Making the World a Better Place – WIF Spotlight

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People That Made

the World

a Better Place

Nowadays, giving to charity has become an almost social experience. With challenges and campaigns like “PuberMe,” the idea of giving has transformed into more of a public domain movement. As a result, the anonymity and personal nature of donating to a cause has lost most of its meaning. There are, however, many people who donate without the public spectacle. Men and women who have made the world a better place without the fanfare. Here are 10 people who made the world a better place, while their actions remained largely hidden from the spotlight…

10. Chuck Feeney

The decision to give away his fortune was easy for Chuck Feeney. When asked about his generous actions, he said, “a man can only wear one pair of pants at a time.” Which, while not technically true, is a lovely sentiment nonetheless. In the 1960s, Feeney made his fortune by setting up duty free shops at airports which soon turned into a booming business. That, coupled with many shrewd investments in technology start-ups, left him with a net worth north of $7 billion. At the age of 85, that number had dwindled down to only $2 million.

Transferring his massive wealth to Atlantic Philanthropies, a collection of several different charities that he had funded, Feeney began giving away his wealth to causes and issues he felt strongly about. In the 1990s, he promised financial support for paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland if they abandoned armed conflict and accepted electoral politics. Feeney also donated to create a public health system in Vietnam as well as to provide anti-retroviral treatment for AIDS victims in South Africa. What makes Feeney’s work so commendable is that it was a business dispute that forced disclosure of his payments to Atlantic Philanthropies.

9. Richard Leroy Walters

There’s very little chance our readers know the name Richard Leroy Walters, and that’s okay. Few even knew him when he was alive. Rita Belle, one of the few who came to know Walters, learned that “he gave up all material things that we think we have to have.” Never married and estranged from his brother, Walters and Belle became friends.

She later discovered that Walters was homeless and sleeping on the grounds of the senior center. Walters would reveal to Belle that he ate at the hospital and used a telephone there or at the center. Despite being homeless, Walters was not poor. He was in fact a millionaire who would, in his will, donate millions to charities including  National Public Radio and the Catholic Church Mission. With his final act, Walters honored his friend. It was clear to Belle that he was an atheist, and she, as you probably guessed, was a Catholic.

8. Ronald Read

Like Richard Walters, Read did not show off his wealth or even give any indication that he was rich at all. The Vermont man was known for wearing a particularly tattered hat around town. A woman knitted him a replacement, fearing that it would not hold up in winter. On another occasion, his meal was paid for by another customer because it was feared he’d be unable to pay.

The truth would only be revealed after his death, when Read left Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and the Brooks Library $4.8 million and $1.2 million, respectively. The donations might seem random, but it was soon revealed that Read would visit the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital frequently for coffee and breakfast. It’s safe to say he paid them back for it.

7. Prince

The iconic artist of hits like “Purple Rain,” “Kiss,” and “When Doves Cry” changed the world in more ways than one. Prince’s death revealed another side of him that he was careful not to publicize: his philanthropy. Van Jones, an environmentalist, was working on George W. Bush’s clean jobs act when he received an anonymous donation check for $50,000. He remembers returning it, but then weeks later getting the same check again. Unwilling to accept a check, at that price, without knowing the sender, he returned it again, only to get a call from a Prince representative.

Jones asked who the sender was, and the representative refused to say, but revealed his favorite color is purple. That’s just one example of Prince’s generosity and the manner in which he displayed it. There are countless others, like his unprompted donation to a senior center in Minnesota, his donations to the victims of the bridge collapse in his home state, and to his support for public schools purchasing musical equipment and a studio to help foster the next great musician. Prince will be missed not only for music, but for his big heart.

6. George Michael

Another musician who doubled as a philanthropist was British singer, songwriter, and record producer George Michael. Although his public life was a matter of national headlines in the UK, he kept his philanthropy under wraps and out of the newspapers. It wasn’t until his death that people came to realize how generous of a man he really was. An employee at a homeless shelter revealed that Michael worked their repeatedly but told employees not to tell anyone of his presence.

His charity also was random and spontaneous. A woman on Deal or No Deal said she needed thousands for IVK treatment. The next day she received a phone call from Michael, who offered to pay for treatment. When a waitress told him of her debt incurred trying to become a nurse, Michael tipped her £5,000. Again, she was sworn to secrecy, only revealing her mystery benefactor after his death. Probably his most generous act was his decision to give royalties from his 1996 number one single Jesus to a Child to the charity to Childline, a free counseling service for young people. Childline’s founder estimates the donation gave millions and saved thousands of lives.

5. Jack MacDonald

Jack MacDonald lived in a small, one bedroom apartment. His clothing had holes in them. In short, he didn’t live the life of a multi-millionaire. MacDonald cared about much much more important things: people. Inheriting his parent’s meat packing business, MacDonald turned his inheritance into more than 180 million dollars through prudent investments.

Throughout his life, he made anonymous donations to hundreds of organization. That continued even in death. A widower without children, MacDonald left his entire fortune to the Seattle Children’s Hospital, the University of Washington Law school, and the Salvation Army.

4. Roberto Clemente

Although Roberto Clemente is well known for what he did on the baseball field, his impact extends far beyond the diamond. Clemente was one of the first Latin American ball players to become a baseball star, and the native of Puerto Rico believed that he had to be a shining example to his country and people. Clemente would host baseball clinics for underprivileged children free of charge, and most notably helped deliver food to communities in need.

