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‘Homeless To Harvard’ Teen Is All Grown Up And Admits Her Life Is Completely Different Now

Kelly Taylor

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Homelessness is something that far more people have to deal with than we realize. Liz Murray had a far from typical childhood as she was born to drug addicts and as the years passed, what little stability her family did have disappeared. Her family was broken and her childhood was far from safe and happy.

In a video that has made the rounds on the internet we see Liz standing before her childhood home. She lived there for 13 years with her parents. The house was far from what anyone else would have considered a family home and she states that this is where her parents went from casual drug users to full blown junkies and addicts.

Her story was first brought to the attention of the public through the Oprah Winfrey Show. Liz told Oprah that she often had to skip school to take care of her mother who was not only a drug addict, but also suffered from schizophrenia and AIDS. Her mother and father eventually split up when Liz was 15 and her father went to live in a shelter and left Liz and her mother homeless. Her mother gradually declined in health as the months wore on and before too long, her health took a severe turn for the worse.

Her mother passed away a year later and Liz knew that she had to do something to change her life. She worked diligently at school and was eventually accepted to Harvard, one of the most prestigious schools in the country, where she earned her degree. Her father sadly passed away in 2006 but she did have a change to reconnect with him before his passing. Though she was still somewhat bothered by the life she lived because of his addiction, she was able to reconcile with him.

She went to Harvard and her story helped to inspire millions. Her story was even turned into a Lifetime Movie called Homeless to Harvard: the Liz Murray Story. Her life now is different, as you would expect. She is able to do what she wants and has an education that has helped to push her forward to a career that she loves. She took a situation that would have broken most people and made it into something that helped to push her to do what she had always dreamed of.

Her story has served to inspire millions and she hopes that it will continue to inspire. She wants everyone that sees her story to know that no matter how low they are, no matter how desperate they seem to be, there are ways to get around your own personal struggles. In the heart wrenching movie we see the struggle that she had to endure and we see that she had to go through far more struggle than many of us will ever have to see. Her story is one that shows us that no matter how down we are, there is hope.

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Amazing

Why More People Are Finding Snakes Hiding in Their Toilet

Shannon Jackson

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Sitting down on the toilet and then realizing there is a snake in there. It’s a scene from a horror movie and can be anyone’s worst fear. Snakes hiding in toilets are becoming more and more common.

The latest story making the headlines is from Mike Green in North Carolina, who says he has pulled six snakes out of his toilet in the past four years. This is not the only example. Country singer Brett Eldredge recently shared that he walked in the bathroom where he was staying on vacation in the Bahamas and found a snake in the toilet bowl. There are plenty of stories of pythons hiding out in toilets in Australia.

There is a reason why this is happening. A former plumber and curator of reptiles at the Los Angeles Zoo is sharing the reason. He says that snakes are sleek animals and it’s easy for them to fit into tight spaces in their current environment. Snakes feel more at home when they are in a dark, tight space. When they get into a pipe, they feel good about it and it’s easy to navigate through the sewer system and then find their way up the pipes into someone’s toilet. Snakes get in through the ventilation pipes on the roof. Since the bathroom plumbing is usually connected through the ventilation pipes the snake slithers its way through the system and into the bathroom. It’s easy for snakes to slither up anything that will lead them to the roof, such as a tree. If you have a tree that is close to your roof and the ventilation pipe then it can increase your chances of having a snake in the bathroom

If you are wondering what to do if a snake gets in your toilet, know that flushing it away won’t work. If you do find a snake in your toilet then call animal control. Animal control can help you get rid of the snake but can also identify the snake. While the good news is that most snakes are harmless, there is a chance you could have a dangerous one. Don’t be a hero and handle it yourself, just in case it is dangerous.

If you want to avoid snakes in your toilet, there are simple things you can do. Find a way to make sure the ventilation is covered but that it is still able to do the job it is intended to do. By having some sort of block, such as wire covering and mesh, it not only prevents snakes from getting in but also other pests, like rats. You can also install a roof vent hood. These hoods help protect the venting and keep any creepy pests out. Who would have thought that you actually needed to take care of issues on the roof in order to prevent snakes from slithering through the pipes? If you are truly worried then you can invest in a multi-flap that fits over the toilet pipe and allows waste and water to exit but keeps critters out.

Keep in mind if you live in an area that is prone to snakes then this issue may be more common and you may already know how to deal with it. Many snakes that find their way into a toilet are not native to the area where they were found. It’s likely they escaped or were let free by their owners that no longer wanted them and they choose your pipes as a nest. Many snakes aren’t able to survive in the main sewer pipe for very long since there can be relatively low temperatures below the ground where pipes are located, making it unlikely that they actually set up their home in a main sewer line.

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Amazing

Pigeons With Small Hats are Showing up in Nevada

Shannon Jackson

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It’s not uncommon to see a lot of weird things walking down some streets in Nevada. However, you may have thought your eyes were playing a trick on you when you saw a pigeon that was wearing a small sombrero or cowboy hat. While you may think it was just one of those dessert mirages, it’s not.

