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A Creative Father Solves the Dog Stick Problem

For a human, a dog may be a great companion. However, when a good throwing stick is flying through the air, a human might as well be a pile of old deer poop. That’s because dogs love good sticks. Once they figure out there are three good aspects to a stick being thrown: something moving fast, a hunting feature, and if it gets returned the stick gets thrown again, the dog is all over it. Lots of folks today settle for a tennis ball or similar. However, let’s think about it; if you were a dog, which one would you want in your mouth, a jaw-stretching tennis ball or an easy to chew stick? There’s dog logic at work here.

Andrew Taylor, age 59, had always been a dog lover. And he never failed to take a moment to get a good toy for his dogs when they needed some exercise and to hone their hunting instincts a bit. That sort of thinking triggered a need to solve a problem when Taylor was visiting a local park one day. He realized that there wasn’t much in the way of toys for dogs. So, Taylor decided to start making some.

Finding a number of branches that made suitable material, Taylor went to work at dog-stick manufacturing. Soon enough, Taylor installed a handmade stick box complete with a dogstick library, including instructions that the stick were free to use but folks were responsible for returning them for the next user and pup to enjoy. The addition was a hit. And, just to make sure everybody locally understood what the stick library was for, Taylor and family had a little neighborhood party to inaugurate the stick library, including an attendance of 50 local dogs and a whole lot of fetching going on.

The most common question about the event was, naturally, why nobody thought of the idea sooner. The stick library was a big success, and everybody enjoyed being able to give their dogs something to chase as well as the tools being easily available and free to use. The dogs, of course, were all in for the party as well. Not only did they get to run their legs off a bit, the canines also got to frolic with a large number of the same, which was not a frequent event in the dog world, usually.

For Taylor and his daughter, the idea was simple but powerful. More importantly, it brought local dog owners together as well.

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One Attendees Santa Pen-pal That She Met At Burning Man

Kelly Taylor

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There are a lot of odd characters at Burning Man, the annual Labor Day Weekend celebration in the western desert, but the last one folks usually expect to see there is Santa Claus. However, as it turned out in 2017, that’s exactly who one attendee met, and she struck up a penpal relationship with the character ever since.

The idea of penpals came from the 1970s with kids’ programs intended to help them learn more about the greater world and to make connections with similar kids in other countries. TV programs, schools, kids’ after-school care programs and similar all ran some kind of version of penpals. The benefits were multiple. Kids learned to read and write faster, they built relationships with other kids internationally, and they learned more about other communities just on the natural talking to their connections. So, while the idea of writing a paper letter today seems like a memory of yesteryear, the term of “penpal” is still alive and well, referring to long-distance connections that start out of the blue.

Back to the Burning Man, Rudie met Santa Claus, or a fellow dressed up like him in 2017 at the desert festival, complete in costume and carrying a large sack. Of course, Santa Claus wasn’t the only out of the norm character there; Burning Man is famous for all sorts of outlandish costumes, constructs, bike-related vehicles, and lots of partying. Santa was in full character mode, handing out gifts from a large bag he was carrying, while enjoying the crowd at the Jazz Café.

Rudie ended up chatting with Santa quite a bit, but never exchanged anything more in the way of contact information to followup. So she pretty much chalked up the experience to the festival and forgot about it. However, in 2018, Santa Claus was there again at the next Burning Man. And he recognized Rudie from the previous year. They chatted up a storm again, and this time the Man of the North Pole brought a saxophone and started in impromptu gig on the stage. It went well with the name of the café. And, at the end of it all, Rudie was able to get an email address in 2018. She didn’t send an email right away; Rudie waited until Christmas itself that year, and then sent a long email explaining how special the Santa Claus theme was to her and thanking him for spreading the cheer at the festival.

She wasn’t expecting a response, but “Santa” did write Rudie back on Christmas Day the same year. That started an international tradition, and the following 2019 Burning Man, Rudie, Santa and a few other characters participated in the whole Christmas gig at Burning Man, much to everyone’s amusement. Unfortunately, 2020 and 2021 were fouled up by COVID, but Rudie and Santa stayed connected online anyways.

Plans are on though for everyone to reconnect in person again at Burning Man 2022. And Rudie, currently living in Spain and with a full name of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as a character, is looking forward to the desert party with the Old Man from the North all over again. No pandemic is going to keep them down for long!

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A Marriage Made at Subway, Hold the Onions

Jess

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When people talk about where they met for the first time and realized it mean something serious, not many will say it was at a fast food restaurant, much less admit it. However, for Julie and Zack Williams, that’s exactly what they are proud of the most. In fact, it mean so much to them, the couple decided to also get married at the same Subway sandwich shop as well.

