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Archive for December, 2016

31 December
Comments Off on Flavours and colours

Flavours and colours

We all, sometime or the other, judge food on the basis of its packaging. A research study makes clear that the colour of packaging is an important, but tricky, element.In Light and Pale Colors in Food Packaging: When Does This Package Cue Signal Superior Healthiness or Inferior Taste? Marketing Professors Robert Mai, Claudia Symmank, and Berenike Seeberg-Elverfeldt of Kiel University, tested consumers reactions to find out if they associated pale packaging with healthy choices or poor taste and found that it wasnt an either/or situation.

30 December
Comments Off on VA touts improved vets crisis line, opens new call center

VA touts improved vets crisis line, opens new call center

WASHINGTON –The Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday officially dedicated a new call center for its veterans crisis line — an addition that’s nearly doubled the agency’s capacity to help suicidal veterans and servicemembers.

The dedication of the new call center, located in Atlanta, comes at the end of a year in which it was revealed the crisis line was sending calls to voicemail or rolling them over to a backup call center.

Today we follow through on our commitment to give those who save lives every day at the crisis line the training, additional staff and modern call center technology they need to make the veterans crisis line a gold standard operation,” VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson, who attended the ribbon-cutting Tuesday, said in a written statement.

The Atlanta facility will have 200 responders who will be able to handle 600 calls daily. They’ve joined 310 responders at the VA’s other call center in upstate New York to answer calls, texts and online messages from veterans, servicemembers and their families. VA officials did not say how many calls they receive each day, overall.

Though the hub wasn’t dedicated until Tuesday, employees in Atlanta started work in October.

As of Dec. 8, the crisis line was answering 44 percent more calls than it was in March, according to the VA. But calls are still being rolled over to backup call centers.

When phone lines are busy, calls from veterans and servicemembers are routed to another contracted call center. A VA inspector general report released in February stated employees and volunteers in the backup call centers lacked training to handle crises. It also confirmed calls at the backup centers were being sent to voicemail, and some veterans and servicemembers seeking immediate help were never called back.

According to the report, callers also criticized the crisis line after being put on hold with “long wait times” to hear from a responder. Inspectors weren’t able to determine how long veterans were waiting on hold, but said in some cases veterans were placed in a queue or passed through several backup call centers.

Gregory Hughes, a former director of the crisis line, resigned several months after the report came out. In September, The Associated Press obtained internal emails from Hughes that said an average of 35 to 40 percent of crisis calls received in May rolled over to a backup call center.

Lawmakers responded by passing legislation, the “No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act,” requiring the VA to ensure calls made to the hotline are answered “in a timely manner.” For backup centers, the VA defines “timely access” as 90 percent of calls being answered within 30 seconds from when they’re routed from a main call center.

The legislation mandates VA leadership develop specific performance measures for the crisis line and a plan to test the two call centers and the contracted backup centers. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law in November.

VA leaders said they will continue to hire more responders to meet the high demand. They expect the Atlanta and New York centers to be able to answer every call soon, and get away from routing calls to backup centers.

In March, 30 percent of calls were sent to the backup call centers, according to the VA. That’s since dropped to 16 percent, the VA said.

According to VA data, the crisis line answered 510,000 calls in fiscal 2016 and responded to 53,000 online chat requests and 15,000 texts. They dispatched emergency services 12,000 times to veterans, servicemembers or their families.

Call responders made 86,000 referrals for veterans or servicemembers to seek aid from suicide prevention experts in their communities.

A VA study released in July found approximately 20 veterans commit suicide each day. Of the 20, six use VA services.

To reach the veterans crisis line, callers dial the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and choose option 1. They can also text to 828255 or request a chat at
Twitter: @nikkiwentling

28 December
Comments Off on Montgomery County real estate briefs: Week of Dec. 25

Montgomery County real estate briefs: Week of Dec. 25

Rehling is a seasoned real estate professional with nearly 16 years of experience in the industry, as well as 14 years of service to the Realtor organization through various committee and leadership roles. He is a certified real estate instructor and he recently obtained the prestigious Accredited Luxury Home Specialist designation. He and co-broker/owner, Matt Mittman, opened Rr/Max Ready in 2011. The brokerage specializes in residential purchases, sales and property management.

