Throomers https://throomers.com Digital magazine for thriving Boomers Sat, 06 Jun 2020 03:03:19 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 153969275 Luxury Alaska Adventure https://throomers.com/luxury-alaska-adventure-alaskas-wild-frontiers/ Sat, 06 Jun 2020 03:01:42 +0000 https://throomers.com/?p=11205 Alaska’s Wild Frontiers: Ker & Downey’s luxury Alaska adventure is an exclusive journey exploring Alaska’s treasures – local art, wildlife conservation areas, and plentiful nature.  North America’s “last frontier,” Alaska is a wild land of epic proportions. It is a place where grizzlies gather at the salmon-filled rivers. Moose often stop downtown traffic. Glaciers and their deep valley imprints seem…

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Alaska’s Wild Frontiers: Ker & Downey’s luxury Alaska adventure is an exclusive journey exploring Alaska’s treasures – local art, wildlife conservation areas, and plentiful nature. 

North America’s “last frontier,” Alaska is a wild land of epic proportions. It is a place where grizzlies gather at the salmon-filled rivers. Moose often stop downtown traffic. Glaciers and their deep valley imprints seem to appear around every bend. In other words, outdoor adventure here is never more than a stone’s throw (or private helicopter ride) away. 

Alaska Adventure: Wild Frontiers is Ker & Downey’s exclusive luxury Alaska adventure. It is an in-depth study of some of Alaska’s finest treasures, from local artists and wildlife conservation areas to luxury lodges and wilderness, untouched and unbelievable.

Anchorage

Ker & Downey’s luxury Alaska adventure kicks off in Anchorage at the city’s most renowned hotel, Hotel Captain Cook. The hotel offers a flawless first taste of Alaska with its historic prestige and OldWorld explorer atmosphere. This pairs beautifully with its towering panoramic views of the surrounding Chugach Mountains and Cook Inlet.

Start off by spending time with two of Alaska’ leading wildlife artists, Jon and Jona Van Zyle. Afterward, leave on a private flight-seeing transfer to the historic Iditarod Trail. You will pause on the way to admire the grandeur of Denali, the highest peak in North America.

Alaska Range

Your next stop at the lakeside beauty of Winterlake Lodge serves as the base for surrounding adventure. Of course, this includes fly-casting lessons on Finger Lake and helicopter tours through the expansive Alaskan landscape. In addition, other activities include heli-trekking to nearby glaciers and guided hikes along the famed Iditarod Trail.

Kachemak Bay State Park

The next stop on this luxury Alaska adventure is Tutka Bay Lodge. Tutka Bay is Winterlake Lodge’s sister property in the remote reaches of Kachemak Bay State Park. Firstly, a private floatplane transfer carries you over the glaciers of Lake Clark National Park and the captivating Kenai Coast. Finally arrive at the rustic, romantic, and fjord-facing accommodations of Tutka Bay. Fresh cuisine, massages, cooking classes, wine tastings, and guided excursions are all a part of the Tutka Bay experience.What’s more, capping it all off is an unbelievable bear-viewing day trip. Fly above the coastline to the Katmai Coast, home to one of the world’s largest concentrations of brown bears. From here, walk along bear trails and watch them go about their lives, without barriers or viewing platforms. To put it another way, this is the Alaskan wilderness as many have never seen it.

Girdwood

Lastly, Ker & Downey’s luxury Alaska adventure concludes just outside of Anchorage at Girdwood’s celebrated Alyeska Resort. Characterized by its grand façade and interior design, this resort is surrounded by mountain peaks, glaciers, and ocean views.

Firstly, enjoy encounters at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and special moments on a private cruise on Prince William Sound. Finally on the last evening, embark on an Aerial Tram ride to the top of Mt. Alyeska for a farewell dinner at the world-class Seven Glaciers Restaurant. Undoubtedly this is the perfect finale to the beauty and bounty of Alaska.In order to book your luxury Alaska adventure, contact your Ker & Downey Travel Professional  online.

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Nik Wallenda “King of the High Wire” https://throomers.com/nik-wallenda-king-of-the-high-wire/ Fri, 05 Jun 2020 16:48:26 +0000 https://throomers.com/?p=10518 Tightrope walking his way into the record books, this aerialist enjoys a good walk where none have gone before. Walking over the mouth of an active volcano is not everyone’s idea of taking a morning stroll, but Nik Wallenda is no ordinary person. He recently walked on a thin steel cable stretched 1,800 feet across…

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Tightrope walking his way into the record books, this aerialist enjoys a good walk where none have gone before.

Walking over the mouth of an active volcano is not everyone’s idea of taking a morning stroll, but Nik Wallenda is no ordinary person. He recently walked on a thin steel cable stretched 1,800 feet across the mouth of the molten Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua. Wearing a safety harness and gas mask, he traversed the 2,000-degree cauldron in 31 minutes, pausing briefly to regain balance as hot winds whipped up around him. It was his longest walk, and another notch added to his eleven Guinness World Records. Take a moment to watch his breathtaking feat right here…

Wallenda’s daredevil feats without the use of safety nets have been wowing audiences since 1992. A Sarasota, Florida native and seventh-generation member of The Flying Wallendas, he carries on his family’s tradition of aerial acrobatics, and daredevil tightrope walks. As a child, he participated in various circus acts. At age 13, he made his debut as a professional tightrope walker and decided to make a career of it in 1998.

Record Setting Pace

The first time he went into the record books was in 2001 as part of the world’s first eight-person high-wire pyramid performed at Japan’s Kurashiki, Tivoli Park. He recalls, “it was a landmark experience for our profession, as well as our family and me personally.”
His first entry into the Guinness World Records was in 2008 during a live broadcast on The Today Show in New Jersey for the longest and highest bicycle ride on a high wire that measured 250 feet long and 135 feet high. In 2009, he started traveling the country with his Walk Across America Tour, completing 15 performances on high wires measuring 100 or more feet above the ground and finishing off the tour in his hometown of Sarasota.

Wallenda’s performance in 2010 at the Bahamas resort, Atlantis Paradise Island, won him another Guinness World Record for the highest bike ride on a wire, shattering his previous record by nearly double at 260 feet above the ocean.

In 2011, he performed the Wheel of Death off the roof and over the side of Atlantic City’s 23-story Tropicana Casino and Resort. He set a world record for the highest height that the Wheel has ever performed, and it was the first time ever off the side of a building.

After that performance, he and his mother performed together, walking between the two towers of Puerto Rico’s Condado Plaza Hotel. It was a re-creation of one that killed his great-grandfather Karl Wallenda, who was and still is his inspiration. He says, “To be able to walk in his exact footsteps is an extremely huge honor, and I did this for him as much as I did it for my family to get some closure.”

The same year, above Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, Wallenda set his sixth world record while suspended by a helicopter 250 feet in the air. He hung from a trapeze, starting with two arms and ending with just his teeth. He says the training “was very difficult. It was very painful. I had neck problems for months afterward.”

