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Local access and rapid data delivery for new branch office locations continue to be a thorn in my side. In regard to local access, the local exchange carriers usually have a lock on it and there is typically no redundancy or diversity, lest one go to great expense to install a private Sonet ring.

Rapid delivery of network services must be a figment of my imagination unless of course I can live with the 30 to 45 days it normally takes to provision a Frame Relay circuit. Surely, there must be an answer.

Frankly, I am weary of hearing the empty promises from the major long haul carriers about alternative access for the last mile. I firmly believe that the current direction of MCI and AT&T to merge with the RBOC’s will kill any notion of providing alternative access in their respective markets. Why should they, as local access has been a cash cow for the RBOC’s ever since divestiture. This Regionalized Monopoly which AT&T and MCI are building today will surely result in higher prices and the lackluster service that we are experiencing today is sure to deteriorate further.

Recently my CIO laid down the gauntlet and challenged me to take a look at VSAT (very small aperture terminal). Back in the “old days” when networks were based on a store and forward architecture to accommodate a distributed compute environment, VSAT worked fine. It worked fine because latency was not an issue.

However, at the turn of the century when the trend to centralize compute platforms became popular again, store and forward architectures quickly became dinosaurs. The final blow to VSAT in my business was the web-enabled applications that were transaction intensive and very sensitive to latency.

However as the CIO stated, we had all to gain and nothing to lose so, under duress, I decided to take another look at VSAT as an alternative or to compliment Frame Relay and broadband site-to-site VPN at my branch chúng tôi the while I knew I was wasting my time, because I knew the latency would kill my apps. That being said, I picked up the phone and called the folks at Hughes Network Systems. After all, Hughes with over 70% of the market is the expert in VSAT and I knew that if they didn’t have a solution, there would be no point in exploring it further.

The folks at Hughes were quick to tell me how they had made great strides in the past few years with a spoofing technology that, in a matter of speaking, changed the characteristics of TCP. This technology, TCP acceleration, eliminates a significant amount of the TCP acknowledgement traffic, permitting an almost continuous data stream, therein making latency somewhat transparent.I was still not convinced, but I was certainly willing to give it the old college try. After all, I had all to gain and nothing to lose.

My engineering team did some initial benchmark tests between the VSAT system and a Frame Relay circuit in the model office. Initially, the VSAT system was not impressive and as we suspected our point of sale system was very sluggish and unresponsive. That could have been an end to the test; however, both my team and the Hughes team were very aggressive and were determined to turn over every leaf in an effort to succeed.

As it turns out, during our conversations we had not discussed that all of our internet traffic was via a proxy server at the corporate data center. Once this was divulged, the Hughes Engineer accomplished some fine-tuning on the Acceleration server at Hughes and all of a sudden the POS traffic “was smoking” to quote one of my engineers. As a matter of fact, benchmark testing revealed that the transaction times for most steps of a Point of Sale transaction were equivalent to that of the same transaction being performed on a Frame Relay Circuit.

The preliminary lab testing certainly intrigued me and I began to think about the more positive aspects of VSAT. Rapid Deployment was the first bullet on my list. Rapid deployment would enable me to connect branch offices within days rather than weeks and months with terrestrial wired communications that depends on the RBOC’s (Regional Bell Operating Companies) who work at a snails pace and have forgotten what customer service is all chúng tôi second bullet would have to be disaster recovery at the branch office chúng tôi I thought there might be a place for VSAT in my network.

My next step is to do some live testing at a few of my branch offices. This will give me a better idea about how the technology performs in the real world and will help me to determine exactly where VSAT will fit in my network and just maybe I can start divorce proceedings against the RBOC’s.

Broadband cable with a redundant VSAT connection back to the data center… Hmm, now that’s an idea.

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What Is Patreon? A Creator’s Guide To Making Money In 2023

With Patreon, users can launch a personalized subscription-based site in just a few easy steps, allowing creators to offer exclusive content to subscribers and generate a consistent monthly income.

Our Patreon deep-dive will help you learn the ins and outs of this platform and determine whether becoming a Patreon creator is the right move for you.

Bonus: Download a free, fully customizable influencer media kit template to help you introduce your accounts to brands, land sponsorship deals, and make more money on social media.

What is Patreon?

Patreon is a membership platform that allows creators to run a subscription service for their content. Instead of setting up their own website and payment platform, creators can easily launch a personalized Patreon page in a few steps.

