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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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Health

Why do ASMR videos give some people satisfying 'tingles' while driving others bananas?

Do these sounds soothe or annoy you?

ASMR videos, YouTube

ASMR videos have millions of views on YouTube.

I'd never heard of ASMR when my kids started talking about how "satisfying" ASMR videos were. They had shared other "satisfying" videos with me, such as machinery making precise movements, Play-Doh being squished through holes, and more. I understood what they found appealing about them and I figured ASMR videos would be similar.

They weren't.

For those who are unfamiliar with it, ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, which refers to the deep relaxation and tingling sensation some people experience from certain triggers, such as sounds. The sounds we're talking about, however, are not the soothing music or birds chirping or ocean waves one might normally associate with relaxation. They're things like hair brushing, scraping fingernails on a plastic water bottle and mouth crackles, all amplified with a powerful microphone.


Yes, mouth crackles. As in the popping sound people's saliva makes in the corners of their mouths when they talk. (The mouth sounds usually accompany someone whispering—another ASMR favorite.)

Intentional ASMR videos highlight these sounds and people either love it (because it gives them the tingles) or they don't (because it's annoying).

This whispering ASMR video has 24 million views and offers a glimpse of what I'm talking about:

The past decade has seen ASMR videos grow in popularity to the point where Reese's made an hour-long film featuring five ASMR stars who whisper into microphones while unwrapping Reese's candy wrappers.

This YouTube video is three hours straight of nonvocal ASMR sounds made primarily with a woman's fingernails gently scraping across various different textured surfaces, and it has 37 million views:

People who experience ASMR prefer different triggers, and it might take some experimenting to see what works—if it does at all. It seems that people either get ASMR or they don't. My children do, but I don't. I actually find these videos vaguely irritating.

Why is that? What makes some people have a positive, soothing reaction to ASMR videos while others get annoyed by them?

One answer may lie in our baseline mental states. A study from 2022 suggests that people who experience ASMR tingles tend to be higher in neuroticism, which means being more likely to experience negative emotional states such as anxiety. Notably, ASMR appeared to reduce anxiety in those people, whereas the people who didn't get the tingles showed no difference in their anxiety before and after watching the videos.

Joanna Greer, Ph.D., a senior lecturer of psychology at Northumbria University who co-authored the study, told Verywell Health that the study's findings can encourage further research into how ASMR can help reduce anxiety.

And anecdotally, the people-more-prone-to-anxiety-tend-to-get-ASMR idea is reflected accurately in my and my kids' case, as my kids are much more anxiety-prone than I am.

Neuroticism isn't the only personality trait associated with experiencing ASMR. University of Winnipeg professor of psychology Stephen Smith has studied ASMR and personalities. He told CNN that people who get the tingly response tend to score high in the "openness to experience" trait as well as neuroticism, while scoring lower in conscientiousness, extraversion and agreeableness.

"I think they’re more receptive to specific types of physical, auditory and visual experiences than the rest of us," Smith said.

ASMR isn't purely triggered by the videos shown and described here, either. The response is something most of us have experienced at one point or another, whether it's from someone brushing our hair or making slow movements or simply giving us personal attention. But the videos that have taken over YouTube are designed to tap straight into the phenomenon with specific sounds.

Whether it actually works is an individual question. In people I've casually polled, responses to ASMR videos seem to be fairly split—some find them "satisfying," some find them annoying. But the people who respond to ASMR sounds share that they reduce their anxiety and create a sense of calm in them. In an increasingly anxious world, the more ways we can find to soothe people's minds, the better. Whatever floats your boat.

Even if it does involve loudly breaking saliva bubbles.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Joy

6 states where the minimum wage and cost of living offer the best bang for your buck

The highest state minimum wage in the U.S. is now $16.28 per hour, but some cities are even higher.

State minimum wages range from $7.25/hr to $17.00/hr in 2024.

