma, said police.Former employees said it was common for workers to be on top of the grocery store’s coolers because the space was used for storage, according to police.The grocery store closed in 2016, according to Omaha ABC affiliate KETV.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Glaciological observations in Trinity Peninsula, Graham Land, Antarctica

first_imgThis paper is a summary of the more important results of glaciological investigations carried out in Trinity Peninsula, Graham Land during 1958–60, and which will be published at length in Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey Scientific Report No. 42. The budgets for Depot Glacier and the ice piedmont between Hope Bay and Trepassey Bay are given and it is concluded that in a normal year they are in a state of near equilibrium. The state of the glaciers of southern Trinity Peninsula is discussed in a consideration of the importance of rime ice formation on the west coast of the peninsula. Movement and accumulation studies in Trinity Peninsula and the islands of the James Ross Island group demonstrate a decrease in glacierization south-eastwards from the central plateau area. The recent glacial history of the area is also briefly reviewed.last_img read more

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Nanoparticles may help treat mystery cases of infertility

first_imgA team of Oxford Academics have devised a method of ‘tagging’ sperm using nanoparticles, which could eventually lead to diagnosing causes of infertility currently unexplained by doctors.The method uses a specific type of nanoparticle, synthesised by the University’s Department of Engineering Science, which attach to the sperm with no detrimental effects. The porous silica nanoparticles can be filled, or alternatively coated, with compounds to identify, diagnose, and perhaps even treat the causes of infertility. They are extremely small, at about 140nm- over 1/700 of the width of a human hair.“An attractive feature of nanoparticles is that they are like an empty envelope that can be loaded with a variety of compounds and inserted into cells,” said Dr Natalia Barkalina, lead author of the study from the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Oxford University. “The nanoparticles we use don’t appear to interfere with the sperm, making them a perfect delivery vessel.”The researchers successfully tested the method on boar sperm, showing how the nanoparticles associated well with the sperm whilst not causing any problems with sperm health. Dr. Barkalina remarked, “it seems to be a very simple and efficient method”.Indeed, this method is not at all trivial. Senior author Dr. Kevin Coward commented, “Previous methods involved complicated procedures in animals and introduced months of delays before the sperm could be used. Now, we can simply expose sperm to nanoparticles in a petri dish. It’s so simple that it can all be done quickly enough for the sperm to survive perfectly unharmed.”After this initial success the team intends to investigate whether they can fertilise eggs with tagged sperm in a model organism like the boar. Coward added, “We want to try and ‘probe’ or interfere with known biological systems to gain more information with respect to infertility. Eventually, we want to extend to look at the interaction between the human egg and sperm.“Within a few years [we] may be able to explain or even diagnose rare cases in patients. In future we could even deliver treatments in a similar way.”It is still early days, but the method seems to be a promising tool and has positive implications for infertile couples. The team observed, “this system should provide a swift and effective research tool which may lead to new understanding or new treatments.”The work originally began in Spring 2011 and started life as a short project on the Msc in Clinical Embryology. Since then patent applications for the technique have been made by Isis Innovation, Oxford University’s technology transfer arm.last_img read more

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Speech: Matt Hancock speaking at the NSPCC “How safe are our children?” conference

