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Hitting the trails this weekend? You might be walking or biking on an abandoned railroad.

They're helping give railroads a second life.

True
State Farm

Along the Missouri River, there are 26 rambling trails where you can walk or bike through soft marshlands, towering bluffs, pleasing pastures, and thick forests.

Those trails make up the Katy Trail State Park — the longest public area in the United States that was formerly train tracks.

Built on the corridor of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, there's also quite a bit of history to be found on any outdoor excursion in this state park. Most trails go past restored historic depots and former railroad towns. It's no surprise all 240 miles of this park were added to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Hall of Fame in 2008.


Katy Trail State Park. Photo by Kim Horgan, courtesy of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

But trails like this weren't always so pleasant.

In the 1950s and '60s, there was dramatic decline in train use. By 1966, less than 2% of intercity commuters were using trains to get from place to place. That left a significant number of train lines defunct and a whole lot of miles of territory in disuse.

Aside from not looking too pretty, these rail lines, including what's now Katy Trail State Park, were just taking up unnecessary amounts of space without serving any purpose.

By the 1980s, "you see Congress starting to get concerned, because they were looking at the permanent loss of these rail lines," explains Amy Kapp, editor of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s magazine and blog.

Photo via succo/Pixabay.

So they amended the National Trail Systems Act to create the Railbanking Program. This allows people to preserve inactive corridors for future rail use while providing interim trail use — aka turning them into walking trails and bike paths.

But it’s often not easy for communities to launch large-scale trail projects on their own. They don't have the money and manpower, or they simply do not have any idea where to start.

That's why David Burwell and Peter Harnik founded the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy — an organization that's been helping to create outdoor paths for the public since 1986.

David Burwell and his wife (left) and Peter Harnik (right). Images courtesy of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

By helping convert old railways into public lands like the awesome Katy Trails, the conservancy is giving back to local communities by providingmore places to go outside, which in turn may help people feel better physically and mentally. More walkable, bike-able trails also means there's more of America's natural beauty for people to enjoy.

Trail in Washington, D.C. Photo by Milo Bateman, courtesy of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

Over the last 30 years, RTC has been a great success.

When they opened their doors, there were 250 miles of known rail-trail. Today, there are over 22,774 miles available to communities all over the country and 2,035 known rails have been converted to trails.

It's really quite remarkable when you realize all those trails were once just miles and miles of unused land.

David Burwell passed away in February, but thanks to his passion and skill — and over 160,000 RTC members — his work will live on long after him.

Anacostia River Trail in Washington, D.C. Photo by Suzanne Matyas, courtesy of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

Currently, RTC is helping to build eight large-scale regional trail systems across the United States.

One particularly significant project is called the Lower Rio Grande Valley Active Transportation and Tourism Plan, or Active Plan for short.

Historic Battlefield Trail in Brownsville, Texas. Photo by Mark Lehmann, courtesy of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

The Active Plan is based in Cameron County, Texas, which has one of the highest poverty rates in the country. A 428-mile trail network is on the docket to provide locals with safe travel routes and encourage exercise and outdoor recreation.

These outdoor trails could make life so much better for locals.

The Ortiz family on the Historic Battlefield Trail in Palo Alto, Texas. Photo by Mark Lehmann, courtesy of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

Being closer to trails could save Cameron County millions of dollars in medical bills.

The community's economy should see a huge uptick too. A plan is set to create 453 new jobs for locals and increase tourism revenue by $40 million. For a county with more than a third of its residents below the poverty line, that’s no inconsequential figure.

Ohio and Erie Canalway Towpath Trail. Photo by Bruce Ford, courtesy of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

Rails-to-trails conversion starts on the community level — which means that there are lots of ways for people to get involved and maybe even help spearhead a project in their own community.

In fact, RTC's website is a great resource if anyone interested in jumpstarting more trails, providing an online toolbox that's filled with information on railbanking, acquiring and financing projects, planning and trail designs, and how to navigate the railroad and community guidelines.

In addition, RTC is also always looking for volunteers to help advocate for them and their work. After all, it is thanks to those volunteers that we have beautiful public trails weaving through different communities, linking them together, and bringing people back to nature  — they are the ones helping make  Burwell's dream a reality.

