Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More immediate good news...

So lately it seems like I've been surrounded by people who've had good things happen to them. That's fun for me because I get to see how happy they are and help them celebrate. Recently, one of my co-workers announced she is pregnant and another got married. Then this morning I received a phone call from a college friend who told me she is pregnant. Weddings and babies, who doesn't love that? : ) 

Two men in the Boston area are being hailed as heroes after they caught a toddler who fell three stories out of her house in Lawrence last night, the Boston Herald reported. Toys flying out of the window attracted the first man's attention, and that man's screams brought a second one out of a Bible study. 

Most of the stories I find involve people helping people. Which is great - especially right now when a sense of community is vital. But this next story from greatpetnet.com involves the "Mother Theresa of Dogs" and I think it's fantastic. I've heard that you need to treat animals as animals; they do not have human feelings and thoughts. But Jasmine the greyhound is one of those cases that simply has to be an exception.

The Environment News Service reports on President Obama signing the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 into law yesterday. The legislation contains 164 separate bills, but the one that stands out is the piece that will protect two million acres of wilderness in nine states and a 1000 miles of rivers - a 50 percent increase in the wild and scenic riverway system. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had a great quote that's buried near the end of the story - "... for America's national character - our optimism, our dreams, our shared stories - are rooted in our landscapes."

Sometimes when big corporations do giveaways, particularly freebies, people look for the hidden catch. It just seems to be that you can never trust a big company to do something totally for a little guy. CBS News highlighted several businesses who have discovered doing the right thing can pay big dividends.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Needed it this morning...

It's funny how much this blog is for as for my friends. This morning came far too quickly and brought with it crappy weather. I'd almost rather it poured than this dishwater sky and perpetual misting that gets you just wet enough to be annoyed. And then I finally admitted Yahoo! has declared war on my Mac. So I spent much of this morning transferring my old emails and contacts over to my Gmail account because I'm just sick of not being able to send an email from my laptop. So the happy news did me just as much good as I hope it does you.

This one's from my own backyard, as it were. I missed the original story since I very rarely watch the news on TV, but apparently a few weeks ago, a farmer in North Scituate, Mass. was profiled on ABC 6 News since he was about to lose his farm to foreclosure. This isn't any normal farm, however. From what I gather he "rescues" farm animals and keeps them on his land. According to the news station, requests to donate to the man came flooding in after the first report, so this link goes to an update on the story since he has now collected enough to stave off foreclosure. 

And now for news from my other backyard, my home state. An AP report told of an inmate crew working on a highway in Maryland who spotted a runaway toddler walking down the middle of the busy road and spent three hours babysitting until the parents could be located.

A family in Spokane, Wash., showed real strength of spirit and sense of community when it returned a dog it bought on Craigslist, unaware the dog had disappeared from another family's home months earlier (kxly.com).

The AP had an update today on the flooding situation in North Dakota. The river appears to have crested below original estimates, so while it still has the capacity to rise, so far so good for those who live and work in the area. 

And last, but not least, CNN reported the story of an Ohio girl who life was saved because actress Natasha Richardson lost hers. The little girl was struck in the head by a line drive hit by her brother and appeared fine, but her parents called the pediatrician even though the child seemed fine.

Just because I needed a little extra boost today...

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Drawing inspiration from everyday people...

The stories I found today trended more toward ordinary people stepping out of themselves and their immediate concerns to help others, regardless of their own personal situations. These are the types of stories I wish they would focus on more in the news. I know there's the big call for good news out there now, and I hope it's not just a transient function of the crappy economy. I hope even a small spotlight continues to shine on stories like these even after the world recovers from the latest downturn in the economy. 

This first article was written by a local police officer in Hingham for wickedlocal.com. I think it's particularly telling that someone who works in a profession generally considered to be full of heroes took time to write about someone who, as he put it, "has not sworn an oath to protect others."

Personally, I think there is very little more inspiring than the stories of those who suffered through the Holocaust. Those people experienced the very worst human nature and society could dream up and used often little more than their will to survive. That's why I really enjoyed the recap in the Holyoke Enterprise of a Polish Holocaust survivor who moved to Nebraska after he was liberated from Buchenwald. 

