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Electric Dreams Help Cows Survive The Desert Of The Real – Hackaday

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Pictures of a cow wearing a pair of comically oversized virtual reality goggles recently spread like wildfire over social media, and even the major news outlets eventually picked it up. Why not? Nobody wants to read about geopolitical turmoil over the holidays, and this story was precisely the sort of lighthearted news people would, if you can forgive the pun, gobble up.

But since youre reading Hackaday, these images probably left you with more questions than answers. Who made the hardware, what software is it running, and of course, why does a cow need VR? Unfortunately, the answers to the more technical questions arent exactly forthcoming. Even tracking the story back to the official press release from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of the Moscow Region doesnt tell us much more than we can gather from the image itself.

But it does at least explain why somebody went through the trouble of making a custom bovine VR rig: calm cows produce more milk. These VR goggles, should they pass their testing and actually be adopted by the Russian dairy industry, will be the newest addition to a list of cow-calming hardware devices that farmers have been using for decades to get the most out of their herds.

The press release claims that the VR goggles were modified from commercially available hardware to take into account the shape and size of a cows head, but theres no word of which product served as the basis for the experiment. Given the massive size of the goggles in relation to the cows human handler though, its safe to assume that whatever headset was used is being completely obscured by the obviously custom enclosure.

That said, because we can see no obvious cables coming from the headset, its possible researchers using some variant of the phone-based VR goggles that were all the rage after the release of Google Cardboard. Weve noticed that excitement over these simple gadgets has waned significantly in the last year or so, but here the idea makes perfect sense. If youre looking to outfit whole herds of animals with this technology, a basic plastic enclosure that holds a cheap Android device makes perfect sense.

One also has to wonder what sort of optics are required to fool a cow into thinking theyre looking at a real pasture. Like many prey animals, a cows binocular vision is minimal when compared to human vision. In other words, they have limited depth perception when looking directly ahead. In fact, its said that cows have trouble discerning shadows from actual holes in the ground, and will avoid walking over them. On the other hand, they have excellent panoramic vision which allows them to see nearly 360 degrees without having to move their heads.

Accordingly, it seems there would be little need for the sort of stereoscopic optics used in even low-cost VR headsets. A more likely arrangement would perhaps be a large-format phone (or small tablet) behind a Fresnel lens that would expand the image to fill the cows field of view. Since the goggles dont appear to wrap around the cows head it seems unlikely it could provide much more than a 180 degree view for the animal, but that may still be enough to achieve the desired effect.

It might seem like this technology is a stretch, but one could argue that its simply the logical evolution of what dairy farmers have already been doing for decades. For nearly as long as humans have been keeping cows domestically, its been known that they seem to enjoy listening to music. In the early days farmers would actually play instruments for their herds, but as technology improved, they installed loudspeakers and piped in recorded audio.

In an oft-referenced 2001 study, psychologists from the University of Leicester observed a 3% increase in milk production in cows that were exposed to slow, relaxing music during the day. That might not seem like a lot on a small scale, but when multiplied by thousands of cows, its certainly worth the cost of a few speakers. The science behind this is still not fully understood, and the psychologists explained the experiment was designed primarily to fact-check the anecdotal claims of farmers who were already serenading their animals.

The general consensus is that nervous and agitated cows produce less milk, so anything that can calm them down should result in a noticeable increase in yield. Some even claim the taste of the milk is improved when the animal is more relaxed, but theres even less science to back up that idea.

Given this, the idea that providing the cows with visual stimulation to go along with the music that many farmers are already playing for them doesnt seem completely unreasonable. The press release claims that researchers have already found wearing the VR headset seems to improve the cows general mood. In the future, a more comprehensive study will be performed to see how much it actually increases milk production over existing techniques.

Even so, its hard to look at this experiment and not see it as needlessly complex. After all, humans have been managing to coax milk out of cows for all of recorded history without any video game trickery. But of course, the demands of modern farming are quite a bit different than the idyllic mental images most of us have. If youre picturing something that looks like what they put on the carton: a handful of cows meandering around a wide-open pasture, complete with grain silos and a windmill in the background; the reality of a high-yield dairy farm might come as something of a shock.

It could be that providing the cows with a vision of a somewhat less dystopian environment might make life in captivity easier for them. If this sounds a bit like the plot of The Matrix, thats because it literally is. As depressing a realization as it may be, putting cows into a virtual environment where they can forget theyre being mechanically drained of their bodily fluids in service of a technologically superior species might be the nicest thing we can do for them.

From a purely practical standpoint it seems like lining their pens with high-definition displays showing scenes from a spring meadow would make more sense than equipping each cow with an individual video system, but perhaps the simulation wouldnt be accurate enough. Like Morpheus said, No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

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Electric Dreams Help Cows Survive The Desert Of The Real - Hackaday

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Tom and Becky retiring from B104.7; replaced by Bobby Bones Show –

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After more than a decade leading Central New Yorks #1 morning radio show, Tom Owens and Becky Palmer are retiring from Tom & Becky.

Their last show will be on Friday, December 20th, according to an announcement on WSYR-TV.

Tom and Beckys airtime will be filled by The Bobby Bones Show, beginning Monday, December 23rd. Its a nationally syndicated country music radio show originating in WSIX-FM studios in Nashville.

Becky started as co-host along with the late Ron Bee. Tom Owens then joined the show, and the duo went on to earn a Country Music Association Medium Market Personalities of the Year nomination for leadership, community service and excellence in broadcasting.

