Sunday, May 31, 2020

A truly amusing way to enforce social distancing

After successfully slowing the spread of the pandemic, Germany is now one of many countries attempting to reopen cafes and restaurants. But life is far from normal, since these businesses must adhere to hygiene and social distancing rules. Cafe & Konditorei Rothe in the city of Schwerin has come up with a fun way to ensure safe distancing among diners.

Cafe owner Jacqueline Rothe came up with the idea of using pool noodles to keep her patrons apart. Each customer is asked to wear a straw hat with a pool noodle (or "fun noodle") attached to the top. The unusual policy not only keeps people apart, but it's hard not to laugh at how ridiculous it looks. Rothe says "it's a pleasure to make others smile."

Friday, May 29, 2020

Pass the catsup, please. Oh, not you.

Just like many public places around the world, Izu Shabonten Zoo in Shiznoka, Japan, had to temporarily close due to the pandemic. But on May 16 it reopened with several new measures to keep customers and staff safe. The measure taken in the zoo restaurant is bringing many smiles to diners.

Here, the zoo staff placed stuffed toy animals on some of the seats, encouraging diners to space out among the tables. Several plush creatures are seated throughout the restaurant, but the zoo is especially fond of a native American giant rodent called capybaras. These are at almost every table.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A crumb from Raleigh, North Carolina

This post is taken directly from Facebook on social media, where Becky Chapman writes, "My daughter Rachel has been nanny for Curtis for over a year. When he realized her senior prom was cancelled, he wanted to throw one for her.

Complete with her favorite foods, flowers and dancing, Curtis (and his mom) pulled off the best socially distant prom ever. Thanks, Curtis, for making my girl smile. 

A unique way to celebrate graduates

The transportation department at Loveland High School in Ohio arranged 22 of their busses to spell out "2020" when viewed from above. Jim Barrett, the school's art and photography teacher, then used an aerial drone to take this photo.

The school published it on social media to pay homage to the 392 graduating seniors, many of whom the drivers have known since kindergarten. Loveland drive Jennifer Bowman said, "The one thing we all have in common is love for our students."

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

A lesson in honesty these kids will never forget?

In May, schoolteacher Emily Schantz and her family were driving through Caroline County, Virginia, when the car ahead of them swerved to avoid hitting a large bag someone had left on the road. Assuming it contained trash, Emily stopped and threw it into her truck for disposal at home. She found a second bag beside the road and took it too.

It was only after returning home and opening the sacks that they found dozens of plastic packages filled with cash. Rather than keep the money, they turned it over to the police, hoping to teach their sons a valuable lesson in honesty. Police believe the postal service was delivering the bags to a local bank. In total, they contained about 1 million dollars in cash.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Empty hotel still has hope

Noon approached as Ken Kruger pulled his cart down the darkened hallway of the empty hotel. After checking a map, he entered room 1207 to close the blinds and shut off the lamp. Then he rechecked his homemade map for his next stop in the DoubleTree Hotel (shown below) in Crystal City, on busy freeway 395 connecting Washington D.C. and northern Virginia.

Kruger moves quickly, doing a highly visible part of his job. He creates a design displayed by windows on the hotel's north tower.

First there was a giant heart. And then the word HOPE, followed last month by LOVE. Hotel workers hope the messages will inspire people, however briefly, in a region still reeling from the pandemic. "This next room we'll leave open," says Kruger as he works his way down the hallway consulting a color-coded map along the way. "All right, 12's done!" he said. "Only nine more floors."

Sunday, May 24, 2020

FedEx driver goes the extra mile

Jodan Price, a FedEx driver, came to Liz Paternoster's home recently to deliver a package. Six-year-old daughter Emma always answers the doorbell when it rings, and was expecting a gift, since it was her birthday, but Price only delivered some boring stuff for her dad.  Liz offhandedly mentioned to the FedEx driver that it was Emma's birthday, and....

...less than an hour later, Price returned with cupcakes from Dairy Queen for the birthday girl. The family was floored by his kind gesture, and when they raved about Price online, everyone who knew him said they were not surprised at all. He's always going the extra mile.

