July 15, 2014

Look closely. This guy is drinking a beer, so he's probably not tubing to work. Then again, it is Boulder.     Photo: JBVfromFK/Flickr

Only in Boulder: Tubing to Work

Does this beat sitting in traffic?

File this one under "Only in Boulder." Today marks the seventh annual Tube to Work Day for the outdoorsy metropolis at the foot of the Flatirons.

The adventurously employed gathered this morning at Eben G. Fine Park clad in various interpretations of "business casual" and set off into Boulder Creek, ensuring they would arrive at work a little wetter than usual.

Tube to Work Day has previously been held in June as an aquatic component of Colorado's annual Bike to Work Day, but high water levels in Boulder Creek led organizers to postpone the event this year.

The main requirement for TTWD participants (other than, presumably, having an understanding employer) is to get yourself to Eben G. Park by means of "alternative transportation"—that is, sans car. Which raises the question: If you cycle there in the morning, how do you pick up your bike at the end of the workday?

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A scuba diver comes in close contact with a tiger shark. The missing diver was with outfitter Jim Abernethy, who has come under fire for not using cages during shark dives.     Photo: Design Pics/Thinkstock

Shark Diver Missing in Bahamas

Mask and camera found on the ocean floor

A commercial shark-dive client has been missing since Sunday, July 13, when the U.S. Coast Guard received a distress call at 8 p.m. The diver, identified as John E. Petty, 63, was aboard controversial shark-dive outfitter Jim Abernethy’s yacht Shear Water.

On Saturday, Petty boarded the boat along with eight other divers and four crew in Palm Beach, Florida, for an eight-night expedition to Tiger Beach, a 20-foot-deep site about 20 miles off Grand Bahama’s West End. Their goal was to dive with a resident population of tiger sharks that hang out in the area.

For now, it’s hard to say what happened, but the most immediate possibility is that Petty got disoriented or accidentally swam into a swift current and was swept away before anybody noticed he was gone.

“It was a night dive, so getting lost is an option, as is unintentionally swimming out to the Gulf Stream and being caught in the current,” says Andy Dehart, shark adviser for the Discovery Channel and longtime Tiger Beach diver. Dehart also thinks a medical emergency, such as a heart attack, is a possibility.

In 2003, two divers off the Great Barrier Reef were left behind by a dive boat after the captain miscounted his passengers. That episode became the basis for the film Open Water, a true-life horror film chronicling the divers’ long drift to a slow death.

Though Abernethy wasn’t answering his phone on Tuesday, one of his instructors was available. “The exact location where we dive varies,” says April Mai, a boat captain and dive master for the outfitter. “It depends on currents and where the best action is.”

Typical shark-diving protocol is to keep the motor idling while tossing chum and fish blood overboard until shadows appear below. Unlike many shark-diving outfits, Abernethy’s Scuba Adventures doesn’t use cages and advertises this trip as only for divers with advanced open-water training. According to scuba certifying agency PADI, Petty received his advanced open-water certification earlier this month.

Abernethy has come under fire from the dive community in the past for promoting dangerous dives with shark species known to pose a threat to humans. Tiger sharks account for a large percentage of the relatively small number of shark attacks on people each year. Abernethy lost a diver to a shark attack in 2008 and has himself been bitten.

For now, information about Petty’s disappearance is slim. After fielding the distress call Sunday night, the Coast Guard, operating out of Miami, deployed an immediate air-and-sea search operation consisting of a cutter, a fixed-wing aircraft, and a helicopter. The only clues found so far don’t lend much hope.

“They found the mask and camera on the seafloor one nautical mile from where the incident was called in,” says Mark Barney, a spokesman for the Coast Guard.

Still, Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios remains hopeful. “I can’t say how long we will be searching. It could be one more day, or it could be a week.”

