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5 reasons why Friendsgiving is secretly the best fall holiday there is.

Friends are your family by choice. You should celebrate them.

You've heard of Friendsgiving, right?

That's Friendsgiving (not to be confused with America's day of giving thanks or that one time you and your friends gathered to watch every single Thanksgiving episode of "Friends"). Photo via iStock.


As the name implies, Friendsgiving is just like Thanksgiving only celebrated with friends, not family. I'm a sucker for celebrations that involve food and friends, and any day that lets me celebrate both at once, so Friendsgiving is one of my favorite holidays (although — yes, Mom — I definitely love Thanksgiving, too).

But because Friendsgiving often gets overlooked, here are five reasons you should celebrate Friendsgiving too:

1. Friendsgiving fills a void for people who'd rather not spend the holiday with family.

Thanksgiving can be a very stressful, anxiety-inducing day. Many people have complicated family relationships and issues they're not ready to discuss with a table of people. And for some of us, those messy family dynamics are a deal-breaker (and rightfully so).

Photo via iStock.

For, say, an LGBTQ person whose parents aren't fully accepting or someone dating a person of a different race who has ... let's go with "old school" (*cough* racist *cough*) ... family members, Thanksgiving can be nothing short of a painful affair. So it makes sense that they'd want to skip it altogether.

But Friendsgiving? Much different. You're with the family you choose.

As Kat Kinsman wrote for CNN's Eatocracy in 2013, friends are just easier:

"We picked each other. ... We each know how to make ourselves happy, and are eager to share these best and brightest parts of ourselves, whether they're traditional dishes, blessings, stories and rituals, or something that struck our fancy this year that we're eager to give."

2. Friendsgiving is for eating whatever foods you want. And its usually done potluck-style.

Alfredo pizza fan? Go for it. Pad thai with shrimp? YES. Dessert first? Why not?

If you're not the meat-and-potatoes type that salivates over a more conventional Thanksgiving meal, Friendsgiving might be for you. Mix it up with your friends. Add variety to the table. Live a little! If you ask me, it's easier to swap in new dishes with trusting buddies than to convince Uncle Pat there's nothing to fear about chicken curry.

Photo via iStock.

And here's where your kitchen-savvy friends come in. Because with Friendsgiving, everyone brings their culinary A-game. (And bonus points if your friends come from various backgrounds and have different cultures/traditions/unique takes on the holidays to share.)

Sure, some families already do this for Thanksgiving and divvy up food responsibilities. But with Friendsgiving, it's the standard. Jessica Ferri, a Brooklyn-based writer who's hosted Friendsgiving since 2009 with her husband, says it's part what of makes the day so special.

"I really love that it gets all my friends cooking," she told Upworthy, noting that as host, she takes on the turkey every year, but friends bring plenty of other dishes. "Some of [my friends] are incredible cooks."

This is evidence of Jessica's Friendsgiving. Take me there. Now. Photo courtesy of Jessica Ferri, used with permission.

This way, there's not just one person in the kitchen who's overly stressed, sweating and panting (and possibly setting things on fire), like poor Mrs. Doubtfire.

3. Choosing Friendsgiving over Thanksgiving means more money in your already thin wallet (and less relatives to *make note* of that thin wallet, too).

Nearly 47 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. When you figure in gas, airfare, and/or potential hotel stays, it can mean one seriously wounded bank account. (And you still have Hanukkah gifts to buy!)

Photo via iStock.

If you're software consultant Justin Patterson, you might skip the travel altogether because it's just not worth it.

"Thanksgiving can be stressful," he told Upworthy. He's hosting his fourth annual Friendsgiving this year down in Austin, Texas, and says each one just keeps getting "bigger and better."

"Traveling to visit family, dealing with flights [and] traffic, and all of the B.S. that goes along with it can really put a damper on the holiday. With Friendsgiving, it's all about de-stress and relaxation."

If you care about saving money — because it may not be growing on the trees in your neighborhood these days (I've been there) — it's nice to have understanding friends to spend the holiday with, many of whom may be in the same financial boat. And, as noted up in item #1, sometimes family members aren't the most supportive people in the world, and that can reflect in how they view your financial situation too (which, of course, is none of their business in the first place, but you know ... #family).

