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Education

Forgot how to talk to people? This 1950 short film on having better conversations might help.

It's so cheesy, but also surprisingly helpful.

socializing, conversations, pandemic

Film reel from 1950 contains cheesy but relevant tips for brushing up our pandemic-bruised social skills.

The pandemic hasn't ended, but a combo of a push toward "normalcy" and a window of low case counts has made it so that most of us are venturing out more. Some of us are finding that our social skills have gone a bit wonky. Throughout the pandemic, there have been articles telling us that this was happening, with headlines like "It's not just you. We're all socially awkward now" and "A crash course in polishing your pandemic-damaged social skills." I had a friend the other day mention how he'd met someone new and felt like he'd forgotten how to have a conversation.

In addition to the pandemic, the social and political discourse of the past several years feels like it has become more and more contentious. It's hard to have a discussion in which disagreements don't devolve into ugliness, so we might avoid any conversation that goes beyond the weather altogether.

However, research also shows that people really want to have richer conversations with one another. So we're in this weird spot of wanting to talk to people but feeling a bit lost as to how to do it.


Never fear. The 1950s film reel is here to help us out.

Those of us who grew up in the predigital era remember our teachers trotting out film projectors and showing us crackly films from the '50s with the iconic announcer-y voices and "Aw, gee whiz" teens acting out cheesy scenes. (Some of us hear the clickety-clicking of the projector and immediately want to fall asleep, as our minds revert back to the unbearable boredom—and yet much-needed reprieve from normal class—that such films meant for us.) This film reel will send Gen-X-and-older folks straight back to our childhoods.

But there's actually some good stuff in here. "Ways to Better Conversation" was part of a series of instructional educational videos put out by Coronet in the '40s,' 50s, '60s and '70s. It compares a good conversation to a volleyball game, and examines the roles of courtesy, contributing, following the subject and listening carefully in having a pleasant, productive conversation.

Oddly enough, it's these basics that are often missing from modern conversation, which becomes fairly apparent when we witness the "bad conversation" example in the film. Despite its oh-so-very-1950 vibe, the fundamental lesson really does apply to today.

And if you don't find the tips useful, it's still a delight to see the '50s equivalent of a YouTube how-to video. This is how we used to roll, kids. Watch and learn.

(And yes, the flub with the skipped words at the beginning is actually quite true to the reality of watching these films in class. Something was always breaking with those things. Good times.)

Island School Class, circa 1970s.

Parents, do you think your child would be able to survive if they were transported back to the '70s or '80s? Could they live at a time before the digital revolution put a huge chunk of our lives online?

These days, everyone has a phone in their pocket, but before then, if you were in public and needed to call someone, you used a pay phone. Can you remember the last time you stuck 50 cents into one and grabbed the grubby handset?

According to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, roughly 100,000 pay phones remain in the U.S., down from 2 million in 1999.

Do you think a 10-year-old kid would have any idea how to use a payphone in 2022? Would they be able to use a Thomas Guide map to find out how to get somewhere? If they stepped into a time warp and wound up in 1975, could they throw a Led Zeppelin album on the record player at a party?


Another big difference between now and life in the '70s and '80s has been public attitudes toward smoking cigarettes. In 1965, 42.4% of Americans smoked and now, it’s just 12.5%. This sea change in public opinion about smoking means there are fewer places where smoking is deemed acceptable.

But in the early '80s, you could smoke on a bus, on a plane, in a movie theater, in restaurants, in the classroom and even in hospitals. How would a child of today react if their third grade teacher lit up a heater in the middle of math class?

Dan Wuori, senior director of early learning at the Hunt Institute, tweeted that his high school had a smoking area “for the kids.” He then asked his followers to share “something you experienced as a kid that would blow your children’s minds.”


A lot of folks responded with stories of how ubiquitous smoking was when they were in school. While others explained that life was perilous for a kid, whether it was the school playground equipment or questionable car seats.

Here are a few responses that’ll show today’s kids just how crazy life used to be in the '70s and '80s.

First of all, let’s talk about smoking.

Want to call someone? Need to get picked up from baseball practice? You can’t text mom or dad, you’ll have to grab a quarter and use a pay phone.

People had little regard for their kids’ safety or health.

You could buy a soda in school.

Things were a lot different before the internet.

Remember pen pals?

