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Dear guys on the train,

I must apologize for starters. It’s all my fault. I was eavesdropping. I tend to do that on the Red Line. Unlike most folks who keep their earbuds in and their music up loud, I don’t want to miss anything. I’m a chronic people-watcher. And lately, I’ve found that paying attention can be a ministry in itself. So, that’s really all I was trying to do.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s talk about you guys.


Image via iStock.

I heard you, the one with your tie loosened and wearing a Rolex, talking to your other friend in the nice suit. Talking about your other friend Josh.

Your conversation went a little something like this:

“Dude, he never goes out anymore. Ever. He’s like a hermit.”

“I know, bro. He acts like he’s so busy. He teaches f**king third grade. His day ends at, like, 3, haha.”

“God, I wish he knew what it was like in the real world for a day. He thinks his job is so hard.”

*Awkwardly long laughter*

“Yeah, and he’s been a cheapskate ever since we left Ann Arbor.”

“Seriously. Try living with him. But he can’t expect to make as much as we do when we work our asses off year-round. It’s only October and, I mean, he’s got fall break coming up and he’ll be off for Thanksgiving and he gets several weeks off at Christmas time, yet he thinks he’s got it rough.”

“If only he knew…”

“Ha.” *Checks phone* “Wanna grab a beer? Taylor just texted me and said they’re going out.”

“Hell yeah, man. I’m down.”

Then you guys got off at the stop before mine and left me thinking. The more I thought about it and replayed your conversation in my mind, I knew I had to write you.

Image via iStock.

I don’t know your other friend Josh, but he’s clearly not as cool as you guys, going out on a Wednesday night at 10 for beers with Taylor.

From what I gathered, you guys are sick of your teacher friend. You’re annoyed at how frugal he is, how early he goes to sleep, and how much time off he gets.

The thing is, I wanted to speak up so badly, but I suppressed my inner thoughts, which were bursting at the seams, and withheld from butting into your conversation.

Until now.

You see, I wanted to inform you I was a public school teacher for several years. I taught high school, sixth grade, and first grade. I resigned after this past school year ended because I couldn’t take it anymore. I wasn’t cut out for it.

I wanted to ask you if you’ve ever had to run on a treadmill for eight hours straight on a speed that’s just a tad too fast. That's the only way I could describe the physical exhaustion of being a teacher.

I wanted to correct your assumption that Josh’s workday ends at 3 p.m.

As a former teacher, I can’t help but offer you a mini-lesson: Teachers arrive before school begins and stay long after it ends. They spend countless hours in the evenings, on weekends, and especially during their “long breaks” completing lesson plans, grading assignments, filling out behavior charts, calling parents, scheduling meetings, updating individualized education programs, preparing for standardized tests, writing out goals, changing the theme on the bulletin board, buying supplies for a science experiment (in an effort to make learning fun in hopes that the kids will love it), coaching sports, tutoring, entering grades, cleaning the classroom, filing paperwork, communicating with necessary colleagues about specific student needs, etc. I guess it’s not a mini-lesson after all. Oops.

Image via iStock.

I wanted to challenge you to work all day without using the restroom once, to eat your brown-bagged lunch in less than seven minutes, and to stay patient when you have 20-something students in desperate need for your attention and you just want to reply to an email.

I wanted to break it down for you so you could better understand why Josh is frugal — why, aside from being utterly exhausted, he doesn’t go out as much anymore. For pennies each hour per student, he’s busting his butt to ensure they are not only educated but taught to be kind and courageous, and are safe and loved.

I wanted to reminisce on my time in the classroom and share with you about the students whose home lives kept me up at night and the emotional toll this took on me and my marriage.

I wanted to make you ponder the differences between your jobs and his, but I’m afraid we would’ve run out of time. I’ll just throw this one out there: You can probably get away with being tired (or even hungover), whereas Josh has to be on from the minute those kids arrive in the morning.

I wanted to tell you that, in case you weren’t aware, teachers don’t fill out expense reports at the end of each week. It all comes out of their pocket. And only a guy like Josh would be cool enough to sacrifice a beer in order to buy scissors for his third-graders.

Image via iStock.

I wanted to give you a hundred ideas for how you could be supportive of Josh and the selfless job he’s chosen.

I wanted to acknowledge your jobs are probably hard, too, but gently remind you that you’re probably at least respected and compensated. Teachers can’t earn bonuses or raises. The incentive to be the best boils down to the heart and a strong dose of integrity.

Look, I know I don't know you. And I can't possibly know the whole context of your conversation. But I used to be a teacher, and I know how your friend Josh might be feeling. I know what it's like to have friends who don't get that feeling. I couldn't say these things to them at the time, but hearing your conversation reminded me of the things I wish I had.

I wanted to let you know I now work in “the real world” and it’s only reaffirmed my once-biased belief that teachers have one of the hardest, most important, undervalued, and underpaid jobs in the world.

Sincerely,

The ex-teacher on the train (and an advocate for all the Joshes in this world)

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

True

Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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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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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

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

via GIPHY

A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

via GIPHY

It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

via GIPHY

Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

via GIPHY

Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

via GIPHY

Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

via GIPHY

Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

via GIPHY

It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

via GIPHY

I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

via GIPHY

Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

via GIPHY


No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

via GIPHY

The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

via GIPHY

Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

Giphy

Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

Giphy

Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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