On Patreon, paying subscribers are called patrons. Each patron pays a fee for exclusive content from creators.

Patreon launched in 2013 and has over 3 million monthly active patrons and more than 185,000 registered creators. As of spring 2023, Patreon was valued at $4 billion.

Creators can offer subscriptions for a variety of services. Popular content formats include:

Video (38% of creators)

Writing (17%)

Audio (14%)

Photography (6%)

The Patreon app is also available for iOS or Android.

How does Patreon work?

Patreon allows creators to monetize their content by creating a paywall and charging patrons a subscription fee to access their work. This transparent business model is great for both creators and patrons.

So what is Patreon used for? Creators can use the Patreon platform for all types of content:

Writers might share short excerpts of stories with their Twitter followers. Then, to drive readers to their Patreon, they can let them know that the full piece is available by subscribing to one of their membership tiers.

Photographers who post examples of their work on Instagram can use Patreon as a vault for their content. They can also entice patrons by offering special perks like physical prints of their favorite images.

Podcasters can easily engage with their listeners on Patreon. The Community tab functions as a messageboard, where patrons can leave messages and chat with other listeners as well as the podcast hosts. Patrons might get early access to episodes or receive special content like bonus episodes or a look behind the scenes.

Musicians can post new tracks ahead of their release date or share b-sides and demos with fans.

In general, Patreon is a great opportunity for new creators to build a community and widen their reach, while high-profile or celebrity creators can use Patreon to interact with fans in a whole new way.

How much can I earn on Patreon?

The platform is flexible enough to accommodate creators of all followings, so average Patreon income varies.

How much of your existing audience will convert to Patreon subscribers depends on many different factors, including:

The type of content you create

The perks you offer to patrons

Your membership tier fees

The size of your current audience

Your marketing efforts

So, how much can you expect to earn? We’ve put together a hypothetical example based on a creator with 10,000 followers on Instagram (their primary social channel).

Total size of following10,000 (Instagram)

Traffic from Instagram to Patreon page1,000

% of traffic that converts into patrons1-5% (10-50 patrons)

Average value of each patron$5

Total monthly Patreon income$50-$250

If that doesn’t sound like much, keep reading. We’ve got tips to help you grow your fan base and increase your Patreon earnings.

How do I start a Patreon page?

The process of signing up as a Patreon content creator is simple. Go to chúng tôi to get started:

1: Select a category that describes your content

You can pick up to two categories:

Podcasts

Illustration & Animation

Music

Communities

Local Business (restaurant, yoga studio, venue, etc.)

Videos

Writing & Journalism

Games & Software

Photography

Other

2: Does your work contain 18+ themes such as real or illustrated nudity?

This question will require you to answer Yes or No based on the type of content you plan to offer.

3: Pick your currency

Patreon offers 14 currencies to choose from, including USD, CAD, Euro, GBP, AUD, and more. Your memberships will be priced and paid out in the currency you choose.

4. Do you want to offer exclusive merchandise?

For an additional fee, Patreon can handle merchandise production, global shipping and support. This question will require you to answer Yes or No to continue. You can always select No at this stage and add merch to your plan later on. (Don’t worry, we discuss this in more detail later on)

5. Want to reserve a custom URL for your Patreon page?

Your Patreon page is almost ready to launch!

How do I customize my Patreon page?

After you’ve completed the initial set-up, the page editor will take you through a few more steps to customize your page.

Start with the basics

Once you’ve created your Patreon account and verified it via email, you can start building your page.

First, give your Patreon page a name, then create a headline. Your headline should be a short description of your content that tells people what you do, like “creating weekly podcasts” or “writing essays.”

Upload images

Next, you’ll be prompted to upload a profile photo and cover image. Patreon requires every account to have two photos. These are the recommended formats:

Profile picture: 256px by 256px

Cover image: at least 1600px wide and 400px tall

Write a compelling About section

Your Patreon About section is the first thing potential patrons will see when they land on your page, so be sure to paint a compelling picture.

A good About page will follow this basic structure:

Introduce yourself. Who are you and what do you do?

Explain what your Patreon is for. Why are you using Patreon to support your creative career?

Explain how the funds will be used. How will you use the money you earn on Patreon to continue creating? Patrons appreciate transparency, so be as clear as you can.

