Monday, November 30, 2015

11-year-old delivers baby sister before school

Tara Knightley lives on Dukes Road in Dordon, Birmingham, England. The mom of five was expecting her sixth baby and last Tuesday, when she felt labor pains, she asked her partner, Daniel Burke, to take her youngest children to his sister's house. Minutes after he left, her water broke. Nobody was available to help but her oldest daughter, eleven-year-old Caitlin Burke. Guided on the phone by ambulance staff, Caitlin assisted with the birth of her baby sister, Elsa-Monet.

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"I was a bit scared and shaky at first because I had never seen anything like that before in my life," said Caitlin, "but when my sister was born I was really happy. I think she's really cute and I love her very much. My friends and teachers are really happy and proud of me. I want to be a midwife when I'm older."

Her mom said she didn't know what she would have done without Caitlin's help. "I was screaming in pain, but Caitlin was calm throughout.  She helped remove the cord because it was wrapped around the baby. I could not do what Caitlin has done at my age, let alone at age eleven."

And what did Caitlin do after delivering her baby sister? She went to school, of course.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Syrian refugee pays it forward

Alex Assali fled Damascus in 2007. He had posted critical messages about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad online, and was a marked man. He lost everything and had to leave his family in Syria. Fortunately, he found safety and kindness in Germany, and now he's paying it forward.

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His motto is, "Give something back to the German people," and even though he does not have much, every Saturday he sets up outside Berlin's Alexanderplatz station to give out free hot meals to about 100 homeless Germans. His friend, Tabea Bu, posted this photo on Facebook. The image was also posted on Imgur and has been viewed 2.7 million times.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Canadian couple uses wedding funds to help Syrian refugees

Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian were planning their March 2016 wedding when they both realized how many displaced Syrian families are suffering. Jackson, who works for Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge, and her fiance agreed their wedding could be more than a lavish party. It could help spread awareness of the crisis. So they cancelled their caterer and venue, and married on Thanksgiving weekend in Toronto City Hall. Their reception was a fundraiser. They hoped to raise $27,000, enough to privately sponsor a refugee family of four.

Jackson explained their wedding was a moment for everyone to come together and say Toronto welcomes refugees and "this is what we want our city to stand for." Her new husband admitted it's easy to get caught up in the negativity surrounding the refugee crisis, but "Canada is welcoming to refugees and now is the time to act." So far the couple has raised $22,000. To help, visit

Now she feels she can do anything

Peyton Thomas of Hamilton, Ontario, is only six years old, but she wanted a skateboard and her Mom, Jeanean, bought her one. During their first visit to the skate park they felt intimidated by older boys who were smoking and cursing, but Jeanean encouraged Payton to try her board anyway. She made a few awkward efforts before a young man approached her. Expecting the worst, Jeanean was ready to intervene when the boy began giving Peyton all the pointers she'd need for a great ride, and picking her up when she fell. Within an hour she was showing off new skills.

                                                                                                                                 Cambridge Times
Jeanean never got the young man's name, but was so touched by his patience and kindness that she wrote about him to the local paper. "I am proud that you are part of my community and thank you for being kind to my daughter, even though your friends made fun of you for it. Now Peyton feels she can do anything -- because of you." The Cambridge Times later learned the skater was 20-year-old Ryan Carney, who brushed off the fuss about his actions.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Crumbs of Comfort" is taking a Thanksgiving vacation. New posts will resume in a few days. Meanwhile, we wish each reader a holiday filled with promises kept and dreams come true.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Even if our borders close, American hearts stay open

California mom Cristal Logothetis noticed many refugees fleeing terror in Syria were carrying babies and infants in their arms. Americans often use baby carriers to keep our arms free, but these parents who must hike for miles could easily fall and drop their babies. So she started a Facebook page called "Carry the Future," seeking donated baby carriers or funds to buy them.  After collecting 2,000 carriers, she and ten other moms flew to Greece to meet ships loaded with refugees. One mom, Christine Anderson, shown here, writes on Facebook:

                                                                                                                    Carry the Future/Facebook
"I'm tired and hungry, but went to meet the 10 p.m. ferry tonight anyway. The first families came off the boats and we showed them we had baby carriers. We fit a baby on one mama with a small carrier. The father explains in limited English that they are from Syria and tells me the names of his four children. The toddler jumps into my arms and gives me a big hug and a 'thank you' in English. I put him on his father's back in an Ergo. The father looks at me and says 'relief!' Now his arms are free to help his other children. The mother embraces me and thanks me. I told the father that America is rooting for him. I hope we are." To see a 5-minute TV feature of this kindness, visit

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Side dish of Thanksgiving kindness

Ever hear of the AUMP church? Technically, it's the African Union Methodist Protestant church, established in 1813 in Wilmington, Delaware. It currently includes about 40 congregations in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland. Today's crumb honors the New Jerusalem AUMP church on Woodstown Road in Mannington, NJ, (pictured here) where the congregation of about 23 women needed a few men to help with building maintenance.

For some years, inmates at the Salem County Correctional Facility have gone into the community to help non-profit groups with repairs, cleaning, painting, etc. Four inmates gave hours of service to beautify this small church, but when they arrived on Wednesday, Nov. 18, they were surprised to be served a hearty meal -- a thank-you from the congregation. "We're just a little church on the side of the road, but we have all the love in the world," explained Evangelist Althea Saunders, adding that "they are our brothers, not inmates. We are grateful and love them as they are."

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Merited praise helps special needs students

Teacher Chris Ulmer has found a way to improve performance among students with special needs at Mainspring Academy in Jacksonville, FL. He uses videos and original songs to help his kids learn, but that's not all. Before each day begins, he calls the students forward one at a time and has them stand in front of him. He praises each one personally with remarks like "I'm glad you're in this class because you're brave and funny and always tell the truth," with a high five as an exclamation point.
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He also posts videos of class activity on a "Special Books by Special Kids" Facebook page he and his students started, to teach everyone outside his classroom about the kids inside. One of his videos has been viewed 36 MILLION times. Ulmer says, "I have students with a variety of conditions, but they all share one common element, they are pure. They represent love and everything that is right in the world. Our desire is to spread love, empathy and acceptance (yes, acceptance, awareness is not good enough) for individuals with special needs. We are all different, but we are all in this together. Please share this."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Give peas (chickpeas) a chance!

The coastal city of Netanya markets itself as the "Israeli Riviera." Barely a word of Hebrew is spoken, and real estate ads and restaurant menus are mostly in French, thanks to a record number of new immigrants. French Jews say they feel safer here, and one restauranteur is taking that safety up a notch. He's found a way to unite Jews and Arabs.

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Kobi Tzafrir manages the popular Hummus Bar restaurant. Last October 18, he announced on Facebook that there are no Arabs or Jews at the Hummus Bar, only human beings. To test his theory, he offered half-price hummus plus free soft drink refills to any table shared by Jews and Arabs. The post generated 6,700 likes and 1,700 shares, with favorable comments from around the world. People have been bridging the gap over lunch ever since. "If there's anything that can bring together these peoples, it's hummus," Tzafrir told the Times of Israel.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A crumb of comfort from Paris

More than 1,000 people were listening to a rock band at the Bataclan Concert Hall in Paris on Friday, November 13, when four masked terrorists armed with AK-47s ran inside and began killing 89 concert-goers. The band fled through doors behind the stage, but folks in the balcony had no escape except to jump from windows. One young lady, who wishes not to be identified, tried to escape the carnage by climbing out a upstairs widow and hanging to the ledge by her fingers. She yelled to people below, "Help, I'm pregnant. Catch me if I fall!" But nobody was listening.

                                                                                                                                Photo by Le Monde
Meanwhile, Sebastien had climbed out the next window and was holding on to an air vent. When the woman couldn't hang on any longer, she asked him to help her back inside. After he crawled back into the torrent of gunfire and pulled her in, they were immediately separated. He never knew what happened to her until they were reunited Monday when a friend sent him a message that the woman and her unborn child are "safe and sound" thanks to his brave rescue.