In one of the stories I've read in the last few days, a reporter brought up the point that often good news arises out of a bad situation. It's people triumphing over unfortunate circumstances. The Red River out in Minnesota has been rising and is projected to rise higher than it's ever been before, already past the destruction point from the last flood in 1997. Much of the news has been devoted to disaster predictions and evacuations, but mndaily.com had a reporter who chose to focus on the good that's being done in the area even as the waters continue to rise. People from all over the state and country are coming together to help those in the affected area. This story highlights the thousands of people who convened in the Fargodome to pack the desperately needed sandbags used to protect towns and homes. 

This last story is not particularly inspirational, but when I saw it in the New York Times, it immediately made me think of all my coffee-addicted friends, especially the ones who work in sports. : ) Here you go, Stef...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I still think my life more resembles "Office Space"

Today I found an article in the Chicago Tribune on the cartoonist who draws "Dilbert." I admit I never really read it because I didn't feel like I connected with it. Looking back on my career in college athletics, it does resemble Dilbert remarkably as long as you substitute sports-speak for corporate-speak. Sports people are famously for talking a lot but saying absolutely nothing of value or depth. 

Now I'm more in the corporate world, I find Dilbert funnier. I have more direct experience with the nonsense that is parodied in the cartoon strip. The article touches on some of the more salient points of life today and how it's reflected in the comic. The artist seems like a thoughtful person who is really trying to help people laugh their way through the current economic crisis.

I found two stories on MSNBC that aren't exactly good news but are still fun to read and catch your attention enough to make you think, "hm, this is interesting." Or at least I did. The first is a story about a man and woman who are now connected by more than marital status. The second is kind of a nice reflection on how good things can happen in the most unlikely places.

One story I think is phenomenal I also found on MSNBC. As the story rightly points out, dogs can be trained to sniff for bombs and drugs, so why can't they be trained to sniff out something else, say peanut protein? One little girl is so allergic to peanuts, even touching the tiniest piece of shell can be life-threatening. But thanks to some ingenuity from her mom, she can now have a more normal life.

And the last story I found in the Lees Summit Journal reminded me of the kindness of strangers. A man happened along a teenager who drove into a lake, and he just dove right in to help her, regardless of his own safety. I guess we don't all have to be Blanche DuBois.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bippity, Boppity, Boo...

I've had to wear my big girl pants a lot lately, whether it's getting a new radiator for my car before the warranty runs out or tracking down a gym I can join after my physical therapy ends. This is definitely the part of life no one tells you about when you're little and think when you're big you can do whatever you want. Cinderella was definitely misleading; my fairy godmother has been MIA for a while. 

But in the San Francisco Bay area, there is a group of women who call themselves the Fairy Godmother Society. Three times a year they get together, dig up an unsung community organization and send it an unsolicited donation with notes of appreciation for its work (San Francisco Chronicle). One more reason I should move to San Francisco, I guess. : ) 

My mom is a teacher who has a class with autistic children in it. It seems like almost every time she calls, she has stories for me about the unexpected and usually sweet interactions she has with those children. So when I saw a story in the Boston Globe about a grandfather who designed a web browser for his autistic grandson, I took notice. The grandfather, who owns a software design business, offers his browser for free to anyone who needs it.

A column I read in Newsweek online proves that even the "hard-bitten, cynical journalist" type can be affected by too much bad news. In his column, a reporter recounts his recent conversion to good news.

Finally, the BBC reported on an unusual rescue in Thailand. A little boy got scared on his first day at a new school and climbed out on a ledge. A quick-thinking (and it turns out, creative) fireman was able to save the day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Flashbacks to sixth grade...