first_imgCicero once said ‘the safety of people must be the highest law.’Throughout human history, the primary role of any government, of any community, has been to keep its members safe.Balancing safety and freedom has been the goal throughout the ages.And we must reset this balance anew in this digital age.I firmly believe that technology is a powerful force for good. And that the Internet has spread opportunity more quickly across the world than any other technology.But what we love about the Internet, the fact that it is noisy, open and free, presents so many challenges, especially for our young people.Today I want to address what we, not just as a Government but as a society, can do to keep the Internet we love safe for our children.Because young people are different.While we need to think about the balance between freedom and safety online for adults, we have a special responsibility to our children.As a society, as parents and as a Government, we recognise children need more protection.Sadly, while the Internet brings these freedoms for young people, it also makes them more exposed to risks.This week’s statistic that there have been 3,000 online grooming offences over the past year acts as a stark reminder of the dangers for children.So when we debate how we want the Internet to be, it is vital that young people should be given centre stage.Because we have a moral responsibility to build an Internet for the next generation that yes, is transformative, exciting and free, but also that protects those who use it.TechnologyA lot of this can be done by tackling trolls with technology. Technology itself holds the answer to solving many of its own problems.Just as airbags and seatbelts have helped us adapt to advances in speed, emerging technologies, like facial recognition and machine learning, can play an important role in making the Internet a safer place.From Apple’s overnight switch off feature to Google’s Family Link service, we have seen innovations where technology has been used to address problems.I’ve even started using artificial intelligence to moderate the comments on my app.And I want Britain to be known far and wide as the place where this technology for good is developed.We have the best conditions to do this here in the UK.From the first diode to Turing’s computers, to the World Wide Web, the UK has been at the heart of some of world’s most important tech inventions.The UK is a digital dynamo. A nation of pioneers striving to lead in the technology that is transforming the world.We have the third highest global investment in tech after the giants of USA and China.And a few weeks ago London was once again ranked as the leading tech hub in Europe.We have seen some fantastic innovations as a result of our status as a world-leading tech nation.The fact that we in the UK are at the cutting edge of the development of this technology is a big advantage.Because we can and must develop the technology that will keep us safe.I believe that Britain has a special role to play in leading the global debate. And in doing so, we can be the world’s best place to be a digital citizen.My message today is that we all have a part to play. Parents. Teachers. Platforms. Tech companies. Governments. And civil society.ParentsFirst, parents have a responsibility.Our children are introduced to technology at an increasingly young age. Today’s teenagers are the first generation of ‘digital natives’, where interacting online is just as natural as doing so face to face.In many ways this is a great asset. Digital skills are essential.But it is easy to see why some parents feel uncomfortable with the technology their children are using, especially when their children may know far more about it than they do.Parenting in this digital age is hard. But doesn’t mean that it is impossible.Setting boundaries with the use of new technology is important, just as we set boundaries for children in every other way.The technology may be new but the principles haven’t changed.It is certainly true that the Internet has amplified the risks and brought them directly into homes and classrooms.For example, if a child is being bullied during the day, and has access to social media, they can’t leave the bullies at the school gate.I firmly believe that very young children don’t need to have access to social media at all. After all, they are children.Social media is not designed for under 13s. It is often against the terms and conditions for children to be using these platforms.And although this debate has started, there is much more that needs to be done to help parents protect children online.Children are still developing. Research from the University of California proves that frontal lobes, which guide our rational decision making, develop all the way throughout adolescence.This means young children are more susceptible to risks, including being groomed and exploited, both online and in the outside world.So unlimited and unsupervised access to smartphones can be a portal to some very serious risks. And the Chief Medical Officer has highlighted growing concerns around the impact on children’s mental health.This backs up every parent’s instinct. That children must be protected.It is not to say that there is no role for young children to use technology.The right amount of screen time can have a positive effect. And when supervised the Internet is a wonderful tool, including for homework and education.We need to redress the balance so parents are given the tools and the advice to take responsibility for the incredibly difficult task of parenting in the digital age.The NSPCC, and the Children’s Commissioner, have both done fantastic work in beginning the task of helping parents steer a course through what can feel like uncharted waters.TeachersSecond, teachers and schools have a major role to play.Many of the experiences that are fundamental to growing up, like building friendships, testing parental boundaries and exploring sexuality, are complicated by growing up online.We rightly use our education system to help our children understand face-to-face relationships and what it means to be a citizen.It is vital that we update these frameworks to reflect the new challenges of the digital age, and to reflect what it means to be a digital citizen.To help them understand what behaviours are acceptable online and how they can contribute positively to the online world.And also to help them understand online risks and know how to seek help if they need it.I am the biggest supporter of edtech. I kicked off a project at DfE to drive the uptake of technology in the classroom for teaching.But while I bow to nobody in my support of technology, we also need students to know how to stay safe.Whilst it is up to individual schools to decide rather than Government, I admire the many headteachers who take a firm approach and do not allow mobiles to be used during the school day.A high performing comprehensive school not far from here is ranked as Outstanding by Ofsted.And their policy on mobile phones says “We are convinced that mobile phones are a distraction