Need help mellowing out lately? These meditation apps might calm you down

If you’re routinely prone to being stressed out, hurried or generally made out-of-sorts by the hectic pace of the world and life changes, then...yikes. We don’t envy what you must be going through these days.

Right about now, even the most zen and centered among us are bound to be feeling some level of anxiety and uncertainty. In these ultra trying times of social distancing, working from home and herculean routine change, we could all use a little extra help keeping our heads on straight, our minds clear and our fears in check.

To help calm those jangled nerves, we pulled together three mediation and relaxation apps that might just do the trick chilling you out. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re all between 50 and 90 percent off right now. Namaste.

Relax Melodies Meditation App: Lifetime Subscription - $124.99; originally $250

If you’re looking for endorsements, it doesn’t get much better than “the most positively reviewed app in the history of the Apple App Store.” That’s Relax Melodies, an app focused on regulating your sleep. It combines soothing sounds, bedtime stories, breathing techniques, body-mind exercises and more to create your own perfect sleep ambiance to get you the 7 or 8 hours of restful sleep a night you need.  From overcoming insomnia or tinnitus to night-time anxiety to lowering everyday stress, these sleep expert-approved techniques could be just what you need to face tomorrow the right way.

Welzen Meditation App: Lifetime Subscription - $29.99; originally $149.99

Welzen is all about dropping just the right pearl of zen at just the right moment. Every day, you get a brand new 10-minute mindfulness meditation with its own life lesson, designed to improve your happiness, promote self-discovery, acceptance and compassion. You’ll also have access to meditations grouped by your intention (reduce stress, quit smoking, etc.), part of Welzen’s more than 500 available sessions and mindfulness tools.

MindFi Mindfulness: Lifetime Subscription - $39; originally $365

MindFi helps you destress, reduce distractions and improve your relationships through four different mindfulness modes based on the time of day. Whether it’s starting your day with a 10-minute mindfulness course on sleep, leadership and other topics, a short break for haptic breathing exercises, quick meditations to boost your mood or even using a Pomodoro timer to increase your productivity, MindFi is a constantly shifting message of positivity and purpose to keep your day on track.

One year from today, our knowledge of the cosmos could dramatically change (if all goes according to plan)

The nearly US$10 billion James Webb Space Telescope is set to take off aboard an Ariane 5 rocket one year from today.

Scientists and space enthusiasts of all stripes are excited about what this successor to the Hubble Telescope will further our understanding of the cosmos. Forbes science writer Jamie Carter:

“Webb” will study the solar system, directly image exoplanets, photograph the first galaxies, and explore the mysteries of the origins of the Universe. By detecting infrared light, Webb will be able to look further back in time than any other telescope thus far.

Webb is the most ambitious and complex space science telescope ever constructed, and tantalizingly soon it will be the plaything of scientists ... or, at least, that’s the plan.

Then the sad reality of how our world and the timelines for everything might be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Originally conceived in the 1990s and at first expected to launch in 2007, Webb has been beset by delays—the latest being COVID-19—but at the time of writing the massive telescope was safely in its cleanroom at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California, and March 30, 2021, was still the target date for Webb’s launch. However, there could be an announcement on April 15, 2020 about a new schedule.

Read the rest of the Forbes piece.

Image: Artist's impression of the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope. ESA, NASA, S. Beckwith (STScI) and the HUDF Team, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems/STScI/ATG medialab

Good news: John Krasinski has a whole bunch of good news

The world is currently full of absolutely shitty news—like, way more than usual. Actor/Director/Seemingly very nice fella John Krasinski's not OK with that. Instead of moping about it, he and a few pals, both online and off, took it upon themselves to throw together close to 16 minutes worth of video that features nothing but good news. As we shelter at home, worrying about our loved ones and community, this is exactly the injection of feel-good shit that we need.


Joan Baez serenades John Prine (and the rest of us) with "Hello in There"

Folk legend Joan Baez, upon hearing the news that fellow iconic American singer-songwriter, John Prine, was hospitalized with COVID-19, decided to play Prine's classic "Hello in There" from her home and dedicate it to him.

News began to circulate yesterday through Prine's family that the 73-year-old singer was in the hospital and in critical condition with COVID-19. Today, his wife, Fiona, told SF Gate that the singer, who's been dealing with both lung and neck cancer in recent years, had improved overnight and was now in stable condition.

