“A balm for the soul”
Education

# Watching kids do lightning fast mental math is both mesmerizing and mind-blowing

### Their finger twitching looks random, but WOW is it impressive.

Digamarthi Sri Ramakanth/Wikimedia Commons

2003 UCMAS National Abacus & Mental Arithmetic Competition

In the age of calculators and smartphones, it's become less necessary to do math in your head than it used to be, but that doesn't mean mental math is useless. Knowing how to calculate in your head can be handy, and if you're lucky enough to learn mental abacus skills from a young age, it can be wicked fast as well.

Video of students demonstrating how quickly they can calculate numbers in their head are blowing people's minds, as the method is completely foreign for many of us. The use of a physical abacus isn't generally taught in the United States, other than perhaps a basic introduction to how it works. But precious few of us ever get to see how the ancient counter gets used for mental math.

The concept is simple and can be taught from a young age, but it takes a bit of time and practice to perfect. Watch what it looks like for basic addition and subtraction at lightning speed, though:

If you don't know what they're doing, it looks like students are just randomly flicking their fingers and wrists. But they are actually envisioning the abacus while they move their fingers, as if they were actually using one.

There are various methods of finger calculations that make use of abacus concepts. Watch another method that uses both hands in action:

Even very young children can calculate large sums very quickly using these abacus-based mental math methods. Watch these little superstars add two-digit to four-digit numbers like it's nothing.

How do they do it?

Much of the skill here requires a solid understanding of how an abacus is used to calculate and lots of practice with the physical movements of calculating with it. That's not exactly simple to explain, as it take a couple of years of practice using an abacus—for these mental calculations, specifically the Japanese soroban abacus—to gain the skills needed to be able to calculate quickly. BBC Global shares how such practices are taught in Japan, not only for mental math but for overall cognitive memory:

Abacus mental math programs online recommend learning it between the ages of 5 to 13. It is possible to learn at older ages, but it might take longer to master compared to younger students.

But if there's a finger method you want to try for addition and subtraction up to 99, one that's simple and quick to learn is called chisanbop, in which ones are counted on one hand and 10s are counted on the other. Here's an explainer video that shows how it works:

### Chisanbop!

Most of us carry calculators around in our pockets with us at all time, so such practices may feel like a waste of time. But learning new skills that tax our brain is like a workout for our mind, so it's not a bad idea to give things like this a spin. Even if we don't learn to calculate large numbers in the blink of an eye, we can at least exercise our mental muscles to keep our brains healthier. And who knows, maybe we'll get a party trick or two out of it as well.

Family

## Millennial mom asks her own mom about raising a kid in the 80s and is mortified

### "What did you do without Google?!"

@thedailytay/TikTok

"My anxiety could not have handled the 80s."

Raising kids is tough no matter what generation you fall into, but it’s hard to deny that there was something much simpler about the childrearing days of yesteryear, before the internet offered a million and one ways that parents could be—and probably are—doing it all very, very wrong.

Taylor Wolfe, a millennial mom, exemplifies this as she asks her own mother a series of rapid-fire questions about raising her during the 80s and the stark contrast in attitudes becomes blatantly apparent.

### First off, Wolfe can’t comprehend how her mom survived without being able to Google everything. (Not even a parent, but I feel this.)

“Everything! For starters, poop!” Wolfe says. “Cause you have to know if the color is an okay color, if it's healthy!”

“I was a nursing mom, so if the poop came out green, it was because I ate broccoli,” her mom responds.

…Okay, fair point. But what about handy gadgets like baby monitors? How did Wolfe’s mom keep her kid alive without one?

“I was the monitor, going in and feeling you,” she says.

@thedailytay My anxiety would have hated the 80s. Or maybe loved it? IDK! #fyp #millennialsontiktok #parenttok #momsoftiktok #comedyvid ♬ original sound - TaylorWolfe

Could it really be that easy? It was for Wolfe’s mom, apparently. Rather than relying on technology, she simply felt her child and adjusted accordingly.

“If you were hot, you slept in a diaper. If you were cold, you had a blanket around you.” Done and done.

