Ecuadorian Embassy Runs Ad Seeking ‘No Drama’ Tenant For Newly Vacant Room

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LONDON—In an effort to find an occupant who doesn’t “bring the party home,” officials at the Ecuadorian embassy in London ran an ad Thursday on several local flat-sharing websites seeking a “no drama” tenant for a newly vacant room. “We’re looking for someone who can get along with a diverse group of foreign government dignitaries,” read the ad in part, noting that the ideal roommate to fill the vacancy in the spacious multi-story home located in the quiet Kensington neighborhood would keep regular hours and not spend all their time in the apartment. “You must have a steady job and pay rent on time—this is non-negotiable due to past issues we’ve had. Guests are okay, but if you’re constantly having over girlfriends, boyfriends, journalists, or activists, this is not the place for you.” The ad requested that all interested parties attend the embassy’s Saturday open house and be prepared with at least two past-roommate references and a security deposit of two months’ rent.

You Can Rent an Inflatable Irish Pub for Your Backyard

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PaddyWagon

You Can Rent an Inflatable Irish Pub for Your Backyard

PaddyWagon

It’s easier than ever to get yourself to a pub—just order an inflatable one for the backyard. 

The inflatable Irish pub, spotted by Food & Wine, is the adult successor to the bouncy castle. All you have to do is stick it on a patch of grass or a driveway (it doesn’t have a floor) and get ready to party. 

Boston-based PaddyWagon is a full-service pub-themed party caterer, with a cozy inflatable bar that fits as many as 80 people. The company provides Irish food and menus, along with music and entertainment from the Emerald Isle, if you so desire. The pop-up pubs come in multiple sizes, in case you want to host a really intimate inflatable bar gathering in your backyard. 

The beer slingers at PaddyWagon aren’t the only ones who will deliver you a blow-up booze fest. Ireland’s Inflatable Pub Company rents 33-foot-long blow-up buildings that come in several different designs and are painted to look like traditional pubs—whether with musty brick or timber framing. The temporary saloons cost about $435 to rent and come with a bar counter, benches, and lights. And if you live outside the country, not to worry: If you’re willing to buy one outright, the Inflatable Pub ships worldwide. 

If inflatable isn’t your style, there’s also The Shebeen, a rentable Irish pub on wheels. 

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50 Awesome Facts (About Everything)

iStock

We’ve been learning a lot from reading National Geographic Kids’s book 5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything!) 2. If you need a great conversation starter, here are 50 of our favorite awesome facts from the book.

1. IN 1889, THE QUEEN OF ITALY, MARGHERITA SAVOY, ORDERED THE FIRST PIZZA DELIVERY.

2. YOU CAN BUY EEL FLAVORED ICE CREAM IN JAPAN.

3. IT’S CONSIDERED RUDE TO WRITE IN RED INK IN PORTUGAL.

4. ALTHOUGH THE BOBCAT IS RARELY SEEN, IT IS THE MOST COMMON WILDCAT IN NORTH AMERICA.

5. A CAT’S TAIL CONTAINS NEARLY 10 PERCENT OF ALL THE BONES IN ITS BODY.

6. GECKO FEET HAVE MILLIONS OF TINY HAIRS THAT STICK TO SURFACES WITH A SPECIAL CHEMICAL BOND AND LET THEM CLIMB WALLS AND HANG ON BY JUST ONE TOE.