So I had to laugh when I found the following story on AOL News about a paraplegic man. Now you might think that was cruel until I finish telling you the story. Twenty-one years ago he was paralyzed from the waist down after a motorcycle accident. Recently he was bitten by a brown recluse spider. Yeah, I know, still not funny. Normally the venom from those spiders is fatal, but in his case it actually seems to have "woken up" the nerves in his legs. He's actually walking again

Now the reason I found this amusing was it immediately brought to mind the time my mother dragged me to the hospital in the middle of the night after I had been bitten by a spider in our attic. Looking back on it, I guess I can see why she was worried as the spot did swell and turn red, but all I can see now is the 11 year-old version of me in my enormous blue glasses, serious bedhead and oversized Minnie Mouse sweatshirt from a recent trip to Disney World being bundled off in the car to CCGH in the middle of a summer night. 

Although, I suppose I should be grateful for having a family who cared so much about me. The Australian version of ABC News carried a story on its website about a Congolese man who is going to be reunited with his family for the first time in 12 years after war ripped him from them. 

Police have finally ID'd a woman found wandering a New Jersey mall in 1994. Their initial search efforts yielded nothing so she was committed to psychiatric care, but an officer refused to give up and his latest efforts spurred an outpouring of information about the woman and her history (ABC News 13).

The last two stories of the day are about families grateful for happy endings, though they came in different ways. A family in Michigan was terrified their son was going blind for unknown reasons until they met an unlikely specialist - a neuro-ophthalmologist whose training helped him find a tumor and return the boy's sight (Grand Rapids News).

Finally, two sons of a man who died during World War II after his submarine went down off the coast of Alaska made a pact to find their father after the US Navy said it couldn't. Several years and an undisclosed sum of money personally financed by the two men finally revealed the location of the downed sub. The conclusion of the search helped the two men make peace with the tragedy, which was compounded by the fact their father couldn't even say goodbye to them due to the secrecy of the mission (MSNBC).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Start of Spring...

It is still bugger-all cold up here, but on a walk home during the one nice day we had last week, I spotted the first flowers of spring braving the elements to bring a little color to our lives - finally. 

I found a lot of nice, upbeat stories upon firing up the computer this morning. A wide variety of different things. No real theme, just a bunch of good news which is always welcome. 

NewsBlaze.com published an editorial on "stopping the recession obsession." It's a little kumbaya, but it makes a few good points on how positivity and staying positive not only helps ourselves but helps the economy.

The police officers of Surprise, Ariz., got a surprise of their own when called to handle a traffic obstruction - a fugitive 75-pound tortoise (azcentral.com).

Some might think 20 years of service in the military would be enough of a contribution to America, but one man in Lima, Ohio, has gone a step further, volunteering for the Elks in his retirement. He considers it an honor to help his fellow veterans with even the simplest of things. 

The First Lady is taking a grassroots approach as well. She gathered a group of successful, famous women in the White House last week before taking their show on the road to multiple DC-area high schools to meet with local children. First Lady Obama's mission was to encourage the children to work hard and reach for their dreams as well as demystify the White House, according to the Washington Post.

A World War II-era veteran received a surprise when he went back to his high school on what he thought was a public speaking engagement. To a standing ovation from the student body, the man was given an honorary high school diploma 69 years after he left school to enlist in the Navy at the start of the Second World War (Star-Tribune).

Take a good look at the pictures in this story about three Darfur refugees. The Grand Rapids News tells the story of three Sudanese men made refugees by the Darfur crisis. The joy they feel at being in the U.S. with a second chance on life is written all over their faces.   

This last one isn't so much good news as something I found cool. A couple, curious at what its cat did all day, attached a digital camera to his neck and timed it so it took a photo every two minutes. They started a blog with his photos and adventures and it appears to have blown up, helped more than a little by the fact the little guy is a pretty decent photographer. He's been on Good Morning America! and has had his own gallery show attended by 400 people on the opening night. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

heart-warm-ing: adj. Causing gladness and tender feelings: a heartwarming tale

I love reading these stories every morning because they put me in a better, happier frame of mind. Today's articles had a little something extra that went beyond simple enjoyment. Good news brings momentary cheer, but heartwarming stories make you feel a little better about society and life in general.

I'm not entirely sure how this ended up in the Singapore Enquirer, but it mentioned people who are being called "recession angels." The story starts off with a man who is a nice reminder that those at the tops of banks and corporations aren't all greedy, horrible people. After selling his bank, he gave $60 million of the profit in bonuses to current and former staffers at all levels. 

