Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Here’s the story. A stray dog had been sleeping in front of a bookstore in Brazil. He never bothered anyone, was friendly, and from time-to-time people would give him a scrap of food. Then one day he made his move. He snuck into the bookstore completely unnoticed and headed right to the shelves as if he was a normal customer. He then casually grabbed a book that he wanted and trotted out of the store. Eventually, somebody noticed him with the book and took it from him. As they did they were shocked to find out that the book that this lonely dog had stolen from the store was titled “Days of Abandonment,” which undoubtedly described the poor guy’s life perfectly. Coincidence? Probably. Fate? Maybe. Awesome? Hell yes. Bottom line, the dog became famous overnight and was adopted into a loving forever home. Check out the video and photos below. Way to go, dog.

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So here’s the story. A man in St. Louis bought a house only to find a Pit Bull had been left in the basement. Turns out a squatter had been living in the house, then took off and abandoned this poor dog for God knows how long. The guy immediately called Stray Rescue of St. Louis, who showed up to save this poor pup. Due to the dog’s sheer joy of being rescued and her constant leaping about, the rescuers dubbed her Jumping Bean. How could anyone leave a dog behind like this? Unimaginable. Glad this story had a happy ending, man. Here’s to Jumping Bean.

Sometimes people just stumble into cool idea, ya know? For instance, some dude named Percy Spencer was experimenting with a new vacuum tube called a magnetron while doing research for the Raytheon Corporation in 1945. During one experiment the candy bar in his pocket began to melt. Boom! The microwave was invented.*

*Fun Fact: The first microwave oven was called a Radarange, and it weighed 750 pounds, was 5 1/2 feet tall and cost about $5,000. That’s wild.

Anyway, other stuff like x-rays, artificial sweeteners and even penicillin were invented by mistake. Seriously, look it up. I wouldn’t like to ya. But on to the point of this blog, and that is what foods were invented by accident. Let’s do the thang . . .

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Yep, the delicious goodness called Chocolate Chip Cookies were a mistake. It happened in the 1930s when a restaurant owner named Ruth Wakefield added pieces of chocolate to her cookie mix, hoping the fragments would melt and turn the batter into a chocolate brown. The chips remained solid, however, people loved them, and the chocolate chip cookie was born. And thank God for that, right?

Note: My niece Sasha can cram more chocolate chips into a chocolate chip cookie than any human being on earth. That’s a fact.

POPSICLES

The popsicle was invented by an enterprising 11-year-old kid named Frank Epperson in 1905. You see, young Frank left a glass of soda on his San Francisco front porch by accident one night with a stirring stick still it. The next day, after a chilly night, the drink had frozen. Frank pulled the stick out and, to his surprise, the drink came with it. He went ahead and licked it and found it to be quite tasty. That fateful morning stuck with him, and years later, when he was 20, he patented them as Popsicles.

POTATO CHIPS

In 1853 there was a chef named George Crum at Moon Lake House Restaurant in Saratoga Springs, New York. After a customer sent back a batch of fried potatoes complaining that they were not thin enough, Chef Crum got pissed. He sliced the next batch of potatoes as thinly as he possibly could, fried and salted them, and sent them back out to the complainer. That’ll teach him! However, to George’s amazement the customer loved them, and soon the word of these crunchy fried potatoes spread across the region. The Potato Chip was born.

WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE

First off, this has to be the most widely mispronounced word in the English language, amirite? People always say Worchester Sauce when it’s really Worcestershire sauce, damn it. Anywho, it was invented by the British chemists John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins in the 19th century. The pair were asked to create a tangy sauce for a client who liked Indian cuisine, but the product they created was so strong it was inedible. So, they put it away for a few years. Alas, when they pulled it off the shelf a few years later and tried it again they were stunned to find it was now perfect. Viola!

THE SANDWICH

Wait. What? ‘Tis true! The sandwich is named after John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich. It’s said that the Earl, who was quite the gambler, ordered his servant to bring him meat held between two pieces of bread so that he didn’t have to stop to eat a proper meal. Hence, the sandwich!

