It wasn't all bad
1:35 a.m.

The unexpected musical partnership between Alan R. Tripp, 102, and Marvin Weisbord, 88, started with a poem.

Tripp and Weisbord live in the same Pennsylvania retirement community, and right before he turned 100, Tripp penned a poem about life and growing old. Weisbord liked the poem, and as a birthday present, he surprised Tripp by setting it to music. The pair enjoyed the finished product so much they decided to start working on more original songs together.

In September, they hit the recording studio, and in November, the duo released their 8-song album, Senior Song Book. The tunes are reminiscent of the music they listened to in the 1940s, and while they hope their songs appeal to all ages, they really want to reach members of their own generation. "There's no new music being written for people in our age bracket," Weisbord told The Washington Post. "So we're writing songs that are recognizable, in genres that are recognizable, with lyrics telling stories about what our lives are like now." 


Weisbord and Tripp spend roughly 30 to 40 hours every week on their songs, something that surprises both of them; Tripp spent his career in advertising and Weisbord was a consultant. "I've never had so much fun in my life, and I never expected to be doing this in my old age," Weisbord told the Post. Catherine Garcia

12:56 a.m.

The Tennessee Aquarium thinks people will be shocked once they learn how an electric eel named Miguel Wattson is lighting up a Christmas tree.

Miguel Wattson releases low-voltage discharges when he is looking for food, and higher ones when he is eating or excited, aquarist Kimberly Hurt said. The aquarium attached sensors to his tank that are able to pick up when he produces electricity, and to celebrate the holidays, staffers connected the sensors to a strand of lights on a Christmas tree. The electricity Miguel Wattson generates is not actually turning the tree's lights on, Hurt clarified to NPR, but the sensors and other equipment are "translating when he's producing electricity to the lights."

Miguel Wattson also has a Twitter account, which posts pre-written tweets when he releases high-voltage shocks. The aquarium hopes that by bringing attention to the eel, people will "be interested in these animals and interested in protecting the waters that they live in," Hurt said. Catherine Garcia

December 4, 2019

Every year, the Maiers family celebrates Thanksgiving with mimosas, delivering drinks to their friends and neighbors. For 2019, they decided to do things a little differently — and in the process, raised $22,000 for cancer research.

Nancy Maiers, 71, went through chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery earlier this year for a brain tumor, and in September, found out that it came back. Her grandson, Parker Maiers, 12, thought they should transform their Thanksgiving tradition into a fundraiser, and turned it into the Mimosa March, a one-mile walk to raise money for the National Brain Tumor Society.

On Thanksgiving, more than 100 people participated in the Mimosa March, making their way through the streets of Carmel, Indiana. Each ticket was $30 and included a mimosa or plain orange juice, with extra donations welcomed. Parker Maiers told Good Morning America he wanted to honor his grandmother because she's his "best friend" and is "really nice and sweet and cares about others before herself." A retired nurse, Nancy Maiers said she has "so much to be grateful for" and is "feeling good." Catherine Garcia

December 3, 2019

Donating cash directly to people in impoverished areas could help more than just the recipients, a new study shows.

Economists looked at 65,000 households in an impoverished, rural area of Kenya, where one group received no aid, and another received a one-time cash grant of $1,000, through a charity called GiveDirectly, reports NPR.

They found that every dollar in cash aid resulted in a $2.60 increase in local economic activity, effectively benefiting the recipients directly, and those in their community indirectly, per NPR. The study, published in November on the National Bureau of Economic Research website, lasted 18 months and found those who received cash directly spent it on essentials, including food.

Much of that money goes to local businesses, says Edward Miguel, co-author of the study and economist at the University of California, Berkeley. "They sell more. They generate more revenue. And then eventually that gets passed on into labor earnings for their workers," he said.

When creating an influx of cash in a community, the issue of price inflation could arise, but Miguel noted that since the local businesses were low on customers, an uptick in customers didn't require hiring more employees or increasing prices, it simply helped their business. Read more at NPR. Taylor Watson

December 2, 2019

Coral reefs are surprisingly noisy places, but when they are degraded, they become "ghostly quiet." The lack of noise deters fish populations from settling in the dying reef, scientists say, further contributing to the decline.

In an effort to return life to the many reefs ravaged by climate change, researchers from the U.K. and Australia installed underwater speakers in a section of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. They projected the sounds of a healthy reef into a dying one, and diverse fish species from across the food chain flocked to the noise.

The study was led by Tim Gordon, a marine biologist at University of Exeter, and was published late November in Nature Communications. It concluded that ailing reefs fitted with speakers had twice as many fish as compared to dying reefs where no sounds were played. But the fish are just one part of the restoration, says fish biologist Mark Meekan.