Public discourse about minimum wage and living wages has been ongoing for years, with people debating whether the government should mandate a minimum hourly pay for workers.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first federal minimum wage law in 1938, setting the lowest wage a worker could be paid at 25 cents per hour. Nearly a century later, the federal minimum wage is $7.25/hr, holding steady since 2009, with people lobbying to raise it to at least $15/hr for over a decade. However, in addition to federal law, each state has its own laws, a handful of which establish a state minimum wage higher than $15, a handful of which don't have a set minimum wage at all and everything in between.

Cost of living has also been a hot topic as inflation has squeezed everyone's wallets and certain cities and states have become utterly unaffordable, especially for people in low-wage jobs or who who are just starting out in their careers. So how do minimum wage and cost of living correlate state-by-state? Are there any sweet spots with a high(er) minimum wage and low(er) cost of living?


While there’s no perfect storm of super low cost of living and super high minimum wage—for instance, Washington, D.C. has the highest state minimum wage at $17/hr, but housing costs 140% more than the national average—there are some states where the ratio is far more favorable than others. According to Insider Monkey, here are the top six states where you can get the most bang for your minimum wage buck.

6. New Mexico

The Land of Enchantment offers a relatively decent living for its $12/hr minimum wage thanks to the state's below average cost of living. According to Rent Cafe, housing in New Mexico is 8% lower than the national average, monthly utilities are 9% lower, food is 4% lower, transportation is 3% lower and healthcare, goods and services are 2% lower.

According to Smart Asset, Albuquerque, New Mexico ranks as No. 10 in U.S. cities where minimum wage goes the furthest.

5. New Jersey

The Garden State's relatively higher-than-average cost of living is counteracted by relatively solid minimum wage of $14.13/hr. Most of the cost of living in New Jersey is wrapped up in housing, which is 30% higher than the national average, according to Rent Cafe, and utilities, which are 12% higher. Goods and services are 5% higher, but healthcare is 2% lower than the national average. Food and transportation are 1% and 2% higher, respectively.

4. Connecticut

With both a cost of living and minimum wage slightly higher than New Jersey, Connecticut rolls in at No. 4 with a $15/hr minimum wage. Where the Constitution State hits hardest is in utilities, which Rent Cafe places at 30% higher than the national average, and housing, which is 24% higher. Healthcare and goods and services are both 9% higher, while transportation and food are just 1% and 2% above average.

3. Missouri

The Show-Me State says, "Show me the money!" with its somewhat respectable $12/hr minimum wage, which goes pretty far with its relatively low cost of living. Housing is the biggest cost benefit Missouri offers at 18% lower than the national average. But utilities, food, healthcare, and goods and services are also all below average, with only transportation landing right at the national average.

Additionally, St. Louis clocked in at No. 5 for a minimum wage real-world value of $13.68 when adjusting for the city's lower-than-average cost of living.

2. Washington

With the highest state minimum wage in the nation (unless you count Washington, D.C.), Washington's $16.48/hr puts it in second place when accounting for cost of living. Make no mistake, Washington isn't cheap overall, with a cost of living 15% higher than the national average. Housing and transportation hit hard at 29% and 27% higher than the national average, respectively. Healthcare is pricey as well at 20% higher than average. Food costs 12% more, but utilities clock in at 7% less than the national average.

Two cities in Washington hit the top 15 for highest real minimum wage value, though, with Seattle at No. 13 and Spokane at No. 2.

map of united states with these states highlighted in green: Washington, New Mexico, Missouri, Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut

These six states offer the best minimum wage to cost of living ratio.

Created with mapchart.net

1. Illinois

If you want the best bang for your minimum wage buck, head to the Prairie State with its $13/hr minimum wage and 8% lower than average cost of living. Housing in Illinois is 22% lower than average and utilities are 10% lower. The only expense that comes in higher than average for Illinois is transportation at 3% above average, which isn't enough to keep it out of the top spot.