Unfortunately, like many of our other cases, his death is a big part of how we’d come to see Clemente’s tremendous character. After a massive earthquake caused devastation in Nicaragua, Clemente organized shipments of aid, but soon realized that corrupt officials were keeping them from reaching the victims. Under the belief that his presence would make a difference, he boarded the next plane to Nicaragua only for it to crash, killing everyone aboard. Clemente lives on in his work, with a community service award named after him in the MLB.

3. Eldon Foote

Sometimes you think you know someone, and they surprise you. There’s no better case of this than the life of Eldon Foote. The lawyer used his background to avoid paying taxes, he abandoned his family for a new romance, and even switched careers to become a marketing executive. Everything about Eldon Foote screamed that he was self-centered and egotistical.

Foote didn’t exactly have an easy life, growing up during the Depression and enlisting in the army during World War II. He returned home and got married, eventually raising five children. However, he became unhappy and not only divorced his wife, but switched careers entirely. He’d grow unhappy again, and after a contentious divorce from his second wife, Foote sold the business and married for the last time. His philanthropy began on a whim. As his hometown prepared to host a massive, international athletics event in 2001, the sports field at the University of Alberta was in dire need of refurbishment. Needing a donation of $2 million, the athletics department approached Foote, a former track athlete. Foote obliged, sending them the full amount. Soon after Foote was diagnosed with cancer, and died only a month later.

His will would reveal that he was leaving the vast majority of his net worth to charitable organizations. Foote would leave 160 million to the Edmonton Community Foundation, the largest donation the organization ever received. Foote’s family was not at all pleased by his decision. They sued, and eventually lost. The impact of Foote’s donation is still being felt in the low income neighborhoods of Edmonton.

2. George Steinbrenner

Brash and bombastic, who knew that Steinbrenner was quietly a philanthropic person? In 1992, when a hurricane laid waste to South Florida, Steinbrenner appeared at the Salvation Army central distribution center in Tampa and simply said, “Put me to work.” Steinbrenner didn’t just sit in the lobby and show his face; he helped load 500 gallons of water into the back of a 20-foot truck. Afterward, he drove six and a half hours to Homestead, and delivered the water to the victims of the hurricane. He did this all without fanfare. No cameras, no press, just Steinbrenner.

Although Steinbrenner was viewed as rash and quick to lose his temper; he was just as quick to help someone in need. He paid the funeral expenses for a family mourning their murdered son, he paid for damaged instruments of a local school band whose band room was vandalized, and when he witnessed a deaf child struggling to get an autograph he purchased the child hearing aids.

1. Julius Rosenwald

It’s a mystery as to why Julius Rosenwald has not become a household name. He didn’t even finish high school, yet he managed to become the chairman of Sears, Roebuck & Company and a life-changing philanthropist. In the early 1900s, Rosenwald gave away $62 million, which would be valued at a billion dollars today.And while the amount donated is important, what makes Rosenwald so special is who he gave the money to.

Nearly all of Rosenwald’s donations went to helping African Americans get a better education by building schools and community centers. As a Jewish man who had been the victim of discrimination, Rosenwald identified with African Americans. He did not help from afar, but was an active voice in these communities. He rallied African American communities to match the funds he had committed to build a school or community center. Their work wasn’t easy, as several schools were burned down, but that didn’t deter Rosenwald or the community. The schools were just built up again.

Rosenwald changed the lives of thousands of black children, and the example he set for his own children would save more lives still. Years later, his children and cousins saved the lives of 300 Jews fleeing Nazi Germany. A Rosenwald yet again making the world just a little bit better.


Making the World

a Better Place

The NULL Solution = Episode 173

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The NULL Solution = Episode 173

…Do you realize that I have never stepped foot on Earth once? I was born in space, on that ship over there,..

Francine Bouchette-Crippen is Earth’s appointed representative to Harmonia, having passed the muster required; married to a space-geek-world-leader-type AND experience with communication. So far, she has only been “called in” for a Harmonia Tower and Earth Obelisk orientation. She is still freaked out by the instantaneous location transfers. Fitch has assured her that she is not being disassembled and reassembled by a molecular scrambler. “Such a device has yet to be perfected,” he claims. Chasonn, the Seljuk inventor is unbeknownst to him.

Speaking of Chasonn, he has yet to return to his homeworld from Eridanus. It seems that a certain blue-eyed lass is interfering with his clarity of thought, thereby causing him to designate his Third-in-command as their Harmonia appointee. His Second must tend to Seljukian immediate interests. The Third has gone through the orientation and still cannot believe his eyes, though the concept of Harmonia is an agreeable one.

“I hear talk that the McKinneys are leaving Eridanus for their homeworld, is this true Deimostra?”

“Now who told you that?”

“Skaldic did tell me you were leaving and that I should do the same.”

As an object of desire, Deimostra is uncomfortable with her choices. The choices are fine, how those two choices fit into her family equation is the fly in the ointment. Of course Skaldic would want Chasonn out of the way.

“Returning to Earth is a dream, that’s all Chasonn. Do you realize that I have never stepped foot on my world once? I was born in space, on that ship over there,” she points to the NEWFOUNDLANDER, back to collecting dust in the lineup of possible Eridanian escape ships.