White stars in a field of blue, literally.

This Stars and Stripes painted on a farm field in Indiana is big enough to be seen from space, almost. Justin Riggins and a group of his family and friends spent two days painting 10,000 square foot flag on a swath of his land in Crawfordsville, northwest of Indianapolis.

The group wanted it to be a symbol of hope, and appreciation for heroes of the pandemic. "I'm very patriotic and I wanted to recognize that there are a lot of heroes on the front lines," said Riggins.

Are fathers and daughters always this close?

Cesar Segura, 53, has always brought his daughter Diana her favorite sandwich on her birthday each year. "He hasn't missed a year," she says. Of course it wasn't possible this year, during the lockdown, so he phoned Diana to wish her a happy birthday and pretended he was ordering out her favorite sandwich from Chick-fil-A. "He told me he would send an Uber Eats order, so I texted him what I wanted."

Soon after placing the sandwich order with her Dad, Diana opened the door to her apartment building expecting to find a delivery driver. Instead she was amazed to find her Dad standing outside with balloons and her sandwich. He's a realtor, and spent 17 hours on the road to from El Paso to Austin, Texas, to help Diana celebrate her 19th birthday. In total, he drove 1,152 miles, all for love.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Little-known coronavirus statistics

As reported in The Christian Science Monitor, "During the COVID-19 emergency, 'Americans have become significantly more likely to say that religion is increasing its influence on American life,' according to the results of a Gallup Poll.

"A March survey by Pew Research Center found 24% of Americans say their faith has become stronger while 55% said they had prayed for an end to the spread of the coronavirus."

Friday, May 22, 2020

It's now SIR Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore is well-known as the 100-year-old Englishman who walked 100 laps around his back garden in April, hoping to raise money for health care workers in Britain. His deed went so viral that he raised $40 million, and was promoted from Captain to honorary Colonel. But then something happened that thrilled him.

More than 1 million people from around the world signed a petition to have him knighted. Thanks to a special nomination from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which was approved by Queen Elizabeth, the veteran's official title is now Sir Thomas Moore.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Today's crumb is from Ghana

After Ghana went under lockdown at the beginning of April, a pair of brothers built a unique invention to help citizens of Kumasi stay safe. It's a solar-powered hand-washing basin, with a very nifty feature.

A timer complies with the CDC's suggested 25-second hand washing cycle. The device releases soapy water when hands or other items come into contact with a sensor underneath the faucet. After 25 seconds, an alarm indicates hand washing is complete and clear water is released to rinse hands before drying. With days, Ghana's Ministry of Environmental Science contacted the brothers to see if more machines can be made for other cities throughout the nation.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

You can't lock down a green thumb!

Retired medical doctor Tony Newton and his wife Marie had already created "Britain's Best Garden," but have now done even more after spending lockdown tending their yard. Their garden in Walsall, West Midlands, is exploding with pinks, reds, greens and purples on their 1/4 acre plot of land.

Before lockdown, the couple had spent 38 years planting 3,000 flowers and plants, including 450 azaleas, 120 Japanese maples and 15 blue star junipers. Since they began self-isolating, the couple has continued to plant Acers and camellias, thanks to online shopping. They used to spend two hours a day gardening. Now they sometimes garden until dark.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Students read to dogs, via ZOOM

Megan N. Case, 25, teaches third grade at Gulfside Elementary School in Holiday, Florida, near Tarpon Springs. The school is closed due to the pandemic, and Ms. Case misses her students, as shown here.

But she's found a new way for her class to practice reading. Animals from the Alliance for Therapy Dogs can no longer visit students at school, so Ms. Case has arranged for her students to read to the dogs via ZOOM.

She surveyed students to see if any were interested in reading to dogs, and many signed up. Parents say it helps the children practice their reading more. One parent says her child now practices reading every day, so she'll be ready to read to the dog on Thursday.

