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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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Wellness

If you've always had employer healthcare, you have no idea how vital the ACA is

If you've always had employer healthcare, you have no idea how vital the ACA is
Canva

I got married and started working in my early 20s, and for more than two decades I always had employer-provided health insurance. When the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka "Obamacare")was passed, I didn't give it a whole lot of thought. I was glad it helped others, but I just assumed my husband or I would always be employed and wouldn't need it.

Then, last summer, we found ourselves in an unexpected scenario. I was working as a freelance writer with regular contract work and my husband left his job to manage our short-term rentals and do part-time contracting work. We both had incomes, but for the first time, no employer-provided insurance. His previous employer offered COBRA coverage, of course, but it was crazy expensive. It made far more sense to go straight to the ACA Marketplace, since that's what we'd have done once COBRA ran out anyway.

The process of getting our ACA healthcare plan set up was a nightmare, but I'm so very thankful for it.

Let me start by saying I live in a state that is friendly to the ACA and that adopted and implemented the Medicaid expansion. I am also a college-educated and a native English speaker with plenty of adult paperwork experience. But the process of getting set up on my state's marketplace was the most confusing, frustrating experience I've ever had signing up for anything, ever.


Most of the problems stemmed from proving our income, which was confusing to report and hard to show accurately. I lost track of how many letters I got saying they needed more or different information. When I'd call the help number, the person on the other end always told me something different. It took nearly two months of back and forth, with dozens upon dozens of letters, phone calls, and website chats, to finally get my family set up with a healthcare plan.

During the two months, we weren't covered under any insurance, I was terrified of something happening. We are a very health-conscious family and we take good care of ourselves, but what if one of us broke a bone? What if one of us had a freak medical event or needed an emergency surgery? What if we got into a car accident and had to be hospitalized? The list of possible scenarios, minor to major, constantly ran through my mind.

During the time we weren't covered, I was keenly aware of three things: 1) All it would take was one big accident or diagnosis to wipe us out financially, 2) People in other developed nations never feel this fear, and 3) Prior to the ACA, far more Americans felt this fear all the time.

Once we were finally able to work out the necessary paperwork, it was fine. Our income at the time meant our premiums were low, and our coverage was comparable to what we had with my husband's employer. I ended up getting hired on full-time with benefits a few months later, so our experience with Obamacare was relatively short-lived. But I can't imagine the financial stress of trying to afford health insurance or worrying about paying for healthcare out of pocket without insurance—fears that millions of Americans lived with pre-ACA.

And we didn't even have any pre-existing conditions that would have kept us from being able to get insurance prior to the ACA. Adding that factor in drives home how important that legislation truly is.

At the same time, as thankful as I am that we had an affordable healthcare option, I couldn't help thinking about friends I have who live in other countries who never have to worry about any of this stuff. No complicated paperwork or bureaucracy to deal with. No waiting for bills to arrive in the mail after a doctor's appointment to see what you owe beyond your co-pay. No calling the insurance company to figure out why something that seems like it should have been covered wasn't covered.

The amount of of time, energy, agony, and stress Americans have to put into managing healthcare is absurd when compared to other highly developed nations, and even most less developed ones. We're so accustomed to this garbage, I don't think most people recognize that it doesn't have to be like this.

The ACA was a step in the right direction and a necessary lifeboat for those who previously couldn't get or couldn't afford to get health insurance. But it's not universal healthcare, which is quite frankly the bare minimum of what a society should expect from its government. The fact that the idea has somehow been spun into something radical or impossible when basically every other developed country has figured out how to do it, we spend more on healthcare than anyone else per capita already, and our health outcomes trail so badly behind other developed nations is completely baffling.

My experience with the ACA drove home to me why it's a vital piece of legislation to protect, but also highlighted the desperate need for universal healthcare. It's far past time for us to take that next step.

Photos from Tay Nakamoto

Facebook is no longer just your mom’s favorite place to share embarassing photos.

