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Rogue Burning Man 2021: Should you go? Probably not.

2023-03-27 05:43:02

Rogue Burning Man 2021: Should you go? Probably not.

Officially, Burning Man 2021 takes place in an alternate reality. The VR version of Black Rock City, which I reviewed last year, is returning with several neat upgrades — including museums dedicated to the event's nondenominational Temple and its eponymous Man, along with live musical performances via virtual hologram.

Rogue Burning Man 2021: Should you go? Probably not.(图1)

But that's not the hot topic of conversation among veterans of the 35-year old counterculture festival, which normally takes place the week before Labor Day. Frustrated by the second year in which COVID-19 canceled an actual physical gathering, thousands of Burners are taking matters into their own hands — by camping in their regular spot in the Black Rock desert of northern Nevada. Even a giant pall of smoke from California's ongoing mega-fires does not appear to be dissuading them.

Call it Rogue Burning Man. Some veterans estimate as many as 20,000 people could show up next week. (Black Rock City's population in 2019: 78,850.) A private Facebook group called Black Rock Plan B has more than 13,300 members, and its admins are constructing an unofficial map(Opens in a new tab). It overlays the planned coordinates of 500-plus unofficial Burning Man camps on the traditional Black Rock City road grid — normally constructed a month in advance by Burning Man's official Department of Public Works(Opens in a new tab), now no more than a vague idea.

"We're not dissuading people from going," says Marian Goodell, longtime CEO of the nonprofit Burning Man organization, who plans on visiting Rogue Burning Man herself. "But I don't think you should try to go if you're not an experienced Burner. And if you last went in 1996, when we respected the dangers of the desert and communal effort was key, this is your year."

In the years after the event transferred from San Francisco's Baker Beach to the Black Rock desert in 1990, it was a rough-edged gathering with few rules. In 1996, three people were seriously injured when a drunk driver ran over a tent at night. Co-founders John Law and Larry Harvey disagreed about whether it should be held again. Harvey took control and returned in 1997 with the city grid, a 5 mph speed limit, and the beginnings of an army of volunteers.

"I don't think you should try to go if you're not an experienced Burner. And if you last went in 1996, when we respected the dangers of the desert and communal effort was key, this is your year."

As Black Rock City became larger and safer, Burning Man's anarchic early years have acquired a kind of mythic status among some attendees. Be careful what you wish for, Goodell warns: "I was there in '96, it was scary as fuck," she says. "People were driving 45 mph" — a speed at which cars can kick up large dust clouds on this ancient lake bed, not to mention hit things, especially at night. "I wouldn't camp out on the edge of the playa, you'll need to be near people," says Goodell. "Camping in groups helps keep you visible."

Not that much of anything may be visible anyway. At time of writing, the air quality on the playa is at an unhealthy-to-all value of 160 on the Air Quality Index, and has risen as high as 350, a hazardous level, in the last week, thanks largely to the out-of-control Caldor fire(Opens in a new tab) near Lake Tahoe. Wildfire smoke can make you more prone to a COVID infection(Opens in a new tab), and the nearest hospitals, about 100 miles away in Reno, have seen a threefold increase in COVID cases this month(Opens in a new tab).

The entrance to Burning Man's location on August 18. Mountains are normally visible in the distance. Credit: washoe county sherrif

Throw in all the other potential hazards of Black Rock life — hundred-mile-an-hour dust storms, sudden downpours that can trap vehicles in mountains of mud — and you have plenty of avenues for potential disaster.

Which is just the way that some adrenaline junkie Burners like it (a frequent motto at the event is "safety third"). But many event volunteers are nervous. One says he has dissuaded 13 people from attending by asking what they would do if a campmate broke a leg at 3 a.m. Drive them to Reno while keeping them sedated with tequila and a joint?

Goodell says she isn't worried about hospitalizations for injury or dehydration so much as outsiders with evil intent infiltrating the event, or possible food poisoning. (In prior years, camps that served food to the public at Burning Man were required to get a permit.)

The Bureau of Land Management can't stop people camping at the site; it is public land, after all. But the BLM has introduced temporary restrictions(Opens in a new tab): no fires beyond elevated camp fires, no fireworks, no lasers, no gray water(Opens in a new tab), no peeing on the playa, and perhaps most importantly to would-be attendees, no porta-potties. A good portion of the Plan B Facebook group is devoted to discussing various makeshift personal toilet options, for those who aren't bringing an RV with enough capacity.