Rehling has been involved with MCAR for 14 years and over the course of that time has served the organization in various capacities to include committee and leadership roles. Rehling is also a member of the board of directors for the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors.

The Montgomery County Association of Realtors aims to drive member productivity, encourage and enforce ethical business practices and strengthen the communities it serves. MCAR is composed of approximately 2,600 Realtors and affiliate members who serve the entire Montgomery County community and beyond. Its Realtor members are licensed real estate professionals who subscribe to a strict code of ethics as defined by the National Association of Realtors.

Berkshire Hathaway welcomes new sales associates

Patricia O’Herrick, manager of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox amp; Roach, Realtors Harleysville Home Marketing Center, welcomes Gita Kundrod as a sales associate.

“I joined Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox amp; Roach because of their reputation and the tools they offer,” she said.

Kundrod resides in Harleysville with her husband, Jim, and they have two adult daughters. She serves Montgomery County and can be contacted at 215-256-6543 or by emailing

26 December
Comments Off on AbRam, Ahil, Hridhaan, Hrehaan: Merry Christmas From The Little Ones In Bollywood

AbRam, Ahil, Hridhaan, Hrehaan: Merry Christmas From The Little Ones In Bollywood

While the grown-ups in Bollywood celebrated Christmas to the hilt, even the young ones had their share of blast. We came across a picture of little AbRam and we could not help gush at how cute the child looks in the click as he admires the Christmas tree.

22 December
Comments Off on Pesto Cheese Bombs Could Make Garlic Knots Obsolete

Pesto Cheese Bombs Could Make Garlic Knots Obsolete

Everyone knows garlic knots are amazing — but could they be better? They can if you upgrade that garlic to a bright, herbaceous pesto thatalmostlets you trick yourself into thinking youre eating your vegetables. Of course, any illusions of healthiness in these Pesto Cheese Bombs fromFood Steezquickly disappear once you realize theyre also stuffed with hot melty mozz. After you try these, garlic knots will seem, well, kinda boring? Watch the video to see how its done.

19 December
Comments Off on Nonprofit Glitch offers entry to gaming industry

Nonprofit Glitch offers entry to gaming industry

Headquartered on the University of Minnesota’s west bank, Glitch helps incipient game designers create, develop and publish games. The organization has helped designers throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas.


Kraikul and co-founder Nic VanMeerten, were undergraduate students at the University of Minnesota when they founded Glitch in May 2010. Kraikul was completing her pre-med degree in neuroscience but missed the days when she programmed battle simulators for America Online chat rooms. “I come from a traditional Thai family,” Kraikul said. “But I’ve had a computer since age three.”

Though it started as a collegiate group at the University of Minnesota, Glitch has since broadened its reach. The group has helped implement game-related curricula at the U and the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Kraikul said.

“Glitch is a community of nerds who enjoy playing and making games,” she said. “And we build programs to help you do the same.”

Digital games have become more prevalent and culturally accepted, but Glitch and its nerds still face hurdles. “Though perspectives are changing, we’re still not at the widely accepted level,” Kraikul said. “Video games are still perceived as ‘for kids and not for me.’ “

Yet the numbers say otherwise: 60 percent of Americans play video games and the majority of players are adults aged between 18 and 35, according to the Entertainment Software Association. As that generation ages, it’s love for games likely will grow with it.

And there’s certainly money to be made. Video games have become a $16.8 billion revenue industry with in the US and generated $79.7 billion worldwide last year, according to the International Trade Administration. US revenues are projected to increase by another $3 billion by 2019.


Glitch offers weekly events and has larger educational programs throughout the year. Its two-week Immersion program, occurring in January, takes a group of 20 people and asks them to stay awhile and listen — a joke any gamer should instantly get — as professionals educate them on a game development topic from start to finish. A past program resulted in an augmented reality game for the Minnesota Historical Society called Play the Past.

Augmented reality, a technology recently brought to the masses through this past summer’s wildly popular Pokemon Go, is where computer imagery is superimposed on an image of an actual place — like a museum. In Play the Past, students are given a mobile device to explore and interact with quests embedded in the exhibit.