However, there are some minimum wage sweet spots in certain U.S. cities that aren't reflected in these state rankings. According to Smart Asset, Denver, CO, is the city where minimum wage goes the farthest in the nation. Colorado comes in at a respectable 7th place in state minimum-wage-to-cost-of-living ratio, but Denver has its own mandatory minimum wage of $18.29/hr.

A citywide minimum wage is part of what puts Seattle at the No. 13 spot on that same list. Seattle is one of the most expensive cities in the U.S., but its $19.97 minimum wage for most workers changes the ratio in its favor.

Other cities in the top 10 include Buffalo, NY; Minneapolis, MN; Tucson, AZ; St. Paul, MN; Phoenix, AZ and Stockton, CA.

The minimum wage conversation may vary widely across the U.S., with different costs of living and different state laws on the books. But if you're looking to move someplace where your wage will go the furthest, these six states will likely be your best bet to check out first.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Health

Research shows that spicy foods may help you live longer

Breakthrough research is great news for buffalo wing addicts.

Chicken wings at Anchor Bar in Buffalo-Niagara Airport.

There's an arms race happening at your local wing joint. According to QSR, it's because Americans have strayed from eating traditional fare and are embracing spicier ethnic foods such as Mexican and Asian cuisine.

A 2013 Consumer Flavor Trend Report found that a majority of Americans (54 percent) prefer hot or spicy foods, including sauces, condiments, and dips, compared with 48 percent in 2011 and 46 percent in 2009. Now, a new report out of China shows that this new trend in American eating habits could prolong our life spans.


Researchers discovered the connection between spicy food and longevity after studying the results of a survey of 500,000 Chinese people taken from 2004 to 2008. The survey asked people about their dietary habits, including the amount of chili they consumed on a weekly basis. When researchers checked back in with respondents seven years later, those who consumed spicy foods once a week had a 10 percent lesser chance of death. And those who ate spicy foods three to seven times a week had a 14 percent lesser chance of death.

"We know something about the beneficial effects of spicy foods basically from animal studies and very small-sized human studies," Lu Qi, associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, told Time. Studies have shown that capsaicin, the active ingredient in spicy foods, is linked to a lower risk of cancer as well as heart and respiratory diseases. It also has a positive effect on metabolism, weight, and gut bacteria.

"It appears that increasing your intake moderately, just to one to two or three to five times a week, shows a very similar protective effect," Qi said. "Just increase moderately. That's maybe enough." So, if you want an extra dab of Tabasco on your tacos, go for it. But you might not want to eat a dozen fried, greasy buffalo wings every night—that will probably cancel out the positive effects of the chili.

This article originally appeared on 09.19.17

Joy

8 life hacks that are so simple and effective it's surprising more people don't use them

From how to willingly get a cat in a carrier to handling annoying drivers, here are some solid life tips.

There are more creative ways to handle annoying drivers than flipping them the bird.

Have you ever come across a piece of advice that seem so obvious and awesome in hindsight that you can't believe you didn't think of it before?

"Life hacks" has become a bit of a buzz phrase in recent years, but there really are some habits and practices, often requiring minimum time and effort, that can be life-changing. Someone on Reddit asked people to share some of those "simple and effective" life hacks that people surprisingly don't know about or use, and the responses are a trove of "Oh, that's brilliant" tidbits of wisdom.


Here are some of the top tips:

How to get a cat to be comfortable in the cat carrier

Some cats don't mind the pet carrier, but a lot of cats act like it's made of lava.

"Leave the cat carrier out and open all the time. Then they don't panic when you get it out to go to the vet." – Mistie_Kraken

"That's a fantastic tip for reducing stress during vet visits! Keeping the cat carrier out and open as part of their environment helps them become familiar with it, making it less scary when it's time to use it. It's a simple adjustment that can make a big difference in your cat's overall well-being." – designsbymtj

"There’s probably still some anxiety inducing unfamiliar smells and sounds at the vet and also in the car. But at least he seems to like his carrier, that’s one stressor reduced." – twilightramblings


kitchen sink

Pipes can get funky when they haven't been flushed in a while.

