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Something to Think About (357 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."
Just when you think you've seen everything, here comes the spirit bear (conveniently enough, in gorgeous and mind-bendingly close-up photographs). No, this white bear is not a Polar Bear, but rather a denizen of Canada's Great Bear Rainforest, and get this -- she's actually a black bear. Born of a recessive gene similar to the human genes for pale skin and red hair, Kermodism, as it's called, is quite rare in the larger black bear population. But on Gribbell Island, nearly one in three black bears is white. (Read the entire article for theories as to why this is.) The native people of the area, the Gitga'at First Nation, call these creatures spirit bears, and according to Bruce Barcott's fascinating National Geographic article, they have never hunted them.
There is something really special about these Kermode bears, something beautiful and rare. And like with so many creatures, their uniqueness seems to lend them a secret advantage in life: apparently the white bears are more successful at catching salmon than their darker counterparts. Oh, and they are scientifically proven to be more likely to make your heart flutter in your chest. Okay, maybe not that last one. You must check out the full National Geographic story, complete with a stunning slide show of Paul Nicklen's miraculous photos. (via My Modern Met.)
Experience Nature's Beauty
The Health Benefits of Time Outside
“It is good to cast colde water in the face of him that hath the hiccups.” —Regiment of Lyfe, 1553
“Spend no time in reading, much less Writing.” —Advice to a Son, 1656
“Excitement of the sexual system is a necessary consequence of the...glances lovers bestow upon each other [and is] injurious to the nervous system if [it occurs] frequently.” —The Mother’s Guide and Daughter’s Friend, 1890
“Never hug and kiss them, never let them sit in your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say goodnight. Shake hands with them in the morning.” —Psychological Care of Infant and Child, 1928
“Almost anything you like can be rolled in bacon, oven- or pan-broiled, and served on picks.” —500 Tasty Snacks: Ideas for Entertaining, 1949
“Duck and cover.”—1950s safety strategy for nuclear attack
“Don’t appear to...surpass your husband in intelligence....keep him in the dominant position to help him feel needed and adequate as the leader.” —Fascinating Womanhood, 1963
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” —Love Story, 1970
“The solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish, and shame the child.” —Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, 2011
How is it that inanimate objects are so often so eloquent? We know they are just things, but we love our things. I know I like to think of myself as too deep and unsuperficial to really care about material things, and yet, when my home almost burned down (I exaggerate slightly) I spent the remainder of the day wandering around in a daze, loving all those dumb things: the sticks my kids collect and the photograph of my grandmother holding baby-me, yes, but also, the rocking chair, the potted plants, the bathroom sink. Maybe those things aren't me, exactly, but those mute hunks of wood and plastic and stone are my life. And though I don't think of myself as having a lot of things, compared to the Chinese farmers photographed by Huang Qingjun my small home becomes a low-rent-version of the British Museum.
According to the BBC, Huang Qingjun has spent the past decade traveling around China's rural areas, photographing people outside their homes with all of their material possessions. (The BBC has a can't-miss slide show of his photographs.) The photographs are haunting portraits of the simple way people still live in the quickly-changing country. But they tell stories, too -- a story of forced change, in the case of a couple posing in front of their house which has been slated for demolition; a story of intentional change, in the case of families proudly displaying their modern DVD players and satellite dishes.
it's impossible to look at these photographs and not think, "That's IT?" I'd like to think I could live so simply as these families, possessing only what I needed to work and make food and little else, but it takes me about twelve seconds to start wondering, but what do they do in their free time? (The answer is, probably, what free time?) Where are the books and games and photographs and all those other things that we think make our homes our homes? And what would my life be, who would I be, in a yurt on the plain?
Read the entire article for more, including the the wonderful history of the "Four Big Things."
What Are Your Chairs Telling You?
The History of the World in 100 Objects
There's nothing like a good old-fashioned "We Are the World"-style anthem, am I right? Many voices (preferably with a high percentage of celebrities), joining together in catchy song, to support a cause you weren't totally completely sure was a cause at all? Turns out, today is National Voter Registration Day, and guess what -- according to the nonpartisan group L.O.V.E., AKA "Let One Voice Emerge," the largest group of non-voters in America is unmarried women. What? Ladies, nearly 20 million of you are not voting! Not to nag, but remember how just a few generations ago, it was illegal for women to vote? It is a mighty power we have been given. Let's not abdicate it because it seems like a pain to get to the polls, or to get registered (it's not).
In the meantime, let Fergie, Keke Palmer, Patti Austin, Sheila E., and many many others inspire you to vote like your life depends on it. (Which it just might.)
