Archive for the ‘Fab Males’ Category

Fab People: Neediest Cases Donors

January 19, 2009

Letter written by a Neediest Cases donor:  “Dear Sir or Madam, Instead of giving gifts to each other this year, my family thought it would be a better use to donate the amounts that would’ve been spent on gifts to a charity of our choice. Please accept the enclosed donation of $360 on behalf of the (redacted) Family. Keep up the good work!”

You know how the economy has been, to put it gently, not so great?  People all over the world are tightening their wallets, trying to weather the storm.  So you would think, in this kind of dismal economic climate, that charity organizations would be experiencing huge drops in donations as people are cutting what they perceive to be unnecessary expenses.

But not the Neediest Cases charity from The New York Times.   Neediest Cases is a regular feature in The New York Times, in which one of the reporters writes about a person who is down on his or her luck.  Then readers can send donations to help that specific person or the charity in general.  Not only has Neediest Cases collected more than a half-million dollars MORE than they did the year before, but it has also seen a 53% increase in the number of donors.

The reason?  Many donors felt that if they were having a rough time dealing with the recession, then the people at the bottom must have had it a whole lot worse.  So the donors felt that now, more than ever, was the time to come through and help their neighbors.

I know there’s a lot of sadness in the world, but there’s a lot of goodness too.  🙂

Here’s the article.  And some letters written by the donors.

Tunable Glasses

January 15, 2009

A Zulu man wearing adaptive glasses. (photo: Michael Lewis for The Guardian)

You ever notice how water in a glass will distort things?  Like this…


…so that things will look closer or bigger than they really are?

Well, a physicist has finally figured out how to use that property of water to make “tunable” eyeglasses.  Starting back in 1985, Josh Silver embarked on a mission to help the world’s poor see better.  He knew that many areas of the world didn’t have access to optometrists or couldn’t afford prescription glasses.  So he invented glasses that let wearers adjust their own “prescription.”

How?  The plastic lenses have clear circular sacs filled with fluid.  The wearer uses a syringe to add or remove fluid.  Adding more fluid increases the power of the lens (in the same way that thicker lenses are stronger in regular glasses).

Can you imagine what this means?  Think of all the things you need good eyesight for.  To be able to see is a tremendous improvement in quality of life.  People can read, thread needles, mend their clothes, make a living, support their families.

So far, about 30,000 pairs have been distributed in 15 countries, but Silver hopes to offer these glasses to a billion of the world’s poorest people by 2020.  Within the next year, he and his team plan to distribute 1 million pairs in India.

See?  Science is cool!  🙂

You can read the article here.

A Genius in Our Midst

January 15, 2009


Stop the presses GBD!  Carolyn asked if there was some way we could show our support for the students at the Mirwais School for Girls.  OMG carolyn…are you a genius??  Because this is a genius idea!  GENIUS!

What do the rest of you think?  Got any ideas?  I emailed the reporter who wrote the article to ask how we could help.  Keep in mind that life is rough in Kandahar, so I’m not sure how feasible it is to send our support.  But there’s nothing wrong with trying, right?

News Day Tuesday: And you thought going to your school was tough.

January 13, 2009

At left, Shamsia Husseini took an exam with her classmates.  (photo: Danfung Dennis for The New York Times)

I remember when I went to school, all I had to worry about was homework, tests, catching the bus, getting to the cafeteria before the line got too long,…you know, typical stuff.  I never worried about being attacked by people who thought I shouldn’t be going to school because I’m a girl.

But sadly, that is exactly the kind of thing students and teachers of the Mirwais School for Girls have to worry about.  Back in November, a group of men attacked 11 girls and 4 teachers with acid.  Seventeen-year-old Shamsia Husseini (pictured at left above…you can’t really see her face) suffered the worst.  Her injuries were so bad that she had to be treated at a hospital abroad.  They were so bad that today her vision gets blurry, making it hard for her to read.

Not surprisingly, parents refused to let their daughters go outside after that.  So for four days, the Mirwais School for Girls was empty.  But four days was enough for the headmaster of the school, Mahmood Qadari, who proceeded to work tirelessly to fill those classrooms again.  He asked the local government for more police, a footbridge, and a schoolbus.  And he held meetings with hundreds of parents imploring them to let their daughters return to school.

And so today, just TWO months after the attack, the 40 classrooms of the Mirwais School for Girls are so full that additional classes have to be held in tents outside in the courtyard.  Did the government come through with the police?  No.  The bridge?  No.  The schoolbus?  No.

It seems that the only things that came through were the courage and persistence of the parents, the teachers, and most of all, the students.  Almost all of the 1300 or so students have returned to school, including 8 of the 11 girls who were attacked.

And yes, that includes even the girl who was hurt the most – Shamsia Husseini.  Last I heard, she was taking a geography test, trying to remember what the capital of Brazil was.  And if she did remember, she’d know more than a college graduate like me because I am absolutely terrible at geography.  😉

(I Googled it though.  The capital of Brazil is Brasília.  I never would’ve guessed that in a million years.  My two guesses were Rio de Janeiro, because of Carnaval, and São Paulo, because my plane landed there once on the way to Argentina.  Don’t tell Mari that.  She might hit me.)

If you’d like to read the full article, here it is.  There are also pictures showing the students going about their day in school.

Small World. Like, REALLY small.

December 28, 2008

People had made me feel small so I wanted to show them how significant small could be.
– Willard Wigan

The Wizard of Oz (Click to enlarge. Can you see Toto by Dorothy’s feet?)

The Statue of Liberty (Click to enlarge.)

The above are photos of micro sculptures created by Willard Wigan.  You might be wondering what the silver, metallic looking thing is that the sculptures are balanced on.  That would be the eye of a needle.  Wigan has sculpted these figures to fit inside (or on) the eye of a needle.  The EYE of a NEEDLE people!  I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to thread a needle, but I have, and it ain’t exactly as easy as throwing a baseball through a hula hoop.  These sculptures are so small, you need a microscope to view them.  They’re so small that Wigan uses a SINGLE hair plucked off a FLY to paint his sculptures.  They’re so small, that he works IN BETWEEN HEARTBEATS because the pulse from his fingers might mess up his work.  Once, while putting the finishing touches on an Alice in Wonderland piece, the sculpture disappeared when he was working on it.  He thinks he accidentally inhaled it.  I actually cracked up when I heard him say that, but stopped when I realized he wasn’t joking.

The history behind Wigan’s artwork is pretty inspiring.  As a boy, he had undiagnosed dyslexia, so he didn’t do well in school and was made fun of because of it.  So to get away from it all, he would go to the park and watch the ants.  Then he started making tiny wooden houses for the ants.  Then he started making furniture for those houses, and then clothes for the ants, and so on and so forth…he kept challenging himself to make smaller and more difficult things.  Now, his artwork is worth millions of dollars and elicits awe and wonder from those who see his work.

You can read an article about Wigan here, or see more photos of Wigan’s work here and here.  You can see a video interview with Wigan below (watch the video…at the end you’ll see a sculpture of Charlie Chaplin balanced on the TIP of an EYELASH).  Wigan’s official website is here.

A Story of Inspiration – Meet Team Hoyt!

October 28, 2008

We focus a lot on Fab Females and this is shut out to all you FAB MALES out there!

I just had to share this story and thank my brother Jason for sending it to me this morning.

Jason simply wrote “Just when you think you have it rough, things aren’t going your way, and feel like giving up…think of Team Hoyt! You’re a stronger person then I if you have a dry eye after watching this inspirational story.”