A lot of people bemoan the fact that the children of today aren’t as tough as they were a few decades back. But that’s probably because the parents of today are better attuned to their kids’ needs so they don't have to cheat death to make it through the day.

But just imagine how easy parenting would be if all you had to do was throw your kids a bag of Doritos and a Coke for lunch and you never worried about strapping them into a car seat?


This article originally appeared on 06.08.22

Cameron the creative Lyft driver offers a variety of ride options to his passengers.

Have you ever ridden in an Uber or a Lyft and had the driver talk a lot when you felt like being quiet? Or not say a word when you tried to make conversation? Or play music you found annoying?

When you hop into a driver's car, it's a crapshoot what kind of ride you're going to have. But at least one Lyft driver is removing the mystery a bit by letting passengers choose.

Facebook user Eric Alper shared a post that showed a photo of a piece of paper stuck on the back of a car's headrest that read:

"Welcome to Cameron's car!!!"



"To ensure the best ride possible for you, I have prepared a menu of the various types of rides I offer. Just choose one (or don't, that's an option too) then sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. :)"

Then it listed the 10 ride options Cameron offers:

1. The Awkward Ride - You ignore this menu completely, then we will sit in silence for the remainder of the ride.

2. The Funny Ride - I tell you jokes or entertaining stories from my life.

3. The Silent Ride -

4. The Creepy Ride - I don't say anything but I keep staring at you in the rearview mirror.

5. The Karaoke Ride - We rock out to hits from the 80s, early 2000s or literally whatever you want.

6. The Bubbles Ride - We blow bubbles the whole time.

7. The Small Talk Ride - We talk about how crazy the weather's been lately and I ask if you caught the game last night.

8. The Therapy Ride - You vent to me about your problems and I listen.

9. The Drunk Ride - You throw up in my car.

10. The Cliche Ride - You ask me how long I've been driving for Lyft."

OK, the Bubbles Ride sounds fun, but also maybe a little dangerous. And the Drunk Ride is the main reason I've never wanted to be a Lyft or Uber driver. I may have unintentionally taken a both a Therapy Ride and a Creepy Ride before.

But seriously, the concept is fabulous. People often want something different in a ride depending on their mood, so the idea of having options to choose from is brilliant. The list also directly addresses the awkwardness that is often present when you're getting a ride from someone, so it makes a natural icebreaker and conversation starter—particularly helpful for folks who struggle with social anxiety.

People in the comments loved it.

"I'm sure this wasn't the intention but this is a great example of disability accommodations that everyone can enjoy," wrote one person. "Being able to choose how much energy I expend is so helpful."

"There should be a feature on both Uber and Lyft indicating what type of ride a rider wants or expects," wrote another. "I usually don't talk, but sometimes the driver keeps persisting and I feel awkward at times."

"It clears the air, takes the awkwardness out of it, and establishes expectations for the ride, on both sides," wrote another. "Great idea."


There are some more options I'd love to see added, though:

The Pep Talk Ride - You need encouragement? I'll give you everything I've got to pump you up.

The Tour Guide Ride - I share interesting details about places we pass and offer advice on cool things to do around the area.

The Life Story Ride - We estimate how long your ride will be, set a timer, and each of us shares our life story for half the ride. (No questions, unless the ride goes longer.)

The Deep Questions Ride - We skip the small talk and get right to the big stuff—meaning of life, existence of God, our place in the universe, etc.

The High School Debate Ride - We pick a controversy, flip a coin to decide who will take which side, and debate regardless of our own personal views.

The Pretend Persona Ride - We each make up totally fake names and personas and converse as them so we can chat without actually getting personal at all.

So many possibilities. What kind of ride would you want to take?


This article originally appeared on 04.21.22

Science

A juice company dumped orange peels in a national park. Here's what it looks like now.

12,000 tons of food waste and 21 years later, this forest looks totally different.


In 1997, ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs approached an orange juice company in Costa Rica with an off-the-wall idea.

In exchange for donating a portion of unspoiled, forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste — a nature preserve in the country's northwest — the park would allow the company to dump its discarded orange peels and pulp, free of charge, in a heavily grazed, largely deforested area nearby.

One year later, one thousand trucks poured into the national park, offloading over 12,000 metric tons of sticky, mealy, orange compost onto the worn-out plot.



The site was left untouched and largely unexamined for over a decade. A sign was placed to ensure future researchers could locate and study it.

