Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Saddest Place in London: A Story of Self-Sacrifice

This is a wonderful story and a wonderful idea.
Everyday heroes getting their due. We need one of these.

The Chirurgeon's Apprentice

SS1Tucked away in a quiet area of East London is a peaceful place that goes by the unassuming name of Postman’s Park (left), so called because it once stood in the shadow of the city’s old General Post Office building. At first glance, you might mistake it for any green space in the city, with its manicured lawn, leafy trees and decorative water fountain. But if you took the time to venture through the gates, you would stumble upon something far from ordinary.

On a stone wall, underneath a makeshift overhang, are a series of ceramic plaques, each one painted beautifully with the names of people who died while trying to save the lives of others. One plaque reads:


And another:


And on and on they go. The first time I stumbled upon this memorial was on a walking tour given by Tina Hodgkinson. I was instantly overwhelmed with sadness. So many of the people…

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Ice Buckets and Realities

The ice bucket challenge videos that have been running around have done $41 million in good (and climbing.) Here’s a video that everyone involved in a challenge or not needs to see.

Antonio Carbajal has been diagnosed with ALS. As has his mother and his grandmother. This is his video. And his youtube channel. I encourage you to watch and to subscribe.

And to donate to ALS research here.

If you want to help Antonio directly, you can donate to help with his medical costs here.

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Meet the debt collectors…

This is a fascinating article on how the debt collection business works. Obviously, it’s a profile of just one agency, but it’s still a great read with lots of good information.

Some of the deals Siegel made were hugely profitable, while others proved more troublesome. As he soon discovered, after creditors sell off unpaid debts, those debts enter a financial netherworld where strange things can happen. A gamut of players — including debt buyers, collectors, brokers, street hustlers and criminals — all work together, and against one another, to recoup every penny on every dollar. In this often-lawless marketplace, large portfolios of debt — usually in the form of spreadsheets holding debtors’ names, contact information and balances — are bought, sold and sometimes simply stolen.

Stolen. This was the word that was foremost in Siegel’s mind on that October afternoon. He had strong reason to believe that a portfolio of paper — his paper — had been stolen and was now being “worked” by one of the many small collection agencies on the impoverished and crime-ridden East Side of Buffalo. Using his spreadsheets, this unknown agency was calling his debtors and collecting debt that was rightfully his. The debtors, of course, had no way of knowing who actually owned the debt. Nor did they have any reason to suspect that they might be paying thieves. They were simply being told they owed the money and had to pay.

This was not a problem Siegel was used to handling. There had been no classes at Simon Business School on how to apprehend crooks who appropriated your assets. He could, of course, call the police or the state attorney general, but by the time they intervened, the paper would be picked clean, worthless. His problem was more fundamental, more pressing. At this point, he didn’t know exactly how many files had been stolen, but he knew he needed immediate intervention.

Fortunately, Siegel had someone to call — a fixer who knew just what to do. (NY Times)

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The Pope Just Released A List of 10 Tips for Becoming a Happier Person and They Are Spot On

These suggestions have nothing to do with one’s religion. Most of them are pretty firmly endorsed by everything I learned as a psych major.

Higher Learning

In a recent interview with the Argentine publication Viva, Pope Francis issued a list of 10 tips to be a happier person, based on his own life experiences.

The Pope encouraged people to be more positive and generous, to turn off the TV and find healthier forms of leisure, and even to stop trying to convert people to one’s own religion.

But his number one piece of advice came in the form of a somewhat cliche Italian phrase that means, “move forward and let others do the same.” It’s basically the Italian equivalent of, “live and let live.” You can check out the full list below.

The Pope gives a thumbs up to an audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (Photo: CSV)

The Pope’s 10 Tips for a Happier Life

1. “Live and let live.” Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in…

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Like a Rat in a Maze

Something important to think about. What habits are the computres recording about you?

Dana Ellington, MAPW

I recently read an article that opened my eyes wider to just how manipulative the algorithms are on Facebook.  I’m guessing similar extra long math equations are also used to determine what ads show up on the side panes of almost ALL the sites I find myself traversing on the internet.  As I was reading / understanding the article (click here to read, then come on back for a spell), a couple of things about my FB interactions became clear.

First off, all those deep, meaningful posts I’ve liked and shared have been used to box me into seeing only the content the FB computers “think” I would enjoy, based solely on what I “liked”.  My FB experience was being tailored to the person a computer mathematically calculated me to be.  Secondly, the very reason I was sharing and liking these posts – to spread information and the occasional cat…

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Incredible Juggler

Gentry Stein is incredible. I have trouble getting the yo-yo to do what it’s supposed to do, let alone anything like this.

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Disturbing Disorders: A Brief History of Harlequin Ichthyosis

Harlequin Ichthyosis is tragic and in the past very deadly.

I will warn that there are photos on this post that may disturb some. And I’ll throw on a trigger warning for historical child death.

Personally, I find it fascinating what the human body can do when it goes wrong.

The Chirurgeon's Apprentice

H2Last Saturday, I was lounging around on the couch watching 5 straight episodes of Forensic Detectives (don’t judge) when I heard my computer ping. Being the internet junkie that I am, I immediately checked my inbox and saw a message from my old school friend, Andy, who is currently studying medicine at Case Western. He had an idea for a blog post, he wrote, but worried it might be too disturbing for my audience. Naturally, my curiosity was piqued.

Turns out, Andy had reason to worry. In the next message, he attached a photo of a 19th-century fetus (left), which is now housed at Museum Vrolik in Amsterdam. The baby had died from a very rare genetic disorder known as Harlequin Ichthyosis, which causes the overproduction of keratin protein in skin. As a result, those with the condition are born with huge, diamond-like scales all over their bodies…

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Obsession and Sock Puppets

You want to know what obsession is? Start a Kickstarter campaign.

I spend more time hitting refresh to see if there are more backers than I really should. I think it’s starting to trigger carpal tunnel.

I mean, it’s been a week and I should be a little calmer now. I’m not. I’m totally not. I really, really want this to succeed.

One of the reasons is that Golden Fleece Press donating 10% of the proceeds of Wee Tales to support First Book-Northern Virginia. (I’m the chair of that First Book Advisory Board.) That would be a tremendous bonus to us.

Kickstarter doesn’t allow charities or even mentions of charities in their entries, so it’s sort of a secret or a special surprise for people. I think it’s something that needs to be shouted about.

The fact that the sock puppet video is insanely cute is beside the fact.

And that there’s a new magazine coming out at the same time as I hear one has closed means I’m doubly happy to be a supporter and an editor on the project. (Yes, I put my money where my mouth is.)

Check it out here:

HalloWEEn Tales Vol. 1

Donate, spread the word, laugh at the puppets and show them to your kids. Just get the word out. Please.

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