Tom and Becky left listeners with a fond farewell message:

After 11 years as your companions driving into work, mending the farm, relaxing after a long night shift, or simply two friends to listen to when you need them We are moving onto the next chapters in our lives ... Weve had so many incredible memories with you. Weve interviewed countless country artists, and witnessed first hand the beginnings of some amazing careers, such as Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood. From the Grandstand, to the Amphitheater, to countless other amazing venues for country music, weve loved giving you incredible, once in a lifetime opportunities with the stars.

Tom is a Syracuse University grad and a huge fan of the Orange basketball and football teams who also enjoys spending time with his family in Fort Myers, Florida. Hes looking forward to doing that more often.

I dont nearly get to spend enough time with my son who currently lives around that area, Tom wrote in the announcement. [My wife] Laurie and I are looking forward to being able to travel there more often.

Becky survived a battle with breast cancer during her tenure on the show, and began an initiative to educate women about the importance of early mammograms. She intends to spend more time doing that when she retires, as well as exploring other hobbies.

I have been working on renovating a mobile home throughout this year. Its an older, vintage vehicle And boy, I wasnt expecting it to be so much work, she wrote.

The duo thanked listeners for their years of tuning in. YOU are the reason why we have absolutely loved this wonderful journey.

My friends Tom and Becky have been instrumental to B104.7s success and they have made a big impact in the Syracuse community," said Syracuse Market President Rick Yacobush. We all wish them the best as they choose to spend more time with their families.

The Bobby Bones Show will broadcast from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on weekdays on B104.7, and will feature the biggest names in country music mixed with pop-culture news, information and conversation to start your morning.

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The iDream 5 relaxes your eyes and head with massages, vibrations, and hot-compresses – Yanko Design

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Perhaps the best headset to wear after an hour or so of wearing a VR headset (or spending too much time in front of a screen), the iDream 5 gives you a relaxing head and eye massage to help you calm down after all that stressful work and blue-light exposure. The VR Headset-esque device sits cleanly on your head like a helmet, with three modules on the front, top, and back, respectively. With a wide variety of settings, you can select between routines, choosing to knead your scalp for better blood circulation, massage your eyes for relaxation and better sleep, or use a series of vibration and heat-pad routines for stress and pain relief. The iDream 5 packs a weeks worth of usage on a full charge and even comes with in-built speakers to play relaxing music for the full experience and can be entirely controlled via a panel on its side, or by a smartphone app besides, if youd like to use the iDream 5 while working, watching TV, or reading, the goggles unit is completely detachable, freeing up your eyes while giving you a full head massage.

Designer: Breo

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The iDream 5 relaxes your eyes and head with massages, vibrations, and hot-compresses - Yanko Design

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Blog Archive Houston Symphony gives thanks to Richard Strauss with an evening of brilliant music – Texas Classical Review

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Richard Strauss created some of the splashiest, most theatrical orchestral music in the repertory. So, an all-Strauss program might easily turn into too much of a good thingleaving one feeling as overstuffed as a large Thanksgiving dinner.

Fortunately, the Houston Symphony and music director Andrs Orozco-Estrada avoided that danger Friday night at Jones Hall.

Could anything begin a concert in a less showy way than the sickroom gloom that launches Strausss early tone poem Death and Transfiguration? Yet Orozco-Estrada and the orchestra made it as arresting as the sonic pyrotechnics that come later in the score.

The upper strings pulsations were hushed but deep, generating a paradoxical electricity. The rumblings from the orchestras lower reaches added sepulchral darkness and depth, and the tendrils of melody sang out plaintively.

As the protagonists death throes erupted, Orozco-Estrada spurred the orchestra to give them visceral force.

When the sufferings gave way to memories of better days, the orchestras sweep and red-blooded richness brought them to life. The players evoked the departeds transfiguration in a gradual, commanding crescendo. Without interrupting the momentum, Orozco-Estrado took time to lead the strings to caress the most mellifluous turns of phrase. At the climax, Strausss main transfiguration theme rang out majestically.

Written 58 years later at the end of his long life, Strausss Four Last Songs returned to the theme of lifes inevitable end, complete with a quote from Death and Transfiguration.

Some conductors emphasize the songs spaciousness to a fault. Orozco-Estrada gave them a bit more flow, setting up Swedish soprano Miah Persson to relish the vocal flights that are the songs calling card.

And the soloists lyric-soprano gleam and fluent vocalism clearly savored the songs transports and reveries alike. When Strauss called for her to soar, Persson gave each melisma a shape and energy of its ownsurging here, relaxing there, ringing out vibrantly at the lines peak. As Spring invoked birdsong, her lightness gave the moment an airy charm of its own.

In the songs more reflective sections, Persson imbued the German texts with an almost conversational feel. That was especially compelling in the last song, At Sunset, with its meditation on past experiences and lifes final dusk. Perssons voice sounded a bit dry at times, but that was a small price to pay for the expressive immediacy of her performance.

When her voice was silent, Orozco-Estrada let the orchestras rich textures bloom. But whenever Strauss brought the solo voice to the fore, the conductor alertly pared down his accompaniment. In Going to Sleep, guest concertmaster Juliette Kang set the stage for Persson by filling her pivotal violin solo with shapeliness and warmth.

The concerts second half brought two portraits of antiheroes: Till Eulenspiegel and Don Juan. The orchestra plunged into both showpieces with ample virtuosity, but Orozco-Estrada ensured that each work had its own distinctive profile.

After Orozco-Estrada took his bow before Don Juan, he gave the downbeat before the audience had finished applauding; the entire performance was shot through with that kind of eagerness.