7. THE TERM “ASTRONAUT” COMES FROM GREEK WORDS THAT MEAN “STAR” AND “SAILOR.”

8. THE CALCIUM IN OUR BONES AND THE IRON IN OUR BLOOD COME FROM ANCIENT EXPLOSIONS OF GIANT STARS.

9. THE NILE CROCODILE CAN HOLD ITS BREATH UNDERWATER FOR UP TO TWO HOURS WHILE WAITING FOR PREY.

10. JELLYFISH, OR JELLIES AS SCIENTISTS CALL THEM, ARE NOT FISH. THEY HAVE NO BRAIN, NO HEART, AND NO BONES.

11. THE CHINESE GIANT SALAMANDER CAN GROW TO BE 6 FEET (1.8 M) LONG, MAKING IT THE LARGEST SALAMANDER IN THE WORLD.

12. PEOPLE REPORTEDLY PREFER BLUE TOOTHBRUSHES OVER RED ONES.

13. SOME PEOPLE USED TO BELIEVE THAT KISSING A DONKEY COULD RELIEVE A TOOTHACHE.

14. SCIENTISTS SAY THAT THE BEST TIME TO TAKE A NAP IS BETWEEN 1 P.M. AND 2:30 P.M. BECAUSE THAT’S WHEN A DIP IN BODY TEMPERATURE MAKES US FEEL SLEEPY.

15. BECAUSE THE SPEED OF EARTH’S ROTATION CHANGES OVER TIME, A DAY IN THE AGE OF DINOSAURS WAS JUST 23 HOURS LONG.

16. HUMMINGBIRDS’ WINGS CAN BEAT UP TO 200 TIMES A SECOND.

17. THERE ARE MORE THAN 1200 WATER PARKS IN NORTH AMERICA.

18. A SEAHORSE CAN MOVE ITS EYES IN OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS—ALL THE BETTER TO SCAN THE WATER FOR FOOD AND PREDATORS.

19. TO COOK AN EGG, A SIDEWALK NEEDS TO BE 158°F.

20. A GROUP OF JELLYFISH IS NOT A HERD, OR A SCHOOL, OR A FLOCK; IT’S CALLED A SMACK.

21. IT WOULD TAKE 100 EARTHS, LINED UP END-TO-END, TO STRETCH ACROSS THE FACE OF THE SUN.

22. LESS THAN 1 PERCENT OF ANTARCTICA IS ICE-FREE.

23. THE HIGHEST WAVE EVER SURFED WAS AS TALL AS A 10-STORY BUILDING.

24. THE BEAGLE BRIGADE, USED IN 21 INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS IN THE U.S., KEEPS A YEARLY AVERAGE OF 75,000 ILLEGAL ITEMS OUT OF THE COUNTRY.

25. SOME APPLES CAN WEIGH ABOUT AS MUCH AS A HALF GALLON OF MILK.

26. CORN IS GROWN ON EVERY CONTINENT EXCEPT ANTARCTICA.

27. UNLIKE MOST FISH, SEAHORSES ARE COVERED IN BONY PLATES INSTEAD OF SCALES.

28. YOU LOSE ABOUT 50 TO 100 HAIRS A DAY.

29. “ARMADILLO” IS A SPANISH WORD MEANING “LITTLE ARMORED ONE.”

30. THE WORLD’S SMALLEST FRUIT—A UTRICLE—IS THE SIZE OF A SMALL ANT.

31. NEW JERSEY HAS THE HIGHEST CONCENTRATION OF SHOPPING MALLS.

32. KOMODO DRAGONS CAN DEVOUR 5 POUNDS OF MEAT IN LESS THAN A MINUTE. ANY EXTRA FAT THEY EAT IS STORED IN THEIR TAILS.

33. NOT ALL MOONS ARE DRY AND DUSTY LIKE OURS. JUPITER’S EUROPA HAS A LIQUID OCEAN UNDER AN ICY CRUST.

34. SOME VIKING CHIEFS WERE BURIED INSIDE THEIR SHIPS.

35. AT ANY MOMENT, CLOUDS COVER ABOUT 60 PERCENT OF EARTH.

36. ALL APES LAUGH WHEN THEY ARE TICKLED.

37. SPOTTED HYENAS CAN DIGEST SKIN AND BONES.

38. THE QUILLS ON AFRICAN PORCUPINES ARE AS LONG AS THREE PENCILS.

39. SCIENTISTS BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE WHO DREAM ABOUT AN ACTIVITY WILL ACTUALLY GET BETTER AT IT IN REAL LIFE.

