If the happenings of the past week have got you down, perhaps this list can cheer you up a bit. 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 most bizarre news items that made the headlines.
This week, we look at a few commendable stories regarding children who impressed with their skills or heroics. There are also a few touching reunions. A boy in the hospital is comforted by the arrival of his canine best friend, while a musician reunites with his long-lost guitar after almost 50 years apart.
Canadian rocker Myles Goodwyn was reunited with his beloved Gibson Melody Maker guitar. He thought it had been destroyed 46 years ago.
Back in the early ’70s, Goodwyn was still an unknown musician trying to make it big. His career took a turn when he got his hands on a new Gibson guitar. He customized it and then used it to write and perform most of the songs for April Wine’s first two albums.
The Melody Maker was the only guitar Goodwyn used, but he thought it was lost forever in 1973. While touring in Montreal, the truck that carried all the gear crashed. The guitarist was not able to inspect the wreckage but was told that his beloved Melody Maker had suffered a broken neck.
Obviously, Goodwyn has played other guitars since then. But he still inquired online about the Gibson every once in a while, hoping that perhaps someone took it from the crash. His persistence paid off. Last year, on the day before Christmas, he received a message saying that the Melody Maker was at an address in Victoria, British Columbia.
After 46 years apart, Goodwyn was reunited with his cherished guitar. The artist is still piecing together the history of the instrument, but it has changed hands multiple times over the last five decades. Fortunately, most owners treated it as a collectible or a showpiece and never actually played it. Therefore, the Melody Maker sounds like it did the day Goodwyn lost it.
Nine-year-old Japanese girl Sumire Nakamura is set to become the world’s youngest professional Go player.
In recent times, Japan has instituted a program that encourages new generations to start playing Go to compete with Chinese and Korean challengers in international competitions. Sumire will become the youngest person to play Go professionally when she debuts in her first tournament on April 1.
The girl from Osaka started playing the ancient board game when she was three years old. She was inspired by her father, Shinya, who also plays Go professionally and won a national title in 1998. Japanese Go officials are hopeful that Sumire’s involvement will help boost the popularity of the strategic game, mirroring how the success of Sota Fujii brought renewed interest to the game of shogi, popularly known as Japanese chess.
As far as national stereotypes go, Canadians have it pretty good. They are known for being exceedingly friendly and apologetic. One person from Saskatchewan decided to put this to the test and spent most of 2018 walking from one corner of Canada to the other.
Zayell Johnston is a 27-year-old man from Yorkton, Saskatchewan. For years, he fantasized about trekking through the great outdoors. He wanted to see for himself if Canada was truly “the best country in the world with the friendliest people.”
In February 2018, Zayell set off on his gargantuan quest. He started in Victoria, British Columbia, where he splashed his face with water from the Pacific Ocean. Nine months later, Johnston ended his journey by splashing ocean water from the Atlantic. During that time, he walked 9,000 kilometers (5,590 mi) or, according to his Fitbit, 11.8 million steps.
The people he met along the way did not disappoint. Zayell set out with only $7,000 for food, equipment, and other necessities. And yet he hardly ever found himself in need of a place to sleep or extra supplies.
An elderly couple in Calgary was the first to offer him a place to stay. As Zayell documented his entire journey on social media, more and more people came forward wanting to help. He found it strange that everybody in Newfoundland offered him coffee.
Weather was Johnston’s biggest foe as several blizzards forced him to hunker down and wait for them to pass. He was stuck for a whole month near the Coquihalla Highway, but a stranger helped him get a job at a ski resort.
A young boy from Delaware saved his mom from a fire after staying up late to watch Netflix against her orders.
Thirteen-year-old Damir Border did what all of us did at one point or another during our childhoods. He stayed up past his bedtime. In Damir’s case, it was to watch The Flash on Netflix. At around 1:00 AM, a faulty breaker box outside the Border mobile home caused a spark in an outlet which soon caught fire.
The boy’s mother, Angela, was sleeping while his father, Rich, was at work. If Damir hadn’t still been awake, the home and everybody in it would have gone up in flames. As it happened, Damir spotted the fire, was able to wake up his mom, and then called 911.
The two escaped the inferno in time, and people in the community are already collecting donations to help them replace necessary items lost in the blaze.
For the first time since Charles Darwin visited in 1835, Santiago Island in the Galapagos has iguanas on it again following a mass reintroduction.
Over 1,400 Galapagos land iguanas have been released on the island after being wiped out almost 200 years ago. Once an important member of the island’s ecosystem, the reptile was killed off by predators introduced by humans, particularly the feral pig. The last recorded mention of the iguana was made by Charles Darwin during the iconic voyage of the HMS Beagle.
Since then, those unnatural predators have been eradicated. So the iguana should be able to thrive again and help the environment by dispersing seeds and clearing open spaces of vegetation.
Furthermore, the initiative should also protect the iguana population on nearby North Seymour Island where the reptiles came from. That island has the opposite problem: There are too many iguanas and not enough food to feed them all.
