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Viridi
Viridi

There Is a Video Game Where You Just Take Care of Succulents

Viridi
Viridi

In Viridi, there are no attackers and no countdown clock. Instead, in a game that seems diametrically opposed to the anxiety inherent in most video games, the point is to tend to pretty desert plants.

Viridi’s premise is simple: Help your succulents thrive. You pick from a handful of starter plants, choose a pot, and click around to water your seedlings, taking care to make sure each plant is properly sated. A snail slowly circles the top edge of the pot. Your plants grow, albeit slowly. The unobtrusive, gentle music wouldn’t be out of place in a massage parlor or yoga studio. 

At first, it can be hard to resist the urge to click willy-nilly, waiting for something new to happen. But like real plants, the succulents can be overwatered, and clicking on the wrong place can delete your fledgling shoots. It’s an exercise in patience, more soothing than stimulating.

The experience is meditative. You can run the game in the background throughout the day, listening to the subdued soundtrack and periodically checking in on your baby Aloes and Pachyphytums. This is not the sort of video game you play for a few minutes at your desk, rack up points, and go back to work. It’s an unusually calming digital experience. Now you can take a meditation break even if you can’t leave your desk. 

The game is free for desktop users (you have to download Steam first). If so inclined, you can purchase a greater variety of seeds to plant for a few cents each. Mobile versions for iOS and Android are scheduled to roll out sometime in the next year. 

[h/t: Co.Design]

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Health
These Are America's 10 Worst Cities for Allergy Sufferers
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Spring has officially arrived, and with it come the itchy noses and watery eyes that allergy sufferers are used to experiencing at this time of year. As plants ring in the season by spraying tiny grains of pollen into the air, many people may be tempted to lock themselves inside with a box of tissues until fall—especially if they live in one of these cities.

Each year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) compiles a list of the most challenging cities for people with allergies in the U.S. The ranking [PDF] is based on several factors, including local pollen count, use of allergy medication, and the number of allergists in the area. The American South is the most inhospitable region for people with hay fever this year, with McAllen, Texas; Louisville, Kentucky; and Jackson, Mississippi accounting for the top three slots. The only northern cities in the top 10—Providence, Rhode Island; Dayton, Ohio; and Syracuse, New York—fall in the eastern half of the country.

1. McAllen, Texas
2. Louisville, Kentucky
3. Jackson, Mississippi
4. Memphis, Tennessee
5. San Antonio, Texas
6. Providence, Rhode Island
7. Dayton, Ohio
8. Syracuse, New York
9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
10. Knoxville, Tennessee

For many people, seasonal nasal allergies are an uncomfortable annoyance, but for others they present bigger concerns. “Many don’t realize that allergies are a serious health condition,” Melanie Carver, vice president of community health and services for AAFA, said in press release. “Pollen seasons have gotten stronger and longer over the years because of climate change and this increases allergy rates and reduces quality of life for people with allergies."

According to one study, spring pollen has increased every year since 2000. In 2040, the pollen count could be up to 20,000 grains per cubic meter, compared to 8000 in the year 2000. If pollen is getting to your head this spring, follow these tips for keeping your allergies under control.

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Weird
Massive Tumbleweeds Invaded a California Town, Trapping Residents in Their Homes
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For Americans who don’t live out west, any mention of tumbleweeds tends to conjure up images of a lone bush blowing lazily across the desert. The reality is not so romantic, as Californians would tell you.

The town of Victorville, California—an 85-mile drive from Los Angeles—was overtaken by massive tumbleweeds earlier this week when wind speeds reached nearly 50 mph. The tumbleweeds blew across the Mojave Desert and into town, where they piled up on residents’ doorsteps. Some stacks towered as high as the second story, trapping residents in their homes, according to the Los Angeles Times.

City employees and firefighters were dispatched to tackle the thorny problem, which reportedly affected about 150 households. Pitchforks were used to remove the tumbleweeds, some of which were as large as 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide.

"The crazy thing about tumbleweeds is that they are extremely thorny, they connect together like LEGOs," Victorville spokeswoman Sue Jones told the Los Angeles Times. "You can't reach out and grab them and move them. You need special tools. They really hurt."

Due to the town’s proximity to the open desert, residents are used to dealing with the occasional tumbleweed invasion. Similar cases have been reported in Texas, New Mexico, and other states in the West and Southwest. In 1989, the South Dakota town of Mobridge had to use machinery to remove 30 tons of tumbleweeds, which had buried homes, according to Metro UK.

Several plant species are considered a tumbleweed. The plant only becomes a nuisance when it reaches maturity, at which time it dries out, breaks from its root, and gets carried off into the wind, spreading seeds as it goes. They’re not just unsightly, either. They can cause soil dryness, leading to erosion and sometimes even killing crops.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

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