"My dream is that one day you could go across this entire country — old or young, handicapped or able — on flat, wide, off-road paths," he once told the RTC publication. "I want rail-trails to be America’s main street."

A woman is shocked to learn that her name means something totally different in Australia.

Devyn Hales, 22, from California, recently moved to Sydney, Australia, on a one-year working visa and quickly learned that her name wouldn’t work Down Under. It all started when a group of men made fun of her on St. Patrick’s Day.

After she introduced herself as Devyn, the men laughed at her. "They burst out laughing, and when I asked them why, they told me devon is processed lunch meat,” she told The Daily Mail. It's similar to baloney, so I introduce myself as Dev now,” she said in a viral TikTok video with over 1.7 million views.

For those who have never been to Australia, Devon is a processed meat product usually cut into slices and served on sandwiches. It is usually made up of pork, basic spices and a binder. Devon is affordable because people buy it in bulk and it’s often fed to children. Australians also enjoy eating it fried, like spam. It is also known by other names such as fritz, circle meat, Berlina and polony, depending on where one lives on the continent. It's like in America, where people refer to cola as pop, soda, or Coke, depending on where they live in the country.


So, one can easily see why a young woman wouldn’t want to refer to herself as a processed meat product that can be likened to boloney or spam. "Wow, love that for us," another woman named Devyn wrote in the comments. “Tell me the name thing isn't true,” a woman called Devon added.

@dhalesss

#fypシ #australia #americaninaustralia #sydney #aussie

Besides changing her name, Dev shared some other differences between living in Australia and her home country.

“So everyone wears slides. I feel like I'm the only one with 'thongs'—flip-flops—that have the little thing in the middle of your big toe. Everyone wears slides,” she said. Everyone wears shorts that go down to your knees and that's a big thing here.”

Dev also noted that there are a lot of guys in Australia named Lachlan, Felix and Jack.

She was also thrown off by the sound of the plentiful magpies in Australia. According to Dev, they sound a lot like crying children with throat infections. “The birds threw me off,” she said before making an impression that many people in the comments thought was close to perfect. "The birds is so spot on," Jess wrote. "The birds, I will truly never get used to it," Marissa added.

One issue that many Americans face when moving to Australia is that it is more expensive than the United States. However, many Americans who move to Australia love the work-life balance. Brooke Laven, a brand strategist in the fitness industry who moved there from the U.S., says that Aussies have the “perfect work-life balance” and that they are “hard-working” but “know where to draw the line.”

Despite the initial cultural shocks, Devyn is embracing her new life in Australia with a positive outlook. “The coffee is a lot better in Australia, too,” she added with a smile, inspiring others to see the bright side of cultural differences.

@tallulah.roseb/TikTok

Maybe she's born with it. But maybe it just modern day cosmetics.

A woman named Tallulah Rose recently went viral after sharing a well-intentioned, but oh-so misinformed compliment men tend to give her. It left a lot of other women nodding in agreement, because it revealed what still seems to be a common beauty myth.

"I actually just, like, don't understand men and how their brain works sometimes because today I was just minding my own business when this guy comes up to me and is like ‘you are so elegant, you are such a natural beauty,'" she said in the clip.

Of course, Rose is positive any other woman would instantly know that the beauty men are responding to is anything but natural.


“I think a woman can take one look at me and be like … this is fake,” she said before breaking down the costs of enhancements she’s made.

“My jawline cost $10,000, okay? My lips are clearly done. My hair is $2000, my lashes are $200 every two weeks.”

jawline cosmetic surgery, natural cosmetic procedures

"My jawline costs $10,000, okay?"

@tallulah.roseb/TikTok

She then lifted her bangs to show a wrinkle-less forehead and immovable eyebrows, thanks to Botox or some other kind of anti-wrinkle injection. Plus, she has “enough makeup on to season a f***ing wok.”

Still, men will wistfully tell her “ 'they don't make them like you do these days.” to which Rose quipped, “yes they do with a needle and a scalpel!”

plastic surgery, cosmetic procedures

"They don't make 'em like you these days…yes they do! With a needle and a scalpel!"

@tallulah.roseb/TikTok

Since sharing this hot take, Rose’s video has garnered over 12 million views on TikTok and has been shared across several platforms. Most of the comments came from women who have had their own fair share of this experience.

