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A letter to my grandpa and other fathers of the fatherless.

Know that you simply cannot ever know how much you’re doing just by being around.

fathers, friends, family, mentors, role models, community

Being a mentor has incredible value to the mentee.

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Fathers Everywhere

We almost bit it, right there on a Minnesota gravel road.

My grandpa had taken me out for a summer afternoon ride on his motorcycle, a Honda, and it had been a wonderful excursion of warm, sunny freedom. I enjoyed the wind rushing past me, how strangely heavy my head felt on top of my neck with the helmet around it, and feeling like one mass moving in unison: me, my grandpa, and the motorcycle.

I was 12, and I’d been going for motorcycle rides with him since I was little, at first in sidecars, and later on (I don’t remember the exact age), on the actual bike. It was always a little scary, but I’d beaten back thoughts of trepidation many times, and nothing bad had ever come of those rides.


I don’t think we were headed anywhere in particular that day. We were just enjoying being alive.

But something happened on the gravel road. I still don’t know what it was. It wasn’t a curve in the road or anything jumping out in front of us, but something just gave way in the dusty gravel beneath the tires and the bike got all swervy. It tilted for just a second or two, and then grandpa got it under control again. We were fine. We were alive.

But I think it scared him more than he let on. We took the truck everywhere for the next couple of weeks.

We were spending the summer together in Backus, Minnesota, that year.

We lived in southeastern Wisconsin — he and my grandmother, a few of my youngest aunts, and my little cousin — in the house he built while he worked at American Motors. But he was retired by that summer, and he liked to go up to his little plot of land in Minnesota from time to time to get away.

My grandpa.

During this particular summer, my grandma put my aunt in the driver’s seat of her trusty car, packed me and my little cousin and my two other aunts in with her, and sent us off to surprise my grandpa in Minnesota during his alone time. Truth be told, I’m pretty sure she thought he had a woman on the side and wanted us to either catch him at something and report back or just throw a wrench in his enjoyment.

We didn’t catch him at anything. We got there, and he was surprised but happy to see us. We all stayed in the trailer he had on the little plot of land. We tucked away in various bedrooms and sleeper sofas, and we spent a week there with him.

I was having so much fun that when the week was up, I didn’t want to go home with my aunts and cousin. If we’d cramped his style at all, he certainly set it aside because he had no qualms about me staying there with him for the rest of the summer.

It’s an amazing feeling, to be welcomed as part of someone’s “alone” time.

For someone you really like being around to basically say, “I can have you around and still be alone.”

To this day, I still feel like that’s the best kind of companionship (and it’s the same kind I enjoy with my kids, too).

We played cribbage and war at a round maple table in the trailer kitchen that summer, a table sometimes covered with crumbs from saltines or ashes from his cigarettes.

I’d pull ticks out of the dog and we’d snuff them out in the ashtray. We went fishing at 5 a.m. on Pine Mountain Lake, with a thermos of black coffee that we shared and canned meat spread that we’d eat on crackers.

We’d bring home what we caught, clean it, fillet it, and pan-fry it for dinner. We’d visit his relatives on a farm and do farm work. I shingled the farmhouse roof with a new cousin I’d met that summer. I learned to shoot a rifle.

We visited his friend who ran an oat-processing facility, and I got to see how whole oats were delivered, and the process they went through to be turned into rolled oats.

He took me, on his motorcycle, to a Chippewa powwow in Hackensack, where I was welcomed to dance. We went to tiny diners in little towns where he knew the locals, and I’d eat delicious, greasy bacon cheeseburgers. Sometimes we’d just sit around and do our own things and not talk much at all. I liked to read, and my grandpa liked to think.

I didn’t have a dad growing up. In some ways, I didn’t have a mom, either.

Lucky for me, my grandparents really stepped in, and my grandpa was the closest thing to a dad I ever had. He was a farm boy from Minnesota who fought in the Korean War, survived, and settled in Wisconsin to work for American Motors, marry my grandma, and have seven kids.

He wasn’t highfalutin, but like I said, he liked to think. He liked to enjoy the quiet and be alone with his thoughts, and that’s something I picked up from him. He was, at his core, a planner and a philosopher. If he was a feminist, he never expressed it, but the manner in which he treated me implied the utmost faith in my versatility and competence as a human being, and I was never coddled, condescended to, or counted out.

I lost my little brother that summer to cancer. That might be the real reason I was sent to Minnesota to stay with grandpa: to keep me even further from the last weeks of the illness.

A couple of years later, I lost my grandma, too. I would have my grandpa for another decade after grandma died, until I was 25.

