Things were going really well, and I was saying to myself "If this keeps up, I think next summer I'll pop the question."
Then, my mother had a stroke. We were all sitting in the waiting area outside the ICU, because only 2 people were allowed in at a time. It was my now-wife's birthday, and a Wednesday, and she didn't hesitate to take the day off to sit with me and my family.
I went to visit my father at home, and she came with me. Her Italian instincts kicked it, and she brought a load of groceries and a lasagna with her.
My father was a mess at the hospital, and it fell on me and my siblings to speak with the doctors and make plans.
I would get home, and pour myself some bourbon. She made me dinner, and just sat with me while I silently sobbed.
It wasn't about how great we were when things were good, it was about how perfect she was when things were bad.
Personality among Phidippus jumpers can vary a lot from one individual to the next, but the Adumbratus (adumbrati?) I found in Oxnard seem to all have a very calm disposition. I've noticed that one of the differences between wild and domesticated animals is whether the animal has an instinctual bite response to handling. There are certainly Phidippus that I've owned that could have been incited to bite under various conditions, but for this spider, I am not sure it would be possible to elicit a bite response outside of when she'll be guarding eggs. As this video illustrates, she does not seem to be bothered by much - even touching the dorsal side of the abdomen, which seems to be universally disliked by jumpers, just makes her lazily take a few steps in the other direction.
Stomach doesn't really know what it wants, but Tongue knows he is very suggestible. What Tongue wants is what Stomach will get, as long as we don't let Brain's logic interfere. Poor Brain, he's always getting overruled by dumber but more forceful organs. This is the latest comic from The Awkward Yeti.
Brandon Alinger takes Star Wars fandom more seriously than the average fanatic. He started building his own Star Wars props when he was 12, and at 17 talked his family into vacationing in Tunisia, where he got to see the Tatooine movie set. Alinger studied film in college, worked at the Prop Shop, and worked his way into Lucasfilm. All that time, he collected Star Wars props and memorabilia. Alinger found some internet fame in January when he appeared on Mark Hamill's Pop Culture Quest and reunited the actor with the original light saber prop he used in Return of the Jedi. Alinger gave an interview to explain his amazing journey to the apex of Star Wars prop collectors. Here's a sample:
Collectors Weekly: Why did Mark use Obi-Wan’s old lightsaber in the third movie instead of the original made from the Graflex flash gun?
Alinger: Luke had to use a different lightsaber because he lost the weapon when he lost his hand in “The Empire Strikes Back” fight with Vader. Howard Kazanjian had a lot of the production photos for “Jedi.” When we were researching the book, we found a contact sheet with photos from the very first day of filming “Jedi.” One image showed Mark Hamill on the sandstorm set—for a scene was cut from the movie—and he’s holding the lightsaber prop from “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back.” I don’t know exactly what happened. But it sure seems to me like someone brought out the old “Empire” lightsaber and then a decision was made right then and there that they needed a new prop because the “Empire” one fell into the Cloud City air shaft with Luke’s severed hand.
We celebrated the beginning of summer when school was out, then again over Memorial Day weekend, and now that the solstice has passed, it is really REALLY summer! You've been out of school three or four weeks now, and what have you crossed off your bucket list? About three weeks of video games, that's what. You might get around to going to the beach next month, and maybe camping in August, and you might remember that novel come September. Also, the color of your room will be okay until next summer. This is the latest comic from Alex Culang and and Raynato Castro at Buttersafe.
Once he shuts the drawer, you'd never think to look for him there! Unless he purrs with satisfaction, of course. Loki's owner, josht1212, says they closed this room off to him after the video was made, because they're not sure if he can get out of the drawer on his own. I bet he could. -via Laughing Squid
Ever heard of “biological radio communications”? That's the term Soviet scientist Bernard Bernardovich Kazhinskiy used for what we call telepathy. He studied the famed animal trainer and circus performer Vladimir L. Durov, who had an uncanny ability to communicate with dogs. Durov claimed to send thoughts to the dogs from his own mind.