and have serious concerns about the impact of their inappropriate use. We know their use is reducing our students’ ability to connect with one another socially on a day-to-day basis.”A recent study by The Journal of the Association for Consumer Research has shown that mobile phones can have a real impact on working memory and measured intelligence, even if the phone is on a table or in a bag.I encourage other schools to look at the evidence and follow their lead.I am working closely with our brilliant Education Secretary, who really gets this, to make sure both schools and young people get the support they need to be properly equipped in the digital age.For the first time the Department for Education has made it compulsory for primary-aged children at school in England to be taught Relationships Education, and for all secondary-school children to be taught Relationships and Sex Education.These new subjects will also include respectful relationships, and how to keep safe online.We will be consulting on the guidance shortly and I urge you all to get involved and have your say.But this isn’t just a matter for the Department, it’s a matter for educators everywhere.And it’s our role in Government to make sure they get the support they need.PlatformsThird, platforms of course, have a duty of care to keep their users safe.Tech companies have done incredible work in giving solutions whilst technology has been making waves and causing unbelievable change.Social media platforms are effectively public spaces. And the owner of any public space, online or offline, has a duty of care to the public who are invited in.And just as safety and social impact has become a competitive advantage in other industries, I want safety to be seen as a driver of innovation online, not a barrier to it.I want us to be seen as a global leader in Internet safety too, just as we are in fintech, cybersecurity and AI.For this to happen, tech platforms need to keep doing more when it comes to Internet safety.Platforms should enforce clear terms of use that are easy for children to understand.Platforms should have well signposted ways to report abusive or harmful content.And platforms should give users clear explanations about what action has been taken as a result of user reports and complaints.I welcome the moves that have been made and we need to work together to keep solving these problems.GovernmentsSo Governments, and the citizens they represent, also have a vital role to play.Not just because Governments have experience in developing and guiding policy.But also because democratic accountability is important.Our entire system of liberal democracy is centred on society being governed through the consent of the people. And if people don’t like what they see, come an election, they can change their government.Any lasting and enduring framework relies on democratic legitimacy and consent.Despite a range of voluntary initiatives, good work by many charities and technological innovation, Internet safety remains an issue for so many young people.We cannot allow this behaviour to undermine the very real benefits that the digital revolution can bring.We cannot let the trolls win.Either by letting the Internet become a free-for-all, simply too unpleasant for many people to use.Or through their behaviour making society overreact and losing what makes the Internet great.Last year, we published our Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper.The results of our consultation told an interesting story.Six in ten said they had witnessed inappropriate or harmful content online.Four in ten had experienced online abuse.And four in ten thought that their proposed concerns were not taken seriously enough by social media companies.The message from our consultation, and our wider engagement on this, was clear. Terms and conditions are either not being enforced by platforms or are out of line with what the public expects.We recently introduced transparency reporting requirements for social media companies.This will make public how much content is being reported by users, and why, and how much support they are getting as a result.And this will be reinforced by a statutory code of practice setting out clear standards.We have published a draft code, which aims to make sure there is improved support for users online, and that more companies are taking consistent action to tackle abuse.We have seen some good progress. YouTube’s automated flagging systems led to 6.6 million videos being removed globally in just three months last year.But as online communities continue to grow, industry-wide frameworks are not keeping pace.So I will be working with our bold new Home Secretary to publish a White Paper, setting out how we plan to tackle online harms.Some of these proposals will be legislative, building on the successful legislation we have already brought forward.Two years ago, we legislated to make sure children cannot access pornography online.And we have legislated this year to give people control over their data through the Data Protection Act.Internet safety is the next step.The White Paper will set out legislative proposals to tackle a range of both legal and illegal harms, from cyberbullying to online child sexual exploitation.Of course Governments have other tools at their disposal too.We want to make it easier for the tech industry to build safer products.Startups have told us they lack the capacity and expertise needed to build safety into their products from the start.Working with industry bodies such as TechUK, we will make sure they have the practical guidance they need to deliver a safer experience for all users.And of course we in Government can use our voices too.Civil societyFinally, civil society has a role to play.Your voice in this debate is critical.I want to pay tribute to the NSPCC’s tireless work on Internet safety and the quality of your research. The report you have published today makes another important contribution to this crucial debate.The greatest social and political changes in our history have come about because of like minded groups like yours forming associations to press for change.Please keep engaging in this debate. Keep asking the searching questions and keep proposing and indeed, building the solutions to these important issues.ConclusionEveryone has their part to play in making the Internet a safer place and supporting a new generation of digital citizens.I pledge to you this. As the father of three small children, I will use my role to do what I can to protect our young people and encourage them to use the Internet in a safe and responsible way.The question I have is what role are you going to play? Whether you’re a parent, a teacher, run a tech platform or are part of civil society, you can play your part.We can’t stop technology. In my view, we wouldn’t want to.But this technology is made by humanity. So we can shape it for the benefit of humanity. And we must.The stakes are high and the challenge is great.But it can be done. So let us rise to that challenge, together.Thank you very much.last_img read more

