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Heroes

People with dementia might be in danger from telephone scams. The U.K.'s got a neat fix.

Richard Guthrie, 92, said he took the scammer's phone calls because he was lonely.

In 2007, the New York Times covered a spate of phone scams targeting the elderly. Guthrie, a widower and Purple Heart veteran, was one of them. In the end, he lost all of his savings — including the money he was planning to give to his great-grandkids for college — to telephone scams.

Unfortunately, Guthrie's case isn't unique. Senior citizens lose about $2.9 billion each year (each year!) from financial scams and abuse, according to a 2011 report by MetLife.


Image via iStock.

There are a number of reasons scammers target the elderly. They often have savings, for instance, and can be reluctant to contact the authorities if they are victims.

Even more dastardly, scammers often target people with dementia. The medical condition hits more than 1 in 20 seniors, taking a heavy toll on them and their caretakers — before having to worry about scammers.

So wouldn't it be great if there were a simple solution to all this?

The United Kingdom has a pretty interesting idea on how to stop the calls altogether.

On April 6, the U.K. announced it would fund the rollout of a call-blocking device to about 1,500 people, according to the The Guardian.

The small device, known as trueCall, plugs in between a phone and wall outlet. Once installed, it can block recorded messages, silent calls, or calls from unknown numbers.

The initial rollout will go to people such as dementia patients who have been identified by their doctor as especially vulnerable.

“We have seen people tricked out of thousands of pounds by scam callers, and this government is determined to clamp down on their activities once and for all,” Prime Minister Theresa May said while announcing the fund.

This is could be a big "take that!" at granny-defrauding, savings-stealing scammers.

Nobody deserves to have their life savings whittled away — not people who should be entering their golden years, like Guthrie, and especially not people and families who are already shouldering the toll dementia can take.

Hopefully, this new solution will help those 1,500 families breathe a little easier.

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

Joy

More than optimism: How to cultivate the world-changing power of hope

Optimism is a mindset. Hope is an action-oriented skill—and one that can be honed.

Hope is a skill.

Hope can be hard to find in tough times, and even when we catch a glimmer of hope, it can be hard to hold onto. And yet, the ability to remain hopeful in the face of hardship and adversity is an example of the human spirit we've seen displayed time and time again.

But what exactly is hope? How does hope differ from optimism, and how can we cultivate more of it in our lives?

Cynics may see hope as naive at best and as blind idealism at worst, but according to Thema Bryant, PhD, former president of the American Psychological Association, hope is really about staying open to the possibilities.

“Hope isn’t a denial of what is, but a belief that the current situation is not all that can be,” Bryant said, according to the APA. You can recognize something’s wrong, but also that it’s not the end of the story.”


People often think of hope and optimism as the same thing, but there are some key differences between them in the social psychology world. Optimism is a state of mind that sees the future through a positive lens and expects that it will be better than the present. Hope, on the other hand, is action-oriented. It involves having a goal for that positive future and making a concrete plan to move toward it.

“We often use the word ‘hope’ in place of wishing, like you hope it rains today or you hope someone’s well,” said Chan Hellman, PhD, a professor of psychology and founding director of University of Oklahoma's Hope Research Center. “But wishing is passive toward a goal, and hope is about taking action toward it.”

That sense of personal agency is the key difference between someone who is optimistic and someone who is hopeful, as the authors of the study, "Great expectations: A meta-analytic examination of optimism and hope," Gene M. Alarcon, Nathan A. Bowling and Steven Khazon wrote:

"Simply put, the optimistic person believes that somehow—either through luck, the actions of others, or one’s own actions—that his or her future will be successful and fulfilling. The hopeful person, on the other hand, believes specifically in his or her own capability for securing a successful and fulfilling future."

Both hope and optimism require a belief in a better future, but hope puts some of the power to make it happen into our own hands. And while hope and optimism are closely linked, they don't necessarily have to go together. As Arthur Brooks has pointed out, a person can be a hopeless optimist, believing in a better future but feeling helpless to do anything to create it, and a person can also be a hopeful pessimist who takes actions to improve things but still sees the future negatively.