Thank readers for checking out your Patreon. Share your enthusiasm for the future of your work!

You can also embed an image or add an intro video to this section. Visuals are helpful because they allow patrons to see exactly what they will get when they subscribe.

Select your tiers

Start by choosing a fully customizable tier starter kit based on the type of content you offer (video, music, podcasts, visual art, writing, local business, all creators).

Patreon will then recommend starter tiers based on your selections. These tiers are fully customizable and can be tailored to your preferences.

For example, these are a few of the recommended tiers for Illustrators & Comics. Patreon has a customizable starter kit available for every type of content.

Decide if you want to offer merch

Patreon can also help you offer exclusive merch items to your subscribers.

The platform allows you to customize your items (like stickers, mugs, tote bags, apparel, and more!) and select the tier(s) that will receive exclusive merch. Patreon then handles the production, shipping, tracking, and support.

Connect your socials

Linking social media accounts to your Patreon helps confirm your identity so your patrons can subscribe with confidence. You can link Patreon to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Set up payment

As a creator, this is probably one of the most important steps. Let’s make sure you get paid!

You’ll need to provide the following payment information to receive your Patreon payouts:

Payment schedule (either monthly or per creation, depending on your plan)

Your currency

Payout settings (how you’d like to get paid and tax information)

Select your Page Settings

Almost done! Patreon requires a few more pieces of information to get started.

You’ll add basic account info at this stage, like your legal name and country of residence. This account information will not appear on your public page. You’ll also set a few visual preferences, like the color you want to use for the links and buttons on your page.

This is also when you’ll determine how transparent you want to be as a creator. You can choose to make your earnings and number of patrons visible to all page visitors. Patreon recommends making this information public, but it’s up to you.

You’ll also be asked whether your work contains any adult content. Patreon does allow adult content on the platform, as long as it conforms to their terms of use. Just be aware that if your page is marked as adult content, it won’t come up in the Patreon search results.

Preview your page, then hit the launch button!

Congratulations! You’ve officially launched your Patreon.

Note: Patreon reviews your content when you launch. Reviews usually take minutes, although some content takes up to 3 days to review. You can continue editing your page after you launch.

What can creators share on Patreon? You can create the following post types:

TextChoose a compelling title, then type away! Text posts allow you to embed one or more images within the text or upload attachment files for your patrons to download.

ImagesImage posts allow you to upload photos or embed image URLs from other sites. This post type automatically generates a gallery when you upload multiple photos. Patreon supports multiple photo formats, including .jpg, .jpeg, .png, and .gif file types up to 200 MB.

VideoTo create a video post, you can paste a video URL from another site or connect Patreon directly to your Vimeo Pro account. Patreon supports embedded YouTube or Vimeo links.

LivestreamPatreon supports livestreaming via Vimeo, YouTube Live, or Crowdcast. Creators get access to automatic recordings, live chat, analytics, and no time limit. Note that some of these options carry an additional fee.

AudioAudio posts allow you to upload files or embed audio URLs from other sites. You can also upload a thumbnail image for your file, such as album art. Patreon supports .mp3, .mp4, .m4a, and .wav; file size must be 512 MB or less.

LinkInsert the link you’d like to share with your patrons. The post will display a preview of your link. Write a description in the text field below to explain why you’re sharing this link with your audience (ex. Sharing your website or Instagram profile).

PollsAll Patreon membership tiers can run polls, which is a great way to get feedback from your patrons and learn how you could grow your subscriber base. Select a minimum of 2 poll options, or add up to 20 options for patrons to choose from. You can set an expiration date and check the poll results anytime, and you can also export the results as a CSV file.

Every post type allows you to add tags to your post so patrons can easily search by category (for example, “monthly update” or “bonus episode”). You can also choose who can see this post (public, all patrons, or select tiers).

You might have special or time-sensitive content to share with your patrons. In that case, you can create an early access post to allow select tiers to see it before anyone else. You can even add special fees to access a particular post if needed.

Advanced post types include:

Welcome NotesSend your patrons a personal welcome note & email when they join. This can be customized for each subscription tier. You can add or remove this feature at any time.

Special OffersCreate your own personalized offer to draw in patrons and give them access to exclusive content. You can choose from existing benefits, such as custom stickers, early-access tickets, and 1:1 chats, or design an offer that best represents your work.