4. You can celebrate Friendsgiving whenever you want.

Thanksgiving day is pretty official — like, on the federal calendar official. And sure, Friendsgiving can be a direct replacement for Thanksgiving, but it doesn't have to be. Pick a day, any day, and make it happen — as many times (with as many groups of friends) as you want!

Friendsgiving's date flexibility is perfect for, say, a working single parent trying to make ends meet by picking up extra shifts around the holidays or a young person who might have to work Thanksgiving day or (ridiculously) early the next morning.

Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images.

So for someone who doesn't have the concrete 9-5, paid-time-off work life, Friendsgiving's flexibility is a terrific option for the holiday.

But just to be clear: Spending a Thanksgiving with friends doesn't necessarily mean it isn't a real Thanksgiving (as some have argued). I see that point, but here's what I say to that: Not all Thanksgivings are Friendsgivings, but every Friendsgiving can be a Thanksgiving, if you want it to be.

If you're celebrating with friends on Thanksgiving Day and want to call it Thanksgiving, go for it. If you're celebrating with friends on Thanksgiving Day and want to call it Friendsgiving, that works too. But if you're celebrating with family on Thanksgiving ... it's probably weird if you call that Friendsgiving.

5. For those of us who do sign up for a familial Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving gives us another day to celebrate friendship. Because that's important!

As detailed in #1, many people opt out of the traditional Thanksgiving festivities because of (big) problematic family dynamics. But that doesn't mean everyone who chooses to celebrate Thanksgiving is in for a day of pure family bliss.

Photo via iStock.

It's actually fairly normal to feel anxious about the day for a number of reasons. Here are a few that might sound familiar...

  1. You know combative Aunt Ruth will somehow find a way to bring up how climate change isn't real. And, knowing you think differently, she'll certainly find a way to bring you into the conversation.
  2. Your dad worked as a [insert standard corporate job title] for 40 years, and you're a [insert new-age-y digital job title], and he just doesn't get it. So he makes jabs at your work (and thus, you) while passing the gravy.
  3. You know your brother-in-law will crack a Caitlyn Jenner "joke," and you'll undoubtedly ponder the "Is it worth the fight?" question in your head for the next half-hour.
  4. Your grandma's wi-fi broke, and you'll definitely be the one your family volunteers to fix it.

Don't get me wrong — family time can be wonderful. But for those of us who spend half of Thanksgiving Day feeling #blessed because we have the "best family in the world" and the other half trying not to lash out at mom because her narcissism is showing, an additional Friendsgiving holiday can be the perfect November stress-reliever.

After all, friendships are vital — it's important we prioritize our non-blood-related family during the holidays, too.

Friendsgiving may seem like a fluffy pseudo-holiday reserved only for millennials and Instagram.

But it actually does make a big difference to many people. If you feel like you could benefit from a no-stress, affordable, potluck pig-out day of giving thanks with your friends (and who couldn't?), I certainly recommend giving it a try.

Image from Pixabay.

Under the sea...

True
The Wilderness Society


You're probably familiar with the literary classic "Moby-Dick."

But in case you're not, here's the gist: Moby Dick is the name of a huge albino sperm whale.

(Get your mind outta the gutter.)


There's this dude named Captain Ahab who really really hates the whale, and he goes absolutely bonkers in his quest to hunt and kill it, and then everything is awful and we all die unsatisfied with our shared sad existence and — oops, spoilers!


OK, technically, the narrator Ishmael survives. So it's actually a happy ending (kind of)!

whales, Moby Dick, poaching endangered species

Illustration from an early edition of Moby-Dick

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Basically, it's a famous book about revenge and obsession that was published back in 1851, and it's really, really long.

It's chock-full of beautiful passages and dense symbolism and deep thematic resonance and all those good things that earned it a top spot in the musty canon of important literature.

There's also a lot of mundane descriptions about the whaling trade as well (like, a lot). That's because it came out back when commercial whaling was still a thing we did.

conservation, ocean water conservation

A non-albino mother and baby sperm whale.

Photo by Gabriel Barathieu/Wikipedia.

In fact, humans used to hunt more than 50,000 whales each year to use for oil, meat, baleen, and oil. (Yes, I wrote oil twice.) Then, in 1946, the International Whaling Commission stepped in and said "Hey, wait a minute, guys. There's only a few handful of these majestic creatures left in the entire world, so maybe we should try to not kill them anymore?"

And even then, commercial whaling was still legal in some parts of the world until as recently as 1986.

International Whaling Commission, harpoons

Tail in the water.