Image: YouTube

Shut-in novelists with cancelled book tours promote each other online

Publisher's Weekly writes:

Not to be outdone by the children’s and YA authors "signal boosting" their fellow authors on Twitter, two novelists, Caroline Leavitt and Jenna Blum, are promoting their colleagues with an ambitious initiative called A Mighty Blaze. Anyone can participate in the conversations on A Mighty Blaze on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram about new releases, but for authors wanting their books to be signal boosted on these platforms, there are a few requirements: the book has to be traditionally published for adult readers, and the author’s book tour has to have been canceled.

You can find the Mighty Blaze Facebook group here.

And here is the rest of the Publisher's Weekly piece.

[H/t My long-suffering agent, Laurie Fox]

Image: Photo by Danny on Unsplash

Detroit Auto Show cancelled over COVID-19

Let's just get down to it: the Detroit Auto Show (AKA the North American International Auto Show) has been cancelled. Not becasue of concerns around social distancing or community spread, which, let's face it, most of us are down with right now. No, their reason for nixing Detroit's annual orgy of new cars, concept vehicles and exhausted automotive journalists is due to the fact that the TCF Center, they venue they normally get it on at is currently being used as a massive field hospital for individuals afflicted with COVID-19.

From The Verge:

“Although we are disappointed, there is nothing more important to us than the health, safety and well-being of the citizens of Detroit and Michigan, and we will do what we can to support our community’s fight against the coronavirus outbreak,” Rod Alberts, executive director of the show, said in a statement announcing the decision.

This past weekend, The Detroit Free Press reported that Detroit was dealing with 4,650 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 11 individuals have died, due to complications from the virus.

Detroit's not the only city that's had to postpone or cancel their auto show due to the current pandemic. According to The Verge, similar motor vehicle soirees in Beijing, New York and Geneva had to change their plans as the toll of COVID-19 continues to mount.

Image via Wikipedia Commons

Van Gogh swiped last night during museum smash-and-grab

Last night some asshole smashed a glass door at the Singer Laren museum near Amsterdam and stole Vincent van Gogh's oil painting “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884." The museum has been closed due to COVID-19. From the Associated Press:

The value of the (10" x 22") work, which was on loan from the Groninger Museum in the northern Dutch city of Groningen, was not immediately known. Van Gogh’s paintings, when they rarely come up for sale, fetch millions at auction...

A team including forensics and art theft experts was studying video footage and questioning neighbors. [Museum General Director Evert] Van Os said the museum’s security worked “according to protocol,” but he added: “Obviously we can learn from this.”

Little Free Library in Seattle converted into a "Peep Show"

I've seen reports that Little Free Libraries are being turned into free food pantries to help folks in this time of coronavirus. Now, hilariously, there's one in Seattle that's been converted into a "Peep Show," complete with a hot pink neon sign, and a rooftop one that reads "Chicks! Chicks! Chicks!" But you won't find anything lewd inside. Instead, you'll find a fun diorama of marshmallow Peeps.

On Nextdoor, the Peep Show's creator, Cristie Kearny of Seattle's Crown Hill neighborhood, explains:

I've removed books from my Little Free Library to help slow the spread of COVID-19! I've converted it to a Peep Show, featuring Mary Peepins! Come by and take a peek! Social distancing approved! Hands free viewing or use provided sanitizing wipes for light switch.

She plans on changing her Peeps-filled diorama out every week. If you're in the area, you can go check it out at 9709 14th Avenue NW. She tells Boing Boing that she's already working on the next one: "Peeper Pan."

Thanks, Marcia!

photos by Cristie Kearny

Paul Krassner, Interview Part 2 — And Henry Miller with a 1973 Buchla Music Easel

Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds


Side A: "Paul Krassner's 1959 Underground News Report on the Birth Control Pill"

Greetings, all! This week continues my discussion with Paul Krassner, from an interview conducted in 2017. Paul is recognized as an early second-wave feminist, and one of the coolest things he did, in my opinion, was use his reach as a publisher to advocate for reproductive freedoms - including contraception.

In 1959, he began to change The Realist from a satirical paper into one blended with some sharp politics. Subsequently, he published one of the earliest news stories on Enovid, or the Birth Control Pill. At the time, it was sensationally referred to in America as the 1955 Puerto Rican Birth Control Experiments.