How much does Patreon cost? For Creators

Creating a Patreon account is free for creators, but fees apply after creators start earning money on Patreon. Creators can expect to pay between 5-12% of the monthly income they earn on Patreon, depending on their plan type.

Patreon currently has three plans available: Lite, Pro, and Premium.

Payment processing fees also apply.

For Patrons

Creating a Patreon account is free. However, monthly subscription fees will vary depending on which creator(s) patrons subscribe to and which membership tier they select.

Creators set their own membership tier structure. Some creators charge a flat fee:

Other creators operate a tiered pricing structure that offers more perks to patrons who pay a higher fee:

Patrons can upgrade or downgrade their subscriptions at any time. It’s also pretty easy to cancel if they no longer wish to access the content.

How can I make more money on Patreon?

If your Patreon needs a little help getting off the ground, it’s time to get strategic. Here’s how to grow your Patreon income using a multi-pronged approach.

Expand your total addressable audience

Start by focusing on growing your following on other social media platforms (like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc.).

If you don’t have a presence on multiple platforms, now’s the time to start! Expand your marketing strategy to ensure that you are reaching as many potential subscribers as possible.

Not sure where to get started? Check out our guide to the newest social media apps and platforms for inspiration.

Grow your percentage of “passionate” followers

Create a video or text post to tell your story and build a personal connection with followers. Explain how supporting your Patreon page benefits you as a creator, and describe how your Patreon income allows you to create more content or gives you the flexibility to be more creative.

Drive traffic to your Creator page

Mention your Patreon page everywhere: add a link to your social media bio(s), bring it up in podcasts or interviews, and include a link in your monthly newsletter or e-blast. Repetition will help drive traffic, and increased traffic can result in higher conversion from potential subscriber to patron.

Use free content to convert traffic into patrons

Free content is a great way to entice potential patrons. Give visitors a sneak peek of your Patreon content to let them know what to expect if they become a patron.

Create a few public (free) posts to give potential subscribers an idea of the type of content they can expect. You can also run giveaways or special promotions to generate buzz (ex. “sign up before the end of the month to be entered in the draw”).

Grow the average value of each patron by creating more membership tiers

Having multiple membership tiers can incentivize existing patrons to “level up” and pay more for their monthly subscription. Create special benefits or rewards tailored for your content type and add value for your patrons. Make sure to differentiate between your tiers so patrons can easily see what they’ll get when they upgrade.

Keep learning!

The Patreon polling feature is a great way to get feedback from your patrons and gain insight into why they subscribe to your content so you can figure out how to grow your subscriber base.

The Patreon Blog is a great resource for creators who want to learn more about running and growing a creative business or stay up to date with Patreon’s updates and new features.

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Bmw Concept 8 Series Previews A Stunning Luxury Coupe Comeback

BMW Concept 8 Series previews a stunning luxury coupe comeback

This is the BMW Concept 8 Series, revealed for the first time today, and it’s enough to give BMW fans palpitations. The return of the classic 8 Series nameplate is no mere show car tease, either. Sure, today it might be a concept, but very soon it’ll helping shape BMW’s return to the luxury coupe segment.

It’s been almost two decades since BMW ceased production of the first 8 Series. Just over thirty thousand of the grand tourers were built over a ten year period, targeting well-heeled drivers who wanted a high-performance V12 engine and the pinnacle of BMW’s technological know-how. It was a car of firsts, too, debuting CAN bus wiring that later went on to become the auto industry standard, and among the first vehicles to use drive-by-wire throttle technology.

While the 8 Series developed a cult following, world events were less welcoming to the car. Amid global recession and spiraling gas prices, BMW first ceased North American sales before axing the car altogether. Sadly, that also happened before the single M8 prototype created by the automaker’s M Division could spawn a production version.

Now, though, the old adage that good things come to those who wait seems to be playing out. The German automaker has revealed the BMW Concept 8 Series, billed as a design study, at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Lake Como, Italy, and described as “the essence of a modern-day BMW coupe.” Best of all, though a concept today, it previews a production BMW 8 Series Coupe which is on the roadmap for 2023.

“The forthcoming BMW 8 Series Coupe will demonstrate that razor-sharp dynamics and modern luxury can go hand-in-hand,” Harald Krüger, chairman of the board of BMW AG, said of the car. “This will be the next model in the expansion of our luxury-car offering and will raise the benchmark for coupes in the segment. In the process, we will strengthen our claim to leadership in the luxury class.”