Note: This story is widely disputed. Still, I like it so I choose to believe it.

NACHOS

Ah, nachos. So good. But here’s how they came to be. Ignacio Nacho Anaya was a maître d’ at a restaurant called the Victory Club in Piedras Negras, Mexico. One day in 1943, a group of ten military wives crossed the border from Fort Duncan Army base and demanded some grub. Unable to track down the chef and faced with the ten hungry ladies, Anaya decided to improvise—he covered a plate of tostadas with grated cheese, passed it through a salamander (a broiling unit that heats food from above), and topped the whole thing off with jalapeños. Of course the women loved it, and one of the women dubbed the dish “Nacho’s Special”, which was later shortened to just “Nachos” when Anaya took the dish to his own place—Nacho’s Restaurant.

BEER

We’re pretty sure the Mesopotamians invented the delicious Barley Pop about 10,00 years ago. What happened, you ask? See, when Mesopotamians began storing grains for bread, their storage spaces occasionally became damp which caused the grains to ferment. This fermentation process resulted in a liquid that was the earliest beer. Some lucky Mesopotamian sampled the strange liquid, got a buzz, and the rest is history. On a related note, three years later the first beer gut was spotted.

HOT & SPICY CHICKEN

Hot & Spicy Chicken was invented in Nashville, and its origins are at the world famous Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. Restaurant lore traces the recipe back to current owner Andre Jeffries’ great-uncle Thornton Prince, an infamous womanizer. When she thought he was cheating, one of his jealous lover’s fed him extra-spicy chicken out of vengeance. Problem was, Thornton liked it so much that he began cooking it at his restaurant. Crazy but true.

COKE

Coke was invented in 1886 by a guy named John Pemberton. Pemberton was a wounded veteran who had become addicted to morphine, so he tried to create a replacement to stave off his addiction. Through some messing around in his pharmacy, he created a tonic that eventually became the original Coca Cola formula. As you may have heard, it contained small amounts of cocaine as well as the caffeine-rich kola nut. Let’s just say the original Coke could give you quite the high. Anyway, in 1887, another Atlanta pharmacist, Asa Candler, bought the formula for Coca Cola from Pemberton for $2,300. By the late 1890s, Coca Cola was one of America’s most popular fountain drinks.

CHEESE PUFFS

Here’s what happened. The Flakall Company up in Wisconsin invented a machine that crushed grains for animal feed without hulls and grain dust. A bro named Edward Wilson noticed that workers poured moistened corn kernels into the machine to reduce clogging. The machine got so hot that the moist cornmeal came out in puffy ribbons, hardening as it hit the air and fell to the ground. Wilson took the ribbons home, added oil and seasoning, and made the first cheese curls. Genius!

ICE CREAM CONES

At the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, an ice-cream vendor had run out of bowls. Back then that’s how everyone ate ice cream, from a bowl. Earnest Hamwi, a neighboring concessionaire, rolled the waffle-like pastries he was selling (they were called Zalabis) into a cone so his neighbor’s ice cream could be held inside, just to lend a friend a hand. People loved it, and the Ice Cream Cone was born.

SLURPEES

Omar Knedlik, owner of a Dairy Queen franchise in Kentucky, had a fountain machine that kept breaking down, so he had to store his sodas in the freezer, sometimes for too long. His customers didn’t mind, though. In fact, they kept on ordering “those pops that were in the freezer a little bit longer.” Realizing that his disaster had turned into an opportunity, Knedlik built a new machine to deliberately produce that strange, frozen drink that everyone loved. Later, the ICEE dispenser was bought by more than 300 companies before 7-Eleven licensed it in 1965 and renamed the drink “Slurpees.”

And there ya have it, cool foods that were created entirely by accident? Cool, right?

Here’s a short but pretty cool story about my father. Dad is 91 now and not in the best of health, but he’s a pretty amazing guy who’s lived a pretty amazing life all things considered. I plan to write a story about all that one day, but for now I thought I’d share a short story about something that happened when I was perhaps 5-years old.

