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This pastry chef leans on her STEM background to design impossible-looking desserts.

Dinara Kasko makes cakes. Absolutely stunning cakes.  

They're modern, bold, and structural, with decadent shapes and surprising flavors. They're also designed using algorithms and mathematical principles.

All photos via Dinara Kasko, used with permission.


Kasko, 28, trained for years as an architect and designer in Ukraine and enjoyed her craft but wanted to try something new.

Instead of designing the next great skyline, she attended pastry school with a focus on patisserie (think pastries and sweets as opposed to bread or candies). Kasko combined her skills as an architect with her new medium — sugar — and didn't look back.

But with her architectural chops, Kasko doesn't stick to traditional bundt or tube pans. Instead, she designs and prints her own molds with a 3D printer.

Using her background in math and design principles, along with specialty software, Kasko invents her own one-of-a kind pans.

"Generally speaking, this educational background has influenced my taste and style," Kasko says in an interview via e-mail. "Besides, it has taught me the right proportions, how to design and create beautiful objects of the right proportion."

New desserts start on the computer, where molds are designed and perfected with specialty software.

Then the molds are printed layer by layer with a 3D printer.

Kasko then considers the look and feel of the mold to decide what flavors and consistencies fit best. While any flavor of sponge will do, Kasko challenges herself to make her flavors as unique as her designs.

"As for the basic recipes that go with my moulds, I am trying to make them off-the-beaten track with nice textures," she writes. "Also, the form and what is inside of the cake should be well-combined. If it’s the 'Block' mould, then the cake is dense inside. If it is 'Cloud,' then it has a very smooth texture and so on."

In addition to her background in architecture, Kasko is inspired by contemporary art.

She's traveling to an exhibition on Dutch art in the coming weeks where she'll participate as a speaker and connect with other artists, though few will be working in chocolate and butter.

With desserts that dazzle the eye and the tastebuds, Kasko's food pushes the limits of art and physics.  Here are a few of her amazing sweets.

1. This eye-popping dessert is a cheesecake with goat cheese and cranberries housed in thin chocolate rings.

Kasko had to carefully piece the rings together to ensure they could support the cheesecake without breaking.

2. That's not concrete, it's cake! Kasko contrasted a hard-looking, geometric exterior with soft sponge cake.

3. Kasko worked with parametric designer Andrej Pavlov to create this almost rock-like mold using the mathematical principle of a Voronoi diagram.

For those of you who aren't math majors, according to some helpful lecture slides from that's the "subdivision of the plane where the faces correspond to the regions where one site is closest." Note: Most Voronoi diagrams aren't stuffed with chocolate mousse.

4. Inspired by the work of Matt Shlian, this dessert is actually 81 individual, unique cakes designed with an algorithm to form a single composition.

And yes, that's delicious ruby chocolate.

5. Kasko leaned heavily on her architecture background for this nearly topographic piece, using the triangulation principle to make an edible construction with a lime-basil flavor.

6. This cherry cake came to life after Kasko played around with placing objects in a confined space.

She started with simple spheres, then switched some to cherries for a more natural look.

The inside is chocolate sponge cake with a crispy layer, cherry confit, and chocolate mousse.

Kasko's work is a beautiful reminder that STEM careers and capabilities aren't limited to the classroom, laboratory, or office.

When Kasko didn't find her niche, she quite literally created her own. By making STEM classes, tools, and software more accessible in schools, community centers, and libraries, we plant the seeds of innovation and ingenuity in the next generation.

