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10 Uplifting Stories To Get You Through The Week (4/14/19)

by Radu Alexander
fact checked by Jamie Frater

If the rest of the week has got you down a little, perhaps this list can cheer you up. Here, we only talk about stories that are positive, amusing, or inspirational. Meanwhile, you can also check the Saturday offbeat list for a glimpse at some of the strangest news items that made the headlines.

This time, we learn about a few inspiring individuals, both human and animal, who will not let their disabilities define them. There is also a pooch who went journeying solo through Ireland, an amazing discovery at the bottom of the ocean, and a chance to spend an unforgettable night with the Mona Lisa.

10 Hamish’s Wild Ride

Photo credit: Irish Independent

Hamish the dog was reunited with his family after being taken into care by Irish Rail staff following a solo train ride through Ireland.

Last Wednesday, commuters traveling from Sallins to Dublin alerted staff members that a lone dog had boarded the train. Unable to find his owner, they took in the friendly pooch and named him Hamish.

Initially, the dog spent his time at the office, with various Irish Rail staff taking turns to look after him and feed him their packed sandwiches. Employee Ted Maher then took him to My Lovely Horse Rescue, a farm for horses where he volunteers.[1] Meanwhile, he also reached out to social media to see if they could find the dog’s family.

Maher was successful a few days later. Hamish, real name Tyson, was reunited with his owners and his sister, Pebbles. He has also been microchipped to make it easier to find him should he leave on a solo adventure again.

9 Riding In Style

Photo credit: People

A hospital from Modesto, California, has found an interesting way of easing the anxiety of children who have to go in for surgery: they drive there in toy racing cars.

The Doctors Medical Center recently acquired a miniature black Mercedes and pink Volkswagen Beetle so that their young patients can cruise into surgery in style. The goal is “to reduce anxiety and stress, and make the experience less scary for everyone involved.”[2] So far, the sweet rides have had a calming effect not only on the children but also on their parents as well.

The initiative was the idea of nurse Kimberly Martinez. The hospital purchased the Mercedes, while the Beetle was a donation from an employee and her family. Both cars have opening doors, working headlights, and dashboard lights and come equipped with a stereo and MP3 player.

8 The Inadvertent Car Thief

Photo credit: Travis Golby/CBC

A Canadian man is trying to find the owner of a car he mistakenly stole over two decades ago in order to apologize.

Back in 1998, Kevin Freedman was a teenage lifeguard and swim instructor in Winnipeg, Manitoba. One hot August day, he had to drive downtown to pay a parking ticket. However, his own car was in the shop, so a colleague let him borrow her car. It was a white Ford Taurus, a common car at the time. Freedman went out to the parking lot, found a white Ford Taurus with its doors unlocked, and climbed inside. Although he had some difficulty, Freedman eventually got the car started and drove off.

He went to the police station and took care of the ticket. When Freedman tried to leave, he couldn’t unlock the door. A passing police officer helped him because he had the same kind of vehicle. Again, the lifeguard struggled to get the engine started, but he put it down to his own incompetence. He drove back to work and parked the car in the same spot.

It wasn’t until the next day that Freedman found out he had inadvertently stolen someone else’s Ford Taurus.[3] When police arrived and discovered the car in the same place, with no damage and nothing stolen, they may have assumed someone took it for a joyride. Perhaps they thought the owner was lying. After 21 years, Freedman is trying to locate that person and apologize, as well as find out their side of the story.

7 Granite Heart With Iron Will

Photo credit: Walkin’ Pets

A chicken with only one good leg is learning to walk for the first time after being fitted with a custom wheelchair.

Granite Heart is a bantam chicken which was born with a tendon disease in one of her legs. As a result, she could only get around by hopping or flying short distances. To make matters worse, she was attacked by a weasel last year. The plucky bird managed to fight off the predator but was left with serious injuries.

Her story reached Walkin’ Pets, an organization based in New Hampshire which makes walking devices for dogs and other pets with disabilities. They had never made such an implement for a chicken before but decided to give it a try. Thus, the Walkin’ Wheels Chicken Wheelchair was born.[4] It is designed to fit Granite Heart comfortably, and now, for the first time in her life, the bird can stand up on her own. Walkin’ Pets plan to keep working on the device until they have a perfect design which can be used on other chickens in the future.

6 Magic In The Ocean

Microbial Mysteries – Big Pagoda Pools – Hydrothermal Vent Structure

An amazing video of an optical illusion involving hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean caused even experienced scientists to marvel with awe.

An expedition from the Schmidt Ocean Institute sent a robotic submersible named SuBastian to explore the Guaymas Basin in the Gulf of California. Two thousand meters (6,560 ft) beneath the sea, it examined a 30-meter-tall (100 ft) hydrothermal vent called the “Big Pagoda” and recorded an optical illusion caused by the intense heat.