Ideally, one would strive toward being an hopeful optimist. Why? Well, for one, both hope and optimism are good for our health, according to studies done on them. And secondly, hope is what motivates us to act. Without hope, we have a whole lot of people wishing for change but not actually doing anything about it.

But how do you become more hopeful if it doesn't come naturally? How do you hone hope?

An article on Psyche by Emily Esfahani Smith shared study findings on how to cultivate hope, which includes:

- Changing the story you tell yourself about adversity, remembering that hard times are temporary

- Focusing on the things you have control over, like your routines, habits and the way you treat other people

- Reframing obstacles as challenges to overcome rather than immovable limitations

- Looking to your past successes instead of your past failures

- Asking yourself what you hope for and then continuing to answer until you find an attainable goal

- Envisioning that goal and mapping out a plan to move towards it

Being hopeful about your own future may feel like a different beast than having hope in humanity's future, but we all have a role to play in creating a better world and hope is the driver strives to make it happen. As Augustine of Hippo allegedly said, "Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are." If we find ourselves angry at the way things are, we need to find the courage to act. The question of what actions to take may remain, but we need the belief and conviction to act that hope provides in order to figure it out.

Most importantly to remember is that hope is a choice. It may not come naturally or easily to everyone, but hope is something we can choose to nurture in ourselves as well as encourage in others.

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!

Neil deGrasse Tyson at Howard University 2010

Astrophysicist and master science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson is blowing people’s minds by describing how tides actually work, as opposed to how we see them as mere humans.

He recently described the “misunderstood” phenomenon in an episode of “Star Talk” with co-host Chuck Nice.

“Tides are widely misunderstood. The next thing I say may be mind-blowing to you. The tide doesn’t actually come in and out. What happens is there is a bulge of water, two of them, on opposite sides of the Earth,” Tyson began his discussion.


“They are caused by the Sun and the Moon and Earth turns inside that bulge. So when we say [the tides] rise and fall, tidally what is happening is we are rotating into the bulge and then out of the bulge," he continued.

What you think you know about tides is all wrong…www.youtube.com

The quick explanation exposes an even greater scientific idea, that humans are limited in understanding because of our perspective and language. "So we're stuck with language, from our own perspective, rather than the language of what's actually happening,” Tyson explains. “It's simpler to say the water goes in and out. It's simpler to say the sun set rather than, Earth rotated such that our angle of view on this stationary sun fell below our local horizon."

For a more in-depth description of how tides work from “Star Talk,” check out the video below. The famed scientist also wrote a blog post on the tidal forces back in 1995, which describes the phenomenon on an even deeper level.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains the Tideswww.youtube.com

Health

Please read this before you post another RIP on social media

There is a hierarchy of grief and it's important to know where you fall on it before posting about someone's death.

Image from GOOD.

Working through grief is a community thing.


Grieving in the technology age is uncharted territory.

I'll take you back to Saturday, June 9, 2012. At 8:20 a.m., my 36-year-old husband was pronounced dead at a hospital just outside Washington, D.C.

By 9:20 a.m., my cellphone would not stop ringing or text-alerting me long enough for me to make the necessary calls that I needed to make: people like immediate family, primary-care doctors to discuss death certificates and autopsies, funeral homes to discuss picking him up, and so on. Real things, important things, time-sensitive, urgent things.

At 9:47 a.m., while speaking to a police officer (because yes, when your spouse dies, you must be questioned by the police immediately), one call did make it through. I didn't recognize the number. But in those moments, I knew I should break my normal rule and answer all calls. "He's dead??? Oh my God. Who's with you? Are you OK? Why am I reading this on Facebook? Taya, what the heck is going on?"


Facebook? I was confused. I hadn't been on Facebook since the day before, so I certainly hadn't taken the time in the last 90 minutes to peek at the site.

"I'll call you back", I screamed and hung up. I called my best friend and asked her to search for anything someone might have written and to contact them immediately and demand they delete it. I still hadn't spoken to his best friend, or his godsister, or our godchild's parents, or a million other people! Why would someone post it to Facebook SO FAST?

While I can in no way speak for the entire planet, I certainly feel qualified to propose some suggestions — or, dare I say, rules — for social media grieving.