The social media platform has grown in popularity for young users and creators who enjoy forming connections with like-minded individuals through groups and events.

Many of these users even take things offline, meeting up in person for activities like book clubs, brunch squads, and Facebook IRL events, like the recent one held in New York City, and sharing how they use Facebook for more than just social networking.

“Got to connect with so many people IRL at an incredible Facebook pop up event this past weekend!” creator @Sistersnacking said of the event. So many cool activities like airbrushing, poster making + vision boarding, a Marketplace photo studio, and more.”

Tay Nakamoto, a designer known for her whimsical, colorful creations, attended the event and brought her stunning designs to the public. On Facebook, she typically shares renter-friendly hacks, backyard DIY projects, and more with her audience of 556K. For the IRL event, she created many of the designs on display, including a photobooth area, using only finds from Facebook Marketplace.

“Decorating out of 100% Facebook Marketplace finds was a new challenge but I had so much fun and got it doneeee. This was all for the Facebook IRL event in NYC and I got to meet such amazing people!!” Nakamoto shared on her page.


Also at the event was Katie Burke, the creator of Facebook Group “Not Wasting My Twenties.” Like many other recent grads at the start of the pandemic, she found herself unemployed and feeling lost. So she started the group as a way to connect with her peers, provide support for one anopther, and document the small, everyday joys of life.

The group hosts career panels, created a sister group for book club, and has meetups in cities around the US.

Another young creator making the most of Facebook is Josh Rincon, whose mission is to teach financial literacy to help break generational poverty. He grew his audience from 0 to over 1 million followers in six months, proving a growing desire for educational content from a younger generation on the platform.

He’s passionate about making finance accessible and engaging for everyone, and uses social media to teach concepts that are entertaining yet educational.

No matter your interests, age, or location, Facebook can be a great place to find your people, share your ideas, and even make new friends IRL.

Science

Researchers dumped tons of coffee waste into a forest. This is what it looks like now.

30 dump truck loads and two years later, the forest looks totally different.

One of the biggest problems with coffee production is that it generates an incredible amount of waste. Once coffee beans are separated from cherries, about 45% of the entire biomass is discarded.

So for every pound of roasted coffee we enjoy, an equivalent amount of coffee pulp is discarded into massive landfills across the globe. That means that approximately 10 million tons of coffee pulp is discarded into the environment every year.



When disposed of improperly, the waste can cause serious damage soil and water sources.

However, a new study published in the British Ecological Society journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence has found that coffee pulp isn't just a nuisance to be discarded. It can have an incredibly positive impact on regrowing deforested areas of the planet.

via British Ecological Society

In 2018, researchers from ETH-Zurich and the University of Hawaii spread 30 dump trucks worth of coffee pulp over a roughly 100' x 130' area of degraded land in Costa Rica. The experiment took place on a former coffee farm that underwent rapid deforestation in the 1950s.

The coffee pulp was spread three-feet thick over the entire area.

Another plot of land near the coffee pulp dump was left alone to act as a control for the experiment.

"The results were dramatic." Dr. Rebecca Cole, lead author of the study, said. "The area treated with a thick layer of coffee pulp turned into a small forest in only two years while the control plot remained dominated by non-native pasture grasses."

In just two years, the area treated with coffee pulp had an 80% canopy cover, compared to just 20% of the control area. So, the coffee-pulp-treated area grew four times more rapidly. Like a jolt of caffeine, it reinvigorated biological activity in the area.

The canopy was also four times taller than that of the control.

Before and after images of the forest

The forest experienced a radical, positive change

via British Ecological Society

The coffee-treated area also eliminated an invasive species of grass that took over the land and prevented forest succession. Its elimination allowed for other native species to take over and recolonize the area.

"This case study suggests that agricultural by-products can be used to speed up forest recovery on degraded tropical lands. In situations where processing these by-products incurs a cost to agricultural industries, using them for restoration to meet global reforestation objectives can represent a 'win-win' scenario," Dr. Cole said.

If the results are repeatable it's a win-win for coffee drinkers and the environment.