Thanks to such unappealing specifics, the number of attendees appears to be whittling down by the day. Anecdotally, out of my 41 friends who are members of the Plan B group, I could only confirm that two are planning on attending. The tone of the group appears a lot more sober than it did in July, even if there are still a few genuine posts from newbies asking about whiteouts and WiFi. (Given the prankster nature of the event, there's also a lot of trolling along those lines.)

Rogue Burning Man may yet be a success. The air quality may drop to safe levels just in time. Either way, there will be art, there will be dancing to EDM, there will be playa weddings. Goodell's hope is that Burners trained by years of radical self-reliance will be able to improvise their own infrastructure, such as agreeing to leave 20 feet between neighboring camps in case emergency vehicles need to get through.

But if you're nervous about even trying, you absolutely do not need to go just to battle FOMO. After all, there's a fascinating VR Burning Man taking place in the next universe over.

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    Via Giphy(opens in a new tab)

    Milo's Instagram takeover

    On Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, Milo made good on his promise to gram by posting a photograph of his shoes in Los Angeles.

    "Nice," I thought to myself, picturing Milo on a California sidewalk at that very moment, motorcycle helmet in-hand. But before I could hit the like button, the actor shared another snapshot of himself in New York(opens in a new tab). Wait, what?


    View this post on Instagram
    (opens in a new tab)

    Within seconds my phone was blowing up with Milo notifications as he went on to Instagram a photo(opens in a new tab) of the American flag, one of his motorcycle(opens in a new tab) feat. Apple Jacks, and some We The People art(opens in a new tab). Before I knew it Milo had shared 15 photos to the platform over the course of six minutes. The notifications would steadily arrive every 25 seconds or so, and I was in awe of what was happening.

    More shots from New York, a flurry of photos from D.C., then Arizona, and back to California — Milo's shoes and motorcycle were making their way around the country right before my eyes.

    But the real badass move? Not all of these photos were PROFESH. The actor was sharing photos of eaten food(opens in a new tab), part of a table(opens in a new tab), and even a "mistake," which was quite literally just a blurry picture of nothingness(opens in a new tab).

    View this post on Instagram
    (opens in a new tab)
    View this post on Instagram
    (opens in a new tab)

    Evelyn. LA(opens in a new tab)

    A post shared by Milo Anthony Ventimiglia(opens in a new tab) (@miloanthonyventimiglia) on

    I had so many questions. Was Milo about to share every photo he'd taken during his Instagram hiatus? Did he have these photos and captions pre-written? Was anyone else in the world laughing uncontrollably while getting notified of his every move? Is this how teenage Jess Mariano would Instagram if he made an account to impress Rory?

    After 18 minutes and 38 Instagrams later the madness stopped. Yes, you heard me... THIRTY EIGHT. Forget a single day, he shared 38 photos in less than 20 minutes. Who DOES that? I was exhausted from the emotional roller coaster Milo had taken me on, but assumed it was a one-time deal to mark his return back to the platform.

    It wasn't.

    A league of his own

    On Jan. 17, the Ventimiglia take-over struck again(opens in a new tab) with a less overwhelming blast of 11 posts. Then, on Feb. 10, he amped things up(opens in a new tab) to 17 posts. Now I was intrigued.

    Dying to know if this was normal Milo behavior or some elaborate, artistic cry for help, I set out on an investigation starting with the actor’s very first Instagram post — a filtered photo of a nicely made bed from Dec. 12, 2010.

    View this post on Instagram
    (opens in a new tab)

    On his first day as an Instagram user Milo posted twice. Ambitious. On his second day, twice. And I noticed nearly every day that followed his daily post count exceeded one. On Oct. 16, 2011 the man posted 13 photos and someone called him out for his excess sharing.

    Credit: screengrab/instagram

    Once a badass, always a badass

    This weird and completely unnecessary dive into Milo's Instagram history made one thing abundantly clear: Milo Ventimiglia does not care about your Instagram rules now, and he has never cared about your Instagram rules. It just wasn't apparent to me until I turned on notifications.

    Would I love him to hit pause on the later-grams and share real-time Instagrams from his life once in a while? Sure. Is it mildly terrifying to see someone break the social media mold in such an ~extra~ way? Hell yeah. But there's no denying his bold Instagram strategy is far more exciting than playing it safe.

