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Life Lifters (282 posts)
One evening my family was returning from a dinner out, just as the sky got dark. When my two-year-old asked why the sun was setting, I opened my mouth to deliver my standard response ("Because it's bedtime") when my husband said, "Well actually it's because the Earth is a sphere, you see," and went on to rather cogently explain the rotation of the Earth and its interactions with the Sun. She finally cut him off, frustrated: "No, Daddy! It's just a regular day!"
I know what she means. Even I (so old and so wise) find it difficult to reconcile the extraordinary world we live in, full of mysterious phenomena like magnetic poles and solar flares and wireless internet, with the ordinary version of it that I inhabit. I mean, not to be a total philistine or anything but... gets dark because it's bedtime. Right?
Thank goodness for astronauts like Clayton Anderson, who tweeted this astounding time lapse video of the Aurora Borealis as seen from the International Space Station.
The uncomprehending child in me watches this video again and again and thinks, Wow! Gee! The world is so pretty and magical! And then the adult version of me takes a moment to check out the excellent video created by Norwegian filmmaker Per Byhring and the Physics Department at the University of Oslo, which actually explains how the Aurora Borealis works.
And so as it turns out, even on just a normal day, unthinkable, complex, and fascinating things are happening all around us.
(For even more celestial beauty, spend the next 12 hours or so gazing at the Aurora Sky Station's live cam. Seriously, it's hard to stop.)
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The Life-Lifter: It's a real-life "It's a Wonderful Life"! Cash-mob rallies to save a local business.
"The circle no one could break": Diagramming the schematics of love.
You'll never guess what these celestial images are actually of.
Get something "just for him" at the grocery store—and 10 more little ways to improve your relationship.
Better than chalky candy hearts: The best poems to send a crush.
The Life-Lifter: Good Samaritan alert—the former police officer who saved three kids from a submerged vehicle.
My husband and I frequently bicker about taking pictures. He—a man eight years older than me, mind you—believes that regular photographs are obsolete. In his view, all we should ever take is video—long, cinéma-vérité videos that relive it all, from the kids opening Christmas presents to the falling of a pine needle to a shaky pan of our trashed kitchen and living room.In my view, nobody wants to sit through great stretches of our non-essential family life, and, further I love the capturing of a single moment with single photograph—one that doesn't re-live it all but let's me do that job, in full color detail, in the my head.
A few weeks ago,a n ordinary guy named Mike Matas put up some of his vacation shots on Vimeo. He went to Japan with his girlfriend and took 4,000 (!) sill pictures. Then he spliced them all together into what appears to be a running video—except that it's not, the film jerks a bit in between pictures, reminding us that it's made of stills—as you can see:
Living in the moment, the how to guide.
Quiz: Who Am I Meant to Be?
Aston told USA Today that she hopes to share what she learned with others about perseverance. "Keeping going is the important thing, persevering, no matter how messy that gets," she said. That's what we'd expect to hear from a record-breaking athlete (especially one who competes in frigid, punishing conditions), and honestly, we already know that when things get tough, we need to put our head down and charge against the wind. The more surprising and meaningful message that I'm going to take from Aston's Twitter reports is that when we slog through the messiness, we also need to remember to pick up our heads, to look for the sun, and to let ourselves gasp at beauty even as we're panting from exhaustion. (And also maybe to sum up the experience in 140 characters and snap a stunning photo to inspire others).
Men! What are they thinking? We can't always answer that, but we'll be posting our favorite glimpses into their world in this space every Thursday.
* Two Toronto teenagers sent a Lego Man into space, and the resulting video is nothing short of awe inspiring. (MetaFilter)
* Do you love Maurice Sendak? How about Steven Colbert? If you answered yes to either of those questions, watch this video. (Colbert Nation)
* Because there's no such thing as too much (Jon) Hamm, send someone you love a Hamm-O-Gram this Valentine's Day. (Hamm-O-Gram)
* An insightful—and sad—profile of NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens, who is out of work, out of money, and out of friends to go bowling with. (GQ)
* "There's this perception that plant-based diets are for privileged white people, but that hasn't been my experience."—Inspired Vegan Bryant Terry has some thoughtful ideas about food. (O Magazine)
So that explains it: women actually do feel more pain than men.
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And now for some refreshing celebrity news: good clean starlets who live by the Girl Scout Law.
The Life-Lifter: “Her gift will keep on giving for years to come”: This "poor," thrifty woman, who grew her own food in her backyard until she was 90, left $2 million to the Salvation Army.
The world can look a little dark and ugly sometimes. I think what we're supposed to do when we lose perspective (I'll never find a job I don't despise! I have no real friends anymore!) is to say bright, inspiring things to ourselves like, "You're healthy! Be grateful!" Or, "Somebody somewhere loves you!" Or "You're not starving in drought-ridden country with no medical attention!"
This never works for me.
Which is why I was so happy to stumble onto this Sightseeing Heat Map of Popular Spots Around the World on Peta Pixel yesterday.The map is generated by a site called Sightsmap that takes "the geographic data from the photos uploaded to Panoramio...and uses it to generate a..map."
The point here for most of us is to visualize where the most popular sightseeing places on the planet are, and where people are taking the most amount of photographs. (If you were traveling and wanted to really get away from the hustle and bustle of it all, for example, you should go to gray Northern Russia). For those of us who are having a lack-of-perspective day, though, the map can help out. Barring war journalists and experimental artists, why do people take photographs? Because they see something beautiful—be it the Eiffel Tower in Paris or a mud puddle in Victoria, Texas or their mom, smiling in front of rickshaw in Bombay, India. Each dribble of purple or red or orange or yellow is a concentration of strangers realizing hey, there's something out there I want to remember, there's some wonderful worth looking at a second time. I'm just saying...that many people can't be wrong.
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The Life-Lifter: "We're not heroes. We did whatever any other neighbors would do." So say the courageous teenaged boys who helped to put out a fire in an Illinois family's home.
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The world's most amazing paper dioramas (with apologies to hard-working third graders everywhere).
Rare video footage of how Helen Keller learned to talk—sure to give you a happy shiver.
Cool pic of the day: We should all be as adaptable as this intrepid tree.
The Life-Lifter: We love Tucker! The tiny but brave dog who saved his family from a house fire.