Researchers believe that coffee treatments can be a cost-effective way to reforest degraded land. They may also work to reverse the effects of climate change by supporting the growth of forests across the globe.

The 2016 Paris Agreement made reforestation an important part of the fight against climate change. The agreement incentivizes developing countries to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, promote forest conservation and sustainable management, and enhance forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

"We hope our study is a jumping off point for other researchers and industries to take a look at how they might make their production more efficient by creating links to the global restoration movement," Dr. Cole said.


This article originally appeared on 03.29.21

Family

Naming twins is an art. Here are some twin names people say are the best they've ever heard.

With twins, all the regular pressures of having a baby are doubled, including choosing a name.

Are you in favor of rhyming twin names? Or is it too cutesy?

Having twins means double the fun, and double the pressure. It’s a fairly known rule to name twins in a way that honors their unique bond, but that can lead to overly cutesy pairings that feel more appropriate for nursery rhyme characters than actual people. Plus, it’s equally important for the names to acknowledge each twin’s individuality. Again, these are people—not a matching set of dolls. Finding the twin baby name balance is easier said than done, for sure.

Luckily, there are several ways to do this. Names can be linked by style, sound or meaning, according to the baby name website Nameberry. For example, two names that share a classic style would be Elizabeth and Edward, whereas Ione and Lionel share a similar rhythm. And Frederica and Milo seem to share nothing in common, but both mean “peaceful.”

Over on the /NameNerds subreddit, one person asked folks to share their favorite twin name pairings, and the answers did not disappoint.


One person wrote “Honestly, for me it’s hard to beat the Rugrats combo of Phillip and Lillian (Phil and Lil) 💕”

A few parents who gave their twin’s names that didn’t inherently rhyme until nicknames got involved:

"It's the perfect way! Christmas cards can be signed cutely with matching names, but when they act out you can still use their full name without getting tripped up.😂"

"The parents of a good friend of mine did this: her name is Allison and her sister is Callie. Their names don’t match on the surface, but they were Alli and Callie at home."

“Alice and Celia, because they’re anagrams! Sound super different but have a not-so-obvious implicit connection.”

This incited an avalanche of other anagram ideas: Aidan and Nadia, Lucas and Claus, Liam and Mila, Noel and Leon, Ira and Ria, Amy and May, Ira and Ari, Cole and Cleo…even Alice, Celia, and Lacie for triplets.

Others remembered name pairs that managed to sound lovely together without going into cutesy territory.

twin names, twins, babies, baby namesThese matching bunny ears though. Photo credit: Canva

“I know twin toddler boys named Charlie and Archie and they go so well together,” one person commented.

Another wrote, “Tamia and Aziza. I love how they follow the same sound pattern with the syllable endings (-uh, -ee, -uh) without being obnoxiously matchy matchy.”

Still another said, “Lucy and Logan, fraternal girl/boy twins. I think the names sound so nice together, and definitely have the same 'vibe' and even though they have the same first letter they aren't too matchy-matchy.”

Other honorable mentions included: Colton and Calista, Caitlin and Carson, Amaya and Ameera, Alora and Luella, River and Rosie, and Eleanor and Elias.

One person cast a vote for shared style names, saying, “If I had twins, I would honestly just pick two different names that I like separately. I tend to like classic names, so I’d probably pick Daniel and Benjamin for boys. For girls my two favorites right now are Valerie and Tessa. I think Val and Tess would be cute together!”

Overall though, it seems that most folks were fans of names that focused on shared meaning over shared sound. Even better if there’s a literary or movie reference thrown in there.

twin names, twins, babies, baby namesMany adult twins regret that their names are so closely linked together. Photo credit: Canva

“My mom works in insurance, so I asked her. She’s seen a lot of unique ones, but the only twins she remembers are Gwenivere [sic] and Lancelot... bonus points... little brother was Merlin,” one person recalled.

