If Your Child Is Sitting Like This, Here’s Why You Need to Stop Them Now

My daughter’s just over a year old, so there’s really not much she’s doing “wrong” yet. (Trust me, like all of us, she’ll get there.) If she smacks our family pet, it’s less hostility and more that she doesn’t have full control of her arms. If she throws her food, it’s not an act of insubordination but just her method of communicating that she’s done eating. So, when a family member alerted me to something my child was doing that she needed to stop at once, I was taken aback. Especially because, at that particular moment, she wasn’t stealing her playmate’s toys or eating an expensive coaster as she’s sometimes known to do. She was just sitting there.

Turns out, the way she was sitting — with each leg splayed at her side, knees in front and feet behind, to form a “W” shape — was all kinds of bad.

According to a vast majority of physical therapists, there are several key reasons why:

W-sitting limits core strength because it gives kids a wider base of support. Because they don’t have to engage their abdominal or back muscles in this position, kids often prefer it to more challenging, tiring positions, like with legs in front, at their sides, or crisscrossed.
W-sitting causes muscle tightness, particularly in the legs and hips but also knees and ankles.
W-sitting aggravates neurological issues such as low muscle tone, which means when kids aren’t actively using their muscles, those muscles are floppier and softer and have a harder time holding their bodies upright.
What this all means, most therapists agree, is that prolonged W-sitting throughout childhood can lead to a delayed development in gross motor skills like coordination and balance. For those parents hoping to raise a star athlete, this position’s effect on postural muscles can also be cause for concern.

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Why do some kids sit like this? It’s by far the steadiest way for children of all ages to sit, and aside from that innate tendency to achieve the most stability, it’s also been attributed to time spent in infant carrier devices, like swings, bouncy seats, and car seats.

Seeing as my daughter had graduated from infancy, I was immediately concerned that the damage was already done. I had tried my best to limit her time in her baby swing and the oversize, overpriced ExerSaucer that I had bought under the assumption it was actually good for a baby’s development, but here she was, W-sitting at every turn. I had never noticed it until now.

What can be done? Well, the somewhat alarmist recommendation is to get them to stop doing it immediately — that, whenever you see your child W-sitting, you either physically move their legs into a suitable position (if they’re too young to understand) or tell them to do so.

So, with a watchful eye, I adjusted her legs every time she sat incorrectly, and my husband and I instructed our child’s caretakers to do the same. Occasionally I’d correct her, and it’d be fine, but plenty of times, adjusting one of her legs would make her cry and most times, doing so annoyed her to the point that she was no longer interested in sitting and scooted off to go do something else.

She wasn’t the only one getting fed up, and it had only been a week. I dug a little deeper and found that a few pediatric occupational therapists out there don’t view this seated position as a problem necessarily. There’s not much evidence that shows causation. That is, yes, children who W-sit often have orthopedic issues and muscle tightness. But W-sitting hasn’t been proven to be the cause of those issues, which makes one wonder: could tight hamstrings and hip dysplasia lead to W-sitting, not the other way around?

One such unconvinced therapist, Rachel Coley, happens to be the mother to a W-sitter and maintains it’s perfectly normal for kids to sit this way.

She notes that it’s a simple sign of flexibility and aids in fine motor control because you need to assume the most stable seated position possible when engaging in tasks that require “coordinated, controlled movements of the hands and fingers.” Coley also noted that, for babies in particular, W-sitting provides a convenient, “natural transition” from crawling or kneeling to sitting.

However, based on how strongly most certified therapists feel about W-sitting, I’m not taking any chances. I’m going to keep my eye on it, and I’ll encourage other parents who were unaware of this issue to do the same, especially if they have older kids showing some of the negative side effects. But, if my child is having the time of her life smacking two wooden blocks together, I’m not going to spoil the fun if she happens to be W-sitting.

What you need to see when exploring WA’s Kimberley

A bird’s eye view of the Lake Argyle caravan park.

IF you really want to get away from it all, remote places to visit and stay in WA’s Kimberley region are perfect for a caravan and camping holiday.


The park contains amazing waterfalls, Aboriginal rock art and sites of cultural significance to the Wunambal people. No Kimberley adventure would be complete without a visit to the spectacular Mitchell Plateau, including a sightseeing adventure to Mitchell and Mertens falls and Surveyors Pool.

The park is only open in the dry season, usually April to mid-October and is accessible by 4WD vehicles only.

Caravans are not permitted due to road conditions, but off-road camper trailers are allowed.


The campground has campsites with fire rings and wood provided for cooking. There are sealed vault pit toilets and water available from Mertens Creek.

Water (collected at a point upstream) should be boiled before use.

PRO TIP: Walk to the falls and arrange to take a chopper ride back to the campground to experience a stunning view of the falls.


The park is east of Mitchell River National Park and accessible via foot only, usually from the Mitchell Plateau Airstrip.

Anyone entering the park requires permission from the Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation and the Department of Parks and Wildlife. The park has no facilities and no trails with the trip truly a Kimberley bush experience, recommended for experienced bush walkers.


The large park, split down the middle by the Drysdale River, is east of the Kulumburu Gibb River Road.

There are no roads going into the park and no facilities or trails in the park. Access to the park is via the Carson River Station and then by foot.