The orchestras power and crackling virtuosity captured the legendary rakes sheer, self-destructive abandon. The strings most flamboyant flourishes were dashing, forceful and razor-sharp; the entire ensemble brought the climaxes tremendous energy and blazing tone.

Principal oboist Jonathan Fischer and principal clarinetist Mark Nuccio spun out Strauss lyricism tenderly in the love scenes. And when Don Juan met his doom, the orchestras muffled, glowering tone put across his spiritual darkness.

The prankster Eulenspiegel came to life through the orchestras quicksilver fleetness and whimsical light touch. Associate principal horn Robert Johnson set the tone with his nimble solos, and the orchestras agility and sharpness gave each of Eulenspiegels escapades a rascally pizazzespecially principal flutist Aralee Doroughwith clarinetist Nuccio investing the troublemakers last cries with squealing desperation.

Screens on either side of the stage supplied translations for the Four Last Songs. But someone had the dubious idea to use projected titles during the tone poems as well.

In Don Juan, that included the likes of Don Juan theme, First encounter and In his mind, he was a hero. That last one, accompanying the striding horn theme, got a chuckle from some listenersprobably not the reaction Strauss wanted.

If ever there was music that invites listeners to listen and let their minds eyes run free, its these colorful, picturesque works. No doubt, helping the audience understand the scenarios was well-intentioned. But the spoon-feeding only pre-empted the listeners own reactions.

The program will be repeated 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.; 713-224-7575.

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Blog Archive Houston Symphony gives thanks to Richard Strauss with an evening of brilliant music - Texas Classical Review

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Idyllwild Arts Summer Program: Intensive practical instruction in the arts – Study International News

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Innovative in nature, Southern Californias Idyllwild Arts Academy knows how to capture the creativity of children, youth, adults and families with an annual Summer Program, with the next program taking place between June 14 and August 9, 2020.

This immersive experience provides hands-on instruction in every imaginable arts discipline, including sculpture, painting, photography, ceramics, jewelry, Native American arts, film and digital media, fashion design, dance, theatre and creative writing.

All of this is in addition to exceptionally varied music options that include orchestra, chamber, choir, band, piano, jazz and songwriting.

As the Best School for the Arts in America according to the 2020 Niche rankings, Idyllwild Arts Academy has a longstanding reputation for inspiring learners and creating leaders. And Idyllwild Arts Summer Program workshops offer high-caliber arts instruction to attendees of all ages and abilities.

Situated on 205 forested acres in Southern Californias majestic San Jacinto Mountains, the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program has professional artist-educators on hand to spark self-expression.

Source: Idyllwild Arts Academy

Children between the ages of 5 and 8 experience the joys of creativity and performance through the Idyllwild Arts Childrens Center.

For Summer Program attendees aged 9 to 13, known as Junior Artists, there are opportunities to explore and develop individual creative expressions.

Finally, for attendees aged 13 to 18, the intensives and workshops supply focused and challenging experiences. Young learners who choose a single creative outlet to focus on during the program are challenged to improve their skills and strengthen their self-confidence.

At Idyllwild Arts, all workshops provide a low student-to-teacher ratio, so students get the best out of their Summer Program experience and every class evokes artistic discovery, productivity and creativity.

If you take a look at the Summer Program page, youll see a creative specialty that fits every aspiration and age group.

Presenting numerous subject areas such as Creative Writing, Dance, the ESL & Arts Summer Intensive, Fashion Design, Film, Digital Media, & Sound, the Multi-Arts Day Program, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts, the Summer Program caters to diverse creative minds.

Source: Idyllwild Arts Academy

For Visual Arts enthusiasts, there are abundant riches to choose from. From a two-week 3D art extravaganza where students explore the world of ceramics, to an exciting digital photography camp that covers the fundamental techniques of photography, camera handling and finalising print, endless possibilities that fulfil the creative needs of visual artists are waiting at Idyllwild.

For aspiring theatre performers and producers, the Theatre module includes an exhilarating summer theatre camp where students work on an original or adapted musical from its early stages of development to its premiere.

The Summer Program also enables students to put a modern spin on a Shakespeare play, performed under the stars with professional lighting, sets, costumes and music.

Film, Digital Media & Sound students use a state-of-the-art soundstage, film-based lighting, grip equipment, HD digital cameras and editing suites to make short digital films.

Because creativity knows no age limit, the Summer Program also has an Adult Arts Center where students enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of a summer camp while receiving intensely detailed technical instruction and personal attention to individual artistic needs.

Source: Idyllwild Arts Academy

With workshops available such as Hot Clay & Pottery, Jewelry & Metals Week, Mixed Media & Book Arts, Native American Arts, Printmaking & Photography and Sculpture & Glassblowing, parents receive guidance from experienced instructors eager to work with learners of all ages and abilities.

Or, if parents prefer to be together with their child or children, the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program Family Week allows whole families to explore a range of the arts, enjoy outdoor recreation in a stunning mountain setting and share meaningful time together.

The Family Week features seven days and six nights of fun and adventure, with all meals and accommodation provided. Here, relaxation comes naturally.

The best part is that families can tailor their programs to suit their interests, enjoying live performances, concerts, lectures and games, or choosing to be active by creating art, hiking or swimming or just relaxing by the pool and reading a book. Everything is possible at Idyllwild!

So if youre interested in unleashing your creativity by registering for the teens and kids workshops, Family Week or the 4-Week Summer ESL, click here to find out more.

Adult registration opens in February and youre always welcome to email to find out more about the 2020 Summer Program schedule.

