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The Grand Canyon. The Rocky Mountains. The Great Lakes. Many of the names of our American natural wonders are ... a little on the nose.

To be fair, back in the day when people were exploring 3.8 million square miles of largely uncharted territory, literally circling the wagons to brainstorm the name of a random mountain or lake probably got old fast. “Well, they’re pretty rocky, ain’t they? Rocky Mountains — boom. Done.”

But in this vast, amazingly diverse land we call the United States, there are still lots of pretty damn strange names of natural features that might make you say, “Hm, maybe I should go to that pretty place with the funny name.”


As an avid hiker and fan of our national parks, here are a few of my favorite of those pretty places with funny names — and some that are still on my list of places to go.

1. Bumpass Hell, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Bumpus Hell: when the neighbor's hounds eat all your turkey.

GIF via "A Christmas Story."

Bumpass Hell, on the other hand, is something very different.

Bubbling mud pots. Colorful steaming pools. Overwhelming stench of rotten egg. Lassen Volcanic National Park in the northern Sierra Nevada is Yellowstone's lesser-known cousin. Its biggest area of thermal features has a name that would make Sir Mix-a-lot proud: Bumpass Hell.

It gets its moniker from Kendall Vanhook Bumpass, an ill-fated late-1800s settler who fell into one of its boiling mud pits, severely burning his leg, which is one way to enshrine your name in history, I guess.

Today, you can avoid Bumpass’ fate by exploring the stinky-but-surreal area from the safety of sturdy, carefully placed boardwalks.

2. Big Bone Lick State Park, Kentucky

Whoever decided to put a sign for this park on the freeway clearly didn't have the best interests of teenage boys in mind. We may never know how many ounces of Mountain Dew were lost to the limitless guffaws this name has caused over the years.

Putting aside the adolescent yuks, Big Bone Lick is still just a weird name. Contrary to how it sounds, this place was not named for licking any kind of bones. It’s the site of an ancient salt lick — mineral deposits where mammoths, mastodons, and other large animals fed and died, leaving their big bones for William Lewis (of Lewis and Clark fame) to dig up.

Ha-ha-ha, Big Bone Lick.

3. Unalaska Island, Alaska

Is this an oxymoron? Actually, no. Despite its name, this island is, in fact, in Alaska — in the 1,200-mile-long Aleutian archipelago, to be exact.

Unalaska doesn't mean un-Alaska — it's more along the lines of “near Alaska.” The word “Alaska” goes back to Russian colonial times, when it referred to the mainland of, yep, you guessed it: Alaska. “Unalaska” is thought to be a combination of Russian and the Aleut indigenous language meaning “near the mainland.” And while Unalaska may be hundreds of miles off the coast of mainland Alaska, that’s just a little jaunt in Alaska terms.

3. Grand Tetons, Wyoming

The Grand Teton mountains are just ridiculously beautiful.

Yeah. Photo via tpsdave/Pixabay.

Early French trappers thought so too. So much so that these wondrous peaks reminded them of other beautiful things from back home when they first laid eyes on them. Legend has it that these early Francophonersnamed the peaks Les Trois Tetons — The Three Teats (or The Three Breasts).

Devil's advocate: These dudes were probably super homesick and lonely, like ancient mariners who imagined mermaids on long voyages.

Or, they were just French.

4. Dolly Sods, West Virginia

Finally, a national park covered in neatly manicured Bermuda grass! ... OK, not quite.

The strange name derives from an 18th-century German homesteading family — the Dahles — and a local term for an open mountaintop meadow — a "sods." The wilderness area is also full of sphagnum (peat moss) bogs due to its unique terrain and ecosystem.

It's gorgeous to look at — just watch where you step.

5. Mount Fairweather, Alaska

This 15,325-foot peak that sits on the border between Alaska and British Columbia has “the unofficial distinction of the worst-named mountain on earth” — as it actually has terrible weather.

Margerie Glacier and Mount Fairweather during some fair weather. Image via Eric E Castro/Wikimedia Commons.

Its moniker wasn’t given ironically, though: Legendary explorer Capt. James Cook supposedly named Mount Fairweather from the comfort of his ship offshore in 1778 during a rare period of clear skies.

The rare badass who's climbed it would likely say otherwise.

6. Donner Lake and Donner Pass, California

They say fortune favors the bold. "They" are wrong, at least sometimes. Fortune certainly didn't favor the bold but ill-fated Donner Party in 1846.