All people entering the park require permission from the Department of Parks and Wildlife, and the station owners to access Carson River Station.


Found in one of the most pristine areas of the Kimberley, this park has not had many visitors due to restricted access up until 2009.

It is only accessible via helicopter and requires permission from the Department of Parks and Wildlife to enter.

All visitors planning to hike overnight in parks in the Kimberley must fill in a Remote Recreational Activities in the Kimberley Form. Call the Department of Parks and Wildlife’s Kununurra office on 9168 4200 or Broome office on 9195 5500 for further information.



Mount Augustus forms part of an epic WA road trip. Photo: Tourism WA.Source:Supplied

The 800km Kingsford Smith Mail Run trail provides a real feel for WA’s outback, with a smattering of history to make things more interesting.

In 1924, Charles Kingsford Smith once trundled along this very route on his mail run. It can be a lonely road, but the highlights are worth the trip.

Here’s a chance to follow one of his smaller trails.


Leaving the port town of Carnarvon, start your Kingsford Smith Mail Run adventure by heading east through pastoral land to Gascoyne Junction, where huge sheep stations dot the landscape. Travel on to Mt Augustus, a massive monolith twice the size of Uluru. Arrive in time to watch the sun sink over the 1750 million-year-old Mt Augustus.


Spend some time exploring the rock formations, caves and indigenous art scattered throughout the Mt Augustus area. As well as spring wildflowers and native wildlife viewing, this is also a popular spot for swimming, fishing and picnics. From here, head south to the Gascoyne River and Landor, famous for its races. Follow the current mail route via Mt Gould and the Mt Gould Lock Up.


Journey south through the vast, timeless outback to the gold mining town of Meekatharra. Take the Meeka Rangelands Discovery Walk Trail and explore rocky outcrops, view native wildlife and marvel at the displays of spring wildflowers.

● NOTE: Parts of the track are only suitable for high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles and should only be attempted by confident drivers. Supplies and services are limited and road conditions can vary, so plan ahead, stock up on food, water and fuel and contact the local visitor centre for up-to-date track information.

● Before heading off into the remote desert areas of Australia, you will need to obtain permits, enabling you to travel through private and Aboriginal lands. Get more information about permits for Aboriginal lands or visit the Australian National Four Wheel Drive Council. And to ensure you enjoy a safe and well-planned journey, be sure to take a look at road safety and important travel tips.



Infinity pool at Lake Argyle Resort.Source:Supplied

COVERING more than 900sq km and surrounded by the rugged landscape of the mighty Carr Boyd Ranges, Lake Argyle is home to more than 270 bird species and an array of wildlife in a thriving ecosystem.

It’s Australia’s largest freshwater expanse with Lake Argyle Resort and Caravan Park nestled on a cliff top overlooking it.

The park is open all year-round and features various accommodation types and activity options. Accommodation ranges from shady powered and unpowered campsites, eco safari tents and standard studios to the stunning lake view villas.

The resort also boasts the famous infinity pool, a wet-edge pool and spa looking out over Bamboo Cove, with one of Australia’s most stunning views.

Hopping on board the “Kimberley Durack” catamaran for a boat cruise on the Lake is considered a bucket list experience. You’ll enjoy the informative commentary about the construction of the dam wall and the pioneering Durack family.

You’ll also feed the fish and marvel at the wildlife, which includes many freshwater crocodiles.

The Kimberley Durack lunch cruise includes an island stopover, where you have a chance to walk around the island in search of the elusive wallaroo or rock wallaby or swim out from the pebbly beach into the crystal clear water. Your hosts will prepare a sumptuous buffet, including the freshly caught local catch silver cobbler, straight from the barbecue.


The closest town to Lake Argyle is Kununurra, the service centre for the East Kimberley.

Take the Victoria Highway east, then turn into the sealed Lake Argyle Road. The Resort and Caravan Park is located at the end of this road, just 1km from the Lake Argyle Dam.



Adventure seekers should look to visit Lake Argyle in September when the adventure race takes place.

SEPTEMBER 5-7: Swim (2km), run (9km), mountain bike (32km) and paddle (7km) in the remote East Kimberley in teams of two, three or four.

Friday: Mountain bike shoot out — a time trial format on the new Rotary Lake Argyle Trail.

Saturday: Team adventure race starting at Bamboo Cove, down from the Lake Argyle Resort and Caravan Park pool.

Saturday night: Dinner and the team presentation at the Lake Argyle Resort

Sunday: Solo adventure challenge (2km swim, 13km kayak, 6km off-trail run, 21km mountain bike ride).




Pearl Luggers — explore Broome’s pearling history.Source:Supplied

UNTIL late into the 1900s, the pearling industry in Broome was based primarily on the collection of oysters for their shell value and not for the occasional pearls they would yield.

WA’s pearling industry began to flourish in the mid-1860s as the worldwide demand for mother of pearl shell used to make buttons, cutlery, hair combs and jewellery items, continued to rise.

Prior to World War I, the price of shell was at an all-time high. With the announcement of the war in 1914, the demand for mother of pearl dropped dramatically overnight. Most of the industry’s labour pool immediately joined the war effort and the industry was left without sufficient labour or resources to maintain its fleets.

The pearling industry limped along until the end of the war and by the 1920s had recovered to the point where the price of shell was higher than ever.

