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Ever since Staff Sgt. Todd Hering was a boy, he loved to take mechanical things apart.

"I always wanted to see how things were put together," Hering recalls.

As he grew up, he started learning how to use those parts to repair various electronics, like radios. Slowly but surely, he got good at it. While it was a simple hobby, it's hard not to see how those skills led him to become a mechanic in the Air Force.


And not just any mechanic — one who worked with all the components of nuclear warheads.

[rebelmouse-image 19477774 dam="1" original_size="700x465" caption="A 90th Missile Maintenance Squadron maintainer works on a Minuteman III ICBM, which is akin to the missiles Hering maintained. Photo by Senior Airman Brandon Valle/U.S. Air Force." expand=1]A 90th Missile Maintenance Squadron maintainer works on a Minuteman III ICBM, which is akin to the missiles Hering maintained. Photo by Senior Airman Brandon Valle/U.S. Air Force.

Handling all the inner workings of such dangerous weapons of war might sound terrifying to the average person, but Hering found it fascinating and even fun.

It's no wonder he ended up spending nine years working in the nuclear sect both in the States and oversees in Italy on a nuclear-tipped ground launch cruise missile.

Hering officially left the Air Force in 1993, when he got married, but his transition out of such an important military job was not the easiest.

He had no trouble finding two part-time jobs working for an airline, but it was a far cry from the responsibility he had before. He missed the high-profile work, but similar civilian jobs were hard to come by at the time.

Then a seemingly inconsequential accident led to a total lifestyle change. Hering stubbed his toe while walking around his house. Like anyone might have, he ignored the discomfort he felt — until the toe became badly infected.

When he finally saw a doctor, the infection had gotten so bad, it was in his bone. Todd had nine surgeries to try and save his foot, but in the end, the bone infection was so extensive, the doctors declared he needed to have his right leg amputated.

Photo via iStock.

Just like that, he was a veteran living on disability and a frequent visitor to the local Veterans Affairs (VA) office for medical aid and physical therapy.

During his downtime, Hering picked up his old hobby of making repairs on electronics. At first it was just for fun, but while he was at the VA, he began to realize there might be an unmet need for his skills.

He spoke to many vets on disability who were trying to turn their lives around but were down on their luck. Some mentioned how nice it would be to have a TV to pass the time — and that's when he got an idea of how he could help them.

"All these people just throw their flat-screen TVs away because it's a disposable world," Hering explains. "I thought, they're easy to fix, so I'll just start fixing them and donating them to some vets that need them."

He looked around for broken TVs that had just been thrown away. He also posted ads on Craigslist asking people to send him their old, broken TVs. Since he's a seasoned mechanic, he didn't need to spend a lot of money on replacing the motherboards; he just bought parts piecemeal and fixed the motherboards himself.

So far, Hering has repaired over 70 TVs for veterans. And while it's obviously making their lives better, it's fulfilling him in a big way, too.

Hering with one of the veterans who received one of his fixed TVs. Photo via Todd Hering, used with permission.

"This gives me a feeling of self-worth," says Hering. "I feel like I'm worth more than I was before because I'm helping other people."

He started this give back project over two years ago, and yet every time he gives a repaired TV to a deserving veteran, he's reminded that his work makes a real difference.

"One guy kept wiping his eyes, and said, 'That's the best picture I've seen in my life.'" Hering recalls. "It wasn't a big screen or anything; he was just so grateful to have one."

Hering presents a repaired TV to another veteran. Photo via Todd Hering, used with permission.

Hering has over 127 broken TVs in storage, so he's not planning on stopping his project anytime soon. In fact, he's looking to expand his reach to victims of domestic violence.

He recognizes that people in that situation sometimes have to leave everything they have behind. He hopes that by gifting them a TV, it'll give them some comfort.

That said, continuing this philanthropic mission is getting expensive for a veteran living off of disability pay. Even just buying small parts can involve hefty shipping fees or travel costs, so he now accepts donations to help maximize what he can do for fellow veterans.

When you're living with a disability and have barely enough money to pay for your basic needs, sometimes a little thing like a TV means the world. Hering understands that more than most.

All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

As the saying goes, "You have to kiss a few frogs..."

Dating has certainly evolved over the years—we’ve gone from courtship being purely a financial arrangement (not that this trend has ever truly died) to knights jousting for a lady’s favor, to casual hookups … and now, romance is primarily found through an app more than anything else.

Technology used for meeting that special someone has become so advanced that you can base your search entirely upon specific interests. Like … oddly specific interests. Think a fellow cat person would be the purrfect match? There’s an app for that. Wish to “love long and prosper” with a fellow Trekkie? There’s an app for that too.

