While we may think of landscaping in terms of plants, trees, flowers, and shrubs, that’s only part of the story. Even if your garden was designed to look like a meadow of wildflowers, chances are you have some non-living component, like rocks or a fence. That’s the “hardscape,” and the plants are the “softscape.” Here’s what to know about both categories of landscaping.
Hardscape vs. softscape
In short, these two types of landscaping mean exactly you you think they mean. As Lisa Hallett Taylor explains in an article for The Spruce:
Hardscape is the hard stuff in your yard: concrete, bricks, and stone. Softscape is the soft, growing stuff, like perennial flowers, shrubs, succulents, and trees. Softscape is living; hardscape is not. Ideally, a well-designed landscape incorporates a balance between the two elements.
How hardscape impacts softscape
The plants in your garden are likely your primary focus, given that they require regular maintenance, but the hardscape can play a major part in their successful growth. In fact, as Kate Reggev explains in an article for Dwell, the hardscape comes first:
Typically, hardscape elements must be installed, built, or completed before the softscape elements can be put in. This is because hardscape materials are usually incorporated into the ground, and often physically alter the landscape—whether it’s the removal of dirt for a pool or cutting and filling soil in order to install a retaining wall or terracing.
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In addition, it’s also important to consider the materials used in your hardscape, as they have different impacts on the environment. Per Taylor:
Hardscape materials have different effects on the environment. Pavement, which is hardscape, prevents water from soaking into the soil, thus increasing runoff, which can carry contaminants into streams. Porous materials allow water to soak into the soil. Hardscaping is a benefit to a garden because it reduces potential erosion and keeps the ground intact.
Ultimately, the idea is for both your hardscape and softscape to blend into the local environment, and mimic something that might be found in nature, Reggev explains. This means choosing plants that are native to the area and grow well in a particular climate.
To me, Angel Cop is a classic among vintage Japanese anime. However, anime fans remain divided on it, with some calling it boring and others calling it a staple of 80s Japanese animation. One thing everyone agrees on about Angel Cop is the English dubbed version dialogue is bad. Like real bad. But it’s so damn funny, wtf.
Angel Cop is a six-part original animation created and directed by Ichirō Itano. A manga adaptation is written and illustrated by Taku Kitazaki. In addition, the collection was serialized in 1990. The story follows Angel (dubbed by Sharon Holm), a special forces officer in a futuristic world of terrorists and Hunters (individuals with telekinetic powers). Angel and her new partner Raiden (dubbed by John Hunter) are desperate to rid the streets of corruption and terrorism—but when Raiden is critically injured, Angel has to take on the Hunter, Lucifer (dubbed by Lorelei King), on her own.
I had a hard time finding the subbed version because the anime dub version is so popular. However, when I finally managed to get my hands on the original subbed version, I was shocked to discover a slightly different film as it had other goals and is less comedic. Didn’t read the manga, so not sure how the animation strayed from the original storyline.
After doing some research, I still can’t find out why it turned out this way. Unlike Noriyuki Abe’s anime series Ghost Story (Gakkô no Kaidan), where the English cast threw out the original script. What started as a drama/horror was transformed into a tongue-in-cheek comedy—but what’s the reason for Angel Cop?
The series is so tacky, and I want to dislike it, but how can you hate on an anime with a cursing compilation like this.
My favorite line is when Angel is shot at, and she yells: “F**K and Piss!” Because that’s totally something I would scream out when someone is trying to kill me.
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Here is another video that provides a better sense of the story. A full three minutes and twenty-nine seconds of lousy acting, horrible dialogue, and many WTF moments.
If you know an English dub that isn’t Ghost Story, but is worse than this, PLEASE let me know. So far as I know, nothing tops this.
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Prime Day 2021 takes place June 21 and 22 and like previous events, Amazon is discounting many of its own devices, including Kindle e-readers. We’re still awaiting final word on what all the Kindle deals will be, but Amazon is already offering great sale prices when you voice order through Alexa.
