April 18, 2014

Huy Fong Foods is considering a move from California amid odor complaints.     Photo: Dave Winer/Flickr

Will Sriracha Leave California?

Nearby states begging for hot sauce

In an announcement on Wednesday, Huy Fong Foods owner David Tran said he was seriously considering moving his Sriracha production plant to another location. After months of complaints and battles with the city of Irwindale, California, regarding the factory's odor, Tran will explore moving the Sriracha production to another city in California, or even another state.

Let the wooing begin. Many state and city officials publicly welcomed Huy Fong Foods following Tran's statement on Wednesday. Alabama, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Kansas, Ohio, Georgia, Iowa, Arizona, New Mexico, and West Virginia have already offered to host the factory, according to the famous hot sauce maker.

Moving from California would be no easy task for Huy Fong Foods. Production is closely tied to a single pepper grower in Ventura, California, which has supplied the business for years. Part of the Sriracha magic is that the peppers must be ground on the day they are harvested, meaning a move from California would require finding a new grower.

"I have had the bad luck to move into a city with a government that acts like a local king," Tran explained, referring to the Irwindale city council. In October 2013, Irwindale filed suit against Huy Fong Foods claiming the factory's odor was a public nuisance. Just last week, the California town formally declared the Sriracha plant a public nuisance despite Huy Fong Foods' promise to fix the odor issues by June 1.

Irwindale officials claim they don't want the successful business to leave, but they are still waiting for an action plan from Tran.

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An avalanche strikes the Khumbu Ice Fall on Everest in spring 2012.     Photo: Grayson Schaffer

Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Everest

As many as 16 climbers killed

On Thursday night—early Friday morning in Nepal—a massive avalanche swept down from Everest’s West Ridge and struck the climbing route between Base Camp and Camp 1. Dozens of climbers were on the route, carrying equipment and supplies up to to the higher camps. Early reports indicate at least 25 climbers were buried. As of Friday a.m. E.S.T., Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism had confirmed 12 dead. But reports from climbers on the mountain put the total number of fatalities at 16—the worst disaster in Everest’s history.

All the climbers killed were Sherpas working for various expeditions.
    
“I’m heartbroken,” said John Griber, a climber with Alpine Ascents International, who was in Base Camp at the time.

Two survivors were transported to Kathmandu. At least two others were being treated in the small village of Lukla, located between Kathmandu and Everest.

The accident, which took place at around 19,000 feet, near the top of the Khumbu Ice Fall, occurred in a particularly dangerous section of the route, where climbers must travel beneath a large serac—a hanging glacier—high above on Everest’s West Ridge. In 2012, Himalayan Experience, one of the largest outfitters on the mountain, was so concerned about the avalanche hazard that they aborted their climb all together and departed the mountain.

Outside will continue to report on this event as more details become available.

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Didn't qualify for Boston? No worries, you can still run the race from the comfort of your own home.     Photo: Courtesy of Outside Interactive

Run Boston from Your Treadmill

Virtual Runner making a splash

Fans of both running and The Matrix should be geeking out very hard over Virtual Runner from Outside Interactive (no relation), a new app that lets runners enjoy the pleasures of some 30 different courses, from a quick jog in Central Park to the grueling trials of the Boston Marathon, all from the comfort of their treadmill.

The runs play on a video screen of the runner's choosing (iPad seems to work best) and can be adjusted to correspond to the speed of the treadmill. The program is also compatible with ANT+ wireless devices, so anyone with a heart rate monitor can have the video automatically adjust its speed to their pace.

Although an app like Virtual Runner might seem obvious, it took OI's Gary McNamee four years to perfect the technology and get the app running smoothly. Each of the runs had to be filmed on a Segway using a Steadicam. It took him three months to film and edit just one six-mile trek. McNamee hopes that runners will be able to use the app to train for difficult races by letting them practice the course in real time.

If you have to run on a treadmill, you should at least be able to enjoy the view.