There have been sightings of a pigeon wearing a sombrero in Reno and then a number of pigeons in Las Vegas wearing cowboy hats. The city manager of Reno thought it was just adorable and funny. However, she was in for a rude awakening when she shared the pigeons on social media and then was attacked by animal rights activists. One of the Las Vegas pigeons that had a tiny hat glued to its head died. Activists are working to get the word out that regardless of how cute a pigeon with a hat on his head looks, it’s not a laughing matter.

The pigeons in Las Vegas were being spotted in mid-December. While the pigeons weren’t all wearing the same hat, the proximity of the sightings had many people believing it was the same group of people or one person that was responsible. The Internet was exploding with these pictures and there were even people getting tattoos of the cowboy pigeon. These people had a serious commitment to something funny but may be feeling a bit of regret when they learn the practice of gluing hats on pigeons is cruel.

When the pigeons were first spotted, the staff at Lofty Hopes, an animal rescue, wanted to track down the pigeons in order to try and remove the hats. Since the pigeons were all spotted wearing the hats for several days, the staff determined the hats were glued to their heads. The staff then worked on trapping the pigeons but it wasn’t an easy task. The staff named the pigeons in order for them to be easy to track. They went by Cluck Norris, CoolamityJane, and Billie the Pidge. Eventually, Cluck Norris and Billie the Pidge were caught and the volunteers and staff members could take a look at the damage that was done. At first, Billie allowed them to work on removing the hat. As the volunteers got to work, it was clear how much glue there was and how much damage was caused to the bird. Cluck allowed them to do the same thing and for him, the damage was even worse. The staff at Lofty Hopes later shared on Instagram that Billie the Pidge had died from an undetected illness. The staff shared that the hat could have interfered with the pigeon being able to dislodge small insects that gathered under it. Pigeons are active groomers and they don’t just groom themselves but also others in the flocks. Since pigeons have an extremely fragile respiratory system, the fumes from the glue could have contributed to slowly poisoning the bird. There are a number of things that could have gone wrong thanks to this prank.

Lofty Hopes is now working on tracking down the sombrero bird in Reno. The city manager is also doing her part to spread the word about the birds. She said while it is fun, it’s still inhumane and the birds are suffering. She said she doesn’t want the same thing to happen here with Billie dying. In the meantime, Lofty Hopes is still working on finding Coolamity Jane. They have kept a close eye on her but haven’t been able to trap her. The goal is to get the hat off as quickly as possible.

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Culture

A Florida High School First: Dissecting Synthetic Frogs

Renee Yates

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Dissecting frogs has been part of the curriculum for high school students in the United States since the 1920’s. It’s an essential part of a Biology requirement because it offers a hands-on learning experience for students in animal anatomy. J.W. Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Florida has just tapped into a new synthetic option that might just save students from the dubious and grossly controversial dissecting practice. 

Why Dissecting is Controversial?  

Dissecting animals in the classroom is controversial for a number of reasons, but the education validity of this practice is what is being called into question more than anything else. If it is really important for educational purposes, why have so many schools already chosen to rely on alternative methods to fulfill the requirements?  

Here’s an overview of the key points to consider.  

Unethical.  

Dissecting frogs and other animals is controversial because of animal welfare concerns. Students are uncomfortable with the requirement, but the process has caused concerns that it encourages callousness toward animals. An estimated 20 million animals are used for dissection every year in the United States. Those are animals that are used once in a classroom setting and then discarded as waste.  

Alternatives.  

Eighteen states now allow students to choose dissection alternatives without penalty. The earliest forms of alternative legislation date to 2000 with the Illinois’ Dissection Alternatives Act, but there are other laws on the books that allow alternatives. Dissecting alternatives now include computer programs, life-life models, and high-quality videos. So, it’s no longer strictly essential for students to dissect animals.  

Cost.  

The cost of dissecting “real” animal cadavers is much higher than alternative options. The cost for animal dissection has been estimated at $6,850 over five years, compared with the $900 for a site license for Digital Frog 2.5. For those schools and teachers who still prefer a more “real-life” experience for students, there’s now the SynFrog, a synthetic frog that was designed by SynDaver as an alternative to dissecting “real” animals.  

What About the SynFrog?  

The SynFrog is the latest synthetic alternative to frog dissection, spearheaded by PETA in partnership with SynDaver. These synthetic frogs are priced at $150 per frog, and they are reusable. The students at J.W. Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Florida became the first students to use the synthetic frogs as a viable solution to the gross and controversial “real” frogs.  The high school students have been offered this opportunity through a partnership with SynDaver

Education is always important, but the SynFrog demonstrates that there are ways to accomplish the goals of education without unnecessary destruction and cruelty to animals. These synthetic frogs are designed to be as “life-like” as possible, with a synthetic skeleton, organs, skin, muscles, and even a reproductive system to mimic the real deal—minus the gore, guts, and discarded critters at the end of the lesson.  

Perhaps instead, teachers can reiterate the Hippocratic Oath: “First, do no harm,” as they offer alternatives for learning with synthetic learning options.   