Drew Barrymore's Voting Campaign
The Impact of the 2008 Presidential Election
September 22 was the Autumnal Equinox, when day and night will be the same length for one strange day, before we slip into that cozy-or-depressing-depending-on-your-perspective darkness of autumn and winter. Every year the equinox inspires a 50/50 night and day of mixed emotions, too. I mean, don't you just love fall, with all its appley-pumpkiny-leafy crispness and opportunities for sweaters? And then there's Halloween, basically the only holiday worth celebrating. And yet there's always that dark, cold, mucky winter-chaser to gulp down afterwards, about which most of us feel less enthusiastic. So what do you do on the equinox? It must be something slightly mysterious, I think, slightly odd, in touch with nature in some askew way. Like, maybe, silent dancing?
Allow me to explain: a friend of mine recently shared this video, AKA the most beautiful, strange, haunting "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" report in the whole land of Facebook. She explained that she was strolling along on a hot summer night in Lisbon when she came across these people silently dancing the tango outside a church. The result is a dreamy spectacle, captured in a hazy camera-phone movie that I've since watched approximately 80,000,000 times, wishing I were one of those dancers. Something about the silence and the darkness make them seem not like individuals but like a force of nature.
So why not dance silent tangos at midnight in the week after this equinox? You don't need a church, just any sacred-ish space will do -- a backyard, or a courtyard, or a roomy fire escape -- and the will to give yourself permission to dance to the moon even when there is no music. Or at least watch this video a few times, while contemplating the mysteries of the universe. Happy Equinox.
The Making of Oprah's Flash Mob
A Democracy of Dancing
According to Zagat (and the Guinness Book of World Records) pizza enthusiast Brian Dwyer has the largest collection of pizza-themed art and ephemera in the world. "It’s the only food that makes everyone happy," Dwyer told Zagat," It makes people remember their childhood - it’s the great equalizer." The museum, which is located in a pizzeria (naturally), features displays of pizza-themed art, literature, music, and, of course, actual pizza. (Read the Zagat story to find out what kind of pizza these pie-experts serve...)
I admit to having a tattoo-worthy love of pizza myself, but I also have a weak spot for quirky little museums. The news of Pizza Brain got me thinking -- why leave it at pizza? Did you know there is also a Peanut Museum? That's right, and Happy Peanut Day to you. One guess as to where the Potato Museum is. And don't forget about the SPAM Museum. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? ROAD TRIP!
Women, Food, and God
And then, just like that, summer is ending. Do you feel this way too, that every year the end of summer comes as a surprise? After months of groaning about how hot it is and longing for a crisp day of wearing sweaters and apple picking, suddenly the kids are back in school, there is a hint of chill in the air, and there is that eternal bittersweet sense of September.
Amy Jean Porter's "Return to Cat Town" drawings in The Awl capture the end-of-summer feeling exactly. Her evocative sketches and their accompanying captions cover the wildness of summer days -- her kids wander around inventing games, she reports, which makes her feel as though she's living in the novelist Haruki Murakami's invention, Cat Town, where cats roam and chat and can't even see humans. There is that wild element of magic in summer, to be sure, even when your days unfold in a climate-controlled office. Still, and always, it's a time when you'd believe that cats sit around having human conversations, that the woods are alive with surreal happenings, that anything is possible.
Check out all of Amy Jean Porter's drawings, with their dreamy imagery and wise commentary, on The Awl.
An Artist's Imagined Collections
Whimsical Japanese Animations
We all have our September 11th stories. Mine involves a husband who worked at the World Trade Centers.
We were both temping, having just arrived in New York City as fresh as newborn babies. My husband was temping for Silverstein Properties, the company which had just purchased the leases for the WTC buildings; he spent his days – get this – photocopying contracts and leases that would soon mean nothing. Good thing he was perpetually late to work; good thing he stopped to pack a sandwich; good thing he stepped out of the subway that morning just instants before his workplace was getting hit by planes.
So now what? He’s fine. Everyone we knew was fine. We're the lucky ones, we who don’t have anyone in particular to personally mourn. Still, every year I have to squint at the news if I want to not be weepy all day. We’re still traumatized, as a nation – anyone in doubt of that need only to look at the way 9/11 is covered in the media. But this morning, a tweet, of all things, reminded me of how to deal with the day.
Edward Champion includes two links telling two different stories of visits to the sites of tragedies: 9/11, and Pearl Harbor. No doubt the tourist smiling for pictures at the WTC site mean well. But what a good reminder, that when this country suffered a similar trauma at Pearl Harbor, it was commemorated with “remembrance and quiet dedication.”
Here's a few reasons to love your day today. Don't be surprised if they cause spontaneous smiles at strangers
The loveliest painting of an antique cake stands you've ever seen.
A tiff. A green gown. A convivial society. And 14 other ways people described making love in the 1800s.
What one woman can do underwater....strapped to a wheelchair.
Your personal reading style: diagnosed by the professionals.
How a handkerchief (and bravery) can help cure a broken heart.