Photo by Andrew Valdivia on Unsplash

A quick and easy sink pipe swipe

Stinky pipes? A little regular maintenance of hot water and gravity can take care of it.

"Every now and then, maybe once a week, fill up your kitchen sink(s) completely full of water, then pull the plug and let the water go down the drain in a big rush. The force of the water pushes out a lot of the slimy crud that has gathered in the pipes. No more clogged sinks." – PaulsRedditUsername

"Use almost boiling water to cut any grease in there as well!" – sunshinesmileyface

"I had a strange smell coming from my kitchen sink but fixed it by boiling some water and then pouring it down my sink." – dirtymoney

"Even better, first pour some vinegar down the drain. Then 10 or so minutes later let the sink fill up with hot water. (as hot as you can make it) And let that drain. Gets rid of even more slimy crud!" – Sanquinity

Write down those fleeting moments of potential brilliance

We always think we're going to remember, but we always, always forget.

"Always write down momentarily good ideas. Don’t lean on your memory." – bunny_shortcake

"And in complete sentences! Don't write "fridge pants," write out the whole thought like a stranger needs to understand it." – NeuHundred

"Yep. I shower before going to bed and I get some good ideas then. After the shower I write the idea down on a pad of paper that I keep at my desk just for ideas." – tc_cad

"Keep a journal near your bed. I've gotten AMAZING ideas in dreams. No, you won't remember when the alarm goes off, spend two minutes jotting down details at 2 am. Trust me." – Conscious-Shock7728

Be as kind and courteous as possible to customer service people

A little kindness can go a long way.

"Being genuinely nice to a customer service person (hotel, phone center, server, whatever) will get you way more free stuff then the people who yell and escalate for it. I had gig speed internet for a year for $20 a month because I asked the guy with genuine sencerity how his day was while dealing with an issue I should have been mad about. (He told me at the end of the call that he updated my internet package and to not question the bill next month)

Sometimes, you get nothing free out of it. But customer service people get yelled at all the time. They recognize people being jerks for free stuff. What they don't see often is kindness in a difficult situation.

Be genuine and out of your way kind, and the amount of free stuff you will get will surprise you." – mybossthinksimmormon

"Can confirm. Am customer service. Terms & agreements are the law of the land for assholes. Nice people? Wavy, gravy with those rules & what can I throw in for cheap or free." – bagolaburgernesss

"I worked in a high end hotel for the better part of my early twenties to early 30s. I couldn't tell you how many upgrades and free shit I gave to guests that were just decent to my staff and I. Literally for just not being jerks. Suite? You got it. Free room service? Absolutely. Comp Concert Tickets? I got you." – NotYourGoldStandard

closeup image of a shower head

Vinegar is the key to a clogged shower head.

Photo by Caleb Wright on Unsplash

Clogged or covered in minerals? Soak that sucker in vinegar.

It's incredible how much vinegar can do.

"People throwing out shower heads because the stream gets weak. Soak that shit in vinegar for 24 hours and you’ll have a brand new shower that will be as powerful as the day you bought it.

Edit: white or cooking vinegar. If you can’t remove the shower head, plastic bag and rubber bands." – Trytolearneverything

"Honestly, cleaning anything with vinegar is a huge life hack. It’s non-toxic, cleans really well, disinfects, keeps bugs away and can kill your weeds without poisoning the soil/ground water. It’s also a fabulous fabric softener and is great in the dishwasher too.

Editing to add that cleaning vinegar is better than cooking vinegar for these things as it’s more concentrated but both will do the trick. :)" – girl_in_flannel

Make it near impossible to forget something on the way out the door

Pair what you need to remember with something you know you can't forget.