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All Good Music Festival Announces Official Retirement In Open Letter

first_imgIt is with a heavy heart that we report on the end of All Good Music Festival & Campout. Over the last twenty years, the festival has been a mainstay for the jam community, hosting performances from The Allman Brothers, Keller Williams, Phil Lesh & Friends, Gov’t Mule, Yonder Mountain String Band and countless others. While All Good Presents still has plans to host individual shows, as well as a two-night showcase at Merriweather Post Pavilion, the festival circuit will truly mourn the loss of such a memorable annual event.The festival founders, Junipa Contento-Süslü and Tim Walther, penned the following note announcing the end of All Good:It is hard to believe that nearly 20 years have passed since our company began. With many talented bands coming through the Washington D.C. and Baltimore area, Tim Walther and I (Junipa Contento-Süslü) took it upon ourselves to begin a promotion and production company to focus on and heighten the awareness of a relatively new and burgeoning genre of music. Our love for this scene plus hard work and dedication led us to produce club shows and ultimately camp-out music festivals showcasing a weekend of the hottest touring bands, with the flagship event being the All Good Music Festival & Campout commencing in 1997.We felt it was important to create an annual destination where like-minded fans could share and experience in the fusion of music art and camping within a safe and supportive community. We wanted people to come away transformed, just as this rise of musical rhapsody had transformed us. From humble beginnings at Wilmer’s Park to the magic and life changing experiences of Marvin’s Mountaintop we are forever grateful for the opportunity to spearhead and cultivate All Good Festival with beautiful landscapes, ground-breaking artists, the best supporting crew in the industry and undoubtedly the most kind and avid fans.With that said and with a heavy heart we are announcing today that we are retiring the All Good Music Festival and Campout. We want to thank each of you for your support of live music, your love for our community and for sharing and creating everlasting All Good memories. This is not an end to the musical journey we are on, but the turning of a page sparking a new course for presenting the music we love.Please stay tuned for the unveiling of a two-day All Good Presents celebration of music, community and arts set to take place on July 9 and 10 at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Meanwhile check out the multitude of All Good Presents club shows, featuring established and emerging touring acts at your favorite venues such as; 9:30 Club, Rams Head Live, Gypsy Sally’s, The 8×10, The Hamilton and more.We look forward to seeing you at the next show.Yours truly,Junipa Contento-SüslüTim WaltherAll Good Presentslast_img read more

