Tiny Jumpers Rule at the Double Dutch Summer Classic

Tiny Jumpers Rule at the Double Dutch Summer Classic

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Last Sunday, at the Double Dutch Summer Classic, a jump-rope competition
held at the Josie Robertson Plaza, at Lincoln Center, in Manhattan, Miss
K’s Loopy Jumpers, fourth- and fifth-graders from Brooklyn, marched onto
the stage from their station on the shaded side of the plaza, to the
sound of Mr. Fingers’s “Mystery of Love.” The m.c.s of the
competition—two former competitive jumpers—had been hyping the crowd.
“What’s the heartbeat of double Dutch?” one of them crowed. “The turn!”
the well-informed crowd answered. Hundreds of people, primarily black
women and their daughters, dressed in Sunday style, had come out to see
the tournament. Attendees of the matinée of George Balanchine’s “Jewels,” performed by the Bolshoi Ballet, looked on from a Lincoln Center balcony
before their performance began, and suddenly vanished. “They’re missing
the real show,” one woman, who would spend the next five hours of the
contest evaluating routines from behind dark sunglasses, said.

The sound of taut ropes lashing on concrete at short intervals is, to
me, the sound of summer. As children, my neighbors and I would
commandeer entire New York City blocks, sometimes setting our jump-rope
stations in the middle of the road for extra room. In “The Games Black
Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double-Dutch to Hip-Hop
,” Kyra D. Gaunt remembers watching girls on her block do the same. “They made it
seem so . . . natural, off-the-cuff, unrehearsed, magical, like watching
Michael Jordan fly on the basketball court,” she writes. Like basketball
or baseball, jump rope is cheap; unlike them, it has been considered a playground diversion, not a discipline. My
friends and I were not aware that, back in 1973, David Walker and
Ulysses Williams, two N.Y.P.D. detectives interested in building
after-school opportunities for New York City children, had sketched out
a set of rules for double Dutch, the style of jump rope that involves
turning two ropes in a strand-over-strand motion, and had developed
ways of testing a jumper’s competency, style, and speed. The next year,
they founded the American Double Dutch League and held the first Double
Dutch Summer Classic, at which around fifty teams competed annually
until 1984. This past weekend, as part of an initiative led by Walker’s
daughter, who took over the league from her father, the competition was
revived, with the support of Lincoln Center and the nonprofit Women of
Color in the Arts.

The competitors weren’t there to play so much as to dominate. The
children wore serious expressions. Each round pitted two or three teams
against each other and was judged by a suite of veteran jumpers. There
were singles (one jumper) and doubles (two jumpers) categories: within
each, there were contests for speed and for longer routines. The
designated jumper from Miss K’s fourth-and-fifth-grade contingent, a
tiny girl with flapping arms, approached the ropes. Her turners started
slowly and then, once she had entered, went faster, whipping the ropes
into a helix. The little jumper completed the twenty-five-second test with
intimidating speed and only a few falters. “This little crew right
here,” the m.c. said. “You’ll see them at Barclays at halftime next.”

The Japanese Children’s Society had driven in from New Jersey. The
jumpers of Extreme Air, New Hampshire’s only nationally competitive
jump-rope team, had done their hair in identical French braids. “As you
see, double Dutch transcends gender and ethnicity,” the m.c. said of the
team, whose members were mostly white. Brooklyn boasted the most clubs in the
competition, including Jazzy Lil Secret, who, halfway through the doubles competition, brought out a small, cornrowed boy. While his teammate, a taller jumper, hopped over the ropes, he jumped onto her
back with wacky agility. She continued, unfazed; together they resembled a bouncing
kangaroo.

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August 4, 2017 at 11:45PM

Neptune’s New Surprise Storm Is Nearly as Big as Earth

Neptune’s New Surprise Storm Is Nearly as Big as Earth

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article-image

Just in recent months, we’ve seen that Jupiter’s magnetic field is lumpy, Venus’s atmosphere has giant standing waves, Uranus orbits the sun on its side, and Mars has giant tornados scouring its surface. Our cosmic neighborhood is full of characters, and now it’s Neptune’s turn in the spotlight. Astronomers recently spotted a storm on the planet’s surface that is both in a weird location and nearly the size of Earth.

The wild weather was observed from Hawaii’s W.M. Keck Observatory during a test run at dawn, and surprised scientists. “Normally, this area is really quiet and we only see bright clouds in the mid-latitude bands, so to have such an enormous cloud sitting right at the equator is spectacular," said Ned Molter, the University of California, Berkeley, researcher who spotted the storm, in a press release. It stretches 5,500 miles across the middle of Neptune, about twice the distance from New York to Los Angeles.

Neptune’s storms don’t quite have the enduring persistence of Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot. The planet’s Great Dark Spot, in the southern hemisphere, and was captured by Voyager 2’s cameras back in 1989. Winds were clocked at 1,500 miles per hour. By the time the Hubble Space Telescope turned its eye toward the planet in 1994, the storm had dissipated, but another was raging in the northern hemisphere. Yet another dark spot storm turned up in 2016. Who knows what surprises the most-distant planet will throw at us next?