Whale's tail pale ale GIF via GoPro/YouTube

And yet by some miracle, there are whales who were born before "Moby-Dick" was published that are still alive today.

What are the odds of that? Honestly it's hard to calculate since we can't exactly swim up to a bowhead and say, "Hey, how old are you?" and expect a response. (Also that's a rude question — jeez.)

Thanks to some thoughtful collaboration between researchers and traditional Inupiat whalers (who are still allowed to hunt for survival), scientists have used amino acids in the eyes of whales and harpoon fragments lodged in their carcasses to determine the age of these enormous animals — and they found at least three bowhead whales who were living prior to 1850.

Granted those are bowheads, not sperm whales like the fictional Moby Dick, (and none of them are albino, I think), but still. Pretty amazing, huh?

whale blubber, blue whales, extinction

This bowhead is presumably in adolescence, given its apparent underwater moping.

GIF via National Geographic.

This is a particularly remarkable feat considering that the entire species was dwindling near extinction.

Barring these few centenarian leviathans, most of the whales still kickin' it today are between 20 and 70 years old. That's because most whale populations were reduced to 10% or less of their numbers between the 18th and 20th centuries, thanks to a few over-eager hunters (and by a few, I mean all of them).

Today, sperm whales are considered one of the most populous species of massive marine mammals; bowheads, on the other hand, are still in trouble, despite a 20% increase in population since the mid-1980s. Makes those few elderly bowheads that much more impressive, huh?

population, Arctic, Great Australian Blight

Southern Right Whales hangin' with a paddleboarder in the Great Australian Bight.

GIF via Jaimen Hudson.

Unfortunately, just as things are looking up, these wonderful whales are in trouble once again.

We might not need to worry our real-life Captain Ahabs anymore, but our big aquatic buddies are still being threatened by industrialization — namely, from oil drilling in the Arctic and the Great Australian Bight.

In the off-chance that companies like Shell and BP manage not to spill millions of gallons of harmful crude oil into the water, the act of drilling alone is likely to maim or kill millions of animals, and the supposedly-safer sonic blasting will blow out their eardrums or worse.

This influx of industrialization also affects their migratory patterns — threatening not only the humans who depend on them, but also the entire marine ecosystem.

And I mean, c'mon — who would want to hurt this adorable face?

social responsibility, nature, extinction

BOOP.

Image from Pixabay.

Whales might be large and long-living. But they still need our help to survive.

If you want another whale to make it to his two-hundred-and-eleventy-first birthday (which you should because I hear they throw great parties), then sign this petition to protect the waters from Big Oil and other industrial threats.

I guarantee Moby Dick will appreciate it.


This article originally appeared on 11.04.15

Identity

Do you have a 'gay voice'? Here's how to tell.

Have you ever wondered if you have a “gay voice”?

Photo pulled from YouTube trailer "Do I sound gay?"

For anyone who's wondering if they have a gay voice and what that actually means.

This article originally appeared on June 5, 2015


Have you ever wondered if you have a “gay voice”?

If you're anything like me, the answer is yes. Many times.

For anyone who’s laid awake wondering if your voice is just as gay as you are, I've created a rigorous test for you to finally get some answers. Follow the chart below to see if you, in fact, sound like a homosexual. ***(Image needs to pulled from Robbie Couch who wrote the article.)


Temporary pic pulled as a place holder

Temporary pic pulled as a place holder******

Yes, that's correct: You do not have a "gay voice" — because a "gay voice" is not really a thing.

Unlike humans, voices do not identify as certain genders or sexual orientations. They're just ... sounds. (Crazy, I know!)

Stereotypes about what LGBTQ people sound like lead some to think their gay-dar can accurately sniff out queer folks in a crowd based on voices alone. However, research shows we actually do a pretty poor job at guessing another person's sexual orientation solely using our ears.

Even if we do wear our queerness on the tips of our tongues, though, why should it matter?

Some LGBTQ people fret over their voice, fearful their queerness is on display every time they speak. And that concern is understandable. Sometimes, it's not a matter of accepting yourself, but a matter of survival: When your voice outs you as an "other" in an environment that's hostile toward gay, transgender, or otherwise queer people, personal safety becomes a priority.

“A lot of gay men are self-conscious about sounding gay because we were persecuted for that when we were young," LGBTQ activist and media personality Dan Savage said in the 2014 documentary "Do I Sound Gay?"