Then disaster struck with the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941.

The United States entered World War II and once again, almost overnight, the pearling industry was out of business.

The internment of the Japanese, who were considered to be the best pearl divers, into prisoner-of-war camps, coupled with the fact that most of the industry’s labour was once again enlisted in the war effort, ceased the industry to cease operations.

But the war actually saved Australian pearling.

The army, preparing for a Japanese invasion that never came, burned precious luggers on the beach as part of a ‘scorched earth’ policy. The Japanese, their economy and most surface craft destroyed, were unable to resume their own oceanic pearling after the war. By the 1950s the Broome fleet had been rebuilt with a world-record price of 600 pounds a ton of pearl shell being achieved.

When at last a rosy future seemed assured for Broome and pearlers a new disaster struck.

In 1958, the plastic button was marketed in America. By 1959 mother of pearl had become unsaleable.

But salvation was close at hand.

The Japanese had been culturing pearls in their own oysters for many years. In 1946 after the war, Kockichi Mikimoto, the “father” of the industry, expressed his belief that the bigger Australian shell could produce the biggest and best pearls yet seen.

After the patriarch’s death, Tokuichi Kuribayashi took over and with Sam Male, owner of Broome’s biggest fleet, Brown and Dureau MOP exporters of Melbourne, and Otto Gerdau MOP importer of New York, established an experimental pearl farm in the Kimberley.


Take a tour at Pearl Luggers in Broome, in the heart of Chinatown, to get an understanding of the industry in its early days.

It is the closest link to the pearling era of days gone by, featuring two fully rigged and restored pearling luggers.

The interactive, one-hour tour will whisk you back in time to an era of courageous men who lived a life of danger and fortune.

You will discover more than 100 years of history and learn the legendary tale of ‘The Sea, The Men, The Legend’.

View original pearling artefacts, experience the weight of pearl diving equipment, watch rare archival footage and taste the exclusive pearl meat.



Tour guide Rosemary Nugget with guests exploring the Mimbi Caves in Western Australia.Source:Supplied

MIMBI Caves are one of Australia’s most spectacular and significant sites.

Dating back more than 350 million years, the caves are a place of deep spiritual significance to the Gooniyandi people, as well as being one of the most significant Devonian fossil sites in the world.

This amazing cave system will take your breath away with its vivid colours and beautiful limestone rock formations, while the history and Dreaming stories of the Gooniyandi people take on a life of their own when shared deep within the heart of the caves.

Mimbi Caves are 90km east of Fitzroy Crossing.

Here, tours explain the historical, cultural and geographical importance of the caves.

Mimbi Caves Tour — 3 hour tour

Adults $80 Children $40 (max 32 people). Departs 10am and 2pm Monday to Thursday and Saturday

T: (08) 9191 5468 or info@mimbicaves.com.au, www.mimbicaves.com.au


THERE is no reason why the kids can’t enjoy the North-West as much as the adults, especially if you’re heading to El Questro Wilderness Park in the Kimberley.

The park’s new Junior Ranger program is a great way to introduce the kids to the outback.

Led by one of El Questro’s experienced rangers, Junior Rangers offers interactive sessions covering a range of topics, including fishing, bird watching, bush tucker and bush survival, crocodile and snake safety, and learning about the region’s flora, including the famous boab trees.

Senior rangers leading a session at Emma GorgeSource:Supplied

About 110km from Kununurra, El Questro is a remote and rugged destination that promises the seclusion to explore this iconic part of Australia and the amazing wildlife that exists there.

Kids interested in bugs, birds and little critters will be in their element at El Questro, which is a naturalist’s delight and home to nearly half of Australia’s 780 bird species, and more than 60 mammals.

Brolgas, jabirus and red-tailed black cockatoos are common during the day and by night kids will enjoy listening for the dog-like call of the aptly named barking owl.

The less audible mammal species are largely nocturnal, preferring to avoid the heat of the day and include rock wallabies, dingoes, fruit bats and flying foxes.

Reptiles also have a home at El Questro, from turtles to frill-necked lizards, and the relatively harmless freshwater crocodiles found in billabongs.

While the kids are having fun, parents can take part in numerous tours at El Questro, from 4WD trips, scenic flights, horseriding and walking tours to various gorges.

Full-day fishing tours for the elusive local barramundi are also available.

“El Questro is the ultimate kids’ playground,” El Questro general manager Lori Litwack said.

“They can get their hands dirty in our dusty red-brown earth learning about lizards and ants, and learn all about our famous boabs, bush tucker and graceful eagles soaring overhead.”

Costing $30 a child, there will be two, two-hour Junior Rangers sessions a day from June to late August. They can be booked at El Questro Station on the day.

For more information about the Junior Rangers program and the many other activities at El Questro visit www.elquestro.com.au.

9 Must-See Movies About Bipolar Disorder

There are many worthy films about mental illness that inspire, inform and entertain. Here, we narrow down the list to nine movies featuring a lead character with bipolar disorder that you don’t want to miss!