“You live with your parents, you are fortunate. Mine were taken away by the Ÿ€Ð before I could know them.”

“That is terrible. Skaldic’s disappeared right after he was born.” She has now gotten sob stories from both her suitors; Chasonn’s parents were as a result of leadership cleansing – Skaldic’s Nullian roots because they happened to produce a Gifted child.

“Do you prefer Skaldic over me?”


The NULL Solution =

WHAT’S A GIRL TO DO? SIGH by ASHLEY SWARTS

Episode 173


page 169

The NULL Solution = Episode 167

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The NULL Solution = Episode 167

…Deimostra cannot help but recall the two suitors that are traveling with Daddy…

Eridanus is in on the otherwise inside joke. Skaldic makes sure that his planet receives Harmonia’s message of peace loud and clear. Not a single solitary soul in the Milky Way has a greater appreciation of a universe administrated by the concept of equal footing.

Ekcello, Cerella and the rest of the Gifted are listening and learning. Keen attention is required. They have a unique duopolistic connection out at the Terran territory, just as they have witness a multicultural melting pot at home.

Who knew that a doomed exploratory mission an eon ago would eventually lead to this?

That they would abandon spaceflight only to be drawn back in with both feet?

To think, that they thought they had things all figured out.

For Celeste, Deke and Deimostra, the “plan” is finally coming together, as accidentally as it may be.

“Dad and Skaldic are on their way home,” declares a watchful Deke.

Deimostra cannot help but recall the two suitors that are traveling with Sampson. “What about Chasonn? It is his ship.”

“Yes of course, him too – ‘rub a dub – dub, three men in a tub’.”

“What kind of nonsense is that Deke?”

“It is a nursery rhyme that Mom sang to me while she bathed me. Haven’t you ever had a bath?”

She can only glare, until Mom recites:

“Rub-a-dub-dub,

Three men in a tub,

And who do you think they were?

The butcher, the baker,

The candlestick-maker,

They all sailed out to sea,

‘Twas enough to make a man stare.

 

Hey! rub-a-dub, ho! rub-a-dub, three maids in a tub,

And who do you think were there?

The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker,

And all of them gone to the fair

 

 Rub a dub dub,

Three fools in a tub,

And who do you think they be?

The butcher, the baker,

The candlestick maker.

Turn them out, knaves all three.”

“Daddy is the knave. Skaldic and Chasonn are knights and gentlemen.”

“Are you sure?”


The NULL Solution =

THE ARTWORK OF JOHN TRABBIC III

Episode 167


page 163

Japanese Silly Shopping Spree – WIF Around the World

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Frivolous

Ways to Spend

Money in Japan

Got some money burning a hole in your pocket? Then you should definitely visit Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun offers more bang for your buck than any other country on the planet. Whether you’re looking for something unique to eat or want a crazy way to spend the day, if you’ve got enough money, Japan has got you covered.

10. Hang Out In A Cat Cafe

cafe-of-cats

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who hate cats and those who love them. Fortunately for felines, Japan is one of the most cat-friendly nations on Earth. Japanese citizens love spending time with the four-legged fur-balls, but there’s one major problem: unless they’re married, have kids, and live in a condo, most folks can’t own pets. Japanese landlords are pretty darn strict and won’t allow cats in their apartments. So what’s a young animal lover to do?

Visit a cat café, of course! While the first café appeared in Taiwan in the late ‘90s, these kitten clubs have taken Japan by storm. Today, there are close to 150 cafés across the country, and they’re the perfect places for stressed-out office workers hoping to relax with their favorite animals. Cat cafés keep anywhere from twelve to twenty-four felines on staff, and while there are a few purebreds here and there, most are mixed breeds. Customers spend their time sipping coffee (which usually costs about $1.97 per cup), relaxing at tables or on sofas, and waiting for the kittens to come visit. Some people even sketch or take pictures of the cats, but flash photography is strictly forbidden (as is waking a sleeping cat, which sounds pretty wise).

Cat cafés attract people from all walks of life. Tourists, office workers, and businessmen all stop by to chill with the kitties. While most spend about an hour and a half, some spend up to six hours while others take off whole days from work to visit the cafés, hoping to escape the rigors of everyday life. Obviously, this can get pretty pricey. The Neko no mise café charges $1.50 for every ten minutes, and at the Calico, customers pay $9 for the first hour and about two dollars for every fifteen minutes after that. Still, if you yearn for feline affection and can’t own a pet, the cat cafés might be worth every penny.

9. Buy A Clone

clones

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I wish there was a Mini-Me?”  Well, if you visit Tokyo’s Clone Factory, your Dr. Evil dreams just might come true. Of course, this new-you might be a little, well, inanimate. Unfortunately, the Factory hasn’t discovered the secret of creating an actual clone, but they’ve come up with the next best thing. If you’re willing to part with $1,300-1,750, these techno-wizards can conjure up a doll that bears your exact likeness.