Follow Idyllwild Arts Academy on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo and Instagram

Idyllwild Arts: Making art a lifelong practice

Balance arts, academics, and athletics for students to reach their full potential

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Idyllwild Arts Summer Program: Intensive practical instruction in the arts - Study International News

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Novotel Goes ‘Calm’ with New Relaxation App – GTP Headlines

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Home > Industry sectors > Hospitality > Novotel Goes Calm with New Relaxation App

Novotel Hotels has announced a multi-year global partnership with Calm, a leading app for sleep, meditation and relaxation, which promises to help hotel guests achieve inner calm and enjoy a more restful travel experience.

Beginning in January 2020 at Novotel locations in the United Kingdom, the partnership with Calm will be introduced at more than 530 hotels across 60 countries throughout the year.

According to an announcement, the forward-thinking partnership emphasizes the vital role of sleep, mindfulness and self-care while traveling, and is a leading example of a global hospitality brand integrating mental wellbeing into its guest programming.

Wellness travel is growing twice as fast as tourism overall, with sleep and mental wellbeing proving to be extremely important to consumers in new or unfamiliar environments, such as hotels, said Aleena Abrahamian, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Calm.

As part of Novotels Time is on Your Side campaign, which enables travelers to discover relaxing moments, guests will experience the positive benefits of Calm including guided meditations, atmospheric music, nature soundscapes, and over 150 Sleep Stories all of which are designed specifically to instill a calmer mindset.

Traveling often takes people out of their usual comfort zones and so we feel it is vitally important to help our guests regain that comfort through mindfulness and relaxing environments, said Nadege Keryhuel, Vice President of Novotel Brand.

Sleep Stories is among Calms most popular content, offering soothing bedtime stories often narrated by well-known voices, that transport millions of adults and kids into a calmer, deeper sleep.

To celebrate its partnership with Novotel, Calm has released a new Sleep Story called Nightfall, narrated by award-winning actress Eva Green in English and in French.

Novotel is brand of Accor, a world-leading augmented hospitality group offering unique experiences in 4,900 hotels and residences across 110 countries.

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Novotel Goes 'Calm' with New Relaxation App - GTP Headlines

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How to support someone with tinnitus – Healthy Hearing

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Contributed by Glenn Schweitzer December 2, 20192019-12-02T00:00:00-06002019-12-02T00:00:00-0600

Of all the hardships we face in life, there are few things worse than watching a loved one suffer from a debilitating health condition.

The feeling of powerlessnessof wanting to help so desperately when there is nothing you can doits devastating, especially when there isnt a cure or simple answer.

At its worst, tinnitusthe medical term for ringing in the earscan become like torture, completely destroying a sufferers quality of life. Anxiety and stress levels go through the roof, sleep becomes more and more difficult, and the noise is inescapable. The sound never stops and so far too often, hope is not a part of the equation.

Its excruciatingly difficult to watch someone you care about suffer so severely.

Most people in this situation ask, How can I help? or What can I do?

But with a complicated health problem like tinnitus, the answers arent obvious, and your loved one may not know either.

The good news is that you do have the power to help, both directly and indirectly, in ways that actually make a difference.

(If you are suffering from tinnitus yourself, share this with your friends and family!)

The first thing you need to understand about severe tinnitus is that when you dont look sick, everybody automatically thinks youre healthy. But youre not, youre suffering greatly, and nobody really understands what youre going through, assuming they even believe you in the first place.

This is a major challenge for invisible illness patients across the board. But in the case of tinnitus, its even worse, because most people have experienced temporary ringing in their ears after a loud event in a way that was not problematic at all. As a result, they will think you are overreacting. They experienced it themselves and it wasnt an issue, so it couldnt possibly be as bad as you describe.

They are wrong.

You know that terrible feeling you get when you hear nails on a chalkboard? How it grates on your nerves in the most uncomfortable way imaginable? When its bad, tinnitus is exactly that, only exponentially worse, because it never ends.

You know that terrible feeling you get when you hear nails on a chalkboard? How it grates on your nerves in the most uncomfortable way imaginable? When its bad, tinnitus is exactly that, only exponentially worse, because it never ends.

Anxiety and stress levels rise to uncontrollable levels, as panic takes hold. The noise makes it hard (if not impossible) to sleep, and the chronic sleep deprivation only increases the suffering.

Work is a challenge too, if you still are able to work at all. It is incredibly hard to focus with the sound of tinnitus constantly blaring in your ears, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.

Doctors dont always help the problem, either. So many tinnitus sufferers are told that there is nothing they can do, that they just have to live with it. This is simply not truelasting relief is entirely possiblebut most people wont question their doctor. And so they only end up feeling more hopeless and afraid.

Your loved one is suffering terribly and most of the people around them will never even try to understand.

But you can be the person who believes their pain is real. You cant take away their suffering, but you can validate their experience, and that makes all the difference in the world.

You can be the one who understands.

Educating yourself is a good place to start. Take time to learn more about tinnitus and the specific nature of your loved ones suffering.

You will never have the power to take away your loved ones pain but its important to spend time really trying to understand their situation because it opens the door to empathy.

Here are some of the basics to get you started: Tinnitus is the experience of hearing sounds when no external sounds are present. It is not a condition in itself, but a symptom of many different conditions, like hearing loss, head and neck injury, temporomandibularjoint disorder (TMJ), vestibular disorders like Menieres disease,and acoustic neuromas, just to name a few.

Its much more prevalent than most people realize, affecting 10-15% of the general population by most estimates. Thats over 50 million people in the US alone, with hundreds of millions of sufferers worldwide. And as of right now, there is no cure.

