August 26, 2017 was a devastating day for the city of Houston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey ravaged the city causing almost $200 billion in damages and taking an estimated 88 lives. It has been considered one of the deadliest hurricanes in the contiguous United States, tying Hurricane Katrina. Over the next four days, the Texas city, with a population of more than 2.3 million people, received more than 40 inches of rain. Thousands of people were displaced from their homes due to the never seen before flooding.
J.J. Watt, who is a defensive end in the NFL for the Houston Texans, had to do something to help his city. He couldn’t stand by and watch the effects of Hurricane Harvey destroy Houston. Despite dealing with his share of injuries that ended his season early in 2017, including one that left him with a broken leg, he felt compelled to do something. He made a video that went viral asking for donations for the victims of the hurricane. From that video, he created the J.J. Watt Relief Foundation.
His original goal was $200,000 for hurricane relief. People were moved to continue to give to this shining light in the face of tragedy and one year later, he had raised $41.6 million. All of the money was distributed to eight non profit organizations.
The organizations used the funds for many different projects, including the cleanup and repair of more than 600 houses. They reconstructed 420 child care center and after school programs, resulting in service being restored to 16,000 children. The organizations were able to reinstitute physical and mental health services, which was able to help 6,500 people. They were able to distribute medicine to more than 10,000 people. The Houston Food Bank and Feeding America were desperately trying to keep up with the high demands. J.J. Watt’s Fund enabled them to serve 26 million meals.
Despite all the money raised and all the amazing accomplishments, the J.J. Watt’s Foundation does not plan to stop there. J.J. has plans for the future. Included in those plans are restoration of more houses, continued physical and mental health support and continued support to the Food Bank. The foundation also plans to help provide hurricane resilience in the city and continue to restore Boys and Girls Clubs Centers and repairing homes with Habitat for Humanity.
The Foundation has had its share of detractors claiming that people aren’t being helped, but J.J. stands by his foundation and the amazing work it’s doing. The need is great and they are helping as many people as they can as quickly as they can and they plan to continue to help.
Many see all the great work J.J. is doing. He was awarded with the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for all of his fundraising efforts.
The Simpsons Incorporate ASL in Their Show
The TV cartoon, The Simpsons, has never been known for being a mild, sedate cartoon with low volume. Instead, it’s been loud, brash and visual. That said, one of the reasons the Simpsons has lasted for so long, aside from always being relevant to current events and new generations, is the fact that the show also incorporates new elements when it makes sense. That was the case when the show’s writers decided to incorporate American Sign Language for the first time.
Of course, there were challenges. Cartoon characters are not always anatomically correct. In the Simpsons world, everyone has four fingers on a hand instead of five. To make matters worse, the episode needed Shakespeare to be translated with ASL. Oops.
Making Up Fiction Based on Reality
The current writer responsible for the ASL episode was also keen on going farther. Instead of just focusing on solving how to use ASL, Loni Sosthand also figured out a way to incorporate deaf actors for the voices as well. Double-wow. The recognizable character, Lisa Simpson, spends a story on mourning over the passing of a musician she liked and was a mentor to her character. As it turns out, however, that musician had a son in the cartoon, and the boy is deaf. Lisa, trying to be the perennial helper, wants to assist the boy in getting a hearing implant, and of course, things go sideways from there.
Of course, like many stories used by writers, Sosthand’s episode was rooted in reality. Her own family was big in jazz, different racial perspectives, and a sibling born deaf. The episode gave Sosthand a chance to use her personal experience of balancing a physical limitation with a whole family of issues and going from there. Sosthand ended up bringing her relatives into the cartoon world vicariously through Lisa Simpson’s experience trying to help the musician’s son.
The Results Proved the Success of the Idea
The ASL and deaf voice actor combination was a hit. The episode came across as realistic and accurate, despite fundamentally being a cartoon. And that’s the kind of factor that makes The Simpsons one of the longest running TV shows, much less the longest running TV cartoon show. Even South Park doesn’t even come close to longevity. And for those who use regular ASL, the particular episode of Lisa’s adventures hit home and provided representation for the first time on The Simpsons. It was history in the making.
Arthur is Going to End, Long Live Arthur
PBS has been known for a lot of things in terms of documentaries, but for a whole generation of kids the name Arthur was more familiar while they were growing up. Just like for Boomers and many from Generation X that the Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom will never be forgotten in their minds for many Generation Z and some late Millennials who caught the show, “Arthur” was a familiar name from childhood. The PBS Kids cartoon has now reached a major milestone of 25 season runs, and its creators as well as distributors are in agreement it’s time to shut down the program.