It's always nice when a community pulls together and not just to help people dig out from a tornado or some other large-scale problem. In Canada, a loosely bound group of strangers in neighboring towns worked together to help one couple with a baby on the way find their dearly loved pooch who took off chasing a rabbit. (Edmonton Journal)

The Iraq war has been going on for over five years now, and you hear all about the big conflicts and battlefield success stories. But sometimes the everyday life back in the US for soldiers' families gets lost. You forget these people have more to their lives than picking up a gun and patrolling hostile countries. WOWK 13 News in Hungtington, W.Va. reported on a simple wish coming true: a 3 year-old soldier's son wished for his daddy to pick him up from school. 

Sometimes the justice system in this country can seem a little unjust. Laws are in place to protect us, but sometimes they have unintended consequences for those who are just trying to do the right thing. The Orlando Sentinel reported on a happy ending for a grandmother who had tried repeatedly to get custody of her great-grandson only to be denied by the Florida courts. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sometimes it is the big things...

When you're pleased with something small that happens to you, like finding $10 on the sidewalk or someone holding the door open when your arms are full, you are thankful for the "little things in life." But today's stories are actually concerned with the bigger miracles that happen. 

A man in New York saved a stranger who fell onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train. Alone that would be pretty incredible, but the subway hero, as he's being called, just hopped up and got on the next train. (New York Times)

Out in the rest of the world, being kidnapped and/or held hostage can be a very real, daily fear. And usually it does not have a happy ending. But today I learned of two stories that did turn out well. The World Food Program from the UN tells a story of a little boy taken from his African village by soldiers to serve as a slave and who was rescued by a joint military effort. In South America, the last known foreign hostage in Colombia was released by the rebel group FARC, according to the New York Times. The 69 year-old Swedish man had been kidnapped from his ranch with his wife, who was able to escape the same month she was taken. The man was returned via canoe and will travel back to Sweden to be medically evaluated and reunited with his son

This one is pretty cool. The Daily Telegraph in London reported on four Spanish students who took photos of the edge of space using the equivalent of less than $150 in equipment. They only expected their latex balloon to rise to 30,000 feet, but it instead flew to 100,000 feet to take the unprecedented photos.

Lastly, sometimes the Good Samaritan isn't just contained in the Bible or the church walls. MSNBC told the story of a priest in LA who spent his 90th birthday among his "flock." He handed out $15,000 to the most disadvantaged members of Los Angelos society - denizens of Skid Row. Father "Dollar Bill" has been giving out money in the neighborhood for the last 24 years.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Weather's getting warmer...

Thank God. After this long winter, I cannot wait for spring. It usually doesn't show up in Boston until mid-April, but today is supposed to be near 60, so I'm happy. I found some particularly good stories today, so I'm just going to get right to it. 

In line with good weather, a small section of Wales is taking climate change into its own hands, working together as a community to develop a program to help shrink Wales' carbon footprint. It's entered in a contest that's going on throughout Great Britain for the top climate change program. The winner gets 1 million pounds to invest in the program (WalesOnline). 

Here's a short blurb from the New York Daily News on some (finally) good news about the US housing market - it doesn't suck as much as analysts thought!

Girl Scouts in North Carolina received some anonymous assistance after news of their leaky roof was published in the paper. According to the Gaston Gazette, a large, local roofing company sent out a representative and gave an estimate before promising to do the work free of charge as long as the company received no publicity or public acknowledgement. Good to know generosity still exists in times like these...

Continuing in that vein, one woman donated $20 million to support dance in Los Angelos. Next to a $50 million gift from Lillian Disney, Glorya Kaufman gave Dance at the Music Center one of the largest gift to a dance program in history (MSNBC). 

The last two for today center around family - one of the most important things to me. In the Daily Telegraph in Britain, there is a story about a 14 year-old boy who, along with his father, helped pull a mother and two children out of a burning home after a freak gas explosion. He's so matter-of-fact about how helping was the right thing to do that you have to credit his parents for raising such a good kid.

