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Stroke Survivor Launches Pandemic Pet Project, Draws Adorable Portraits For Rescue Groups!

Amanda J

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At the beginning of 2020, we really didn’t know what the world had waiting for us. By the time that March rolled around, the entirety of the planet was consumed by discussions surrounding the coronavirus as well as its impact. Over a full year later, with almost 90 million confirmed infections, the pandemic has become part and parcel of our daily life’s experience. With that being said, one resident from California did his best to make the pandemic as productive and pleasant as possible for rescue animals around California.

Ed Attanasio was the owner and operator of a small advertising agency in San Jose. As a local artist, Ed had seen his work featured at the Kaleid Gallery where he performed as an artist-in-residence. Ed was known at the time for his eclectic drawings and unique caricature work, something that would put him on the radar of a family friend during the quarantine. 

At the time that the pandemic shut everything down, Ed recognized that he was pretty much going to be locked down and furloughed for the remainder of quarantine. After sitting on his hands for a while, Ed would receive a phone call from a friend that changed everything. The family friend had been quarantining with their own family while struggling to keep their kids entertained. Ed offered to send some artwork over and the friend was more than happy to take him up on the offer. 

It didn’t take long for Ed to find his muse at the other end of his pen. Ed began doodling and before he knew it, Ed was drawing unique cartoonish portraits of pets belonging to his friend. Attanasio sent the pictures over whereupon they were received quite well by the family. One of the children said, “This is abstract art. Ed is like Picasso!”

And that was that.

Word quickly began to spread about Ed’s affinity and talent for caricature work. Soon Ed was thinking of using the momentum and attention to help others. Ed said, “I should turn this into a charity model. Why not?” Ed went on to say that he had always believed in supporting children and pets as they are among our most vulnerable. Ed said, “Kids and pets have always been my causes.”

After finding a receptive crowd for his work, Ed would go on to launch the Pandemic Pet Project on Facebook as a charity initiative. Ed would offer to compose Post-it Note Portraits of pets for customers from anywhere in the world. Ed asked for donations in lieu of payments and he has since drawn more than 900 portraits. Through his work, Ed has created llamas, blind raccoons, ferrets, birds, snakes, cats, and dogs. Ed said, “There was supposed to be a two-pet limit but I am a pushover.” 

Of course, Ed has been well rewarded for his efforts. At the time of this writing, Ed has personally helped to raise more than $40k for the Pandemic Pet Project to help shelters and at-risk pets all around the country. His work was well received and warmly embraced by a man from Bend, OR, who was so satisfied with his pet’s portrait that he donated $1,000 to the Pandemic Pet Project. 

As Ed continues to work on amazing portraits for his happy clients, the Pandemic Pet Project is pushing forward and into the future as one of the brightest spots of 2020. Ed says of his portraits, “I am always thinking that I want them to look different. Different color (combinations) shapes, different ears, different noses — It’s original art.”

Ed had previously worked as a journalist and stand-up comedian until he was afflicted by a stroke in 2009 at the age of 50. Ed weighed 350lbs at the time and has since focused on turning his health around, too. Since 2009, Ed has lost more than 120lbs and his new mindset was matching his rejuvenated body.

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Koalas Rescued by Volunteers Following Tragic Cherry Gardens Fire

Amanda J

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Cherry Gardens is a semi-rural suburban town located in South Australia within Onkaparinga. Named after the famous cherry which grew in abundance, Cherry Gardens was first settled by people like Benjamin and John Chambers in the 1800s. Recently, the Adelaide suburb has been in the news for a considerably darker reason, an out-of-control blaze that wreaked havoc throughout Cherry Gardens. Along its way, the blaze nearly took the lives of koalas and roos in the area. If it weren’t for a team of brave volunteers, who knows what could have happened?

Let’s rewind our story back to the beginning to gain a better understanding of how these heroic volunteers helped save animal lives.

Animals of Cherry Gardens: Koalas and Roos

Koalas are large and fluffy animals that look cute, mostly sit around, and are covered in adorable fur. So you can easily imagine how much danger these koalas were in when a fire broke out in Cherry Gardens. These animals sleep for north of 20 hours per day and their population numbers have been declining according to varied reports. In 2016, researchers in Australia declared that there were roughly 300,000 of the native marsupial left in the country while an estimate in 2019 brought that number as low as 43,000.