40. YOUR HAIR CONTAINS TRACES OF GOLD.

41. IN JAPAN, INSTEAD OF A “MAN IN THE MOON,” PEOPLE SEE A “RABBIT IN THE MOON.”

42. DEPENDING ON THE SPEED OF THE WIND, SOME CLOUDS TRAVEL UP TO 100 MILES PER HOUR ACROSS THE SKY.

43. NAKED MOLE RATS ARE SOMETIMES CALLED SAND PUPPIES.

44. OPAL HAS BEEN DISCOVERED ON MARS.

45. GEORGE WASHINGTON LOVED EXPLORING CAVES.

46. IT TAKES A GALLON AND A HALF OF MILK TO MAKE A GALLON OF ICE CREAM.

47. THE TV REMOTE IS THE DIRTIEST ITEM IN A TYPICAL HOUSEHOLD, HOSPITAL, OR HOTEL ROOM.

48. THE HERCULES BEETLE CAN GROW BIG ENOUGH TO COVER AN ADULT HUMAN HAND.

49. THE FINEST QUALITY EMERALDS ARE MORE VALUABLE THAN DIAMONDS.

50. HEARING IS THE FASTEST HUMAN SENSE. A PERSON CAN RECOGNIZE A SOUND IN AS LITTLE AS 0.05 SECONDS.

For more incredible facts like these, pick up 5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything!) 2, in bookstores now or available online at Amazon.

All images courtesy of iStock.

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The Optical Illusion That Makes Static Lines Look Like They’re Pulsing

Gianni Sarcone

Ready for an optical illusion? This one by artist Gianni Sarcone, which we spotted on Digg, is a pulsating wonder that’s almost guaranteed to trick your mind at first glance.

If you look at the pulsating image below, you likely see the colored lines changing in length. But in reality, the lines never change—only the direction of the arrows do. Based on the Müller-Lyer optical illusion—in which lines appear shorter or longer based on what direction the arrows at their endpoints are facing—the animated illusion consists of 10 lines radiating out from a central point, with arrows set at the midpoint and endpoint of each line. Each line is half red and half blue.

Lines with arrows on them appear to pulse.

As part of the animation, the arrows change direction, sometimes facing away from the center of the illustration, and sometimes facing toward it. The arrows of each line move in the opposite direction from one another, so that the middle arrow points toward the center when the arrow at the endpoint points outward, and vice versa.

The Müller-Lyer illusion shows that people perceive a line being longer if the arrow points away from its center, so when the arrows change direction on the animation, it looks like half of the line is getting longer, and half is getting shorter. In reality, though, only the direction the arrows are pointing changes.

You can see other versions of the illusion Sarcone created in different shapes here, and the code he used to create them here.

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Charlotte Rae, Mrs. Garrett on Facts of Life and Diff’rent Strokes, Dies at 92 After Cancer Battle

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Charlotte Rae, best known as wise and lovable house mother Mrs. Garrett on Diff’rent Strokes and , died Sunday at her home in Los Angeles, her reps confirmed to . She was 92.

Rae revealed she’d been diagnosed with bone cancer at the end of April 2017. “Last Monday, I found out I have bone cancer,” the actress exclusively revealed to PEOPLE. “About seven years ago, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer — which is a miracle that they found it because usually it’s too late. My mother, sister and my uncle died of pancreatic cancer. After six months of chemotherapy, I was cancer-free. I lost my hair, but I had beautiful wigs. Nobody even knew.”

“So now, at the age of 91, I have to make up my mind. I’m not in any pain right now. I’m feeling so terrific and so glad to be above ground,” she explained. “Now I have to figure out whether I want to go have treatment again to opt for life. I love life. I’ve had a wonderful one already. I have this decision to make.”

Born Charlotte Rae Lubotsky in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rae got her start doing theater and radio (where she was told to drop her last name). She broke into television playing Sylvia Schnauser, the wife of Al Lewis’ Officer Leo Schnauser on Car 54, Where Are You? While she earned Tony nominations PickwickMorning Noon and Night, and an Emmy nom (Queen of the Stardust Ballroom), it wasn’t until 1978 when Norman Lear, a longtime fan, cast her in Diff’rent Strokes, that Rae’s career took off.