19 December
Comments Off on Former Lowell officer sentenced to 4 years in motor-vehicle homicide

Former Lowell officer sentenced to 4 years in motor-vehicle homicide

SALEM — Former Lowell police Officer Eric Wayne told a judge he is glad he will be punished for causing an August 2014 crash in Methuen that killed 26-year-old Bryant Paula.

In an emotional statement to the Paula family in Salem Superior Court on Tuesday, Wayne said, Im glad I will be punished for my actions. My deliberate actions were not an accident. My purposeful, negligent act took away someone who was loved.

Wayne, 43, of Lowell, pleaded guilty to motor-vehicle homicide by operating under the influence of alcohol and negligent operation, manslaughter by motor-vehicle and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (a car). He was sentenced to four years in state prison.

19 December
Comments Off on Untraditional Thanksgiving traditions

Untraditional Thanksgiving traditions

“It’s really nice to come back from college and see everyone you haven’t seen in awhile and catch up and make some pie,” Reilly said.

Show me the money bread

Tyler Ramsey, a UMass graduate student, looks forward to his aunt’s money bread every Thanksgiving. His aunt bakes a braided bread, with four coins hidden inside: a quarter, a dime, a nickel and a penny.

Everyone at the table takes a turn slicing a piece of the bread. They don’t have to eat the bread; they search inside for one of the hidden coins.

According to the tradition, if you get the quarter, you will stumble upon riches in the next year, Ramsey said. If you get the nickel, you will be happy. The dime symbolizes healthiness and the penny means a year of luck.

“I dont think my family believes in the superstition that finding a coin in a loaf of bread actually forecasts positive things to come,” Ramsey said. “But it is a really good opportunity for the whole family to gather around the table for a fun game of chance!”

Email Nicole at [emailprotected] or follow her on Twitter @Nicole_DeFeudis

18 December
Comments Off on Journalist linked to Anonymous released from prison

Journalist linked to Anonymous released from prison

Barrett Brown, a free man after four years behind bars, enjoys an Egg McMuffin on Tuesday.

Photo by Free Barrett Brown/Twitter

Barrett Brown, a journalist who served as an unofficial spokesman for various Anonymous hacking operations, was released from prison Tuesday after serving more than four years behind bars for sharing stolen data and threatening an FBI agent.

Barrett, 35, originally attracted the attention of law enforcement officials in 2011 when he copied a hyperlink to data stolen in a hack of security think tank Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, from one Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel to another. The hack reportedly yielded 200 gigabytes of data, including emails and credit card information from Stratfor clients, which include the US Army, US Air Force and Miami Police Department.

The case against Brown, whose previous journalism experience included writing for such media outlets as The Guardian, Vanity Fair and Huffington Post, was closely followed by journalists, civil-liberties activists and internet activists who worried the case could infringe on freedom of the press by criminalizing the act of linking on the internet.

While members of the hacking collective Anonymous tend to hide their faces and identities, Brown took a more public approach. As a spokesmanlike figure for the group, he recorded videos of himself talking and gave interviews to reporters.

He was sentenced in January 2015 to five years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges of obstructing a search warrant, making internet threats and being an accessory to unauthorized access of a protected computer. He was arrested at his Dallas home in 2012 while he was in the middle of an online chat after posting tweets and videos threatening revenge against an FBI agent associated with the investigation.

18 December
Comments Off on Amid suicides, it is our responsibility to reach out

Amid suicides, it is our responsibility to reach out

For help

Help for people having suicidal thoughts or for those who fear a person is considering killing him or herself is available from these sources:
Axis Health System: 24-hour hotline at (970) 247-5245.National Suicide Prevention hotline: (800) 273-TALK (8255).RED Nacional de Prevenciamp;#xf3;n Del Suicidio: (888) 628-9454.National Crisis text Hotline: 741741 Boys Town Hotline: (800) 448-3000.Safe2Tell Colorado: (877) 542-7233 or online at Crisis Services Support Line: (844) 493-8255. The line has mental-health professionals available to talk to, live chat or text adults or youths in English and Spanish about any crisis.Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386. Crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth via online chat, text or phone.Second Wind Fund: (720) 962-0706. This is not a crisis hotline, but the fund is available to youths who face social or financial barriers to crisis counseling. The organization requires a referral by a school counselor or mental-health professional.