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Arianna Davis (5 posts)
In October, you were delighted by the story of Mr. T, and many of you shared that you gained a new perspective on having a rat as a pet. But before you decide to bring one home, rat expert and director of adoptions at the San Francisco SPCA Laura Routhier says there are a few things you should know.
"People tend to think rats are dirty, but they can easily be trained to use a litter box," she says. "In fact, they groom themselves almost as much as a cat." Routhier recommends getting your rat neutered or spayed, to help avoid tumors—or an unexpected litter.
She also suggests giving a rat in need a home by adopting from an animal shelter or rescue group (find one near you at adoptapet.com). "And you might want to consider which gender is better for you," Routhier says. "Females are on the go and full of energy, while males are mellow and love to be cuddled."
When you’re trying to beat the summer heat, sometimes there’s nothing better than staying home in the AC, with popcorn and a good movie. We asked Jennifer Westfeldt, the writer, director and actress behind the film Friends with Kids (out on DVD today) for some suggestions. Here are some of her favorites:
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: This is unlike anything I’ve ever seen: It’s based on the true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, who became paralyzed after suffering a stroke and learns to communicate through blinking his left eye. He’s trapped inside his body, but the cinematography artfully captures his flights of fancy, dreams, and imaginings.
Rushmore: My partner Jon [Hamm] and I love to watch this movie whenever we come across it—we still quote the lines! It’s a 1998 Wes Anderson film that stars Jason Schwartzman as a lovable, eccentric high schooler who’s put on academic probation. It’s moving, heartfelt, and utterly original, and Anderson does an incredible job of mixing comedy and drama. Plus, it’s got one of the best endings I’ve seen in any movie.
Today marks the end of National Short Story Month (NaShoStoMo for short—and yes, this exists, in addition to May being National Bike Month, National Hamburger Month, and National Moving Month. Who knew?) Some of our favorite works of fiction this past year were story collections (plus: remember Oprah’s 2009 Book Club pick, the short story collection about children in Africa, “Say You’re One of Them”?), and while looking for a way to celebrate them, we stumbled on Storyville, an app that lets you keep up with the newest ones out there without purchasing a library's worth of different collections. Every Tuesday, you receive a single fresh story right to your phone or ipad—ranging from tales by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors like Jennifer Egan to those by up-and-comers like Emma Straub and Tania James.
“Every year, hundreds of wonderful short stories are published, but readers have no idea they exist,” says Paul Vidich, one of Storyville's co-founders. “We’re trying to engage fiction fans in a new conversation. And with the stories on your phone or iPad, they’re always with you—on the bus, at the airport, in your bed. (Paul is right about that: I got so caught up reading writer Ana Menendez’s Traveling Fools, a whimsical yarn about a man who flies away on a weather balloon while waiting in line at Starbucks that I didn’t even hear the cashier call my name three times!)
Here’s a few more fast, easy ways to delve into short stories that should hold you over until NaShoStoMo 2013:
Unrequited love stories
John Irving's new smash novel
Eben Bayer grew up on a maple syrup farm in Vermont, helping his parents chop wood and bathing in water warmed by a homemade solar heater. But it wasn't until he went away to college near Albany, New York, that he heard the word green applied to his family's way of life—and saw how his bucolic past might shape his future. While devising an eco-friendly glue for a class on invention, Bayer remembered the sticky white substance—mycelium, the "root" of a mushroom—he'd occasionally seen growing on the wood chips his family used as fuel. "And I was struck by this wild idea," he says. "Why not use mushroom roots as glue?"
Bayer's professor encouraged him to pursue the idea, and soon Bayer and a classmate, Gavin McIntyre, were growing the wet, rubbery fungus in McIntyre's apartment. They discovered it was strong enough to bind together cornhusks, rice hulls, and other inedible by-products of farming. When baked with these materials, it produced an uncannily Styrofoam-like substance. Bayer and McIntyre knew they were onto something.
After graduating in 2007, the pair cofounded Ecovative Design, a company that sells biodegradable alternatives to materials like Styrofoam, which can remain in landfills for hundreds of years. Soon they were "growing" packaging for the office furniture company Steelcase and the computer giant Dell; they also recently inked a deal with Crate & Barrel. In a 10,000-square-foot facility in upstate New York, assembly-line robots now combine mushrooms with cornhusks and other food by-products from local farms; the fungi are then left in the dark to grow and digest parts of the husks before being baked (which kills the live organisms). Bayer hopes the mushrooms will eventually be used for everything from automobile parts (to replace the foam used in bumpers, for example) to flip-flops. "Our goal is to rid the planet of harmful disposable plastics," he says. "When that bag from the supermarket finds its way into a field, I want it to be nutrients for the field."
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Find your green-collar dream job
5 simple things you can do to save the environment
OWN Documentary Club's first original documentary, Serving Life, produced by Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker, offers a searing look inside the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a maximum-security facility in Angola, Louisiana, where inmates volunteer to work in the prison's hospice.
Because more than half the prisoners--convicted kidnappers, rapists, and murderers--are serving life sentences, many will succumb to devastating illnesses behind bars.
Whitaker narrates as we watch four volunteers complete an extensive two-week training program and learn to feed, bathe, and spend time with their peers during their final days; some even prepare a body for burial.
While caring for dying patients and facing personal fears of death proves too much for some, others discover just how powerful human touch can be--for both patient and caretaker.
"We meet inmates who decide to take an opportunity for redemption," Whitaker says, "reminding us of the connection that exists between each and every one of us."
Serving Life premieres July 28 at 9 p.m ET/PT on OWN.
See the Trailer for Serving Life and Information on Other Docs
11 Questions That Have No Right to Go Away
What Forrest Whitaker Told Gayle King