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Skilled workers make our world work. They deserve our respect — and protection.

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Deepwater Horizon

Every single day, workers in America are risking their lives to make a living.

Mundane moments in our lives that we take for granted — that lights come on when we flick switches, that roads are safe to drive on, that toilets flush away dirty water and taps supply clean — occur because of skilled trade workers, some of whom risk their lives in potentially deadly situations just to make them happen.

Despite the essential work they do every day, skilled workersaren't often given much credit in our culture. They're overlooked or underestimated.

Working in skilled trades isn't something a person can wake up one day, put on a hardhat, and start doing. The vast majority require a two-year diploma from a vocational school. Others are more in depth, adding apprenticeships and on-the-job training before workers can be certified to do it on their own.


Working as anything above an entry-level steward on an oil rig, for example, usually requires a diploma in welding, basic mechanics, or heavy equipment operations plus specialized courses in marine firefighting and emergency response. Workers must be physically strong, highly-skilled natural problem-solvers — able to do their tough, essential jobs perfectly on a moving, floating deep-sea drilling platform in all kinds of bad weather and treacherous conditions.

Most of the time, there are extensive safety protocols in place to keep workers out of harm’s way.

Coupled with strong leaders empowering workers to speak up about problems, sometimes they make a big difference.

Other times, like in the case of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon disaster, they fail horribly.

The Deepwater Horizon drilling platform burns on April 20, 2010. Image via U.S. Coast Guard.

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon was finishing up work on the deepest oil well ever drilled on our planet. The project was behind schedule and over budget. A chain of decisions, spurred largely by off-site executives wanting to save further money and time, led to a catastrophic explosion, a massive fire, and the largest oil spill in American history.

11 people — nine crew members and two engineers — lost their lives the day the Deepwater Horizon exploded.

Their shocking, preventable loss is unfortunately not unique to this one disaster.

In 2014, the most recent year for which there's data available, 4,821 workers died on the job in the United States. Some of these were the result of freak accidents. Others could have been prevented through tougher safety regulations and training, along with leaders committed to fostering cultures focused on inclusivity and safety.

That kind of workplace is possible. Paul O'Neill, the former CEO of Alcoa, famously built his entire business strategy on improving worker safety — a focus that both saved lives and helped his company succeed. That latter aspect, he says, was never his primary goal. Speaking to students at Harvard Business School, he reflected on his decision:

"I told the financial staff that if anyone ever calculated how much money we were saving by being safe, they were fired. I didn't lay down rules like that very often, but I'll tell you why I did it: because I didn't want [employees] to think they were being asked to do something because management was trying to think how to save money. I didn't care, and I was prepared to accept the consequences of spending whatever it took to become the safest company in the world."

Image via Participant/Deepwater Horizon.

Six years later, the effects of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill still linger.

This disaster caused catastrophic damage to the environment, to communities along the Gulf Coast, and to 11 families in particular who lost loved ones that day.

At the same time, it should be a wake-up call about so many things, especially about the conditions we expect for ourselves and our fellow workers who provide essential contributions to our daily lives.

When things go spectacularly wrong on a work site, skilled workers are often the last line of defense preventing a mistake from becoming a full-blown disaster. If management doesn’t listen to workers on the front line, people get hurt. Guaranteeing their safety is ensuring our own.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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Architectural Digest/Youtube

This house was made with love.

Celebrity home tours are usually a divisive topic. Some find them fun and inspirational. Others find them tacky or out of touch. But this home tour has seemingly brought unanimous joy to all.

“Stranger Things” actor David Harbour and British singer-songwriter Lily Allen, whose Vegas wedding in 2020 came with an Elvis impersonator, gave a tour of their delightfully quirky Brooklyn townhouse for Architectural Digest, and people were absolutely loving it.

For one thing, the house just looks cool. There’s nothing monotone or minimalist about it. No beige to be seen.

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Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

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Health

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to run their YouthLine teen crisis hotline

“Each volunteer gets more than 60 hours of training, and master’s level supervisors are constantly on standby in the room.”

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to man YouthLine teen crisis hotline

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Mental health is a top-of-mind issue for a lot of people. Thanks to social media and people being more open about their struggles, the stigma surrounding seeking mental health treatment appears to be diminishing. But after the social and emotional interruption of teens due the pandemic, the mental health crises among adolescents seem to have jumped to record numbers.

PBS reports that Oregon is "ranked as the worst state for youth mental illness and access to care." But they're attempting to do something about it with a program that trains teenagers to answer crisis calls from other teens. They aren't alone though, as there's a master's level supervisor at the ready to jump in if the call requires a mental health professional.

The calls coming into the Oregon YouthLine can vary drastically, anywhere from relationship problems to family struggles, all the way to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Teens manning the phones are provided with 60 hours of training and are taught to recognize when the call needs to be taken over by the adult supervisor.

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Family

Mom shares her brutal experience with 'hyperemesis gravidarum' and other moms can relate

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe case of morning sickness that can last up until the baby is born and might require medical attention.

@emilyboazman/TikTok

Hyperemesis gravidarum isn't as common as regular morning sickness, but it's much more severe.

Morning sickness is one of the most commonly known and most joked about pregnancy symptoms, second only to peculiar food cravings. While unpleasant, it can often be alleviated to a certain extent with plain foods, plenty of fluids, maybe some ginger—your typical nausea remedies. And usually, it clears up on its own by the 20-week mark. Usually.

But sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes moms experience stomach sickness and vomiting, right up until the baby is born, on a much more severe level.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), isn’t as widely talked about as regular morning sickness, but those who go through it are likely to never forget it. Persistent, extreme nausea and vomiting lead to other symptoms like dehydration, fainting, low blood pressure and even jaundice, to name a few.

Emily Boazman, a mom who had HG while pregnant with her third child, showed just how big of an impact it can make in a viral TikTok.

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The cast of TLC's "Sister Wives."

Dating is hard for just about anyone. But it gets harder as people age because the dating pool shrinks and older people are more selective. Plus, changes in dating trends, online etiquette and fashion can complicate things as well.

“Sister Wives” star Christine Brown is back in the dating pool after ending her “spiritual union” with polygamist Kody Brown and she needs a little help to get back in the swing of things. Christine and Kody were together for more than 25 years and she shared him with three other women, Janelle, Meri and Robyn.

Janelle and Meri have recently announced they’ve separated from Kody. Christine publicly admitted that things were over with Kody in November 2021.

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