#1 The Ghost and the Whale (2016)

Maurice Benard (Sonny of General Hospital) stars as Joseph Hawthorne, a man whose wife was lost overboard when they were sailing. The mystery of what really happened divides his town, makes enemies of his wife’s family, and draws the attention of a journalist. Joseph’s untreated bipolar leads to mania, melancholia, and discussions on the beach with a gray whale (voiced by Jonathan Pryce). Benard and his wife, Paula, produced the thriller. [click here to watch the trailer]

#2  Touched With Fire (2015)

Two people, each having bipolar (expertly played by Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby), meet in a psychiatric hospital and fall in love. Directed by Paul Dalio and produced by Spike Lee, Touched With Fire captures the intensity of their romance and the ebb and flow of beautiful highs and tormented lows.  [click here to watch the trailer]

#3  Infinitely Polar Bear (2014)

Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana play a mixed-race couple raising two daughters in 1970s Boston. The father doesn’t work because of his bipolar disorder, so the mother decides to accept a scholarship to graduate school in New York City so she can make more money for the family. The kids are left with their dad, who gives them lots of love but doesn’t always make the best parenting decisions. Writer and director Maya Forbes based the story on her own childhood. [click here to watch the trailer]

#4 Repentance (2013)

Forest Whitaker plays to stereotype in this psychological thriller. His character, a family man who also has bipolar disorder, is thrown off balance after his mother’s sudden death and he fixates on a self-help guru (played by Anthony Mackie) who has secrets in his past. Whitaker, who produced the violent drama, has said he was trying to explore loss, pain, healing, and the core of humanity in tortured souls. [click here to watch the trailer]

#5  Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

This romantic drama-comedy puts a sympathetic character with bipolar front and center—and surrounds him with other characters grappling with their own disorders. Bradley Cooper plays Pat Solitano, who is trying to get his life back together after a court-ordered psychiatric hospitalization. The main plotline concerns Pat’s efforts to win back his ex-wife by agreeing to enter a dance competition (it’s complicated). His dance partner, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is a widow whose grief led to a sex addiction. And his father, played by Robert De Niro, has obsessive-compulsive tendencies and a gambling problem that drives a lot of the action. Director David O. Russell says he was attracted to the project because his son has bipolar. [click here to watch the trailer]

#6  The Informant! (2009)

The Informant! is based on the saga of real life corporate whistleblower Mark Whitacre, played by Matt Damon. Whitacre was involved in a price-fixing scheme at the agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland. He agreed to tape his colleagues for the FBI— part of his own grandiose scheme to win promotion. The stress of his undercover ordeal worsened Whitacre’s bipolar disorder, which was later diagnosed and treated. [click here to watch the trailer]

#7 Michael Clayton (2007)

George Clooney takes center stage as the title character, a “fixer” for a New York law firm, but an attorney having a bipolar episode triggers the action in this thriller. When Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson) rants in court against the huge corporation his firm is defending in a class action suit, the firm sends Clayton to handle the situation. Clayton knows Edens has bipolar and has stopped taking his medications. When Edens later says his phone is being tapped, Clayton dismisses it as paranoia. After Edens is found dead, apparently of suicide, Clayton’s suspicions grow and he begins to investigate the corporate cover-up. [click here to watch the trailer]

#8 Mad Love (1995)

A somewhat sensationalized depiction of the highs and lows of bipolar, with Drew Barrymore playing a high school student who has been hospitalized after a suicide attempt. Her boyfriend (Chris O’Donnell) helps her escape and tries to cope with her increasingly intense emotions and actions as they head toward Mexico. In the end they return to Seattle, where she is readmitted to the psychiatric hospital and ultimately gets better. [click here to watch the trailer]

A surprisingly insightful portrait of euphoria, mania and depression as experienced by the main character, played by Richard Gere. Most of the movie involves his hospitalization and treatment by a psychiatrist (Lena Olin) who begins an unethical romantic relationship with him. There was a disconnect between the film’s sensitivity and its marketing tagline, though: “Everything that makes him dangerous makes her love him more.” [click here to watch the trailer]

The Best Places to See Fall Leaves Within Driving Distance of NYC

There’s nothing quite like walking down one of New York City’s tree-lined streets in fall, feeling the crunch of crisp fall leaves under your feet. And while you can’t skip taking a stroll through Central Park, we’d like to suggest going beyond NYC’s limits when the leaves start changing colors.

From the charming tree-lined roads of Massachusetts to the rolling hills of upstate New York, we’ve tracked down the best places to see fall leaves within driving distance of New York City. Whether you’re looking to hop in the car for a quick day trip or to escape the city for a weekend getaway, we’ve identified scenic spots that’ll fit every agenda.

Scroll on to peep the five fall foliage road trips we think every New Yorker should add to their autumn bucket list. You’re going to want to make sure your phone is fully charged—we’re highlighting some serious Instagram photo ops, ahead.


Distance from NYC: About a 3-hour drive.

Why you need to go: With charming cottages and classic red barns dotting the landscape, The Berkshires offers urbanites a relaxing escape from city life. Take the historic Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway to traverse the rural Massachusetts region and enjoy the colorful landscape.

When you should go: Make the trip in mid-September or early-mid October for the most spectacular displays.


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PHOTO:Maria Brown/500px

Distance from NYC: Expect to spend about 3- to 4-hours in the car.

Why you need to go: In autumn, colorful trees cover the low, rolling hills surrounding Lake George, making for picturesque photo ops across the lake. Pro tip: Stop into The Sagamore, a historic waterfront hotel boasting beautiful Victorian architecture, for lunch or dinner.