English⬇️ Мой первый пряничный домик "Tod's" специально для конкурса "Печенье объединяет" от @maria.leonova где я в роли судьи! Делаем пряничный домик, чем оригинальнее, тем интереснее. Для примера я выбрала один из моих любимых архитектурных объектов, построенный в 2004г в Токио - бутик итальянского дома моды Tod's. Выпекала обычное пряничное тесто. Затем сточила края теркой и залила щели растопленным крашеным изомальтом. Отличная возможность просто сделать пряничный домик для себя и семьи на праздники ☺️ Вы можете сделать любой домик - стандартный или нет, по желанию. Судьи проекта: Cinzia Bolognezi @cuordicarciofo, Anna Rastorgueva @anna.rastorgueva ❗️Все подробности по участию, призам и правилам у @maria.leonova ❗️ Вопросы по заданию пишем в комментариях у @maria.leonova под анонсом. . It's my first gingerbread house "Tod's" for the first international cookies competition - COOKIES UNITE. For the competition my inspiration was an amazing Tod's building, located in Tokyo, that is wrapped in a skin of criss-crossed concrete braces and glass that mimics the trees lining the street. I'll be a mentor in the next stage: Gingerbread house! You have to do some creative and nice gingerbread house. The more creative, the better. ❗️All rules, tasks, information about prizes you can find at @maria.leonova❗️ Mentors in other categories: Cinzia Bolognezi @cuordicarciofo Anna Rastorgueva @anna.rastorgueva #okmycake #pastryinspiration #chocolatejewels #pastryart #cake #kharkov #харьков #chefsofinstagram #gastroart #art #pastryart #dinarakasko #chefstalk #pastry #chefs #geometry #instadessert #foodcreation #foodartchefs #foodporn #beautifulcuisine #callebaut #photoart#cookies_unite_dinara#gingerbreadhouse#tods#tokyo#architectura

A post shared by Dinara Kasko (@dinarakasko) on

And there's nothing sweeter than that.

A young mom with her kids in the ER.

Sage Pasch’s unique family situation has attracted a lot of attention recently. The 20-something mother of 2 shared a 6-second TikTok video on September 29 that has been viewed over 33 million times because it shows how hard it can be for young moms to be taken seriously.

In the video, the young-looking Pasch took her son Nick to the ER after he injured his leg at school. But when the family got to the hospital, the doctor couldn’t believe Pasch was his mother. “POV, we’re at the ER, and the doctor didn’t believe I was the parent,” she captioned the post.


Pasch and her fiancé , Luke Faircloth, adopted the teen in 2022 after his parents tragically died two years apart. “Nick was already spending so much time with us, so it made sense that we would continue raising him,” Pasch told Today.com.

The couple also has a 17-month-old daughter named Lilith.

@coffee4lifesage

He really thought i was lying😭

Pasch says that people are often taken aback by her family when they are out in public. "Everybody gets a little confused because my fiancé and I are definitely younger to have a teenager," she said. "It can be very frustrating."

It may be hard for the young parents to be taken seriously, but their story has made a lot of people in a similar situation feel seen. "Omg, I feel this. I took my son to the ER, and they asked for the guardian. Yes, hi, that's me," Brittany wrote in the comments. "Meee with my teenager at a parent-teacher conference. They think I’m her older sister and say we need to talk with your parents," KatMonroy added.


This article originally appeared on 10.24.23

Photo by Tod Perry

A recreation of the note left on Brooke Lacey's car.

If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (273-8255) or text "HOME" to the Crisis Text Line: 741741.


There’s an old Hebrew saying that if you “save one life, you save the world entire.” Who knows if Brooke Lacey, 22, had that lofty goal when she began a campaign in 2020 to help uplift people’s spirits during the first COVID-19 wave.

But her kind efforts may have done just that.

Lacey has struggled with mental health issues throughout her life and she knew that people like her were going to have a really hard time during COVID-19 lockdowns. A study from May 2021 found that the New Zealand population had “higher depression and anxiety compared with population norms.” The study also found that “younger people” and “those most at risk of COVID-19 reported poorer mental health.”



To help those who may be struggling, Lacey printed 600 stickers with an uplifting message and posted them around places where people may take their lives, including trains, bridges and large bodies of water in Wellington, New Zealand. She also made a bumper sticker with the same message for her car.

The stickers spoke directly to those who may be contemplating taking their own life. “Please don’t take your life today,” the stickers read. “The world is so much better with you in it. More than you realize, stay.”

Earlier this month, Lacey parked her car in her university’s lot and when she returned to her vehicle to leave, she noticed a note was affixed to the windshield. Thinking it was someone complaining about how she parked or a ticket, she prepared for the worst but wound up being blindsided by the positive message.

“I left my house with a plan and asked for a sign, any sign, I was doing the right thing when I saw your car in the parking lot. Thank you,” the note read. At first, Lacey wasn’t sure what the person was referring to, then she remembered her homemade bumper sticker.

“I had these made so long ago, put one on my car and forgot about them, until now,” she tweeted on her since deactivated account. “I am so glad whoever you are chose to stay today. You never know who needs this reminder.”

Now, it’s unclear exactly what the person’s “plan” was, but there's no doubt that Lacey’s bumper sticker inspired them to choose life. Let’s hope that the sticker also inspired them to seek professional help for whatever difficulties they are going through.