Among Wallenda’s many feats, he may be best known as the first person to cross Niagara Falls, which was live telecast by ABC in 2012. It took two years of negotiating between Canada and the United States, and was the first time in his life he was required to wear a safety harness. It was something he dreamed about doing as a child. Tens of thousands of people amassed on the U.S. side to witness his death-defying stunt, and on the Canadian side, an estimated crowd of 120,000, add to that an estimated 16 million television viewers. His feat stirred an interest in circus and circus arts around the world.

The Science Channel began to air his feats on a reality show. The following year his memoir Balanced was published. That same year, Discovery Channel live televised Wallenda becoming the first person to walk a high wire over a Grand Canyon gorge that crossed over the Little Colorado River.

Then in 2014, Discovery Channel aired live coverage of Skyscraper Live featuring Wallenda’s two tightrope walks between three skyscrapers in Chicago. The feat set two Guinness World Records, including one for walking the steepest incline on a tightrope between two buildings and one for the highest tightrope walk while blindfolded.

Walk by Faith

Wallenda credits his Christian faith to carry him through not only his aerial feats but for daily living. He says that his high-wire abilities are a gift from God. He is self-described as a born-again Christian and raised in “a Bible-believing, God-fearing family.” Wallenda and his family join in prayer before every high wire walk. He says, “The Bible says to pray without ceasing, and I’m always praying.” Wanting to set a good example, he strives to lead an upright life and wants to be thought of as just a regular guy.

Thriving on challenges, he says, “Don’t tell me, ‘It can’t be done’ because I’ll find a way to do it.” He lives by the mantra “Never Give Up” and believes anyone can achieve success through hard work. His family is close-knit and supportive of each other, although his grandmother tends to close her eyes when he’s performing dangerous stunts. In the backyard, Wallenda keeps a wire two feet off the ground for the kids to play with. “Kids want to do what parents do,” he says, but won’t prevent his three children from choosing their own careers.

What’s Up Next?

Ever since he was a youngster, he wanted to become a celebrity and receive global recognition. Some of the places he’d like to wire walk include crossing the Bosphorus continental divide in Turkey, Inca ruins at Machu Picchu, the Eiffel Tower, and pyramids in Egypt. Keeping his eyes open for aerial opportunities wherever he goes, he often quips, “Oh, I could string a wire from here to there and walk there.”

He has performed his never-before-seen feats in every state of the U.S. and across the globe. Next up is an exciting performance at Legoland Florida, in April. He’ll “walk the plank” with a balancing pole specially created with Legos.

True to his beliefs, he upholds his family legacy and has proven to “Never Give Up.” As for fear, he says, “Fear isn’t a concept I understand. Fear isn’t a feeling that I’ve encountered. Fear has nothing to do with the universe that I inhabit.” He’s publishing a new book about practical advice on overcoming fear called Facing Fear. You can learn more about the amazing Nik Wallenda at nikwallenda.com.

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JC Glick: A Warrior’s Wisdom https://throomers.com/jc-glick-a-warriors-wisdom/ Fri, 05 Jun 2020 14:22:38 +0000 https://throomers.com/?p=10295 A combat veteran brings original and unconventional concepts on education, leadership, and resiliency into the private sector and to the non-profit world. Intrapersonal intelligence is no small thing. It is one of the rarer forms of intelligence of which there are seven, according to psychologist Howard Gardner. This form of intelligence is introspective, a calm…

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A combat veteran brings original and unconventional concepts on education, leadership, and resiliency into the private sector and to the non-profit world.

Intrapersonal intelligence is no small thing. It is one of the rarer forms of intelligence of which there are seven, according to psychologist Howard Gardner. This form of intelligence is introspective, a calm that comes from knowing. A person having this gift knows himself and is at peace with who he is. He can handle what life hands him.

Rarer still is a combination of gifts involving several types of intelligence such as intrapersonal, interpersonal, kinesthetic, and logic. Great leaders from history were anomalies like this, able to assess, devise a plan of action, and lead by example. These ancient warriors were also deep thinkers and philosophers out of necessity. The world wasn’t always the relatively peaceful, cushy place it is now. The times were brutal. Thinking men who could navigate the storm of ever-changing world events were victorious.

This rare type of leader still exists today. His name is JC Glick. His mission is to impart the triumphant warrior philosophy to any leader willing to learn it.

A Studious Boy and Self-Admitted Nerd

Glick was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, and attended high school in Massachusetts. He later attended the University of Rhode Island, excelling in both academics and sports. and in 1995, earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science. With four years on the Dean’s List and a President’s Award for Academic Excellence in hand, he also been an Army ROTC Cadet, subsequently earning multiple awards for his astute leadership. His leadership skills were cultivated and honed by a cadre of Noncommissioned Officers and Officers that recognized his potential. After graduation, he entered the Army as a Regular Army Second Lieutenant.

Sua Sponte — Rangers Lead the Way

Trained as an elite Airborne Ranger, Glick became a platoon leader with the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg. He completed a successful deployment to Haiti and competed in the 1997 Best Ranger Competition, but wanted to do more, test himself. He volunteered for the 75th Ranger Regiment at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and served with the Regiment in two battalions and the Regimental Headquarters for over 8 years. His leadership skills led to promotions as Captain, Major, and final Lieutenant Colonel during his 20-year career that included a jaw-dropping 11 combat deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and included deployments to the Pacific and Africa. Glick was an incredible warrior, no question. But it was his philosopher’s creed that would steer him onto the path defining his life and the lives of others following in his footsteps.

Fighting the Unpredictable

As a Major, and now a seasoned combat vet with 5 deployments under his belt, Glick attended the United States Naval War College earning Master’s Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. His first assignment upon graduation was to the Army’s new Direct Reporting Unit, the Asymmetric Warfare Group or AWG. AWG’s motto is Think. Adapt. Anticipate. Their mission is to give real-time command solutions to a modern battlefield of constantly changing parameters. Sounding like just the challenge for a seasoned, thinking leader, Glick was the perfect man for the job.

Using History to Conquer the Future

 A student of history, Glick studied ancient warriors and their methods, both practical and philosophical. He posited that this wisdom had enormous value to use in fighting against any future unknown battlefield strategy. His rationale was to change the leadership dynamic. Instead of motivating merely to avoid a negative outcome, a group should be inspired internally toward a positive one, from forcing the external to inspiring the cerebral. A person will only act to avoid a negative outcome a few times before they don’t care. A person inspired will continue to feel this way and, in turn, inspire others.

As Glick noted in his TEDxHammondSchool Talk in 2018, “Motivation has a shelf life. Inspiration doesn’t.” Be inspired, watch his TEDx Talk video here…

The Inquisitive Warrior

 During his tenure at AWG, Glick had multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and other areas of interest around the globe, where he put his leadership theories to the most rigorous test known to man: on the battlefield. Could his method inspire troops to draw strength and problem-solve from within themselves on the fly in the heat of battle? The answer was yes. Glick not only shared his findings, but drew new knowledge from battle-tested leaders around him. The result was a list of the four most essential traits in a leader: loyalty, humility, curiosity, and empathy.