And the last one is short but incredibly sweet, courtesy of ESPN.com. It's the story of two brothers, one a coach and the other a player, and a CYO team in Upper Darby, Pa. It's all about how hard work and trying no matter what pays off in the end, no matter who you are. (Thanks for pointing this one out, Joel. : ) )

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Hello, hello. Happy St. Paddy's Day to you all. : ) Since it is that lovely American-Irish holiday that everyone uses as an excuse to get blitzed, I've granted myself permission to use a terrible play on words to start this post instead.

This story about a lay missionary nurse who travels all over the world to help those in need even while holding down a home with a husband and children in Galway certainly makes Irish eyes smile (Boston Globe). My other Irish story I found today isn't specifically positive so much as it's a continued step in the right direction. When I studied abroad in Ireland in 2003, I got a good look at the Northern Irish peace process and the dynamic between the two groups there. The Boston Globe had a story this morning about Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams calling for an open dialogue and continued unity in the face of militants trying to rip apart the peace process. 

On a slightly related note, it turns out there is another holiday in Boston today. People from home make fun of me for Patriot's Day, saying it's just a day we get off so we can drink and watch the Boston Marathon. But today's holiday is even more esoteric than Marathon Monday, in that only Suffolk County in all of Massachusetts', like, 30 counties celebrates it. Today is Evacuation Day. Yep, who could forget that? Liquor stores, state agencies, schools and libraries are all closed to celebrate the day Revolutionary soldiers hauled 50 cannon up a hill and drove the British out of Boston. Yeah, I'd never heard of it either, and I've lived her for seven years (Boston Globe).

Here's one for the "you're not going to believe this" files. As Yahoo! Sports reports, a 62-year old novice golfer hit a hole-in-one on her first-ever swing. The kicker was she didn't realize not every golfer does it, even while her golf pro was jumping up and down next to her.

Turns out those Harvard kids are as smart as they're supposed to be. Business school students devised a contest to encourage the use of non-disposable containers and a way to measure usage and reward those teams that were the most green. Who says MIT has a monopoly on experiments? (Harbus.com)

This last one is a nice-feel good story to end on. As reported in the Chicago Tribune, Bashur was a seeming mutt rescued from an Iraqi roadside and shipped home to a father from a paratrooper son. A coincidence helped the father learn a little more about the "mutt" who found a new home in America. 

I will leave you with one final thought...

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Apparently Blogger sanctions slacking...

So, I tried to post over the weekend at home, but Blogger.com had some issues with my home internet. Not so much with the stolen internet I get at work, so I'm back. I hope everyone had lovely weekends. We actually hit 60s in Boston, so I'm incredibly grateful for that. I took a walk down to the library before reading a book in the park. Then reality set it, it got cold again and I walked home. Such is life in Boston, eh? 

Well, here's the round up from this weekend and today. As I said in my last post, I did spend some time with an old friend on Saturday, so I'm continuing with the "reunited" theme. The Patriot Ledger in the metrowest area of Boston reported on a Canton woman who was reunited with her daughters after 60 years. In the UK, two brothers met again after 50 years. The two had lost track of each other after each left a boys' home, according to Norwich Evening News 24. 

A double dose of happy - in Chambersburg, Pa., two women who hadn't been in touch since graduating high school not only found each other but teamed up to help animal welfare. (Chambersburg Public Opinion).

This next story, out of the Rome News-Tribune, reminds us that even now when the economy can make us feel like we have to cut back and sacrifice, we should be grateful for what we have.

The last one is a nice thought to end on. WPTV 5 out of West Palm Beach, Fla., highlights the story of two physically handicapped children overcoming their challenges to participate in an activity they both enjoy - martial arts.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bucking the trend for Friday the 13th

I've never really been a big believer in the curse of Friday the 13th. Now watch, something really bad - beyond having my "get out of the office free" meeting moved to next week - is going to happen. Eh, the sun is shining and the weather is supposed to be nice this weekend, so I'm grateful. 

I'm going to meet a friend I haven't seen in a couple years this weekend, so perhaps the "reunited" theme I found going through all my news articles today is appropriate. 