    Via Giphy(opens in a new tab)

    With that said, I feel like VERY FEW people can pull this off, so for the love of Milo let's not all bombard Instagram with 32 posts a day. If there's anything to learn from this it's that we should all care less about what other people think of us.

    Milo's a rebel who refuses to live life by some unofficial rule that stifles his creativity, and for that I commend him. He wears his leather jackets well, he drives a motorcycle, and he grams when he wants to gram.

  • Portuguese national interrupts TV interview, gives moving speech about Brexits impact

    Portuguese national interrupts TV interview, gives moving speech about Brexits impact


    Another spanner has been thrown into the works in the countdown to Brexit.

    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked(Opens in a new tab) the Queen to suspend parliament which will scupper MPs chances to block a no-deal Brexit. On Wednesday, the Queen approved Johnson's request, prompting a national outcry and protests across the country(Opens in a new tab).

    During a Central London protest against prorogation (the official term for the suspension of parliament), a Portuguese woman, who has lived and worked in the UK for 20 years, interrupted an interview and delivered an impassioned and extremely moving speech about Brexit's impact on her life.

    "I've built things for you, I've looked after your children, I looked after the elderly in this country."

    "I'm Portuguese and I worked here for 20 years and I have no voice and the Settlement Scheme is not working," the woman — whose name is unknown — told Sky News.

    The woman is referring to the EU Settlement Scheme(Opens in a new tab), which allows EU citizens to apply to continue living in the UK once it's no longer part of the European Union. She had been attending the protest, stating her reason for attending as "because I need a voice."


    "I gave this country my youth, I'm very grateful for what you taught me but you must make me part of all this process," she said. "I can't just be kicked out, I've built things for you, I've looked after your children, I looked after the elderly in this country, now you kick me out with what?"

    Per(Opens in a new tab) BBC News, a no-deal Brexit would result in the UK immediately exiting the EU with no agreement on Oct. 31. "Overnight, the UK would leave the single market and customs union — arrangements designed to help trade between EU members by eliminating checks and tariffs (taxes on imports)," the BBC explains(Opens in a new tab).

    The woman said she is "very, very hurt" by what's happening to the country.

    As she was about to walk away from the interview, the Sky News journalist urged her not to go away, and asked what was happening with her Settlement Status application.

    She explained that she'd been told her National Insurance number (the UK version of Social Security) didn't "correspond to the right thing" and she's been told she has to restart the whole process.


    "Oct. 31 is fast approaching, what am I going to do? What am I going to do? How am I going to stay? What are my rights?" she said.

  • 25 tweets that prove people take ice cream very seriously

    25 tweets that prove people take ice cream very seriously


    Ice cream is a delicious summertime treat. It is also an excellent subject to argue about.

    People's ice cream opinions are extremely strong, whether they're talking about the best type of cone (waffle) or which toppings are truly fit to share a bowl with the sacred dessert (chocolate sauce, yes; sprinkles, rainbow only; no nuts of any kind). And do not get anyone started on which is the best flavor. (Mine is raspberry chocolate chip, but I respect other opinions ... kind of.)

    Please enjoy these 25 vehemently expressed tweets about ice cream. Also, please know that the inclusion of any tweet in this story should not be interpreted as endorsement. (I hate Magnum bars.) Thank you.


    SEE ALSO: Police find viral ice cream licker, but there's a catfish twist

  • How to beat jet lag: Use tech to bounce back faster

    How to beat jet lag: Use tech to bounce back faster

    While it's often considered to be a rich-person problem, jet lag is actually a pretty debilitating condition that can lead to serious insomnia, mental confusion, and uncomfortable gastrointestinal problems. We'll be clear and state categorically that there is no "cure" for jet lag, however, there is tech and there are tools and tips that can help alleviate the effects and reduce your recovery time. We're not suggesting you should buy and try everything in our guide, but you can pick and choose the solutions that you think would best suit your personal circumstances. Jet lag can be made easier to tolerate, and that's what this guide is all about.


    What even is jet lag?

    The medical terms for jet lag are "desynchronosis" and "circadian dysrhythmia," hence why it's more commonly referred to as just "jet lag." It basically means that your circadian rhythm -- your body clock -- is out of sync with your current schedule. Studies suggests it takes one day to recover from each time zone you travel through (so that would be three days if you flew from the West coast of the U.S. to the East coast or vice versa -- on each end). Though it should be noted that it's commonly thought that jet lag is worse and longer-lasting when you travel in an easterly direction around the globe, compared to if you travel west.

