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Science

How rock cairns became a weird wilderness battleground

And why we should resist the urge to build—or topple—the ubiquitous rock towers.

Rocks stacked in a cairn by the water

Rock cairns are everywhere, but they're not as harmless as they look.

For the past several years, largely thanks to Instagram culture, rock cairns—those carefully balanced towers of rocks that look like something straight out of a Zen garden—have become ubiquitous across the natural landscape. It's not terribly surprising, really. There's something satisfyingly primitive about balancing rocks on top of one another, and the urge to create art and order out of the wildness of nature is a decidedly human instinct. Plus, they just look cool.

But according to environmental experts, that's not a good enough reason to make them.

Rock cairns have become a wilderness battleground of sorts, with people loving to make them but many places making it illegal to erect them in natural areas. Even the freedom-loving state of Texas, where you can basically build a tower of guns as high as you want, has made building rock towers illegal in its state parks.

Why? As it turns out, stacking rocks isn't as harmless as it may seem.


While no one is really worried about hurting rocks themselves, non-living as they are, there are entire ecosystems living under rocks that get disturbed when people build cairns. Rocks around waterways are particularly important for wildlife, as insects, fish, crustaeans and other animals lay eggs or make their homes under them. Even the algae that forms under and around rocks is an important part of river ecosystems, and when people pick up rocks to pile into a cairn, all of that gets disturbed or destroyed.

What about if you're stacking rocks nowhere near a river? Well, in mountainous areas, rocks also help prevent erosion. An increase in erosion can increase pollution, decrease soil fertility and lead to more runoff, which can impact waterways and ecosystems down the line.

You may be thinking, "Yeah, but there are millions of rocks. Surely moving a few to make a cool, meditative rock cairn isn't going to destroy the environment." What it really boils down to is the "leave no trace" idea of protecting our natural areas. One person's actions might have a minimal impact in the grand scheme of things, but what if everyone did it? Additionally, moving rocks from the wrong place can lead to rock and mudslides, which directly endangers humans as well.

The other problem with building rock cairns in random places is that real, official ones in specific places serve an important purpose. When built by authorities like park rangers, they are used to delineate a hiking path. Cairns, when purposefully placed by people who know the whys and hows and wheres of creating them, keep hikers safe by orienting them to official trails.

That's one reason why, despite the righteous urge to do so, people shouldn't topple cairns built by others, either. Yosemite National Park recently shared a video of a ranger knocking over a huge cairn and seemingly encouraged people to do the same, but in some places, cairns have been placed purposefully by parkrangers. A cairn in the middle of a river? Not likely a trail marker. But out in the woods? Probably best to leave the toppling of those ones to the experts.

It may seem like people who rail against cairn-making are just grumpy buzzkills making a mountain out of a molehill—or a rock pile, in this case. But protecting the environment involves all of us taking actions both large and small. As the saying goes, when we know better, we do better, and experts have been asking people to refrain from moving rocks out of their natural places to protect the natural environment.

If you want to build a cairn in your own yard with landscaping rocks, go ahead and balance those stacks to your heart's content. But out in the wilderness and in protected park lands, leave the rocks where they are, knowing that you're helping keep the Earth itself in balance for all of her creatures.

Health

Dentist explains the 3 times you should never brush your teeth

Sometimes not brushing your teeth is the best way to protect them.

Representative Image from Canva

Add this to the list of things you didn't learn in health class.

For those who love the oh-so fresh feeling of immediately running to brush their teeth after a meal, we got some bad news.

London-based dental surgeon and facial aesthetics practitioner Dr. Shaadi Manouchehri recently shocked around 12 million viewers on TikTok after sharing the three occasions when you should “never” be scrubbing those pearly whites—if you want to actually protect your teeth, that is.

The hardest part about this video, which some viewers are undoubtedly still processing, is that each of these no-no times is exactly when brushing your teeth is the only thing you’ll want to do. So much for instincts.


Number one on Manouchehri’s list, which caused the most controversy in the comments, isright after vomiting. Yep, you read that right.

“This is because the contents of the stomach are extremely acidic and the mouth is already in a very acidic state so if you brush straight after [vomiting] you’re basically wearing away your enamel,” Manouchehri explained.

Of course, commenters weren’t willing to let this one go without a fight. One viewer wrote, “I would rather lose all of my teeth than not brush after vomiting.”

Manouchehri also says to avoid brushing your teeth directly after eating breakfast. This is because “when you’ve just eaten, the mouth is, again in a “very acidic state,” so if you’re brushing your teeth you’re rubbing that acid on the tooth, which wears down the enamel.” Other sources have also confirmed that brushing your teeth tight after any meal isn’t really recommended.

This goes double for right after sweets. Manouchehri says to wait a full 60 minutes before putting a toothbrush anywhere near your mouth after having something sugary. Because…you guessed it…acid.

Does this advice seem counterintuitive? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

@drshaadimanouchehri #dentist #dentistry #dentaladvice #learnontiktok #funfacts #londondentist #dentalcleaning #teethbrushing #teethbrushingmadeeasy #teethbrushingtips #londondentistry #marylebonedentist #fypシ ♬ original sound - Dr Shaadi Manouchehri

“Ah, yes, the three times I want to brush my teeth more than any other time,” one person joked.