Both of the couple were running around on a cold December 8 back in 2017 just trying to get things done and grab lunch. As it turned out, the Julie and Zack both independently decided a Subway sandwich was just the thing for the lunchtime hunger pangs. So, Zack decided to drive out of his normal local dining spots and ended up at a Subway out of the normal locale. Getting there, he ended up getting in line ahead of Julie and her mother, also at the same Subway at the same time.

Julie remembers at the time thinking that the guy in front of them was a bit cute. Julie’s mother, on t he other hand, had other ideas. The maternal figure started haranguing Julie to do something about it and make a connection. Julie on the other hand, was suddenly very shy. As her mother kept insisting she give the guy her phone number, Julie trying to eat her sandwich at the table finally put her foot down and told her mother to do it. As Zack got up to leave, Julie’s mother might have likely put Olympian 100 yard champions to shame with how fast she moved. Julie’s mom was able to catch Zack in the parking lot, transferred the note, and Zack called Julie about 30 minutes later.

The two got to talking and soon enough the sparks start to fly that set off catalyst for a first date. From there, Julie and Zack’s relationship became history started at a Subway’s sandwich shop of all places.

Of course, things take time to get serious. The couple dated and kept their relationship going for about four years before deciding to make the big leap into getting married. While there was a Subway visit here and there in different locations, nothing was quite the same as that first diner the couple met in on their fateful day of happiness. And, while making things official in Plymouth, MI, Julie and Zack also made a point of going back to the very same Subway to have their wedding photos taken.

However, no turkey avocado footlongs or BMT sandwiches were ordered. This time the visit was all about memorializing Julie and Zack’s special day, courtesy of Subway then and the day of their wedding. The pepperocinis were extra.

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Geese Showing Off By Flying Upside Down

Kelly Taylor

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Amateur photographers love to get great shots, especially given that sometimes they seem random, and the trick to reaching professional status is to produce great shots consistently versus every once in a while. So, for photographers in Holland watching geese fly near Arnhem, the opportunity to catch a goose flying upside down was a bit out of the norm and eye-catching. As it turned out, the goose was showing off.

Geese in the region have regularly been seen flying upside down, which might seem somewhat odd to the bystander seeing the behavior for the first time. Locally referred to as “whiffling,” upside-down geese flying occurs on a regular basis when the bird manages to twist its belly up in the air and keep flying while the head is also twisted right side up. No one is quite sure why geese do this, but some guesses are it helps distract would-be predator birds from attacking when something looks odd, or it slows the goose’s flight to the ground. Geese are not the only birds to perform whiffling either; lapwings and godwits have been seen doing the same in flight.

Vincent Cornelissen was the lucky photographer who was able to snap a wonderfully clear shot of a goose near Arnhem, and it was his image that ended up triggering the latest online debate and interest in geese whiffling. Cornelissen had posted the image to his Facebook page to show off the photograph, and it ended up expanding his audience to some 10,000 different followers as a result. One particular fellow in Turkey turned out to be an aerodynamics professor at Istanbul University and used Cornelissen’s image as an example for students studying flight capabilities.

The upside-down goose was not Cornelissen’s first bird shot either. The photographer has been watching and catching images of birds since childhood, and his library of photographs over the years has grown expansive. However, the odd goose flight could arguably be Cornelissen’s most famous photograph by far. It was pure accident that he even got the shot, simply noticing that one of the birds was flying weirdly at the time. The odd flight approach wasn’t fully noticed until Cornelissen was working on post-processing of his images when he realized what the bird was doing.

At first, Cornelissen thought his audience would accuse the amateur of photoshopping the image, the practice of making a fake image with Adobe Photoshop, a highly powerful post-processing image editing program. However, Cornelissen was soon buffered by those in other countries who confirmed the behavior as being real and accurate.

As it turns out, when young geese become accomplished in flight, they do dumb stuff, most notably, flying upside down to apparently “show off.” It works great until the goose runs into trouble and then has to adjust for a potential flight mishap and crash on the ground. The whiffling has been confirmed by other photographers after Cornelissen’s image was produced, but his image remains the greatest clarity so far of the goose’s flight behavior.

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Man Sets Guinness World Record For TALLEST Stack of M&M’s — EVER!

Renee Yates

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Where were you when you had your first bite of M&Ms? These multi-colored chocolate buttons were first introduced to the world by Mars, Incorporated on September 10, 1941 – more than 79 years ago! Sold around the planet, M&Ms have become one of the most popular sugary candies on the planet, gaining ground with its catchy slogan, “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”

More than just a sweet treat for chocolate lovers everywhere, one man turned to his favorite candy to land within the Guinness Book of World Records. That man, named Will Cutbill of the U.K., would do so by managing to balance five M&M sweets atop one another, bursting through the record of four held by Brendan Kelbie of Australia and Silvio Sabba of Italy.