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John Mayer Delivers Chronological Setlist In Bangkok [Video]

first_imgOn Wednesday, amidst his run of 2019 solo international tour dates, John Mayer made a stop at Bangkok, Thailand’s IMPACT Arena. The guitar virtuoso offered up a special “Chrono Set”, as he worked through a plethora of fan-favorites in chronological order.John Mayer opened up his show with a trio of tracks off of his debut 2001 LP, Room for Squares, with “No Such Thing”, “Why Georgia”, and an acoustic rendition of “Your Body Is A Wonderland”. Mayer continued with “Clarity” and an acoustic rendition of “Daughters”, off of his 2003 sophomore LP, Heavier Things. Mayer’s 2006 LP, Continuum, marked a change in his musical style, with a heavier emphasis of incorporating blues elements. Bangkok fans were treated to a heavy dose of Continuum material, as Mayer worked through “I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You)”, “Gravity”, “Belief”, “Stop This Train”, “Waiting On The World To Change”, and “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room”.Next up was a trio of tracks from Mayer’s 2009 LP, Battles Studies, with “Heartbreak Warfare”, “Who Says”, and “Edge of Desire”. Mayer continued to roll through his catalog with Born and Raised‘s “Queen of California” and “Something Like Olivia”, followed by “Waiting On The Day” and “Paper Doll”, off of Mayer’s 2013 Paradise Valley release. Mayer rounded out his main frame with “Love On The Weekend”, “Changing”, “In The Blood”, and “Still Feel Like Your Man”, off of his most recent The Search for Everything release. Mayer returned to encore two new tunes, “New Light” and “I Guess I Just Feel Like”.John Mayer – “Waiting On The World To Change” – 4/3/2019[Video: eongxien]John Mayer – “Still Feel Like Your Man” – 4/3/2019[Video: everyday/everyday]John Mayer – “New Light” – 4/3/2019[Video: Nonton Konser]John Mayer continues his run of international spring tour dates with a performance in Jakarta, Indonesia on April 5th. For ticketing information and a full list of John Mayer’s upcoming tour dates, head to his website.Setlist: John Mayer | IMPACT Arena | Bangkok, Thailand | 4/3/2019Set One: No Such Thing, Why Georgia, Your Body Is A Wonderland (Acoustic), Clarity, Daughters (acoustic), I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You), Gravity, Belief, Stop This Train, Waiting on the World to Change,Set Two: Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, Heartbreak Warfare, Who Says, Edge of Desire, Queen of California, Something Like Olivia, Waiting on the Day, Paper Doll, Love on the Weekend, Changing, In the Blood, Still Feel Like Your ManEncore: New Light, I Guess I Just Feel Likelast_img read more

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Wisconsin Assembly halts vote on repeal of mask mandate

first_imgMADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Assembly has backed off on voting to repeal Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate. The retreat Thursday came in the face of broad criticism from the state’s health, school and business leaders and out concern the move would jeopardize more than $49 million in federal food assistance. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he still believed the Assembly would vote as soon as next week to repeal the mask mandate. The abrupt change in direction for the Assembly came after news broke hours before the scheduled vote that it would jeopardize federal food assistance for low-income people.last_img read more

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Stadium stair climb to benefit military-connected students

first_imgNotre Dame’s Office of Military and Veterans Affairs will host its second Storm the Stadium event Saturday to benefit the University’s military men and women with a day of stair climbing and other festivities on the field.Regan Jones, director of Military and Veteran Affairs, said the proceeds will benefit Notre Dame’s military-connected students — a term used to describe those on active duty, service veterans, ROTC students and their families.“The purpose of the event is to honor the men and women that bravely serve our nation in uniform, to engage the community in a family fun event, and then the money raised will support the military and veteran students on campus, the veterans fund, and it goes towards scholarships, fellowships, for those students,” he said.Designing the event for those interested in a fitness challenge and people who just want to spend time with their community, Jones said they worked to make the event accessible for all ages.Participants can choose from three different course options, a virtual climb and a family-fun zone on the field. The long course will move through each of the Stadium’s 72 sections with 36 in the lower bowl and 36 in the upper bowl, amounting to just under 3,600 steps. For those looking to stair-climb for a shorter period of time, the path of the short course will stay in the upper bowl of the stadium. Additionally, a stadium walk will take place for people interested in walking on a late course between the lower and upper bowls.“We wanted the opportunity to challenge people to be able to do all the steps, but we also wanted to make it accessible for folks who aren’t interested in in the steps,” Jones said.The Office of Military and Veterans Affairs held Storm the Stadium for the first time July 4 last summer, but Jones said they decided to hold the event while classes were still in session to encourage student involvement. Former Navy SEAL and current sophomore Brian Duffy said he attended the event this past summer with his wife and daughter and completed the long course.“I thought it was humbling seeing everyone come out and support the military,” Duffy said.He stressed the importance of providing funds and assistance to veterans who have sacrificed their safety, their time away from their families and their lives to our country. “Their sacrifices protect the freedoms everyone living in the United States enjoy,” Duffy said.Junior Sammie Escamilla, who works as a student intern for the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs, helped organize the event and said she looks to Storm the Stadium to garner support for military-connected students like her.“A lot of people might not know that I’m a military-connected student,” she said. “My dad has been in the Marine Corps for over 25 years, and it’s not something that comes up in everyday conversation, so people might not know that about me. But this event is a great opportunity for people to support military-connected students they know and those who they don’t know.”Tags: Military, Notre Dame Stadium, Veteranslast_img read more