Wolfe then got into more existential questions, asking her mom if she ever felt the stress of “only having 18 summers” with her child, and how to make the most of it.

Without missing a beat, Wolfe's mother says, “It's summer, I still have you.”

### Going by Wolfe’s mom, the 80s seems like a time with much less pressure.

From feeding her kids McDonald’s fries guilt-free to being spared the judgment of internet trolls, she just sort of did the thing without worrying so much if she was doing it correctly.

That’s nearly impossible in today’s world, as many viewers commented.

“Google just gives us too much information and it scares us,” one person quipped.

Another seconded, “I swear social media has made me wayyyy more of an anxious mom."

Even a professional noted: “As someone who has worked in pediatrics since the 80s, the parents are way more anxious now.”

I don’t think anyone truly wants to go back in time, per se. But many of us are yearning to bring more of this bygone mindset into the modern day. And the big takeaway here: No matter how many improvements we make to life, if the cost is our mental state, then perhaps it’s time to swing the pendulum back a bit.

Pop Culture

## Video nails 'jukebox brain'—when every conversation triggers a song in your head

### Anyone else feel like a walking karaoke machine?

All day long is a sing-a-long.

Most of us know what it's like to get a song stuck in your head, but how many of us spend most of our day with song after song playing in our brains, triggered by the things we or other people say?

Quite a few of us, apparently.

Social media creator Chrissy Allen shared a video on Instagram that is resonating with thousands who "can't have a single conversation without your brain thinking of a song."

Watch and see if this is you:

"My mind is a literal jukebox," Allen wrote. Same, friend. Same.

Over 18,000 people commented on the video commiserating about being walking karaoke machines.

"I am a teacher and the other day I said, 'Okay everyone stop what you’re doing' and then without thinking said
'Cause I’m about to ruin the image and the style that you’re use to' and the entire class stared at me confused and not knowing what just happened. I then realized I am 50 and my head is filled with old lyrics."

"All the neurodivergent peeps having a mental karaoke session in the middle of conversations 🤣 and we will inevitably say 'could you repeat that?'"

"Her: he was cheating on me, but you know what's really bananas?
Me: ...B-a-n-a-n-a-s... I'm so sorry"

"Why am I like this! 😫 The willpower it takes to not sing out loud in professional settings. The struggle is real."

"I can't distinguish an original thought from a verse in a song anymore. Send help."

"Very fluent in song lyrics and movie scenes 😂"

"Yes. I too have this problem. Lyrics and movie quotes are my language."

"This is me and my husband. We can't have a conversation without being reminded of a song then singing... We were in a harsh disagreement once and I couldn't help but start laughing, it annoyed him until I started singing the song, then he laughed, then we got over the disagreement and went on with our day 😂"

"My kids 'OH my god!!' Me 'Becky look at her butt!'
Then the kids just look at me like something is wrong with me.
🤣"

Apparently, some of us just have the entire catalog of every song we've ever heard just sitting there on standby until a word or phrase triggers the player to kick on. And yes, it can be a challenge to stop yourself from singing out loud at random times mid-conversation.

There's actually a scientific term for this phenomenon (and the super-related "earworm" phenomenon of having a song playing in your head on repeat). It's called involuntary musical imagery, or INMI, which refers to a "conscious mental experience of music that occurs without deliberate efforts to initiate or sustain it." A study in 2020 found that INMI appears to be a universal phenomenon and that songs with certain characteristics are more likely to be played and replayed in our brains.

“Earworms are an extremely common phenomenon and an example of spontaneous cognition,” the lead study author, Kelly Jakubowski, PhD, told CBS News. “Psychologists know that humans spend up to 40 percent of our days engaging in spontaneous cognition and are starting to try to understand why our brains spend so much time thinking thoughts unrelated to our present task and how such thoughts might be useful.”

While an earworm isn't quite the same thing as having songs on shuffle in your head, there are definitely some song that tend to pop into people's heads and refuse to leave more than others. According to the study, the top earworm songs are:

2. “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” by Kylie Minogue

3. “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey

4. “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye

5. “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5

6. “California Gurls” by Katy Perry

7. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

9. “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga

Terribly sorry for putting those into your brain. (Apparently, Lady Gaga has a special knack for writing songs that stick in the ol' gray matter. Thanks, Gaga.)