    What are the symptoms of jet lag?

    The average case of jet lag normally only lasts a few days, but depending on how many time zones you've been through, the length of your journey, your health in general, and personal circumstances such as work stress, it can drag on for longer. Typical jet lag effects include difficulty falling asleep at bedtime and waking up in the morning, poor sleep, general tiredness, as well as irritability, disorientation, concentration, and memory problems. The effects on your digestive system can include nausea, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, and bloating. Fun times!

    But the pain of jet lag can be mitigated. These are the gadgets and gizmos we can recommend to help combat the symptoms of jet lag.

    We've compiled a detailed list of gadgets and gizmos to help with jet lag, but if you'd just like a cheat sheet, here you go:

    • Rise and shine: The Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock with Sunrise Simulation(Opens in a new tab)

    • Drink up: The IceWater 3-in-1 Smart Water Bottle(Opens in a new tab)

    • Make some noise: The Marpac Hushh Portable White Noise Machine(Opens in a new tab)

    • Smell the flowers: The Pure Enrichment PureSpa Essential Oil Diffuser(Opens in a new tab)

    • Block it out: Topoint Sleep Eye Mask Wireless Headphones(Opens in a new tab)

    • Software solutions: Jet Lag Rooster(Opens in a new tab) and SeatLink(Opens in a new tab)

    • Breathe easy: Universal Breathing - Pranayama Lite(Opens in a new tab)

    Rise and shine

    When your sleep pattern has been so severely disturbed, getting up in the morning can be the biggest challenge. Rather than be rudely awoken by your blaring phone alarm, investing in a clever alarm clock that can help you wake up more naturally is a wise move.

    The Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock with Sunrise Simulation(Opens in a new tab) — $49.97

    Credit: amazon

    The Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock with Sunrise Simulation is inspired by the naturally brightening light of the sunrise, and gradually increases in brightness over a 30-minute period before your wakeup time, so you can try and trick your circadian rhythm into thinking it really is time to shake a leg.

    Drink up

    Staying hydrated is absolutely essential in the battle against jet lag. If you're not especially good at drinking your recommended water allowance each day, then there are tools to help.

    The IceWater 3-in-1 Smart Water Bottle(Opens in a new tab) — $19.99

    Credit: Amazon

    The IceWater 3-in-1 Smart Water Bottle has LED lights that glow on an hourly basis to remind you to top up your H2O levels. On the novelty side of things, it also works as a Bluetooth speaker, but it's up to you whether you use it to for that particular purpose.

    Make some noise

    Getting as much sleep as possible, at the appropriate times, is another key factor in fighting jet lag. It can be hard to sleep while you're away in unfamiliar surroundings with unfamiliar sounds. Consider investing in a portable white noise machine that will mask background noise so you can better fall asleep.

    The Marpac Hushh Portable White Noise Machine(Opens in a new tab) — $28.40

    Credit: amazon

    Whether you need to block out urban traffic, crowds and sirens or countryside cacophony from the local wildlife, the Marpac Hushh Portable White Noise Machine offers three soothing sounds -- bright white noise, deep white noise, or gentle surf. The description may say "for baby," but you, the jet-lagged human, are the baby in this scenario.

    Smell the flowers

    Another sleep aid that can make all the difference is an essential oil diffuser. As well as combat any dry or stale air you may be struggling with while you're in unfamiliar bedrooms away from home, these gadgets gently release soothing, all-natural essential oils into your sleeping space, helping promote relaxation.

    The Pure Enrichment PureSpa Essential Oil Diffuser(Opens in a new tab) — $29.99

    Credit: amazon

    The Pure Enrichment PureSpa Essential Oil Diffuser is an ionizer that can work for up to seven hours at a time and can double as a nightlight, something some may find comforting in unfamiliar places. If you're really organized, you should use such a device in your own bedroom, choosing a particular essential oil scent, at bedtimes a few weeks before your trip, then the same scent while you're away to try and send your body the message it's time for some z's.

    Block it out

    Getting some shut-eye on an airplane can be a challenge. If it suits your jet lag combat plan though, it's worth a shot.