Over the course of about two years, Durov and Kazhinskiy would conduct close to 1,300 experiments testing telepathic commands on dogs. This line of research would come to have more importance than most investigations of psychic phenomena: In the decades that followed, it would lead into a Cold War battle to obtain unconventional weapons, during which both sides tried to enhance military parapsychological capabilities and, most famously, America experimented with “men who stared at goats” in order to try to stop their hearts. As Kazhinskiy noted in his 1962 report on his work, the U.S. would eventually become quite interested in telepathy, but “it appears that the main reason… is that the results might be of great military significance.”
Actors know that pulling off a role as the opposite sex will really impress the audience. As far as appearances go, it's pretty easy with proper hair and makeup -and sometimes a good shave. That just goes to show that there are more differences in appearance among men and women than between men and women. But acting the part when you don't have the experience of being the opposite sex shows some real acting chops. I've tried voice acting as a man and couldn't get rid of the feminine accent. But these actors did it, and did it better than we expected at the time. See a gallery of 13 opposite sex roles at TVOM.
Britain is undergoing a heat wave, with temperatures in the 90s. Joey Barge of Buckinghamshire, UK, couldn't take the heat at work anymore and wore a pair of shorts to his call center job. Management, citing the dress code, sent him home to change. Barge returned in a mini-dress, which is compliant with the code. Seeing what Barge did, management decided to allow men to wear shorts during the hot weather. Yet he stayed in the dress for the day.
Remember the guy that turned his kids' Little Tykes Cozy Coupes into Mad Max-style vehicles? It turns out he works in the film industry. Ian Pfaff took his daughter Junior and his infant son Benji out to the desert and let them loose. A few specials effects later, they've recreated the apocalyptic world of the car chase movie Mad Max: Fury Road.
Maria Davison from Portugal has been selected as the overall winner of the competition with an image of an adorable puppy resting his head, which was placed first in the ‘Man’s Best Friend’ category. Maria began taking photos of her dogs and other pets three years ago.
After finding out she had won the world’s largest canine photography competition, Maria said: “This image was already close to my heart and it is one of the photographs I am most proud of. It was not only a beautiful, real and candid moment I got to capture, but also a demonstration of the strong bond between one of my closest friends and her dog, Yzma. Winning not only the Man’s Best Friend category, but also the overall winner prize with this picture feels really good.”
Wouldn't it be great if you could walk around and feel just as warm and cozy as if you were wrapped in a blanket? And then you could stop and take a nap anytime? That's the idea behind the Selk'bag. It's a wearable sleeping bag you can walk in! Move over, Snuggie, this is a game-changer. Picture this: you're camping, it's a bit cold outside the tent, but you left your alarm clock in the car. Not a problem when you're wearing a Selk'bag. Even if you never go camping, you'll love the feel of staying warm around the house. What could be better? Well, maybe if the sleeping bag made you into a Star Wars character…
Which they do! Selk'bags offers officially-licensed wearable sleeping bags that will transform you into Chewbacca, Darth Vader, a Stormtrooper, or a Rebel Pilot!
They're available in kid's sizes, too -perfect for a slumber party. Or for wearing on long trips in the car, when you would really like your kids to sleep, but need them to be ready for anything.
A juvenile orangutan at the Jersey Zoo was caught trying to establish his independence from his mother. She was not having any of it. The scene played out like a sitcom, and got an appropriate soundtrack.
Mom: Come along, Junior, let's go. Kid: Aw, Mom! I wanna play some more! Mom: It's time for lunch. Kid: But I have having fun! Mom: Don't you want some nice greens so you'll grow big and strong? Kid: Haha, you can't catch me! Mom: Why you little… come back here! Kid: I don't wanna! Mom: Don't make me climb up there! Kid: Haha! Mom: I swear, you are just like your father!
The perfect gift for the goat-loving, grandma-hogging adrenaline junkie in your life.