Say, “Alexa, order a Kindle Paperwhite,” to get the deal price of $80. You can also get a Kids Kindle, which includes a case along with one year of Amazon Kids Plus, through voice ordering only. Those are the lowest prices we’ve seen for both those models and we expect these deals to be available online starting Monday, alongside more discounts.
It’s unclear whether the flagship Kindle Oasis will go on sale, but we’ll update this list if it does — and add any other Kindle deals that might materialize on June 21.
This is the Goldilocks in Amazon’s line and our current CNET Editors’ Choice in the category. Here are some things we love about the Kindle Paperwhite:
It’s 10% thinner and lighter than the previous version.
It has a “flush-front” design with a back made of a softer, grippy material instead of hard plastic.
It’s a fully waterproof Kindle, like the high-end Kindle Oasis, and has a plastic screen that Amazon says is shatter- and scratch-resistant.
It has built-in Bluetooth, so you can download Amazon Audible audiobooks and listen to them with wireless headphones.
The Paperwhite was last updated in November 2018. Aside from USB-C charging and maybe an updated screen, it’s unclear what more Amazon could add to the Paperwhite in 2021, so this is a pretty future-proofed gift for avid readers.
The latest iteration of Amazon’s entry-level ebook reader, which Amazon simply calls the Kindle, now has a self-illuminated screen and an upgraded design. We prefer the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, which has a higher-resolution display (text and images appear a bit sharper), is waterproof and has a slightly better lighting scheme. But if you don’t want to spend much for an e-reader, the standard Kindle is a good option, especially at the sale price of $55 which dips lower than last year’s $60 holiday deal.
The Kids Edition on sale here includes the entry-level Kindle with a case — there are four case options to choose from — along with a year of Amazon Kids Plus (FreeTime Unlimited), which normally costs $3 a month and gives you access to hundreds of kids’ books. Amazon Kids Plus includes the complete Harry Potter series and the first book from other popular series such as Artemis Fowl.
Other Kindle devices’ current pricing
Most people will be happy with the more affordable Paperwhite for their Kindle ebook reading and basic Kindle needs, but if you want the best of the best with an antiglare screen — and don’t mind paying a premium for it — the Oasis is arguably the ultimate when it comes to a premium ebook device. Last year it dipped to as low as $175 during the holidays.
Amazon’s top-of-the-line E Ink e-reader was updated in 2019 — but this Kindle e-reader device is basically identical to the previous Kindle Oasis except for one key difference: It has a new color-adjustable integrated light that allows you to customize the color tone from cool to warm, depending on whether you’re reading during the day or at night. You can also schedule the screen warmth to update automatically with sunrise and sunset — not unlike Night Shift mode on Apple devices.
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Nintendo fans know that the company’s games don’t often go on sale — meaning anyone looking for a title with Zelda, Mario, Luigi, Pikmin or other Nintendo-specific characters is accustomed to paying full price. Thankfully, Prime Day is offering a respite. From big games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to indie titles like Hollow Knight, there are plenty of discounted titles that anyone with a Nintendo Switch will want to pick up. Don’t delay, however, as we expect these Nintendo sales to expire soon.
Prime Day 2021
Nintendo screenshot via Gordon Gottsegen/CNET
It’s been four years since Breath of the Wild was released, and it’s still one of the best titles for the Switch. Explore the world of Hyrule like never before.
The remake of Link’s Awakening is one of several AAA Switch titles currently on sale at Walmart. Others include Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Super Mario Odyssey.
Mario and Rabbids come together for a crazy adventure. Thanks to a world-twisting vortex, the Rabbids have come to the Mushroom Kingdom, and it’s up to Mario to stop the chaos.
Nintendo brought back the cute alien strategy game to the Switch. Pikmin 3 Deluxe includes the full game along with side missions featuring astronauts Olimar and Louie.
Hollow Knight is a multi-award winning 2D action adventure game with players taking control of the nameless knight who travels to Hollownest to discover what happened to this fallen kingdom.