Rae played the kooky but kind housekeeper Edna Garrett, unmissable thanks to that mound of bright orange hair, on Diff’rent Strokes, and when she became a popular breakout character, Rae herself proposed the spin-off. That spin-off became The Facts of Life, a sitcom about a girls’ boarding school and their (once again) kooky and kind house mother. Rae’s Mrs. Garrett (or Mrs. G, as Nancy McKeon’s Jo liked to call her) helped guide the girls through every very special episode theme imaginable, from depression to dating, AIDS to alcohol. Rae left the show in 1986 for health reasons, and though Cloris Leachman stepped in as Mrs. Garrett’s sister, the show was canceled two years later.

Rae went on to guest star on TV shows like ERPretty Little LiarsSisters, and The King of Queens, and appeared in movies such as Don’t Mess with the Zohan and Tom and Jerry: The Movie. Her final regular gig was voicing “Nanny” in the animated 101 Dalmations: The Series, which aired from 1997-98.

As much as she was beloved by TV watchers throughout the ‘80s, she remained associated with the beloved character of Mrs. Garrett thanks to reruns. In 2011, The Facts of Life cast reunited for the TV Land Awards, where she took home the Pop Icon award. That night, her Facts of Life costars Kim Fields and Nancy McKeon gave speeches in her honor. For the show’s 35th anniversary in 2014, they again got together for the closing night of PaleyFest in Los Angeles.

Rae shared many of her Hollywood experiences — including 44 years of sobriety and discovering that her husband, John Strauss, was bisexual — in her memoir, The Facts of My Life, released in 2015.

In her April 2017 statement, Rae also said, “At 91, every day is a birthday. I want to tell everybody to celebrate every day, to savor the day and be good to yourself, love yourself, and then you can be good to others and be of service to others.”

—With reporting by Lynette Rice

Heat A Room For Only 15 Cents A Day! : Body, Mind, Soul & Spirit – UPDATED DAILY!

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Heat A Room For Only 15 Cents A Day!

Wanting to cut costs on the energy bill, especially now that temperatures are dropping for the season? Economics may be one reason to seek more sustainable energy sources, but this inventive way to heat the house is also purely fascinating.

Journalist, YouTuber, and boat owner Dylan Winter created his DIY heater using tea lights and placed inside a bread tin and covered with two ceramic flowerpots.

This creative system uses the scientific principles of convection heat transfer and, according to Winter, can heat his home for around 8 hours a day.

His YouTube Channel shows how the method works: The tea lights are first put into a bread loaf tin and covered with a small upside-down flower pot.

The hole in the top of the upside-down pot is covered with the metal casing leftover from one of the tea lights. Then the pot is covered by a second, larger pot and the hole in the bigger flower pot is left uncovered.

This system works because the candles produce gases full of heated particles that are captured and channeled through the pots. As hot gas particles are lighter than the air, they will rise up through the top into the colder area.

What will then be caused is the cold air to fall into the warm areas and create a convection current; then heat is transferred from one pot to another, and then out of the hole.

One does not need a huge amount of money to invest in this economical heating method, either. Winter began by buying 100 tea lights from Ikea for less than a dollar, a standard loaf tin, and two different sized flower pots. In the video it is shown four candles are used for the heating system.

Sharing his invention with the world, Dylan explains that the heat from the candles warms the inside of the smaller flower pot, which becomes an ‘inner core’ that gets ‘very hot’. As explained before, a convection of air is then created between the smaller and larger pots and this heated air comes out of the top of the homemade heater.

When asked about his heater, he said: “People have told me that judicious positioning of flowerpots help to make the heating more efficient. I did not believe it but it really does seem to work.

You get a nice flow around the [pots] and it warms the room up. You’d be amazed.”