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August 4, 2017 at 11:25PM

Found: The Oldest Known Family of Asteroids in the Solar System

Found: The Oldest Known Family of Asteroids in the Solar System

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article-image

Our solar system contains a very large main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, an orbiting mass of tens of thousands of rocky fragments that have orbited the Sun for billions of years. Within the belt there are some larger objects—such as Ceres, 580 miles in diameter—but also plenty of much, much smaller ones, fragmented over many millennia by collisions. When an asteroid breaks up this way, its fragments tend to hang around together as a family of smaller asteroids that orbits together. As time goes by, like members of some human families, these asteroids tend to drift apart. The oldest asteroid families, then, are the ones that have drifted the farthest apart. Astronomers have understood this for awhile, but it is a difficult phenomenon to study.

This week, an international team of astronomers reported that they have identified a very early, primordial asteroid family by correlating the size of its members and how far apart they are. That family is nearly as old as the solar system itself—over four billion years. The scientists now plan to use the same approach on other parts of the asteroid belt to dig even deeper into the early stages of our solar system.

“By identifying all the families in the main belt, we can figure out which asteroids have been formed by collisions and which might be some of the original members of the asteroid belt,” said Kevin Walsh, an astronomer at the Southwest Research Institute and a coauthor of the paper, published in Science. “We identified all known families and their members and discovered a gigantic void in the main belt, populated by only a handful of asteroids. These relics must be part of the original asteroid belt. That is the real prize, to know what the main belt looked like just after it formed.”

Reaching that far back will take just a little more time.

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August 4, 2017 at 10:57PM

A Boeing Test Flight Drew an Airplane In the Sky

A Boeing Test Flight Drew an Airplane In the Sky

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An airplane drawn over the fly-over states.An airplane drawn over the fly-over states. Courtesy of FlightAware

Boeing has taken selfies to new heights after getting one of its planes to fly a test path that formed a giant outline of the plane itself on the GPS.

According to Boeing, the plane crossed over 22 states to draw the design. From wingtip to metaphorical wingtip, the plane stretches from nearly the bottom tip of Texas up to the Great Lakes, and the flight path even included such small details as the curvature of the engines and the tilted fins on the ends of the wings. The design was specifically the outline of a 787-8.

Uncoincidentally, the flight path was covered by a 787 Dreamliner that was running an 18 hour endurance test on the craft, eventually flying 9,896 miles. Even in the world of aeronautics, you’ve gotta have some fun.

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August 4, 2017 at 10:21PM

Tip: Call Airlines’ International Lines for Quicker Service

Tip: Call Airlines’ International Lines for Quicker Service

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When it comes to traveling, every second counts. So, holding on a phone line for an airline agent just isn’t an option. And while having elite status might give you access to an additional phone line to call, sometimes even that is too busy. Or, if you don’t have status at all, often you’re left with no other option. The good news, however, is that there can be another way around it.

In many cases, calling an international phone line can allow you to bypass the high number of callers who are trying to reach the US phone line. Some airlines are worse than others when it comes to hold times. For example, British Airways often has long hold times. So, TPG recommends calling the Singapore office for an almost-immediate answer with an English-speaking representative.

Especially at peak call times — think weather delays and technology outages — any effort to get out of a long hold time is worth it. If possible, try calling a line that’s based in an English-speaking country so you’re almost guaranteed to be able to communicate. If you speak a second language, even better, as you can call other lines for quicker results.

Here are the international call center phone numbers for each of the major US airlines:

American Airlines
Delta Air Lines
United Airlines

To learn more about international call centers, click here. And to find out how to reach phone agents quickly, check out this post.

Featured image courtesy of PhotoAlto/Odilon Dimier via Getty Images.

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August 4, 2017 at 10:15PM

Freeway Park in Seattle, Washington

Freeway Park in Seattle, Washington

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A brutalist fountain at Freeway Park.

Constructed during America’s bicentennial celebration, Seattle‘s Freeway Park was the first freeway lid—a structure built on top of a sunken freeway—in the nation. The 5.2-acre urban space is a renowned brutalist masterwork, though it’s seen better days.

The park was opened on July 4, 1976 in celebration of the U.S. bicentennial. Its distinct areas, known as the Central Plaza, East Plaza, and West Plaza, are woven together via a cohesive medley of concrete, greenery, and furnishings. Water features, such as an impressive 30-foot concrete canyon built directly over the median strip of Interstate 5, help enhance the landscape and differentiate the moods of each space. A fourth feature, Naramore Fountain by renowned sculptor George Tsutakawa, predates Freeway Park and was incorporated within the park’s design.

Originally intended to help “heal the scar” the interstate highway created through downtown Seattle, Freeway Park eventually wound up causing its owns wounds within the city. The brutalist architecture, which uses mainly concrete, gives the park’s features a raw, somewhat unwelcoming feel. Many of the softwood trees planted within it eventually grew dark and died, their soil stuffed with too many roots, their urban air too polluted. 