A Transformational Leader

Glick followed his deployments with an assignment as a Senior Fellow at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA, where his acquired knowledge came to fore for the good of America’s future national security. Glick was selected as a Battalion Commander of a Basic Combat Training Unit, where he and his Drill Sergeants used their knowledge from the field of battle to create a new type of thinking Soldier. A Soldier that did not wait to be told what to do, but one who did the right thing, at the right time for the right reason. He finished his career as the Commander of what was known as Victory College, a unit comprised of the Army’s Fitness School, the Army’s Resiliency School, and the Training and Doctrine Command’s Leadership School. Here, he again, tried to adapt the force to a new way of thinking, with a foundation of combat, with a mission of putting people first.

Upon his retirement from the military in 2015, Glick penned his first book, A Light in the Darkness – Leadership Development for the Unknown, with Sarah Ngu, published in 2017. It featured a foreword by General Stanley McChrystal and had a significant impact on not just military leadership techniques, but carried over successfully to the private sector. Iconic companies like Microsoft and sports franchises like the NFL, Denver Broncos, and Carolina Panthers have implemented his strategies with incredible, transformational results.

“Not a Coach But an Advisor.”

 The above quote is from an introductory interview by Speakerbuzz; the motivational speaking agency Glick signed on with to continue spreading his successful leadership methodology. As he puts it, he advises on change from within each person, and he continues to change and improve by listening to the wisdom of people he meets every day. His Facebook feed is evidence of this. In Glick’s view, you must never grow up, or you’ll stop growing, and growth is key to adapting and overcoming the unforeseen challenges in business and life.

Speaker, Author, Hippie

 During his illustrious and mind-blowing military career, Glick earned countless accommodations, including three Bronze Stars, three Meritorious Service Medals, and many others. But Glick would be the first to insist that great leadership is not about what you’ve done, but what you can learn and continue to learn. And despite his stereotypical warrior appearance, he’s a sensitive, thoughtful guy with a little hippie in him. His idealistic hopes for the future include a kinder world with kinder people in it. With any luck, realizing his dreams will be achieved with more and more of us exhibiting a combination of interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence.

In other words, we’ll all eventually become like the ancient warrior philosopher, wise and strong.

We’ll all be a little more like JC Glick. What a wonderful world that would be.

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The Strahov Library: A Czech Republic Gem https://throomers.com/strahov-library-a-czech-republic-gem/ Fri, 05 Jun 2020 02:19:08 +0000 https://throomers.com/?p=10458 Visit a national treasure, one of the most valuable and best-preserved historical libraries in the world. I’ve always enjoyed traveling and long ago became the person my companions have relied upon to put together an itinerary that will be second to none. One of the necessities is to find and work with the best experts…

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Visit a national treasure, one of the most valuable and best-preserved historical libraries in the world.

I’ve always enjoyed traveling and long ago became the person my companions have relied upon to put together an itinerary that will be second to none. One of the necessities is to find and work with the best experts and guides. They will magically transform any vacation into a memory for the ages. I tend to rely on Wendy Perrin, Conde Nast, Travel & Leisure, or Rick Steves in my search for those at the top of their game.

Pick the Right Guide

For instance, in Russia, we were accompanied by two excellent guides arranged by Exeter International, Gennady in Moscow, and Anya in St. Petersburg, who were absolutely perfect! It would not have been possible to duplicate our experience with a group tour. Moreover, if you travel with three others, the expense of hiring the best guides is no more than the cost of traveling on a high-end group tour; in fact, it’s probably less. And, now you get to go when you want, have the flexibility to stay shorter or longer, and handle things on the fly rather than being part of a larger group, struggling to hear what the guide has to say.

Another one of the tidbits I learned from our experience in Russia was that some places that are supposedly “off-limits” to tourists might be available for a visit provided you have the right connections. You might wish to check out my previous article to learn about some of these experiences. If you try hard enough, it’s possible to arrange a behind-the-scenes view of some of the most memorable places you could ever imagine.

VIP Treatment

With this bit of knowledge in hand, I prepared for our visit to Prague this past December. I learned about the Strahov Library, but when I checked out the reviews on Tripadvisor and elsewhere, there were many complaints! Visitors stated it appeared to be nice from a distance, but they were forced to stand behind the ropes at the entrance. Well, that’s not entirely correct…

Strahov Monastary
Matěj Baťha, via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.0

We were fortunate to hire a fabulous guide, Nina Oliberiusova, in the stunningly beautiful city of Prague, capital of the Czech Republic. Nina decided to begin our tour at the Strahov Monastery, where there are great views of the city and to visit the incredible Strahov Library, where she made arrangements for us to step beyond the ropes and entrance hall, all for a mere $16 per person.

Of course, we felt like VIPs or rock stars when every other visitor was standing beyond the ropes, struggling for a long-distance view of this amazing place while the three of us, along with Nina, were prancing around, taking in the fantastic sights from up close. Let me give you an idea of just how cool this place happens to be.

Philosophical Hall

Monastic Splendor

Most people are unaware that many of Europe’s most incredible libraries can be found in monasteries. The Strahov Library is purported to be the most beautiful library in the world, and I can personally vouch for that!

Ceiling in the Theological Hall.

The Library consists primarily of two major halls, the Baroque Theological Hall and the Classic Philosophical Hall. Each of these halls, approximately 250-feet long and 75-feet wide, date from the late 17th century. Each of the halls is filled with two stories of books, antique globes from the same periods, elaborate sculptures, and woodworks, all under elaborate frescoed ceilings that celebrate the time.

Theological Hall

1440 Jan of Šelmberk’s bible on display.
Yelkrokoyade, via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Connecting with History

When you first enter the Library, you are taken aback by the impressive frescoes, which are stunning. And then you slowly begin to notice the books, the globes, the antiques.

Of course, the books were terrific, dating from the 10th through 17th centuries, but I was taken aback by some of the other items. As we entered the Theological Hall, we came across one of the unique woodworks, a compilation wheel, made in 1678, which is like a rotating shelf that allows readers to work on several books at a particular time.

Compilation wheel.

I was particularly interested in the collection of antique globes, which I found to be fascinating. There were at least a dozen globes, each handmade at different stages throughout the centuries. I was amazed to view the changes in the maps of the world as time progressed.

We were so amazed by everything, from the elaborate wooden floors to the incredible ceilings, that we failed to notice that there were no ladders that would allow someone to visit the upper level of the Halls. When Nina brought this to our attention, she took us up close to the corners of the Halls. She pointed out these areas appeared to be filled with books but were actually wooden fakes designed to hide trap doors leading to winding staircases that access the second floor.

Doorway to hidden stairs

So, the next time someone asks whether you have any interest in visiting a library during your next trip, don’t jump to conclusions. They are not necessarily ho-hum; in fact, some of them might be among the most wondrous places you will ever have the opportunity to visit.

