Fast Facts: St. Patrick’s Day
Most Americans claim at least a distant Irish heritage, and those who don’t still wear their best green and throw back a pint of Guinness every March 17th. But do you know the history behind one of the world’s favorite drinking holidays, or the extent of Irish influence in America? Here are six interesting facts about St. Patrick’s Day:
- The day honors St. Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, who is credited with bringing Christianity to the Irish. The Irish have observed March 17th, the anniversary of his death in the fifth century, as a religious holiday for more than a thousand years.
- Legend has it that St. Patrick explained the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish with a shamrock, using its three leaves to signify the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more places than just Ireland and the U.S. Although most festivities are held in North America, celebrations take place all around the world, from Australia and Russia to Japan and Singapore.
- The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1762 when Irish soldiers, who were serving in the English military, marched through New York City.
- Seven U.S. towns are named after the shamrock, including Shamrock, TX; Mount Gay-Shamrock, WV; and Shamrock Lakes, IN, and 16 cities share the name of Ireland’s capital, Dublin. There’s also an Emerald Isle, NC and an Irishtown, IL.
- In 2012, the Census Bureau reported 34.7 million U.S. residents who claim Irish ancestry—more than seven times the population of Ireland itself.
We all use smart technology for entertainment, so why not use it to slim down? Here are eight apps that can help monitor your diet and shake up your workout routine:
- Meal Snap. Take a picture of your plate, and the app analyzes its contents to give you an approximate calorie range. ($0.99; mealsnap.com)
- Nike Training Club. Sync your workout playlist to one of 73 “coached” circuit routines. (Free; iTunes)
- The Carb Lover’s Diet. Find delicious recipes that won’t add to your waistline, and easily track your carb and calorie intake. (Free-$4.99; iTunes)
- All-In Yoga. Choose among 300 poses, from beginner to advanced, to create your own custom yoga routine. ($1.99-$3.99; mobile.viaden.com)
- Shake a Snack. Jiggle your smart device and a virtual slot machine will conjure up a healthy, three-ingredient snack for between 100 and 300 calories. ($0.99; shakeasnack.com)
- Fooducate. Scan barcodes mid-grocery shopping to find out foods’ health grades based on ingredients and nutrients. (Free; fooducate.com)
- Tempo Magic Pro. Adjust your favorite tunes’ tempo to match your workout speed. ($4.99; lolofit.com)
- MapMyFitness. Find a great running route wherever you are, and GPS will track your course. (Free; mapmyfitness.com)
True Comfort Food
Under pressure? Don’t reach for the chips and chocolate! Instead, try one of these nine healthy, stress-fighting foods the next time you feel like eating your worries away:
- Oranges. Not only does the vitamin C boost your immune system, it helps return blood pressure and cortisol to normal levels after stressful situations.
- Sweet potatoes. While satisfying your carbs and sweets craving, sweet potatoes offer a healthy dose of beta-carotene and fiber.
- Apricots. These tiny orange fruits are rich in magnesium, a natural muscle relaxant
- Nuts. Specifically, try vitamin B and E-packed almonds, as well as pistachios and walnuts, which help lower blood pressure.
- Turkey. Because it contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, it triggers the brain to increase production of the feel-good, calming chemical, serotonin.
- Spinach. Just one cup provides 40 percent of your daily recommended amount of magnesium, which may curb headaches and fatigue.
- Salmon. The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon do more than fight heart disease, they keep the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline from peaking in tense times.
- Avocados. The abundance of monounsaturated fats and potassium in avocados helps lower blood pressure.
- Green vegetables. Broccoli, kale and other dark green vegetables contain a wealth of vitamins that help our bodies cope under stress.
Source: Marie Claire
Think computer hacking is a piece of cake? Try a piece of pi!
Google is offering up to $3.14159 million—an amount referencing the first six digits of pi—in cash prizes to anyone who can compromise its browser-based operating system Chrome OS—touted as the most secure OS on the market—at this year’s Pwnium 3 hacking contest.