From what we’ve seen of the concept, we can only hope most of its DNA carries forward to the production 8 Series Coupe. Though there’s room inside for four, BMW is insistent that this is a driver’s car. The long hood and low-slung roofline are reminiscent of the original 8 Series, but given surfacing details that the engineers of the 80s could only have dreamed about.

BMW’s traditional kidney grille has been pushed down, closer to the road, and stretched out horizontally. Widening as it gets lower, it also emphasizes the broad stance of the coupe. It’s flanked by slimline laser headlamps and broad air intakes, with the lower fascia finished in carbon-fiber.

Sizable “Air Breathers” behind the front wheel arches pick up character lines that flow up, across the hood, and along to the widening rear flanks of the Concept 8 Series. There’s more deep surfacing there, too, into which the slim, stretched-out tail lights flow into the sides of the car. More carbon-fiber shows up on the rear diffuser, wrapped around the trapezoidal tailpipes.

As you’d hope, it’s rear-wheel drive, and BMW has finished the concept car off with 21-inch light-alloy wheels with a brand new multi-spoke design with aero detailing. The Barcelona Grey Liquid paint job is another exclusive, a grayish-blue spiked with iridescent pigments to better catch the interplay of light with the complex bodywork.

Inside, it’s a combination of sports and luxury. The dashboard streams into the door trim, making a cocoon of the driving position, with the instrumentation clustered into the center console, center stack, and the doors. Sports seats with a slimline carbon-fiber shell are given a high-end finish with premium leather, while the steering wheel makes a jewelry-like element of the paddle-shifters, giving them a red anodized finish to contrast with the wheel’s own polished aluminum spokes.

Otherwise, there’s lashings of Merino leather in either Dark Brown or Fjord White, with accenting picked out in carbon-fiber and hand-polished aluminum. BMW’s designers couldn’t resist a little drama, mind, and so there’s a smoky quartz finish Swarovski glass iDrive Controller and faced ground gearshift lever.

What BMW isn’t talking about at this stage is what sort of powertrain it envisages under the curvaceous hood. The original 8 Series was known, of course, for its V12, an engine which has notably returned in recent months to BMW’s line-up in the shape of the M760i. That M Division-tuned 7 Series sedan, with its 601 horsepower and 590 lb-ft. of torque, is certainly no slouch – as we discovered ourselves – but we almost daren’t imagine what the V12 could do inside a smaller, more lithe grand tourer like the new 8 Series Coupe.

For now, we’ll have to wait and see. All the Germans will say for the moment is that the production 8 Series will arrive next year and “bring together razor-sharp dynamics and modern luxury” in its segment. It will be, BMW promises, “a genuine dream car”; see, 8 Series fans, dreams really can come true.

Sony Xperia Xz2 Review: Making A Buzz

Design

Sony, we deserve more than a copied HTCdesign

Features

Sony has outfitted the Sony Xperia XZ2 with front-facing speakers and they sound fantastic. The phone doesn’t seem quite as loud as something like the Pixel 2 XL, but I found the highs and lows to be much tighter. It didn’t have the tinny sound the Pixel can have at higher volumes.

Unfortunately, Sony seems to think adding these speakers adds enough to justify the losing the headphone jack. You’re left with a single USB Type-C port and a dongle. The DAC housed inside the chassis at least means the audio quality here is quite a bit better than on other devices. Sony is a leader in the audio industry, and probably figured it wouldn’t need a headphone jack now that Google is supporting high-resolution Bluetooth audio codecs like aptX HD and Sony’s own LDAC.

Display

It’s nice to see Sony getting ahead of the game with HDR compatibility.

HDR technology is still pretty new, so there isn’t a huge amount on the market right now. However, services like Netflix offer HDR content for viewers, so you can get a near-equal viewing experience on your phone as on your TV.

This is the first phone able to record 4K HDR thanks to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845, so you can also create your own content that will look great on any HDR-capable screen.

Performance

4GB of RAM isn’t the absolute highest capacity in a phone by any means, but multitasking was just as snappy as I was expecting. I never needed more memory in this thing — I’m assuming it’s just much better managed than a phone like the OPPO R15 Pro.