1. NOSTRIL-HAIR NOTIFICATION
Nasal hair stops dirt, bacteria, and other microscopic intruders from entering the body. But sometimes the bushy gatekeepers can go overboard. If you don’t have the nerve to tell a friend or loved one that his or her nostrils resemble overwatered Chia Pets, you can use the online service Chololi to send an anonymous email. Messages can be customized to be “mild” or downright “scornful,” though you’ll need to provide details identifying the offending nostril, and how many hairs are poking through.
A post shared by Rent-A-Ruminant (@rentaruminant) on Jul 5, 2016 at 8:02pm PDT
Clearing land of annoying vegetation can be a headache, especially when it’s on a slope. Rent-A-Ruminant, a land management service in western Washington, offers a simple solution: Release a tribe of goats to gobble up the brush. “Goats are a pesticide-free, noise-free, emission-free, economical, efficient, and amusing way to cut and discard of dry grasses and invasive weeds,” the website states. Customers include Washington’s Department of Transportation and the U.S. Navy.
June 21 is National Selfie Day, an unofficial holiday founded in 2014. National Geographic is celebrating by sharing a gallery of selfies from their photographers and explorers. You can't beat selfies taken in a wilderness, jungle, or war zone, selfies taken with Vikings or pandas, or during death-defying activities. Strangely, there are two taken during haircuts! Shown here is photographer Gerd Ludwig, who visited a cosplayer couple in Moscow who have a friendly pet owl. See the amazing gallery of selfies at NatGeo.
Arizonans, have you ever been called a "sand cutter"? Did you ever find out why? Many states have weird nicknames for people who call that state home, and each has a story behind it, whether we know what that story is or not. John Green fills us in on some of the weirder state nicknames for residents in the latest episode of the Mental Floss List Show.
Dr. Mary Austin of Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas, performs surgery on babies still in the womb, in order to correct a birth defect before birth. The surgery is delicate, as the patient is unbelievably tiny and the organs and nerves can be like tissue paper.
The birth defect is called spina bifida. Untreated, it can cause a range of disabilities, from incontinence to learning difficulties to an inability to walk. But the surgery carries some risks, too; it can send the mothers into premature labor, months before their due dates — and there’s no guarantee it will prevent physical disabilities in the baby.
Austin, a pediatric surgeon, helps counsel couples through that agonizing decision. She walks them through the potential risks and benefits. She describes each step in the hours-long surgery, from slicing open the uterus to closing the gap around the spinal cord with tiny stitches through developing fetal tissue so fragile, it’s almost “like tissue paper,” she said, vulnerable to tearing.
What she doesn’t tell them: She herself has spina bifida.
Austin kept her spina bifida a secret from most people until now. At one time she was expected to never walk, and although she proved the experts wrong, she does still suffer some disabilities from the defect. Knowing what spina bifida can mean for her patients gives her some insight into what parents go through when they find out their child may have it, but she does not pressure anyone into prenatal surgery. She doesn't even reveal her own spina bifida to them. Read about Mary Austin, her life with spina bifida, and her work to fix it for others, at STAT. -via Metafilter
Cults, totalitarian governments, abusive marriages: what they have in common is that someone gains total control over someone else through psychology. The shortcut term for this is brainwashing. Alexandra Stein was a member of one such cult, and later wrote about the process of brainwashing. Her PhD dissertation examined the tactics of a political cult called the Newman Tendency, which was run by Fred Newman.
Newman had controlled the group for more than 40 years before his death in 2011. After interviewing former members, I learned that group members were brought in through the various programmes, but were all mandated to enter therapy that they had to pay for. Gradually, they abandoned outside jobs and worked for the group, often off the books. They shared apartments, attended meetings late into the night, and restricted relationships with outsiders. Instead, many were set up in casual sexual relationships with other followers in a practice called ‘friendosexuality’. They were also assigned a ‘friend’ whose role was to monitor and criticise to keep them in line. Those with money were soon parted from it. Some women in the group were told by Newman to have abortions, and few had children while involved.