Mario is in a different kind of adventure in Paper Mario: The Origami King. Once again, he’ll have to save the Mushroom Kingdom, but this time around, he doesn’t have to just jump on turtle shells as the Paper Mario series uses RPG mechanics.
Another indie darling, Dead Cells is a 2D action game with randomized dungeons and challenging combat. Escape the cursed island if you can.
The largest Witcher adventure made its way to the portable Switch — to the surprise of many. Explore the world with Geralt of Rivia through more than 100 hours of gameplay.
Xenoblade Chronicles was first released on the Nintendo Wii in 2010. Developer Monolith Soft remade its game, adding better visuals, audio and other quality-of-life improvements.
Based on the popular comic that went on to be a cult movie. Players control Scott or his friends in this retro beat-em-up.
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said it has combined two categories of text message alerts into one: the “Presidential Alerts” and alerts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The two will now be in a new “National Alerts” category, active on all devices that receive Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).
The goal of the alerts is to warn the public of natural disasters and other crisis situations, “and are of ever-increasing importance given the emergencies and disasters Americans have faced in recent years,” the FCC said in a news release (pdf). The false alert in Hawaii in 2018, where residents were warned of an imminent ballistic missile threat that wasn’t real, highlighted the need for improvements to its alert system, the agency said.
The new rules provide states with a checklist of information for their own Emergency Alert Systems, and encourages states to form committees to help administer alerts on the state level. Under the new rules, government agencies can now report false emergency alerts to the FCC’s 24/7 Operations Center, and gives guidance on how alert originators can repeat an alert transmission.
Later this summer, FEMA and the FCC will conduct a nationwide test of the wireless alerts and the Emergency Alert System (EAS) that sends alerts to radios and televisions. Both tests are scheduled for 2:20PM ET on August 11th.
People around the globe have spotted unexplained and unidentified flying objects for centuries, and for at least the last several decades in the US, many have suspected the government is hiding what it knows about UFOs. In days, the US intelligence community may finally reveal some of those secrets to Congress when it delivers a mandatory, unclassified report that will be available to the public.
There are some caveats, though. Here are some key things to know before the much-anticipated report drops.
Where did the UFO report come from?
For years, pilots and other military personnel have been encountering strange things in the sky that have come to be called “unidentified aerial phenomena.” The change from “UFO” to “UAP” is in part a nod to the likelihood that some of the incidents may be explained by technical glitches or environmental phenomena rather than actual tangible objects.
Anyhow, these reports sometimes get back to members of Congress, who then make a push for more investigations and disclosures about those phenomena. Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was particularly dedicated to this cause. In 2007 he helped funnel funds to a secret Pentagon initiative, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, that ran through at least 2012. In 2017, former head of AATIP Luis Elizondo announced he had left the government and was joining the private To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences along with former Blink-182 frontman Tom DeLonge.
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Elizondo also in 2017 leaked three now famous videos of military encounters with UAP to the media, and in 2020 the US Navy confirmed the veracity of these clips.
It was in the wake of the Navy’s acknowledgement of UAP last year that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio added a section to a funding bill requiring the Director of National Intelligence to work with the military and intelligence community to submit a report “on unidentified aerial phenomena (also known as ‘anomalous aerial vehicles’), including observed airborne objects that have not been identified.”
The request specifically calls out data from the Office of Naval Intelligence and the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, which is the successor entity to AATIP.
What will be in the UFO report?
Well, that’s to be determined, but some early reporting suggests it probably won’t contain anything that fundamentally alters our view of the universe. The report is expected to say that there’s no evidence the UAP seen by military personnel are secret advanced American technology or alien spacecraft, but a possible alien explanation can’t be definitively ruled out.
That means the intelligence community seems to think that UAP have causes that are some combination of unknown, mundane or originating with foreign or private entities.
Also, while the report is required to be public, it is allowed to have a classified annex. Officials told The New York Times that this addendum doesn’t contain any evidence of alien visitation. Still, it could contain much of the actual, truthy good stuff that we don’t get to know.