The process involves a lot of digital cameras and a 3D printer. After a client sits in a chair, she has her picture taken with multiple cameras, each one positioned at a different angle. When the photo shoot is finished, the technicians whip up a digital map of the customer’s head and print it onto the plaster that soon transforms into the head of a smiling (and much too lifelike) doll. The Clone Factory’s creations are extremely popular with brides hoping to memorialize their wedding day in 3D form. Of course, if you want to release your inner geek, you can deck out your doll in anime attire or Storm Trooper armor. Afterwards, you can take your doll home and creep out your friends with the 20-inch version of you sitting up on your mantle and smiling for all eternity.

8. Send Your Stuffed Animal On Vacation

Unagi-Travel

In the 2001 French hit Amelie, the eponymous heroine swipes her father’s garden gnome and sends it on a trip around the world, having a flight attendant photograph the little guy in front of famous landmarks. In Japan, Sonoe Azuma will do the exact same thing, only she charges a small fee and works with stuffed animals.

Azuma manages the crazy-yet-cute travel agency known as Unagi Travel. For $45, she’ll escort teddy bears, plush sheep and cotton-filled dogs around Tokyo, taking their snapshots in front of places like the Tokyo Tower and the Senso-ji temple in Asakusa. For $55, she’ll give toys a VIP tour of Japanese hot springs though chances are pretty good the dolls don’t spend much time in the water. And Azuma even offers her services to folks outside of Japan. She runs an English language website for clients in America and Europe where clients can consider purchasing tours of Kyoto ($95), Kumano Kodo ($55) and an enigmatic mystery tour ($35, no Beatles involved). During the trip, she keeps her clients up to date on their animals’ whereabouts via Facebook, and when the trip is over, she mails the toys and photos back home, free of charge.

While Azuma’s business sounds a bit, well, bizarre, it’s actually a source of comfort for many people. For example, her tours have helped people struggling with the loss of family members. Seeing their dolls traveling around Japan has actually lifted their spirits and helped them deal with their grief. Even more impressively, Azuma has inspired people to seize the day and make their lives extraordinary. She tells one story about a woman who suffered an illness that affected her ability to walk. At first, she was too depressed to go to therapy, but after she saw pictures of her toys traveling across Tokyo, she decided she’d visit those places herself and regained the use of her limbs. Ultimately, Unagi Travel is innocent fun and an inspiration for people who’ve given up hope of traveling themselves.

7. Hire A Friend For A Day

Hagemashi-Tai

Feeling lonely? Quite a few people in Japan have the blues too. In fact, over a million citizens suffer from hikikomori, an extreme form of loneliness where people lock themselves in their bedrooms and cut off all communication with friends and family. While most Japanese aren’t that lonely, many have trouble meeting new people. And that’s where rent-a-friend agencies come in handy.

Businesses like Hagemashi Tai (I Want to Cheer You Up) hire out actors who’ll take on most any role, from boyfriend to best man. For example, fake friends will show up at weddings and pretend to be buddies with the bride or groom. One single mom hired a guy to attend sports day at her children’s school, posing as their uncle, and one envious woman rented a phony admirer to make her lover jealous.

Similarly, Ossan Rental fills a very specific niche. The company’s name translates as “Old Guy Rental” and hires out a grand total of two men: founder and fashion expert Takanobu Nishimoto (46) and retired baseball player Mikio Sendou (65). For $10 an hour, these older gents will escort clients to shops, play games, and spend the day talking and offering advice. While Ossan Rental might sound a bit strange, their services are purely platonic (you can visit the site here) and, if nothing else, they help lonely people get and about and make actual human connections.

6. Bathe In A Wine-Filled Spa

Hakone-Kowakien-Yunessun

The Hakone Kowakien Yunessun isn’t your average onsen (hot spring). Located outside Tokyo, the Yunessun Spa Resort is only open twelve days a year, but it certainly draws a crowd. In addition to themed spas like the Ancient Roman Baths, the resort offers unusual pools filled with liquids that most of us usually think of as beverages.

For example, one emerald-colored pool is full of green tea which is supposedly good for your skin. Visitors who want something a bit stronger might slip into the coffee spa and relax in the biggest cup of Joe on the planet. (Employees actually brew the coffee in pots and roll it out to the pool in barrels.)  Of course, if you want an adult drink, there’s the sake spa which allegedly gets rid of wrinkles. Strangely, there’s a ramen bath which has plenty of pepper and pork broth, but no actual noodles. However, the most popular pool is the red wine spa, all of which flows from a giant Merlot bottle. And if you ever decide to visit Yunnessun, drop by on Valentine’s Day when the resort offers a sticky chocolate bath. Sweet!

5. Hire A Fake Priest

gaijin-priest

Christianity isn’t all that popular in Japan. While 77% of Americans and nearly 60% of Britons identify with the faith, only a measly 1% of Japanese believe in Jesus Christ. And that’s what makes Japanese weddings so incredibly weird. Nearly 90% of nuptials are done in traditional Christian fashion, complete with white dresses, Ave Maria and, most importantly, fake priests.

The fascination with Western weddings got started in the ‘80s, when millions of Japanese citizens watched celebrities like Princess Diana and singer Momoe Yamaguchi take their vows on TV. Since then, the number of Christian weddings has skyrocketed, only most of the priests officiating are white guys from the US and Europe. Of course, there are actual Japanese priests, but there are three reasons they don’t preside over most ceremonies. Firstly, there simply aren’t enough pastors to show up at every event. Secondly, most native priests aren’t crazy about this trend because most of these weddings don’t actually involve Christianity — couples are more concerned with image than Scripture, so religious themes are glossed over. Thirdly, most people don’t want Japanese priests, as many feel they aren’t “authentic.”  After all, if you’re going to have a Western wedding, you want a Westerner to run the show, right?