Whether it was intentional or not, Lacey’s sticker was effective because it followed one of the most important strategies that people use at suicide hotlines. According to Science.org, it’s of utmost importance that people contemplating suicide are handled with “respect and empathy.”

Lacey's story is a beautiful reminder of the power that one simple, thoughtful gesture can have on another person’s life. Every day, there are people all around us who are looking for a sign to give them a reason keep going. Whether it’s a hug, a smile or the right message in the right place at the right time, we should all be like Lacey and make sure everyone knows that the world is better with them in it. In fact, much more than they ever realize.


This article originally appeared on 02.24.22

Joy

Gen X has hit 'that stage' of life and is not handling it very well

We are NOT prepared for Salt-n-Pepa to replace Michael McDonald in the waiting room at the doctor's office, thankyouverymuch.

Gen X is eating dinner earlier and earlier. It's happening.

The thing about Gen X being in our 40s and 50s now is that we were never supposed to get "old." Like, we're the cool, aloof grunge generation of young tech geniuses. Most of the giants that everyone uses every day—Google, Amazon, YouTube—came from Gen X. Our generation is both "Friends" and "The Office." We are, like, relevant, dammit.

And also, our backs hurt, we need reading glasses, our kids are in college and how in the name of Jennifer Aniston's skincare regimen did we get here?

It's weird to reach the stage when there's no doubt that you aren't young anymore. Not that Gen X is old—50 is the new 30, you know—but we're definitely not young. And it seems like every day there's something new that comes along to shove that fact right in our faces. When did hair start growing out of that spot? Why do I suddenly hate driving at night? Why is this restaurant so loud? Does that skin on my arm look…crepey?


As they so often do, Penn and Kim Holderness from The Holderness Family have captured the Gen X existential crisis in a video that has us both nodding a long and laughing out loud. Salt-n-Pepa in the waiting room at the doctor's office? Uh, no. That's a line we are not ready to cross yet. Nirvana being played on the Classic Rock station? Nope, not prepared for that, either.

Watch:

Hoo boy, the denial is real, isn't it? We grew up on "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, for goodness sake, and it's starting to feel like we made a wrong choice a chapter or two back and suddenly landed our entire generation in a time warp. This isn't real, is it? Thirty years ago was the 1970s. That's just a Gen X fact. So what if we've lived long enough for our high school fashions to go out of style and then back into style and then back out of style again?

Seriously, though, we can either lament our age and stage in life or we can laugh about it, and people are grateful to the Holdernesses for assisting with the latter. Gen X fans are also thrilled to see their own experiences being validated, because at this point, we've all had that moment in the grocery store or the waiting room when one of our jams came on and we immediately went into a panic.

"They were playing The Cure in the grocery store and I almost started crying," wrote one commenter. "I mean, how 'alternative' can you be if you're being played in Krogers? You guys are great! Thanks for making us laugh."

"I couldn’t believe it when I heard Bohemian Rhapsody being played in Walmart," shared another. "That was edgy in my day."

"I know!!! Bon Jovi at the grocery store!!! That was my clue in!!" added another.

"Long live Gen Xers! We have to be strong!! We can get through this together!! #NKOTBmeetsAARP" wrote on commenter.You can find more from the Holderness Family on their Facebook page, their podcast and their website, theholdernessfamily.com.


This article originally appeared on 1.28.24

Pop Culture

Why Gotye gave up $10 million in ad revenue from his 'Somebody That I Used to Know' video

The humble singer-songwriter's story is a cautionary tale of viral fame.

Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" video has 2.2 billion views on YouTube.

For most musicians, creating a hit song and making it big on the international stage would be living the dream. For Gotye, it turned out to be a bit of a nightmare.

Gotye is the stage name of Wouter "Wally" De Backer, the singer-songwriter behind the 2011 smash hit song, "Somebody That I Used to Know." The music video for the song becoming one of YouTube's most-liked videos, and with 2.2 billion views, the video could have earned over $10 million in ad revenue.

But De Backer has refused to place ads on it, saying, "I'm not interested in selling my music. That's the reason I don't put ads on my YouTube channel, which seems strange to people in today's climate, but that is a decision you can make. I'm like that with all my music."

It was the fame that came with the virality of the song that was the bigger issue for the artist, however. It's a simple enough thing to turn down money, but there's not much you can do to stop a viral wave.