Monday, May 18, 2020

A crumb from Yorkshire, England

Since the pandemic forced their families into isolation, Arlo Devenport, 3, and his sister Arabella, 2, have missed seeing their pal Leo Arlington, who lives next door to their home in Yorkshire, England. In order to re-unite the kids while still respecting social distancing, the sibling's mom, Amy Vickers, decided to cut a hole in their shared backyard fence and install a window.

"We measured the fence and ordered a perspex panel on eBay. Then we cut the fence with a circular saw and drilled some holes in each corner so we could hold the perspex in place with screws," says Amy, adding that "we also bought wipe board markers so they can draw pictures together. The kids are at the window all day when when we're home, so I guess they love it."

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Chefs preparing free meals

After pandemic restrictions closed all restaurants in Detroit, Michigan, five chefs from local eateries took careful stock of their kitchen supplies, pooled all their perishables, and started cooking gourmet creations for the city's homeless and food insecure. They call their program "Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen for Good."

Additional food has now been donated, and they are preparing meals for three homeless shelters that are trying to keep Detroit's homeless citizens safe. A representative of one of the shelters said, "The healthy meals are boosting the morale of the population, as well as lifting a financial burden from the mission.  Meanwhile, in Barneveld, Wisconsin, a restaurant owned by Clifford Hooks is offering food through its drive-thru or carry out -- for free. Hooks says he wants to make sure struggling neighbors know there's a meal for them if they need one.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Trick-or-treat for grown-ups?

Richard Bienvenue agrees with the many tributes to hospital workers and first responders, but he feels delivery people should get some love too. So he put this cooler and bowl on the front steps of his home in Northwest Washington, D.C.

On the first afternoon, a delivery driver took some water. Another day, the postman took a ginger ale, and later a pair of delivery drivers took a pair of candy bars. He neighbors have responded positively.  "I'll leave it out overnight for The Washington Post delivery lady in the morning," says Bienvenue. "She usually comes about 5 a.m. Maybe I can think of a way to leave her a hot coffee, tea or hot chocolate!"

Friday, May 15, 2020

Little Free Pantries

Since 2009, the number of little free libraries has grown to more than 100,000. When the pandemic emerged in the U.S., people who share books on a small-scale, the stewards of little free libraries, saw a new need. 

Adding food and other supplies suddenly transformed many of their tiny library boxes into tiny free pantries. Now anyone who has a "sharing box" can add their location to an interactive online map to connect those in need with those who want to give. Usually, little free libraries are stocked by their owners, but some report that total strangers secretly added canned food to their libraries at night. All food is usually gone within a day.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

A crumb from 1918, and 1940

Before and during World War II, Kate Smith was one of the most beloved singers in America. In 1940, as the United States endured the Great Depression and Hitler invaded Europe, Americans feared what the future might hold. (Sound familiar?) Kate asked Irving Berlin to write a song to lift everyone's spirits, and he gave her one he wrote 22 years earlier, in 1918, during the flu pandemic. If you can open the link at the end of this crumb, you'll see Kate in a radio studio with orchestra and audience singing God Bless America for the first time. While she sings, scenes from the movie "You're in the Army Now" will be shown. She and Berlin agreed to donate all money earned by this song to the Boy Scouts of America.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Down by the OLD mill stream...

The Sturminster Newton Mill is more than 1,000 years old! For years it's been a museum, grinding out tiny souvenir bags of flour for visitors. But flour is now in short supply in the small agricultural town of Sturminster Newton, in Dorset, England, so millers Imogen Bittner and Pete Loosmore have re-started the old mill, which recently (since 1904) has been powered by a water turbine.

