+
ericka and jay johnson, sulcata tortoise, tortoise ring bearer
via Pexels and Pexels

Ericka and Jay Johnson were accompanied by ring bearer Tom Shelleck, a Sulcata tortoise.

Veterinarians Ericka and Jay Johnson met 20 years ago while doing a wild tortoise survey. So the couple decided that their ceremonial walk down the aisle wouldn't be complete without their 20-year-old sulcata tortoise, Tom Shelleck, accompanying them as ring bearer. The couple was married last year at Tohono Chul Botanical Gardens in Arizona.

To make sure they made it to the altar, a floral basket containing the rings was attached to the top of Tom’s shell.

“Jay and I are both exotic animal veterinarians and tortoises have always been at the center of what brought us together,” Ericka said according to The Metro.

The couple encouraged Tom to walk down the aisle by lining the walkway with strawberries, a sulcata’s favorite treat.

Having Tom accompany them during their big moment was adorable but it also allowed them to really savor the moment. It took the bride, groom and Tom three minutes to walk down the aisle, where it takes most people just a few seconds.


“We were timing him when we’d practice to see how long it would take and we ended up having to have two songs played so that we’d have enough time, and we still almost ran out of songs,” Ericka said.

“When it was time for him to go down the aisle I had my twin nephews place strawberries down for him to follow,” Ericka added. “He’s very outgoing and always hungry.”

Tom is clearly an important part of the couple’s life and it makes sense. A sulcata tortoise, much like a marriage, is a lifetime commitment. A sulcata can live more than 70 years and an adult can weigh anywhere from 79 to 200 pounds.

The only tortoises that are larger than a sulcata are the Galapagos tortoise and the Aldabra giant tortoise. The Aldabra giant tortoise can weigh up to 550 pounds and live for up to 150 years.

Ericka was a little worried that Tom would get distracted by mistaking some of their guests' freshly painted toenails for fruit. But he made it all the way to his destination without veering off course. “Fortunately that didn’t happen,” she said.

After the big day was over, Tom stood out as one of the most memorable parts of the wedding. “A lot of people were talking about it and we made some funny jokes like ‘the bride is supposed to be the center of attention but it’s the ring bearer,’” Ericka said.

"The day after the wedding I had several people text me like ‘Hey, do you have any pictures of Tom?’” Ericka joked.

Ericka and Jay are a great example of how a couple can make a wedding truly an expression of their love by sharing what’s important to them. Tortoises brought them together and now their dearest Tom Shelleck was able to lead them to the altar where they could make the ultimate commitment to one another.

Plus, let’s face it, it’s important that Tom agreed to the marriage because he’s going to be right by their side for another 50-plus years, so he better approve of the arrangement.


Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
Keep ReadingShow less
All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

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.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


At 1:30 am on Monday morning an AMBER Alert went out in southern Louisiana about a missing 10-year-old girl from New Iberia. It was believed she had been kidnapped and driven away in a 2012 silver Nissan Altima.

A few hours later at 7 am, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, sanitation workers for Pelican Waste, were on their daily route when they noticed a vehicle that fit the description in the alert.

Keep ReadingShow less
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.

Keep ReadingShow less