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Norma Bastidas aims to set the world's longest triathlon record this month.     Photo: Courtesy of Francisco Galvez/Notimex

Woman Attempts Longest Triathlon

A 3,762-mile multisport epic

Norma Bastidas makes an Ironman sound easy.

The 47-year-old woman is currently trying to set the record for the world's longest triathlon—3,762 miles from Cancun, Mexico, to Washington, DC. Compare that to an Ironman triathlon, which covers (only!) 140 miles.

Bastidas finished the 95-mile swim in the Caribbean on March 20. She crossed the U.S.-Mexico border about two weeks later, averaging 130 miles per day on her bike.

She'll have ridden 2,932 miles before swapping wheels for running shoes and starting the final 735-mile leg of her journey. She aims to run through Washington, DC, by the end of April.

Australian David Holleran currently holds the longest triathlon record, which he set in 1998 when he completed a 26-mile swim, 1,242-mile bike ride, and a 310-mile run. If Bastidas reaches her goal, she'll have more than doubled the record length.

She's aiming for more than just pain and glory. Bastidas says she wants to raise awareness about human trafficking.

"Her triathlon route covers major human trafficking routes," team member Alexis Rhyner told CNN. "It was also important to her that the route pass through both countries and both capitols to unify both nations to fight the issue together and take responsibility for what is happening in and between our two borders."

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See any fat sherpas?     Photo: Kyle Taylor/Flickr

High Altitude Lowers Risk of Obesity

Time to move to Boulder

A new study published in PLOS ONE says overweight U.S. service members are 41 percent less likely to transition into obesity when stationed at high altitude.

Largely a response to recent studies that suggest hypoxia can decrease food consumption and cause weight loss, the six-year project monitored some 100,000 active U.S. Army and Air Force service members with no prior diagnosis of obesity since enlisting.

According to the study, research in cities across the United States suggests that low altitude contributes to new cases of obesity. The inverse may be true as well.

Boulder, Colorado, at an elevation of 5,430 feet, just topped the list of the thinnest cities in the United States, and low-altitude obesity rates within the military present an even stronger case.

"This is the strongest evidence to date that moving to high altitude provides long-term obesity protection," Captain Jameson Voss, the study's lead author, told ScienceDaily.

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The World Wildlife Fund hopes you'll be able to see these animals for a long time in real life, not just in pictures.     Photo: WWFDanmark/YouTube

WWF Starts #LastSelfie Campaign

Wildlife advocacy gets Snapchat treatment

In what might be the most intelligent use of the selfie yet, the Danish branch of the World Wildlife Fund is using popular photo-sharing app Snapchat's format to its advantage.

The WFF's #LastSelfie campaign, launched this week, sends snaps—photos that expire after being viewed for between one and 10 seconds—of endangered species with text overlays such as, "Don't let this be my #LastSelfie." The campaign aims to make palpable how easy it is to lose a species.

"In a way, Snapchat is a mirror of real life," the organization writes in this video spot. "The images you see are transient, instant, unique, yet only live for a few seconds. Just like these endangered animals."

The creators of Snapchat hoped their app would make people appreciate being "in the moment," but #LastSelfie's use of Snapchat makes the idea of accepting transience alarming.

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Bill McKibben, author, environmentalist, and founder of the grassroots climate movement 350.org.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Gnat Named After Bill McKibben

Author is "truly honored"

Being named after a flying insect doesn't exactly sound like a compliment. Wouldn't you rather see your name on a species of jungle cat or bird of prey? But ask green activist, author, and Outside contributor Bill McKibben, and he says he'll take it!

The buzz in the insect world is that Peter Kerr, a scientist with the California Department of Food and Agriculture's State Collection of Arthropods, recently discovered a species of gnat in California and named it after McKibben to honor the author's lifelong commitment to protecting the environment, Grist.org reports. 

"I felt truly honored. I love this planet we got born onto, from the big down to the very small," McKibben told Grist. "To be officially connected with its great diversity—well, that means a lot."

Gnat's all, folks!

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