The week's good news: September 23, 2021
It wasn't all bad!
Plumber gets record deal after client hears him singing in his bathroom
Plumber Kev Crane's rendition of the Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House" actually brought down the house — and landed him a record deal. In July, Crane, 49, was singing along to the radio while working on a job in Leicestershire, England. The homeowner, Paul Conneally, launched the independent label New Reality Records last year, and was "impressed" by Crane's voice, he told The Washington Post. Crane set up a makeshift studio in his basement and has been recording original songs throughout the pandemic. He sent some of his demos to Conneally, who said he was "struck by the songwriting and lyrics." Conneally asked Crane if he would be interested in releasing an album on New Reality Records, which left the singing plumber "gobsmacked," he told the Post. "It's something you read about that happens to somebody else. You don't expect it to happen to you." Crane's album, Why Can't I Be You?, was released in August.
Minnesota woman is head chef of cooking program she attended as a child
Donyelle Williams has come full circle, teaching kids how to cook nutritious meals in the same kitchen where years ago she discovered her love of food. Williams, 27, is the chef and kitchen manager at Cargill Kids Cafe in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Williams teaches local children everything from how to safely cut up vegetables to how to clean up the kitchen, adding in lessons on eating healthy and balanced meals. The cafe is run by Perspective Inc., an organization that assists mothers and children in need. While in elementary school, the cafe gave Williams a chance to have experiences she otherwise wouldn't have had, like trying new cuisine and learning where food comes from. "It's great to have these kids be able to look at people who went through this program or who look like them or who come from situations like them, and see that there's more to life than just what your current struggle is," Williams told the Star Tribune.
5-year-old is one of the youngest people to hike the full Appalachian Trail
Harvey Sutton is only 5, but he's already completed something many adults only dream about — he hiked the full length of the Appalachian Trail. Along with his mom, Cassie, and dad, Josh, Harvey spent 209 days on the 2,100-mile trail, going through 14 states. The Virginia resident was 4 years old when his family started the adventure in Georgia, and turned 5 in August when they arrived in Maine. The Suttons traveled about 13 to 15 miles a day, walking through heavy snow, steady rain, and extreme winds. It was "fun and hard," Harvey told NBC News. Harvey is one of the youngest people to ever finish hiking the entire trail, and his mother told NPR in August that she discovered "as long as we're playing make-believe and pretend with him all day long, then he moves quickly and hikes a lot faster than a lot of us imagine."
Thailand is turning plastic waste into personal protective equipment
Millions of discarded plastic bottles in Thailand have found a new purpose amid the coronavirus pandemic. In a factory near Bangkok, plastic bottles are being shredded and turned into thread, which is woven into fabric that is treated to become waterproof. That fabric is then used to create personal protective equipment (PPE) for people working at hospitals and monks who are cremating COVID-19 victims. "What was trash is now valuable," Phra Maha Pranom Dhammalangkaro, abbott of the Chakdaeng temple, told Reuters. It can sometimes be hard to find traditional PPE in Thailand, and while these upcycled suits are not medical grade, they offer some protection while helping the environment. It takes about 18 plastic bottles to make one suit, which can be washed up to 20 times.
Study reveals kids on field trip discovered a new species of giant penguin
During a fossil-hunting excursion in 2006, members of the Hamilton Junior Naturalist Club came across a major discovery in Waikato, New Zealand, although it took years to fully understand just what they uncovered. While in the upper Kawhia harbor, the children and their archaeologist guide noticed fossils that looked different from the crustaceans they normally spotted. In a new study published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, scientists from Massey University announced that the kids found a new species of prehistoric penguin, having stumbled upon the most complete fossilized skeleton of an ancient giant penguin yet discovered. A team of researchers ultimately named the new species waewaeroa, Maori for "long legs." The penguin is between 27.3 and 34.6 million years old and when standing was likely around five feet tall. Former club member Steffan Safey, who was 13 when the fossil was found, told The Guardian it's "sort of surreal" to know that "a discovery we made as kids so many years ago is contributing to academia today."