The plants that did manage to prosper became overgrown as the park fell into disrepair. The fountains, which were included to help soften the sounds of traffic, ran dry. Unkempt vegetation obscured the park’s nooks and crannies from sight. Freeway Park became a hotspot for crime. However, it’s set to undergo renovations in the future.

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August 4, 2017 at 10:07PM

Freeway Park in Seattle, Washington

Freeway Park in Seattle, Washington

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A brutalist fountain at Freeway Park.

Constructed during America’s bicentennial celebration, Seattle‘s Freeway Park was the first freeway lid—a structure built on top of a sunken freeway—in the nation. The 5.2-acre urban space is a renowned brutalist masterwork, though it’s seen better days.

The park was opened on July 4, 1976 in celebration of the U.S. bicentennial. Its distinct areas, known as the Central Plaza, East Plaza, and West Plaza, are woven together via a cohesive medley of concrete, greenery, and furnishings. Water features, such as an impressive 30-foot concrete canyon built directly over the median strip of Interstate 5, help enhance the landscape and differentiate the moods of each space. A fourth feature, Naramore Fountain by renowned sculptor George Tsutakawa, predates Freeway Park and was incorporated within the park’s design.

Originally intended to help “heal the scar” the interstate highway created through downtown Seattle, Freeway Park eventually wound up causing its owns wounds within the city. The brutalist architecture, which uses mainly concrete, gives the park’s features a raw, somewhat unwelcoming feel. Many of the softwood trees planted within it eventually grew dark and died, their soil stuffed with too many roots, their urban air too polluted. 

The plants that did manage to prosper became overgrown as the park fell into disrepair. The fountains, which were included to help soften the sounds of traffic, ran dry. Unkempt vegetation obscured the park’s nooks and crannies from sight. Freeway Park became a hotspot for crime. However, it’s set to undergo renovations in the future.

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August 4, 2017 at 10:03PM

Shipwrecked Doritos in Hatteras, North Carolina

Shipwrecked Doritos in Hatteras, North Carolina

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Thousands of bags of chips washed up on Hatteras Island.

In November of 2006, the tastiest disaster struck the waters around North Carolina’s Outer Banks. A shipment container stuffed full of Nacho Cheese, Spicy Nacho, and Cool Ranch Doritos tipped and fell overboard into the ocean.

The bags of chips washed up on Hatteras Island, where locals then salvaged—ate—the surplus of shipwrecked snacks. There was even a report of someone filling up a truck with the payload. 

The National Park Service, which owns the island, arrived around noon of that Thursday and located the beached shipping container. When they looked inside, there were still multiple bags of chips.

This incident will be forever remembered in the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras, where a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos is displayed among other less delicious victims of the sea.

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August 4, 2017 at 09:25PM

Shipwrecked Doritos in Hatteras, North Carolina

Shipwrecked Doritos in Hatteras, North Carolina

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In November of 2006, the tastiest disaster struck the waters around North Carolina’s Outer Banks. A shipment container stuffed full of Nacho Cheese, Spicy Nacho, and Cool Ranch Doritos tipped and fell overboard into the ocean.

The bags of chips washed up on Hatteras Island, where locals then salvaged—ate—the surplus of shipwrecked snacks. There was even a report of someone filling up a truck with the payload. 

The National Park Service, which owns the island, arrived around noon of that Thursday and located the beached shipping container. When they looked inside, there were still multiple bags of chips.

This incident will be forever remembered in the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras, where a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos is displayed among other less delicious victims of the sea.

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August 4, 2017 at 09:20PM

Telegraph Field Valentia Island in County Kerry, Ireland

Telegraph Field Valentia Island in County Kerry, Ireland

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The memorial at Foilhommerum Cliff.

Two whole weeks is an eternity in the age of instant communication, but until the mid-19th century, it took at least that long for a message to travel across the Atlantic. American businessman Cyrus West Field wanted to change this. It was his life mission to connect the North America and Europe via telegraph.

The installation of the first successful transatlantic telegraph cable under the ocean was completed on August 5, 1858. After a few failed attempts over the previous year, four ships—two from Britain and two from the United States, successfully installed the cable without it breaking halfway, allowing messages to be sent from Valentia Harbor in Ireland to Trinity Bay in Newfoundland.

A few test messages were sent back and forth, after which President James Buchanan and Queen Victoria swapped pleasantries using the new technology. The glow of this fantastic achievement was, however, short-lived. The cable was not strong enough, and the high voltages passing through damaged it within three weeks. 

The system was improved over the next several years, and in 1866, a ship finished laying the first permanent telegraph cable across the ocean. Valentia Island and Heart’s Content in Newfoundland were the endpoints of the cable. This signaled the beginning of an era of faster interaction, and made the Telegraph Field on Valentia Island a crucial site in the history of communication. Telegraphic messages zoomed in and out of the Valentia cable station for 100 years, until in 1966, it was closed down.

Today, a plaque marks the importance of the spot. In recent years, efforts have been made to have the area declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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August 4, 2017 at 09:11PM