When you should go: The last two weeks of October are ideal for sitting lakeside and taking in the view.


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PHOTO:Diana Robinson/500px

Distance from NYC: Depending on traffic, about a 3-hour drive north of NYC.

Why you need to go:  Who doesn’t love a beautiful waterfall? Kaaterskill Falls, one of the tallest cascades in New York, is just a 2- to 3-hour drive from NYC. It’s a short (but steep) hike to the top of the falls where you’ll take in scenic views of the Hudson Valley in all it’s colorful autumn glory.

When you should go: Typically, you can expect to see a range of yellow, orange, and red leaves during the first two weeks of October.


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PHOTO:Ray Kijmedee/500px

Distance from NYC: While it’s a bit of a trek to get here (about a 5- to 6-hour drive), it’s well worth the trip.

Why you need to go: One of the highest peaks in the Adirondacks, Whiteface Mountain offers a bird’s-eye view of New York’s finest fall foliage. You can reach the top by car (via Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway) or by gondola (via Whiteface Mountain Ski Center’s Cloudsplitter Gondola Ride). Either way, you’re going to want to bring your camera.

When you should go: To see the full spectrum of fall colors, be sure to make the trip sometime between late September and early October.


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PHOTO:Tracy Slocum/500px

Distance from NYC: About a 5- to 6-hour drive northwest of NYC.

Why you need to go: Letchworth State Park’s Genesee Gorge, often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East, is stunning any time of the year but it’s particularly breathtaking during autumn. Walk the pedestrian bridge over the Genesee River Gorge’s High Falls to take in the view and snap the most Instagram-worthy photos.

When you should go: The colors start to change in late September, but mid- to late-October is when you’ll see the best foliage.

Solar Eclipse 2017 spoiler alert: Watch this computer simulation of the event to see what happens

The image details the inherent complexity of the Sun’s magnetic field and its intimate connection to visible emission from the solar coronaPredictive Science Inc.
The Total Solar Eclipse on 21 August has sparked quite a lot of excitement across America. The eclipse, which spans across 14 US states, has motivated many amateur and professional star gazers to pack their bags and head for the prime locations to view the historic event and experience the beauty of totality.

However, for those still unaware of what exactly happens during an eclipse and what it may look like, scientists have created a computer simulation of the astronomical event, providing an exclusive preview just days before the eclipse occurs.

Researchers from San Diego-based Predictive Science Inc. (PSI), with support from Nasa and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Science Foundation developed highly detailed simulations, predicting what the solar corona, the plasma aura surrounding the Sun, will look like during the eclipse.

“The Solar eclipse allows us to see levels of the solar corona not possible even with the most powerful telescopes and spacecraft,” Niall Gaffney, a former Hubble scientist and director of Data Intensive Computing at the Texas Advanced Computing Center, said in a statement. “It also gives high performance computing researchers who model high energy plasmas the unique ability to test our understanding of magnetohydrodynamics at a scale and environment not possible anywhere else.”

Total solar eclipse 2017: How, when and where to watch it safely and take pictures
Scientists used data gathered by the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI), currently aboard NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), as well as magnetic field maps, solar rotation rates and advanced mathematical models to develop the digital simulation.

The image on the left shows a digitally processed version of the polarized brightness while the image on the right shows traces of selected magnetic field linesPredictive Science Inc
One of the researchers’ simulations even successfully produced a coronal mass ejection (CME), which are basically large-scale explosions of energy on the sun, from an active area of the sun that will be near the east limb of the solar surface on eclipse day.

Eclipse mania grips the US for coast-to-coast total solar eclipse

The simulations also have significant practical value, in that they can help with better prediction of space weather. Accurate prediction of space weather can help scientists avert massive and potentially deadly solar storms.

According to a 2008 report by the National Academy of Sciences, if such solar storms hit the Earth, it could cause widespread damages costing over $2tn. However, with such new accurate simulations of the corona during an eclipse, scientists get one step closer to preparing and possibly averting such a destructive eventuality.

The computer simulation of the eclipse can also provide those unable to watch the event in reality, with an idea of what happens during such astronomical events.

The images show two versions of the predicted brightness of polarized white light in the corona that attempt to approximate what the human eye might see during the solar eclipsePredictive Science Inc.

Bill Sarwary captures the Afghanistan you never see

THE pictures show rugged mountains, crystal clear lakes, lush green hills and a country brimming with life.

But if you think these pictures are out of a tourism brochure for Europe or North America you’re ]mistaken.

This is Afghanistan as you’ve never seen it before and these are the same images that would have been kept hidden if the Taliban had its way.

Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwary started an ambitious social media campaign to show a side of his country that few outsiders would imagine even existed.

Where in the world is this? Afghanistan may not be your first thought. Picture: Courtesy Bilal Sarwary.Source:Facebook

The 30-year-old who has started #AfghanistanYouNeverSee on Twitter, Facebookand Instagram told news.com.au that his project didn’t try to hide years of war and destruction.

But rather he said it aimed to paint a picture of his country that highlighted its beauty.

Before it was ripped apart from decades of war and invasion, Afghanistan was a haven for western tourism full of culture and history stemming back to its time as the centre of the Silk Road trade route.