After pulling the woman inside, Sebastien climbed out his window again and clung from the air vent until he felt a gun barrel against his leg. A terrorist ordered him to come inside and lie down on the floor. He said gunmen were telling hostages to phone French TV channels. They wanted to talk to reporters, but they could not get through. "I went from hope to feeling resigned to death," he said. Then an elite French police unit smashed the door and threw in stun grenades.  He said, "A grenade exploded and the blast propelled me under the battering ram. All the police ran over the top. I was trampled, but it was the happiest pain of my life. I was alive." Sebastien explained that at a time of total madness, tiny gestures accomplish great things. He said, "You can hardly imagine how much an outstretched hand, a hand on the shoulder, helped some people."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Guitars over Guns helps kids make right decisions

Chad Bernstein has always loved playing music. It was his outlet as a kid. When he noticed music being cut from public school curricula in Miami, FL, he began doing random favors for teacher friends with concert connections. Then came a workshop at the Juvenile Detention Center, where words meant little but his music communicated well. Afterward, he thought, "If we can perform and discuss music and how to play it, and take these kids from rowdy and upset to forgetting where they are for a half-hour, that's incredible. Through music we can reach them on mentoring." So he and fellow musical mentors began teaching guitar, keyboard, rap vocals, drums, bass and trumpet to 200 kids at North Miami Middle School. The program is called GUITARS OVER GUNS: CHOOSE YOUR SOUND.

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Meanwhile, Bernstein's PhD in jazz performance at the University of Miami allowed him to write his dissertation on the effectiveness of music mentoring through his Guitars Over Guns program. Honest research helped him analyze the weak points. Now he's working on a partnership with the juvenile justice system. And how do students feel? Many graduates return to mentor middle school students. Says Bernstein, "A sense of belonging and ownership goes a really long way in making these kids leaders who have the confidence to make the right choice when it's not easy...and to do so in front of other kids.

Monday, November 16, 2015

"Chance meeting" changes homeless man's life

James Moss lived in New York City, where you can't see the stars at night. He wanted more for his little son Zhi, so he arranged for a job and housing in Denver, CO, where majestic starlit mountains are a common sight. But after he arrived, his job and housing both fell through. He had no food, shelter or car and his bus tickets back to the Big Apple were stolen. With nothing left except his son and his optimism, he was walking down a street and happened to meet British TV host Leon Logothetis, who was filming a show about random acts of kindness. He interviewed James on the spot and could hardly believe his upbeat attitude. As the camera rolled, James predicted, "I guarantee in a month's time I'll make anything happen that needs to happen."

Logothetis was so impressed that he paid for James to spend a week in a hotel, and gave him $1,000. But more blessings awaited the optimist. A stranger in Kansas who saw the interview on Youtube started a GoFundMe campaign for James and his son. Within on week, it raised $39,000 for the pair. The money will help James buy a car to get to his new job, since he was just hired as a barber. All this thanks to a chance meeting on a Denver street.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

You'll never guess when he plans to retire

Jim Tillinghast was 44 in 1968 when he started working for the Public Works Department in North Stonington, CT. That was 47 years ago, and he's still the first one to arrive in the morning and the last one to leave at night. He forgot to retire, but remembered everything else -- all the town's drainage systems, catch basins, culverts, plus all public works projects for the past forty years. "With Jim, it's like having an encyclopedia of the town," says highway foreman Stephen Holliday.

                                                                                                                 Photo by Sean Elliot/The Day
Co-workers call him Uncle Jim and say he knows every crevice, rock and bump along the side of town roads. He never carries a radio or cell phone, so if he's out manicuring the town and his tractor breaks down, he just stands beside it and waits for help. There's a saying in Stonington. "If it's not snowing, Jim's out mowing." In winter he rides on snowplows, telling the operator where hidden catch basins need to be cleared.