Sensing a golden opportunity to make quick cash, bridal companies started hiring out native-English speakers to work as priests, none of whom have religious training. In fact, many aren’t even Christians. All that matters is that they know Japanese, can read a few token verses and wrap things up in twenty minutes or less. For less than half an hour of acting, fake priests can make us much as $120 (according to a 2006 article). Of course, Japanese couples aren’t just paying the preachers. They’re paying for the churches as well. Quite a few hotels in Japan have Christian style chapels, and you can even find sanctuaries in strange spots like supermarkets. Without a doubt, it’s a bizarre trend, but hey, the couple gets their dream wedding, and the “priest” makes a couple of bucks. Everybody goes home happy.

4. Buy A Fake Finger (If You’re A Criminal)

yakuza-fingers

The fake finger industry caters to a very unique clientele: members of the Japanese Mafia, also known as the Yakuza. Why would gangsters need fake fingers, you ask? It has to do with a bloody underworld ritual known as yubitsume. If a mobster offends his superior, there’s only way to atone: he has to chop off the last joint of his pinkie, usually the left one. If he screws up again, he’ll cut the finger off at the next joint. Hopefully the gangster will get his act together, but if not, he has to move on down the hand, lopping off appendages for every offense. It’s believed this tradition stems back to the days of the samurai, when an amputated finger meant a warrior couldn’t wield his sword properly and had to rely on his master for protection. Today, it’s a sign of criminal activity, and if a gangster leaves the mob, he’ll have a really hard time getting an honest job thanks to his stubby nubs.

That’s where people like Shintaro Hayashi and Yukako Fukushima come in. Both Hayashi and Fukushima make prosthetic body parts, usually for accident victims or breast cancer patients. However, as the government cracks down on the gangs, people like Hayashi and Fukushima are getting more and more business from Japan’s criminals. Some prosthetic makers (like Fukushima) only provide fake fingers for retired gangsters hoping to start over. Others, like Hayashi, are less choosy and will produce duplicate digits for mobsters who want to keep their identities a secret while at public events.

Fake fingers can run anywhere from $1,400 to $3,000. Sure, they might be pricey, but there’s a lot of craftsmanship involved. Made out of silicone, the fingers look one hundred percent realistic. They’re custom made, each finger specially crafted to appear as a natural extension of the hand. They also curve in such a way that the wearer can grasp items without actually moving his mock appendages. Some gangsters even buy multiple fingers to match the seasons (lighter tan for winter, dark for summer) and often come back to have their prosthesis repainted, especially when the color starts fading. It’s a lucrative business, and it’s the only time gangsters don’t mind getting the finger.

3. Dine On Dirt

Ne-Quittez-Pas

Japan is home to quite a few freaky restaurants like Alcatraz ER (a hellish prison hospital) and Alice of Magic World (care to guess the theme?). However, Ne Quittez Paz stands apart from its gimmicky cousins thanks to its boxer-turned-chef Toshiro Tanabe. A Gallic gastronomist, Tanabe runs a really classy joint and has a flair for French food. Not only that, he’s constantly searching for ways to transform food into art, and that’s what inspired his craziest creation yet.

For $110 per person, Ne Quittez Paz serves a full course meal with a special ingredient: dirt. The idea of consuming soil might not sound appetizing, but rest assured — Tanabe uses only the best. It comes from a company called Protoleaf, an organization that goes to countries like Sri Lanka and India and digs ten meters below the ground to find the real primo soil. Afterwards, they heat it up, killing all the bacteria, and then ship it to Japan where Tanabe uses it to make miracles happen in his kitchen.

If you order Tanabe’s dirt special, you’ll start off with potato starch and soil soup and a side salad sprinkled with dirt dressing. Your main meal would consist of an earthy risotto and sea bass, and to end it all, you’d dine on dirt ice cream and dirt gratin. (Try not to “soil” your clothes.)  To be sure, Ne Quittez Pas is a unique restaurant and probably the only place in the world that takes “surf and turf” literally.

2. Visit An Ear Cleaning Parlor

Professional-ear-cleaning

If your ears feel a bit greasy, chances are good you’ll reach for a Q-Tip. However, things are a bit different in Japan. For a small fee, young ladies will clean your ears for you. Ear care is very important in Japanese society. In addition aiding the auditory canal, it’s believed ear cleanings improve skin health and help weight loss. In fact, clean ears are so important that some consider it a mother’s duty to keep her kids and husband wax-free. But when those kids grow up, many frequent the ear cleaning parlors that have popped up all over Japan. Since there aren’t any government regulations, anyone can start their own wax removal business, and professional ear cleaners only need seven to ten days worth of training before they can start poking around in ear canals.