While koala bears might not have a reputation tied directly to Australia, Kangaroos certainly do. Another member of the marsupial family, kangaroos are common throughout the country of Australia in a variety of extant species. From the Red and Antilopine Kangaroo to the Eastern Grey and Western Gray Roo, it is easy to see how this animal became something of an icon intrinsic to the nation. According to the most recently available information, more than 50 million kangaroos live in Australia.

With so many innocent and unprepared animals at risk, it is important for help to arrive in short order. As Australia has been rocked by wildfires for the better part of the past two years, organizations like SAVEM have become increasingly important.

The Fire That Threatened Cherry Gardens

Understanding a little more about the animals of Australia will allow us to properly understand just how deadly this situation was. The blaze that rocked Cherry Gardens in early 2021 would take out two homes, almost 20 outbuildings, a pair of vehicles, and north of 2,700 hectares of land just southeast of Adelaide. The fire was truly out of control and the South Australian Veterinary Emergency Management (SAVEM) organization was certainly pressed into action.

Rachel Westcott is an organizer and coordinator for the SAVEM team, and she took to the microphone to discuss their efforts following the Cherry Gardens fire. Westcott would point out that many folks believe wildfires to end when there is no more smoke in the air, though that is typically when Westcott and her team begin their work. Dr. Westcott would go on to say, “Wildlife survives for a surprisingly long time following a fire.”

After the flames were largely out of sight and the smoke had settled, Dr. Westcott would lead her team for several weeks as they scoured the area for injured or scared animals. Dr. Westcott pointed out that animals can remain in hiding for up to 10 weeks following a traumatic event, sometimes starving to skin and bone while injured in the process.

Through her work with SAVEM, Dr. Westcott and her team have since recovered hundreds of kangaroos, bandicoots, echidnas, birds, and koalas through their efforts. At the time of this writing, the SAVEM team has been pursuing scared and injured wildlife for almost a month. Dr. Westcott would point out to the press, “Animals aren’t just like livestock where you know where they are.”

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Women Maintain Long Distance Friendship For Seven Decades

Danielle S

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The best relationships are between people who have mutual affection for each other. The relationships you have with your friends are different from those between people in general.

These relationships are a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association, and have been studied in various forms of academics such as communication, psychology, ideology and more.

We’ve seen friendships that last for a lifetime and some that dissipate as fast as they were formed. Long distance friendships are at a whole other level because they are usually the toughest to maintain.

E-mail, texting, and a phone call is harder to maintain than a close personal visit, therefore maintaining a long distance friendship is built on a whole other level.

While some researchers claim that the impact of distance on penpals has low success rates, That’s not the case, however, for two female penpals Jill Stretton and Cathie Alexander, who have proven that distance cannot disrupt a connection that’s real.

For seventy years and approximately ten thousand miles apart they’ve been communicating without fail, even when mail took a lifetime to be delivered a few decades ago.

Alexander’s address was given to 12-year-old Stretton who was Franklin at the time, by a friend of their family that had just come back from a visit to Scotland.

The friend had an inkling that both girls would get along quite well, and that was the beginning of a friendship between a Scottish girl and an Australian girl that has survived many major works events.

A couple decades ago, airmail sent by pen pals in different countries could take six weeks to two months to reach the recipient.

However, the two felt a harmonious feeling that only became more robust over time and therefore began a series of emails.

Though the two women didn’t meet in person until 1982, thirty-two years after they first connected, they felt as though they’d grown up together as they shared every accomplishment of their lives with each other .

Stretton said Alexander has always been like family to her and that they are still as close as ever to their family members. Stretton added that it is very impressive to have a family member with whom she’s built amazing memories.

Stretton and Alexander saw each other again twice. The first reunion occurred in 1988 while the second was the start of the twenty-first century in 2000.

They used the opportunities to make plans, share ideas, aspirations, and family updates, and have special Keepsakes collected over the years that have gone on to become treasured family mementos.

Though they themselves don’t like to send letters and send out holiday packages, instead of automatically writing people and mailing things, they have at least tried to match technology rapidly.

When they have lengthy things to communicate to each other, they utilize the e-mail route but they affirm that nothing can replace a handwritten letter.