The original concept for Arthur as a cartoon came from Marc Brown, a writer and illustrator of children’s books. Arthur was the “everykid,” a cartoon character kids from all backgrounds could relate to and no one in particular. It helped that Arthur was an Aardvark and his family and neighbors were all animals as well. A parent never had to try and explain differing cultures to their kids watching the show, unlike many other TV programs and simply growing up has required these days. The show was timeless, positive, and it became an international success as well, easily translatable to other languages.
The break in the confidentiality of the show’s ending first came from Kathy Waugh; she let the secret loose during an interview in the summer of 2021. Since then, the final episode has been in countdown mode, with fans of all ages wondering when the final chapter was going to be viewed. The creators and show managers decided reaching the 25th anniversary was as good a stop as any, especially after all 250 something episodes that came before it and a few movies. However, on February 21, the last episode was shown on its original schedule.
Lots of folks thought the Arthur cartoon series was just going to keep on going without an end. The program was easy to maintain, working with storylines that definitely felt evergreen in placement and not stale at all in teaching kids values and social
Travis Baker Flies Again More Than a Decade After Surviving Fatal Plane Crash
Sometimes it isn’t easy to get over a minor thing that happened to you, whether in childhood or adulthood. It’s hard to fathom going into an airplane again after being in one that ended up in a fatal crash. Travis Barker has defied what most people would consider impossible, but he did not do it alone. Let’s delve into how he managed to accomplish this significant feat after more than twelve years.
The 45-year-old drummer with Blink-182 traveled on Saturday, August 14, the first flight since his horrific 2008 plane crash that saw four of his colleagues dying and Barker surviving with third-degree level burns.
Girlfriend Kourtney Kardashian accompanied Barker aboard Kylie Jenner’s private plane as they traveled to Cabo. Kris Jenner and her boyfriend, Corey Gamble, were also said to be on board, according to the outlet.
Barker was caught sporting a white tank top, gray jeans with a black belt studded with metal studs, and a black beanie on his head for the outing. Kardashian, 42, meanwhile, looked stylish in a black dress and black sunglasses.
“Travis flying to Cabo is a marvelous thing. Many years ago, a plane disaster was incredibly traumatic. To reach this point, he’s had a lot of aid, according to media reports. Kourtney has been immensely helpful. She never urged him to take to the air. They’ve been able to travel around the United States without flying, and Kourtney appears quite comfortable with it.
Barker and longtime partner DJ AM (Adam Michael Goldstein) escaped an aircraft accident more than a decade ago while flying from South Carolina, where they had just performed. A year later, Goldstein died of a prescription drug overdose.
The disaster killed Barker’s security officer Charles “Che” Still, his aide Chris Baker, pilot Sarah Lemmon, and co-pilot James Bland.
After the accident, the musician had a hard road to rehabilitation, both mentally and physically. He had third-degree burns covering 65 percent of his body and had to undergo many operations and skin grafts. In addition, Barker was abusing “excessive” marijuana and prescription drugs.
Barker declared his plans to return to the skies in June. On Twitter, he proclaimed, “I might fly again.”
When Goldstein died, Barker said in an interview that he decided to stop using medications and flushing medicine, “even stuff that I needed,” after his opiate tolerance began to rise with each surgery.
“Everyone usually asks, ‘Did you go to rehab?'” the drummer said to the publication. “‘No, I was in a plane crash,’ I answer. That was the extent of my rehabilitation. Have you ever lost three pals and come close to dying? That served as a wake-up call for me. I would not have quit if I hadn’t been in a car accident.”
In the same interview, Barker expressed his desire to be a writer “If I succeed in overcoming [flying], and the angels above assist me in my trips and keep me safe, I’d like to come back and [inform my children], ‘Hey, I just went here, and then I came home.’ And everything turned out OK.’ I have to inform them since I was about to abandon them. That is a perfect day.”
After the crash, the drummer’s dread of flights grew to the point that he remarked, “I used to be afraid of planes.” “I wasn’t able to go down the street. I was convinced that if I saw a plane [in the sky], it was going to crash, and I didn’t want to see it.”
“The closer I got to it, the more it seemed like I was getting closer to the terrible stuff than the beautiful stuff. I felt more akin to attempting to flee, to be in an accident and being burned, to trying to save my buddies from a burning jet, “Barker continued.
Logrolling Crows in Real Life
Darren Hudson has spent his entire career in the outdoors, so interacting with nature is a standard for the lumberjack. And, among all the wildlife Darren would deal with regularly, crows were extremely common given their preference for trees. When he’s not busy cutting down trees for the lumber yard, Darren is also a champion logrolling expert, with a seven-time title streak to his name for the best in the lumberjack sport. Interestingly, both nature and his talent would end up being a combination of life experience for Darren after his cutting down a particular tree.