While no earth-shattering revelations should be expected, the report may include some juicy new tidbits and puzzle pieces that help us better understand the UAP mystery.
When will the report be released?
The deadline is June 25, so we could see it anytime between now and then. Look for it to drop from one of the congressional intelligence committees, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence or perhaps an individual elected official on one of the committees. We will certainly share it once we get hold of it, and I’ll tweet any incremental developments @EricCMack.
Forget the report. Can you just tell me if it’s aliens?
A driving concern that led Rubio and other officials to call for this report is less about aliens and more about geopolitics and national security. Rubio specifically requested an assessment of whether UAP “may be attributed to one or more foreign adversaries.”
There’s also the strange case of some Navy patents for theoretical technology that could move in ways UAP have been observed moving. Correspondence from Navy officials suggests the Chinese have already been working on similar breakthroughs.
Whatever the report reveals, it seems almost certain to raise more questions than it answers. Meanwhile, keep one eye on the sky, and another online.
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Whether or not it’s an accurate characterization, dads, as a group, aren’t exactly renowned for their humor. There’s a reason a cringeworthy attempt at being funny so often gets tagged as a “dad joke.” Now UK online greeting card site Thortful is sharing its list of the 10 cheesiest dad jokes, and some are real groaners.
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The list is undeniably British, both in general wording and topics. (Do the British still have “local blacksmiths”? Do Americans know what the Swiss flag looks like?) There’s also the fact that Joke No. 7 mentions the “Hokey COKEY,” referring to the wedding-reception dance Americans know as the “Hokey Pokey.” But with Father’s Day here, dads of many nations will recognize the universally corny attempts at laughter.
Here are the site’s top 10 dad jokes, according to Thortful:
1. I went for an interview. They said, “Can you perform under pressure?” I said, “I’m not sure about that but I can have a good crack at Bohemian Rhapsody.”
2. What’s the best part about living in Switzerland? I don’t know, but the flag is a big plus.
3. Why can’t Elsa be trusted to hold a balloon? Because she’ll “Let it Go”!
4. My girlfriend said, “You act like a detective too much. I want to split up.”
5. I’ve got a pen that can write underwater. It can write other words too but underwater is one of my faves.
6. My pet mouse Elvis died last night. He was caught in a trap.
7. I used to be addicted to the Hokey Cokey, but I managed to turn myself around.
8. Just quit my job at the helium factory. I won’t be spoken to in that tone!
9. The other day I bought a thesaurus, but when I got home and opened it, all the pages were blank… I can’t find the words to describe how angry I am.
10. Just adopted a dog from the local blacksmith, soon as I got him home, he made a bolt for the door.
This is the second year the site has compiled the dad joke list, which it creates by asking site visitors to submit their “cheesiest dad one-liners” and then vote for their favorite. The full list is online. And dad jokers everywhere might relate to Joke No. 17, which reads: “A pun is not completely matured until it is full groan.”
No matter how often you clean the tiles, fixtures, and tub/shower, you may still find yourself dealing with an annoying, recurring problem: mold on your shower curtain. One day you put in a fresh liner, and it seems like it’s only a few days later before the mold reemerges.
So why does this happen and what can you do about it? Mold remediation expert Michael Rubino breaks it down in an article for mindbodygreen. Here’s what to know.
What causes mold to grow on shower curtains
Basically, it comes down to ventilation and airflow. “The excess moisture located between the shower curtain and the shower liner can get trapped, creating an ideal environment for mold and mildew (which, by the way, should be taken just as seriously as mold) to grow,” Rubino writes.
Ventilating the bathroom
The obvious solution is to turn on the exhaust fan, but as Rubino explains, you can’t just flip a switch and expect everything to be fixed:
It’s worth noting that when you turn on your exhaust fan, you’re creating a negative pressure environment in your bathroom that sucks steam and air out. In order for your exhaust fan to properly work, you need to replace that air at the same rate you’re pulling it out. This is why it’s important to crack open a door or window every time you run it.
