If the rest of the week has got you down, this might be able to lift your spirits a little. Here, we gather all the stories that amuse, inspire, and encourage in one handy-dandy list. It works well as a complement to Saturday’s offbeat list.
This week has been full of stories of people doing random, small gestures that meant a lot. There’s a runner who carried a puppy, a mechanic who checked on a car by the side of the road, a dispatcher who became a math tutor, and a lawyer who held an umbrella.
10 As Seen On The Office
A man from Tucson, Arizona, used the knowledge he learned from The Office to perform lifesaving CPR on a woman until the paramedics arrived.
Twenty-one-year-old auto shop technician Cross Scott took a client’s car on a test drive when he noticed a sedan pulled over on the side of the road with its hazard lights on. Approaching to see if he could help, he noticed that the female driver was unconscious and slumped over the wheel. Her lips were blue. Scott didn’t have his phone with him, so he flagged down two other motorists who called 911.
In the meantime, Scott dragged the driver out of the car and saw that she had no pulse. He had no first aid experience other than seeing an episode of The Office in which the main character, Michael Scott, tries to teach his employees CPR. His plan goes awry, but he did impart one genuine piece of advice which stuck with Cross Scott—you should perform the chest compressions in time to the beat from “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.
The mechanic started singing and performing CPR, and after a minute, the woman took a breath. Paramedics arrived 10 minutes later and told Scott that the driver probably would have died without his help.
9 Shelter From The Rain
Sometimes, small gestures can make a big impact. A Good Samaritan came out in the rain to hold an umbrella for a deputy who was saluting the funeral procession of her fallen comrade.
Last Saturday, the people of Birmingham, Alabama, paid their last respects to Sergeant Wytasha Carter who was killed in the line of duty on January 13. Among them was Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff Tiffany Dial. As she stood in the rain saluting, a man walked up from behind her and held an umbrella above her head.
Witness Meghan Blankenship said he stood there for over 30 minutes and then left without saying a word. Dial didn’t even realize he was behind her as she was caught up in the moment. An online effort identified the man as Shawn Allen, a deputy district attorney for Jefferson County. He later said that he went outside to pay his respects, saw Dial in the rain, and just thought that it would be “a nice thing to do.”
8 Fundraiser For Fyre Festival Fraud
The Bahamian restaurant owner who lost over $100,000 in the Fyre Festival debacle and subsequently gained it back through donations announced plans to share the excess money with other people who were scammed.
The Fyre Festival was touted as a “luxury music festival” in the Bahamas which was supposed to take place in April and May 2017. People paid thousands of dollars for a ticket and expected lavish accommodations and gourmet food. Instead, they got tents and prepackaged sandwiches. Naturally, a bunch of lawsuits followed. In addition, the man behind the event, Billy McFarland, got six years in prison for wire fraud.
Attendees weren’t the only ones who got scammed. Local Bahamian businesses suffered losses because they worked with the festival organizers and never got paid.
In 2019, two different documentaries about the Fyre Festival came out a few days apart. They highlighted the plight of Maryann Rolle, the owner of the Exuma Point Bar and Grille. Her restaurant prepared thousands of meals without pay, incurring losses of over $100,000.
Since the documentaries came out, a GoFundMe campaign has paid Rolle almost double that in donations. However, instead of keeping the additional funds, she will distribute them to other local business owners who were duped into working for free.
7 A Promise To An Old Friend
Playwright A.E. Hotchner was finally able to keep a promise he made to Ernest Hemingway over 60 years ago.
Hotchner was well-known in his younger days for his close friendship with the famed novelist. He also wrote Hemingway’s biography and several teleplays for some of the writer’s short stories. Back in 1958, the two went together to see the movie adaptation of The Old Man and the Sea starring Spencer Tracy.
To put it mildly, Hemingway was not happy with the movie. According to Hotchner, the novelist felt that what the moviemakers did to his book was “like p—ing in your father’s beer.” He was particularly angered by the casting of Tracy in the lead role because he looked “like a fat, rich actor trying to play a fisherman.” The two went to a restaurant where Hemingway urged his friend to make his own adaptation of the book some day.
Over the years, Hotchner tried 10 times or more to adapt the book. But he always scrapped his drafts because he felt they weren’t up to snuff. Sixty years later, he was finally able to keep his promise. The 101-year-old playwright’s stage adaptation of The Old Man and the Sea opened on February 1 at the newly renovated Pittsburgh Playhouse.
6 A Math Emergency
A police dispatcher turned into a temporary math tutor when a child called 911 to ask for help with his homework.
Antonia Bundy was manning an emergency phone line in Lafayette, Indiana, when she received a peculiar call from a young boy. As Antonia was trying to ascertain the emergency, she realized that the boy had experienced a bad day at school. Digging a little deeper, she found out that he was struggling with his homework. Specifically, it was a math problem: What is 3×4 + 1×4?
