Monday, January 31, 2011

Thanks! ...

I'm sorry for not posting last week, but as I said in an email, I've been swamped with school. And that's just one class. Tonight I start the first of three concurrent classes.

So in advance of what promises to be a very busy semester, I've decided to stop updating the blog. It's not that I think it's a not worthwhile thing to do. There were so many days where I managed to pick up my own spirits looking for stories.

But despite what it may look like, this does actually take me a while to do. :) So I hope you've all enjoyed reading my updates, and I'm sorry if I've disappointed anyone. If you found this blog after this post, I encourage you to read the archives. There are some good stories in there (and I can say that because I didn't write them!).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

More found than lost...

The title that immediately sprang to mind for today's blog was "Lost and Found." But then I thought about it, and the three stories I have today are more about found than lost. Which, when you ponder further, is definitely the cooler side of those opposites.

The YouTube video above came from Yahoo! News. Todd Bieber, a film-making New Yorker, found a canister of black and white film in Brooklyn's Prospect Park after the last blizzard. Out of curiosity, he developed the negatives and found a trove of exceedingly good images, seemingly taken by two men here in the US on vacation. Bieber made a video to post online in hopes of finding the men who lost the film.

Recently there was a spate of weird fish and bird deaths in the southeastern United States. I never found out if they decided on a recent for the mysterious genocide, but I was heartened by another Yahoo! story, one highlighting the discovery of a new species of crayfish in Tennessee. The sucker literally crawled out from under a rock and is five inches long, which is like twice the size of "normal" crayfish.

And now from something new to something very, very old. PhD candidate Brian Schubert found 34,000-year old bacteria living inside salt crystals. The crystals, dug up for climate research from Death Valley years ago, apparently grow very quickly and trap whats around them. The microorganisms suspended themselves in hibernation in the fluid inside the salt crystals but got right back to work reproducing and functioning after being released from the salt.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Medical miracles and reunions...

There's a pleasing symmetry to today's stories. Well, pleasing to me, since I'm a nerd. : ) There is a story about a reunion, a story about a medical miracle, and a story about a reunion between a doctor and her medical miracle. I'm beginning to see why the Mayans thought 2012 would be the end of the world with what seems like more than the usual chaos reigning lately. But, as always, I'm finding little stories here and there that help keep a positive light shining.

Global conflict has been happening for centuries, but the last round - Iraq and Afghanistan - seems like it will never end. But thanks to Tostitos and the USO, some families got a break from it. Eight children were reunited with fathers they thought were still in Iraq during the halftime show of the BCS college football national title game. The Philadelphia Daily News reports the mothers were in on it, but the kids thought they had just won tickets and field passes to the game. Their fathers were hidden behind a banner until the big reveal, and the looks on the kids faces could have softened the hardest heart. I'm tearing up just thinking about it.

Something else that made me tear up this morning was a story from Yahoo!'s home page about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. According to Yahoo! she made a Herculean effort to open her eyes on Wednesday, to see her husband and three close friends. Her friends were talking about taking her out for a pizza and a beer when she recovered from her injuries when she started opening her eyes and reaching out for her husband. Her surgeon thinks she has a "101 percent chance of recovery."

Something that has been slow to recover is the island of Haiti. It's now been just over a year since the earthquake that leveled much of the Caribbean nation. Elections were marred by violence and then a cholera epidemic broke out. Talk about apocalypse. But CNN International reported on a doctor volunteering in Haiti during the initial earthquake who recently reunited with a baby girl who has made a miraculous recovery of her own. "Baby Jenny" survived four days buried in rubble without anything to drink and with severe head trauma and her chest caved in. Dr. Karen Schneider, on the island with the Sisters of Mercy, had just started a nap after a 30-hour shift when Baby Jenny was brought in. Schneider did her level best and then sent the child to the US for further care and had always wondered what happened to her.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year's news...

This is about the time of year when new Congressmen and Congresswomen are sworn into office. I've seen a few stories on our local guys' and gals' swearings-in when I accidentally happen to catch the nightly news. So I thought it might be appropriate to use today's blog to post a couple nice stories about the government before this whole new crop has a chance to do any damage, err, affect change.

Yahoo! posted a story on the lieutenant governor of my old state, Tim Murray. He and his wife were driving through a town outside Boston when they spotted a mini-van on fire. Murray pulled over and sprang into action, pulling children from the van. He almost got punched by their grandma for his efforts, but luckily everything turned out fine.

While too young to run for office herself, two year-old Charlotte English is old enough to make a video go viral. The little girl is shown here in this MSNBC video naming different past presidents and quoting their most famous bon mots. She gets extra points for simply getting "Gorbachev" out of her mouth.