Another shared, “If I had twin girls, I would name them Ada and Hedy for Ada Lovelace and Hedy Lamarr, both very early computer/tech pioneers. Not that I’m that into tech, I just thought it was a brilliant combination.”

Other great ones: Susan and Sharon (think the original “Parent Trap”), Clementine and Cara (types of oranges), Esme and Etienne (French descent), Luna and Stella (moon and stars), Dawn and Eve, plus various plant pairings like Lily and Fern, Heather and Holly, and Juniper and Laurel.

Perhaps the cleverest name pairing goes to “Aubrey and Zoe,” since…wait for it… “they’re A to Z.”

It’s easy to see how naming twins really is a cool opportunity for parents to get creative and intentional with their baby naming. It might be a challenge, sure, but the potential reward is having the most iconic set of twins ever. Totally worth it!

Pop Culture

What is 'Generation Jones'? The unique qualities of the not-quite-Gen-X-baby-boomers.

This "microgeneration" had a different upbringing than their fellow boomers.

Generation Jones includes Michelle Obama, George Clooney, Kamala Harris, Keanu Reeves and more.

We hear a lot about the major generation categories—boomers, Gen X, millennials, Gen Z and the up-and-coming Gen Alpha. But there are folks who don't quite fit into those boxes. These in-betweeners, sometimes called "cuspers," are members of microgenerations that straddle two of the biggies.

"Xennial" is the nickname for those who fall on the cusp of Gen X and millennial, but there's also a lesser-known microgeneration that straddles Gen X and baby boomers. The folks born from 1954 to 1965 are known as Generation Jones, and they've been thrust into the spotlight as people try to figure out what generation to consider 59-year-old Vice President Kamala Harris.

Like President Obama before her, Harris is a Gen Jonesernot exactly a classic baby boomer but not quite Gen X. Born in October 1964, Harris falls just a few months shy of official Gen X territory. But what exactly differentiates Gen Jones from the boomers and Gen Xers that flank it?


"Generation Jones" was coined by writer, television producer and social commentator Jonathan Pontell to describe the decade of Americans who grew up in the '60s and '70s. As Pontell wrote of Gen Jonesers in Politico:

"We fill the space between Woodstock and Lollapalooza, between the Paris student riots and the anti-globalisation protests, and between Dylan going electric and Nirvana going unplugged. Jonesers have a unique identity separate from Boomers and GenXers. An avalanche of attitudinal and behavioural data corroborates this distinction."

Pontell describes Jonesers as "practical idealists" who were "forged in the fires of social upheaval while too young to play a part." They are the younger siblings of the boomer civil rights and anti-war activists who grew up witnessing and being moved by the passion of those movements but were met with a fatigued culture by the time they themselves came of age. Sometimes, they're described as the cool older siblings of Gen X. Unlike their older boomer counterparts, most Jonesers were not raised by WWII veteran fathers and were too young to be drafted into Vietnam, leaving them in between on military experience.

Gen Jones gets its name from the competitive "keeping up with the Joneses" spirit that spawned during their populous birth years, but also from the term "jonesin'," meaning an intense craving, that they coined—a drug reference but also a reflection of the yearning to make a difference that their "unrequited idealism" left them with. According to Pontell, their competitiveness and identity as a "generation aching to act" may make Jonesers particularly effective leaders:

"What makes us Jonesers also makes us uniquely positioned to bring about a new era in international affairs. Our practical idealism was created by witnessing the often unrealistic idealism of the 1960s. And we weren’t engaged in that era’s ideological battles; we were children playing with toys while boomers argued over issues. Our non-ideological pragmatism allows us to resolve intra-boomer skirmishes and to bridge that volatile Boomer-GenXer divide. We can lead."

Time will tell whether the United States will end up with another Generation Jones leader, but with President Biden withdrawing his candidacy, it has now become a distinct possibility.