Last week there was a fire at the Cape Cod Animal Hospital; quick actions by one of the vets saved most of the animals, but one who was rescued fled the scene, so to speak, and went missing for a few days. According to NECN, the little guy was found at a nearby airfield and lured out of hiding by his doggie buddy. Dutch is now back with his relieved owner. 

At least they knew where that dog was hiding. The more I look through the news stories, the more I see stories of lost animals returned to owners. That's great, but one thing I don't get is most of these animals had microchips, but for some reason, the owners don't seem to have used the search function on them. In this story, reported by WAVE 3 in Louisville, a family was reunited with its German shepherd, Astro, after nine years. 

The economy actually had a happy ending for one pet owner in Tucson. While moving, she and her husband lost their cat, Max. Turns out he'd been taken in by a local man who kept him until financial troubles forced him to turn the kitty over to the Humane Society. (KVOA, Tucson, Ariz.)

Moving onto humans... A lot of people went missing and families were separated during the Bosnian war in the 1990s. That is certainly one conflict from which you don't hear many happy stories. But today the Southeastern European Times reported on a Bosnian girl separated from her family after her home caught on fire. Sixteen years later she found her biological father.

Even the Boston Globe, one of the more negative sites I see every day, found a happy thought among all the job losses Massachusetts is suffering. Columnist Kevin Cullen highlights the CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital who, when forced to make layoff decisions, chose door number 3. This story says a lot about the community spirit people have in troubled times.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Definitely need this this morning...

I got some bad news last night about someone I used to work for and with that definitely unsettled me, so the happy news stories were required reading this morning. I'm just glad I could find this many. 

ABC News recently reported on people it's calling "Recession Angels" - people who don't have much of their own but still give of themselves to help others. One pharmacist in Alabama gave his employees $16,000 of his own money in cash with two stipulations. They had to give 15% of what they got to charity and spend the rest in local businesses. 

Most of you know I studied abroad in Ireland my junior of college and actually ended up minoring in Irish Studies. Since then I've kept a close eye on the doings of the Irish and Northern Irish. Having visited Belfast briefly - thank you, food poisoning - I got a look at the situation and setting of the "Troubles," so news stories about the conflict always catch my attention. I was really pleased to see this Boston Globe story about Catholics/Protestants and Irish/Northern Irish banding together against the violence finally. Being there showed me how hard it is for them to break habit and stop fighting each other. 

The Baltimore Sun (yay, Maryland!) had an article about a man who left his house to the SPCA who had guardianship of the man's dog should the man outlive his companion. The man was so concerned about his dog's welfare he gave his $1 million home to the animal shelter as a bequest. 

Along a similar vein, a story that appeared in the Montgomery Advertiser told the story of a dog who was returned to his owner after five years. The dog didn't seem to be worse for the wear. 

Who says high school students today aren't socially aware and are unable to shut up? Students at South Huron High School took a 24-hour vow of silence to aid the "Free the Children" project and raise money for a well in Kenya. The Times-Advocate in Exeter, Ontario, Canada, reported some of the students not only didn't talk, they cut off all forms of communication - texting, emailing and social networking sites like Facebook. 

As if tightening your belt through this economy wasn't enough, it's insult to injury when you have your things stolen from you. Police in Pennsylvania uncovered a ring of daylight thefts in Lackawanna County, using eBay of all things. Victims of the female thief were invited to come and identify their stolen possessions. All expressed joy that while they couldn't take them home yet, they were just glad to have found their (mostly) heirlooms again. (WNEP 16)

And last, but certainly not least - it gave me the biggest laugh of the morning - Chris Buckley of the Daily Beast decided that if he couldn't read good news, he'd write it himself.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bright news for a rainy day

It's kind of gloomy here in Boston today. Gray day but at least the weather is mild. After the 96 feet of snow we've gotten this winter, I'm just glad the precipitation is not frozen. : ) 

I found three more newspapers taking Brian Williams' lead in soliciting good news. The Detroit Free Press is trying to lift the gloom off Detroit, while the Shelby Star in North Carolina has already started posting the good news sent in by readers. Bob Wooten of the Northern Virginia Daily News is taking a stab at it himself in his column. Most of his items are local events and the coming of spring, but it's a start.