Luckily, there are few alternatives to try if you want that good, clean mouth feeling but don’t want to compromise your enamel—the simplest being to either rinse with or drink water. You can also use sugar-free chewing gum or conclude your meal with dairy or non-acidic foods, according to Advanced Dental Associates. If you still crave a little more of a hygiene bang, you can opt for a mouthwash with fluoride and using a tongue cleaner, which removes excess acid, per Curetoday.com.

Guess there’s a time and a place for everything, even when it comes to dental hygiene.

via Pixabay

A sad-looking Labrador Retriever

The sweet-faced, loveable Labrador Retriever is no longer America’s favorite dog breed. The breed best known for having a heart of gold has been replaced by the smaller, more urban-friendly French Bulldog.

According to the American Kennel Club, for the past 31 years, the Labrador Retriever was America’s favorite dog, but it was eclipsed in 2022 by the Frenchie. The rankings are based on nearly 716,500 dogs newly registered in 2022, of which about 1 in 7 were Frenchies. Around 108,000 French Bulldogs were recorded in the U.S. in 2022, surpassing Labrador Retrievers by over 21,000.


The French Bulldog’s popularity has grown exponentially over the past decade. They were the #14 most popular breed in 2012, and since then, registrations have gone up 1,000%, bringing them to the top of the breed popularity rankings.

The AKC says that the American Hairless Terrier, Gordon Setter, Italian Greyhound and Anatolian Shepherd Dog also grew in popularity between 2021 and 2022.

The French Bulldog was famous among America’s upper class around the turn of the 20th century but then fell out of favor. Their resurgence is partly based on several celebrities who have gone public with their Frenchie love. Leonardo DiCaprio, Megan Thee Stallion, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga all own French Bulldogs.

The breed earned a lot of attention as show dogs last year when a Frenchie named Winston took second place at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and first in the National Dog Show.

The breed made national news in early 2021 when Gaga’s dog walker was shot in the chest while walking two of her Frenchies in a dog heist. He recovered from his injuries, and the dogs were later returned.

They’ve also become popular because of their unique look and personalities.

“They’re comical, friendly, loving little dogs,” French Bull Dog Club of America spokesperson Patty Sosa told the AP. She said they are city-friendly with modest grooming needs and “they offer a lot in a small package.”

They are also popular with people who live in apartments. According to the AKC, Frenchies don’t bark much and do not require a lot of outdoor exercise.

The French Bulldog stands out among other breeds because it looks like a miniature bulldog but has large, expressive bat-like ears that are its trademark feature. However, their popularity isn’t without controversy. “French bulldogs can be a polarizing topic,” veterinarian Dr. Carrie Stefaniak told the AP.

american kennel club, french bulldog, most popular dog

An adorable French Bulldog

via Pixabay

French Bulldogs have been bred to have abnormally large heads, which means that large litters usually need to be delivered by C-section, an expensive procedure that can be dangerous for the mother. They are also prone to multiple health problems, including skin, ear, and eye infections. Their flat face means they often suffer from respiratory problems and heat intolerance.

Frenchies are also more prone to spine deformations and nerve pain as they age.

Here are the AKC’s top ten most popular dog breeds for 2022.

1 French Bulldogs

2 Labrador Retrievers

3 Golden Retrievers

4 German Shepherd Dogs

5 Poodles

6 Bulldogs

7 Rottweilers

8 Beagles

9 Dachshunds

10 German Shorthaired Pointers


This article originally appeared on 03.17.23

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.

A Korean mother and her son

A recently posted story on Reddit shows a mother confidently standing up for her family after being bullied by a teacher for her culture. Reddit user Flowergardens0 posted the story to the AITA forum, where people ask whether they are wrong in a specific situation.

Over 5,600 people commented on the story, and an overwhelming majority thought the mother was right. Here’s what went down:

“I (34F) have a (5M) son who attends preschool. A few hours after I picked him up from school today, I got a phone call from his teacher,” Flowergardens0 wrote. “She made absolutely no effort to sound kind when she, in an extremely rude and annoyed tone, told me to stop packing my son such ‘disgusting and inappropriate’ lunches."



"I felt absolutely appalled when she said this, as me and the teacher have, up until now, always maintained a very friendly relationship. She added that the lunches I’m packing my son are ‘very distracting for the other students and have an unpleasant odor.’ I told her that I understand her concerns, as the lunches I pack are definitely not the healthiest, but the lunches are according to my son’s preferences.”


The mother added that she usually sends her son to school with small celery sticks, blue cheese and goat cheese, kimchi, spam and spicy Sriracha-flavored Doritos.

“I ended the call by saying that I very much appreciated her worries, but that at the end of the day, I am not going to drastically change my son’s lunches all of a sudden, and that it’s not my fault if other students are ‘distracted’ by his meal,” the mother continued. “It is very important to me what my son enjoys, and I want him to like my lunches.”

The teacher replied with an email saying the mom's response was "unacceptable" and that his lunches were “just too inappropriate to be sent to school any longer.”