The Newman Tendency, like The O, fit the five features of a totalist system I had identified based on Arendt and Lifton’s work. The first of these characteristics is that the leader is both charismatic and authoritarian. Without charisma, the leader would be unable to draw people to him or herself. Without authoritarianism, leaders would lack the internal motivation and the ability to bully and control followers. ‘Yeah, somebody taught him how to abuse people,’ a former follower said of Newman. ‘He’s charming, too … If he sat down right there next to me, I’d say: “Hey Fred, how are you doing? Are you still corrupting people? … Are you still screwing 18 women at the same time?” … But you know, he was a likeable guy!’
Not all leaders want to get rich, gain sexual favours, or grab political power. But all want utter control over others. Money, sex, free labour or loyal combatants are all fringe benefits, and certainly most leaders take advantage of these, some in a big way. But absolute control over their relationships is the key.
Some municipal buses just drive by a bus stop if there's no one waiting to get on. If you need to get off the bus there, you ring a bell or push a button to let the bus driver know. This bus in Halifax, Nova Scotia, had a non-functioning button, so they installed temporary workaround.
Meanwhile, in Mexico, this technology has been in use longer, so they know they should install the chicken out of reach of children. Genius!
Queen for a Day was a show that began on radio in 1945, and jumped to TV from 1956 to 1964. It was revived in 1969-70, and had a couple of specials and a movie in between. The idea was heartwarming: to give a down-and-out woman her dream come true. But the reality was that several women competed for the worst hardship story, and the audience selected a winner, who received gifts from sponsors, such as modern appliances, money for medical care, or a vacation. It was essentially the beginning of "poverty porn."
So debasing yourself for a chance at a better life is nothing new. This show asked women, working housewives, what they would wish for in order to make their lives and those of their families better. Women would break down sobbing and go so far as to beg just to procure amenities for their family that were desperately needed while being viewed by a studio audience. Mothers and wives are usually willing to do what it takes to keep their family safe and secure, but banking on human misery seems to be pushing it too far.
Unless you live out in the country, surrounded by empty land, you have to be considerate of your neighbors. Failing to do so may lead to someone leaving a note or sign, especially if they aren't sure who the perpetrator is. Check out the variety of angry notes left in public to address these concerns. The biggest part of them deal with people who don't clean up after their dogs, but noise and parking space disputes are common. Some notes contain NSFW language. Read 34 of them all at Some ECards. And take a hint on how to be a good neighbor, or deal with someone who isn't. -via Boing Boing
"Women are like elephants to me; I like to look at them, but I wouldn't want to own one."
-W.C. Fields (William Claude Dukenfield) 1880-1946
W.C. Fields is a comic icon in movie history. Critics rank him with Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and the Marx Brothers in the upper echelons of motion picture comedy. His classic movies include Million Dollar Legs (1932), Tillie and Gus (1933), The Bank Dick (1940), My Little Chickadee (with Mae West) (1940) and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941).
W.C. Fields spent much of his boyhood in poverty and as an adult was constantly in fear of being broke. As a result, his girlfriends found him a tight man with a dollar.
On April 8, 1900, at the age of 20, Fields married for the first and only time. Her name was Harriet "Hattie" Hughes. Hattie worked alongside Fields in his vaudeville juggling act as his assistant. In the act, Fields would humorously blame her when he made a mistake.
Hattie was well-educated and tutored Fields in reading and writing (his own education had been very limited). The couple had a son together in 1904 named William Claude Fields, Jr. Although Fields was devoutly anti-religion, because of Hattie's influence, he agreed to have his son baptized.
Did anyone go see the movie Power Rangers when it was released back in the spring? I guess so, since the movie performed a little better than expected, but it was never expected to be a blockbuster. Critical response was meh. Screen Junkies knows what the problem was: the movie was too serious about the adventures of five teenage superheroes in matching costumes.
The producers didn't seem to realize that the franchise's silliness was a big part of its draw. Too bad. Instead of a action-comedy, they ended up with a teen drama crossed with a doughnut ad. Enjoy some hard-hitting criticism of Power Rangers in the latest Honest Trailer. -Thanks, Jill!