However the richness of the land and its people remained hidden, suppressed by years of invasion and war first at the hands of the former Soviet Union and then ultimately at the hands of the Taliban.

A lake in eastern province of Jalalabad, Ningarhar province. Picture: Courtesy Bilal SarwarySource:Supplied

Under Taliban rule, women had no freedom and music and culture was strictly forbidden, and the country and its people remained isolated.

While it is sometimes dangerous and his self-funded project takes him to remote and often volatile places with only his iPhone, Sarwary said it was the best way of showcasing the country’s amazing sites.

A shrine in Herat which needs urgent attention (tweeted this during a visit to Herat). Picture: Bilal Sarwary.Source:Supplied

“I am doing this because I believe in the power of social media and journalism,” the freelance journalist and photographer said.

“I don’t want to be anyone’s hero, I do it purely for the sake of believing that people will enjoy seeing my country’s natural beauty.”

Bill Sarwary has launched an incredible project.Source:Facebook

Catch of the day for sale — Kabul — Jalalabad highway. Picture: Courtesy Bilal SarwarySource:Supplied

Acknowledging war and bombs were still part of daily life for many Afghans, he said so was the need and a basic human shared desire for peace.

“Here’s a country fighting for peace,” he said.

A view of Helmand province from the air. Picture: Courtesy Bilal Sarwary.Source:Supplied

“Yes there are bombs, but there’s also history and culture and the people have a sense of nationalism and a strong sense of resilience among the people.

“I also wanted to show that what could be a normal example on life on the street in Sydney is the same as someone on the streets of Uruzgan. We should not be slaves to history.”

Vehicles stuck in snow between Bamian and Daykundi or provinces in Central Afghanistan — this is part of #DailylifeinAfghanistan. Picture: Bilal Sarwary.Source:Supplied

The former BBC correspondent, who studied in the US and also worked as a translator for years, said he felt he owed it to his country to show there was hope.

He added while it may never be the next Paris, it could once again lure tourists just as Colombo in Sri Lanka and Rwanda were beginning to do.

The Patients We Do Not See

In medicine, we speak of “seeing patients” when we are rounding in the hospital or caring for those who come to our clinics. But what about those people who may be sick but do not seek care? What is our responsibility to the patients we do not see?

This question takes on greater urgency in the current political climate as patients face the threat of losing health insurance. Renewed efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act leave millions wondering whether they will be covered.

For me, as a physician practicing in the safety net, abstract numbers evoke the very real stories of my uninsured patients. One of my patients, whom I’ll call Elsa, had not seen a doctor since immigrating to the United States 15 years ago. That abruptly changed one morning: She awoke to find the room spinning around her and, terrifyingly, she could not articulate the words to explain to her husband what was going on. She was having a stroke.

There are many reasons that patients like Elsa may not seek care until they have no choice. Although she felt no symptoms before her stroke, Elsa was one of about 13 million U.S. adults with undiagnosed high blood pressure. I wondered if making her aware of her blood pressure would have been enough to avoid her suffering.

But even if high blood pressure may sit atop the list of problems I write out, from his or her perspective it may not crack the top five. Food security, job stability, child care and affordable housing understandably feel more urgent. Time and again, I have learned that taking care of my patients starts by trying to walk a mile in their shoes.

Why patients may not seek care

Sometimes, forgoing care is a symptom of social isolation. I asked another patient of mine – whom I had recently diagnosed with uncontrolled, likely longstanding diabetes – about his eating habits. I learned that in his routine, he would go for days at a time without interacting with another person; he did not have any family nearby and worked from his home computer.

Aside from deterring access to care, loneliness and social isolation have direct effects on health. One review of 148 studies showed that the influence of social relationships on the risk of death was comparable with risk factors such as obesity and alcohol use.

In other cases, the health care system must take responsibility for barriers to patients that we ourselves erect. Beyond costs, structural barriers include inadequate language interpretation services and the assumption of health literacy when conveying information. Meanwhile, historical inequities often underlie wary attitudes toward health care.

Dr. Mary Bassett, the health commissioner of New York City, has spoken plainly about this: “We must explicitly and unapologetically name racism in our work to protect and promote health … We must deepen our analysis of racial oppression, which means remembering some uncomfortable truths about our shared history.”

In the same vein, new immigration policies may have a chilling effect on the willingness of people like Elsa to see a doctor, if they perceive negative repercussions for themselves or their families.

Many patients with the greatest unmet needs are therefore marginalized, with only glancing interactions with the health system – or none at all, in the most wrenching cases of suicide, drug overdose and other chronic illnesses that end in catastrophe.

When they do seek care, it is sporadic. They may show up in the ER, but not to a primary care follow-up appointment. If an ensuing phone call goes unanswered, or their phone is out of service, we label them as “lost to follow-up” and move on to the next patient on the list.

What needs to change

Doing better by these patients will require moving the locus of accountability for health further into communities. It means bringing more of a public health mindset to health care; that is, not reflexively restricting our purview to those who happen to cross our clinic’s threshold.

Hospitals and health systems must have the humility to reach across boundaries and partner with local institutions that are sometimes more trusted, and often more relevant, in people’s daily lives, including churches, schools, food pantries and parks.

