What’s up with the Segway?

 

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Are they easy to learn how to ride? Will I fall off? What makes them go?DSC_0021

The Segway PT, “an electric, self-balancing human transporter with a sophisticated, computer-controlled gyroscopic stabilization and control system,” (Wikipedia) was invented by Dean Kamen, an American inventor. Segway is a homophone of the word segue, and PT is for Personal Transporter.

Easy to ride: Computers and motors in the base keep the Segway upright when powered on. Gyroscopic sensors and fluid-based leveling sensors detect the weight shift, and riders move by shifting their weight on the platform. (Unless you’re a lousy driver and jump off a curb, the only danger in falling is if the power ever shuts off, but each Segway has a warning alarm, and gives you time to step off.)

What makes them go? Segways are electric, and can go up to 12.5 miles per hour (20.1 km/h).

Because they’re quick to learn how to ride, Segways are ideal for persons with arthritis or other conditions that make walking long distances difficult. Although Segways cannot be marketed in the US as medical devices because they have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a medical device, Segs4Vets, a nonprofit organization, provides Segways to the men and women of the United States military whose service in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom resulted in permanent disability and difficulty walking.

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Besides assisting warriors with mobility, Segways can be seen in countries around the world used by police, on guided tours, and for personal use where municipalities permit.

Segways have inspired the formation of enthusiasts groups, Segway polo, group glides, and a growing community of riders worldwide.

From sports to security, tourism and mobility, so hop on and find out for yourself how easy and fun they can be.

Resources:

www.SEGAmerica.org

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean_Kamen

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Segway_polo

This has been a Coffee Break Escape – 7 Minute Adventures Exploring the World Together

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Scary Movies – love ’em or hate ’em?

(Photo credit Lynn Kelley, WanaCommons)

 Like them or leave them, horror movies are enjoyed by countless people across the world.  Some people actually enjoy getting scared out of their wits. A good horror movie allows us to experience the fear we wrestle with deep inside without actually being put in danger.

But where did it all start?  Who can we thank for first horror movie?

 The First Horror Movie

 As far as we can tell, the first horror movie was entitled Le Manoir Du Diable aka The Devil’s Castle or The Haunted Castle and is credited to filmmaker Georges Méliés.  It was only two minutes long. Being made in 1896, there was no sound, but that didn’t stop audiences from enjoying it. The story features a bat, a cauldron, ghosts, skeletons, an old creaky house, and (thankfully) a crucifix to destroy all that evil.

 

But, as we know, the horror didn’t stop there.  It went on to include some, by now, well known monsters.

The First Monster Movie

Much of classic horror features the monster.  From Frankenstein’s monster, to Dracula to the wolfman, a good monster can scare your pants off. If monster movies are your thing, you can look to The Golem as the first. This movie, directed by Paul Wegener in 1915/1920, was based on the same Jewish legend that inspired Mary Shelly to create Frankenstein’s monster. The movie is set in Prague and features a clay man who is brought to life by an amulet-wielding rabbi.  The monster’s job is to protect the Jewish ghetto, but it turns on its creators when the job is done.

 First Feature Length Vampire Movie

 Even though, thanks to Bram Stoker, Dracula is probably the most well known vampire, the first feature length vampire movie was Nosferatu. It was made in 1922 thanks to director F.W. Murnau. The story features a hideous vampire named Count Orlock, a balding vampire that was followed by rats everywhere.

Interestingly enough, copies of the movie were destroyed because Bram Stoker’s widow sued over copyright infringement.  It turns out that Nosferatu is a flagrant copy of Stoker’s work, though the name of the vampire and setting of the story were changed.

The First Talking Horror Movie

Of course, no list could be complete without a visit from the first talking horror picture.  In 1928, director Roy Del Ruth brought us the Terror, a movie based on Edgar Wallace’s play about a killer in an old house turned inn. Thanks to Vitaphone, audiences could hear the sound effects and the characters speaking for themselves.