Dad was a smoker back then, but most men were in those days. Just look at an old photo from back then and you’ll see a cigarette in almost everyone’s hand. Hell, doctors smoked in their office as they examined you. I’m dead serious.

There’s probably a bottle of booze in his drawer too.

The cigarette folks even advertised using doctors. Crazy but true, man.

You cannot make this stuff up. What can I say? People didn’t know. And it was a different time, in many ways better, in some ways most certainly not.

Bottom line, the link about cigarettes and lung cancer had been known for a decade or so, but was for the most part ignored. Hence, Dad the smoker.

Let me take you back to the winter of ’60 or ’61, maybe even ’59. I don’t really remember. I just recall it was winter because there was a fire in our fireplace. It was in the evening, and I climbed up on Dad’s lap as he sat by the fire burnin’ a Lucky Strike.

At one point I reached up and tried to grab his cigarette, because hey, I was a kid. I got my hand slapped, and it was then the following conversation took place:

Dad: “Hey, what are you doing? Stop it.”

Me: “I want to try it!”

Dad: “You can’t. You’re too young and besides, cigarettes are bad for you.”

Me: “Then why are you smoking one?” 

Really, that was all it took. Because at that point Dad paused, looked at the cigarette in his hand, and flipped it into the fireplace.

And he never smoked another cigarette in his life.

I asked him about this recently, and he too remembered that evening. He told me he just didn’t feel he could justify smoking while at the same time telling me how bad it was for you. So he quit to prove a point, on the spot, for himself but mainly for me.

And I’m glad he did.

 

Genius stuff up in here.

[Click and scroll, man.]

 

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You know how when you buy something and you get all the parts mixed up? With this product the parts come packaged and in order.

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That’s an elevator button. It’s far away so you won’t have to wait once you’re at the door.

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Public bathroom door opener. No grabbing the nasty door handle.

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To prevent that battle to keep light from coming in through the crack.

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For those of us who flush with our foot in public toilets.

genius6

Hell yes I need this. I always get it wrong. Every. Time.

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I’m sure there must be another one that says NO FREAKING WAY.

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For your dog! Yes!

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I’ve actually seen these. They tell you how many seconds are left until the light changes. GREAT idea.

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Self-explanatory. Perfect.

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Der.

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Great water recycler. Love it.

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Hard to run these lights.

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So you can push your bike up or down the steps.

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This has Sparky written all over it.

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The mom and toddler swing. Cool.

Admit it, you’ve never heard of Aloha Wanderwell, and that’s a damn shame. Here’s why . . .

Aloha Wanderwell was born on October 13th, 1906 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and would later become a United States citizen. Keep in mind that this was 14-years before women were allowed to vote, kids. Also, her birth name was Idris Welsh bit that was way to boring for our girl. Hence Aloha.

Anyway, she went on to become an internationalist, explorer, author, filmmaker, and aviatrix, because of course she did. While still a teenager, Aloha began her adventuring career when she met her traveling companion Walter “Cap” Wanderwell, in 1922. Walter was married at the time but that didn’t last long after the arrival of Aloha. They married in 1925 and had two children. As they continued to travel the world, Aloha performed on stage doing travel lectures while next to her a silent movie, “Car and Camera Around the World”, played. The Wanderwells recorded their world journeys on 35mm nitrate and 16mm film, which all reside in the vaults at The Academy Film Archives out in Hollyweird. You can find some of the stuff on YouTube, and it’s cool as hell.

But that’s not all. In 1930 and 1931, Aloha learned to fly a German seaplane named “Junker” that she would later land on an uncharted part of the Amazon River. After landing they set up camp at a ranch in a place called Cuiabá. They made several flights with the seaplane, once running out of fuel on the Paraguay River and becoming stranded. At this point Aloha lived among the Bororo people for 6-weeks. She even recorded and documented her time spent with them. Tough lady indeed.