Stretton says they often send postcards to each other to share various excursions as opposed to writing long letters to outline what they are doing or where they’ve been, especially since they email each other now.

After decades they’ve now made a breakthrough in their use of technology.

An author wrote that distance is nothing when one has a motive and for dedicated lifelong penpals like Stretton and Alexander, that bit of wisdom has proved true as well.

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Taiwanese Man Blows His Way Into Guinness Record With Bubbles

Liz L

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It will appear abnormal if a child has never blown a bubble, whether at bath time, while washing their hands, or maybe at a birthday party.

Bubbles are truly exciting to play with or watch, to the point that they are now being used at weddings, too, to blow as the bride and groom exit the ceremony to go off into a life of bliss.

All this talk about bubbles is probably getting your mind into a bubble wrap as well, but wait until you hear this.

The Guinness Book of World Records has been keeping tabs on bubble blowing over the years. Yes, that’s an actual thing, and it actually involves adults.

A Taiwanese young man has recently broken his own record for blowing the most bubbles inside of a much larger bubble. It may sound simple, but believe it or not, it is no easy feat. This process takes skill, concentration, and holding your breathing to blow continuously into the large bubble.

Yes, someone actually did that and blew nearly eight hundred small bubbles before the large one finally popped.

Here are the full details of this remarkable record-setting event.

In Taiwan, when you’re an expert at blowing bubbles, you’re referred to as a master of soap bubbles or “soap bubble master.”

The current lead master in the country, Chang Yu-Te, smashed a Guinness World Record by blowing seven hundred and eighty-three smaller bubbles inside of a massive bubble. He made the large bubble through a bubble wand, which he had to hold steadily throughout the record-setting display, which has drawn many oohs and aahs.

As Yu-Te blew for just a few seconds shy of two minutes, he took only one pause then proceeded to smash the record.

It’s a wonderful sight to behold as he blows the bubbles with such confidence and poise. It is, in fact, mesmerizing, making you want to go grab a few bubble bottles at the dollar store.

It definitely wouldn’t be the same, though, because blowing the massive bubble is one thing, but getting the smaller ones inside without breaking it is another feat within itself.

According to Guinness officials, Chang Yu-Te crammed a massive bubble with hundreds of smaller bubbles during an endeavor in the Taoyuan area of Taiwan.

The undertaking has led to Chang Yu-Te attaining the world record for most soap bubbles blown into a single bigger bubble.

As proof of Yu-Te’s achievement, the record-keeping institution shared the footage of Chang utilizing a big bubble wand to restrain the bigger bubble even as he blew, the smaller bubbles through the side of the large one.

This is no rookie moment, nor did it happen by chance, as Yu-Te formerly set the Guinness record for making a soap bubble bounce the most.

Meanwhile, the earliest record of anyone playing with soap bubbles dates back to the seventeenth century.

Bubbles have been considered fascinating for eons. As soap development improved, so did the bubbles grow. Now, centuries later, bubbles aren’t just for playtime, as people are bent on making all sorts of world records with them.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure to record it, just in case you end up creating your own record and will need the video as evidence.

Otherwise, go watch and enjoy the fascinating video with Chang Yu-Te on repeat…it’s worth your time.

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Bar Employees Get 2021 Ways To Welcome The New Year via Tip

Danielle S

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Nowadays, many servers have to hope they get a decent tip after extending their services to customers.

Even though tipping is required, particularly at places where it is the main means of earning for the staff members, there are a few customers who will walk out without leaving any tip at all.

Others will tip below the recommended 15-20 percent of the bill. Meanwhile, ever so often, you hear about an amazing customer who decides to drop a wad of cash on their server or the entire staff members.

Sometimes it’s because of a challenge or maybe because they are simply pleased with the service they received and feel the need to give back.

This was the case recently at a bar in the vibrant Miami area known as Miami Squeeze. The establishment, like many others, had been going through a downtime due to the pandemic.

However, the staff at the Miami juice bar were taken aback when a kind and appreciative customer decided to leave a tip of $2,021 to wish them all a new year.

What is funny about the whole situation is that the customer spent less than a hundred dollars while she hung out at the bar and was waited upon by staff members.

Therefore, the tip she left amounted to more than 2800 percent of what she spent, so naturally, everyone was discombobulated.

