- 1. Daughter starts company to make her dad his favorite treat, free of sugar
- 2. Texas family decorates front lawn with a new Halloween scene all October long
- 3. Balloon pilot takes one last ride after 30 years of flying above Albuquerque
- 4. To combat loneliness, man creates 'sheds' for woodworking and fellowship
- 5. NASA says its DART mission successfully changed asteroid's orbit
1. Daughter starts company to make her dad his favorite treat, free of sugar
After Annie Leal's father was diagnosed with diabetes, he was able to find sugar-free alternatives to many of his favorite treats, except for one: chamoy. Chamoy is a Mexican condiment, which Leal described to Good Morning America as being "sweet, spicy, tangy." It's often made with a lot of sugar and salt, and Leal became determined to make a healthy version of this traditional snack for her dad to enjoy. Leal launched I Love Chamoy, a diabetic-friendly chamoy that is sugar-free, carb-free, and without artificial dyes. It was important to Leal that the product taste authentic, and she views it as a celebration of her culture. Having her dad tell her he couldn't find sugar-free Mexican staples "was kind of like the lightbulb moment," Leal said. "It really started as me just wanting to help my dad with his cravings, and in the process I discovered there were a lot of people in our similar situation." She's been happy to hear a positive response from people who previously had never tried chamoy, and most importantly, Leal's No. 1 customer — her dad — has given it his stamp of approval.
2. Texas family decorates front lawn with a new Halloween scene all October long
Every October, this Texas family and a cast of skeleton characters put on a show that delights neighbors and passerby. It started in October 2020, when Steven and Danielle Dinote and their kids A.J. and Anthony bought several skeletons at a Halloween store in San Antonio. Wanting to have some fun during the first Halloween of the pandemic, they started arranging the skeletons in the front yard, with A.J. putting one against the lawnmower and Danielle making it look like another was walking a skeleton dog. The family turned this into a competition to see who could make the best scene, changing it every day. Neighbors who walked by would often stop and say "it was the highlight of their day," Danielle told Today Parents. The family decided to make this an annual event, and neighbors soon dubbed their home "The Skeleton House." It takes between 30 minutes and an hour to set up each scene, which include props like clothing, wigs, and instruments. So far this month, the skeletons have played Twister, gone camping, and golfed. Being able to tap into their creative sides brings joy to the Dinote family, and they work together to make each scene come alive. "We made a rollercoaster for the skeletons last year we named One Flag," Steven said. "I spray painted PVC pipes for tracks and made cars from cardboard boxes. My son decided the roller coaster needed restraints which we made from pool noodles."
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3. Balloon pilot takes one last ride after 30 years of flying above Albuquerque
If you've been to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in the last 30 years, you've likely seen Elaine Thacher soaring above it all. The 85-year-old was the oldest balloon pilot at the 50th annual fiesta earlier this month, which was also her final event before retiring. Speaking to the Albuquerque Journal, Elaine said when she moved to the city in 1972 with her late husband Donald and daughters, "ballooning was just kind of starting. My husband found it very interesting, so we took a couple of commercial rides and then we got involved in crewing. We thought 'this is a lot of fun, maybe we'll get our own balloon.'" That's exactly what they did, and after earning their licenses, Donald bought a balloon, which his daughters named "Dad's Gone Bananas" (Elaine's current balloon is "I'm Bananas II"). Elaine has inspired her grandson — whose balloon is called "Grand Banana" — and other friends and relatives to either fly balloons or join crews, and she can often be found bringing her balloon to local schools and community events. Not only is she a great pilot, "she's an even better human being," crew member Amy Susan told the Journal. She's retiring due to the physicality of ballooning, not due to boredom. "It's still fascinating to me," Elaine said, and since her first ride, she's "enjoyed every minute."
4. To combat loneliness, man creates 'sheds' for woodworking and fellowship
When he moved back to his hometown of Barnsley, England, after 40 years in Australia, Philip Jackson found it difficult to make new friends — and he knew he wasn't the only one. Wanting to do something about his loneliness, he decided to create a club in town based on the Australian Men's Shed Association, which has more than 1,000 chapters. At each shed, people gather for fellowship and fun, while also working together on woodworking projects. In 2014, Jackson received a grant to start The Barnsley Men's Shed and The She-Shed for women. The sheds meet once a week, with participants ranging in age from 22 to 87, each coming from a different background and perspective. They make everything from planters to bird houses, with one man creating an operational windmill for his garden. "It's like the shed at the bottom of your garden, but all your friends are there," Jackson told The Guardian. "It's a break from people's weekly routines. It gets them out and talking to similar people." The participants have formed strong bonds, and while it's always nice to take home a new project, the best thing to come out of each shed is the friendship.
5. NASA says its DART mission successfully changed asteroid's orbit
NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft that crashed into a 560-foot-wide asteroid last month was able to change the space rock's orbit, the agency confirmed on Tuesday. DART hit the asteroid, known as Dimorphos, at 14,000 miles per hour, and over the last several weeks, NASA officials have been looking at the data and images collected before, during, and after impact. This was the first real-life test of technology that could protect the Earth from asteroids with the potential of harming the planet; Dimorphos, which orbits a larger asteroid named Didymos, never posed a threat to the Earth. Before DART hit Dimorphos, it took the asteroid 11 hours and 55 minutes to circle Didymos; NASA officials have used ground-based telescopes to determine the crash shortened Dimorphos' orbit by 32 minutes, to 11 hours and 23 minutes, NBC News reports. Now that the agency knows that "nudging" an asteroid can change its orbit, "NASA has proven we are serious as a defender of the planet," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement, adding that the mission was "a watershed moment for planetary defense and all of humanity."
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