The question is, are some of us more prone to INMI than others? Perhaps. According to CBS News, research has shown that being constantly exposed to music and having certain personality traits, such as obsessive-compulsive or neurotic tendencies, can make people more susceptible to earworms. And a small 2015 study found that the size and shape of a person's brain—specifically, the thickness of certain brain regions—affected the frequency with which people got songs stuck in their head.

So those with jukebox brains might just be somewhat special, though judging from the responses to Allen's video there are quite a few of us out there bopping along to the soundtracks in our heads.

Identity

## 13 side-by-side portraits of people over 100 with their younger selves

### These powerful before-and-after photos reveal just how beautiful aging can be.

Jan Langer's incredible photos are timeless.

Czech photographer Jan Langer's portrait series "Faces of Century" shows them in a different light: as human beings aged by years of experience, but at their deepest level, unchanged by the passing of time.

In the series, Langer juxtaposes his portraits with another portrait of the subject from decades earlier. He recreates the original pose and lighting as closely as he can — he wants us to see them not just as they are now, but how they have and haven't changed over time. That is the key to the series.

These are the rare faces of people who have lived through two world wars, a cavalcade of regimes, and the rush of advancements in modern life. These photos, and the stories of the lives lived by the people in them, show not only the beauty of aging, but how even as we age, we still remain essentially ourselves.

## 1. Prokop Vejdělek, at age 22 and 101

All photos by Jan Langer.

Vejdělek is a former metallurgical engineer who will never forget the taste of warm fresh goat's milk.

## 2. Bedřiška Köhlerová, at age 26 and 103

Originally born in Merano, Italy, Köhlerová wishes to visit Italy one more time.

## 3. Ludvík Chybík, at age 20 and 102

Chybík is a former postal carrier and says he will never forget the route he worked every day.

## 4. Vincenc Jetelina, at age 30 and 105

Jetelina spent eight years in prison after World War II. Now, he just wants to live the rest of his life in peace.

## 5. Marie Fejfarová, at age 101

Fejfarová burned all her material memories, including old photographs, when she decided to move to a long-term care facility. She lived a dramatic life, hiding from the Nazis and then the Russians, but eventually she was able to travel the world with her husband. Her experiences show there's no such thing as too late in life to start a new chapter.

## 6. Antonín Kovář, at age 25 and 102

Kovář is a former musician whose daughter comes to visit him every day. He wishes to play the clarinet once more.

## 7. Anna Vašinová, at age 22 and 102

Vašinová will always remember the day her husband was taken away by the Nazis. She wishes to be reunited with him after death.

## 8. Stanislav Spáčil, at age 17 and 102

Spáčil was an electrical engineer throughout his life and thinks that it's too early in his life to think about the past.

## 9. Anna Pochobradská, at age 30 and 100

Pochobradská was a farmer. She now lives a quiet life and is thankful that her daughter visits her every weekend.

## 10. Antonín Baldrman, at age 17 and 101

Baldrman was a clerk early in life and keeps up with current events by reading the newspaper.

## 11. Marie Burešová, at age 23 and 101

Burešová loves talking to her family and wishes to have them all together again.

## 12. Vlasta Čížková, at age 23 and 101

Čížková cooked in the dining room at the airport in the small village of Vodochody. She'll never forget reciting her own poetry at wedding ceremonies.

## 13. Ludmila Vysloužilová, at age 23 and 101

Vysloužilová stays active every day by chopping wood, shoveling snow, and doing work around her house.

The photographer Langer was initially inspired to document the lives of elderly people because of what he saw as the media's lack of coverage of them. He decided to focus on people over the age of 100 — a very rare demographic indeed. The 2010 U.S. Census reported only 53,364 centenarians, which is only 0.19% of the population of people 70 years or older.

“One should live every single moment according to their best knowledge and conscience because one day we will see clearly what has a real value," Langer says of what he learned from his subjects while photographing them.