For more information on the Strahov Library visit strahovskyklaster.cz.

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Counterfeit Beer: Will Craft Brews Go The Way Of Vapes & Spirits https://throomers.com/counterfeit-beer-will-craft-brews-go-the-way-of-vapes-cigars-spirits/ Fri, 05 Jun 2020 01:19:13 +0000 https://throomers.com/?p=10563 There’s a troubling trend on the rise around the world, and it’s finally getting some much-needed attention from the relevant authorities. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), roughly twenty-five percent of all alcohol consumption worldwide is currently linked to sales of so-called “unrecorded” alcohol products. Sadly, this alarming phenomenon isn’t limited to peppery wines…

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There’s a troubling trend on the rise around the world, and it’s finally getting some much-needed attention from the relevant authorities. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), roughly twenty-five percent of all alcohol consumption worldwide is currently linked to sales of so-called “unrecorded” alcohol products.

Sadly, this alarming phenomenon isn’t limited to peppery wines purportedly from the Mediterranean or flat, ostensibly Russian vodkas with metallic aftertastes. So-called “dank vapes” — which are essentially cheap replicas of actual vape mods and tanks — have saturated the online vape market, causing everything from poor flavor to outright explosions on the user end that cause serious injury. Even branded vape juice – the electronic smoking mixture usually made up of nicotine, propylene glycol (PG), and vegetable glycerin (VG) – has fallen victim to counterfeiting. This concerning pattern not only generates unwarranted negative publicity for legitimate companies; it also puts the health and safety of unwitting consumers at serious risk.

In recent years, even premium brands such as those associated with Big Beer and cigar companies have fallen victim to the rise of counterfeiters around the world. To understand why it’s important to examine how counterfeiting these products became a viable enterprise in the first place. In this post, we explore the reasons behind the trend — as well as the likelihood of craft beers following suit as they emerge into the mainstream as a popular line of products in their own right.

How Spirits, Cigars & Vapes Became Popular Targets for Counterfeiters

The substantial increase in counterfeiting and bootlegging operations over the past decade is attributable to two things in particular. In the case of spirits, cigars, and beer, it’s the advent of online retail in the form of websites like Wine Selection and JR Cigars. While sites like these deal perfectly above board, the meteoric rise of the popularity of online retailers (presumably due to the convenience factor) has, in turn, created an opening for sites with more spurious sellers to ensnare oblivious shoppers with too-good-to-be-true prices or irresistible deals.

In the case of vapes, the rise of counterfeiting can be attributed to poor regulation and/or product standardization. As an industry in its relatively nascent stages, vapes have only just recently attracted the attention of state and federal legislators. While virtually all vape companies now include QR codes and other methods of product authentication in their product packaging (for use on the manufacturer’s site or mobile app), counterfeiters had already capitalized on the vape industry’s poor security infrastructure many years ago.

While so-called “dank vapes” are on the way out, they’ve certainly caused their fair share of furor on social media over substandard hardware acquired through sketchy purchases made online.

Craft Beers: Different Ballgame, Different Bad Guys

While it remains to be seen whether craft beers will undergo a bout or two with a wave of counterfeiters, this burgeoning market is already grappling with an entirely different issue altogether — albeit also within the realm of “illegitimate” craft brews.

According to the Brewer’s Association, which is an American trade group comprised of over 7,400 brewers and brewery-related entities, there is a fairly strict criterion as to what makes a craft brewer. The most important of which is the following:

  • It must be a small, independent and traditional brewer
  • It must produce no more than six million barrels of beer per annum
  • It must be no more than twenty-five percent owned or controlled by an industry member that is not itself defined as a craft brewer

The point of this delineation is to prevent large companies from touting specious DIY ethics in a bid to capture sales within the craft beer market, which they’ve already tried to do on a handful of occasions. In 2017, a class-action lawsuit was brought against Walmart stores — a company with a market value of $250 billion — for selling their “Trouble Brewing” line of purportedly craft beers. Similar legal dust-ups over the sale of faux craft brewers have included entities like Anheuser-Busch InBev’s “Ten Barrel Brewing,” MillerCoors’ “Revolver Brewing” and “Constellation Brands’ “Ballast Point Brewing.”

While the craft beer space has been beset with moneyed pretenders seeking to infiltrate the market, there‘s no legal record of outright counterfeiting as of this writing, nor is there likely to be in the future. Given the deep pockets and substantial staying power of the wrongdoers already on the scene, let’s hope it stays that way.

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Reveling in the Art of True Potential https://throomers.com/aimee-mullins-reveling-art-true-potential/ Thu, 04 Jun 2020 02:52:07 +0000 https://throomers.com/?p=10211 Defying perceived limitations, she became a warrior for all who dare to dream. Aimee Mullins is an accomplished athlete, actress, fashion model, and activist for sports, women, and innovative prosthetics. Through her example, she is changing our perception of people with physical disabilities, proving their ability to define their own identity and achieve success. Mullins…

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Defying perceived limitations, she became a warrior for all who dare to dream.

Aimee Mullins is an accomplished athlete, actress, fashion model, and activist for sports, women, and innovative prosthetics. Through her example, she is changing our perception of people with physical disabilities, proving their ability to define their own identity and achieve success. Mullins encourages and motivates not only the disabled but anyone who is short on hope and wants to overcome feeling marginalized.

All her life, she tore down barriers and shattered stigmas to become the firebrand she is today. Mullins describes her journey as being open to adventure and following her curiosity into everything that challenged her comfort zone. Her messages uplift the human spirit by amplifying the need to fulfill individual potential and making the possibility of dreams coming true within reach.

“It’s Just Me.”

“It’s factual to say I am a bilateral-below-the-knee amputee. I think it’s a subjective opinion as to whether or not I am disabled because of that,” she says.
The Allentown, Pennsylvania native, was born without shinbones requiring amputation of both her legs below the knee, performed on her first birthday. Told that she would remain in a wheelchair for the rest of her life, Mullins proved otherwise and walked using prosthetic legs by age two. Through the years, she viewed her challenges as opportunities, looking beyond her disability and dispelling all labels associated with it. Growing up, she pushed her physical and mental limits, participating in sports, including softball, soccer, skiing, biking, and swimming, as well as acting.

Mullins says, “I haven’t had an easy life [Like all of us, I’ve experienced difficulties in my life], but at some point, you have to take responsibility for yourself and shape who it is that you want to be. I have no [little] time for [those who moan and don’t take action to change themselves] moaners. I like to chase my dreams and surround myself with other people who are chasing their dreams too.”

She graduated from school with honors and was selected as one of three in the United States to receive a full scholarship from the Department of Defense. She attended the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., double majoring in history and diplomacy. On the dean’s list, she won placement on the Foreign Affairs internship program to work at the Pentagon as an intelligence analyst, the only woman among 250 men. Age 17 at the time, Mullins was the youngest person to hold a top-secret security clearance.