How many RIPs have you seen floating through your social media stream over the last month? Probably a few. Death is a fate that we will each meet at some point. The Information Age has changed the ways in which we live and communicate daily, yet there are still large voids in universally accepted norms.

This next statement is something that is impossible to understand unless you've been through it:

There is a hierarchy of grief.

Yes, a hierarchy. It's something people either don't understand or understand but don't want to think or talk about — yet we must.

There is a hierarchy of grief.

Hierarchy is defined as:

  1. a system or organization in which people or groups are ranked one above the other according to status or authority, and
  2. an arrangement or classification of things according to relative importance or inclusiveness.

What does this mean as it relates to grief? Let me explain. When someone dies — whether suddenly or after a prolonged illness, via natural causes or an unnatural fate, a young person in their prime or an elderly person with more memories behind them than ahead — there is one universal truth : The ripples of people who are affected is vast and, at times, largely unknown to all other parties.

A death is always a gut punch with varying degrees of force and a reminder of our own mortality. Most people are moved to express their love for the deceased by showing their support to the family and friends left behind.

In the days before social media, these expressions came in the form of phone calls, voicemail messages, and floral deliveries.

If you were lucky enough to be in close proximity to the family of the newly deceased, there were visits that came wrapped with hugs and tears, and deliveries of food and beverages to feed all the weary souls.

Insert social media. All of those courtesies still occur, but there is a new layer of grief expression — the online tribute in the form of Facebook posts, Instagram photo collages, and short tweets.

What's the problem with that? Shouldn't people be allowed to express their love, care, concern, support, and prayers for the soul of the recently deceased and for their family?

Yes.

And no.

Why? Because there are no established "rules," and people have adopted their own. This isn't breaking news, and you're not trying to scoop TMZ. Listen, I know you're hurt. Guess what? Me too. I know you're shocked. Guess what? Me too. Your social media is an extension of who you are. I get it. You "need" to express your pain, acknowledge your relationship with the deceased, and pray for the family.

Yes.

However...

Please give us a minute.

We are shocked.

We are heartbroken.

Give the immediate family or circle a little time to handle the immediate and time-sensitive "business" related to death. In the minutes and early hours after someone passes away, social media is most likely the last thing on their minds. And even if it does cross their mind, my earlier statement comes into play here.

There is a hierarchy of grief.

Please pause and consider your role and relationship to the newly deceased. Remember, hierarchy refers to your status and your relative importance to the deceased. I caution you to wait and then wait a little longer before posting anything. This may seem trivial, silly, and not worth talking about, but I promise you it isn't.

If the person is married, let the spouse post first.

If the person is "young" and single, let the partner, parents, or siblings post first.

If the person is "old" and single, let the children post first.

If you can't identify the family/inner circle of the person, you probably shouldn't be posting at all.

Do you get where I'm going with this?

In theory, we should never compare grief levels, cast the grief-stricken survivors into roles, or use words like status and importance. But maybe we need to at this moment (and for the next few weeks and months).

The "RIP" posts started hitting my timeline about an hour after my husband's death, and I certainly didn't start them. This created a sense of confusion, fear, anxiety, panic, dread, and shock for the people who knew me, too. What's wrong? Who are we praying for? Did something happen? Did someone pass? Why are there RIPs on your wall and I can't reach you? Call me please! What's going on?

That's a small sample of messages on my voicemail and text inbox. I had to take a minute in the midst of it all to ask a friend to post a status to my Facebook page on my behalf.

Your love and expressions of support are appreciated and needed, but they can also be ill-timed and create unintended additional stress.

The person is no less dead and your sympathy no less heartfelt if your post, photo, or tweet is delayed by a few hours. Honestly, the first couple of hours are shocking, and many things are a blur. Most bereaved people will be able to truly appreciate your love, concern, prayers, and gestures after the first 24 hours.

I've learned this from the inside — twice within the last four years. And I assure you that if we each adopted a little patience and restraint in this area, we would help those who are in the darkest hours of their lives by not adding an unnecessary layer of stress.

A few extra hours could make all the difference.


This article originally appeared on 05.07.19