In 1932, her husband Walt was shot and killed on his yacht in Long Beach, California, but authorities are 39% sure Aloha didn’t do it. Aloha later married another dude named Walter, this time with the last name Baker, and continued her travels. She ultimately visited over 80 countries and 6 continents while driving over 500,000 miles. She’s listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first woman to make that drive around the world. I presume she took a boat here and there, but with Aloha you never know.

So, let’s reiterate. Adventurer, around-the-world traveler, pilot, explorer, author, and film maker, all while the vast majority of women were staying at home, raising children and minding the house while their husband worked.

Quick note – You realize all of this was accomplished before Amelia Earhart, right? This was a woman way ahead of her time, folks.

Anyway, meet Aloha Wanderwell, forgotten American heroine. Amazing lady.

 

Gus and Beemo.

Gus Kenworthy is an American freestyle skier from Colorado who recently made headlines not related to sports. Why? Because he rescued 91-dogs from a dog meat farm in South Korea while participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

You read that right. 91.

“This morning I had a heart-wrenching visit to one of the 17,000 dog farms here in South Korea,” he wrote on Instagram. “Across the country, there are 2.5 million dogs being raised for food in some of the most disturbing conditions imaginable. Yes, there is an argument to be made that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture. And, while don’t personally agree with it, I do agree that it’s not my place to impose western ideals on the people here. The way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty. Despite the beliefs of some, these dogs are no different from the ones we call pets back home.”

So, Gus decided to do something about it. “I adopted one of the pups, named her Beemo, and she’ll be coming to the US to live with me as soon as she’s through with her vaccinations in a short couple of weeks. I cannot wait to give her the best life possible!”

Gus arranged for 90 other dogs from the farm are taken from the facility to the United States and Canada for adoption with the help of Humane Society International.

Atta boy, Gus Kenworthy. Gold medals are great, but rescuing 91-dogs puts you on another level. You are a true American hero.

If these don’t make you smile you have no soul. Click on the first photo to scroll through the awesomeness.

So 76-year old George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic was interviewed by Rolling Stone, and man did this dude bring some things into perspective. He was asked about Cultural Appropriation, that is, whites doing “black music” and stuff. The question seemed a little dated to me anyway, but George responded with a great take:

I’d bite off the Beatles, or anybody else. It’s all one world, one planet and one groove. You’re supposed to learn from each other, blend from each other, and it moves around like that. You see that rocket ship leave yesterday? We can maybe leave this planet. We gonna be dealing with aliens. You think black and white gonna be a problem? Wait till you start running into mother***kers with three or four d**cks! Bug-eyed mother***kers! They could be ready to party, or they could be ready to eat us. We don’t know, but we’ve got to get over this shit of not getting along with each other.”

BOOM! I do not believe I’ve ever heard it stated better.

You know, George would make a great president. Too bad he’s in his 70’s and half crazy, nobody would ever vote for a guy like that. Wait . . .

!!!!!!!!!!

 

So former NBA player Kenyon Martin went to Twitter to make fun of Jeremy Lin’s dreadlocks, accusing him of cultural appropriation and “wanting to be black.” Lin’s response was kind, respectful, and intelligent. Check it out:

Sweet Mother of all that is holy, somebody make me this.

Just when I’d lost all hope, when hatred and heartlessness seemed to rule, a hero has emerged from the darkness. A hero that believes, like Hippocrates and myself, that “the soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different.” Seriously, dude ran into a raging wildfire to save a bunny. That’s cool.

Good boy. Never a second thought, just went to help because it was the right thing to do.

Like owning a flying car or everyone soaring around with jetpacks, floating cities and underwater cities have been talked about for years. Well, looks like the first floating city will arrive in 2020. Read on . . .

The concept of floating cities may sound like something from a science fiction novel, but it could become a reality by 2020. Seasteading Institute, a San Francisco-based nonprofit has been developing this idea since the foundation of the organization in 2008, and it has reached an agreement with the government of French Polynesia to begin testing in its waters.
“If you could have a floating city, it would essentially be a start-up country,” Joe Quirk, the president of the Seasteading Institute told the New York Times. “We can create a huge diversity of governments for a huge diversity of people.” The community in question should consist of about a dozen structures, including homes, hotels, offices, and restaurants. Engineers and architects have already visited an undisclosed location where the project should emerge. The main aim of the idea is to “liberate humanity from politicians” and “rewrite the rules that govern society”.