The song took six months to write and produce, and when the video leaked a week before its official release, it quickly caught fire. At first, De Backer was just excited that his song was being played on the radio. Then the virality online took hold and that was also exciting for a while.

From the start, De Backer was grateful for the song's success, but he also managed to stayed simple and humble. He didn't buy anything large or luxurious with the money he made from song sales, being content to drive his old van. And when he was asked what was the best thing that happened in the previous year, he responded, "It probably wouldn't be anything to do with a marker of success of my song or my album. More something like a really great swim I took at Summer's Beach near where I live."

Soon the covers and parodies of the "Somebody That I Used to Know" grew more widespread and the quality of them began to wane, De Backer began to feel "burnt out" on it all. He had no control over people connecting name with whatever they were hearing done to his song, which was frustrating. He started to feel the pressures that come with fame, to have a certain personality or to follow up his huge hit with another huge hit. And he missed feeling like he had a personal connection with his audience, which becomes difficult at a certain scale.

He even began to feel self-conscious about the popularity of the song due to its theme—two people who had broken up and couldn't work out their differences. The fact that so many people were celebrating it so fiercely was uncomfortable for him; he didn't want to be responsible for spreading more angst or bitterness in the world. And then came the "overplayed" and "annoying" era of oversaturation. He even apologized to people for having to hear the song so often because radios wouldn't stop playing it.

Ultimately, he ceased putting out music as a solo artist and focused on making music with his long-time band, The Basics. There is a possibility for another solo Gotye project sometime in the next decade, but he's probably hoping he doesn't end up with a big hit next time around.

Watch SunnyV2 tell the story of Gotye's "one hit wonder" experience and how it impacted his musical career:

It's a cautionary tale for anyone who thinks they want to be famous or wishes they'd have a song go viral. Parts of that experience can be great, but fame isn't always everything it's cracked up to be.

via Pexels

A woman sitting cross-legged on a yoga mat

Everyone wants to know how long they will live and there are many indicators that can show whether someone is thriving or on the decline. But people have yet to develop a magic formula to determine exactly how long someone should expect to live.

However, a doctor recently featured on the "Today" show says a straightforward test can reveal the likelihood that someone aged 51 to 80 will die in the near future.

NBC News medical contributor Dr. Natalie Azar was on the "Today" show on March 8 and demonstrated how to perform the simple “sit to stand test” (aka sit-rising test or SRT) that can help determine the longevity of someone between 51 to 80.


The test is pretty simple. Go from standing to sitting cross-legged, and then go back to standing without using any parts of your body besides your legs and core to help you get up and down. The test measures multiple longevity factors, including heart health, balance, agility, core and leg strength and flexibility.

You begin the test with a score of 10 and subtract points on your way up and down for doing the following:

Hand used for support: -1 point

Knee used for support: -1 point

Forearm used for support: -1 point

One hand on knee or thigh: -1 point

Side of leg used for support: -1 point

A 2012 study published by the European Society of Cardiology found a correlation between the SRT score and how long people live. The study was conducted on 2002 people, 68% of whom were men, who performed the SRT test and were followed by researchers in the coming years. The study found that “Musculoskeletal fitness, as assessed by SRT, was a significant predictor of mortality in 51–80-year-old subjects.”

Those who scored in the lowest range, 0 to 3, had up to a 6 times greater chance of dying than those in the highest scores (8 to 10). About 40% of those in the 0 to 3 range died within 11 years of the study.

Azar distilled the study on "Today," saying: "The study found that the lower the score, you were seven times more likely to die in the next six years.”

"Eight points or higher is what you want," Azar said. "As we get older, we spend time talking cardiovascular health and aerobic fitness, but balance, flexibility and agility are also really important," she stressed.

One should note that the people who scored lowest on the test were the oldest, giving them an elevated risk of death.

Dr. Greg Hartley, Board Certified Geriatric Clinical Specialist and associate professor at the University of Miami, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that we should take the study with a grain of salt. “Frailty, strength, muscle mass, physical performance—those things are all correlated to mortality, but I would caution everybody that correlation doesn’t mean causation,” he said.

And of course, the test doesn't take into account injuries or disabilities that may make doing the test impossible. But one of the study's authors says that the study is a call to take our mobility seriously.

“The more active we are the better we can accommodate stressors, the more likely we are to handle something bad that happens down the road,” Dr. Claudio Gil Araujo, told USA Today.


This article originally appeared on 3.10.23