Does he ever plan to retire? "Yeah, sometime," he says, " probably after I pass away."

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Girl Scouts think outside the (cookie) box

What's tastier than a thin mint or a tagalong cookie? Twelve Cadet Girl Scouts in Indiana know it's non-perishable food for hungry families. Troop 69-279 wants to reduce hunger in its hometown of Ellettsville. After collecting 5,000 food items for the local Methodist church, the Scouts ran out of storage space so they decided to launch a food pantry. Their troop leader warned the project might be "too big" but the girls, ages 11-15, found space at the Lutheran church. A local business gave them an $800 grant to build and stock the pantry. Lowe's offered shelving material at cost, and the community could hardly wait. "The first day when we were building things, we had people ask if we were open," said Cadet Ashley Burris. Last month they passed inspection to become the newest member of the Hoosier Hills Food Bank, affiliated with Feeding America.

The pantry is open nine hours a week, around the girls' school schedules. Scouts keep track of donations and purchases, sort the food, and stock the shelves.  Items most in demand are sugar, flour, canned meat, tuna, fruit, soup and drinks. To help with a monetary donation, call 812-606-1524.

How did it feel to give food to 33 needy people during the pantry's first week? Cadet Rowan Haverfield told the Herald-Times, "You get that little joy of, oh, I just helped someone."

Friday, November 13, 2015

Praying for the hungry and homeless

For 12 years, residents of Frederick, MD, have participated in National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, celebrated the week before Thanksgiving. This year's activities begin with a Day of Prayer for the Hungry and Homeless supported by many Frederick churches and non-profits. An interfaith dinner for the hungry will be prepared and served by members of different churches. But how did Frederick become involved with the national event? According to The Frederick News-Post, the idea was born at the Christian Science Reading Room on Market Street.

Christian Science Reading Room, Frederick, Maryland 

The reading room is a familiar bookstore/lounge where anyone can study the Bible and related materials -- an island of calm on a busy street. One visitor was Joan "Joey" Hoffman,  who served in the Peace Corps in Tunisia after graduation from Principia College, and eventually retired as an English teacher at Walkersville High School. Hoffman appreciated the reading room's serenity but remembered the African proverb, "When you pray, move your feet." To her, this means true prayer leads to action, so she and other reading room regulars brainstormed with other churches until someone suggested a community day of prayer for the hungry and homeless, which led to joining the national event.

This year's prayers will definitely move some feet. The interfaith dinner will be followed by a candlelight walk pausing at a church, a homeless center and a government agency serving the homeless. Walkers will offer prayers and share information about each location. On Thursday, Asbury United Methodist Church will host a community Thanksgiving dinner, and on Friday Frederick Community College will screen the film "Homestretch," about three homeless teens fighting to survive.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Who says prisons never rehabilitate anyone?

Superior Court judge Carl Fox, 61, of North Carolina, needs a bone marrow donation to restore his health.  A local coffee shop has organized a drive to find him a match, but one of the most unexpected donor offers came from 62-year-old Charles Alston. Why unexpected? Because Alston is serving 25 years at Franklin Correctional Center in Bunn for armed robbery, and Fox sent him there. Fox was very touched and totally surprised by the offer. "He had every reason to be angry with me," Fox said, "given where he is and the sentence he was given." But Alston sent his prayers to the judge for a speedy recovery.

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"You were the district attorney during my trial," he wrote the judge. "There is no hatred or animosity in my heart towards you." In fact, Alston believes Fox may have saved his life by sending him to prison. "I had a lot of hate for Mr. Fox because he sentenced me to so much time," he admitted, "but I come to church a lot. I found God. So I thought maybe if I could do something for someone else, I'll do it."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Honor: doing good without seeking recognition

This blog tries to share good deeds done by police and firefighters, but frankly, they happen many times each day from coast to coast and often the officer shuns praise and tries to avoid the limelight. Here's a perfect example.