In one recent example, the 54 branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia were shown to be vital community nodes for health-related services like literacy programs, healthy eating initiatives, job fairs and food preparation courses. Public libraries are particular safe havens for those experiencing mental illness, substance use disorders and homelessness – as well as youth and recent immigrants. We should consider how the these locations are therefore already a part of our health ecosystem.

Doctors and other clinicians may balk at trying to take care of the patients we do not see. After all, with the harried pace set by the 15-minute office visit, it is hard enough to keep up with the patients we do see. But the goal is not to schedule doctor’s appointments for all library-goers, but rather to equip them to be better stewards of their own health, which sometimes involves health care providers, sometimes not. While physicians can’t do it alone, we can lend our voices to those calling for greater outreach, less stigma and protection of the most vulnerable.

Prevention, not regression

In Elsa’s case, when she had her stroke, she was rushed to the ER and received excellent care from the hospital team. Neurologists treated the blocked vessels in her brain and diagnosed her with a narrowed heart valve and high blood pressure.

As a doctor in a system that accepts all patients, regardless of ability to pay, I was proud to be a part of her follow-up care. She underwent heart valve surgery, and we put her on blood thinners and blood pressure medicines to reduce her risk of another stroke. Her rehabilitation, all things considered, was going well. The health care system had reacted to Elsa’s crisis with swift competence.

At our last clinic visit, my mind turned to what could have been done to prevent her stroke. But the chances to intervene were too few. She and her husband made a living as bottle-pickers; they spent hours every day sifting through trash for bottles to recycle. Elsa told me they made enough money to get by, since they lived with her nephew. But visiting me in clinic, not to mention a cardiologist, neurologist and physical therapist, cost her time and thus cash.

And so for every Elsa who walks into our clinic I know there is another patient we do not see.

With health coverage for millions of Americans in limbo, we must speak out and organize just to keep seeing the many patients who have been newly brought into care. And at the same time, we must develop better ways to find and support people like Elsa – even before we see them as patients.

11 Places You Deserve To See

You have worked hard your whole life. Now it’s time to explore the world and enjoy yourself. To boot, research by the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS ) shows that traveling isn’t just a leisure activity, it also has many benefits.

The cognitive benefits of traveling: Getting out of your comfort zone is always a good thing, and traveling can help do that. By engulfing yourself in new experiences, your brain grows, and new neural connections form from the knowledge you obtain. Keeping your brain active and your mind open to learning is a major key to healthy (and happy) aging.

The physical benefits of traveling: Research from the GCOA and TCRS indicates that maintaining a physically active lifestyle while aging is extremely important as it’s linked to lower instances of falling and lower rates of stroke, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. Over 70% of those who travel during retirement report higher levels of happiness, physical health, and life satisfaction than those who do not travel.

The social benefits of traveling: Traveling encourages both cross-cultural and intergenerational social connections. You can build connections with those you bump into along your journey, but also, you create bonds and social stimulation through sharing stories post-vacation.

Now that you have legitimate reasons to travel, here are some places you truly deserve to see:

Barcelona, Spain

Filled with beauty, culture, and delicious food, Barcelona is a perfect location to visit during retirement. Tour the city at your own pace and appreciate each building’s unique architecture and story. From the Sagrada Familia, to flamenco dancing, to beautiful beaches, to tapas and paella, there are many aspects of the city to enjoy.
Niagara Falls (Ontario, Canada)

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This spot, bordering both Canada and the United States, is one of nature’s most astonishing beauties. This spot also has a fair amount of walking available if you are willing and able. Walking isn’t necessary though, and having limited mobility will not lessen your travel experience here.
San Jose, Costa Rica

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This is a wonderful and budget-friendly travel spot. Enjoy clear blue water, and engulf yourself in culture as you explore the city and its neighboring areas. Journey through rain forests, beaches, volcanoes, and more while spending under $50 a night for a hotel.
New Zealand

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This vacation spot is popular for retirees as it has accommodations for all ages. Each city has many different types of tours for all ages and mobilities, allowing New Zealand’s beauty to be easily captured. And if tours are too costly for your travel budget, self-guided drives are equally as enjoyable.
Dublin, Ireland

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Ireland’s capital city is a great place to visit if you would like to immerse yourself in city life and the high energy, Irish culture. However, if you want a relaxed, scenic destination, you need not travel far. Gorgeous landscapes and scenic views can be seen all around this incredible country.
San Diego, California

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If you’re looking to stay in warm weather and travel within the United States, San Diego is the place to visit. Running along the California coast and touching the Pacific Ocean, San Diego is one of the most relaxing places you can travel to. The residents in this area exude friendliness— probably because their lifestyles include beaches, brunch, and beautiful weather.
Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy
Enjoy culture, food, and a wonderful gondola ride as you travel through this city. While Italian culture is exuberant and fast-paced, this city is built in a way that allows you to enjoy both the loud lifestyle while simultaneously feeling relaxed and at ease. This country’s history and major landmarks make it one of the largest tourist spots in the world.
Bangkok, Thailand

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Bangkok is a historically rich city. Most visitors spend a few days in Bangkok itself, and then travel to nearby cities to continue taking in the nature that the country provides. Thai culture places great admiration and respect on those aging. What more can one look for in a travel destination?!
Cape Town, South Africa

If you are looking for a beautiful landscape, culture, and a safari, Cape Town is for you. Along with being a historically rich city, Cape Town is also part of multi-city safari tours. These tours are designed with older adults in mind and allow for peoples with all levels of mobility to enjoy.