Groundbreaking Athlete

During her time at Georgetown, she became a member of their nationally ranked track and field program. Coached under Frank Gagliano, one of the most respected track coaches in the country; she competed in able-bodied events in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I track and field. Mullins became a star athlete and the first double-amputee sprinter in history to compete in the NCAA track and field.

She landed a spot on the 1996 Paralympics U.S. Olympic Team and went to Atlanta, where she competed in the 100m, 200m, and long jump and set three world records. She was the first to wear woven carbon-fiber prostheses modeled after the hind legs of a cheetah, which has since become the world standard for prosthetics in sports.

Life magazine featured a spread of her in the starting blocks at Atlanta, and the first issue of Sports Illustrated for Women dedicated ten pages highlighting her athletic accomplishments. The publicity launched her to international stardom and as an in-demand speaker. In 1998, she retired from track and field competitions.

From 2007 through 2009, Mullins had the honor of serving as president of the Women’s Sports Foundation. Sports Illustrated named her one of the Coolest Girls in Sports, and the Women’s Museum in Dallas, Texas, included her as one of the Greatest Women of the 20th Century.

Photo: Howard Schatz

The U.S. Olympic Committee appointed Mullins as one of two Chefs de Mission for Team USA at the 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2012 Summer Paralympics held in London. The same year, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed Mullins to the State Department’s Council to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports.

Fashion Icon

By invitation of legendary British fashion designer Alexander McQueen, Mullins made her debut as a runway model in 1999. She opened his London show wearing prosthetic legs made of beautifully hand-carved solid ash fashioned to look like 6-inch heeled boots. She describes her debut as a pivotal moment, the idea of creating wearable sculpture and having people admire her prosthetics.

“It was beautiful how people responded to them. Prosthetics usually represent loss, but people were in awe. It was very empowering for me,” she says. Since then, she has been at the forefront of global prosthetic innovation by famously being the go-to test subject and putting all the new technology through her high level of activity. collected a wide range of prosthetics. Her height can change from 5’8” to 6’1” depending on the pair of legs she wants to wear. She finds fashion the perfect arena to “explore larger societal conversations around inclusivity.”

She captivated the fashion world and appeared in magazines such as W, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Elle, Glamour, Rolling Stone, Esquire, People, and covers of Dazed and Confused and ID. Kenneth Cole signed her up for the “25 years of non-uniform thinking” campaign, featuring her on billboards across America in 2009.

Photo: Jill Greenberg

She became the face of L’Oréal Paris and then became their global brand ambassador in 2011. People magazine named her as one their 50 Most Beautiful People in the World. “True beauty is when someone radiates that they like themselves,” she says. “I’ve said this before, but I believe more than ever that confidence is sexier than any body part.”

Accomplished Actress

Her film career was launched in 2002, starring as six different characters, including a cheetah woman in Matthew Barney’s Cremaster3. The film won critical acclaim as an “astonishing work of creativity.” She continued to collaborate with Barney, starring in his film adaptation of Norman Mailer’s novel Ancient Evenings.

She has a long list of films to her credit, such as Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center, Quid Pro Quo, Marvelous, Appropriate Behavior, Unsane, and Drunk Parents. Mullins has acted in many roles for television films and series, including Poirot: Five Little Pigs, Crossbones, Power, Stranger Things, Limitless, and Devs. As a producer, she has several feature films in development.

 

Effecting Positive Change

As an influential speaker, Mullins expresses her insights on topics concerning the body, identity, sport, innovation, and design. Her speeches encourage everyone to embrace what others see as their shortcoming and turning it into an opportunity to do great things. Through the perspective of Mullins’ experience, audiences see their personal and career challenges in a new light and reinvent themselves to respond more effectively and meaningfully.

“It’s society that disables an individual by not investing in enough creativity to allow for someone to show us the quality that makes them rare and valuable and capable,” she says. “I have found great power in taking my ‘difference’ out for a spin in a very public way. And usually, the worst, most personally embarrassing thing you imagine in your mind is often not anywhere near as bad in real life.”

Mullins is often invited to speak at global conferences including TED conferences. Her TED talks have been translated into 42 languages and viewed millions of times. She was one of the speakers that inspired Chris Anderson to buy the TED conference from Richard Saul Wurman, who created the conference. In 2014, she was named a TED All-Star. Watch her TED Talk on how adversity opens the door for human potential…

Revel with a Cause

Over the last two decades, Mullins has served on numerous boards and has spent much of her time working with non-profit organizations, including Just One Break, founded by Eleanor Roosevelt and the Women’s Sports Foundation, founded by Billie Jean King, where she has served as a trustee for the last 17 years and was also president from 2007 to 2009. She also served as vice president for J.O.B. and is [was] a founding member of the leadership board to the world’s largest and diverse athletic development center, the SPIRE Institute. [Since 2008, Mullins has also been a regular guest professor for MIT Media Lab, the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and The New School in New York City.]

Mullins likeness is on display at prestigious institutions around the world, including the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the NCAA Hall of Fame, the Tate Modern, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Track and Field Hall of Fame. Her contribution to sport has been honored at the Women’s Museum in Dallas, Texas, among the Greatest American Women of the 20th Century. In 2017, Mullins became one of the youngest inductees to the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

As a role model, her approach to overcoming challenges with confidence and grace sets an example for all of us to recognize abilities and potential within us. Looking beyond limitations, the possibilities of the human spirit are limitless. She says, “If we want to discover the full potential in our humanity, we need to celebrate those heartbreaking strengths and those glorious disabilities we all have. It is our humanity and all the potential within it that makes us beautiful.”
Keep up with Aimee Mullins on Twitter.

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Painless Payment Plans https://throomers.com/dr-demetrio-aguila-painless-payment-plans/ Thu, 04 Jun 2020 02:50:03 +0000 https://throomers.com/?p=10245 A groundbreaking humanitarian initiative gives patients access to free medical care in exchange for community service. Healthcare is so expensive in America. Did you know that medical debts are the leading cause of individual bankruptcies in the United States? Moreover, more than 65% of these patients utilize their insurance but still can’t cover the bill.…

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A groundbreaking humanitarian initiative gives patients access to free medical care in exchange for community service.

Healthcare is so expensive in America. Did you know that medical debts are the leading cause of individual bankruptcies in the United States? Moreover, more than 65% of these patients utilize their insurance but still can’t cover the bill.

Now, imagine if you could volunteer your time instead of paying your medical debt. Well, Dr. Demetrio Aguila III is a Nebraska-based plastic surgeon who is allowing his patients to do just that. He is also the president and CEO of Healing Hands of Nebraska, a medical and multi-specialty surgical practice that offers surgical solutions to chronic pain, as well as surgical treatments for conditions of the nose, throat, and ears. “I see too many people who need surgery, but just can’t afford it,” he says. “I decided to make it fair, as long as people agreed to pay the goodness forward.”