If you visited an ear cleaning parlor, you’d first enter a room decorated in traditional Japanese fashion. A young woman wearing a kimono would make you a cup of tea and chat a bit before sitting on the floor. After putting your head on her lap, she’d lay a napkin over your face and whip out her mimikaki. Essentially a pick made out of bamboo, metal or plastic, the mimikaki comes equipped with a special scoop for scraping out stubborn chunks of ear wax. Services generally last for thirty to seventy minutes and can cost from $32 to $100. In addition to the cleaning, some parlors offer ear massages and even ear divinations. By examining all the folds and flaps of an ear, workers claim they can actually predict your future.

It probably won’t come as a surprise that most ear salon clients are men. Many claim they’re seeking out these peculiar parlors because having their ears cleaned reminds them of their childhoods. However, there’s often a sexual element involved, and workers are allowed to walk away if they feel threatened by the customers. Sadly, sometimes things get out of hand, like the 2009 case when a woman was stabbed to death for rejecting a client’s advances. Fortunately, these incidents are few and far between, and ear cleaning parlors continue to exist on the bizarre border of nostalgia and sex.

1. Buy Crooked Teeth

tsuke-yaeba

Any single ladies in the audience with crooked teeth? If so, you should buy a plane ticket and fly to Japan. Overcrowded mouths are all the rage in the Land of the Rising Sun, where snaggletoothed girls are considered super cute. In fact, they’re considered so attractive that many are intentionally wrecking their smiles in the name of beauty.

This toothy style (known as tsuke-yaeba) became fashionable thanks to celebrities like pop singer Tomomi Itano, whose naturally twisted teeth made guys go nuts. Inspired by their idol, trendy teens (and even women in their 20’s) started visiting special clinics where dental beauticians built some truly bizarre bridgework. For $400, dentists will glue fake ivories onto real teeth, giving the impression that the molars are shoving the canines forward. And if a girl is unsure about this new look, she can just buy temporary teeth. However, lots of ladies decide to go with permanent caps.

Evidently, this fanged fashion is so popular that there’s even a girl band where the members all sport tsuke-yaeba. But what is it about crooked teeth that make them so appealing? According to the guys, these multi-layered grins make girls more approachable. Their imperfections make it easier for dudes to strike up a conversation. On top of that, crooked teeth are often described as “impish” and give girls a childlike quality that some guys go for. (They must love Kirsten Dunst movies.)  While tsuke-yaeba might sound strange to Westerners, is it really any weirder than Botox injections and fake tans? Remember, beauty is in the eye in the beholder — or in this case, the mouth.


Japanese Silly Shopping Spree –

WIF Around the World

The NULL Solution = Episode 148

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The NULL Solution = Episode 148

…When it comes down to it, Deimostra is not spoiled for choice…

Illustration by Byron Eggenschwiler

Speaking of simplistic, that is the very essence of Skaldic the Null. With all the changes coming about on Eridanus, among, about and in between the populated towers with all their social shuffling, the man behind it all matriculates still, in the original Null Tower, albeit in the lofty penthouse.

He also remains a true friend to the other outcasts, namely the Space Family McKinney. While Gifted Cerella works on the nuts & bolts, he remains properly concerned for the earthly visitors and the dark cloud that approaches their true home.

Skaldic has grown particularly close to Deimostra McKinney. It began with him noticing her rapid maturation into an incredible woman and has accelerated at light speed once he solicited her help in solving the Harmonia Query.

With age being a relative term on Eridanus that she became a viable target for his potential affection is not so farfetched. Here is the way aging works on a planet where immortality is a near reality:

  • An individual comes into biological existence
  • 95% of physical growth takes place in 20 Cycles
  • The final 5%+ takes place in the mind
  • The finished product continues with only marginal aging

In the case of Deimostra, she has grown to the equivalent of an adult in her prime, in her own time. She will remain just so, just as it is with the rest of her family. There is something about the excessive humidity that preserves the organic. It slows the metabolism for all. Deimostra is definitely organic and Skaldic has noticed.

Turn around. A chronologically, but not all that emotionally advanced Eridanian is “falling” into that something-something which defies all sense of time/space. When it comes down to it, the Earth woman is not spoiled for choice. Certain erudite mature men have let their curiosity slip out from time to time, but nothing that particularly tickles a girl’s fancy.

As a tag-team problem solving tandem, the divergent pair simply works at every level. They are equals in intelligence and social stature. They have spent one cycle after another attempting to unlock the door to a planet, that neither Skaldic has been to or even care about. He has long viewed Collapsar Axis as the greater issue in theory, but now he cannot minimize the riddle.

The human heart is not nearly as complex. The female protagonist in this tale is impressed with the Null beyond the bounds of logic. She had always doubted the devotion of his friend Offingga even when she {herself} did not factor into the immediate equation. Unable to explain her envy, Deimostra did ignore her… and him for that matter. He was a chum of daddy’s after all. That was then. This is now.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 148


page 146

The NULL Solution = Episode 142

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The NULL Solution = Episode 142

…The very notion of change has the entirety of this previously serene planet, well, verklempt…

Eupepsia at Night

The Tower Eupepsia used to be revered, to the point of near cult status. Ekcello and Fortan and Cerella reside there, as does most of Eridanus’ eldest heritage; the very essence of a proud and refined planet. For endless cycles they have been a model society, one that should be copied wherever else. Eupepsia was deified, as were its occupants.

That did not change, even with the addition of the McKinney clan, with 20 of their Terran years having passed.