Hear Paul's recollection of this significant act of publishing:

Side B: "Henry Miller reads from "The Colossus of Maroussi" with a 1973 Buchla Music Easel, Linn Drum, and a Roland Jupiter-8

A fun side B, this is a reworking of Henry Miller's self-recorded vocal of "The Colossus of Maroussi". The vocal comes from a very rare LP, which is on colored red disc! - I visited a friend who has collected Henry Miller work for decades, who has a copy. Here's a look at one of the rarest literary records ever made, published in very small edition in 1949:

"Written in Greece and New York, 1940. Recorded at Nepenthe, [Henry Miller's] nearest neighbor with electricity in Big Sur, California, June, 1949. Made in New York City."

Adding to this vocal is a three-piece of some of the coolest electronics ever made. I own none of these, as well, but a few years ago I visited a friend with a 1973 Buchla Music Easel, then also visited a friend with a Linn Drum, and finally got a chance to play with a Jupiter 8. All of those recording sessions were combined here into the Henry Miller track. Listen here:

Back next week with more from Paul and some more surprises. Hope you're all doing well, Ethan

Clean up and class up your bathroom with this sensor-driven, hands-free soap dispenser

So...exactly how many times a day are you singing Happy Birthday to your sink? Unless you’re among the most germaphobic among us, it’s unlikely you ever thought the simple act of handwashing would start to take on such a central role in our daily lives.

Of course, with all the touching and such, bar soap isn’t really the best idea these days, so it might be a good time to fully step up to a sanitation process worthy of our chaotic times. And that process means -- don’t touch anything.

This hands-free foaming soap dispenser not only serves up a handful of soapy goodness when you need it, it does so with a simple swipe over an infrared sensor. There’s no need to ever push a button or force down a pump. Just like all those fancy bathrooms in expensive hotels and restaurants, a single sweep of your hand gets the job done, so nobody’s grungy fingers get all over anything.

The unit’s motor churns out disinfecting foam in a quarter of a second to prevent any bacterial transmission -- and that cool little sensor works like catnip to a kid, while also not-so-subtly reinforcing the whole handwashing habit. If you’ve got a youngster who seems to constantly “forget” to wash up after a stint in the throne room, this might just be the attention-grabbing reminder they need.

Unlike other models, this dispenser also comes with a clear plastic soap reservoir, so you can always tell exactly how much soap is left before you’re going to need to pick up some more...if you can find it, of course (maybe this guy can help).

At less than four inches across, it also won’t take up a whole lot of counter space in the bathroom, kitchen, garage or anywhere else you need to lather up.

Normally priced at $29.99, you can get this hands-free cleaning genie right now at $10 off, just $19.95. So finish up your purchase...and for God’s sake, go wash your hands!


Automatic Hands-Free Foaming Soap Dispenser - $19.95

Get clean for $19.95

Astronaut urine could be a key concrete ingredient on the moon

A key challenge in building colonies on the moon is that it's incredibly expensive to transport construction materials to space from Earth. That's why researchers are exploring how moon bases could be mostly constructed from raw materials already there. A team of scientists working with the European Space Agency (ESA) are exploring how urine could be a key ingredient in lunar concrete. A 3D printer could then form the "mud" into structural components. From FEYCT - Spanish Foundation For Science And Technology:

Scientists from Norway, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy, in cooperation with ESA, have conducted several experiments to verify the potential of urine urea as a plasticizer, an additive that can be incorporated into concrete to soften the initial mixture and make it more pliable before it hardens. Details are published in the Journal of Cleaner Production.

"To make the geopolymer concrete that will be used on the moon, the idea is to use what is there: regolith (loose material from the moon's surface) and the water from the ice present in some areas," explains one of the authors, Ramón Pamies, a professor at the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (Murcia), where various analyses of the samples have been carried out using X-ray diffraction.

"But moreover," he adds, "with this study we have seen that a waste product, such as the urine of the personnel who occupy the moon bases, could also be used. The two main components of this body fluid are water and urea, a molecule that allows the hydrogen bonds to be broken and, therefore, reduces the viscosities of many aqueous mixtures."

Using a material developed by ESA, which is similar to moon regolith, together with urea and various plasticizers, the researchers, using a 3D printer, have manufactured various 'mud' cylinders and compared the results.

image: ESA, Foster and Partners

A positively beautiful 1979 International Harvester Scout II SE

A good friend of mine is restoring a Scout now. He compares it to my Vanagon and I do not understand why.

