Do any of you subscribe to Mental Floss’s Watercooler Ammo newsletter? If you do – awesome! If not, and if you’re a curious lifelong learner, I think you should subscribe. It’s a daily digest of the kind of information Mental Floss is famous for: all things interesting.
A couple weeks ago I got a little nugget of interestingness in my inbox titled It’s the Little Things (Late) in Life. So compelling were the concepts in the email that I want to share them here.
We’re all familiar with the old adage it’s the little things. It’s the love letter from your kid or the guy who lets you merge in front of him with a friendly wave. Those little things are sometimes (but not always) the best of things. The Mental Floss newsletter took this concept one step further by prompting readers to think about what sort of experiences make them happy. Are they extraordinary things like a three-week trip to South America or are they ordinary things like flipping through a magazine? (more…)
It’s not a secret that the smog in Beijing is bad. So bad, in fact, that last year the New York Times published an article titled On Scale of 0 to 500, Beijing’s Air Quality Tops ‘Crazy Bad’ at 755.
“Crazy Bad” simply isn’t sustainable – the air is actually killing people. So an architecture and design firm called Orproject has decided to do something about the need to breathe in China’s capital city: they’ve created a massive, transparent bubble that will give people the feel of being outside without having to consume the awful air. The bubble is to be made out of the same material that was used in the Beijing Olympics aquatic stadium. Its bumpy-looking structure (which you can check out in this Fast Co. article) gives the space the capability of having several different climates in one big biosphere. It lets in the sun, provides an outdoorsy atmosphere and keeps the bad air out. (more…)
I love keeping up with what entrepreneurs around the world are doing to make their communities a better place. Hearing about others’ projects and accomplishments not only makes me excited to live in this innovative day and age, but it inspires me to be a better entrepreneur myself. There’s nothing that moves the “get up and go” lever like seeing the audacity in others.
There are two folks that are working toward something exceptionally cool and forward-thinking right now: repurposing the old in order to meet the needs of now.
The space below the Northern Line of the London Underground transportation system has been vacant since World War II. That’s because it was built as an air raid shelter to protect civilians as the bombs rained down during that horrific conflict. Looking to do something with that space – something called an Adaptive Reuse Project – entrepreneurs Richard Ballard and Steven Dring have proposed a subterranean farm. (more…)
There’s nothing quite like plants in bloom, or when the leaves on trees change to reds, oranges and yellows. I feel a heightened sense of happiness when walking through a botanical garden, spend some time by a lake or, if I want to really set my spirits soaring, take a hike on a forested mountain. The natural world truly works some magic. Except it’s not magic and I’m hardly alone when positivity cascades over me while being immersed in nature. It seems that there’s scientific backing to the planted feeling you get when you’re next to plants.
A study from the University of Exeter in the UK explores the relationship between natural environments and wellbeing and the findings are quite astonishing. When people move to a greener area they experience an immediate improvement in their mental health, which includes decreased depression and anxiety as well as higher levels of contentment. And if that wasn’t cool enough, the improvement is sustained — lasting for years on out. (more…)
Those that know me know I like a dram of good whiskey now and then. Like many a proud scotch drinker, I order mine neat (without ice) or perhaps with just a splash of water to open the flavor compounds. And as if I needed another reason to appreciate the golden liquid, I ran into this story where rather than have the water open up the scotch, the scotch is opening up water … and then some.
Here in the United States, when you want to slake your thirst it usually doesn’t take much energy to find a glass of clean water. Some may utilize something like a Brita filter while others may have a refrigerator that filters water for them. And in my experience, that’s about the state of things in Scotland as well. But if your home address has Bangladesh on it, there’s a good chance that the path to safe water is pretty much unobtainable. (more…)
When it comes to our institutions, it seems we oftentimes get into difficulty where we fail to separate our underlying needs from the designs that we create for them. For instance, while it’s hard to find disagreement on the need to pass on knowledge and wisdom so that kids can be productive adults, we sure can get into some nasty debates about how our schools are designed.
Historically you’ll see that some of our biggest struggles have been over the designs of our world religions. Actually, you don’t have to look back. Check out the news … today. But look at the underlying needs of those designs and you’ll begin to see a universal condition of humanity — one that we all share: we do better in community, we have always pondered the imponderable and we have always thrived when we have structures that create pathways of morality, grace and justice. (more…)
In today’s digital and socially wired society, PSAs are hardly the movement-makers they used to be. Gone are the days in which a brief spot on television will make an influence on everybody watching. Now, as we break into the year of 2014, people want more than a video. They want to interact; they need to feel an experience in order for something to really sink in. They need something like a video game, for example.
An animation studio called Psyop created a training program for its eight new interns called The Establishment for the Greater Good. They gave the interns three months to create a cool PSA to spread the word about Malaria. Here’s the trouble with this disease: While those of us in North America don’t have to worry about it much, it kills over a million people per year, many of whom are children in sub-Saharan Africa. And to make things even more frustrating, there are relatively easy and inexpensive ways to thwart the devastation. (more…)
A couple weeks ago I blogged about my friend Greg and his therapy dog, Max, who are going to China to provide therapy for autistic children. You can read the full story here, but here’s a little update that Greg sent along:
Autism’s New Hope is applying for 501(c)3 status as a public charity. The scope of the charity’s work will begin with bringing the first-ever pet therapy dog team over to China to work with autistic children and their families. There are currently no services available for children with autism in China.
Communities around the world have been inching toward making food more accessible to those in need. Food stamps and electronic benefit transfers (EBT) are now accepted at most grocery stores and even some farmers markets. This enables the underprivileged to eat food that nourishes them – precisely the food that’s most difficult to buy when funds are lacking.
One community in England is doing something particularly exceptional. An old, impoverished mining town in South Yorkshire has opened what’s called a “social supermarket.” It’s not a traditional grocery store and it’s not a handout – it’s a place where the underprivileged can buy food at very discounted prices. It’s a membership-only store, and in order to be worthy of the free membership you must prove that you receive some form of income support or welfare benefits. (more…)
My friend Greg is about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. Or, better put, one of many lifetimes, as what he’s doing is sure to impact hundreds, possibly thousands, of children and their families.
Greg has a massive beast, his Great Dane, Max. And while Max won’t fit under the seat in front of him, Greg and Max are going to China where they will live for an indefinite amount of time.
Greg initially planned to move to China to teach. When the headmaster of the school saw his resume and a picture of him and his dog, she called him up and said she wanted Greg and Max to come help her son and the other families in the “underground autism” network in China. After a very short while, Greg obliged. (more…)