Through his surgeries, Dr. Aguila has helped the immobile walk, veterans recover from chronic pain, alleviate the pressures of sinusitis, and many more miracles. Dr. Aguila is indeed an expert in aesthetic and reconstructive surgery, but his claim to fame is his kind heart. As part of his M25 Program, Dr. Aguila levels the playing field when it comes to healthcare by allowing his patients to skip payments and better their communities with volunteer work. He calls it the “painless payment plan.”

Decorated Doctor

Dr. Aguila is a specialized doctor with over 20 years of experience. He’s traveled to 31 countries on his mission to heal. He holds a Doctor of Medicine (MD), Medical Sciences, and Bachelor of Arts (BA) both from Boston University. He also studied Aerospace Medicine at the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, Otorhinolaryngology (the study of diseases of the ear, nose, and throat) at Mount Sinai School of Medicine of New York University, and Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. And not to mention his current pursuit of his Master of Arts in Theology/Theological Studies from The Augustine Institute.

During his military service, Dr. Aguila gained a unique perspective in the medical treatment of military veterans. He was assigned as a combat flight surgeon on various deployments, including South Korea, Japan, and Operations such as Southern Watch, Northern Watch, Enduring Freedom, and Noble Eagle. While deployed, he flew combat and combat support missions on various aircraft. His last assignment was to the 99th Surgical Operations Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base. He is the recipient of many military honors such as the Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force District Washington Surgical Excellence Award, and NATO Medal, to name a few.

With all those credentials, Dr. Aguila could charge an arm and a leg for his expertise, but he’s fixed hundreds of nerve-related injuries like carpal tunnel, sciatica, back pain, and foot drop for a fraction of the cost. The M25 Program allows those who can’t afford the cost of surgery to donate time to a partnering nonprofit, like the Orphan Grain Train, a volunteer network that ships food, clothing, and medical supplies. Dr. Aguila makes sure not to focus on price but impact. The cost of the procedure for someone enrolled in the M25 is based on the hours it takes to complete the surgery. For example, a $5,000 procedure might require 250 hours of community service. Take a moment to see how M25 works…

More to Life

For his patients with numbness and chronic pain due to trauma, chemotherapy, and diabetic neuropathy, or those who have undergone an inguinal hernia repair, or C-sections, Dr. Aguila’s method allows them to get well physically but also improves their well-being.
“There’s nothing better than giving back your time and resources,” he says. “That’s how we make the world a better place.”
On top of that, Dr. Aguila is one of the few surgeons who can perform peripheral nerve surgery, not just in Nebraska but in other neighboring states like Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, and South Dakota. As an aesthetic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Aguila can also perform breast lifts and augmentations, obstructive sleep apnea surgery, functional and aesthetic nasal and upper airway corrective surgery. He is also a diplomate of the American Board of Otolaryngology and American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Healing Through the M25 Program

While Dr. Aguila has a long list of accomplishments, it wouldn’t mean anything if he didn’t help people, he says. “I have to make my part of the world more caring, more loving. I have to help people, and it’s more than healthcare. It’s how we treat people.”

This ideology, which was the birth of the M25 Program, comes from the Bible, Matthew 25:40, which states, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Dr. Aguila believes that we are all people, not one better than the other, and it shows in his practice.

According to Dr. Aguila, the mission of Healing Hands of Nebraska is to provide world-class healthcare to all the people seeking their services in a way that is fair, compassionate, innovative, affordable, and forward-thinking. The program focuses on restoring the doctor-patient relationship and giving patients more power over their healthcare.

“My priority is to offer hope to any patients who might have given up on their health due to cost,” he says. “I don’t care if you are the CEO of a Fortune 500, or you don’t have a cent to your name; we all deserve quality healthcare.”

For more information on the amazing work of Dr. Aguila, visit healinghandsofnebraska.com.

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Social Interaction Extends Your Life https://throomers.com/susan-pinker-how-social-interaction-extends-your-life/ Thu, 04 Jun 2020 02:43:33 +0000 https://throomers.com/?p=10409 Surprising science-based evidence shows face-to-face contact matters more to your health, happiness, and longevity than you might think. Developmental psychologist and awarding-winning journalist and columnist, Susan Pinker, suggests our social interactions directly impact our survival. She has poured over stacks of studies involving large populations, and her findings reveal social integration cultivates immunity and resilience…

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Surprising science-based evidence shows face-to-face contact matters more to your health, happiness, and longevity than you might think.

Developmental psychologist and awarding-winning journalist and columnist, Susan Pinker, suggests our social interactions directly impact our survival. She has poured over stacks of studies involving large populations, and her findings reveal social integration cultivates immunity and resilience within us. She illuminates us with her observations in her latest internationally acclaimed book, The Village Effect detailing how face-to-face contact makes us healthier, happier, and smarter.

She explores how in-the-flesh encounters and forming tight bonds with families, friends, and communities harbor a unique effect on our mental and physical health. “Neglecting to keep in close contact with people who are important to you is at least as dangerous to your health as a pack-¬a-¬day cigarette habit, hypertension, or obesity,” she writes.

Keen Observer of Modern Life

Pinker has spent over two decades in clinical practice and teaching psychology after earning a BA degree from McGill University and a MASc degree from the University of Waterloo. Her weekly column, “Mind and Matter,” focuses on advances in behavioral science and appears in The Wall Street Journal. Her first book, The Sexual Paradox: Men, Women and the Real Gender Gap, was a New York Times Editor’s Choice and was awarded The William James Book Award by the American Psychological Association.

Photo: Fronteiras do Pensamento

She has received multiple awards and recognitions for her works. Her opinions and articles on psychology, public policy, behavioral economics, business, and education, have been featured in major publications such as The New York Times, The Times of London, Psychology Today, Financial Times, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, The Economist, and Der Spiegel.

The Biology of Social Contact

According to Pinker, human connectivity is an essential component of longevity and has a direct effect on our biology. In her TED Talk, she explains that face-to-face contact releases a flood of neurotransmitters into the body and brain that protects us now and into the future. This biological surge helps in forming trust, reducing stress, killing pain, and promoting pleasure.

Engaging in simple eye contact, a greeting, shaking hands, or even small talk are not just happy fleeting moments while we age. These interactions are powerful enough to release oxytocin that increases levels of trust while lowering stress-inducing cortisol levels. These brief encounters also release dopamine, a “happy” hormone, which gives us “a little high, and it kills pain; it’s like a naturally produced morphine.”

Social neuroscience research has found face-to-face interaction is necessary to thrive and feel well. Socially engaged individuals show a lower rate of dementia, a higher percentage of breast cancer survival, reduced stroke among men – all showing better protection through social contact than through the use of medication.

Our feeling of social acceptance and support can affect the impact disease has on our bodies. For example, research by UCLA shows social contact can switch on and off genes that regulate the growth of tumors and the level of cancer-killing lymphocytes in the bloodstream. Socially active men over 50 are less likely to have heart attacks than those who are solitary. Australian research reveals those with social lives recover from illnesses faster with MRIs showing more significant tissue repair than for those who lead isolated lives. Other studies show social participation helps retain memories longer.