He’d been sick with emphysema and a broken hip during his last few years, and the doctors didn’t think he would make it out of the hospital alive that time. But he did, and I knew I’d been granted a chance to spend as much time as I could with him.

I’d been so busy before that with two small children, college, and work. But I resolved to find or make time however I could. I visited him on my lunch breaks nearly every day. I brought him his favorite catfish on Fridays. He wanted to quit smoking, something he’d done since he was 10 years old on his farm, and everyone in our family thought he was nuts. “What is the point?” “It won’t help your emphysema at this stage.” “That just seems like a lot of agony for nothing.”

But I understood. Sometimes I felt like I understood my grandpa better than anyone because of all the time we’d spent together. I understood that he knew it wouldn’t help, but he just needed to know that he wasn’t beholden to anything, that he was going out of this world his own man, addicted to nothing.

When I lost my grandpa, it was different than when I’d lost my brother and grandma.

I was so young when those deaths happened. But with my grandpa, I was old enough to know exactly what he’d meant to me and exactly what I was losing. I knew exactly how shaped I’d been by my time with him, and the grief was overwhelming and consuming.

I know now, 10 years after he died, that I was lucky to get to experience that agony and loss, because the alternative would have been having no one to lose.

I may not have had a father, but I had this man — my scrappy, minimalist, freewheeling-yet-planning-ahead grandfather who wanted me around and had confidence in me as a person.

I’m not sure I got a raw deal without a father at all. In fact, I think for me, it went the very best way it could have.

I’m a strong, accomplished woman, a wise mother, a person who thinks she can do lofty things just because she has decided to, and a thinker, a planner. I have never let anyone or anything entrap me or keep me stuck in a phase I don’t want to be in. I stand on my own two feet, and I’ve made a life for myself with these two hands.

Grandpa Loran: Without all the cues about who I am that I got from you, I don’t know that these things would be true today.

For those who are fathers to a person who doesn’t have one — whether you’re a stepdad, an uncle, a grandpa, an older brother, or a family friend — know that you simply cannot ever know how much you’re doing just by being around.

By saying: “I like having you around. You’re good company, and I much prefer having your help to doing these tasks on my own,” you're making a world of difference. It doesn’t take anything fancy, but it really does mean the world to the kid you’re sharing your time with.


All GIFs and images via Exposure Labs.


Photographer James Balog and his crew were hanging out near a glacier when their camera captured something extraordinary.

They were in Greenland, gathering footage from the time-lapse they'd positioned all around the Arctic Circle for the last several years.


They were also there to shoot scenes for a documentary. And while they were hoping to capture some cool moments on camera, no one expected a huge chunk of a glacier to snap clean off and slide into the ocean right in front of their eyes.


science, calving, glaciers

A glacier falls into the sea.

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ocean swells, sea level, erosion, going green

Massive swells created by large chunks of glacier falling away.

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It was the largest such event ever filmed.

For nearly an hour and 15 minutes, Balog and his crew stood by and watched as a piece of ice the size of lower Manhattan — but with ice-equivalent buildings that were two to three times taller than that — simply melted away.

geological catastrophe, earth, glacier melt

A representation demonstrating the massive size of ice that broke off into the sea.

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As far as anyone knows, this was an unprecedented geological catastrophe and they caught the entire thing on tape. It won't be the last time something like this happens either.

But once upon a time, Balog was openly skeptical about that "global warming" thing.

Balog had a reputation since the early 1980s as a conservationist and environmental photographer. And for nearly 20 years, he'd scoffed at the climate change heralds shouting, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

"I didn't think that humans were capable of changing the basic physics and chemistry of this entire, huge planet. It didn't seem probable, it didn't seem possible," he explained in the 2012 documentary film "Chasing Ice."

There was too much margin of error in the computer simulations, too many other pressing problems to address about our beautiful planet. As far as he was concerned, these melodramatic doomsayers were distracting from the real issues.

That was then.

Greenland, Antarctica, glacier calving

The glacier ice continues to erode away.

assets.rebelmouse.io

In fact, it wasn't until 2005 that Balog became a believer.

He was sent on a photo expedition of the Arctic by National Geographic, and that first northern trip was more than enough to see the damage for himself.

"It was about actual tangible physical evidence that was preserved in the ice cores of Greenland and Antarctica," he said in a 2012 interview with ThinkProgress. "That was really the smoking gun showing how far outside normal, natural variation the world has become. And that's when I started to really get the message that this was something consequential and serious and needed to be dealt with."