Fortunately, treatment is entirely possible. Many coping tools can help tinnitus patients find temporary relief in the middle of a difficult moment, and lasting relief is also possible through a mental process called habituation. Sufferers can get to a place where the sound no longer bothers them, where their brain just starts to tune out the sound from their conscious awareness more and more of the time.

But it takes time, regardless of the strategy employed, and its not an easy journey.

Talk to your loved one. Ask them about their experience, and when you dont understand something, ask them to explain.

They wont have all the answers, and thats OK. Just trying to understand what theyre going through is a comfort and puts you miles ahead of everyone else who doesnt care.

So try to put yourself in their shoes. The better you understand their situation, the more authentic your support will be in their eyes.

On a daily basis, tinnitus patients are confronted with massive amounts of stress and anxiety. They are essentially stuck in an extreme state of fight or flight, and its a vicious cycle. The stress and anxiety further exacerbate the tinnitus, causing only more anxiety, and so on.

When actively suffering, there may be a number of things that your loved one can do to feel better, but its very difficult to think or act rationally in the middle of such an intensely negative emotional experience. Its incredibly hard to have the presence of mind necessary to get up and do something about it when doing something about it requires effort.

Fortunately, relaxation techniques can be an effective way to cope with tinnitus. And you can make a real impact on your loved one's emotional state by helping them to relax, both mentally and physically, in the middle of a moment of suffering.

You can help them to relax mentally by encouraging them toward a relaxing hobby, physical exercise,breathing techniques, aromatherapy, meditation, gratitude practice, sex,music,brainwave entrainment, or really any other activity that your loved one enjoys.

Addressing physiological stress is important too, because when the body is deeply relaxed, the mind generally follows. The mind-body connection is realits just not always obvious. But its why you feel so calm after a great massage.

You have a lot of options here. You can give your loved one a massage, or suggest self-massage with a lacrosse ballor foam roller (also known as myofascial release). You can encourage them to take a hot bath or shower, or take them to a sauna, steam room or hot tub. Really anything that helps your loved one to relax physically will help them to relax mentally and emotionally.

The morerelaxation techniques you can help your loved one put to use, the better theyll be able to cope.

Sound masking is one of the simplest coping strategies available to tinnitus sufferers. When the sound is bothersome, temporary relief can be found by drowning some of it out with background noise.

Its not a perfect solutionif your loved one has hearing loss, or if their tinnitus is too loud, masking may not work very well, if at all.

But as a coping tool, when it works, it can be extremely effective. And its something you can do for your loved one to help them directly.

All you have to do is put on some background noise. Music, nature sounds, broadband noise (white, pink, or brown noise) and podcasts or radio shows can all work well. Really any soundthat your loved one finds relaxing or entertaining can do the job, so its a good idea to explore different masking options ahead of time, when they arent suffering as much.

Just make sure to keep the volume of the background noise below the volume of their tinnitus whenever possible. Otherwise, their tinnitus volume might spike a bit when the masking is turned off.

As obvious as all this advice may seem, Ive found that many tinnitus sufferers resist sound masking when they are struggling. In my 1-on-1 tinnitus coaching practice, a lot of my clients express that turning on sound masking feels like giving up, like theyve lost the battle in some way, so they often avoid it altogether.

I understand the sentimentIve even experienced it myself in my own journey with tinnitusbut its unhelpful. If putting on background noise is all it takes to feel a better in the middle of a difficult moment, they shouldnt hesitate.

But if they do, you can be the one to help.

All of us are fully capable of tuning out background noise from our conscious awareness with a mental process called habituation. We do it automatically, all the time. Its how were able to carry on conversations in loud restaurants and stay focused on our work in noisy office environments.

But when it comes to tinnitus, there is a big problem: We evolved to use sound as a way to monitor our environment for threats, and its simply impossible to ignore a sound that the brain interprets as danger.

When we hear the sound of something dangerous, we have a fight-or-flight stress response. The issue here is that the brain isnt very good at telling the difference between real danger and imagined threats like tinnitus. So we react to the sound as if the danger is real, only the fight-or-flight response never really ends, because tinnitus doesnt just magically go away.

But most sufferers are able to ignore the sound of their tinnitus at least some of the time. The challenge is that it usually only happens when they are completely engaged with some activity they really enjoy.

This kind of distraction offers temporary relief, and its also a small taste of what it feels like to habituate (the difference is that when you fully habituate, it feels like this most or all of the time, not just when you are very distracted).

The next time your loved one is having a hard time you can help them cope more effectively by distracting them from the sound.

Encourage them to participate in any activity they enjoy that helps them to ignore their tinnitus. Better yet, be a part of the distraction yourself!

More often than not, this can be enough to help your loved one get through a moment of crisis.

The hardest part of seeing a loved one struggle with a chronic condition like tinnitus isnt the tinnitus itself. Its the never ending, repetitive nature that makes it so difficult. They suffer, then they suffer again and again.

As you try to support them, you will often feel frustrated, but its important to try to remain calm. When your loved one is suffering, they are at the mercy of forces outside of their control. They dont want to feel what they are feeling, and so they might get angry, emotionally needy, distantor sad.

In any case, its safe to say your interactions will not always be as rational as you would expect under normal circumstances. And its easy to lose your cool when your good intentions are met with hostility, or a reaction you didnt expect. Pain brings out the worst in a person.

But if you can remain calm, and keep a cool head, the difficult moment will pass. And you will be supporting your loved one in a way that actually makes an impact.

Its challenging, but its worth the effort in the end. Because you can make a real difference in your loved ones quality of life.