    Topoint Sleep Eye Mask Wireless Headphones(Opens in a new tab) — $22.99

    Credit: AMAZON

    Consider getting a product like the Topoint Sleep Eye Mask Wireless Headphones. It's a super soft and comfortable sleep eye mask to block out light and visual distractions with wireless Bluetooth headphones built in, so you can truly block out the world and drift off to your favorite soothing sounds.

    Software Solutions

    These online services and smartphone apps can help you fight the war on jet lag.

    Jet Lag Rooster(Opens in a new tab) — Free

    Credit: jet lag rooster

    Light exposure at the correct times can help your body clock adjust in order to make your jet lag effects less severe.

    There's a handy online tool called Jet Lag Rooster that takes your travel dates and time zones data and configures an individual plan suggesting the best times for sleep and bright light exposure. Amazingly it's free, just be sure to give them a tip if it works for you.

    SeatLink(Opens in a new tab) — Free

    Credit: seatlink

    Obviously what you consider to be the best seat is a very personal thing, but whether you're looking for legroom, privacy, or proximity to the toilets, SeatLink is a free online service that will give you the exact layout of the plane you're going to be stuck in.

    Breathe easy

    The air we normally breathe contains around 21% oxygen. On a long distance flight, that can drop to around 15%. Add in the pressurization in the airplane cabin which means less oxygen is taken up by the blood, and you can do the math on what that means for your O2. You may find breathing exercises help you during a flight and can reduce that groggy feeling you get post long-haul trip.

    Universal Breathing - Pranayama Lite(Opens in a new tab) — Free

    Credit: Amazon

    There are tons of excellent paid breathing apps available, but if you're just looking for a free solution to get you through your travels, Universal Breathing - Pranayama Lite, offers advice and exercises to train your lungs to breathe at their full capacity.

    Good luck!

  • Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson test positive for coronavirus

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson test positive for coronavirus

    As if the coronavirus pandemic didn't have everyone already on edge, there's now word that national treasures Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have the virus.


    On Wednesday night, Hanks posted a statement to Twitter that he and his wife, Rita Wilson, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease known officially as COVID-19. The two are currently in Australia doing pre-production(Opens in a new tab) for Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley film.

    He wrote in his usual down-to-earth tone, "Hello, folks. Rita and I are down here in Australia. We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches. Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the Coronavirus, and were found to be positive."

    Hanks is, of course, just one of many people having to confront this diagnosis. So far the World Health Organization reports(Opens in a new tab) there are more than 118,000 cases worldwide, and more than 4,200 people have died from it.

    It is so far affecting people in 114 countries — and was today officially declared a pandemic(Opens in a new tab) by the WHO. While the majority of people with the virus(Opens in a new tab) only experience mild symptoms, for 15% of people the symptoms are severe.

    It seems fortunate for Hanks and Wilson that they were a country where tests for the virus were readily available(Opens in a new tab). The situation in the U.S. is quite different, where delays in making tests available(Opens in a new tab) have been the source of much controversy.

    As for how Hanks and Wilson are faring, it seems so far that both of them are doing well under the circumstances. He wrote, "The Medical Officials have protocols that must be followed. We Hanks’ will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?"

    Leave it to Tom Hanks to be a calm figure in an otherwise scary time.

    This is a developing story...

  • SoulCycles at-home bike is great for Soul diehards

    SoulCycles at-home bike is great for Soul diehards

    This is going to sound obvious but I'm going to say it anyway: SoulCycle's at-home spinning bike would be great if you absolutely love SoulCycle.


    But you've got to understand that people who love SoulCycle capital-L Love SoulCycle. It's been compared(Opens in a new tab) to a cult(Opens in a new tab) more than once. There's a reason. Soul, which is a part of the larger fitness company the Equinox Group, is a particular brand of spinning.

    You know what I mean if you've ever been to a studio class — you know, back when that was a reasonable thing to do. There's impossibly loud music, a dark room, scented candles, coordinated movements, and an instructor who both guides your ride and (typically) proselytizes through a mix of spiritual talk/therapy-ish advice/motivational quotes.

    In short: If that's your bag — if that's what you think about when you think about spinning – the SoulCycle at-home bike does a pretty good job of delivering. I tested it out for about two weeks, trying out its different features. The simple report: It's a really nice, if quite pricey, spinning bike. The product will never be exactly like the in-studio offering, but the company clearly tried to capture that feeling for their in-home product.

    But now we have to talk about the elephant in the room: Peloton. The pandemic has rocketed Peloton's popularity(Opens in a new tab), with scores of people looking for a great workout without leaving home. It's kinda-sorta the standard for at-home spinning.

