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Frosted Flakes: Robots Showing Empathy, Eating Noodles and a Winter Summit of K2

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An incredible mountaineering feat was accomplished last weekend.

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The ten sherpas receiving a hero's welcome after their return from summiting K2 in the winter. Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images

Well I’m glad the presidential transition went smoothly yesterday so I can’t focus on the big news in the outdoor/mountaineering world. Last Saturday at around 5:00 pm local time, Nimsdai Purja and a team of nine other Nepali Sherpas became the first group to complete a Winter Ascent of K2. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving group of peoples...the mountains shepherds themselves.

This feat had been attempted for years without any success. K2 is the second-highest mountain in the world at 8611 meters (28251 feet) but it is a more difficult climb than Mount Everest due to its unpredictable weather and dangerous conditions. Thousands of climbers reach the peak of Mount Everest each year but less than 400 people have reached the top of K2 in recorded history...none of them during the winter until last weekend. I dropped a couple of articles about this incredible accomplishment at the bottom of today’s Flakes.

For those who are curious, the highest elevation I have been at Chacahni Volcano in Peru, which is 6057 meters (19,872 feet). If anyone is interested, I can share another story about this climb another time.

Frosted Flakes

Stivrins, Sun Named to Women’s All-Big Ten Team | Volleyball | Huskers.com

The coaches also tabbed the Huskers as the #3 team in the Big Ten Preseason Poll behind Wisconsin and Minnesota. Defending Big Ten champion and NCAA runner-up Wisconsin was the unanimous choice by the coaches as the top team in the Big Ten Preseason Poll. Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State and Purdue rounded out the top five teams.

Men’s Gymnastics Ranked #2 in Preseason Poll | Gymnastics | Huskers.com

Michigan will open the season as the preseason No.1-ranked team. Michigan finished the 2020 season tied for first with Illinois in the Big Ten Conference regular-season standings. Following Nebraska, Illinois, Penn State and Ohio State round out the top five.

Mailbag: What Needs to be Nebraska’s Floor in 2021? | Sports | Hail Varsity

Hail Varsity staff members Mike Babcock, Jacob Padilla, Greg Smith, Erin Sorensen and Brandon Vogel tackle your questions about the latest news in Husker Nation.

Padding the Stats: Volleyball’s Return is Exactly What Nebraska Fans Need | Volleyball | Hail Varsity

The Huskers open the season on the road, but I’ll get a chance to start covering wins in person again next weekend as Northwestern comes to Lincoln for a pair of matches. Everything I’ve experienced so far this season with the men’s basketball and football teams — from the losses to the canceled or postponed games to the suspension of competition entirely — has only made me realize how lucky I am to get to cover a program like Nebraska volleyball.

Frost Sets Spring Game Date, Talks Special Teams and Nebraska’s Decision to Not Play in a Bowl | Football | Hail Varsity

“We’re not sure if we’re going to have spring recruiting or not but I want to get a full winter conditioning (period) in before we start spring ball,” Frost said. “In order to do that we needed to delay the start of spring practice a little. “So, we’ll be the five weeks leading up to the end of April and then planning on having our spring game on May 1.”

One Big Position Battle to Watch for the Nebraska Volleyball Team Ahead of its First Match | Volleyball | Lincoln Journal Star

“It’s a very tight competition. Very tight,” Cook said. “Obviously Lauren has proven herself, but there are days she’s not our best middle in here, so it’s a tough one. It will probably be a game-time decision. We’ll see how it goes in the next couple days of practice.”

Nebraska Volleyball Gets 12 Matches Scheduled for BTN, Three More on NET | Volleyball | Omaha World-Herald

Nebraska volleyball will have 15 of its 22 matches this season televised. The Huskers were selected for 12 national broadcasts on Big Ten Network, and three more will be shown statewide on NET. The remaining seven can be streamed online at BTNPlus.com.

McKewon: Without a Signature QB, Big Ten Becomes the League of Defense in 2021 | Football | Omaha World-Herald

The stats tell us so. Fields ranked 10th nationally in quarterback rating this year. The next Big Ten guy? Maryland’s Taulia Tagovailoa at 47th — but he didn’t have to play Ohio State. Third was Penn State’s Sean Clifford at 50th, and he was benched midway through the Nebraska game. Fifth was Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez at 55th, and he was also benched midway through a game.

Travel

Man Arrested After Living in Chicago Airport for Three Months | Travel | Travel Pulse

Apparently, Aditya Singh of California had flown to Chicago back in October but was so afraid of the coronavirus that he didn’t want to fly back to Los Angeles. Instead, he hid in the airport from October 19 until January 16, when he was finally confronted by two airport workers. The workers called 911 and Singh was arrested.

What Travelers Need to Know About Travel Insurance in 2021 | Travel | Travel Pulse

Like with most other things in the world, policies have undergone some changes to better protect travelers from things such as COVID-19 and other unforeseen problems that could be encountered.

Norwegian Air Ends Cheap, Long-Haul Flights to Europe | Travel | Travel and Leisure

“We do not expect customer demand in the long haul sector to recover in the near future, and our focus will be on developing our short-haul network as we emerge from the reorganization process,” Jacob Schram, CEO of Norwegian, said in a statement Thursday. The airline announced that it will pivot to focus on routes in Norway, across the Nordic countries, and to major European destinations.