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Culture

Stunning Snow Art Created By 60-Year-Old During Nature Walks.

Renee Yates

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Looking at the world from an aerial view can unveil some amazing scenery. Nowadays, thanks to the internet, it is possible to get a birds-eye view of just about everything in life. So when 60-year-old Simon Beck began performing as a snowshoe artist, the world began to take notice. Now, we know what you are probably thinking. What in the heck is a snowshoe artist? Who is Simon Beck? How can any of this actually be any cooler? Don’t worry, we’ve got the answers to all of your questions.

Simon Beck hadn’t dreamed of becoming a snowshoe artist when he was a child, it was just something that happened. Beck is actually a former cartographer, a profession dedicated to drawing and producing maps. Beck had earned his degree in the field while attending Oxford for engineering. Working as a cartographer would give Beck the training and attention to detail that he would need to shock the world as a snowshoe artist. 

For the better part of the past decade, Beck has been using his elaborate technical skills to create mind-blowing snowshoe art.  These images can be seen from the air, as well as all over the internet, and Beck’s results are simply staggering. To accomplish some of the more intricate patterns that he develops, Beck can spend up to 12 hours carefully walking through the snow. Beck will end up taking nearly 40,000 steps to create the perfect piece of snowshoe artwork.  The job is as intense as it sounds, and we have to imagine that Beck is physically exhausted by the time that he is done working on his art. While the output speaks for itself, we have to imagine that there is something bittersweet about watching the wind blow it away.

There are many challenges that Beck has to overcome while attending to his snowshoe art. For starters, the elements are always a factor for the duration of the project. As snow and sand can blow away at the slightest breeze, Beck spends much of his time re-working older segments of his art. Other obstacles include the grueling physical work, the massive time sink, and even destruction caused by visitors who don’t realize that Beck is working on something.

Even though Beck has been making a name for himself for years, his work is finally getting even more exposure. Beck as interviewed for a column on Artsy, and he was able to unveil some of his thoughts regarding the art form. Beck admitted during the interview that his work was fleeting, but he countered the idea by pointing to the longevity of a photograph. Beck made the insightful point that the vast majority of people will never see the Mona Lisa in person, but almost everyone has seen a photograph. Beck says, “Most people will only ever see (…) artwork as photographs.” For Beck, the fame is clearly not what he is after. Instead, it seems like Beck just wants to share his passion with the world.

Simon Beck has created more than 300 drawings across Europe. He has used his special shoes to craft artwork in the sand, in the snow, and in countries throughout the world. Each piece of artwork presents a unique challenge to Beck, thus always keeping his craft fresh.

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Culture

Photos are Used to Capture the Struggles and Rewards of Being a Caregiver

Kelly Taylor

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It is important for everyone to spend time with the members of their family because they may not know just how much time they have. A caregiver who, about ten years ago, realized that time with her ather was coming to an end, learned how to value every moment she has with her family. First, she noticed that something was strange about her father. She says that her face wasn’t as reactive as it used to be. Her father came from Egypt and moved from the United States in search of a better life. He got a job as a successful professor of mechanical engineering. This allowed him to provide for his family. His daughter realized that it was time for her to give something back to her dad who had given her such a great life in America.

At the same time, this young woman also appreciated his smile and laughter as well. She noticed that this was changing. His personality had changed. His vibrant laugh was gone. She was worried that her father had suffered a stroke. She took him to see a doctor and then, about two years after the first event, she finally got the answer. He had Parkinson’s Disease. Initially, the symptoms were relatively manageable. He was stiff from time to time. His emotions were flat. At the same time, he was still himself on the inside. Unfortunately, this was not meant to last. Things started to get worse about two years later.

She learned that she was going to have to take care of her father full-time. The roles of parent and child had been flipped. She would have to bathe him, calm him, and make sure that all of his daily needs were taken care of. This took a toll on her because she saw the person that she had known her entire life was starting to evaporate before her very eyes. At the same time, she still had to take care of herself as well. That is why she developed a few rules that can help her, and others, serve as caregivers for members of their family.

First, caregivers need to take breaks. This is a necessity. Just because she is the primary caregiver for her father doesn’t mean that she isn’t allowed to take breaks. Parents take breaks when raising their children and caregivers can take breaks as well. Research has shown that caregivers can get stressed. When this happens, they also tend to make bad decisions. Therefore, take breaks and time for self-care. This will make someone into a better caregiver because they are going to feel more rested.

Next, remember that there is an age difference. Try to bridge this difference using love. Take pictures. Bring up old memories. Try to find a way to help a parent who is aging. By reminiscing about the good times, those who are being taken care of are more likely to have positive moments and interactions that will make everything else worth it. Try to focus on the positives.

Finally, remember that the disease and the person are not the same thing. The two are different things. By remembering that the person and the disease are different, caregivers are going to avoid placing blame on the person or resenting them. In order to remember that the person and the disease are different, remember the good times that were shared. This is going to help the caregiver fight through the bad times by remembering that their loved one is still in there somewhere.

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