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How to support someone with tinnitus - Healthy Hearing

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James Bond Experience at Half Moon Jamaica review: A Licence to Thrill in Double-O Heaven – Express

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When you think of Jamaica what comes to mind? The Caribbean island nation is not just the birthplace of Bob Marleys music or Usain Bolts speed but also James Bond 007. Back in the 1950s British author Ian Fleming penned his iconic novels about the MI6 spy from his home on Jamaicas north coast at Goldeneye. Not only were the books a global success, but they went on to spawn one of the most famous film franchise of the last half-century.

And to date three of the 25 official James Bond have been shot in Jamaica. The very first was in 1962, which saw Sean Connery meet Ursula Andress on the beach, as she submerged from her search for seashells before the pair took on Dr No at Crab Key.

Now the latest Bond movie, Daniel Craigs No Time To Die (April 3, 2020) has brought the latest incarnation of 007 back to Jamaica to retire from MI6. Scenes were shot in Ocho Rios near Goldeneye, with set photos seeing Bond reunited with Jeffrey Wrights Felix Leiter.

And last, but certainly not least, was 1973s Live and Let Die, which saw Jamaica itself play the fictional island of San Monique.

In this classic Bond outing, Roger Moore shot scenes at the classic resort of Half Moon, Montego Bay, where he took on a venomous snake and double agent.

A part of 007 history, Half Moon now offers a James Bond experience package - one that gave a licence to thrill, fill and chill.

Just a short 10-minute drive from Montego Bays international airport, the Half Moon resort is spread across a generous two miles of sandy beach, giving guests a wonderful feeling of spacious privacy.

No wonder its been the place to stay in Jamaica for the British Royal Family over the years from Her Majesty The Queen and Prince Philip, to Princes Charles and Harry, not to mention, JFK and Jackie Kennedy.

Half Moon was first formed in the 1950s by a group of American, British and Bermudian entrepreneurs who wanted to spend their winter holidays on the tropical beaches of Jamaica.

Purchasing the land and opening a hotel, the resort gets its name from the half-moon shape of the shoreline where the 10 surviving original cottages are located one being where Moore shot his Bond scenes for Live and Let Die.

From the moment we arrived at the columned open-air entrance to the lobby, it was clear there was something very authentic about Half Moon. Not just the beautiful period furnishing that could have featured in an episode of Poirot, but also the exceptional service from the staff.

As soon as our car door was opened we were welcomed with warm smiles and acknowledgment by name an impressive touch across the board.

Given our own golf buggy to get around the resort, we ventured a short way past palm trees and friendly characters to our upstairs apartment in Cottage No 4.

The sizeable rooms, again stunningly equipped, featured a lounge area and large balcony right on the beachfront. Were going to spoil you this week, one of the maids assured us. Wed arrived in paradise and in luxury lodgings that Bond himself would be more than happy with especially the wonderful air-conditioning.

Licence to Thrill (Bond-related activities)

As part of the James Bond experience package, we had the opportunity to try out Half Moons exciting activity programme. This kicked off with a speed boat tour around the bay, looking out for Dr Nos henchmen across the ocean while having a go at driving across some pretty choppy (but incredibly fun) waves.

Next up we channelled Goldfinger with a round of golf across the road at the awarding-winning 18-hole course, accessed from the main site by an underground tunnel via our buggy how very Bond!

Opened in 1962, PGA tournaments have been held at this beautiful walking course that was once a sugarcane estate. Each hole has its own character, but watch out for the surrounding palm trees as they can particularly difficult to escape if you find yourself stuck in a group of them.

Luckily, Half Moons golf course is equipped with expert caddies some who have worked there for decades who know the course like the back of their hands, and are very helpful with the odd technique tip even if youre not quite a pro just yet.

Last, but not least, our active highlight on the Bond experience was scuba diving. Sean Connerys 007 found himself in a few sticky situations during Thunderball, but luckily the Water Sports team located at Half Moon were on hand for a simultaneously exhilarating and relaxing experience.

Sadly it was a bit warm to wear a tuxedo under our diving gear, but we were quickly trained up in the Olympic-sized swimming pool before heading out in another speed boat to plunge deep into the Caribbean sea. Following a rope down to the bottom, we landed softly on the ocean floor and found ourselves surrounded by a variety of large (but friendly) tropical fish.

It was literally like being inside an aquarium. But, being cautious that Blofelds henchmen could be hiding in nearby coral, our trainer Asquith lead us around the reef, pointing a wide-eyed, but shy, puffa fish hiding in a cave, not to mention a particularly flamboyant sting ray who seemed to be off in a bit of a hurry.

Before long it was time to resurface, but having never scuba dived in the past, we can safely say its an experience we definitely want to try again and again. Also, a whole host of other Water Sports were on offer, including sailing, while back on land the tennis courts and putting green were a welcome addition.

Licence to Fill (Food and Drink)

If youre an avid reader of Ian Flemings James Bond books youll know his spy is a very serious connoisseur when it comes to what he eats and drinks.

The author often shares very precise instructions from Bond to his servers of exactly how he likes his food and beverages down to a tee. No doubt then, 007 would sincerely appreciate whats on offer at Half Moon.

The Seagrape Terrace right on the beach hosted a very generous buffet breakfast each morning, offering favourites youll be used to but also with a distinct Jamaican twist. The coconut rice pudding and omelettes made to order just as you like them were a particular highlight, beautifully accompanied by an array of freshly-squeezed tropical juices and Blue Mountain coffee, which the ever-cheerful staff kept assuring us was the best in the world certainly a contender!

