Good News Story

Today's food for thought - The Chilean Miners, What Would You Do?

Okay BougieLand, open mic day - trapped for 69 days 2300 feet below ground with 32 co-workers in a tight, dark space. No TV, no internet, no cell phones, no family. (No Twitter?!) How would you react, what would you think, what would you ask rescue workers to send down?

If you haven't watched any of the rescues, you have to see this. THIS is reality TV at it's finest. From CNN:

And what's the first thing you do when you come up? You have a twenty minute ascent in a tiny steel cage to think on it.  Thoughts, comments, insights?

Me? I'm not claustrophobic but this would sorely test my limited patience. I don't want to dwell on the bathroom facilities dilemma. If they sent me down a pen and paper (and an iPod?); with food and water - I'd be okay. Not happy but okay. First thing when I got out of there? Head to toe spa and beauty treatment. Followed by surf and turf with a huge bottle of red wine. After I'm human again, I'll be ready for my close up. Seriously? Mining has never been on my list of probable professions. Thank God I had (have) choices in life.

Sunday Good News Story: It's never to late to re-kindle that flame

Got an old flame from Junior High or High School that you never really forgot? Well as long as life lasts, apparently you have a shot to go back and make it happen. 

From MSNBC/Today: Fifty years after Karen Wilcox dumped her eighth-grade boyfriend, Mike Wilson, she married him. They tell TODAY's Jenna Wolfe that they kept in touch over the five decades after they met in junior high school. They both had two unsuccessful marriages prior to reuniting. 

On the one hand, this is very sweet. Love that endures over time, never as good as the first time and all that. On the other hand if you're telling me that the person I was meant to be with, I met in eighth grade? That's kind of scary. Congrats to Karen and Mike - third time's the charm?

Sunday Good News Story: A Step towards Peace in the Middle East

"I believe the children are the future, teach them well and let them lead the way..." Those song lyrics are ever apt in this good news story. MSNBC reports on teens that are overlooking generational conflict. A unique group, aptly called 'MEET' Middle East Education through Technology has brought Israeli and Palestinian teenagers together.

MEET is an innovative educational initiative aimed at creating a common professional language between Israeli and Palestinian young leaders. Working together with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), MEET enables its participants to acquire advanced technological and leadership tools while empowering them to create positive social change within their own communities. Check it out:

How cool is that? Hopefully, these teens will spread the word and some measure of peace can be found in the region. It's a step in the right direction anyway. To find out more, check out the official MEET site. 

Sunday Good News Story: Loving Someone Can Save your Life... literally

Do you have good friends and loved ones around that care for and about you? Prop you up and encourage you? They could be adding years to your life. A new Brigham Young University study adds our social relationships to the “short list” of factors that predict a person’s odds of living or dying.

In the journal PLoS Medicine, BYU professors Julianne Holt-Lunstad and Timothy Smith report that social connections – friends, family, neighbors or colleagues – improve odds of survival by 50%. [FIFTY percent, that's something to consider!]

The benefit of healthy social relationships, the study says, is greater than from regular exercise and akin to quitting smoking (for those who puff 15 cigarettes a day). Professor Holt-Lunstad talks about the study here:

On the flip side, those with low and/or poor social interaction are putting themselves at risk. Here is how lack of a supportive social network compares to more well-known risk factors:
  • Equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day
  • Equivalent to being an alcoholic
  • More harmful than not exercising
  • Twice as harmful as obesity
So basically, if you don't have friends, family, or co-workers who care about you and you care back - you're as good as dead?! Le Damn!

Professor Smith said that modern conveniences and technology [read Facebook/ Twitter/ texting/ IMing] can lead some people to think that social networks aren’t necessary.
“We take relationships for granted as humans – we’re like fish that don’t notice the water,” Smith said. “That constant interaction is not only beneficial psychologically but directly to our physical health.”
For one, this proves my oft-made point about people who will contact you via technology and not in "real life." You texting people who cannot pick up a phone are literally killing me according to this study! Secondly, get off the blog and go hug somebody who will hug you back. Happy Sunday.

Sunday Good News Story: @MusicFanFirst (Eric Roberson)'s Brilliant New Video - Still

Well real music still exists and here's an artist that continuously delivers quality. Eric Roberson, as you know, is one of my favorite artists. Listening to his voice is like wrapping yourself in chocolate satin and sipping red wine... smooth and sexy. This video from the Music Fan First album, "Still" is beautifully filmed and not afraid to make a meaningful statement. Make sure you watch to the end for the powerful message. I had to clutch the Kleenex. My mom is a breast cancer survivor so this one hit close to home.

Hat tip to Mr. Roberson on a job well done. Enjoy and if you haven't copped his entire discography yet... what are you waiting on?