Could this be real, or did she make a mistake? These were some of the gazillion questions the bar workers kept asking each other.

They had almost convinced themselves that the customer had meant to write $20.21 on the receipt, but thankfully, they chose to contact her instead.

The owner of the Miami Squeeze bar, Kelly Amar, explains that her workers decided to approach the customer to gain clarity about what was written on the receipt.

It was a tear-jerking moment when she responded by expressing how grateful she has been for the team at the bar and the amazing service they extend to her.

She went on to explain that she just wanted to give back in some way, and she could not think of a better way than to start the new year right for them.

The very thankful staff members verbally expressed their gratitude, which they all agreed would be split between twenty-five employees at the juice bar.

The fact that they were so considerate of each other explains why a customer would want to do such a kind deed. She clearly had been feeling the genuine atmosphere inside her favorite bar.

The bar owner is particularly appreciative, especially since she had to let go many employees during the pandemic.

The bar is usually very popular in the Northern section of the city, but business tapered off quite badly, forcing her to release some workers.

It was a painful decision but a financially sound one.

In the meantime, the business has since begun to experience a bit of a boom as customers begin to trickle in as they used to prior to the pandemic.

This is great news for the owner, workers, and others seeking to get back a job.

News about the tip at this bar and others recently should be motivation for many service employees, knowing that it could happen to them at any time.

They just need to put their best out there always.

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Man Facing Deportation, Saved By French Mentor’s Hunger Strike

Amanda J

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There are hundreds if not thousands of songs with people professing that they would go to the moon and back or maybe even walk on hot charcoal to save the people they care about.

Very rare, however, do you hear anyone expressing such a sentiment for someone who is not their spouse or immediate family member.

Even rarer is finding someone who puts their money where their mouth is, and that is precisely what happened in this situation where a baker put his life at risk to save the future of his young protege, who happens to be an immigrant.

As you read this article, which may lead you to shed a few tear-drops, you’ll find that kindness knows no bounds when it comes to this businessman and that all is not lost when it comes to humanity.

This is what happened recently in Paris:

After 11 days without food, a French baker who had been on a hunger strike to protest his undocumented migrant apprentice deportation succeeded in his goal.

In his effort to draw the attention to the situation facing Laye Fodé Traoré, 18, who worked for him at the bakery “La Hûche à Pain” in the eastern city of Besançon, Stéphane Ravacley was hospitalized briefly at age 50.

Ravacley said Laye was an outstanding worker and could tell from the day they met that he was a decent person.

He added that, after reading an article on migrant children’s struggle to find training opportunities as part of his immigration obligations, he recruited the teenager.

Traoré’s would turn up to work in the wee hours at 3:00, bake then depart at nine in the morning.

Ravacley added that Laye had always appeared for duty throughout the pandemic and had never been afraid of the possibility of getting the coronavirus as he went in pursuit of his research.

After a risky voyage in an inflatable boat across the Mediterranean Sea, Traoré, from Guinea, West Africa, arrived in France two years ago, at age sixteen. One year later, he started to work as an apprentice baker with Ravacley.

However, when he became 18 recently, Traoré was informed that, following a local prefecture’s refusal to issue him resident cards at a maximum age limit, he was obliged to return to his country in West Africa.

Traoré lost legal rights as a minor in the country, and authorities started proceedings against him in connection with the deportation process.

After thirty-five years of bakery life, Ravacley said that he went on a strike to emphasize the system’s inequality.

The baker states that it is complete hypocrisy to claim that one is protecting a child then suddenly turn their backs on them as they reach adulthood.

He noted that protection is not part-time but rather a full-time commitment.

Ravacley’s campaign was won over in social media, and over 242,000 signatures were gathered via an online petition.

Many French officials, among them the Lyon and Strasbourg Magistrates, and popular people such as Marion Cotillard, an Oscar winner, sent an open letter to President Emmanuel Macron lobbying for Traoré to stay in France.

According to Mayor of Besançon Anne Vignot, he was granted a residence permit three days later, a tweet which was excellent news for everyone involved. The Mayor also said the battle for those still in an intolerable condition continues.

Laye said he is pleased to have secured his future in France, adding that he was proud of his boss for fighting the battle with him and others in similar circumstances.

He was very appreciative while thanking the public, too, for helping him.

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