Liberate schmiberate. How hard would it be to conquer a floating city? Please. Just send some Navy Seals under the place and harpoon the hell out of the place. Seriously, I like the concept but I’d build it as a resort or something and charge rich people a gazillion bucks to visit. Anywho, take a look:

Good stuff.

Located in the Binhai Cultural District In Tianjin, the five-story library is called “The Eye of Binhai”. It covers 34,000 square meters and can hold up to 1.2 million books. Taking just three years to complete, the library features a reading area on the ground floor, lounge areas in the middle sections and offices, meeting spaces, and computer/audio rooms at the top. Check out the video below the photos for more awesomeness. On a related note, I have no idea how they reach the books on those upper shelves.

[click on photos to peruse]

Word for word.

Well, hell. Now I’m all emotional and whatnot.

Brazil: Marília and Matheus Pieroni were just beginning their tented São Paulo wedding ceremony when, instead of the bride herself, a stray dog who had wandered in from the storm outside marched down the aisle to the bridal chorus. The canine was removed as the young couple entered, but just as they prepared to read their vows, he returned – and laid down to sleep right on top of Marília’s veil. Some women may have gone into full Bridezilla mode at this point, but Marília insisted the pup be welcomed as an official guest, which he certainly was. “It was a very pleasant surprise for me, because I love animals,” Marília told The Dodo. As the night wound down, the newlyweds searched for their surprise acquaintance, but he had crept away unnoticed. Determined to take him in as their very own, a city-wide search commenced for the stray that stole everyone’s hearts. He was found and joined the newlyweds as their newest family member.

I have nothing to add to that, because it is AWESOME.

So some bro created a cloud lamp that reacts in real time to the tweets of Donald Trump, because of course he did. This connected lamp is capable of reacting in real time to messages posted on Twitter, creating a thunderstorm every time a hilarious, self-congratulatory, delusional Trump tweet is posted. It’s the perfect gift for those of us who’d like a warning before a Trump Tweet slaps us in the Twitter Face, or for those who enjoy and approve of The Donald’s wacky, childlike antics. As for me, I’m going to purchase one and have the Looney Tunes theme song play with every Trump Tweet.

Photos and video below.

ggggggggg

Sweet Lord Almighty.

I recently went on a short trip and spent a few days on the east coast, just hanging out at some beaches and visiting friends. It was nice to see some folks I haven’t seen in awhile, and with all the turmoil going on in our country it was nice to get away for awhile.

In addition, something happened on the way home that sort of restored my faith in humanity.

I didn’t really think ahead, and at one point I found myself coming up to a toll booth in Virginia with about $3.00 in change in my car. Oh, I had my ATM card and a couple credit cards, but the sign at the booth clearly said “CASH ONLY.” Since this toll was $2.00, I was good to go. However, I was worried about any more tolls on this particular turnpike. Once I got off I could hit an ATM and withdraw some cash for the rest of my trip.

With this in mind as I rolled up to the window and I saw an older African American woman working the booth. Then, the following conversation took place:

“Can you tell me if there are any more tolls up ahead? I don’t have any more cash.”

“Well, where are you headed?”

“I’m going to Ohio.”

See, what I didn’t understand was that she was thinking I was worried about tolls all the way home, not just on this turnpike. At the time, however, that didn’t occur to me. She was thinking about my whole trip, and I was just thinking about this turnpike. I could always hit up a ATM, but she thought I was broke and would be facing more tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike.

As I was still clueless regarding what was happening, she reached back, grabbed her purse and tried to hand me two twenty dollar bills. As she did she said this:

“Here honey. This should be enough to get you home.”