I found battery life quite good in this phone, capping out at almost six hours of screen-on time during my use. Even better was how quickly this phone charged up. I could be down to an incredibly low amount of battery and toss this on the charger, only to be up to 80 percent or higher about 25 minutes later. Sony also enabled wireless fast-charging via its optional dock.

Hardware

Camera

Low-light performance was quite disappointing. I took a lot of photos at a music show, and the phone struggled with a number of issues, such as shutter speed not adjusting to accommodate for the scene, which resulted in blurry images. In highly lit scenes the phone tended to blow out the highlights, leading to pictures that were near unusable. Overall I think Sony needs to adjust its camera algorithm quite a bit, and I’m hoping to see something more promising in its next device, especially considering how incredible its A7III mirrorless camera turned out to be.

The location of the lens didn’t help with the quality either. My finger ended up on the camera every time I was aiming for the fingerprint reader, so smudges needed cleaning every time I launched the camera app. I would really prefer Sony focused on user experience than on the weight balance of the device.

Note that the sample images above have been reduced from their original size. If you would like so see a full gallery of the full-sized images, check out the sample gallery here.

Sony first introduced a 3D imaging feature in the Xperia XZ1, allowing users to create 3D scans of people, food, and other objects using the rear camera. This feature was quite interesting — it was really only useful to a tiny niche group of users, but it was nifty to have for those who like doing 3D modeling.

This time around, Sony has updated the modeling feature, allowing users to create higher resolution models. It’s also enabled selfie scanning using the front-facing camera, so you can easily make a 3D scan of your face. Both these features worked surprisingly well, and I’m tempted to bring the models into a 3D modeling program to mess around with them. If you’re a 3D professional who needs to create quick sculpts for later refinement, this feature is an absolute lifesaver.

Lastly, the Sony Xperia XZ2 has brought back the 960fps video in this camera, but this time it can record at 1080p. You essentially record a video like normal, and tap when you want a very small portion to happen in slow motion. While this feature was fun, the quality was absolutely abysmal. There is an extremely high amount of noise in the video and a large crop factor as well. This is a fun feature, but you’re not going to use it for any serious projects.

Software

Android 8.1 Oreo update roundup: factory images, OTAs available now

News

The skin on top of Android is fairly lightweight, save for a few interesting tweaks. The app drawer is weird to me — it lets you organize your apps within it however you like. I would have preferred the apps were simply listed in alphabetical order. Instead it will just add downloaded apps to the app drawer as you download them, which can lead to a lot of confusion.

Gallery

Next: Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra review: It’s about time

Climate Change Is Making Winter Colder In The Northeast

Winter is even colder thanks to climate change. Pexels

Early this week, record cold blasted the Northeast, as Boston saw a high of 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and nearby Worcester saw the temperature top out at just 1 degree. Meteorologists say this is just the beginning of a lengthy stretch of freezing weather.

Paradoxically, frosty winters in some areas have been linked to rising temperatures around the globe. Climate change is distorting weather systems, yielding colder winter temperatures in parts of the world, including much of the United States. One reason for this phenomenon is a weakening of the polar jet stream, the air current circling the Arctic.

The polar jet stream NASA

The jet stream is the result of the difference in temperature between colder northern latitudes and temperate southern latitudes. Warm air from the equator collides with cold air from the Arctic, and a ribbon of powerful winds runs the length of that collision. Ushered along by the rotation of the Earth, this air current moves west to east at speeds upwards of 200 miles per hour.

The jet stream is strongest in the winter months when the temperature difference between north and south is greatest. Cold air is denser than warm air, so when the difference in temperature is greater, so is the difference in density, making the barrier between cold and warm air firmer. Think of the two components like vinegar and oil, which stay separate because vinegar sinks while oil floats.

Climate change is weakening the jet stream by reducing that disparity between northern and southern air. As the Earth warms, it’s not warming evenly. The Arctic is heating up faster than the rest of the planet, meaning it is growing closer in temperature to more southern latitudes. As a result, the barrier between cold and warm air is growing weaker, and the jet stream is going wobbly.

Instead of forming an even ring around the Arctic, the jet stream is now twisting and contorting, allowing the polar vortex—the mass of cold, dense air over the north pole—to reach its tendrils further south, chilling large parts of the United States and Europe. Think of the jet stream as a fence around the polar vortex. Climate change is letting the polar vortex break out of the fence.