Of note in discussions over Kamala Harris's generational status is the fact that generations aren't just calculated by birth year but by a person's cultural reality. Some have made the argument that Harris is culturally more Gen X than boomer, though there doesn't seem to be any record of her claiming any particular generation as her own. However, a swath of Gen Z has staked their own claim on her as "brat"—a term singer Charli XCX thrust into the political arena with a post on X that read "kamala IS brat." That may be nonsensical to most older folks, but for Gen Z, it's a glowing endorsement from one of the top Gen Z musicians of the moment.

Family

Mom reveals 4-year-old's grievances for the week, showing just how nonsensical kids can be

"I wouldn't pull over on the side of the road to let her pet a coyote."

Mom shares 4-year-old's accidentally hilarious grievances.

Preschoolers can be absolutely hilarious when they aren't even trying. They're old enough to be able to have very strong opinions about things but young enough for most of their strong opinions to be about things that make little sense to adults. Like when a 3-year-old asks for a peanut butter sandwich only to get mad because you put the two pieces of bread together and they didn't want a sandwich like that. They wanted the kind that wasn't a sandwich at all.

While these things can be frustrating in the moment, once you've had a little space from it you can laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Kristen Cook took to social media to list all of her daughter's complaints for the week and they're pretty hysterical. One of the very first things the girl was upset about is the fact that Cook refused to pull over so the girl could pet a coyote. The list got increasingly more interesting.


"I also have two chins. She said it's not really fair that I have two chins and she has one. Her ice cream was too cold. I wore sunglasses the other day—and I don't often wear them but I did—and she said that she felt like that was me lying about being her mom," Cook rattles off before detailing more random grievances.

The mom's confessional style video made for a great starting point for other parents to list their children's nonsensical complaints and they're just as amusing.

"Mine demands I turn off the Sun while we drive," someone says.

"Mine flipped out because I couldn't give her a cloud.....FROM THE SKY!!!!!" another commenter reveals.

"When my daughter was four she got so mad when I showed her a picture of me when I was about six years old …… she can't believe I was a child and I didn’t wait for her so we could grow together as best friends," one person shares.

"My husband is an amputee and our 3 year old daughter randomly gets pissed that I’m mean and took daddy’s leg, he hasn’t had a leg since he was 12 and I met him when he was 17 I had nothing to do with the missing leg," someone else laughs.

"My 4 year old is mad at me because my husband told him he can’t marry me. He’s also mad that I’m pregnant and I won’t let him be pregnant," another person says.

If nothing else, these kids are consistently upset about things outside of their parents' control and it will never get old. But while everyone else was sharing their similar stories to help the mom feel less alone, one person had a message for the mom. Think of it as a small nugget of encouragement: "Well, maybe this week you can do better."

Yes, maybe this week this mom and all the ones facing similar dilemmas can simply do better so their children don't continue to have these very logical (insert sarcasm) complaints.

What does English sound like with German syntax?

Native English speakers often find German grammar rules pretty baffling. So, imagine if English speakers used German grammar and syntax while speaking their native tongue. Overlearner, a YouTuber who speaks multiple languages, created a video to show what a typical conversation would sound like.

Overlearner’s page discusses the optimal ways to learn languages, music, martial arts, and many other skills.

What’s interesting about the video is German’s unique syntax.


For example:

Person 1:Must you today also to work?

Person 2:No, I must today not to work I have today a day free but I work morning and over morning.


When people speak English but with German grammaryoutu.be

Or there was a crazy situation that went down at Person 2’s job. He’s a tooth doctor, or was we would call him, a dental assistant.

Person 2: Yesterday is a female patient in the clinic come that such fear before tooth doctors had that she during the examination to scream begun has then upstood and out the building run is.

Person 1:Wow, what for a crazy situation, yes.

The video's mixed-up syntax reminded many people in the comments of a “Star Wars” character. "This sounds like AI Shakespearean Yoda having a stroke," one commenter wrote. "So… to Germans, Yoda was the only normal one?" another added.

The video is a great way for English speakers to better understand what German sounds like to native speakers. It’s also a wonderful reminder that we should give any English speakers learning German or German speakers learning English a lot of credit because figuring out how to switch syntax like that must be maddening.