California-bound, the Donner Party group of settlers gambled on a newly discovered shortcut through the Sierra Nevada, past what was then called Truckee Lake. They hit a wall of early snow at the pass and ended up stranded for months in the freezing cold. They soon ran out of food and, faced with starvation, eventually resorted to cannibalism. Rescuers finally reached the camp in late February, leading about half of the original 87 members of the party to safety.

Donner Lake from Donner Pass. Image via Frank Schulenburg/Wikimedia Commons.

Today, busy Interstate 80 traverses the pass between Sacramento and Reno. Take a moment on your drive to pull off at the gorgeous Donner Lake viewpoint, remember this grisly bit of history, and give thanks for your warm bed and three squares a day.

7. Pando, aka Trembling Giant, Utah

This natural feature is unique on this list: It’s a living thing — an 80,000-year-old living thing. Formerly thought to be largest living thing in the world (the actual largest living thing in the world is now thought to be a humongous fungus in Oregon), Pando is a massive grove of 47,000 quaking aspens in Utah that are all one life-form. The trees are genetically identical and all grow from the same root system. Wild.

Unfortunately, Pando isn’t doing so well. Overgrazing by deer and cattle is killing its young trees, which could lead to full collapse of the organism. Scientists, heroes that they are, are of course trying to save it.

8. Delmarva Peninsula

How do you name a peninsula shared between three different states? You combine their names, of course! The 170-mile-long Delmarva Peninsula, which forms the east side of the Chesapeake Bay, owes its name to the combination of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, all of which have a foothold on the landmass. Presumably, Virginia goes last because its sliver is the smallest. Hey, fair is fair.

Image via Planiglobe/Wikimedia Commons (altered).

9. Denali, Alaska

Denali. The stuff of legends. The highest peak in North America, at a staggering 20,310 feet.

Photo via skeeze/Pixabay.

Located in the eponymous national park in Alaska, this peak was recently in the news for a name change — or, more accurately, a name reversion. The word "Denali" means "the high one" in the local native Athabaskan language. What a perfect name, right? But as per usual, back in the day some greedy white dude mucked everything up by renaming it after newly elected President William McKinley, who these days is mostly known for being assassinated and succeeded by Teddy Roosevelt (sorry, Billy).

The national park was also called McKinley from 1917 to 1980. It was renamed Denali when it was combined with Denali National Monument. At that time, the Alaska state Board of Geographic Names also restored the mountain’s original name, but the U.S. Board on Geographic Names did not recognize it until President Obama put an end to all that last year, restoring it to its rightful name: Denali.

No word yet on whether President Trump will re-revert it to Mount McKinley. Or, knowing him, Mount Trump.

10. Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, California

Sometimes, one generation's trash makes another's paradise.

This beautiful beach is covered in litter. Seriously — it’s strewn with glass from a former city dump site. But the powerful California surf has shaped and polished millions of small shards into smooth pebbles, to colorful effect. (The red ones are old taillights.)

In a twist of irony, the glass at Glass Beach — which, again, is trash — is now protected by the California state parks as a “cultural feature,” which means you can’t remove any garbage from the beach.

Some of these places may sound made up, but they're very real, and they only begin to scratch the surface of what America has to offer.

If you're looking for a breath of fresh air and need something a little more novel than yet another trip to the Grand Canyon, give some of these breathtaking locales a try.

But a quick warning: Like many of Earth's greatest treasures, a few of these spots are in danger from climate change and other forms of human impact. (Glass Beach is basically made of garbage, for cryin' out loud.)

Visit them while you can — or, at the very least, let those catchy names be a constant reminder to always, always act in service of the planet.

All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


At 1:30 am on Monday morning an AMBER Alert went out in southern Louisiana about a missing 10-year-old girl from New Iberia. It was believed she had been kidnapped and driven away in a 2012 silver Nissan Altima.

A few hours later at 7 am, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, sanitation workers for Pelican Waste, were on their daily route when they noticed a vehicle that fit the description in the alert.

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As the saying goes, "You have to kiss a few frogs..."

Dating has certainly evolved over the years—we’ve gone from courtship being purely a financial arrangement (not that this trend has ever truly died) to knights jousting for a lady’s favor, to casual hookups … and now, romance is primarily found through an app more than anything else.

Technology used for meeting that special someone has become so advanced that you can base your search entirely upon specific interests. Like … oddly specific interests. Think a fellow cat person would be the purrfect match? There’s an app for that. Wish to “love long and prosper” with a fellow Trekkie? There’s an app for that too.