"If you need to remember to take something with you the next day, put it in a bag and hang it on your doorknob the night before. If it's paperwork or mail, tape it to your door to where it's covering the handle. Usually if it's left on a kitchen counter or a side table or something like that, it will be forgotten if you're one of those get-out-the-door-at-the-last-minute the last minute type of people (like myself)." – goodmeowtoyou

"If I have something I have to take (from home/work whatever) I literally put my keys in the bag. Physically can't leave without touching the bag." – SerpensPorcus

"Or put it on top of your shoes if you keep your shoes by the door you go out.." – somercurial

Read the instructions. Seriously.

Sounds simple enough, but there are a lot of people who simply refuse.

"Read. Manuals, directions, instructions, etc. Most of your questions will be answered." – tabitharr

"I used to joke about this when I sold electronics. 'Real men don't read instructions....they come to me to tell them how the magic device works....'" – OddgitII

"I stick the manuals in a file folder in case I need to refer to it later. Plus if I sell the item it’s nice to have it to pass on." – kindlycloud88

"Once bought a $50 carbon monoxide detector. Took it out of the box, put the batteries in, lights turned on on the front: there was a funny looking little tab on the back, and impulsively, I depressed the tab.

Lights turned off, and did not turn back on.

Huh.

I read through the directions. That tab was the 'kill carbon monoxide detector completely and permanently' button, for when it’s useful life is over and it won’t stop emitting “I’m dying” chirps.

Felt like a massive dumbass." – spooky_spaghetties


Man in a van smiling and giving a thumbs up sign

Thumbs up, buddy!

Photo by RDNE Stock project/Pexels

Alternative 'hand signals' that work better than the bird

No need to fuel anyone's road rage. If you have a twitchy middle finger, try these alternatives.

"Instead of flipping people off while driving, give them a thumbs down. Flipping them off makes them defensive and angry. A thumbs down makes them feel stupid." – dragon0069

"Oh, my God. A few months back I was at a stop sign, trying to turn left. It sucked because it's one of those roads where you have to continuously look in each direction due to bends and hedges blocking the view. After some back and forth I finally thought I was in the clear. Right as I pull up a little more, this guy comes barreling down the hill GIVING ME A THUMBS DOWN. I will never forget it. I didn't feel stupid but like such a let down lmao I'd rather get the finger, laying on a horn or someone yelling at me. Literally anything else. It will haunt me forever. I'm still sorry about it!!" – popperboo

"I actually go the passive aggressive route & give a thumbs up 😂" – gallad00rn

"Or, if they are really annoying and want to provoke you, just smile at them and give them a friendly wave (and laugh as you watch them get even angrier)." – islandhopper37

"Blow kisses. It really seems to make them annoyed." – Unique-Union-9177

"I’ve always done a queen wave with great success." – eastofliberty

Joy

Weird jobs most people don't even know exist that can actually make good money

There's a person who's whole job is just to take care of plants on movie and TV sets.

There are people who make a living smelling and tasting things.

When people ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, some common career themes usually emerge—doctor, firefighter, teacher, artist, computer programmer, architect, pilot, journalist and the like. These jobs are familiar to everyone, and even if we don't fully know the ins and out of what each job entails, we have a solid picture of what they do and why their job is important.

There are also less obvious jobs that we might not think of as dream careers but still know exist and are important, like mortician, plumber, garbage collector, truck driver or postal delivery person.

But there's also a whole world of jobs that most people have never heard of or even imagined—and some of them even pay surprisingly well. Here's a handful of weird jobs that people do without most of the world knowing.


Escort (but not that kind of escort)

The movies make much of "escorts" in our nation's capital, but this is a different kind of escort that involves having security clearance and being physically present. That's it.

"When you work as a government employee or contractor with a top secret clearance, after you retire or get laid off, you can work as an escort within classified facilities called SCIFs. Escorts are needed when an uncleared person needs to work in the SCIF. For example, it might be a top secret data center that needs an air conditioner repair. All the escort has to do is watch the repairman and stay with them throughout the visit. They usually just drag a chair over and sit there while getting paid damn good money." – BaconReceptacle

"One of the most quietly-frustrating months of my life was doing hard labor on a government building site as a construction worker, going like ~80 hours a week, and realizing the annoying escort I had who was sitting around all day watching us was making a significant amount more than me." – Few-Metal8010

Tasters and smellers

Some people get paid just to taste or smell things. Even pet food. (How does one get this job? Genuinely curious.)