Dylan even uses the flowerpot method on his boats to conduct heat. Truly inspiring for those seeking to simplify, be more frugal with their dollar, and leave less waste, perhaps this system will warm many families this year as winter makes itself more present.
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BMSS Addendum:  While some people may be concerned about the toxicity of candles, you can find holistic options on Amazon such as beeswax tealightsand soy tealights.

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Category: Awareness, How To, Lifestyle

HUD Secretary Ben Carson to propose raising rent for low-income Americans receiving federal housing subsidies

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Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson testified before a Senate Banking Committee hearing March 22. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson proposed far-reaching changes to federal housing subsidies Wednesday, tripling rent for the poorest households and making it easier for housing authorities to impose work requirements.

Carson’s proposals, and other initiatives aimed at low-income Americans receiving federal assistance, amount to a comprehensive effort by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress to restrict access to the safety net and reduce the levels of assistance for those who do qualify.

The ambitious effort to shrink federal assistance has been dubbed “Welfare Reform 2.0’’, after Bill Clinton’s overhaul of the welfare system in 1996. The proposals — affecting housing, food stamps and Medicaid — would require congressional approval.

Trump earlier this month signed an executive order directing federal agencies to expand work requirements for low-income Americans receiving Medicaid, food stamps, public housing benefits and welfare. The agencies are supposed to issue recommendations to the White House within 90 days.

Just last week, House Republicans advanced a plan to strengthen work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson proposed far-reaching changes to federal housing subsidies Wednesday, tripling rent for the poorest households and making it easier for housing authorities to impose work requirements.

The proposal approved by the House Agriculture Committee would expand work initiatives, mandating that most adult recipients under 60 work part-time or enroll in a state-run training program. It would apply to as many as 7 million adults.

The Trump administration has also started allowing states to impose work requirements on residents enrolled in Medicaid.

The initiative unveiled by Carson Wednesday would raise the rent for tenants in subsidized housing to 35 percent of gross income (or 35 percent of their earnings working 15 hours a week at the federal minimum wage), up from the current standard of 30 percent of adjusted income. About half of the 4.7 million families receiving housing benefits would be affected, HUD officials said.

The cap on rent for the poorest families would rise to about $150 a month — three times higher than the existing $50 ceiling. About 712,000 households would see their monthly rents rise to $150, the officials said.

“There is one inescapable imperative driving this reform effort,” Carson said in a call with reporters. “The current system isn’t working very well. Doing nothing is not an option.”

The HUD secretary said government spending on housing increases every year — without reaching the vast majority of those who qualify for aid. Only 1 in 4 eligible families receive housing benefits, he said. The rest remain on the waiting list for years and may never receive help.

“Every year, it takes more money, millions of dollars more, to serve the same number of households,” Carson said. “It’s clear from a budget perspective and a human point of view that the current system is unsustainable.”

He added that decades-old rules on rent calculations are “far too confusing,” often resulting in families who earn the same income paying vastly different rent “because they know how to work the system.”

HUD wants to scrap rules allowing deductions for medical and child-care costs when determining rent, which Carson said gave some tenants an unfair advantage.

“They know how to include certain deductions that other people may not be aware of,” Carson said. “We really want to level the playing field and make it much more even for everyone.”

Housing advocates criticized the HUD proposals as “cruel hypocrisy,” coming on the heels of tax breaks to wealthy Americans and corporations.

“When we are in the middle of a housing crisis that’s having the most negative impact on the lowest-income people, we shouldn’t even be considering proposals to increase their rent burdens,” said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Carson’s proposed bill would also allow public housing authorities to impose work requirements. Currently, only 15 out of 3,100 housing authorities across the country require some sort of work or job training in return for benefits, HUD officials said.

In Atlanta and Charlotte, at least one adult needs to work 30 hours a week for a household to receive housing benefits. Chicago requires able-bodied beneficiaries to work 20 hours a week.