    And full disclosure: I'm one of those recent Peloton buyers – my fiancée and I purchased a Peloton, which happened to arrive about two weeks before I got to test out SoulCycle's at-home bike. To be clear, our purchase wasn't out of some massive loyalty to Peloton. In fact, we'd never ridden a real one and my fiancée was previously a regular attendee of Soul classes. We simply live in a small NYC apartment and wanted a way to workout at home. We eventually purchased the Peloton after doing research and feeling more comfortable buying an expensive product from a company solely focused on the at-home experience.

    On to the obvious question(Opens in a new tab): Which do I like better? After riding the SoulCycle for a few weeks, I'd say it's a really good product, but, in my opinion, Peloton does lots of things about ten percent better. Its pedaling is smoother, the bike is sturdier, and it's easier to adjust settings between multiple riders. Peloton's user interface is better, its backlog of classes is far more robust, and its filming style/instruction is better geared to the at-home rider versus a person in the studio. I'd also argue Peloton gives you a harder workout compared to SoulCycle because its focus is on material, numerical goals compared.

    Phew, OK, that's out of the way. This is a SoulCycle review, after all, even if the Peloton comparisons are inevitable. While I've shared the gist of my impression of the SoulCycle bike, let's dig a bit deeper.

    My mini spin studio in my one-bedroom apartment. Not pictured: Me standing on my bed to take this photo. Credit: Tim Marcin / Mashable

    As close as you'll get to a SoulCycle studio without being there

    I rode the SoulCycle bike nearly every day since getting it, testing out a dozen or so rides. Rides came in a range of difficulty and lasted from 20 to 90 minutes. The difficulty isn't really about how hard the pedaling is, but rather the level of choreography. If you've done a studio Soul class, then you know it's full of movements: tapping your butt back, dipping, pushups, hands in and out, etc. It can be a lot, so if you're brand new to that style of riding, it's easiest to dip your toes before diving headlong into the dancing.

    But that actually might the SoulCycle bike's best selling point. Soul has its own brand of cycling, and if it appeals to you, there's nothing else like it.

    Peloton, for instance, focuses intently on your pedal strokes, there's constant direction from the instructor regarding your speed and resistance, and each ride has a "output" score to let you know how hard you worked. I personally enjoy that and have found the constant numbers a useful motivation tool. However, that's not for everyone! There are some Peloton instructors who borrow from Soul a bit, but there it is still nothing like SoulCycle. Not even close. Peloton is more about cycling, whereas Soul is its own brand of spinning and dancing.

    A quick GIF of what a class looks like. Credit: Soulcycle

    And to be clear: I'm not criticizing SoulCycle. The experience can be really fun. For instance, I thoroughly enjoyed my local studio's Emo Night ride with my favorite instructor (shouts to Sam Bilinkas(Opens in a new tab)) before the pandemic hit. And, in a post vaccine world, I could see myself going back despite owning an at-home bike.

    SoulCycle's at-home bike is clearly aimed at those Soul diehards. It's still a great workout and they really did their damndest to create the studio vibe at home.

    For instance:

    • The rides are filmed cinematically. The camera angle changes and scans through a small room of riders.

    • The lighting in the room shifts and changes, perhaps not as often a real Soul ride, but enough to give you that vibe.

    • Rather than focus on numbers, Soul at home, as in studio, focuses on staying on beat with the music. The goal is some form of collective movement. It's supposed to be a workout together, even if through a screen. This can be really helpful if you want to really lose yourself in the ride and forget you're riding at all.

    • You're going to spend a lot of the class out of the saddle. That's a hallmark of SoulCycle and the at-home experience is no different. Your ass is up and you're likely struggling to keep up with the choreo while keeping the pedals turning.

    • The classes hit every beat you get in studio. Different instructors create different vibes — you'll settle into who you like — but they definitely try to keep you motivated and inspired. You're going to get that proselytizing.

    • The instructor is on a raised platform, surround by candles and there's a (very small) class. That feels pretty true to an in-person ride.

    I contest Peloton (and maybe other bikes I haven't tried) give you a better workout. It pushes you to go harder, to chase down your previous performances. But, to be honest, some days I was just really tired. Daily riding, coupled with work and a pandemic, left me drained. It was kind of nice that SoulCycle allowed me to ride without seeing, in dire numeric terms, how much worse my performance was. Some days getting on the bike is about all you can manage and that's fine. That's something that Soul clearly wanted to drill home.

