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Ripples #42

Ripples art--smallCompiled and written by Lenny Giteck

 

Vanilla Ice Rips Out ‘Rotten’
Pool, Replaces It with New One  

You may recall a Ripples item from August 2010, when we reported on a wild escapade by the rapper Vanilla Ice: He revved up a vintage Cadillac, deliberately sped off a berm, soared through the air and crashed into a pond. He nearly drowned in the exploit — causing Ripples to wonder at the time why he would perform such an idiotic stunt.

A close reading of the Wikipedia entry on the rapper may provide a clue: He is identified as “an American rapper, extreme athlete [italics added] and home improvement television personality.” Clearly, Mr. Ice has a taste for adrenaline.

It is, however, the third identifier (“home improvement television personality”) that is of interest here. Ice — whose real name is Robert Matthew Van Winkle — now has his own reality TV show called “The Vanilla Ice Project,” which airs on DIY Network. It turns out that in addition to being a rapmeister, Van Winkle has an impressive background as a handyman, contractor, and rehabber and builder of houses — experience that is applied to the show’s various home renovation projects.

In one recent episode, he tore out a backyard pool that definitely had seen better days and replaced it with a new, much larger installation. Ice proposed at the beginning of the episode, “We’ll put in a lazy river that’ll go around an island with a Tiki hut. We’ll have stone waterfalls, a shallow beach area with bubblers, and we’ll surround the pool area with gorgeous travertine tiles and palm trees to create a tropical oasis.” It will be, he promised, “the most amazing swimming pool you’ve ever seen.”

Quite a claim … you be the judge.

Video: To see a brief You Tube clip of Vanilla Ice’s lazy-river pool project, click here. (Note: Some Web sites may open behind this screen.)  The full episode is occasionally repeated on the DIY Network.

 

Mute Young Man Able to Speak
Again Thanks to Dolphin Therapy

Nearly five years ago, Morad Azva, then a well-liked 16-year-old Israeli high school student, was physically assaulted by a number of his schoolmates — a vicious attack that left him with both physical injuries and serious mental problems. The youngster displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which in his case included becoming mute and shutting himself off from the world.

Unfortunately, the treatments carried out by one of Israel’s most renowned psychiatrists, Dr. Ilan Kutz, showed no signs of improving Morad’s condition. According to a recent article on the case on the Web site jpost.com, the psychiatrist was quoted as saying at the time: “I haven’t seen that degree of severe [mutism]. It usually lasts a few hours at most; never anything this long.”

With zero progress being made, Kutz saw no purpose in continuing with traditional therapy and recommended that Morad be institutionalized in a mental health facility. The boy’s father rejected that and asked Dr. Kutz to come up with another course of action. That’s when the psychiatrist suggested dolphin therapy, which involves supervised swimming with the highly intelligent marine mammals. Such therapy was available in Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city, on the Red Sea.

The article on jpost.com summed up the results:

During his time at the Dolphin Reef, Morad regained his ability to communicate, first with dolphins and later on with people. A few months into therapy, he spoke his first words. “I felt like I was reborn,” he recalls, “The dolphins were my new family.” Morad flourished in his new surroundings. He became an active member of the reef and continued his experience with dolphins as a staff member.

Dr. Kutz … stresses that despite the great progress, “it is important to keep in mind that not all of Morad’s problems have been dealt with.” According to him, “it took unbelievable patience, dedication, intimacy and love from all parties to restore a sense of security for Morad.”

Learn more: For further details on the Morad Azva case and dolphin therapy in general, click here.

 

Pennsylvania Swim Coaches Use iPads
To Help Improve Students’ Technique

High school swim coaches in Pennsylvania have found a new purpose for the Apple iPad: using it as a video teaching tool to show students the problems they’re having with their swimming techniques.

Coach LuAnn Hetherington told the Web site highschoolsports.pennlive.com: “I’ve had [my iPad] for about four or five weeks, and I learn more about it every day. The major thing I use it for is in practice. When I see … somebody swimming wrong, I immediately grab the iPad and film them. Then I pull them out of the water individually and let them watch it.”

Recording videos of swimmers in the water for training purposes is nothing new, but the iPad makes it much more convenient. Mike Gobrecht, another coach, recalls “lugging one of those big, cumbersome video cameras on deck, then wheeling in a television set, extension cords and a VCR in order to get footage of his swimmers in practice.”

And using the iPads is much safer than the old way, adds Gorbrecht. “We’d be running cords all over the pool, but making sure we weren’t too close … so we wouldn’t electrocute ourselves,” he notes.

 

Young Inventors Develop Device to
Generate Electricity from Pool Water

The InvenTeam at Harker School, in San Jose, Calif., has created an Aquatic Thermoelectric Generator to exploit the temperature differential between a swimming pool’s warmer surface water and cooler water below to generate electricity.

Members of the team are sophomores, juniors and seniors at Hacker, a private college-preparatory school. To date, there have been nearly 100 InvenTeams in high schools around the country. Each team receives a grant of up to $10,000 from the Lemeson-MIT Program; the money is used to solve — with the help of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — an individual problem that the students choose.

Harker math teacher Anthony Silk, adviser to the school’s InvenTeam, explains on the Web site mnn.com, "As [the students’] device floats on water, reflector panels focus sunlight onto a black surface that converts the solar energy to heat. This heat is then passed through thermoelectric panels and passively dissipated into the surrounding water."

What advice does Silk have for other budding young inventors? "You have to give your heart and soul into the project," he says. "This includes sacrificing playing video games and hanging out with friends to work on your project. You have to be thinking about the subject 24-7."

The Harker team plans to further refine its device and have it ready for EurekaFest, which will be held June 20-23 at MIT and Boston’s Museum of Science. “EurekaFest,” notes the event’s Web site, “is a multi-day celebration designed to empower a legacy of inventors through activities that inspire youth, honor role models, and encourage creativity and problem solving.”

 

Until next time, happy watershaping to you!

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