Yep. Here was a total stranger that I’d met 2-minutes ago trying to give me enough money for gas and tolls to get home. Incredible. I’m not sure what folks at toll booths earn by the hour, but $40 is $40. Hell, It just about brought tears to my eyes. And by “just about” I mean “it did.”

I then quickly explained my situation and told her to keep her money, and I also told her what I thought of her amazingly generous gesture.

She just smiled and waved me off, telling me to have a safe trip home. It wasn’t a big deal to her, but damn did it make me feel good.

And I wonder. If she tried to do it for me, how often did she actually do it for others?

Every teacher I know has experienced tough classes, those groups that were a little more difficult than others. One particular year I had a really troublesome group, and to make matters worse I had them the last period of the day. Any teacher will tell you that having a demanding group of kids at the end of the day is never a good combination.

Anyway, one year I had one such group, and when I say they were bad I mean bad. I had to constantly stay on top of them or the class would spiral into total chaos. There were one or two boys in particular that the rest of the class sort of fed off of, and it was just a difficult group to deal with all-around.

The year I had this particular class I was teaching Social Studies, and for the few years prior I’d been a part of our local Junior Achievement program, where local business men or women would come in and teach a class once a week for 8-weeks. They’d be given a lesson plan from the Junior Achievement folks and apply their knowledge and experience in teaching the class. As luck would have it, the Junior Achievement class was assigned to my last period.

Uh-oh.

Whatever poor schmuck was assigned to my class was in for a terrifyingly enlightening experience. Hell, I had some problems with this group and I rarely had problems with any class. There was simply no way this could end well.

Could the situation get any worse? Turns out it could. The businessman assigned to my class turned out to be . . . wait for it . . . my 75-year old retired father.

Dad had been the Purchasing Manager at the Mead Corporation for many years, he’d been asked to take part, and the woman running the program thought it would be nice to assign him to my class.

Oh boy. All I could envision was a bunch of 8th grade heathens running roughshod over my poor father. He’d never taught a day in his life and he’d just been handed the worst group of kids I’d ever had as an educator. I mean, I knew my Mom was a badass teacher, but Dad? I was worried.

As for Dad, I tried to warn him but he just sort of chuckled and shrugged it off. I also mentioned to my class that my father would be their Junior Achievement teacher, and they too sort of chuckled and shrugged it off. Man, did I dread seeing Dad walk through my classroom door on that first day. Poor guy was being fed to the lions and he had no idea.

Well, the day finally arrived and as I let Dad into my classroom the kids were, unsurprisingly, laughing and joking as I introduced him. I raised my voice at them and implored them to settle down. And then, my father began to speak . . .

He spoke quietly as he addressed the class. He never implored them to quiet down, never asked them to please pay attention. Incredibly, one by one the kids stopped talking, and one by one they slowly turned around, watched, and listened. There was something about his bearing, his attitude, that had the class in rapt attention.

And I swear to God he never raised his voice once.

Incredibly, this continued for 8-straight classes. Dad had them in the palm of his hand, man. They respected him simply because of the way he carried himself and the way he treated them. And boy, did I learn a lot from watching him.

Sure, teachers can learn a lot from in-services, education classes, and other resources. But I also think a lot of good teachers are simply born with that ability to relate, and to connect, with students. That first day I learned that my father was one of those people.

And I also learned to never, ever underestimate my Dad.

Life·Hack

– a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way.

We’ve all read about life hacks, those helpful bits of advice aimed at making our lives easier. And although Life Hack is a fairly new term, the actual act of coming up with better ways of doing things is as old as man himself. Or herself. You get the gist.

Hell, as a Southern Ohioan I’ve seen cars with wooden bumpers, duct taped windshields and cooking smokers made from filing cabinets, so I can relate to redneck ingenuity as much as the next guy.

Anyway, this whole “life hack” thing reminded me of a guy I knew in college we called Muggs. Dude was always bending the rules, sometimes in minor ways, other times in major ways. I’ll give you three examples.