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Going off the Grid

first_imgLife is crazy.We all know that. It’s hard not to get caught up in life, too. Between your job, your family, your significant other, your friends, it feels like your phone, your email, your feeds, all of that CRAP is BLOWING up ALL of the time.At least, for me, it was starting to seem that way. Granted, we, or I, rather, do it to myself sometimes, but staying connected is also a huge part of my job. Technology is the only means by which I can efficiently stay connected, but that means there’s rarely a day when I’m not without some sort of screen in front of my face.I’ve read the studies. I know how bad that stuff is for your eyes, your brain, your godforsaken soul. But it’s the way of the world, and has pretty spectacular capacities.That being said, you gotta step away from it every once in awhile.The best place when you need to do that? West By God Virginia.Really, you could go just about anywhere you wanted so long as you check ahead of time to make sure your cell carrier doesn’t have service. This is key. You don’t even want the option of checking in easily. West Virginia, particularly Green Bank (or anywhere within the 13,000-square-mile National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ)), is perfect for just that, and you can thank the nation’s Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, or the GBT. The telescope and surrounding facility is the site for some of the nation’s top research experiments, meaning for locals of the region that anything interfering with radio frequency is a no-go. Modern-day cell phones, wireless Internet access, forget about it.IMG_3549IMG_3546Knowing this, I decided to head to the heart of that total disconnection for some research on an upcoming story (check back in our October issue). That place is the Cranberry Wilderness area. Located in central West Virginia, this nearly 50,000-acre wilderness resembles something you might find in Canada’s arctic backcountry. Between the mysteriously dreary weather, cold temperatures, and towering pine forests, stepping into the boundaries of the Cranberry feels like you’re stepping into a Narnia-like fairy tale.IMG_3423Now, I’m by no means a backpacker, but I have done some of that nonsense in the past. Personally, it’s hard for me to adjust to the mechanical plodding along of day after day of…walking. Maybe it’s because I get blisters every time I go hiking, or perhaps it’s the way I’m wired, but backpacking has never been my “thing.” Ultimately, though, because it’s challenging for me, and because it forces me to slow down, that’s exactly how I found myself deciding to spend four days in West Virginia’s technology dead zone.Recently, I’ve been feeling like my life has derailed from a fairly straightforward path into a visual vortex overload. Between updating social media, checking emails, researching, writing, editing, I was racking up more hours behind a screen than under the sun. A few weeks ago, I read one of those blogs about “how to be healthy” or “how to better your life” or something silly like that and one of the first bullet points on one of them was, “don’t let looking at a screen be the first thing you do when you wake up, and the last thing you do before you go to sleep.” I read that, of course, while still lying in my sleeping bag in the Go one morning.I finally had to admit it; my vortex of a life was spiraling entirely out of control. I had lost touch with the very things that inspired me, fueled me. I needed some serious one-on-one time with Mother Nature and I figured the only way to genuinely achieve that, and get the real-deal wilderness experience, was to go to a place where technology simply did not work.Enter backpacking in the Cranberry Wilderness area, my solution to disconnecting, unwinding, and slowing down. Now of course, as soon as I arrived at the trailhead for my planned three-day, two-night loop, the sun disappeared behind a wall of clouds, the temperature dropped to just above 50 degrees, and the sky opened up in a most miserably cold and soggy drizzle. I was determined to go, regardless.It took all of three hours of hiking through