Some were just as hilarious as the original video.

"My husband was like 'please never get Botox' If I could raise my eyebrows at him I would have,” one person wrote.

Another added, ““I’ve had male friends remark how I don’t wear heavy makeup like other girls. I spend at least 30 mins a day putting my face on.”

Over on X, people were just refreshed by Rose’s honesty.

Rose told news.com.au that many men “genuinely can’t tell the difference between a natural woman and a woman that has had cosmetic surgery,” primarily due to seeing celebrities who have had work done and assuming that’s the standard. She’ll often ask male friends to name a celebrity crush, and “they’ll name someone that has clearly had work done but they are just quite clueless to it.”

And that is really where the important conversation comes in. Unrealistic beauty standards aren’t necessarily a new issue. But now the paradox of cosmetic procedures being stigmatized while at the same time not even acknowledged in much of what is touted as natural beauty puts women in an impossible position. They can’t naturally live up to these expectations, and then are labeled as fake if they do make efforts to look enhanced (which is the new normal…make it make sense).

Point is: Praising a woman for her “natural beauty” might be intended as a compliment. But for many, it’s neither true, nor a compliment.

Pop Culture

SNL sketch about George Washington's dream for America hailed an 'instant classic'

"People will be referencing it as one of the all time best SNL skits for years.”

Saturday Night Live/Youtube

Seriously, what were our forefathers thinking with our measuring system?

Ever stop to think how bizarre it is that the United States is one of the only countries to not use the metric system? Or how it uses the word “football” to describe a sport that, unlike fútbol, barely uses the feet at all?

What must our forefathers have been thinking as they were creating this brave new world?

Wonder no further. All this and more is explored in a recent Saturday Night Live sketch that folks are hailing as an “instant classic.”

The hilarious clip takes place during the American Revolution, where George Washington rallies his troops with an impassioned speech about his future hopes for their fledgling country…all the while poking fun at America’s nonsensical measurements and language rules.

Like seriously, liters and milliliters for soda, wine and alcohol but gallons, pints, and quarters for milk and paint? And no “u” after “o” in words like “armor” and “color” but “glamour” is okay?

The inherent humor in the scene is only amplified by comedian and host Nate Bargatze’s understated, deadpan delivery of Washington. Bargatze had quite a few hits during his hosting stint—including an opening monologue that acted as a mini comedy set—but this performance takes the cake.

Watch:

All in all, people have been applauding the sketch, noting that it harkened back to what “SNL” does best, having fun with the simple things.

Here’s what folks are saying:

“This skit is an instant classic. I think people will be referencing it as one of the all time best SNL skits for years.”

“Dear SNL, whoever wrote this sketch, PLEASE let them write many many MANY more!”

“Instantly one of my favorite SNL sketches of all time!!!”

“I’m not lying when I say I have watched this sketch about 10 times and laughed just as hard every time.”

“This may be my favorite sketch ever. This is absolutely brilliant.”


There’s more where that came from. Catch even more of Bargatze’s “SNL” episode here.


This article originally appeared on 10.30.23

Family

Dad and son had no idea their pet octopus would soon hatch 50 eggs. Cue wholesome chaos.

It's an epic saga that's wholesome, captivating and heartfelt all at once.

Representative Image from Canva

Their journey became the best nature show on social media.

What started as a wholesome father-son bonding activity quickly became a full blown TikTok sensation, all thanks to one octopus. Actually…make that fifty octopuses.

Cameron Clifford of Edmond, Oklahoma, had promised to get his cephalopod-obsessed 9-year old Cal their very own pet octopus. After making a call to a local aquarium, Clifford made good on that promise, and a California two-spot (or bimac) octopus, which they would name Terrance, arrived via mail order. Cue Cal’s instant tears of joy.

Only, in hindsight, they might have wanted to name him Teresa instead, because only two months later, Terrance’s already too-small tank was filled with dozens of eggs.



"We kind of estimate there was about between 40 and 70 eggs but every one that hatched, that I saw, I was able to catch and contain. It was exactly 50," Clifford told Good Morning America.