First off, the Muggs was cheap as hell. He was so tight that when he smiled his kneecaps moved. Anyway, he never tipped and would never pay for anything, including stamps. When sending a letter, he’d put the address he wanted the letter to go to as the return address, then put his address as the main address. Then he’d go uptown and drop his letter in the mailbox without a stamp, which would then be returned to the person in which he intended to receive it in the first place. Diabolical. Incredibly, it worked. Keep in mind the cost of a stamp was 13¢ back then. Good God.

As for me, I’d always been taught you shouldn’t mess with the federal government, so I didn’t.*

*If you don’t count the mailbox killing spree I went on in high school with my idiot friends. 

Another life hack Muggs’ wild imagination came up with was the in-car bar. Hear me out on this one, because it’s ingenious, wildly inappropriate and probably illegal. Muggs went to an auto parts store and bought a new windshield washer container for his car, the one that sits under the hood. He bought new tubes that take the cleaning fluid to the windshield as well. Then he installed the new container and redirected the tubes under the dash and through the air vents in his dashboard.

See where this is going yet?

Next, Muggs filled the container with whiskey, so whenever he wanted a drink he’d simply put a cup under the vent, hit the button that turns on the windshield wiper cleaner, and let the booze poor into his cup. If he got pulled over he just closed the vent. That’s wild, man. I remember that before he told us about this I always wondered why he had a cooler of ice in his front seat with nothing else in it.

Bottom line, Muggs was an evil genius. Hell, I’m pretty sure that’s so original there’s no law against it.

Muggs was also in a frat (pretty sure it wasn’t sanctioned or anything) that held a yearly raffle to raise money for “charity”, and by “charity” I mean a big end-of-the-year bash with a live band, booze and plenty of co-eds. Of course Muggs was in charge of the raffle. I remember guys selling chances to win a used car for $5, and they’d sell these tickets for months. Problem was, nobody ever saw anything other than a photo of the car, and every year the big winner was somebody’s uncle from Bardstown, Kentucky or somewhere. Every year at the party the winner would be announced by Muggs:

“And the winner is . . .  drumroll please . . .  Charlie Starkweather of Saluda, North Carolina! That’s my uncle! I’ll see that he gets his 1973 Lincoln Continental Town Car!”

I can’t say this with certainty but I’m pretty sure there was never a car and that the big raffle was 100% profit, minus the cost of buying the tickets.

Muggs, man. God knows how much he pocketed for himself.

As for me, I was taught my own little life hack a couple years ago when I tried to cancel a hotel room in a small coastal town at the last minute. Here’s my phone conversation:

“Hello, Blue Surf Hotel. Charlie speaking.”

“Hey Charlie. This is Dave Shoemaker. I made reservations for Thursday night but I need to cancel. Something’s come up.”

Note: I could have said I had an emergency but I never tempt fate, which may have then handed me an actual emergency just for spite. Fate can be a real bitch. Anyway . . .

“Sorry old buddy, but cancellations have to made 7-days in advance. I know it’s a pain in the butt but the owners here are really strict about it.”

It was apparent to me I was talking to an older gentleman, as he had a raspy, deep voice with a slow southern drawl. Dude sounded exactly like I’d expect Old Man River to sound. Anyhoo . . .

“Seven days? I just made reservations yesterday! That makes no sense.”

“I know, I know. They make no exceptions though. Very strict folks. I’m very sorry.”

At this point I’d just kissed $155.79 goodbye since they had my credit card number and all. But then . . .

“Why don’t you reschedule, old buddy? Maybe sometime in August?”

“Not sure why I’d do that, Charlie. I’ll be long gone by then. That would do me no good at all.”

“You sure? You could reschedule ya know.”

Now I’m a little exasperated.

“Charlie, don’t you get it? I won’t be anywhere near Ocracoke on August 15th. I don’t want to reschedule.”

“Well, I’d think about rescheduling anyway, for say, August 15th. Then if something comes up you could cancel. You know, as long as you did it at least 7-days in advance.”

Realization . . . slowly . . . sinks  . . . in. My skull is a little thick, ya know.