"I used to be friends with one of Heineken's official tasters. She literally drank every day for work. Don't know how the pay was but she didn't seem broke." – curiousvegetables

"My sister in law is 'the nose' for yankee candle. When a vat of scented wax is ready, she sniffs it." – Loreo1964

"My mom used to work for a sensory company that was outsourced by huge brands to do taste, smell, texture testing. Once many years ago I got in on a hot pocket panel because their target market was teens. I made $20 and got a free hot pocket. She made good money though!" – brownbostonterrier


woman hanging a piece of art

Hanging art is an art in itself.

Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

Professional picture hanger

Yep, the thing all of us do in our own homes for free (with varying levels of success) is an actual paid job for people in the art world. And some of them can make a pretty decent living at it.

"An old neighbor of mine was a picture hanging specialist contracted by many museums. He made 75K a year at the time (about 150K adjusted for inflation)." – Schwarzes__Loch

"A buddy of mine does this and makes great money. Most of the clients are rich people with private collections. They also pack and transport the artwork." – frankyseven

Flavorists

On the other end of the food business are the magical chemists who create the yummy flavors we enjoy in candies and other treats.

"My dad was a master flavorist. He made artificial flavors for candy, beverages and lots of other things. He made a LOT of money during his career." – Whoru87

"I'm an analytical chemist for a flavor company who (among other things) reverse engineers competitive flavors to give the flavor chemists insight lol.

Indeed they make bank.

Finding out how you can make a naturally derived ie citrus flavor taste the same every time when you have to source your extracts and oils from different places in the world, at different times of the year, while the stock might be a different age due to supply issues can be a lot more complex than one might think." – die_lahn

"It is my absolute dream job to be a certified flavor chemist/flavorist. Used to work under a couple at a very niche company (could only make fruit/menthol flavors), and recently moved into food industry thinking I’d be able to gain more experience in savory applications. Unfortunately that has not been the case for me so far. Wish they had more flavor houses hiring in Norcal! Learning directly under an expert is the only way to do it." – Successful-Ad5488


set of hobbiton from lord of the rings

Someone has to keep the plants on set thriving.

Photo by Neha Godbole on Unsplash

Greensperson on film sets

There are actually a lot of jobs on film sets that people aren't aware of, but taking care of plants on sets full time is certainly not on most people's radar.

"I’m a greensperson in the film industry. I’m responsible for building and maintaining the plants and trees on a set." – Prospector_Steve

"In general many people sleep on behind the scenes jobs in Hollywood. It’s a good way to make money and you get to meet celebrities." – Immediate_Revenue_90

"A lot of filming locations are chosen based on the tax breaks the studio can get for filming there, and not on the 'correct' climate or biome. And sometimes, an outdoor scene will be shot on an indoor stage if an appropriate location can't be found which is safe, accessible, meets the needs of the camera positioning, etc.

A film/TV production is a massive, expensive machine, and often small details have to be sacrificed in order to keep it oiled and running smoothly. This isn't just true of the greens department, but all of them, really (costumes, props, etc.)" – ethacct

Organ runner

More commonly known as a "medical courier," this job entails transporting human organs (or tissue or blood) from place to place. Time is of the essence with an organ being transplanted, so this job requires being on call and knowing how to safely transport the goods. But according to at least one person on Reddit, it's a pretty sweet gig:

"I worked as an 'Organ deliverer.' Forgot the official title for around a year.

Job was simple I was stationed in the biggest hospital in my state. If an organ donation was received that needed to go to another hospital for a transplant it was my job to move it.