    The bike itself

    Let's get this out of the way: The bike ain't cheap. It starts at $2,500(Opens in a new tab), which does not include the $40 per month you'll need to pay for the Variis membership that powers the classes. To be fair, that membership comes(Opens in a new tab) with lots of other useful workouts and classes you can do at home, but we're talking about the bike here. And now through November 30 there's a holiday bundle(Opens in a new tab) that will throw-in a Theragun massager, weights, a mat, and a candle for free.

    For comparison's sake, the first-generation Peloton(Opens in a new tab) — the one I have — starts at $1895 and does a fair number of things better. The newest Peloton, which added features like a rotating screen, more speakers, and auto-adjusting resistance starts at $2,495.

    As a now frequent at-home cycler, here are a few takeaways about the bike:

    • The ride is great. There's no comparison between the magnetic(Opens in a new tab) resistance to a cheap alternative that uses a brake pad, well there's simply no comparison. It's just much better (and it should be, considering the price). There's a little bit more feedback — almost like you're powering a fan — than the smoother ride of a Peloton or some other spinning bikes. The feedback can be nice on lower resistance settings, but after lots of rides on both, I prefer a smoother ride overall.

    • The bike looks pretty good. It's mostly matte-black with a touch of gray design around the flywheel. There's certainly uglier workout equipment.

    • The bike's footprint is pretty small. I live in a one-bedroom New York apartment and there was no trouble fitting it.

    • The resistance wheel is easy to adjust and smooth, but inexact. You're instructed to give a turn here or a touch there. But there is no exact way to know what you're set at.

    • The bike is a bit louder than you might expect. The flywheel itself whirs a bit and the bike can creak with your movement. That being said, we have a downstairs neighbor and got no complaints, so it is by no means wildly noisy. The speakers are solid and my bluetooth headphones connected with ease, which I had to use because I love loud music and we have neighbors.

    • Still overall the bike is pretty sturdy and it's adjustable to work comfortably with most body types. The adjustments are made with classic, pin-goes-in-hole knobs. It's fine, but (sorry to bring up Peloton again) I prefer the Peloton system, which uses a vice-grip of sorts that allows you close at any spot, not just at assigned pinholes.

    • The screen is large and has a clear image. This is pretty much the standard for a good at-home bike, but it's worth mentioning.

    • The user experience on the screen is mostly fine but has janky moments. It would lag at times and it's not always super-easy to search through classes to find what you're looking forward. These problems just shouldn't exist with something so expensive.

    • I had an instance where the WiFi connection kicked during a live ride (despite my phone remaining connected) and you often have to pedal for a bit to reconnect the device that tracks your riding stats. Every once in a while the status bar or volume displays wouldn't swipe in and out of view despite my efforts. These are minor inconveniences, but they exist.

    • Unlike Peloton, the SoulCycle at-home bike has an option to do a non-instructed free ride where you can stream TV. Right now, it's limited to Disney Plus and Netflix. I found this to be a fun feature for cooling down or taking a relaxing ride. You can pedal along leisurely while watching The Office for the 1,000th time. I have really fast internet but the stream would still sometimes be a little blurry, but it wasn't awful.

    In short: It's a really good machine. It's pretty sleek looking, although I'd argue it has a bit bulkier profile than the Peloton. I can't tell you how to spend $2,500 — that's a lot of cash — but if you were a Soul person in the Before Times, then you will not be disappointed by this bike. It's effectively the same, which means it's quite nice.

    What's lacking

    SoulCycle is new to the at-home game. The brand's whole thing — the reason it's been compared to a cult — is the vibe at the workouts, the communal feeling that inspires people to come back again and again. You can take a spinning class anywhere but a SoulCycle class, for better or worse depending on your taste, is distinct.

    SoulCycle retrofitted an at-home product to its studio offering, whereas something like Peloton built its product to primarily be used in the home.

    That in mind, SoulCycle's at-home product has some hiccups. Try as you might, at-home will never fully be in-studio. That's not Soul's fault but it's just a fact.

    Peloton, for instance, has focused its spinning on the person at home. Instructors call out milestone rides and give specific numbers to hit. The screen displays your speed and resistance compared to what the instructor asked for, and the app tracks your personal-record rides.