The horror film genre has gone through many changes throughout the years. From thrillers to monster movies, the genre has morphed from a two minute silent, black and white film to the full color, full surround sound scare-fests we know today.

So the next time you turn on a horror flick, think about where the genre came from. Then enjoy scaring yourself silly. Just be sure to sleep with the light on.

Sources: http://www.filmsite.org/horrorfilms.html

http://www.horrorfilmhistory.com/index.php?pageID=1930s

http://www.chiff.com/a/horror-movie.htm

http://vitaphone.blogspot.com/2007/10/terrors-real-and-imagined.html

When she’s not scaring up stories about horror movies, M. R. Anglin writes YA fiction with a fantasy twist. In “Lucas, Guardian of Truth,” an eleven year old boy with a vivid imagination must trust a mysterious creature that transports him to Kalaria, a place where nothing is as it seems. There, Lucas learns that he is the Guardian of Truth, destined to save Kalaria from the Mind Master, a creature bent on destroying the planet, and his imagination as well.  Visit MR at http://www.lyeland.com

This has been a Coffee Break Escape – 7 Minute Adventures Exploring the World Together. Please visit our authors’ books, businesses or blogs, we’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to be a part of our Coffee Break team, we’re always looking for new adventuristas!

 

Single-handed Sailing – going solo without GPS

On April 24, 1895, Joshua Slocum set sail from Boston, alone, in a tiny sloop he had rescued from disrepair and abandonment, to become the first solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe.

The trip covered 46,000 miles and took three years to circle back to Newport, Rhode Island on June 27, 1898. No GPS. No bottled water. No Facebook or twitter.

Born for the sea, when Josh was 16, he ran away from home (he had already left once at age 14 to work on a deep sea fishing boat) and became a seaman, crewing many deep-water sailing ships, working his way up from “rail meat” to ordinary seaman on merchant vessels bound for Europe and beyond.

Working his way up the ladder, Joshua obtained his first command on the California coast in 1869, and sailed for 13 years out of San Francisco to China, Australia, the Spice Islands, and Japan. From his logs, Josh wrote about his experiences, and self-published “Voyage of the Liberdade” in 1890, and “Voyage of the Destroyer,” both at his own expense. His most popular book was yet to be written.

Josh had yearned to own a vessel since his youthful days tossing on the cold waters of the north Pacific. In 1892, a friend, Captain Eben Pierce, offered Slocum a ship that “wants some repairs,” and Slocum eagerly traveled to check out the fixer in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. The “ship” was a rotting oyster sloop propped up in a field. It was called the “Spray.”

Three years later, the re-built and restored sloop was again seaworthy, and Josh set out for his around the world journey, never before accomplished, as a singlehanded voyage. Slocum navigated by the lunar method and dead reckoning, using a cheap tin clock for approximate time, and noon sun sightings for latitude.

A ‘singlehanded’ voyage can include stops, but no additional crew or assistance is permitted while advancing the boat’s position as it transits toward the next destination. This historic achievement made Captain Joshua Slocum the patron saint of small-boat voyagers, navigators and adventurers all over the world.

A modern “Spray” design –

Photo courtesy of Bruce Roberts.

To this day, sailors design and build new sailing ships based on the original lines of Joshua Slocum’s “Spray.” Several have been built in timber based on the original lines provided in his epic classic Sailing Alone Around the World, still considered one of the best adventure books of all time, recounting his remarkable achievement.

On November 14th, 1909, at the age of 65, Captain Slocum set out on another lone voyage to South America from Martha’s Vineyard, but was never heard from again.

Links for more information:

Joshua Slocum Society 

Bruce Roberts Sailing

If you have a story to tell, I’m always looking for 7 Minute “adventuristas” to contribute short, interesting, and fun pieces, so click through to find out how to become involved in  Coffee Break Escape.

Beverly Nault writes safely from her armchair in Southern California, navigating the globe by the Internet, and communicating via social media on Facebook and Twitter. Visit her at www.beverlynault.com.