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The movers unloaded the furniture and personal items at the Obamas' new D.C. residence, and I find myself ill-prepared to say goodbye.

I've been shuffling through the past few weeks in a haze, clinging to the first family's final moments in the White House, lost in what can only be described as a kind of grief.

President Barack Obama cries as he speaks during his farewell address in Chicago. Photo by Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images.


I don’t have to agree with my president. I don’t have to want to share a beer with him or want to be his friend. But win or lose, I want my president to be just that: my president.

I want him to think of me or, more accurately, people like me. People who don’t look like him, act like him, or necessarily agree with him. I want him to consider people who live a world away from him in class, geography, age, and upbringing. I want my president to listen to demonstrators and respond not with threats or aggression but with compassion and be open to criticism and feedback. I want my president to have some respect for this country and its citizens, whether they voted for him or not.

I grieve not for the man who’s leaving, but for the people who stand to lose when he departs.

His successor campaigned on and is setting into motion a wave of policy changes that threaten the health, safety, and well-being of millions of Americans.

I grieve for the people who may lose their access to their medical insurance and affordable health care, including from clinics like Planned Parenthood. I grieve for the people of color, Muslims, and Jews who fear for their safety in the wake of brutal hate crimes and the sexual assault survivors who may be reminded of their own attacks every single time this man takes the podium. I grieve for the refugees and immigrants who face uncertain futures, no matter how long they've called this country home. And I grieve for the LGBTQ individuals, couples, and families who fear their marriages and civil rights are on the chopping block.  

Whether they voted for him, against him, or not at all, millions of people — many of them already vulnerable — will be left to deal with the consequences of this president-elect's decisions. I think of all this, and I grieve.

Obama greets kids at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Flickr.

I still remember listening to Kanye West’s “Touch the Sky” no less than a dozen times the day after Obama was elected.

I held my head high on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008, my old, crappy earbuds falling out and lovingly replaced with each confident step.

Two months later, I cheered, hollered, and shed a small frozen tear at his chilly inauguration. Nothing could dim my shine. My president was black.

Obama tours Kenai Fjords National Park by boat. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Flickr.

But it was more than that.

My president believed in education. He read books. Lots of them. He trusted good science. He encouraged children (and grown-ups) to invent, create, code, and think their way to a better world.

Obama sits with a Lego statue during preparations for the South by South Lawn event at the White House.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Medium.

My president was put together. He was mature and cool under pressure. He carried himself with the gravitas, passion, and self-deprecating sense of humor his position demanded, even when it would've been easier to resort to vicious attacks.

Obama in the Rose Garden. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Flickr.

My president was accessible. Maybe not, "here's my cell phone number" accessible, but he opened the doors of the White House to welcome diverse performers, experts, civilians, nonprofit leaders, children, and more from across the nation and around the world, even starting his own Big Block of Cheese Day. He made the White House "our" house again.

Obama  talks with Girl Scouts, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the White House Science Fair in 2015. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy/Flickr.

My president was kind. He smiled around kids. He paid attention to people from all walks of life. He doted on his wife. His daughters seemed to adore him. He was well respected, affable, and compassionate.

My president made me proud. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama join hands with Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) as they lead the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches, in Selma, Alabama. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson/Flickr.

President Obama wasn’t perfect. Far from it.

He approached issues at home and abroad in ways I didn’t always agree with, and without the sense of urgency some situations required. From his use of drone strikes to the delays and silence at Standing Rock and multiple moments and missteps in between. I often wonder how much more he could have accomplished, how much further we’d be today if he’d acted with the progressive courage we saw on the campaign trail in 2008.

Obama takes a call in the Oval Office. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Flickr.

Still, I will remember his presidency fondly. On Inauguration Day, I will grieve. Then, I will get back to work.

That former grad student blasting old Kanye still remembers how good it felt to have hope. How strong and powerful I felt when I spoke up and knew my voice was heard. We all deserve to feel that, and feel respected by our elected leaders, no matter who is in the White House.

A lot of things change with a new administration, but doing what's right and treating people with respect should not.

The president's wave aligns with a rainbow as he boards Air Force One. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Flickr.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

Pop Culture

TikTok star's surprising method for finding good Chinese food is blowing people's minds

Yelp can be a helpful tool for scoping out food joints, but maybe not in the way you think.

Photo by Debbie Tea on Unsplash

Different cultures view service differently.

Content creator Freddy Wong has a brilliantly easy way to find authentic Chinese food.