“You know, Charlie, that’s a good idea. I  think I will reschedule. Let’s say August 15th.”

And so I did. And I also cancelled on August 7th. Life hack, man. Thanks Charlie.

Have you heard of Juliane Koepcke? Because her story is absolutely mind-boggling.

Koepcke was a German Peruvian high school senior studying in Lima, intending to become a zoologist like her parents. On December 24th, 1971, the 17-year old and her mother, ornithologist Maria Koepcke, were traveling to meet with her father, biologist Hans-Wilhelm Koepcke, who was working in the city of Pucallpa. She had no idea what lie ahead.

The  commercial airliner she was in was struck by lightning during a severe thunderstorm and broke up, disintegrating at 10,000-feet in the freaking sky. Juliane spun toward the jungle and earth below still strapped into her seat row, which included 3-seats still attached together. She was in the middle row.

Miraculously, she survived the fall. She was seatbelted into her seat and thus somewhat shielded and cushioned, but it has also been theorized that the outer pair of seats on each side of her functioned like a parachute and slowed her fall. In addition, the impact may also have been lessened by thunderstorm updraft as well as the landing site’s thick rainforest foliage. So, the seat row, updraft and soft (relatively) landing saved her life.

Of the plane’s 92-passengers, all perished save for Juliane.

She passed out sometime after the plane broke apart, but she does remember spinning through the night sky and seeing the jungle hurtling towards her. When she woke up, she found that she had only a broken collarbone, a gash to her right arm, and a swollen shut right eye.

“I was definitely strapped in when I fell,” she said later. “It must have turned and buffered the crash, otherwise I wouldn’t have survived. After I landed my first thought was, ‘I just survived a plane crash.'”

Wearing only a sleeveless mini-dress and one shoe, she set out to make it back to civilization.

Her first priority was to find her mother who had been seated next to her, but her search was unsuccessful. She recalled that as the plane began breaking apart her mother had held her hand and said very calmly and simply:

“This is the end. It’s all over.”

She later found out her mother had initially survived the crash, but died from her injuries several days later.

For the next 9-days she wandered through the dense rainforest, and finally found a stream that she followed. Before she set off she’d found some sweets which were to become her only food. She waded through knee-high water downstream from the crash site, often relying on the survival principles her father had luckily taught her, one being that tracking downstream should eventually lead to civilization. The stream provided clean water and a natural path through the dense rainforest vegetation.

During the trip Juliane could not sleep at night because of insect bites, which eventually became infected. Finally, after the 9th day she found a boat moored near a shelter, and she utilized the boat’s fuel tank. Again relying on her father’s advice, Juliane poured gasoline on her wounds, which succeeded in removing thirty-five maggots from one arm. Tough chick, man.

At that point she waited for someone to return to the shelter or boat arrived. Amazingly, she didn’t take the boat. Her reasoning?

“I didn’t want to take the boat because I didn’t want to steal it.”

Yep, after surviving a 10,000-foot fall, breaking her collarbone, wandering through the jungle for 9-days on one shoe while being eaten alive by insects, Juliane Koepcke’s integrity was still intact.

Hours later, the Peruvian lumberjacks who used the shelter arrived and found her. At first they thought she was a water goddess but she explained what happened and they tended to her injuries and bug infestations. The next morning they took her via a seven-hour canoe ride down river to a lumber station. With the help of a local pilot, she was airlifted to a hospital in Pucallpa, where her astonished father awaited.

Incredible.

The crash and story of survival obviously took its toll, but considering what happened Juliane came out of the ordeal in great shape. In 2010, she said this:

“I had nightmares for a long time, for years, and of course the grief about my mother’s death and that of the other people came back again and again. The thought, ‘Why was I the only survivor?’ haunts me. It always will.”

Anyway, Juliane Koepcke? One badass lady.

 

Note 1: There’s a great story that was originally printed in the BBC News Magazine. Click here if you’re interested.

Note 2: Juliane also wrote a book entitled “When I Fell From the Sky.” I shall order it post-haste.