Sunday Good News Story: Verna For the Win

Verna Oller - Unlikely Philanthropist

From ABC News:
There are two things about 98-year-old Verna Oller that just about anyone around her neigborhood in Long Beach, Washington can tell you. She was feisty, and she was frugal. She was so frugal that she never went to a hairdresser. After all, she could cut her own hair for free. She refused to buy new shoelaces and improvised by looping the zipper from an old coat through her boots. When her longtime friends, Guy and Carolyn Glenn, bought her a new coat on sale, she sent it right back. She found a cheaper one for just $2.
What folks did not know is that Miss Verna was an investment genius behind closed doors. With her hourly wage from filleting fish, she managed to amass a small fortune nearing $4.5 million (yes million) by the time she died. She directed that all the money be spent on her hometown and specifically on a community pool, grants and scholarships.

By the way, before the recession… Ms. Verna was worth $5MM but the stock market cut into her savings. Go head, Ms. Verna.

Sunday Good News Story: The Dedication of a Teacher

This story was brought to my attention by Da Smoking Ace who has the pleasure and honor of knowing this remarkable lady. In a world where people can't commit to the same coffee flavor for a week and don't remember what happened last week (let alone last millennium), comes the great story of Ms. Emma Brandon. She is teacher in Mississippi who is retiring after 63 years… yes, 63 years. From The Clarion-Ledger: (excerpt)

When Emma Brandon began teaching she earned $36 a month, walked three miles one way to school - seven miles if overnight rain made the creek too swollen to cross - and toted her own lunch of biscuits and syrup. A lot has changed in the 63 years since. There are computers and standardized tests. Schools have been consolidated and integrated. Principals have come and gone. Last week, Brandon decided to step out of the classroom for good, becoming one of the hundreds of Mississippi school teachers to retire this summer. Brandon said the key to her longevity was the ability to stay focused on the students. "I never had to push because I showed so much love for them," she said. "I showed them they were wanted in my class - like if they didn't say good morning, I would greet them. I taught them to be courteous and tried to set a good example." But she made the decision this year would be her last because her license expires.

"If my license had not expired in 2010, I would have stayed more years if health allowed," she said. "I never was absent (from school). I never was late." Brandon said she plans to spend her retired days in her garden, quilting and doing missionary work with her church. But it won't be easy for her to stay away. "Ever since I started school as a kid at 4 or 5 years old, I've been in a classroom," she said. "I'm just going to stay out of the La-Z Boy chair as long as I can."

Whole Story here: Retiring after 63 years.

Talk about dedication to the task! What an impact she's had on literal generations of people. You take your rest, Ms. Emma… you've earned it. Does anyone have a teacher from their youth they want to shout out today?

Sunday Good News Story: Florida bus driver makes reading FUNdamental

Meet Rosemary Peterson, fondly known as Miss Kookyi to her students. This Florida school bus driver got fed up with the her students' tomfoolery and found a smart way to handle it. From NBC Nightly News:

When Rosemary Peterson, a Florida bus driver, grew frustrated with the constant fighting and misbehaving that was taking place on her bus, she came up with an extraordinary idea. Peterson decided to use the elementary school students' energetic, competitive spirit to help the children practice reading with reading competitions. Now, her bus is as quiet as a library, with students studying the books they will write book reports about in order to win prizes from their beloved driver.

Now THAT's what I'm talking about. BougieMom used to "punish" us by making us checkout books from the library and write book reports on them. And they had to be a certain number of words, turned in on time and typewritten. Sometimes old school is the best school. You cannot go wrong teaching a love of books. Who knows how many young minds Miss Kookyi is shaping just driving that bus. Hat tip to you Ms. Peterson.

More Sunday Good News: T-shirt Vendor saves Times Square

Imagine this: you're in Times Square on a Saturday night getting your T-shirt hustle on. You see a Nissan Pathfinder with smoke coming out the windows. What do you do?

Well, if you are Vietnam vet Lance Orton, you flag down a cop and say, "Something ain't right." (Okay, I paraphrased). The mounted officer detected the smell of gunpowder and Times Square was evacuated. Investigators removed three propane tanks, consumer-grade fireworks, two filled 5-gallon gasoline containers, and two clocks with batteries, electrical wire and other components, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. Whoever put it together was NOT PLAYING. Let's face it, that could've serious jacked up some stuff.

Mr. Orton finds himself a reluctant hero, he wants no publicity: (From NY Times)

"I'm not going to say nothing, I'm not going to say nothing," he said when first approached by a gaggle of reporters. As he walked down the street, employees from Junior's restaurant stood outside applauding him. He briefly entered the restaurant before heading toward 44th Street.

He walked with a limp, had a cane, wore a white fedora and had a hoop earring in his right ear. When asked if he was proud of his actions, he said: "Of course, man. I'm a veteran. What do you think?"

The vendor said that he had served during the Vietnam War and had been selling wares on the street for about 20 years.

"I don't have too much of a choice, nobody's giving me a job," he said.

He said that he was reluctant to speak with members of the media because they had twisted his words when they interviewed him in recent years.

He got into the back seat of the taxi, took off his hat and used it to fan his face.

Before he left, he was asked what he had to say to New Yorkers.

"See something, say something," he said.

There's a deeper lesson here if anyone is looking for it. Dude serves his country, comes home and has to sell T-shirts on the street to make a living. Without even hesitating, he serves his country again. Amen, Mr. Orton. Hey Bloomberg, cut the brother a check... seriously. He's earned a little "thank you" from the city of New York.