"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

5 Cool Things  😎
5 Cool Things:
Hi, this is Greg Powell. I hope you'll enjoy one or more of these interesting topics from the world of business and beyond. Dan Powell, my son and collaborator, has researched the articles and written the summaries, so this is not a boilerplate message. We'd like to give you a weekly break to learn about something cool or, better yet, 5 Cool Things.


Why You Can Smell Rain (The Conversation)

The onset of a rain storm can be a magical experience — provided it’s not ruining a nice day outdoors. Along with the changes in wind and light conditions, we also note a distinctive smell that accompanies the rain. This isn’t the smell of the ground itself — not exactly. It’s mainly the result of microorganisms called actinobacteria. These microscopic organisms live in all kinds of soil, performing the essential task of breaking down organic matter into more basic molecules that serve as food for larger plants and animals. When they sense an approaching rain storm, these bacteria become more active and produce a chemical byproduct known as geosmin, a type of alcohol that’s easily detectable by the human nose. The result is a pleasant, musky smell that is made airborne by the impact of raindrops on the surface of the ground. Read more…

Will Your US Passport Still Be as Valuable After Pandemic Restrictions Are Lifted? (The Points Guy)

This past week, an op-ed article from Medium entitled “American Passports Are Worthless Now” has been circulating in social media circles. Although rather hyperbolic in its doomsday tone, the article rightly casts a harsh light on the failures of the US federal government to address the crisis as compared to nearly every other nation. Now that travelers with US passports are restricted to mostly a handful of Caribbean nations, what else could be in store for the future? This article, written in April of this year, was ahead of the curve in attempting to predict the likely impacts: “US travelers may eventually face tougher entrance requirements, including required health checks or certifications, doctor’s notes or even new forms of authorizations or vaccinations. We could eventually see some kind of ‘proof of resistance’ to the disease or a medical history showing coronavirus exposure.” For US citizens used to visa-free travel, such restrictions could prove to be an unsettling reminder of the disconnect between the US pandemic experience and that of the international community. Read more…

Barbados Will Let You Stay And Work Remotely From The Island For One Year (Secret NYC)

While the cafes of Biarritz and the villas on Sardinia might be off-limits for Americans this summer, it’s never been easier to work remotely, especially with Barbados’ new tourism program. The Caribbean destination will authorize a 12-month visitation allowance for anyone who wants to stay and work from the island, provided they test negative for Covid less than 72 hours before their flight if they’re from a high-risk country. “We want to create an environment that will allow people to come to Barbados to work, to rest, and to play from here for an extended period of time,” says Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley. So if you’re feeling a bit bummed out having to work from home these days, just know that you could be bummed out sitting on a white sand beach under palm trees for the next year! Read more…


Empire Strikes Back Tops the Box Office Again (National Post)

40 years later, The Empire Strikes Back is still on top. Last weekend, the classic sci-fi sequel to the original Star Wars reclaimed the top spot at the box office. Of course, that was only possible because the pandemic has resulted in the shuttering of thousands of movie theaters nationwide that would otherwise have been showing newer movies during what would have been 2020’s summer blockbuster season. The return of Empire was propelled mostly by ticket sales from drive-in theaters, which have been enjoying a renaissance this year, although they’re normally less efficient to operate than indoor theaters. That’s why, despite earning some 200 million dollars during its original eight-week reign at the top of the box office in 1980, this week’s return was made possible by taking in just about a half million dollars in sales. Read more…


The Walkman, Forty Years On (The New Yorker)

Movie-goers who saw The Empire Strikes Back during its original run may or may not have noticed the birth of another icon that year: the original Sony Walkman, which came to America in June of 1980. In much the same way as the transistor radio a generation earlier, Walkmans further democratized the experience of music listening, moving cassettes from in home stereos and boomboxes into one’s pocket. But unlike their predecessors, Walkmans took the crucial step of integrating headphones, a revolution that would change the world of music forever. Music’s journey from live performance to radio to “canned” recording now entered a distinctly personal phase, wherein the listener could tune into their own world of sound without having to share the experience with those nearby. As the first device to provide this unique capability, the Walkman might be described as one of the first virtual reality devices, a capability which was later honed and perfected with the advent of Apple’s iPod and iPhone models. Read more…


Check out my Blog: "Minding Your Business"
See you next week!
            - Greg
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