View Pinker’s eye-opening TED Talk and learn about the secrets of longer living…

Virtual vs. Personal Connection

Is there a difference between live social interaction and taking in static content online? Studies conducted by the University of Maryland show a stark contrast in brain activity. Social interaction areas of the brain associated with attention, social intelligence, and emotional reward show higher activity and engagement with personal interaction compared to viewing a recording of the same information.

Communicating through online means for brief interaction is fine. Still, we are spending more of our time on the Internet than ever before, isolating us from the life-saving benefits that one-on-one bonds provide. For a more fulfilling engagement that forms trust and is beneficial to our health, live encounters are the way to go. Today, people barely value interaction with work associates or casual encounters with others, failing to recognize how essential it is to one’s health and well-being.

In a University of Wisconsin study, participants who engaged in person-to-person communication showed a significant drop in cortisol levels and heightened oxytocin levels. But participants using texting to communicate had no physiological indications of lower anxiety and were indistinguishable from those who had no contact at all.  “If you play cards or have coffee with friends once a week, that will give you a 10 to 15-year survival advantage compared with someone who sits in front of a screen all day,” Pinker says in an interview with Tech Insider.

Time to Get Social

Research shows that in the past 40 years, there has been a 300% increase in people living alone. Modern living with all its technological conveniences has contributed to a more isolated lifestyle. In the late 1980s, before the birth of the World Wide Web, Science magazine identified social isolation as a risk for premature death. Nearly a quarter of our population remains isolated with no one to interact with, reducing life expectancy by an average of 15 years.  The benefits of face-to-face contact are astounding. “It’s a biological imperative to know we belong. Building personal interaction into our cities, workplaces, agendas bolsters the immune system, sends feel-good hormones surging though the bloodstream and brain, and helps us live longer,” says Pinker. “I call it ‘building your village.’ Building it and sustaining it is a matter of life and death.”

You don’t have to short circuit your life and health in this Internet-driven world we live in. The importance of deepening relationships and engaging in face-to-face interaction cannot be understated. Start decreasing your screen time and increasing face-to-face time; let it become part of your daily routine. Look for opportunities to strike up a conversation, strengthen your current relationships, and form new ones. Feel emotionally connected and live longer, healthier, and happier by nurturing your person-to-person relationships. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

For more information on Susan Pinker and this intriguing subject, visit susanpinker.com.

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Leading The Agritech Revolution https://throomers.com/stuart-oda-leading-the-agritech-revolution/ Thu, 04 Jun 2020 02:40:15 +0000 https://throomers.com/?p=10347 Mother Nature and high-tech combine forces to urbanize sustainable food for the masses. When a former investment banker and IT geek does a career 180 uprooting himself from a comfortable lifestyle in Tokyo to live in squalor among China’s hutongs, one might cock their head and ask why. But only if you don’t know the…

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Mother Nature and high-tech combine forces to urbanize sustainable food for the masses.

When a former investment banker and IT geek does a career 180 uprooting himself from a comfortable lifestyle in Tokyo to live in squalor among China’s hutongs, one might cock their head and ask why. But only if you don’t know the back story of visionary Stuart Oda would you question his motives. This second-generation Japanese-American has dedicated his life and career to a cause quite far from his training. He’s helping to solve world hunger both now and in the future.

An International Childhood

Oda was born in Colorado, surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains. Growing up bilingual didn’t hurt his future one bit and came in handy while attending high school in Singapore. He returned to the U.S. to attend UCLA, where he studied political science, nurturing his initial intentions to become a lawyer and eventually work at the State Department. Upon graduation, he needed a job, and Merrill Lynch Tokyo was the only one to give him a call back in his job search. Oda solidified his status as a global citizen by taking the investment banking position in Japan.

Finance Powers the World

It was during his stint at Merrill Lynch that Oda learned how big finance could be a force for good in the world’s emerging markets, his field of specialty. Angel investors and start-up capitalists finance benevolent visions for improving humanity’s lot on planet Earth, and this was a cause dear to Oda’s heart. His new perspective stuck with him and became part of his knowledge repertoire, coming to fore years later as he launched his very own project. His next career move was to experience one of these emerging markets first hand by living in it.

Ni Hao, Beijing

Oda’s decision to immerse himself in China’s rapidly developing market became real, working for Dell in China. It was here he saw how China’s population was shifting and changing from mostly rural to urban. Projections on China’s demographics have up to 250 million people gradually moving from rural farms to become urban city dwellers, a change that will cause great upheaval in the production of food for a future global population of 9.5 billion. This stark prediction both bothered and inspired Oda to avert this inevitable food crisis.

Romanov Alexey, via Wikimedia, CC BY 3.0

The Challenge and the Possibilities

Scientists have been working to solve the problem of food deserts for decades, and in recent years, have experimented with many options for viability in urban areas. Vertical farming uses indoor hydroponic and aeroponic methods to grow sustainable foods. Thousands of plants are stacked vertically on racks to maximize space usage. Oda settled on this approach with the deliberate intent to perfect it so anyone anywhere could grow essential foods.

From High Tech to Agritech

his IT background as a base, Oda began studying agritech or farming with the assistance of technological advancements at one’s disposal. He discovered how LEDs could replace sunlight, water can replace plant soil, and land area can be replaced by stacking thousands of plants into what used to be an old shipping container. He theorized that shipping containers could be retrofitted mini-farms and placed in the middle of an urban food desert or wasted space. Abandoned buildings, underutilized urban spaces, and parking lots could become the farm markets for millions of city dwellers in need of nutritional security.

 

Setting Vision in Motion

With his concept and goal firmly in place, Oda founded Alesca Life in Beijing. He and his team began working on the unworkable problems that others in the field encountered. Vertical farming is energy and labor-intensive, and the costs of food production were still too high. Oda’s team solved these problems by studying solutions around the world like fertilizer efficiency in the Netherlands, smart water usage in Israel, and tech developments in South Korea. By combining all these solutions and developing proprietary technology in-house, they succeeded in developing their core product: a container farm housing thousands of plants that anyone can tend.

The Inspiring Results

The Alesca Life container farm houses 3,000 plants and uses so little water you probably use more during your daily shower. Oda’s advanced LED lighting also reduces energy use significantly, and the indoor environment negates any need for pesticides. The resulting crop is what Oda was aiming for, high-nutrient food to sustain thousands of people living in urban food deserts. The next step was to get the word out and obtain enough investment to send them out into the world.

The World’s First Virtual Reality Farm Tour

For his presentation to potential investors, Oda cleverly used a virtual reality headset and his trusty Samsung phone camera. He noted that every investor who saw his farm first hand would indeed invest. He needed to give “tours” to investors who could not be there in person. It worked like a charm, and the buzz surrounding Alesca Life’s ingenious new product went viral. Oda received an invitation to give TED Talks and become a fellow at Unreasonable Companies, a group offering mentorship to emerging entrepreneurs tackling the seemingly unsolvable problems of the future. Alesca Life now has working farms in many countries around the world.