Mattel has just rolled out a brand new line of Ken dolls — fifty years after the eponymous blond-haired, blue-eyed, perpetually tanned figures were first introduced — only now sporting three body types (regular, slender, and the delicately put “broad”), seven skin tones, and nine hairstyles. The first 10 dolls, which were unveiled on Good Morning America Tuesday morning, hit stores today — while the following five will be released in the coming months.
One of the new styles has a man bun. But no beard. My 16-year-old nephew stated clearly the other night that a man must have a beard if he is going to wear a man bun. That's a new one on me. The new selection of Ken Dolls are available in some stores now, and should roll out nationwide by July 8. See more images of the new dolls at GQ.
Worldwide, 2.4 billion people don't have access to toilets, and a billion don't even have latrines or outhouses. Plumbing and sewer systems are expensive to build, and many places either have too little water to run them, or too much water, which makes it hard to keep sewage out of the freshwater supply. The answer may be a new technology that uses no water, and even recycles human waste. Virginia Gardiner designed the toilet called the Loowatt.
In Loowatt’s waterless flush design, the waste is sealed into a biodegradable bag underneath the toilet with not a drop of water being spilled. Once full, the bag is replaced by a service team, and the waste is brought (yes, hand-delivered) to Loowatt’s pilot waste-processing facility, where it’s converted to fertiliser and biogas.
This very manual setup sounds very archaic compared to the slick and convenient arrangements of the Western world. But sanitation experts think that in the era of climate change, when droughts and floods are becoming increasingly common, the West may have something to learn from the little waterless loos piloted in penniless Madagascan neighbourhoods. With the world’s population ever-increasing, places that historically relied on water for sanitation may have to reconsider how they flush.
We love a feel-good movie about folks who made sacrifices to improve the world. As a group, teachers fit under that category more than the rest of us as a whole, but even among teachers, some stand out. For example, Emma Willard, born in 1787, started teaching early as a teenager and never stopped advocating for her students.
Emma Willard was born in a time when women were permitted no more than basic learning. Fortunately, her father supported her interest in education, with the result that she became a teacher at the age of 17. In time, she went on to found the first school that offered higher education to women in the whole of the United States, which can still be found in Troy, NY under her name. Later, when she had entrusted her school to both her son and her daughter-in-law, she went on to promote education for women not just in the United States but also throughout Europe.
When you hear the name "the Unsinkable Molly Brown," you might picture the character Kathy Bates played in the 1997 movie Titanic. Margaret Brown was a real person who led a charmed life that she made the most of. Brown married for love instead of money, but then grew rich anyway. She spent that money improving the world wherever she saw fit. Her personality made her a media darling after the Titanic disaster, and she leveraged her celebrity to promote various causes.
Mrs. Brown dove into high society, becoming a devotee of the arts and learning four languages. She raised funds for a cathedral in Denver, and helped establish the country’s first juvenile court. Two years after the Titanic, Brown ran for the U.S. Senate, but cut her campaign short to volunteer to help France recover from the first World War. She used her Titanic fame to work for workers’ rights, women’s rights, education, and historic preservation, before dying of a brain tumor at age 65.
Fictional teenage sleuth Nancy Drew wasn't supposed to be a feminist. When publisher Edward Stratemeyer conceived the character, he was just adding to his empire of young reader book series that included The Hardy Boys, The Rover Boys, and The Bobbsey Twins.
The creator of the original Nancy Drew Series was actually a strident believer in “traditional” roles for women
While it’s no surprise that Edward Stratemeyer held these conservative views in the ’20s, he saw the success of the Hardy Boys series—in which brothers Frank and Joe Hardy solve mysteries—as an opportunity to develop a similar series for young girls. Previously, Stratemeyer’s former girl heroines were much more domestic, like Honey Bunch, a character, who the New Yorker points out, “knew exactly how to do a washing for she had watched the laundress many times.”
It was the authors who actually wrote the books who gave Nancy Drew the guts to do the things she did, particularly Mildred Wirt. Read about Wirt and learn a lot more about the history of the Nancy Drew mysteries at The Daily Dot.