The jet stream (pink), divides cold, Arctic air (blue) from warm air at lower latitudes (orange). Under normal conditions, the jet stream forms a firm barrier around the Arctic a). But as the Earth warms, it’s growing more wobbly (b), allowing cold air to reach further south (c). Fred the Oyster

Just as changes to the jet stream are allowing cold, Arctic air to reach further south, they are also allowing warm equatorial air to reach further north, fueling more unusual weather across the globe, both hot and cold. Last February, for example, the mercury reached 76 degrees Fahrenheit in New York City at the same time that it dipped to 35 degrees in Southern California—all thanks to a squishier, wavier, wobblier jet stream. As the planet warms, the problem is likely to get worse.

Once the polar vortex breaks out of its pen, it takes a while to get it back in. The current spate of unusually cold weather could last several weeks, meteorologists warn, chilling much of the Eastern United States. So bundle up. Winter is going to be around for a while.

Jeremy Deaton writes for Nexus Media, a syndicated newswire covering climate, energy, policy, art and culture. You can follow him @deaton_jeremy.

Show Me The Money: Making After

In a pivotal scene in Jerry Maguire, the energetic football star played by Cuba Gooding Jr., gives his agent, played by Tom Cruise, a high-decibel lesson about his expectations: “Show! Me! The! Money!”

That utterance is the story of Mark Smith’s professional life. As coordinator of special programs for St. Mary’s County Public Schools, in rural southern Maryland, Smith must stitch together financial support for thirteen after-school programs from a host of public, private, and foundation grants. The primary focus of these programs is to close the achievement gap in reading and math for low-performing, high-poverty students. At least three days a week, each student gets fifty minutes a day of direct instruction in the academic area of greatest need, with no more than five students per teacher. (The school district hires regular teachers to tutor the students.) Subjects vary widely, from programs around computer robotics to leadership training and a class in social problems in the community. Even an African-drumming class is offered.

Nearly twenty years in the business have taught Smith that grants can flourish or wither according to White House priorities or the generosity of a single donor. He also knows that long-term sustainability has become the watchword of after-school funding. In the case of St. Mary’s schools, that increasingly means turning to state and local sources.

So, what does it take to run after-school programs in rural St. Mary’s County? This school year, nearly three quarters of a million dollars. That includes $533,000 through four major grants and, Smith estimates, at least $200,000 in in-kind contributions from program providers such as the Boys & Girls Clubs and individual schools.

The money pays for after-school programs in nine elementary schools and four middle schools serving 800 students. Overall, that’s an average cost of about $940 per student — slightly lower than the $1,000-per-student cost after-school experts consider typical. (The figure is slightly deceptive, Smith says, because the thirteen programs vary enormously. For example, 400 students attend after-school programs five days a week and are offered bus transportation home. For those, the cost probably is closer to $2,000 per student. The rest attend two- and three-day programs — some with transportation, others without — and those programs are much cheaper per student.)

Where does the money come from? Here’s a breakdown:

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, administered by the Maryland State Department of Education: $318,750. The grant supports after-school programs at two elementary schools and one middle school. Smith is already seeking ways to replace this three-year grant, because it diminishes significantly over each of the next two years.

The local Board of County Commissioners: $125,000. The grant supports after-school programs at two elementary schools that were dropped when the 21st Century program switched from direct federal grants to state-administered ones. Smith says the commissioners made no promises about future grants, so he may need to seek other funding sources to continue those two programs.

The Local Management Board, a quasi-governmental agency that coordinates local services for children, youth, and families: $63,000. This grant pays for after-school programs at three additional middle schools and two elementary schools.

Private donors Timothy Muris, a former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, and his wife, Pamela Harmon: $26,222. The couple is building a residence in St. Mary’s County, Smith says, and approached the school superintendent to offer a private grant, and Harmon approved Smith’s subsequent proposal. The grant funds after-school programs in three elementary schools.

In the future, Smith says, his biggest challenge will be finding local and state grants to sustain existing programs and, ideally, pay for new ones.

“We have to shift to local and private funds because the 21st Century grant is not an entitlement program, but is for start-up funding,” he adds. “In our case, we have been able to shift to some local and private funds, but if the economy slows, these might disappear.”

Beth Frerking has more than two decades of experience as a national reporter, Washington bureau chief, and journalism educator. She writes for print and online magazines and newspapers around the country.

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