And this last story is not about the government, but I didn't want to wait until next week to post it. I love it. Another video gone viral, this time highlighting a golden-voiced homeless man in Columbus, Ohio. Drugs, alcohol and "a few other things" had sent Ted Williams into the street. A chance video interview, according to MSNBC, with a Columbus Dispatch under an overpass on Ohio's I-71 revealed Williams' honeyed speaking voice and led to a second chance for the ex- radio announcer. He has been offered lots of voicework and even a home by the Cleveland Cavaliers. But what excites him the most is the invitations to do the morning talk shows in New York has given him the opportunity to visit his 92 year-old mother in Brooklyn for the first time in years.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! I'll be back next week with a new post. :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

'Tis the season...

You better not pout, you better not cry. No matter how much the traffic and the mean people at the malls make you want to. At the very least you can read the stories in this post and maybe feel a little more jolly and a little less stabby.

If you're a parent, you're jumping for joy these days. It's the one time of the year children behave without being told to. :) The ever-powerful naughty or nice list has been looking over their heads for quite some time now, thanks to retailers starting the Christmas season in September. If you need a little reassurance that you're receiving something other than coal in your stocking this year, you can check Santa's Naughty or Nice List for yourself.

One of the traditions of Christmas is the annual tree hunt. When I was younger it used to include traipsing all over kingdom come to find the perfect tree. Lately, it involves my parents and a race to see if they can beat their time from last year. I believe they are down to 10 minutes, parking lot to tree to parking lot again. One of my favorite authors has this to say about her tree-hunting experience. Compare and contrast.

The Guardian reported a trend in the UK of purchasing replantable trees, calling them a "surprise hit." In fact, the demand has been so high, grocery market giant (and tree supplier) Tesco had to order more after running out the first week of December. The article touts their green and green-saving credentials.

Today is a big day around the country for office Christmas parties (or so the DJ on the radio told me this morning). Office Secret Santas are usually a yearly nightmare. Drawing names; landing someone you don't know, or worse, don't like; and then having to find that person a gift. But Yahoo! posted a story on the type of Secret Santa you can really get behind. An anonymous man in Kansas City had, at the time of the article, given away $10,000 in hundred-dollar bills to needy strangers - a police officer with terminal cancer, a homeless man, a woman who couldn't afford presents for her 27 grandchildren, and a woman who'd lost her entire family in the course of two years among others. The nameless giver doesn't talk about his own finances but expects to give away around $40,000 this year.

MSNBC had a story on a similar situation. A six year-old little girl in southwest Florida wrote a letter to Santa asking for just one present. Her family had been hit hard by the recession and, in an aborted attempted to find a job in New Jersey, had sold or given away nearly everything they owned. Postal workers were touched by the little girl's note and decided to provide a trimmed tree, presents and furniture to the family.

And finally, I was late with my Hanukkah presents to Jewish friends this year, so it follows I'm late posting a story about what one rabbi is calling a Hanukkah miracle. The Palm Beach Daily News wrote a story on the reunion of two women, old friends from neighboring Polish towns who had survived the Holocaust and subsequently lost touch for 65 years. The nephew of one of the women unknowingly attended the same temple as the other woman, and after a chance gift of a book to the temple's rabbi by that nephew, the two women reconnected.

I hope every has or has had a wonderful holiday! As a little gift to myself, I'm taking next week off from the blog and will return in the new year. So happy new year too!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

End of the year fun...

So it's the middle of December. Time for holiday travel, overspending and ugly sweaters. It's also the time of year for countdowns and montages. Today's post packs in a little of everything.

I was more than overjoyed with Southwest opened a terminal at Logan Airport when I lived in New England. The cheap fares, decent customer service and funny flight attendants usually made up for the long lines, minimal service extras and grumpy TSA agents that come with air travel. So I had to click on this link from the Today Show this morning, showing a "flash mob" of Southwest employees kicking it to Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." Oh, those crazy kids... (Note: Those who cannot handle Saving Private Ryan-esque cinematography should avoid this link.)

VentureBeat reported on the "biggest shopping boom since before the recession." I joined about a billion other people doing their Christmas shopping online this year. Aided by really good deals (and the motivation to avoid crowds at all costs), I, and apparently many others, pretty quickly finished my shopping and then sat back and waited for the presents to come to me. In the first 43 days of the holiday shopping season, consumers spent 12 more than last year, or $23.82 billion dollars.

I found the above photo on Google Images. There were so many, each much worse than the last. *gleeful giggle * I had such a hard time picking...

And finally, the first "Best...of 2010" image gallery came to my attention this morning via NASA on Twitter. Yes, I follow NASA. Yes, I'm a giant nerd. Popular Science had the 72 (??) best science images of this year collected on its website. I didn't flip through all of them, but there's a pretty cool acorn squid-thing around image 35. Fair warning, Mom, you will not like image number 1.