When deputy Brian Bussell came to work a few days ago at the Butler County Sheriff's Office in Oxford, OH, he noticed a lady and two children sitting in the waiting room. He assumed they were waiting to see a prisoner, but when he returned later, the woman was still there and her kids were sleeping, so he asked if she needed help.

                                                                                                          Facebook photo
The Mom explained they were evicted from their home and were waiting for housing assistance. They had no place else to wait. Local shelters were full. So deputy Bussell took matters into his own hands. First, he booked the family a ten-day stay in a local hotel, and then he sent them to Walmart to buy clothes. When the boys asked if they could get shoes, he said they "absolutely could." When the family finished shopping, he went to Walmart and paid their bill. But like so many police, he tried to keep his good deeds under the radar. Fortunately the mother took this photo and uploaded it to Facebook. That's how his boss, Sheriff Richard K. Jones, found out about it. He said, "It was shared so many times that I got a phone call asking if I knew what a generous gesture my deputy did."

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Another police "incident" that made few headlines

Someone called the police in Roeland Park, KS, last September to report a suspicious person in Sweeney Park -- a vagrant on a bench. You can't be too careful, so officer Zach Stamper responded. The vagrant turned out to be Sam Meixueiro. Sam admitted to a checkered past, and told officer Stamper he lost his home and had been sleeping in a church. But he has no intention of losing his job, so he walks to work each day -- two and a half hours each way -- from Kansas City to Mission and back. He just stopped in the park to rest before resuming his hike.

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Officer Stamper gave Sam a ride to work that morning, but then realized he could do more. "I couldn't imagine spending five hours a day traveling back and forth to work, let alone on foot," he said. So 30 minutes later he returned to Sam's workplace with a nearly-new bike, and a knapsack so Sam could carry his stuff while riding. "I cried. I couldn't believe it," Sam told FOX news. "Any kind of help is such a blessing." "It made my day. It made my career," said officer Stamper, after he and Sam swapped phone numbers and agreed to stay in touch.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Eight-year-old's question evokes loving answer

Last April, the University of Wisconsin at Madison welcomed over 1,500 people to a conference celebrating Earth Day.  Topics like sustainability, environment, water conservation and climate change got lots of attention. Those attending enjoyed a lunch of organic veggies over local pasta. Late in the afternoon, a line of conferees stretched around the conference hall to hear the keynote speaker, famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, address Hard Science, Tough Choices. After his talk he invited questions and the Q&A most folks remember had nothing to do with climate change, unless you mean mental climate. An 8-year-old girl named Lois mustered enough courage to walk to the aisle, take the microphone, and ask Tyson a question from her heart.

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Half-hiding a fear that she might never achieve her dream of being a scientist, she asked Tyson, "In your field, do you have anyone who is dyslexic?"

Tyson's answer was so touching that people came to Lois afterward and thanked her for asking her question. To see and hear his reply, visit

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Another act of kindness goes viral

Last August, 65-year-old John McCormick was mowing the lawn around his home in Baytown, TX, when he suffered a heart attack. He went inside and collapsed, and his family called 911. Engine 4, Medic 4 and Medic 2 responded. His pulse was restored with CPR and he was taken to the hospital. As usual, Engine 4 followed the patient to the hospital, but then, instead of returning to the station, the crew had an idea. Why not go back and finish mowing McCormick's lawn?

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The fire crew took turns behind McCormick's mower finishing the front yard and also mowing the back yard. Then they put the mower in the garage, locked the door and left the key in the mailbox with a note that said in part, "we felt bad that your husband didn't get to finish the yard, so we did."

To them, it was no big deal, but a neighbor secretly took pictures with her phone and sent them to social media. Two days later, John McCormick died, but his widow and their family thanked the firemen for giving them time to say goodbye to John. "I just couldn't believe it," said his wife, Patsy. "I just couldn't believe they took the time to do that. Thank you. We love you. " Since the photo went viral, she has received condolences from as far a way as New Zealand.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Is trust a noun or a verb?