No matter the changes, one thing remains the same—dating is awkward. It’s got all the unspoken formalities of a job interview, disguised as innocent fun. The balance between playing it too cool and too eager is hard to find even for the smoothest among us, and usually results in total embarrassment. Even if we aren’t the ones committing those embarrassing acts ourselves, we are often the reluctant witness to them.

Terrible dates might not always be fun in the moment, but they can be just as important as the good ones. They can teach us a lot about ourselves and what qualities we want in a partner. And at the very least, they can teach us to embrace social clumsiness with a sense of humor.

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share a “funny or embarrassing first date story” for his ever popular #Hashtags segment. The best part—some of these awful first dates ended in marriage. There’s hope for us all.

Below, find 15 stories that are truly the the best of the worst. How do some of your first dates compare?

1. "After a nice dinner, she invited me to her house. On the way up, inside the elevator, I decided to push the button to stop between floors and give her a kiss... She had a phobia of closed spaces and she smacked my face as a reflex, two punches after we were kissing and laughing.” – @PanqueAlgarvio

2. “His jeans were so tight he couldn’t sit down. Stood at a bar stool the whole time.” – @onlyintheozarks

3. “Waiting 4 my date when an older couple asked me for a ride. my date came up and said sure! We drove them home & they asked us to come in. Date said “sure”. I pulled him back & asked why he wanted to hang w/strangers. He said ‘sh@t! YOU DON'T KNOW THEM!?’ We bolted!” – @natashaham75

facebook dating

Talk about a fashion faux pas.

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4. “Before the date, we had been chatting about books we liked and I talked about a great book I just read. We went on the date. I loaned her the book. She ghosted me.” – @thenextbarstool

5. “The worst first date I ever had was when my date locked his keys in the car and I had a curfew so he had to break his car window out to get me home on time. Didn’t think I’d ever see him again but we wound up married.” – @csleblan

6. “First date movie ‘Basic Instinct’ not realizing how suggestive it was. We just thought it was a mystery thriller! We left the movie discussing how each character could have actually murdered someone. We're married now.” – @Southrnbell_Amy

black people meet

There are worse first date movies tbh.

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7. “First date with my ex husband was a double date with his parents. The preview for ‘Speed Racer’ came on, and she leaned over me to say to her son, ‘You know what your dad's nickname in the bedroom is?’" – @theostoria

8. “A friend asked me on a double date as a blind date with his date's friend. I went to the bathroom and came back just in time to hear my date say to her friend, ‘why do I get the ugly one?’ I said good night to all three and headed home, leaving her w/the bill.” – @StevenTrustum

9. “He loved cheese. I was subjected to a 2 hour conversation/lecture about cheese, and why cottage cheese is not cheese!” – @Optimist_Eeyore

bumble

I'd like to see this two-hour cheese lecture.

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10. “He took me to an Asian fish market. We walked around looking at live & dead fish for a while. I don’t like seeing dead animals & I don’t eat seafood. Then we sat on a curb & he pulled out a ziplock bag of pineapple for us to share. I don’t like pineapple.” – @markayhali

11. “My cousin set up a first date for me with a family friend. During a break from dinner, Mr. Man follows me into the ladies’ room, comes up close and says in a low voice, ‘I shave my butt.’ Can’t remember what I said in response but the evening ended abruptly.” – @carli_zarzana

12. “I once took out my high school crush to a sports bar and ordered the spiciest wings there in an attempt to impress her. Not only was she not impressed. The next morning I woke up with heartburn.” –@Dmonster38

tindr conversation starters

Talk about a hot date.

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13. “My date showed up with his bestie and girlfriend, and they talked through dinner about people I don’t know. Walking to the car, he gave me a wedgie because he thought he hadn’t been paying enough attention to me.” – @surrealDazey


14. “I was taking my date home and was pulled over by the police for speeding. When the cop came to my car, she jumped out and told him she had to get home. She walked home and I never heard from her again. I'm not sure who's #WorstFirstDate it was mine or hers!” – @eastriverbear

15. “After an evening of dancing with a first date, leaving the dance hall, I had to take a quick pee break. Rushing out to the parking lot, I see a lady, I grab her and swoop her around, and plant a big wet kiss on the lips. She was another guy's wife. Oops!” – @seadogskamore

date you

Only Gomez could have gotten away with it.

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Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

Upworthy's weekly roundup of joy.

10 reasons to smile.

Since we're entering cold and flu season while also (still) trying to fend off COVID-19, we could all use some tips for boosting our immune system. We probably all know the standards—eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising—but did you know that joy can also give your immune system a kick?

According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter can release neuropeptides that can help prevent illness from becoming more serious and help fight stress that can weaken your immune system. A 2003 study found that people with more positive emotional states were less likely to develop a common cold, a 2015 study found that laugh therapy helped boost the immune response in women who had just given birth and multiple other studies have come to similar conclusions.

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Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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