Monday, January 27, 2014

If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute

If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover: Visitor Services Manager
If you like variety in your life, northeastern North Carolina is the place to be for weather. You just have to wait a few minutes, and the weather will change.
As I write this column, we are on alert waiting for a winter storm named Janus that some forecasters have predicted will be an old-fashioned Nor’easter plus a little snow. No doubt, it will cause chaos as people empty the stores of bread and milk, and schools will be closed.
Last year, the Weather Channel began naming storms that they predict will break records or will likely be memorable events. This year’s names were the project of a high school Latin class in Bozeman, Mont. Atlas, Boreas, Cleon, Dion, Electra, Falco, Gemini, Hercules, and Ion have already made their marks.
Weather is a relative thing. What is hazardous snowfall in Elizabeth City does not get any attention in Boston. Hot weather in North Carolina is just warm in Phoenix. Weather forecasters have long tried to devise a way to describe conditions with terminology that can be measured.
Terms like Polar Vortex, wind chill, and heat index are part of an attempt to equip us with scientific understanding. The thermometer was invented in the 16th century, and in the 18th century, the Fahrenheit scale was created. It was not until the 20th century that the wind chill factor made the numbers more meaningful by taking wind speed into consideration.
Meteorologists at AccuWeather have evaluated wind chill and concluded that since it does not take into account several other factors, it must be flawed. They have devised a new assessment called “Real Feel” which takes into account eight other elements such as sunlight.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) named the coldest places on the earth. They include three cities located in the United States.
International Falls, Minn. is called the “Icebox of the Nation” because it has the lowest average temperature ranging from 32 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit. Stanley, Idaho recorded the highest number of coldest days during a time period in the continental U.S. In 1971, Prospect Creek, Alaska recorded -78.16 F giving it the lowest temperature ever recorded in the U.S.
In 1947, Snag in the Yukon Territory of Canada measured -83.02F giving it the record for the lowest temperature recorded on North America. Vpstok, Antarctica reached -128.56F during July, 1983 making it the coldest place on earth.
Siberia is the home of three other coldest places. Yakutsk, the capital, recorded --83.92F and Verkhoyansk, near the Arctic Circle, recorded -96.16F. Oymyakon is the coldest permanently inhabited place on earth. Schools only close when the temperature drops below minus 61F, and people tend to leave their cars running all day so that they do not have to restart them.
Don’t be surprised if storms Kronos and Leon head our way soon, but we still won’t be the coldest place on earth, thank goodness.

Monday, January 13, 2014

It's not stretching the facts to say yoga is good for you

It's not stretching the facts to say yoga is good for you
By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover: Visitor Services Manager
Maggie is a pretty smart person, even if she is a dog.
Our eight pound, fluffy, black poodle has many admirable qualities which I have observed and wondered about. For example, almost every time she gets up from lying down for any period, she takes a long stretch. She doesn’t rush it and lengthens herself as far as she possibly can and seems so satisfied when she is finished.
Since it is the time of year when we all try to find something about ourselves to improve, I’ve been thinking about Maggie’s exercise and have decided that stretching is something I could do that would bring benefits to an aging body. People around the world find increased stamina and satisfaction in the practice of yoga.
Yoga Journal reports that 8.7 percent of the adults in the United States practice yoga. Seventy-eight percent say they are motivated by a desire to improve flexibility, conditioning, stress relief, and general health and fitness. Of the 15 million involved, 72 percent are female and 27 percent are male. Twenty-seven billion dollars are spent on yoga products yearly.
Various forms of yoga have been practiced for over 5,000 years and several world religions have taught yoga and meditation as part of their activities. In the West, the focus tends to be on mastering physical poses, practicing certain breathing techniques, and simply relaxing.
The ultimate goal is the improvement of balance, flexibility, and strength. As with all exercise, it is wise to consult with a physician about personal benefits and limitations.
Advantages of regular yoga practice may include better breathing and increased lung capacity, improved concentration and posture, lowering of blood pressure and heart rate, and lessening of stress. Medical researchers are studying the effects of therapeutic yoga on conditions like asthma and arthritis.
The stretching done during some of the yoga motions safely extends muscles and may release the lactic acid that builds up causing stiffness, tension, pain and fatigue, thus improving flexibility. Yoga may also increase the range of motion in the joints and improve muscle tone.
The term yoga means union or yoke and its goals are the strengthening of one’s body, mind, and spirit and the pursuit of inner harmony.
After school, daycare, physical education, and community programs are exploring the benefits of yoga for children. Increased self-esteem, self-discipline, and sense of wellbeing seem to be major benefits for students. Ability to focus, balance, concentration, and confidence are also improved by the activities that increase physical and mental self-awareness.
Studies have revealed that yoga can be helpful for children with ADHD and autism, too. Port Discover offers a “Mommy and Me Yoga” class for mothers and young children. The first Tuesday morning class was successful and will continue to be held monthly as part of our health and wellness program for children.
There is something for everyone in the practice of yoga. You are never too young or too old to improve yourself.
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