Come lunchtime and the Seagrape offered welcome Jamaican favourites like Jerk Chicken, or if we fancied, good ol steak and chips freshly cooked to order.

In the evenings we were really spoilt for choice. Stopping by the shore side Cedar Bar was an absolute must to kick things off with James Bond-inspired cocktails. Naturally, we ordered gin and vodka martinis (shaken, not stirred, of course) to sip as the sunset overhead.

A band of local musicians were a relaxing accompaniment as they serenaded us with some Bob Marley classics. As for evening fine dining, there were a number of tasty options. A more casual party atmosphere was the beach BBQ buffet which included a scrumptious and tender suckling pig to try. While the table-side entertainment of fire-eating and extreme limbo dancing was just like a scene out of Live and Let Die. Additionally, Il Giardino, the Italian restaurant was a real treat.

When we visited the chef offered us an improvised tasting menu, with the homemade pasta courses being particularly memorable. But the real stand out restaurant has to be the Sugar Mill. Located by the golf course, a five-minute shuttle bus delivered us across the road to this outstanding venue.

After a couple of cocktails at the bar, we received first-class service from a staff who really knew and loved the menu. The well-chosen wines accompanied the buttery Grilled Lobster Tail beautifully. While the pice de rsistance had to be Solomons Brochette. A succulent skewer of beef, pork, sausage, fish and shrimp flamed in front of you with aged Jamaican rum.

Licence to Chill (Relaxation)

Of course, even James Bond needs time off from saving the world. So once wed been off on all our active adventures and filled up on delicious food and drink, we were in need of some serious relaxation. A trip to the Fern Tree Spa for a Jamaican All Spice Sugar Scrub, massage and Reflexology was just what was needed.

A recuperating and peaceful environment, the spa was just what an agent needs before heading back out on his next mission. Meanwhile, the main pool, equipped with water fountains and a swim-up bar and nearby jacuzzis were particularly soothing.

Lying back on a sun longer, reading Flemings Live and Let Die was wonderfully accompanied by a Caribbean Zombie rum cocktail. But probably our favourite spot for sunbathing, reading and being steps away from a swim in the sea, right back on the iconic Half Moon beach. A perfect spot for relaxation with a drinks menu always on hand.

Final Word

All in all, Half Moon is an outstanding Jamaican resort with a lot of history. Offering a unique and classic stay compared to other hotels on offer, the resort really stands out from the crowd. No wonder, it is the choice place to stay for British Royalty. Were James Bond himself to holiday in Jamaica in-between battling SPECTRE, the high-class and quality of this location from the rooms, food and drink to activities and relaxation would be the top of his list.

Double rooms at Half Moon start from $331 (256) per room per night in low season, and from USD$325(251) per room per night in high season. Please note that there is a daily accommodation tax of $4 (3). Breakfast is included. For more information, please visit

Meanwhile, non-stop flights to Montego Bay, Jamaica from Gatwick Airport are available through Virgin Atlantic.

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James Bond Experience at Half Moon Jamaica review: A Licence to Thrill in Double-O Heaven - Express

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December 4th, 2019 at 4:45 am

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What happens to your body and brain over the holidays – INSIDER

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Whether it feels like "the most wonderful time of the year" or not, the holidays are synonymous with extra stress.

The period from late November through January in the US includes the country's busiest travel day, as well as the most calorie-drenched meal Americans eat, and what's generally regarded as the drunkest night of the year.

Insider spoke with four psychologists and hormone experts, who explained how our brains and bodies respond to these seasonal changes and offered suggestions for holiday survival.

The experts all agree that whether your holidays are full of glad tidings or not, the season of near constant get-togethers can be an especially anxiety-producing period. This makes self-care even more important.

"Overall, there's an intensity to the experience that we don't typically have in our day-to-day lives, so often our feelings and interactions feel heightened," psychologist Paraskevi Noulas, an assistant professor of psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, wrote Insider in an email.

The different layers of stress we may experience "can cause significant anxiety, irritability, and tension," she said.

These schedule changes can disrupt our daily hormone patterns, sending levels of stress-related steroids in our bodies, like cortisol, diving and soaring in real-time.

Cortisol, our primary stress hormone, may go up and down a lot over holiday breaks, Robin Edelstein, an associate professor of psychology who studies hormones and relationships at the University of Michigan, told Insider.

"For some people, going home could be this very comforting experience, which could lower stress, decrease cortisol," she said.

But that is not always the case. For example, imagine you're about to miss your flight, and you're running for the gate.

"Cortisol would go up really quickly," Edelstein said.

This kind of acute stress can influence the hormones of significant others, too. During an argument, one person's cortisol spike could make their partner's skyrocket, which scientists have discovered is often a hallmark of relationship troubles. Conversely, the presence of a trusted partner could help another person feel less stressed when traveling. It all depends on the dynamics of the relationship, the situation, and the people involved.

The holidays can also shift sex hormone levels, which may prompt temporary changes in testosterone in both men and women.

"If you think of sort of the warm, happy, relaxing holiday weekend, that could probably lower testosterone," Edelstein said. "But to the extent that there is competition and conflict, it might increase it."

Oxytocin, another hormone that's involved in some of our closest relationships and bonding experiences, can also wax and wane over the holidays, which may be a good thing during this period of extra pressure. Oxytocin is considered a natural antidote for stress, and it's often called the "love hormone," as it's released during activities like hugging and sex.

"Physical contact, especially kind of caring, warm, physical contact, is related to changes in oxytocin levels," Jennifer Bartz, an associate professor of psychology who studies interpersonal relationships and social behaviors at McGill University, told Insider.