A man drove 3,700 kilometers (2,300 mi) to reunite a sickly boy he’d never met with the child’s beloved puppy.
The holidays have not been particularly joyous for eight-year-old Perryn Miller or his family. While visiting relatives in Utah, he started suffering from painful headaches. During a visit to the hospital, doctors found that Perryn had a brain tumor and required emergency surgery.
The operation went well, and various people have tried cheering up the boy during his convalescence. His favorite soccer player, Justen Glad, paid him a visit, and the West Valley Police Department named Perryn an officer for the day. But what the kid really wanted was to play with his best friend, an eight-month-old German shepherd named Frank.
There was just one problem. Frank was at the Miller home, 3,700 kilometers (2,300 mi) away in Wilmington, North Carolina. Fortunately, former trucker Bob Reynolds heard about Perryn’s story and drove 52 hours to bring Frank to him. Reynolds had never met the Millers but decided that this was something that he could and wanted to do. Reynolds has already volunteered to make the trip again to bring the dog back home.
The discovery of a rare pigment on a medieval set of female teeth provides evidence that nuns and other women monastics of that time were not only literate but also responsible for writing and illustrating manuscripts.
Monks from a thousand years ago get a lot of credit for writing many texts of that era and also providing masterful illustrations. However, most of them didn’t sign their work so we do not really know who did what.
In recent times, new research has suggested that nuns and other female scribes were also actively involved in book production. Tiny flecks of a blue pigment found on 1,000-year-old dental tartar indicate that we know of at least one woman who worked on medieval manuscripts.
The teeth belonged to a woman who lived in Germany between the 10th and 12th centuries and was buried in an all-female monastery. Monica Tromp, one of the paper’s authors, speculates that the staining happened when the woman licked the end of her brush while painting. Alternatively, she could have inhaled powder while preparing the pigment.
Also notable is the type of pigment found. The blue ink was called ultramarine. It was made from lapis lazuli found in a single region in Afghanistan. It was a luxury good worth its weight in gold. Only the most talented and prized illustrators would have been allowed to work with it.
A second grader won the 10th annual Doodle 4 Google contest with a drawing of dinosaurs shaped to resemble the company’s logo.
Google is known to create special versions of their logo which are displayed on their home page to commemorate holidays, unique events, and people. Once a year, the organization also hosts a competition open to students from kindergarten to the 12th grade to design one of their unique doodles. The winner is decided by a panel of judges. This year, it included guests such as Jimmy Fallon and Kermit the Frog.
Sarah Gomez-Lane from Falls Church, Virginia, came in first place with her dino doodle. The theme for the competition was “What Inspires Me.” Sarah’s drawing reflected her ambitions of becoming a paleontologist.
Fortunately for her, the prize for the contest is a $30,000 college scholarship. In addition, Sarah spent the day with Google’s Doodle Team to transform her drawing into an animated doodle which was featured on the search engine’s home page.
In just 18 months, Patrick Lawson went from being a homeless drug addict with a criminal record to winning an award for being the happiest bus driver in London.
The beginning of Pat’s story is familiar—childhood abuse led to problems with drugs and violence. These led to jail time and homelessness. He lived like this for almost 50 years before hitting rock bottom and deciding that it was time to make a change.
The important part is that Pat actually followed through on his decision. First, he went to the hospital and got treated for his drug addiction. Then he received job training using London’s Single Homeless Project program.
On Pat’s first day as a bus driver, he greeted every passenger. His instructor didn’t think it was going to last. But here we are 18 months later and Pat is still doing it. He loves interacting with his passengers. He particularly enjoys when he has a reason to use the PA system and talk to the entire bus.
As it turns out, Lawson’s passengers appreciate that their driver goes the extra mile. In his first year on the job, 45 people called up the bus company to compliment Pat. This earned him a spot as a finalist for the Top London Bus Driver prize at the UK Bus Awards last year. More time has passed, more people have called up, and now Lawson has won the Hello London Award for Outstanding Customer Service at Transport.
Scientists exploring the night sky might have serendipitously detected for the first time ever a black hole or a neutron star being born.
Back in June 2018, astronomers saw a bright glow in the sky. They called the unidentified object AT2018cow, better known simply as “The Cow.” They thought it was a nearby event of medium intensity, most likely a white dwarf. However, analyzing its light spectrum revealed that The Cow was much farther away in a galaxy about 200 million light-years away from us. It was certainly not a white dwarf.
The next sensible idea indicated a supernova, but The Cow kept doing “super weird” things that supernovae just don’t do. It was also 10–100 times brighter than your typical supernova and surprisingly brief.
Study lead author Raffaella Margutti, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Northwestern University in Illinois, believes their observations indicate that The Cow represents the accretion stage of a black hole or a neutron star. This would be the first time that humans have observed this phase as we typically see these cosmic behemoths millions or even billions of years after they are formed.
The results were published in The Astrophysical Journal and presented at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society this week. Others have shared their own findings relating to The Cow, and not all of them are in agreement. It remains to be seen in the weeks and months to come if we can conclusively find out the identity of The Cow.