16 years later, Janzen dispatched graduate student Timothy Treuer to look for the site where the food waste was dumped.

Treuer initially set out to locate the large placard that marked the plot — and failed.

The first deposit of orange peels in 1996.

Photo by Dan Janzen.

"It's a huge sign, bright yellow lettering. We should have been able to see it," Treuer says. After wandering around for half an hour with no luck, he consulted Janzen, who gave him more detailed instructions on how to find the plot.

When he returned a week later and confirmed he was in the right place, Treuer was floored. Compared to the adjacent barren former pastureland, the site of the food waste deposit was "like night and day."

The site of the orange peel deposit (L) and adjacent pastureland (R).

Photo by Leland Werden.

"It was just hard to believe that the only difference between the two areas was a bunch of orange peels. They look like completely different ecosystems," he explains.

The area was so thick with vegetation he still could not find the sign.

Treuer and a team of researchers from Princeton University studied the site over the course of the following three years.

The results, published in the journal "Restoration Ecology," highlight just how completely the discarded fruit parts assisted the area's turnaround.

The ecologists measured various qualities of the site against an area of former pastureland immediately across the access road used to dump the orange peels two decades prior. Compared to the adjacent plot, which was dominated by a single species of tree, the site of the orange peel deposit featured two dozen species of vegetation, most thriving.

Lab technician Erik Schilling explores the newly overgrown orange peel plot.

Photo by Tim Treuer.

In addition to greater biodiversity, richer soil, and a better-developed canopy, researchers discovered a tayra (a dog-sized weasel) and a giant fig tree three feet in diameter, on the plot.

"You could have had 20 people climbing in that tree at once and it would have supported the weight no problem," says Jon Choi, co-author of the paper, who conducted much of the soil analysis. "That thing was massive."

Recent evidence suggests that secondary tropical forests — those that grow after the original inhabitants are torn down — are essential to helping slow climate change.

In a 2016 study published in Nature, researchers found that such forests absorb and store atmospheric carbon at roughly 11 times the rate of old-growth forests.

Treuer believes better management of discarded produce — like orange peels — could be key to helping these forests regrow.

In many parts of the world, rates of deforestation are increasing dramatically, sapping local soil of much-needed nutrients and, with them, the ability of ecosystems to restore themselves.

Meanwhile, much of the world is awash in nutrient-rich food waste. In the United States, up to half of all produce in the United States is discarded. Most currently ends up in landfills.

The site after a deposit of orange peels in 1998.

Photo by Dan Janzen.

"We don't want companies to go out there will-nilly just dumping their waste all over the place, but if it's scientifically driven and restorationists are involved in addition to companies, this is something I think has really high potential," Treuer says.

The next step, he believes, is to examine whether other ecosystems — dry forests, cloud forests, tropical savannas — react the same way to similar deposits.

Two years after his initial survey, Treuer returned to once again try to locate the sign marking the site.

Since his first scouting mission in 2013, Treuer had visited the plot more than 15 times. Choi had visited more than 50. Neither had spotted the original sign.

In 2015, when Treuer, with the help of the paper's senior author, David Wilcove, and Princeton Professor Rob Pringle, finally found it under a thicket of vines, the scope of the area's transformation became truly clear.

The sign after clearing away the vines.

Photo by Tim Treuer.

"It's a big honking sign," Choi emphasizes.

19 years of waiting with crossed fingers had buried it, thanks to two scientists, a flash of inspiration, and the rind of an unassuming fruit.


This article originally appeared on 08.23.17

Teacher Lisa Conselatore isn't holding back.

A recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics found that 87% of public schools say the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted students' socio-emotional development. Respondents have also said there has been a significant increase in student misconduct.

However, a teacher with 24 years of experience in the U.S. and abroad believes we are misplacing blame for this rise in misconduct. In a viral TikTok video with over 480,000 views, Lisa Conselatore claims that the big problem isn’t the pandemic but modern parenting.


“The problem is cultural," Conselatore says. "We have raised children to think that they are absolutely the most important person in any room. They are so special that whatever they want to do, or whatever they think, or whatever they say is the most important thing in that moment.”