    Soul, on the other had, displays your speed and power but there are no specific benchmarks to hit. I like having benchmarks to chase, others might not. The instructors at SoulCycle are good. But I found them often talking to the riders in the room, rather than me at home. Peloton instructors talk right to the camera, the shot zoomed into them so it's like they're talking directly to you. SoulCycle often tries to place to you in the studio, the camera sweeping around, the instructor developing rapport with the riders in the room. That's all well and good, but to be honest I didn't much care about that riders in the room or feeling like I was in the middle row.

    A sample of what an at-home Soul Cycle homescreen looks like. Credit: Soulcycle

    SoulCycle's product is incredibly new, which means the library of classes is only a few hundred deep. Peloton, for instance, has thousands and thousands of classes that range from five to ninety minutes long. And while you can filter at-home SoulCycle rides by music type, instructor, and difficulty, I missed being able to see what kind of ride I was signing up for. Soul classes are titled new-agey things "Just Feel It" or "Stay Present." I often found myself wondering OK but what does that mean? Is it an interval ride, a climb?

    Live Soul rides had a few hiccups as well. While riding at an assigned time, the studio live-streamed to your bike, is pretty neat, they're not super frequent(Opens in a new tab). And the experience isn't finely tuned just yet. Again, the instructors sometimes focused more on the people they could see than the hundreds out in the internet ether. One live class I took, the instructor started the class by tiredly putting his shoes on, facing away from the camera. Another class ended before the 45-minute mark it was supposed to close, so I had to sit around and wait a few minutes for the stream to automatically end in order for it to be saved to my profile.

    Here's a picture of my ride in the middle of a live class. Excuse the blurriness, it was a fast picture during a long, tiring ride. Credit: Tim Marcin / Mashable

    Peloton also really sells its leaderboard system, which stacks you up against every other rider in the class. SoulCycle lets you see how many people are taking the class, but you're not competing. That's a huge plus for some, a drawback for others. To be fair, these were not huge problems, but were nonetheless hiccups on a very expensive bike.

    The TL;DR

    The SoulCycle at-home bike is a good, if pricey, product that might be indispensable for the true Soul diehards out there. I enjoyed riding the bike. Ultimately, I felt that if I'm going to pony up that much cash, then the Peloton is better at too many things to justify buying the SoulCycle bike. But that might be more a question of what you want out of a ride, then anything the Soul bike does wrong.

  • The Croc-pocalypse may be upon us and people have mixed feelings about it


    The Croc-pocalypse may be upon us and people have mixed feelings about it

    First MoviePass, and now Crocs? Nothing is sacred.

    In a press release(opens in a new tab), Crocs Inc. announced that it will be closing all of its remaining manufacturing facilities. Additionally, its executive vice president and chief financial officer, Carrie Teffner, will leave on April 1, 2019.

    The company has already started wrapping things up in one of its facilities in Mexico, and they plan on shutting down the remaining in Italy. At the moment, there are no plans to create a new site for production. In a tweet shared Wednesday, the company said they "aren't going anywhere." In a statement later provided to Mashable, a representative for Crocs said the company is "simply shifting production to third parties to increase our manufacturing capacity."

    SEE ALSO: Teen runs a half-marathon in Crocs, vindicates Croc lovers everywhere

    Still, Croc stans took to Twitter to express their outrage, betrayal, and sadness about the Croc-pocalypse.

    Other users are planning to take advantage and stock up on this potentially soon-to-be limited resource.

    Update, August 10, 2018, 9:33 a.m. ET: A representative for Crocs reached out to Mashable with the following clarifying statement:

    During our second quarter earnings announcement Tuesday, we shared that revenues and gross margin exceeded guidance, along with numerous other accomplishments that position our brand for success. Since then, there have been multiple media reports that Crocs is winding down production in our owned manufacturing facilities.

    While accurate, some people have interpreted that to mean that Crocs will no longer be making and selling shoes. Quite the contrary, Crocs will continue to innovate, design and produce the most comfortable shoes on the planet. As we streamline our business to meet growing demand for Crocs, we’re simply shifting production to third parties to increase our manufacturing capacity.

    We’re extremely grateful, but not surprised that our passionate fans are rallying around the brand today. Our future is bright, bold and colorful.

    As such, we've clarified in the story above how the company plans to produce its product going forward, and removed a line that read, "RIP Crocs," as well as a few jokes about the fate of our beloved heeled Crocs.