 

Feeding Mars

Oda isn’t the kind of man who rests on laurels. His vision is continuous improvement of his product and resolving the still daunting issue of feeding 9.5 billion people. One thing he’d like to see is vertical container farming adapted for use on Mars. By solving the issue of growing food in extreme conditions, Oda knows we’d be able to utilize these solutions in the very agreeable environment of planet Earth right now. But until NASA gives him a call, he’ll continue R&D on his own.

Feeding the Child Within

When Oda traveled to India, he saw extreme poverty for the first time. A starving young boy was crying out, and it touched Oda deep in his soul. The work he is doing will hopefully feed every hungry Indian boy eventually. But until it does, Oda will continue to pursue his desire to build a better world. For more information visit alescalife.com.

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Andrew Nemr: A Tapper Tour de Force https://throomers.com/andrew-nemr-a-tapper-tour-de-force/ Thu, 04 Jun 2020 02:34:44 +0000 https://throomers.com/?p=10324 Embodying the oral tradition of an American art form, he promotes tap dance as a means of storytelling and community building. An audience sits transfixed by the rapid-fire taps emanated by the solo performer as he pummels the stage with his metal-tapped leather shoes. He slows down and begins to speak profound truths, weaved into…

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Embodying the oral tradition of an American art form, he promotes tap dance as a means of storytelling and community building.

An audience sits transfixed by the rapid-fire taps emanated by the solo performer as he pummels the stage with his metal-tapped leather shoes. He slows down and begins to speak profound truths, weaved into the story of his craft. All the while, he’s tap dancing, creating his own background “music,” accentuated with a flurry of riffs to emphasize his points. The story brought to life by his message in tap moves the audience, leaving them inspired with souls enriched. Such is the work of Andrew Nemr, a celebrated tap dancer, champion of a uniquely American legacy.

His love for the art of tap dance permeates every part of his being. He uses his whole body to communicate with an audience. Through incredible control of his lower body, his seemingly weightless, fluid moves, and feet striking the floor clearly and decisively, Nemr’s taps become his “vocabulary.” He’s an international performer and choreographer, runs his own tap dance company, educates, and gives speeches, and he’s also a man of faith and an avid writer of poetry.

Photo: Bret Hartman/TED

“I Want to Do That.”

At three years of age, born of parents from Beirut, Lebanon who immigrated to Edmonton, Canada, young Andrew Nemr started taking dance lessons. For the next seven years, he spent countless hours practicing and tapping his way into competitions. “I still have an untold number of costumes that still exist in my garage today,” he says at TEDxChemungRiver.

Since those early days, he has attained the status of being one of the most diverse tap dancers of our time. Derived from African and European traditional dances over 120 years ago, he recognizes tap dance as “one of America’s major contributions to the world of percussive dance.”
Perhaps the best way to understand tap dance is how Nemr describes its essence in a TED-Ed video, “It all really boils down to two pieces of metal on a leather-soled shoe, the wood to dance on, an audience to watch and listen, and something to say. It’s the balancing of these elements that is a tap dancer’s craftwork.”

Take a moment to view Nemr’s lesson on the tap dancer’s craft…

A Pivotal Moment

In 1989, Nemr was just nine years old when he saw the movie Tap, featuring Gregory Hines and hoofer greats, Sammy Davis Jr., Bunny Briggs, Savion Glover, and others from the 20s, 30s, and 40s. Mesmerized by their performance, he fell in love with the artistry of their tap dance and immediately started perfecting his skills and techniques. His biggest inspiration was Hines, who he met soon after watching the film. He had the good fortune to be a Hines protégé whose rhythmic literacy was adopted by Nemr. Hines once said of him, “His skills are rich and truly expressive.”

Working with famed Savion Glover and his DC Crew during the early 90s, Nemr landed a position with Real Tap Skills, an ensemble Glover had formed. The group traveled to New York’s Public Theater in 1995, where Nemr engaged with contemporary hoofers in performances of Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk choreographed by Glover. In 2003, Glover formed Ti Dii, a new group of top talent, which included Nemr.

The young Nemr fondly recalls his time with Glover, “I learned about never quitting and what it is to be in the creative process — to be completely within the craft amongst an audience or peers, to allow oneself to be vulnerable, and to allow the craftwork to carry you through.”

Preserving an American Artform

Nemr loves the art of tap dance and its impact as a genuine American artistic craft. In 2002, together with Hines, Nemr co-founded Tap Legacy Foundation, Inc. with a mission to preserve and advance the art of tap dance. The organization is developing a globally accessible digital archive of cross-referenced documents and works related to tap dance. Numerous events are produced by the organization to increase awareness of tap dance, including the New York City Celebration of the National Tap Dance Day.

In 2005 at age 25, Nemr founded and directed Cats Paying Dues, his own tap dance company, ranking among the top in the nation. Garnering critical acclaim, the company presents choreographed ensembles without compromising the individuality of the artists. Performances have been hailed as “a welcome return to the elegance of simplicity and the tap dancer as maker of aural magic,” according to ExploreDance.com and “the complete journey through American tap…” by the Daily Gazette.

Elevating the Dance

His masterful showmanship has shared the stage with many esteemed musical greats and Grammy Award winners, such as Hank Jones, Harry Connick Jr., the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and Les Paul. He also performs with the Nat Adderley, Jr. Trio, cellist Dave Eggar, visual artist Mako Fujimura, and others. His talent has graced the stages at the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival 2001, Winter Olympics Arts Festival 2002, Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, and the 2002 Nijinksky Awards.

Nemr has received many recognitions such as a TED Fellowship, grants from CUNY Dance Initiative, a FloBert award for Tap Dance Excellence, and various residencies from notable organizations. He received the National Endowment of the Arts Masterpieces: Dance Initiative Grant for reconstructing works by classic tap dance soloists. The result was his Echoes in Time presentation, which received critical and popular acclaim.

When not performing, he teaches tap dance as director of Tap Dance Freedom, cultivating the next generation of tap performers. His teaching method is “rooted in the fundamentals, encouraging individual discovery, and supporting the common vocabulary of tap dance.”

Advancing the use of tap dance as a narrative tool for live audiences has become his mission. As a speaker, he enjoys fusing his story with tap dance, touching on thought-provoking topics such as identity, community, love, and faith. His presentations have inspired audiences at numerous TEDx events, International Arts Movement’s INHAVIT Conference, The Gospel and Work Conference, the World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and other venues.

Nemr credits his talent to his deeply rooted faith in God. When describing the importance of performance, he says, “it is not the one in sight of people, but rather the one that is in the sight of God.” He continues to share his love of tap dancing and, in so doing, share himself with audiences all around the world.

To learn more, visit andrewnemr.com

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