The series was originally part of a story that Langer did for the Czech news outlet aktuálně.cz. You can see more photos from the portrait sessions by following the link.

Art

## 67-year-old autistic man creates world's smallest sculptures out of carpet fibers and dust

### He paints with a single piece of dust.

Autistic man creates world's smallest sculptures out of dust

There are some things that you just can't believe unless you see it with your own eyes. Sometimes even after seeing it, you still can't wrap your head around what you just witnessed. But usually when it comes to artwork, you don't need to understand how it's made to appreciate the beauty of the piece.

That is until you come across something that combines the awe that comes with witnessing something beautiful and the awe that comes with seeing something unbelievable. It's like a double whammy to the senses where your brain has no idea what to make of it. Willard Wigan is one of those artists that will leave your mouth agape as you try to reconcile everything that goes into what he creates.

Wigan creates tiny art. Scratch that. Wigan creates microscopic art in the form of sculptures that aren't visible to the naked eye. Take a minute and let that sink in. The sculptures he creates are so small that you cannot see them with the human eye but people can't stop staring at them.

Wigan and his itty bitty sculptures have made it into the Guinness Book of World Records twice. Once for a 24 carat gold motorcycle in 2013 and again in 2017 for his sculpture of a human embryo made out of a carpet fiber placed inside a strand of Wigan's hair. The embryo sculpture measured 0.05388 mm according to Guinness Book of World Records.

Recently the artist went viral after Max Klymenko featured Wigan in a video on social media. Klymenko interviewed the sculptor to find out about his process of creating such tiny fragile art. They go through the sculptures from largest to smallest which most people would think the largest sculpture would be something you could easily distinguish from a piece of fuzz, but alas, it wouldn't be microscopic.

The largest sculpture Wigan has created is of a woman playing the violin and the entire sculpture fits inside of the eye of a needle. The microscopic violinist measures at a whopping 0.08 mm. He had to use loose fibers he dusted from his shirt in order to make the violin strings before using an eyelash as a paint brush.

Wigan even had a chance to delight Queen Elizabeth with a sculpture he made of her royal carriage before she died. The carriage was painted gold with just as many intricate details as the real thing. Queen Elizabeth had to use a microscope to look at the sculpture and even though she saw it, she couldn't believe that it was real.

"One mistake and it won't look like it was supposed to look like. I work between my heartbeat. So then I stop when it stops then I move when it stops, then I move," Wigan says.

Believe it or not, the sculptor wasn't always great at creating these micro-mini works of art. Back in 2012, Wigan spoke with Modern Art explaining that when he was working on sculpture of Alice in Wonderland he had a catastrophic miscalculation, telling the publication, "There was a tragedy when I first tried making this piece…I inhaled Alice!”

Since the pieces of art are so small, it's highly unlikely that he had to seek any medical treatment for inhaling the fictional character. Soon Wigan learned to create his sculptures between breaths, demonstrating in the video with Klymenko his unique ability to hold his breath for long periods of time. People were extremely impressed by his ability to sculpt out of things as small as a speck of dust.

Wigan shares with Klymenko that he is autistic, which seems to be the missing piece that explains his eye for the micro art according to several commenters, but most were simply awestruck.

"How do you even paint with dust! super impressive," someone shares.

"Watching this video I'm like how the f**k can someone focus so intently that they can move in between their heart beat consistently? 30 seconds later: autism ahhhh lol," another writes.

"So many hours and so many pieces and he’s got nothing to show for it unless you look through the microscope in all seriousness… he blew me away when he talked about paining in between heartbeats," one person admires.

"Wow!! Incredible patience and self-control, as well as other things (steadiness/accuracy etc). Plus a pretty unique thought process (I'm calling it "thinking outside the matchbox" 😃 coz of the miniature aspect ratio of his art) when it comes to what materials/medium etc he could use. Amazing," someone else gushes.

One commenter can't believe someone could reach that level of artistic talent without first losing their minds, "There HAD to have been a time when he went clinically insane then pushed past it to reach this."