It was a quiet day in Lafayette, so Bundy had some free time. Instead of chastising the kid for calling 911 and hanging up the phone, she decided to help him since she always enjoyed math in school. She walked him through the steps to solve the problem and found it a nice distraction from the calls she typically has to field.
5 A Discovery That’s Out Of This World
Japanese amateur astronomers can pat themselves on the back after using small, cheap telescopes to detect a true planetesimal for the first time.
According to our best hypothesis on planet formation, the creation of a star leaves behind a disk of dust and gases. These tiny particles start to clump together, getting bigger and bigger.
When a cosmic object passes that is about 1 kilometer (0.62 mi) in size, it can start pulling in other bodies through gravity. This creates a snowball effect which greatly speeds up the growing process. Those kilometer-sized objects which form the building blocks for protoplanets are called planetesimals.
As they are so small and dim, they have been predicted for decades but haven’t actually been observed. The recently explored Ultima Thule can be considered a planetesimal, but at 31 kilometers (19 mi) long, it is already an aggregate of much smaller building blocks.
Any planetesimals in the solar system are likely to be found in the Kuiper Belt. In fact, a group of scientists from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan studied these Kuiper Belt objects and believe that they have spotted an initial planetesimal with a radius of 1.3 kilometers (0.8 mi).
They observed the object through occultation. They looked at stars and waited for other objects to pass in front of them and block part of their light. They did this using two 28-centimeter (11 in) telescopes and spotted the body orbiting the Sun at 32 astronomical units.
4 Baloo Lives In North Carolina
In a tale of The Jungle Book come to life, a three-year-old claims to have survived three days in the wilderness thanks to a friendly bear who kept him company.
Last week, young Casey Hathaway went missing in Craven County, North Carolina. During the first night, he endured freezing temperatures, while the second night saw 5 centimeters (2 in) of rain. By the third day, weather conditions had become so bad that authorities had to turn away volunteers.
On Thursday night, they finally found Casey entangled in a patch of thorny bushes. He was cold, soaked, and crying for his mom but otherwise safe. When asked how he made it through his ordeal, Casey claimed he was helped by a bear guardian who stood by him the entire time.
Suffice it to say that people are a bit skeptical. But at the moment, they are just happy that the boy is back safe.
3 Super Bowl Dream Comes True
Today is the day of Super Bowl LIII as the Los Angeles Rams are taking on the New England Patriots. The Rams will have two special fans showing their love for the team after the Rams surprised one of their own custodians with two tickets to the Super Bowl.
Last Friday started off like a regular day for Alfonso Garcia who works as a facility employee at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. He became nervous when he was told he had to go to the general manager’s office.
Garcia relaxed a little when he saw wide receiver Brandin Cooks waiting for him inside. The player wanted the custodian to know that his efforts to keep the facility in “tip-top shape” did not go unnoticed. Cooks was there to reward Garcia with a special gift—a trip to Super Bowl LIII for Alfonso and his son, Joshua.
Garcia described the moment as a “dream come true,” saying he had wanted to attend a Super Bowl ever since he was a kid.
2 Egg-Citing Medical Research
Scientists from the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh have genetically modified chickens to lay eggs which contain antiviral, anticancer, and tissue-regenerating proteins.
The concept is not a new one. Japanese scientists have previously introduced genes to chickens which caused them to lay eggs rich in a protein called “interferon beta.” Goats and rabbits have also been genetically modified to produce milk which was used in protein therapies.
However, Scottish researchers claim that their new approach is more efficient, more cost-effective, and produces better yields. It is also between 10 and 100 times cheaper to produce than the traditional method where synthetic proteins are grown in labs.
One of the scientists, Dr. Lissa Herron, promises that the chickens don’t suffer in any way and, in fact, are quite “pampered” compared to regular farm animals. However, their DNA is modified by introducing the human gene responsible for creating the respective protein into the part of the chicken’s genetic code which produces albumen.
The animal then lays the egg. The white is separated from the yolk and used in drug manufacturing. It takes around three eggs to create one dose, and a chicken can lay up to 300 eggs a year.
The Scottish team realizes that it may take 10–20 years before their technique is permissible for human treatments. In the meantime, they are hopeful that their poultry pharmaceuticals can be used to develop drugs for animal medicine.
1 A Pup Named Chombueng
The Chombueng marathon took place earlier this month in Thailand. Khemjira Klongsanun was just one of the many people who ran the race, but she had a unique handicap for most of the marathon—she was carrying a puppy.
About 11 kilometers (7 mi) into the event, Khemjira noticed runners ahead of her dodging something in the road. It was a tiny, trembling dog. Seeing that there were no houses around and fearing that he might get trampled, she took him with her. Khemjira ran another 30 kilometers (19 mi) and crossed the finish line with the pup in her arms.
The story didn’t end there, though, as the marathon runner later reached out to the dog’s owner to come forward. Nobody did, so Khemjira adopted him. The newly dubbed “Chombueng” now lives with her and her two other dogs.