CNN's Don Lemon, who is openly gay, also chimed in on the topic. Has he ever felt insecure about "sounding gay"? “I’d have to say, if I told you ‘no,’ I’d be lying," Lemon admitted in the documentary.

But we should never let a bully's bigotry convince us our voices should be silenced. You sound perfect the way you are, honey — and don't you forget it.

Checking out the documentary "Do I Sound Gay?", available on multiple streaming platforms. Here's a look at the trailer:

This article was written by Robbie Couch and originally appeared on 11.5.15

Joy

Pet cockatiel is obsessed with singing 'September' by Earth, Wind and Fire

Kiki remembers the 21st night of September ALL. THE. TIME. and it's actually quite impressive.

Representative hoto by Saqib Iqbal Digital on Unsplash

Apparently, "September" is all the rage with cockatiels.

“Do you remember…the 21st night of September?” has been one of the most iconic song openings of the past 45 years, as the R&B hit by Earth, Wind and Fire perpetually serves as a catchy favorite for dance clubs, movie scenes and TikTok clips alike.

However, "September" has also gained wild popularity among an unlikely group—pet cockatiels.


One cockatiel in particular has taken a shining to the song to the point of obsession, to the combined delight and chagrin of his owner. You see, Kiki doesn’t just like listening to the song, he sings and dances to it. Loudly. Over and over. At uncomfortable hours of the morning.

Kiki’s owner has shared multiple examples of her pet bird reveling in his favorite song, and it’s hilarious every time.

Watch:

@kiki.tiel

Send help plz wheres the off button on parrot #fyp #foryou #bird #cockatiel #parrotsoftiktok #birdsoftiktok

"Kiki…it's 7 o'clock in the morning…" Yeah, Kiki does not care. Kiki is feelin' the groove.

This isn't just a one-off and it's also not just a random song. Here we can see that Kiki recognizes it and sings it when his owner plays it. (Just after pooing on her leg—the reality of having a bird, in case these videos make you want one).

@kiki.tiel

Babywipes handy at all hours 🫡 #bird #cockatiel #fyp #foryou #september #parrot

But Kiki doesn't even need anyone else around in order to sing his favorite song. Here he is singing and dancing all by himself when his owner left the room and left her camera running to see what he would do.

@kiki.tiel

Partying without me :( #cockatielsoftiktok #birds #fyp #for you

As cute and hilarious as this is, it surely gets old after a while, right? It's one thing to watch in a video—it's got to be entirely another to hear it all the time at home.

It's also not just a Kiki quirk. Apparently, "September" is a "thing" among cockatiels. Other cockatiels have been known to love it and sing it, though not quite as well as Kiki does.

Someone on Reddit asked why so many cockatiels love the song—one person even said it was basically the cockatiel national anthem at this point. No one knows exactly why, but this explanation by Reddit user nattiecakes is as good an explanation as any:

"Yeah, cockatiels genuinely like the song in a way they don’t universally take to many other songs. My cockatiel is 17 and early in life basically seemed to max out his harddrive space learning a little bit of La Cucaracha, The Flintstones theme, the phrase 'pretty bird,' and this horrible alarm clock sound that is similar to the hungry baby cockatiel sound. We thought we could not get him to learn anything else because they do have some limits.

Then 'September' came. Every cockatiel loved it. We decided to see if our cockatiel loved it.

I sh*t y’all not, within a DAY he whistled the first three notes, which is really all that matters. He hasn’t been able to learn more, but he loves it.

Now our African grey whistles it to him constantly. He used to reliably whistle La Cucaracha to our cockatiel when our cockatiel would get angry and upset, and our cockatiel would start singing instead and forget he’d been upset. But almost immediately our grey switched to using 'September' 90% of the time. Like, it’s so plain even to our grey that 'September' is the song to unlock a cockatiel’s better nature. I think the grey likes it a lot too, but he has many other songs he likes better.

As for why cockatiels like this song so much… all I can guess is it really resonates with their cheery vibe. I think the inside of a cockatiel’s mind is usually like a disco."

Rock on, Kiki. Just maybe not so early in the morning.

Identity

High school girl’s response to ‘Ugly Girls’ poll inspires positive reaction

This brave high school student stood up to her school’s cyberbullies.

Lynelle Cantwell/Facebook.

Lynelle Cantwell had a response on her own Facebook page.

