Moon month for moms
Mother's Day is one thing – "moon month" in China is another, writes Debra Bruno in The Christian Science Monitor. "Moon month in the Chinese tradition is a period in which the mother and baby are confined to the house. I mean, really, really confined. No going outside at all, no stairs, no open windows, no air conditioning in the summer, and – most unsettling of all to many women – no showers or baths. Women are mainly to stay in bed, even when they breastfeed, are supposed to lie on their sides instead of holding the baby. Traditionally, the mother-in-law is the person in charge of the moon month, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the baby, waiting on the mother. Special foods are provided that are supposed to bring the new mother strength, like eggs. Lots and lots of eggs."
What's your purpose in life?
"Knowing the answer to that question could help to protect your brain, according to a new study," says The Huffington Post. "Researchers from the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center [in Chicago]found that people who have a 'greater purpose' in life are also more likely to have slower rates of mental decline, even as plaques and tangles developed in their brains. Plaques and tangles form in the brains of people as they age, affecting their memory, and have also been linked with Alzheimer's disease."
All-purpose coffee shop
"At a bustling coffee shop near the municipal buildings [in Camden, N.J.] the menu runs well past lattes ($2.35 U.S.) and muffins ($1.95) – to paternity tests ($550), drug screening and tax preparation (each $55)," reports The Wall Street Journal. "'I just came in for the green tea but I stayed for the financial planning,' said Joseph Tull, a local fire inspector who is a regular customer at City Coffee. In a downtown decimated by the sluggish economy, the unassuming coffee shop on Market Street has survived by serving a little something for everyone. The all-in-one approach has also established City Coffee as an unlikely crossroads in a crime-plagued city, linking people on both sides of the law. … The key to the shop's comprehensive business plan: offer as many services as possible to any conceivable customer. In the fluorescent-lit rooms behind espresso machines, walk-in clients can see a notary or submit a urine sample. If that's not enough, they can go upstairs to have family portraits taken in the on-site photography studio."
Blocking negative words
"Our brains," says Psych Central, "can unconsciously decide to withhold negative information, according to new work by psychologists at Bangor University in the UK. Writing in the Journal of Neurosciences, the psychologists discovered the unconscious process during their work with bilingual people. Building on a previous discovery – that bilingual people subconsciously access their first language when reading in their second language – the psychologists found that the brain activity similarly shuts down when faced with a negative word, such as war, discomfort and unfortunate."
Schoolgirl cures hiccups
"A 13-year-old U.S. schoolgirl has set up her own company after coming up with what she claims is a cure for hiccups," says Orange News UK. "Mallory Kievman, from Manchester, Conn., says she got the idea after trying to tame a stubborn bout of hiccups two years ago. She tried every remedy she could think of … Miss Kievman eventually combined her three favourite cures – lollipops, apple cider vinegar and sugar – into a single cure which she says does the trick. 'I'm still tweaking the taste,' she says. … Miss Kievman is now the CEO and founder of her own company, Hiccupops, which is preparing to launch the lollipop commercially."
Humpbacks try to help
"A BBC/National Geographic film crew have recorded rare footage of humpback whales intervening in a killer whale hunt," reports BBC News. "Grey whales migrating along the coast of California are often targeted by orcas. One mother and calf's journey was being filmed … when the third party became involved in the drama. Onlookers suggest they were deliberately disrupting the hunt. … Humpback whales are known for their impressive range of calls, including a high-pitched 'trumpeting' noise made when they are agitated. The humpbacks at Monterey Bay were trumpeting, diving and slapping their pectoral fins against the water. … Shortly after the [film]crew arrived the orcas successfully caught their prey. The mother whale fled the scene but the humpbacks remained. … After the attack, two humpback whales moved into the area where the calf was last seen alive. They continued to make trumpeting calls, roiled in the water and slashed their tails aggressively at killer whales that came near."
Thought du jour
"Q. What would have made combining a family and career easier for you? A. Being born a man."
– Anonymous, in Quotationary