The tally of fledgling Joyner has amended that cherished concept. Many of the tradition-strapped-minority, views the youngster as the means to water-down a society that did not need diluting.

If there were actual streets, instead of skyways and byways, those same John Q Eridanians would cross to the opposite side. ‘At least the Nulls look the same,’ is the comparison, that is, once they were allowed to wear the flowing white robes that obscure the illusion of those onerous feet.

Not only does Joyner don footwear, he actually runs… like he is in a hurry; just like those frenetic humans whose feet surely must be on fire.

And Deke McKinney is powerless to alter such perceptions. The very notion of change has the entirety of this previously serene planet, well, verklempt. Most of his time is consumed with concern, not with his family’s status, rather that the citizenry have become obsessed about who is who and what is what.

There is a peculiar inbred in their midst. The youngling can sense the censorship.

“I am treated like a stranger,” Joyner complains to Deke.

“Well you are in a sense, son. You haven’t been here for long and you weren’t born here. That makes you more like a McKinney and less like them. To them, you are different and that makes them wary… it’s not that they don’t like you as a person.”

“They like Deimostra better and she is human!”

“They have watched your Aunt grow up around them. What they know is easier to accept than what they do not. Just be yourself. Do that and I wager that you will be the most popular kid in Eupepsia?”

Deimostra arrives late to the father-son exchange.

“Hey Joyner, do you want to go over to Skaldic’s tower? He has started a puzzle contest; you are good with puzzles… I bet we can win!”

“What is the prize?”

“A ride on one of the spaceships.”

“It is I who will win, Deimostra, but you can help.” A little acceptance goes a long way to bolster his spirits. And chumming with a popular relative does not hurt.

“Go ahead kids and behave yourselves!” grants the senior adult. “Make sure you’re back for the evening meal.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 142


page 140

Disneyland Days Gone By – WIF Almanac

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Disney Theme Park

Attractions That

No Longer Exist

Walt Disney opened Disneyland in 1955, and since then, the corporation has only grown its park locations all over the world. Over 20 million people visit each of these locations every single year. So, it only makes sense that in order to keep these Disney fans coming back, improvements need to be made to the park rides and attractions. Here are 10 attractions that simply did not make the cut.

10. Videopolis

When you think of Disneyland, you probably don’t think about nightclubs. During the 1980s, Michael Eisner, the CEO of Disneyland decided that he wanted attractions that would appeal to local teenagers. At the time, season passes were only $40 all year, or $35 during summer break, with a student ID. This meant that local teens could visit Disneyland every night of the year to dance to music videos and live bands. There was even a TV show on The Disney Channel showcasing Videopolis. They also hosted a televised event called Disneyland’s Summer Vacation Party, where Disney mascots danced in the audience with the teens while listening to the very ’80s bands, Oingo Boingo, ELO.

This teen dream came crashing down, when a 15-year-old died from getting shot in the parking lot of Disneyland in 1987. For years, Studio K at Knott’s Berry Farms in Anaheim, California hosted dances every night, and it was a go-to place for high school kids, since admission was free. Disneyland quickly became designated as the place for “rich kids” to go clubbing, since it cost $40 to get in. With inflation, that is closer to $92 today, which most parents could not afford.  Local gangs decided to wait out in these parking lots, because it’s safe to guess that they were selling them something to help enhance their Disney experience, if you know what I mean. Disneyland quickly realized that this nightclub didn’t exactly align with their family values, and decided to end Videopolis in 1989. Today, the theater is used for family-friendly performances.

9. The Great Movie Ride

This ride was a collaboration between Disney and Turney Classic Movies at Disney World in Orlando, Florida that began in 2015, and expired in 2017. Guests sat in a car that was guided through sets that were made to look like classic movies like Singin’ in the RainThe Wizard of OzThe Public Enemy, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. They were all complete with their own animatronic “actors” that play out famous scenes. Audience members sat in a moving car for 18 minutes.

While the ride was iconic, the movies that were included may have been unknown to young children who were visiting Disney World. Surely, Turner Classic Movies was hoping to entice people to tune in to watch these classics, but maybe they didn’t get the views they were hoping for. The attraction is being replaced with Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which combines an animated film and real-life changing sets. It truly does look like it will be stunning, and it is officially scheduled to premiere in 2018.

8. The Peoplemover and the Rocket Rods

In the 1960s, Tomorrowland was a showcase of how Disney Imagineers saw the future. One ride that guests absolutely loved was called The Peoplemover. Slow-moving cars go along tracks that are built throughout all of Tomorrowland. The ride never stopped, and people got on and off so efficiently, that there were never a very long line.

When they revamped the look of the Tomorrowland park, they decided that the Peoplemover just wasn’t “cool” enough for their new style in Disney World Orlando. They kept the old tracks, and added a new ride called The Rocket Rods. Each rocket-shaped vehicle could only take a few people at a time. The ride sped up, and then slowed down at every turn. Wait times in line were nearly two hours long, and guests were very underwhelmed by the entire experience.

Not only was the concept a bust, but only a few weeks after opening the ride, it had to be shut down for three months of repairs.  Even when it reopened again, the ride needed to be shut down for repairs at least once a day, and the concrete tracks supporting the ride were beginning to crumble. In the year 2000, the ride closed down completely, but the tracks are still there, gathering dust.