Snacking and World Records

When we think of accomplishing a world record, most of us probably consider all of the work that likely goes into the equation. We certainly don’t anticipate beating a world record while relaxing in front of the television with our favorite snack. For Will and his bag of M&Ms, it turned out that sitting around was the EXACT recipe for success that would push him to victory. Will said, “One day in lockdown I was mixing up my confectionary choice (…) and this time the bag of M&Ms called me, and boy am I glad they did!”

Will had been sitting on his couch with his snacks when he felt possessed to try and stack them atop one another. At the time, Will thought that he was just killing time with his candies. He didn’t realize that he was practicing and preparing to break a world record! After seeing how good he was at stacking the M&Ms initially, he decided to go for as many as possible.

Will said before breaking his record, “One day I thought, right, let’s crack this. So I sat down determined to complete it.”

The future M&Ms world record holder would film his attempts to stack five M&Ms atop one another and in doing so, Will would capture his success as it happened. Will said, “I’ve had a lifelong ambition to break a world title. I’ve always wanted one.” Will would go on to admit that he had been purchasing the Guinness books every single year, hoping one day to add his name to its pages.

After breaking the record from the comfort of his living room, Will would submit the recording for review. Claiming that the moment felt ‘absolutely amazing’, Will would wait until the video was verified to actually celebrate. “It’s madness. I can now say I’m a Guinness World Records title holder!”

Despite earning the record for his ability to balance chocolate candies, Will admits that he himself isn’t very athletic. “I can barely stand on one leg, but I have a talent for chocolate!”

While he is happy to hold onto his record, for now, the U.K. native admitted that he’s already planning on future challenges. Will said that he was inspired and that his “creative juices” were flowing.

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A Pandemic, a Tweet, Costco, and a Dream Job

Renee Yates

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No one knows yet why or how a post becomes viral, but when it does that communication moves across social media like a hurricane, gaining speed and strength as it is shared exponentially by readers. That was the case with one particular post by a daughter who felt bad about the career stump her father was in and wanted to help.

Rebecca Mix is like any teenager today, active on social media and posting anything that matters online to share, get reactions and interact. In the meantime, however, her father, Jeff, was dealing with the economic reaction to COVID, particularly in the pandemic’s impact on companies forced to lay off employees because of reduced contact and customer inflow in facilities. That put Jeff in the situation of needing to find work somewhere else at a time when everyone else was suddenly in the same boat. It wasn’t a pretty picture in the summer of 2020. Of course, Jeff Mix had his preference if he could choose; he wanted a job that had him moving versus sitting, had decent pay, and involved helping people. The last one was a tall order given the pandemic restrictions and social distancing.

Unfortunately, Jeff was also in the classic category of being an older worker, needing to work still versus retire, and taking care of dependents, namely his family. So not working was out of the question; he had to find something to fill the gap. And, if it was going to be a good spot, he wanted to work at Costco, the grocery warehouse and consumer retail venue that first coined the phrase, “big box store.”

Jeff liked their culture, the hours, and the in-person feel of the business. The culture matches the way he thought a business should run as well as how it dealt with its staff. But, he hadn’t been job-hunting in a long time and the market was very different in 2021. So, Jeff leaned on his daughter, Rebecca, for pointers.

Rebecca, in the meantime, narrated the whole issue on her Twitter account and then moved on. She thought it was a giggle to have her father working at Costco at the time. However, the thing about posting something on the Internet is that it stays there. And it also becomes public. So, among the thousands of readers who could possibly read Rebecca’s post, it turned out the CEO of Costco, Craig Jelinek, got tipped off by active internal screening on posts about Costco, and he read Rebecca’s post. With a few notes or calls, Jelinek arranged for a job interview for Jeff in Michigan via one of the local store managers there. That set the ball in motion.

Rebecca was contacted by one of the managers via her Facebook account and was told it started with her earlier Tweet. In mid-May 2021, Rebecca found herself going bananas trying to get a hold of her dad and make him understand the significance of the digital reach-out, specifically for him. Jeff thought the whole thing was great, but he was also an experienced worker and kept reserved in terms of anything coming of the matter. He was well aware companies do things at times just for goodwill on the marketing side, and then nothing really happens in practice. Jeff met with the local store manager, discussed job potentials, noted there was no mention of the social media posting, and then he left the interview without an offer. From Jeff’s perspective, it was over, maybe just going through the motions.

Then, Jeff got a call. He scored well in the second interview and was hired. Now he could be excited, and Jeff zapped a photo of his new Costco employee badge to his daughter when it was finalized and real. And, the job was what Jeff wanted; he got to mix with people, he was in a store culture he liked, he was on his feet a lot, and the job had good promise and pay for its role. All in all, it was a bit of karma coming back to Jeff and his family after a rough year and losses to COVID. So, the job hire was a huge blessing, and he has a new nickname now at work – the Twitter Guy.

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