No matter the changes, one thing remains the same—dating is awkward. It’s got all the unspoken formalities of a job interview, disguised as innocent fun. The balance between playing it too cool and too eager is hard to find even for the smoothest among us, and usually results in total embarrassment. Even if we aren’t the ones committing those embarrassing acts ourselves, we are often the reluctant witness to them.

Terrible dates might not always be fun in the moment, but they can be just as important as the good ones. They can teach us a lot about ourselves and what qualities we want in a partner. And at the very least, they can teach us to embrace social clumsiness with a sense of humor.

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share a “funny or embarrassing first date story” for his ever popular #Hashtags segment. The best part—some of these awful first dates ended in marriage. There’s hope for us all.

Below, find 15 stories that are truly the best of the worst. How do some of your first dates compare?

1. "After a nice dinner, she invited me to her house. On the way up, inside the elevator, I decided to push the button to stop between floors and give her a kiss... She had a phobia of closed spaces and she smacked my face as a reflex, two punches after we were kissing and laughing.” – @PanqueAlgarvio

2. “His jeans were so tight he couldn’t sit down. Stood at a bar stool the whole time.” – @onlyintheozarks

3. “Waiting 4 my date when an older couple asked me for a ride. my date came up and said sure! We drove them home & they asked us to come in. Date said “sure”. I pulled him back & asked why he wanted to hang w/strangers. He said ‘sh@t! YOU DON'T KNOW THEM!?’ We bolted!” – @natashaham75

facebook dating

Talk about a fashion faux pas.

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4. “Before the date, we had been chatting about books we liked and I talked about a great book I just read. We went on the date. I loaned her the book. She ghosted me.” – @thenextbarstool

5. “The worst first date I ever had was when my date locked his keys in the car and I had a curfew so he had to break his car window out to get me home on time. Didn’t think I’d ever see him again but we wound up married.” – @csleblan

6. “First date movie ‘Basic Instinct’ not realizing how suggestive it was. We just thought it was a mystery thriller! We left the movie discussing how each character could have actually murdered someone. We're married now.” – @Southrnbell_Amy

black people meet

There are worse first date movies tbh.

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7. “First date with my ex husband was a double date with his parents. The preview for ‘Speed Racer’ came on, and she leaned over me to say to her son, ‘You know what your dad's nickname in the bedroom is?’" – @theostoria

8. “A friend asked me on a double date as a blind date with his date's friend. I went to the bathroom and came back just in time to hear my date say to her friend, ‘why do I get the ugly one?’ I said good night to all three and headed home, leaving her w/the bill.” – @StevenTrustum

9. “He loved cheese. I was subjected to a 2 hour conversation/lecture about cheese, and why cottage cheese is not cheese!” – @Optimist_Eeyore

bumble

I'd like to see this two-hour cheese lecture.

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10. “He took me to an Asian fish market. We walked around looking at live & dead fish for a while. I don’t like seeing dead animals & I don’t eat seafood. Then we sat on a curb & he pulled out a ziplock bag of pineapple for us to share. I don’t like pineapple.” – @markayhali

11. “My cousin set up a first date for me with a family friend. During a break from dinner, Mr. Man follows me into the ladies’ room, comes up close and says in a low voice, ‘I shave my butt.’ Can’t remember what I said in response but the evening ended abruptly.” – @carli_zarzana

12. “I once took out my high school crush to a sports bar and ordered the spiciest wings there in an attempt to impress her. Not only was she not impressed. The next morning I woke up with heartburn.” –@Dmonster38

tindr conversation starters

Talk about a hot date.

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13. “My date showed up with his bestie and girlfriend, and they talked through dinner about people I don’t know. Walking to the car, he gave me a wedgie because he thought he hadn’t been paying enough attention to me.” – @surrealDazey


14. “I was taking my date home and was pulled over by the police for speeding. When the cop came to my car, she jumped out and told him she had to get home. She walked home and I never heard from her again. I'm not sure who's #WorstFirstDate it was mine or hers!” – @eastriverbear

15. “After an evening of dancing with a first date, leaving the dance hall, I had to take a quick pee break. Rushing out to the parking lot, I see a lady, I grab her and swoop her around, and plant a big wet kiss on the lips. She was another guy's wife. Oops!” – @seadogskamore

date you

Only Gomez could have gotten away with it.

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