“I haven’t responded yet and don’t want to. I want to maintain a healthy relationship with my son’s teachers. I am confused as to what to do,” the mom ended her story.

It’s clear that the teacher is way out of line in this situation because the child is eating food that is entirely normal in Korean culture. It may have a strong odor to those who aren’t used to it, but that’s just an opportunity for the teacher to explain to the children how people from different parts of the world eat different types of food. It’s not that hard.

The only reason the teacher should have any choice over what the child eats is if it is egregiously unhealthy and may cause them harm.

The most popular commenter on the forum suggested that the mother bring the issue to the principal’s attention.

"Report her to the principal," Thatshygal717 wrote. "Her comments regarding your son’s food are 'disgusting' and 'have an unpleasant tone' aka cough cough racist tone. She’s too inappropriate to be teaching at the school any longer."

Another commenter, muffiewriters, assured the mother that she was doing nothing wrong. "Your son's food is perfectly normal," they wrote. "For a 5-year-old. Your family's food is normal. The teacher is TA for not recognizing that.”

The mother hasn’t shared what she did next, but she’s handled the situation perfectly so far. She told the teacher that it’s not her fault if other kids are distracted by her food and that she will not change her son’s diet to please other people.

The beauty of America is that we are a country of many different cultures mixed like a beautiful bowl of salad. It’s great that so many people supported the mother and reminded her that her family has every right in the world to eat the food they love, and if it bothers anyone, they can keep it to themselves.

P.S. That teacher has no idea what she’s talking about. Korean food is delicious.


This article was originally published on 3.20.23.

Family

Smart mom leaves babysitter a list of 'add-on' chores to make more money if she chooses

“You are more than welcome to hang out and watch TV all night, but if you want to make some extra $, these jobs are up for grabs.”

via KIvanKC/TikTok and KIvanKC/TikTok. Images used with permission.

Katrina Ivan's list for her babysitter.

A mother in Missouri has found a way to maximize date night with her husband. She left a note for her babysitter, giving her options to make more side cash by completing small tasks around the home.

The goal was to have a night out and to return to a cleaner and better-organized home. It makes sense. Most of the time, babysitters just sit around while the kid sleeps, so why not make their time more productive and profitable?

Katrina Ivan, a science teacher, posted the list she sent her babysitter on TikTok and the video received over 1.5 million views.


​“You are more than welcome to hang out and watch TV all night, but if you want to make some extra $, these jobs are up for grabs,” Katrina wrote to her babysitter, a senior in high school whom she’s known for 4 years.

babysitters, babysitter prices, katrina ivan

Katrina's list for the babysitter.

via KIvanKC/TikTok Used with permission.

When the babysitter saw the list, she was excited to get to work and started cleaning the windows 10 minutes after Katrina and her husband left the house. Katrina realized her plan was working when she saw her cleaning the windows through her Ring camera. “She was like, ‘Heck ya!' and got to work right away,” Katrina told Today.com. "I left all the supplies out for her so she didn't have to feel weird hunting around for things."

By the end of the night, the babysitter was able to clean the mirrors and windows, organize the toys, vacuum the couch and scrub and organize the silverware drawer.

"I think this is a great opportunity for your babysitter. You’re giving a choice, and I love that," Lisa B wrote in the comments on the video. "This is a great idea!! Sometimes it’s boring to just to sit and watch TV. This makes time go by quicker and sometimes it’s things I would do to help," Del added.

Most commenters applauded Katrina’s idea, although some thought she could pay a little better.

"I think $10 is too cheap for some of these tasks considering the amount of work/size of the mess," Liz wrote. In a follow-up video, Katrina broke down the money she paid the babysitter that night.

@kivankc

Replying to @LISA B │✨ what i'm learning ✨ #greenscreen

Katrina agreed that the prices could go up a bit. "I’ll definitely be restructuring the prices to make this more fair in the future," she wrote. However, she added that she paid the babysitter $75 for the night just to watch her 2-year-old son, who was asleep most of the time.

All in all, the sitter made $28.75 an hour, tax-free. Not bad at all.

In another follow-up, Katrina interviewed the babysitter, who said she enjoyed making some extra money. “That sounds great,” she said.

What questions do you have for the newly famous babysitter? She’s along for the ride, and enjoys the spotlight. Loving the money, and crushing the jobs we leave for her. Sorry friends, but she’s not available to book-this kid is wayyy to busy between date night babysitting for us, earning perfect grades, being involved in a zillion after school activiites, and taking night time Fire/EMS classes at night so she can start her CAREER fresh out of high school. Do I sound a little proud?!?

@kivankc

What questions do you have for the newly famous babysitter? She’s along for the ride, and enjoys the spotlight. Loving the money, and crushing the jobs we leave for her. Sorry friends, but she’s not available to book-this kid is wayyy to busy between date night babysitting for us, earning perfect grades, being involved in a zillion after school activiites, and taking night time Fire/EMS classes at night so she can start her CAREER fresh out of high school. Do I sound a little proud?!? #sorrynotsorry #sillyinterview #babysitter #bestbabysitter #sidequests #meetmybabysitter #cheers #toddlermom #momlife

This article originally appeared on 2.6.24