As he reveals in a mega viral video that’s racked up 9.4 million views on TikTok and 7.7 million views on Twitter, the trick (assuming you live in a major metropolitan area) is to “go on Yelp and look for restaurants with 3.5 stars, and exactly 3.5 stars." Not 3. Not 4. 3.5.

He then backs up his argument with some pretty undeniable photo evidence.

First, he pulls up an image of a Yelp page from P.F. Chang’s. With only 2.5 stars, one can tell the food is “obviously bad.” Alternatively, Din Tai Fung—a globally recognized Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant—has four stars.

Sounds good right? Wrong. In this case, “too many stars” means that “too many white people like it,” indicating that the restaurant is being judged on service rather than food quality. According to Wong, if “the service is too good, the food is not as good as it could be.”

He then pulls up the Yelp page for a couple of local Chinese restaurants, both of which have 3.5 stars. The waiters at these establishments might “not pay attention to you,” he admits, adding that they might even be “rude.” But, Wong attests, “it’s going to taste better.”

@rocketjump

Why I only go to Chinese restaurants with 3.5 star ratings

♬ original sound - RocketJump

"The dumplings here are better [than Din Tai Fung's]. I've been here," he says of the 3.5 star Shanghai Dumpling House. Considering his Twitter profile boasts a “James Beard Award winning KBBQ Gourmand'' title, it seems like he knows what he’s talking about.

So, why is this 3.5 rule the “sweet spot”? As Wong explains, it all comes down to different “cultural expectations.”

“In Asia, they’re not as proactive. They’re not going to come up to you, they’re not going to just proactively give you refills, you need to flag down the waiter,” he says, noting the different interpretations of service.

"People on Yelp are insufferable,” he continues, arguing that “they're dinging all these restaurants because the service is bad,” but the food is so good that it balances out the bad service. Hence, a 3.5-star rating. His reasoning is arguably sound—people do often give absurdly scathing reviews that in no way accurately reflect a restaurant’s food quality.

“A good Yelp review doesn’t mean it’s a good restaurant — it simply means the restaurant is good at doing things that won’t hurt their online rating,” Wong said in an interview with Today, adding that “highly rated Yelp restaurants are often those with counter service and limited menus, minimizing potential negative interaction with staff.”

He also added the caveat, “I don’t have anything against those places, but I think people who only eat at the ‘highest rated’ restaurants on online review sites are only eating at the most boring restaurants.”

A ton of people in the comments seem to back Wong’s theory.

best chinese food

100% accurate, some say

TikTok

Plus, the theory seems to not be limited to just Chinese restaurants, further implying that maybe there’s more of a cultural misunderstanding, rather than any real lack of quality.

thai food near me

No drink refills but the food is fire.

TikTok

yelp reviews, yelp

2.8 is the new 5

TikTok

One of the gifts that our modern world provides is the opportunity to truly experience and appreciate other cultures. Since food is easily one of the most accessible (and enjoyable) ways to do that, perhaps we should prioritize seeking authenticity, rather than rely on a flawed and superficial rating system.

As Wong told Today, “I hope it encourages people to go out and eat more food from not only Chinese restaurants, but restaurants representing the whole world of cultural cuisines.”

Education

How a 3,800-year-old stone tablet helped create modern legal systems

'Innocent until proven guilty' isn't that new of a concept.

Kind of looks like the Matrix code...

The modern justice system is certainly not without its flaws, however most can agree that the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” is one that (when not abused) stands as the foundation of what fair due process looks like. This principle, it turns out, isn’t so modern at all. It can actually be traced all the way back to nearly 3,800 years ago.

historyLady Justice, the image of impartial fairness. Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

English barrister Sir William Garrow is known for coining the "innocent until proven guilty" phrase between the 18th and 19th century, after insisting that evidence be provided by accusers and thoroughly tested in court. But this notion, as radical as it seemed at the time, can, in fact, be credited to an ancient Babylonian king who ruled Mesopotamia.

During his reign from 1792 to 1750 B.C., Hammurabi left behind a legacy of accomplishments as a ruler and a diplomat. His most influential contribution was a series of 282 laws and regulations that were painstakingly compiled after he sent legal experts throughout his kingdom to gather existing laws, then adapted or eliminated them in order to create a universal system.

Those laws were inscribed on a large, seven-foot stone monument, and they were known as the Code of Hammurabi.

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popular

Woman left at the altar by her fiance decided to 'turn the day around’ and have a wedding anyway

'I didn’t want to remember the day as complete sadness.'

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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