In the depth of the Great Depression, railroad engineer Archie Lafferty of Perry, Iowa, had been unemployed for two years. By nature he was a generous man, but he had seven children to feed and there was no welfare safety net, so every penny counted. All this ran through his mind one Sunday morning as he sat in a pew at the little Christian Science church in Perry. It was almost time for the offering. He didn't have to feel his pocket. He knew how much he had -- a dollar and a dime. But he had more than money. From the Bible he'd glimpsed how God is the giver of all good. He trusted God with his health. Could he trust God with his money?

Perry, Iowa, during the Great Depression.

With so much gratitude for God-given health and happiness, he couldn't feel poor, so he confidently put a dollar in collection. Some might say that was a risky decision, but for Archie, trust was a verb. He trusted God to care for him, his children and everyone else who needed help. And what was the result? As he left church, one of his kids ran up with news of an immediate repair job at the Perry light plant. And the next day the railroad called him back to work. He was never unemployed again. Coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe trusting God really does pay rich dividends. It's worth a try.

Friday, November 6, 2015

A book you might really enjoy

 John Steinbeck wrote timeless novels including The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden and Of Mice and Men. But a few years before he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962, he realized he'd lost touch with his favorite topic, the people of America. So in 1960 he had a custom camper built on the back of a GMC pickup for an ambitious cross-country road trip. At the last minute, he decided to take his wife's 10-year-old poodle, Charley. He drove 10,000 miles through 38 states, using the tools of his trade to depict the sounds, smells, colors, hopes and fears of American in his 1962 book, Travels with Charley.

His unique camper, named Rocinante after Don Quixote's horse, has been restored and is now on display at the National John Steinbeck Center in Salinas, CA.

Travels with Charley is more an observation than a diary. As he and Charley moved slowly from state to state, Steinbeck wrote, "I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction." He concluded, "I suppose our capacity for self-delusion is boundless." And later in California, "The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark that stays with you. No one has ever successfully photographed a redwood tree. They are ambassadors from another time."

"Crumbs of Comfort" recommends reading Travels with Charley, even if you recall it from college. You'll find it improves with age and will leave you wiser than before. If your local library does not have a copy, visit

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Great attitude for high altitude

Martha "Marty" Cobb of Lubbock, TX, is a single Mom who raised three children, Haley, 24, Hagen, 20, and Heath, 23, to successful adulthood. Her kids always knew she was awesome, and now they're glad the world knows too. How did the world find out? Nine years ago, Marty landed her dream job as a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines. Before long she realized nobody listens to important pre-flight announcements, so she converted hers into a comedy routine. Now passengers remember every word and tell their friends. Among other things, she explains that "this is a no smoking, no complaining, no whining flight," and "just do what we say, and nobody will get hurt." She explains that in case of loss of cabin pressure, masks will drop from overheard. "Place the mask over your nose and mouth and insert 75 cents for the first minute of oxygen." She ends by inviting passengers to "sit back and relax, or sit up and be tense."

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Someone suggested she record her monologue, so before one take off she handed her phone to another flight attendant. Her kids showed her how to get the clip off her phone onto YouTube, where it has been watched over 11 million times. Then came an invitation to appear on the Ellen De Generes Show.  Ellen praised Marty for making passengers relax and listen to the announcements. Marty wept when she received several thousand dollars worth of store debit cards and a check for $10,000 to help cover college tuition for her children. Since appearing on Ellen, Marty has made a commercial for Southwest and may do more in the future. But for now, she says, "I'm going to pass out peanuts and clean up after 137 people. Stand-up isn't a goal I've had, but I've prayed a lot about it, and whatever happens, happens." To watch the fast-paced 3-minute video she uploaded to YouTube, turn up your volume and visit

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Information please?

