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Relying on strength to get us through
Hey there, it’s Tuesday, one of the most awkward and challenging days of the week. We’re looking for some extra strength to get us through this one. A lot of people start getting sick this time of year and just going to the grocery store can mean coming home with something unexpected. The fluctuations in temperature don’t help any, either. We’ll talk more about weather in a bit, though. In the meantime, grab a tissue and maybe some tea with honey and lemon to get you through the day.
A lot of today’s news items are things that carry over from previous stories, as sometimes happens. The one big new thing this morning is that Clemson beat Alabama for the NCAA football championship, 35-33 with a last minute touchdown. From everything I’ve read this morning, it was a very exciting game. Personally, though, my pillow was more exciting. Oh, and hearings start today for the president-elect’s cabinet picks. I’m sure we’ll be talking about those later. For now, though, here are the 5 things you should know.
Rain that just won’t stop
We typically don’t think of January as the rainy season, but that’s definitely the way it’s shaping up for parts of the country. Locally, we’re looking at chances of rain, strong winds, and thunderstorms today through Thursday. We’ll be needing umbrellas and coats as we get out this week, but at least we’ll be in better shape than folks in Northern California and Nevada where another round of rain is making an already bad situation worse1.
Rescue crews have their work cut out of them as parts of Northern California have gotten over a foot of rain in the past 72 hours, more than they typically see in an entire year. California has been suffering through a drought the past several years so they were initially glad to get the rain, but this is just too much! This is having a very widespread effect with even San Francisco issuing coastal flood warnings. In the Sierra Nevadas above 7,000 feet, four to eight more feet of snow are expected through Thursday. There just doesn’t seem to be any respite in this storm, and yes, we’ll all be paying for it somewhere along the line.
One of the regions hit hard by this storm is the Sonoma wine country2. They’ve had over 13 inches of rain there since last Friday. Vineyards along River Road are completely submerged. Not only is this going to affect this year’s wine production, but also almonds and some tree-based crops. Trees weekend by the six-year drought have been toppling, including some large trees that were several hundred years old. With both the Sacremento and Russian rivers prone to flooding, officials are advising residents to stay home unless they need to move to higher ground for safety.
This won’t be confusing, will it?
In a move that I’m already finding confusing, Yahoo announced yesterday that it will be changing its name to Altaba and that CEO Melissa Mayer will be stepping down once the sale of the company to Verizon is complete4. Ms. Mayer’s departure is no big surprise. Verizon is paying some $4.83 billion dollars for the struggling company and Ms. Mayer’s inability to turn the company around is well documented. No one can really be surprised there. But the name change could be a problem.
Not that the company didn’t need a name change, mind you. While Yahoo! sounded all cute and friendly back in 1995 when people were still new to the Internet, now it seems silly and childish up against Google, Apple, and other tech giants. The problem I’m seeing with the name Altaba, though, is that it is way to close to Alibaba, the Chinese search engine-slash-tech giant that dominates the Internet across Asia much like Google does in the United States. In fact, Alibaba’s CEO was meeting with the president-elect just yesterday. Alibaba will own a minority share in the company at the end of the deal. No, that’s not going to get confusing quickly.
Now, while Verizon is continuing through with the deal, the whole thing could still be called off because of that huge hacking problem Yahoo announced last month. With some 1.5 billion user accounts compromised between two breaches last year, the full extent of the fallout has yet to be determined and Verizon has already said the second breach could end up being a deal breaker. I’m sure Ms. Mayer is hoping the deal can be completed quickly, though. She could really use a break.
Say goodbye, Mr. President
As the days of his administration wind down, President Obama makes his farewell address today in Chicago, where his political career started5. This isn’t going to be the easiest speech the president has ever made by any stretch of the imagination. Not only is it full of emotion, not only is he leaving with his popularity amazingly high, he still has to try and convince the American people that the country is going to survive the unqualified, ridiculous personality filling the office behind him.
President Obama told the Associated Press that he has learned two primary lessons over the past eight years: That Americans are fundamentally good, and that change can happen. “The system will respond to ordinary people coming together to try to move the country in a better direction,” he said. Of course, what he’s not saying there is that the system responded to his changes by electing an idiot with a spray tan.
The speech will, of course, contain a lot of reminiscing, looking back over the successes of the president’s administration and trying hard to gloss over some of failures, such as Guantanamo and Syria. His audience at McCormick Place will be friendly and supportive. I would imagine someone will be handing out tissue as people arrive. This is the sort of occasion where tears are expected. I don’t think there’s anything the president can say, though, that sufficiently calms the fears of progressives. 75 million people did not vote for the president-elect. Those 75 million and more are very concerned about our future.
Any exercise is good exercise
Not all of us have what it takes to exercise every day. In fact, the greater majority of us don’t have that kind of discipline. The majority of us do well if we get in a little fast-paced walking every once-in-a-while. That’s always been a problem as we’ve been told by our gym teachers in school and personal trainers that we need to be consistent for our exercise to have any benefits. A new study from George Washington University tells a different story, however. Any exercise is better than no exercise at all6.
Now, let’s be careful to listen to exactly what the study says. The dominant portion of the study is aimed at those so-called “weekend warriors” who can only get out and do things on Saturday and Sunday. For those people, the research says, their weekend adventures are almost as good at avoiding death as is daily exercise. While the official suggestion remains at 150 minutes of exercise a week, which is more than one can cram into a weekend, two days of vigorous exercise is almost as good.
What you should know, however, is that those who never get off the couch are in trouble. The same research shows that people whose lifestyles are completely sedated are cutting massive amounts of time, more than ten years in many cases, off their lifespans. Just getting up and taking a walk around the block, or around the mall, or being chased by a vicious poodle is better than nothing at all. You’re hurting yourself. Stop it.
And finally …
Take a look around you and see how many people are on their smartphones. Maybe you’re even reading or listening to this report on your phone. Now, stop and think about the fact that ten years ago this wouldn’t have been possible. Say “Happy Birthday” to the iPhone, the device that revolutionized the entire world in less than ten years7. That’s right, it was ten years ago the late Steve Jobs stood on a stage in San Francisco and said, “Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.” I’m not sure even he understood just how revolutionary that product would be.
The iPhone was revolutionary in many ways. It had a 3.5-inch screen. You could use your hand to open these things called apps. And it even had a built-in web browser so you could access websites on the go. All those things that you take for granted now were new and different back then. The iPhone had something else that was new: a hefty price tag. Many industry insiders questioned whether we would pay anywhere from $600 and more for a cell phone. They did, in droves.
Immediately, the race was on for developers to create apps for smartphones and other players in the industry struggled to keep up with Apple’s new invention. When Google introduced the Andriod operating system a couple of years later, they managed to give the iPhone some competition, but by that point Apple was already dominating and controlling the market. Now, smartphones are the primary means of communication around the world. Steve Jobs would be pleased.
And that’s all we have time for today. Please be careful as you go about all the things you do in the course of a day. Take an umbrella in most places. Give someone a smile. We’ll keep watching the news and be back with five more things you should know in the morning.