Some of that evidence may have been the fact that more Arctic landmass has melted away in the last 20 years than the previous 10,000 years.

Watch the video of the event of the glacier calving below:

This article originally appeared on 11.04.15

Democracy

What to know about the 1864 abortion ban Arizona's Supreme Court says is 'now enforceable'

The legal code it comes from also outlaws interracial marriage and forbids minorities from testifying against white people in court.

Peter Zillmann (HPZ)/Wikimedia Commons, Brandon Friedman/Twitter

Arizona's borders may soon be even more consequential.

When the 2022 Dobbs decision overturned the federal protection of medical privacy in reproductive decisions, leaving abortion law up to the states, experts warned of the legal and medical consequences to come: People in states with old laws on the books would find themselves facing abortion restrictions the likes of which had not been seen in over 50 years since Roe vs. Wade became "settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court," and medical providers would face legal conundrums that threatened patient care.

Nearly two years later, we've seen the fallout on multiple fronts, from women suing states for denying them medically necessary care to children who have been raped and impregnated being forced to travel across state lines to get an abortion.

And the latest development has Arizona set to enact a near-total abortion ban based on a 1864 legal code, after the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the law "it is now enforceable."

Here's what to know about the 160-year-old law:


There is only one abortion exception allowed for in the law—to save the life of the mother. As medical providers have made clear, that kind of exception is a murky gray area that leads to impossible questions like "How imminent does a mother's death need to be?" for a doctor to take action without fearing legal repercussions.

Civil War-era historian Heather Cox Richardson shared some of the details about how the law came about and the context in which it was written on Facebook, and the historical facts paint a picture of how utterly absurd it is for the law to go into effect in 2024.

"In 1864, Arizona was not a state, women and minorities could not vote, and doctors were still sewing up wounds with horsehair and storing their unwashed medical instruments in velvet-lined cases," wrote Richardson. She pointed out that the U.S. was in the midst of the Civil War, and that the law didn't actually have much to do with women and reproductive care.

"The laws for Arizona Territory, chaotic and still at war in 1864, appear to reflect the need to rein in a lawless population of men," she explained, sharing that the word "miscarriage" was used in the criminal code to describe various forms of harm against another person, specifying dueling with, maiming and poisoning other people.

Richardson offered that detail as the context in which the law states that "a person who provides, supplies or administers to a pregnant woman, or procures such woman to take any medicine, drugs or substance, or uses or employs any instrument or other means whatever, with intent thereby to procure the miscarriage of such woman, unless it is necessary to save her life, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than two years nor more than five years."

How did the law even come about? At that time, the newly formed Arizona Territorial Legislature was composed of 27 men. The first thing they did was authorize the governor to appoint a commissioner to draft a code of laws, but a judge named William T. Howell had already written one up. After some discussion, the legislators enacted Howell's laws, known as "The Howell Code."

The code included laws like, "No black or mulatto, or Indian, Mongolian, or Asiatic, shall be permitted to give evidence in favor of or against any white person," as well as "All marriages of white persons with negroes or mulattoes are declared to be illegal and void."

Richardson also pointed out that the code set the age of consent for sexual intercourse at 10-years-old.

Essentially, a law written by one man, 48 years before Arizona was officially a state, over half a century before women were allowed to vote, when it was perfectly legal to enact and enforce racist laws and see 10-year-olds as old enough to consent to sex, is now considered "enforceable" by the Arizona Supreme Court.

As Richardson pointed out, the difference now is that women can vote. And Americans have proven time and again that draconian abortion laws are wildly unpopular across the political spectrum. Even some Republican lawmakers and politicians are flip-flopping on previous praise for the 1864 law, saying that the Arizona legislature needs to do something about the law to prevent it from taking effect.

Jimmy Carter at the COmmonwealth Club.

Jimmy Carter, 99, was the 39th president of the United States (1977 to 1981). Looking back on his achievements both in and out of office, it’s easy to say that he was a man ahead of his time. He was far ahead of the mainstream when it came to advocating for social justice, human rights, and the environment.

Carter famously installed solar panels on the White House in 1979, only to have them removed by Ronald Reagan.

The former peanut farmer and Navy Lieutenant from Plains, Georgia, was also far ahead of his time when supporting gay rights. In 1976, while running for president, he said he would sign the Equality Act, an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. “I will certainly sign it, because I don’t think it’s right to single out homosexuals for special abuse or special harassment,” he said.