Looks like this one wants to be driven!

Bring a trailer:

Features unique to Selective Edition included an SSII-style grille, gold side stripes, and matching wheels. This example received a repaint in its factory shade of dark brown with gold stripes under previous ownership. Numerous exterior images in the gallery below show the current condition of the finish.

Bare pantry? Watch this Saltine cracker hack and salivate

If your pantry is dwindling down to the dregs, fear not. Host Alton Brown from the Food Network comes to the rescue with this Saltine crackers hack –– using just the crackers, along with butter, hot sauce, and mustard –– that looks easy and yes, even tasty.

And if your pantry is actually doing just fine but you want another Saltine cracker hack, here's one we posted in 2018 that uses "saltines, Ritz crackers, ramen, tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni, Slim Jims, and pickles."

Via Mashable

Read this contentious New Yorker interview with the lawyer who wrote the coronavirus paper Trump embraces

On March 16, Richard A. Epstein of the Hoover Institution wrote an article titled "Coronavirus Perspective," which stated that “public officials have gone overboard” in efforts to stop the spread of the virus, and that only about 500 people in the U.S. would die from coronavirus. The Washington Post reported that Epstein's article was widely circulated in the White House.

Isaac Chotiner interviewed Epstein for The New Yorker, and Epstein quickly lost his cool at the questions Chotiner was asking:

Epstein: Looking at the data thus far, both theories tend to predict a sharp rise at the beginning, mine less sharp than the one that’s coming out.

In the next week or so, we’ll see. I will be, shall we say, much more compromised if we start to see a continuing explosion of deaths going on for two or three weeks. But, if the numbers start to level off, the curves will start to go downward.

I was just asking about—

Epstein: I’m saying what I think to be the truth. I mean, I just find it incredible—

I know, but these are scientific issues here.

Epetein: You know nothing about the subject but are so confident that you’re going to say that I’m a crackpot.

No. Richard—

Epstein: That’s what you’re saying, isn’t it? That’s what you’re saying?

I’m not saying anything of the sort.

Epstein: Admit to it. You’re saying I’m a crackpot.

I’m not saying anything of the—

Epstein: Well, what am I then? I’m an amateur? You’re the great scholar on this?

No, no. I’m not a great scholar on this.

Epstein: Tell me what you think about the quality of the work!

O.K. I’m going to tell you. I think the fact that I am not a great scholar on this and I’m able to find these flaws or these holes in what you wrote is a sign that maybe you should’ve thought harder before writing it.

Esetein: What it shows is that you are a complete intellectual amateur. Period.

O.K. Can I ask you one more question?

Epstein: You just don’t know anything about anything. You’re a journalist. Would you like to compare your résumé to mine?

No, actually, I would not.

Epstein: Then good. Then maybe what you want to do is to say, “Gee, I’m not quite sure that this is right. I’m going to check with somebody else.” But, you want to come at me hard, I am going to come back harder at you. And then if I can’t jam my fingers down your throat, then I am not worth it. But you have basically gone over the line. If you want to ask questions, ask questions. I put forward a model. But a little bit of respect.

Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

Artist Audrey Kawasaki made a coloring page for kids and adults

Artist Audrey Kawasaki made this cute coloring page that you can print out and color.


View this post on Instagram


For all the kids (and adults) staying safe at home, I made a coloring page for you! . You can save/download a hi-res from Link is in my bio. . If you would like me to see your coloring, you can hashtag #audkawacolor and tag me @audkawa . Hope everyone is staying safe, strong, and healthy. 💛 . #audkawacolor #coloringpage #coloring #audreykawasaki #audkawa

A post shared by 🌸 Audrey Kawasaki 🌸 (@audkawa) on

Image: Instagram/Audrey Kawasaki

'Killer Queen Black': like multiplayer 'Joust'

I have been enjoying Killer Queen Black.

I started playing KQB in beta, on the recommendation of some friends who played the arcade version regularly in a bar. This game is a hoot!

In addition to a 'Military' win where you beat up the other team with flying creatures that operate a heck of a lot like the awesome ostrich riders in Joust, you can also win by collecting berries ("Economic") or racing a snail across a finish line ("Badass".)

Three-player teams take on three-player teams, or you can just play vs the AI.

Available for Xbox One, Switch and PC via Steam.

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