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This country is a travel favorite amongst the older demographic thanks to its relatively uncrowded cities (in comparison to other European countries). Portugal has a slower lifestyle pace compared to Spain or Italy, for example. Also, Portugal is relatively cheaper than its neighbors. Add this to the history, architecture, beaches, and beauty that Portugal has to offer, and there is no confusion as to why the older demographic loves Portugal.
Bryggen, Norway

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Filled with traditional wooden buildings, painted neighborhoods, and completely breathtaking nature views, Norway is an easy pick for the list of dream destinations.

10 Things You Should See and Do in Venice, Italy

Venice is a historic city full of color, exquisite food, and life. However, this historical, Italian location needs to be seen by all before it’s too late. The floating city is rapidly becoming a place that may not be as easy to visit in the future. Every year, the flooding consumes parts of the vibrant lagoon town. And while this has been the norm since its inception, climate change and rising water levels will eventually overtake Venice to the point that will make it nearly impossible to sustain visitors alongside its residents. If that’s not enough to make you buy a flight as soon as possible, the other reasons include the fact that it is home to some of the most colorful buildings, full of fascinating history, surrounded by gondola-filled canals, and of course all the pasta and gelato you would ever want to eat. These are some photos to inspire you to take a journey to this Italian hot spot.

1. St. Mark’s Campanile Views
From the top of St. Mark’s Campanile, you can see all of the vibrant waterscape before you and the orange rooftops that contrast beautifully with the blue ocean below.

2. St. Mark’s Square
Step into a James Bond movie (specifically Casino Royale) in St. Mark’s Square. This open public area houses shops, restaurants, businesses, and lovely architecture.

3. Rialto Bridge Views
There’s no better view of the canals of Venice than from the Rialto Bridge. As you step onto it, you can see from both sides the main waterway through the city. There are also shops on the bridge as well to accompany your photo opp.

As you wander your way through the city, there are a multitude of smaller bridges that cross canals along the way. Stopping at any of these will give you a picturesque view.

5. Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs became famous for the last view of Venice that a prisoner would see as they were being carted between the interrogation room to the prison next door. They were said to have sighed at the beauty of the city as they took their last look.

6. Bars and Cafes
Italy is one of the best countries when it comes to coffee, wine, and sweet treats. Around every corner in Venice you can find something incredibly tasty to eat. And in true Italian fashion, you must sit and enjoy your meal because it will be difficult to find food “to-go” here.

7. Scala Contarini del Bovolo
This spiral staircase was featured in Orson Welles’s film adaption of Othello and is just one example of the intricate buildings you can find while getting lost in the labyrinth of streets.

8.Doge’s Palace
This former palace, since converted into a museum, is a must see as you pass through the city. It is of the Venetian gothic style, and its slight pink hue makes it obvious Instagram goals.

9. Santa Maria della Salute
This Catholic church is best viewed from above. It is an important part of Venice’s skyline and stands out against all of its neighboring orange roofs.

10. Gondola Ride
It may seem cheesy, but you can’t go to Venice without taking a ride in a gondola. It’s an old tradition that still holds up today, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a singing gondolier.

Eclipse 2017 weather: View to be spoiled by clouds that will mean ‘most people won’t be able to see a thing’

The moon, framed by ashes from the Mount Sinabung volcano, is seen during the peak of the penumbral eclipse from Karo in North Sumatra province on August 8, 2017 TIBTA PANGIN/AFP/Getty Images
The eclipse might be ruined before it even started. And by that most British of enemies: the weather.

Cloudy skies are likely to get in the way of the show and ruin the disappearance of the sun for most people in the UK, according to the Met Office. And even if the weather was good, the timing means that there wouldn’t really be all that much to see anyway.

Europe isn’t going to get the best of the eclipse, which will sweep all the way across the US and be total or near-total for everyone living in the lower 48 states. But people had hoped to get a glimpse of the partial version, which will arrive in the UK later on and give the chance to see the moon take a “bite” out of the sun, rather than obscuring it entirely.

Those hopes have now been dashed by the weather forecast, which says that only the south-west of England South Wales will get any chance of seeing the event. Anywhere in the East of England, in Scotland or Northern Ireland is going to have their view blocked up by clouds.

And anyway, since the eclipse arrives at sunset, there’s not going to be any visible change in the amount of light.

“It doesn’t look very promising,” said Met Office forecaster Martin Bowles.

“It is only going to be about 4% of the sun which will be blotted out, so even if it is perfect weather conditions you won’t see a lot.

“From a meteorological point of view it is not looking very good because of the cloud – most people won’t be able to see a thing.

“There will be some breaks in the cloud in the south-west of the country – South Wales and south-west England – there will be enough breaks that people who are looking specifically might be able to see a little chip out of the corner of the sun.

“Anywhere in the east, including London, won’t see anything because it will just be clouded over; also Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

The eclipse will arrive at sunset, around 8pm. It will arrive from the west, meaning that it will go dark slightly earlier in Cardiff than in Edinburgh, for instance.

The Royal Astronomical Society still warns that anyone in the UK should make sure not to look directly at the sun, which can still be very dangerous – even if it is hidden by clouds.