Today's crumb comes from an alert reader in Redlands, CA, USA. It's a brief summary of an article by Paul Villiard in the June, 1966 issue of Reader's Digest. The author lived in the Pacific northwest as a boy, and recalls that his family owned one of the first telephones in their neighborhood. Inside the phone lived an amazing person. Her name was Information Please.  She knew everyone's phone number, and the correct time! One day after his pet canary died, he called Information Please and told his sad story. She answered, "Always remember, there are other worlds to sing in," and somehow he felt better.
After that, he called Information Please for everything. She helped him with his math and geography. She told him where Philadelphia was. Eventually his family moved to Boston, and later, en route to college, his plane stopped in Seattle. He dialed his hometown operator and when he requested "information please," he heard the voice he remembered so well. He told her how much she helped him as a child, and she said she never had kids and his calls meant a lot to her. He promised to call the next time he came through town, and she said "just ask for Sally." Three months later he was back in Seattle and called her number, but a different voice answered. He asked for Sally and was told she passed away. When he explained who he was, the operator remembered that Sally left a message for him. It said, "Tell him there are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean." And he did.

To read the heartwarming story in full, visit

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Anti-Islamic protester disarmed with hug

A Facebook campaign tried to organize pickets at dozens of mosques across the United States last October 10. Members of the Noor Islamic Cultural Center in Columbus, OH, received police protection, but only one protester showed up, a woman called Annie. Even though Annie was carrying two signs denigrating Islam, members invited her inside for coffee and bagels, but she firmly refused. Then a member of the mosque, newlywed Cynthia DeBoutinkhar, asked Annie an unexpected question. Could she hug her? Annie reluctantly agreed, and Cynthia recalled, "I felt her body go from tense to soft, and asked her to please come inside with me." Annie agreed to enter the lobby, where they were welcomed with applause.

                                                                                                                      Photo by Micah David Naziri
While touring the mosque, Annie admitted she learned to fear Islam from watching Fox News. She asked questions about the faith which the mosque president gladly answered, giving her an English copy of the Quran. She and Cynthia talked for two hours, and before leaving Annie told her, "I had no idea Muslims could be so nice to me, even after I stood out there with those signs. Sorry."

Monday, November 2, 2015

Alger kim curry blond puck Horse

Pulitizer Prize winning investigative journalist Julia Angwin is also author of the 2014 book,  Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance.  It chronicles how government and business track our everyday lives and stockpile data on each of us. She mentions how we could protect our privacy with stronger passwords. The most common password today is 1234, and second place goes to PASSWORD. A few forgetful people even use INCORRECT as a password, so if they can't remember it, any mistake will cause their computer to remind them, "Your password is incorrect." In her book, Angwin mentions Diceware, a method of building passwords that are famously difficult to crack. It involves rolling dice to create five digits in the Diceware dictionary, creating random passwords like the title of this post. On her book tour, readers asked Angwin to demonstrate the Diceware system but she was too busy signing books, so she paid her 11-year-old daughter Mira Modi to roll dice and create passwords for her. This gave Mira (shown below) an aha moment! Anyone can use Diceware to make passwords, but if you're too busy, she'll make one for you for two dollars -- half the cost of a Big Mac.

                                                                                                          Credit: Mira Modi / Diceware Passwords
The New York City sixth-grader never ran a business before, except the occasional lemonade stand, but her new enterprise has a Web site and is recognized in a New York Times video.  If you order from her Web site, she'll roll the dice and create a unique password to keep your data safe. She'll mail it to you by snail mail, which is more secure than email. She hasn't earned enough money for college yet, but who knows what will happen after "Crumbs of Comfort" readers see this post. To order one of Mira's secure passwords, visit

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Locals save car by sitting on it

A Canadian tourist visiting Istanbul, Turkey, rented a car and parked it near the Bosphorus Strait. She remembered to lock the doors, but forgot to set the parking brake. While she was shopping, the empty rental car began rolling backward across a sidewalk and down some steps. It didn't stop until its back half was dangling over the edge of a stone pier.

                                                                                                                               Photo from INA video
That's when four local men all jumped on the hood of the car, using their body weight as a counterbalance, and when the tourist returned, a tow-truck was already pulling the car to safety. We're not sure what the rental contract said about losing a car in the Bosphorus, but thanks for the quick thinking of strangers, this tourist will get her deposit back.