If you don’t replace the airflow into the bathroom, your exhaust will not operate as efficiently as it could. Ever noticed moisture dripping from your fan after a hot shower? This is moisture that’s been trapped inside the vent due to a lack of incoming air.
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And if you don’t have an exhaust fan, you’ll definitely want to open a window to give the hot, steamy air somewhere to go.
Other ways to prevent mold from growing on your shower curtain
In addition to making sure your bathroom is well-ventilated, Rubino has some other suggestions for keeping your shower curtain mold-free:
Separate the shower curtain and liner
Since the mold often forms between the shower curtain and liner, take the extra five seconds after a shower or bath to separate them—meaning, making sure the liner is inside the tub, and the curtain is outside the tub. Per Rubino:
By keeping them separate, you’re allowing them both to dry properly. When these two wet surfaces are touching, moisture can persist between them for much longer. (Think about if you were to leave a wet sponge on a counter; both the sponge and the counter below it would remain damp for an extended period of time.)
Don’t leave your bath mat on the floor
Because the goal is to keep your shower area dry, Rubino says that it’s also important to hang your bath mat after taking a shower or bath to prevent the same sort of moisture-trapping that happens between the curtains.
“Simply prop your bath mat over the shower rod or a towel rack to allow it to fully dry between uses and you will have a lot less trouble with mold growing around your shower area,” he writes.
Wash your bath mat and shower curtain regularly
If you aren’t in the habit of popping your bath mat and shower curtain in the wash on a regular basis, it’s time to start, Rubino says—noting that he washes his once a week. “Over time, dust will accumulate on both, and when dust accumulates, it provides a sort of magnet for settled mold spores to land on,” he writes.
How to get rid of mold that’s already there
If your shower curtain was relatively inexpensive and gets moldy, you’re probably best off throwing it away, then starting fresh with a new one, and using the tips above to prevent mold from growing in the first place. But if you do want to attempt to clean it, Rubino recommends using this product.
Another option comes from the website The Maids. They recommend spraying your moldy shower curtain with a solution of two parts hydrogen peroxide and one part water, letting it sit for five to 10 minutes, then scrubbing it with a solution of equal parts baking soda and water. Because you’re dealing with mold, ideally this is something you’d do outside, but if that’s not practical or possible, you can also clean it in the tub itself.
Walmart’s answer to Amazon Prime Day is called Deals for Days, and it starts today (Sunday, June 20). While some of the online sales won’t hit until 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, we’ve identified some of the best deals we’ve seen at Walmart so far, including a few that aren’t being matched by Amazon. New for this list on Sunday afternoon: Switch games like The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Super Mario Odyssey and Luigi’s Mansion 3 are seeing a nice discount.
Prime Day 2021
Switch owners know that many of Nintendo’s best games rarely see sale prices. But that changes today, with solid 33% discounts for titles like Link’s Awakening, Fire Emblem, Super Mario Odyssey and Luigi’s Mansion 3. What’s even better is that some of these titles are available on sale in cartridge or digital download form.
The Gateway brand has returned to life at Walmart with a line of ultra-affordable laptops. This one features a 1080p screen that’s nearly 16 inches, an Intel Core i5 processor, built-in fingerprint scanner, HDMI and USB-C ports and — most impressively — 16GB of RAM. Not too shabby for under $450.
If you’re looking for the noise-canceling feature of AirPod Pros but are not a fan of the in-ear design or price tag, you gotta jump on these Beats Pro Solo. Originally retailed at $300, these headphones are now half off at Walmart. Featuring the familiar look of the Solo3, the Pro Solo made a few improvements such as the addition of a metal band and memory foam earpads for a much comfier fit than its predecessor. The new drivers inside produce a sound that is, according to CNET’s David Carnoy, “smooth and well-balanced with punchy bass that isn’t boomy.”