As it turned out, one of the trees he had taken down recently had a nest in it. When the tree was felled and Darren surveyed the results, he found that his cutting had also managed to destroy a nest for three fledgling crows. Feeling bad for the young birds, Darren made a makeshift nest out of a box, and set it up again so the parent birds could find the fledglings and feed them. Darren then made a point to come back a day or two later and check on the fledglings. Unfortunately, the mother crow never connected back with the fledglings, leaving Darren with no choice but to adopt two of the young birds and leave the third with the Wildcat’s Mi’kmaw community.
Over time, Darren raised the birds to full status, but the crows adopted Darren as family and stuck with him instead of leaving. So, he now has two crows for pets, which is not an uncommon occurrence in the countryside parts of Nova Scotia. And, as it turned out, the crows also adopted Darren’s sport, logrolling. The birds had a habit of following Darren everywhere he went when not driving. And, while he was practicing his logrolling skills, the birds would land nearby and try to figure out what he was doing. Eventually, they got on the log with him and learned how to stay topside as well. It’s not always a success, but for the most part, the crows fend for themselves and roll along just fine as Darren is moving the log.
Even with speed, the birds keep up with Darren, even if sometimes they seem to get a bit close to the water themselves. In one display for a local news media team, it was Darren, not the bird, that ended up the water falling off the log, a bit ironic all things considered. Darren brushes it off that the birds “cheat,” using their claws to hold on which he doesn’t have himself. Again, in Nova Scotia, pets have a habit of copying their masters. Dogs have learned to logroll, so why not crows?
Interestingly, Darren’s crows, Vic and River, are entirely free. They have no leashes, no restraints, and no clipped wings. Essentially, the two birds can split town anytime they want and forget about Darren and humans altogether for that matter. However, they have bonded with him as an adopted parent, and follow Darren wherever he goes around the homestead.
The adaptive ability of crows and their learning capacity is well-recorded. The birds are exceptionally smart in the bird world, and many crow owners have trained their birds to do a number of different activities. Even wild crows can be trained to retrieve specific items they see while flying if they associate a reward with the work.
Vic and River regularly interact with other wild crows and fly around regularly as visitors approach. However, the two birds remain connected to Darren and won’t leave him regardless of migration patterns, at least so far. Darren knows at some point the birds might leave, and that’s the end of it, but he’s enjoying their company as long as it lasts.
From Teacher to TikTok Star: The Story of Mr. Hamilton
Technology has fundamentally changed the way that we connect with one another. The era of instant communication and social media outreach has made us more intertwined than ever, giving otherwise unknown faces the chance to shine in front of millions if not billions of people. For Casey Hamilton, aka @MrHamilton on TikTok, social media allowed the teacher to transition into one of the biggest performers on the internet.
Let’s explore the rise of Mr. Hamilton and his journey from teaching in Plant City to winning over TikTok audiences around the world!
Casey Hamilton: Chaotic Positivity
Were you to run across one of Hamilton’s TikTok videos on a whim, you’d likely not assume he was a teacher. The 25-year-old TikTok star began his career on the platform by selling what everyone loved about him in his classroom, his personality. Hamilton embodies the young-and-fun generation of TikTok stars that are taking over the pop culture world. Hamilton dresses in his favorite crocs, a joke in itself, while matching the rest of his outfit to the caricature of a cartoon-loving pre-teen.
Hamilton’s TikTok currently has more than 5 million followers and that number is climbing by the day, but for what reason? More than just childish fun, Hamilton brings boatloads of energy to his impersonations and sketches. One sketch that garnered Hamilton millions of views was his version of Plankton, a hit with the Spongebob generation. Impersonations aren’t restricted to celebrities, as Hamilton has made videos impersonating, well, everything.
When Hamilton isn’t giving his fans a show through impersonations, he’s sharing his soaring vocals. Covering All Star by Smash Mouth brought in views but so did Hey, Delilah – a song about a stripper. Dance moves of all types join these performances and one thing is certain throughout them all: Casey isn’t afraid of being the center of attention.
From Plant City to Tik Tok Stardom
Hamilton worked at Plant City High School as a TV Production Teacher, developing a morning show with his students. The environment allowed Hamilton to flex his creative chops and amiable positivity, inviting students to fall in love with sketches, comedy, and creating artistic entertainment of all types. Students watched with glee as the morning news at school slowly transitioned into a fun mashup of entertainment.
Jennifer Hamilton is Casey’s mother and she had more than enough to say about her son. Casey said, “I don’t think it was everyone’s cup of tea…” Still, Jennifer had to admit that the show was a hit with Casey’s students. Jennifer said, “He turned our TV show around, the students appreciated the humor and would pay attention.”
Still, Hamilton’s electric personality caused him to become a quick favorite among students. It was only natural to transition into comedy outside of school. Born and raised in Plant City, Hamilton used his upbringing as well as the close-knit community from his hometown to build his brand, but in the most natural way possible. Perhaps that is the most intriguing thing about Hamilton. His success is organic from the ground-up.
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