As Clifford explains in one TikTok video (using a posh british voice for the narration, making it even more National Geographic-esque), once female bimac octopuses lay eggs, that usually signals the end of their life cycle, and they stop taking care of themselves in order to protect their young.

@doctoktopus Terrance signals the end of her life-cyxle, but we have no idea how mich time we have left wirh her. #octopus #marinebiology #shrimpdaddy #saltwateraquarium #fyp #cephalopod #petoctopus #aquarium #octomom #biology #mom ♬ Heartbeats - Remastered 2023 - José González

So, even though Terrance (who was eventually renamed Terry) could recognize Clifford and Cal, nothing could coax her out of her cave after the eggs were laid. However, latching onto their arms remained one of her favorite pastimes.

Terrance’s eggs were at first deemed infertile by several experts that Clifford talked to, which made her upcoming demise all the more tragic. When the unexpected miracle finally did happen, Clifford begged for other aquariums in his area to take the hatchlings. They all declined.

So naturally, he reached out to TikTok. He shared the previously private videos documenting their journey, including the insane saga of capturing each newly hatched octopus and putting it in its own incubated container, so that they wouldn’t eat each other. The Clifford home honestly became a bona fide marine biologist training center. Only with exponentially more puns.

Behold, "Clamsterdam":

@doctoktopus SOONERS DEFEAT DARWIN IN BIG 12 CONF. CHAMPIONSHIP 🏈 🐙 #octopus #marinebiology #shrimpdaddy #saltwateraquarium #fyp #cephalopod #saltwatertank #aquarium #octomom #mom #clambake #poseidon #tank ♬ original sound - Shoptopus

Speaking of puns, viewers also helped give each of the octo-babies. Some examples include InverteBrett, Swim Shady, Bill Nye the Octopi, Sea-yonce and Jay-Sea…you get the picture.

Luckily, after Clifford’s account went mega viral, other aquariums, universities and research facilities agreed to give them homes, per USA Today.

Clifford might be out thousands of dollars—and hours—on his impromptu project, but he wouldn't trade it for the world.

@doctoktopus 😳 #octopus #marinebiology #shrimpdaddy #saltwateraquarium #fyp #cephalopod #petoctopus #octomom #biology #saltwatertank #mom ♬ original sound - Shoptopus

"As far as regrets, there's so many," he told USA Today. "I wish I wouldn't have opened that valve that way and dumped all that dirty seawater onto my kids' white carpet. That's certainly a regret. But overall, no, it's been an absolutely fun experience, not just for me, but also for my kids."

And in case you’re wondering: Yes, Terrence is still, miraculously, alive. Though she is expected to die in the next several weeks, the Cliffords are more than prepared to be surprised. Again.

Though Clifford attests that one should probably refrain from have an octopus for a pet, he tells his followers that “you will learn a lot about yourself” by taking care of one.

“There’s always some valve or seal that’s not completely closed, and your storm resistant carpet isn’t rated for gallons and gallons of seawater. You’ll learn that seawater and electricity don’t always get along. You will learn new things and meet incredible people and will learn that wildlife is magnificent. But most of all, you’ll learn to love a not-so-tiny octopus like Terrance.”

Follow along on more of Clifford and Cal's octopus adventures on TikTok.

Image created from @maymaybarclay Twitter page.

The courage to speak up to join in the fun.

Meet Mason Brian Barclay, a teen and self-described "very homosexual male." He recently wanted to attend a sleepover at his "new best friend" Houston's house, because teens are gonna teen. But he's a boy, and everyone knows boys aren't allowed to attend girls' sleepovers, because of cooties/patriarchal norms.

So he behaved more maturely than most adults, and crafted a long text message to Houston's mom, Mrs. Shelton, in which he politely asked for permission to attend Houston's sleepover.


"I think the common meaning behind only allowing the same sex to share sleepovers is due to the typical interest in the opposite sex, when, in this case, I do not like the opposite sex," he explained in the text.


Mrs. Shelton's response was so good that Mason tweeted it out and it went viral:

"Hmm. Well my husband is hot. Should I worry?" she responded.

via GIPHY

Evidently Mason found Mrs. Shelton's text hilarious. So does Twitter.

And others are just wondering if the sleepover is on, or not??

Others need to know if Houston's dad lives up to the hype:

This article originally appeared on 11.26.18