A stock of good-quality milling wheat was on hand, and the means to grind it into flour, so the millers got busy. In the past month, operating full-time, the mill has ground more than a ton of grain and bagged several hundred sacks of flour. Three-pound bags are sold at cost to a local grocer and baker, and all profits benefit the mill's upkeep. The millers have been asked to sell flour online in larger quantities, but cannot, because they are not a commercial business.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

A crumb of (eventual) comfort

Polar Cave Ice Cream Parlour in Mashpee, Massachusetts, opened quietly on May 8, hoping to help folks enjoy Mother's Day weekend. Customers were asked to place their ice cream orders one hour in advance, but many refused, and when they crowded into the shop they ignored social distancing. They became angry when they had to wait for ice cream, and began cursing the staff, including yelling obscenities at a 17-year-old girl who has worked there four years and was saving her salary for college. The owner, Mark Lawrence, said, "the words she was called you wouldn't even say in a men's locker room. People have forgotten how to treat other human beings." The 17-year-old quit at the end of her shift.

After work on Friday, Lawrence wrote on Facebook, "In 19 years of operation, this is the lowest feeling I've ever had." But his sorrowful post quickly went viral in Mashpee, eliciting an outpouring of public support. By Sunday, Polar Cave had re-opened and customers followed the rules. But there's more. Since Lawrence knew his 17-year-old employee had been saving for college, he started a GoFundMe page for her. By Tuesday, she had received $30,000.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Donut holes delivered by drone!

Kevin Procopio really misses playing with his grandchildren, since the quarantine required that they stay in isolation. But he found a fun way to connect with them. One-third of a mile away from his home, his grandkids were home experiencing "extreme cabin fever" until they got a phone call with directions for everyone to go outside on their deck.

The three boys, all under five years old, were super excited. The oldest child, Oran, ran out and anxiously waited, until in came a drone carrying a box of "Munchkins' Dunkin' Donut holes, delivered right into Oran's arms! The special delivery from "Papa Kevin" thrilled the kids and brightened the spirits of the adults, who were happy for the diversion.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day may feel lonelier than for some moms in senior homes with quarantines that restrict visitors. Thats why Lowe's has partnered with local nursesries to bring these moms some flowering love. The company has been calling Uber to deliver $1 million worth of flower baskets nationwide.

The pink, yellow, white and purple baskets have been delivered to more than 500 long-term and senior living facilities in ten hard-hit cities, including New York, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Houston and Miami. Each basket is wrapped individually and includes a special note of appreciation from Lowe's.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Never a more deserving graduate

Our crumb for April 26 honored a retired Kansas farmer who sent his extra face mask to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo with a letter asking that it be given to a health worker. Cuomo praised him during a daily briefing, and the farmer's generosity went viral. That's how Kansas Governor Laura Kelly heard about him. After checking, she learned he'd attended Kansas State University and was set to graduate in 1971, but his father died, and even though he only needed two more credits, he dropped out to take over the family farm. He long since gave up any hope of finishing his degree.

                                                                                         Nickolas Oatley
So she hosted a special graduation ceremony at the State House, just for him. She said he was not receiving an honorary degree, but a real one, since "his lifelong career in agriculture far exceeds the final credits he needed in 1971." Dennis said, "it would not have happened had I not mailed in that one N95 mask to Governor Cuomo. He urged others to pay it forward and continue helping those in need during this crisis.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Steinway to the rescue!

Ke Gong (center in photo below) is a doctoral student in piano performance at the University of Maryland. After the campus closed, she wondered how she could continue her studies from her apartment in nearby Greenbelt. But in recent weeks she and six other U. Maryland piano students each received an upright Steinway piano so they can continue practicing.

Her music school has a surplus of more than 100 Steinways, and hired Lewis Piano Movers to deliver them to graduate and undergrad students across the region in a few hours. Gong checked with roommates and neighbors to see if they'd mind her practicing four hours a day, and nobody complained, so she was thrilled to receive a piano. Her family is in China, so the piano helps her feel less lonely and provides a means of escape. "I can express my feelings and my inner world by playing the piano," she said. Movers placed it in her bedroom, but she does not mind. "It gives me peace of mind in this difficult time to see it first each morning."

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Opera in the driveway

A couple from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, has been using their musical talents to bring their community together for weekly street concerts, while respecting social distancing guidelines. Leah Edwards and her husband Dimitri Pitta are professional opera singers who have been setting up shop at the end of their driveway to perform classical and contemporary opera pieces for their neighbors.