There seems to be something for everyone in his collection, that is if you can see it. He's got historical figures, cartoon characters and even a gold ring mounted on an eyelash to pay homage to Beyoncé. You can check out his work on his website where no microscope is required. But if you ever get the chance to see something he sculpted in person, do him and other art admirers a favor...don't sneeze!

Pop Culture

## The dull side of these 17 'dream jobs' will erase any doubts about your own work life

### Every job has its disappointments. Maybe that's not such a bad thing.

Maybe there is no such thing as a dream job.

Listen, no job is perfect. Even with what most consider to be a dream gig, there’s bound to be some gap between expectations and reality—be it tedious, but necessary admin work, investments costs, day-to-day stresses, being away from family for extended periods of time…the list goes on.

## “What type of job seems appealing but ends up being quite disappointing?”

Out of the 4,700 responses the question garnered, we’ve chosen 17 of the most interesting ones.

While it might at first seem like a bit of a downer to pull back the curtain on some of these vocations, it can also instill a little more appreciation for the folks that manage to actually do them day in and day out.

1. Librarian

"I tell people it's my job and they say, 'That must be chill," or, 'I'd love to read all day.' It's basically just another customer service job where I'm either checking books in/out or showing people how to do basic computer things, but we also attract a lot of folks with mental health problems or substance abuse issues, and that can lead to some tense situations."

"I'm a fellow librarian here, and people are surprised when I tell them this. People idealize libraries as a kind of academic third space, but I always explain it by saying, 'It’s more a community center with a bunch of books than a place to read and do research.'

Like all jobs, it comes down to measuring stats to determine value, even though it's a service. How many computer users did we have? How many people attended our programs? Not so much discussing literature genres and theory. Also, here’s some Narcan, and watch this video on dementia and active shooter situations.

And let’s not get started on the book ban.”

—u/PonyEnglish

2. Florist

"Working at a flower shop is just like any other retail position, but everyone assumes it’s more enjoyable than it really is. Assisting families in selecting flowers for funerals is definitely not the fun part either."

"'I don't care that you're saying you want azaleas, the email specifically said rhododendrons. Yes, I get it's your special day, Janice, but I can't source 34 brand-new centerpieces in the next two hours. Yeah, well, next time communicate with your bridesmaids better. Yes, I was insinuating there will be a next time, because you seem lovely.'"

3. Forensic Scientist

"A friend of mine is a forensic scientist, and whenever he's on dating apps, it's the only thing people want to talk about. His work is actually pretty technical and involves a lot of routine tasks."

"Former forensic scientist here, it sounds glamorous but often you specialize in one thing like drug analysis or fingerprint analysis and it becomes very repetitive. I was fortunate to be a generalist and did a variety of things."

—u/ironmanchris

4. Personal Trainer

“Sounds fun, right? Help people exercise all day. Spend time in your already-happy-place - the gym. In reality it's a constant grind to keep getting new people in to replace the ones who drop out suddenly on a whim, or complain about not having enough time, etc etc. They never really put in the true work and focus and expect their hand to be held the whole time. People who can't learn to appreciate the process of losing weight and getting fit.”

5. Veterinarian

"Expectation: Ooo, lots of animals!

Reality: Death. SO MUCH DEATH."

—u/rekniht01

"There's a reason that field has some of the highest suicide rates. I only worked in a pet store, and the number of insane pet parents, abusive/ignorant owners, and pets that were definitely not living their best lives was heartbreaking. Vets get even more angry customers and heartbreaking cases. I befriended a few vet techs and vets, and their mental health is almost always in the dumps."

6. Security Guard

"I couldn't believe how lucky I was...getting paid to stand there and do nothing.

Until that job, I had not realized how much I would hate being bored."

7. Travel Blogger

"A travel blogger job seems appealing with its promise of adventure and free trips, but it often turns out disappointing due to constant deadlines, unstable income, and the pressure to always 'perform' for social media."

…In that same vein…

8. Influencer

"I know a lot of kids aspire to it, but the idea of having to constantly be on camera and always coming up with new content and always looking and playing the part no matter what seems literally exhausting. Not to mention the fact that you’re an online figure, so you are going to experience abuse and crap from people because that’s what people do online. It’s a hard pass from me."