Lynelle Cantwell is in 12th grade at Holy Trinity High School in Torbay, Newfoundland and Labrador (that's Canada).

On Monday, she found out that she had been featured on another student's anonymous online poll entitled "Ugly Girls in Grade 12," along with several other classmates.


Cantwell responded via Facebook with her own message, which has already been shared more than 2,000 times and counting.

cyber bullying, bullies, kindness

The unkind poll.

Lynelle Cantwell/Facebook.

Take a look:

bullying, brave response, community support

“Just because we don’t look perfect on the outside does not mean we are ugly.” - Lynelle Cantwell.

Lynelle Cantwell/Facebook.

Since posting her brave response on Facebook, more people have come out to show support than people who voted in the first place.

Check out some of the responses:

appreciation, confidence, self esteem, love and support

Some responses to her post.

Lynelle Cantwell/Facebook.

The School District of Newfoundland and Labrador has announced that it will be looking into the incident further. For Cantwell, the positive outpouring of love and support vastly outweighs the initial cyberbullying and is raising her confidence in new ways.


This article originally appeared on 08.20.17

Health

Artists got fed up with these 'anti-homeless spikes.' So they made them a bit more ... comfy.

"Our moral compass is skewed if we think things like this are acceptable."

Photo courtesy of CC BY-ND, Immo Klink and Marco Godoy

Spikes line the concrete to prevent sleeping.


These are called "anti-homeless spikes." They're about as friendly as they sound.

As you may have guessed, they're intended to deter people who are homeless from sitting or sleeping on that concrete step. And yeah, they're pretty awful.

The spikes are a prime example of how cities design spaces to keep homeless people away.


Not all concrete steps have spikes on them, but outdoor seating in cities like Montreal and Tokyo have been sneakily designed to prevent people from resting too comfortably for too long.

This guy sawing through a bench was part of a 2006 protest in Toulouse, France, where public seating intentionally included armrests to prevent people from lying down.

Of course, these designs do nothing to fight the cause or problem of homelessness. They're just a way of saying to homeless people, "Go somewhere else. We don't want to look at you,"basically.

One particular set of spikes was outside a former night club in London. And a local group got sick of staring at them.

Leah Borromeo is part of the art collective "Space, Not Spikes" — a group that's fed up with what she describes as "hostile architecture."

"Spikes do nothing more than shoo the realities of poverty and inequality away from your backyard — so you don't have to see it or confront what you can do to make things more equal," Borromeo told Upworthy. "And that is really selfish."

"Our moral compass is skewed if we think things like this are acceptable."

charity, social consciousness, artist

A bed covers up spikes on the concrete.

assets.rebelmouse.io

The move by Space, Not Spikes has caused quite a stir in London and around the world. The simple but impactful idea even garnered support from music artist Ellie Goulding.

"That was amazing, wasn't it?" Borromeo said of Goulding's shout-out on Instagram.

books, philanthropy, capitalism

Artist's puppy books and home comforts.

assets.rebelmouse.io

"[The project has] definitely touched a nerve and I think it is because, as a whole, humans will still look out for each other," Borromeo told Upworthy. "Capitalism and greed conditions us to look out for ourselves and negate the welfare of others, but ultimately, I think we're actually really kind."

"We need to call out injustice and hypocrisy when we see it."
anti-homeless laws, legislation, panhandling

A message to offer support in contrast with current anti-homeless laws.

assets.rebelmouse.io

These spikes may be in London, but the U.S. definitely has its fair share of anti-homeless sentiment, too.

Spikes are pretty obvious — they're a visual reminder of a problem many cities are trying to ignore. But what we can't see on the street is the rise of anti-homeless laws that have cropped up from sea to shining sea.

Legislation that targets homeless people — like bans on panhandling and prohibiting people from sleeping in cars — has increased significantly in recent years.

For instance, a report by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty that analyzed 187 American cities found that there's been a 43% hike in citywide bans on sitting or lying down in certain spaces since 2011.

Thankfully, groups like "Space, Not Spikes" are out there changing hearts and minds. But they need our help.

The group created a video to complement its work and Borromeo's hoping its positive underlying message will motivate people to do better.

"[The world] won't always be happy-clappy because positive social change needs constructive conflict and debate," she explained. "But we need to call out injustice and hypocrisy when we see it."

Check out their video below:

This article originally appeared on 07.24.15