I was paid $40 an hour to most nights sit on my ass in the break room and watch TV or play on my phone. I'd probably only have to deliver something once a week at most. It was an okay job except that it was boring as shit, since the hospital I was 'Stationed' at did 95% of all the organ transplants in my state. And the other major hospital that did them was around 3 hours away and you wouldn't ever have to go up to north to it.

Lots of pay to sit around but well I wasn't exactly feeling fulfilled career wise." – Larcya

bats flying

Bat tracking (and other urban wildlife tracking) is an important ecological job.

Photo by Clément Falize on Unsplash

Batman (or urban bat tracker, to be precise)

This might be the most poetic job description ever written:

"You ever heard of an urban bat tracker? That's me. I'm the guy who steps into the night when the city sleeps, tracking the unseen ballet of bats against the backdrop of empty offices and starlit skies. My job is a blend of science and solitude. Armed with detectors that translate bat echolocation into something audible, I map their flight, study their behavior, and contribute to research that's vital for urban ecosystem conservation. It's not just a job it's a commitment to understanding these misunderstood creatures of the night. The experience is surreal. As the world winds down, my work begins. I walk through parks and alleyways, under bridges and alongside rivers. The citys nocturnal pulse becomes my soundtrack - a car horn here, a distant laughter there, all underlined by the constant, rhythmic clicking of my bat detector. Each night is a lesson in patience and awe. Bats, these tiny, agile creatures, dart and dive in the darkness, almost like shadows flitting at the edge of my vision. There's a poetry in their flight, a kind of silent music that fills the night air. The pay is decetn, surprisingly. It's a niche field, and expertise in urban wildlife ecology can be hard to come by. But it's not the money that keeps me here. It's the moments of connection, the feeling of being a part of something bigger and wilder, right in the heart of the city. Sometimes the most extraordinary things are hidden in plain sight, waiting to be discovered in the quiet symphony of the night." – Local_dog91

There are so many more interesting jobs, from testing medical equipment to felting mini-golf courses to taking care of rich people's cars, homes and horses. If you're looking for work, keep your eyes and ears out for unusual opportunities. You just never know what kinds of careers you might stumble into.

Science

When these drones zoom in over elephants and rhinos, they stop horrible things from happening

A shepherd watches over sheep. Watching over elephants and rhinos? Not so easy.

via The Lindbergh Foundation

Drone footage from the Aerial Shepherd.


This is a story about something really exciting.

Before I get into it, let me set the stage by explaining the terrible problem it's solving.

10 years.

That's how long it'll be until the last wild elephants and rhinoceroses are gone.

100 of them are killed every day by poachers.

Even though elephants and rhinos are legally protected, the amount of money that can be made from the ivory in their tusks is just too much for some people to resist.


So poachers go after elephants and rhinos in secret. They kill them in out-of-the-way places that are hard to patrol, and they do it at night under the cover of darkness.

Every hour, another elephant or rhino family is broken forever.

Now the Lindbergh Foundation has come up with an idea about how to stop poachers.

They've been testing their idea for two years now, and it really works.

Air Shepherd uses drones and computers to watch over elephants and rhinos the same way a shepherd protects his sheep.


It's an amazing international, hi-tech system.

The drones in Africa are decked out with normal and infrared cameras that see where the animals — and the poachers — are. Even in the dark of night.

That imagery is sent to computers in the U.S. Using special software, they send back flight plans to the drones that predict where the animals are headed, which keeps the drones on top of the poachers.

Local rangers are notified, and they sweep in on the poachers.

During the 600 tests they've run so far, precisely zero poaching has occurred.

It's a fantastic system.

Seven African countries have already requested help.

The Foundation has provided the seed money. They need contributions, though, so head over to the Air Shepherd site to see how you can get involved in this amazing project.

Please let your animal-loving friends know about this breakthrough program that could keep elephants and rhinos from going extinct. It's so exciting.

(Unfortunately, the Lindbergh Foundation's video has been removed from YouTube. But here's an NBC News report about the project.)


This article originally appeared on 03.12.15