Where Americans Want to Travel in 2021 | Travel | Conde Nast Traveler

Recent data from travel search site Kayak show that flight searches out of U.S. airports are up for several domestic and international destinations in the new year. Although flight searches haven’t recovered to pre-pandemic levels, these are some of the places trending above others.

8 of the Weirdest Beers From Around the World | Travel | Lonely Planet

There’s the German purity law, and then there’s the complete anarchy of modern beer-making – no ingredient is safe, no palate will be spared. If, like your travel, you like to go off the beaten beer track, here are eight out-there options.

Opinion: Why I Believe Digital Nomads Are Ruining Travel | Travel | Lonely Planet

During my first trip in 2015, the island captivated me. I was enthralled by the carefully crafted Canang sari decorating the streets and rich cultural traditions. But when I returned in 2020, Bali was a different island entirely. Gone were the warungs serving Babi Guling and Ayam Lawar. Instead, trendy Instagram cafes serving smoothie bowls and eggs benedict lined the streets.

Thailand Sold Itself as a Coronavirus Retreat. No One Came. | Travel | Bloomberg

Just 346 overseas visitors have entered the country on average each month on special visas since October, according to the Thailand Longstay Company, which helps facilitate the program. That’s well below the government’s target of about 1,200 and a tiny fraction of the more than 3 million who came before the pandemic.

How Iceland Is Thinking Tourism For the Long Haul | Travel | Conde Nast Traveler

Unlike destinations that tightened budgets in 2020, Iceland increased its spending on tourism by 40 percent. A substantial amount of the $1.73 billion ISK ($13.6 million) budget was used to improve infrastructure at tourist sites. Many of these places, like the basalt column-flanked canyon of Stuðlagil, became famous due to social media.

I Saw the World on Cruise Ships | Travel | Outside Online

High school didn’t serve up much adventure, so Devin Murphy signed up to do grunt work on expedition ships that sailed to Alaska, Iceland, Antarctica, and other far-flung places. Turned out to be a pretty great idea.

The World ‘Traveler’ Who Never Left Home | Travel | BBC

Luis Martinez has written thousands of vivid poems about cities around the world, yet the Cuban bus porter has never left his homeland.

Why Noodles Are Malaysia’s Most Famous Street Food | Travel | BBC

Food-loving Malaysians have been known to debate the best local food spots for hours. But one thing they all agree on is that the best char kway teow can be found in Penang.

The Rest

The ‘Megascale’ Structures That Humans Could One Day Build | Future | BBC

What are the biggest, boldest things that humanity could engineer? From planet lifters to space cannons, Anders Sandberg explores some of history’s most ambitious visions – and why they’re not as ‘impossible’ as they seem.

Chill Imbibies: Inside the Booming Business of Relaxation Drinks | Food and Drink | The Verge

These relaxation drinks aren’t uniform in form or taste, but they all make promises. Some offer sleep, others promote better focus and creativity. They are healthy and calming, at least according to their marketing. The idea seems to be that there’s plenty of stress that doesn’t quite hit the psychiatric level — and so these drinks exist for your subclinical anxiety needs.

Why Are Flies So Hard to Swat? | Science | Live Science

Flies have many adaptations that lend them heightened speed, maneuverability and perception, making them very, very good at detecting and evading even the swiftest swats. And new evidence shows that flies’ modified hind wings play an important part in launching them into a speedy takeoff — often just in the nick of time.

A 25-Year-Old Bet Comes Due: Has Tech Destroyed Society? | Technology | WIRED

In 1995, a WIRED cofounder challenged a Luddite-loving doomsayer to a prescient wager on tech and civilization’s fate. Now their judge weighs in.

Artificial Intelligence Displays An Unsettling Skill: The Ability to Show Empathy | Technology | Inverse

Using only visual data and no pre-programmed logic, researchers trained an A.I. to accurately predict the final action of a secondary robot “actor.” At its peak, the A.I. could accurately predict the robot actor’s final action with 98.5 percent accuracy across four movement patterns.

When Surveillance Cameras Work But the Justice System Doesn’t | Crime | Rest of World

Mexico City has one of the most ambitious and sophisticated video surveillance systems in the world. But it hasn’t stopped crime.

A Nepali Team Made the First Winter Ascent of K2 | Adventure | Outside Online

At 5 P.M. local time on Saturday, January 16, a team of ten Sherpas and Nepalis stood on K2’s summit, located on the border between Pakistan and China. While most first summits have a name attached to the feat—like Sir Edmund Hillary on Everest—this group credited the team, rather than an individual, with the first ascent. They sang the Nepali national anthem on the summit in celebration.

Nepali Mountaineers Achieve Historic Winter First on K2 | Adventure | National Geographic

The achievement is the result of a remarkable collaborative effort between Nepali climbers affiliated with multiple teams: one led by Purja, the other by Mingma G Sherpa. In the days before last night’s summit push, the two groups combined forces, deciding on a joint strategy for fixing ropes on the upper mountain and hoping to the summit together. One Sherpa from a commercial expedition, Sona Sherpa, also joined the effort.