More good news for Detroit, depending on your opinion of the man. Jay Leno is coming to town to do a free show for the state's unemployed (Reuters). The city, one of the hardest hit by the recession, has a reported one in eight citizens unemployed after the auto industry crumbled and housing prices dove. Billed as "Jay's Comedy Stimulus Plan," the late-night host will have an hour and a half show on April 7 in the Palace.

This next one is yummy on several fronts. As reported in the Independent, Cadbury Chocolate has partnered with Fairtrade farmers in Ghana to source its chocolate. Forty thousand of Ghana's 700,000 cocoa farmers will benefit from Britain's biggest-selling chocolate brand making the move to Fairtrade.

This last one is a real heart-warmer. In Arizona, a set of conjoined twins were born in January and had an intricate surgery that same month to be separated. The two boys had health problems at first but are now doing just fine, according to the Arizona Republic. Read all the way down to the last line. It's probably the best of the article. 

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I really just can't resist posting these pictures. They crack me up every time. And no, Joel, I'm not that much closer to cat lady. Pbbt.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Trying to keep the smiles coming...

These always make me smile, particularly when the ring true for me. Yesterday morning my kitty woke me up not once but twice in the middle of the night by ever so nicely slapping me on the cheek with her claws out. She wanted some attention. 

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

I can say without a doubt that even on day two of doing this, reading these stories before I post them has put me in a better frame of mind already. Now when I read the news sites, I also comb them for happy stories. Helps balance it all out.

In "Grateful for rescuers," a man from California expresses his gratitude to the people who helped him after his car flipped over in a traffic accident (The Reporter, Vacaville, Calif.).

As you probably know, animals are close to my heart, so I am happy to have two stories featuring happy endings for dogs today. The Sun-Journal in Lewiston, Maine features this story about Buck the golden retriever who was found after being lost for six months, and the Santa Cruz Sentinel had a story on the SPCA booth at a local Pooches at the Park event. Apparently Little Trixie took advantage of a windy day for an adventure and was dropped off at the SPCA until her human could be found.

Last, but certainly not least, are the stories of two families reunited after many years apart. Two sisters who lost each other for 74 years met again thanks to the investigative work of a grand-daughter (KPIC 4, Roseburg, Ore.), while MySpace brought a family back together after 30 years (News 3, Savannah/Hilton Head, S.C.).

Monday, March 9, 2009

Great minds think alike...

So for the last few months, I've been kicking around an idea in my head. I gave up watching the news on television years ago, preferring my television-watching to be pleasantly escapist. However, in the last few months I've realized I don't like reading it online or in print either. I've become tremendously uninformed, but I am actually a happier person.

Apparently Brian Williams of MSNBC had the same thought. A little while ago he sent out pleas to his viewers to send him ideas for good news stories. Apparently he received thousands in reply. So I guess I'm not the only one who's sick of the negativity. I've decided I'm going to post a roundup of the best good news stories I can find each day. I am just posting links. I take no credit for any of the writing/researching/editing/reporting or any of the work that went into producing these stories. I'm just sharing the links. 

So here goes...

Today's happy thoughts:

Vietnam pilot reunited with man he saved - This is a story about a heroic Vietnam pilot who meets a man he single-handly saved 39 years ago. (Wave 3 News, Louisville, Ky.)

Austin doctors help Haitian boy with heart defect - A little boy from Haiti receives the medical treatment on his heart he needs for free from a non-profit (Bizzy Blog)

Positivity: Amazing tale of the dead man's penny - Not as creepy as it sounds. This one reaches back through history to track what happened to a World War I hero's medal of honor that was lost nearly 90 years ago. (Bizzy Blog)

Man's best friend becomes widow's biggest comfort - It's a little sad since it starts with a tragedy, but it has a happy ending. And really that's all that counts on this blog. (760 KFMB radio, San Diego, Calif.)

Man gets his ring back after 26 years - MIT students are very smart but occasionally still lose things like the rest of us... (Dothan Eagle, Dothan, Ala.)