He continued to advocate for gay rights as president. In 1977, the first gay delegation visited the White House. He also campaigned against California’s Proposition 6, which would have barred gays and lesbians from teaching in the state’s schools and was the first Democratic president to endorse gay rights in the party’s platform in 1980.

It may seem unusual for Cater, a confessed born-again Christian, to be a staunch advocate for gay rights. But he has publicly said that he believes that being pro-gay is wholly aligned with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Carter’s advocacy is in the spotlight once again after a meme featuring his thoughts about Christ and homosexuality from 2012 went viral on Reddit's MadeMeSmile forum on April 8, 2024.

Jimmy Carter
byu/PR0CR45T184T0R inMadeMeSmile

The viral quote was taken from an interview with the Huffington Post in 2012, during which Carter promoted his book, “NIV, Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter.” At the time, LGBTQ rights were the subject of heated debate in Washington, and President Obama had just “evolved” and began publicly supporting same-sex marriage.

"A lot of people point to the Bible for reasons why gay people should not be in the church or accepted in any way,” the interviewer Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush said. But Carter responded by correctly noting that Jesus Christ never said anything about homosexuality.

"Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things—he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies,” Carter said. "I draw the line, maybe arbitrarily, in requiring by law that churches must marry people. I'm a Baptist, and I believe that each congregation is autonomous and can govern its own affairs.

"So if a local Baptist church wants to accept gay members on an equal basis, which my church does, by the way, then that is fine. If a church decides not to, then government laws shouldn't require them to,” he continued.

Three years later, Carter shared the same sentiments in another interview with the Huffington Post, this time shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. “I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else and I don’t see that gay marriage damages anyone else,” Carter said.

Jimmy Carter’s belief in gay rights stems from his faith as a Christian, but it’s also in complete alignment with his values as an American. Carter believed that the United States was a “beacon” for human rights, and in his 1981 presidential farewell address, he reminded the nation that the job was an ongoing struggle.

“The battle for human rights – at home and abroad – is far from over,” Carter said. “If we are to serve as a beacon for human rights, we must continue to perfect here at home the rights and values which we espouse around the world: A decent education for our children, adequate medical care for all Americans, an end to discrimination against minorities and women, a job for all those able to work, and freedom from injustice and religious intolerance.”

A tourist visiting Italy. (Representative image)

Americans pride themselves on living in the “best country in the world.” However, the American way of life isn’t for everyone and some prefer the more laid-back approach to life that people enjoy in Europe.

Four years ago, a writer named Roze left her tiny apartment in Los Angeles, booked a one-way flight to Turn, Italy and never looked back. Now, she documents her new life in Europe on TikTok to inspire others to pursue their dreams.

Recently, she posted a video in which she counts down 5 things that she’ll never do now that she lives in Italy. These are examples of the relief some Americans feel when they move to Europe and settle into their new, stress-free lifestyle.


1. Rush

"One of the first things that attracted me to Italian culture is the fact that people don't seem to be in a rush. There are no drive-thrus. People don't walk and eat. If you need a coffee, you sit down and drink a cup of coffee. There's always time for that."

2. Own a car

"I don't plan on ever living in a place where you need a car to get around. I don’t like the expense of a car and it’s just bad for the environment.”

3. Live for work

“I’ll never obsess about work as much as I used to do in the U.S. Now, I'm not saying that people don't work here. People work very hard, but there's not as many people who make working hard their whole personality."

@rozeinitaly

A few ways my perspective has changed since moving abroad, maybe some other American immigrants can relate? #fivethingschallenge #5thingsiwouldneverdo #5thingschallenge #americanimmigrant #movingabroadtips #expatsinitaly #italylifestyle #lifeinitaly🇮🇹

4. Trust the internet for business hours

"If you look it up on Google Maps, it says that it's open from 10 am to, I think, 7 or 7:30 pm. Does that mean I can go there at like 2:30 3 o'clock? No. What is not listed on there is that they are closed from 1 to 4 for lunch."

5. Worry about medical bills

“I just don’t plan on living anywhere where there is not some kind of universal healthcare.”

A group of travelers waits patiently to check their bags.

Maybe you’re one of those elite travelers who’s mastered packing for an entire trip using only carry-on luggage. If so, you’re likely haughty and won’t stop crowing about the convenience of hopping off the plane and jetting to your destination.

We know: The airlines lost your bag in 1986 and you vowed never again. So, now you roll three garments, one pair of shoes, a tiny bottle of 5-in-one body wash, and a Kindle into your backpack, and you're good to go.

For the rest of us mere traveling mortals, especially those with kids, checking bags is a necessary evil—a necessary and costly one.