7. America Sings

In order to celebrate the upcoming Bicentennial 200-year anniversary of The United States, Disneyland opened the attraction America Sings in 1974. It was a musical show set on a rotating stage. Animatronic animals moved along with a recording of songs from American history. Once the song was done, the stage would move, and new animatronics would appear.

After only a few months of the attraction’s existence, a young woman named Deborah Gail Stone was working at Disneyland part-time as a hostess. She leaned back in her chair while the rotating stage was changing, and it crushed her head. Deborah’s family tried to sue Disneyland for their daughter’s death, but they lost the lawsuit, because leaning back in her chair was against safety procedure. The attraction continued for over 10 years, but since it was really meant to celebrate the Bicentennial, there was no need to keep the creepy robot party going for so long. It eventually shut down in 1988, and it was never reopened.

6. Superstar Limo

The ride Superstar Limo put park guests in the position of being the hottest new Hollywood star. A moving car begins at the Los Angeles Airport, and makes its way through famous locations, past some caricatures of famous movie stars like Whoopi Goldberg, Cher, and Tim Allen, and ends at The Chinese Theater.  The artistic style looked more like scene out of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? than a Disney park ride.

It opened at Disney’s California Adventure in 2001, and while some people enjoyed it, the majority of guests were confused. Some people were downright offended, specifically because the ride actually recommends getting tattoos, which is understandable troubling for some parents. In fact, Superstar Limo got such a negative reaction from local newspapers and park guests, that it was closed down after less than a year.

5. Maelstrom

The Maelstrom ride took guests on a viking ship, floating past characters from Norwegian folk tales and legends, including a three-headed troll, a sea dragon, and…polar bears? It ends with guests walking around an indoor replica of a Norwegian fishing village. There is a 5-minute long movie at the end called The Spirit of Norway, which gave an overview of what life in Norway was like.

It opened in 1988, and lasted until 2013, when Disney released the plans to rehabilitate it into Frozen Ever After. Considering that the locations in the movie Frozen were inspired by Norway, the boat and the surrounding theme did not need to be changed very much. The Fishing village became the town square of Arendelle. Guests still board a boat, only this time, they see animatronic characters from the Frozen movies. The technology used in both rides is relatively the same, but the guests are far happier with Frozen Ever After than they were with Maelstrom.

4. Body Wars

There was a section of Disney World’s Epcot called Wonders of Life pavilion that was built to educate people on the human body, and encourage health and fitness. It was completely sponsored by MetLife Insurance, who paid to have their company’s name plastered everywhere.The most popular attraction in The Wonder of Life was Body Wars.

Guests were “shrunk down” inside of a ship, which moved as they watched a film about a group of scientists exploring the inner workings of the human body. The film was directed by Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played Spock in the original Star Trek series. So, it’s no wonder why it was successful.  While there were plenty of other things to do at the Wonders of Life pavilion, Body Wars was by far one of the go-to attractions in Epcot in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

When Disney lost their partnership with MetLife, the attraction slowly began to lose more and more of its sections, due to the major budget cuts. Eventually, the Pavilion was converter for the annual Food and Wine Festival.

3. Submarine Voyage

In the 1950s, submarines were still a very new technology, and the public was fascinated by them. So, it only made sense when Walt Disney wanted to include Submarine Voyage in Tomorrowland. During the 1960s, they even hired local teenage girls to swim around as live mermaids. The mermaids were obviously the most popular part of the attraction. According to former park employees, people would throw money out to the mermaids as tips, and one time, a young man from the Navy jumped into the water so he could swim out to their tanning rock to hang out with the mermaid girls. Security eventually had to fish him out, of course.

The park eventually realized there were multiple safety issues with the mermaids, including the fact that many girls say they could feel themselves getting sucked into the propellers. They were no longer part of the experience in 1967. The ride lasted until 1998, when it was eventually shut down. In 2007, it was reimagined as the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.

2. Alien Encounter

The “ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter” – or Alien Encounter for short – was an attraction in Walt Disney World park in Orlando, Florida. The storyline of the attraction surrounded an alien corporation called X-S Tech. The ride used air, lights, and surround sound in the seats to scare guests into believing that an alien monster had escaped inside of the room.

Adults and teenagers loved this ride, and it gained a true cult following of fans who revisited the ride every year. However, it made many parents angry, because they believed it was far too scary for kids. The ride ran from 1995 to 2003, until it was shut down, and reimagined as Stitch’s Great Escape.

1. Big Thunder Ranch

At Big Thunder Ranch, the most exciting thing you would find was… a cow. Yes, a cow. Its name was “Micky Moo”, because of the Micky-mouse shaped patches on its fur. The attraction was built in 1986 as a Western-style petting zoo and Barbecue restaurant. There was an old fashioned blacksmith demonstration, but beyond that, there wasn’t much to do at Big Thunder Ranch.

In 1998, the space was renovated into The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Festival of Fools. Strangely enough, they brought Big Thunder Ranch back in 2004, only this time, characters from the not-so-popular Disney movie Home on the Range was incorporated, so at least the second time around, it made a little more sense. However, it was closed down a second time in 2016 to make way for Star Wars Land. Which, we can all agree, is probably going to be a slightly more popular attraction.


Disneyland Days Gone By –

WIF Almanac