Seniors over the age of 65 and individuals with disabilities would be exempt from the rental increases for the first six years. They would also be exempt from any work requirements. HUD officials said that group makes up more than half of the 4.7 million families receiving subsidies.

The proposal would also move to verify tenants’ household income every three years instead of annually, which Carson said would encourage residents to work more without immediately facing a rent increase.

The Trump administration has long signaled through its budget proposals that it aims to raise the bar for federal assistance, in large part through expanding work requirements.

On food stamps, Republicans have pitched new work requirements as a way to help people out of poverty while focusing assistance on those most in need. About 42 million Americans depend on food stamps.

Democrats and anti-hunger advocates say the proposed work requirements could force as many as 1 million people off the program over the next 10 years, citing estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. They have also expressed doubts about the proposed expansion of state job training programs for recipients.

“Food is coming off the table to pay for this vast bureaucracy,” Stacy Dean, the vice president for food assistance at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said.

Separately, the Agriculture Department is reevaluating work requirements in areas that had been exempted because of high unemployment during the economic downturn.

Trump’s budget proposal also included a controversial suggestion to replace half of families’ cash benefits with a box of nonperishable, government-sourced goods.

After failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act through Congress in 2017, the Trump administration has started allowing states to impose work requirements on residents enrolled in Medicaid — a first in the history of the 53-year health care program.

Three states — Kentucky, Indiana, and Arkansas — have enacted Medicaid work requirements. Seven additional states have applied to do the same.

Kentucky says the changes will lead 95,000 people to lose Medicaid coverage over the next five years.

The Trump administration also gave states permission to impose much higher premium payments and kick people off Medicaid for failing to pay. The Obama administration had permitted more limited versions of these policies for states during the expansion of Medicaid, but Trump officials approved changes aimed solely at reducing enrollment.

“There’s a retrenchment of the policies passed under the Affordable Care Act that helped people stay enrolled on Medicaid,” said MaryBeth Musumeci, associate director of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s program on Medicaid and the uninsured.

Carson laid out the administration’s housing plans in a press call about an hour before a House Financial Services subcommittee hearing on rent reform.

“Changes that are made to the rental structure ultimately have to be approved by Congress,” Carson said. “These are the suggestions that we are making.”

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signs nation’s first statewide rent control law – oregonlive.com

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Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed into law a first-in-the-nation rent control bill Thursday and called on the Legislature to turn its attention to funding new housing initiatives.

Because of an emergency clause, Senate Bill 608′s rent control and eviction protections go into effect immediately.

“This bill is a critical tool for stabilizing the rental market throughout the state of Oregon,” Brown said. “It will provide immediate relief to renters struggling to keep up with the rising rents in a tight rental market.

The law caps annual rent increases to 7 percent plus inflation throughout the state, which amounts to a limit of just over 10 percent this year. Annual increases in the Consumer Price Index, a measure of inflation, for Western states has ranged from just under 1 percent to 3.6 percent over the past five years.

The rent increase restrictions exempt new construction for 15 years, and landlords may raise rent without any cap if renters leave of their own accord. Subsidized rent also is exempt.

The bill also requires most landlords to cite a cause, such as failure to pay rent or other lease violation, when evicting renters after the first year of tenancy.

Some “landlord-based” for-cause evictions are allowed, including the landlord moving in or a major renovation. In those cases, landlords are required to provide 90 days’ notice and pay one month’s rent to the tenant, though landlords with four or fewer units would be exempt from the payment.

The bill passed quickly through the House and Senate amid a Democratic supermajority and with only perfunctory opposition from landlord groups, who viewed it as a better alternative to removing the state’s ban on local rent control policies. The new law keeps the ban in place.

That’s also tempered excitement from tenant groups, who say the cap still allows rent increases that could impose a significant financial hardship for renting families.

Brown said lawmakers and the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department should report back on how the bill is working during the 2021 legislative session, including its impact on the rental housing supply.

Meanwhile, she said the Legislature should approve $400 million in housing-related budget requests for affordable housing development, rental assistance and homelessness prevention.

— Elliot Njus