If it seems to you like checked bag fees have been steadily climbing, that’s because checked bag fees have been steadily climbing. According to this article, bag fees on American Airlines rose 33% just last year from $30 per bag to $40 and 5 of the 6 biggest carriers raised their fees last year.

Why is the entire industry upping their checked-bag fees? There’s a specific reason involving an arcane bit of tax code, which accounts for why the fees are tacked on separately versus rolled into the price of the ticket.


Jay L. Zagorsky, a business school professor who studies travel, says 7.5% of every domestic ticket goes to the federal government. Airlines dislike this, claiming it raises ticket prices for consumers. But as long as the bag fee is separate, it is excluded from the 7.5% transportation tax.

Estimated bag fees for 2023 topped 7 billion. By making the bag fees separate, airlines saved themselves about half a billion dollars. If that savings has been passed down to the customer, then we all got a bit of a break, too.

Perhaps you automatically dislike the separate fees because you’re Gen X and remember a time when a ticket was all-inclusive. Now, it feels like you’re paying for stuff you used to get for free.

Turns out that more and more travelers actually like the separate charges.

“One thing that our research has shown,” Henry Hartevedlt, president of travel industry analytics firm Atmosphere Research told USA Today, “is that more than two-thirds of U.S. leisure airline passengers now feel that the unbundling of the coach product and letting people buy what they want and need on an à la carte basis is actually something they like because it helps them stick to their budget.”

This is a positive way to look at something that’s undoubtedly here to stay. And now if you hear someone complain about bag fees at the airport, you’ll know why it’s done the way it’s done, which is really sweet satisfaction in itself.

Of course, there's always this unusual workaround courtesy of Reddit user Old_Man_Withers, "I Fedex my luggage to the hotel and carry nothing on the plane but my laptop for work. It doesn't matter if it's 2 days or two months, I ship it. The hotel has it waiting in my room when I get there and I ship it back home from there when I'm done. No random inspections, no chances of loss without recompense, fully trackable... I see no downside that isn't worth the 50-100 bucks it costs."

"The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon"/Youtube

Coco is back, baby.

Conan O’Brien had a blink-and-you-missed-it run as “Tonight Show” host. After only a year, he was unceremoniously laid off in 2010 by NBC due to a contractual dispute and replaced by former host Jay Leno, followed by Jimmy Fallon in 2014.

But despite his short-lived reign, O’Brien cemented himself as a wickedly funny and whip smart performer, as well as a master of recurring gags, self-deprecating humor and engaging conversation…not to mention developing a reputation for being a pretty great guy off the air.

Which is why fans were excited to see O’Brien appear as a “Tonight Show” guest for Tuesday’s episode, marking a return to his old stomping grounds for the first time in 14 years. And let’s just say…O’Brien’s comeback did not disappoint.


During parts of the interview, O’Brien exuded that same amount of candid poise that he famously maintained throughout the 2010 controversy. Like when he talked about podcast “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend,” the project that followed his “Tonight Show” exit, he said he still considered hosting a late-night show “the best job in the world,” but shared his appreciation for the podcast format since it allows for longer, more in-depth conversations with guests.

But along with all the sentimentality were trademark rapid fire zingers and absurdly dramatic outbursts, especially when talking about how “weird” it felt to be back at Rockefeller Center.

"I was here for 16 years doing the ‘Late Night’ show," O'Brien told Jimmy Fallon (both “Late Night” and “The Tonight Show” filmed in the same building.

"When someone else is in your studio it feels weird. So I walked in and said, 'Who's in my old studio?' And they said 'Kelly Clarkson'. And I love Kelly Clarkson, who doesn't love Kelly Clarkson? But still I felt like, IT'S NOT RIGHT! BLASPHEMY! THEY SHOULD HAVE BURNED IT TO THE GROUND!"

"And then Kelly came out to say hi and I said, DON'T TALK TO ME! YOU MAKE ME SICK!!"

Man, O'Brien really knows how to commit to the bit. Watch:

O’Brien’s interview was so well received that fans seemed to fall in love with him all over again.

“Conan returns to the Tonight Show in TRIUMPHHH being one of the greatest of all time.”

“Conan is going down in history as one of the greatest to ever do it!”

“Conan's career is a true testament to the saying ‘Everything happens for a reason.’”

“This hit me right in the feels.”

“The man's a national treasure, give him everything.”

If you’re left wanting even more Coco, O’Brien has a new series, “Conan O’Brien Must Go,” which debuts on April 18 on Max. Talk about a full circle moment.