ankle-deep mud on unblazed trails to finally slow the wheels in my head and force me into the present moment. It was glorious. For a while, I felt rejuvenated, energized by the uncertainty of what lay around the bend. I saw a bear, wildflowers blooming, mushrooms of every variety. I hiked and hiked, going deeper and deeper into the forest until I arrived at the bottom of the valley by McClintock Run.IMG_3534IMG_3475IMG_3443IMG_3519I found a campsite of epic proportions (I’m talking stone fire pit, stone seats, flat rock shelves for the kitchen, and trees made for hammock camping). Exhausted from the day of driving and hiking, I made a semi-satisfactory meal of gluten-free pasta (really, just about anything gluten-free is going to be semi-satisfactory) and had a sound, albeit cold, night of sleep in my hammock. Everything was going, weather aside, relatively well, but after only 13 miles, a worsening head cold, and two days of being drenched to the bone, I decided I’d had enough of the backpacking thing and bailed early to find a campground.I had never heard of Watoga State Park before, but remembered seeing signs pointing toward it on my way to the trailhead. Although it was a summer weekend, I was hoping that the dreary weather was on my side and had caused some RVers to bail early from their plans. Sure enough, the campsite at Watoga was nearly half empty, so I pulled in, set up camp in the rain, and made a cup of coffee. So, change in plans. Now I had two days of total off-the-grid disconnection outside of the woods instead of just one. If I was done backpacking, what on earth was I going to do now?Well, I’ll tell you what I did. I read. I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book The Signature of All Things nearly cover to cover in just one day. I didn’t pick up a phone. I didn’t even check the time until I went to buy some groceries later that afternoon (at 3 o’clock). I went for a bike ride along the Greenbrier Trail and talked with some awesome motorcycle-campers (one particularly interesting couple all the way from New Jersey; the guy talked faster than a bid caller). I drank more coffee, toured the Cranberry Glades, chugged some orange juice, watched the campground chipmunks pick up my crumbs, went for some shorter hikes in the Cranberry, and napped in my hammock.IMG_3603IMG_4238IMG_3752IMG_3741Quite honestly, it felt like I wasn’t doing much of anything and it was a strangely guilty feeling at first. But in time, I realized I was doing something. I was recovering. I was making up for all of the time I spent trying to do 7,000 things at once, none of which involved taking care of me. In the few days I spent away from the technological world, I caught up on my sleep, my love of books, my passion for exploration, and my need for quiet.IMG_3740IMG_4343We all need quiet, and I think especially in this day and age, we tend to forget what silence sounds like. It’s amazing what can surface when your brain is left alone (see what surfaces to Ellen DeGeneres’ mind in her moments of quiet). Personally, I found myself singing bits of lyrics to songs I hadn’t heard in years like Brown Eyed Girl and Renegade. Right, I didn’t necessarily have any life-changing epiphanies or amazing big ideas, but for the first time in a long time, I felt like I wasn’t on anyone’s schedule. Heck, I wasn’t even on my own anymore. I was at the whim of nature and the anticipation of what lay around the corner. I could pee whenever and wherever (within reason), I could take breaks when I got tired, wake up when I wanted to, go to bed when I felt tired (even if that was 8pm), or I could just simply sit and be. I was truly, entirely, 100% in the present moment.So, now that I’m all plugged in again, I’ve made a promise to myself that I urge others to adopt as well: disconnect from technology 100% at least one day a week. I’d say the majority of people reading this are not the President of the United States. The world will not end if you don’t check Facebook for one day or return your best friend’s text message 30 seconds after she sends it. Those things can wait. Be here. Right now.last_img read more

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