A surge of oxytocin can relax a nursing mother, and it may help us recognize our kin and lubricate social connections, too. (It's even been successfully trialed to boost social skills for some children with autism.)

But a rush of oxytocin, despite it's glowing reputation, doesn't universally provide people with a warm and fuzzy boost. In some individuals, extra oxytocin can trigger anxiety and discomfort, a tendency that researchers like Bartz hypothesize may be linked to more anxious and avoidant attachment patterns.

It's another reminder that how bodies react to the holidays is never a one-size-fits-all equation, and it's dependent on a variety of internal and external factors.

"It's not a pleasing answer, but these things are really complicated and no hormone or neurotransmitter acts in isolation," Bartz said. "Taking a step back and thinking about what might be most adaptive for humans, it probably makes sense for there to be checks and balances, different factors that would make you not behave similarly in all situations."

But any moment-to-moment changes in testosterone or cortisol levels experienced over a holiday trip won't likely have a lasting effect on the body, Edelstein said. This is unlike chronic stress, which can damage both mental and physical health, raising blood pressure and even contributing to obesity.

If the holidays make you feel like you're falling into old, negative behavior patterns with family members and friends, investigate why you're feeling how you feel and what you might do about it, psychologists told Insider.

"As they say, old habits die hard," said David Susman, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky. "So you do have to be intentional and [plan out] how you're going to try to be different."

Strategies for breaking out of toxic patterns include clear communication, a change in scenery, or an offer to help others with household chores.

"You need to communicate," Susman said. "The first time you're bringing maybe a boyfriend or girlfriend home, it's like, 'Okay, what are the sleeping arrangements going to be? The first time you bring the baby home it's like, 'Okay, well, where are we going to put the little portable crib?' There are a lot of practical details that I think have to be talked about."

Advance planning can also help is if you know tensions are going to run high at a gathering based on how things have gone in the past.

"'Hey, I'd love if this year we could all pitch in to clean up after dinner,'" Noulas suggests as a prompt, "Or, 'Can we make this a no-politics discussion this year, given what happened last time?'"

The experts we spoke with about holiday stress each said it's even more important than usual at these times to make sure you're getting enough sleep and exercise, finding time to relax and unwind, and putting healthy food and drinks in your body.

If you're traveling or preparing to spend time with others, both Noulas and Susman suggest finding relaxing sounds to surround yourself with, like some favorite music or a podcast.

"The more you're managing your stress level and feeling calm, the easier it will be to speak to mom as your 35 year-old self, not the 5 year-old version of yourself," Noulas said.

Once you're at an event, getting out for a walk, journaling about your day each evening, taking a break from the action when you need it, and even calling a friend to vent if you're feeling upset are all "soothing activities," according to Noulas.

"If the humans are stressful, you find some animals," Edelstein said.

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What happens to your body and brain over the holidays - INSIDER

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5 Calming Games And Apps For Android, iOS That Will Help You Relieve Stress: Altos Odyssey, Colorfy And More – Mashable India

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If youre a human strutting on this little planet we call Earth, theres a good chance that there are some things you arent happy about. But as Victor Frankl said, If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.. Meanwhile, if youre looking at ways to relieve stress and have a moment of peace from the hustle and bustle of daily life, heres a list of games and applications that will help you do just that.

Altos has to be on the top of the list when it comes to games that have a soothing effect on a tired soul, at least for me. Altos Odyssey marries eye-pleasing visuals with lulling music and presents an experience that can prove to be cathartic to some. The best part about the game is the Zen Mode that lets you indulge in the game without having to worry about besting your high score or completing some objective.

Altos Odyssey is available on Android and iOS for free with in-app purchases.

If you didnt know already, colouring has the ability to relax the fear center of your brain. That is one reason why you find yourself filling the counters of letters in the newspaper. But with smartphones being more accessible now, the Colorfy application can help you deliver a similar experience. Colorfy is a colouring book application that lets you colour mandalas, cartoons, patterns and all sorts of drawings.

Colorfy is available on Android and iOS for free with in-app purchases.

If trees and music doesnt sound like a good combination already, allow me to further explain what Prune is all about. Prune is popularly described to be meditative and its quite obvious why when you start playing. The game revolves around a bonsai tree that can be trimmed to whatever shape you desire. If youre not too sure about paying for the app, this review by a user on the Google Play Store might help you make a decision.

Absolutely phenomenal. If anyone is on the fence about buying- afraid it'll be boring - you don't need to. Gorgeous music, mechanics, and storyline. It will make you feel emotional despite no words being said and no characters as a medium. The progression of the trees and the allusions to humanity crushing them are just wow.

Prune is a paid app and available on Android (INR 100) and iOS (INR 299).

Have you ever indulged in fluid art? Well, if you havent you need to install Fluid Simulation to see how relaxing playing with colours can be. To clarify, this isnt a game. The application simply provides a plain canvas to let users play with fluid colours that makes for a gorgeous visual experience. Add some soul-touching music to the mix and youll be floating in a bubble of elation.

Fluid Simulation is available on Android and iOS for free with in-app purchases.

A lot of tranquillity and comfort can be garnered from the growing and nurturing a plant. While I really recommend that you actually do this, theres also an application that lets you pander to this activity while youre on the move. Viridi lets users nurture a small pot of succulents that grow in real time. These virtual plants require care and attention just like the real deal. Even when people will leave you, these succulents wont desert you.

Viridi is available on Android and iOS for free with in-app purchases.

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5 Calming Games And Apps For Android, iOS That Will Help You Relieve Stress: Altos Odyssey, Colorfy And More - Mashable India

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