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A preliminary design for the Lab Freestyle, a ski and snowboard school that could launch soon in Boston.     Photo: Courtesy of the Lab Freestyle/Facebook

Why Bostonians Won't Need Snow to Shred

Crowdfunding project to create year-round indoor facility

You need snow to snowboard, right? Not necessarily. If all goes according to plan, Boston-based skiers and snowboarders will soon be able to practice their tricks year-round at a new indoor snow-sports training facility.

On June 29, a Facebook page called the Lab Freestyle began publicizing a crowdfunding effort for the center, modeled after Utah's state-of-the-art Snogression. Reminiscent of a modernized Discovery Zone, the Lab Freestyle would offer beginners and experts alike opportunities to grind a low-angle rail garden, attempt 540-degree flips on trampolines, try their gutsiest moves knowing they have foam pits to catch them, and more.

Throwing tricks for the first time, the founders suggest, can be exhilarating but dangerous. It's much safer and easier to perfect your moves in a controlled environment and unleash your skills on powder once you're comfortable.

"There's no thrill more intense, no high more satisfying, than landing that new trick you've been dying to try out. But hitting the slopes unprepared can have catastrophic, career-ending, even life-threatening consequences," the Lab writes on its Facebook page. According to an FAQ with New Schoolers, the Lab Freestyle's jumps will be constructed "to have more pop than length so that you have a bit more hang time to learn tricks" than you might on the mountain. 

The Lab Freestyle is still taking suggestions on facility design and hopes to raise funds quickly enough to open within the year. The Lab hasn't begun crowdfunding yet but said as of yesterday that it plans to start within the next month.

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Airbus had to file a patent named "bicycle seat" because "torture device" was already taken.     Photo: Fotopedia/Google CC

Airbus Plans to Replace Plane Seats with Bike Saddles

Hopes to increase space efficiency

You can choose to fly first class, economy, or perched on a bicycle seat.

Airbus filed a patent application for airline "bicycle seats," which are exactly what the name says they are—bike seats mounted on vertical bars that passengers would sit on for the duration of their flight. The tray table-, headrest-, and legroom-lacking design skimps on comfort but maximizes space efficiency. 

  Photo: Airbus Operations

According to the LA Times, the patent application, submitted in Europe, explains that the intent of the bicycle seat is to reduce the bulk of airplane seating and allow more passengers to board flights.

"'Low-cost' airlines seek to increase the number of passengers transported on each flight, and more particularly on short-haul links, in order to maximize the return on the use of the aircraft," the patent description states. "The number of seats in a cabin must be increased, to the detriment of the comfort of the passengers."

If Airbus is ever able to utilize its bicycle seats, we hope it will spend any extra profits on special classes to teach pilots to avoid all turbulence.

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These brown bears at the Alaska Zoo are just play fighting, but a mother bear protecting her cubs means business.     Photo: Doug Brown/Flickr

Not Your Average Bear Cam Video

Mom fights another bear after cubs tumble down falls

Right now, you can watch a livestream of brown bears going about their daily business in Alaska's Katmai National Park, thanks to Explore.org's nature webcams. Charles Annenberg Weingarten, the founder of Explore, told Mashable he hopes the streams will "give you refuge and help you slow down." Or allow you to see natural drama in all its glory. This morning, USA Today shared footage of a mama bear's rescue effort that would probably give David Attenborough an adrenaline rush. 

There's the moment of panic when two of the mom's cubs plunge down a waterfall and straight into a pool at the feet of another large bear. Tensions rise as the prowling bear approaches the babies, but mom swoops in with teeth bared. An admittedly brief battle ensues, but it's nearly as dramatic as the climactic scene in any animal-themed children's movie. And yes, mama bear emerges victorious and tends to her soggy cubs while the other bear retreats, chewing on a fish. Nature is really something.

This is the third year the cameras have made their appearance in Katmai, and the streams have a growing fan base because it really is that entertaining to watch brown bears do their thing. If you need additional proof, take a look at what it's capturing right now.

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