"Of course, attracting fish to a dead reef won't bring it back to life automatically, but recovery is underpinned by fish that clean the reef and create space for corals to regrow," Meekan says.

"Acoustic enrichment," as the researchers are calling the method, combined with habitat restoration and conservation measures, could help accelerate the ecosystem and restore coral reefs. Taylor Watson

November 21, 2019

When Diana Chong and her family found themselves stranded nearly 200 miles from home, they never expected their friendly local bagel shop manager would be the person to come to their rescue.

Last Saturday, Chong ran into Bagels 101 in Middle Island, New York, to grab a few bagels for her husband and kids, who waited in the car. Chong accidentally left her key fob on the counter, but because the car was left running, they were able to drive off. The problem was, they didn't just drive around and go home — the Chongs traveled 189 miles to Honesdale, Pennsylvania, for a family celebration.

Chong tried to get local locksmiths and dealerships to help her, but it was Bagels 101 manager Vinny Proscia who saved the day. He told Chong he would deliver the key fob to her in Pennsylvania, then hit the road, finally arriving in Honesdale after a six-hour trip. "This act of kindness is just unheard of," Chong told CBS New York.

She welcomed Proscia with food, coffee, and gift cards to thank him, but soon, he had to turn around and drive back, in order to get Bagels 101 open at 5:30 a.m. On the way home, Proscia said he was pulled over for speeding, but when the officer heard why he was in a hurry to get back, he let him go with a warning. Catherine Garcia

November 20, 2019

A humpback whale population in the South Atlantic that was nearly hunted to extinction has made an astonishing rebound, researchers say.

In a new study published this month in the Royal Society Open Science, the authors write that the Western South Atlantic (WSA) humpbacks were "the first major target of commercial whaling in the Antarctic." Worldwide, 300,000 humpback whales were killed by hunters between the late 1700s and mid-1900s, Smithsonian reports, and by 1958, just 440 WSA humpbacks were left.

In 1986, the International Whaling Commission prohibited commercial hunting, and it was estimated in the mid-2000s that the WSA population had only recovered by about 30 percent. Researchers decided it was time for a new estimate, taking into consideration the historical decline of the whales and data from recent aerial and boat surveys. They were shocked by what they calculated: there are now 24,900 WSA humpbacks in the region, nearly 93 percent of the population size before hunting began.

Although climate change is a threat — it is forcing krill, the whales' primary food source, to move south — the study's authors say there is a "high probability" that by 2030, the population will be at 99 percent of pre-hunting numbers. "This is a clear example that if we do the right thing, then the population will recover," whale expert Alexandre Zerbini told USA Today. "I hope it serves as an example that we can do the same thing for other animal populations." Catherine Garcia

November 19, 2019

When a San Diego police officer went to inspect a stolen car last month, he had no idea he was about to meet his new best friend.

Inside the abandoned car, Officer Andre Thomas discovered a scared yellow Labrador in the back seat. The dog reminded him of Melakai, his own yellow Lab who died in March. For more than 10 years, Thomas and Melakai were always together, and because they were so close, it was hard for Thomas to ever imagine getting another dog.

Per protocol, Thomas brought the dog to the Humane Society, but he couldn't stop thinking about him. After three weeks, the owners hadn't yet claimed him, so Thomas stepped up and filed the adoption paperwork. The two have become inseparable, and the pup is now known as Victor, "a name worthy of the adversities the dog has overcome," the San Diego Police Department said. Catherine Garcia


View this post on Instagram

When Police Officer Andre Thomas responded to the call of a stolen car on Oct. 7, he was surprised to find a yellow Lab abandoned in the back of the vehicle. Only a few months prior, Officer Thomas had lost his beloved yellow Labrador, Melakai, a life-companion who had walked alongside him for over a decade. The two had made the move from their native Fresno to San Diego when Andre was just 18 years old. Andre and Melakai were so close that when his faithful, canine friend passed away of old age in March, Andre made a vow to never get another dog, a promise that he kept until he spotted a frightened, lone pup in the back of the stolen vehicle that Andre was called to investigate. Following protocol, Andre immediately took the dog to the San Diego Humane Society hoping that his owners would reclaim him. Yet when three weeks went by and nobody had come to pick up the dog, Andre knew exactly what to do. He adopted the pup, took him home and gave him a name worthy of the adversities the dog had overcome: Victor. The two have been best friends ever since. ❤️ Andre has been with the San Diego Police Department for four years. As a Police Officer II, he patrols the streets of the Central Division. #SDServes #FeelGoodFriday #yellowlab @sdhumanesociety @sandiegopd

A post shared by City of San Diego (@thecityofsandiego) on

See More Speed Reads