@lisaconselatore

#tiredteacher #enough #raisingkids #timetolisten #supportteachers #culturetalk #culturecheck #teachersoftiktok #teachersontiktok #teaching2023belike

“I know your children are special to you. I know that my children are special to me,” she continues. “But none of them are the most special person ever in the room at any time. They're not. Nobody is because we live in a society and we all have to get along and we all have to respect one another and part of respecting one another is recognizing when you have a contribution to make and when you need to sit there and open your ears. … We don't have that down. We've missed it.”

In the video, Conselatore lays some pretty big blame on America’s parents, but she also offers some simple solutions to improve the situation.

“Teach them when to listen, taking a turn to speak. Speak when it's appropriate. When you have something to say and. It's your turn,” she says. “Let's reevaluate our family cultures, our community cultures, and our larger society cultures. Because of this is not working, not working.”


This article originally appeared on 11.7.23

@geaux75/TikTok

Molly was found tied to a tree by the new owners of the house.

Molly, an adorable, affectionate 10-year-old pit bull, found herself tied to a tree after her owners had abandoned her.

According to The Dodo, Molly had “always been a loyal dog, but, unfortunately, her first family couldn’t reciprocate that same love back,” and so when the house was sold, neither Molly nor the family’s cat was chosen to move with them. While the cat was allowed to free roam outside, all Molly could do was sit and wait. Alone.

Luckily, the young couple that bought the house agreed to take the animals in as part of their closing agreement, and as soon as the papers were signed, they rushed over to check in.

In a TikTok video, April Parker, the new homeowner, walks up to Molly, who is visibly crestfallen with teary eyes. But as soon as Parker begins cooing, “Baby girl…you’re gonna get a new home,” the pitty instantly perks up—all smiles and tail wagging.

“We are going to make her life so good,” Parker wrote in the video’s caption. “She will never be left all alone tied to a tree.”

@geaux75 The people that sold our house to us left behind their 10yr old dog they had since it was a puppy. I was so stressed we wouldnt get the house and something bad would happeb to her. We are going to maje her life so good. She will never be left all alone tied to a tree. 😭😢@roodytoots ♬ Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) [2018 Remaster] - Kate Bush

The video has been seen upwards of 4 million times. Countless people commented on how enraging it was to see a dog treated so carelessly.

“I’ve had my dog since she was 7 weeks old. She just turned 10 a few days ago. I literally cannot imagine doing this,” one person wrote.”

Another added: “The tears in her eyes…she doesn’t understand why they could just leave her, it breaks my heart. People like that shouldn’t be allowed to be pet owners.”

Subsequent videos show Parker freeing Molly from her leash and introducing the sweet pup to her husband, with whom she was instantly smitten. It’s clear that this doggo was both relieved and elated to be taken in by her new family.

Since being rescued, Molly has accompanied her new mom and dad everywhere.

@geaux75 Replying to @ohitscourtney ♬ Lucky Girl - Carlina


“She’s sticking to our side,” Parker wrote. “She won’t stop following us around. It’s so sweet.”

Parker has created an entire TikTok channel documenting her newfound pet’s journey, aptly named “Molly’s New Life,” showing Molly enjoying warm baths, plenty of treats, cuddles…all the finer things in life.

But what Molly seems to enjoy most of all is car rides:

@geaux75 Taking Molly to get a treat! Stay tuned!! #mollysnewlife #goodgollymissmolly ♬ original sound - Mollysnewlife 🐾🐕💗

And in case you’re wondering, the kitty is doing well, too, though it still prefers to stay outdoors.

Molly also has two indoor cat siblings who instantly welcomed her into the family. The video below shows one of them, Joofus, comforting a trembling Molly with kisses during a thunderstorm.

@geaux75 We had a big storm this morning and Molly was having a hard time. Joofus got on the bed and started comforting her. It was the sweetest thing. They got snuggled up and Molly went to sleep. Animals are amazing. #mollysnewlife #petsarefamily ♬ I Won't Let Go - Rascal Flatts

It seems that Molly has gotten the safe, loving home she’s deserved all along.

We know that animal abandonment is fairly common. According to The Zebra, almost 4 million dogs are either given up to shelters or abandoned each year. And still, it’s really hard to fathom how humans can treat such innocent creatures with such blatant disregard when they provide so much pure joy.

Thankfully, there are folks out there like the Parkers who know that taking care of animals like Molly is one of life’s most precious offerings.

Stay up-to-date with the rest of Molly’s journey by following her on TikTok.


This article originally appeared on 5.31.23