—u/wellyboot97

9. Rancher/Farmer

"I cringe every time I see someone say they want to live on a farm or ranch. It's hard, brutal work. Most people that say it will not last."

—u/peezle69

"Every time somebody romanticizes farm life, I think of the time my entire family went on vacation in the middle of winter and left me to take care of the herd. Massive ice storm hit while they were gone. Picture me, a 5'4" woman, alone out in the middle of the prairie in my dad’s overalls and coat, trying to bust ice in the cattle troughs with an ax. Ballerina Farm could never."

—u/jellyrat24

10. Music Store Employee

"I thought it was going to be listening to awesome music all day. It was just putting stickers on everything, trying to sell an absolute rip-off of a store card, and listening to the same four basic-ass albums over and over and over until you understand why war crimes are a thing."

—u/Comics4Cooks

11. Event Planner

"Seems exciting until you’re stuck with last-minute changes, unresponsive vendors, and managing everyone’s stress."

"I studied event management and I couldn't believe how much red tape and risk management there is. It's like the whole job."

12. Chef

"I wanted to be a chef when I was a kid. Now I work in a kitchen and I hate it. The work is harder than you think, a lot of your time is spent doing mundane tasks, and you practically live there so no work-life balance.

Although all the chefs I know that 'made it' make quite a bit of money, they were so hard on their bodies from lack of sleep and drinking that they can’t enjoy their life after they retire. Their friends were reduced to their drinking buddies because they were the only ones who were available after closing.

13. Film Crew

"Don't get me wrong, I love it, but after five years I can already tell my body will not be able to keep up with it till retirement."

—u/Flanman1337

"The hours that people in this industry work are completely insane. I'm talking everything from set building to cameras to makeup to the damn accountants. Our hotels offered free breakfast and even light dinners, and we almost never saw them."

14. Video Game Developer

"Video games are great. Creating them is hell with long work hours and minimum pay."

—u/The1joriss

15. College Professor

"Much less lecturing on profound topics of importance, much more trying to keep your course running properly on Canvas than expected..."

16. Archeologist

"When I was an undergrad, it was so exciting. A different dig every summer… different eras, different cultures, different countries, different crews, so much to learn! But I figured out in grad school pretty quickly that it was 90% begging for money for your project while having to juggle teaching first-year yokels at some school in a part of the country you never wanted to visit — let alone live — and 10% using a toothbrush on the same patch of dirt that no one was ever going to be interested in for the rest of your life."

17. Social Media Manager

"Thought it’d be memes and chill, turns out it’s dealing with 2 a.m. crises over emojis."

—u/SunbeamHeart

"Even if I'm at home and on my social media privately, I can't not see what people are trying to sell, product or way of life, or what trend they are hopping on. It's handy since I can spot a scam but also a balls because I don't really enjoy social media like normal."

And as a positive bonus, we’ve added in a few jobs people said might seem UNappealing but are actually not half bad!

1. Data analyst

“Definitely not exciting to talk about and I live in spreadsheets but it's honestly a lot like doing puzzles, lots of problem solving.”

2. Financial analyst

"This is the best job I've ever had. I'm always looking for more projects, because I love that initial rush of looking at all the angles, and trying new things to figure out this particular issue. And then when you create something really cool that makes people's lives easier, amazing. A very satisfying job with lots of appreciation."

3. Urban Forester

“I’m a forester who got into that line because I liked physical outdoor labor, but moved into the more technical side of urban forestry because I don’t want to be doing physical labor when I’m 50.

Don’t tell my forester friends this but I’ve fallen hard for spreadsheets. I just set up a 5 tab sheet that’s all interlinked and I feel like I just created a miniature universe. It’s fascinating.

And I have a MiFi so I can work spreadsheets outside under trees. Life is good!” —u/TheMonkus

Let's face it—humans need novelty, relaxation, creative expression, stimulation, opportunities to learn. No job can fulfill all these needs. Maybe we're better off accepting that as long as we're getting these needs met in other ways, then maybe we're not doing so bad after all.