The inclusion of Apple’s H1 chip means that it will pair easily with Apple devices just like AirPods. Android users can get this feature via app. Note: It only charges via Lightning port and doesn’t come with a cable or adapter to be used as a wired headset. Previously an issue at full price, but we can be more forgiving when it’s half off. Lastly these are also compatible with Apple Spatial Audio, released last week, if you happen to subscribe to Apple Music.
Mesh Wi-Fi routers have always gotten a bad rap as being more expensive than their traditional router-extender brothers. But the Deco W2400 two-pack from TP-Link has proven that stigma false with its low price tag of $79. This entry-level mesh system can cover a home up to 3,000 square feet, intelligently connect multiple devices, prioritize traffic in case of disruptions and can be expanded with additional Deco units. The system is easy to set up via the Deco app that will walk you through every steps.
Robot vacuums can be pretty hit or miss. Most entry-level models only have basic navigations and can end up stuck in one corner of your house. The Roborock S4 Max negates that flaw with futuristic Lidar Navigation and smart room mapping. That’s right, the same technology that automates self-driving cars can now help pick up your mess. Jokes aside, the Roborock S4 Max does have some pretty amazing features. Like the ability to map the layout of your house. You can set no-go zones via the app without the need for a physical fencing system that will clutter up your home. The scheduling function lets you designate the time and specific room you want it to clean, keeping it out of your way while ensuring an immaculate household. The suction power is rated at a respectable 2,000 pascal and the long-lasting battery promises up to 3,000 square feet of cleaning. The S4 model is on sale now for only $310, which is a bit pricier than the cheapest robot vacuum out there but it sports many features of much higher-end competitors.
If you need a laptop to do some light web browsing before bed or homeschool the little ones, look no further than this HP Chromebook. Featuring a spacious 64GB of storage and weighing in under 2.5 pounds, this thing is as swift as it is light. No need to be tied to a desk when you got 15-hour of battery life. This Chromebook is perfect as a spare machine for Zoom calls, streaming videos online, listening to music and answering emails. Get it now for only $169.
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While Amazon Prime Day may not officially kick off until tomorrow, June 21, we’re already seeing significant savings on Apple’s AirPods line in the lead-up to the two-day sale. Amazon and Walmart are still generally considered to be the best places to find price cuts on Apple AirPods. As of today, June 20, the best deals we are seeing include AirPods Pro for $190 and standard AirPods for $119. Neither is the best price we’ve ever seen, but both are far better than what you’d pay if you walked into an Apple Store right now.
Prime Day 2021
Note that all of these headphones are compatible with Apple’s new spatial audio features, but none of them will deliver the maximum quality of Apple’s upcoming lossless audio format, which is too rich for the current Bluetooth wireless standard to handle.
AirPods pricing 2021
Apple Store price
Best price right now
Best all-time price
AirPods with wireless charging case
Apple’s AirPods Pro were briefly as low as $169 at Walmart and $170 at Amazon for Black Friday. More recently, the wireless headphones have been ping-ponging between $190 and $200. That’s still $49 to $59 below the regular Apple Store price, which is a pretty decent AirPods deal.
Walmart came in strong to the early Black Friday sale game by marking down the AirPods to $99 — the lowest price ever. That deal is long gone, but Walmart, Target and Amazon are now all offering them for between $120 and $130 on most days. That’s still about $30 to $40 cheaper than the price at the Apple Store.
The AirPods with the wireless charging case was briefly down to $130, which was very close to what you’d typically pay for the standard AirPods with a wired charging case. Now that their price is back up to $150, you’re looking at a $30 bump from the AirPods with the wired case. It’s debatable whether it’s worth spending the extra dough, but that price still represents a $49 discount from the Apple Store price.
The latest and greatest Apple headphones were announced in December. These are full-size models, chock-full of high-end features like noise cancellation, spatial audio and easy integration with Apple devices. Yes, paying more for headphones than you would for a PS5 may sound crazy, but here’s the crazier thing: They’re actually kinda worth it, so long as you don’t feel burned by their lack of support for full lossless audio. After months of being backordered, these headphones have seen their first markdowns in recent days: Some colors are $20 off at Amazon and other vendors.