Pwnium, a spinoff of the long-running Pwn2Own contest, will take place March 7th at the CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. With the largest prize in the contest’s history up for grabs, hackers who can temporarily compromise the Chrome OS will receive $110,000. Even more difficult, those who can crack through the system’s security measures and whose hijack can survive a system reboot will receive $150,000. The only stipulations: All exploits must be delivered via webpages on a Samsung 550 Chromebook using a Wi-Fi connection… and winners have to fully disclose the coding and methods used to hack the system!
So far, Google hasn’t had to pay out the full prize amount at any of its previous Pwnium contests. Previously, two researchers won $120,000 each for exploiting Chrome at the 2012 competition, and a teenager, known as “Pinkie Pie,” has twice collected $60,000 in the two previous Pwnium competitions.
Interested in taking a hack at it? Visit chromium.org/Home/chromium-security for information and contest rules.
Sources: technewsdaily.com, news.techworld.com
Reconsider the Balancing Act
Everyone seems to struggle to balance their personal lives with their careers, and work often seems to get the better end of the deal. Many people also worry about the possible ramifications of working too much. But why do we stress ourselves out trying to achieve the “perfect” balance? Being a workaholic isn’t a bad thing—if you find your work meaningful. We can have the best of both worlds if we strive less for a work-life “balance” and more for a work-life “fusion.” Consider these five thoughts:
- Hard work pays off—not only by distinguishing you from your equally intelligent and qualified co-workers, but society in general. Workaholics tend to achieve a higher social status than their less diligent peers, and exceptional achievers are also more likely to live longer.
- Work is like a relationship. Having a job you hate is like dating a person you don’t like. But when you find the right person, no amount of time seems to be enough, and the same is true when you find the right job. Do what you love and you will love what you do!
- Technology is not to blame. The smartphone hasn’t destroyed work-life balance; it’s just exposed how boring work and life used to be. Yes, technology has broken down the barriers that once separated the two, but it’s also brought efficiency—and entertainment—to both office and home.
- Find a career, not a job. A career provides a higher sense of purpose, whereas a job only provides an income. Likewise, a job pays for what you do, while a career pays for what you love.
- The problem is not your inability to switch off, but to switch on. Unlike the Western world’s distorted interpretation of positive psychology, your ultimate goal shouldn’t be to feel good; it should be to continue growing and improving as a person. The problem is people prioritize leisure and pleasure over work, and too few people have jobs they enjoy. True success can only be achieved by following your passion and embracing the work-life imbalance.
Source: Harvard Business Review
Forget memory sticks, CDs and hard drives! Scientists have found a way to save vast amounts of digital data using life’s most secure storage device: DNA. According to a report in the journal Nature, researchers recently encoded an audio clip of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a copy of Crick and Watson’s 1953 “double helix” paper and Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets into fragments of DNA—and were later able to retrieve the files with 99.99-percent accuracy! Though the technique is a long way from commercial viability, DNA could someday provide a more efficient and permanent way of storing information.
Nature’s Dirty Showers
Turns out rain doesn’t deliver such a clean sweep after all. According to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, the clouds in Earth’s atmosphere are crawling with microbial life. Scientists conducted a study of hailstones and found that storm clouds harbor thousands of microorganisms and organic compounds—nearly as many as a typical river. Researchers believe updrafts sweep the microbes from Earth’s surface and into the atmosphere, where they multiply and modify the chemical composition of clouds, possibly influencing weather patterns and causing it to rain or snow.
Wash Your Face… Book
Is your Facebook profile filled with embarrassing photos or less-than-professional status updates? All you need to clean it up is some “Facewash.” Developed by a trio of Kent State computer science majors, the app scours a Facebook user’s content to pinpoint items he or she may want to hide or delete. Besides items uploaded by users themselves, Facewash also searches received comments and “liked” pages and links, making sure to dig up any dirt left in the virtual crevices. Ready for a fresh face? Just visit Facewa.sh to get started. iBi