Weekly Meanderings, 2 December 2017

photo-1450460528890-4f75f19af897_optMichael Singer:

A four-time MVP, a three-time NBA champion, LeBron James said that his most important accomplishment was opening his “I Promise” school in Akron, Ohio.

“Besides having three kids and marrying my wife, putting my mom in a position where she never has to worry about anything ever again for the rest of her life, this is right up there,” James told reporters on Thursday morning. “Championships, MVPs, I mean points, rebounds and assists, that stuff if whatever. But for me to be able to open up a school and give back to my inner city, so many kids that I know because I was those kids.”

The Akron School Board, on Monday, approved a plan for a public school in partnership with James’ foundation. According to the LeBron James Family Foundation, the school’s mission will be to target kids at risk of falling behind. It’s scheduled to open next fall for third and fourth graders with plans to add more grade levels in the future.

“I walked those streets, and it was just like there’s no way I’m going to be able to get out of this situation,” James continued. “I just thought about that every day. I had dreams and I had mentors, and they allowed my dreams to become who I am today. People can talk about everything else besides that, but they can never take away what I’m able to do for my hometown and people all around the world. That’s what means to me more than anything. The basketball thing, I love it and I enjoy it, but to give back and  open up a school, that’s something that will last way beyond my years.”

Scarf around the tree means?

With the stress of the holiday season quickly approaching, it’s easy to lose sight of what Christmas is all about. That’s why there’s a new trend popping up all around the country – and it’s catching on like wildfire!

Even though it might look like it, people aren’t trying to make trees and light poles fashionable! The reason there are scarves tied up around trees is something much more heartwarming than that….

Countless people from all across the nation are taking their old scarves, or making handmade scarves, and securing them around the base of trees in parks, and light poles along city roads and in neighborhoods.

These scarves are actually left for homeless people who are exposed to the frigid, dangerous winter temperatures and weather! The cozy scarves are free to anyone who needs them and can provide much-needed insulation from below-freezing temperatures.

Many of the scarves are left with kind messages, like this:

“I’m not lost! Please take me with you if you are cold. Stay warm. God bless!”

It’s obvious that the people who leave these scarves truly care about the less fortunate and want to spread holiday cheer to those who need it the most!

Ecotherapy, a daily dose for Kris and me:

For many patients, like Lauren Huddle, 31, a big dose of Mother Nature is exactly what she needs after a stressful day.

“I have pretty bad anxiety and depression,” said Huddle of Bellingham, Washington. “And I don’t do well with pharmaceuticals, so my husband Nate would actually tell me all the time, ‘just go outside, you’ll feel so much better.’”

And that’s exactly the plan that Lauren and her doctor laid out.

The Huddle’s family physician wrote her a prescription that read: “Five times a week… spend 30 minutes at a park near your home.”

Huddle’s treatment plan is part of a growing field of medicine called “ecotherapy” — nature-based programs and exercises that can help patients cope with mental and physical illnesses. Instead of prescriptions for more pills, doctors around the country are increasingly prescribing trips to the park for a range of conditions, including anxiety and depression, attention deficit disorder and chronic illness such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Ellen R. Stofan, and women in STEM:

The numbers are appalling: women make up less than 25% of the STEM (science-technology-engineering-mathematics) workforce in the United States. Data from the US National Science Foundation shows that between 2006-2014, the number of women graduating with a degree in computer science actually declined.

Life and social sciences have higher rates of participation and the physical sciences are improving, but still the numbers are not representative of the wider population.

Why does this under-representation of women matter? Research shows that diverse teams perform better. Individuals from different genders, races, backgrounds and experiences bring different perspectives that can lead to innovative solutions. Given the changes being brought on by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), we can’t afford not to have all hands on deck.

The number of jobs in STEM fields are increasing – and these jobs pay well, because STEM fields are key to reaping the rewards of 4IR, including improved healthcare, access to education, and higher standards of living. But STEM fields are also key to dealing with the revolution’s potential downsides, such as climate change, cyberwarfare and the reorientation of job sectors, to name but a few. So it is imperative that women reap the benefits and are involved finding solutions.

Fancy, man, fancy:

Brand-new. Custom-made. Solar-powered. Brightly colored. Classic Victorian design. Location, location, location — conveniently situated in downtown San Francisco.

We’re referring, of course, to the latest addition to the city’s fleet of public toilets.

San Francisco rolled out its new “Painted Lady” toilet model this week. And we mean literally rolled out — the toilet is part of the city’s Pit Stop fleet of mobile, fully staffed public toilet facilities.

Honestly, we’re sharing this story because the news has been draining lately — a lot of us are wiped out. A brightly colored, high-tech port-a-potty that apes an ornately embellished house? We couldn’t hold in our delight.

But these fancified loos are also part of a serious story about public health and human dignity.

 

I’m not sure if that’s fancy or what:

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finnish bakery and food service company Fazer launched on Thursday what it said was the world’s first insect-based bread to be offered to consumers in stores.

The bread, made from flour ground from dried crickets as well as wheat flour and seeds, contains more protein than normal wheat bread. Each loaf contains about 70 crickets and costs 3.99 euros ($4.72), compared with 2 to 3 euros for a regular wheat loaf.

“It offers consumers with a good protein source and also gives them an easy way to familiarize themselves with insect-based food,” said Juhani Sibakov, head of innovation at Fazer Bakeries.

The demand to find more food sources and a desire to treat animals more humanely have raised interest in using insects as a protein source in several Western countries.

In November, Finland joined five other European countries – Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Denmark – in allowing insects to be raised and marketed for food use.

Sibakov said Fazer had developed the bread since last summer. It had to wait for legislation to be passed in Finland for the launch.

I’m all for it:

YORK, Pa. —  It’s 2:00 on a Thursday afternoon in November — a school day. Right on schedule,18 elementary school students come running: They’re heading to church.

They’re among more than 3,000 students in Pennsylvania who participate in a “released time” program run by Joy El Ministries.

“Released time” is a legal way for students to voluntarily receive religious education during the school week. It has to happen outside the school building. It’s limited to 36 hours per school year by Pennsylvania law. Students need their parents’ approval. And they need to make up any work they miss.

Joy El’s program started in Franklin County, and has grown to 27 school districts in nine counties. They offer programs for students in grades 3 through 8 and are among several organizations that offer released time programs in Pennsylvania.

At one elementary school in Fulton County, participation rates among students have been as high as 100%, said Aaron Ziebarth, executive director of Joy El.

Smalltown Switzerland:

GENEVA — The Alpine hamlet of Albinen is so desperate for new residents that it has voted to offer $70,000 for a family of four to settle in the southern Swiss community.

In the first referendum of its kind, 100 of Albinen’s 248 residents showed up to vote Thursday, and 71 approved a proposal to pay $25,000 to each adult and $10,000 per child to live in their picturesque village.

The goal, according to the community’s website, is to boost Albinen’s declining population and “bring life back to the village.”

To qualify for the bounty, candidates must be younger than 45, Swiss citizens or permanent residents and be willing to buy or build a house that costs at least $200,000. They also must commit to living in Albinen at least a decade. If they leave earlier, they would have to refund the money.

The village council will set aside $100,000 a year to fund the project.

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