At first glance, it appeared that the underside of a rocky overhang, called a flange, was a perfectly smooth and level surface, so reflective that it resembled a mirror. However, one angle change, and the shiny, smooth surface disappeared, leaving behind a dark, hollowed out arc of glittering minerals.[5]

The vanishing mirror might appear to be a magic trick, but it is due to the heat caused by hydrothermal vents. The water in this region can reach 366 degrees Celsius (690 °F) without boiling. Most of it rises and mixes with the rest of the ocean water, but some of it fills out the concave undersides of the flanges. The temperature difference between the hot liquid in these areas compared to the cool water around them is so great that it causes light to slow down and creates the mirror-like false surface.

As for the tiny specks that sparkled in the dark concavity, scientists believe they are minerals like pyrite or pyrrhotite but won’t be sure until they examine a sample in the lab.

5 Food For Fines

This week was National Library Week in the United States, and this year’s theme was “Libraries=Strong Communities.” Also back is the annual Food for Fines program, which allows library patrons to pay overdue fees with canned goods that will be donated to local food banks.

The libraries that take part in this initiative will accept unopened, nonperishable pantry foods in lieu of monetary payment. Typically, one item means $1 worth of waived fines, and some libraries even accept pet food that will be donated to animal shelters.[6]

Numerous libraries throughout the country are taking part in the Food for Fines program. Some of them only participated throughout National Library Week, but the rest will still be accepting food donations until the end of the month.

4 Slumber Party At The Louvre

The Louvre is giving art lovers the chance at a once-in-a-lifetime experience: spend the night inside the museum.

The Louvre is one of the most popular museums in the world. Millions of tourists visit the historic institution every year. Sure, many of them flock to see the Mona Lisa and then leave, but they still create huge crowds and long lines that make seeing the museum a chore.

That will not be the case for one lucky competition winner and a guest of their choosing. They will be flown to Paris and will be able to enjoy a slumber party unlike any other. First, they will be given a private tour followed up by a “cosy Renaissance inspired aperitif” served at a lounge set up right in front of the Mona Lisa. Then comes dinner in front of the Venus de Milo, and the night is capped off by an “intimate acoustic concert” in the living quarters of Napoleon III.[7] When it is bedtime, visitors will sleep in a miniature glass pyramid reminiscent of the one sitting outside in the Louvre courtyard.

The competition was set up by Airbnb. In order to be eligible, contestants must send in an 800-character reply to the question “Why would you be the Mona Lisa’s perfect guest?”

3 Shoplifter Given A Second Chance

A convenience store owner in Toledo, Ohio, has been praised for how he handled a young shoplifter. Instead of turning him over to the authorities, he talked with him and gave him enough food to feed himself and his starving brother.

Last Saturday night, Jitendra “Jay” Singh noticed a teenager in his 7-Eleven store stuffing candies in his pocket. He had an employee call 911 while he confronted the shoplifter. Singh told the young man to empty his pockets on the counter and then simply asked him why he was stealing. The shoplifter replied that it was for him and his hungry brother.

At this point, the easiest thing for Singh would have been to have the police come in and arrest the teenage thief. But he thought that this way, the teen would have a record, would never get a good job, and won’t be able to do anything with his life.[8] Instead, he told his employee to hang up the phone. He said to the young man to ask for food from now on rather than steal it. Singh also filled a bag with chicken drumsticks, hot dogs, pizza, and a bottle of Cola so that the hungry teenager would not leave empty-handed.

2 The Eco-Friendly Adventures Of Trash Girl

Photo credit: Paula Sparkes

On Friday, a teenager who was once bullied for being “Trash Girl” received the Points of Light Award from British prime minister Theresa May for helping to clean up the environment in Norfolk.

People first heard of Nadia Sparkes’s exploits back in 2017. She would leave for school an hour early so that she could pick up litter on her way and would do the same thing on the trip back home. Doing this, she collected more than 1,100 liters (290 gal) of garbage. For her efforts, Nadia was ridiculed at school and nicknamed “Trash Girl.”

Instead of letting the bullies get to her, Nadia embraced her new moniker and kept on working as before. She said the nickname made her feel “like a superhero.” Many others agreed. Since then, Nadia has been published in the local Eastern Daily Press newspaper, and Trash Girl was featured in a portrait by mud artist Ruddy Muddy. Her new persona was also used in a cartoon by Creative Nation. Now, Nadia’s environmental work has been recognized by the British government, as she received the Points of Light Award for “saving the planet.”[9]

1 Roman’s Journey

A two-year-old boy from Kansas with spina bifida defied the odds and is now able to walk and even run without crutches.

Roman Dinkel first captured the hearts of the online world back in August 2018. Millions viewed a video of him using his crutches to walk for the first time and gleefully showing off in front of the family pooch, Maggie. In the months since then, Roman has pushed his training hard and is now able to get around on his own and even pick up the pace at a running speed.[10]

Roman was born with spina bifida, which is a birth defect that impedes the normal development of the spinal cord. He also had hydrocephalus, extra fluid around the brain. He needed three surgeries on his brain and spine before his first birthday. His parents were not expecting him to make such tremendous headway so soon. They recently celebrated with a trip to Disneyland. The family has also been documenting Roman’s progress on Facebook in order to raise awareness of the rare spinal disease.


Read more upbeat stories you might have missed from April 7, 2019, and March 31, 2019.

fact checked by Jamie Frater