"We're practicing at home, and our neighbors tell us they can hear us anyway, so we said why not take it to the driveway and make aa concert?" said Edwards. "It gets everyone out, checking on each other and get a breath of fresh air and hear music."

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

12-hour taxi ride, free

A taxi driver went far beyond "the extra mile" when he drove a stranded student from Bilbao, Spain, to Montebello, Italy (near Venice) recently. Giada Collalto, 22, was studying in a foreign exchange program in Spain. When the worst of the pandemic hit, her school closed, her roommates moved away, and she tried to find a way to return to her family in Italy.

First she purchased an airline ticket, but at the last minute she was told she could not board the plane. Then a friend told her he knew a taxi driver who might help. She contacted Kepa Amantegi, who drove her the whole 12-hour trip, free of charge. They were not stopped at the border because she was returning home and he was a taxi driver. During the trip they spent one night at his family's home, where she was treated as one of the family. And when they arrived in Montebello, he spent a night at her family's home before driving back.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Betty the weathercat

After more than 30 years as a TV weatherman in Evansville, Indiana, Channel 14's Jeff Lyons moved his nightly forecast into his dining room during the pandemic. He set up a green screen in his dining room to do the 10 p.m. weather report. All went well for three weeks, until his 11-year-old cat Betty showed up.

The news director back at the station saw him petting Betty during a live feed and told Lyons, "You should put her on the air." So he cradled Betty in both arms and introduced her to his viewers. Betty looked lazily at the camera, twitching her tail, and a star was born. Betty is now so popular that she has her own Instagram page and is on the Channel 14 weather segment most nights, along with her "Betty the Weathercat" graphic.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

She's a real social climber

Instead of binge-watching TV while in quarantine, 15-year-old Erin Sloan of Winsford, Cheshire, England, recently turned one of her bedroom walls into a proper 8-foot climbing wall, and it only took her seven days. Erin is an instructor at North Face Climbing Center, where she is shown below climbing. Also shown in a photo of the wall she built in her bedroom.

"I just shut my door, put on my music, and started drilling," she explained, saying she could have finished the wall in one day had she not been forced to wait for extra materials. "The first thing I did was to call my dad to tell him and show him the pictures. He was really proud," she said.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

"Bringing back memories to people" during lockdown

Every day since the lockdown began, 37-year-old Ryan van Emmenis has been taking walks around his neighborhood in Winsford, Cheshire, England, cleaning gravestones. After tidying a family member's marker, he noticed how many more were weather-worn and dirty. So he resolved to take 20 minutes out of his daily walk to clean up stones in two local cemeteries.

So far he has tidied up 24 stones in St. Chad's and Swanlow Park cemeteries. He owns a cleaning company, and uses industrial cleaning products for older stones. "Some of these stones I'm cleaning are over 100 years old -- and algae, moss, etc. can really have a negative impact on them. Since Emmenis published a few pictures of his work on social media, he's been flooded with praise from neighbors. Some said they hadn't been able to visit their family graves for 20 years, adding, "you're bringing memories back to people."

Friday, May 1, 2020

Dog that saved family's life was lost, then found

Eric Johnson was asleep March 3 when Bella, the family's six-year-old miniature Australian shepherd, woke him up. She was behaving as if something was wrong. Turning on his TV, Johnson learned a tornado was coming to their town of Cookeville, Tennessee. Nearly 45 minutes later, the tornado neared the home. Johnson grabbed his wife and two children and hid them in a bathtub Bella was hiding under a bed when the tornado destroyed their home. The family survived, but Bella was missing and after almost two months, Johnson never expected to see her again.

Then a miracle happened. Their church friend Sarah Lang Romeyn is a professional dog tracker. She set up cameras borrowed from a local animal rescue group in areas where people reported spotting Bella. Eventually, using the footage, she found where Bella was hiding, in an alley four miles from home. After living on her own for 54 days, Bella is now reunited with her family.